Learn ways to turn your master bedroom into a master suite in time for Valentines’ Day, from simple furniture additions to complete renovations. Find out how to install a garbage disposer in your kitchen sink. Learn how to avoid accidental poisonings in your home by storing chemicals and medicines safely. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, Carpeting in a basement, fixing cracked walls, concrete driveway repair, lighting issues, changing pipes, installing laminate, wallpaper removal, updating a house for sale.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Welcome to the program. This is the official Occupy Money Pit hour of your day. We want to help you be more comfortable, safe, secure in your very own money pit. Because we know you may refer to it as a money pit but we know you love it, that you want to take care of it and make sure it can take care of you. And that’s where we come in. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement question. We are here to help you get the job done.
Coming up this hour, Valentine’s Day is just about here. And if you’ve failed in the past with your gift choices, like maybe that musical tie rack or new garbage can that didn’t work out so well, we’re going to tell you this hour how to transform your bedroom into a master suite. All bad gifts will be forgiven forever.
LESLIE: And speaking of Valentine’s Day, February is also Poison Prevention Month.
TOM: What does that have to do with Valentine’s Day? Watch out for the bad chocolate?
LESLIE: You might not know what’s around the corner.
But seriously, you guys, there are toxins in your home that you probably are not even aware of. So we are going to tell you about household poisons and how to safely store them.
TOM: And if you’re sick of scraping your plates before you wash them or worse, scraping food out of the sink, it might be time for a garbage disposer. Installing one is not as hard as you might think. We’re going to tell you how.
LESLIE: And also this hour, we’re giving away a Honeywell Air Purifier. Now, if anyone in your home has allergies, this is really going to be a dream come true. It catches 99.97 percent of allergens, which is pretty darn close to 100 percent.
TOM: Not 99.98? It’s .97?
LESLIE: No, .9754. But it’s worth 190 bucks and it’s a great prize.
TOM: Wow, wow, it certainly is. So if you want to qualify, we’ll draw one name out of The Money Pit hard hat at the end of today’s show. So, pick up the phone, give us a call right now. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones; they are lighting up.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: We’ve got Richard calling in from Atlanta, Georgia, listening to us on WGST. What can we do for you today?
RICHARD: Hey, guys. Thanks for taking my call.
We’ve got carpet in the basement. We just bought this house about six months ago and they’ve got some kind of mold issue and I’m not going to mess with it. I’m just going to rip it out. I don’t want to re-carpet it and I don’t want concrete floors. I’ve heard laminated wood, engineered wood, plastic wood. Could you give me a nickel education on this?
TOM: Well, absolutely. First of all, you’re really smart to tear out carpet from a basement, for all the reasons you stated. I mean carpet is like – it’s a filter and you put it down in the basement, it traps dust, dust mites and allergens. It holds moisture in and it can be a very unhealthy situation. So removing that, going down to concrete and thinking about a hard-surface flooring is a wise move.
You do have options. The two best options would be laminate flooring and engineered-hardwood flooring. A good source for both products is Lumber Liquidators. They have good products, good prices, great experts there. We’ve had them on the show a number of times.
And whether or not you go with laminate or hardwood, the installation’s going to be really important. You’re going to follow their directions on that and make sure you have the appropriate vapor barriers down.
Now, engineered hardwood is just like regular hardwood except that it’s made kind of like plywood, with different layers that overlap. And this gives it dimensional stability, which is the reason you could put it in a damp area like a basement.
LESLIE: Right. But then the top layer is actually the hardwood veneer of the hardwood that you’re looking at, so it’s truly a beautiful floor.
RICHARD: OK, cool.
TOM: Now laminate is also an option and the laminate flooring today is absolutely gorgeous. And I’m telling you, in many cases, you cannot tell that it isn’t hardwood floor because it looks so good. If you decide not to go with a hardwood look, you could get a laminate.
Like I have Lumber Liquidators laminate in my kitchen. It looks like stone and it’s beautiful, it’s tough. We’ve raised three kids on it. You just can’t kill this stuff. So, I would take a look at LumberLiquidators.com. Take a look at either laminate or engineered hardwood. Not solid hardwood because that will move if it gets damp or wet but only engineered. Does that make sense, Rich?
