Learn why home improvements are increasing and why homeowners feel confident enough to spend money renovating their homes again. Ready to open the windows? If yours won’t STAY open, learn what could be causing the problem and how to fix it. Often a broken sash cord is the culprit. Learn what you need to do to plan finances for a move, including packing and hiring movers.
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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects. Got a do-it-yourself dilemma? Call us, 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Got a project that you don’t want to do yourself? Well, that’s OK, too. We are here to help.
Coming up this hour on The Money Pit, homeowners are digging into their pockets and we mean deep. Spending on remodeling is at the highest level since 2007 and that is great news for everybody. But don’t go crazy with those projects just that – because there is such a thing as over-improving. We’re going to have some tips on what not to do when remodeling your home, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead, spring means that you’ll be opening up those windows that have been shut super-tight this freezing-cold winter. Now, if your windows just don’t seem to want to stay open, don’t worry. We’re going to tell you how to fix broken sash cords and springs so that your windows are in proper working condition.
TOM: And for some of you, spring might mean a new location. If you’re selling your home, you might want to start thinking about budgeting for other expenses, like packing and moving. We’ll help you figure out that part of the equation, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And this hour, giving away a set of two arc-fault circuit-interrupter outlets from Leviton. It’s a great safety product because they can detect arcing in wiring and then interrupt your power to prevent a fire.
TOM: It’s a prize worth almost 60 bucks. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show, so let’s get to it, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Joe in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOE: I have a single-story house that’s got hot water. I’ve got a boiler with a hot-water heat baseboard. And about eight years ago, I had air – central air conditioning installed.
JOE: And when they did all that, they ran all the trunk lines up in the attic, put all my registers in the ceiling.
TOM: Yep. Mm-hmm.
JOE: And now the problem I have is during wintertime, I’m getting condensation. You know, I’ll go around and shut those registers off but it’s not 100-percent shut-off on those registers, of course. And I’m getting condensation that’s forming up in my trunk line and I’m getting condensation dripping out of my registers, which – I’m starting to get some water stains on my ceiling, around my registers, from this.
TOM: Alright. So you have an energy problem. The problem is that those registers are so cold that when the warm, moist air from the house strikes them, it condenses. And so, you need additional insulation in the space above that. You may need to insulate in or around those ducts. You may need to wrap those ducts with additional insulation. You need to keep those ducts warmer and frankly, the bigger problem is one that you can’t see. If it’s that cold at your ceiling, you’re probably losing a lot of heat through that ceiling. So, I would get up in that attic space and take a look.
In your part of the country, having 15 to 20 inches of insulation is not unheard of and it is certainly a good idea.
JOE: Well, basically, I know when they put it in there, they laid those trunk lines right on top. I’ve got like 20 inches of blown fiberglass and they laid those trunk lines. I need to peel that fiberglass back, bury those trunk lines and insulate all around that real good.
TOM: I think that would make a lot of sense.
JOE: Sounds good, then.
TOM: Alright, Joe. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to Iowa where Kathy is on the line with a flooring question.
Kathy, how can we help you with your project?
KATHY: Well, my son is purchasing his first home and the home was built back in 1930. And the carpet that is in the home is newer carpet but the owner was a heavy smoker. And we are going to have to pull the carpet out and we found that the backing that is underneath of it is probably original carpet padding from 30, 40 years ago. And it’s adhered to the wood floors.
TOM: And they’re like hardwood floors?
KATHY: They are hardwood below, yes.
TOM: OK. So a couple of things. First of all, you need to pull the carpet up, you need to pull the tackless up. That’s the nail strips that hold it down. You’re going to have to scrape up the old padding that’s sticking to the floor, as best you can. And you would use floor scrapers for that or a paint scraper for that or even sometimes a spackle knife or a putty knife will work. And then you’re going to have to refinish that floor.
Now, if some of the pad sticks to it, if you really can’t get it clean, then I would use – and actually, I would hire somebody to do this, because sanding a hardwood floor is a tricky business if you’ve not worked with the equipment before, because you can easily ruin the floor. The belt sanders that the professional floor finishers use for these are very heavy and hard to maneuver and they take a lot of material off very quickly. So if you don’t know how to handle it, you can dig through the floor before you know it and you’ve ruined it.
KATHY: Yeah. I don’t even know if the floor below is salvageable or what condition or type of wood – hardwood flooring – it is.
