Learn what you should do to prepare for a hurricane during the most active part of hurricane season, late summer and early fall. Find out why air powered tools like nail and staple guns are not just for pros any more. And discover why giving your carpets a good steam cleaning can prolong their life. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, air conditioning, fix door knob, repair shower floor, repair foundation cracks, roofing options, pricing interior painting, decking options, faucet replacement.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We are here to help you with your home improvement projects. We want to solve those do-it-yourself dilemmas. You know, homes need a lot of care and feeding and we are here to help you take that first step. So as you look at your home – outside, inside – think about it. We know there’s a project that you’d like to get done. Let’s talk about it, 888-666-3974, because that’s what we do.
Coming up on this hour of The Money Pit, it’s a fact that the later we get into hurricane season, the more storm activity we tend to see. And I’m always reminded of this when you think about Hurricane Sandy that struck just days before the season officially ended. So we’re going to talk about what steps you can take to prepare your home for hurricane season and really any sort of severe weather ahead.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s still really a sore subject around here. So we’re going to tackle that storm preparedness for you guys.
And Labor Day Weekend, it’s upon us. So it’s really a good time to talk about how to avoid so much labor by using air-powered tools. They really do help a lot and they make a huge difference. I’m talking about nail guns and power staplers. And once they were really only limited to pro usage but now they’re the go-to tools for so many do-it-yourselfers. They’re included in tool kits. We’re going to tell you about why they’ve become so popular.
TOM: And also ahead, are your carpets looking a little dingy? Well, instead of replacing them, why not try an industrial-style steam clean to get a few more years of use out of those carpets? I had to clean the carpets in an apartment that we rent out.
LESLIE: Oh, I bet it was disgusting.
TOM: It was disgusting. I was ready to tear out and replace the carpet but I figured, eh, what the heck, let me just try it. And it was amazing. I mean it came out looking brand new once again. So we’re going to give you some tips on how to do just that.
LESLIE: Also, one caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a GREAT STUFF PRO Starter Kit that’s worth 50 bucks. You’re going to get everything that you need to fill up all of those gaps and cracks, which will keep that upcoming fall air outside where it belongs, as well as any of those pests that might try to make their way inside to your warm, toasty home.
TOM: That package is worth 50 bucks. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random, so give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Got Brian in Texas who has an air-conditioning question. And in Texas, you probably need that. What’s going on, Brian?
BRIAN: I’m actually looking at purchasing a home. It was built in 1914. It’s on the historical list and I’ve already gotten permission to do pretty much whatever I need to to it. But I was trying to find out what would be more efficient: either air-conditioning units in the walls or would it be better to just open up the walls and put in central air?
TOM: Well, from an efficiency perspective, certainly central air conditioning is going to be a lot more efficient than a bunch of window units.
Now, when you have a historical home, though, it becomes a little more tricky about how you run the ducts. There is a type of system, though, that’s called a high-velocity system – low-volume, high-velocity system – and this uses ducts that are about the same diameter as a dryer vent, around 3 inches or so. And they can run inside wall cavities without necessitating the destruction of tearing the wall apart.
So if you hook up with a good HVAC contractor and go through your options, you should be able to figure out a way to get a central air-conditioning system in this home with the least amount of disturbance and destruction possible.
BRIAN: Actually, it’s got the original plaster walls and I really would hate to lose those.
LESLIE: Now, I don’t think you have to. If it’s done correctly and if it’s done creatively, there are ways to work with what you have.
BRIAN: OK. Well, I really do appreciate it. I just – I really didn’t know what would be the best way to go with it. This is my first time dealing with anything historical. I’ve had other small projects but this I’ve been real hesitant on. I’ve listened to you guys’ show for a while and I really, really do appreciate your advice. And I just – I want to say, "Thank you."
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome, Brian. So I think you can do this project. Keep in mind that if it becomes more complicated to run the ducts, that could run the costs up. So get some estimates so you know what you’re getting involved with. And whatever you do, make sure you get a professional home inspection of this house done before you buy it. A good home inspector will be able to screen out any major problems before you sign on the dotted line, OK?
