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Winter Fire Prevention, Holiday Safety, Choosing Between a Fake or Fresh Tree and more

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And Happy Almost-Thanksgiving, everybody. We know that you are probably getting prepared, at least mentally, for the holiday season ahead of us. We have Thanksgiving, we have Hanukkah right around the corner, we have Christmas following immediately there after that.

    LESLIE: They’re the same day this year.

    TOM: Oh, that’s right. They are the same day. So, obviously, a lot of work to be done. Now, if you have Hanukkah and Thanksgiving on the same day, do you celebrate both holidays?

    LESLIE: I think you would start off with a Thanksgiving brunch and then end the day with the first night of Hanukkah. That’s my guess.

    TOM: There you go. There you go. I mean we don’t want to let a holiday slip by without celebrating, right?

    LESLIE: No. Absolutely not.

    TOM: But before you even get into celebrating, you’ve got to fix up your house, especially if you’re going to be hosting a lot of folks this year, and that’s where we come in. We’re here to help with your home improvement, your home décor, your home remodeling projects. But you need to help yourself first by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up on today’s program, wintertime means an increase in house fires, so we’re going to have some tips this hour on how you can protect yourself and keep your family safe.

    LESLIE: And one of the biggest causes of fires is the huge surge of popularity in candles this time of year. We’re going to tell you how to enjoy a warm, candlelight glow safely.

    TOM: And also ahead, fake tree or fresh this holiday season? We’re going to weigh the pros and the cons and help you decide. And also, we’re going to slice some of those old myths about what you should and shouldn’t do to keep that tree fresh.

    LESLIE: Don’t listen to my mom. Do not put bleach in the water. It does not work, yeah.

    TOM: Bad idea.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a great tool. It’s the RotoSaw+ from RotoZip. Now you can saw through drywall, plywood and more with professional-grade strength.

    TOM: It’s worth 129 bucks. Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s program. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Marlene in Iowa is dealing with some winter window issues. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARLENE: We had our siding and our windows replaced a couple years ago. And ever since we replaced the siding and the windows, in the wintertime when we turn the furnace on and get the heat started in the house, every morning when we get up, every window in the house has moisture buildup at the bottom of the window and even to the point where it makes little pools on the windowsills. So we have to go around to every window and take a towel and dry all that moisture off the bottom of the window and out of the windowsills.

    TOM: Well, the good news is you have to – you’re cleaning your windows every day, so they never get dirty.

    MARLENE: Thanks.

    TOM: So, the reason that’s happening is because your windows are not insulated very well. Are these thermal-pane windows?

    MARLENE: They were supposed to be. They were supposed to be very good windows but we had trouble with the siding that the guy put on, so I suppose he sold us a cheap window along with the siding that we had problems with.

    TOM: You see, the reason that you’re getting this condensation is because when it’s cold outside, the warm, moist air strikes the inside of the glass and it condenses. And so you probably have high humidity inside your house.

    There’s a couple of things we can do to try to reduce that. But if you don’t have good, insulated window glass, that problem gets really pretty bad. It can actually add up, as you discovered, to quite a bit of water.

    So, the fix, unfortunately, is to replace your windows, which is expensive. So what I would suggest that you do is take a look at all of the reasons that you get high humidity inside of a house. So, you get humidity from activities that people do: cooking, cleaning and bathing.

    Make sure that if you have exhaust fans in your bathrooms, that you have the fans, they’re ducted out of the house and that they’re run on timers so that when you’re done with showers and baths, they can continue to run for 15 or 20 minutes to pull that moisture out. Make sure that you have an exhaust fan over your range, of course, that’s also, again, ducted out and not a recirculating.

    Make sure that around the foundation perimeter of your house that your grading is adjusted properly. You want to make sure that soil slopes away from the walls and that your gutters and downspouts are extended. Because believe it or not, if they’re not – if the gutters are not clean, they’re not extended, if the grading is too flat, that water is going to collect in the soil around the outside of your house. It will be drawn into the foundation and then it will be wicked out of the air on the other side and work its way up through the house, increasing humidity the whole way.

    So, simply by making sure you keep water away from the house, you’ll reduce humidity inside the house. Does that make sense?

    MARLENE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: So that’s why it’s happening. Those are the few things that you can do inside to reduce the amount of humidity that you have.

