Learn how to stop your yard from turning into a swamp after a heavy rain when Tom and Leslie interview landscape contractor Roger Cook from This Old House landscaping expert. Find out why attic insulation is the cheapest, fastest and easiest way to save energy. And find out why cheaper is NOT better when it comes to paint. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about hardwood flooring, eliminating sewer flies, exterminating ants, painting over leak stains, how to select roofing shingles, choosing a stand-by generator, repairing refrigerators, removing adhesive from a tile floor and eliminating home odors.
TRANSCRIPT FOR SEPTEMBER 14, 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. And it is officially fall fix-up season.
TOM: That’s right. Labor Day is gone; summer is becoming a distant memory.
LESLIE: Let’s put this humidity behind us.
TOM: That’s right, exactly. Let’s get rid of the humidity; let’s start cutting back on the air conditioning bills; and let’s get back to work fixing up our house, fixing up your home, fixing up your castle. What project do you want to work on? Remember, you are three months away from sealing the vault, being stuck inside that house all winter long. (Leslie chuckles) Surely there’s an improvement that will make that experience a lot more pleasant. We’ve got a couple of suggestions for you on today’s program.
Coming up, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to save energy immediately, I say put your kids to work. (Leslie chuckles) Leslie says attic insulation is a better way to go. We will have the tips in just a bit.
LESLIE: And we’re going to tell you why cheaper is not always better, especially when it comes to paint. We’re going to do the math and prove that paying more is actually going to save you money.
TOM: Plus, find out how to keep your yard from turning into a soupy, swampy mess after a heavy rain. We get a lot of calls about drainage problems. Coming up in just a bit, we’re going to welcome Roger Cook from This Old House and he’s going to have the step-by-step on how to build a dry well to make all that water go away.
LESLIE: And to get you started on your next do-it-yourself project, whatever it might be, we’re giving away a $50 gift card to Lowe’s.
TOM: So call us right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to the phones.
LESLIE: Paul in South Carolina needs some help with, it seems like, his entire home based on this note I got from our call screener. What’s up, Paul?
PAUL: I have noticed that in my second story, the hardwood floors are uneven. They seem to be higher right down the middle of the house.
TOM: What kind of home do you have, Paul? Said a two-story Colonial?
PAUL: That’s probably the best way to describe it.
TOM: OK, because down the middle of a typical two-story Colonial, you typically have a girder and a bearing surface where the floor joists sort of criss-cross.
TOM: And if the hardwood floor seems to be higher in the middle, it could be that the outside walls are settling. Or even more commonly, is that when the contractors put the floor joists and criss-cross them at the girder, they overhang them on the girder a little bit too long and, if you can imagine this, as the floor settles, they kind of scissor up and press up the floor in the middle of it. Do you see any evidence of active movement; like do you see wall cracking that is significant or anything of that nature?
PAUL: I have noticed that there is some cracking in the ceiling in the downstairs.
TOM: OK. Well, you know, it might be worth having the home looked at by a professional engineer or a professional home inspector to see if you can get a sense as to why this is happening. A little bit of cracking is OK but you’re now putting two and two together; you’re seeing movement underneath and movement above – and by the movement, I mean the hump in the floor and the cracking of the ceiling.
TOM: And so it’s possible something could be moving. There could be other things going on that a trained eye might be able to pick up.
PAUL: OK. And you think a home inspector would be the right way to go?
TOM: Yeah, a good-quality home inspector. I would go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors – and that’s at ASHI.org – and you can put in your zip code. You’ll find a list of home inspectors in your area that are certified by that organization. You know, call a few off of that list; see if you can find the right guy that way.
PAUL: That sounds great. Thank you for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Paul. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Time to talk to Nancy in Delaware about sewer flies. What’s going on?
NANCY: Oh, hi. Well, we have had sewer flies in the basement and they’re coming up into the kitchen and the bathroom. And this house is about 90 years old. And last summer we had them bad and we tried the bleach and the Pine Sol and we thought we had it licked. We even covered the drain in the basement.
