Mix pumpkins and plumbing, and you'll end up with a plumbing bill. Learn why. Get advice on pest control, including how to keep rodents from taking shelter in your home. Get tips on cellulose insulation from Tom Silva, the general contractor on This Old House. Plus get answer to your home improvement questions about, repairing window screens, fixing cracks in the Sheetrock walls, insulating a crawl space, repairing crumbling stairs, leveling a garage floor, humidifiers and indoor air quality, granite countertops and avoiding stains on them, and replacement windows.
TRANSCRIPT FOR OCTOBER 19, 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, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to help you get those jobs done around the house. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it is fall and the busy season for plumbing problems and that makes it, of course, the busy season for plumbers. Fortunately, we are somewhat in the plumber prevention business because we’ve got tips to help you keep that system in good working order; including advice on how not to clog up your kitchen sink and your garbage disposer. We’re going to share what that is, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And as it turns cold outside, not only do we love to scamper indoors to stay warm; so do lots of those furry, little friends like to head inside your house to take shelter. Well, we’re going to share some tips on pest control, coming up.
TOM: Plus, to help you stay warm throughout the winter, we’re going to have tips on how to lower those heating bills and increase your comfort when we talk to Tom Silva and Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House about how to add cellulose insulation.
LESLIE: And we’ve got a great prize for you this hour, just in time for flu season. We are giving away a Silver Ion HEPA air filter from Alen Corporation worth 210 bucks.
TOM: So let’s get to it. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Cindy in Nebraska needs some help with screen damage. Tell us what happened.
CINDY: Recently, we had a hailstorm and we have nylon screens that are about 13 years old. And I would like to know how difficult it is to repair those screens or whether it would be more cost effective to replace them.
TOM: Nylon screens tend to deteriorate with exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Unless they’re fairly new, they’re generally not worth repairing. What I would rather you do is take the screens to a local hardware store and have them replaced. It’s a fairly simple process; not that difficult to do; not terribly expensive and it’ll look a lot better.
CINDY: Alrighty. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Cindy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now you can’t get the roll of nylon screen and the tubing and the pizza-cutter-looking tool and just replace it yourself?
TOM: Sure, you can but, you know, unless you’ve done this a bunch of times, it tends to get kind of saggy. But it’s not a hard job to do.
LESLIE: That is true.
Roger in Alaska is dealing with a house that is showing some cracks. Tell us about the problem.
ROGER: Well, I was born and raised and lived all my life in Louisiana and just recently moved up to Anchorage and we bought a little house up here; by far the youngest house I’ve ever owned – it’s only nine years old. And …
TOM: Slightly different climate up there in Alaska, huh? (chuckles)
ROGER: Oh, yeah. I have never lived north of I-10 and today there’s snow in the mountains out there. I can see it’ll be snowing in the next month or so.
LESLIE: How nice.
ROGER: But also, I experienced my first earthquake about four weeks ago.
ROGER: And I tell you, that’s an eye-opener and I opened my eyes and I look and I see all the cracks in the sheetrock in the house. Now, there aren’t that many but – and you know, maybe I just didn’t look for them before the quake but after the quake …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, they may have been there all this time.
ROGER: After the quake – it was just a little knock; I mean it wasn’t much but it you knew what it was.
ROGER: And I started looking around. I just want to make sure that – you know, I can understand probably getting around with like the mud filler or spackle or whatever and fix the cracks up and just watch them but I want to make sure that there isn’t something more I should be doing or something to watch for; like what’s settling versus maybe what could be damaged from an earthquake or something like that.
TOM: Well, if you’ve had a significant earthquake, you really need a professional inspection and the way to do that is go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org and find a local professional home inspector to do a structural inspection for you to determine whether or not there’s any damage that’s below the surface.
Fixing those cracks is a pretty straightforward project. You don’t just want to spackle them over though, Roger. You want to put some drywall tape over the crack first. You just spackle the crack, it will simply open up again. I would recommend the perforated fiberglass tape because it’s easy to work with. You have to cut it with a scissors but then it’s self-stick and, because it’s perforated, you just sort of press the spackle right through it; two or three coats and you’re good to go.
