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Windows and Doors That Can Customize Your Home , How To Fix Holes In Your Lawn, Keeping Track of Your Home Maintenance

  • Transcript

    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: Standing by to help you with your next home improvement project. You’ve got to help yourself first, though, by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    What are you working on this fine, spring day? Take a look around your house. What is it? There’s one project just screaming for attention. Well, call us. You don’t have to scream; you can just ask and we’ll help you get it done. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, it’s time, once again, to let the sun shine in or maybe you want to keep summer’s harsh rays out of your home. But either way, we’re going to have info on windows and doors that can let you customize your look and control the light.

    LESLIE: Alright. And also ahead, you know, warmer weather means Spot gets to be outside.

    TOM: That’s right. And my dog really is named “Spot.”

    LESLIE: I know. Isn’t that so crazy? Well, my guess is he’s outside more.

    And if he’s like many dogs out there, he likes to dig holes. And if that is posing a problem for your lawn, we’ve got some advice that can help Spot cut it out once and for all.

    TOM: Plus, one of the biggest hurdles in maintaining a great house is just keeping track of everything. Like when did you last change the filter on your ice maker or the filter on your HVAC system? And what size was it? And what about that light bulb that you bought that the manufacturer said was going to last for 10 years and it hasn’t? Where are all those records? Lost? Well, no more.

    There’s a new system – it’s an online system out – that helps you track each and every thing that you purchase. It starts right at the cash register and keeps it all nice and neat and trackable for your use. We’re going to tell you about that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, do you have trouble waking up in the morning? Well, one lucky caller is going to get a Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock from Sonic Alert. It will shake you out of bed. It is really great for those non-morning types and the hearing-impaired and teenagers. How about that? It’s worth 50 bucks.

    TOM: So give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. That Sonic Bomb Alarm Clock is going to go out to one lucky caller and I’ve got to say, I gave one to my son. It actually helps wake him up in the morning. The only problem is it also wakes up the rest of the family. But it’s pretty cool.

    Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got David from Michigan on the line who’s dealing with a leaky spigot.

    DAVID: I put these things on. I swept the copper into them on the – inside the house and put the copper – ½-inch copper pipe into them and sweating them on.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: And every spring, I have a leaker. The last three springs, really, I replaced four of them but I haven’t told my wife I had to do one last August, too. She thinks – and I get all my ideas and tips from you guys and she thinks I’m a home improvement guru, so …

    TOM: Alright. Well, let’s see if we can help you maintain your reputation there.

    So the spigot itself is leaking. If I understand your problem correctly, when the hose bibb is turned on and the spigot outside is turned off, it leaks, correct?

    DAVID: Correct.

    TOM: So, what you typically need to do is replace the valve stem.

    DAVID: That’s the – it runs all the way down the center of it?

    TOM: Well, what you would do is – there’s a nut that’s underneath the handle of the faucet.

    DAVID: OK.

    TOM: Of course, turn the water off first, right?

    DAVID: Yep.

    TOM: And if you unscrew that nut, then you can pull the valve stem right out of the hose bibb itself. And then if you take the valve stem apart, you’re going to find it’s got a washer on it; it’s called the “faucet washer.” And if you replace that faucet washer and put it all back together, then that should solve it. It’s really just that washer that leaks.

    Now, I wonder if by virtue of the way you keep soldering on new ones of these, if you’re somehow damaging that washer in the process, maybe overheating the pipe or something like that. Just speculating that might be the cause. But that washer is all it takes to have a leak-free hose bibb.

    DAVID: That’s awesome. That should get me back on the top of the ladder there.

    TOM: Alright. Well, we are very, very happy to help, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    ANNA: Well, I have a problem with a painted banister. We have a white staircase – white banister – painted and after a while, we’ve been cleaning it and it gets a lot of dirt into the paint and the paint has become sticky. I need to know what to maybe seal it with or some suggestion.

    TOM: Well, at this point, if you’ve gotten kind of a sticky mess on your hands, there is no sealing. You’re going to have to go back to the …

    LESLIE: Yeah, you’ve worn through the finish.