LESLIE: And when you covered the drain in the basement, you mean with tape so you know that they were coming from that drain itself?
NANCY: No, we got a regular stopper put in.
NANCY: But now they’re back. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Well, Nancy, the reason why you end up with sewer flies is because they love organic debris. They like to eat it, they like to find it. That’s in all of the drains and anywhere in the home and that’s what they feed off of and then they come up into your house and you know that they’re sewer flies because when you crush them – not that you’re hurting them or you’re killing them; we’re trying to be friendly – but when you do squish them they turn to dust; you end up with this like powder-like residue. That’s how you identify them as the sewer flies.
LESLIE: And what you really need to do, Nancy, is find out exactly where they’re coming from. So what you can do is you can take some tape and put the tape over the drains that you suspect that they’re coming from and let it sit for, you know, a day or so and then pull it off and you know exactly where they’re coming from because you’ll see them on the back side of the tape. And then the reason that you’re not getting – you know, you’re not having success in getting rid of them is because you need to use one of these sort of biochemical products that are meant to get rid of that organic debris. The bleach isn’t going to do it. You need something that’s made to go into the drain and get rid of all of that debris that sits in there that they eat.
NANCY: Oh, OK. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Well, I know we’ve just put Labor Day behind us but get real folks; it’s three months til to the holidays so whoo-hoo. You’re going to have a lot of people knocking on your door shortly. So let us help you get all of those projects done to get your money pit in tiptop shape. We are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, buying cheap paint might seem like a bargain but it could end up costing you a lot more in the long run. We’ll explain why, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:06:34.4]
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.
Hey, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a great prize. You are going to have your chance to win a $50 Lowe’s gift card. Now you can use it towards a great investment in energy efficiency, being that we are going to be dealing with dropping temperatures very soon, and this is also going to help boost your curb appeal should you choose. You could get yourself a Benchmark door by Therma-Tru. It’s available exclusively at Lowe’s. They’re absolutely gorgeous. But you’ve got to be in it to win it so get your home improvement questions ready and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, you might be tempted to pick up bargain paint for your next big house-painting project but if you’re thinking about doing that, don’t. Cheap paint is never a bargain. Here’s why. You need to measure the true cost of painting your home by figuring out not only the cost of the paint but also the labor and, most importantly, how long it lasts. If you save a few hundred bucks by using a lower-quality and less-expensive paint, the paint job might have to be redone sooner. In fact, it absolutely will have to be redone sooner and the reason is because there’s not as much body to the paint. Paint is made with a product called titanium dioxide and cheaper paints just don’t have as much of it and they don’t last and they don’t cover.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now when it does come time to choose your paint, you want to look at some really great, durable options and one of them out there is Behr Premium Plus Ultra. Now, this is a great idea because it’s a paint that doubles as a primer; so you’ve got what you need in the paint itself to cover existing or even uncoated surfaces without the need and the steps required to apply a separate primer.
Now this is what I love about Behr. If you can’t decide on a color, they’ve got these little eight-ounce paint samples available. They can be tinted to any of the Behr Premium Plus colors and then you take home all the colors that you like – five, ten; you name it. It makes a world of difference when you can paint a 2x2 square on your wall and look at it in all types of lighting at different times of the day. Because a color that you might have loved initially on that little one-inch patch that you see in the book, you might not like when it’s bigger on the wall; so rather than saving – rather than wasting all the steps and wasting your money, get the samples. You will absolutely love it.
All of the Behr Premium Plus Ultra colors are available at The Home Depot. You can also go to Behr.com. They’ve got a lot of wonderful ideas there to sort of start the inspiration process. There’s a lot of really great tools available online like the virtual color center and that’s going to help you make all of your decorating decisions with confidence. So, now that we’re dealing with less humidity, get out there and start painting.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question, your decorating dilemma. We are here to help.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to help Bruce in Illinois close a door that’s giving him a hard time. Tell us about what’s going on at your money pit.