Keep in mind also that if it’s a newer home, it’s probably been built to withstand earthquakes. Most homes in earthquake areas do have building codes that allow that and if it’s not, and the inspector will be able to tell you this, it can be retrofitted because there’s programs all over the country – a lot, of course, in California – where contractors come in and simply retrofit homes to make them more earthquake-resistant.
ROGER: OK. Sounds good. Well, I caught you all’s show up here for the first time on KENI radio and I love it; tune in every chance I get.
TOM: Great. We will help make the transition to the colder climate as easy as possible on you, Roger. (Leslie chuckles)
ROGER: I tell you, I may have some other questions about frost even in the yard and everything once we get a little closer to winter. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, well you call us back. Alright. Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call back any time.
LESLIE: Time to step into the bathroom with Gabriela in New Jersey. So you’re doing a renovation. How can we help?
GABRIELA: Yeah, it’s nice to talk to you. I like your show a lot.
LESLIE: Thank you.
TOM: Thank you.
GABRIELA: We’re saving up to do our bathroom in a couple of months; to start, hopefully. And what I’m wondering is – you know, we go into the stores – The Home Depot, the Lowe’s, the Expos – and I see that it’s beautiful sinks and the tubs that have the jets and what an investment it is, you know, to get it started.
GABRIELA: But in the end – like, you know, maybe down the line; I don’t know, 10 or 12, 15 years from now – I don’t know, is it worth the – do you get kind of your money back? Does it add that much value to your home to splurge?
TOM: Sure. There are certain home improvements that will give you a great return on investment and others that won’t and improving your bathroom or your kitchen really consistently, over the years, have given you the best ROI. So you’re going to get two benefits: first of all, you’re going to get an improved or maintained home value; and secondly, you’re going to have the sidekick benefit of being able to use that for the next decade or so. So I think that it’s wise to spend a bit of money on a bathroom or a kitchen upgrade. You don’t necessarily have to go luxury. You can go mid-grade and do just fine.
GABRIELA: OK. Alright.
LESLIE: I mean it really depends on your preference; what do you like. I mean when it comes down to it, it’s what do you like and the durability is really going to work itself out in the end.
GABRIELA: OK, yeah. I mean I do want something nice – you know, that’s comfortable; that’ll last a while – but in conversation with my husband, he’s like, “Well, a sink is a sink and the water will come out and it’ll drain and …” (chuckles) You know? And I see his point but the look and the appeal of it is that …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, you know what? Sure. You want to invest in good-quality products. They are going to give you a good return on investment. You know, a sink – yes, all sinks hold water. Some look a little more stylish than others, some wear better than others and especially the plumbing fixtures themselves. You know, there’s a big difference between a good-quality faucet from Moen and one that perhaps is from some lesser manufacturer. They look good and they last for a long time. There’s nothing like having ceramic valves, for example, that are not going to leak.
TOM: Alright, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Well, we’ve got days til Halloween. How spooky is your money pit? Well, we can help you get that house in spookified shape to scare all those trick-or-treaters; so give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Speaking of Halloween, one project you might be planning to do this week is carving up that jack-o-lantern. But before you do, there’s one tip you need to know that will prevent an unnecessary plumbing problem and perhaps help you avoid a trip from the plumber. We’re going to tell you what that is, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:08:41.7]
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a chance at winning this week’s prize. It’s a T100 HEPA air purifier from Alen Corporation. It’s basically a two-pack of their Silver Ion air filter that removes about 50 percent of viruses that cause the flu after only 24 hours of use. So it’s great for flu season. It is a prize package worth 210 bucks; going to go out to one caller who calls in their home improvement question right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to hear what you are working on. And give us a call if you’ve just carved a pumpkin and you’re wondering, “What the heck do I do with all this junk that was on the inside?” Well, being that it’s Halloween season, every year this time of year, American plumbers get the call to repair garbage disposers and kitchen sink drains clogged with all of that sticky pumpkin pulp and all of those seeds that you have to pull out from the inside in your process of making that kick-butt jack-o-lantern.
Now, the goopy by-product of those jack-o-lantern enthusiasts out there, mostly you should be cooking them and eating them. But the pulp on the inside, unfortunately, is ideal for clogging household drains. Now, the pulp dries and then it hardens inside all your pipes and the disposers and it can just cause a host of problems.
TOM: So here’s what you need to do: never put the pumpkin guts down the kitchen sink – that’s first; or even worse – don’t flush them down the toilet. You’re thinking, “Who would possibly do that?”
