Fall Design Trends

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. In fact, our mission is to educate you and inspire you and help you build confidence, and guide you through the projects and the repairs and the improvements and the décor that you’d like to take on around your house. If you’ve got a question, if you’ve been thinking about getting started with something, I mean look, it’s fall, it’s chilly, it’s going to get colder. You’re going to be stuck inside. Looking around those four walls of your house, there’s got to be a project that you’d like to do that would make that space more pleasant. Now is a great time to reach out to us and we will talk about it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll help you get started on the right foot so the job gets done correctly.

And if you’ve got a situation where maybe you want to do it and your spouse doesn’t, hey, we’ll help you talk him or her into it. We can do that, no charge.

LESLIE: We’ll help you talk them into it.

TOM: Give us a call, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Now, coming up on today’s show, we’ve got a few things on our to-do list. We’re going to talk about floors. It’s a popular fall project but we’re starting to see designers use floor materials now in some very cool and unexpected ways, like on the walls. We’re going to have tips for this trending project, just ahead.

LESLIE: Plus, when an appliance breaks down, life around the house can screech to a halt, especially if it’s something like the washer. We’ll have tips on a way that you can figure out what’s wrong and fix it yourself, step-by-step.

TOM: And we’re going to highlight a smart, new lighting control that gives you the ability to set your lights to come on at dusk so your family can always arrive back home to a well-lit space.

But first, we want to hear from you. What is that project you’d like to get done? Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

RON: Yeah, I have a home with a crawlspace and I have had some moisture under there. And the builder, when he built it, he ran the runoff from the roof down into the French drains. I diverted that and it’s helped a lot but it’s still moist. And I’m asking if these encapsulated systems, where they trench the perimeter of the inside of the crawlspace and seal off the systems with a dehumidifier and a sump pump – how they work and if that’s a solution to these kinds of problems.

TOM: Alright. So, first of all, the roof drains were going where before you capped them off?

RON: Down in the French drain.

TOM: Yeah, that’s not too smart, huh?

RON: No, it wasn’t. I diverted that and it helped a lot but it’s still moist under there.

TOM: Alright. So, now that you’ve got the roof drains disconnected from the French drain, are those drains extending out away from the foundation perimeter?

RON: For sure.

TOM: How far out do they go?

RON: Oh, 20 feet?

TOM: Oh, OK. Well, that’s a good thing.

Alright. So the second thing that you could do, easily, is make sure that the soil that surrounds the foundation perimeter is sloped away. Most of the time, that soil settles after the house is built and becomes flatter or even inverted. So you want to make sure you have a pitch where the soil is running away from the foundation, dropping about 6 inches over 4 feet. You can plant something on that grass or mulch or stone after but make sure you have good, solid drainage.

Now, let’s talk about the vents in the crawlspace. You need to have enough vents, so probably one or two on each wall. You need to make sure that the crawlspace floor has a vapor barrier on it.

What’s the crawlspace floor now?

RON: It’s vapor barrier only.

TOM: It’s vapor barrier? So it’s completely covered in plastic?

RON: Right.

TOM: OK. And then, the other thing that you could do is you could add vent fans to the walls and have them wired onto a humidistat.

RON: OK.

TOM: So that when the moisture builds up inside the crawlspace because the humidity is high, the fans will come on and draw the drier air in from the outside.

RON: Yeah.

TOM: So those are things that you could do now, without spending a whole lot of money, to try to dry that space out.

RON: Yeah.

TOM: Now, the idea of encapsulating the crawlspace is not a bad approach and many homes are starting to be built that way today. But that literally means sealing everything off 110 percent.

RON: Right.

TOM: So since you’re kind of closer to being able to improve the grading, improve the drainage, double-check that vapor barrier to make sure it’s really solid and it’s thick and covering every aspect of that crawlspace floor. Make sure if it overlaps, it overlaps about 10 feet. Make sure it’s up against the foundation walls and then get good ventilation – cross-ventilation – in there using some vent fans wired to humidistats. You may find that that gives you the rest of the moisture reduction that you – that was left over after you rerouted those drains.

RON: OK.

TOM: OK?

RON: Alright. Sounds good. Thank you.

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

LESLIE: Julie in Colorado is on the line and has a heating question.

JULIE: My question is regarding heat pumps and how energy-efficient they might be, because we’re an all-electric house. Our electric bill is very high.

TOM: And how is your house heated right now, Julie?