    TOM: Right. You’re going to have to go back to the raw wood and get as much of that old paint off as possible. So I would use a paint stripper first. There’s a pretty good product called Rock Miracle that we like, that does a good job. Get as much of that paint off as you possibly can, then use a good-quality primer – oil-based is best – and go up from there. There’s nothing at this point – if you’ve got a goopy, sticky, yucky surface – that you should put on top of that. It’s only going to make the matters worse, Anna.

    ANNA: It’s not (audio gap), it’s more just sticky and it gets grime into it. It’s the only thing I can tell you.

    TOM: Yeah. Right. And …

    ANNA: I was hoping I could maybe save it but it’s an awful lot of stripping.

    TOM: Yeah, I understand that. But the problem is that anything you put on top of that is just going to make it worse right now. When the paint gets to be that – in that kind of condition, you’ve got to really start taking off some layers. I mean you may not have to go down to raw wood but you’ve certainly got to get off the upper couple of layers and go from there.

    ANNA: Oh, OK. Alright. Well, was hoping you had a magic but …

    TOM: Sometimes we do but not always. Sometimes, the only magic is the hard elbow grease that has to go into a project.

    ANNA: OK. And what kind of paint would you suggest? An oil-base, I know that.

    TOM: Well, for priming, yeah. Just an oil-based primer. At least you get better adhesion with it.

    LESLIE: And then it’s better to use a glossy finish, because anything with a glossy finish has more layers of that finish in it to achieve that high gloss or a semi-gloss. And then it’s more cleanable or easily wipeable.

    ANNA: OK. Alright. Thanks so much.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question whenever you get it, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, are dogs digging up your yard? We’re going to teach you how to keep Fido from turning your lush lawn into a crater-filled, dangerous eyesore, next.

    TOM: Making good homes better, 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. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, pick up the phone and give us a call and we’ll give you a hand with your home improvement projects. But one caller this hour is going to make sure that they wake up to do those home improvement projects, because we are giving away a super-loud Sonic Boom Alarm Clock from Sonic Alert.

    Besides a loud alarm, it’s actually going to shake you in your bed until you shake right out of your bed and get up. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to be jostled out of your sleep.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lavonne in Iowa on the line with a floor-refinishing question. How can we help you today?

    LAVONNE: Yes. I have 1,350 square feet of engineered hardwood floor. It has been refinished twice and you know what? It’s looking pretty tough. And I want to refinish it again and I’ve thought about doing a gel with a lacquer over the top of it but I’m afraid if I sand it any more, I’m going to be into the plywood.

    TOM: You know, it’s very unusual that you’ve been able to refinish it once. Engineered floors have factory-applied finishes and they’re very difficult to refinish, which you may have discovered.

    One thing I can suggest, Lavonne, is this. Is the floor physically damaged or is it really just the finish is kind of worn a little bit?

    LAVONNE: You know what? There is some physical damage because of water issues, like where I had my Christmas tree, right? The ring, where it – because it wasn’t a very thick poly on it, I think.

    TOM: Right. Right.

    LAVONNE: And then there’s scratches, of course.

    TOM: OK. Well, here’s what you could do. What you could do is you could rent not a sander but a floor buffer. And you get a floor buffer with a sanding screen. So it’s a very fine screen that takes the place of sort of the buffing pads. And it will take off just the upper surface of the floor finish and kind of dull it out and smooth it out. And then on top of that, you can refinish it. So it doesn’t really sand the wood; it really just sands the finish, so to speak.

    LAVONNE: Right.

    TOM: And that might be enough for you to get a new finish to take. But I’ve got to tell you, you should just count your blessings because having refinished this two and now maybe three times, with engineered you’re really far exceeding what it’s designed to do. You’re treating this like it’s a solid hardwood and not an engineered hardwood.

    LAVONNE: I know and you know what? I’ve priced out laying new over the top of it, engineered, because to – the cost to remove what’s already there, the existing, is out of this – out of the – it’s just out of the roof. And to lay over the top of it, is that wise to lay another engineered over the top of it?

    TOM: But that said, I don’t understand why somebody wants to charge you so much to take out what’s there. It’s not attached to the floor underneath. It’s not glued down, is it?

    LAVONNE: You know what? That’s what I don’t know. It’s the unknown.

    TOM: In most cases, you would not glue down engineered floor; it would float. And so if it’s floating, all you would do to remove it is you would set the depth of a circular saw to the thickness of the floor, you’d put a bunch of cuts across the floor in a grid-like pattern, you start prying it up and throwing it away. The only thing that’s hard to get out is where it gets to the edges under the molding. But it shouldn’t be that big of a deal to take up engineered floor, as long as it’s not glued.