BRUCE: My problem relates to the corner of the house which has settled somewhat. The result is that the front door is hard to open and close and there’s a little crack in the wall.
TOM: If the door has shifted that much – now, is this a wood door that you could trim or is it a metal door?
BRUCE: It is a wood door.
TOM: OK. Well, I mean there’s two things you can do. You can either rehang the door or you could cut the door.
TOM: If I find that there’s significant movement, sometimes the easiest way to solve this is to pull the outside trim off the door; take a recirculating saw, reciprocating saw; cut the hardware – usually nails – that are going through the side of the door jamb into the stud itself – and then rehang the door. It’s not an easy project. It’s not something I recommend for a do-it-yourselfer but it’s something a carpenter could do in an hour or two and have that door working perfectly. Because it sounds like you’re fighting it and you adjust it a little bit but then it seems to swell up again or it gets stuck again. If it’s that bad, you might just want to rehang it.
BRUCE: Good. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bruce. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Irene in New Jersey is doing some power cleaning. What can we do for you today?
IRENE: Hi, I wanted to know what you thought about having a roof power washed. We’re going to be having the siding done and the contractor suggested we do the roof also and I guess I had never heard of that and don’t know if it’s really a good idea.
TOM: Well, what’s wrong with your roof that it needs to be washed?
IRENE: Well, it’s a light-colored roof and it’s got some black streaking.
TOM: Well …
LESLIE: So you’re seeing mold on it.
TOM: You don’t – it may not be mold; it’s probably moss. But what you should do is if you want to kind of clean up that area, you can use a mildicide or an algaecide and you could apply it to the roof and then you can gently brush it to try to get that clean. I don’t recommend you power wash the whole roof because you’re going to blast off a lot of the minerals that are on top of that roof that protect it from the sun. So you could actually shorten the life of your roof by being overaggressive with a pressure washer.
LESLIE: But you can spot treat the moss.
IRENE: Oh, OK.
TOM: Yeah, take a look in the home center. There’s a product called Jomax – J-o-m-a-x – that works real well to clean moss off of siding and roofs.
IRENE: Oh, OK. But what about – the house is OK, though? You think that’s a good idea?
TOM: What kind of siding do you have?
IRENE: It’s vinyl.
TOM: Not a problem. It’ll do a good job. Just don’t be too aggressive; otherwise, you’ll blast holes in that siding.
IRENE: OK, great. Thanks so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Irene. Good luck with that. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Samantha in New York is dealing with some chilly, uninsulated windows. Tell us about the problem.
SAMANTHA: I live in a home that’s about 100 years old and it has the original windows in it. And all my air, hot or cold, seems to leak out and in the winter time it gets really cold. So I’d just like to know what I could use to better insulate my windows.
TOM: So my guess is they are single-pane glass.
TOM: Do you want to replace them with replacement windows?
SAMANTHA: No, I’d like to keep the original windows because, like I said, the house is over 100 years old.
TOM: Alright. OK. Well, couple of things. In the chillier seasons, one of the things that you could do is actually caulk your windows shut. And the way you would do that is with a product called temporary caulk. There’s a number of manufacturers that make it. One of the products is called Seal ‘N Peel.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, by DAP.
TOM: Is that the DAP product? Yeah, and I think Red Devil has one, too. And basically, the way temporary caulk works is it allows you to sort of caulk the windows shut the same way you might be putting normal caulk on it but the key is that you can peel this stuff off in the springtime when it gets really warm and then use the window normally.
LESLIE: Yeah, but you’re probably also losing a lot of that heat and energy through the glass itself because there’s no insulating factor to that single pane. Do you have storm windows?
SAMANTHA: No, they’re just the original. They’re really tall and they’re like four panes tall.
TOM: Yeah, that’s another issue. I mean if you don’t have storm windows, it’s always going to be super-cold and the only other thing you can do beyond that is try to weather strip it and also put on some heavy drapes. But single pane glass is single pane glass and there’s nothing that you’re going to do that’s going to make that any warmer short of a major window project here.
