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: Happy Summer. It’s officially the start of the summer season and that means we’re doing summer home improvement projects inside and outside our homes. So if you’re working on stepping up your A/C or decking-out a new outdoor-living space, whatever is on your to-do list, give us a call because we are here to help you at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up this hour, are you ready to take the plunge and buy your very first home? Well, that process can be intimidating but not if you’re really prepared. So we’re going to have five tips for first-time homebuyers to make sure you’re good to go, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And lawn care used to be dominated by loud and gas-powered machines but now there’s a new frontier of power, with battery technology that’s able to power just about anything that used to need an engine. We’re going to highlight some of the newest innovations in battery-powered lawn care, just ahead.
TOM: And we’ve been giving away some of the great water-quality solutions from The Home Depot this spring and summer. And today, we’re featuring the GE Whole-House Water-Filtration System with some filters worth 98.45.
LESLIE: Plus, if you’re a crafter or a member of the Maker Movement, you’ll be happy to know that we’re also giving away a Dremel 4300 Rotary Tool Kit with case and a Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating Blade variety pack, which together are worth over 150 bucks.
TOM: So lots of cool stuff going out to our listeners this hour. If you’d like a chance to win, you’ve got to pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Andrea from Ontario, Canada is on the line with a mold question. How can we help you today?
ANDREA: My question (inaudible at 0:02:14) regarding black mold. And it’s behind my sink. Between the sink and the backsplash, there’s a little bit of space and this black mold settles in. There’s a lot of moisture, obviously. They’re running the water and it splashes, so – behind and around the sink, as well as around my tub.
I tried bleach. I scrubbed it. We, at one point, took out the caulking and recaulked it but it came back. So I’m at a – kind of a loss what to do with this.
TOM: Mold is going to grow any place that you have an organic material, which could be drywall. Or it could also be, believe it or not, soap scum. It can have organic matter in it and that can feed mold. And so, you have a condition there that’s going to be prevalent to mold regrowth. Even when you clean it, it’s going to come back. You’re not going to permanently prevent it unless you change the environment – the climate – that exists in that particular area.
So, with respect to the tile area, let’s deal with that first. When you retiled – when you recaulked, I’m sorry – did you pull all the old caulk out?
ANDREA: Pulled it all out. Took it all out. It was actually our contractor who said, “Keep it very dry.” “Bone dry,” he called it. And then once we had it all dried out, then he came back and put a layer of this white material. I’m not exactly sure what it was but he finished it all.
TOM: OK. So you’re not quite sure what the product is.
Here would be the steps. When you pull the old caulk out, you need to spray the joint between the tub and the tile with a bleach solution. That’s going to kill any mold spores that are left behind. Then, after that’s dry, one additional step: fill up the tub with water because it makes it heavy and it pulls it down. And then you caulk it.
And when you caulk it, you want to use a product that has mildicide in it. Now, DAP, for example, has a caulk that has an additive called Microban. And Microban will not grow mold; it will prevent it from growing. And so, if you use the right product and you take the step of treating it with a bleach solution first, before you apply it, that helps it to last as long as possible. But again, if you don’t control humidity conditions, eventually it will come back.
As for the sink, the same advice applies. You not only have to clean it, which takes away the visual but you have to spray it with a mildicide. And so you could mix, say, a 10- to 20-percent bleach solution with water. And then let it dry and that will help prevent it from coming back.
ANDREA: I’ll try that.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now, we’ve got Darryl on the line who’s got a question about a leak in a crawlspace. Tell us what’s going on.
DARRYL: Yeah. I’ve got a house that has a crawlspace. It’s got a cement floor in it and it gets water in the crawlspace. And been trying to figure out how it’s getting in there. I’ve noticed that the vents around the foundation are not very high off of the ground and I’m wondering if maybe that’s how they’re – it’s getting in there and if I could put some window wells around those windows. I mean they’re only about – these vents are only like 12 inches by, probably, 8 inches. And the window wells I’ve seen are much larger.
TOM: That’s not the issue, Darryl. Let me ask you this: when does the leaking seem to be worse? Is it consistent with heavy rains and snow melt and that sort of thing?
DARRYL: Well, yeah, probably. But I really – it’s hard to say because it’s not that easy to access. And I just know that when I have a long dry spell, it does seem to dry up.
