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: Well, we are officially almost at the dog days of summer. So if you are suffering from the heat, if the A/C maybe is not doing too well, if you want some ways to get cool in your house, if you want to tackle a project inside your house or if you’re brave enough to tackle something outside, no matter the case we are here to help you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, speaking of those dog days, how is your lawn looking? You know the one you’ve been sort of carefully maintaining since spring? If it’s starting to look a little browned out, we’re going to have some tips to keep it green and lush straight through to the fall.
LESLIE: And during the summer months, a lot of people make the plans to move from their homes. But maybe you’re not planning on moving anytime soon. Then you’d better make sure you’re living in a house that you can grow with. We’re going to share some tips on how to integrate accessible design into your home in a really stylish way.
TOM: Plus, the summer is the season when home burglars get busy. So to help, we’ve got a bunch of great home security products we’re giving away this hour from Lowe’s Iris, including the Iris Security Starter Pack and the Iris Smart Hub, plus three months of Iris professional home monitoring, all for free.
LESLIE: Yeah, that package is worth over $214 and it’s going out to one listener who calls in their question at 888-MONEY-PIT or who posts their question online in the Community section at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: So, let’s get to it. Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Celina in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CELINA: Last week, I had estimates done on my home to have all my drainpipes replaced.
TOM: Hmm. Why did you do that?
CELINA: My house was built in 1944 and we’ve had some trouble here lately with clogs and everything. So, I just decided to go ahead and replace all the drain lines.
TOM: Is that because the – you were getting roots and that sort of thing in the pipes?
CELINA: I don’t think there’s roots in them, no, because we’ve had those – the pipe from the house back to the drain replaced already. This is just the inside pipe. And they’re old and yes, we have had a couple of them to rupture but I just decided to get them all replaced.
However, today, my son told me that all of that is useless if I don’t get the main line coming into the house replaced, also. And I wanted to see what your take was on that.
TOM: Well, we’re talking about two different types of pipes. You’re talking about drainage pipes versus supply pipes. And the supply pipe that comes into the house may or may not need to be replaced. The questions I would have for you are: what’s the pipe made out of and are we having any problems with it?
Now, in an older house, you may have the original steel plumbing – steel main-water pipe – coming into the house which, if the house was built – did you say the 40s?
TOM: That’s a super-old pipe that definitely is at risk of breaking.
CELINA: OK, great. So when they come back out to do my plumbing, because they’re doing it in two weeks, I need to ask them to look at the pipe. And that means – because none of the people that gave me estimates even mentioned it was bad.
TOM: Well, I would take a look at that. And typically, in a house, you don’t replace the drainpipes. I’m a little surprised that you’re doing that. Typically, in an older house with steel pipes, you end up replacing the supply pipes. And you do the horizontal pipes first because they’re the easiest to access. And you do the vertical pipes that go up through the walls last because they’re the hardest to access. And you can do it in stages.
The first step of a steel-pipe conversion is to do the main. The second one is to do all the horizontals in the basement crawlspace and the third is to do the verticals. And so, typically, that’s what you do in a house that has that kind of plumbing.
You mentioned you had some problems with clogging with the drainpipes but that’s pretty unusual. And I actually have never heard of anyone wanting to replace drainpipes. Typically, they replace supply pipes.
So you might want to get a second opinion on this and not just take the opinion of the plumber that wants the work.
CELINA: OK, great. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Celina. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mark in South Carolina is on the line and needs some help defining different types of insulation. Tell us what’s going on.
MARK: I put some Icynene in my house and then I heard someone say that closed-cell was better. And then I’ve heard that open-cell was better. Can you explain to me the advantages and disadvantages of, for my home now, choosing either closed-cell or open-cell insulation?
TOM: What type of Icynene did you put in? Is it open-cell insulation?
MARK: Yes, it was open-cell.
TOM: You know, there’s a lot of debate as to which one is better and I think that both have good qualities. Open-cell has a good insulating value. It’s more susceptible to moisture than closed-cell but it still gives you the benefit of being not only an insulator but an air barrier. So it protects you against drafts that are going to try to get into the house. The other advantage of open-cell is it has better sound-absorption qualities. So it’s a little bit of a quieter house and it tends to be more economical to apply.
So, I don’t think you made a bad choice and Icynene is a good product.
MARK: OK. What would be a reason I would choose closed-cell?
