Has the recession killed your DIY budget? Tom and Leslie have great ideas on how to fire back up your do-it-yourself dreams by using inexpensive salvaged building materials that’ll save some cash. Get tips on a super-efficient mini-split air conditioning system from This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey. Learn about a new paint product that can both prime and paint in one step. And, find out how to stop your bathroom mirrors from fogging up once and for all with the right kind of ventilation system. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about replacing an old roof, repairing a concrete walkways, stained linoleum floors, solving dishwasher problems, drying out a musty basement, fixing loose nails in a wood deck, replacing cracked board on a deck and stopping condensation on windows.
TRANSCRIPT FOR AUGUST 3, 2009, HOUR 1
Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 0:025]
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: Pick up the phone right now and give us a call with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma – the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 – because we are here to help you get those jobs done around the house.
Coming up this hour, has the recession killed your DIY budget? Well, no need for that. We’ve got some great ideas on how to fire back up your do-it-yourself dreams by using inexpensive salvaged building materials. Yes, that’s right; building materials that are now being given a second life. We’re talking about beautiful plumbing fixtures, woodwork, doors, windows. There’s so much out there that’s being recycled now and reused in new remodeling projects at a fraction of its original cost.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, are you having a tough time keeping your house cool during these super-hot days of summer? Well, we feel your pain and that’s why we’re going to fill you in on a type of AC system called a mini-split that is so quiet and efficient that we actually use one here at our own Money Pit studio to keep us cool in the summer and you can actually do the same at your own home.
TOM: And if you’re tired of staring at the same old four walls in your house, no need for that. We’re going to have some tips on some quick and easy ways to give your home a fresh, new look with some new paint.
LESLIE: And we’ve got a great prize that we’re giving away this hour. We’ve got a kit project that you can actually build together with your children. It’s a birdhouse combo kit from our friends over at Red Toolbox and it really is a great way for kids and parents to get involved in woodworking together.
Tom, these are really great kits and we didn’t have this kind of stuff when we were kids.
TOM: I know. My project would have come out so much better. (Leslie chuckles) It probably would have saved the birds, if I’d had a kit. (chuckles)
LESLIE: I bet they came out pretty nice, though, Tom.
TOM: I think, with my projects, the birds could get in but they couldn’t get out. I think I caused some harm to some young bird families. (chuckles)
It’s worth 60 bucks, so give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Irene calling in from Brooklyn, New York has a roofing question. What can we do for you today?
IRENE: I had my roof for 25 years and I heard you, the other day, saying on the radio that 25 years is more than enough for a roof, so …
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah. OK.
IRENE: I had one little leak, so I decided to change the whole thing.
TOM: OK. Well, you know, if you’re trying to decide between regular shingles and Timberline shingles, the Timberline shingles are just a laminated shingle. They last the same amount of time but they look different. You know, they are designed to maybe have a little more dimension, a little more depth. They can look like cedar shingles. They can look like slate tiles. They can look like clay tiles. They’re very attractive …
IRENE: (overlapping voices) (inaudible at 0:03:09.1)
TOM: … but there’s really no difference in longevity between those and simply a single-tab shingle.
IRENE: That’s all I needed to know because I don’t see my roof. It’s a high building.
IRENE: So, I’ll go for the cheaper one. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: OK, Irene. Glad we could help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Time to talk with Joel in Des Moines, Iowa who’s having sort of a situation with a concrete walkway. What happened? It’s sinking toward your house? Was there something structural? What’s going on?
JOEL: I bought a foreclosure house and I went away for two years and I come back and my sideway is sinking towards my house.
JOEL: And then my front yard is also losing – it’s losing dirt also; so I don’t know where that’s going to.
TOM: Hmm. Sounds like …
JOEL: And I had some people out there that they guaranteed that they could lift the concrete by, you know, pumping some stuff in there.
TOM: Right, mudjacking; mm-hmm.
JOEL: But they couldn’t do anything. They said that it just goes to nowhere.