JULIE: It’s heated with baseboard. And actually, we don’t even really heat our house. We’ll heat one room because it’s so expensive.

TOM: Right now, you’re heating with electric-resistance heat which, as you accurately stated, is the most expensive type of heat. Now, a heat-pump system would be far less expensive but it would require a duct system to be installed throughout the house. So, you would have that upfront cost of running the heating ducts.

If you had that system installed – the way a heat pump works is it’s kind of like an air-conditioning system that runs all winter except that in the wintertime, the refrigeration system is reversed. Now, if you’ve ever walked, say, by a window air conditioner in the summer, you know it blows hot air out the back of it, out to the outside. If you sort of took that window air conditioner out and flipped it around and stuck it inside, you’d have a heat pump; it’d be blowing the hot air in the house. That’s essentially what happens: it reverses the refrigeration cycle in the wintertime.

Now, generally speaking, heat pumps are not always recommended for very, very cold climates, because heat pumps only maintain the heat when there’s a 2-degree differentiation between what the temperature is set at – what the temperature is and what the temperature is set at, I should say. So if you set your temperature at 70, it falls to 69, the heat goes on. If it falls inside to 68, the heat pump stays on. If it falls to 67, the heat pump says to its electric-resistance backup system, which is always part of a heat pump, “Hey, I can’t keep up with this. I need some help. Turn on the heating coils.” And then you’re not saving any money.

So, will it save – will it be less expensive than baseboard electric? Yes. But it has a significant upfront cost in terms of the installation because you’d need a duct system, as well as the heat-pump equipment. Does that make sense?

JULIE: OK. Sounds good. Thank you.

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. Give us a call, 24 hours a day, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

TOM: Just ahead, we’ve got tips to help you take your décor to new heights by using flooring on your walls. It’s the latest design trend. We’ll fill you in, after this.

Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project.

And here’s another great reason to give us a call, because we’ve got the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun to give away to one lucky listener, plus a supply of staples.

Now, this is pretty much the most popular American-made staple gun ever. I’ve had one for decades. I originally inherited one from my dad and then I got my own. And I’ll tell you – because he kept asking for it back, that’s why. So, I got one of my own and I tell you what, there’s lots of stuff you can do with a T50, if you need to do everything from attach tar paper, do some upholstery around the chairs, maybe reattach some carpeting, stair treads, stuff like that. It’s just a handy tool to have around.

You can check it out at ArrowFastener.com. And they’ve got some great projects there on their website at ArrowFastener.com, step-by-step advice on all sorts of projects right there on the home page.

So, give us a call right now. And if you do, we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and might be sending you that Arrow T50 Stapler, plus the staples, for a total value of about 50 bucks. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Mike in Pennsylvania is dealing with some stains on the roof. Tell us what’s going on there.

MIKE: Yeah, I have – on the kind of the northern parts of the roof on my house, myself and – as well as my neighbors have these black streaks. And it seems to be a part of the roof that doesn’t get a lot of sun. And my question was – you know, I guess, first of all, what is it? And then, secondly, is there a way that I can clean that myself, as a homeowner, or do I have to hire somebody to do some – be it clean that type of streak off?

TOM: Well, generally, those streaks are made up of algae or moss. And they happen more frequently on the north side of the roof because it’s a cooler side of the roof and there’s more shade there. And a product that you could use to address that is called Wet & Forget. It’s a concentrate and you mix it up, you spray it on the roof. And then slowly but surely, it kills the algae, it kills the moss, it kills any mold that’s there and cleans the roof. And so, within a very short period of time, you’ll find that the roof looks bright and shiny again.

MIKE: Oh, OK. Does that product come in an applicator where you can hook it up to a hose or you actually do have to get up on the roof?

TOM: Don’t believe it does. I think you have to mix it up and put it in a pump sprayer.

MIKE: OK.

TOM: And so you may have to get up there and just spray it down and let it sit. Follow the instructions. Their website is WetAndForget.com.

LESLIE: Yeah. And it is a product that once you get it on the surface, over time it continues to work, so it’s not something that you’re going to have to reapply very often. So it is worth it if you can get up there to carefully spray it.

MIKE: Oh, OK. Would that also – I have the same problem with the siding on the northern part of my house; it gets a lot of that.

TOM: Yep. Absolutely. You could use it for siding, for sidewalks and for roofs. And the nice thing about Wet & Forget is it doesn’t damage your landscaping.

