With trick or treating time right around the corner, Tom and Leslie talk Halloween safety, this hour, with tips to keep you and your kids safe in your house and in the neighborhood. Get green flooring options for your home and and you. Kevin O'Connor from This Old House stops by with tips on how to seal up your home’s air leaks before winter’s chill. Plus get the answers to your home improvement questions about water heater replacement, staining woodwork, caulking a tub and shower area, replacing a tile floor, repairing a nick in a wood floor, removing brick, cleaning a fireplace surround and eliminating home odors.
TRANSCRIPT FOR OCTOBER 12, 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 and give us a call – the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT – because we know there’s a home improvement project on your to-do list right now and we are here, we exist to help you get the job done. Short of coming to your house and helping you with the hammers and the saws – which you probably don’t want us to do anyway (Leslie chuckles); because while we talk about home improvement on the radio, our projects have their ups and downs just like yours.
LESLIE: (chuckles) Just like you.
TOM: Give us a call and we will walk you through those steps. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
We are heading into a really fun time of year. The air is crisp; it’s time for apple-picking, hayrides and home improvement and, of course, getting ready for those trick-or-treaters, too.
LESLIE: Yippee hooray, I’m so excited. If this annual door-to-door goody hunt is popular in the neighborhood you live in, then you want to take a few minutes to make sure that your home is safe for all of those little ghosts and goblins that are going to be visiting you. So this hour, we’re going to tell you how to do just that.
TOM: And it’s also a great time of year for home improvement projects; not too hot or not to cold, in most places, just yet. So we’re going to talk about exactly how to tackle one project that is an absolute must before winter: sealing up your home’s air leaks. You probably don’t realize that the average home has so many small holes in it that if you were to add them together, they would add up to a hole that’s about 4’x4’ square. So we’re going to show you how to tackle that step by step and cut those energy bills.
LESLIE: Man, and everybody wants to do that. We’re all looking to save some money. And if you’ve got some projects on your to-do list and flooring happens to be one of them, well then we want to tell you about some new green options that are out there that you might just want to consider.
TOM: Plus, you want to get in on our weekly prize giveaway. This hour we’ve got a $50 gift card to Lowe’s; going to go out to one caller who reaches us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Call us now with your home improvement questions. Let’s get right to those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Diane in Iowa is calling in with a tricky bathroom question. Tell us about it.
DIANE: We have two bathrooms and when we get a lot of company and a lot of bathroom activity – flushing – we get a backup; not a liquid but a smell. And it’s coming from one of the two bathrooms; whichever one it chooses to.
LESLIE: So it’s not both at the same time. It’s one or the other.
DIANE: Yeah, one or the other.
TOM: Hmm. Who’s in the bathroom when you get the sewer smell?
DIANE: Who’s in there? (Tom and Diane chuckle)
LESLIE: Tom’s looking to place blame. (Diane chuckles)
TOM: Just trying to nail down the parameters here. (Diane chuckles) Well, generally sewer smells are associated with a venting problem and that means that somehow the sewer gas is getting up into the living space as opposed to being vented outside. Now, has it always been this way or is it something that’s, you know, developed more recently?
DIANE: It developed when we put in the second bathroom.
TOM: Aha. You put in the second bathroom and you had the problem. OK, this kind of confirms my suspicion that there’s a problem with the venting. Have you had a plumber look at it?
DIANE: Yes, and we do get a gurgling sound, you know, every once in a while. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Ah, that’s more evidence of the same problem because if you’re not venting properly, you’re not getting enough air into the pipes. That causes the gurgling. You’ve got to get a plumber that knows what he’s doing and you’ve got to get to the bottom of the venting situation. It sounds to me like when the second bathroom was put in, the plumbing vents weren’t put in properly. That’s why you’re getting the sewer smell and the gurgling issue; because you don’t have enough air getting in to replace that which is flushed by the toilet.
DIANE: OK. So I need a plumber.
TOM: Crystal clear.
TOM: OK? But the good news is it really doesn’t matter who’s in the bathroom. (Leslie and Diane chuckle) Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Don in Michigan needs some help with a fireplace project. What can we do for you?