LESLIE: Hmm. I mean you guys – I know that Des Moines has had some pretty bad weather over the past two winters, so I wonder if the freezing and thawing cycle – or pretty much the freezing and freezing and freezing cycle that you guys dealt with for the past two years; which you, luckily, missed out on – I wonder if that had something to do with it.
TOM: And did you say that you’re getting erosion in your yard as well?
JOEL: Yeah, it’s eroding my front yard. It’s starting to sink. I can see the dips in it.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah. Well, look, if your concrete walkway is sinking towards the house and you’ve had some experts in, they say they can’t mudjack it, then there are no other options, Joel, but to tear it out and replace it.
TOM: It might be that you don’t want to go concrete next time. Maybe you want to go paver bricks; something that can actually move a little bit more than the solid concrete can. But I would make sure I take a look and try to figure out why the erosion is happening. I’d look at the roof drainage to make sure the gutters are collecting the water and getting them away from the house; not contributing to that drainage. I’d make sure that we don’t have any underground pipes that are broken; that we’re not getting discharge from the neighbors’ yard or anything like that. It might be easier for you to see because you were away for a while then you came back and noticed the differences; but if it’s something that’s more active, we want to make sure that we address it right away.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call because you can be part of The Money Pit by calling in your question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’ll give you a hand with your project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, go green and save some green in the form of cash on supplies for your next building project. We’ll tell you what you need to know to take advantage of recycled building materials, when we come back.
[audio timestamp: 0:05:50.0]
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Ask your question on the air and you could be the lucky winner of a really great family-oriented prize this hour. We are giving away, to one lucky caller, a birdhouse combo kit from our friends over at Red Toolbox. Now, this is a great company that makes project kits, for your kids and adults, that you guys can do together. All of the materials that you need come with the kit and all of the tools that are supplied are designed to fit kids’ hands. They’re small but they’re real tools; like they’re not plastic, they actually get the job done. The hammer is the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. (Tom chuckles)
It’s worth about 60 bucks. I can’t wait for Henry to get old enough to do one of these with me. But you can absolutely win one for free, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
TOM: 888-666-3974. And if you start those kids off pretty early, they’ll be able to help you with your home improvement projects in the very near future; one of which might be to tackle some remodeling in your house. But if you’ve only got a limited home improvement budget and if you’ve got a green frame of mind, there’s a way to combine those two needs because you can find great ways to save on your next home improvement project by using beautiful home materials that are ready to be reclaimed or reused, thanks to the new plethora of savvy dealers, demolition experts and everyday folks who are rescuing these products from a landfill fate.
Now, you can consider salvage yards; online classifieds like Craigslist or even house part recycling centers, which often carry surplus supplies of branded building materials and these materials are gorgeous. They’re very functional, they work as good the day they’re put in as the day they were taken out and the day you will put them in your house. And Leslie, you spend a lot of time in these salvage yards and sometimes you get pretty lucky with the stuff you find.
LESLIE: I mean, really, you have to search around and be prepared to spend some time and look through the aisles but you will find absolutely beautiful, unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. Sometimes, you know, large estates or mansions that have great historic value; the entire wood paneling is removed from a room and then labeled and itemized and completely ready for you to take to your house and lay out exactly as it was in the space. So take some time and snoop around because you can find beautiful, unique things that will make your project just stand out.
TOM: It’s like a big, fat flea market for homes, basically.
LESLIE: It’s just so interesting. And if you feel like being creative, you can find beautiful pieces that you can turn into water features or just interesting opportunities that if something inspires you, you’ll just create something just gorgeous.
TOM: Yeah, you might decide you need a whole new room because you found something that was really cool.
LESLIE: It’s true. Stranger things have happened.
TOM: (chuckles) 888-666-3974. Call us with your do-it-yourself dream right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carol in New York needs some help with a flooring situation. Tell us what’s going on.
CAROL: Hi. I have either an Armstrong or a Congoleum kitchen floor.
CAROL: Been down for ten years and it was very white when it was new. I steam-clean it but it’s yellow in the traffic areas. What will whiten it?