LESLIE: Can you retrofit an existing window to have a track on the exterior for a storm window?
TOM: Yes. A storm window can mount to the exterior surface of that window and provide that level of draft-proofness.
TOM: Alright? And if all else fails, wear a sweater. (Leslie chuckles)
SAMANTHA: (chuckling) Yeah, I’ve tried.
TOM: Samantha, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
SAMANTHA: Thank you.
LESLIE: Heading over to Rhode Island to chat with Scott about roofing. What can we do for you today?
SCOTT: Well, I tell you what; we’ve had some nasty thunder storms here in the northeast this summer and – as luck would have it – a big, old maple tree fell on the roof of my house. Most of the damage that was done, fortunately for me, was done to the shed roof which is attached to the back of my garage but …
TOM: I hope you weren’t home when it fell down, Matt.
SCOTT: I was. As a matter of fact, I was getting dressed and I heard this big thud. I thought the trash cans had gotten blown over by the heavy winds but it wasn’t. It was the tree that fell on the roof. But fortunately, nobody was hurt and …
SCOTT: The damage was relatively minor.
LESLIE: You’re lucky.
SCOTT: I mean it ripped the satellite dish off the corner of the roof and bent the gutter but, you know, all stuff that I could fix. It actually broke the fascia board, you know, in front of the soffit on the overhang. But my one question that I have – and I’ve even repaired the bent drip edge as well – I’ve got some damaged shingles. Now, this roof is relatively newly shingled. They’re architectural shingles and I have extra shingles from when I did it myself. And my question is now, with some of these shingles damaged and needing to be replaced – not the whole roof – how do you replace shingles in the middle of the roof?
TOM: Ah. There’s a trick of the trade for that and what you need is a flat bar. It’s like a flat pry bar where it’s sort of like curved on one end and flat on the other and used to pull out nails. And you take the flat bar and you work it under the shingle and you actually go up to right where that nail is going through the shingle, bend it down and pop the nail out; then go above it and pull the nail out. If you do that carefully across one row, you will have loosened up those shingles and, as you know, once you get the …
LESLIE: So you can get underneath it.
TOM: Once you get the first one out, then it’s a piece of cake. What you need is a flat bar to do that.
SCOTT: I think I may have what you’re talking about. Is that – I call it a cat’s paw. Is that the same type of bar?
TOM: No. No, no, no, no. It’s not a cat’s paw. No, a cat’s paw is round and that’s designed to kind of go down from the top. A flat bar is essentially that; it’s a tool that’s about two inches wide, 1/8-inch thick and about 12 inches long and it has a groove at the end that slides under the shingle with a little V-groove in it and you can wiggle it …
LESLIE: Not called a pry bar?
TOM: Well, it’s a little bit like a pry bar but it’s not like a crowbar. It’s not round like that; it’s flat.
SCOTT: Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Scott. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Does he need to be worried about working with it on a cooler day; possibly snapping the tile?
TOM: No, only if it’s really, really cold would you have to worry about that.
TOM: But you know, that adhesive will chill as quickly as it will heat; so as long as you’re doing it in the morning and not like in the middle of a 90-degree day, he’ll be fine.
LESLIE: Jacquelyn in Oregon has a question about backsplash tile. What can we do for you?
JACQUELYN: Yes, I do. In my bathroom, I have noticed that over time I have a stain developing back there and I’m not sure if it’s because I have hard water. I have a well and so I know sometimes that tends to be hard water. But – so it’s stained and the only way I can really ever get it off is if I take a razor blade and really scrub it hard and I’m wondering if there’s something that I could use to eat that away.
LESLIE: Is it like a white, cloudy stain?
JACQUELYN: It’s more like a brown kind of stain. It’s discolored.
TOM: It sounds like hard-water stains.
TOM: Do you have hard water?
JACQUELYN: Yeah, I think it – I think I do have hard water.
TOM: Do you find that it takes a lot to get like really soapy? Do you see mineral deposits on your glassware and things like that?
JACQUELYN: Yes, I do.