    That said, there’s no reason you can’t put a second layer over that.

    LAVONNE: So would you lay something in between? Would you float the floor or would you staple it?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s always floated; engineered always floats. And a lot of engineered hardwoods today have a backer on them already, so they’re kind of cushiony.

    LAVONNE: We’re thinking about – we’re going to list the house. It’s a 5,800-square-foot house. It’s huge and it’s just my husband and I rattling around in this thing and so – you want to do something …

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to list the house, you’re never going to return on investment by replacing the floor. My advice is to sand the floors with a floor buffer and a sanding screen, put another coat of urethane on it and then put the “For Sale” sign in the front yard, OK?

    LAVONNE: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, warmer weather means more time outside for the furry friends at your money pit. But it could also mean some extracurricular activities that you might not be so thrilled with, like those dogs digging holes.

    Now, some dogs dig just because it’s in their blood. Either it’s in their breed or they’re just – have the disposition like: “I’ve got to dig a hole. What’s under there? Did I hide a bone? I’ve got to find it.”

    Now, digging can also be evidence of anxiety or isolation or simply your dog’s desire to just get the heck out of there. Or it might even just be that something smells good to them in that particular spot. Dogs don’t know that their hole-digging is a negative behavior, so they don’t know that they’re not supposed to do it and they’re not going to stop.

    TOM: Now, there are several ways that you can teach your dog not to dig. One way is to place something the dog doesn’t like inside the hole and lure the dog away from the hole, drop the offending object in the hole when he isn’t looking so it’ll be there when he returns, like a particular object or toy that maybe freaks them out.

    Or you could remove something that he’s buried so when he looks for it again, it’s not there and there’s no payoff for the dog to dig up buried objects. You could also reward positive behavior with a treat when the dog roams around the yard without digging.

    LESLIE: That’s right. The important thing that you’ve got to keep in mind is that you need to be consistent. Whatever it is that you choose to do, do the same thing over and over and over again. And that’s how they’re going to learn.

    If you want some more information, check out our article on MoneyPit.com called “Dog Digging Holes in Your Lawn? How to Stop Him,” and you’ll get all the information you need right there.

    TOM: Or pick up the phone and call us with your yard-based home improvement project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mike in Michigan needs some help with an insulation project. What can we do for you?

    MIKE: Well, I’d like to know if there’s a do-it-yourself spray-in insulation, to do in my rim joists?

    TOM: So to do the entire rim joist, it’s probably too big for a product like GREAT STUFF but that’s pretty much the only do-it-yourself spray-foam insulation. If you’re talking about a product like Icynene, that’s put on with very specialized equipment and it’s definitely not do-it-yourself.

    But if you’re just trying to seal gaps around the rim joists, why not invest in a few cans of GREAT STUFF? It’s very effective and it expands to fill all those cracks and crevices. You could do the rim joists and then you could put some fiberglass insulation batts on top of that after it dries and it should be quite warm.

    MIKE: Well, thanks a lot.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Debra calling all the way from the sunny Virgin Islands with a question about termites.

    DEBRA: I have – on my porch, I have some wooden shingles and they’re pretty weather-beaten.

    TOM: OK.

    DEBRA: So I’ve left them unfinished so that I can treat them for termites. But then, I want to revive the color and so I was wondering if I should use something like Thompson’s WaterSeal or a solid, oil-based stain.

    TOM: So these shingles are not installed yet; they’re just sitting …

    DEBRA: No, they’re installed.

    TOM: They are installed.

    DEBRA: The whole – the entire wall is wooden shingles.

    TOM: Oh, the wall? OK. Alright. So you’re looking for a way to kind of freshen up the look of the cedar shingles on your siding?

    DEBRA: Correct.

    TOM: OK. So, right now, there’s nothing on them whatsoever?

    DEBRA: No.

    TOM: Then your options are – if you want to do a clear finish, I would use boiled linseed oil. That’s an old-time finish that lasts like crazy. I had it on cedar shingles; it lasted 25 years. You don’t want to buy raw linseed oil, though; you want to make sure it’s boiled linseed oil, because the boiled linseed oil dries.

