Split image of old brick steps and the trunk of a tree with the root flare showing
Hear how to remove brick steps, plus a tip for caring for a sickly tree. (Elaine Koski/Tongo51, Getty Images)

Hour 1

Hear a tip for caring for sickly trees, how to remove brick steps, all about heat pump water heaters and more.

Uncovering the Root Flare: Essential Step in Caring for Sickly Trees

A tree’s root flare is where the trunk meets the root system at the base of the tree. (Siriporn Pintunun, Getty Images)

A few weeks back, we talked about how to care for a sickly tree, and we got some great feedback from one of our listeners. Ricardo Johnson, a tree surgeon in Maryland, had some valuable advice for us when it comes to restoring the health of a sick tree.

He writes: “Hi Danny and Joe, I heard you talking about how to restore the health of a sick tree. The very first thing to do is dig around the trunk of the tree to expose the root flare. Most trees are planted way too deep, resulting in the root flare being buried under several inches of soil.” 

This is something we’ve talked about before, but it bears repeating. Most trees are planted way too deep, which means the root flare is buried under several inches of soil.

Why is this a problem? Well, the root flare is an important part of a tree’s anatomy. It’s where the trunk meets the root system at the base of the tree, and it’s where the structural roots begin to spread out and provide support for the tree. If the root flare is buried, it can lead to a host of problems for the tree, including root rot, trunk decay, and a weakened root system.

So, if you’ve got a sickly tree on your hands, take Ricardo’s advice and start by exposing the root flare. It’s a simple step, but it can make a world of difference in the health and longevity of your tree.

Removing Brick Steps 

Old brick steps
Replacing brick steps with new cement steps is not as difficult as you might think. (Elaine Koski)

If you’re looking to replace brick steps with new concrete steps, you’re in luck. It’s not as difficult as you might think, and with the right tools, you can get it done in no time.

First off, you’ll need to remove the old brick steps. If they’re not attached too well, you can use a heavy hammer and a cold chisel to bust them up.

However, if you want to make the job a bit easier, rent an electric chipping hammer, which is like a mini jackhammer. It’s a pretty easy-to-control tool that you can rent by the day from most home improvement stores.

This should only take a few hours to do, and once you’ve cleared away the old bricks, you’ll be ready to install your new steps.

Now, when it comes to the new steps, you have a couple of options. You can pour concrete steps on-site, or you can get pre-cast concrete steps that will be set right in place.

Pre-cast concrete steps are a great option because they’re easy to install and come in a variety of sizes and styles. Plus, they’re durable and will last for years to come.

Once the new steps are in place, coat them with sealant to protect them from the elements.

And there you have it — brand-new concrete steps that will give your home’s exterior a fresh, updated look.

How Heat Pump Water Heaters Can Cut Costs

House water heating boiler with pump, ball valves and filter
Electric heat pump water heaters use a combination of electricity and heat pump technology to heat the water in the tank. (didecs, Getty Images)

If you’re in the market for a new water heater, you might want to consider a heat pump water heater. Not only are they energy-efficient, but they can also save you some serious cash on your monthly energy bill.

So, how do they work? Heat pump water heaters use a combination of electricity and heat pump technology to heat the water in the tank. The heat pump technology works by drawing heat from the surrounding air and transferring it to the water in the tank, which means you’re not just relying on electricity to heat the water.

Read: What You Should Know About Heat Pumps

This makes them a great option for areas with mild to moderate climates, but they may not be as effective in colder climates. If you live in an area that gets really cold, you might need a backup heating source to keep the water hot.

But, overall, heat pump water heaters are a great choice if you’re looking to save some money on your energy bill. They can save a family of four about $330 a year.

They also have a longer lifespan. A heat pump water heater can last up to 15 years or more, whereas electric ones last about 10 years.

Here’s the one drawback: A 50-gallon heat pump water heater costs about 1100. You can buy a standard electric one for about a third of that. 

So, if you’re ready to upgrade, consider an electric heat pump water heater if it’s within your budget.

Hour 2

Hear if wood sealer with UV protection can extend the life of an asphalt roof, how to fill pits in a granite countertop and more.

‘Can Wood Sealer Extend the Life of Your Asphalt Shingle Roof?’

To extend the life of an asphalt roof, it’s best to use a product specifically designed for asphalt shingles. (Vitaliy Halenov, Getty Images)

A homeowner asks: “To make an asphalt shingle roof last longer, is it advisable to spray it with Thompson’s water sealer with UV ray protection?”

Asphalt shingle roofs are a popular choice for many homeowners due to their affordability and durability. However, over time, exposure to the elements can cause the shingles to deteriorate and crack, leading to leaks and water damage.