TOM: Well, it sounds like you have hard water. You know, you might want to think about putting a water softener onto your home. We just started working with a product called EasyWater, which is a really high-tech water softener. It’s a lot less expensive and a lot healthier than the salt-based softeners but basically it’s an appliance that’s plugged in right near your main water line. And then you wrap a wire around the main water line and electrically it charges the mineral particles so that they don’t stick together and they don’t, you know …
LESLIE: It forces them apart from one another.
TOM: Yeah, they don’t get stuck on things.
JACQUELYN: (overlapping voices) Ah.
TOM: And it makes the water flow a lot nicer; it makes it easier to soap up. You know, there’s a lot of advantages to it. It’s called EasyWater. They have two different models and I put one in our shore house and it worked fantastic.
TOM: And you might want to try, with the existing stain, some white vinegar. Just take some white vinegar on a sponge, saturate that area. See if that will sort of break up the minerals that are sticking and making all of that stain on the walls and then rinse it really well.
JACQUELYN: I’ll do that.
TOM: Alright, Jacquelyn. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, does your yard turn into an unwanted backyard swimming pool after a heavy rainfall? Well, we’ve got the solution to that soggy mess. It’s called a dry well. We’re going to give you the step-by-step on how to build one, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:53.5]
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: Welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And please visit MoneyPit.com to learn more about your current home improvement projects, the ones that are on your to-do list, because we’ve broken down the jobs by room, by project and by season and there’s lots of tips and helpful advice there to help you get your projects done. It’s all free at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Sonny in Florida who’s dealing with some uninvited visitors to the home. What can we do for you?
SONNY: Aw, man I’ve got the sugar ants, pharaoh ants and there’s a few other things I want to call them. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) I mean it’s just – and I take that stuff that you buy at the store – the sugar stuff; whatever’s in it …
SONNY: I mean they chew on it for a couple of days and they disappear and they show up somewhere else. And I mean I’ve done it like three or four times.
TOM: This may be the time to stop being your own do-it-yourself pest control pro and hire a real one. You know, there are products out today for ants, Sonny, that are undetectable and what’s cool about these is that the ants – once these products are applied by a pro, the ants can march through them and not know that they’re exposing themselves to these chemicals. Then they take them back to the nest and it wipes out the whole colony. It’s a far more effective way than the baits, which requires each ant to actually eat it, to be eradicated. And there’s a lot more of them than there are of us, so you need to kind of get smart with it and having a pro come in and put down one of the undetectable pesticides is probably the best way to do this.
SONNY: Alrighty. I appreciate it.
TOM: Sonny, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, sometimes after a heavy rain, your yard looks more like a swamp. And if this has ever happened to you, you know exactly what I’m talking about. All that water has absolutely no place to go.
TOM: Well, there is a solution. It’s called a dry well and here to teach us how to build one are hosts Kevin O’Connor and landscaping contractor Roger Cook from This Old House; two guys who have built quite a few of these things.
So, Kevin, where do we start?
KEVIN: You know, dry wells, they can help take the heavy rainfall and hide it away before it turns your yard into a swamp. So the question is what’s the best way to build one that’s going to stand up to the test of time but also stand up to some heavy rainstorms.
ROGER: Well, a dry well is just that; a dry hole in the ground used to disperse water into the ground. It can be used for downspouts or it can even be used for a connection for a sump pump. Now the trick with a dry well is to isolate it from the dirt around it by using stone that will drain the water down and also landscape fabric to keep it from getting filled with dirt. It’s also a good idea to have a pop-up overflow; so during heavy rain, if the dry well gets overwhelmed, it’s a way to release the water from the dry well.
KEVIN: So how about maintenance? I mean once you have it built, what’s the best way to keep a dry well free-flowing?
ROGER: Keep it free-flowing by keeping your gutters clean. If leaves go in your gutters and down the downspouts, they’re going to end up in your dry well and, after a period of time, they could actually keep it from draining water.
TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook and Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Thank you.
TOM: Great tip.