TOM: Well, apparently, a lot of people do because that’s one of the reasons that plumbers get called a lot, according to some surveys that are out there. And to guard against Halloween drain disasters, you want to carve those pumpkins on a bed of newspapers and then wrap up the entire mess and throw all pumpkin-related materials into the trash cans – not down the sink; into the garbage. Keep that in mind and you’ll keep your drains clear and your wallet full (Leslie chuckles) because you won’t be paying the plumber to come clean them out.
888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Maybe you’ve got a plumbing question that this whole conversation reminds you of. We’d love to hear it. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Catherine in Virginia has some odd things flying out of the vents in her home. Tell us about what you’re seeing? You’re saying it’s like fiberglass?
CATHERINE: Well, when it touches your skin – if I go to dust the furniture or sit down on a soft piece of furniture that’s fabric and you can’t see the particles, when you touch your skin it gives a sensation of fiberglass insulation.
CATHERINE: It kind of burns and then there’s this tiny, tiny, white particle that actually burrows into the skin and I can’t get it out and it’s (inaudible at 0:11:39.5).
TOM: And you think that that’s coming from the ceiling vents?
CATHERINE: Well, I’ve never noticed it before until I went to change my vents about three months ago.
TOM: And what kind of filters do you have in the system, Catherine?
CATHERINE: Well, actually, I don’t know. It was just the kind I get from Lowe’s.
TOM: Well, is it the kind that’s about an inch thick and as wide as the register itself?
CATHERINE: Yes, sir. It’s 20x20x1.
TOM: Yeah, those are the fiberglass filters. You know, you would be better off using an electronic air cleaner in that house and that’s an appliance that’s actually installed at the return duct. Very, very efficient; it takes out down to virus-sized particles and it will definitely scrub that air from whatever ails it.
CATHERINE: Oh, like …
TOM: Those big, fiberglass filters; you know, we call them pebble stops. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Pebble stoppers. (chuckles)
CATHERINE: OK. Because I even got the real expensive kind.
TOM: Yeah, well that’s better than the inexpensive kind but an electronic air cleaner would be far more effective here for you. You’ll see a big difference.
CATHERINE: Is that something I can do on my own?
TOM: No, you’ll have to have an HVAC contractor install it but once you do, you’ll see an immediate difference in the air quality in your house.
CATHERINE: That sounds great. Thank you so much and I’m a big fan.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You’re welcome. Good luck. Oh, thank you so much.
888-666-3974 is the telephone number. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Chris in Texas is calling in with an insulation question. What can we do for you today?
CHRIS: Yes, I’ve had some work done on my – I’ve got a [pin beam] (ph) and I had some work done on the foundation; where they went in there and leveled the house and everything and they pulled all the old insulation out between the floor joists. And this summer, after they did that, I realized it got extremely hot in the house …
TOM and LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
CHRIS: … and I was wanting to know – I went back with hardy backer siding that I cut down for the underpinning on it.
CHRIS: And I was wanting to know if it would be worth my while to put like a ¾-inch foam; maybe Liquid Nail it to the backside of the hardy backer. Would that help at all?
TOM: You’re on a crawlspace; is that correct?
TOM: OK. And this siding basically goes from the house down to grade?
TOM: And the insulation that they removed was in the floor joists between the soil and the underside of the house?
CHRIS: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
TOM: OK, and did you replace that insulation?
CHRIS: No, sir. I didn’t want to go back with it for moisture reasons and it had a real flimsy net that was holding it up in the bottom of the joist.
TOM: Here’s what you should do, Chris. You should replace the insulation. You don’t need to use the net. You can use wire insulation holders which go between the joists.
LESLIE: They’re like little straps.
TOM: In terms of the moisture, you can put a humidistat in that crawlspace area and wire it to crawlspace ventilation fans so that when it becomes damp and humid down there, the humidistat will bring the fans on. That will draw drier air through that space and warm it up. But I think that’s going to be better for you than trying to insulate these side walls of the crawlspace. The best place to insulate the floor is in that floor space. That’s going to be responsible for about 15 percent of your heat loss and down there, it’s going to make a difference on your air conditioning bills as well.
CHRIS: Alrighty. I sure do appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Daniel in Illinois needs some help with some concrete steps. Tell us about the problem.