    Now, if you want to do something that has some color in it, then you could use either a semi-transparent or a solid-color exterior stain. And that will really fill in and even out the different tones in the wood but still let the grain show through.

    But I’m curious. You said that you want to protect this against termites. Are we talking about drywood termites or subterranean termites?

    DEBRA: Drywood termites.

    TOM: Yeah, which is …

    DEBRA: I was thinking about using Bora-Care or something like that?

    TOM: Yeah because that’s a big problem down in the Virgin Islands, where you have the – that warm weather. Do you have to – do you see folks that are tenting their houses from time to time, Debra?

    DEBRA: Yeah, it’s – but that’s pretty expensive and it’s not – I mean it’s not foolproof.

    TOM: Yeah.

    DEBRA: In a couple years, you have to do it again and it’s very expensive.

    TOM: Right. Yeah, I think that folks in the – most of the northern United States don’t really understand this. But drywood termites – we’re used to subterranean termites where they go back to the soil every 24 hours to get a drink.

    But when you live in a tropical environment like the Virgin Islands – also very common in Hawaii – you get drywood termites. They don’t need the water, so they land and actually infest and stay in the house. And so you have to surface-treat them or you have to tent the house and fill it with a pesticide to kill them.

    LESLIE: To actually get them out.

    TOM: Yeah. So you’re doing the smart thing kind of staying on top of it and basically minding the food supply and trying to keep those little buggers away.

    DEBRA: So if I put the boiled linseed oil, will that hamper my termite-prevention treatment?

    TOM: Will it hamper it? I don’t really know because I’ve never had this – that particular combination.

    DEBRA: OK.

    TOM: But I would say that you probably should treat for termites first and do the finish second. I would do it in that order.

    DEBRA: Right. Of course. Thank you so much for taking my call.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Say, is it hard for you to keep track of the repairs that you’ve made or maybe that you need to make? Well, what if you could keep track of all of your home’s maintenance needs in one place? You can. We’re going to show you how, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Kleer Decking, the high-quality, low-maintenance PVC decking solution that will look as great in 25 years as it does today, thanks to superior stain- and fade-resistance and a lifetime warranty. So you can rest easy on your beautiful, brand-new deck. Learn more at KleerDecking.com.

    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 we are super-big on the need to maintain your home. After all, it’s your most important investment, probably your biggest one. And maybe the biggest hurdle to regular maintenance, though, is time or perhaps it’s not knowing what to do or when. There’s a new service now that can help you with both.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Well, what if there was actually a virtual version of your home online that you could refer to any time that you needed to know when it was time to, say, change your furnace filter or maybe remember what color you painted that bathroom so you can get the touchup paint? Well, there is a way to keep track of all of it and really, much, much more. And it’s MyLowe’s. So here to tell us more is Lawrence Lobpries, the director of marketing for MyLowe’s.


    LAWRENCE: Hi, Leslie. Thanks for having me. Hi, Tom. As you both well know, home improvement can be quite complicated and at Lowe’s, we are here on a mission to make home improvement simple. And we are leveraging technology like never before.

    And MyLowe’s is the first customer-facing technology element that we’re sharing with the world. And it is an online application that empowers you to be more in control of your specific home improvement. We’ve had over 2 million customers already adopt the program and we are excited about that and only expect it to grow over the coming months and years.

    TOM: Now, tell us about MyLowe’s, Lawrence. What exactly is it? How does it work and how does it help us maintain our homes?

    LAWRENCE: Great question, Tom. It’s about organizing your home’s information, getting access to that information when you’re in the middle of the project and really helping you get as quick as possible from that moment of inspiration to tackle a new project, to get to that enjoying the finished work. And it all starts with being able to track your purchases in the store and online.

    So, the MyLowe’s Card, you scan the card when you shop, that information shows up online. And as many of us have, we have a junk drawer where we throw receipts and product-owner’s manuals. There’s no need to have that anymore. All of that information is loaded virtually and then you can save it to the appropriate room.

    You mentioned paint. That’s a great example. When you buy paint at Lowe’s, you scan the MyLowe’s Card. Now that paint formula and color will show up in your account. You can save it to your living room. When it’s time to touch it up, you either reference your account or even ask the associate, when you’re at the Paint Desk in the store, “I need to touch up my living room.” They can access the account for you and on you go.

