Why You Need a Soil Test, Tips on Apartment Gardening, Advice to Avoid Accidental Poisoning and more
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: And we are so happy to be here to help you tackle your spring home improvement projects. We want to help solve those do-it-yourself dilemmas. We want to give you advice on how to hire a pro to get the job done. If you’re what we call a “direct-it-yourselfer” or maybe you just need some help with those spring-cleaning chores, all great topics. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because we want to talk to you.
Coming up this hour on The Money Pit, are you ready to get your lawn green and lush again? Well, if you are plagued by nightmares of last year’s lawn battle, you might want to start off right. And the best way to do that is with a soil test. We’ll talk about those today and how you can make sure it helps you assure your lawn is the envy of the neighborhood.
LESLIE: And if you live in an apartment, you don’t have to worry about lawn care. But if you’re missing out on gardening, why not create a container garden? It really is a great solution and it helps you just get that feel for getting your hands in the dirt just a little bit. We’ll have some ideas to help you get started, up ahead.
TOM: And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a two-pack of very durable flashlights. It’s a prize worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. Let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Debbie in Illinois is on the line with a cleaning question. How can we help you?
DEBBIE: My question is about ceramic tile. What is the very best way to clean the grout? We have a house that’s been – it’s about nine years old and I just need to clean my grout.
LESLIE: So what color has the grout turned? Do you think it’s like a mold or mildew situation or do you think that it’s just dirty?
DEBBIE: I think it’s dirty – just dirty – yeah.
LESLIE: And was it white to begin with?
DEBBIE: No, it was tan. And it’s just a little darker tan. The ceramic tile is tan and so it’s just – it was a coordinating tan that went with the tile.
TOM: So there are a couple of options. You can get grout cleaner or grout stripper, which are commercially available products. And the stripper is a little more aggressive. And you can put it on, let it sit and then you work it with a brush until you get the grout to the color that you want it. But the key, final step is to make sure that once you get it clean and it’s really dry – is to seal it at that point, because that will keep it cleaner longer.
The sealers are silicone-based and they sort of soak into the grout and they stop it from being quite as absorbent. And they help you shed some of the dirt and grime that will follow.
DEBBIE: OK. So, I’ve also seen it advertised that a steamer is a good way to do that. Would you not recommend a steamer on it?
TOM: I don’t think a steamer is going to help you by itself. I mean warm/hot water and steam is not going to make the difference. What you need is the right product to lift the dirt and the debris out of the grout that’s there.
DEBBIE: OK. And would you recommend a certain type of grout stripper?
TOM: You might want to take a look at the products by TileLab – Tile-L-a-b. Those are sold at The Home Depot.
DEBBIE: Alright. Awesome. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Debbie.
LESLIE: Steven in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVEN: I have two bathrooms, side by side. They’re divided by one wall. I’m thinking of taking the wall out and combining the two bathrooms.
TOM: You should approach this project very carefully, Steven, and here’s why: because the number of bathrooms in a house is – has a direct relationship with the value of a house. There’s a difference between, you know, a house with two bathrooms and a house with one bathroom and a house with one full bath and one half-bath. So if you’re going to eliminate an entire full bathroom from the house, that will reduce your home value.
Now, that might be OK if you’re not concerned about that or you just want a bigger bathroom and you’re just kind of willing to deal with that. But unfortunately, the way homes are valued – and you can check with a local realtor and ask this very same question. I think you’re going to get a similar answer. Will your home be worth less if you combine two bathrooms into a single bathroom? And I think the answer is going to be yes.
LESLIE: Yeah. But Steven, I’m all for quality of life. If you want that big bathroom, you should have a big bathroom.
STEVEN: It’s something I’ve been kind of dreaming/thinking about for quite some time and …
TOM: Well, then, maybe you should do it. We just don’t want you to do it without having all the facts.
STEVEN: Would I have to bust the slab out in order to relocate drainage pipes?
TOM: Yes. If you’re not going to put the fixtures back in the same place, you will have to break the slab out to get the pipes where you want them. You’re going to probably end up extending the drain line to where the old location used to be. So, yes, there is going to be some demolition involved in that project, as well.
STEVEN: OK. Now, what is that going to do to the structural integrity of the slab?
TOM: Oh, it won’t – well, it’s obviously going to destroy the slab in that area but the slab is not load-bearing in the areas where you’re going to be breaking it apart. It’s not – it won’t have an effect on the foundation, because you won’t be impacting the exterior walls. You’re going to be breaking apart the slab in the thinner sections where it’s 4 or 5 inches thick.