TOM: Hmm, OK. Sometimes, after all of those years, you get a chemical reaction from all of the cleaning agents and the dirt gets ground into it and it’s almost impossible to get that to go back to its original color, I’m sorry to say, Carol. If you’re cleaning it the way you describe, then I don’t think that any of that discoloration is the result of any type of dirt that’s on the surface. I think as those products wear, the oxidation that they receive through just exposure to sunlight will make them darken and change color. But that’s a typical wear pattern that you’re describing there, Carol.
I mean the good news is that these linoleum floors, the prices have come way down on the vinyl floors. And so it might just be time, if you’ve gotten ten years out of that, to think about replacing it.
CAROL: Yeah. OK. Well, thank you so much. I enjoy your show.
TOM: Well, thank you very much. Very nice of you to say. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that floor project.
LESLIE: Byron, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BYRON: Hi, Tom and Leslie. Yeah, every time I do my dishes the glasses dry and I notice there’s like a milky-white residue. And I was just trying to figure out what that is. I’m in a new house and don’t know what’s going on.
TOM: Do you notice that when you pour water it looks a little cloudy; or anything of that nature?
LESLIE: Are you having a hard time with soap sudsing up?
BYRON: A little bit of problems with soap sudsing up; but yes, the cloudiness in the water. If I’m drinking tap water I do notice that after a couple of seconds it is pretty cloudy.
TOM: Well, it sounds to me like you may have a hard water issue. That basically refers to having an excess amount of minerals in the water and that’s directly related to where your water comes from. So if you happen to have like sort of a stone quarry that your water comes from you’re going to have more hard water in it, typically, and it can occur with both well water as well as city water.
There are a couple of things that you can do. First of all, with respect to the dishwasher, there’s such a thing known as a rinsing agent and the most common one out there is a product called Jet-Dry and that goes in – most dishwashers have the rinsing agent dispenser built in. That leaves like sort of a coating on your glasses that makes the water evaporate quickly and I guess the way to explain is it’s sort of like Armor All for your drinking glasses; you know, the water runs – runs off but …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, it just sort of makes everything wash right off.
BYRON: (overlapping voices) OK.
TOM: Yeah, but it’s safe to use. And the other thing is that you might want to think about putting in a system to treat your hard water. Now, typically that’s done with salt-based treatments, but that’s kind of expensive and it takes some time and some expense for the plumbing to be installed. There’s another system out there, though, that we like – called EasyWater – that recently became a sponsor of this show, so we learned all about it. And basically, what EasyWater does is it uses an electronic technology, instead of salt or chemicals, to make sure that the minerals don’t stick and what that does, it helps it run off the glasses; it doesn’t clog up your faucets, your aerators, it doesn’t require any plumbing to install it. You simply install this near your main water valve and there’s sort of a wire that you wrap around the main water valve – not the valve, but the main water supply pipe –
LESLIE: The pipe itself.
TOM: Yeah, that sort of creates like a coil and essentially what happens is the treated minerals, once they go through this, kind of repel each other. They lose their electrostatic charge, which is what makes them stick to the faucets and stick to the glasses and stick to everything else.
TOM: So once they go through this EasyWater treatment system they essentially lose that charge and then they don’t stick. So that’s a good option as well. So use the Jet-Dry. Think about putting in a hard water solution like EasyWater and I think that you’ll see that the water is going to clear up in your house.
BYRON: Now is the EasyWater something I can find at the home centers or online or where?
TOM: The easiest place to buy it is, frankly, right online. You can go to their website – it’s EasyWater.com – and talk with the folks over there. They’re very good at sort of walking you through the issue and making sure that this device is going to solve it once and for good.
BYRON: Awesome. Thanks. I love you guys’ show. You guys have bailed me out a couple of times.
TOM: Aw, you’re welcome, Byron. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in North Carolina has an air conditioning question. What can we do for you today?
JIM: Well, hi folks. Love your show.
TOM: Thank you.
JIM: I have a problem with a musty odor that comes out of my air returns – well, several of my air returns – when the AC first kicks on. And I noticed this last summer and put a vapor barrier down in my crawl space and put a dehumidifier down there and it may have slightly improved the problem but I still get that musty smell when it kicks on.