MIKE: Oh, OK, OK. Great, great. OK. Well, I greatly appreciate the advice. Thank you very much.

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

LESLIE: Well, with as little as 100 square feet of flooring, you can step up the style in any room of your home by using flooring to create accent walls. We’ve got tips on that project, in today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators.

TOM: Yeah. This trendy, new look is a really good weekend home improvement project. It gives you a big impact for a relatively small expense. And it can bring a very cool, a very durable sort of artistic element to your décor.

Now, you can use many different flooring materials for this project. You can use hardwood or bamboo or the wood-look tile or the luxury vinyl or even laminate. It all works well for that accent wall, say, in the bedroom, like maybe behind the bed or in a living room or a family room. And it can look really good.

LESLIE: Now, depending on the type of flooring, planks can be secured to the walls using nails, glue or even wood-flooring tape. Now, you’re also going to want to make sure to let that flooring acclimate in your home for a few days before you start your project. And to get the best layout, you want to arrange those planks side by side on the floor first and balance out the color, look at the grain pattern, really sort of move it around and be happy with the look before you put them to the walls.

TOM: Now, here’s a tip: when you’re ready to go, you want to install that first plank starting at the bottom left corner of the wall area and then work your way from sort of left to right and up. This is a good way to make sure that you are getting a good mix of the patterns on the wall.

You also want to have a ½-inch gap between the planks in the ceiling and the floor, which is a little bit of room for the floor to naturally expand and contract. And you can easily cover that over by molding and you will have a beautiful, new, very trendy space in really just a one-day project.

LESLIE: And that’s today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators. With such new trends in hardwood flooring and so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find what’s right for you. Plus, get expert flooring help at every local store.

TOM: For locations, call 1-800-HARDWOOD or visit Lumber Liquidators.com. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.

LESLIE: Mary in North Dakota needs some help with a concrete floor. What can we do for you?

MARY: We’ve got crumbling concrete on the basement floor after water problems this spring.

TOM: OK. Alright.

MARY: And it’s very crumbly and powdery. And there are places on it that I’d like to paint, if I could.

TOM: Mm-hmm. Do you want to try to stabilize the deterioration of the concrete?

MARY: Yeah. I was wondering if there was some kind of sealant that could be sprayed or poured on it.

TOM: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, in terms of the water problem, is this a problem that happened after a heavy rainfall?

MARY: Yeah.

TOM: Alright. So if you’ve got water that comes in after a heavy rainfall, I want to make sure we try to slow this down so it doesn’t happen again. Adding sump pumps, things of that nature, is not going to stop this from happening again. What stops the heavy rainfall from getting in is outside, looking at your gutters and your grading, making sure the downspouts are discharging away from the house, making sure your gutters are clean, making sure soil slopes away from the house.

We’ve got extensive articles – actually, several of them – on MoneyPit.com. Just search “how to stop a leaking basement” and it’s the same advice. And we talk about the proper drainage improvements. So, do that first.

And then, in terms of the concrete itself, you can use a patching compound. QUIKRETE has a patching-compound product. You definitely want to use the patching compound because it’s designed to stick to the old concrete. If you try to put new concrete over it, it’s not going to stick. So, the ready-to-use patching compounds are trowel-applied. They’re latex formulas, so it’s easy to clean up. But that will seal the old concrete.

Then, once that dries, then you can paint it. And what I would look for is an epoxy floor paint. The epoxy paints I like because they’re a chemical cure. When you buy the floor paint, you get the paint in a gallon can that’s about three-quarters filled and then a quart of hardener. You mix them together, stir them up and then you apply the paint. Sometimes, there is an additive that goes in after the fact that gives you some texture to the floor, helps kind of hide the dirt. But patching it first, then adding an epoxy paint will have that looking like new in no time.

MARY: OK. But the name of the sealant was called what?

TOM: QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. It’s QUIKRETE Concrete Patching Compound. Good stuff.

Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Richard in Illinois on the line who’s getting some water through the foundation. Tell us what’s going on.

RICHARD: What it is is over time – I’ve got a ranch house with a walkout basement. And on the walkout, when you come out, there is a retaining wall that is about 8 foot tall where it meets the house. It hasn’t really separated from the house but there is water that gets in between the retaining wall and the foundation and then it gathers right at the bottom, on a heavy rain, and then seeps back into the basement. So, I’m trying to figure out – the previous owner that had this house is – put something in there, like a caulking of some type, that has gotten hard over time and it’s not slowing it down too much.

