This hour, Tom and Leslie share dining room décor tips to help you create that 4-star restaurant look on a “take out” budget. Plus, This Old House plumbing expert Richard Trethewey offers tips on safe drinking water. Learn how to make sure your house doesn’t have lead paint, or what to do about lead paint if you have it. And get the step by step on how to clean gutters the safe way. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions on how to get rid of ants, installing a weather vane, fixing leaky basement walls crack, fixing a scratched stainless sink, refinishing a hardwood floor, building a retaining wall, repairing outdoor stucco, converting to a propane boiler, fixing a leaking flat roof, avoiding carpenter bees and removing excess grout.
TRANSCRIPT FOR AUGUST 17, 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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Don’t pick up the hammer; don’t pick up the saw until you pick up the phone and call us because we can help. No, we’re not going to come to your house and do that because, well, with Leslie it would break her manicure.
LESLIE: (chuckles) Which is never in perfect condition.
TOM: But seriously, we’ll give you everything that you need to know to get the project done the easy way.
Coming up this hour, we’ve got a great show planned for you. Would you rather entertain at home than spend money on a fancy restaurant meal? Well, of course you might. In this economy, we’re not surprised at all. We’re going to have some dining room décor tips to help you create that four-star restaurant look on, let’s just say, a take-out budget, in just a bit.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And speaking of fancy restaurants, when you serve your guests that you’ve got over for dinner, will be offering both bottled and tap water? Probably not.
TOM: (overlapping voices) I would expect so. (laughs)
LESLIE: Well, Tom, when you come over, that’s what you’re going to get. But everybody else, sorry. So we’ve got somebody who feels that’s OK, too. We’re going to have This Old House plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey. He’s going to be joining us with some water treatment tips a little bit later in the show.
TOM: And to help you out with that décor project, call us for a chance to win a $50 prize pack of Earth Plastic paint cups and roller trays. They are 100-percent biodegradable, made of recycled plastic and a great way to go green with your next painting project. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get right to those phones. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Dan in Florida, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
DAN: I want to put a cupola – a roof on a cupola on my shed and I want to put a weather vane in the center of it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
DAN: And I want to know how to set that up so that the weather vane will be adequately supported and not create a vibration through the building.
TOM: Well, how big is the shed?
DAN: Ten by sixteen.
TOM: Ten by – that should be plenty stable enough. You know, I put a cupola on our kitchen roof and it was a pretty easy project. We used one that was premade. You can order these online; you can buy one from a craftsman. And it was already pre-notched-out. We had to adjust the angle of the notch for the angle of the pitch of the roof. What we opted to do was, basically, put it on top of the solid roof and we left some space under it so water that got into the cupola could basically run through and out under the bottom of it. So it really wasn’t sort of part of the structure of the roof. It really was mounted on top of that. And then over above that, we mounted the weather vane. It never added any type of significant weight or wind pressure; has never been an issue. There’s never been any vibration. So I think with a 10x16 building, you ought to have plenty of stability to install that.
DAN: How did you mount the weather vane on the top?
TOM: There were brackets that mounted it right to the top of the cupola itself. It actually went down through the middle of the cupola roof and then there were a couple of brackets that supported it right in place. It was all sort of one kind of kit unit.
LESLIE: You know what, Dan? If you are going to build it yourself, there’s actually a website that sells all sorts of mounting hardware for weather vanes and it’s GIDesigns.Net. They’ve got everything for all situations.
DAN: Alright, that’s what I was looking for. I thought that I was on the right track and just wanted to back it up a little bit.
TOM: Alright, Dan. We’re happy to do that for you. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Debbie in Rhode Island needs some help keeping unwanted visitors out of a rental property and we’re not talking people here; we’re talking ants. Welcome, Debbie.
DEBBIE: Hi, we’re just curious. We’re big, huge fans of While You Were Out …
DEBBIE: … and we have – we’re renting a basement apartment and we’re getting some huge black ants in our house. We’ve had a lot of rain lately and we are spraying like the foundation [around side] (ph) but we’re not sure what else we could be doing to get rid of the ants.