TOM: Well, you may find that it is salvageable. Very often, those old homes had good-quality flooring underneath and then the first thing people did was put carpet over it, which made for a great drop cloth in the last 80, 90 years. So you may find it’s in good shape.
You might also find that it’s not oak but Douglas fir, which is equally beautiful although it’s a bit softer. But in either event, have the floor sanded professionally. If you can restore them, I think you’ll be very happy with the results.
KATHY: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kathy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, the spring selling season is around the corner and you know what happens when you sell? You need to move. And that means you need to hire a mover.
LESLIE: That’s right. We’re going to tell you how to calculate costs and budget for those expenses, with our Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors, coming up, after this.
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: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and you could win one of the most important, new safety devices out there. We’re giving away a set of two arc-fault circuit interrupters – they’re outlets – and they come from Leviton.
It’s a great way to keep your home and family safe because this outlet detects arcing and wiring and interrupts power, which could prevent a fire.
LESLIE: Yeah. This is a great product because many residential fires are caused by faulty or just old wiring in the house. And this set of two arc-fault circuit-interrupter outlets, worth about 60 bucks, can really make a huge difference in a life-and-death situation.
So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your home improvement situation and your chance to win.
LESLIE: John in Texas is dealing with some mystery plumbing noises. What can we do for you today?
JOHN: I have a problem with my water heater, I think. When we flush the toilet, the hot-water line starts banging. My hot-water heater is in the attic.
TOM: The question would be: what does the hot water have to do with the toilet? Probably nothing, because we don’t use hot water in the toilets. But what is happening is that when you flush the toilet and the toilet has to refill – so the cold-water line is coming on and refilling that. And that cold-water line is the same cold-water line that’s probably running into the water heater above it.
So it sounds to me like what you have is called “water hammer,” which is caused by usually some loose pipes. And when the valve in the toilet opens to fill and then closes when it’s done, there’s some movement there. And the pipe will shake because of – the weight of the water in the pipe has a lot of inertia. And as that water stops, as the valve opens and closes, it will shake, rattle and roll the pipe.
The other thing that will happen is sometimes, as you run cold water through the pipe – and especially with the toilet, because it’s not flushed over and over and over and over again – that temperature change in the pipe could also make the pipe expand or contract. And as that rubs against the wood, it will make some noise, too.
So I don’t think you have a serious problem here, John. I think you probably have a water-hammer issue. The first thing I would do is try to secure as many of the pipes as we can so that they’re tight and they don’t rattle. And then if it does become a problem beyond that, there’s a device called a water-hammer arrestor, which is kind of like a shock absorber for your plumbing system, that you can have a plumber install.
JOHN: Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it’s time now for today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. And today, we’re going to look at how to budget for a move.
LESLIE: That’s right. Whether you’re planning to move across town or to a whole new city, it pays to plan ahead and know the costs that are involved and both for your stress level and of course, for your bottom line.
Now, the amount of things that you’ve got to pack, whether or not you’re packing them yourself and the distance you’re moving are all going to impact what you’ve got to spend.
TOM: Now, a great way to start ball-parking the price tag is with a quick moving-cost calculator, online, at Realtor.com. Just enter your current and future zip codes, the number of bedrooms you’ll be packing up, your move date and how much help you’ll need. The calculator will give you a moving-cost estimate.
Now, keep in mind that this is for planning only. There are a number of variables, including local cost averages for the total weight of your items.
LESLIE: Yeah. And if you’re my mom, when you were moving and you just decided to just stop packing up when the movers came to the house and had them finish …
TOM: They probably charged more for that, too.
LESLIE: Yeah. Factor in an additional $1,000. Just a tip, Pauline Segrete.
So, when you guys are ready, the calculator online is also going to offer opportunities for you to actually get quotes from the pro moving companies in your area, so that you can really start comparing and planning for the actual costs of your move, as well.
TOM: And that’s your Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Considering selling your home? Today’s market conditions may mean it’s a good time. Every market is different, so call a realtor today and visit Realtor.com.
LESLIE: Donna in Tennessee has got a funky guest house. Let’s just call it that.
What’s going on, Donna?
