Window Cleaning, Cheap Gardening, Plastic Plumbing and More
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we hope you pick up the phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to help you tackle those projects around your house that you’d like to get done. We’re going to be your helping hand today, so pick up the phone and help yourself first by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because summer is quickly approaching and it’s a great time of year to make sure your windows are spic and span and in good shape; so this way, you can gaze out at everything that the beautiful weather has to offer.
So coming up this hour, we’re going to have some easy cleaning tips for your windows, both inside and out, including a trick of the trade on how to clean those nasty, vinyl frames that tend to get really gunked up with like tree droppings and stuff like that.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, really grimy looking.
TOM: Yeah, we’ve got a really cool trick on how to get that off.
LESLIE: Alright, looking forward to that.
And also ahead, we’ve got some tips on the best type of pipe that you can use for a plumbing project and, believe it or not, plastic is at the top of that list. We’ll learn why from This Old House plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey, in just a few minutes.
TOM: Plus, we’ve got garden and lawn tips on the cheap. Learn three ways you can cut costs and still have a great lawn and garden this summer without digging too deep in your pocket.
LESLIE: And speaking of the outdoors, we’re giving away a Krylon spray paint for outdoor spaces this hour and it’s a great way to personalize any of the accessories that you’re bringing out into your outdoor space like maybe furnishings or planters. It’s just a nice way to give a good pop of color and it looks fantastic.
TOM: It does. We’ve got an eight-pack of these spray paint cans going out to one caller who reaches us today at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with their home improvement questions; worth 50 bucks, so give us a call right now. Let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Tony in New York is calling in with a plumbing question. What can we do for you?
TONY: Hi. My girlfriend and I just recently purchased a vacation home in Florida and I was wondering if – we were interested in getting a garbage disposal installed.
TONY: And I was wondering if that would be a project I can do on my own or would I have to hire – would you recommend me hiring a contractor or a plumber and if I had to hire somebody, would it be a contractor or would it be a plumber to do that job? I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to install such a thing.
TOM: Well, have you done any plumbing or electrical work, Tony?
TONY: Really light stuff; nothing …
TOM: Because it involves both. I assume that this never had a disposer before.
TONY: No, it’s brand new construction.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s not wired for one; so there’s no outlet under the sink cabinet?
TONY: Yeah, not that I’m aware of. I’d have to check.
TOM: Yeah. You know, you’ve got to – it’s a bit of a project. I mean you could do it yourself but it’s a bit of a project. Here’s what’s involved.
First of all, you’ve got to get power down there. So that involves running a circuit or extending a circuit that you have so that you have an outlet down there because most disposers today are not hardwired; they have a plug and they have to be plugged in, so you actually have to install a receptacle.
Secondly, the plumbing itself, not terribly complicated since all the pipes are plastic but, you know, it’s a bit of a puzzle and it’s a difficult space to work in. So you may find that the time and the frustration factor would make it a lot easier for you to hire a plumber to do this. And you know, depending on the requirements of the area that you’re in, sometimes the plumbers will bring in electricians to do this work; sometimes they’ll do it themselves. I’d make sure that, in any case, you had a permit to get it done so that you can be assured it’s done correctly.
But because it’s a small space, because it involves both plumbing and electrical work, it may be best to have this one hired out.
TONY: OK, sounds good. Terrific.
TOM: You can get more sunshine time that way. (Leslie chuckles)
TONY: (chuckling) Yeah. Terrific. Thanks for the information. I greatly appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tony. Good luck with that new house. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Nancy in Nebraska, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
NANCY: My problem is the shower floor in the basement. My washer drains into the shower floor …
TOM: Hmm. OK.
NANCY: … and then when it backs up, until it starts draining back down, it sits there for a while and I suppose the soap and all the residue from the shower or from the washer water – but anyway, when my husband tiled, put ceramic tile on the walls, he also put ceramic tile on the floor.
NANCY: And the water, of course, gathering underneath that ceramic tile, made it real musty and moldy and that’s when we had to take that up.
