What to Do AFTER You Sell Your Home, Storm Coming? Get a Go Bag Ready, Which Historical Paint Colors Will Tell the Story of Your House?

  • Transcript

    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: On air and online at MoneyPit.com. What are you working on? Pick up the phone. Let’s tackle that project together. Call us with your home improvement questions, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a busy show planned for you. First up, if you’ve sold your house, you get to hand over the keys and sit back and relax, right? Well, wrong. We’ve got advice on the things you need to do immediately after you sell that will help you save money come tax time.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, summer storm season can mean a call to evacuate for millions of homeowners. So if you’re asked to leave your home, will you have your most important belongings ready to go? We’re going to find out how to pack a go bag, in just a little bit.

    TOM: Plus, does your house have a history? I’m sure it does. We’re going to teach you how to tell your home’s story, the right way, with historical paint colors.

    LESLIE: And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a 3-foot podium ladder from Werner. And it’s a great ladder to help you keep sturdy and safe while you’re working up there.

    TOM: So, let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Marcia in Illinois needs some help getting a window unstuck. Tell us about it.

    MARCIA: I have a window over my sink in my kitchen, so I have to lean over the sink to raise this window. And it’s always been extremely hard to get up or down and I just don’t know what to do with it. I think I’ve tried WD-40.

    TOM: Is this a wood window, Marcia?

    MARCIA: Yes, it’s a wood window.

    TOM: So, probably over the years, it’s gotten bigger, swollen in its place. And it’s gotten tighter in the jambs. And I’ll presume with paint, too, over the years that that didn’t make it any better. So, why don’t you think about a replacement window? I mean look, we can talk to you about taking this whole window apart and sanding down the jambs and sanding down the sashes and making it easier to use and replacing the cords and the balance and all that work, but I think this would be a good time to treat yourself to a replacement window.

    You don’t have to do all the windows in the house. You can buy a double-hung replacement window at a home center today for a couple hundred bucks and it’s a pretty good-quality window. So, you may want to think about replacing just this one window or in the alternative, you can pull the trim off, you can take the sashes apart and you could sand them and sand them well. And that will make them a little bit smaller all the way around and make them easier to operate. And of course, also make sure that the balances are working.

    Now, if it’s an old, wood window, you may have cords or chains that go up and you want to make sure that they’re still attached because that gives you a little bit of assistance as you open and close the window.

    MARCIA: OK. Well, I appreciate your advice. I guess I’ll have to invest in a new window.

    TOM: I think it’s going to be easier than all the work it would take to get the old window working. And I’m all for easy and that’s why I suggest that. OK, Marcia? Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And look, if you’ve got these old windows, you can work on them and put 8, 10 hours into a window and sure, it’ll be just as good as new. But why? It’s still going to be an old, drafty, wood window when you can go buy a double-pane, vinyl-clad window – a replacement window – that slips inside the existing opening and just have better energy efficiency and a window that really works, tilts in to clean, the works. Just doesn’t make any sense.

    LESLIE: You’re still going to have to reach over that sink. It’s just going to be easier to work.

    TOM: Exactly.

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

    PATRICK: We’ve got probably a 20 or – nah, 15,000- or 20,000-gallon pool above ground, OK?

    TOM: OK.

    PATRICK: So that’s a lot of weight. Since, I have put in three shallow wells and with a 1-horsepower pump that draws for my sprinkler system.

    TOM: OK.

    PATRICK: We have a standard lot. It’s probably 80×125. And I’m getting some sagging or – not some sagging. I’m getting a decent amount of sagging on the pool fence. So am I sucking too much water out and then the weight is pushing it down or what do you think?

    TOM: The water shouldn’t impact the fence. If the fence is settling, I don’t think it’s because you’re pulling water out from under it. Usually, if you get a lot of settlement, it’s because of the grade of the land. If there’s a lot of water sitting in there, like from rainfall, and then you have weight on top of that, then that will disturb the soil, it makes the soil weaker and then things shift.


    TOM: So I don’t know if you can connect the well with the movement of the fence. Just the fence that’s moving?

    PATRICK: Yeah, it’s pulling away from the main post. It …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s probably just a little bit of settlement in that area. Pulling away from a post like that is not that terribly unusual and so I wouldn’t attribute that to some shifting of ground underneath.

    PATRICK: OK. OK. So you don’t think I’m sucking too much water out of the water table and then now it needs to go somewhere?

