TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by to help you with your home improvement and décor questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a direct-it-yourselfer, we want to make sure you don’t become a do-it-to-yourselfer, get yourself in trouble with some of those projects. We’ll give you some tips, some ideas, some inspiration to get them done quickly and easily. But you’ve got to help yourself, first, by calling us at 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s program, there’s firm, pillow top, plush, gel and foam. Are those the latest lattes from Starbucks? No. Those are the names of different types of mattresses. We’re going to tell you how to choose the mattress that’s going to give you the best rest.
LESLIE: Plus, Father’s Day is coming up. We’ve got some suggestions for the do-it-yourself dad in your life.
TOM: And you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, which is probably a good thing because radon is not something you want in your house. Radon is a gas that can cause cancer and it’s found in 1 in every 15 American homes. We’ll tell you how to make sure yours isn’t one of them.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the Husky 185-Piece Mechanics Tool Set. It’s a great prize and it’s worth 99 bucks.
TOM: It’s available at The Home Depot but going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. So make that you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jeff in South Carolina is dealing with some unwanted visitors to their money pit. Tell us what’s going on?
JEFF: I have a couple of feral cats that are running around in my backyard. I had a birdbath and the cats stop at that birdbath. And then the birds come in to take a drink and then splash, they jump up and they kill the bird. And what I’ve done is I’ve poured the water out of the birdbath to keep the birds away. But how do I get rid of the cats?
TOM: I mean there’s a lot of initiatives around the country, with organizations that will help deal with the feral-cat issue. Many of them run what’s called a TNR program, which is Trap, Neuter and Return. So, the idea is that they trap the cats humanely, like with a Havahart trap or something like that, they neuter them, then they return them to the environment but hopefully not in your neighborhood where they’re used to finding that source of food.
And so I would turn to an organization like that that can help you trap the cats and get them off of your property. And if they have the added support that they can neuter the cats – and that helps the overall community from stopping these cats from reproducing.
LESLIE: And you know what else? We had an issue years ago when – there’s a person on our block who feeds every cat in town. Has about 30 cats and kittens just living in their backyard. And the neighbor next door was doing a ton of work. There was a dumpster with food scraps and stuff in it. And so all the cats kind of just meandered into my yard.
And I had called the village because honestly, I didn’t mind the cats being there but they were killing a possum. And now, all of a sudden, I had to clean up a dead possum and birds. And I really don’t want to be doing that. So I called the village and the village referred me to the town. So, long story short, I made a bunch of calls to finally get to someone in the county who told me that where I live, feral cats have the same rights as squirrels, which means you can do nothing about them.
But if you do find a local cat rescue, they might be willing to come and help you take the cats, find them a place to be adopted by. And maybe if you find a place that you feel comfortable with, a donation might not hurt in helping them to get the cats off your property. So, you never know. I might make a call to your town or your village and see where that goes, too.
JERRY: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Pat in Michigan, tell us what’s going on with the leak.
PAT: Yes. We had some shingles that blew up and the water got underneath and it leaked and then onto my ceiling. And we had high winds with – like we call “side,” you know.
And so I’ve had the roof repaired but I still have some leak – water stains on my ceiling. And I’m trying to figure out how to cover them up without having to paint all of the ceiling. And my ceilings have never been painted; it’s just raw drywall but it’s been textured.
TOM: Now, since this was storm damage, did you think to call your homeowners insurance company?
PAT: No. Because it’s only three little – like one is a dime size, one is a quarter size and the other one’s a dollar-bill size.
TOM: Well, just for future reference, whenever you have shingles that blow off and leaks occur, that is why you pay for homeowners insurance. So, small or big, that’s the kind of thing that’s covered.
If it was a worn-out roof, that’s one thing. But if you have storm damage where shingles blow off and water gets in, then you could have had that whole ceiling repainted at the expense of your insurance company.
But OK, we’re past that now. So the question is: how do you deal with those stains? Whenever you have a water stain on a ceiling, you have to prime that spot. Since they’re small spots like that, you can spot-prime it, which basically means just to prime over those little spots themselves. And then you’ll paint over that.