    MARLENE: Alright. Well, you’ve been very helpful. At least I kind of understand what’s going on. Thank you and I enjoy your show.

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

    LESLIE: J.O. in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    J.O.: Got black mold or fungus stuff on the inside of my roof, in the attic space, between the rafters.

    TOM: OK.

    J.O.: Since, the roofing has been replaced and we’ve added ventilation on along the eaves and stuff, so I think we’ve done things to prevent more of it. But now I need to figure out how to get the old stuff out of there. I’ve heard that you can use dry ice or something like that.

    TOM: Here’s all you need to do. Mix up a 10-percent bleach solution. So, 10-, maybe 15-percent bleach and water. Put it in a pump-up sprayer. You can use a garden sprayer, or something that will be easy to kind of reach back into those ceiling areas with, and spray the mold. That will kill it. And because you’ve dealt with the moisture issue, it’s not going to grow back.

    So if you want to take care of what’s there, treat it with a bleach-and-water solution. And because you’ve got better ventilation now, you don’t have to worry about it reoccurring, OK?

    J.O.: Yeah. Along that same line, too, I did mention is it’s got really old, matted-down, smashed-down insulation.

    TOM: OK. Well, then it’s a good opportunity for you to restore your insulation. What I would do is I would take out the old insulation and I would add about 15 to 20, 22 inches of new insulation. You can use a fiberglass batt. You put the first layer, fill it up flush with the top of the floor joists and put the second layer in perpendicular.

    J.O.: OK, great. Appreciate the help.

    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 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, a startling fact: the United States has the highest fire death rate in the industrialized world. That’s why we’ve got important safety tips to keep you and your family safe, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Bostitch Mechanics Tools deliver the rugged reliability you’ve come to expect from Bostitch. Designed for the professional, built to last. For more information, visit Bostitch.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. Pick up the phone, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that we talk to this hour is going to win the RotoSaw+ from RotoZip. You’re going to get the strength and power of professional-grade tools with comfort and control. I mean you can really use this tool for just about anything.

    It’s great for installing tile, repairing subfloors, tackling cutouts in plaster walls. You can do a lot of things with the RotoSaw+. It was actually designed to zip through just about anything.

    TOM: Check it out at RotoZip.com. It’s a prize worth $129. Going to go out to one caller we talk to on today’s show, so pick up the phone and make that person you, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Joyce in Illinois who’s having a flooring issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOYCE: Well, a few years ago, I put down a new kitchen floor – Congoleum DuraCeramic kitchen floor. And it has all these marks and things on it that I had a guy come out and look at it and he said it was a problem from the factory. And I thought they were going to replace it and they never did replace it for me. And I was just wondering, what do I put down? I have home day care and I was wondering what I could put down to stand up to my home day care and still look nice?

    TOM: Laminate works really well and it’s gotten less expensive, it’s easier to install.

    Laminate floor is – can look like vinyl, it can look like stone, it can look like wood. It can look like anything. And it’s basically made of a medium-density fiberboard and then a color layer which has the pattern of the stone or whatever it is on it. And then the laminate is on top of that. So, basically, it’s a sandwich.

    And while people are comparing – would compare laminates to, say, a laminate countertop, like a Formica, a laminate floor is actually about 100 times more durable because they put more protection on it. Yeah, I’ve had a laminate floor down in my house, which is a very old house, for about 10 years. And it looks as good as the day we put it down, so I know it stands up well.

    JOYCE: Well, I know I have day care and the kids are throwing toys around and everything else.

    TOM: Sure. Absolutely.

    JOYCE: Yeah.

    TOM: Kids, dogs, toys, furniture. Yeah, I would take a look at laminates. Tough stuff and easy to clean.

    JOYCE: OK. OK.

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

    LESLIE: Well, here’s some surprising news that I just learned. The United States has the highest fire death rate in the industrialized world and so many of these fires are preventable. So we’ve got some tips here to help you out.

    TOM: Now, one of the biggest causes of house fires that we focus on this time of year is heating equipment. It’s something that you should be dealing with right now. You should have your furnace or your boiler or your water heater serviced. Because not only are they fire hazards, they can also be carbon-monoxide dangers, as well. So, if you have not taken that step yet, let’s get to it before the super-cold weather sets in.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Also, now is the time to have your fireplace chimney inspected and professionally cleaned. Just keep in mind that you need to look for a reputable company. Chimney-sweep companies tend to have a high scam rate, so you just want to make sure you do your research.