    TOM: I don’t know what you’re taking out of the water table, Patrick, but I know it’s not likely to cause the fence to move.

    PATRICK: Oh, got it. OK.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Tell us what you are working on this summer season. We’d love to give you a hand. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, if you think the closing is the final step to selling your home, you are forgetting Uncle Sam. His hand is out and he wants some money. We’ve got tips on what you can do after you sell to help you during tax time, coming up.

    LESLIE: And that tip will be presented by the National Association of Realtors, after this.

    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 the number to call is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We would love to talk with you and hear about your home improvement projects.

    And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a great tool to help with those projects. It’s the 3-foot Podium Ladder from Werner.

    Now, it has four times the standing surface of a typical step ladder, so you can face in any direction, which eliminates the need to climb up and down and reposition yourself.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And the ladder has an extended guardrail, which will securely wrap around your work zone and give you an extra point of contact. The Podium Ladder is worth $129 and it’s available, right now, at The Home Depot.

    If you want to learn more, visit US.WernerCo.com or you can give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Liam in Iowa has a flooring question. What can we help you with?

    LIAM: I was wondering if I could get away with putting some snap-together flooring, like Pergo, over carpeting in the dining room. Because I don’t want to cover the carpeting up but the dining room is carpeted. And we’d like to have a hard surface underneath the dining-room table so it doesn’t get food and stains and stuff in the carpeting.

    LESLIE: So you’re talking about an area just for the table?

    LIAM: Yeah, just like underneath the dining-room table. Rather than tear up a hole in the carpeting or tear up the carpeting in the dining room, you think I could just snap together flooring over the carpet, under the dining-room table and chairs?

    TOM: I don’t think so because that type of flooring needs a certain level of consistent support. And there’s special underlayments that are designed to go underneath it and those underlayments have just enough cushion but it gives the flooring material the support it needs.

    LIAM: Mm-hmm. Sure.

    TOM: So putting it on top of carpet, it’s going to be too mushy and the floor joints are going to start to break apart. So, that’s just not going to work. You’re going to have to decide one or the other.

    LIAM: OK. So if I want a hard floor, I’m going to have to tear up the carpeting.

    TOM: Correct.

    LESLIE: Well, yeah, if you’re looking for a hard floor like a Pergo or a laminate type, you would take up the carpeting, which isn’t a huge project. And depending on what’s under there, you could probably use whatever plywood or base as your subfloor and make it work really well and go together quite easily.

    The other option – if you like that carpeting that’s in there, you’re just concerned about the table and the usage and dirt, you could get an inexpensive sisal or seagrass rug, which is really in style, and layer your carpeting. I’ve seen this done many times. It looks great in rooms like this and you can do a carpet – like an area rug underneath the table and chairs. And if you go with a sisal or seagrass, it’s very stylish. I don’t know what your décor is but it could work and be really awesome.

    LIAM: A friend of mine has an indoor/outdoor rug that looks like black-and-white tile, at their campsite, outside of their Airstream trailer. So maybe something like that, like an indoor/outdoor type of carpet?

    TOM: Yeah, it doesn’t have to be indoor/outdoor. If I had an Airstream trailer, I’d probably have indoor/outdoor carpet for that, too. But in your situation, it’s inside your house.

    LESLIE: Right. In my dining room, I don’t know I would do that.

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: But you can get a sisal rug or a seagrass rug for 100 or 200 bucks, depending on the size of it. And those clean really well, they’re reversible. So if one side gets super-dirty, you just flip it over and use the other side. And then when that one gets trashed, you chuck it and get a new one.

    LIAM: OK, cool. Appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Shawnie (sp) in North Carolina needs some help with a backyard problem. What’s going on at your money pit?

    SHAWNIE (sp): And on my roof, I knew it would rain. All the water would drain toward the back, since it’s on a downslope.

    TOM: Right.

    SHAWNIE (sp): And then I had some – a contractor come in and connect all of my downspouts and all to this black pipe. And they connected all of it and ran it out to one source toward, you know, that little creek. And in doing so – I mean everything was fine; it worked fine. And they thought where I was having such water problems, they sort of made a horseshoe out of the black pipe, with the Styrofoam peanuts and all of that in it.

    But what they did, when they dug around the horseshoe area, they found that that was dry. Because they figured if it was wet, it would drain and take care of the problem. But when they put that horseshoe in, wherever they put it, it was completely dry and it was further down that they realized that I had an underground spring.