TOM: First of all, you say it’s coming out of your returns. Do you mean your supplies?
JIM: Well …
TOM: Because you shouldn’t have anything coming out of the return.
LESLIE: Things should be going in.
JIM: Well, OK, I’m sorry. Yes, the vent – the floor vents.
JIM: Yes, yes, yes.
TOM: When the system first kicks on, you’re going to have a lot of moisture and humidity and perhaps even some condensation inside the duct system, so that doesn’t surprise me. Does it dissipate within the first 15 minutes?
JIM: I would say within the first minute or so.
TOM: Yeah, that’s pretty normal. I think you’ve got a lot of moisture and humidity inside the ducts and you’re probably just taking that into the air and sort of throwing it back into the house. I don’t think that’s anything to be concerned about. If you want some general suggestions on how to reduce the amount of humidity in the house, putting the vapor barrier down was a good first step but there are other things that you can do outside the house.
Take a look at the grading; the angle of the soil around the foundation. Because if you collect a lot of water around a concrete foundation, it’s going to soak through and evaporate into the interior air space one way or the other. So improve the grading. Take a look at the gutter system. Make sure the downspouts are extended out away from the foundation.
LESLIE: Make sure the gutters are clean.
TOM: Yeah, good point. And take a look at the ventilation inside the house. Make sure that your attic is well-ventilated because you get a certain amount of vapor pressure inside the house where the humidity sort of pushes up through. It’ll end up in the attic and if it can’t easily vent out, that will also cause an additional humid sort of musty smell inside the main living space.
JIM: OK, great. Sound like good suggestions. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mike in New Hampshire is dealing with a moist situation in the basement. Tell us about what’s going on.
MIKE: We have a typical New England home whereas it has large, granite walk-through walls and a dirt basement. If we go away during the summertime – that is anywhere, really, between April and October – and we leave the house closed-up, it’s very damp-smelling when we come back. We tried a dehumidifier. The dehumidifier costs like $60 a month; the thing runs continuously. I heard about a tangential fan, which is contractor installed. But all these things are really costly. I was wondering, is there any cure for a dirt basement floor by some other means of ventilation?
TOM: Well, there are a number of things. Is there any possibility that you may want to actually pour a floor down there?
MIKE: Yeah, we’d actually thought about it. In fact, I was thinking of leveling it and then using gravel as a base and see how that affected the condensation.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Gravel won’t necessarily help but if you put plastic sheeting down and poured a slab over it – even if it’s a very thin slab, what we call a dust cover, that actually will make a big difference because what you’re having here is evaporation of the moisture off of the soil.
TOM: The other thing to do is to make sure you pay attention to your drainage conditions outside because if you have good, positive outside drainage conditions, Leslie, I think that will reduce the volume of humidity and moisture inside the house.
LESLIE: Yeah, Mike. You want to look at the grading around your foundation perimeter. You want to make sure that all of the soil slopes away from the house and you want to go down about six inches over four feet so you do get all of that moisture just moving away from the house itself. And you want to look at your gutter system and your downspouts.
LESLIE: You want to make sure that everything is free-flowing and any downspouts that you do have, you want to make sure that there isn’t just sort of, you know, that small return and it deposits all that water against the foundation wall. You want to try to move those downspouts at least four feet away from the house; you know, get it as far away from that foundation wall as you can.
MIKE: (overlapping voices) Oh, yeah. Good idea.
LESLIE: Whatever you can do to move that moisture away is going to keep that moisture out of your basement.
MIKE: Yeah, Leslie, I think you hit the target there because there are some gradations there that go backwards; in other words, not away from the house …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, go towards it.
MIKE: … but towards the house.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Very, very common condition, Mike, and that’s the solution.
MIKE: Great. Well, thanks, buddy. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, sometimes even the best AC can’t stand up to the hottest days that summer can dish out. You know, there’s always that one room that’s just ridiculously hot; whether it’s that room at the end of the duct system or one that just gets a lot of sun during the day.