DONNA: We have been in this property – on this property – for two-and-a-half years. And when we purchased the property, the guest house had tenants. And they moved out a little over a year-and-a-half ago. However, there’s a very funky odor in the house that instead of fading over time is becoming more and more prevalent. The odor is best described, perhaps, as a stale cologne, so it’s not very pleasant.
LESLIE: Stale cologne. That’s interesting because, generally, when you get a funky odor in a space that’s not used that often, it usually has something to do with a sink not getting water down it and the trap drying out and sewer gases coming back up. So you could get a funky sewer smell but cologne? Are you sure the house isn’t haunted?
DONNA: We did pull up any carpeting that was in the house. And there wasn’t that much; it was just in the bedroom and the bathroom. The rest of the floors are wood and tile.
TOM: Have you done any painting yet?
DONNA: No. It had been – it was fairly recently painted, you know, prior to our purchasing the house and so I didn’t. However, after the tenants moved out, I really thoroughly cleaned the house. Actually, we moved all the appliances, everything like that. But I haven’t repainted.
TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you that sometimes when a house is empty, it tends to get a little dank sometimes. Are you running the heating system the way you would if somebody was living there?
TOM: Yeah. So you get more moisture and sometimes there can be odors associated with that. So unless it’s really pervasive, I don’t think I would worry too much about it. You’re doing the right things. You pulled up the carpet. If you haven’t painted and you’re going to paint, I would suggest one additional step and that is to make sure you prime the walls. Because if there’s anything in the walls, that will block it.
DONNA: Mm-hmm. What type of primer?
TOM: Well, you could use an alkyd primer, which is a water-based primer, or you could use an oil-based primer: something like KILZ or B-I-N or one of the Behr products. But the primer is kind of the glue that makes the paint stick and will also seal in any stains that have absorbed into the walls themselves.
DONNA: OK. So if it is the paint, then the primer could actually …
TOM: Right, exactly. In fact, sometimes we tell people that when they have carpets that are very odorous, to also prime the plywood floor before they put new carpet back down again.
DONNA: Hmm. OK.
TOM: Because if anything kind of soaked through the carpet and got into the floor, that’s a way to kind of seal it off.
DONNA: OK. Very good.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Donna. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steve in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVE: I have a cabin way out in the woods – small cabin out in the woods – and years ago, I built a bathroom on. And I put in a – I believe it is an iron base with a porcelain-coated tub. And I don’t use it that often but it has developed this very light-blue staining all around the drain and it has – it faded out. I’ve used bleach, I’ve – different cleaners. And I’m wondering, is there a painted surface or what is going on with that, if you might know?
TOM: It’s probably minerals from the water. Are you on a well, by any chance?
STEVE: It is, in fact. Yes, it is way out in the woods.
TOM: You may be getting some mineral salts from water – probably hard water – that are just evaporating and staying behind and then reacting with the drain metal material to kind of form that. I’ve seen that before. It’s almost fluorescent.
STEVE: Yeah. In older houses that I’ve been in, I’ve noticed that, that you will sometimes see that.
TOM: Yeah. The best thing to use is CLR – Calcium Lime Rust Remover. That product is pretty effective at making the minerals go away. But you might find that if it’s worn the surface off of the drain and that sort of thing, that it just doesn’t clean very well anymore.
STEVE: Oh. OK. Well, thank you so – oh, and by the way, I wish you all would just every other show, play the trailer music and just let it play. I love that (inaudible at 0:15:04). I really do.
TOM: Well, thank you very much.
STEVE: “Live in a money pit.” The music is great.
TOM: Alright, Steve. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Karen in Arizona is on the line with an air-conditioning question. How can we help you today?
KAREN: Yeah, I was just curious which is a better choice between the Ruud and the Trane. I need four units. I have to replace them all.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a good question. I would look at a couple of things.
First of all, they’re both good brands. So I would look at the efficiency rating for all of the units. I would look at the warranties for the units and I also would make sure that you choose your HVAC contractor carefully. Because a lot of the efficiencies in these systems rely heavily on the quality of the installation. So, we do want to be very careful about who’s installing it. Make sure the ducts are all sealed and that kind of stuff. Because if not, you’re going to have inefficiencies as you use the system as time goes on.
But they’re both great brands, so I think you can’t go wrong either way. Just make sure when you’re comparing apples to apples that you make sure they each have the same efficiencies and warranties.
KAREN: Well, you said something about ducts.