NANCY: And he painted it and of course the paint peeled.
TOM: Yeah, you’re fighting a losing battle there, Nancy. There’s no way you’re going to get paint to stick under water, which is essentially what’s happening. I mean it’s not the right way to drain a washing machine. You know, you’re sort of cheating, so to speak, by trying to dump it into a shower fixture. If you had a proper drain, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But if it’s going to be wet all the time like that, there’s no way that it’s going to not peel and rather quickly because the base – is it a concrete base?
TOM: Yeah, so that’s very hydroscopic. It’s like trying to paint a sponge; it just ain’t going to happen.
NANCY: Yeah. So there isn’t any product then that they make that could be put on there.
TOM: No, I mean an epoxy paint – if you got it really, really dry – might work better than, say, a floor paint.
LESLIE: Well, it’ll adhere better but you’d still have to get it super-dry.
TOM: Yeah. An epoxy paint might be the only shot you have but I still think it’s probably going to – it’s probably going to peel.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Eventually pick away.
TOM: Eventually. Alright?
NANCY: You know, some of the hospitals, where they have their showers, have something on the floor. I don’t exactly know what it is. I was kind of wondering if something like that would work.
TOM: Yeah, I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to but, in your situation, you’re talking about a concrete surface, you’re trying to paint it, almost an impossible situation. You might want to talk with a plumber about another way to drain that washer.
Are you on a septic system?
TOM: You’re on city water.
TOM: Well, there ought to be a place where you can get to a waste pipe and drain that washer. I mean that’s really the key.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, that’s the best solution.
NANCY: (overlapping voices) Yeah. OK. OK.
TOM: Alright, hope that helps you out. 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.
The official start to summer is just a few short weeks away, so your money pit …
TOM: Can you believe it?
LESLIE: I’m so excited.
LESLIE: I really think we’ve had such a harsh winter everywhere in these United States and I think this summer is going to be wonderful and exciting and warm for everyone. So give us a call …
TOM: You’re just excited because you get to try out your new air conditioner.
LESLIE: Oh. Remember that crazy spring day that was like 90 degrees? (Tom laughs) It works and we’re thrilled.
But seriously, we want to help you guys get your money pit in tiptop shape because I know you’re going to have a big Memorial Day barbecue, so let us help you kick off the summer right. So call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, are you the type that says, “I don’t do windows?” Well, up next we’re going to have some tips to make window cleaning an easy and very doable spring cleaning project that will have your windows sparkly clean for the entire summer. We’ll have that after this.
LESLIE: Hmm. Why do I feel like that was a dig at me? (both chuckle)
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru Doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit Therma-Tru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do pick up the phone and call us, we will toss your name in the Money Pit hardhat for a great prize we’re giving away this hour. We’ve got the Krylon Outdoor Spaces Satin Finish colors to give away. This is a new spray paint from Krylon that’s designed for outdoor use and they’ve got some cool new colors: Ivy, Ocean, Poppy and Sunlight.
Leslie, when I read those names, I wonder “What color is that?” So let’s guess.
LESLIE: I see green, blue …
TOM: Green for Ivy.
LESLIE: … red and yellow.
TOM: Poppy is red?
LESLIE: Poppy is red.
TOM: Why don’t they just call that; green, blue, red and yellow?
LESLIE: No, because the poppy flower has the truest and most beautiful shade of red …
TOM: I see.
LESLIE: … and so you instantly think of a certain shade. And you know what? These are great. You can pick up some really inexpensive, metal candle holders – you know, hurricanes – at like an IKEA or even a craft shop. And if you just spray paint them – tape off the glass, spray paint them a really fun color and scatter them through your garden – super-inexpensive and a great little project that will just spruce up the yard for the summer.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got eight cans worth 50 bucks going to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question.