TOM: That’s a good question. I would say that if you were in a very high-moisture area, like seaside, then you may want to consider closed-cell.
MARK: Alright. Well, you guys have a great show and thank you for your time and your help.
TOM: You’re very 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. Give us a call, right now, on The Money Pit listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get matched with background-checked home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments all online, for free.
TOM: Yep. No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust. So give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, just ahead, when you think of accessible design, do you envision sort of a hospital-esque, stainless-steel, grab-bar kind of environment? Well, that just doesn’t have to be. We’ve got tips to make your home much more comfortable, accessible and stylish, next.
TOM: 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: Give us a call now for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros you can trust for any home project. And if you’re a service pro looking to grow your business and connect with project-ready homeowners, check out HomeAdvisor.com.
Hey, this hour, we’re giving away a great prize to one lucky listener. It’s the Iris Smart Hub and Iris Security Starter Pack, plus three months of home monitoring from Lowe’s. It delivers all the benefits of professional security monitoring with a smart-home management system for complete peace of mind. And Iris customers can now enroll in the professional monitoring-service plan for 14.95 a month. Pretty much the best value among smart-home security systems.
You’ll find Iris by Lowe’s at Lowe’s and Lowes.com. Their website is IrisByLowes.com/Products. The package is worth 214 bucks. Going out to one lucky caller that either calls us at 888-MONEY-PIT or posts their question to The Money Pit’s website at MoneyPit.com in our Community section.
Give us a call right now. We are here to help.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Kansas where Russ has a roofing question. What can we do for you?
RUSS: OK. I’ve got a farm that I bought eight years ago and on the farm, there’s a very large, very old barn. A matter of fact, the loft is large enough that you could probably fit a regulation-sized basketball court inside of it. According to the graffiti inside the barn, it was built in either ‘34 or ‘38. And it was done originally with cedar-shake shingles with 1×4 stringers, what, about every 4 inches or about a 3½-inch space in between them.
TOM: Yep. I know the construction well.
RUSS: OK. And as you know, those cedar shingles are not going to be in very good condition as of this point. So I know I’m going to have to go up there. Trying to figure out a safe way to work up there so I can remove the cedar shingles, so I can prep it to go back with, probably, a metal roof. The question is – I’ll have to screw the roof down. The question is: am I – will I be able to go directly with the 1x4s with the metal roofing or would I be better off nailing everything fully and putting down some plywood or OSB?
TOM: Well, I think that a good roofer could work with the 1-by furring strips that are up there right now. Because, frankly, that’s the way metal roof was originally put down. It wasn’t put down on solid sheathing; it was put down on strips just like that. So I think that that’s a fine option for you. I don’t think you need to do the sheathing in this particular case.
If you were going to put down asphalt shingles, I’d tell you you need to sheathe it. But for a metal roof, you may have to do some additional carpentry to get the strips where you want them, to make the seams on the roof and so on, but I don’t see a reason for you to sheathe this barn. I think the metal can go right on top of that.
RUSS: OK. So patch the rotted 1x4s and maybe put in some where the seams are and we should be good that way?
RUSS: OK. Do you have any suggestions on how to safely work on a 45-degree pitch?
TOM: Yeah. Call a roofer. It’s not a do-it-yourself project. I mean that’s a really high-end project and if you do it every day, you have all the appropriate safety gear and scaffolding and skill set to be able to work on that. That’s a very dangerous place to try out your do-it-yourself skills. Because handling those big sheets up there, you get a wind gust and you start flying off the roof. Those medical bills add up very quickly, so I would definitely recommend that you have a professional do this.
TOM: Well, universal design or accessible design is the idea of building a home that’s easy to use no matter what your age. So, we’re talking about a home that would be easy for not only someone that’s elderly but say, a mom coming home with a couple of grocery bags in one hand and a kid in the other.
LESLIE: That’s true.
TOM: It doesn’t what your age is, making your house easy to use and accessible makes a lot of sense. And while it used to be that these types of modifications were sort of seen as hospital-esque, now they’re absolutely beautiful and just really smart. In fact, there’s no reason not to design these kinds of elements into your house.
So, Leslie, what are we talking about exactly?
LESLIE: We’re really talking about features that are called “universal design.” They really just make good sense. They help you out every step of the way and they make your life a lot easier. And once you bring them into your home, you’re going to find that they can be super attractive, really functional. And you’re going to start wondering how you were able to get as many things as you did done beforehand.