You’ll have to – if you don’t have some of the original paint, you’re going to have to pick up something that matches.
PAT: There is no paint. This is just drywall – textured drywall – and they did not paint the drywall.
TOM: They never painted the drywall?
PAT: No. Ceilings here are not painted unless you ask for it.
TOM: OK. Well, all I can tell you is if you want to get rid of the stain, you have to prime it. You have to prime on top of it. If you don’t prime on top of it, anything that you put over that is going to leak right through. So it might be time to think about painting the ceiling, Pat.
PAT: Oh, boy. OK. Well, thank you very much. I certainly do appreciate your time.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mike in North Carolina is on the line and has a question about a garage door. How can we help you today?
MIKE: I’ve got a two-car garage and it’s got three utility rooms on the side of it. One of them is for the hot water-heater and the electrical panel and all that. And then it’s got another one that’s for storage. And then one of them is set up kind of a small workshop. These are oversized doors. They’re probably 6-foot-8 by 48 inches or 44 inches, something like that. Well, they had stuff hanging on them and all. They’ve got holes on the outside of them. And I was just wondering if I could just take the doorknobs off of them, put some construction glue on them and put some 4×86 of lura (ph) on the outside of them and stain them – trim them off and stain them and then put my door handles back on.
TOM: Yeah. So, basically, what you want to do is skin those doors with some luan plywood or some paneling. Is that what you’re saying?
MIKE: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: That would be on the inside, correct? So you’re still under roof here?
MIKE: That’s on the inside of the garage. Yes, sir. That’s the one inside the garage.
TOM: Yeah, I see no reason you can’t do that. Just keep in mind that when you put that additional layer on the door, it’s going to be thicker than the trim around the door, if you have trim. So you may have to pull the trim off and sort of shim that out the same distance. You might have to put a second layer of trim underneath it so that if the plywood is – for example, the skin’s a ¼-inch, you need to have another ¼-inch space for underneath the trim. Otherwise, it’ll sit on top of the trim and that won’t look right.
MIKE: Certainly do appreciate it (inaudible at 0:07:36) and you have a blessed day.
TOM: Good luck with that project. 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. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Up next, if you’ve ever had problems getting a good night’s rest, it may be the mattress that’s the issue. There are many new options. Learn which is right for you, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Two things will happen: you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question, plus you get a shot at winning this hour’s prize.
We’re giving away the Husky 185-Piece Mechanics Tool Set. It’s got durable chromium vanadium steel construction. It comes with both standard and deep sockets. It’s guaranteed forever. And it’s available at The Home Depot for $99 but it’s going out for free to one lucky caller. Make that you. Pick up the phone, right now, and call us with your home improvement or décor question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Erin in Ohio is on the line and needs some help with a playground. What can we do for you?
ERIN: I have a swing set/playset. It’s made out of treated wood and it’s about 10 years old. The flat surfaces, they’ve turned black and the wood is cracking. I’m wondering how I can best clean that up.
TOM: Well, the best thing to do is to use a wood cleaner. But let me ask you this: is it pressure-treated, this wooden playset?
ERIN: I believe so, yes.
TOM: Because pressure-treated lumber has sort of fallen out of favor as a playset, because of the chemicals that are in the pressure-treated lumber leaching out of the lumber, getting into the soil and so on. So, I’d just give you a bit of a warning on that.
But if you want to clean this, Flood makes a product called Flood Wood Cleaner that works really well. Basically, you wet the lumber down, you apply the wood cleaner, you let it set for 20 or 30 minutes. You don’t let it dry – you may have to remoisten it again – and then you kind of scrub it clean. You can use a pressure washer after that to scrub it clean. It does a pretty good job of brightening up the finish, taking away the dirt and the grime and lifting up any of that old, gray sort of oxidation that settles on the wood or the black oxidation that settles on the wood.
You can find that at most home centers and hardware stores. And again, it’s called Flood Wood Cleaner.