DON: Well, I purchased a house about a year ago to rehab; I’m living in it. And the front of the house is covered with the same material as the fireplace is and I believe it’s like a limestone or a sandstone. It’s not hard like granite.
DON: So, on the inside of the house, the fireplace, the stone has turned quite dingy – I guess is the best way to describe it. I’ve had two cleaning companies – they just do like housecleaning, cabinets, floors, et cetera – come out and give me an estimate on my kitchen and while they were there I asked them what they could do with the fireplace. They tried just kind of standard cleaning agents and a stiff brush and that didn’t do any good. So, I’m at a little bit of a standstill or a quandary as to maybe how to clean that fireplace stone.
TOM: OK, have you tried oxygenated bleach?
LESLIE: Yeah. Or just bleach itself?
DON: Nope. No, I haven’t. Nope.
TOM: OK. You might want to try using OxiClean.
DON: OK, OK.
LESLIE: Which, surprisingly, works on everything.
TOM: Yeah, that’s really good stuff and that tends to work well on masonry. Another thing that you could try – which we frequently recommend for tough stains like oil stains and driveway – is TSP or trisodium phosphate. I wouldn’t try them together.
DON: I’m familiar with that product, yes.
TOM: Yeah, TSP. And why don’t you try them on – you know, try them on opposite sides of the fireplace and just kind of see which seems to work best. It’s going to be a little bit experimenting here but you ought to be able to find something that’s going to brighten it up. I don’t think we just have to give up and pull out the paintbrushes here.
DON: OK, OK. I believe I know what you’re talking about. Well, great.
LESLIE: And when you use your brush, you want to use a natural fiber brush. Don’t use anything metal.
DON: OK. That makes sense. Very good. I just started listening to your show a couple of weeks ago while I’m laying pavers outside. That’s why I listen to – and you guys are like the Wikipedia of home repair. (Tom and Leslie laugh) It’s unbelievable what you know.
TOM: Thanks so much. Thanks so much, Don. We appreciate it.
DON: OK, I’ll give this a try. Thanks a lot.
TOM: 888-666-3974. We should change our show to that; the Wikipedia of Home Repair.
LESLIE: (chuckles) You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. It is fall fix-up time, so pick up the phone and give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, make the annual door-to-door candy hunt safe for neighborhood ghosts, goblins and, of course, the kids. We’re going to tell you how, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:06:50.5]
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: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. Not only will you get the answer to that question but you could win a $50 gift card towards Lowe’s and you can use it for a Benchmark door by Therma-Tru, available exclusively at Lowe’s. It’s a great door. It’s going to look great on your house and, think about it, if you do it right now, the trick-or-treaters will be knocking on it (Leslie chuckles) in just practically days; just days; just very – like what, about – yeah, about days; about ten days from now, the pitter-patter of little feet will be knocking on your brand new Benchmark door. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: And you’d better have candy waiting when those doors start a-knocking.
You know, I love this time of year. It is a super-duper-duper fun time. You’ve got apple picking, hay rides and, of course, Halloween. You know, only Christmas, for me, tops Halloween as far as holiday décor is concerned.
LESLIE: But Halloween is up there, so go ahead and have fun with your holiday decorating; just do it safely. Now, you know Halloween, once it gets dark all those little kids come knocking on your door. So you want to make sure that your pathways and all of those lighting fixtures on the outside are in good shape for those trick-or-treaters.
So go ahead; address those loose bricks, any paving stones or even any uneven areas on your walkways and look at all of your light fixtures outside and make sure the bulbs are in them and that they work. You might even think about installing a low-voltage lighting kit that’ll illuminate the walkway up to your house to just give it a little extra oomph and make sure nobody is running across your lawn or tripping over anything.
And if you want to add some extra security and safety in those dark corners around your house, you can add motion sensor lights. They just pop on when anybody passes through. So this way, everybody’ll be safely lit and safely traipsing around your property, if you will, in scary, long, ghost-and-gobliny costumes.