So, first of all, when we’re talking about something that’s more for a safety aspect but then also looks good, in the bathroom we always talk about grab bars as you start to reach a certain age. But even when you have kids and you’re kind of bending down a lot and helping yourself up, if you’ve got a kid in the arm and everything else going on in a bathroom during bath time, you should look for grab bars.
Now, you can have them in the shower, outside of the shower. But today, grab bars look really like gorgeous towel bars with really unique and beautiful finishes and some interesting design techniques put on them. So they’ll match your faucets, they’ll match every aspect of hardware within your bathroom space. The trick there is that the mounts – or the brackets, I should say – are made to be very secure. They go into studs. If they don’t go into studs, they have special weight-bearing pieces on the backside of them. So, now, what could be a towel bar is actually a functioning grab bar. And you can use it that way.
Another thing – and you can do this all over the house – is instead of having toggle light switches, which are small and you kind of have to be really focused as to how you’re putting them on, you can put on rocker switches which look like that little paddle that you can kind of just throw an elbow to if you need to, if your hands are full. And that’s really helpful for people who have limited functions or people who are super-functioning – and over-functioning, I should say – by multitasking and just doing a million things at once. Those switches really do come in handy.
Along that same line, instead of round doorknobs or round faucets – think about a doorknob and a faucet sort of in the same category here – think about lever handles: the ones that are sort of like a paddle or that look just like a little U-shaped piece or a little arm. It depends on which kind you like. But the same thing: if you’re walking into a door that has a lever handle like that, you can use your elbow to get in. Same with a faucet: you can just kind of tuck it with your hand or your elbow if you’re busy.
So these are the things that really do make a huge difference. Also, toilets. So many people think that if you need something that’s going to help you through the later stages of life, you need a handicapped-height toilet. Well, that’s not the fact. You can get a comfort-height toilet, which is sort of similar height-wise but very stylishly designed, as well, super-functioning as far as water use.
So, really, things here just make a lot of sense. And once you start to do this, you’re going to find that your house functions a lot better and so will you.
TOM: I love the fact that they call this the “comfort-height toilet.” Comfort is not a word I usually associate with a toilet. When’s the last time you sat on a toilet and said, “You know, this is kind of comfortable. I like it.”
LESLIE: But you know what, Tom? How many times have you been in a public place or at a friend’s house and the toilets are different heights and you go to sit down and you notice the difference?
TOM: Right. Yeah.
LESLIE: Like you feel like you’re – “Oh, my God, I’m going to fall or well, that’s too …”
TOM: Because you’re not comfortable, Leslie.
TOM: Let’s face it. You’ve got to be comfortable on the toilet. I guess if there’s anywhere you should be comfortable, it’s the toilet.
LESLIE: It’s the toilet, exactly.
TOM: You guys get the idea. You can make these changes really easily in your home and your entire house will be more comfortable, including the toilet.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Cheryl in Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CHERYL: I have a cement porch. The house was built 1981 and it has a cement front porch to it. And along the edges of the porch, it’s cracking and crumbling off.
CHERYL: And then on one portion of the porch, it actually has a – water stands there because it’s a dip. I just wondered if there’s an economical way I can fix that to make this porch last a little bit longer.
TOM: Yeah. And there’s a couple of things that you can do. You can either resurface the whole porch surface or you could mix up a recipe of QUIKRETE products that could be used to patch those badly chipped or spalled areas.
Now, the key here is that you just can’t buy a cement mix in the bag and mix it up and be done. Because when you’re trying to adhere new concrete to old concrete, you need to use products that are designed to make that bond possible.
So if you go to QUIKRETE.com and you look at the listings for projects, there are actually one-sheets there that give you the step-by-step for repairing badly damaged concrete. There’s also a one-sheet for resurfacing concrete. And I think one of those two applications and the products they recommend there are going to work.
It is a do-it-yourself project and it’s not terribly expensive. The products are very affordable and the instructions are there, too. But make sure you follow them. It’s like mixing a recipe: you can’t leave out one item or it’s just not going to come out right.
CHERYL: OK. And then, now, as far as along those edges that – we have to probably build up a sidewall.
TOM: You could mix it up into a consistency where you could trowel it and reform the edge.
CHERYL: Oh, OK. Cool. So QUIKRETE.com. Thank you so much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sage in New York is on the line with an outdoor-watering question. Tell us what’s going on.