RICHARD: That makes great sense. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jan in Kansas is on the line with a home that seems to be cracking up. Tell us what’s going on.
JAN: Well, I’ve got a lot of problems. It’s an old house; it’s over 50 years old.
TOM: You have a lot of opportunities, Jan, not a lot of problems.
JAN: Yeah. I’ve got some cracks in the wall.
JAN: And I have one crack that is going from the dining room to the kitchen and I believe it’s cracking on both sides of the wall. Same crack.
TOM: OK. You said it’s 50 years old. Do you know if it’s plaster lath?
JAN: It’s sheetrock.
TOM: It’s drywall? OK. So, you know, fixing that is not a big deal. The thing is that most people usually fix it incorrectly. What they’ll do is they’ll try to spackle it. And by spackling it, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that it’s going to re-crack. What you have to do is sand down the area so you get rid of any glaze from the paint or dirt or anything like that. And then you’re going to cover it with drywall tape. And you want to use the mesh type of tape that’s sticky.
So you put a strip of tape across the crack and then you spackle right over that tape. And you’ll use three layers of spackle and the easiest way to apply this is if you buy the plastic spackling knives. You can buy one that starts at around 4 inches, then you go to 6, then you go to 8. And they’re pretty inexpensive and you use that to apply the spackle and you sand in between each coat. And then you prime and paint and you’re done. So those are the proper steps.
Where most people go wrong is they just try to do a quick and dirty spackling job and they wonder why it cracks again and again and again. Because that’s basically an expansion joint right now and unless you spread the repair across both sides of it with new drywall tape, it will continue to show up.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up, did you know that you can add value to your home and perhaps score some points with your Valentine? We’re going to tell you how to turn your boring bedroom into a master suite, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.
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. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a great prize. You are going to be able to breathe a little easier. We are giving away a Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover. And it’s an air purifier that can capture allergens as small as .3 microns.
Now, a strand of hair is 100 microns, so that gives you an idea of the power of this air cleaner. It’s worth 190 bucks but it’s going to make a tremendous difference in your life. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your home improvement project and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Jim in Georgia is on the line with a concrete question. What’s going on at your money pit?
JIM: Well, I’m trying to find out what you’d recommend for this time of the year and time-wise is the thing – your weather, too. The area is about, say, 10 feet long. It’s that gap in the – between the curb, where the driveway comes down to the road surface. And then there’s about, I’d say, 6 or 7 inches of space and then you hit the asphalt for the road. And it’s about a 2- to 3-inch difference in gapping – in height – between the road surface and then the driveway. So in other words, when you hit the driveway, you have to dip down first and then drive – bump up into the roadway.
So I was trying to get a fill-in of concrete – of some kind of a concrete: Sakrete or something – to fill in that area and kind of make it still where there’s a little bit of a ramp to go up into the driveway but at the same time, raise it up high enough so it’s not such a big dip between the road surface and the driveway.
TOM: Jim, how big is the dip in the driveway? Is it more than 2 inches?
JIM: Yeah, it’s about 3 inches. And it’s about, say, maybe 10 inches – 10 to 12 inches.
JIM: Yeah and then going the length of the driveway. That entrance into the driveway itself?
JIM: That’s about the 10 foot long and about, say, 10 to 12 inches wide.
TOM: Right, right. Well, here’s the thing. When you patch concrete, you have to use a concrete that’s designed for repair, because it has the capability to stick to the old surfaces.
Now, I know that Sakrete makes a product that’s specifically designed for patches and repairs. They have a fast-setting cement patcher. That, however, is designed for an up to 2-inch-thick application. I’m not quite sure which product is designed for a thicker application than that.
But my caution to you is that whichever product you choose, you have to make sure that it’s a patching product, because otherwise it’s not going to stick. You can’t use the same type of concrete that you would typically use when it’s a new project like that because if you do that, it won’t stick. And especially when it gets wet, it can come apart.
JIM: Do they have an adhesive that you can add to the concrete or something, as you’re mixing it, to have a little bit of an advantage when you’re mixing something like this?