LESLIE: Alright, well since we are nearing the official kickoff to summer, I know a lot of people really start to get in the habit now of cleaning the house, getting everything ready. This is the time of year when we’re going to be inside, outside and truly enjoying the beauty of our homes in the best way possible. So it’s really important to pick projects that are going to help make your home shine and one of those is, unfortunately, cleaning your windows. Now, everybody hates to do this chore but if you do it right and you take some steps, you can really make it easy and effective.
So first off, you want to start with cleaning the frame and the experts, our friends over at Simonton Windows, they suggest using Fantastik or like a Soft Scrub-type cleaner to get rid of any of those unexpected stains that you might find on the vinyl windows and the door frames.
Now, if you’ve got a little guy in your house, like I do – a little budding Picasso who happens to walk around the house with a crayon even though I say, “Don’t walk with that crayon” – they may be writing on your windows here and there. Now, if you’ve got some Lestoil, that works fantastically to get rid of their creative efforts. Take a picture, document it and then you can be like, “Look at this beautiful artwork you made,” (Tom chuckles) but then clean it away.
Now, when you’re cleaning around the inside of your windows, it’s really a great tip. If you pick up a pair of white socks – simple, white socks – and then go ahead and slip the sock on your hand, and you can feel how you’re cleaning the window rather than crumpling up newspaper or a whole bunch of paper towels. The sock is a great trick and you can do that once you start poking your toes through the tip. That suddenly becomes an excellent cleaning sock.
TOM: Now speaking of cleaning, when it does come time to do the glass, you want to use a vinegar-and-water solution. And this is cheap, this is easy, you can mix it yourself. You simply put a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar inside a spray bottle of water and that is a fantastic, streak-free glass cleaner that you can make yourself practically for free. Remember to use white vinegar (Leslie chuckles) because if you use red vinegar, your windows will smell like a salad; not good.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Hmm, salad.
TOM: So if you want more homeowner tips on how to take care of your windows, you can log onto Simonton.com. You’ll find tips on everything that has anything to do with windows; a very, very informative site at Simonton.com.
And if you’re thinking about replacing your windows, download the window replacement guide. It’s a free chapter from our book, My Home, My Money Pit, which is on the home page at MoneyPit.com right now.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.
LESLIE: Elaine in North Carolina is looking to keep some bugs out of the house. What kind of bugs are you seeing?
ELAINE: Oh, it’s just an assortment of different kinds of bugs; maybe some palmettos, spiders; you know, not like termites or anything like that. But if we don’t – so far, if we don’t pay an exterminator to come in and spray, you know, every three or four months, they come in the house.
TOM: Yeah, and that’s a problem because with the way these insects are today, the treatments are very, very specific. You know, pest control has changed to the point where the chemicals that we’re using are very, very specific and you can’t put sort of the generic chemicals down anymore and expect them to do the job. You really need to have the pro come in and spray the right products down to keep the infestations down on the bugs that are inside your house.
So aside from sealing and caulking and making sure you have good screens and things like that, if you do want to keep those bugs away from your house you really need a pro to spray every now and again.
LESLIE: Is it more cost-effective if you sign up for some sort of maintenance service plan with the extermination company to sort of keep costs down from them coming back every so often?
TOM: I think that it is but I tell you, I’m so concerned about the level of pesticides that we put in our homes, I always recommend a pro over the do-it-yourself products because I think people tend to over-apply and actually put themselves and their family at greater risk.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in California is calling in with an insulation and a siding question. How can we help with the project?
JOHN: Well, I want to re-side the south side of my house and it currently has 5/8 T1-11 siding on it.
JOHN: And I wanted to put the hardy plank on the outside of it and maybe, possibly, increase the insulation.
TOM: OK. Are you going to take the T1-11 off?
JOHN: Well, I wasn’t going to but I could.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK. Because you’re going to have the issue of what to do with your windows and the depth around the windows and the trim around the windows and doors and that sort of thing to deal with. But hardy plank is a good choice. What’s your specific question, though?