Now, if you do decide to add some scary fun to your stair railings, you want to make sure that the decorations don’t hinder the ability to actually grab those railings for extra support. Now, if this all sounds fun and you’ve got your decorations ready to go but you need some more ideas, head on over to MoneyPit.com because we’ve got some great Halloween safety tips for you on our website. And have a great time.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. And perhaps there’s a home improvement nightmare that you have that we can help you fix just in time for Halloween.
LESLIE: Brad is having a problem in his basement. What’s going on?
BRAD: Hi, guys. Thanks for taking my call. I’m moving in with some friends to help out with rent and I’m going to be stuck living in the basement. It’s got a concrete floor and I’m just concerned about the moisture in the basement doing damage to like the fact that I’m going to have a bed down there and clothes and sheets.
TOM: You know, a nice, inflatable rubber raft (Leslie chuckles) could kind of serve a dual purpose here, Brad. (Tom laughs)
LESLIE: I hope you’re paying less rent than the other roommates who actually get a nice, warm room.
BRAD: Yes, I actually am. But the nice thing about the basement is that it will be a larger room than anybody else in the house has and it does seem – the house does seem to have a good amount of drainage and the things that you guys tend to preach about keeping moisture out of the basement. But I’m still a little bit concerned because I am going to be having more fabrics and more things down there that could be considered mold food.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and those things tend to smell musty if you don’t really control the moisture.
TOM: Well, Brad, I’ve been exactly in your shoes. When I was a college student, I lived in a rented basement of a house for about a year. Saved a lot of money. But we did have a bit of moisture, a bit of humidity and you know, this is a good situation where if you’ve done all the things outside that you need to do – your gutters are clean, your downspouts are extended away from the house, the soil slopes away – the last two things I would do be first to paint the block walls with a moisture-proof paint and, secondly, add a dehumidifier.
Now, since it’s a rental situation, you’re not going to be able to talk the owner into putting in a whole-home dehumidifier, which would be the best; so, in this situation, I would use a portable but I would try to pick up a portable that’s got a condensate pump built into it because, this way, you can pump the water outside as quickly as …
LESLIE: And you don’t have to empty anything.
TOM: Yeah, as quickly as it accumulates, it goes right outside.
BRAD: Oh, now that would be really, really nice to not have to worry about emptying out a dehumidifier all the time.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Especially if – you know, if you step away from the house for a day or go away for the weekend – you know, it cuts off after a couple of hours when you’re gone – everything will be yucky by the time you get home.
BRAD: Oh, yeah that’s probably – that wouldn’t be good. But it definitely would help a lot more. Thank you guys so much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Brad. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now it’s time to talk home maintenance. We’ve got Joan in South Carolina who needs some help with the AC and the water heater. What’s going on, Joan?
JOAN: Thank you for taking my call. I so enjoy listening to your show on the weekends in Greenville.
TOM: Oh, you’re very welcome.
JOAN: We have owned – we built out home about nine years ago. And we’re not having a problem but my neighbors are with the air conditioner and the water heater. They’ve replaced both. And my question is how often do you have these appliances – you know, how often do you have them checked?
TOM: Well, (chuckles) your neighbor had some bad luck. Both an air conditioner and a water heater can go in eight to twelve years. It’s unfortunate that your neighbor lost both; however, that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen to you. In terms of maintenance, couple of things. First of all, you should have the air conditioning compressor serviced at the …
TOM: Yeah, annually; usually in the spring. However, you know, if you have your heating system serviced now, because it’s getting chillier out, it’s not a bad idea to have the AC service done at the same time. Frankly, nothing’s going to happen to it over the winter and this way you’ll know that it’s ready to rock and roll when it gets warm again.
LESLIE: When you need to turn it on.
TOM: And sometimes it saves you a bit of money. Secondly, in terms of the water heater, not a lot of maintenance needed there but what you would want to do is when you have the furnace serviced, have the water heater burner compartment checked; make sure there’s no rust on top of the burner; make sure that the pilot light is good and strong. Because as gas burns, it’s very corrosive and tends to leave some rust in that area which can impede the flow of the flame, so to speak. And that’s pretty much all you need to do with …
LESLIE: Tom, what about draining water from the water heater? There’s always sort of like a mixed school of thought. Drain a certain amount of gallons out annually or don’t?