    You also want to take a look at your heating sources, like your radiators, your baseboard heating units or your vents. Are any of them near some flammable materials, perhaps draperies or clothing or cardboard boxes? You want to make sure that you move those things out of the way.

    TOM: And don’t forget the basics: make sure you have a smoke detector installed on every level of the house, especially near the bedrooms, as well as a properly-rated fire extinguisher. You want to have those handy, too.

    You can to go MoneyPit.com and search “fire safety” for more tips and information.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading over to New York where Rita is on the line with a mysterious odor. What is going on over there?

    RITA: Well, I purchased a new refrigerator and I had it installed. And overnight, the water line broke and it flooded through the second floor where my kitchen is – through the cabinets, the floor – went downstairs through the ceiling and then into the first floor, in through the garage.

    TOM: Gravity stinks, huh?

    RITA: Yeah. I definitely think – we just bought the house.

    TOM: Oh, boy.

    RITA: So as first-time homeowners – and then we’ve been in the house only for a couple of weeks. When we got the refrigerator, we were excited and then that happened. We had a company that came out and dried everything out, because it went all night, and they told us there was no mold.

    And then two weeks later, our garage, when we were getting the work done to repair everything, one of the workers left (inaudible at 0:12:45) the water hose in the garage and that exploded. And then everything that we had in the garage got completely drenched, wet. And we were able to dry that out without getting another company in.

    But the first time after the first flood happened, we smelled – it was like a sweet, sickly smell when you open the door to come in. The garage is right next door to the entrance. And that smell was wafting up towards the upstairs where the kitchen cabinet is, where that flooding happened. And now, after the second one, that smell got really strong.

    And there’s no mold; there is no sign of any mold anywhere. But the smell isn’t going away. And we’ve been running a dehumidifier but we just don’t know how else to resolve it.

    TOM: You should know that mold is not going to form instantly, so the fact that you had a leak and then you’re saying you’re smelling this right away is not likely the result of mold. It’s more likely just the humidity mixed in with ever – with whatever got into that water that caused that.

    By the way, when this refrigerator line broke and you did all this work, did you contact your homeowners insurance company?

    RITA: We had to because the company who we purchased the refrigerator from, they were all pointing fingers at each other as to the cause of this water-line break. And so, they really didn’t want to take anything. So we had to wait – because it happened on a weekend, of course. We had to wait a few days. And once my homeowners insurance got involved, we didn’t know anything about getting a company to come in and look at the water. There was a lot of water still in between that area.

    So they ran their fans and the dehumidifiers and they pulled all the water out and they dried everything out. But it destroyed our floors on both levels, because they’re wood floors.

    TOM: Right. And that should have been covered by your homeowners insurance.

    RITA: Right. Yeah, we did go through them and they’re going to go after, now, these companies that are involved in the installation but …

    TOM: And that’s what you should do because the homeowners insurance company is there to cover sudden water dispersals like that. And you don’t need to get involved with the finger-pointing. Let them pay for the claim and then if they want to collect it against the contractors, then so be it.

    Well, look, it seems like the correction here is not 100-percent complete. So, as part of that mitigation, was there a flood-cleanup company involved?

    RITA: Yeah, they came over and they did everything and they said it was fine. And it was only a week after they had left that I started noticing that odor. And it wasn’t very strong but after this second time that we had the flooding, which was only now a week ago, the smell got really strong.

    TOM: I would go back to that same company as an extension of the original repair and just tell them it’s not been 100-percent resolved. Because I think you should keep this as part of that same claim.

    Now, the complication is going to be that now you may – because you had a second flood, who’s responsible for that? But I still think it’s the same issue. You should go back to that company and they have ways of treating those surfaces with disinfectants that will kill any materials that are left behind that could be contributing to that odor. And that plus the good dehumidification that you’re doing should stop it. It’s just going to have to dry out. But I do believe you should go back to the company that did the original cleanup work.

    Was it like a SERVPRO or somebody like that?