ERIN: OK. Once I have it clean then, am I better, do you think, to stain it or paint it?
TOM: No, you’re better to stain it. What you want to do is use solid-color stain, as opposed to semi-transparent stain, because it’ll last a lot longer. The solid-color tends to fade a little bit better and doesn’t peel like paint would.
ERIN: And the same – like we have a swing – a porch swing – that I’d like to put on there, as well. Same thing then with that to clean it up? It’s been outside for some time.
TOM: Yes. If it’s natural wood, that’s a good product to clean it up with. And the same advice applies to the porch swing.
Now, is that also made out of pressure-treated lumber or is that something different?
ERIN: You know, it’s about the same age. I believe it is.
TOM: Alright. So, again, use the solid-color stain.
ERIN: OK. Very good. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Erin. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dave in New York is on the line and has a plumbing question. What are you working on?
DAVE: I had a couple electric, plumbing and heating contractors go ahead and come give me estimates and now I’m – PEX piping put in. And they discouraged me from it because they were told that it was made with soy oil so that they could put a green label on it. And they already had to replace, in some homes, the PEX piping because rodents had been chewing on the pipes.
TOM: Yeah, I guess I could see that. I mean I can see rodents potentially chewing on plastic pipes. But I will tell you that I have not heard that as a long-term – as a widespread problem. PEX piping is really quite good and enables you do things that you can’t do with metal piping – with copper piping. And it’s just a lot less expensive to install, as well.
So, I don’t think it’s a wide enough problem that I would stop using it. I would continue to use it.
DAVE: But you don’t know if they make it with soy oil or not.
TOM: No, I don’t. But I tell you what, rodents will chew anything. So it doesn’t surprise me that maybe they had some rodent issues with it. But I don’t think it’s a problem that would prevent me from using PEX.
DAVE: OK. I was just curious to know.
TOM: Alright, Dave. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, we spend about a third of our lives sleeping and a good mattress can make that sleep much more enjoyable.
Now, recently, we were shopping for a new mattress. And I’ve got to say, it was really hard to figure out what to get because there are just so many new options, Leslie.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s really true. So, the best place to start is by understanding the different comfort levels. For example, there’s firm, plush and pillow top. Firm, that’s self-explanatory. Now, plush has support but also allows more pressure points to sink into the mattress. And pillow top is going to be the softest out there.
But there are others that may be misleading. For example, you want to ignore terms that are like ultra-firm or super plush, because there’s really no regulation on those descriptions. And that makes it really hard to determine what they really mean.
TOM: And you’ve got to keep in mind that if your mattress is old and not giving you much, if any, support you’re probably waking up achy and sore. And don’t mistakenly believe that you need a firm mattress, because what you might really need is just more support. And keep in mind that the higher spring count on these mattresses may sound impressive but studies have shown that the number of springs really doesn’t affect how comfortable the mattress is.
LESLIE: So, Tom, with all of this crazy lingo out there, where did you end up with your mattress search?
TOM: Well, I found the purchasing process to be, you know, just not pleasant where you have to go to a store and you have to lay on these different mattresses that God knows how many people have laid on there before. And so what I did was I went online and I bought from a company called BedInABox.com. And I bought from them because they had an insanely high satisfactory rating with Google reviews. But I loved the fact that I could use this mattress for four months and if I didn’t like it, they’d pay to send it back. So it was kind of like a no-lose situation.
So, I took my best shot. I tried to pick one that I thought would be great for us and frankly, it has been. And I think I’ll never buy a mattress the other way – the old-fashioned way – again because this just worked out so well.
LESLIE: And what did you end up ordering?
TOM: Well, I ultimately picked one that was called the Natural Silk Elegance Comfort-Adjust Gel Queen Memory Foam mattress. That’s what it was called. But it looked like it was one of the better ones. They all had great reviews. I love the fact that this one was adjustable in terms of the density. There’s a way that they’ve kind of figured out where you can adjust the density by reversing the topper that’s on it or flipping the mattress upside-down.