TOM: There’s a product called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r – that works really well for ants.
DEBBIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
TOM: It’s something that has to be professionally applied. It’s definitely it’s not a do-it-yourself product. But the way it works is it’s an undetectable bait, so the ants don’t actually know that they’re going through this stuff. They get it on their bodies, they take it back to the nest and they pass it from insect to insect and it completely wipes out the nest. It’s a much more effective way of controlling both ants and termites – there’s an application for termites as well – than any of the over-counter products which, typically, people end up over-spraying, over-applying and that could be very unsafe. So I would call a pest control operator, a pest control company and have them apply Termidor to take care of that carpenter ant problem once and for all because they can do quite a bit of wood damage and they could cause structural problems in the future.
DEBBIE: [OK, thank you.] (ph)
TOM: Debbie, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you might still be feeling the heat of summer but, believe it or not, fall is just weeks away. So get ahead of your major to-do list by giving us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, instead of spending 100 bucks on dinner, why not spend it on a redecorating project for your dining room so you feel like you’re dining out? We’re going to teach you how to do just that, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:05:44.8]
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you should give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and you could win a $50 prize package from American Trade Products. Now this is a green product. It really is nice. It’s a 100-percent biodegradable and recyclable paint tray and all the accessories you need and it’s made with a breakthrough material called Earth Plastic, which is completely made from recycled water bottles; which we all know all of you are out there drinking right now. So one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win this very earth-friendly prize and, I might say, a good prize to do a good home improvement project right now this weekend. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, according to a survey by KILZ, 56 percent of people would rather dine in with friends than eat out at a restaurant. You know, a restaurant’s décor is one of its key draws but for less than 100 bucks, you can create the very same ambience in your own dining room. Here’s where to begin.
First, you want to replace the overhead lights with lamps and candles to create that flattened glow and cast some dramatic shadows. You know, drama is good in a dining room. You also want to choose a neutral, inviting wall color like warm gray or buttery tan as a backdrop and then complete your look with bright red, orange or pink accents to stimulate the dinner-party conversation.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, that really is a nice color combination and when it comes time to choose your paint, make sure you choose low-VOC, water-based products like KILZ Casual Colors paint and zero-VOC – that’s volatile organic compounds. And you want to look for zero-VOC products like KILZ Clean Start primer because priming is a very important step that you do not want to skip; I promise you, you will be very sad if you do. Now these are all low-odor products and these are going to make sure that the only thing your guests smell at your house is the dinner.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Robert in Utah needs some help in the basement. What’s going on? Tell us about the problem.
ROBERT: Well, in our house we have an unfinished room with bare cement walls, going down to the bare cement floor, and there’s a crack in the wall and whenever the sprinklers are on too long or it rains outside, the water comes down and leaks into the basement through a visible crack there. It’s not a very big leak but it could be a problem in the future, so my question is I know that I can dig down the outside of the wall and apply some sort of a sealant to correct the leak from the outside but that implies a lot of digging. I was wondering if there’s some sort of a product or something that I could use on the inside to seal that crack and keep from having to do all that digging.
TOM: Well, sure. I mean, you certainly could use a good quality caulk on that crack; like a white silicone adhesive caulk or something of that nature. The issue here is probably the drainage outside that wall.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean and you even mentioned, Robert, that it occurs if your sprinklers are on too long or if you get a rain.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So I think you ought to take a look at the grading and the drainage at the outside foundation perimeter. Make sure that the soil is sloping away from the wall and, with respect to the rain, make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clean and that if you have a spout discharging anywhere near there, that you extend it out least four feet.
ROBERT: But I could use just a regular silicone caulk on the inside and that would hold?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, absolutely. There’s no reason you can’t. It’s nothing special; just a masonry block wall. And basically, what water is doing is simply finding the path of least resistance. So you can seal that and you could repaint the wall and you’ll be good to go.