    RITA: Yeah, that’s who we used: SERVPRO.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah. So this is what these guys do and they know how to get paid through the insurance companies and it shouldn’t be a lot of stress for you. So I would go back to them and have them continue to treat the issue, because it’s not been resolved.

    RITA: Alright, great. Well, thank you for your help.

    TOM: Well, good luck with that project.

    RITA: Thank you very much. Have a good one.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tim on the line who’s dealing with a big crack in a driveway, causing some unevenness. Tell us what’s going on.

    TIM: Well, I have a concrete driveway. It’s 3 inches thick; I found that out after I saw the crack in the driveway. And they poured this driveway in one – as far as width. And they put it – it’s probably 16-foot wide and they poured it in 16×12-foot sections with – it looks like fracture pieces in it instead of the actual expansion joints? And where it goes over my drop – the ditch over my cupboard – it has a spot about a – 1 foot in a triangle – 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot – where it has dropped.

    And I’m trying to find some way to bring that piece back up level with the rest. That way, I can see – I’ve already had it sealed but I put a silicone in there along the joints to keep any further erosion from happening.

    TOM: How big is the piece that’s dropped? You said – is it cracked 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot?

    TIM: Yes. It’s a 1-foot triangle piece.

    TOM: So can you dig that piece out?

    TIM: No, I can’t, because it did not break on a smooth line. It fractured and it dropped down.

    TOM: Yeah. Because you know – I tell you what, I’ve broken sidewalks in half before, because I had to run pipes underneath them, and then put them back in place kind of right where they were and just sort of filled them up and made it level. So, it would be sweet if you could extract that piece of concrete but I guess you can’t. And so now you’re going to have to pour a new piece.

    How thick is the – how far down has it dropped?

    TIM: The front – on the back edge of it, it’s still level. On the front, it’s probably dropped about 3 inches.

    TOM: OK. Well, not so bad. What you’re going to do is you’re going to mix up an epoxy-based, concrete-repair product that has good adhesion.

    TIM: OK.

    TOM: And then you’re going to put a second layer on that. And QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E …

    TIM: OK.

    TOM: Yeah, you want to use the type of concrete mix that’s made to be a patch. And the difference is that it sticks to the old stuff. If you use regular concrete mix, it won’t stick. But if you use the patch mix, then it will stick. And they also have good step-by-step videos on their website to kind of show you how to do this.

    TIM: OK. Would I be better off by just knocking that one piece – that piece – out and refilling it, since it’s not that big of a piece?

    TOM: Yeah, you might be, because I want to make sure it’s stable underneath. But they – there’s a vinyl, concrete patcher product that can be used on top of this. And it’s designed to adhere to what was there before and not crack again. OK?

    TIM: I appreciate it.

    TOM: Still ahead, a husband-and-wife team set out to make a natural air freshener that can take on tough odors and end up creating a very thriving business. Learn more about the products behind them and how they can take on even the toughest odors in your home, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    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: Well, as we move into the holiday season, one thing we do a lot of is cook. But the day after the big meal, have you ever noticed that your home still reeks of yesterday’s festivities? Well, that is just one of the many reasons millions of Americans reach for air fresheners to help keep their homes smelling great.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And no product does that better than Citrus Magic. It’s an all-natural product and it works amazingly well. In fact, I know because Tom uses it to keep his pets’ area smelling really nice. And I actually put the solid one into the diaper pail in the baby’s room and it really is the ultimate air freshener.

    TOM: It has to be. And Citrus Magic is made by Beaumont Products, a company formed in 1991 by Hank and Cheryl Picken who join us now with their story.

    Welcome, Hank and Cheryl.

    CHERYL: Hello.

    HANK: Nice to be with you guys.

    TOM: Well, thanks for taking some time with us. You guys must be the ultimate small-business success story. Somehow you manage to live and work together? How does that work, Hank?

    HANK: Sometimes it’s a challenge but I’ve got to say, it’s been 20-some-odd years. Been a fun ride.

    TOM: Well, that’s fantastic. Now, I want to talk to you a bit about your product, Citrus Magic, because it’s one that both Leslie and I have come to appreciate since you sent us some samples some years ago. I’ve been using the spray because, well, I’ve got kids and I’ve got pets. And I tell you what, nothing makes the odors go away quicker and more effectively and more naturally, without sort of the heavy perfume smell, than the Citrus Magic line of products.