DANIEL: Fine. I had a question about a crumbling concrete step. I was wondering if there’s any products on the market that would stabilize that old concrete or do I have to just knock the whole thing down?
TOM: No, you can resurface it. What you want is an epoxy patching material.
TOM: And you can buy epoxy patches at home centers. There’s a good website for a manufacturer that makes a good-quality product called Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n. And actually, if you go there, you’ll see lots of examples of people doing this exact repair of resurfacing badly deteriorated concrete steps and that sort of thing.
DANIEL: Oh, that’s great. And how much time do you think that would take?
TOM: Well, it depends on the level of deterioration but most of these products are chemical cure; so they cure fairly quickly. But I think it’s a project that you can do in a day, for sure.
DANIEL: Oh, that’s great. That’s great. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Teak (sp) on the line who’s dealing with a leaky tub. Tell us what’s going on?
TEAK (sp): Hi. Well, we’ve got water condensing on the bottom of a big, cast iron tub; leaking down on the floor right below it, that it sits on; and then the water was running through those boards – in between those boards down into some insulation – and the ceiling below was getting wet and I’m wondering what I can do to keep that …
TOM: Are you guys taking cold baths there, Teak (sp)?
TEAK (sp): You’d think so, wouldn’t you?
TOM: Well, you would think so because, typically, you get condensation on the outside of a cold surface. Are you sure you don’t have a leak here?
TEAK (sp): We had everything checked out. It’s not a leak. You can – we tore a hole in the ceiling downstairs and you can see that it’s just all where that tub sits; that whole area. You know, it’s about a 2-1/2’x5’ area is just dripping.
TEAK (sp): The drips on those boards were real close together. I could tell that it wasn’t a leak.
TOM: Well, I suspect that it is a leak because I don’t think you can get condensation from a tub.
TEAK (sp): We’re right on the coast.
TOM: (groans) Is the – the tub would have to be very cold for the condensation to occur.
TEAK (sp): There’s a vent, an AC vent, right above the tub.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well. Now, do you have central air conditioning here?
TEAK (sp): Yes, we do.
TOM: You know, you may be a good candidate for something called a whole-home dehumidifier. Have you ever heard of this?
TEAK (sp): Uh-huh.
TOM: And what’s nice about is it’s centrally installed, so it’s not like you have anything where you have a pan that fills up with water. It just runs 24/7 and it’s hooked up to a condensate pump.
TEAK (sp): OK.
TOM: But I think that that – in an area where you have high humidity, so high that you’re getting these unusual condensation problems, I bet you have more than just what’s happening at the tub. I think that would be a good solution here.
TEAK (sp): OK. Now, does that come in more than one size?
TOM: It’s sized based on the square footage of the house.
TEAK (sp): OK.
TOM: OK. You would buy it through a heating and cooling contractor and I think not only will you see this condensation problem go away but you will also find that you’re going to be spending less money on air conditioning because you’re going to be a lot more comfortable with less humidity in the air.
Up next, a home improvement solution that will keep you warm all winter long. We’re going to get tips on installing cellulose insulation from This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:27.7]
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: You can follow us on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook or simply visit us at MoneyPit.com or pick up the phone. Lots of ways to contact us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Bill in Arkansas who’s dealing with a moldy roof. Tell us about it.
BILL: I live in Arkansas, North Arkansas, and my shingles – asphalted shingles – keep accumulating a mildew. Fungus growth is what it’s referred to sometimes …
BILL: … and I wonder if you have a good solution or a good remedy …
TOM: Well, first of all, is your roof covered by trees; is it fairly shady?
BILL: No, it’s – well, since we had our ice storm and lost a lot of limbs, it’s exposed totally now.
TOM: OK, well that actually will help because the more sunlight you get here, the less fungus you’re going to have on this roof. But what you need to do is you need to wash the roof down and you need to use a siding wash like Jomax, which you can find at a home center, which is a cleaner that’s mixed with bleach and it’ll kill the moss or the fungus that’s there. Let it sit for a while and then you wash it off.
Now, once it’s washed off, what I want you to do is to add some copper strips to the ridge and you can do this with a copper ridge vent or simply using copper flashing; wrap it right across the ridge of the roof. Because as it rains, the rain will strike that copper and release some of the metal and it acts as a mildicide as well and washes the roof as it comes down.
