Are cracks or nail pops showing up in your walls? Get easy tips to make them disappear. Do you have to rewash you dishes after your dishwasher does? Tom and Leslie help diagnose the problem. Find out how to fix a wobbly toilet from This Old House plumbing expert Richard Trethewey. Plus, get answers to your home improvement questions about installing radiant heating, energy efficient siding, venting a roof, fixing a drafty front door, working with a chimney sweep, insulating a new house, broken door seals, cracks in a tile floor and staining a front door.
TRANSCRIPT FOR NOVEMBER 2, 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: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because we’re here to help you with your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Let’s get it done. (Leslie chuckles) “Let’s get her done!” as Larry the Cable Guy often says. 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. He was recently at the Sovereign Bank Arena; although I didn’t get a chance to see him because it was the same night as the Bruce Springsteen concert.
LESLIE: Lucky, lucky you; Mr. brag, brag, brag. (chuckles)
TOM: (chuckles) Coming up this hour, are you tired of staring at cracks or nail pops in your walls? Want to make them disappear? Well, we’re going to have the step-by-step guide to help you do just that.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, are you finding that you have to rewash your dishes more often than not? Well, it might just be a small and easily-fixed problem with your dishwasher and we’re going to share that solution with you in just a bit.
TOM: And another common problem that’s easily fixed is a wobbly toilet. If you’ve got one, you know it can be pretty disconcerting; not to mention potentially unsafe. We’re going to get help on that, though, from our fellow experts at This Old House.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour we’re giving away a prize that will help with your least loved fall chore; the leaf cleanup. We’ve got a push sweeper from Agri-Fab and it’s worth 149 bucks.
TOM: So call us right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to work.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Cathy in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CATHY: Yes, I had put in a laminate flooring in my kitchen and my dining room about four or five years ago and it’s ice cold in the winter. And I know that – we have a crawlspace under the house, so what do I put under the house maybe to keep the cold from coming up into my dining room and kitchen laminate flooring?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you can get under there? You’ve got no problem? You’re not squeamish or afraid of what might be lurking under there? (Tom chuckles)
CATHY: Oh, I am squeamish but I’m going to have my boyfriend do it. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Ah, there you go.
CATHY: We know where the crawlspace is. He’s going to do; I’m not doing it. (Tom chuckles)
LESLIE: Good, good, good. You can easily insulate that floor by going into your crawlspace and getting those fiberglass batts; you know, get the appropriate width for the area in between those joists. And then what you would do is you need to get – are they wire hangers or like clips, Tom? What are they called officially?
TOM: Yeah, they’re insulation hangers and you want to make sure you use unfaced fiberglass batts; no foil, no paper facing.
LESLIE: So you would roll those batts in between those joists and then use those little clips to attach the insulation itself up to that floor surface from below. And then what you want to do is, to control moisture under there, is you want to get the biggest pieces you can of viscuine; it’s sort of like a plastic vapor barrier.
CATHY: I’ve heard about that.
LESLIE: And you want to get big pieces; lay that out on that dirt floor and when you get to a point where you need to do a joint, don’t butt them up to one another but overlap them by three feet, if you can. So get as wide of pieces as you can so that you’re dealing with limited joints there.
And then you want to control the moisture on the outside of your house by looking at your gutters and your downspouts. You know, make sure that the downspouts are clean and that they’re depositing the water four feet away from your house; further if you can. You want to look at the grading and make sure that all the soil slopes away from the house; everything that you can do to control the moisture will keep that area dry and keep the insulation dry, which will keep it working.
CATHY: Perfect. OK, we’re going to get that done hopefully then. Yeah.
TOM: Alright, Cathy, that’ll keep your tootsies nice and warm this winter.
LESLIE: Can ditch those heavy socks.
CATHY: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, we’re going to chat with Bruce from New York about siding. How can we help you today?
BRUCE: Yes, I’ve been looking at siding or – to put on the house, obviously – and we’ve seen two different types. One has the insulation backed right onto the vinyl siding strips.
BRUCE: And the other has no insulation. It’s just a vinyl but the contractor will put up, I guess, like 2x4 rectangles onto the house.
BRUCE: And then the vinyl will be attached to those rectangles.
TOM: OK, so you want to know which is more energy-efficient?
BRUCE: Which is – well, which is overall better?
TOM: Well, the two-step method is going to be more energy-efficient because the foam sheathing is going to do a better job of sealing up the house than the foam backer. Foam backer and vinyl siding provides such a small amount of insulating value, it’s not worth it. So you don’t need to insulate the siding board itself. I mean they’re like wedges that go from a quarter-inch to a half-inch.