TOM: Yeah, that’s called a bonding agent. And I believe that that’s something that you can also add as you’re mixing the surface, especially if you want to bond new concrete to old concrete. You can use a bonding agent to do that. So, one way or the other, you either probably have to mix in the bonding agent or if you use a premixed product that’s designed for patching, that’s the type of material that you’ll use to fill in that gap. I just want to make sure that you do it once, you do it right and you don’t have to do it again.
TOM: I would take a look at the Sakrete website. It’s S-a-k-r-e-t-e. They have bonding and curing agents; they have the patching products right there. Just make sure you choose the right one. Don’t buy products that are meant for new construction or a standalone project, because it just won’t stick.
JIM: Is there a temperature range that it should be working with or set-up in? Because here, the temperatures are still getting down below 32 degrees.
TOM: Every product has its own temperature range that it’s designed to work within. And that information will be on the packaging.
JIM: OK. And now go to that website and they’ll have all the information on the product, also?
TOM: Yep. So just go to the Sakrete website at Sakrete.com – S-a-k-r-e-t-e.com. Choose the product you want to work with and the specs will be right there in terms of what the temperature range is.
JIM: Excellent. Well, thank you very much. Enjoy your show. It’s a great show, I tell you.
TOM: Well, we really appreciate that and thanks so much for calling in.
Well, if you’re looking for something to do for your Valentine this year, you may just be able to hit one right out of the park if you choose to remodel your master bedroom and turn it into a master suite. It’s one of the most popular home improvement projects in recent years.
Now, if you’re in an older home, you might have to add on to accomplish this but – and it’s a big “but” – if you were thinking about busting down a wall and using an already-existing bedroom for that extra space, remember that more bedrooms means more value if you have to sell the house.
So keep that in mind and don’t sacrifice the value of your house by giving completely up that extra bedroom if you just need a little bit of that space. Perhaps just take as much as you need from the master suite but don’t do something that ruins that sort of third bedroom, if that’s what it is, because that could impact the value of your home.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, once you’ve figured out exactly how you’re going to add the size you need, you really need to think about how you’re going to use that space. Some couples, they may want a reading nook, some want a personal gym, some need a mini-nursery or many couples’ favorite: separate closets. It can save a marriage, folks. Promise you that.
Now, if you’re thinking five-star resort, you might consider adding a fireplace. It’s so beautiful. I work for a client of mine in Port Washington, New York, which is just this beautiful, Victorian town. And they have a fireplace in their bedroom and I was hanging drapes there and I was so jealous. It’s just so gorgeous.
But fireplaces, they don’t have to be that difficult. They could even be easier than you think, because there’s new, efficient, vented gas-burning fireplaces and gas heaters that look like fireplaces. Now, you may score huge points with your Valentine if you add a gourmet coffee maker, maybe a microwave or a mini-bar. This way, everything you could ever want or need is perhaps right in your bedroom. This could give your Valentine that never-ending vacation feeling, right in your own home.
So head on over to MoneyPit.com, search “master suite.” You’re going to get a ton of ideas. Now, the clock is ticking. Valentine’s Day is just days away, so get that hammer and get to work.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call if you need help with that project.
LESLIE: Karen in Nebraska is having some issues with her automated lighting. What can we do for you?
KAREN: Well, I have a porch light on the side of the house and one in the front of the house. I got these timers. The one in the back works perfectly fine. At dusk, it’ll come on and then when the daylight comes, it’ll turn off. And the one on the front will not. So I took the timer back on the front and I thought, “Well, maybe it was a faulty timer.” But it still doesn’t work and I had a man look at it and he can’t figure out why it’s not working. It would be helpful if that one would work, too, because now you don’t have to turn it off and on.
TOM: But the switch works. So you know that without the timer, it comes off and on. It’s just when you add the timer into this?
TOM: What kind of timer is this? Is this the kind of timer that takes the place of the switch or what?
KAREN: Well, you just screw the light bulb into this timer and then you screw the whole unit into the – you know, in the light-bulb area.
TOM: Oh, I see. This probably isn’t it but are you using a high energy-efficiency bulb in one or the other?
KAREN: Well, I thought about using those but at this point, I’m using 40-watt bulbs.