So, that’s the way you clean it and slow it from coming back and the fact that you lost a lot of branches is going to keep more sunlight on that and make it a little bit more difficult for that roof moss to grab hold.
LESLIE: Well, this is a perfect time of year to assess your home’s insulation and determine whether more is needed. You’ll know if you’re freezing, right? (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
TOM: Well, you can certainly use the batt-type insulation but there is another option and here to tell us about it is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor and Tom Silva, the show’s general contractor.
Welcome, guys. And Kevin, cellulose is a pretty green option, too.
KEVIN: Yeah, that’s right. Cellulose insulation is actually a very green product. Not only does it help save energy but it’s also made from recycled newsprint and other paper that might otherwise end up in a landfill. And Tommy, because it’s loose insulation, it’s also a good DIY project.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely, Kevin. Almost anybody can do it. If you’re handy around the house, you like to work and you like to get a little dirty, you can do it. But you can blow it in your attic. Blow it extra thick because it will settle down. You can rent a machine at the home center and buy the cellulose there also.
But if you want to blow it in your wall cavities, you can do that, too. You want to put two holes in every stud bay; do it from the outside. Depends on what kind of siding you have; you have wood shingles, wood clapboards, vinyl or aluminum. I think the aluminum is probably the most difficult to deal with because it dents; so getting it off is easy but putting it back on is hard. You want to make sure you blow it twice in every bay, as I said, to dense pack it and it’ll really make a big difference in your house.
KEVIN: And if we’re putting it up in the attic – let’s say you’re still using that attic for storage – are there ways to work around it?
TOM SILVA: Yeah, you can do the section of the attic that doesn’t have floorboards on it that you are basically storing stuff on. Remove the floorboards, put a rigid foam insulation on top of the floorboards and then cover that with a thin layer of plywood and store on top of that.
KEVIN: Alright, well if you need more information you can watch a video on how to install cellulose insulation, on ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: So a drafty attic, a good thing; drafty house, not so much.
Tom Silva, Kevin O’Connor, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Good to be here.
LESLIE: And you know, that’s a great project. It’s not too difficult to do yourself and it’s one that you will definitely see results from in your home’s comfort level and your energy bills.
TOM: For more great ideas on fixing up your home, be sure to watch Kevin and Tommy on This Old House which is brought to you by their proud sponsor, GMC. GMC – we are professional-grade.
Up next, do you hear the subtle sounds of scurrying animals in your house at all hours of the night? Well, that could be mice seeking shelter. We’re going to tell you how to hang a No Vacancy sign that rodents can read, after this.
LESLIE: Wait, I didn’t know rodents could read.
TOM: Only the smart ones. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) They’re the ones that know how to get in.
LESLIE: (chuckling) But not out.
[audio timestamp: 0:23:42.2]
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 and the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Now, if you pick up the phone and dial that number, you will get expert advice, of course, as we always give to you. And we’re going to give you the answers to your most burning home improvement questions like how long does it take [to paint dry] (ph), why is my house freezing, et cetera, et cetera. We will give you a hand but one lucky caller is going to win a great prize and this week we’re giving away the T100 air purifier from Alen Corporation. It comes with two extra Silver Ion HEPA air filters and the Silver is eco-friendly and nontoxic and naturally provides antibacterial and antifungal and antiviral protection. Good God, this thing is amazing and it’s flu season, so think about it. (Tom chuckles) You’ll never have to wash your hands again. It’s worth $210. One caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win that prize, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, cooler weather means little, furry creatures might be looking for a warm place to winter over. So to keep mice away from your home, you want to avoid creating nesting sites that look a little bit too comfortable for them. For example, stacks of newspapers, cardboard boxes and firewood all encourage nesting. You want to keep these items off the floor inside and away from the foundation outside. Mice can squeeze through really small places; sometimes as small as a dime. So make sure you seal up any spaces with steel wool, which they can’t chew through, and pay attention to the areas around pipes, vents and ducts. For those areas where they go through the wall, that’s like a big, fat front door “Come on in” sign for rodents.