    How did you come across this product, initially, and how has it grown since that time?

    HANK: We actually discovered the Citrus Magic product sitting on a shelf in a hardware store in Kennesaw, Georgia. And based on its positioning and its effectiveness, ended up buying the company. It is not only 100-percent natural but it’s a non-aerosol delivery system. And those two were very, very timely as far as the trends in the consumer marketplace.

    LESLIE: Hmm. And I think what’s important to know is that unlike other air-freshening products or devices, what Citrus Magic does different, which I noticed right away, is that instead of just sort of layering another scent on top of whatever it is this odor you’re trying to get rid of, it actually just wipes out that funk, you know, completely.

    HANK: Well, it’s true. What it is is our product is 100-percent natural and 100-percent active. Buy an ordinary can of air freshener, you find it’s got maybe 3-percent perfume, a lot of water and a lot of gas. Our product, because of the delivery system being non-aerosol, it’s 100-percent active, so it’s 100-percent citrus oil. And citrus oil itself is a very, very effective solvent and it dissolves any odor molecules in the air. You spray it and not only is it 100-percent natural but it’s extremely effective.

    TOM: Yeah, as evidenced by the fact that Leslie uses the solid as the bottom of her diaper pail.

    Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: It’s true. And I don’t even – it has a sticker on top with perforations below it, so you peel it off to sort of expose the amount of solid. And truly, I pull back like a quarter of the sticker or half and put that inside the diaper pail, on the exterior of the bag, so it’s not even in contact with the diaper. And the room will smell like the most beautiful, freshly laundered clothing forever and ever and ever.

    And I forget about it. Practically a year before, I’m like, “Oh, I smell a diaper again.” I mean it’s amazing.

    TOM: Now, that’s one use that perhaps is unique to the product. Doing this for all these years, Cheryl, what are some other places that folks are using Citrus Magic that perhaps you wouldn’t think of off the bat?

    CHERYL: It’s amazing what our customers have told us what they’re doing. We’ve found out that the product is safe to use around tropical birds who are very sensitive to smells and any gases in the air. And also that it’s a wonderful must remover. If you have that smell in the early part of fall when your heaters come on in your house or in your car, to just spray that into the air-return duct of the house or car, you suddenly get this burst of freshness. And it totally cleans out that smell.

    LESLIE: You know, Hank, it really does work so well, the Citrus Magic Spray. I feel like the dog in the “Roll the Beautiful Bean Footage” commercial. I’m like, “How do you make it? How does this work?” How are you so effective when I feel like there is no aerosol in it that makes it launch? How does it work so well?

    HANK: Well, what you’re dealing with with Citrus Magic is not only 100-percent natural but you’re dealing with 100-percent active. If you were to compare Citrus Magic to an ordinary air freshener that you would buy, the air freshener – ordinary one – would be in an aerosol container. And if you broke down the components of an aerosol container, you’d find maybe as much as 3-percent perfume. You’d find the balance of the contents either water or gas.

    So, in our case, it’s non-aerosol, so there’s no gas in our container. And it also is distributing 100-percent active product. So, we have about a 30-to-1 dosing advantage in our product. As you spray a little bit of Citrus Magic in the air, you are spraying something that is 100-percent active. Well, you spray an ordinary air freshener in the air, it’s 3-percent active. So, that’s part of it.

    And the other part of it is is the ingredient is 100-percent natural citrus oil, which is an excellent solvent. And it actually dissolves odor molecules in the air. So you get the effectiveness of much more product, in short bursts, and you get the effectiveness of the natural citrus.

    TOM: We’re talking to Hank and Cheryl Picken. Hank is the president of Beaumont Products, along with his wife, Cheryl. They make the Citrus Magic line of air fresheners, available in both solid and a non-aerosol form.

    Before we let you guys go, I know that you’re involved in a lot of charitable works, including one that recycles soap. It actually saves lives. Can you tell us about that, Cheryl?

    CHERYL: Certainly. One of the other evolvements of Beaumont Products is that we’ve started developing soaps, pet products, all sorts of other things where the natural industry can embrace. In the soap industry, we discovered a company or a foundation entitled Clean the World.