ROBERT: OK, well, thank you very much. Appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Elaine in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
ELAINE: Hi. Hi, Tom and Leslie. I do have a question. I do enjoy your show first and I …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Thank you.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well, thank you.
ELAINE: We got a new countertop in our kitchen about six months ago with a nice, new, stainless steel sink …
ELAINE: … and about two months ago, I was washing a clock jar in the sink and I scratched the bottom of the sink.
ELAINE: And I am just so distressed over this. It had a very nice, shiny finish and the scratches are in a – are circular and the grain runs lengthwise from front to back.
ELAINE: So is there anything that will take those scratches out?
LESLIE: Well, actually, there is and it’s a quite simple do-it-yourself project. You just need a couple of things. If you go to the home center, 3M makes these Scotch-Brite pads and you want to start with the coarser one, which is I think the grey color and also pick up the fine one, which is like a maroon or a purple color. And with the grey one, you want to start the coarser one in the same direction as the grain of your sink that you see and you want to sand over your scratches in the direction of the grain until you start to make some headway with that. And then you want to finish it off with the finer pad and that really does a great job of getting out all of the scratches from any stainless.
ELAINE: Oh, that’s fabulous. Thank you ever so much.
TOM: Well, you’re welcome. Thanks so much for listening to us in Dallas, Texas on WBAP.
ELAINE: WBAP. I certainly do and I certainly enjoy your show. Thank you ever so much.
LESLIE: Mary calling from Long Island, New York has a question about flooring. What can we do for you today?
MARY: My question is our rug is like 20 years old and it’s reached a point where it has to be pulled up. It’s the living room, dining room, stairs and hall.
MARY: So – and we had – this is only the second time we had the wall-to-wall; even though we’re here 44 years. Now we are thinking that why not – if the floors look good after the rug gets ripped out, how would I treat it? What would I do to give it a nice finish?
TOM: I bet you if you’ve been there 45 years that you probably have hardwood floors under that, correct?
MARY: (overlapping voices) Absolutely.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And it’s probably in great condition.
TOM: That’s right, because carpets make a really good dropcloth. So I think it’s a perfect time – and frankly, very trendy – for you to have hardwood floors right now, Mary. So here’s what you’d do.
You’d pull up the carpet. You’d pull up what’s called the tackless, which is that strip that goes along the walls that it’s attached to.
TOM: You’re going to have to do, you know, a bit of cleaning up. You’re going to have some holes there that’ll need to be fixed. You’re going to want to have a contractor come in and sand the floors. Don’t do it yourself but sand the floors.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, it’s a big job.
TOM: It’s a big job.
TOM: Sand the floors and then polyurethane it and then if you want a little carpet just do some throw rugs – make sure you get an anti-skid mat to go under them – and the place will look beautiful.
MARY: Sounds good. You know this was a model house when I bought it and they had paper – thick papers – all over the floor so the traffic wouldn’t damage the floors. So I know they’re in excellent condition.
TOM: Well, this sounds like the right thing to do. Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rich in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RICH: Well, we’ve acquired some property that is a lakefront property and …
RICH: Yeah, we’re excited about it. It has not been maintained well over the last eight or ten years and there’s quite a bit of soil erosion on the shore.
RICH: And what we’re looking for is we’re going to build some kind of a sea wall. We’re thinking of doing it ourselves but I’m not sure what the best kind of wood is. I’ve done a little bit of research and I know there’s the treated woods and then there’s the woods that are – the plastic, reconstructive plastics and they’ve got covered woods and cedar and I just – economically, we need to go fairly cheap but we also want something that’s going to last.