    So, all of my drain pipes, everything is draining perfectly but it’s one little problem I had with that underground spring.

    TOM: But is that underground spring rising up to the point where the yard is flooding? And how much flooding are we talking about here?

    SHAWNIE (sp): It’s not necessarily flooding but it stays so wet I can’t mow it.

    TOM: It’s just wet?

    SHAWNIE (sp): And there’s a place about – I’m going to say 12-inches square-ish, maybe, that is – has puddled.

    TOM: I don’t think this is a problem worth solving. I think it’s a fairly small area of the yard. And areas of the yard that get soft like that, yeah, the grass can be hard to cut sometimes; sometimes, you have to cut it by hand instead of using a power mower on it. But I don’t think it’s worth you doing anything about it. You would have to do some major, major work to try to take the water that’s collecting there, run it downstream and have it sit somewhere else. So, I don’t think it’s necessarily a big issue.

    Well, it’s time now for today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. And today, we’re going to look at what you should do after you sell your home.

    LESLIE: Alright. So escrow has closed and you’ve handed your keys to the new owners. But while the deal may be done, you are not.

    For starters, you should organize copies of all of the paperwork related to that close of the sale. You’re going to need all of this when you file your taxes. And after that, it’s smart to have the records on hand, just in case you’re audited.

    TOM: Now, you want to keep proof of home improvements that you’ve done, as well. The IRS allows you to add the cost of improvements to your home’s cost basis while you own it. Pretty nice if you have a sizeable capital gain but you must have the receipts to prove it. So it’s always a good idea to keep those home improvement project folders as these projects get done.

    LESLIE: Also, after you sell, you want to put the proceeds in a money market fund. It’s going to offer safety, a reasonable rate of return and daily access to your money until you find your next home.

    TOM: And that’s your Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Considering selling your home? Today’s market condition may mean it’s a good time. Every market is different, so call a realtor today and visit Realtor.com.

    LESLIE: Terry in Tennessee needs some help with a retaining-wall problem. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    TERRY: Yes. I have a leak problem from a drain on my back end of my house. I have a full basement and it’s heated and cool but I use it as a garage/work area, et cetera. From my garage, there’s a retainer wall that goes past the end of my drive. It’s about 20 yards long. I have two drainpipes at the bottom of that.

    And when it rains, well, mud is coming out, so undoubtedly it’s stopped up. And I’m hoping that you can give me the name of some apparatus without digging out the whole entire back of the retainer wall.

    TOM: So the mud gets from behind the retainer wall and then comes out the bottom of it on the low side and what? Runs down your driveway or something?

    TERRY: Yeah, the retainer wall is right at the end of my driveway, coming up from the street to the end of the house.

    TOM: So, the solution here would have been in the way the retaining wall was built to begin with. Because behind the retaining wall, it sounds like there’s a lot of dirt sort of pressed right up against it. The way to build this is dig down around the retaining wall, probably about 2 feet behind it. And then you’re going to have stone that is about 12 inches away from the retaining wall. Behind that, you’d have filter cloth and then behind that, you would have soil. I’m talking vertically now.

    So, up against the retaining wall, you have stone. Right behind the stone, you have filter cloth. Right behind that, you have the soil. And so, if you don’t have something like that and you’re getting a lot of dirt that’s just basically turning into mud and running through the wall, then that’s going to happen.

    Now, I guess your question is: is it really worth it to regrade the area behind the retaining wall to put in the proper type of drainage stone and so on? Or do you just put up with cleaning your driveway every once in a while? For me, if I bought into a house that was like that, I’d probably clean the driveway every once in a while.

    TERRY: Yeah. Well, it’s almost a constant thing when it rains. But when the drainpipe – of course, it was put all the way around the house: the proper drainage factor, like the drainage pipe; the gravel over the pipe; the cover over that. So it was all done that way, as far as having that done.

    TOM: Right.

    TERRY: It’s just, over time, it’s – the house is 17 years old. Well, it started to leak and some way or another, it filtered down into the drainpipe, which drains past my driveway or it did at one time, anyway.

    TOM: Well, you could always rerun those downspouts so that they’re not discharging that close to the house and keep them well away. That could help you a bit, as well. But it really comes down to how that soil is put together behind the wall, if that makes sense to you.

    TERRY: OK. OK. Well, that was my question and I thank you so much for your help.