TOM: I don’t think that it’s necessary to drain a water heater. If you have very hard water, some people believe in doing that because the mineral deposits in the bottom of the water heater can sort of form like an insulating layer that can make it a little bit less efficient. But generally speaking, I don’t drain water heaters. But others do and that’s why. (Leslie chuckles)
JOAN: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: Well, you’re welcome, Joan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Mark on the line from Missouri who’s calling for I really think just a way to use a sledgehammer. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) What’s going on?
MARK: Well, I had to take three layers of brick out of my basement where there was a wood-burning stove on top of and the guy that put it in actually slugged every hole in the brick.
MARK: So I was wondering if there was just an easier way to take that out than a pneumatic hammer and a sledgehammer.
TOM: Now where is the brick right now?
MARK: Oh, I already have it out. I was just wondering if there’s an easier way because my dad’s got to take out a chimney next and …
TOM: Yeah. There’s nothing easy about removing brick. (Leslie chuckles)
MARK: Yeah, that’s what I thought.
TOM: And as you’ve discovered, there’s no way to peel it off the wall. I think using the pneumatic hammer and the sledgehammer was probably the best thing that you could do. There’s just no easy way to get rid of that stuff.
MARK: Now we’re going to talk to Liz in Delaware who needs help with a bathroom project. What’s going on?
LIZ: I have an old house and the bathroom has those tiles all the way around; you know, those square tiles. I want to bring down my medicine cabinet because all you can see is the top of your head.
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
LIZ: (chuckles) So, I wondered do I have to take off the tiles? There might be like three or four before this medicine cabinet goes down. Do I have to remove it?
TOM: Now, is it the kind of medicine cabinet, Liz, that’s set into the wall?
TOM: Alright. Well, it’s a fairly big job, so let me tell you ...
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and there’s going to be a repair above where now you have the hole where it used to be.
TOM: Exactly. So let me tell you the steps. First of all, you’re going to have to remove the old medicine cabinet out of the wall so you can kind of have plenty of room to work.
TOM: Then, to lower it, I’ll give you one trick of the trade …
LIZ: I have to get another one. I have to get a new one because this is all corroded, right?
TOM: OK, well go ahead and get a new one.
TOM: But to lower it, get it down further, one of the ways that I might think about doing that is to use a tool called a RotoZip. A RotoZip kind of looks a bit like a router and a bit like a drill and what it does is it actually can carve right through that tile. It’s a great tool for plumbers or anybody that has to sort of cut a small hole out of tile. It kind of works like a router and it will just saw right through that stuff. And I would use a RotoZip and saw out the old tile to the new opening size to get the new medicine cabinet in.
You may also – above where the tile ends, you may have to pack that out a little bit because, remember, the tile is going to be about a quarter-inch thicker than the wall above it; so you may have to offset that. And then, on top of the medicine cabinet – assuming you don’t have one that’s taller than what you had – you’re going to have a hole, as Leslie said before, that you’re going to have to fill in and that can be accomplished simply by cutting a piece of drywall to fit and taping and spackling it.
LIZ: Oh, OK.
TOM: So you know, it’s a lot of work. You might just want to think about buying a stool. It’s probably a lot easier. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
LIZ: Oh, no. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Wear more high heels.
TOM: That’s right.
LIZ: (laughing) You’re really supposed to look at half your body in a medicine cabinet, not the top of your head. Plus it’s got a high ceiling, so …
TOM: Well, that’s what you’re up against, Liz. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Harry is calling in from North Carolina with a staining question. What can we do for you?
HARRY: Yes, I’ve built a surround around my fireplace and I used oak and pine.
TOM: OK. Alright.
HARRY: And I want to make it all look the same and I’m having a real tough time staining it.
TOM: Yeah, because you’ve got one wood that’s very soft and one wood that’s very dense.
LESLIE: So the absorption rate, it’s very different.
TOM: What kind of stain do you want on this, Harry; a light one or a dark one?