TOM: OK. Just regular incandescents?
TOM: Huh. And you’ve tried two of these and they’re still not working?
TOM: But without it, the light comes on and off normally?
TOM: Wow. It sounds like something’s wrong with the timer. I wonder if because of the configuration of the way the timer screws into the fixture itself, that maybe it’s not making contact.
Like, for example, sometimes when you have a timer that screws into the socket where the bulb goes and then you screw the bulb into the timer, maybe it doesn’t get close enough to actually make a contact because the fixture’s a little bit different. That’s the only thing that really comes to mind on this, Karen. Because it wouldn’t make sense that it’s not working.
Have you done this? Have you taken one that doesn’t work in the front and screwed it in in the back and see if it works in the back? Because that will …
KAREN: I did, I did. And then I took the one from the back and put it into the front and it didn’t work either, so …
TOM: And put it in the front. So then I think it’s pretty clear that for whatever reason, the timer is not getting power from the light fixture. So …
KAREN: How would I be able to fix that?
TOM: Well, you’ve got to try to look at it closely and figure out why that’s happening.
LESLIE: Now, this may sound crazy but I actually had a light fixture inside my home – a lamp that I’ve had for a gajillion years – that suddenly stopped working. And I thought, “Oh, I have to replace the socket. What’s going on with this?”
And I brought it to an electrician friend of mine who looked inside the socket and there was a little tab that the bulb makes contact with. And I guess over the – I think we’ve had it 10 years – of putting in light bulbs, we may have gotten aggressive and the tab just got pushed down. And he simply reached in with it unplugged and raised the prong.
Yeah, make sure you’ve got this whole breaker turned off. For me, it was a table lamp, so I knew it was unplugged. But for you, make sure it’s completely turned off at the fuse box. And just pull that tab up and surprisingly, that did the trick. The lamp works amazingly. The guy didn’t charge me. It was awesome. So this could be a simple fix. I mean it’s worth a shot; anything’s worth a shot.
KAREN: Oh, I know it is. Because I thought, “It’s really a pain to have to turn that off every morning.”
TOM: Yeah. No, I think that’s definitely the easiest thing to do, Karen. Clearly, it’s not getting power. You need to figure out why. Fix that, you’ll be good to go, OK?
KAREN: OK. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Steven in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVEN: We are buying an Earthship. I don’t know if you all know what that is but it’s going to be in Taos, New Mexico. And we wanted to build a secure, concrete dome that would act as our living room and dining room area. I couldn’t think of a way to pour concrete in a dome shape and we wanted to have it to be a green roof, so it needs to be load-bearing, as well.
TOM: Interesting question.
STEVEN: If you ever saw Lord of the Rings, you know the hobbit homes? They were just like hills?
STEVEN: Yeah but that’s kind of the look we’re going for. So, I wasn’t sure of a good way to have a load-bearing, concrete dome: a good way to build that. We looked into ICF blocks but we couldn’t find any that were curved.
TOM: Yeah. I don’t think ICF is the way to go. ICF, of course, stands for insulated concrete form and they’re an excellent product for exterior walls but I don’t think they’re designed to curve. Typically, you build a form that’s in the shape of that dome first. Then, of course, you have to have a reinforcing rod laced throughout that form and then the concrete is poured right around that, usually in layers.
Steven, can I ask why are you so interested in the dome shape?
STEVEN: It’s going to be a bed-and-breakfast when it’s all said and done and we just want it to be really eye-catching from the outside.
TOM: Well, you know there’s …
STEVEN: In the lobby, (inaudible at 0:19:43) really beautiful and have really geometrical shapes and we just thought it’d be really pretty.
TOM: Yeah, it certainly will be. It’s just going to be a bit of a challenge and you’d better find a darn good mason to work with on this because it’s going to be a high-skill and high-expense part of the project. But it sounds very exciting. We’d love to see it when it’s all done.