STEVEN: OK. Alright. I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question. We know it’s spring. We know you guys are super busy getting your houses in tip-top shape. So you’re probably running into a lot of stuff and that’s what we’re here for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, for a lush lawn this spring, you want to start with a soil test. We’ll talk about what this test can reveal and how it can help you make sure you have a green lawn, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We are standing by for your home improvement question. The number is 888-666-3974.
If you do pick up the phone and call us, we will put your name in The Money Pit hard hat, because they’re giving away a two-pack of LED flashlights. Now, these are not inexpensive flashlights. They’re aluminum with a rubber head and a tail that makes it very, very tough. In fact, they’ve tested these by dropping them 9 meters. That’s a lot.
LESLIE: That’s like 27 feet.
TOM: I think it’s a little more, isn’t it? Close to 30? Well, it’s definitely between 27 and 30. And you know what? If it can stand up to 27, it’s still pretty darn tough.
It’s worth 50 bucks. Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Pam in Missouri is on the line with a lighting question. How can we help you today?
PAM: I have fluorescent lights in my kitchen and two other rooms and they are recessed into the ceiling. They’re the kind like you would put maybe into a shop: you know, those 3- or 4-foot-long tubes, T8 bulbs that I hear are going away?
TOM: Yep. Yes. Uh-huh.
PAM: What can I do?
TOM: So, are you having trouble finding the bulbs? Is that what you’re concerned about?
PAM: I am not now but I’m – hear that they will be not used anymore.
TOM: Yeah. But they last so darn long. Why don’t you just go shop online and buy a case of them and call it a day? I mean really. Yeah, they’ll be harder to find but they’re going to be available, because a lot – there’s a lot of industrial folks that use those in offices and that sort of thing. So I wouldn’t fret too much about that.
Listen, if you want to change your lights at some point, then you can plan that project. But I wouldn’t tell you to rip out and remove all your lighting fixtures now just because you’re worried about a supply problem. I’d just go pick up a case of these things. They last forever. And then put the project off until you’re ready to do some real remodeling.
PAM: I’d rather do that because, otherwise, I’d have a big hole in the ceiling that would have to be patched.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. It’s a bigger project for you because they’re built-in. So you’re going to have to take them out, you’re going to have to drywall over the holes. It’s a big job, so – no, I would just pick up a case of the bulbs and live with it for a while, OK?
PAM: Great. That’s easy for me. Thanks.
TOM: Yeah, they’re not too expensive. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ron in Virginia on the line who’s got a flooring question.
Number-one topic on The Money Pit, my friend. How can we help you?
RON: I have a ceramic-tile floor that’s been down for almost 20 years. Put it down myself. The tiles are all intact. None of them are loose but I have some tiles that are cracked. And I was wondering, rather than take the tiles up, if I could put a laminate floor over top of it.
TOM: Absolutely. The nice thing about laminate floors is that they’re floating floors. And so you certainly could put a new laminate floor together. Most of them are lock-together boards these days. And you can lay that right on top of the tile floor below as long as it’s solid, which it sounds like it is.
Now, of course, it’s going to make that floor that much thicker. I don’t know if that’s an issue.
RON: No, I don’t think that would be a problem. Do I still need to put down that thin layer of the foam? Put that right over top of the ceramic?
TOM: I think it’s a good idea because it cushions the floor and it also quiets the floor. It’s not quite as click-y, you know what I mean, when you walk on it? Now, keep in mind that some of the different laminate-floor manufacturers have the underlayment attached to the bottom of the actual floorboard. It’s sort of like a sponge on the bottom of it. But you definitely want to follow their instructions.
But to answer your real question – can you put it on tile? – yes, you can.
RON: Oh, great. Well, that would certainly save a lot of time and headache trying to take that tile floor up.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve been striving to create a lush lawn around your home but you feel like you’re constantly losing that battle to bald spots and weeds, you might be wondering what you should do to get your lawn back in shape. Should you reseed or maybe even just start from scratch with sod?
TOM: Well, getting a soil test is actually the best place to start. This is going to help you determine if the pH or acidity needs to be adjusted.
Now, if you do need to reseed, the first thing is to rototill the soil. This will mix in any fertilizer that you might have applied. And it usually kills off most of those annual weeds, which is why it’s important to do this before the weeds go to seed.