TOM: Yeah, the duct system that feeds the air to the different rooms, you want to make sure those ducts are properly installed and that they’re sealed. Because a lot of times, where ducts are joined, especially in older homes, those intersections are not sealed properly and a lot of air leaks out there. So the little things like that have a big impact on efficiency of the system.
KAREN: OK. And the other question is – I have a pet-boarding business and I’m trying to use some sort of air filter that will get – will take up smells. Do you know if any are better than others? Because I put the Oreck and another brand in the cat room and I can still smell cats.
TOM: Yeah, I bet. That certainly would be the test of any HVAC – any filtration system.
Well, look, the best filtration systems are really designed more for dust than for odor. However, I know that 3M has one that has a charcoal base to it that is far more efficient at taking odors out than just about anything else out there. And so – is this a forced-air system that you would have for that area, as well?
KAREN: No, this is just – like I had gone into one pet-boarding place and I smelled urine really bad and I thought, “This isn’t going to make it, this place, because of the urine.” And then they had four filters that were sitting on the wall, just – they kind of look like a mini-Oreck. They were on the wall, hung on the wall, just like the size of maybe 1 foot by 1½ feet. A little rectangle? And they really took the smell out and I don’t know which brand she used.
LESLIE: Now, Karen, I think the issue that you’re having in finding something that is going to work well for you is that we really want to make sure that we find you something that works from a commercial standpoint: something that’s made for a business like yours, which has a lot of animal odors.
And there’s a company out there called Air Oasis and that’s their website: AirOasis.com. And if you click on their Commercial section, you’ll find that they’ve got commercial air purifiers and air sanitizers that are carbon based and they will really reduce a lot of this odor and bacteria and viruses and VOCs.
So I would check them out and there might be something that would work well for you there.
KAREN: Alright. Yeah, that’d be good. It might help for smokers, too. I don’t smoke but in case the audience is listening. So, OK, I will go to Air Oasis. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Karen. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, are you ready to throw open those windows? Are they having a hard time staying open? We’re going to teach you how to fix broken sash cords, next, on The Money Pit.
RICHARD: Hi. I’m Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor from TV’s This Old House. If you want to keep your home from freezing, frying or going on the fritz, keep listening to Tom and Leslie on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.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.
TOM: And on our Facebook page, right now, you can enter the Spring Fling Pin to Win Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got four great tips to help you get started on your spring cleaning. And all you have to do is pin at least one of the tips to your Pinterest board and you’ve got a chance to win one of three gift cards for The Home Depot. We’ve got up for a grabs a $100, a $150, and a $250 gift card just waiting for you.
TOM: Check it all out at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Ruth in Michigan on the line. How can we help you today?
RUTH: I have an older house that’s in need of some pizzazz and wanted to put shutters over my vinyl siding. Is that possible? And how would I attach them?
TOM: Yeah, it’s done all the time. And there are special fasteners that are used in that situation so that you pierce the siding without causing a leak to happen. And most of the shutter companies will sell those as part of the shutter, too, so you certainly can do that.
You do want to be careful not to squish the siding because, remember, the siding is somewhat soft. And so as long as you’re careful about the way they attach, you certainly can have shutters on top of vinyl. OK, Ruth?
RUTH: Alright. Well, good. I was wondering if it could be a do-it-yourself project.
TOM: Absolutely. Ruth, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, one focal point of any old home is, of course, the windows. You know, they’re big, beautiful and also heavy. And they rely on a system of counterweights to help you raise and lower them.
TOM: And just like anything else with an old house, occasionally the cords supporting those weights can break and you’re left to resort to the old stick-in-the-window method to hold it up. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Tom Silva, the general contractor from TV’s This Old House, is here with the fix that will allow you to toss the window stick away once and for all.
TOM SILVA: Well, thanks, guys. It’s nice to be here.
TOM: And window construction has changed dramatically from the old days. So, tell us about how windows used to work and how they still do today if you’ve got an old home with its original windows.
TOM SILVA: Right. Well, windows work on a balancing system. Inside the weight cavities – in other words, behind the casing – there are four weights, two on each side.
TOM: And this is to the left and the right of the window: basically, the wall kind of right alongside of it.
TOM SILVA: Right.
TOM SILVA: So in each cavity, if you have a double-hung window, there will be two on each side. If you have a single-hung window, there’ll be one on each side. A single-hung window only opens in the bottom. A double-hung window opens top and bottom.