STEVEN: Alright. Well, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Well, are you sick of scraping your plates into the trash? Installing a kitchen-sink garbage disposal isn’t as hard as you might think. Up next, we’re going to welcome plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey, from This Old House. He’s going to have the step-by-step brought to you by Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation. Icynene fills the gaps other insulations miss. Learn more, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Icynene. If you’re building, remodeling or reinsulating, demand Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation. Icynene fills the spaces other insulations miss, for up to 50-percent energy savings. Learn more and find a dealer at Icynene.com. I-c-y-n-e-n-e.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, are you tired of scooping out food and debris from your kitchen-sink drain? Coming up, Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House will join us with tips on how to install an in-sink garbage-disposal unit.
And today’s This Old House segment is presented by Icynene. If you’re building, remodeling or reinsulating, demand Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation. Icynene fills spaces other insulations miss, for up to 50-percent energy savings. Learn more and find a dealer at Icynene.com. That’s I-c-y-n-e-n-e.com. Now, let’s get back to those phones.
Leslie, who’s up?
LESLIE: Paul in Missouri is on the line with a clay residue in the water system. Tell us what’s going on and where you’re seeing it.
PAUL: Yes, I’m seeing it in the kitchen faucet mostly and in the bathroom faucet.
PAUL: The well’s 230 foot down with casing the whole way.
TOM: So, you can pick up a whole-house filter. It’s actually called a whole-house sediment filter. And the way these work is they’re – we’re not talking about treating the water; we’re talking about filtering the water. So there’s going to be a micron rating. That basically tells you how small of a particle it will trap. It’ll usually be 5 microns or 10 microns. And the other thing that’s important to note is the pressure drop. Because it does take away some of the pressure and so you want to make sure that you have enough pressure that flows through it.
So if you simply search “whole-house filters” online, you’ll find a bazillion choices. And then if you head out to your local plumbing supply and ask them for a sediment filter, tell them your situation. I’m sure your local plumbing-supply contractors or retailers can recommend one that’s going to work for you. Not terribly difficult to install. And that should handle the sediment issue that you’re having in the house, OK?
PAUL: OK, sir. I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Paul, and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, an easy way to cut down on food waste at home is to install a garbage disposer. You can send leftover fruit and potato peels, veggie stubs and all kinds of other waste right down your drain.
TOM: And this is one of those appliances that once you own it, you never want to be without one again. To help us understand the options and what it takes to install a garbage disposer, we welcome Richard Trethewey, the plumbing and heating contractor from TV’s This Old House.
RICHARD: Hi, guys. Nice to be in The Money Pit.
TOM: It’s a pleasure to have you.
Now, manufacturers call these “food-waste disposers.” What should homeowners be asking themselves when shopping for one?
RICHARD: Well, there’s four basic questions, I think. One is what type of garbage disposer do you want to get, what size, any special features you want to get and do you have a septic tank or a septic field?
TOM: So let’s start with type. How many types are there?
RICHARD: There are two. One is called “batch feed” and the other is called “continuous feed.” Batch feed, as its name suggests, you put food down into the disposer and then you put a stopper, that is also the active switch for the disposer, down into the drain. You turn it and there’s a little magnet there that brings that disposer on. The batch feed is perceived to be much safer because there’s no chance of spoons or unwanted things going down the drain and no chance of hands going down there.
RICHARD: The other is continuous and that is there’s a switch somewhere, either under the sink or on the wall. You turn it on and most pro chefs would want to have that because you can move food down while you’re doing food prep and it’s …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s really like a volume thing.
RICHARD: That’s right. That would be for the bigger use, yeah.
LESLIE: Now, what about noise? I mean I don’t have one. I imagine that they’re quite a noisy appliance to have in your home.
RICHARD: Well, there are choices in terms of the size and with that comes the amount of insulation. The basic builder model, the one that we call the “builder model,” is the cheapest thing. It has almost no insulation. It sounds like a freight train underneath the sink. It usually makes the sink jump up and down.
And then as you go higher, you get more horsepower and you also get more insulation to really make it quiet.
TOM: Now, what about a septic system? If you have a septic system, can you actually have a disposer?
RICHARD: There are some disposers that are made specifically for septic systems, if you have a disposer – a modern disposer – that can really grind that food to a fine puree, really, to get it into the septic field. But many of these disposers also have a feature that can add a little container on the side of the disposer that adds an enzyme to help break down those foodstuffs when they go down to the septic system. So the answer is yes.