    LESLIE: Keith in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    KEITH: What I have is I have an oil-fired boiler system. Does hot-water baseboard heating and also heats my hot water. And I have a well. And my question is whether I can actually divert water off of the well system, from the boiler, and put in an electric hot-water heater system, because oil is so expensive now.

    TOM: So you want to stop heating your domestic hot water in the boiler and instead heat it via an electric water heater?

    KEITH: Yes, whether it’s just a regular hot-water heater or an instant-hot. And that doesn’t concern me but I want to try using a little less oil.

    TOM: You absolutely can do that. And when it comes to choosing the right electric water heater, you want to make sure that you’re choosing one that’s as energy-efficient as possible. And they do have some electric water heaters that are heat-pump water heaters today. And they use a fraction of the electricity that the traditional tank water heaters use but they’re more expensive.

    If you get a good-quality, heat-pump water heater, you’ll be very happy because that water will be far less expensive than what you’re – what it’s costing you now to run the boiler with the oil. I understand what you’re saying: it’s a very inefficient way to heat your house.

    Now, the other thing that you can do is – do you have a storage tank on that boiler?

    KEITH: I have a pressurized storage tank that serves the domestic water. I don’t know if that’s …

    TOM: Right. Is it – look big? Is it like 30, 40 gallons?

    KEITH: It’s 40 gallons, yes.

    TOM: It’s oil-fired?

    KEITH: It’s oil-fired, yes. Comes directly off the boiler.

    TOM: Oh, OK. Yeah. When you say “directly off the boiler,” it’s separate from the boiler or it’s – the hot water is heated through the boiler?

    KEITH: No, it’s separate from the boiler.

    TOM: Oh, OK. Yeah, alright. So, yeah, then my original answer applies. You can replace that with an electric water heater: either a standard one or a heat-pump unit. If you can’t afford the heat-pump unit and you’re going to use the standard electric water heater, make sure you put it on a timer because you don’t need to run it 24-7. You could set it to go off in the middle of the night.

    KEITH: Oh, OK. Yeah, that’s – yeah, that’d be very good.

    TOM: OK?

    KEITH: Yeah, I appreciate that. Thank you very much.

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

    Still to come, does your home have a history? Well, you can help tell that story with the right historical paint colors. This Old House host Kevin O’Connor is joining us next with tips.

    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by the Stanley TLM65 Laser Measurer. Point, click, measure, done.

    JOHN: Hi, this is John Ratzenberger. Played the part of a know-it-all on Cheers and I’m behind the Made in the U.S.A. movement. You know what was probably made right here? Tom, Leslie and The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. That’s right. And I tell the truth.

    ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor wood-staining project? Get it done the simple way with Flood Wood Care. With products like Flood CWF-UV, you get long-lasting quality at a great value, plus guidance to help make the whole process easier. Get started at Flood.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: And hey, for tips and tricks for all your summer gatherings, get those tips on our Pinterest page. We’ve got a board there called “Outdoor Entertaining” that is chock-a-block full with great outdoor-entertaining ideas. You’ll find that on The Money Pit’s Pinterest page.

    LESLIE: Well, you only have one chance to make a first impression. And when it comes to your home, that first impression is what everyone will see from the outside.

    TOM: The right colors can make a huge impact on how your home looks to passersby. It can also increase the curb appeal and if it’s done well, can even help increase the value of your home.

    Here to talk about some easy color updates that can make a big impression is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Thanks for having me.

    TOM: You know, when it comes to making choices about color, I think people get easily overwhelmed. So what should we keep in mind when choosing a color palette for the exterior of our home and especially if it’s an older home?

    KEVIN: Yeah. Well, first of all, there’s no need to be overwhelmed. So I would say, “Don’t be afraid.” I’m color-blind. I’m a guy. So I’ve got a bunch of things going against me when it comes to picking colors. But I’ve muddled through it with the help of my wife and some other folks, as well.

    One of the great tips that I got early on when we were trying to do our original house, which was an 1892 Victorian, was take cues from your neighbors. Check out the neighborhood. Get a sense of what’s out there, what’s been used. And when we did that, all of a sudden we realized, wow, there were some patterns that were showing up repeatedly – things that we liked, things that we didn’t like – and it started to give us some guidelines.