TOM: So, when you have leaks in a crawlspace or even a basement that’s consistent with precipitation, it’s always caused by drainage issues at the foundation perimeter. So, by drainage issues, we’re talking about the gutters. If the gutters are clogged, if there’s not enough gutters, if there’s not enough downspouts, if the downspouts aren’t discharging well enough away from the foundation – you need to go out about 4 to 6 feet if you’re dealing with a water-infiltration issue.
And aside from the gutters, the grading – the soil around the outside – has to slope away. And so what I would do in your case is I would take a really careful look at the gutters. Because I’ve got to tell you, most of the time, that’s going to solve it. If you get – if you make sure the gutters are collecting water and discharging them far away from the foundation, that’s going to solve it.
The way the water gets in is because when the soil at the foundation perimeter gets saturated, the foundation, being a concrete masonry structure, is very hydroscopic. So, literally, it soaks up moisture like a sponge. And that water can show up coming right through the floor. I’ve seen it come up like a little geyser in the middle of the floor. But it will come through that concrete cover on the floor of your crawlspace. So you need to deal with the drainage issues first. And I think that will solve it for you, Darryl.
And by the way, on our website there is a great article, right on the home page, about how to solve wet-basement and crawlspace-flooding issues. It’s one of the most popular articles on the site. And it will walk you through the step-by-step, tell you exactly what you need to do.
DARRYL: Alright. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, are you thinking of buying your very own money pit to love and care for? Well, there are a few things you can do right now to get ready for that home buying adventure. We’ll share those tips, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT, which is presented by HomeAdvisor. Ready to get that deck you’ve been dreaming of? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.
And if you call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com, you might just win a water-quality solution from The Home Depot. They really have any product you’d need to improve the water in your home. And this hour, we’re featuring the GE Whole-House Water-Filtration System.
This will filter your water right at the main supply system in your basement or anywhere it’s kind of out of sight. It delivers premium filtration, which is certified to reduce sediment, scale, dirt and rust in your water. It’s even going to help improve your appliances and your plumbing fixtures. It’s easy to install. It includes the 1-inch plumbing connections, a pressure-relief valve, the bypass option, mounting brackets and even a remote filter light, which is going to remind you when the filter needs to be changed.
It’s available at The Home Depot or HomeDepot.com. It sells for 98.45. We’re going to give away a water-quality solution just like this to one listener that posts their home improvement or décor question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com or calls us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’ve got Katherine in Arizona on the line who’s dealing with an issue with sod. And Arizona is pretty darn hot, so tell us what’s going on.
KATHERINE: I live, actually, in the mountains in Arizona and so our issue is not the heat but the cold. And so what we’ve had happen is that we laid sod about eight years ago. And unbeknownst to us novice homeowners, it had mesh netting on the back side of the roll. And I don’t know if we were supposed to remove that or something but now the sod did not take to our climate and it has died.
And we would like to reseed or lay on some new sod or something like that. But in order to prepare the soil and till it and all of that, I just don’t know what to do. Because there’s this mesh netting all over the ground. And in some areas, it’s exposed and some areas, it isn’t. But I just wondered what your advice would be.
TOM: So the sod never really bit, so to speak? It never really grew through the mesh netting and connected with the soil below?
KATHERINE: Not really. I mean it did in some areas but it just did not grow well for our climate. It couldn’t handle the winter; it just wouldn’t recover.
TOM: Well, the first thing you want to do is a soil test. You can – sometimes, your county extension services and services like that will do the test for you. Or have a landscaper do the test. But you need to know what’s in that soil and how to adjust the pH to get it just right to reseed.
LESLIE: Yeah, to fertilize correctly and …
LESLIE: You know, in other words, you might not be giving it the stuff that it needs and it won’t grow.
TOM: Yeah, you’re working blind.
Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that the best time to do this is not at the beginning of summer. The best time to do this is in the fall when it’s a little cooler out. Because even if you did everything right and it started to grow, the intense heat that follows a month or two down the line will burn it out and kind of ruin all the good work that you did. So I would spend this summer getting the information that you need to kind of come up with a plan.
Now, in terms of whether or not you remove the old sod or not, if it’s really loose and disconnected and not really knitting – sort of sitting on top – then, in that case, I would take it out and then prep the soil below. If it has connected, then I would leave it.
Now, if you have sod – is it weedy? Is it also weedy, Katherine?
KATHERINE: There are lots of weeds. So it’s not so much the sod that’s the issue but it’s the plastic mesh netting, that was on the back side of the sod rolls, that’s there. And I just don’t know – can we till with that there or is that going to get all caught up in the tiller?