TOM: Well, pressure-treated wood would sort of be the wood of choice for this type of retaining wall. There are different types of pressure-treated lumber that are used in this sort of assembly. What you’re talking about is making what’s called a bulkhead and there’s actually sort of a very special mill for this that’s – let me think – it’s about 2x8 or 3x8. It’s a very thick, heavy board and it’s tongue-and-groove so that after the structure is assembled, these go side by side. They lock together and that’s what actually serves as the retaining wall that separates the soil from the water. So I think pressure-treated would be the way to go because there’s an awful lot of labor associated with this project and you want to choose a good-quality material so you don’t have to repeat it any time in the near future.
And speaking of the labor, I will also warn you, Rich, that there’s a lot of specialized equipment that is typically used in constructing these walls in order to get the pilings and the structural parts of this down as deep as they possibly can be so that the wall does not move. So I’m not sure that this is a do-it-yourself project and you may want to think about talking to a pro before you dig right in if you want it to last.
RICH: OK, well I do have a brother-in-law with an excavating company; so that could come in handy.
TOM: Well, you know, brothers-in-law are always good for something like that, right?
LESLIE: (chuckles) And you know what, Rich? You might want to also just check with your town and the Department of Environmental Protection because even though there is an existing wall, bulkhead there, because you have to change it and change the materials, there might be some forms or some changes that have happened and you don’t want to get in trouble on the backside without doing your homework before you jump into the project. So just make sure you check with all of the proper authorities to make sure that you don’t need any sort of paperwork to get this work done.
RICH: Great. Thank you much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Susan in Tennessee needs help with a stucco project. What can we do for you?
SUSAN: Yes, Leslie.
SUSAN: I have a 1920s Tudor cottage – brick and stucco – and we are (chuckles) scraping and trying to figure out what to use to patch and paint this stucco.
TOM: What kind of condition is the stucco in right now? Is it structurally intact, Susan?
SUSAN: Most of it is. It actually was built in 1920s, so it has some bits out.
TOM: (overlapping voices) That’s a great year.
SUSAN: But it’s in pretty good shape. It’s just that the old paint is kind of chipped up and I thought there must be something better.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Well, if the stucco is [in structural] (ph) shape – and 1920, I would imagine it still is because that was a great year for this type of construction – what I would do is I would try to abrade off as much of the old paint as possible, wire-brush it; doing it the right way. There’s no easy way to do this. You know, it’s a lot of hard work but you don’t want to leave any loose paint on because you can’t put good paint over bad paint; it’s just going to peel.
What I would do is, after I got it as clean as possible, I would assess the condition of the structure. If there are any fine cracks, you want to caulk those with a paintable caulk and then I would prime the entire surface. I would take the time to prime it because whatever you have in terms of old paint, it’s going to neutralize that; it’s going to give you a good adhesion of the top color coat. So I would prime it and then I would use a good house paint over that.
Now if you do this right, and because it’s stucco and it’s not as organic as wood, either (ph) paint job can last you a good ten years.
SUSAN: Well, it only looks to have about three different colors under it. (chuckles) So it’s lasted a pretty good while.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, now you’re going to have a very consistent look. Yeah, right.
SUSAN: So we will approach it that way. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Alright, Susan. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to New York to chat with Dan about a boiler. What can we do for you today?
DAN: Hi. How are you?
LESLIE: Good, and you?
DAN: Well, not too good. I need a new boiler.
DAN: And right now I have oil heat but I have a propane hot water heater.
DAN: I was thinking that since I’m going to change over anyhow, should I go totally to propane? And I was wondering what your opinion might be, you know, with the cost of oil; whether I should go completely to propane or is there some site I can go to, to compare prices with …
TOM: Is natural gas not an option for you, Dan?
DAN: No, it’s not in the area. No.
TOM: You’re sure about that? Nothing’s changed?
DAN: Yeah, I called the local gas company and they said there are no lines in that area.
TOM: OK. Alright. Well, you know, I think that oil and propane are going to be comparatively priced. The good news about the fact that you need a boiler is that they’ve never been more efficient and you’ll be able to purchase one now that’s like super-efficient and use a lot less oil. But I’m not sure that it would be a good idea to put all of your apples in the propane basket, if you have an option.