LESLIE: And you can actually watch a step-by-step video on how to install a dry well at ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Up next, we’re going to talk about the quickest and cheapest way to see instant energy savings. We’ll tell you what you need to know to install more insulation in your home, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:22:56.4]
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: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. A good reason to do that is because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 Lowe’s gift card. You can use it towards a great investment in energy efficiency and curb appeal. It’s the Benchmark door by Therma-Tru. The Benchmark doors are made for easy installation. They’ve got the look of wood with all the benefits of fiberglass like no rotting, no warping, no swelling and no cracking; available exclusively at Lowe’s. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re going to draw one name out of Money Pit hardhat and we might send that $50 Lowe’s gift card to you, so pick up the phone.
LESLIE: Alrighty. Well, most homes in America – even those that are just a couple of years old; I know you’re thinking “I’ve got a new house. I’m all set” – well, even those newer homes simply just do not have enough insulation. Now here’s the good news. Insulation, it’s cheap and it’s an easy-to-do project all on your own. It’s around 30 bucks a roll and you can add six inches of insulation to your attic and you will see savings from the moment you complete the job.
Now most heat loss is through the ceiling, so this is a really fast way to get a super-quick return on your investment. Just make sure you wear long sleeves, safety goggles; take all the necessary precautions. It’s a great project and you will be super-satisfied with the results.
TOM: Absolutely. It’s one of the fastest ways to cut down on your heating costs.
888-666-3974. Before the weather turns chilly, call us right now with your energy saving question. We can help.
LESLIE: Time to go to the roof with Paulette in Tennessee. How can we help you?
PAULETTE: Hi there. I just needed some information about buying a quality shingle or how to roof my home without blowing my top.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
PAULETTE: I’d like to have something that has a guarantee, that’s really good, but I don’t want to overpay.
TOM: Well, let’s start with how many layers of roofing shingles do you have on the home now, Paulette. How old is it?
PAULETTE: The roof on there now is probably 30 years old and there’s only one …
TOM: (overlapping voices) That’s the original? Is that the original roof, then?
PAULETTE: It has been replaced once but they took everything off the first time.
TOM: OK. Now how long do you think you’re going to be in this house, Paulette? Do you think it’s going to be more than ten more years?
PAULETTE: Yes, I do.
TOM: OK. Then what I would recommend is that you again remove the old roofing shingles because – and the reason I asked you this is because if you put a second layer on, it tends to not last as long as the first layer did because of the added heat buildup that’s contained within that original layer. It tends to wear out the new shingle quicker because shingles are made from asphalt. There’s oils involved and as the oil evaporates, the quicker it evaporates the quicker the shingle dries out and starts to crack and not perform well. So I would recommend that you strip the original roof.
In terms of the new shingle, it’s really going to depend on two things. Number one, it’s going to depend on what look you’re trying to achieve. If you want to get something that looks like, for example, a wood shingle or a clay tile, that’s called dimensional shingle. It’s made up of different layers. It’s very attractive but it’s more expensive. But if you want just a basic roof, you can have just a plain, three-tab black shingle. They’re both going to last just as long.
And the second thing is – and this is especially important in an older house – is to make sure you improve the ventilation. Typically, older homes don’t have enough roof ventilation and there’s a direct relationship between how long your roof lasts and how well your attic is ventilated. If you keep the attic as cool as possible, especially in a warm …
LESLIE: The roof is going to last longer.
TOM: Yeah, especially in a warm environment like Tennessee, the roof will last as long as possible.
LESLIE: Alan in Florida is looking to get some backup power to his home. What can we do for you?
ALAN: Just that. We bought a home about a little under two years ago and I’m looking to try to find out what would be the proper-sized backup generator in case the power goes out.
TOM: Well, you’re talking about a standby generator. So you want this to power the entire house, correct?
ALAN: Preferably, yes.