TOM: I think you probably can. In my experience, those types of backers are designed to stay there and not be removed. And they just sort of deteriorate, naturally, away.
KATHERINE: Hmm. OK.
TOM: So I don’t suspect that that would be an issue. Because otherwise, how would you ever lay it down?
KATHERINE: Right, right. Yeah, I don’t know. I didn’t know what was supposed to be common, just that it hasn’t degraded at all. After a year, it’s still totally there.
TOM: Well, here’s an idea: one of the things that you could do is you could rent a seeding machine that slices the lawn. There are machines out there that will actually slice it and you – and drops the seed sort of into the slits and that will cut through it. But really, before you do any of that, the first thing to do is do a soil test and see what’s going on there.
LESLIE: Now, this way, you’ll know how to feed it, how to take care of it, when it’s going to want to be seeded. That will really answer a lot of questions for you.
KATHERINE: OK. That makes a lot of sense.
TOM: Yeah. And if the sod – if you end up deciding to leave the sod in place and if it gets really weedy, one thing you could do is something called a Roundup restoration. You can spray Roundup right on the sod and kill the sod and actually leave it in place. And then put the seed right up into the dead grass. It will hold it really well and it will resprout. And the Roundup will not prevent the new seed from taking root.
KATHERINE: OK, OK.
TOM: It’s called a Roundup restoration.
KATHERINE: Hmm. Alright. That makes sense.
TOM: Alright, Katherine. Good luck with that project. Let’s hope there’s some more green in your future.
KATHERINE: Yes, I hope so. Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve promised yourself that you’ll finally become a homeowner, there are a few things that you can get started on now that’s going to make the entire home buying process a lot easier. The first one, guys, is to boost your credit score.
Now, most of the major credit-reporting agencies will provide you with one free report a year. Then review the report, dispute any errors and pay off any debts that you have. In the meantime, avoid purchasing big-ticket items and don’t apply for any new credit.
TOM: Next, you want to start looking for the right real-estate agent. A good agent can really make the difference for your first home buying experience. And then work on getting pre-approved for financing.
Now, that’s a good thing to do for a bunch of reasons. First, you need to know what you can afford and what you can qualify for and what kind of loan you want. And once you’ve got that approval in hand, though, you become a much better prospect for potential home sellers to sell their home to because they want to know that you can afford the house. And it’s kind of going in to that experience – to that sale – with a blank check that is good for up to a certain number, so there’s no question about you really qualifying. Because a home seller does not want to take their house off the market for some period of time only to find out that you really can’t afford it.
For more home buying and selling tips, head on over to MoneyPit.com. Lots of great advice right there.
LESLIE: Rob in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ROB: Calling to get you guys’ opinions on the – I’m having my deck partially repaired and it’s got some cedar trim and cedar boards that have gone bad, so they’re going to be replaced. So they’re going to look newer compared to the rest of the deck. I was looking into getting one of the epoxy, composite-type, deck-coating systems. Rust-Oleum Restore is one brand. Behr makes one, too. I’m just curious what you guys think about these products. And are they worth it?
TOM: How many decking boards are deteriorated, Rob?
ROB: Well, oh, it’s the majority of the steps. It’s a cedar deck with a green, treated wood underneath baseboard support. The cedar is just dying out on me and it’s about seven years old. The railings are going bad, too, so we’re looking at replacing a lot of the boards on the steps and the railing. But up to the same platform are the main boards. They are doing fine. So it’s mainly the steps up.
TOM: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily consider, you know, completely sealing in all of that cedar with a product like that.
Here’s what I would do. First of all, the deck boards that are cracked or checked or deteriorated, one thing to try is to flip them over. Because the underside of those deck boards is usually as good as the day it went down. Even though it’s cracked on top, the side that was not exposed to the sun is usually in pretty good condition. So you try to do that as much as you can. For ones that are really bad – just have to be replaced. Just replace those with new cedar decking boards. And yes, it’s not going to match.
And then once all the repair has been done, then you want to use a deck-washing product, like the one that makes – that Flood Wood Care makes. You run a deck wash across everything and then you want to hit it with at least two coats of solid stain. So not paint but solid stain. Not semi-transparent, not transparent but solid-color stain. And a good-quality solid-color stain, that’s going to look all the same. It’s going to maintain its wood quality, so you’ll see the grain through the stain and it’ll look perfect.