SAGE: How are you doing? I have an outdoor faucet, which I use to connect my hose in the front. And I believe it’s called a “frost-free sillcock.”
SAGE: And the problem I have is that when I open the faucet, I can open it full but the water takes, sometimes, up to a minute to come out, if it comes out at all.
TOM: Now, inside your house, there’s going to be another valve that is designed to shut off that line for the winter. Did you check to make sure that valve was fully open?
SAGE: It is fully open, yes.
TOM: So the valve is fully open on the inside of the house, the valve – the hose bib – on the outside of the house, though, you open it up and it takes a minute to come out. And when it comes out, is it coming out fast or slow or what?
SAGE: It comes out slow and I also wondered if the fact that the pressure was lower on this faucet, as compared to the faucet at the back of the house, was part of the problem?
TOM: And how old is the house?
SAGE: Oh, the house is only about three years old.
TOM: Three years old? Alright. So the plumbing should be fine.
What you’re describing is simply a valve that’s not fully open. And so, if the valve inside is open and the valve outside is open, then somewhere we’ve got a bad valve. Because that shouldn’t be happening; it should be very simple. The valve opens, the water flies out. Three-year-old house, there’s no reason for any corrosion to be inside the pipe or anything of that nature. And so you’ve got a bad valve somewhere; that’s what has to be looked into.
SAGE: OK. Alright. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Well, between barefoot traffic and the blazing sun, your lawn can really take a beating, especially as we get closer to these dreaded dog days of summer. We’re going to have some tips to make sure that the grass stays green straight through to the fall, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, did you know that garage doors cause over 20,000 injuries every single year? Geez, Louise, you can so easily and quickly get hurt at the garage. So, quick tune-ups and simple tests really are the key to making sure that your garage door is operating safely.
First of all, make sure that your door’s tracks, springs and any other moving parts are lubricated. Just like the joints in your body, all the parts in the garage need oil and movement to kind of keep operating well.
Then you want to make sure that the door springs are lined with a safety wire. Now, that’s a wire that runs through the spring and sort of loops back around to itself, just in case that spring breaks. If they do go shooting off, they kind of get caught by that handle or by that safety string there. And that really just keeps everybody safe. Because if that spring snaps, holy moly, those things go flying across the room, right?
TOM: No kidding. And you also want to check the door’s safety reverse mechanism and the electric eye. Now, the easiest way to check that safety reverse is just to lay a 2×4 across the bottom of the door opening. If the door doesn’t kind of strike that momentarily and reverse, then a repair is needed.
So, a couple of quick things to do to make sure your garage doors are safe and good to go.
LESLIE: Betty in California needs some help with a toilet question. What can we do for you today?
BETTY: I’m interested in the high-rise toilet and I’d like the pros and con and possibly a brand. Because our plumber is thinking of using KOHLER – the quick flush – and we’re on well water and that’s it.
TOM: Well, there’s really no cons of using – a “comfort-height toilet” is what’s that called. Not a high-rise but comfort-height. They’re a bit higher than a standard toilet. And in terms of brands, one that I can recommend is called American Champion 4. I’ve got American Champion comfort-height toilets in our house. And it really doesn’t matter what age you are, they are just easier to use. And the other benefit is that they use very little water and they don’t clog.
So I would take a look at the American Standard Champion 4 toilets and just get the accessible size and you’ll be good to go.
Alright, Betty? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, American homes boast more than 30 million acres of lawns, which will play host to countless barbecues, picnics and Frisbee games in the coming months.
TOM: And with proper care, your lawn can look great all summer long, despite endless hours of barefoot traffic and blazing sun. To find out how to do just that, we welcome This Old House landscaping expert, Roger Cook, with tips to make sure the grass stays green before, during and after the summer rush.
Hey, Roger. Welcome to the program.
ROGER: Great to be here.
TOM: Now, a lush, green lawn just adds tons of curb appeal, doesn’t it?
ROGER: Curb appeal and just feeling good about your house.
LESLIE: It certainly is a sense of pride.
TOM: Absolutely. But I mean we’ve had summers where we’ve had drought and we’ve had all kinds of issues that really affect – it seems like your lawn is constantly under battle, not only from nature but also from the foot traffic. So what’s the best way to make sure you always have a lush lawn?
ROGER: The most important thing you can do is a soil test on your lawn, because that is going to tell you what’s happening with the lawn, what you need to add and in what proportion.
TOM: Now, is that something you have to do more than once? Do the conditions change over the years?