DAN: OK. Alright. Well, I appreciate your opinion.
TOM: Alright, Dan. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, up next, forget about bottled water. We are going to tell you how to get great-tasting and clean water right from your tap. What a novel and low-cost idea, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:27.6]
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: If you miss something on the show, remember, you can always visit MoneyPit.com. We’ve got a year’s worth of past shows there and the transcripts. If you forgot to jot down a product and you’re driving along, can’t remember what we said, head on over to MoneyPit.com. It is all there, easily searchable, at your convenience.
Let’s get back to those phones. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to North Carolina where Linda has a log cabin. What can we do for you?
LINDA: Yes. We had built a log cabin about two years ago here in North Carolina – and it’s not up in the mountains area. But the 4x6 posts that are used to make the stairway going up to the second floor have begun to have big cracks in them and I wondered what we should do to correct that or stop it from cracking or fill it in or what.
TOM: Well, you know Linda, there’s a technical term for those cracks. It’s called charm.
LINDA: Oh, yes. Well, it has charm, alright. (chuckles)
TOM: (overlapping voices) When it comes to log cabins, those logs are designed to check, they’re designed to crack and that should not affect, significantly, the strength that they provide you as support posts.
LINDA: Right. I don’t think that.
TOM: You’re not going to stop them from splitting. You’re not going to be able to glue them back together. That’s a natural process of the drying out of the log.
LINDA: I see.
TOM: So I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
LINDA: OK. And don’t worry about it?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Uh-uh, it’s not structural.
TOM: (overlapping voices) That’s right.
LINDA: OK, yes. Oh, I thought maybe it’d be better – it just doesn’t look very pretty but I thought maybe I could fill it with something.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, but some people – you know, when you’re going to have a wood house, Linda, you want to look at some of those natural features in the wood and the cracks and the checks and the knots and all of that, that’s all part of the process.
LESLIE: And anything that you could add in, Linda, would just dry out and split.
LINDA: Yeah, right. OK, well thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, I love people that want to have like wood houses and wood furniture and wood tables and wood paneling – all natural raw wood – but then they complain about the knots, the cracks.
TOM: You know, if you’re going to have that kind of natural material, you’re going to have those types of imperfections. That’s the way Mother Nature made it; that’s the way it’s going to be presented.
LESLIE: And I wouldn’t call them imperfections. I feel like a lot of that adds to the beauty and the depth of the piece.
TOM: And the charm.
LESLIE: So enjoy it, seek it out. It’s what makes it unusual and a truly unique, individual piece.
TOM: Good point.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re a slave to bottled water, it might be time to consider switching to the tap and going with a water filter.
TOM: You know, many of you are concerned with the quality and taste of your tap water, so we turned to the experts for help. We want to welcome Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, and Richard Trethewey, This Old House’s plumbing expert.
Kevin, Richard, people love their bottled water but municipal water actually is very safe, isn’t it?
KEVIN: You got that right. Municipal water utilities provide endless, safe, drinking water to homes across the U.S. but many homeowners receive their water from a residential well and others have concerns about the taste or the appearance of their water. That’s where a residential water filtration system comes in.
RICHARD: Well, your first decision is do you want a whole-house filter or a just a point-of-use filter. The whole-house filters are sediment filters. They have spun cartridges that are installed right near the water main. Now a sediment filter not only protects you but it also protects the appliances like water heaters and dishwashers and even clothes washers.
KEVIN: Alright, so if I use a whole-house filter or these sediment filters, as you call them, will they also affect taste and color and other impurities?
RICHARD: Usually not and you really wouldn’t want them to. Why filter the water that you want to use to water the lawn or fill the toilet? To affect water taste or color, a point-of-use carbon filter or reverse osmosis system is really the right choice.
KEVIN: Right. And to see a video of several different types of water filtration systems, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
Now Richard, with the point-of-use systems, how frequently do you have to change the filters?
RICHARD: Well, it’s funny. It’s a direct relation to how dirty the water is. If it’s doing its job, you might have to change it every month or so. You know, why have a filter that doesn’t take anything out?