So, I don’t think you need to go with some sort of really thick – super-thick – coating right now. I think you just need to do some basic repairs.
LESLIE: Debbie in Delaware is on the line and needs some help with a building project.
What can we do for you, Debbie?
DEBBIE: My husband broke his hip and we are in desperate need of a handicap ramp. He’ll be needing this handicap ramp after the break heals. He’ll be using a wheelchair and a walker after this. We are limited in income and we can’t afford even the materials to build this ramp. And I’ve been trying to go through government agencies and everything. And all I have gotten is a bunch of red tape.
TOM: Tell me something: how high up does the ramp have to be? How many steps are you trying to accomplish? Or just kind of describe the layout to me.
DEBBIE: Yeah. It’s five steps into the house.
TOM: Debbie, as much as I’d like, there’s sort of no quick fix for this situation. You do need a ramp and the ramp has to – it’s going to be a very large structure and it has to be properly done. So I think your energy is best focused on how to get the professional help and to get the funds necessary to do this.
Now, there is an organization that is called Rebuilding Together that does this sort of thing. And their website is TogetherWeTransform.org. TogetherWeTransform.org. Or just Google “Rebuilding Together.” They have got affiliates in most states across the country. Their national headquarters is in Washington D.C. And what I would suggest you do is to reach out to the national headquarters and speak with them about trying to connect with an affiliate that’s near you. I see there’s no affiliate directly in Delaware but of course, you can go to New Jersey or you can go to Maryland – anywhere around there – and probably find exactly what you need.
They used to be called Christmas in April. And now they’re called Rebuilding Together. And I’ve done some of their projects in the past. And there – seem to be a good group of people that get a lot of great things done.
DEBBIE: OK. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: Alright. And we hope that your husband heals up quickly. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Just ahead, lawn care used to be dominated by loud, gas-powered machines. But now, batteries can handle just about anything, from string trimmers to push mowers, even riding mowers. We’re going to have tips on the most innovative, battery-powered lawn-care machines, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a season landscaper, now is the perfect time to upgrade your outdoor tools to be cordless, gasless, lightweight and quiet. With us to talk about that is Ryan Duffy. And Ryan is the outdoor power expert for The Home Depot.
RYAN: Hey. Thanks, Tom. Thanks, Leslie.
LESLIE: You know, Ryan, when the battery-powered tools first hit the market, yeah, they were handy but they kind of were limited to those light-duty projects, because the batteries just weren’t powerful enough. But today, those batteries really can deliver some super power and they’ve got these efficient, brushless motors.
So you can pretty much just power any tool without the need for a cord and same goes for lawn equipment, without the need for a gas engine. I mean that’s great. You’ve got less hassle, less noise, less maintenance. What’s going on in this industry, Ryan? It just seems amazing.
RYAN: Absolutely. Been amazing to see how far battery technology has come the past couple of years. It used to be you had to put a huge battery on the back of it that was really heavy or you had to use a gas engine, which is obviously heavy and noisy and everything else. Where today, we’ve got battery technologies and voltages, ranging from 18 volts all the way up to 56 volts, that are lightweight because they’re lithium ion. They start on the first pull of a trigger, just like an iPhone would, and they’re obviously super lightweight. You can store them in your garage.
TOM: Now, is there any limit to how you store those batteries? Do you have to take them in in the wintertime, Ryan, or is it OK to leave them out year-round like you would any lawn equipment?
RYAN: They’re not very temperamental at all, so you don’t have to really worry about leaving them in a 70-degree, air-cooled area or anything. I would say if you’re going to be – if the temperature is going to drop below 30 degrees, it’s usually best to bring the batteries inside. Or if it’s going to be stored outside and in the sun and it’s going to be 120 degrees outside, yeah, bring them inside. But for the most part, they’re very temperament. You don’t need to worry about leaving them inside the house, at a cool 70 degrees all the time or anything like that.
TOM: And these batteries charge so quickly today. You really don’t need to worry about running out of power. If you have one in the tool and one in the charger, you’re pretty much set for just about any job I can imagine.
RYAN: Yeah, absolutely. Most of our batteries are going to charge between 30 minutes and an hour. So to your point, you can pretty much mow, trim or blow for as long as you need to until the job’s finished.
TOM: So what are some of the new, battery-powered lawn tools you guys have got coming up this spring and summer?