ROGER: They change but usually if you do it once every two or three years, you’ll be on top of what’s happening.
LESLIE: Now, do they change because of things that you’re putting into the soil or is that just a natural process?
ROGER: Natural process and what you’re putting in. You want to make sure that everything’s in balance and some of that’s from the natural ingredients in the soil and some from the stuff that you’re introducing.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about fertilization, because that’s something that sometimes it almost feels like you have to be a chemist to get right. Are there easy ways to figure out what fertilizer you need?
ROGER: There’s a certain amount of nitrogen that your lawn needs to grow properly and that’s 3 to 4 pounds per growing season.
ROGER: The biggest problem we have is we put too much nitrogen on and we force that lawn to grow very, very quickly. In the spring, the lawn is going to green up and grow, so you don’t need an early application. If you do your first application mid-spring, that’ll keep you going.
You know what it’s like, Tom. You go to cut the lawn and it’s 6 inches long?
ROGER: We don’t want to do that.
TOM: No, we don’t.
ROGER: We want it to grow at a moderate pace.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, what about other things? I’ve always heard that calcium – the content – is really sort of important to the weed growth. Is there a way to sort of keep that in balance to minimize our weeds?
ROGER: It’ll show up in your test that you get and they know that about 90 percent of the weeds can be controlled by the amount of calcium in your soil.
TOM: Now, are there additives that you want to put on the lawn every year, like organic matter or compost, that sort of thing? Is it important to add that every year, even after your lawn seems to established?
ROGER: Depends on the texture of the soil and that comes from your soil test. Is there something bad about adding too much compost to the soil? Not that I know of. But what we do is we will actually aerate the soil and then put the compost on, so it goes down 2 or 3 or 4 inches into the ground.
TOM: Now, that’s a good point. You talked about aeration and how often do you have to do that? Is that where the landscaper comes through with a machine that sort of drills little holes in the lawn?
ROGER: Exactly. And I would do that once a year. There’s no chemicals involved; there’s simply a physical operation. You can rent the machines to do it yourself.
ROGER: It doesn’t take very long to do so the best bet is to split it with a neighbor or two or three neighbors and lower the cost.
TOM: Now, that’s a really good point. Everybody toss a little money in the lawn-care basket and you can go out and get a bunch of lawns done at once.
ROGER: We’ll have an aeration party.
LESLIE: But you have to divide the work evenly. One neighbor is not doing everybody’s property, correct?
ROGER: I don’t know. Sometimes, I get conned into doing everyone’s property.
LESLIE: Well, I can imagine; it’s what you do for a living. It’s why our neighbors ask us all sorts of home improvement questions.
So, Roger, what happens if the summer season brings a lack of rain and you find that there’s a drought? How do you keep the lawn in good shape?
ROGER: Yeah, we run into that situation where towns put on mandatory water bans and that’s no outside watering at all. So you can’t water the lawn? It goes dormant and that’s when – its way of making it through the drought season.
In the fall, when it gets cool or moisture comes, the lawn will green up and grow again. But don’t try to water the lawn and bring it out of dormancy; let it come out naturally. But the biggest thing is to stay off the lawn when it’s in that dormant state, because you can really do damage to the lawn.
TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: Good to be here. Thanks for having me.
TOM: And for more tips just like that, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: Well, I love it when Roger stops by. He’s always full of great tips to keep the yard looking beautiful. And I know he’s helped you out at home a lot, Tom, right?
TOM: Absolutely, yes. Things are green and looking fantastic thanks to some of the advice we’ve gotten over the years from Roger.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. Did you know that windows are often the weakest link in your home’s security? Well, we’ve got some tips to help keep them secure, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you’ll find trusted home service pros. You can compare prices and book appointments online, all for free.
LESLIE: Hey, what are you guys working on? Maybe you’re thinking about the laundry room of your dreams? Well, how would you guys like to win a brand-new washer and dryer? And I mean a really awesome one at that.
We are partnering with Speed Queen for the Speed Queen Lovin’ My Laundry Sweepstakes. Now, you can enter at LovinMyLaundry.com. That’s L-o-v-i-n – MyLaundry.com. And we’ve got two grand-prize winners who will receive a Speed Queen Washer/Dryer Set, including the delivery and hook-up. Now, that’s a prize worth over 2,000 bucks going out to two people.