BRIAN: Very well. I do appreciate it. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Karen in Tennessee who’s got a problem with a bathroom door. Tell us what’s going on.
KAREN: The door fell down when we were putting the washer and dryer and it fell on the knob. It fell off. The hole is way oversized. I put a dowel in there, glued it, drilled a new hole but that didn’t last very long either. How can I get by or how can I put a knob on that door without buying a new bi-fold?
TOM: OK. So the hole through which you attach the knob for the bi-fold door is oversized, correct?
KAREN: Right. Both screws are oversized.
TOM: Alright. So, in other words, it’s bigger than the screw itself, correct?
KAREN: Yeah. Yes.
TOM: So, here’s what I would do. I would turn a negative into a positive. Why not – now, is it – it’s not bigger than the handle, right?
KAREN: No, no, no, no, no.
TOM: Alright. So, why not just put a washer on the back of it? On the back of the screw. You’re not going to see the back of the door, so just put a washer through the screw and then put the screw in the hole and attach it to the handle. You’re done.
LESLIE: This way, it’ll pull it flush.
KAREN: OK. In other words, put an oversized screw in it that goes all the way through the door.
TOM: Yeah, not an oversized – well, it would go all the way – yes, it would go all the way through the door but …
KAREN: Well, it’d be longer.
TOM: Well, you don’t need it to be that much longer. A washer is 1/16-inch thick or less.
KAREN: No. The screw would have to be longer to go through – and drill a hole on the other side, because it’s a hollow door.
TOM: OK. But does the screw go through now? Normally, when you attach a handle, it goes all the way through. Is that not the case?
KAREN: It’s just one of those – it doesn’t even turn. It’s just a right handle/left handle type knob that you pull on it to open up the bi-fold.
TOM: OK. So it’s just basically screwed right into the door – the face of the door – and it’s pulling out, correct?
KAREN: Yes, yes.
TOM: So, yeah. So then why – instead of using a wood screw to attach it, why don’t you use a machine screw and then put a small nut and washer on the back of it and drill all the way through the door? So measure the thickness of the door, head over to your local hardware store and have them look for a screw that’s long enough, with a nut and the washer on the back of it. You won’t see the nut and the washer, because it’s on the inside of the door. Just don’t make it any longer than it has to be.
KAREN: Exactly. Fantastic. Why didn’t I think of that?
TOM: And that’ll solve it. Alright?
KAREN: OK. I went to all that trouble to put a dowel – oversized the hole, put a dowel in there, glue, redrill.
TOM: Well, you know what? You get an A for effort.
KAREN: And it came out again.
TOM: Yeah. Alright. Well, this will solve it. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question or even your home renovation question. Whatever you are working on, we’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, the tail end of the hurricane season means things will start to pick up in the Atlantic Ocean. So we’re going to talk about what steps you need to do to get your home storm-ready.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Bostitch professional-quality, pneumatic nailers and staplers. Designed for productivity, built to last. For more information, visit Bostitch.com.
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 the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one of you lucky callers that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a GREAT STUFF PRO Starter Kit from Dow. Now, what’s in this kit is pretty much everything that you need to seal all of those gaps and cracks which, as you know, if you’ve got them around your house – and who are we kidding? We all do. But those little, tiny spaces can actually let in a whole lot of cold air. So, the winner is going to get a GREAT STUFF PRO Gaps & Cracks Insulating Foam Sealant, Windows & Door Insulating Foam Sealant, GREAT STUFF PRO Gun, wipes, goggles, gloves, more. We want to keep you nice and toasty.
TOM: You know, you can insulate where air leaks or seal holes where pests enter, such as around a dryer vent or a water hose, spout.