    Clean the World collects all the soap that is given to us or basically used after – or in resorts and hotels throughout the country. Beaumont Products is a part of that in that we recycle that soap and then give the – Clean the World gives the soap bars out to third-world countries throughout the world.

    And it’s something like 11 million children a year could die from hygienically-controlled diseases. In other words, if they had soap and water to clean with, they can save their lives.

    TOM: And that’s amazing. Hank and Cheryl Picken, President of Beaumont Products, thank you so much for being a part of The Money Pit.

    If you’d like more information about Citrus Magic, you can visit the website for Beaumont Products at BeaumontProducts.com. We’d also like you to know that Citrus Magic products are available at Walmart, Target, Kroger or your favorite local hardware store.

    Hank and Cheryl, thanks so much.

    HANK AND CHERYL: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, Hanukkah means eight nights of candles for your families but it can also mean a fire hazard if you’re not careful about how you use them. We’re going to teach you how to stay safe with your holiday festivities, after this.

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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: Standing by for your call. We want to talk about your home improvement project at 888-MONEY-PIT and we want to give you some tools to help you get that job done.

    One caller drawn at random this hour is going to win the RotoSaw+ from RotoZip. No need for multiple tools. The RotoSaw+ does the work of several in one. It can be used as a cutout tool, a grinder, a flush-cut saw slicing through everything from plywood to porcelain. It’s worth $129. Going to go to one lucky caller.

    You can visit RotoZip.com for more information or give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s time now for The Money Pit’s Pinterest Tip of the Week, presented by Citrus Magic Air Freshener.

    Well, flashlights are really great in the dark but only candles can add that special touch to your holiday celebration. And this year, we’ve got Thanksgiving and Hanukkah on the same day. I don’t know if that’s ever happened.

    TOM: Good point. This is also the time of year when we get a lot of increases in home fires. Why? Well, candles are one of the big reasons. So, we want to make sure that you never leave candles burning in a room that’s unattended or leave them burning overnight. You want to choose a menorah with sturdy candle holders that are not going to tip or burn and are large enough to collect that dripping wax. Also keeps it off the tablecloth, which is nice.

    And keep candles away from clothing, books, magazines, curtains. You guys know. The stuff that burns, keep those candle flames away.

    LESLIE: You want to make sure, also, that you trim candle wicks to ¼-inch before each use. And don’t use pillar or taper candles once they’re within 2 inches of your holder.

    Finally, consider electric candles. You know, these battery-operated options are actually really beautiful. They’re made with some real wax. The flicker is kind of authentic and it really will give you the same effect as a candle but a whole heck of a lot safer.

    TOM: And that’s your Pinterest Tip of the Week, presented by Citrus Magic Air Fresheners. There’s magic in the air.

    You can visit our Pinterest page, check out our Tip of the Week Board for more on this and other ideas.

    LESLIE: Now we are heading over to Tennessee and Randall is dealing with some mold in the garage. Tell us what’s going on.

    RANDALL: Yeah. There’s some black mold in a house that I’m renting, actually. I can do any work here, so there’s no problem. Apparently, there was a water heater that went out and so it’s up about – it goes from everywhere from about a foot up to about maybe 3 feet and around the back of the water heater and down the wall.

    TOM: Alright. So your question is: what should you do about that? Correct?

    RANDALL: Well, yeah, yeah. I wanted to know whether I can clean it or I need to rip out all of the drywall and just start over again.

    TOM: Well, the general rule of thumb is that if it’s less than 10 square feet, you can do the removal yourself or you can clean it yourself. And the simple thing to do is to mix up a bleach-and-water solution and spray it down. Let the bleach sit for 15, 20 minutes on the wall and then clean that dead – what will now be dead mold off of the wall.

    RANDALL: How would you clean that?

    TOM: You could use that bleach-and-water solution and a bucket and a sponge and wipe it down. You just want to not – you want to be careful not to breathe any mold spores, so wear a dust mask and that sort of thing.

    RANDALL: Is it just the dust mask or do I have to buy something more extensive, like one of those filter masks?

    TOM: Well, here’s the thing, Randall. Some people are super-sensitive to mold and some people are not. And a lot of people can go ahead and clean that with virtually no protection and never have any ill effects and other people that can – will try to do that and be super-allergic and be generally miserable as a result of the experience.