Well, what happens is the weight is held into place to the window with a rope. And over time, that ropes dries out and breaks and then you’ve got to replace it.
TOM: And that’s when you have the window that doesn’t really stay up. It feels very heavy. It can get dangerous.
TOM SILVA: Very heavy, yeah. Well, you’ve got to pull a window that weighs – depending on the size of it, it could weigh 5 pounds, it could weigh 25 pounds.
And there’s a few ways that you can repair that. You can replace that sash cord with another rope, you can replace it with a sash or you can replace it with a retractable balancing system.
TOM SILVA: And the rope is probably the most common.
TOM: And so, for that, you’re basically going to take your casing off to expose where that rope broke and kind of rethread it?
TOM SILVA: Well, actually, you don’t have to take the casing off.
TOM SILVA: You’re going to take off what is called the “stop bead.” The stop bead holds the sash into the opening. You need to take the stop bead off and if you live in an old house, it’s usually three or four screws. You take the screws off, you push the window up enough to get it out of the opening and then you’ll see there’s a little door on the left and the right side, held into place with one screw. You loosen the screw and the little door comes out, drops down or could – picks up, depending on how the company made them. You get that out of the way, you can reach in and pull the window weight out.
Now, you want to make sure that you untie the rope that’s there. And now you have to snake down a new rope from above to reattach it to that window weight.
TOM: So, that’s interesting. So even way back then, the manufacturers designed a way to replace that rope if it was necessary.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. Because they knew it was going to wear out.
And then you just want to make sure that you attach the rope at the right dimension. You want to get the rope the right length so when you open the window, the weight isn’t touching the bottom.
TOM: Doesn’t bottom out.
TOM SILVA: Right. Exact.
TOM: Yeah. Got it.
TOM SILVA: So, once you’ve figured all that out, you put the window back into place. Now, you can use the rope or you can use a chain. A lot of people like to use the chain because they feel that once they do the chain, it’s not going to fall apart or rot.
LESLIE: Do you feel any sort of difference in how the window operates, between the rope and the chain?
TOM SILVA: The window with the chain is noisier when you open and close it. But it’s opening once and closing once, so it’s not like it’s up and down and going to keep you up all night.
TOM: Yeah. Now, if you didn’t want to go through the process of replacing the rope with a chain, are there ways to sort of replace jambs? I remember seeing, I guess what I’ll call sort of a “pressure jamb,” where it kind of squeezes the sides of the window. You pull the sash out, you put these new jambs in and slip the whole thing back in so that it’s sort of spring-loaded and holds the window in place.
TOM SILVA: Right. Well, they have what is called a “spiral balancing system.” And then, basically, they go into an aluminum or a vinyl track. But there is absolutely no insulation value to those except they basically are the balancing system. You attach them to the underside of the window. You have to put them in place before you put them in the window. You hold them together; you have to be a little bit of a contortionist. You put it into the opening, tilt it up and then the window is balanced.
The way you adjust the balance of the window is the tension on the stop bead when you put it in. So, in other words, when you let the window go, if it pops up, you have to take the stop bead and push it a little bit tighter to the window so that it moves the way you want it to move.
TOM SILVA: So it’ll stay where you put it, basically.
TOM: But it’s …
LESLIE: That’s really a trial-and-error sort of system.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. It’s not that difficult. It sounds a little tricky but it’s basically just applying pressure to the stop bead.
TOM: It sounds like it’s almost as much work as just redoing it the way the manufacturer intended for the window to work.
TOM SILVA: Right. The benefit to using a spiral balancing system is that it now allows you to insulate the cavity that the weights and pulleys were in. And by insulating the cavity of the weights and pulleys, you increase the efficiency of the window without doing anything to the window. Because that’s usually where your biggest heat loss is: in the cavity that holds the weights and pulleys.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So you probably do this a lot when you’re doing the repairs on This Old House, because you want to keep the authentic window to keep the historical aspect of the home in those situations. But you also want to boost the insulative value.
TOM SILVA: I do want to increase the insulation variable. What I do on an old house – I like the weights and pulleys. I love the old windows. But I then have to figure out a way to insulate behind that cavity. And lots of times, what I do is I insulate with a polyisocyanurate rigid-foam foil-faced and basically 1 inch or a ½-inch thick. And I just remove the casing because I now have the thickness of the plaster which is, in most cases, ¾ to 1 inch. So I can then sandwich tightly, in between the plaster and the casing, a piece of isocyanurate foam and I put my casing back on. I now have a window that is much more efficient.