TOM: So, yeah. So we had a lot of flexibility. It’s pretty smart for a gel mattress to be able to do all this. And I’ve got to tell you, when I sink into that puppy at night, I’m one happy camper. It’s just really, really comfortable.
LESLIE: Yeah, I can imagine.
Now we’ve got Darlene in South Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a dishwasher situation. What’s going on over there?
DARLENE: Whenever you turn it on and turn it on Pots and Pans, it fills up and then it stops. Does nothing. And you can turn the knob around to the different cycles and everything and it does nothing.
TOM: Have you checked the float, which is in the bottom of the dishwasher, to see if maybe it’s become clogged?
DARLENE: No, I didn’t know there was …
TOM: Yeah. Because if it’s clogged, it might think it’s – it might think that it’s about to overflow and it might shut the machine off. So in the bottom of the dishwasher, take a look at the float. And it’ll move kind of up and down – it’ll pop up and down a little bit – and a lot of times, it gets filled with food and grime and stuff. And if you clean it out, that might just be the thing to do it.
And here’s a little trick of the trade: if you’re trying to clean out food from places you really can’t get to, you can use a wet/dry vacuum for that. It’ll sort of draw it right out.
DARLENE: Oh, OK. [That I have] (ph).
TOM: There you go. Good luck with that project, Darlene. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Clayton from North Carolina on the line with a question about squeaky floors. What can we do for you today?
CLAYTON: I’m fixing to put some new carpet. It’s been about 10 years we’ve lived in a townhome. But there’s a lot of squeaking in our master bedroom, the floor. Is that going to be a major repair? One place on my wife’s side, kind of the floor gives away more than just squeaking.
And then there’s an issue in the master bedroom with a bright orange spot, about the size of a nail, that’s been there about eight years. And you can’t wipe it off. And someone said it’s not a nail underneath. What could cause that? We’ve got to replace that vinyl, as well.
TOM: Where do you have vinyl? Because you said you have a carpeted floor but where’s the vinyl?
CLAYTON: Vinyl is in the bathroom.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, let me just deal with the vinyl issue. What happens is, depending on what’s underneath that floor, if it’s an orange spot – I don’t know. It might be a nail or something. But what happens is you get a reaction between the vinyl and whatever is underneath it.
Sometimes you get it because of what you put on top of the vinyl, especially if you have like a rubber-backed throw rug; sometimes you see that in kitchens, right up against the cabinet where everybody is standing. The rubber and the vinyl will react and it will discolor the vinyl. That’s usually not a stain in as much as the vinyl has actually just changed colors. And it’s not repairable. So, get a rug to cover it up.
But in terms of the squeaks, you actually have a golden opportunity now to deal with this. So what we want you to do is take the old carpet out and then go ahead and screw the subfloor down to the floor joist using case-hardened drywall screws. Those are those black screws that are really hard. You drive them in with a drill driver or with a drill with a screwdriver tip in it. And you want to put one about every 12 inches.
Because the reason the floors squeak is because either the nails are pulling in and out as the floors move or some of those subfloors are tongue-and-groove. And as the tongue-and-groove plywood moves side to side, it will squeak. So if you pull the old carpet out and then you screw the subfloor down, you’ll find that that floor will get a lot quieter. You may even eliminate it 100 percent.
CLAYTON: Right. OK. Thank you so much for the tip.
TOM: Clayton, good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Chris in Georgia is on the line with an electrical question. What’s going on?
CHRIS: Yes, ma’am. Got a question with an electrical issue in our bedroom. We bought this house and trying to find out some answer to why the bottom plug of a duplex receptacle would work but if you plug into the top part of the outlet, it won’t work. There’s no power.
TOM: Is there any possibility that the top outlet is on a switch?
CHRIS: Could be.
TOM: OK. I’ve seen that. And you don’t see this very often but I have seen it where what looks like a normal outlet is actually split and the top one is wired to a switch and the bottom one isn’t.
CHRIS: Oh. OK.