HARRY: In between. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: In between. Hmm. Have you tried – you’re going to have to do a little experimenting here. I would take some scrap pine and I would put a coat of sanding sealer on it. You know what sanding sealer is?
HARRY: No, I sure don’t.
TOM: OK, it’s like a very thin finish.
TOM: Put sanding sealer on it. You can go buy a pint and test this out. After it dries, put the stain on top of that and then see if that more closely matches the color of the oak.
TOM: And what the sanding sealer is going to do is it’s going to slow down the absorption and get more of the stain to sit on top and that might help it look a little bit different.
Well, are the thoughts of last year’s energy bills still stinging? Seal up those leaks and gaps, will ya? That’s going to prevent dollars from leaking out of your wallet. We’re going to learn exactly how when we talk with our pal, Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:32.0]
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: Hey, if you’ve ever missed something that you wanted to hear again, you can listen to our podcast at MoneyPit.com and search our transcripts by topic; all there for free every day at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Micki in South Carolina is having a flooring situation. What’s going on?
MICKI: Yes, hi. Thanks for taking my call. I have a problem with the carpeting and several of my bedrooms; mostly on the outside walls where the carpet meets up with the molding.
MICKI: There is a black substance of some kind that is along that perimeter and sometimes, in different areas, it’ll come into the carpets about two, three inches. I have had this cleaned prior but it keeps coming back and I don’t know whether there’s an air gap that air is coming in or whether it’s a problem with mold.
TOM: I suspect, Micki, that it’s not a problem with mold. I suspect what you’re seeing is dirt and it’s being deposited there because of the forces of convection. You have a cold exterior wall. You may have some windows about that. What happens is that the warm air in your house strikes that cold wall and then, as it’s chilled, it falls. And it tends to repeat that convective loop and, as it does so, it takes any dirt that’s in the air and deposits it on the wall; very frequently right above the carpet or right above the baseboard molding.
What I would suggest you do is two things. First of all, a very good carpet cleaning; maybe shampoo the carpets. And secondly, I would look to the air filter system that you have inside your house. Do you have a forced air heating system? You have ducts? You have ducts? OK.
MICKI: (overlapping voices) We have gas. We have ducts. We have gas.
TOM: OK, what you should probably have on that system is an electronic air cleaner. They are very, very efficient and far more efficient than the fiberglass filters. And you will see a big difference in the amount of dirt and debris and dust that gets in the air of your house.
MICKI: OK. Is there anyone that can come in and check the air to make sure that, you know, there’s not a problem with my air?
TOM: Well, an HVAC contractor can do that and I would definitely think about installing a better air cleaner. Because most HVAC systems just have fiberglass filters.
TOM: You put an electronic air cleaner in, a really good-quality one – like Aprilaire makes a good one that was ranked tops by Consumer Reports for many years – and that’s going to make a big difference in the air quality in your house.
MICKI: OK. Well, thanks for that help and I will definitely look into that and see what I can do about it.
TOM: Good luck, Micki. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So now that we’ve reached the start of the official heating season, has it got you remembering last year’s heating bills and then wincing? Well, you could probably stand to button up your home and try to save some of those energy dollars.
TOM: Well, if your home is like most, it has hundreds of small gaps that can add up to big energy losses. Here with a few tips to help us figure out how to seal the most common sources of drafts and leaks is Kevin O’Connor.
KEVIN: Hi, Tom.
TOM: So where do we begin?
KEVIN: Well, you know, there’s a lot of places that air can get into the house; so think about where it might come through. Weatherstrip your doors and your windows and don’t forget to caulk around your trim. You also don’t want to limit yourself to the penetrations that go between the inside and the outside of your house. Think about looking at the vertical gaps that lead up to the attic. And here’s a good tip: if you see dirty fiberglass batts, well that means you have got air movement. Think about using expanding foam because that can seal all these penetrations.
TOM: And speaking of fiberglass batts, let’s not forget about the insulation, right?