TOM: I know how you feel and there is a solution and we’re going to hear about it when we welcome plumbing expert Richard Trethewey and Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:37.5]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Install a new, energy-efficient Therma-Tru door today and qualify for up to a $1,500 tax credit. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com/TaxCredit.
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: Visit MoneyPit.com/Staycation now for your chance to win a walk-behind mower from John Deere worth over 400 bucks. Pick up the phone, give us a call with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bina (sp) needs some help refreshing the look of her kitchen. What can we do for you?
BINA (sp): Well, my kitchen cabinets are 30 years old but the wood is good and it’s a dark stain. I really would like a light stain and I’m wondering if that’s possible.
LESLIE: Well, anything is possible and you definitely want the look of stain, you don’t want to paint, correct?
BINA (sp): Well, you know, I’m not sure. I don’t know which one – if painting would hold up as well.
TOM: Well, painting done well can hold up pretty darn good but I will say that when it comes to stain, it’s a lot easier to go from a light to a dark than it is to go from dark to light.
TOM: A lot of the old wood cabinets were laminated cabinets, so there’s a thin veneer of wood on the outside of it and you have to sand off quite a bit to get to the darkest part of the stain and be able to kind of sand that away so that you can sort of lighten things up. So, you could try to lighten this up by sanding. Maybe take one door off …
BINA (sp): And try it.
TOM: … and see how it works. Right. You can always go to paint as a next step but if you want to give it a shot …
LESLIE: As a second option.
TOM: … let’s do experimenting and figure out how hard it is to remove the stain that’s there. If you get most of it off, you know, then we’re good to go; we can proceed with the rest of the project.
BINA (sp): Right, now OK; let’s say I want – after that, decide to paint. It has to be sanded down very thoroughly? Same thing?
TOM: Not as much. No, you have to – you still have to sand the surface. You can use a liquid sandpaper, which works very well, and then you can prime it and paint it. And you can get a good, I’d say, eight to twelve years out of that.
BINA (sp): Oh. Uh-huh.
LESLIE: But Bina, you want to make sure that you take the doors off of the cabinet boxes themselves and you leave either the hinges on the door or on the box itself and then label every piece of things that you remove so you know exactly where they go to. As you take a cabinet door off, say that – label that one A and then put a piece of tape on the inside of that cabinet box A so you know exactly where things go so that hinges line back up, so that doors are flush. This way you don’t have to adjust anything.
BINA (sp): I see. That’s a good idea.
LESLIE: Oh, I’ve done it both ways and let me tell you, that’s the easier way.
BINA (sp): (overlapping voices) Have you?
BINA (sp): Oh, OK. OK. Well, gee, I appreciate everything. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, during the warmest summer months, even a good central AC system might have some trouble keeping your entire house cool.
TOM: Ah, but there is a solution that can help you strategically cool off those hottest parts of your house. To tell us how, we welcome our friends, host Kevin O’Connor and Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House.
So Kevin, where do we begin?
KEVIN: If you have one or two rooms in your house that are hard to keep cool – maybe an addition that wasn’t part of the original central air conditioning plan or a room that receives full sun – a mini-split air conditioning system may solve your problem.
Richard, how do these things work?
RICHARD: Well, unlike a conventional window air conditioner where all the components are in one box to make the air cool – that’s the reason they have to sit on the outside wall or in a window – a mini-split separates the outdoor unit – the condenser – from the indoor unit – the evaporator. That means you can put those indoor units anywhere you want inside – on an inside wall, on an outside wall, anywhere you want – and you can really zone it to your heart’s content. They actually have units with multiple indoor air handlers off of one outdoor condenser.
KEVIN: Sounds like a great design.
RICHARD: Absolutely. It is. And it’s really not that different from a central air conditioning system, except that because there are separate air handlers in every room, you don’t need to run those big ducts. Perfect for retrofit.