TOM: That’s good advice.
Now, what about installation? Is it difficult to install a disposer? Are there any common pitfalls that people – mistakes that people make?
RICHARD: Well, an installation of a disposer is two-part. One is you have to install the flange up onto a sink. And that’s the big 4-inch hole that you can see from the sink side. And then you have to attach the disposer to that flange and that can become tricky to try and hold that disposer up and then lock this ring in to hold it in.
RICHARD: So sometimes you have to put a cardboard box under it or some sort of lever, because it …
TOM: Because it’s pretty heavy.
RICHARD: Really, the high-quality ones are heavy, so you’ve really got to muscle it up there.
LESLIE: Now, Richard, I imagine these things jam quite often. What can you do in the event of something getting stuck in your disposer?
RICHARD: Well, you certainly hope they don’t get jammed often.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re cramming everything you’ve got down the sink …
RICHARD: And actually, I’ve got to tell you, the highest-end disposers actually have a feature where each time it comes on or if it did jam, the motor would automatically reverse and go the other way.
TOM: Oh, interesting.
RICHARD: So it’s an anti-jamming feature. In some of the basic ones, though, they are going to jam and so in that case, there’s a couple things to look for. Underneath every disposer is a little red button. It’s a little reset button. It’s much like a circuit breaker on your electrical panel. And so if it overheated because it was jammed, that button would pop out. You have to get underneath there and just reset that button.
Now, that may not be enough. Because if the grinding wheel – that thing that is going to grind up the food that’s inside the disposer – is jammed, then you may have to mechanically clear that jam. And so, many of these disposers come with a little Allen-style wrench; it’s a little offset wrench. Usually comes in a package that hangs near the disposer, we hope. And from directly underneath the disposer, underneath the kitchen sink, you put it into that center spot; there’s a little opening there. And you can just clear back and forth, back and forth to try and clear that chicken bone or whatever’s in there.
TOM: Now, what’s the best way to care for your new garbage disposer? Any special maintenance associated with them?
RICHARD: Never put any drain chemicals down there. It’ll eat up the seals.
TOM: Yeah, good point.
RICHARD: Don’t do that. I think – I will tell you that a lot of people put a little lemon down there or something to keep it fresh down in there. There’s not a lot of maintenance you have to do but you do have to be sure you run water whenever you’re running the disposer.
TOM: Because otherwise, you’re not going to move the food. You need some water …
RICHARD: That’s right. And it wants to keep it cool and lubricated, as well.
TOM: Yeah, good point. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing and heating contractor from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
RICHARD: Great to be here.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and step-by-step videos on many projects and some information on how you can choose a garbage disposer, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.
Coming up, are you taking steps that are necessary to prevent an accidental poisoning in your home? We’ll tell you how to spot those potential dangers, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.
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. And you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, because one lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to get – and I mean this is for real – a top-of-the-line air purifier. It’s a Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover and it is the number-one, doctor-recommended air purifier. It could just make you feel a gajillion times better in your own home and it’s a prize worth 190 bucks. So pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your home improvement projects and your chance to win.
Hey, speaking of things to be won on this program, we are currently in the midst of our Stay Warm with Icynene Giveaway. If you send an e-mail to StayWarm@MoneyPit.com, you might just win a $500 Visa gift card from our friends at Icynene.
LESLIE: Elaine in Florida is on the line and is looking for some help with a flooring project. How can we help you?
ELAINE: Yes, hi. I’m in the process of – I purchased some Home Legend wood laminate.
ELAINE: Seven millimeters, I believe it is.
ELAINE: And my question is – I’ve got conflicting views on what type of underlayment to use and how to lay it over tile – over ceramic tile.
TOM: Elaine, the Home Legend’s people on their website recommend an underlayment with a combination of a 6-mil vapor barrier and a cushioning foam. But that’s only on concrete subfloors. I think because you’re putting this over tile, the best thing to use is just the cushioning foam.
ELAINE: OK, yeah.
TOM: It’ll make the floor lay nicer; it will make it a little bit more comfortable for you to walk on, as well.