TOM: So, theoretically, you would have your light on that top one. Now, if that’s not the case, then obviously something is wrong with the outlet and I would just replace the outlet. It shouldn’t be a big deal.
CHRIS: Awesome. I appreciate the advice.
TOM: Alright, Chris. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
CHRIS: Very good. Thank you.
LESLIE: Hey. Up next, Father’s Day is coming up and dads, they can be pretty tough to shop for.
TOM: Yeah. Because if we need something, we just buy it, right?
LESLIE: That’s true. Well, we’re going to have tips for that DIY dad in your life, next.
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LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Well, Father’s Day is coming up. And if you’ve got a dad in your life, I’m sure he’d rather have a tool than a tie.
TOM: Well, that’s right. But dads can be tough to shop for, which is why we’ve turned to Don Mandeville for advice. He’s a dad and the district manager for The Home Depot.
DON: Tom and Leslie, thanks for having me on The Money Pit.
TOM: So, dads are tough because if we need something, we pretty much just go out and buy it, right?
DON: You bet. Dads are very, very difficult to shop for because you’re right: if they need something, they normally just go out and get it for themselves.
TOM: So, you guys are tracking the trends in the DIY dad space and you’ve come up with a list of popular home improvement products that we might want to consider for the DIY dad in our life. How do we get started figuring out what’s the best way to go?
DON: Well, here at Home Depot, I mean we’re looking at how do we make that Father’s Day shopping experience better for your dad and easier for you to pick out? And some of the things that you really should be thinking about is what does your dad like to do? What are – what does he like to do in that DIY-type arena? So does he like working on cars? Is he building things? Constructing things? And what we’ve done is we kind of grouped it into a few “different,” let’s call it, fathers. Different things that fathers like to do.
TOM: Alright. What if you’ve got a guy that really loves his tools, can never have enough tools? What are the popular tools for Father’s Day?
DON: One of the most popular tools that we have right now is the RYOBI Ultimate Combo Kit. This is an excellent kit. It’s a 6-piece kit and it comes with circular saw, reciprocating saw, work light, of course drill – an impact drill. And it even has a JobPlus multi-max (ph) tool.
TOM: You’ve got it all. Pretty much kind of a workshop in a box there.
DON: A workshop in a box is a great analogy, Tom, and a great item for the dad that has the power tools in his hand and really enjoys that type of work.
LESLIE: Now, what if you have a high-tech dad or even a pro dad in your life? Is there anything new and interesting for that type of home-improver?
DON: Oh, yes, there is. Right now, we have a Milwaukee. It’s called ONE-KEY Enabled Drill and Combo Kit.
So this actually is – it will communicate with your smartphone and do a lot of different things, Tom. While you – one, if the tool is missing, to locate it on your smartphone.
TOM: Now that’s handy, especially if you loan your tool to somebody. Will it allow you to control the speed of the tool and the impact of the tool?
DON: Exactly. It will allow you to control speed, impact depending on what materials you’re working on.
TOM: That’s really handy because if you’re driving, say, drywall screws, you want to get that screw to sit just below the surface but not pierce through. It’d be really handy to be able to kind of dial that in. It sounds like that’s exactly what Milwaukee has come up with.
Now, what if you’ve got a guy that likes to build things from scratch? Maybe he’s the kind of guy that will enjoy spending the weekend making a dollhouse for his little girl.
DON: Yeah. And that’s a great – the first thing I would go to, there is the Dremel tools. We’ve got a Dremel 4000 Series. It’s got all the rotary tools that you will need for sanding, cutting, grinding, doing that fine technical work to make whatever it is special for your family and friends.
TOM: Yeah. If you have a Dremel, there’s just no limit to what you can do with that tool. It’s really quite amazing.
Now, what if you’ve got a dad who already owns a lot of tools and maybe you want to pick up sort of a supply for him, something that will make his life a little bit easier: perhaps a bit or a saw blade or something like that? Anything that’s new in that area?