TOM: Yeah. You know, it’s a good time to buy a standby generator. We’ve had a lot of storms this year and other reasons – for that and other reasons that force our power to go out, having a standby generator is very, very nice. I actually have, in my house, Alan, a Generac unit that we put in it’s got to be at least five years now. And it’s a beautiful thing when the power goes out and I’ve got the only house on the street with lights and refrigeration and everything else that you depend on it for.
To determine how big of a unit you need really depends on how many circuits that you want to power. If you wanted to power the entire electrical panel, you’ll need a bigger panel than if you want to just sort of do the mission-critical circuits. But you’re probably talking about something anywhere from around 12 kilowatts up to about 20 kilowatts for the average-size house.
ALAN: OK, I pretty much want to be able to sustain the whole house because – well, one of the reasons: I’m an over-the-road truck driver and I’m gone a lot and I don’t want my wife to have to worry about it.
TOM: Yeah. And of course this is going to be natural gas-powered, so you won’t have to worry about gasoline. They’ll all just run automatically. You have natural gas in your house?
ALAN: No, it’s actually an all-electric home.
TOM: OK, do you have – you may want to think about going with propane then.
TOM: Because this way, the system will be ready to go no matter what happens. You don’t want to have to rely on having gasoline to operate a generator because when the power is out, guess what?
LESLIE: They can’t get the gas.
TOM: The pumps are down, too.
TOM: Right. So you’re probably going to look for a propane system. You know, there’s a good website that has a lot of information on how to size generators and you can actually go through and add up the circuits that you have.
LESLIE: It like takes you through a five-step process so you know exactly what you’re getting.
TOM: Yeah, it’s ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com.
LESLIE: And you know what? Alan, every year there’s a cost-versus-value survey about updates that you can make to your home. And this year they added backup power generators to their surveys. And in the Miami area, you recoup 89.2 percent on putting this into your house. So you know it’s a good investment, especially when it comes time to sell.
ALAN: OK, thank you. That’s good information to have.
TOM: You’re welcome, Alan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Connie in Georgia needs some help with a refrigerator. What can we do for you?
CONNIE: Hey. We have a seven-year-old refrigerator, top freezer. When it was about six years old, it started leaking water in the floor.
CONNIE: And we just kind of put a towel there because it was still doing just fine. And then it went on long, about six months or so, and then it started dripping out the vent in the top of the refrigerator part.
CONNIE: And so we said, well, we’re just going to put a pan under it. We put a pan under it and we caught it and it was still working just fine but now it’s dead. But the freezer’s working great but the bottom part is really hot. And I’m just wondering – you know, I mean is it not that we could fix it ourselves? I mean is it that complicated that we couldn’t go find the parts and – what do you think it is?
TOM: Well, I’m not so sure about the warm issue. It sounds like there’s a problem with the compressor. The leakage issue that you’re describing is probably because there’s a drainage tube that comes off the self-defrosting side of the refrigerator. That’s how it gets rid of the water during the defrost cycle.
TOM: There’s a little tube or like a channel that sheds the water to a pan at the bottom of the refrigerator. But sometimes that tube gets clogged and when it does, the water backs up and it can back up into the refrigerator or it can back up into the bottom of the motor area under the refrigerator and just sort of puddle on the floor. And if you can identify where that tube is and clean it, then that usually fixes the leak.
Now that, however, may not be what’s going on here because you’re telling me that the refrigerator is actually dead. And if that’s the case, you know, this probably is not going to be worth fixing. But I want to send you to a website that might be able to help you dig into this a little bit further. It’s called RepairClinic.com.
TOM: And it’s a really good site. It’s been around for a lot of years. We’ve interviewed the guy that runs it from time to time and he’ll actually step you through the conditions and how these particular types of appliances – you can actually put in your model number or your part number and they’ll tell you how it actually breaks down.
TOM: And if it’s something that is fixable, they can give you the – show you the parts and tell you exactly how to do it.
CONNIE: OK. Well, I sure thank you so very much.
TOM: Well, you’re welcome and good luck with that project. Let us know how you make out.