You still get the draft that comes out of the pulley, where the rope goes, but it makes a huge difference in the window. And then I just spray-foam underneath the apron and over the header.
TOM: So it doesn’t matter if the window is old or new, there is a way to improve its efficiency.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely.
TOM: And that’s how you do it. Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: It’s my pleasure. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.
Still ahead, the remodeling outlook is great for the first time in quite a while. Take on those projects you’ve been putting off. But we’ve got one piece of advice to warn you about before you do: make sure you don’t over-improve. We’ll have advice on that topic, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where good homes live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one of you callers that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a great prize from Leviton that could save your life. Now, more than half of all electrical fires at home are caused by a dangerous problem called “arcing.”
TOM: Yeah. Electrical arcing creates a high-intensity heat that might ignite surrounding material. And what’s even scarier is that anything from excess humidity to pests can deteriorate the wiring and cause arcing.
LESLIE: Now, the good news is you can protect your home from this problem with an arc-fault circuit-interrupter outlet from Leviton. One caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a set of two of these worth 60 bucks.
TOM: So give us a call right now. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lydia in Massachusetts on the line with a sink question. What’s going on?
LYDIA: Well, we have three attached, very old, galvanized sinks at the church. And they are unsightly, they’re blackened. And I was wondering if you had any idea on how to clean them.
TOM: So, they’re galvanized but there’s no other finish to them?
LYDIA: There’s no other finish.
TOM: Probably a lot of years of water stains in there, I would imagine. They sort of like brownish, rust kind of color to them?
TOM: Black, yeah, even worse. Even worse yet.
Well, I guess the first thing I would try would be an abrasive powder and steel wool because you’re going to have to abrade them. If you don’t get something that’s pretty aggressive, you’re not going to get anything off of that. So I would use something like Comet and steel wool and see how that works.
But typically, what happens with those old, metal sinks is the metal just becomes discolored. So it’s not something that’s laying on top, like a stain that you can wipe away. The metal itself becomes discolored.
LYDIA: OK. Well, thank you very much for your help.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, the results are in and they’re looking good. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, last year, homeowners spent $130 billion on home improvements. And that’s a 3-percent increase from the year before and the most spent since 2007.
LESLIE: Yeah, more Americans are investing in their homes but less new homes are being built. So, it’s a sign that homeowners see improvements as a way to invest in their properties without a major move or a huge expense.
TOM: Now, keep in mind there is one danger to feeling confident about spending money on your home and that is the sort of might-as-well phenomena: you know, while we’re at it, might as well – going to do this, going to do that; then you go ahead and take on another project and another project and another project. What you need to do is keep those home improvements manageable financially. And to do that, you want to plan for unexpected expenses during the renovation and you should not try to over-improve your home.
LESLIE: Yeah. You don’t want to have the castle house in a neighborhood of Cape Cods. You have to make your home livable, comfortable and upgrade to a level that’s still going to make it a great buy whenever you do decide to sell.
TOM: Good point. And if you are getting your home on the market, we’d love to have your questions, as well. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Chuck in Rhode Island needs some help cleaning something. What’s going on at your money pit?
CHUCK: How would you suggest I go about removing blood stains from carpeting?
LESLIE: Well, I’m assuming since you’re calling in, it’s nothing that we want to hide or cover up, correct?
CHUCK: No, no. Oh, no, no. No, no, no, no.
TOM: Alright. Have they been down there a long time?
CHUCK: Yeah, about six months.
TOM: Alright. So, there’s a couple of different things that you can try. One of which is to make a paste out of salt. And so you take a bowl of cold water and you put enough salt in to make a bit of a paste. And then you apply that to the carpet, let it sit a bit. Brush it in with a small brush, like a small hairbrush or a toothbrush, and see if it starts to lift the stains away. You can dab it with water to kind of thin out the salt.
Then after it dries, you can vacuum it and that’ll pull all the rest of the salt off of it.
CHUCK: Uh-huh. OK.
TOM: So that’s one way to do it. The other way to do it is to try to make a mixture of hydrogen peroxide up and water. This hydrogen peroxide will also clean up blood. I always say to try this, though, in an area that’s inconspicuous because it also has somewhat of a bleaching effect. We don’t want to have you bleach out the carpet.