LESLIE: (chuckles) And I know everybody thinks – as soon as you have a mouse in your house you’re like, “But I keep a very clean house.” So let me say this anyway. If you feel like you have a mouse or you think you’re going to get one, remember to keep your house super-duper clean. You want to sweep up all those crumbs and store your dry foods like cereal – and I should say especially pet food – in plastic containers because those little mice can chew through everything. So put all of that dry, attractive, tasty treats into plastic Tupperware and it will keep them away.
Now, there are poisons designed to eliminate rodent infestations and they work well as long as you follow those instructions because kids and pets in your house, they will find their way into it. So make sure you use them safely, follow the directions and keep those furry, little critters out of your house. Only you get to stay warm.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. We are here to help.
LESLIE: June in Alabama, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JUNE: I have granite countertops in the kitchen and I’ve only had them a year-and-a-half and they’ve turned dark and they’re cleaned periodically; probably every three months. But they’re much more attractive light and they’ve just turned dark; especially around the stove and around the sink.
TOM: Now June, when you clean them, do they brighten up again?
JUNE: They brighten up and they shine but the color doesn’t change.
LESLIE: It sounds like you’re dealing with two areas where there’s a lot of moisture, especially around the sink; and it seems to me, just from the description, that perhaps the seal that’s on the top of the granite – which needs to be taken care of every year; you need to put a new coating on it – but it seems like perhaps it failed where they cut the tile – you know, the granite edge – for the sink or for the two pieces that butt up to the stove and maybe you got moisture underneath. And it seems like mold, wouldn’t you think, Tom?
TOM: Well, it also sounds like – I was thinking along the same lines; that the seal may have failed. You know, there’s a website called Stonecare.com. It’s got some great products that could actually straighten this out. You’re probably …
JUNE: I went to that website but they have so many products. The only thing that I saw that might apply was a degreaser.
TOM: June, I think that the product that you need is actually a stain remover. It’s a poultice powder, which is essentially designed to lightly abrade the surface, and it works for food stains, it works for mildew stains and there are even stain removers for things that are tough like oil and grease to get out. It sounds to me like this countertop probably wasn’t sealed properly when it was first installed and, as a result, you’ve had a lot of absorption just from normal use. And so you kind of need to get those stains out and then we can start over again, once it’s nice and clean, with a good-quality sealer and not have to deal with it again.
JUNE: OK. So where do I get this stain remover?
TOM: Well, that website that I was talking about, Stone Care, has different types of poultice powders. I think the product that you want is called FPP Stain Remover. It’s about 20 bucks a pint and that ought to do it for the whole top.
JUNE: OK. Alright, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You know it’s interesting. This darkening sort of occurs when moisture gets trapped underneath and it’s even worse with like oils. That’s why they say – and this is something new that I learned – never, ever put a pizza box on top of a granite countertop because if the oil sort of saturates the box and then sucks into the countertop, forget it; it’s like a moisture stain that’s never going to dry.
TOM: As beautiful as granite tops are, they really take a lot of work to keep them clean and looking good.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Scott in Hawaii who’s dealing with a drainage problem. What’s going on in your fabulous paradise home there, mister? (Tom chuckles)
SCOTT: (chuckles) Well, I have a concrete floor, slab floor, in a garage that has been modified to be used for a surgery room for horses. And so it has …
LESLIE: I was going to say. (chuckles)
SCOTT: … quite a lot of force on it and the floor isn’t level. And so there’s a – the low spot is near the end of the surgery table. And I was wondering if there’s a good way to raise the floor an inch or two and not have to dig it all up.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I would recommend a floor leveling compound for that.
TOM: You can get a cement-based floor leveling compound. It will adhere well to the existing concrete and, you know, it can add as much as an inch or so to that floor. So you can use it for this exact purpose and that is to level out the low spots.
SCOTT: Does it have a minimum thickness that it needs to be or …?
TOM: Why, because you want it to have no thickness in some places and a lot in others?
SCOTT: Well, I’d like not to raise the floor too much because then I have a problem with the height of the room.
TOM: No, I don’t think you have to raise it that much. I mean you can raise it whatever you need to. The idea of a leveling compound is to allow you to do just that; to level out the …
SCOTT: OK, and if I want to shape it a little bit so that it does drain on out where it’s supposed to …
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yep. Sure. Well, as the compound starts to dry, it’ll become less flexible and you can shape it.
SCOTT: OK, and cracking; do I need wire or anything in it or just (inaudible at 0:31:13.6)?