    And then, once you’ve sort of got a sense of what’s appropriate for your neighborhood or what sort of a zone you’re in, if you will, there are a couple of rules that are going to help you, at least with an historic house. Oftentimes, people think of historic houses – they think of Victorians and they start thinking of lots of colors.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: Lots of colors can be overwhelming.

    TOM: Yeah, like the Painted Lady: the old houses that have eight, nine different colors.

    KEVIN: The Painted Ladies. Exactly.

    LESLIE: Well, there’s so many interesting architectural details that you can choose to paint all those different colors.

    TOM: Details, yeah.

    KEVIN: Sure.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: It’s like one tiny bead in a molding can pick up a red, you know?

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: It’s amazing.

    KEVIN: Right, right. And on the Painted Ladies, I’ll admit I think it works.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: But that’s just one style of house and it’s not the biggest style.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Yes.

    KEVIN: So, we learned, very early on, a very simple rule: basically, you are thinking about three paint colors. And you’re thinking about those paint colors for different parts of the house. The body is one, the trim is the second one and then any moving parts is a third color. And by that I mean the doors, windows, the sash and such.

    TOM: Doors? Windows? Mm-hmm.

    KEVIN: And if you kind of keep that in mind, all of a sudden you’re down to three colors and you know where to put them. And then those colors could be complimentary or they could be contrasting. But that’s a good way to go and you don’t really have to deviate from that at all.

    If you do want to take it up a notch, sometimes the body, which is basically the predominant siding material, whether it’s claps or shingles – sometimes these houses have got two different types of siding: claps down low, shingles up high.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: Then and pretty much only then can you maybe have two different body colors where you call out those differences.

    TOM: Yeah, like maybe the same color family but one’s sort of a darker one and one’s a lighter one or something like that.

    KEVIN: Absolutely. Yeah.

    TOM: Not too dramatic.

    Now, if you want to kind of stay historical with your color choices and even if you don’t have an old house but you sort of like the rich tones of the older homes, any guidance on how to choose an appropriate historical color?

    KEVIN: Well, first of all, think about it: there are certain things on your house that you can’t change, right?

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: And so you’ve got a roof color. You’re not going to go out and change your shingles on your roof because you don’t like the black, you prefer to have, say, an off-red or something like that. So understand that you’re working with some constants, some things you can’t change.

    And then, start thinking about what style house you have and what era it comes from, whether it’s Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival. Different era houses, different style houses typically use different types of paint. So by way of example, the Colonial houses built in the 1600s up to the late 1700s, they had a lot of earthy colors – the reds and the indigos – because they were made out of these organic pigments, literally things that we’d find in the ground to create color. That’s what was predominantly used back then.

    Jump forward to the Greek Revivals. All of a sudden, we had white paint. We could get things that are bright. Those houses? They tend to have very few colors and maybe – or sometimes just white. So understanding the style of the house, when it was built, is going to be a good road map for what types of colors you should be thinking about.

    LESLIE: Now, is it possible to actually use paint to camouflage something, perhaps a flaw in your home?

    KEVIN: Well, maybe not a flaw but something you don’t want to call out. Could you imagine if you had those big downspouts for your gutter, which are incredibly important, if you painted them a separate color? Well, that would just call attention to it.

    LESLIE: True.

    KEVIN: So if you painted them the same color as your trim, for example, it would actually help hide them and make them go away.

    It’s another thing, too, with lattice. I like – I see a lot of people who feel like they need to paint the lattice around the porch a different color. No, not necessarily true. You actually kind of want to make that go away oftentimes, so paint it the same as the body color.

    TOM: Generally, that’s not the most attractive part of your house.

    LESLIE: No.

    KEVIN: No. Generally it’s not.

    TOM: Usually you’re hiding something.

    KEVIN: Exactly.

    TOM: So, you ought to be hiding the lattice with a good, blending paint job on it, right?

    KEVIN: Blend it in. Camouflage it, absolutely.

    TOM: Great advice. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

    LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Still to come, if a storm hits and you’re forced to evacuate, do you know what to take with you? Find out, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.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. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a 3-foot podium ladder from Werner. It has four times the standing surface of your typical step ladder, so you can get up there, face any direction. And it’s going to really eliminate the need to climb down and reposition the ladder, because you can kind of pivot around. It’s great.

    TOM: Now, the ladder has an extended guardrail, which securely wraps around the work zone. And it gives you an extra point of contact, which makes it super-safe. The Podium Ladder is worth $129. It’s available at The Home Depot.