TOM: That is fantastic. But you know what? If you’re thinking, “Well, I’m not the kind of person that wins grand prizes,” well, how about this? You could win 1 of 10 first-place prizes, which is a laundry gift basket with all sorts of stuff you can use and a $200 Amazon gift card. And there’s 40 – count them – 40 runner-up prizes worth 50 bucks each. Those are each Amazon gift cards.
So, if you would like to step up your laundry space, go to LovinMyLaundry.com and enter to win the Speed Queen Lovin’ My Laundry Sweepstakes.
Well, did you know that the windows in your home are often a weak link in its security? They are and this is especially true in the summer when many of us are leaving windows open. So we’ve got a tip to help you avoid becoming a victim, in today’s Home Security Tip presented by Iris Smart-Home Security.
LESLIE: Yeah, first of all, guys, you want to keep in mind that your first-floor windows are a target for burglars. So it’s especially important that you keep them closed and locked when you leave your home. If you have to leave them open, you want to make sure that the windows are equipped with stops. So that’s going to let them open only a couple of inches but then prevent them from opening any further.
TOM: Now, if your windows are older or maybe they just don’t have these safety stops built in, you can easily add them. It’s a pretty simple DIY project. What you do is drill a hole through the sides of the sash where they overlap. Now, of course, the sash is the sliding part of the double-hung window that you raise and lower to open or close your window. And if you recall, it actually overlaps the window above. So where it overlaps, on those vertical sides of the sash, if you drill a hole through there when the window’s open, say, 2 or 3 inches, you can insert a peg in there.
And what I like to use is a scaffold nail. Now, you’ll find this at the home center. And a scaffold nail is an interesting, little creature because it’s like a common nail. But it has two heads so that you can stick it in part way and it’s like a peg on it that sort of sticks out the end. And this way, you can open and close it and open and close it. And then, with the scaffold nail, take a wire and sort of make a little string and attach it at the side of our window somewhere so you don’t lose it, right? So that’s an easy way to kind of do a do-it-yourself added security step to keep those windows tight.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, another place that Tom’s trick really does come in handy, where you’re preventing the window from opening any more, is the places where you have window-unit air conditioners. I think a lot of people forget that you put the window unit on the first floor. And there’s really nothing stopping a person from walking around to the outside and just opening the window a little more and taking out your air-conditioning unit, unless you’re securing that window somewhere.
So Tom’s trick with the scaffolding nails really does well when you’ve got a window A/C unit, as well. Because you don’t want anybody just opening it up more and coming on in.
TOM: Now, for everyday use, the other thing you can do is to integrate smart-window sensors. It’s a great way to keep tabs on whether your windows are opened or closed, even when you’re not home. So no matter where you are, you will know whether those windows are safe and secure or not.
It’s even handy if, let’s say, you leave your windows open and head out to the store and all of a sudden, a big storm comes through and you’re wondering, “Did I close those windows?” And you go, “Uh-oh.” You’d better drop the tomatoes, get back in the car, go home and close them up.
LESLIE: Yeah, you know how quickly you need to rush home then.
And that’s today’s Home Security Tip, presented by Iris Smart-Home Security System. It’s a DIY system that connects an entire range of compatible smart devices in your home through a single app. It lets homeowners create a do-it-yourself, tailored system that’s not only convenient but effective, with 24/7 monitored protection for as little as $15 a month.
TOM: You’ll find Iris at Lowe’s, Lowes.com and Amazon. The Iris Smart Hub retails for just 69.99 and the Security Starter Pack is 99.99.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Laurel from Louisiana on the line with help with a tiling project. How can we help you today?
LAUREL: My husband and I are building a new house right now and we’re putting ceramic tile in the living room and the kitchen. And it’s not going to be sealed, so we were wondering what was the best kind of sealant to put on that ceramic tile?
TOM: What kind of tile are you using that’s not sealed? Are you trying to say that it’s not glazed?
LAUREL: No, it was glazed but I was told that you need to put a sealant over it to make the tile last longer?
TOM: No, not true. The glazing is plenty tough enough to protect the tile. What you – the sealant usually refers to the grout. And if you seal the grout, it can help keep it cleaner and repel water. And the grout sealants are silicone-based.
So, as long as you use a good grout sealant – and the time to do this is before you move in, you know? Because once you move in and you start grinding some dirt in that tile, it becomes a lot harder to maintain. But if you seal the grout right after the tile is installed, that’s the best time to do it.