TOM: Probably not, probably not. Another place that you could take a look at, another website that has products that will do this as well, is Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n.
TOM: They make epoxy-based compounds that you may find a little harder than basic floor-leveling compounds because floor-leveling compounds are designed to go under tile or hardwood floor or something like that and the epoxy compounds may be a little stronger on their own because …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, they’re made to actually be the surface.
SCOTT: OK. Alrighty.
TOM: Alright? But you certainly can shape it and get it to do what you need to do here.
SCOTT: Oh, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if replacing windows at your money pit is on your to-do list, do you think it’s a job you can do yourself or maybe you can’t handle it. We’re going to help you figure that out, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:09.3]
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, have you guys had a chance to check out our super-amazing, brand, spanking new website, MoneyPit.com? It’s awesome, it’s easy to surf through. You’ll find lots of great and useful information on all of your home improvement projects. Plus, live on MoneyPit.com right now, we have got a free chapter for you from our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure and it’s called “Your Complete Window Replacement Guide.” You can get it today or while you’re online, search for your home improvement solution. It’s all at MoneyPit.com, right there at your fingertips.
And while you are online, you can e-mail us your question. Click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon. And I’ve got one here from David who wrote in asking, “I’m looking at a new vinyl picture window with two double-hung windows. There are big differences in price from one store to the next. I’m installing them myself. All the windows do qualify for the tax credit. Do you recommend a couple of brands or are they all the same quality?”
TOM: Good question.
LESLIE: Should he be doing this himself?
TOM: I think so.
TOM: The key here is measurement. You need to have the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s rep come to your house and measure the windows because they all measure them slightly differently and you want to make sure, when these windows show up; because, frankly, everything that’s in the replacement category is, in fact, custom – you know, plus or minus ¼ of an inch. So you want to make sure that they measure them for this particular manufacturer.
Now, you can do it yourself. It’s a little tricky getting the old window out but once you get the opening prepared, slipping it back in is not that difficult and you can do them one at a time as well.
LESLIE: And you know, David, it’s great that the windows that you’re looking at do qualify for that tax credit but there are a couple of other things that you want to look at when you’re shopping for these windows. First, you want to look for something that’s called the NFRC label on those windows and that stands for the National Fenestration Rating Council. There’ll be a guide there and a number. Make sure it’s on the windows as well.
You also want to look into something called Energy Star rating. They don’t have to be to qualify for the tax credit but it’s nice if they’re also Energy Star rated. This way, you know you’re getting a super-efficient window. If it has both of these labeling systems on them, you know you can compare one window to the next so you’re sort of looking at apples to apples rather than apples to oranges, if you get what I’m saying. And it’s a great project. Tom says you can do it. I feel confident you can, too; so good luck with that.
LESLIE: Alright, now I’ve got one here from DeeDee in Pennsylvania who writes: “Thanks for your wonderful program. I would like to find out about the most economical way of not waiting for hot water in the bathrooms. I waste a lot of water this way.”
TOM: Yeah, I bet you do. Well, it’s a matter of the distance the plumbing has to run from the water heater to the faucet. If the water heater, say, is in the basement and your bathroom is on the second floor, it’s got to go quite a distance. Now, one solution is to add a second water heater. If you go with a tankless water heater, you don’t need very much space to contain the actual water heater as it’s so small and you can have basically zones. You could have one for the second floor, one for the first floor. That’s pretty expensive. It’s always a good energy-efficient thing to do but it’s costly and I don’t think you’re going to save enough in water to pay for it, so it really becomes a practical matter of whether or not the convenience is the issue or you want to invest some money, you know, and just have it your way.
LESLIE: Well, and you know what, DeeDee? While you’re waiting for that water to warm up, you can put a watering can underneath that faucet and use that water that you save there …
TOM: For plants.
LESLIE: … to water all the plants around your house or in the garden. I know it seems like, “Oh, gosh, now I have to get the watering can” but that’s just one idea to think about how you can actually put that water that you’re waiting to warm up to good use.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that it was profitable for you; that we delivered some good tips, some good advice on how you can save money and be more comfortable in your home.
Remember, you can follow us on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook. Those links are on the home page at MoneyPit.com where you can also search for the answers to your home improvement questions.
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: 0:36:53.5]
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.)