LESLIE: Alright, up next, we are going to have tips on restoring old stuff; everything from a century-old piano to mosaic tiles discovered buried underneath vinyl floors, so stick around.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:21.1]
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: Are you busy? We understand. No time to pick up the phone. Send us an e-mail by going to MoneyPit.com, clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie just like Chris did in Iowa.
LESLIE: Alright, Chris writes: “In a century-old house, I’m uncovering a mosaic tile bathroom floor that’s been covered with vinyl tile.” Well, how fortunate. “Is there a product that will easily remove the vinyl tile adhesive without damaging the ceramic tile underneath?”
TOM: There’s nothing easy about removing glue, Chris. (chuckles) And part of the reason is that there’s just so many different formulations of glue. You really never know what you’re dealing with. You will find that the adhesive removers that are commercially available will do the job but there’s going to be a fair amount of trial and error. Now, there are citrus-based removers which are a little easier to work on. You might want to start at that level and see if they work for you.
LESLIE: Well, and those are very user-friendly as far as, you know, odor.
TOM: Yeah. Exactly. And then of course there’s the, you know, pull out all of the big guns, the solvent-based …
LESLIE: Open every window, wear a mask.
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, exactly. Turn on the fans; you know, chase all of your kids and pets out of the house and go at it. And of course, those are the hardest to work with. But again, there’s nothing easy about removing adhesive. However, if you’ve got a really attractive mosaic floor under that vinyl, then it might be worth the effort; so go for it.
LESLIE: You know what, Chris? I think it’s also important to pay attention to the directions on whatever product you choose because you really do need to apply the product and let it sit and do its job; whether it’s 15 minutes, if they recommend, or hours. I know there’s soy-based products as well that sometimes need to sit for several hours before you try because they’re turning that hardened adhesive back to that liquid or that sort of goopy state that it was applied in.
So whatever you do choose, just make sure that you allow it do to its job before you go for it. Some of them need you to use like a floor scraper or a paint scraper. If you do, be very cautious because you don’t want to scratch up the tile. But that should work for you.
Alright, we’ve got one here from Susan in New Jersey who writes: “I have a 100-year-old upright piano that was in storage for about 30 years. I just had the piano refurbished; however, over the years it developed mildew. I washed the wood with one part bleach to three parts water and that was fine but I can’t do that to the felted areas. Can you recommend something to rid that odor from the felt?”
TOM: Hmm. That is a tough one because it took a lot of time for that felt to get that odor and it’s going to probably take just as much time for it to purge itself. I would suggest that if you get this piano into a dry area with very reasonable relative humidity, that over time, the odor will come away. But the other thing that you probably could do is add a deodorizer to the inside of the piano itself. For example, one of those solid Citrus Magic deodorizers would work well. In fact, they work well in your baby’s diaper pail, Leslie, right? So they probably would work well inside the piano as well.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) They do and that’s a pretty stinky area.
TOM: Any other suggestions?
LESLIE: You know what else you could try, Susan? You know, baking soda that you always put in refrigerators to remove odor. Why not take some it – is it soda or powder; the ARM & HAMMER? Soda, right?
TOM: It’s baking soda, correct.
LESLIE: OK. So get the ARM & HAMMER. Go ahead and you know those little cheesecloth herb bags that you would get to put different herbs and spices in if you’re making soup; this way, the leaves don’t fall apart in the soup itself? Get some of those. You’ll find them in the supermarket in the spice section. Fill those up with the baking soda and then hang them from the wires or sort of sit them in the areas of the felt that are kind of mildew-smelling and, maybe, over time, that’ll be enough to just sort of absorb it away.
Another option is Febreze. I mean if you know it’s not going to damage the color of the felt, that thing works like a charm; I don’t know how it does. But those are three solutions that’ll definitely help you out, so good luck with that and enjoy that piano.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Remember, we always encourage you to measure once, cut twice and always cover your mistakes with a paint brush.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But a tube of caulk always helps. (Tom and Leslie laugh) Well, it covers up all those mistakes.
TOM: It does.
[audio timestamp: 0:37:00.1]
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.)