So you can try it in a corner, under furniture, in a closet, wherever you have a less visible area.
CHUCK: What ratio of the peroxide to water?
TOM: Well, no, actually, you can just put the peroxide on without water. Just put like 3-percent hydrogen peroxide.
CHUCK: OK. I’ll try those items and see what happens.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Still to come, are you kicking yourself for not investing in a generator? Well, there is still time because spring and summer, well, they bring storms, which can be just as bad as the ones in the winter. Yay. Optimism. We’re going to tell you what options you’ve got, after this.
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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, have you ever been conned by a contractor?
LESLIE: On his new series, Catch A Contractor on Spike, Adam Carolla, a master carpenter, and his team, they are tracking down shoddy contractors and bringing them to justice.
TOM: Yeah. And once they track them down, Adam and the team work with the contractor to do the job right and bring justice to the homeowners.
LESLIE: Catch A Contractor, starring Adam Carolla, premieres Sunday at 10:00 Eastern, 9:00 Central, after an all-new episode of Bar Rescue on Spike.
TOM: Take a look at the show and let us know what you think, by posting to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can always post your question on the Community section of MoneyPit.com, just like Barry from Texas did. And Barry writes: “With all the ice, snow and outages we got in Texas this year, I’m wondering if I should put in a backup generator. What are my options and will it give the house more value?”
TOM: Barry, there has never been a better time to invest in a backup generator. Now, your options are to install a standby generator, which is a permanent appliance, or of course, to go with a portable generator. We would advocate strongly that you go with a standby – a whole-house standby generator – because it can take over repowering your entire house, literally, in seconds when the power goes out.
And I’ve got to tell you, there was a new survey that came out from Remodeling Magazine – it’s one that they do every year; it’s done very thoroughly – and it’s called the “Cost Versus Value Report.” And generators are delivering one of the highest returns on investment of all the projects that they measure. In fact, the value has gone up significantly over the last year.
So, definitely a good thing to think about. Take a look at the natural gas-powered generators because then you don’t have to mess with gasoline. And if you don’t have natural gas, they will also run on propane.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a posting from Eileen who writes: “The tile seam in my bathroom is really close to where the tub meets the wall. Can I caulk the tub really wide and fat to cover this? Also, there is grout in this area, so it just makes the area lumpy and imperfect. Any suggestions? Love your program.”
TOM: Well, thanks, Eileen. Well, look, caulk is not supposed to be put on in sort of big gobs.
And so, if you do have a big gap between the tile and the top of the lip – I don’t know, Leslie. I might be tempted to grout that line and then caulk between the grout and the tub. I mean you’ve got to have a juncture between the tile and the tub.
LESLIE: What about the grout caulk? The sanded grout.
TOM: Well, the sanded-grout caulk might work well there. But of course, I think sanded grout is going to be more likely to take a stain, don’t you think, because it’s so darn absorbent?
LESLIE: I’ve only used it once and I used it in an area in a kitchen that – you know, I got the same caulk color that matched the grout and it was that sanded-grout caulk. And I did it to fill a little space like this and it had the elasticity of the caulk but the texture of the grout. And I felt like it just grabbed a little better.
TOM: Now, that’s a good point.
Another thing that you could do, come to think of it, is – you know what backer rod is, right, Leslie? Sort of those round, foam rods? It comes in different diameters?
TOM: Well, one thing that you could think about doing, Eileen, is to put backer rod into that gap. Because that will take up a lot of the space that normally might be filled by caulk. And then add the caulk just to the outer surface. Now, if you use a good-quality acrylic latex caulk, I think it will stretch and wrap to the backer rod and seal that gap between the tile and the tub.
So, there’s a couple of options for you right there.
LESLIE: Yeah. Eileen, I think the good point about the sanded-grout caulk, if I’m calling it by the correct name, is that you can get it in the exact same color as the grout that you have been using. You’ll never notice the difference. It’s in that same aisle in the home center. And that should really help.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, happily helping you with home improvements, remodeling and redecorating. If you’ve got questions, 24-7, we’d love for you to stop by our website at MoneyPit.com and post those questions on the Community section. Or you can always pick up the phone and call us, 24-7, at 888-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 2014 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.)