    To learn more, visit US.WernerCo.com and give us a call, right now, for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Gayla in California is having an issue with a countertop. Tell us what’s going on.

    GAYLA: I am. About four-and-a-half years ago, I remodeled my kitchen and installed Corian countertops. And I used the pattern called Savannah; it’s one of the light ones. So I’m getting ready now to sell my home and looking at the countertops, they’re really – there’s tons, like thousands of hairline scratches. And I’m wondering, how can I bring back their luster? They never were shiny but they were lustrous.

    LESLIE: Yeah, they do have a satin finish that looks very rich and nice but obviously, over time, just from normal wear and tear, they are going to dull and not look so great.

    There’s a good website that generally specializes in granite and marble care – it’s called StoneCare.com – but they do have some products for Corian. And there’s actually a spray. It’s made to reduce a residue on the surface. I’m not sure it’s going to help you with the scratches but it could be a good starting point. It’s called their Deep Cleaner for Corian. And that might be a good place to start, at least.

    GAYLA: OK. Yeah, I don’t know that they’re that dirty. I do keep them quite clean but it’s just a question – it’s just those hairline scratches. And when the sun comes through the window, you really see them.

    TOM: What that product does is it will also pull out any residue from all the cleaning that you have been doing so religiously, which is a good thing. The other nice thing, though, about Corian is the scratches can be repaired. And if you – the Corian can be repolished, basically lightly sanded, so to speak, and …

    GAYLA: Oh, I was wondering about that.

    TOM: Right. To actually pull those scratches right out. So that’s not something that I would recommend that you do the first time out.

    GAYLA: No, I don’t think so.

    TOM: But if you contact a kitchen-cabinet company, for example, they might have an installer and for a reasonably small fee, they might come out and repolish those tops for you. They’re going to have all the tools and the equipment, as well. And probably they can pull many of those scratches right out.

    GAYLA: Well, thank you. That sounds like the way to go for me.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project and good luck selling your house.

    GAYLA: Well, thank you and best to you both.

    TOM: Well, when the forecast calls for severe weather, make sure you’re ready for the storm with this tip, presented by KOHLER Generators.

    First, you want to get a go bag ready. Now, if you live in an area where evacuations are possible, make sure everything you need to take with you is handy.

    LESLIE: Now, the go bag can and should include your medication; important papers, including your insurance info; some of your valuables, like really important jewelry. You’re going to want some clothing and you need to have cash. You might also want to include some granola bars, bottled water and a few toiletries because you never know what the food and water situation might be. Also, throw your cell-phone charger in there and make sure you’ve got a charger for your car, as well.

    TOM: And finally, keep your go bag handy with a flashlight so you can find it in case the power goes out. And this Severe Weather Tip is presented by KOHLER Generators. Running on clean propane or natural gas, a KOHLER standby generator is permanently installed outside your home and comes on automatically within seconds of a power outage. To learn more, visit KOHLERGenerators.com.

    LESLIE: Greg in Iowa is on the line and he’s dealing with a radon situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    GREG: Well, my wife and I are in the process of buying a home and we’re in the process of closing on this home. And when we – gone through the whole process of buying it and everything, we had to have an initial – we decided to have an inspection done. And then at the end of this inspection, where they go over everything mechanical and about the house and everything, they then offered a radon test to be done. And I had heard about the test and read about the test and figured it was a good idea to have it done. It was $100, which was pretty cheap compared to what we found out.

    And I guess what I’m trying to find out from you all is – in Iowa, they say that there’s 70 to 71 percent of the homes in Iowa have a radon problem.

    TOM: OK. Now, you had a radon test done. What did the level come back at?

    GREG: It came back at 18.

    TOM: OK. So 18 picocuries?

    GREG: Yes.

    TOM: So 4.0 picocuries is the action guideline. Remember, I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector; I got this, OK?

    GREG: Yes, sir.

    TOM: So 4.0 is the action guideline. So you have a radon problem. It’s not unusual – it depends on the area – and certainly not the worst that I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen homes that had levels of upwards of 100 picocuries.

    GREG: OK.

    TOM: That said, you do need to put in – or more accurately, the seller ­- is a sub-slab mitigation system where you have pipes that go into the slab and they pull the radon gas out. Now, has that process been started?

    GREG: Yes, sir.