JOHN: Well, you know, if I put the Styrofoam insulation on between the siding – the existing siding or some sheer wall and the hardy plank, then I obviously have to put some firring strips in to be able to put the hardy plank to and I didn’t know whether or not putting …
TOM: Actually, I’m not sure that that’s the case. I mean if you leave the T1-11 up there – because it’s good sheathing; it’s constructural sheathing – and you attach the foam insulation over that – so you have either pink foam, blue foam, isocyanurate foam, whatever – you can attach that right to the T1-11; then you could put the hardy plank right over the foam, nail through the foam into the T1-11 and have good attachment.
JOHN: Aha. So, how would you attach the foam insulation to the siding?
TOM: With a nail that kind of looks a bit like a roofing nail; it’s got a wide, flat head.
JOHN: (overlapping voices) Oh, OK. OK. Now the only problem I would have with that is that here where we live, up in the foothills, in the summer and it being the south side of the house, the ambient temperature could approach 100 degrees and then in the middle of the night it might get down into the mid-40s.
JOHN: So you would receive a lot of expansion and contraction of the material. Would that have a tendency to pull on the nails or should I use screws or …?
TOM: I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
JOHN: You think it would work.
TOM: Yeah. You would have more of an expansion and contraction issue if you had vinyl siding because it expands and contracts very rapidly and would be all wavy and stuff. But hardy plank is pretty durable in terms of thermal expansion.
JOHN: Mm-hmm. OK. So I just …
TOM: Yeah. You know, it’s not a bad idea to give a call to the manufacturer just to check out your specific situation but I think that’s the way I’d approach it.
JOHN: OK. Alright. Well, then I guess that answers it. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alrighty. You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, Leslie, that T1-11 siding – we’re talking about the plywood siding that looks sort of like vertical slats …
LESLIE: Well, it looks like planking almost.
TOM: Looks like planking.
TOM: Yeah. You know, it’s a very short-term siding, for the most part. I mean you get 10 or 15 years out of that stuff, it’s pretty good.
LESLIE: You’re lucky.
TOM: You’re lucky, right. But it is a great way to have a sheathing product that reinforces the structural stability of the walls. So that’s why, when you have T1-11, you may not want to remove it; because if you did, there’s really nothing that’s really keeping those walls from …
LESLIE: Because there’s no structure to it.
TOM: Well, there’s nothing keeping those walls from racking, which is like sort of sliding from side to side.
LESLIE: Evy in Ohio is dealing with a concrete garage floor that’s got some issues, to say the least. What’s going on?
EVY: We have a concrete floor and it’s separating from the outside wall.
EVY: The wall does not seem to be bowing on the outside; it’s just coming loose from, supposedly, the wall.
TOM: Yeah. And this is your garage floor, right?
TOM: So let me tell you how these floors are poured. Typically, they use concrete blocks to build the foundation for the garage walls and the very, very last thing that happens, before the masons head out for life, is they pour the garage floor. And typically, the garage floors can be poured on soil that’s perhaps not compacted as well; there could have been some construction debris that was tossed in there; it may not have been reinforced properly. But the key here, Evy, is that it’s not a structural problem, generally, when that happens. Could be a problem with the floor itself but think of that concrete as sort of a floor covering over the dirt.
EVY: OK. How do I fix it; just put QUIKRETE in it or something?
LESLIE: If it’s really bothering you, since there’s nothing structural about this, you can get an epoxy patching compound. Comes in a variety of forms. Sometimes you’ll find it in what looks like a caulking tube; sometimes it’s in a tub. If you can get it in the caulking tube, go for it because that’ll be the easiest to apply in this situation. And that’s the only thing that’s going to work because that’ll really adhere to the concrete; nothing else will.
EVY: Wonderful. That is awesome. You saved me big bucks. They wanted …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Good.
EVY: OK, thank you so much for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome. 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.