RYAN: Some of my favorites are probably from Milwaukee. So, they are on the 18-volt platform but again, don’t let the low voltage fool you. They’ve got brushless motors in there and their battery technology is so advanced that it’s just as powerful as my commercial-grade gas units, at only 18 volts. So really, really impressive.
And then I’d say the second one that’s really impressive these days is EGO 56 volt. They’ve got just incredible performing – in a very, very lightweight package. Less than 4 pounds compared to a gas trimmer. So, yeah, if a gas trimmer is going to be 12 pounds, you’re talking about 8 pounds. So it really takes a lot of the weight and hassle out of it.
TOM: Let’s talk about some of those tools. So, you mentioned Milwaukee. They’ve got a handheld blower.
Now, in some communities across the country, you have local municipalities actually banning gas-powered blowers because they make such a racket. Not an issue with the battery tool.
RYAN: Yep. Absolutely. So Montgomery County is one such county in Maryland. And they’ve banned the use, not even just – the sale and the use of any blowers that are 70 decibels and above, which pretty much takes almost every single gas blower out of my assortment that you can’t buy. But every single cordless blower, battery-powered blower will meet under that 70-decibel threshold.
LESLIE: So then you’re responsible for selecting all of the outdoor power equipment that comes into The Home Depot. That’s a huge job. Plus, it’s really interesting. You’ve gotten to see how the entire industry has evolved with power and sources and efficiency. What has been the most interesting thing to you that you’ve noticed throughout this whole process?
RYAN: How fast battery technology has really carried on. So, it used to be – call it 4 or 5 years ago, almost less than 10 percent of our sales were battery technology. Where today, we’re getting up close to that kind of 50 percent of everything that we sell is battery. So it’s really kind of taken that consumer confidence to really kind of swing the shift the other way and I can’t believe how quickly that ship has turned.
TOM: So we’ve got string trimmers, we’ve got edgers, we’ve got mowers. I’ve even seen some chainsaws. That’s got to really surprise folks.
RYAN: It does. Chainsaw power – and to be honest, it actually makes the most sense out of all the tools because it’s something you’re going to use infrequently. And a lot of times, when you use a gas chainsaw, that gas sits in the motor and sits in the engine for so long that it’ll actually make the tool go bad after a long period of time. Whereas with a battery-powered chainsaw, as long as the battery is charged, that’s all you need to do to maintain it. So the maintenance is practically zero to it and can save a customer a lot of hassle and a lot of time and money.
TOM: You’re absolutely right because, you know, some of these tools we do use so infrequently we may not even consume an entire tank of gas. A buddy of mine called me just today wanting to borrow my pressure washer. And I told him I hadn’t had a chance to clean it out because I left the gas in it just a little bit too long. I was having trouble getting it started, so I had to turn him down. But it’s amazing with battery power we don’t have to do that.
The other tool that’s pretty impressive is you actually have a battery-powered riding lawn mower. I mean that’s got to be the ultimate. Who would believe that you could actually have a human on a riding lawn mower all powered by battery? No gasoline whatsoever involved.
RYAN: Yep. Absolutely. And that’s a – I’ve been on it and we’ve done a lot of road shows with our – training our associates and a lot of our customers, as well. And it’s amazing to see the joy that people have when they ride this riding mower that’s completely quiet. It’s almost like using a golf cart with a riding lawn mower. It’s so quiet and so easy to use. It’s fun.
LESLIE: You see somebody shopping in the outdoor-tool aisle and they really just seem stumped. There’s so many choices, so many power sources, so many different levels of equipment. How does somebody sort of get out of that confusion and choose the right tool for their projects?
RYAN: Yeah. There’s a couple of different factors that really go into it. One of the things that a customer needs to understand most is how big is their yard and what kind of performance are they really looking for? If they’re coming from a gas platform or a gas trimmer or a gas blower, really, the higher-voltage units and the ones that are using the brushless motors are really going to be the units that kind of meet that criteria for them. Whereas if they have – maybe live close to the city or in the city and they just have a real small plot of land, they can use some of the opening price point in the lower-specked models and be able to complete their job just as easily.
And the second factor I’d say that’s incredibly important is if they’re already on a platform. So if they already have an 18-volt drill at home or a Ryobi 18-volt drill or Milwaukee or a DeWALT 20-volt drill, those same batteries work in a lot of our trimmers, a lot of our blowers and a lot of our chainsaws. So that way, they can start kind of saving money over the long run by – able to interchange all these batteries instead of having to have a whole bunch of different chargers in their garage and a whole bunch of different batteries. They can be on just one platform.