KEVIN: No, absolutely not. Insulation is designed to prevent heat loss or gain through conduction and that’s the movement of heat through a solid surface; whereas air sealing is designed to prevent heat loss or gain through convection and that’s the movement of air itself. Both are critical to maintaining an energy-efficient house.
And for more information, we’ve got lots of videos on ThisOldHouse.com that will show you how to seal the gaps and cracks around your house.
TOM: Great tip. Kevin O’Connor, thanks for stopping by the show.
KEVIN: Always great to be here.
LESLIE: Thanks, Kevin. I am feeling warmer already.
TOM: And This Old House is proudly sponsored by ERA. ERA – always there for you.
Still ahead, new trends in flooring options are turning towards renewable materials but are they tough enough for your home. We’re going to find out, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:23:49.0]
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 and why don’t you go ahead and pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because you will get help with your home improvement project but you will also get a chance to win a pretty great prize. We’ve got a $50 Lowe’s gift card up for grabs this hour that you can use towards a super-great investment. If you’re looking for energy efficiency at your house and also curb appeal, why not use that gift card to pick up a Benchmark door by Therma-Tru? They install very easily. You can do it yourself. They’re made of fiberglass. They’ve got all of the beauty of wood but you get the benefits of the fiberglass. There’s no rotting, there’s no warping, swelling, cracking. You’ll never have to take care of this thing. You just look at it and enjoy it. So give us a call with your home improvement question – the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT – for your chance to win that $50 gift card.
Well, you know, we’re often asked about flooring by callers. It’s actually one of the most common questions we get asked and most people want to know what type of flooring is best for their specific situation. And while we still think laminate flooring is very good – because it’s very durable, there’s tons of styles and options available; it can look like everything from river rock to hardwood – but there are a couple of other options that might work as well and one of those options is bamboo flooring. You know, bamboo is gaining a lot of popularity because it’s very strong, it’s resilient, it’s a renewable material and it also has the warmth of wood but with sort of a contemporary twist. And there are lots of finishes and different cuts of the wood that are available and they all give you a slightly different look. So definitely consider bamboo. I will tell you, it’s hard as the dickens. It really is tough stuff.
LESLIE: And it really, really is beautiful. I mean you can’t go wrong with a bamboo floor.
If you’re looking for something that’s sort of along those lines but with a very different look, you might want to consider cork. It’s a renewable resource as well. The only downside with cork is that it does have to be sealed if you want to make it moisture-resistant; so not your first choice for, say, kitchens or baths but you can absolutely use it there if you take the proper sealing methods. It kind of feels soft under your feet, I feel like, with cork. It’s durable, it’s gorgeous but you also don’t get that stiffness if you’re standing on your feet a long time in the kitchen with a cork floor. So it’s a great option to look at.
There’s a company called Spanco (ph) out of Colorado, I think, that has beautiful cork flooring options. If you’re looking for some more ideas, if you want pros and cons to different building materials, check out page 13 of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. It’s available right now at Amazon.com. Or you can head on over to MoneyPit.com and search flooring. You’ll get great ideas there.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Fran in New Jersey needs some help with a caulking project. What can we do for you today?
FRAN: Hi. Yeah, we had our bathroom redone about five or six years ago.
FRAN: And it seems that the bathtub where the tiles meet the bathtub, the caulk, it keeps on not cracking exactly but …
LESLIE: But pulling away?
FRAN: Pulling away. Thank you. And we’ve had it redone. Now, we had it done professionally and we’ve had it redone a few times and it keeps on happening and it’s driving me crazy because it always looks dirty because you see the black, you know, from coming …
TOM: Gunk that gets in, yeah. Yeah, Fran, we have a great trick of the trade for that. Here’s what I want you to do. The first thing you need to do is to remove all the old caulk. Now, if it doesn’t come off easily …
LESLIE: And this is a project you can do yourself. No more hiring somebody for this.
FRAN: OK, we’ve done – now we’ve done this a couple of times.
TOM: Alright, so you know how to get rid of the old caulk. And there’s a product called a caulk softener, which is sort of like a paint stripper for caulk, that makes it really easy to get the old stuff out.