Up next, if you’ve got a plumbing project in your very near future, we’ve got tips on the best pipe for your project. And believe it or not, it’s plastic and it is easier than ever to work with. We’ll tell you why, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch, professional-quality hand tools, pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers. Choose the brand that pros trust most – Bostitch, available at Lowe’s and other retailers.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And I have a question for you. Do you have an ugly door? Well, if it happens to be the ugliest door in America – say, if your front entry could use a facelift or maybe your patio doors need a little help – you want to visit MyUglyDoor.com for a chance to win a makeover worth up to $5,000 courtesy of Therma-Tru. The My Ugly Door Contest has begun. It runs now through July 22nd. You really ought to go to that website at MyUglyDoor.com for contest details and entry info and especially to take a look at the photos. The before and after of past winners are a riot. You’ve got to see some of these houses. It’s unbelievable the difference a door makes. But take a look at it at MyUglyDoor.com and, hey, enter. You could win a new door or they could feature your door on that site next year.
LESLIE: Rocky in Texas is dealing with a messy driveway. What happened?
ROCKY: Hi there. I purchased this house. Apparently it belonged to a mechanic or something. And I am assuming that he hasn’t sealed the concrete driveway and it’s got a whole bunch of patches of what looks like hydraulic fluid and some regular oil, car oil. And I tried a couple of things and it didn’t bring them out.
TOM: Well, if it suffered years of abuse at the hands of a mechanic who did lots and lots of oil changes there, Rocky, you’re going to have a heck of a time getting any of that out. I mean if it’s a fresh oil stain, we usually recommend a paste of TSP, trisodium phosphate. In your case, I think we’re well beyond that. So your option right now would be probably to resurface the driveway with an epoxy paint or an epoxy patching compound and basically start over again. The epoxy will stick very, very well to the driveway surface and it’ll look a lot better. And if this oil stain is very old like that, I don’t have any issues about you covering it.
ROCKY: Oh, OK. So is there any preparation that I have to do before or I can just wash it off?
TOM: There’s generally – yeah, sometimes there’s a neutralizer that has to go on first. I’ll tell you a good website for it because you want a professional product; it’s Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n.com. And in fact, you can contact those folks and they’ll direct you to the exact product you want to use. But they have some really good epoxy coatings that you can put on that driveway and it’ll last for a good number of years.
ROCKY: Perfect. Thank you for your wisdom.
TOM: You’re welcome, Rocky. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if a plumbing project is on your to-do list – and especially if you’ve ever sort of dove into a plumbing project in your home – you know once you get into those walls you’re probably going to see a mishmosh of plumbing materials. Now maybe you’re seeing some things that are cast iron, some are copper, some are steel, some might even be brass. And depending on the age of your home, you might see everything in one area; you never know. But the future of plumbing and plumbing projects is using plastic.
TOM: Absolutely. And not everyone is a fan of plastic but, as we are about to find out, there’s no reason to fear plastic plumbing. Here to tell us why is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor and the show’s plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey.
And Kevin, in most homes, and especially older homes, you typically find a pretty wide variety of plumbing pipe material.
KEVIN: You got that right. In old houses, you’ll find all sorts of plumbing pipes. There’s steel and brass and copper and even cast iron. These materials have stood the test of time but they can be expensive and difficult to install. Some people think that the future of plumbing pipes can be summed up in just one word: plastics.
RICHARD: And there are a few options for running plastic plumbing pipes; for running water inside of a building, I think there are two. The first is PEX. The PE stands for polyethylene; the X stands for cross-linked. Now this is a process that makes the plastic not get brittle over time. Now you’ve seen it used on heating and we now run it on all sorts of plumbing systems and it’s flexible, so you run it much like wire inside of a building and it means very few fittings inside the wall.
The other choice for water is CPVC, chlorinated polyvinyl chloride. Now this comes in straight sticks and you actually put it together with fittings much like a copper pipe; you know with elbows and Ts and 45-degree angles.
KEVIN: So those are some options for water supply. How about the waste pipes?