TOM: Great advice. Ryan Duffy, the outdoor power expert for The Home Depot, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
RYAN: Thanks, Tom. Thanks, Leslie. Appreciate it.
LESLIE: Alright, Ryan. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
Always good stuff to learn from our friend, Ryan, at The Home Depot.
Alright, everybody. Give us a call now on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
TOM: And if you do pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com, you might just win some tools to help with your next project. This hour, we’re giving away a Dremel tool package, which is perfect for DIYers, crafters or makers of any kind. So call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone and call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT which is presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
And if you do call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit Community page at MoneyPit.com, you might just win some tools to help with your next home improvement project.
LESLIE: Yeah. This really is a great prize and one that’s been near and dear to my heart and in my tool kit since, golly, since high school. So that’s a long time.
We’re giving away, this hour, a Dremel 4300 Rotary Tool Kit with case and the Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating Blade variety pack.
Now, the Dremel really is just a great tool for DIYers, crafters, truly makers of any kind. It includes the Dremel 4300, which is the first Dremel rotary tool. And it allows tool-free blade changes, so that’s really easy to change out those blades. No tightening. You just sort of swap it in and out. So you can really work on a variety of parts of your projects with the Dremel 4300.
And it’s their most powerful. It’s a got a 1.8-amp motor, so you’re going to get the best performance out of the Dremel tool. And you’ll find that you’ll be searching for different ways to use the Dremel, because it’s that fun and that effective. And it also has a pivot light on it that’s going to rotate to illuminate dark spaces and all of your detail projects.
You can check it out or even pick it up at The Home Depot or HomeDepot.com. It’s a prize pack worth $153.97 but going out to one lucky caller drawn at random.
TOM: That number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your question to MoneyPit.com in the Community section.
LESLIE: Well, if your siding, sidewalks, decks or patios are looking pretty grimy, we’ve got a simple solution that can help make them seem less messy and also help prevent mold, mildew, moss and more from even coming back. And it’s called Spray & Forget.
TOM: Yep. This is a house-and-deck outdoor cleaner. It cleans all types of siding and decks and fences, as well as paver, brick or concrete patios or pool surrounds. You can use it on vinyl or plastic outdoor furniture, as well.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s really pretty easy to use. There’s no scrubbing involved at all. As the name implies, you just spray it on and then Mother Nature takes over the cleaning duties with the rain and the sun and the wind.
TOM: Yep. And over time, it keeps all the exterior surfaces clean and does that safely with no harsh chemicals.
You’ll find it at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Amazon, Do it Best and True Value. Retails for 19.99. You can learn more at SprayAndForget.com.
LESLIE: Brandon in California has been taking some cold showers. Well, not intentionally, anyway. How can we help you with that?
BRANDON: My old water valve, when I – it just happens just to the cold water. If I turn on the hot water, it doesn’t have the problem. But when I turn on the cold, it does this knocking or like a bang in the wall. And the pressure is reduced significantly. And it just will – it’ll come out really low pressure unless I really turn it on. And then the pressure comes back but I don’t know what – I don’t know if that’s called “knocking” or “hammer-knocking” or something like that but …
TOM: Yeah, it’s called “water hammer.”
BRANDON: Water hammer. Is that what that is?
BRANDON: OK. It’s not like a continual knocking, though.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, when you open up the faucet and all the water kind of runs forward towards it, that has a lot of force with it and that will bang the pipe sometimes. And if the pipe – especially if it’s not attached well to the floor joist or whatever it happens to go through, makes that banging sound. That’s why we call it “water hammer.” It can be lessened or completely repaired with some plumbing work. But it may or may not be worth it, because it doesn’t really damage the pipe; it’s really just more of an annoyance.
Now, in terms of the pressure issue – so the water comes on fast and then trickles out after that? Is that what’s going on?
BRANDON: Well, it comes out normal but then it just seems like someone’s in the wall kinking the line. And it’s just coming out – like it comes out still; it’s not like trickling out, like drips.
TOM: Is it one faucet in the shower? What about the sink that’s right next to it?
BRANDON: No, there’s the three. One on the left is the hot, the center transitions it from the bathtub to the showerhead and the one on the right is the cold water.