It’s a prize package worth 50 bucks. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random. You can visit GREATSTUFF.Dow.com to learn more or pick up the phone and call us for your chance to win at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Kim who’s dealing with a shower-floor issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
KIM: My shower floor is basically coming up. All the tile is coming up and it’s been doing that for a few months. And we’re debating with – should we repair it or should we just replace the whole shower? It’s kind of an old house anyway and we were thinking – we were getting ready to sell it. So, should we put the money in to replace it or should we just try to repair it? I don’t want to patch it up for anybody but if it’s repaired, I really want to do a good job to where they can use it.
TOM: So this is sort of a walk-in shower stall? Is that what this is and it’s made of tile?
KIM: It’s made of tile, yes. Walk-in.
TOM: Listen, the restoration on this is to replace the shower pan. It’s a pretty big job, because you have to tear out the tile that’s there and put in a new pan, which is typically fiberglass today, and then retile over all of that. So that’s a big project.
Is it leaking now?
KIM: No, it’s not leaking.
TOM: OK. Well, if it’s not – it’s just appearance that you’re concerned about?
KIM: Appearance, right. I mean it’s – the tile’s basically coming up. We have like a rubber – what do you call those little rubber things that you put in a – just to stand in the shower?
TOM: Right, right. Yeah, the anti-slip mats and that sort of thing.
KIM: Right, right. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Yeah. Listen, I don’t know that I would do that repair. If it’s not leaking, then you don’t really have a responsibility to repair it. Of course, if you want to do a bath restoration – a bath renovation – you could. Whether that’s going to make your house any more or less likely to sell, I don’t know. You really need to know what’s going on in your neighborhood.
But that’s a really big repair to do – when it’s not necessary, it’s not leaking – for the sole purpose of trying to sell your house. If it was a cracked shower pan and it was leaking, I’d be telling you something different. But if it’s not leaking, I’d leave it alone and put my money elsewhere in terms of fixing up the house.
KIM: Great. That’s what I needed to hear.
TOM: Well, if we’ve learned one thing in the last few hurricane seasons, it’s that storms can strike at any time and they can instantly impact millions of people, even those not near the coast. So no matter where you live, it does pay to prep your home to withstand high winds and damaging rain.
So, before a storm is even forecasted, it’s a good idea to make a to-do list that you can easily follow when that time comes. And think about investing in projects now that can make your home more storm-resistant.
LESLIE: Yeah. For example, just taping up your windows really isn’t going to help protect them from some really strong winds. Actually, the best thing that you can do is create plywood storm shutters. So make them now. All you have to do is cut ½-inch plywood to the size of each window. You want to make sure that the plywood will be large enough to cover the outside trim. Then you predrill holes so that both installation and take-down of these shutters is super-quick and easy. And of course, you want to make sure that you mark each shutter clearly so that you will know exactly which window that shutter fits.
TOM: You also want to prep your yard by taking out any diseased or damaged tree limbs. This not only will help the tree but it’s going to eliminate any loose or weak branches that could end up crashing on your roof or falling through your window. Now, if you’ve got thicker trees, one good tactic is to trim the excess branches so wind can blow through the tree without actually blowing it down.
If you want some more storm-prep ideas, you can find them at MoneyPit.com. With a few steps like that, you can really prevent your home from getting serious damage in a storm.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’re going to talk foundations with Randy in Idaho. How can we help you today?
RANDY: Well, I’m – I’ve got a crack in my foundation and I’m wondering if what I want to do is a good idea.
TOM: Alright. What’s your plan?
RANDY: Well, first of all, it’s a crack that’s about an inch, inch-and-a-half wide. It’s right on the corner about, oh, 4 or 5 inches up from the bottom of – from the floor of the basement.
RANDY: And it’s buried; there’s several feet of dirt above it. And a crack appeared on the floor in the basement and then just dropped down about an inch-and-a-half. And the soil from outside was coming in from the outside and moisture and whatnot.
TOM: This crack is in the basement floor or the basement walls?
RANDY: The wall, in the corner.
TOM: OK. And you said that the crack is an inch-and-a-half wide or it’s an inch-and-a-half long?
RANDY: About an inch to an inch-and-a-half wide.