TOM: There’s almost no insulating value because it’s just so thin. But if you put, you know, one-inch foam boards on the house, all the way around, as sheathing and then side over that, that’s going to be much more tight.
BRUCE: Right, it makes sense. Yes.
BRUCE: OK, thanks a lot, guys.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bruce. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Well, the countdown to Turkey Day has officially begun; especially in my house. Is your money pit ready for all of those guests and is your oven ready for that meal? Well, give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’ll help you get your house ready for the big day at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Alright, pop quiz: what’s the difference between spackle and joint compound? You didn’t know there was a difference? Maybe you don’t care. Well, if you want to fix those cracks in your walls and those nail pops that mess up your walls and make sure they don’t crack again, there’s probably something that you should know. We’re going to have the step-by-step guide to fixing up those problems, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:06:14.9]
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. One caller we speak with on the air this hour is going to win the push sweeper from Agri-Fab. This is a great way to pick up leaves and small debris from your lawn. It runs on manpower – or perhaps woman power –
LESLIE: (chuckling) Thank you.
TOM: – so it is very environmentally friendly. You just push the handle and the rotating brushes pick up leaves and deposit them into an easy-to-dump bag. It’s worth 149 bucks but it could be yours if we choose your name at random from those that call the show, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you can dump that bag of leaves anywhere in your yard so that you can and your kids can happily jump into them (Tom chuckles) and then clean them up again and again and again. (chuckles)
Alright, before the break, we were talking about spackle versus joint compound and what the difference is. Do you know the difference? Is there a difference? Well, most people don’t care if it fixes their wall cracks and it’s fantastic and it did the job right but there is actually a difference.
Now, spackle – it’s thicker and you use it to fill nail holes and any other little nicks and dings that you might get in a wall surface. And joint compound – it spreads much more easily and it’s used to cover bigger areas or seam tape or any of those cracks that you’re working on, on the wall. It really is fantastic for that. So you want to make sure you use the right one for perfect and smooth results.
Now, one common wall problem that we hear about and we see a lot – even in our own money pits – is nail pops. They’re harmless but you can definitely hate looking at them. And they happen when your lumber dries out and then it pushes the nail right out of the wall. So if you want to fix it, you simply need to drive a new nail or a screw – and a screw will never back out; we promise you that – right next to the loose one and then cover it with spackle, sand and repaint and your wall will look brand, spanking new.
TOM: Now, if you spot a wall or ceiling crack, that’s probably also a cosmetic problem, usually the result of some settling or some shrinkage, and the best way to fix that is by covering the crack with drywall tape. Now, the easiest drywall tape to use is a perforated drywall tape. It’s a little sticky. It’s usually made of fiberglass. You basically tape across the cracked area, then you put on about two to three layers of spackle. And you don’t want to put it on too thick because it will crack and you’ll have to sand it a lot. A little goes a long way and use multiple coats; that’s the easiest way to get it done.
Now of course you can’t get it done all at one time; you’ve got to take some time in between. But after you go about the third coat, then you can lightly sand it. Then you want to prime it – and that’s very important; don’t forget the priming step – and then repaint; you’ll be good to go. But if you just try to spackle it without the tape, it’s going to come back again and again and again like a bad hair day that will never go away. (Leslie chuckles) So make sure you use the tape and that’ll get the job done right the first time.
888-666-3974. Got another home improvement project on your mind? We’re here to help.
LESLIE: Lee is Illinois needs some help with a porch enclosure. Tell us about the problem.
LEE: Well, I’ve got too mushroom vents and it’s an addition to my house and they just haven’t – the roof just didn’t last. I’m thinking of ridge vents for the whole roof and I wondered if there was a vent that would go along a porch roof, kind of where it’s attached, instead of using the mushroom vents. Is there such a thing?
TOM: If the porch roof does not have soffits, you can add something called a drip-edge vent. And what a drip-edge vent does is it, in essence, creates about a two-inch overhang and creates sort of a mini-soffit where you can get some airflow up underneath the plywood sheathing and then that air would run between the insulation and the underside of the sheathing but you need to make sure it has a place to exhaust at the top.
Now, you mentioned that you have some of those sort of mushroom vents. The best thing is a ridge vent instead of those mushroom vents because you get much better circulation. What happens is wind blows over the roof; it depressurizes at the ridge and that draws air out and, at the same time, it gets positively pressurized at the soffit and that pushes air in. And so that sort of cycle repeats itself and it’s much more efficient than any other type of ventilation system including, by the way, a powered ventilator.