TOM: So this is a gravity situation, so let’s give you a gravity solution. Let’s have the drainage work with you and not against you. And by the way, you can seal this until the cows come home and it’s still going to find its way in. What you have to do is stop the water from accumulating.

So, on the opposite side of this retaining wall, I’m guessing that there’s some runoff that goes towards the wall?

RICHARD: Yes, there is.

TOM: So what you’re going to want to do is intercept that runoff so we don’t get as much water that collects in that area. What we want to try to do is limit the amount of water that gets in that area to just direct rainfall with no runoff. That means no gutter discharge, no runoff from higher elevations. So, the way we do that is, first of all, examine the gutter situation and make sure there’s no water dropping at the high side of this where it could work its way down. If there is, you’ve got to run a pipe underground to get it to a place where it’s not going to interfere with leakage into the basement.

Secondly, in terms of intercepting the runoff, what you could do is install something called a “curtain drain,” Richard. It’s a really – it’s a rather simple drain that you might construct yourself. You dig a trench that’s about 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide, you put some stone in that trench. Then you put a perforated pipe on top of the stone, surround it with more stone, lay a piece of filter cloth across the top and cover it with soil. So when it’s all done, it’s invisible.

And the end of that drain that you just installed should exit to daylight somewhere, so you need to figure out the best way to do that based on the configuration of your yard. What that will do is it’ll intercept the water that’s coming down from higher elevations. It’ll fall into that trench, come up into the pipe and then run around the house as opposed to collecting in that particular corner. If we can keep the water from collecting in that area, you will probably be just fine, because it’s rare that just direct rainfall accumulates enough water to actually leak in the house. It’s almost always the runoff from gutters and from drainage.

RICHARD: Right. And needless to say, I’ll probably have to do some – get rid of some landscaping, because it’s got some little, green bushes there along that wall, as well, so …

TOM: Yeah. And that’s a good point, because sometimes you can make the problem worse by having landscaping that traps water. So just think in terms of water control here, not in terms of trying to seal that water out, and I think you’ll be in good shape.

LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

Now, when an appliance breaks down at your home, you know that life can come to a screeching halt, especially if it’s something like your washer. We’re going to have tips on a way that you can figure out what’s wrong and fix it yourself, step-by-step.

TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

Well, thanks to the wide availability of appliance parts, along with tips and videos to show you what to do with them, it’s never been easier to diagnose and repair your own washer, refrigerator, oven and so many more appliances around your home.

TOM: And much of that credit goes to our next guest. Bob Burke is the CEO of RepairClinic.com. It’s a website that’s already helped 20 million people save $2.5 billion in DIY repair costs.

Welcome, Bob.

BOB: Thank you.

TOM: So, you have had a very long history with RepairClinic. I should say RepairClinic has had a very long history. And if I understand the story right, the company actually started out as a small repair shop back in 1921. They didn’t have dot-coms back then, though, huh?

BOB: No, not back then. We’ve been, actually, the longest-running appliance and HVAC heating- and air conditioning-parts distributor in North America. We’ve been doing it over 100 years. And in 1999, we went online with the RepairClinic business which, in essence, teaches people how to fix things within their kitchen, within their basement, within their garage. So, appliances – washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves – your garage – lawn mowers, snow blowers, weed whackers – and then basement and just outdoors, being heating and air conditioning.

And essentially, how we do this is giving people the content, the know-how to fix things. We have about 3,500 videos online, that are 3 to 4 minutes, that teach people how to fix things. We also have product manuals that they can download. We also have the schematics and helpful instructions that are step-by-step information pieces to make it easier to fix things and save money, as well as save time for folks.

TOM: Now, I want to ask you about an issue that’s being – that the repair industry, in general, is facing right now. And it has to do with counterfeiting. You know, I think when you hear the word “counterfeit,” most of us would think about counterfeit money or designer handbags. But there’s a big problem in the repair industry now with counterfeit repair parts showing up all across the web, including sites as big as Amazon. How does the consumer make sure they’re getting the real deal? I mean I would think it’s especially important, since a bad part can potentially make an appliance very unsafe.

BOB: It is a large issue. So, all of our parts are genuine certified, manufacturer original parts. We only buy brand-name parts and that’s all we sell. Secondly, we have an unconditional, 365-day warranty where someone can return a part for whatever reason, with no questions asked.