    So, the answer is: it depends. But if you go to the website for the Centers for Disease Control, they’ve got a great section on mold and how to get rid of it, there. And you will find some step-by-step advice, too, on how to clean it up.

    RANDALL: OK. So some bleach solution, water. About half and half?

    TOM: No. You only need about 10-percent bleach – 10- or 15-percent bleach is plenty.

    RANDALL: Hey, I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, guys, it’s almost time for trimming your tree. Are you going to go with a fresh one or an artificial tree this year? We are weighing the pros and cons of each type of Christmas tree, to help you decide. I’m going with a real tree. I don’t know about you. Stick around.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    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: Just about done with the Weekend Warrior Facebook Sweepstakes. You’ve got to get over there right away, folks, if you’d like to enter. Our first place is a PORTER-CABLE 20-volt, power-tool set with lithium-ion batteries. A great set of tools to have around the house. We’re also giving away some GutterClear 365, which helps keep your gutters clear, and three different Black & Decker lawn-and-garden tools.

    So that’s all online at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. You can get to it from The Money Pit website, as well, at MoneyPit.com. Head there today.

    LESLIE: And while you’re there, you can post your question in the Community section of The Money Pit, just like Joan in South Carolina did. And she writes: “Small, brown, greenish dots began to appear on my white car after a recent repaving of my street. It’s been confirmed to be artillery mold. Removal is estimated at around 200 bucks with no guarantee that it’ll work. Repainting is 1,200. Is there a more economical way to remove it?”

    TOM: Well, first of all, it’s artillery fungus, if that is, in fact, what it is. In terms of the car, I would pick up some compound – some rubbing compound – that you can get in an auto-supply store and try to work it on the finish a little bit, see if it takes it off. But more importantly, even if you got it off, it would come back again if you don’t deal with the source, which is usually the type of mulch.

    If you have shredded mulch around your house, that can be littered with artillery fungus. You might want to get a regular bark mulch, the bigger pieces of mulch. That tends to not have artillery fungus in it and that may be all you need to do to fix this, OK?

    But I don’t know that I would head on over to my local auto-care place and spend $1,200 on this to repaint it. I would simply get some compound and work on it myself.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Be careful if you’ve got light siding, as well. You might notice it there, especially if it’s in close proximity to that mulch, so take care of that mulch before you start repairing anything else.

    TOM: Well, it’s almost time to get Christmas decorating underway. And if you’re trying to decide between a fresh or a fake tree, remember that both types come with their own set of pros and cons. Leslie has the lowdown, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. If you’re deciding between a fresh tree or a fake one, here are some things that you want to consider. A live tree? They can smell fresh and keep your home cleaner by removing carbon dioxide and replacing it with oxygen naturally. Getting a tree from a nearby farm is also going to help your local economy, which is good. And they can be broken down into mulch after the holiday. The downsides are dealing with all those needles and of course, the watering, which you’ve got to do. And you also have to be careful that it doesn’t dry out, because you have to keep that risk of fire down, down low. And transporting and disposing of a live tree? It can sometimes be a problem.

    Now, a fake tree, you can reuse it year after year. And some of the artificial trees really do look just like the real thing. They’re much easier to maintain. You don’t have to worry about allergies or sap but you do need a place to store them year after year. Sometimes, assembling them can take some time. And they’re often made from a non-renewable resource: plastic. Now, there are often no benefits to the economy as many fake trees, they’re simply made abroad.

    But if you do want to go fresh, here’s a quick way to tell how fresh your tree may be: just do a freshness test by sharply bending a few of the trees needles with your fingers. Fresh, green needles, they’re going to break crisply, just like a fresh carrot. And if you want to keep it alive, no secrets here, guys: fresh water and plenty of it. Anything else like putting aspirin in the base, it’s all just an old wives’ tale and it does not work.

    And Pauline Segrete, do not put bleach in it. You’ll be surprised again when your tree is all brown and dead the very next day.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, it’s one of a homeowner’s most dreaded emergencies: a clogged drain. Especially with all the holiday cooking and cleaning, it’s one problem that you need cleared up quick. We’re going to have some tips to help keep the flow moving, 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.


    (Copyright 2013 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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