LAUREL: What would be the best kind to use?
TOM: A silicone one. A silicone-based grout sealant is what you’re looking for.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you want to look for one that applies in a manner that you are comfortable with. Like if you’re doing a smaller grout line, you would look for one that almost looks like a nail-polish brush or a rolling foam wheel. With a floor tile, you could be looking at a ¼-inch to a ½-inch grout line, so that’s easier to apply. But you want to make sure you have something that you feel comfortable applying strictly to the grouted areas.
LAUREL: OK. Alright. Well, thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, when you fire up your gas range, do the burners sometimes not fully light? Well, we’re going to have the solution, plus answers to more of the posts from The Money Pit’s Community page, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online to MoneyPit.com, presented by HomeAdvisor.com. You can find top-rated pros you can trust. And for local pros who want to grow their business, HomeAdvisor is the easy way to get connected with project-ready homeowners.
LESLIE: Alright. But if you’ve got a question right now, you can always reach us online at MoneyPit.com.
But first, guys, you know it’s summer. We’re barbecuing a lot. Everybody loves to be outdoors. Do you find that when you light the grill, maybe those burners are not fully lighting? Well, you might have some crispy leftovers that are clogging the burners. I mean think about it: you’re making all these …
TOM: Hmm. Tasty, crispy leftovers.
LESLIE: True. The grill is the messiest place to cook. You’ve always got these juicy marinades and saucy things that are just dripping off of everything. And that truly can block the gas from escaping, because those holes are so tiny, tiny on the sides of the burners. And then the gas can’t fuel the surface burner and spark the electrode. It’s delicious but it causes a problem down the line when it comes to grilling.
TOM: Yeah. So the solution is simple: you just want to clean that igniter and the burner holes.
Now, instead of using the big, heavy-duty grill-scrubbing brush, use a soft-bristle brush, like an old toothbrush or something like that, and then try again. Do that on a regular basis and it will always work well when you need it.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. Post your questions online. We’re going to jump in now. I’ve got one here from Carol in Nevada who wrote: “I want to paint my wooden deck white. Can I just use any old exterior paint or is there a special kind that withstands the elements better? My deck really takes a beating.”
If your deck takes a beating, I don’t know that white is the color that you want.
TOM: Yeah. You know, I think white could work except that it’s going to be getting dirty pretty easily. But here’s the thing: I would never paint a deck. I would stain a deck. Right, Leslie? Because the paint – first of all, decks get very damp and moist and wet and they hold a lot of moisture, so they don’t breathe – and the paints don’t breathe very well. Even the better paints. But if you use a stain – a solid-color stain – you’re going to have it be completely solid of the color that you want, if it’s white or if it’s cedar color or whatever. But it tends to breathe, right? And it tends to hold that color a lot better.
And frankly, most people can’t tell the difference between solid stain and say, a flat paint when they’re standing away from it and looking at it. It just lasts a lot longer. This applies, also, to siding, fencing. When you have the opportunity to paint outside, it doesn’t last as long as if you were to stain it. So think about using stain over paint every single time.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s going to last a lot longer.
Alright. Now we’ve got one here from Jan who writes: “I just discovered that the radon vent in my two-year-old home ends in the attic above the bedrooms and it’s not vented to the outdoors. Is this OK?”
TOM: Ah, I know what’s going on here, Jan. See, for the last few years, maybe 10 years or so, if your home was built in an area that was subject to radon gas, builders were required to sort of pre-install a radon-venting system, which is basically a set of pipes that goes from the basement up to the attic. But they wouldn’t extend it above the attic unless you actually had radon in the house and they would put a fan in that system.
So, my advice: test for radon, Jan. If you’ve got done that yet, check it. And if it’s high, then you can extend that vent pipe up through the roof and have a vent fan installed to draw the gas off.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps. Don’t worry. It’s very easily fixable.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this warm summer day with us. We hope we’ve given you some ideas, some tips, some inspiration to avoid the perspiration when it comes to getting the home improvement jobs done around your house. If you’ve got questions, please do post them to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
And by the way, if you couldn’t get through on today’s show and you post your question, we don’t pull winners for our prize – which, this week, is the Iris Security Package – until Monday. So you’ve got all weekend to post those questions. So head on over to MoneyPit.com and check out a few stories while you’re at it. And why not sign up for the free Money Pit e-Newsletter?
That’s all the time we have. Thank you so much. 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 2017 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.)