TOM: Wow, that’s a big crack.
RANDY: And about eight – yeah, about – well, the floor just dropped a little bit.
RANDY: And it’s about 8 inches on either side of the corner.
TOM: OK. So, the crack formed and the floor dropped. Is that correct? Both of those things happened?
TOM: Alright. So, obviously, something got very disturbed under there. I don’t know if it was settlement or whatever it was but it sounds like you lost some soil in there. As a result, you lost the support.
A crack that’s an inch-and-a-half wide is a very large crack. And typically, it’s something that we would recommend you have a professional inspect before you just repair it on your own. But with that as our general advice, what is your plan?
RANDY: Well, I thought that what I’d do is I’d put some BLACK JACK in the very back of it. I dug out as much soil as I could and cleaned it with a toothbrush or a wire brush.
TOM: Right. Well, that’s all – you’re talking about patching the crack; I’m talking about supporting it so it doesn’t get any worse. You can fill it five different ways. What I’m concerned about is making sure that this instability isn’t going to continue and get worse and affect the structural integrity of the wall. If you’ve got a crack that truly opened up an inch-and-a-half, that is a very big crack. I mean most of the time, people talk to us about hairline cracks or cracks that open a ¼-inch and are very concerned. If you’ve got a crack that’s opened up an inch-and-a-half, that’s a huge crack.
So here’s what I would do. I would have – I would consult with a structural engineer. Have them inspect your house, look at the foundation, look at the crack and then write you a report that gives you step-by-step instructions on what should be done to address this. Either you do the repair yourself or you have an engineer – a contractor – do it; it doesn’t matter to me.
But what’s most important is that you have the structural engineer come back after the repair is done and certify that it was done sufficiently. And the reason you’re going to do that is because eventually, you’re going to want to sell this house. And if you have this repair done under the supervision of an engineer like that, it’s sort of like a pedigree that says all is well. And it will alleviate any fears from a potential home buyer.
RANDY: I see. I see. That’s kind of like a cover-yourself kind of thing.
TOM: Absolutely. Yep. And you’re going to do it right and most importantly, since you had the crack form and the floor drop, I’m concerned about what’s going on underneath this. That’s a very unusual set of circumstances and it leads me to conclude that there’s some instability underneath that corner of the foundation.
RANDY: Alright. Well, I think I’ll just start nosing around for one.
TOM: Alright, Randy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Patrick on the line who’s got a roofing question. How can we help you today?
PATRICK: I had a question about a metal roof versus a shingle roof. Our roof is about 17 years old and it’s ready for – it’s ready to change.
LESLIE: Now, is it ready to change because you don’t like the way it looks or is it failing in some way?
PATRICK: Oh, no. It’s actually fine; the shingles are fine. I was kind of wondering about the cost benefit of spending twice as much for a metal roof versus a shingle roof for another – you know what? How long will the shingle – how long should that metal roof last? What’s the gauge of the metal? That kind of thing.
TOM: How long do you plan on staying in the house?
TOM: Forever. OK, that’s important information.
So, if you put a metal roof on this house, I think it can last, for all intents and purposes, forever. The metal roofs of yesteryear, when they were properly maintained, would easily last 50 to 100 years. The metal roofs of today will do the same thing and they can even do it more successfully because of some of the modern elements of technology that are added to it.
For example – you are in Florida? Is that correct?
PATRICK: Yes. Port Charlotte.
TOM: You know, the one nice thing is that metal roofs have a reflective paint; it’s like a low-E paint. And they actually reflect some of that radiant heat back off of the roof. So instead of having a roof that’s like a heat collector, you’re going to have a roof that’s a heat reflector. So there’s also an energy-efficiency element to it, as well.
But I think that metal roofs last literally indefinitely, as long as they’re properly maintained. They don’t need a lot of maintenance. Of course, if there’s a storm and that sort of thing, they stand up a lot better; they don’t fly off like shingles do. And even though it’s twice as expensive, it’ll probably be the last roof you’ll ever have to put on that house.