LESLIE: Now, perennial weeds, on the other hand, they have roots that maintain in the soil. So tilling that soil is only going to break the root into pieces, which will result in more weeds. How awesome is that? Not at all. So the quick way to control these weeds is by applying a post-emergent herbicide.
TOM: Now, the best time to plant grass for spring is late April through May. And then, of course, if you wait to the end of the summer, you would be planting late August to early September. The best way to do that is to use a fertilizer spreader: you know, one of those things that you push behind that kind of throws the grass seed out. You want to put down half the amount in one direction and the other half at right angles. This will make sure you have uniform coverage.
Now, the most important thing to remember when you’re trying to get this grass to grow is to water it. It’s really critical. You need to sprinkle it lightly several times a day and keep the soil moist and cool. As the grass begins to grow, you want to water less often but soak the soil more each and every time.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, sod can provide a lawn in a much shorter time than seed but don’t lay the sod during dry weather or if your water is scarce. Now, rolled-up sod heats up and that heat can kill the sod very quickly. So it’s best to put the sod down within 24 to 48 hours after it was cut. I mean I try with the makeover shows that I work on because, obviously, we want the exteriors to look picture-perfect. We cut the sod the morning and then lay it that same afternoon and then soak, soak, soak, soak it. So you really want to get it down as fast as you can post-cutting.
Now, unlike with seeds, you want to water heavily every day after laying the sod until those roots have really begun growing into the soil. And that takes two to three weeks. And then you can gradually reduce your watering.
TOM: That’s right. Now, finally, remember when you use sod, here’s a nice thing: you don’t need to fertilize it for the entire first season. So don’t put it down and throw down fertilizer because you could kind of burn it out. In fact, that’s one of the reasons you chose sod in the first place, right? So it needs less care.
888-666-3974. Let us help you care for your home improvement projects. Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carl in Arkansas is on the line with a thermostat question. How can we help you?
CARL: I bought an older house and it’s – the thermostat that’s in it now for the heating and air conditioner is an old mercury switch. And what I bought is a Honeywell 5-2 switch, a programmer for 5 weekdays and then 2 weekend days. And what I’m wanting to know is, can I – is that something I can change out myself or is that something I need to hire an electrician to come do? The package says “easy to install” but I’ve looked it over and it doesn’t look like it’s that easy to me.
TOM: Well, look, if you’re uncomfortable with it, I would not hire an electrician. Kind of heat do you have? Is it gas? Oil? What is it?
CARL: It’s electric.
TOM: Oh, it’s electric heat. What kind of furnace do you have?
TOM: Is this a heat pump?
CARL: No, no, no. It’s not a heat pump. That’s one thing I didn’t want was a heat pump.
TOM: It’s a straight electric furnace?
CARL: Right. Straight electric furnace and it has an outside unit, which is also a Trane.
TOM: Uh-oh. Wait a minute. Listen to me. If you’re telling me you have an outside condensing unit that works with this, you’ve got a heat pump. You’ve got the compressor outside and then the furnace inside.
Now, a heat pump is a combination heat pump/electric furnace. That’s the way they’re designed to work. And the reason that that’s important is because the thermostat that you chose – and I don’t know that this is the case or not but it has to be rated for a heat pump.
Because the way heat pumps work is when you set your heat – let’s say you set your heat at 68 degrees. It starts getting cold outside, right? Then inside the house, it falls to 67, the heat pump comes on. Still cold, falls to 66, heat pump stays on. Still cold, falls to 65, now it’s at more than 2-degrees split between what it was set at and what it is. The heat pump says, “I can’t keep up with this. I’m going to bring on my friend, the electric furnace.” So now the electric-furnace coils kick on and then bring the house up to temperature.
But by you not having the right thermostat, what can happen is you can run more of the electric furnace and less of the heat pump, which will significantly increase your electric bill. So, the thermostat you choose has got to be designed for a heat pump.
So I would say your first thing to do is to confirm – I don’t know if you have an HVAC contractor that you work with but get that system serviced. I mean all these compressors have to be serviced once a year. If you haven’t done it, get it serviced, get the refrigerant checked out. While that guy is in the house, have him install a heat pump-rated thermostat. Because you’re obviously uncomfortable with it and we don’t want you to have all those wires apart and just have a problem where you’ve got no heat or no air.
So I wouldn’t do it myself, because you’re uncomfortable with it. And when it doubt, don’t do it. But make sure you use the right thermostat. Otherwise, you may drive up those costs unexpectedly. OK?