But counterfeit parts, as well as used parts, damaged parts, you can find on many of the Amazons of the world. And it’s a real issue for consumers today, because they don’t know if they’re – what they’re buying is genuine, it will fit their appliance, whether it could damage their appliance. So, it’s really an issue today, because you can find something online but you may not know if it’s the right part for the right machine.

And we’ve seen it, just being in business for so long, people coming in and saying, “Hey, this didn’t work. I bought it online and had this problem.” So, counterfeit parts are a growing issue for not only consumers but even repairmen and repairwomen out there in the country.

TOM: I guess your answer, then, is you really have to know the brand that you’re buying it from, even know the reputation of the retailer. And if you can’t verify that, it may not be the deal you think it is.

BOB: That’s absolutely correct.

LESLIE: Now, Bob, you guys recently launched a new website in mid-September which, I’ve got to say, is sleek, it’s very user-friendly, it’s easy on the eyes. The web content is super simple to find when you’re looking for help with a repair. What have you done? Like what sort of drove these changes to help make things easier for the consumer? What did you guys take on here to make it better?

BOB: Sure. So we – over the last two-and-a-half years, we invested about 100,000 hours in redoing the website, from the front end to the back end. Some of the features that we added are machine-learning search. So consumers can search by the symptom, what’s wrong, as well as by the content and model number.

We built step-by-step diagnosis guides that help both unskilled, as well as skilled, technicians through a step-by-step process. We’ve added more content, in terms of videos. We’ve added more content, in terms of schematics, as well as user manuals so that folks can not only find the part, they can find the information to then fix their appliance. And we’ve even added 24/7 live customer support in Spanish and English. So if they have a question, they can call a trained parts specialist to answer questions, send them more information, send them a video, send them the schematics.

So, again, it’s been a long journey all year towards making it easier to fix things, easier to find things and then easier to actually do the repair.

TOM: We’re talking to Bob Burke. He’s the CEO of RepairClinic.com, a company that has already helped 20 million people save over $2.5 billion in DIY repair costs over the last, what, 20 years, Bob?

BOB: Yep. So, we’re coming on our 20th anniversary.

TOM: You know, not only does this save you money doing the repair yourself but there’s a huge problem in this country, right now, with the skills gap. We’re just not putting enough young people out into the workforce with the skills necessary to do technical jobs like appliance repair. So, even if you have an issue, it’s harder and harder to find a good person to do that work for you. Sites like yours and the reliable parts that you provide are making it more possible than ever before to actually do these repairs yourself. I mean 20 years ago, you wouldn’t find too many people that would be willing to work on an appliance. But with the information you guys have pulled together, it certain is entirely possible to do that very successfully.

BOB: Yes, it is. It’s becoming easier and easier to fix things. And not only is there the skills gap in the country, it’s oftentimes hard to get somebody to come to your house. People are now realizing they can fix it on their own. They can save money. But they can also just save time. If you have a broken washing machine, the clothes are going to be dirty. If you have a broken refrigerator, you’re obviously – your food is going to go bad. So, it’s becoming important and more important, as the prices of appliances go up. It’s the second largest investment within your home, outside of your car, to maintain them and keep them running for the well-being of your own family.

TOM: Bob, before we let you go, I want to talk with you about another organization that you started call GoLadderUp.org, a non-profit organization that provides financial services for low-income families. What a wonderful service you guys are providing. I took a look at the website and it’s just rich with resources for those folks.

BOB: Well, thank you. We’ve been doing taxes and financial literacy for the last 24 years and it’s been a tremendous joy to help out so many families, given the complexity of doing taxes today. So, really appreciate the opportunity to serve other families.

TOM: Bob Burke, CEO of RepairClinic.com.

Thanks so much, Bob, for stopping by The Money Pit and continued good success with RepairClinic.com.

BOB: Thank you.

LESLIE: Well, just ahead, we’re going to share some tips on smart lighting control that gives you the ability to set your lights to come on at dusk so that your family always comes back to a well-lit home.

TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.

LESLIE: That’s right. Doesn’t matter what that project is, they make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros.

TOM: And there are no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use. That’s HomeAdvisor.com.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Leonard in North Carolina on the line with a lighting question. How can we help you today?

LEONARD: Yes, I have a hallway in my home that’s totally dark. And I want to know: what kind of options do you have available?

TOM: So you don’t have outlets in the home, so you basically want to add some additional lighting.

LEONARD: Yes.