PATRICK: If I do this $11,000 roof, will I report that to my homeowners insurance and will I get a benefit from that or no?
TOM: That’s a good question for your broker. Certainly, a metal roof is more fire-resistant. I also would look into energy – any energy-efficiency rebates. Because since it’s a low-E roof coating, you may actually qualify for an energy rebate. So I would look into that, as well.
PATRICK: And how would I look into that?
TOM: A good source is the Metal Roofing Alliance. That’s a trade association for the metal-roof industry. Go to MetalRoofing.com. And in fact, they have a section on their website about tax incentives, so they are available for metal roofs.
PATRICK: Alright. I appreciate your help.
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. Up next, air tools, they really can make almost any do-it-yourself project go way faster. We’re going to tell you why, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Arrow Sheds, the leader in steel storage sheds and buildings. Steel sheds are durable, secure and a great value. Arrow Storage Products, available at national home centers, hardware stores and online. See a complete line of products at Sheds.com.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And if you are an avid do-it-yourselfer, you know that compressors can help many, many projects go a lot faster and really be built strongly. But too often, compressors are just – they’re huge, bulky and they can cost a lot of money.
TOM: Well, that’s not the case for a new line of compressors from Bostitch. These offer lots of power in a very compact and light design. Here to tell us more is James Vintzel from Bostitch.
JAMES: Hey. How are you doing, Tom and Leslie?
TOM: We’re doing well. Hey, let’s start by talking about the fact that compressors and air tools used to be pretty much strictly professional products. Back in the day when I was swinging a hammer every day, it took two of us to lift a compressor out of the pickup. And the air tools, by the end of the day, your shoulders were hurting from swinging those heavy tools around.
Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue and now, these are a very practical tool for those that are professionals, of course, but especially for those that are do-it-yourselfers, aren’t they?
JAMES: Yeah. Hey, fair enough. A lot of technological advances have been made, I’d say. A couple of them really come to mind. One of them is just the move to oil-free compressors from oil-lubricated. The technology has risen to the point where they last a real long time but also, some of the heavy induction motors that it takes to drive the oil-lubed compressors have been switched to universal motors. A little bit easier on the home electric amp draw, as well. So, a lot less likely to kick breakers.
TOM: And quieter, too, right?
JAMES: Yeah. We’ve been really focusing in on noise with the idea that a – not only for the homeowner but even the contractors who are working inside the home, doing updates and remodels, will keep that in mind, as well.
LESLIE: Now, I’ve always been a fan of the pancake style. I think that’s – I never actually knew where it got the nickname, a pancake compressor, but they’re smaller, they’re easier to tote around. I’ve used them for sort of trim work or finishing pieces. Do you have any idea where that name came from?
JAMES: Yeah, it actually came out of the shape of the tank itself, sort of round and flat. And I guess the background was folks, when they first started taking compressors up on the roof and they wanted a low center of gravity when they were doing roofing-type projects – thus, the wide, short, pancake tank was developed.
TOM: Now, you guys have a new pancake-style compressor out that’s just kind of hitting the market. You say it’s a new generation or the next generation in technology. How have you kind of stepped up from what we’ve seen in the past couple of years?
JAMES: Yeah. Sure, enough. Well, one thing is we’ve really been focusing in on the life. This new design is actually leveraging a technology that really allows us to triple the target life of the unit. So, I mean that’s a great place to start. If that’s all we did, that would probably be enough but we did some other things that came out of feedback from users.
I’d say the most notable one, if I could, is just the removable panel, to be able to get at the controls. The old shroud, you had to remove the entire shroud – about 11 screws – to be able to get at the gauges if it breaks or one of the other elements. Now, there’s just four screws from a regular screwdriver and the panel pops off and you can get access.
TOM: Now that makes sense. And the other thing that you’ve designed into this is cord wrap, which I think is cool because too many times, that’s the last thing a manufacturer, I’ve found, thinks about. And it never is very smoothly. And considering the number of times, especially, those that are working in the field have to wrap a cord around a tool, it always makes sense when that’s designed-in in a smart way.