    TOM: That’s very cool. So, in other words, you have a portal online and in that portal, all your purchases that you scan through the MyLowe’s Card show up. Then I guess you can go in there and you could say, “OK, that was the paint for Bobby’s bedroom or Sarah’s bathroom,” or whatever the heck it was. And this way, you know. You don’t have to go to the crusty, old can of paint that you keep on the shelf in the garage or the basement.

    LESLIE: Which probably is dried out.

    LAWRENCE: That is absolutely correct. And to go one step further, in, I think you said, Bobby’s room, if you’ve loaded the room dimensions in there, we have a paint calculator. So you can calculate exactly down how much paint you’re going to need to paint Bobby’s room. So that will save you time and money, multiple trips to the store. Nothing more frustrating in home improvement than having to waste your weekend’s precious time making three or four trips back and forth to the store.

    TOM: We’re talking to Lawrence Lobpries. He is the director of marketing for MyLowe’s.

    Now, another thing that comes to mind when we talk about this, Lawrence, is warranties. That’s one of the reasons that we save receipts. We want to hold onto receipts so we know when we purchase something and perhaps if it does happen to break down, we want to know when we bought it, where we bought it so that we could take advantage of any manufacturer warranty that was offered. Does this tool also help us store that kind of data?

    LAWRENCE: So, yes. So you’ll be able to link to the product information in your saved purchase history and then there will be links to the manufacturer’s warranty information, as well. So, again, be able to sort in one central place and not have to keep all of those pieces of paper, as you referenced.

    LESLIE: That’s great. Now, what about maintenance? You know, we’re supposed to change filters and certain things at certain times. And obviously, I’m not buying a furnace; it’s something that’s already in my home.

    LAWRENCE: Right.

    LESLIE: Does it keep track of when I buy the filter or do I have to manually go in there and tell it what I have?

    LAWRENCE: Either; it’s your choice. So, when you buy that furnace filter – for me, personally, I have several home maintenance projects I do just enough to forget about. And filters are definitely one of them. I don’t know how many times I’ve stood in a store and said, “Is it 14×20 or 16×20 upstairs?” and always buying the wrong one. So, now, you can save that and set up a reminder in MyLowe’s and every 90 days now, I get a reminder saying it’s time to get the 14×20 for the upstairs.

    So, reminders for seasonal maintenance products. It’s very helpful for outdoor products, as well: when you think about doing fertilizing four times a year, when you change the batteries in your smoke alarm. There are several key maintenance things you do throughout the year. Unfortunately, you’re not doing them enough to know all the ins and outs of it. Save that information in MyLowe’s and it’s at the ready when you need it.

    TOM: Now, I imagine this can also help you keep track of project costs. Perhaps if it’s some receipts and some capital investments that you’re making or capital improvements you want to make for your house, it can be very helpful when it comes to tax time, as well, correct?

    LAWRENCE: Absolutely. For those items that qualify – when we had much larger federal tax rebates, it was easy to organize those. But we still have plenty of utility and state rebates available, depending upon where you live. To have that information, that’s going to help you redeem that rebate much faster.

    TOM: This is so smart. I mean you have to ask yourself, “Why did it take so long for us to figure this out?” But this is just brilliant because right at the point of sale is where you have the most amount of information. And you guys have created a system where you can capture it right then and there. Then, I guess, when you head home from the store, as soon as you get around to it, you can go in and customize and identify which room the paint is for, where the light bulb was installed.

    That light bulb is another thing. You see the packaging, it says it lasts for 20,000 hours. Well, who knows? But if you actually track that from day one, you’re going to know.

    LAWRENCE: That’s right.

    LESLIE: So, Lawrence, this is really fantastic. Because I make binders for my decorating clients that will have all of the paints, all of the lighting products, anything that we’ve purchased to put in that space. And I do that even down to every item of furniture and piece of fabric. So you’re, essentially, taking that big binder out of my project list, which is awesome. Will I be able to load in furniture or rugs or things that I might be picking up elsewhere?

    LAWRENCE: That’s a great question, Leslie. Yeah, it’s really based on – choose your own adventure with home improvement in MyLowe’s for the user. So if you want to save other products that we may not carry in our store, you can save links to those – that product information inside of your project’s folders and lists and then organize that based on the room that you’re updating. So, you could also surely be able to upload photography and that will definitely expand what you want to save in your MyLowe’s account.