TOM: What about your sink? Does it do the same thing at the sink?
BRANDON: No, it’s just in the shower.
TOM: So, what I would do is I would install a pressure-balance valve in the shower. The pressure-balance valve, essentially – and it’s not going to address the water hammering but what it’ll do is it’ll keep the pressure even between hot and cold – keep the mix even between hot and cold so that you don’t get any sort of shell shock when you step in the shower and somebody runs a fixture somewhere else and it changes the temperature.
LESLIE: Yeah. So no more pranksters flushing the toilet and getting a super-scalding shower.
TOM: And the fact this is only happening at the shower means it’s a problem with the valves; it’s not a problem with the plumbing lines. Otherwise, it would be happening at the sink, as well.
BRANDON: OK. That kind of makes sense. Because sometimes it’s just – sometimes it’s hard to balance when we’re in the shower. It’s like, “Oh, man, this is just scalding hot.”
BRANDON: And we’ve really got to crank up that cold to get it kind of balanced out right.
TOM: Yep. That’s what you need: a pressure-balance valve.
BRANDON: Alright. Perfect. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Brandon. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, building a backyard playset or deck? Well, the type of wood that you use can make sure your surfaces are safe for the kids and can stand up to the test of time. We’ll give you the best options, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The website is MoneyPit.com. You can subscribe to our podcast there on MoneyPit.com or visit the Community section where you can post your home improvement question, just like Jacob did.
LESLIE: That’s right. Jacob writes: “I live in Arkansas and we just had some pretty bad and heavy storms for close to a week straight. Around my house, some of the soil has washed out in areas. Can I just add topsoil to these spots where it’s missing?”
TOM: You know, that’s a great question, Jacob, because most folks do think that if soil washes out, you put in topsoil to replenish it. But restoring the holes might not really be that easy, because it depends on how deep of a pit it left.
Now, if it’s more than 3 or 4 inches, you really need to fill it first with clean fill dirt and then sort of tamp that down. And you can add topsoil over that and then you can plant some grass or use another sort of cover to stop the erosion. The topsoil is really just that: it’s only meant to cover the top layer of dirt. It’s really rich in organic matter and it’s designed to support root growth.
So for everything deeper, you want to use clean fill dirt, which is available, perhaps, from a landscape supply house. And be sure to tamp it as you go and add more than you need because it’s always going to settle over those next few rainstorms.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Marty in Minnesota who writes: “How do you add insulation to a home built in 1907 with slate siding? You can’t drill holes and blow in and I don’t know if I can remove the siding without breaking it.”
TOM: Well, that’s right. You don’t have to do this from the outside. You do it from the inside. And what you’re going to want to do is drill holes through that plaster, plaster lath or drywall and you would basically use blown-in insulation from the inside of the house. It’s a lot easier, frankly, to patch those walls and repaint than it would be to deal with siding in general, slate or not. So that’s a project, Marty, you would always do from inside your house.
Well, if you have the room for it, a playset or a deck is a great addition to your backyard. But if you’re going to build one yourself, you need to make sure you use the right type of wood. Leslie explains why, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. If you’re thinking about building a deck or a backyard playset this summer, you want to make sure that you use a sturdy wood that’s resistant to decay and to pests. Because both can really wreak a lot of havoc on anything that you build out of that lumber.
But you also want to be cautious in the lumber that you choose, because chemicals in treated wood can leach out and then potentially pollute the surrounding ground and possibly endanger your family’s health.
So, for decks and playground equipment, you want to consider reclaimed cedar or redwood. Both of those are naturally resistant to fungus and insects and really, they look gorgeous at the same time. Now, you can even opt for recycled plastic lumber, which is great for the environment because you’re not cutting down any new trees but you’re still getting a sturdy, durable product.
So get out there, build some projects, go enjoy your yard this season. But choose your materials wisely because that’s going to determine how much maintenance, how much care, all of those things that go into the actual enjoyment of the thing that you build. So do some research and pick something lovely and durable.
TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Welcome to summer home improvement time. If you’ve got a project you’re doing this summer, you can reach out to us, 24/7, at MoneyPit.com or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page.
Coming up next time on The Money Pit, we’re going to talk about a question that we frequently get on the program and that is whether or not you can refinish your own cast-iron tub. Wondering if you could do it yourself or if you need to hire a pro? We’re going to get into that topic with the host of This Old House. Kevin O’Connor will be here with answers on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 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.)