DON: Oh, boy. Diablo blades is the way to go if you’re looking for a long-lasting blade, something that’s going to get you 45-percent faster cuts, greater durability. And then, also, it saves on the charge of the battery and the tool that you’re using. It actually makes that last.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s a great point. When someone works with a dull blade, that tool actually has to work harder. Plus, it’s more dangerous. You’re more likely to get hurt when working with a dull blade. So, a new framing blade is really a great choice for a gift.
Now, what if you’ve got a dad in your life that isn’t into the home improving area of DIY but likes to really work on boats or cars, more of a mechanic?
DON: Right now, we’re carrying a Husky 100-Position Ratchet. Our Husky tool sets come with a lifetime warranty. I mean these are excellent tools that actually give you the ability to work in tighter spaces, ratchet in tighter spaces. Great for working on engines or different things that require more precise getting into tighter spaces.
TOM: Well, that’s a fantastic suggestion. There’s something for every single dad. And I guess if you can’t find it, you can always pick up a Home Depot gift card.
Don Mandeville, the district manager for The Home Depot, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and Happy Father’s Day.
DON: Thanks, Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: Hey, when we come back, we’re going to talk about a very sneaky and silent, dangerous gas that can be found in your home. And in fact, 1 in 15 American homes are going to test positive for radon. So stick around so you can find out all the details to make sure your home isn’t one of them.
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. We would love to help you work on whatever it is you have either started and then abandoned or started and then are midway through and are just kind of stuck. Or maybe you’re ready to start a project but you just don’t know where to go. That’s what we’re here for over at Team Money Pit. Plus, we love to give prizes away. And this hour, we’ve got up for grabs the Husky 185-Piece Mechanics Tool Set.
Now, it’s durable. It’s made from chromium vanadium steel. It’s got standard and deep sockets included and it is guaranteed – get this – forever. It’s available at HomeDepot.com and it’s a prize worth $99. And that’s going out to one lucky caller drawn at random.
TOM: That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Illinois is on the line and working on a kitchen makeover. What can we do for you?
BOB: Oh, we’ve got kitchen cabinets – they’re probably close to 30 years old – and we’re wanting to remodel our kitchen and I’m wanting to strip them down. And I was just wondering what was the best way – what to use to do it with.
TOM: Well, the good news is that 30-year-old cabinets are usually very, very well-built. You can’t really strip down a 10-year-old cabinet, because they pretty much fall apart. But if it’s a 30-year-old plywood cabinet, you can definitely strip it.
Now, what do you want to do after you strip it? Do you want to paint it or do you want to go with a clear coating?
BOB: I’d like to go with a clear coating on it. Maybe put a pecan finish on it or something.
LESLIE: And what’s on there now? Are they just stained or are they painted?
BOB: No, they’re just stained.
TOM: It’s hard to change the color of a stained cabinet. I’m just telling you just be prepared for that. But what you might want to do is use a good-quality stripper. Like Rock Miracle, for example, is a good one.
LESLIE: Yeah. Another thing that’s good to do is head over to your local mom-and-pop paint shop, because sometimes there are newer products that are out there.
I was just getting some wallpaper paste but in that section, there were some really nice paint strippers. They apply a little differently, they go on more easily, they work more quickly. So I always just pop into the shop to sort of see what they’ve got in there that they’ve worked with.
But Tom and I have both used Rock Miracle and I like that because it goes on more like a paste, so you can really see where it is, you can see it start to work. And I guess it depends on how much stain is on there, how dirty they are.
I would start by giving them a good cleaning. Then make sure they’re dried very well, then put the stripper on them. Follow the directions. And you’re going to want to use a wire brush and a paint scraper. And that’s going to get that finish off of there.
Now, it’s important to work on them on a flat surface, so take all the doors and drawer fronts off. Label them as you take them down, with a piece of tape on the back side of the cabinet door and one on the cabinet box itself so that you know exactly where things go. Leave the hinges on the box sides so that you can have the doors flat. These are things that are just tricks of the trade that will help you be more successful.
And if your doors are full overlay – are they or are they not?
BOB: Are they what now?