LEE: OK, well that’s – I just need to do that; take care of it that way. That sounds good. Thanks.
TOM: You’re welcome, Lee. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Scott in Illinois is dealing with some drafty French doors. Tell us about the problem.
SCOTT: Yes, my wife and I have about a 15-year-old home where we just moved into last summer. And on the west side of the house, the concrete had – the foundation had settled, actually. And they pumped it back up and everything is pretty good but we still have a little bit of a draft under – coming through the French doors. And I’m looking for some kind of a sealer; something that could be placed (AUDIO GAP), what have you, to block that draft.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Is the sill adjustable?
SCOTT: No, sir, not to my awareness (ph).
TOM: You’re not sure or …?
SCOTT: I’m just not sure. I guess that’s the first thing; I should look into that.
TOM: OK, the first thing you should do is look at the sill because, typically, there may be like a piece of weatherstripping on the sill that you can peel up underneath; there could be some adjustment screws that will move the sill up and down.
TOM: That’s the easiest thing to do. Make sure that your …
LESLIE: Would you then need to, on the interior and exterior edge of that sill, caulk it, seal it, anything? Or is it so minimal?
TOM: Well, I would move it up and down and get it – to make sure – I mean visually you can see this; make sure it’s square to the bottom of the door, nice and parallel, and see if that does it. If it ends up that you have some gaps underneath, then of course you could seal it. I would use an expandable foam sealant for that.
The next thing that you could do in between French doors, it’s very common that you do get a little bit of drafts. They don’t seal all that well. But typically, there’s a piece of weatherstripping that looks like about a one-and-a-half-inch square foam pad and you put that right at the bottom of the doors where they come together; almost even with the top of the sill. That’s the next place that you’ll get a draft.
And finally, if all else fails, you can attach a sweep to the inside of the French doors that go from the bottom edge of the door downward. And that will definitely work and seal out a lot of drafts but doesn’t look as good; although you can get these sweeps that are brass-plated or even wood finish.
But those are the ways to attack this. I would check the sill first because, very often, in a modern door configuration, those sills are all adjustable and they move up and down for this very reason. OK?
SCOTT: OK. OK, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome, Scott. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Sometimes it’s just that one tip that gets the job done and …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, that’s really clever.
TOM: Yeah. Well, and believe me, I learned it the hard way. (both chuckle) Soon as I got done shoving shims under the sill; I figured out, “Oh, yeah, it’s adjustable. Duh.” (chuckles)
LESLIE: Seriously. I mean you only know until you try, so …
TOM: That’s right. Yeah. So, do as we say; not as we’ve done. (laughs) 888-666-3974. If we’ve made a mistake, we will prevent you from doing the same.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Trudy from California who’s got a chimney sweeping question. How can we help you?
TRUDY: Hi, yes. My concern is that for years, when we’ve had someone come out to clean our chimney, they always go up on the roof to clean it.
TOM: OK. Yep.
TRUDY: And it’s a two-story home. There’s an elbow right before it hits the ceiling and exits our home and my concern is that the creosote was built up in that elbow because the last chimney sweep said that he couldn’t go on the roof and he did it from inside the home, through the stove. And I’m not real sure he could get it clean and I’m afraid of a fire; you know, chimney fire.
TOM: Yep. Why could he not go on the roof?
TRUDY: You know, he didn’t say but he was a fairly large man and I’m thinking maybe he doesn’t want to climb up there. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) He was a pretty good-sized guy.
TOM: Yeah, it wasn’t that he couldn’t; it was that he wouldn’t. Well, listen; it’s a dangerous job and you have to be sure-footed to do something like that. I do think it’s important that a chimney sweep do the inspection from above and from below.
TOM: Now, if it’s possible that that area you’re concerned about was visible without going on the roof, then perhaps you don’t have to worry about it but, typically, you’re going to get most of the creosote down the bottom; if that makes you feel a little bit better.
TRUDY: OK, good.
TOM: But if you’ve got a nook or a cranny up there, it could get trapped inside. So in the best-case scenario, yeah, should be cleaned from the top and the bottom.
TRUDY: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Trudy. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Mac in Texas who has an insulation question. What can we do for you today?
MAC: Hi. I have about a ten-year-old new home and I am trying to figure out what will be more efficient; adding existing insulation with a radiant barrier versus the – enclosing the attic with that spray foam insulation and I’m just kind of curious as what y’all think pros and cons and which one will probably be more efficient. I know the spray-in is going to be probably a little more expensive but kind of take that out of the mix and I’d like to hear your thoughts on that.