CARL: OK. Well, I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, even if you can do it yourself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do it yourself. And just like Carl said, if he read the instructions and it still seems confusing to him, then don’t do it. If you’re not comfortable with it – and especially if it’s something like your furnace where if you hook up the wires wrong, you’re probably not going to break it but you’re not going to have heat. And that could be very unpleasant.
LESLIE: Laura in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LAURA: We have a deck on the back of our house that we, about two years ago, put a product on it that makes it like an anti-slip texture? And the coating is starting to chip off in big chunks, so we were thinking about using that DECKOVER or OVERDECK, I think it’s called?
And when we were at Home Depot, we noticed that they have something else that was an option. They’re actually foot-squared tiles. They’re like a thick rubber that you actually use a glue to adhere onto the deck and then you cover your deck that way. My concern is if you apply that onto the deck, will that rot the wood?
TOM: Well, Laura, I’m not familiar with rubber tiles but there are polypropylene tiles or plastic tiles or composite tiles that are on the market that are designed to cover old decks. And the way these work is they sit on top of the deck boards and they usually lock together. And some of them are quite attractive. There’s a product called Coverdeck that comes in dozens of different colors and shapes and designs that could look really neat. And it’s not going to be slippery and it’s going to look great.
I am concerned if you’re gluing something down to the wood deck, I agree that something like rubber glued to wood is bound to let some water underneath and it’s certainly not going to evaporate. These composite tiles or the plastic tiles usually have a bit of space under them which allows the wood to breathe and dry out. And then really, that’s the issue: if you hold water against it, you will get decay.
So I would take a look at some of the tile products that allow you to cover these decks and probably avoid anything that’s rubbery that you’re going to glue down.
LAURA: OK. So the glue is OK as long as there’s a gap or some sort of gap between the wood?
TOM: It’s OK to cover it as long as there’s air space so it dries out.
LAURA: OK, perfect. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill in Texas has a question about rusty grout in a bathroom project. What’s going on?
BILL: Yes, ma’am. A couple of years ago, I put in a tile shower. I’d removed a fiberglass shower and I put in a tile shower. And the problem is – you know how you put the rubber barrier up like 42 or 48 inches? I put that up but I’m guessing that I should have used stainless-steel screws. Because in two spots, you can kind of detect a rust color kind of seeping through the grout? And I’m wondering if I should remove the grout and maybe try – they have that epoxy-based grout, if I should do that or if there’s – when I remove the grout, if there’s a product I should apply to kind of neutralize the rust.
Basically, that’s what’s going on. I’ve just – I’m decently handy, so I know I can remove the grout and everything but I’m just wondering what steps I should take to prevent the rust from coming back.
TOM: Well, the sand-based grout certainly is going to allow any rust stains to kind of permeate right through. Epoxy grout probably would not. That might be the simplest solution if it’s just minor surface rust. It’s a little bit late now to pull tile off and start changing fasteners, so I think that probably makes the most sense, Bill – would be just to remove the old grout with a grout saw and then regrout it with epoxy-based grout which, by the way, is a little harder to work with. So make sure you take your time, maybe practice off those bathroom walls before you apply it to it. But I think that’s probably the best solution in the short term.
BILL: Now, the – for automotive, they have POR-15 and different products to neutralize the rust. Is there anything like that that you – would it be worthwhile to even try to attempt that or is it not worth my time?
TOM: I’m not familiar with those products but my concern would be that if you got one, it’ll probably open up somewhere else along the way, so it’s kind of like you’re chasing a ghost after a while.
BILL: OK. So maybe try the epoxy grout and cross my fingers?
TOM: I would say so. I think there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to work out, Bill, OK?
BILL: OK. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Coming up, accidental poisoning? That is the second leading cause of home injury death. We’re going to tell you how to keep your family safe, just ahead.
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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 spring is the perfect time for home improvement projects, like replacing old, dingy carpet. And Lumber Liquidators is the perfect place to help you get it done right and they’re going to save you a lot of money.
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LESLIE: Now we’ve got Trent in Florida on the line who’s dealing with a falling-apart popcorn ceiling. How can we help you?
TRENT: Well, my popcorn ceiling is actually in my bathroom. I guess, on one night or something, my son had gotten it wet and when it dried, it started flaking off the ceiling. And now it’s just continuing to do it.