Now, besides the pancake-style compressor, you’ve got another type of compressor coming out that, shockingly, is not named after food. But it’s called the "suitcase-style compressor." This is kind of a new product to Bostitch, isn’t it?
JAMES: Yeah, it really is. If the pancake really over-delivers on performance with the large tank, this compressor really over-delivers on protection. It’s got a full, wraparound roll cage. And the real new thing that it brings to the table is it allows you to carry it vertically, like a suitcase, so close to your body. It’s nice and easy. But also, it can operate horizontally, so it’s very stable. As guys are pulling on their cord and things, they won’t knock it over.
But in any event, it’ll operate in the horizontal or vertical position. And that’s new and I think pretty unique in the marketplace, as well.
LESLIE: And that’s interesting because it gives you the opportunity to sort of load it in your truck, whatever way kind of fits best, right?
JAMES: Hey, that’s a great point. I have had contractors tell me the very same thing. Sometimes, in pickups when they have their bed covers on, some compressors won’t fit in there. But obviously, this one will lend itself to finding a spot available. They also tell me that in the horizontal position, you could stack on top of it, which is pretty helpful, as well.
TOM: Makes a lot of sense. And both compressors are available for $179. That’s quite a price for these. Very affordable.
JAMES: Yep. They’re also packed in combo kits, as well, for pretty attractive pricing.
TOM: So, if you want to purchase it standalone, you can if you’ve already got the tools. Or if you want to pick it up with a nailer, so to speak, what do you guys offer? Brad nailers? Finish nailers? That sort of thing?
JAMES: Yep. We do. In general, 18-gauge brad nailers. Also, 16-gauge finish nailers. And we also have a narrow-crown stapler, as well.
TOM: James Vintzel from Bostitch, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on the new line of compressors. A very, handy, helpful tool.
If you’ve never worked with air tools, folks, this is your opportunity. At $179, you can’t go wrong. And once you start working with air tools, you’ll wonder why you ever plugged a tool in before to get a job done around your house.
If you’d like more information, you can head on over to the Bostitch website. That’s Bostitch.com – B-o-s-t-i-t-c-h.com.
JAMES: Hey, thanks, Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: And still to come, steam-cleaning really is a simple way to make your carpet last longer. We’re going to share some tips on how you can make that cleaning even more effective, after this.
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LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And the number to call is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If you pick up the phone and give us a call, we will answer your home improvement question.
And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a GREAT STUFF PRO Starter Kit from Dow, which includes everything you need to seal gaps and cracks around your home before the cooler weather sets in.
LESLIE: That’s right. The winner is going to get a GREAT STUFF PRO Gaps & Cracks Insulating Foam Sealant, Windows & Door Insulating Foam Sealant, a GREAT STUFF PRO Gun, PRO Wipes, goggles, gloves and more.
TOM: You can insulate where air leaks or seal holes were pests get in, like around dryer vents or hose bibbs.
It’s a prize package worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. You can visit GREATSTUFF.Dow.com for more info or call us for your chance to win and your answer at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Preston in Kentucky is on the line and needs some help with a painting project. What’s going on at your money pit?
PRESTON: I was just curious why – I’ve gotten a few estimates on getting the inside of my home painted. And I was curious why they – why there’s such a wide gap in between the prices that I’ve gotten. Is one job different than the other?
TOM: Well, it depends. When the first painter comes, did you have sort of your blue jeans on and dirty shirt and when the second guy came, you were all dressed up in a suit and tie like you had just walked out of the bank?
LESLIE: Dressed from work?
TOM: They bid you as much as they bid the job.
LESLIE: Briefcase handcuffed to your wrist?
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, don’t wear the fake Rolex now when the guy comes over to give you a price.
Listen, the thing is what you want to do is make sure they’re comparing apples to apples on these estimates. So there could be a lot of things that they’re doing differently. I would check that first, starting with the brand of paint – because the better paint is going to be worth it; it’s going to be more scrubbable – how many coats they’re going to apply.