    TOM: And you said it: home improvement is an adventure. That’s why we called our book My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. And I tell you what, MyLowe’s is your adventure guide as you tackle your projects moving forward. Great technology.

    Lawrence Lobpries, well done, my friend. Well done.

    LAWRENCE: Well, thank you again for the time, Tom, and be sure and sign up today. It is a free program. Let’s not forget. So let’s go to Lowes.com/MyLowes and register your home and get started.

    TOM: We’ll do it. Lawrence Lobpries, Director of Marketing for Lowe’s, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    LAWRENCE: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Are you running out of room for all of your stuff? It feels like I’m always running out of room for my stuff. Well, there’s plenty of space still left in your home if you actually know where to look. We’re going to show you some hidden home storage solutions, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Flood. Know how to open a can of wood stain? If it’s Flood Wood Stain, you’ve already mastered the hardest part. From the first board you brush to the last, Flood products make it surprisingly simple to protect and beautify your deck, fence and more. Find a retailer at Flood.com.

    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 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to this hour is going to win an alarm clock that could make Rip Van Winkle wake up. It’s the Sonic Boom from Sonic Alert. And it can be as loud as 113 decibels and will make your bed vibrate. So call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    This is the coolest thing because it’s both an alarm clock and it has this sort of remote device that you stick under your mattress. And it shakes the bed to wake people up, so I think it’s great for kids, it’s great for elderly or really anyone that has a problem with hearing or just doesn’t want to wake up in the morning.

    LESLIE: Like teenagers.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now for your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Barbara in California is in the market to buy a home. How can we help you with that?

    BARBARA: Well, I want to find out if it’s cheaper these days – with all the new, ecological innovations – to actually buy land and build your own house ecologically rather than buy an older home.

    TOM: Well, if you buy land and build a home, then you get exactly what you want and you can make it super-energy-efficient and very green from the ground on up. If you find an existing home, you can do much of the same things. You certainly can make it more efficient; you can improve different systems to reduce the energy consumption.

    It won’t be as totally green as going from the ground on up but it’ll probably be a lot cheaper, especially right now because the market is just so soft. There’s a lot of great deals out there in homes and there’s a lot of foreclosures out there, as well. So those are the things you need to consider.

    BARBARA: Alright. Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: Well, it’s that time of year when you are welcoming that bright, blue, sun-filled sky after what has been somewhat of a dreary and rainy early spring. You can make the most of your view with the right windows and patio doors.

    Now, Pella is one of our sponsors and they’ve got a Designer Series of wood windows and doors that were created solely with the idea that you can customize them and customize your home like, really, never before.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, these Designer Series windows and patio doors really have a large selection of between-the-glass options, so you can pick things – everything, practically – from blinds, shades, decorative panels and even grills. And you can actually personalize the exterior colors of these windows or patio doors and you can even change out whatever is between the glass yourself.

    And that’s great and really innovative and they’re really the first people doing this. Whenever you want a new look – otherwise, you were stuck with what you initially picked. And now you’ve got a lot of great choices out there, so Pella really is a good option.

    TOM: And the icing on the cake is that Pella’s Designer Series are the most energy-efficient wood windows and patio doors you can buy. Visit Pella.com for more details. That’s Pella – P-e-l-l-a – .com for more details.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill in Pittsburgh on the line who’s got a question about opening a home that hasn’t been used in years. Tell us about it.

    BILL: Well, I have a vacation home and I haven’t gone on vacation for three years.

    TOM: That’s terrible.

    LESLIE: I think it’s time.

    BILL: And I hope to go on vacation this summer.

    TOM: Alright.

    BILL: So my question is – although the water lines have been turned off all that time, the hot-water tank was filled with water.

    TOM: Right.

    BILL: And is that something that I can just drain or should I be afraid of bacteria, algae, Legionnaire’s disease? What should I do with the tank?

    TOM: No, I don’t think so. Remember that the water heater is always being refilled with the fresh water that comes up from the city water supply or from a well. And so, certainly, I would drain the water heater that’s there so that you get rid of the water that’s been sitting in there all those – all that time. But then, I think you’ll be good to go. You’re just going to want to flush that system out and run a bunch of water. But 10, 15 minutes of running water through the system should be all you need.