RICHARD: I think there are two. One is PVC – polyvinyl chloride; it’s been around for years – and that’s usually a white pipe and fittings. And the other is ABS and that’s a black fitting. And it’s funny; in different parts of the country, one will be more popular than the other. But no matter what you do, always clean ABS and PVC before you glue. If you have a leak, there is no good way to repair it; you just have to cut it out and start again.
KEVIN: Alright. So it sounds like plastics have a bright future.
RICHARD. Absolutely. They do, but metal piping – especially copper – you know it still has a lot of advantages in many circumstances. I’m going to hang onto my soldering kit for just now.
KEVIN: And to see a video of all the options for plumbing pipes, visit us at ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: So for your old house, copper is the way to go.
RICHARD: Yeah, there’s so much of it in place that you’re not going to replace it all with these plastic pipes but for new work you’re going to see a lot more plastic.
TOM: Speaking of copper pipes, have you ever seen the pinhole problem and how do you deal with it?
RICHARD: We have and there have been a series of reasons that it can happen. One is water chemistry in a town or municipality and the other is the velocity of the water going through the pipe and the other is electrolysis; you know, loose, stray voltage that can cause pit corrosion. And when it’s a problem, you have to go after it. You replace the piping as necessary.
TOM: Yeah. And you either have it or you don’t, right?
RICHARD: That’s right, which is (Tom laughs) – you feel lucky if you don’t have to. It’s awful.
TOM: Richard, Kevin, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Glad to be here.
TOM: Great tips.
LESLIE: So I guess it’s safe to say that the old standards are still good choices but don’t be afraid, guys, of the new generation of plumbing.
Well, today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.
And still ahead, lawn and garden tips to deliver a green lawn and a growing garden that are cheap or even free. Find out, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac automatic standby generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And this time of year, many of you guys are outside working hard to decorate your outdoor living areas pretty much to feel like spaces that you might find inside your home. Well, if this is you, Krylon can help because they’ve got some fantastic, new spray paint colors that are made for the outdoors. They call it the Krylon Outdoor Spaces Paint. Comes in some really beautiful colors like a vibrant green and a blue, a really pretty red and a nice yellow. The paint is very durable – it protects against rush and harsh weather – and you can use it on wood or wicker or pottery and you can even – if you’ve got like a great chair that you found maybe when you’re dumpster diving, it’s all rusted over, go ahead and spray paint it with the Krylon paint and it will cover right over the rusty metal. It’s a great prize. It’s worth more than 50 bucks and it can bring a yard full of cheer, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Well, if you’ve been enjoying this beautiful spring weather by working on your lawn and garden, here are three great ways to save money and have a great-looking yard. First up, we would suggest you plant perennials instead of annuals. Why? Well, annuals use a lot of water and they have to be replaced; hence the name annual. You can actually find a large selection of drought-tolerant perennials that can live for many, many years and offer plenty of beautiful color.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You also want to consider getting rid of grass where you’re not using it. You know, lawns are one of the most intensive maintenance and water-consuming plantings in an entire landscape and they require weekly mowing, edging and recurrent irrigation, so it’s really a big project. If you’re not using the area as lawn, a paver is an excellent choice.
Finally, don’t bag your lawn clippings. You know, many lawnmowers have a recycling feature which actually allows you to mow without bagging the clippings. And then what happens is the lawn clippings, they contain water and nutrients that can actually benefit your lawn and the result is a need for less water and fertilizer and a far more beautiful lawn.
TOM: For more tips about taking care of your lawn and your garden, log onto MoneyPit.com. We’ve got an entire section devoted to just that.
888-666-3974. Let’s jump right back on those phones. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Judy in Oklahoma needs some help in the garden. How can we help you today?
JUDY: Yes, I bought a place that was – a house that was moved out into a pasture and it’s been 30 years and I have been fighting pasture grass. I’ve got about probably six to eight inches of soil and after that it’s just nothing but clay.
JUDY: And I just can’t get rid of the pasture grass to get a green grass growing. You know, I put out the (inaudible at 0:28:15.7) grass seeds and some of it grows but it’s just killed out by the weeds.