TOM: Now, after it’s out, you need to wipe it clean and I want you to use a bleach-and-water solution to do that. And then we want you to fill the tub with water all the way to the top.
TOM: Now, the reason you’re doing that is because it weights the tub down. While the tub is filled with water, then you caulk the tub, let the caulk dry and then let the water out of the tub. What happens is the tub comes back up and compresses the caulk and, this way, when you stand in it, you don’t pull the caulk apart.
LESLIE: It causes the cork to sort of be springy and grow with the tub and tile as there’s movement.
TOM: That’s what you need.
FRAN: So about how long should it take before it dries; couple of hours?
TOM: Yeah, couple hours. You know, maybe do it at night and let it sit overnight and then let the water out the next day.
FRAN: OK. Thank you very, very much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Fran. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Robert in Florida is having a problem with some ceramic tiles. Tell us about it.
ROBERT: Well, we were sitting on the lanai one afternoon recently and all of a sudden there’s like an earthquake. All of my tiles started popping up in the air. Pieces were crumbling and (chuckles) coming …
TOM: Wow. You had a Florida earthquake?
ROBERT: Yeah, and …
ROBERT: Yeah, I don’t know what caused it all but the thing is, we’re planning to have it retiled and we don’t want to have that problem again and I don’t know what caused it; whether it was …
TOM: So the only thing that popped up was all the tile?
TOM: No other shaking, rattling or rolling going on in the house, John (ph)?
ROBERT: No. In fact, I had been in the home before and people told me that they woke up in the middle of the night when several of their tiles popped up in the air.
TOM: Popped up. I’m wondering if there’s something going on with the adhesive that was used for the tile and with temperature changes, at some point in time, it just releases. I mean it could have been a bad adhesive to begin with. I don’t think this is an earth-moving experience here. I think this is physics. I think you have expansion and contraction and temperature change and adhesive that’s losing its ability to adhere. So you’re smart to pull them all off and start from scratch and I can’t – this is the first time I’ve ever heard of this problem so I have a hard time believing it could happen again.
When the tile comes off, does the adhesive stay stuck to the floor or does it come off of the floor so you’re looking at the raw concrete?
ROBERT: Most of the adhesive was stuck to the floor.
TOM: OK. So, it’s separating from the tile. Yeah, I suspect that there was a problem with the adhesive. Perhaps it was the wrong type of adhesive and it’s just separating from the tile. I can’t imagine you’re going to have the problem again.
ROBERT: Should there be a membrane applied before you put the tile down if you’re using …
TOM: Well, you’re on a slab down there in Florida?
ROBERT: Yeah, a concrete lanai, yeah.
TOM: Well, yeah. But the problem is that if you put a membrane down then you’ve got to adhere the membrane. I don’t really see a reason for putting that in.
TOM: I think you could probably attach right to what you have.
ROBERT: Yeah, I’ve talked to several people. Some people said they felt it was not applied with enough thinset. But it was weird. It was just like the pressure was built up …
TOM: Yeah, I think this was either an error in application or a problem with the glue and I don’t think it’s likely to repeat itself if it’s done well.
ROBERT: But your explanation is similar to somebody else in terms of a temperature change and like that, so …
TOM: Well, what you want to do – and what you want to do, Robert, is take all of the explanations and average them.
TOM: (chuckles) You’ll come up with the answer.
ROBERT: (chuckles) Yeah.
TOM: But I would give us a little bit more weight. We’ve got the radio show. (Leslie chuckles)
ROBERT: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
I think so many times people take a poll. (chuckles) You know what I mean? I want two votes, though.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Hmm, let me see. Alright, three people said the same.
TOM: I want my answer to count at least twice. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Alright, that’s good. I’ll give you that.
Well, when it comes to the cost to run your house, after heating or cooling your home, heating the water that you use is the biggest energy expense that you’ve got. We’re going to tell you which water heater is going to work the best for you, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:31:43.3]
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, were you just thinking to yourself, “Gosh, I don’t have enough ways to keep up with The Money Pit”? (Tom chuckles) I know Tom and I were. And so we decided to become part of the hipster community out there and give you The Money Pit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can become a fan of ours on Facebook. You can catch our Twitter updates. You can follow our blogs. And by the way, our blogs are on the super new and improved MoneyPit.com which truly is fantastic. Job well done, Tom.