    TOM: Alright. So then you’re on your way. But when you’re done, it’s very important that they test out of this and get a successful number. I will caution you, though, because this is a real estate transaction, remember that you are not in control of that house.

    And one of the biggest concerns that I had as a home inspector doing radon tests was I couldn’t necessarily trust the sellers to leave my test alone. And if they opened the windows or doors during the test, they’re going to vent that house and get that number to be down. So, it’s really important that when you’re doing a mitigation system, you would probably step away from doing charcoal absorption canisters and you would do other types of radon testing.

    There’s one called a “working level monitor,” where it basically takes samples on an hour-by-hour basis. And you can look at the results that come off of this and what you look for, as a tester, is a normal pattern. And you’re going to see a pattern that sort of climbs throughout the day and is really high at night when the house is completely still, starts to drop during the day. A good tester can tell if the test has been compromised.

    So just proceed cautiously. Not an unusual situation. Sub-slab ventilation is the way to go and when they’re done, this test should be down to near zero.

    GREG: Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. And I think you’re doing all the right things. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still to come, pool or no pool? We’re going to help you figure out if a backyard swimming pool is right for you, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, why not get the exclusive info about product reviews? Then go ahead and fan us on Facebook. You can be the first to learn about our latest articles and blog posts and find out about giveaways and sweepstakes. It’s all right there at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    And while you’re online, post a question in the Community section, just like John in New Jersey did who writes: “I’m thinking about installing an inground pool. However, I’ve heard that they do not get any of your money back when you’re selling and that it can actually be harder to sell a house that has a pool.”

    TOM: It’s a good point and especially if you live in a state like New Jersey, where you’ve got four solid seasons.

    Now, if you live down in Florida or an area like that where it’s super-warm, maybe out in California, having a pool is almost a requirement in some neighborhoods, because you’ll definitely be the odd man out if you don’t have one. And I think it could hurt your chances of selling.

    But in some of the northern states – you know, in the years I was a professional home inspector, Leslie – and I did work a lot in New Jersey – I’d say about half the time, folks that bought houses that had pools loved them and the other half asked me how to get rid of them, how to close them down, how to fill them in or whatever. Because people have strong feelings about it. So it could help and it could hurt, depending on who happens to walk in the door and is looking at your house.

    I think if you’re going to put a pool in, it better be because you’re going to use it and you’re going to enjoy it first. And the investment value really should be secondary to that, unless you live in a state where it’s just so common that you pretty much have to have one.

    John, I hope that helps you out.

    LESLIE: Patricia writes: “When carpet becomes loose or wrinkled, do I need to purchase new padding? How much can I expect to pay per square foot for stretching the carpet?”

    Now, I think if the top layer of the carpet, if you will, is what’s loose, I don’t think you even mess with the padding. I think you strictly work with the top layer, correct?

    TOM: Yeah. And I don’t see why you can’t just restretch it. I mean carpet does stretch out over time. And generally, within its lifetime, it has to be restretched at least once, if not twice.

    How much should that cost? It’s really kind of a service call sort of thing. It shouldn’t be terribly expensive and it certainly shouldn’t be something that you pay on the square foot. If you pay a service contractor to come in and do that repair and he charged you $100 or $200 for the trip, I think that would be very fair. But not much more than that because there’s just not that much work to do to get that project done.

    LESLIE: Alright. Julia in Montana wrote: “Can you discuss some of the different countertop materials available and what the pros and cons are? I’m trying to decide between granite, quartz or something synthetic, like Corian.”

    TOM: Well, Julia, there certainly are a lot of options available in countertop materials today. And probably the most popular are the stone materials. These would be quartz or granite. Now, the granite would seem that it needs very little maintenance but in fact, it does need a fair amount of work because it needs to be sealed. And if you don’t seal granite and if you don’t seal quartz, the material can stain, especially if you were to drop a jar of tomato sauce or something of that nature on it.

    There’s also solid-surfacing material, which actually can include recycled plastic, so it has some green aspects to it. And I like solid surfacing because the surface is solid all the way through. And if you got a scratch, you can easily buff it out or sand it out – or a knife cut if you slipped off the cutting board or something of that nature. So, those are the three sort of upper-end tops that are available today.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Hopefully, we’ve given you a few good ideas, some tips, some suggestions to help you get started on your home improvement projects. Whether they’re inside or out, you can count on us to lend you a hand 24-7. You can reach us, always, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 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.)

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