LESLIE: Well, it’s funny because when you get a popcorn ceiling wet, that’s actually the way to remove it. You would spray it with some sort of garden sprayer and then scrape it off. So if you want it gone, he’s got you on the correct path.
TOM: Now is the time, right.
But if you don’t want it gone, what I would do is this: I would take maybe a stiff-bristle brush and gently brush away – maybe like a dry paintbrush and just brush away all the loose stuff. And then you’re going to pick up some popcorn-ceiling patching material. There’s a number of different manufacturers of this. I know that Zinsser makes one, Homax makes one. It comes both in a trowel-on finish and also in a spray-on finish.
LESLIE: It looks like cheese in a can when it comes out.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. It looks like Cheez Whiz. And you can spray that on and recreate the popcorn effect that way. And then, lastly, you’re probably going to have to paint that ceiling and paint the entire ceiling to blend it in.
But you’ve got to get rid of the loose stuff, add the patching material and then repaint the ceiling and you’ll be good to go.
TRENT: OK. Well, great. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Now you’ve got options. You’re very welcome.
LESLIE: Christine in Washington is on the line with a leaky chimney. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
CHRISTINE: I have a chimney that’s for a wood or a pellet stove. And the former owners put duct-taped cardboard in the opening. And it leaks when I have heavy rain and wind.
TOM: I bet it does.
CHRISTINE: Yeah. How do I close off the opening so it doesn’t leak?
TOM: So, first of all, we’re talking about a wood-stove chimney that’s been sealed up with cardboard and duct taped. Does anyone think there’s something wrong with this picture? I mean just maybe, right?
TOM: So, are we still using the wood stove, Christine?
CHRISTINE: No. It’s empty and I put a table and lamp under it.
TOM: So you’re not using the wood stove at all. You don’t want to use it? Why not just take it out?
CHRISTINE: There’s no wood stove there; it’s just an empty space. That’s why I put a table …
TOM: Oh, OK. So the chimney is left over from the wood stove.
TOM: Then take the chimney out.
CHRISTINE: Oh, really?
TOM: The chimney is a hole in your roof. If you’re not using it for the wood stove, then you don’t need it, right? There’s nothing else that uses the same chimney? Is it a metal pipe?
CHRISTINE: Yeah. But the – inside the house, it’s part of the design of the living room. It looks like a space for a fireplace. So that’s why it’s all bricked in and that’s why I put a table and chair in it and made it sort of decorative.
TOM: Right. But if you’re never going to use it. OK, I don’t really care what it looks like inside your house; I care about the penetration where it goes through the roof, because that’s where the leak is. And your options are either to properly flash the chimney, whatever that takes – which is not going to include duct tape and cardboard, by the way – but to have it professionally flashed so that it seals the intersection between the roofing shingle and the chimney or vent pipe.
But if you’re not using it, just remove it and you’re taking that headache away. You can patch the roof and you’ll never have to worry about leaks in that area again.
CHRISTINE: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Christine. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Coming up, poison prevention should be part of your spring-cleaning ritual. We’ll tell you how to keep your family safe, next.
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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.
Give us a call, 888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help you with your home improvement questions and just get things looking really great around your house. Plus, you know, so you can actually see the really great stuff you’re working on, we’re giving away a two-pack of LED flashlights.
Now, they’re aluminum with a rubber head and tail cover so that you can actually drop them, say, from a 30-foot ladder or out your attic window and you’ll know they’ll be OK. You can also submerge them up to 3 feet of water. And it’s got some extra-high modes there. You’ve got a high/low beam, a strobe beam. So this is pretty much your all-around, super-amazing flashlight.
It’s worth 50 bucks for the two-pack of LED lights and it’s going out to one lucky caller drawn at random this hour.
TOM: That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in Illinois is on the line with some drafty windows. Tell us about your money pit.
JIM: Well, I have an historic, old home. It’s over 100 years old.
JIM: And it has all of the original windows and glass in it.
JIM: And they are, needless to say, very drafty. So I was trying to figure out a way that was fairly cost-effective closing up those drafts.
TOM: So if you want to keep the original windows, then you essentially have to work with what you have. So, adding weather-stripping is really the limit of what you can do with those.
I will say that if you’ve got one that’s really drafty, in a room that maybe you don’t need to open the window, there is a product that’s called “temporary caulk” or “weather-stripping caulk.” It’s basically a caulk that’s designed to go on clear and then in the spring, you can peel it off. It comes off sort of in a rubbery strip. So, that’s also an effective way to seal a window that you’re not going to open. But remember, you’re kind of sealing it shut, so you’ve got to be careful not to do that in a bedroom or a place where you need to have emergency egress.