While Thompson’s Water Seal is a popular choice for protecting wood and other porous surfaces from water damage, it is not recommended for use on asphalt shingle roofs. This is because the product is designed to be absorbed into porous surfaces to create a water-repellent barrier. However, asphalt shingles are not porous, and the water sealant is unlikely to penetrate the surface effectively.

Also, while UV ray protection is important for preventing damage to your roof from the sun’s rays, it’s best to use a product specifically designed for asphalt shingles. Look for products labeled as “roof coatings” or “roof sealants” that are formulated to protect asphalt shingles from the elements, including UV rays.

To extend the life of your asphalt shingle roof, it’s also important to perform regular maintenance, such as keeping gutters clean and free of debris, inspecting the roof for damage after storms, and trimming nearby trees to prevent branches from falling on the roof.

If you do notice any damage or leaks, address them promptly to prevent further damage and ensure the longevity of your roof.

Fixing Granite Countertop Pits

Light granite countertop with kitchen faucet and sink
Filling pits in granite countertops is a common issue that can be easily resolved. (dlewis33, Getty Images Signature)

A homeowner has a bunch of small pits in her granite countertops, and she’s wondering how she can fill them in and smooth out the surface. 

Filling pits in granite countertops is a common issue that can be easily resolved. First, you need to identify the size and depth of the pits. For small pits, you can use a granite polishing powder or a granite sealer to fill them. These products are designed to fill in small voids and create a smooth surface.

For larger pits, you can use a two-part epoxy filler. This is a more permanent solution that will create a strong bond with the granite. Before applying the epoxy, you need to clean the countertop thoroughly and let it dry completely. Then, mix the two parts of the epoxy together and apply it to the pits with a putty knife. Allow the epoxy to dry for several hours and then sand it down to a smooth finish.

It’s important to note that filling pits in granite countertops is not a DIY job for everyone. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, it’s best to hire a professional.

Additionally, if your countertops have a lot of pits or damage, it may be better to consider replacing them altogether.

Best New Products

Vigoro All-Purpose Potting Mix takes the guesswork out of soil selection and provides plants with everything they need to grow strong and healthy. (The Home Depot)

Vigoro’s All-Purpose Potting Mix: The Solution for Soil Issues

If you’re struggling with soil issues when it comes to getting your plants to thrive, container gardening might just be the solution you’re looking for. And when it comes to container gardening, choosing the right potting mix is key. That’s where Vigoro’s All-Purpose Potting Mix comes in!

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product from these links, we will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. 

Vigoro has developed this special blend of soil specifically for use in containers and pots, whether you’re growing plants indoors or out. It’s certified by the Mulch and Soil Council, so you know it’s a high-quality product that’s been rigorously tested.

One of the key benefits of this potting mix is that it’s specially formulated to retain moisture. This is incredibly important in container gardening, as containers can dry out much more quickly than traditional garden beds. By using Vigoro All-Purpose Potting Mix, you can reduce the amount of watering you have to do and ensure that your plants have consistent moisture.

But that’s not all. This potting mix also has a special formula that continuously feeds your plants for up to 9 months. That means your fruits, flowers, and vegetables will have all the nutrients they need to thrive, even in a confined space.

In short, Vigoro All-Purpose Potting Mix takes the guesswork out of soil selection and provides plants with everything they need to grow strong and healthy.

Listen to learn all about this Best New Product! 

Find Vigoro All-Purpose Potting Mix at The Home Depot.

Simple Solutions

Joe Truini places soda bottles over seedlings to create a mini greenhouse
This mini greenhouse is adaptable for changing temperatures. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Mini-Greenhouse for Starting Seeds — Make a cloche (super-mini greenhouse) for germinating seeds in pots and planters.

First, crosscut a 1-liter soda bottle (for a small pot) or 2-liter bottle (for a larger pot) in half. Discard the bottom half of each bottle.

Next, set the top half of the bottle over seeds in the pot to create a makeshift greenhouse.

The bottle will trap heat and prevent moisture evaporation. If the air inside the cloche gets too hot, simply unscrew the bottle cap.

Watch: How to Make a Mini Greenhouse from a Soda Bottle

Hand using a wood chisel to cut a hinge mortis
Using a chisel is an easy way to cut a mortise for a door hinge. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Hinge Mortise Trick — Here’s an easy, accurate way to cut hinge mortises:

  • Secure the hinge to the door with two screws for use as a cutting template.
  • Align a wood chisel with the edge of the hinge.
  • Then, strike it with a hammer to establish the outline of the mortise.
  • Remove the hinge, chisel out the waste wood and then permanently screw on the hinge.

Watch: How to Cut Mortises for Door Hinges with a Chisel

Further Reading

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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