ELAINE: Alright. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, every 15 seconds in the United States, a Poison Control Center gets a frantic call about an accidental poisoning. A whopping 90 percent of accidental poisonings are happening in your own home.
Well, February is Poison Prevention Month, so it is a perfect time to get safe. Most adult poisonings are a result of mixing chemicals that shouldn’t be combined. Never mix cleaning chemicals and always read the labels about potentially deadly combination of products that you might be using in your own home.
TOM: Good points.
Now, more than half of the incidents of home poisonings happen to children under six. So remember, children are fast. Don’t just try to keep an eye on them. Keep poisons out of reach and locked up.
It’s also very important to toss out old prescription medicines promptly. Don’t flush the medicines; they’ll wind up in the water supply. Toss them in the trash or dispose them at your local pharmacies. Many of them have a take-back program to safely dispose of medicines that you don’t need. Also a good idea, parents, to post the number of the Poison Control hotline in a place that you’ll remember in a rush.
If you need more tips, search “accidental poisoning” at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Sue on the line who needs some help removing wallpaper. Tell us what’s going on.
SUE: Well, I live in an older house that has every single wall in the house is wallpapered.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
SUE: And I’m really sick of wallpaper.
TOM: Yeah. Going to be a lot of years of wallpaper, too, huh, Sue?
SUE: Yes, it is.
LESLIE: Well, you know, as a decorator, wallpaper is coming back in a big way. And big, bold patterns sometimes work really well in interesting spaces. But they might not always be what everybody wants.
Now, Sue, tell me, is it paper or is it vinyl?
SUE: I think it might be a vinyl. Don’t want it.
LESLIE: OK. Now, with vinyl, you’re going to need to score that wall covering first, only because the vinyl is going to stop any of your efforts from actually getting to where the paste is.
Now, I’ve done this before and it depends on how you’ve actually put up the paper and how long it’s been there and what it is adhered to. Was the drywall behind it prepared first? That’s all going to depend on your success rate in removing the wallpaper. But believe it or not – and it’s definitely worth trying; it doesn’t always work but it has been successful many times for me – you can actually remove wallpaper with fabric softener.
LESLIE: I know it sounds crazy.
TOM: Works great.
LESLIE: But you can mix about a 1/3-cup fabric softener with 2/3-cup hot water. Or you can even do it with – what is it – laundry starch: equal amounts of laundry starch and hot water.
And the laundry starch, the benefit I find with that is that it ends up being like a thicker consistency, so it holds the moisture on the wallpaper where you want it, whereas the fabric softener and water is a little bit wetter.
But you – if you’re using the fabric softener, you want to put it in a spray bottle, spritz that wallpaper, get it super-wet, let it sit there for 10 to 15 minutes. That wallpaper, you’re going to feel it start to loosen and then you’re going to peel it away. Start at the bottom, work your way to the top. You may need a scraper to sort of get underneath it and give it a lot of elbow grease. But with the laundry starch and hot water, you can put that on with a paint roller or a sponge. Super-wet the walls again, let it stand until you can peel away.
And I would start there before I start renting steamers and getting crazy chemicals. Just start and see your success rate.
SUE: OK. That sounds easier than I thought it would be.
TOM: Well, that’s what we’re here for. Thanks so much, Sue, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that wallpaper project.
SUE: Well, thank you. I’m going to be starting it probably in the next couple of weeks.
TOM: Good. And then we’ll talk to you next year when you’re finished, OK?
SUE: No, no. It’s going to be (inaudible at 0:34:16). Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, when you’re faced with the prospect of taking on not one but many home improvement projects, how do you sort out which ones are going to make the biggest difference? How do you prioritize and do those first so you can at least have a little bit of sense of satisfaction before you move onto the rest of them? We’re going to tell you with one big project, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:34:46]
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.
TOM: Hey, you want to win a $500 gift card from Visa? You can do that if you send an e-mail to StayWarm@MoneyPit.com, because we’re running a great Stay Warm Giveaway/Promotion sponsored by our friends at Icynene. You can use that 500 bucks towards Icynene or any other energy-saving home improvement that you’d like to make this winter. You’ll stay warm, you’ll stay comfortable and you’ll do it with $500 of Visa gift-card money, provided by our friends at Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation. Good stuff.