Now, if you want to replace the window, you could look at different manufacturers that make very historic windows. Marvin, for example, is very good at this. Andersen is good at it, as well. They make windows that fit well into a historic building. Then, of course, you’ve got all the modern conveniences that are associated with that.
I think that you would find, obviously, huge energy differences, not only in the drafts but also in the solar heat gain in the summer. Because I’m sure there’s nothing stopping all of that heat of the sun from getting into those windows. And if you have new glass that’s got a low-E coating, it’s going to reflect that heat back out.
So, weather-stripping – liquid weather-stripping or temporary caulk – or window replacement. Those would be your options.
JIM: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Jim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pat in South Dakota is on the line with a painting project. How can we help you?
PAT: Can you repaint vinyl siding?
TOM: Yes. You can repaint vinyl – well, you’d be painting it, initially, not even repainting it. But I will tell you this: once you paint, you do have to repaint. So, you’re not going to have the maintenance-free service that you had once before. You will have to repaint it.
Now, that said, if you’re going to do the repainting or you’re going to paint it, you want to make sure that you use a product that’s designed specifically for vinyl siding. And I would only use a product from a top brand like Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams. They both have their own line of vinyl-siding paint. So choose your paint carefully, make sure it’s good-quality paint and keep in mind that eventually you’re going to have to repaint it.
PAT: OK. That was what I wondering. Thank you so much.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, here’s a surprising statistic: according to the Home Safety Council, accidental poisoning is the second leading cause of home injury death. They also report that very few of us actually rank poisoning as a top safety concern in our homes. And that’s a problem.
LESLIE: Yeah. Really take a look in every room and pay careful attention to where you’re keeping these harmful products. And I’m not just talking about cleaners and chemicals. We’re also talking about medications. So think about under your bathroom and kitchen sinks, your bathroom medicine cabinets, laundry room, basement, garage. I mean where else are you keeping this stuff?
TOM: And that garage is a good point, Leslie, because I think it’s one of the only places in the home where toys and toxins are actually stored side-by-side, right? You’ve got gasoline next to the bicycles and the balls and stuff like that and you’ve got paint and you’ve got weed killers. All that stuff is in the same room. You really need to separate that stuff out, get all the toxic substances up off the floor and tucked safely away.
And by the way, another thing that you really ought to do by your phone in your house is have the Poison Control help number actually posted. It’s a national number: 800-222-1222. Save that in your phone, post it on the wall if you’ve got an old-fashioned wall phone, like so few of us have these days, right? We’re all just living off our cell phones. But anyway, you want to save it in your calls so that you have that handy and just be aware and be safe.
LESLIE: Wally in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
WALLY: I’ve got a little problem with a drainage tile. I have a 3-foot drainage concrete over tile that was running through a property. And it’s right on the property line and it goes into and marries up to a 3-foot steel tile – 3-foot steel drainage tile. The concrete tile has corroded and broke and is collapsing, which is causing water to come up through the ground. I’m not really sure how to get these two tiles back together, what the solution is for this, whether it needs to be an excavator or – I don’t know.
TOM: So, how deep are we talking about here?
WALLY: The top of the tile is only about 10 inches below the ground. It used to be – what it is – it’s a runoff off the road, which goes through, actually, three properties. And then it goes back into an open (inaudible at 0:31:38). All this tile that was …
TOM: But, Wally, if it’s only 10 inches off the surface, then the easiest thing to do is to dig it up from the surface and repair it.
There are ways to repair pipes that are in place underground. There are ways to line pipes. There are systems out where, essentially, a fiberglass sleeve can be put inside of an existing pipe that has failed and cracked. But they’re pretty expensive and you usually reserve those for places where you can’t dig. But if you can access this thing within a foot of the surface or 2 feet at the surface, then it’s definitely worth it.
WALLY: Definitely worth it. Yeah, it’s making a big mess. We had such a hard winter up north up here that I think some just gave and broke and got a big mess, actually.
TOM: Yeah. Well, if it’s that high up in the soil line, it’s above the frost line so, obviously, when it gets wet, it freezes and it cracks. It expands and cracks. So, that’s something that’s going to keep repeating itself because of its position.