    BILL: OK. Well, good. Then I’ll have a safe vacation.

    TOM: Well, that’s good. I would hope so.

    LESLIE: And take more of them.

    TOM: That’s right, so you can get right back out there. And don’t wait three years next time.

    BILL: OK. Well, great. Well, thank you. That solves that problem.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, it’s the time of year for you to make the cut, in your yard, that is. We’re going to give you some pruning tips, 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.

    Hey, do you want to learn how you can save money, energy and maybe do your part to, get this, save the planet, too? Well, to keep the spirit of Earth Day alive, we want you to take a look at our green product guide, right now, at MoneyPit.com. And it’s presented, in part, by Philips.

    TOM: Philips energy-efficient 10-watt LED bulb is the winner of the Department of Energy’s L Prize Competition. It’s the most energy-efficient alternative to the standard, 60-watt, incandescent bulb. You can save up to $165 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. It’s available in select Home Depot stores.

    LESLIE: Alright. It’s a great bulb.

    And if you’re looking for some more great home improvement advice, always head on over to MoneyPit.com. And while you’re there, you can check out the Community section and post your question online there.

    I’ve got one from J.D. in Texas who wrote: “I live in a 40-year-old house. The kitchen countertop is tile with an old cast-iron sink, which is beginning to rust. Can it be replaced without removing the tile around the sink or is there some product that I can use to sand down the sink and recoat it?”

    TOM: Well, listen, there’s really no way to realistically recoat that porcelain sink. You’re going to find that all the products out there, especially with something like a sink that takes so much banging around from pots and pans and dishes and forks and knives that you tossed in – it’s just not durable enough. So I would vote to try to replace it.

    Now, can you get the tile – can you get the sink out from around the tile? Sure. It’s a lot of work and you’re going to probably have to do some regrouting. But the key would be this: you’re going to have to saw out the existing grout lines. And fortunately, there’s a number of ways you can do that. There are power tools that will do that. There’s also a grout saw that you can buy, in a home center or at Walmart or any place like that, that’s all of like $12 or $13 dollars that’s a manual saw that’s carbide tooth, so you basically abrade the grout away.

    But you have to use the saw all the way around the sink so that you free up that grout joint between the sink and the tile. Once you do that, you can take the sink apart from underneath, release the clips and work it out and then replace it. But before you go through all of that, make sure you can find one of the same size. Otherwise, you’ll be ending up with a big hole in your countertop that you have nothing left to put back into.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And there’s no way to fill that.

    Alright. I’ve got a post here from Sal who writes: “What can I use to get an oil stain off of my driveway?”

    Probably the best thing, Sal, is pick up some TSP – trisodium phosphate. You can get it in the painting section. It’s a prep product at the home center. And you want to make it into a paste and apply that to the driveway. That should absorb all of that oil up and out of the concrete or whatever you’ve got as your driveway surface. I say start there and if it doesn’t work, we’ll be hearing from you again.

    TOM: Well, for healthy trees and shrubs, don’t be afraid to make the cut. Leslie explains why, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, pruning trees and shrubs is one of the top outdoor tasks that you will tackle this spring.

    Now, pruning encourages lush, new growth and it actually gives that plant or shrub, whatever you might be working on, better air circulation. It also clears away any dead branches that could potentially be a safety hazard.

    Now, spring really is a great time to prune those summer flowering plants. They’re still dormant and their bare limbs really make it easy for you to see exactly what’s going on with that plant structure as you sort of refine and reshape that plant itself.

    Now, the only plantings that you shouldn’t go after with pruning shears are young or newly-planted trees. You want to really give them a chance to put down their roots and then grow up and out into the great outdoors. You don’t want to shunt their growth initially.

    So, really, take the time, look at the plants. If you’ve got a question about an exact individual species, look them up online, because there might be a specific pattern or a certain spot on the branch that you’ve got to take off. But this is definitely the time of the year to do it.

    TOM: Well, speaking of green things, we all love lush, green lawns. But sometimes, what’s green isn’t exactly grass, nor is it very lush. In fact, weeds can totally destroy a lawn and remove any chance of turning your backyard into that perfect putting green. Coming up next week on the program, we’re going to have the secret to weed control.

    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 2012 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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