TOM: You know, in the years I spent as a home inspector, I’d find these filters that looked like they’d been on a faucet for years and I’m thinking they’re doing the opposite; they’re probably poisoning the water, not cleaning it.
KEVIN: (overlapping voices) That’s right. That’s right, that’s right. And if you have a filter that clogs regularly, people say, “I don’t like that filter. Give me one that stays in forever.” But it’s actually just doing its job.
TOM: And sometimes you get a lot of complaints about reduced water flow with those as well.
KEVIN: Yeah, a little bit. As it’s doing its job, it can reduce the amount of water that comes through.
TOM: So, for the most part, I think we can rely on the quality of the municipal water that’s available?
KEVIN: Absolutely. It’s something we all take for granted.
TOM: Fantastic. Richard, Kevin, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
RICHARD: Thanks, Tom.
KEVIN: Always good to be here.
LESLIE: Hey, well being a New Yorker, you know we’ve got the best tap water; so I am fully a fan of tap water and have been for years. So jump on that bandwagon and start saving some money, folks. If you want to check out the different types of water filtration systems in action, visit ThisOldHouse.com; tons of videos there, you can see how everything works.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot – more saving, more doing.
Up next, older houses are great. I know, I’ve got one. They’re built to last. But if your home was built before 1978, there is one hazard you need to be aware of. We’ll tell you exactly what that is, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:24:22.6]
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: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a chance to win a $50 prize package from American Trade Products. We’ve got 100-percent biodegradable and recyclable paint trays and accessories made with a breakthrough material called Earth Plastic. It’s made from recycled water bottles and one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win that package of painting supplies. Again, the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, pick up the phone and give us a call; especially if painting is on your to-do list and especially if your house was built before 1978. If it is, there’s a pretty good chance that the paint within your home possibly contains lead. Now, undisturbed lead paint is harmless but if you’re doing painting projects and you’re starting to sand things, you know the dust or even paint chips created during your paint prep and any other remodeling projects that you might be working on can pose some health hazards, especially to young children. So any time you’re prepping a surface that might contain lead paint, the debris and the dust created must be contained and thoroughly cleaned up and whoever is doing the work must have protection to prevent them from breathing in any of that lead dust.
Now, if you need to find out if your home has lead paint, you can have it professionally inspected and a lead inspector is going to be able to give you results immediately on the spot just by checking things out.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Pick up the phone right now and give us a call with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Richard in Illinois has a question about roofing. What can we do for you today?
RICHARD: Yes, ma’am. I’ve got a home that we just moved into in April and the previous owner had called – it’s a flat roof …
RICHARD: … and there are only about five of these flat roofs in town. The previous owner called it a rubber membrane roof.
RICHARD: And it’s got some kind of a coating over the top of it. It sorta-kinda looks like the stuff that you would reseal a driveway with. And before I would just get something like that and put – you know, like a tar driveway – before I did something like that, I wanted to kind of find out about it but none of the home improvement stores around here could really tell me anything about it. So …
TOM: Well, because it’s more of a commercial product than a residential product. Do you have a leak with it right now or are you just trying to make sure you understand how to take care of it, Rich?
RICHARD: I have no leak right now. Everything is wonderful in it.
TOM: That’s a good thing.
RICHARD: I just want to find out beforehand because he said you should do it every year.
TOM: Well, maybe; maybe not. Now, if it’s a built-up roof – a built-up tar and gravel roof, it’s made up of multiple layers of tar and tar paper with a surface that’s usually gravel; that’s like your standard type of flat-roof installation – you know with that, you really don’t have to seal it every year unless it develops a leak. If it’s a membrane roof – like a rubber membrane – then you almost have to do no maintenance to it, again, unless it develops a leak; which is very, very unusual. So I can’t figure out what exactly the guy is doing every year. If it doesn’t have any kind of a gravel surface, sometimes the flat roofs are painted with something called fibrous aluminum which puts a reflective coating on there and helps reflect some of the UV from the sun and that makes it last a little bit longer. But I would not panic over this unless I’m having a leak.