WALLY: So, that’s the solution is some kind of fiberglass liner, so break the – break that tile or the concrete pipe back further, then try to slide a bigger tile into it? And then into the steel?
TOM: No, no. No, no, no. No, no. You misunderstand.
TOM: What I’m saying is that you want to dig down and replace the sections of broken pipe.
Now, if you don’t want to do that, you can line the pipe. It’s not a do-it-yourself project. You need to find a company that can do it. And the way that’s done is they push from – they access the pipe at one point and they push what kind of looks like a fiberglass sock into the line. And then they fill the pipe with hot water that cures it and forms sort of a tube or a pipe within a pipe.
But that’s the kind of thing that you do if you’re going under driveways or around pools and stuff where you really don’t want to cause any …
WALLY: Nope. This is just through a yard.
TOM: Yeah, if it’s just through a yard, just dig it up, replace it and call it a day.
WALLY: OK. Thank you very kindly.
TOM: Wally, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, apartment and city living doesn’t mean you have to miss out on homegrown fruits and veggies. We’ll tell you how you can enjoy your own bountiful harvest, with tips on apartment gardening, next.
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, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online to the Community section of MoneyPit.com, like Jack did. Jack says, “We own a 1920s-era tract home with floor-structure issues in both the bath and the kitchen. House is in need of a complete and major remodel with a new kitchen and bath. And what are the best steps to make sure we plan for the right work to be done in the right way?”
Great question, Jack. One of the things I might suggest you do is considering – is to consider employing a certified kitchen-and-bath designer. These types of designers special in those spaces and can give you good design advice to make sure everything is planned out properly.
In terms of the structure, I mean look, that’s the best place to start. Work from the bottom up. When you’re tearing out these spaces, you can easily pull up the floor and address any floor issues that are there at that moment. And in consideration to the fact that you’re doing the entire project, it really is not going to add considerably to it.
LESLIE: No. And, Jack, this really is a great opportunity for you to update the décor of your home since you are starting over. A lot of people are mixing cabinet colors, going for a lighter cabinet on the upper and a darker cabinet on the lower.Or same color and finish on the upper and lower cabinets and doing an island with a different finish. And you can even do small islands out of found furnishings.
Keep your lighting fresh. Remember to add an interesting fixture into your bathroom. Mix finishes and you’ll really have a beautiful, unique space that you’ll love all over again.
TOM: Well, it’s the time of year when we get to trade in our snow shovels for a rake and get to work on a garden. But if you’re short on space, there are still ways to exercise your green thumb. Leslie has ideas, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, I think we should start with the front of your house. It’s really important to make your house look beautiful. You can do that with container gardens. So if you don’t have a yard space, this is a really great opportunity to give a pop of color and bring in some spring life. You can even, if you’re brownstone-living in an urban environment, make those container gardens out front a little veggie garden. So you’ve got a great chance there to get your hands dirty.
Now, we’re seeing vertical wall gardens. They are popping up everywhere, from airports and shopping malls and restaurants and the coolest lounges you go to. These wall gardens, they really soften a sleek, modern apartment, as well. And you can use a trellis on a grid or plant any kind of vine. There’s even these fabric – they almost look like shoe holders that you would put in your closet but they’re made from a special fabric that holds the water and you put the dirt right in there. It’s a great way to bring a lot of beautiful greenery into your home or into a porch or a terrace and make it just look beautifully landscaped.
Now, another idea for urban living is a community garden. People are transforming unused pieces of land in their neighborhood into these gourmet gardens of fresh produce. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors, because everybody takes a turn lending their hands to the garden and they all share and reap the harvest. Now, the rules vary depending on which community you’re in but there’s a lot of great ways to get involved in a community garden.
Now, roof gardens, they’re also gaining a lot of popularity. Not only are roof gardens a great way to create urban microclimates but they also create an oasis in the city.
Finally, hanging potted plants: they’re back, although I feel like they’ve never gone away because they’re adorable and it’s a great way to bring in some drape-y color to some otherwise overlooked areas. Now, you can hang them on a balcony or a porch. You can put things in them like strawberries, even tomatoes.
If you want some more ideas, head on over to MoneyPit.com. We’ve got a great online article there called “Gardening Ideas for Houses and Apartments.” And we’d love to help you out. Spring is here, so let’s get things beautiful again.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about mulch. If you add that around your newly planted trees or shrubs, it can give the plant a real boost. But the key is in the amount of mulch. We’ll have tips on the right way to get that project done, 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 2016 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.)