TOM: Alright. So, why don’t you simply run an extra circuit to feed a ceiling fixture?

LEONARD: That might be an option.

TOM: It’s not as hard as you might think. Electricians do this sort of thing all the time. They will look for the path of least resistance, both electrically and physically, to get the wiring where it needs to go and provide that additional lighting option. You don’t necessarily need an outlet to do that.

If you had an outlet or even if you had an outlet, for example, on the opposite wall, say the – let’s say the hallway is between – the other side of the hallway is a bedroom and there’s an outlet on that same wall, they might go down that wall to grab power from that outlet, bring the wire up across the hallway, drop it back down again and put in a ceiling fixture.

LEONARD: Never thought about that.

TOM: So I would consider – yeah, I would consider just running a ceiling fixture and forget the idea of using any kind of plug-in device.

LEONARD: You guys have been a big help. Thanks a lot.

TOM: And hey, if you give us a call, right now, with your how-to question, you might just win some tools to get those projects done, because we’re giving away an Arrow PT50 Staple Gun. It delivers some serious pneumatic tool performance at a price everybody will love. It’s packed with features like an easy-load magazine.

You can learn more about it at ArrowFastener.com. And while you’re there, check out the projects that are online at Arrow Fastener. They’ve got one, right now, which is a carpet stair-tread project. All the step-by-step is right there at ArrowFastener.com, in the Project section. And I tell you what, they’re doing a great job with these projects. The photos are beautiful, the steps are very clear to understand and it really helps you tackle some great projects around the house.

So check that out at ArrowFastener.com. But you can win that Arrow PT50 Staple Gun by giving us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Linda in Rhode Island is on the line and needs some help with winterizing the A/C unit. What’s going on?

LINDA: Well, I was wondering if someone could give me this proper procedure to shut down the unit for the winter. Because it was not successful last winter, I ended up with a problem when I went to start it up in the spring. So I thought, perhaps, I had not done something that maybe should have been done that I wasn’t aware of.

TOM: Ah, probably just bad luck, Linda. When you have an outside central air-conditioning compressor, there’s really not much to be done in the winter. Except that what we generally recommend is that you turn the power off to it and then you cover the top of it. One thing you don’t want to do is cover the sides of it, because you have to let moisture move in and move out.

If you completely wrap it up – I’ve seen people completely wrap them up like a holiday package. Bad idea because that traps a lot of moisture inside. It can cause condensation and corrosion. You really just want to cover the top to kind of keep leaves out. But other than that, you just leave it exposed and nothing should happen to it as a result of that.

LINDA: Oh, very good. Well, I certainly will follow that this year, because I did exactly what you said: I wrapped it up like a package thinking I was protecting it.

TOM: And maybe that didn’t work out so well. So, yeah, I think you maybe gave it a little bit too much TLC. So just cover the top to stop the leaves from getting in but leave the sides open so it can air out properly, OK? So it can ventilate properly.

LINDA: Well, thank you ever so much.

TOM: There’s a new, very smart dimmer that just came out from Lutron we want to tell you about. It’s called the Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch Starter Kit. And it pretty much gives you more function than a standard dimmer. It’s a smart lighting control that lets you do stuff, like set your lights to come on at dusk, so your family always come back to a very well-lit home at the end of a long day.

LESLIE: Now, this kit is for hardwired lights and gives you smart lighting control in one room. It’s easy to use, very simple to set up and gives you a smart system that you can expand at your own pace.

Now, everything you need is right there in the box. It includes a smart bridge and a free app. But there’s an in-wall light dimmer and you even get the wall plate and a remote control.

TOM: Kit starts at around 100 bucks and you’ll find it at Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy or through your electrician. You can learn more at CasetaWireless.com. That’s C-a-s-e-t-a-Wireless.com.

LESLIE: Sam in Idaho, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

SAM: I have a [life of] (ph) cedar fencing someone gave me. I’m going to plan it. It’s 10 or 12 years old, never been in the ground. I’m just curious if you would recommend treating the post.

TOM: Well, you can treat the posts if you want to put like a wood life on it and make sure you get it into the end grain. It’ll help a little bit.

But the best way to stop that post from rotting is more about the installation. And what I would recommend is this: I would use a post-hole digger to dig it – the hole – just slightly wider than the post itself. I would put about 4 inches of gray gravel stone in the bottom of the hole, set the post on top of that stone and then use the rest of the stone to fill around the post and tamp it down.