LESLIE: When your cabinet door closes, do you see any of the cabinet box around it, like a frame? Or does the door cover it?
BOB: Yeah, it does; it flushes up against the frame of the cabinet.
LESLIE: So, that’s a blessing and a curse. Because then you can ignore the box or you can also work on the box while it’s in place, to strip that down, as well. And in that case, the Rock Miracle is really good because it’s really thick, so it’ll stay on in a vertical position, as well. So, those are some good things.
And you may have to apply it more than once, depending on how well-adhered your stain currently is. I mean you’ve really got to see. And then keep in mind that depending on the species of wood, the type of color that you might get from the stain that you’ve selected to go on there might be a little different. So you might want to work on a back side or a smaller area, just so you can see how it will react and what color you’ll actually end up with.
BOB: Thank you, then.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’ve bought your home in the last decade or so and you had a home inspection done, you might also have opted for a radon test. Now, if this is not sounding the least bit familiar, it might be that you never had one done and it’s probably something that you ought to do.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now radon, what it does is it creeps through cracks and gaps in your basement floors and walls and it’s far more common than you might think. In fact, 1 in every 15 homes in the United States is believed to have an elevated radon level.
TOM: Now, the good news is that it is easy to test for. You can order a quick and easy charcoal-adsorption kit online. And then you can test for radon in your house. It’s not costly. It’ll determine the radon levels inside of about a week. And if it comes up high, then you can get some advice on how to install a radon-mitigation system that uses a fan in a vent to pull radon from beneath the house and vent it safely outside.
Now, if it does test high, the radon-mitigation system is not a do-it-yourself project, because it can be done wrong. And you don’t want to do that. But what you’ll do is you’ll have a radon-mitigation system installed. And then after it’s installed, you want to have another test done just to verify its effectiveness.
So, not something to mess with. You should test. If you don’t know what the number is, get it done and then take action accordingly.
LESLIE: Margaret in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MARGARET: Well, I have a problem with my concrete slab in the back of my house where I’d like to put a patio set.
MARGARET: And it’s turned dark.
MARGARET: The sun does not get at it that much.
MARGARET: It’s not a mold but it just turned dark.
TOM: Yeah. Well, it might be an algae or a mildew, maybe mold. You don’t know. But what I would suggest you do is to pick up a product called Spray & Forget. That’s their website, too: SprayAndForget.com. It’s sold at major retailers, like Home Depot and others. And you simply apply the product and within a couple of days, you’ll see that the patio will start to lighten. And it takes those stains away. It goes to work with the moisture in the air and the sunlight. It activates and then kills mold, moss, mildew and algae.
MARGARET: Oh, great, great. Because it looks terrible.
TOM: Yeah. I think it’ll look a lot better, Margaret, OK?
MARGARET: Well, thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Brian in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRIAN: Last summer, I repainted the exterior of my house and I used quite a few nails to kind of shore up some different things. I also fixed a window. And after I repainted, I used galvanized nails. But this year, I already have a lot of bleeding of rust from the nails coming through. So I also did some caulking between the pieces of wood and that seems to be peeling out already. So I was just wondering if there was something that I could, you know, go over the heads of the nails with: something quick, something that I didn’t have to redo the whole side of the house.
TOM: When you did the side of the house last summer, did you prime it or did you just put the paint over the old paint?
BRIAN: Put lots of primer.
TOM: Lots of primer?
TOM: What kind of primer? Like a – was it a latex primer? An oil primer? What was it?
BRIAN: Gosh, I don’t know that. I didn’t buy the paint but we put a …
TOM: But you did prime. You primed over those nail heads?
BRIAN: Yes, we did. Yes.
TOM: And it’s coming through. Because, generally – well, you say you used galvanized, so that’s good. Was this cedar siding?
BRIAN: No. It’s just conventional, horizontal …
TOM: A close standard? Well, unfortunately, it seems like the nails – the galvanized coating on the nails didn’t really stand up very well. But generally, the advice is this: when you finish nailing off that, you need to spot-prime those nail heads. But if you’re telling me you’ve already spot-primed them and the stain’s coming right through, then I’m not really sure that we have any other suggestions for you.