Is this a roof that you can kind of get up on and take a look at?
RICHARD: Oh, very easily. Yes.
RICHARD: The roof itself, color-wise, is black.
TOM: It’s black, yeah.
TOM: So there’s no cover. And does it look like a rubber membrane?
RICHARD: You can see these squares; these 4x8 squares (inaudible at 0:28:29.6).
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. Well, you know it sounds like a good roof. I don’t think there’s anything you need to do to it. I don’t know what the guy was selling you every year in terms of maintenance but the flat roof is not leaking; I would just leave well enough alone.
RICHARD: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
TOM and LESLIE: Exactly. (Tom chuckles)
RICHARD: (chuckles) OK, thank you very much.
TOM: Alright, Rich. Enjoy it. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dan in New York has some unwanted visitors around the property. Tell us about what’s going on.
DAN: Well, I’ve been living in a house for 19 years and in the 20th year we had visitors. We had carpenter bees all around the house. I think they made the holes …
DAN: … and it’s all cedar on the outside and I’ve got maybe 100 or 200 holes all over the house.
DAN: I called an exterminator and he said that he was going to do something about the holes; put something in there, which I think he did.
DAN: And I think it was just a chemical, though, and it didn’t work because they’re back again.
TOM: And when did he do this? Last season?
DAN: Yeah, I guess last season. And the worst part of it is that the woodpeckers are pecking away at my house. I mean it’s just incredible.
DAN: We can’t live here with these – I guess they’re going after larvae in the holes.
TOM: Right, exactly. Because they know that the bees are in the holes. So you need to do two things. First of all, you need to have the holes treated again. Secondly, you need to have them repaired so that there are no longer holes there.
TOM: And fortunately, those carpenter bees tend to be very strategic.
LESLIE: They’re feeding mechanism happens to be a 3/8-inch wood plug size.
DAN: OK, thank you.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Alright, now it’s time to help Fran with a grouting question. What can we do for you?
FRAN: Yes, I just bought this house and it’s got some ceramic tile in it and apparently whoever put it down didn’t know what they were doing …
FRAN: … because it’s got either the cement they put it down with or the grout all over the top of the tile. I need to know how to get that off.
TOM: Well …
LESLIE: Is it like a haze or is it thick chunks of grout?
FRAN: There are thick chunks.
TOM: On top of the tile or in the grout lines itself?
FRAN: On top of the tile.
TOM: Oh, that’s a problem. If that grout has dried in place like that, it’s very, very difficult to get it off. If it’s in the grout lines, you could always use a grout saw and take it off but if it was done improperly and it’s stuck to the surface, that means they didn’t wash the grout off enough when they were doing this and it’s very, very difficult to get that off – if not impossible.
FRAN: Oh. Well then I basically need to take the tile up and start over?
TOM: Yeah, well that might be the best solution because it’s – you know, you could try to get more aggressive with trying to remove it – by using an abrasive stone or something like that – but chances are you’re going to damage the surface of the tile.
LESLIE: Damage the tile itself.
TOM: Yeah. How big of a surface are we talking about?
FRAN: Well, it’s a very small room but it’s on like probably seven or eight tiles.
TOM: Yeah. Well, why don’t you just break out those seven or eight tiles? Can you get some more tiles of that color?
FRAN: I don’t know. I really haven’t looked. I just …
TOM: Well, that would be the first thing to try, Fran. See if you can find replacement tiles and this way you can only break out the ones that are causing the problems.
FRAN: Yeah. Alrighty, thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And again, I would consider just replacing those few tiles.
LESLIE: Yeah, I mean that’s a tough project. You’re never going to get that off. I mean there are some chemicals that you can use but mostly those are for just removing the haze, not chunks.
TOM: Good point.