KEVIN: And to watch a video of a mini-split air conditioning installation, visit us at ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: You know, that would actually be a perfect fit for my house. You know, we’ve got an older home, no central AC. Let me tell you, I am sick and tired of being super hot all summer long. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) So if you’re like me and you’re starting to think that this is something that can actually work in your home, then visit ThisOldHouse.com. You can watch a step-by-step video that’s going to show you exactly how to install a mini-split AC system. And This Old House, they’re brought to you by GMC; a proud sponsor of This Old House. GMC – we are professional grade.
TOM: Well, you’ve heard us say proper prep is key when it comes to painting projects. Up next, we’ll have details on a one-step primer that makes the prep part of the work really, really easy.
[audio timestamp: 0:23:59.3]
ANNOUNCEMENT: This portion of the Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Two-Part Epoxy Garage Floor Coating. Transform drab, gray, concrete garage floors into attractive and functional spaces with a showroom-quality finish. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.
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 because this hour we’re giving away a Red Toolbox project kit and these are project kits that are designed for parents and kids to work together on. This one happens to be a birdhouse. It’s worth about 60 bucks and it comes with all the tools and materials that you need to work together with your child and build this project. Leslie and I wish we had kits like this when we were kids. Would have been so much easier to get those jobs done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That project kit is going to go to one caller who reaches us on today’s show.
LESLIE: Yeah, and the kits are just great and the tools are adorable; so lucky you, whoever gets to win this, this hour. Yeah, pick up the phone; give us a call; let us know what you’re working on, especially if you need some help with a design or a decorating question because now is the time of the show where we can really help you out.
We are about to do our décor du jour this hour and with the current state of the economy, we know that most of you homeowners out there are going to be staying put in your house that you’re already in. Well, now you can take your lived-in home and make it look brand, spanking new again simply with paint and the easiest way to make sure that your paint project delivers dazzling results is by starting with a fresh coat of primer. You really have to do it. This is not one step that you want to skip. Do prime and make sure you get a good one. Then you want to try painting interior walls with shades of maybe a deep taupe or a warm gray or even a soft brown. All of these colors can make a big impact without being too overwhelming and they match with everything.
TOM: Yeah, you know, the high-quality primer is really the key to a good paint job. You want to make sure you choose the right product because if you put the right product on, it’s going to make the paint project come out so much easier. I like the KILZ premium. It takes only one coat with this stuff and it dries like within a half-hour. It goes on very thick and it’s sort of whiter than other primers out there, so that makes it a good choice for covering the dark colors that maybe you had to start with. It’s low-odor, it’s also mildew resistant and it blocks most stains; so it’s really just a good product all the way around and no matter what is on your walls now – whether you’re starting with raw drywall or you’ve got layers of paint on there from years that have gone by, putting on a good product like KILZ premium is going to give you a fresh start and you’ll be able to get to the coloring coat, sort of, as quickly as possible after that.
If you want more information, you can go to their website. It’s at KILZ.com.
888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones. Call us right now if you’ve got a home improvement question, you’ve got a directing dilemma, we’re here to help you out.
LESLIE: Paul in Connecticut is dealing with a situation with his wood deck. What’s going on, Paul. Tell us about the problem.
PAUL: Hey, thank you so much for talking to me. I love your show. I get to hear a lot of good information from you.
TOM: Well, thank you.
PAUL: I have a deck and the nails are coming [out of] (ph) the deck and I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t maintained the deck properly but every so often I’ll catch my foot on it and I’ll have to hammer it down. It’s happening quite a lot. Somebody suggested that I take out the nails and put screws (beeping sound), which seemed like an awful lot of work and I thought maybe there’d be an easier solution.
TOM: Well, if you just press the nails down or hammer the nails back down in the same hole, they’re going to push back up again. As wood expands and contracts and based on the type of nails that was used originally, if they’re starting to loosen up and sort of press out of the board, that’s going to be something that repeats itself; so you really have two options. You can either pull the nail out, replace it with a screw; or you can hit a second nail in and slightly overlap the heads of the first one with the second one.
LESLIE: So it’ll hold that first one.
PAUL: Oh, OK.
TOM: That will hold it down. Right, exactly.