LESLIE: Are they priming? What’s the prep work? Is it plaster? Do they need to skim-coat? Is there any repair work that needs to be done to the existing drywall?
TOM: And also, you’re just going to have to – because it’s so labor-intensive, you’re absolutely going to positively have to do your homework on all these guys and get references and talk to people that they did work for recently.
And I like to ask people for references of somebody that they worked for at least a year ago, so we can see over time what their reputation has been. Because you definitely need to have someone who’s careful about their – working inside your house and who’s also a skilled painter. So I would dig in on the references and I would make sure that we’re comparing apples to apples in terms of what the project is that they’re actually doing.
And then another thing that you can do is always go online. And I like to search "complaints against" and the name of the business. And believe me, if there is anybody who’s had a problem, they’re going to pop up in a Google search. So if you search the word "complaints" and the name of the vendor, you’ll find out right away.
And keep in mind, there are complaint sites out there. The only reason people go to them is to complain, so you don’t always get a balanced view. But if you see a lot of complaints on a lot of different sites, then you know maybe it’s an issue and you should steer clear. Does that make sense?
PRESTON: OK, great.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, your kids and your pets and just basic, everyday family traffic can lead to some pretty dingy-looking carpets rather quickly. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to steam-clean them yourself.
Now, this is something that you can do at least once a year to keep your carpets looking new and smelling fresh. And it’s going to actually help them last longer, as well. You can rent a steam cleaner at your local home center or I’ve even seen them at the supermarkets, you know. I know they have them there, as well as the soaps that go with it.
TOM: Now, you want to make sure you get the right amount and the right type of cleaning fluid to go with the machine. There are pet-specific solutions available, as well, if that’s a concern. You also want to read and follow directions.
And consider picking up the upholstery attachment for hard-to-reach areas, like furniture and stairs. It really is quite handy, if that’s on your to-do list. And you might need to go over the really dirty areas more than once but if you stay at it, you’ll be amazed at how clean and fresh your home is going to look after that project is complete.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Johanna from Michigan who wants to get out and enjoy the deck. How can we help you with that project?
JOHANNA: Hey. We’re getting ready to put a deck on the back of our house. It’s going to be about 20x20. And we’re looking at the composite products and in doing some research, I have come across some hair-raising images of black mold, chipping, cracking, crumbling and so on. And I would just like to get your opinion on the composite decking and if it truly holds up the way it says it does or if there are things we need to look out for.
TOM: I think it absolutely does hold up. Originally, the very first composite products that were out there had wood fiber in them, as well as the plastics. And the wood fiber would tend to grow sometimes algae and things like that and people didn’t like that.
I think it’s a perception issue. If you think that there is zero maintenance – "I’m never going to have to do anything at all" – you’re not going to find any product like that. Because even though it’s composite, it’s going to get dirty, it may grow a bit of algae and need to be cleaned once in a while. But realistically, I think it’s going to stand up a lot better than pressure-treated.
Just give you an example. My son recently completed his Eagle Scout project about a year ago. And his project was to build a 30-foot bridge across a stream. And we chose, for that project, composite decking. This is going to be in a park, it’s going to get lots and lots and lots of foot traffic. That’s been up now for a year and it still looks as good as the day we put it down.
So, I think composite is a good choice. Stick with a name brand; stick with Trex, for example. Good product, good history. And I think it’s going to cut down on the maintenance overall and it’s going to look terrific at the same time. And you won’t have to paint it and stain it and all that.
Now, you realize that you do – the framing of this is all done through standard pressure-treated, right?
JOHANNA: Right, right. And we will have benches and stuff built in and we’re going to use, I think, cedar for that.
TOM: OK. Well, you can use composite for the built-in benches, too. Anything that’s going to be exposed like that, there’s no reason not to use the composite.
JOHANNA: And it’s a very sunny area, so …
TOM: Yeah, if you have a lot of sun, you really won’t have a lot of problems with mildew and algae growth, because the sun is a very natural mildicide. It’s usually the real shady decks that have the issues.