Now, you can use a tamping iron or if you don’t have a tamping iron, you can use the butt end of a 2×4 to do the same thing. But do not concrete those posts into the ground, because the concrete will hold a lot of water against the post. It will cause rapid deterioration. If you just put the stone in, it’ll be really, really strong and it’ll drain well. So, that’s the best way to preserve it.

SAM: OK, guys. Thank you.

LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

Hey, if a cozy house is appealing to you, imagine how good it looks to those mice that want to get in. We’re going to share some tips to keep critters from joining you indoors this fall, after this.

TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: We’re here to help you with your home improvement projects, to inspire, to educate you, to help you make the best decisions on how to get those jobs done around the house. Help yourself by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com or post your question, like Darlene did in New York, who says, “Did you say that a pasty mixture with salt and vinegar and baking soda is good for polishing brass?”

Well, not exactly. It’s really salt and lemon juice. It can be used on both brass and copper.

LESLIE: And boy, does it work on copper so amazingly well.

TOM: You know what my family’s favorite cheap souvenir is? The penny machines when you go to different places?

LESLIE: Oh, we keep those, too.

TOM: But what I’ll do is I’ll – at the end of the day, if you’re at lunch or dinner and you have an iced tea that’s got a lemon in it – so I’ll pull a lemon out, take the penny out, put some table salt on it and polish it while I’m sitting there at lunch, you know, so it becomes nice and shiny. It does a great job of taking the tarnish off.

So, very simple solution there, Darlene. Hope that helps you out and thanks so much for sending your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.

Well, it becomes a real problem whenever temperatures drop: mice, rats and other rodents like to make their way into homes for relief from the chill. But take heart: there are some ways to keep them out today to avoid infestations in the months to come. Leslie has tips, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

Leslie?

LESLIE: Ugh. I’m telling you, Tom, this is the grossest. And even us neat freaks get mice. I’m telling you, it was a Sunday night and in through my bedroom door walked the cutest, little mouse who did not have red shorts on and white gloves and wasn’t singing Disney songs. But he walked right into my bedroom and I nearly lost my dang mind and of course didn’t sleep for days and days.

But guys, it’s really not so easy to get rid of them. You can’t just hang a “No Vacancy” sign but you can make changes that will keep the mice and critters moving on and away from your house and then onto the next warm haven.

Now, here’s the creepiest part of this whole thing: mice can squeeze through spaces smaller than a nickel. So seal any potential entrances to your home with sheet metal, steel wool or cement. Even expandable foam insulation isn’t going to do the trick, guys. It can be gnawed through. So if you take that route, add some steel wool to the mix because that really does solve that problem.

Now, here is where I think my issue was: your cat and dog, they love the smell of their dry food but so do the mice. And if you leave it out overnight – which is what I was doing, which was stupid – they will find a way to your pet’s food. So the mice want to eat that dog food, as well.

You want to make sure that at the end of the day, you pick up their food dishes, dump them out, clean them out, save the food for the next day, whatever you’ve got to do. But don’t leave that food out overnight. And keep that dry pet food in sealed, metal canisters because, believe it or not, these mice can chew through so many things. And they will get through plastic canisters and get to that food.

So, really think about it. And while it doesn’t seem to help their IQ, critters like newspapers. They’re not reading them. They’re not reading your magazines. They want to burrow in them and take them with them somewhere and cozy up in them. So get rid of stacks of paper, cardboard, anything that they can turn into a nesting site.

Do these things. Keep the mice away. This way, you can get some better sleep. Because I just fear they can jump on your face while you’re sleeping.

TOM: Not possible. I wouldn’t (inaudible), Leslie.

LESLIE: I think you’re wrong. I think they can jump on your face.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Next week, we are hitting the road. We’ll be coming to you from Jamestown, Rhode Island. We’re going to visit our friends from This Old House and help celebrate the latest project for their 40th season.

Now, these guys have built a pretty impressive place this time because it’s a house that needs zero energy to run it. It makes all of its – I shouldn’t say it needs no energy; it needs no external energy. It basically makes all the energy it needs to operate. We’re talking about heating, cooling, electricity. It makes all of its own energy and at the end of the year, these owners do not have to spend a dime by paying utility companies or gas companies for those fuels. It does it all.

So it’s a pretty cool house. We’ll be there, on site, as they finish up the last day of production and tell you everything you need to know. That’s 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.

END HOUR 2 TEXT

(Copyright 2018 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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