Again, all you need to do to enter is to send an e-mail to StayWarm@MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, why not shoot us an e-mail or post a question in the Community section of The Money Pit? And I’ve got one here from Jax in Wisconsin who wrote: “I recently inherited a house that needs to be updated. The house was built in the late 90s. Specifically, I’m looking for things like the water heater, filters, roofs, et cetera. Also, I think this house has aluminum pipes and you can hear when the water runs throughout the entire house. What can we do to fix this without having to tear down the walls?”
TOM: OK. Alright. A couple of things. First of all, the house was built in the late 90s. Well, that’s not really that old. So let’s say, for example, it’s 15 years old. So if you have a 15-year-old house and it’s the original water heater, yeah, probably would be a good idea to replace that. Filters have to be replaced on a monthly basis, just from generally you’re talking about your heating and air-conditioning filter if you have a forced-air system. Perhaps the filters over your range. The roof should be totally fine in 15 years. Most roofs last 20 to 25 years.
Now, as for your theory that your home has aluminum pipes because you can hear the water running, I don’t think so because I don’t think they really make aluminum pipes. What you’re probably hearing is PVC drain pipes and I’m going to guess that you hear the flush, perhaps from an upstairs toilet or something of that nature, when the water goes down the pipes.
And you know what, Leslie? I don’t know why it is but they always run that big drain pipe …
LESLIE: Like right through the dining room?
TOM: Yeah. So you hear it at the least opportune moment.
LESLIE: It’s so awkward.
TOM: You can fill that cavity around that with insulation. You can use a blown-in insulation. That will soften it just a little bit. But it’s really normal and the thing is, once you get used to living in the house, you’re not going to think twice about that noise.
Other noise from water, it might be water hammer. That’s when the water runs through copper pipes ...
LESLIE: But that’s like a banging.
TOM: That’s kind of a banging. It happens when you close the faucet or open a faucet or the toilet fills up and then stops. You hear that kind of banging. You can install something called a water-hammer arrestor to deal with that sound.
But listen, I think you’re kind of getting lost in the weeds here, Jax. When you put a house on the market, there’s some basic things you want to do. First of all, get all of these systems serviced so everything is operational and working properly. Secondly, clean, clean, clean. Nobody wants to buy somebody else’s dirt, so make sure you clean the house as thoroughly as possible.
And then, if you’re going to do any kind of improvement, you want to neutralize the house. So if the house had any wild colors, believe me, off-white is your friend in this case. Because anyone that moves into a house or sees a house that’s on the market that has off-white paint and tan carpet, they can imagine their stuff in that house regardless of what type of décor they choose to come – they may be coming in. If it’s modern, if it’s an older, Colonial whatever, it doesn’t matter. If the walls are off-white, the carpet’s tan, it’s neutral, it fits everybody’s tastes. So those are the best things to do to get this house ready to go. Outside, make sure you don’t have any flaking paint, rotted wood, things like that.
And if you want to really be proactive and get it ready to sell, one final thing you could do is to hire a professional home inspector. If you have a professional home inspection done as the seller, you’re going to find out pretty much everything the buyer’s home inspector might bring up and you have a chance to deal with it right then. Because the worst time to deal with the findings of a buyer’s home inspector is when the buyer is involved in the contract.
You know, if you have your own home inspector to come in and screen the house – it might cost you 300 bucks or so to do a regular inspection on that – you may find out that you need a new furnace or you may find out that the water heater is fine. You may find out information when you have the ability to act on it or disclose it and it’s a much better situation than when you’re in the heat of the moment of a transaction.
LESLIE: Yeah, definitely. That’s really good advice, Tom. Because the last thing you want is when you’re in this process of closing and everybody’s at the table and there’s money and who wants more for what repair, if you know going in the things that you can do, you’ll probably see more money from that buyer, everybody can be relaxed and you’ll have a fantastic sale.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Remember, folks, Valentine’s Day is around the corner: a great time to think about those romantic home repairs and home remodeling projects we talked about in this hour of the program. It will be good for you and good for your relationships.
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 2012 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.)