TOM: Thank you very much. And you can also send us an e-mail while you’re there at MoneyPit.com and Bob did just that and he’s got a financial question.
LESLIE: That’s right. Bob writes: “From a financial point of view, which is cheaper to run: a water heater or a tankless water heater? I need my 40-gallon hot water heater” – he wrote it and I’ve tried not to say it but I read it anyway (Tom laughs) – “I need my 40-gallon water heater replaced. I’m a plumber, so there’s no labor cost to think about.”
TOM: Well, he’s got a big advantage because he is a plumber. He doesn’t have to pay plumbing bills or, I guess, perhaps …
LESLIE: Or that hourly fee. Does he write himself a check? (chuckles)
TOM: Or that hourly fee. Exactly. And yes, we don’t call it a hot water heater because that’s redundant. But when comparing a water heater to a tankless water heater or, say, a tanked water heater to a tankless, definitely, definitely tankless is going to be a lot cheaper to run in the long haul. Now, of course it’s going to be more expensive to buy up front but not terribly more expensive and, in fact, probably if you compare a tanked water heater, a high-efficiency one, they’re almost the same but definitely a little bit more money for a tankless. But think about it, you’re only going to be heating hot water when you actually need it; so that’s what makes tankless such a great idea.
You know, if you want to look at what’s new in tankless, Rheem has a great website. You should check them out at Rheem.com.
LESLIE: Alright, next up, we’ve got one here from Nish (sp) in San Diego who writes: “I dropped a large glass dish which broke and, unfortunately, put a gouge in my wood floor. It’s not very noticeable but if there’s an easy way to fill it and make it look better, I’d like to try.”
TOM: Ah. Hmm. Big gouge. Well …
LESLIE: I wonder if that steaming trick might work.
TOM: See, I was thinking about that but steaming only works if it’s a dent. So if you have a dent in the floor and the wood is compressed and you use a steam iron …
LESLIE: Well, dent, gouge, tomato, tom-ah-to?
TOM: Gouge means – infers that you’ll pulled material out of it.
TOM: And all the steam in the world in the world is not going to fill that hole. (chuckles)
TOM: So what you really need to do here is think about what filler options you have.
Now, if it is a darkly-colored floor and if it’s in a low-traffic area, you could use a wax filler. The advantage of a wax filler is that they blend perfectly; the disadvantage is they’re not really strong. I mean it’s basically a waxy surface, so it can easily be dented and scratched. So I wouldn’t put this in the middle of the thoroughfare but if it’s under the couch or something like that, you know, or at the side of it, who cares.
If you do have to actually, you know, do something more than that, then you’re going to need to use a filler that’s colored. I would get some plastic wood and I would tint it with some stain to match it. I would very carefully sand out the area, I would fill it in with a tinted filler to make it match and then I polyurethane on top of it. It’s going to look a little different for a while, because you’ll have new polyurethane against old, but eventually it’ll fade in and then all look the same.
LESLIE: Does the same, when you’re mixing it with a wood filler, change the consistency? Do you need to sort of work on the balancing of the two?
TOM: Gotta be – yeah, you know, you can’t be too sloppy with the stain. It’ll make it a little bit looser but it’ll do a good job.
LESLIE: You know, I’ve also worked with – you mentioned those waxy crayons. If you do a search for wood fillers and do a search on hard wax crayons for wood filling, there are some that you seriously have to melt with a lighter.
TOM: Oh, yeah.
LESLIE: Melt it into the spot. And then I’ve even had to use paint scrapers to sort of smooth it over. And that is made perfectly for tabletops, countertops that are – you know, a surface that gets a lot of use and abuse and cleaning. So there are some out there. They’re in tons of colors. You might have to experiment but there’s a good option for you, so good luck with that.
TOM: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online 24/7 at MoneyPit.com where you can search for the answer to any home improvement question.
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: 0:36:27.1]
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.)