There are differences in the quality of primers. I would always recommend an oil-based primer over a latex primer when I have a stain issue to deal with, because it tends to seal it in better. So, that’s the only additional thing you might want to try is to sand those down to the heads and then touch them up with an oil-based primer and paint them again.
BRIAN: Alright. Well, I guess that answered my question.
LESLIE: Still ahead, are you wondering if your kitchen is an addition or part of the original footprint of your home? Well, whether you own an old home or you’re thinking about buying one, they’re easier to navigate and improve when you know that home’s history. We’re going to tell you how to track it down, when The Money Pit returns.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: You can reach us always at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online to MoneyPit.com or visit our Facebook or Twitter accounts, all accessible from MoneyPit.com. That’s what Barbara did. And she’s from Indiana.
LESLIE: Alright. And Barbara writes: “I have a fan in the over-the-stove microwave and it doesn’t vent to the outside. Should it be vented to the outside?”
TOM: Well, listen, Barbara, if your range is on an exterior wall, it absolutely positively should be vented to the outside. All of these vent fans can be recirculated or vented out but you’re always better off venting them out. It does a much better job of pulling moisture out of the room. It pulls more of the grease out of the area. It’s just far more effective to vent out.
And I would also tell you that having a microwave on top of your range – it’s been my experience that that’s an appliance that has a pretty short life, I think, because of all the heat that comes off all the range. It seems to fry the microwave components. So, if yours does go, I would not replace it. I would try to find another way of getting that microwave into your space, perhaps with a built-in or something of that nature. They even have drawer-style microwave ovens where you can pull a drawer out, slip a dish in and slide it back into the cabinetry, which is really, really nice.
But definitely look for an opportunity to get that vent – that fan vented outside. You will be far happier as a result.
LESLIE: And regardless, Barbara, before you replace your microwave-vent hood or even think about venting something outside, whatever cleaning process or filter process you have, make sure you clean them or replace them according to the manufacturer. Some of them you can throw in the dishwasher. Some of them have a little charcoal piece you have to replace. But you’ve got to clean them. Otherwise, it’s a fire hazard and it’s gross.
TOM: Well, if you own an older home or you’re thinking about buying one, you probably wish its walls could talk and kind of tell you what’s been going on. Well, you don’t really need talking walls. Leslie has tips on how you can learn about your home’s past, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. Knowing your older home’s exact age is really valuable since especially homes built in the same era tend to face similar problems. Now, with the help of an architecture book or two, most homeowners can narrow down their home to a core style and a time period.
Now, public records also hold key information about your home. Now, researching those public records is especially a good idea if you’re the perspective owner of a home and you want to know what changes have taken place over the years before you buy it. So you want to visit your local building department, your tax assessor or the Registrar of Deeds office to find your deeds, maps, plot plans, even building permits, each of which could fill in a piece of your home’s history.
Now, maps used by insurance companies since the mid-1800s, those are also a great way to find out more about the house, because they’re used to catalog buildings in your area and give excellent descriptions of size, layout and the materials used to build the homes.
Now, you can also learn a lot just by observing the materials a home was built with. For example, if you see knob-and-tube wiring and steel plumbing pipes, that’s a common practice that was used between 1900 and 1940, whereas small fuse-type electrical systems and plaster-lath walls, those are used more from 1940 to 1960. So if you see those things, you can kind of guestimate the age, just based on the building materials and practices.
And finally, take a good look around. You might be lucky enough to find dates stamped on plumbing fixtures, like your toilets and sinks if they’re the original fixtures. And if they are, you can bet your home was built just after these were made.
Now, knowing your home’s past can actually help you plan for its future. And that’s a great thing.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, would you like a garden that not only looks beautiful but also serves an important purpose? Well, pollinator gardens can attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies that play a big role in plant reproduction. We’ll have the how-to, on the next edition of the program.
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 2016 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.)