TOM: Have you considered trying to use Roundup on that pasture grass? Let me tell you …
LESLIE: Just to kill it?
TOM: … that when you have wild vegetation like that, if you were to spray Roundup on that entire surface, what you’ll find is that you can spray that and, literally, a week or so later you can plant seeds right through the Roundup and the pasture grass will die off yet it will still sort of hold the seeds in place and the new grass will come up around it because the grass seed is not affected by the Roundup.
JUDY: Oh, OK.
TOM: It’s called Roundup restoration. I actually did it to an entire lawn once; really freaked out my neighbors because …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, you had a lot of success with it, though.
TOM: I had a lot of success but the whole lawn went dead at the same time. It looked like the whole house was nuked or something. (Leslie chuckles) But I’ll tell you, it works great. The grass seed comes up through the old grass, totally weed-free. It’s fairly thin the first year but you’ve got to make sure that you’re set up to water it because it’s going to need a lot of water.
But I’ll tell you, the best time to do it is the fall because this way you have a full year for the roots to really take hold – or at least nine months until the summer comes when it really is easily dried out. So, best time to do this is in fall and you want to do a restoration of the whole surface. OK?
JUDY: OK. OK, great.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project.
JUDY: I appreciate it. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Ron who needs some help with insulation. What can we do for you today?
RON: Well, I was – I’ve had radiant barrier type stuff – it’s called E-Barrier from Sherwin Williams – sprayed on my roof decking. And I have r38 insulation and I was just wondering if it would be cost-effective to add anymore insulation to the r38 factor I have already.
TOM: It sounds like you’ve got enough.
TOM: So r38, you have, what about – well, let me think about this. You’ve got, what, about …
RON: Fifteen-and-a-half inches.
RON: Yeah, 15 inches of …
TOM: Is it batt or is it blown-in?
RON: It’s blown-in.
TOM: Oh, it’s blown-in. Well …
TOM: And typically you want 19 inches of batt or 22 inches of blown-in; so you probably, if you’ve got the room, could add a little bit more blown-in and still get some return on investment.
RON: OK. And one other question, though. How about foam insulation? How does that stack up to the other type; the blown-in?
TOM: Well, at this point, you’re already committed on the fiberglass blown-in, so I would not switch to a foam product. But if you were starting from scratch, it’s a good product.
TOM: I’m talking about the expandable products like an isonene product; typically used more so in new construction than a remodeling application. But they’re good products, they do a good job and they also seal out drafts as well as insulate at the same time.
RON: Alrighty. Well, I appreciate your time.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ron. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joan in New York is dealing with a concrete problem. What can we do for you?
JOAN: Yes, we have a 48-year-old house with an oversized two-car garage. Over the years, cracks have occurred in the cement floor.
JOAN: They have been repaired but eventually reappear. We’re wondering if there’s any solution, other than tearing up the entire floor.
TOM: Not really because you have a structural problem.
TOM: For whatever reason, the floor is moving. It could be that the soil underneath the slab was never compacted properly. It could have been that there was biodegradable material that’s in that dirt, like tree parts and stuff like that, and they’ve rotted out over the years and caused voids. And so the fact that it continues to crack is just evidence of the fact that the slab is continuing to move and you’re not going to stop that without a major project. Now, if this was a commercial property and it was a very expensive floor we could talk about mudjacking and things like that. But for your average residential home it doesn’t make sense to do any of those sorts of structural repairs. A garage floor, fortunately, though, is not load-bearing. It’s basically just a durable surface that allows you to park your car on it; so I wouldn’t worry about it structurally. But if you want to stop it from cracking it needs to be broken out and then properly poured and reinforced.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Up next, are you ready to get decked out for the summer? Well, what about your deck? We’ve got some tips for a deck makeover that’ll have it ready for a season of summer fun, 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 and if you love The Money Pit, which we know that you do because you tell us all the time, we want you to friend us on Facebook because we’ve got a great page up there and you can become a fan of The Money Pit and learn all about great, new tips and ideas going on for your house. And it’s super-easy to become a fan. All you need to do is text “Fan TheMoneyPit” – all one word – to FBOOK at 32665 right from your cell phone and you’re going to be instantly added as a fan to the Money Pit site, which is great and you’re going to get a lot of excellent information.