JOHANNA: Yeah. The images I saw were from ‘07, ‘08. So it made me think, too, maybe there was a bad run at that time?
TOM: And you know what? Composite has changed in the last five years, too.
JOHANNA: OK. Well, good. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright, Johanna. Good luck with that project and let us know when the party is, OK?
JOHANNA: Hey, it’s next Friday.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, a unique way to add a festive touch to all your backyard celebrations. Leslie has the how-to on tiki torches, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain Garage Power Station, an air inflator, utility cord, and LED task light all together in a new, 3-in-1 tool. Exclusively at The Home Depot.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, an extra day this weekend means you’ve got an extra day to tackle some home improvement projects. You can get a list of easy weekend projects at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And while you’re online, you can head on over to the Community section of Money Pit and post a question there.
Now, Mike posted this: "We’ve been hearing horn sounds in our pipes for over six months. The Water Department says our pressure is normal. Any hints?"
I know at my mom’s beach house, whenever you, say, take a shower and turn off the water, all of a sudden you hear like, "Wehhhhh," and you’ve got to open that faucet again and everything sort of levels out. That would be air in the pipes, true?
TOM: No. It’s a vibration in the faucet itself. And because they’re copper pipes, any sort of vibration is going to amplify and make that really annoying sound.
So, what you need to do is to replace the faucet and that will stop that from happening again. It has nothing to do with water pressure; it has to do with a bad valve somewhere. Figure out where the valve is, replace it and you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: Is there any way to sort of be detective in the house and figure out which one has the valve or is it …?
TOM: Yeah. Whichever one you turn on that makes the sound, that’s going to be it.
LESLIE: I’m now – I’m speaking for my mom’s house here. Because I hear it upstairs, I hear it in my sister’s bath and I always just reopen that faucet again and it stops.
TOM: There’s a really simple solution: you could invite your good friend and co-host out for a weekend at the beach house and I will figure it out for you.
LESLIE: Alright, Tom. It’s already been Labor Day but we’ll invite you for Oktoberfest.
TOM: Yeah, there you go.
Well, if you’d like to make sure your backyard gathering turns into a memorable event, you might want to consider adding tiki torches for instant ambiance. Leslie sorts out the options, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, I’ve been to some really nice end-of-the-summer-season parties recently. And I’ve got to say that something that’s really been uniform across these parties and has been very nice in creating a nice scene is tiki torches. You add them, you get some instant ambiance. You can get oil-burning torches pretty much at any store that is going to sell any type of outdoor or backyard equipment. Even the supermarket has them. And you can actually probably get them on sale right now. Even better.
And you can also get citronella oil. So if you’ve still got some mosquitoes and bugs kicking around – I mean September still tends to be a warmish month around the country, so you could still be dealing with bugs. And citronella oil for those tiki torches will be a great way to have a good party and keep those bugs away.
Now, here’s the safety side of Leslie Segrete. Any time you’re dealing with an open flame, you really need to practice fire safety. Make sure you have a bucket of water and a hose nearby. When you do snuff out the flame, you want to make sure that the torches are put in a fireproof place. You can even go to SaferProduct.gov just to make sure that the torch you are using is considered safe and doesn’t have any recalls issued on it.
Now, for added safety, you could actually get battery- and solar-powered torches. And some of these will turn on automatically at dusk and flicker like a real flame. Remember, it is possible to light up the night without throwing caution to the wind, so maybe if you’re having a back-to-school party and want to have some tiki torches out there – I know I may even use tiki torches to sort of light the way to Henry’s first day of kindergarten on the bus stop. "Hey, get on that bus. Have a great day at school. Bye-bye."
TOM: Definitely. Well, coming up next week on The Money Pit, have you ever wondered exactly how old your house is? If you’re not sure, there are a few easy ways to figure that out without even having to leave your house. We’ll tell you those tricks of the trade, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2013 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.)