PAUL: Yep, that’s a better option than just hammering it back in then. That makes sense.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, because if you hammer it back in, it’s just going to pop back up again.
PAUL: Is there anything I should be doing to treat the deck, to prevent it?
LESLIE: Well, I mean there’s nothing that you can do that’s going to prevent the movement besides, you know, replacing the nails with screws – which won’t back out. But you should be doing pretty much annual maintenance to your deck. You want to make sure, first of all, that nothing is rotted; especially in the structural areas – all of the supports and the building beneath the decking itself – just to make sure everything is safe and, you know, for your family to use during the summer months. Then you want to make sure you give it a good cleaning at the beginning of the season; you know, with a pressure washer. Don’t be too aggressive with it. Kind of go lightly onto the wood surface.
Then you want to assess what’s going on with the finish of the wood. If it seems like its really dry or the stain is, you know, not looking as good as it used to, you can address those situations by either stripping what’s on there, adding a solid-color stain. It really depends on what the deck looks like and what you want it to look like.
PAUL: Well, thank you very much. That answers my questions.
TOM: Paul, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Debbie in North Dakota is having a window situation. What’s going on at your money pit?
DEBBIE: Well, I was just wondering what to do with a problem I have here with water. Every time it rains really hard, water comes down into the – I have an egress window, it is, and water comes in there and then leaks in my window.
TOM: So when you say egress window, where is this? Is this in the basement?
DEBBIE: Right, right.
TOM: OK. And what kind of window is it, stylistically? Is it a slider? Is it a double-hung?
DEBBIE: No, it cranks out.
TOM: It cranks out. So it’s like an awning window.
TOM: OK. Alright, well, and the leakage is occurring in heavy rain or all the time, Debbie?
DEBBIE: Well, it’s in real heavy rain.
TOM: Mm-hmm. And what have you tried to do to fix it? Have you done any caulking? Have you tried replacing flashing? Anything of that nature?
DEBBIE: OK, we caulked there with seems to be – and we’ve covered the window well but it’s like it’s coming in between the window well and the side of the house or something.
TOM: So is this a leaky window problem or is this a drainage problem? It almost sounds to me like this is a problem with drainage.
DEBBIE: I think maybe it could possibly be drainage. I mean so …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, look, here’s what I want you to do. First of all, go out on a dry day and get a hose and hold the water – hold the hose up on the siding right above this and let it run around the window and see if you could force it to leak. Once we know that the window is not leaking, which I suspect is exactly what you’re going to find, then let’s talk about the drainage condition.
Generally, the problems with drainage are caused by imperfections in the grading, which is the soil around the house. Usually, it’s too flat or it’s graded in or sloped into the house or – and probably more commonly, the gutter system. You may have gutters that are dumping water out too close to that area, to that corner, to that window. I’ve seen, in my experience, those window wells fill up like a fish tank.
TOM: (chuckling) You look at them from the other side and you see the water level like floating. And so I suspect that this is an issue with grading and drainage more so than an issue with a leaky window.
Debbie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’re going to talk to Lorraine in Missouri about an outdoor project dealing with a porch. What happened?
LORRAINE: It’s cracked. It was painted and it faces south and it cracks and I want to know what – if I can put that – something in that crack before it’s repainted.
LESLIE: Now this is a concrete porch?
LORRAINE: No, it’s wood and the wood is cracked.
TOM: Are the cracks between different floorboards?
LORRAINE: They’re on the top rail and on the floor, yes.
TOM: OK. Well, I mean this is a fairly common condition with wood. It’s always going to expand and contract and what we would recommend you do is sand down the paint and then fill those areas; I would use a good-quality wood putty. You know Elmer’s makes one that’s very flexible, comes in different size – you know quart size and down to like half-pint size cups. And it dries very quickly, it’s easy to sand and then you prime it. That’s very important. You want to make sure when you do a wood putty that you prime over that and repaint it and you’ll be in good shape.