Up next, it’s almost time to think about that dreaded annual chore. Leslie, we talk of gutter cleaning.
TOM: But you probably should be doing it more than once a year. (Leslie chuckles) Well, if that’s all you can manage, we don’t judge. We will tell you the quick and easy way to get that project done, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:21.5]
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.
TOM: Pick up the phone and call us 24/7 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to MoneyPit.com, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and send us your e-mail question just like Amy did from Ames, Iowa.
LESLIE: That’s right and Amy writes: “We have gutters that are growing trees.” That’s excellent.
TOM: Now, this is your first clue, Amy, that it’s time to clean those gutters: when the trees sprout, it’s time.
LESLIE: (chuckling) It’s amazing. I’ve seen that happen at a neighbor’s house – who will remain nameless – and it’s like a stalk with branches. It’s hysterical. (Tom chuckles) Alright, so Amy writes: “Our house has three large maples around it and the last owner put gutter netting over the gutters. Unfortunately, it’s just wide enough so that it allows those whirlybird helicopter seeds to lodge themselves into the netting and then the gutters are clogging around the corners and we’re starting to get a little moisture in the basement, too. I’m a complete newbie and have never even cleaned a gutter before. So my question is how do I thoroughly clean the gutters with the netting on top and get rid of all of those whirlybirds?
TOM: The first thing you need to do is get rid of that netting. It’s like the worst gutter protection you can have because …
LESLIE: It’s like a leaf masher.
TOM: Yeah. Basically, it lets all of the finer things get into it and then they sort of cake across the bottom of the gutter and they sort of get like dry, day-old oatmeal and they totally block up the gutters. So I’d rather have no gutter protection than that netting.
What you want to do is if you want to clean the gutters, get rid of the netting; get a scoop – you can actually make one out of like a milk jug; get up there on a ladder, scoop all that debris out; use the hose, wash out all of the downspouts, make sure everything is clean and free-flowing and then, when it comes time to – some sort of a gutter protection device, you’ve got some options. A gutter cover is really the best way to go. There are a couple of different types.
There are like the gutter helmets out there. These are sort of covers that go over the gutter; they let the leaves wash over the top but the water falls in it. There are also mesh systems and this is not like the netting; very, very finely engineered mesh that doesn’t let the little whirlybird helicopters, as you put it, get through. There are gutters brushes out there where there’s a brush that fits inside the gutter that forces everything to sort of catch and rot away and keeps the gutter free-flowing. There are different types of leaf guards and then, of course, there is the non-gutter cover. There are some gutters where if you don’t have an issue with a basement, like a slab, you don’t need gutters; you can use something like a rain handler that catches the water and disperses it; not so much if you have the basement but if you have no basement, that’ll work.
So there are a lot of options there but you definitely need to get something to try to either not have to clean the gutters all the time or something that’s going to protect them and not let them get so clogged. But there are a lot of options out there. You really need to choose one and stick with it and keep those gutters clean and free-flowing.
LESLIE: Alright, next up, we’ve got one from Leslie in Texas who writes: “Since my sons have moved away, the handle in the tub/shower is too hard to pull to even begin the shower or the tub water flowing. What’s happened and how can I get this to easily pull out again?”
TOM: I guess she had some very strong boys that were living at that house.
TOM: You know, as those valves start to wear, they do get harder to operate. I would simply take some WD40 and squirt it in there; turn the valve on and off a bunch of times. I think you’d find that it’ll free up very, very easily.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? If you’re looking for an alternative to WD40, there’s a newer product on the market called Simply Soy which is made from all-natural products. And the can itself is sort of a lightweight aluminum that’s made from recycled materials, so it really is a smart alternative to WD40. Both work great. You know, see what works for you and that should get everything operating smoothly again.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We covered a lot of ground, Leslie.
LESLIE: We sure did.
TOM: If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. You can head on over to The Money Pit website at MoneyPit.com any time of the day or night or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-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.
[audio timestamp: 0:36:58.5]
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(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.)