And while you’re online, if you don’t feel like calling in your home improvement question, you can e-mail us your question at MoneyPit.com. We’ve got a bunch here and I’ve got one from Michael in Virginia who writes: “I am almost done rebuilding my deck. I used weather-treated decking. I would like to have it as maintenance-free as possible.” Ooh. “Can I use a good, almost indestructible polyurethane like one that might be used for hardwood floors? Also, should the posts and undersides of the boards be similarly treated?” Gosh, if you wanted maintenance-free, I would have told him to go composite.
TOM: Well, absolutely. He’s rebuilding the deck. He used weather-treated decking, so I assume he means pressure-treated decking.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Pressure-treated lumber.
TOM: Now what I would do, Michael, is if you just did this, you’re OK to wait until the end of the season and let that lumber dry out a little bit. If it’s been up for a few months already, then you’re probably good to go and do this right now.
LESLIE: I think the rule is six months.
TOM: I do recommend that you stain it and I would use an outdoor stain and I would use one that’s solid-colored, not semi-transparent; difference being it has more pigment in it. And here’s a little trick of the trade: you actually can add a pint – only a pint – per gallon of polyurethane into the stain. That gives it …
LESLIE: Like the ones you would use inside?
TOM: Yeah. Well – yeah, or an exterior polyurethane is probably better. It actually helps that stain bind a little bit better by adding just a tad of polyurethane into that. And make sure, of course, it’s oil-based stain and oil-based polyurethane; not water and water. And you will find that that deck will have a nice, even color; it won’t fade; it’ll also be protected from UV degradation which is, frankly, the biggest problem. You’ve got pressure-treated, so it’s not going to rot but the sun is going to beat the heck out of it. It’s going to crack and check and get all kinds of splintering and you’re not going to be very comfortable in the bare feet.
LESLIE: Now I agree he should do the posts but I’ve never heard about putting any of the product on the underside.
TOM: Totally unnecessary because, of course, there’s no sun that’s going to get down there. So you can work just from the topside.
But speaking of the underside of the deck, give you a little trick of the trade for those that have an older deck that maybe has got one badly-cracked board. You can always pull that board out and flip it over and reinstall it because you’ll find that the underside is probably almost as good as the day it went down because of the lack of exposure to sunlight. So an easy way to correct a cracked board is simply to remove it, use a nail puller. Doesn’t even matter if you damage the surface because you’re going to turn it upside down and renail it and you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: Alright, here’s one from Cynthia who writes: “My 1943 small house has original white oak hardwood floors with no subfloor. Will the house sell faster if I redo the floors or should I install tile in the kitchen and carpet in the living room? The cost is about the same either way but what do buyers want?”
TOM: Oh, it’s hands down go with hardwood floors.
TOM: You know, because once you have hardwood floors you can do anything to them. But that’s a real asset for that house. You know, 1943 homes were very, very well-built. As you say, the hardwood was a standard addition back then. You also have solid copper piping and generally very good-quality Doug Fir construction and you may even have plaster rock lath walls which are very, very hard, durable walls. So a great era for home construction. I’d definitely finish up the hardwoods.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? I feel like tile and carpeting is such a personal choice that if you put something down in the kitchen that is highly labor-intensive and costly and it might not be something that a buyer likes, they might be turned off because they don’t want to invest it themselves. So I say leave the wood. It’s gorgeous. And good luck, Cynthia.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. If you’ve got questions any time of the day, the night, the holidays, we are always available at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If we’re not in the studio, remember, we will call you back the next time we are. Also available online at MoneyPit.com.
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 2010 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.)