LORRAINE: OK, thank you much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if your bathroom fan is running but doesn’t seem to be really doing its job because your mirror stays foggy no matter what, well there might be a better solution. We’re going to help you figure that one out, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:32.5]
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 if you’re enjoying your money pit this summer season by taking a staycation at home, we are going to give you all of those wonderful staycation solutions for the rest of the summer at MoneyPit.com. Now, all of these great tips are brought to you by our friends over at Fiberon and at WORX and we don’t want you to burn through a bunch of cash so you have these expensive vacations that you just can’t afford to take. So why not just take a fantastic getaway in your own backyard. It’s easy and with a few inexpensive ideas, you can have a beautifully manicured lawn; lush landscaping; even a killer deck or patio. That’s all you need for a really fantastic time at your own house. So we’ve got all of those tips and ideas at MoneyPit.com/Staycation and get to your enjoying your own house already.
TOM: And while you’re there, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question – we’ll help you with that, too – just like Amy did from Iowa, who says: “I’ve been listening to your show and I’m beginning to realize how important that bathroom ventilation fan is that we seem to rarely use. We’ve got one but I guess it doesn’t work because no matter how long we run it, it never seems to defog the bathroom any faster than simply opening the door. What’s a good way to test our bathroom fan to make sure it is indeed working as it should?”
Well, I think we’ve already established, Amy, that it’s not working as it should and the reason it’s probably not working as it should is because it may not be vented properly, it could be clogged, it could be spinning but not actually pulling the amount of air out. It might be too small and it may not be running for a long enough period of time. Now, typically, this is where most people make the mistake – when you have a bath vent fan, you need to run it for about 10 to 15 minutes after you get out of the bath. If you don’t do that, it’s just not going to work. And there’s a timer that you can install that will do this. There’s also an occupancy sensor that you can put on your bath fan switch so it’ll automatically come on when somebody walks in there and then stay on even when someone leaves for, like I said, a 10 to 15-minute period.
LESLIE: Should you be cleaning the actual exhaust duct that goes from the unit to the exterior?
TOM: I don’t think you have to clean the exhaust ducts. You know, I know you get a bit of dust at the register but the real reason these fans don’t work is because they’re not ducted properly. They have to go all the way outside to the vent where it goes through the exterior wall. If it’s crushed – you know, sometimes the duct part of it itself is up in the attic; you put boxes on it; it gets knocked out of the vent where it goes through the wall; anything like that could basically make it completely ineffective. That, plus not running it long enough, the main reasons that bathroom ventilation fans just don’t work.
LESLIE: Alright, Amy, I hope that helps and hopefully you’ll have a less foggy shower the next time you jump on in there.
Now we’ve got one from Daniel in Connecticut who writes: “We moved into a newly-built home about 11 months ago. Within a couple of months, cracks showed up in the basement floor. What do we do about it?”
TOM: Very, very typical problem. When you put concrete in, there’s always going to be a fair amount of shrinkage. Now, you notice that when you do a sidewalk or a driveway, they always put expansion points into the slab? In a basement, you almost never see that and, as a result, the concrete shrinks and creates its own expansion points by the way of cracks. Because the concrete floors and basements don’t hold any weight besides their own, it’s really not a structural issue. If the crack is only hairline, if it doesn’t open up to the point where you can kind of catch a heel on it or something like that, it’s not even a safety issue; so I would say nothing about hairline cracks requires any concern whatsoever.
I would, however, tell you that you’d be better off painting that floor. I would use a two-part epoxy paint so that you seal in those cracks. Makes the surface a lot easier to clean as well and there are a lot of good choices out there in the epoxy paint category.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. QUIKRETE makes one. Behr makes one. Who else? Rust-Oleum makes one.
TOM: EPOXYShield, yes.
LESLIE: Yeah, they’re all fantastic. I mean really pick a brand that you’re comfortable with. The box will give you all the directions. Some of them you can custom tint, some have those fun flakes. So go for it. You’ll have a beautiful basement and no worries about those cracks.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com; chock-a-block full of all the tips and advice that you need to stay cool, comfortable and have a great-looking house all summer long.
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 2009 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.)