TOM: Well, if you use a spray-in-place insulation, you’re going to do a much better job of sealing up any chases (ph) or other places where you can get a transfer of hot or cold air between the attic and the house but it’s a lot more work, that’s for sure. A basic insulation coupled with a radiant barrier in Texas is a good idea and probably least expensive. Whether or not you’ll get the payback by going with the foam, hard to tell. Depends a lot also on how long you’re going to be in that house, Mac.
TOM: You’re going to be there, you know, a really long time, you may get the payback. Doubt it would have – you’d be able to make an argument that your house is worth more with one versus the other.
MAC: OK. I plan to be there quite a long time.
TOM: OK. The expandable foam is not a bad way to go but also remember this: once you do that, makes it really hard for you to make changes like running wires or extra lights and things like that; another thing to consider.
MAC: OK. Alright.
TOM: I would go easy. You know, there’s so many other things that you could do to save money in your house and improve your energy-efficiency. I wouldn’t put all my marbles in one basket like that.
MAC: Got it. OK.
MAC: Spend the money on adding insulation and get the radiant barrier.
TOM: Exactly, and then look for the other things that you can do. You know, get an energy audit done. I bet you’ll find a ton of other things that you can do that will save you some money and not cost nearly as much.
TOM: Alright, Mac? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to head over to Arizona where Lita has a question about a sliding door. What can we do for you?
LITA: Yes, I have a couple of sliding glass doors; vinyl frames with – double-paned with the argon gas.
TOM: Mm-hmm, OK.
LITA: And it appears that two of the sliding portions of the door have lost their seal, so I’m getting some condensation inside.
LESLIE: On the inside, yeah.
LITA: Yeah, and I was wondering if they can be, you know, resealed with the gas or do I just need to go out and buy some new ones.
TOM: Unfortunately, no. Once that seal fails, the moisture starts to get in, that has to come right from the factory. It’s not something that we can fix onsite. The good news is that it’s mostly a cosmetic defect. It typically doesn’t impact the energy-efficiency of the door all that much, so you should think about perhaps living with it for a while but if it gets really nasty-looking over time, then you can think about replacing the doors, Lita.
LITA: OK. Yeah, because yeah; a couple of them are getting to that point …
LITA: … where it just bothers me; where it’s impeding the view and, you know, what’s the sense.
TOM: Yeah. Well, if you’ve got a beautiful house and a beautiful view, then it’s worth changing out those doors. You might want to take a look at the Therma-Tru sliding glass doors. They’re made out of fiberglass and they’re real energy-efficient and they can really take a punishment. I’ve known these folks for a long, long time. I’ve been to their factory. They make great products.
LITA: OK, great. Well, I appreciate your help.
TOM: Alright, good luck with that project, Lita. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, does your old house have a wobbly toilet or maybe even your not-so-old house? We’re going to get expert advice on how to fix this from our friends at This Old House, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:19:02.7]
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: Head on over to MoneyPit.com if you’ve got bathroom renovation on your mind because we’ve got a great article there with tips and ideas on how you can remodel your bathroom for under 100 bucks; lots of little things that you can do that make a big visual difference. It’s all at MoneyPit.com. Simply search bath remodeling and you will find it.
LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Niven from California with a roofing question. How can we help you today?
NIVEN: Yes, what I’ve got is I’ve got some what I think they call fascia board on the roof eaves.
NIVEN: And those are warped and need to be replaced.
NIVEN: Unfortunately, they nailed it in from the top, underneath the shingles.
NIVEN: And there’s no leverage underneath or I don’t know how to take that off and put up new ones without taking off the roof and I’d prefer not to take off the roof.
TOM: Saws awl.
LESLIE: Yeah. Or can you get like a pry bar in between that area and just sort of pry them down a little bit and then snip the nails?
TOM: A little of both. Do you know what a saws awl is?
NIVEN: Yes, I do.
TOM: OK. So what you do is you’d get up there on a ladder and get up close to it; you’d slip in a flat bar between the roof sheathing and the fascia; pry it open just enough to get the blade in there and just start cutting away.
TOM: You’ll cut every nail. I mean it’ll cut like butter with a sharp blade.
NIVEN: OK, but now how do I put up the new?
TOM: Well, why does it have to be nailed from the top? Can’t it be nailed to the front of the rafters?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Can’t you go from the front?
NIVEN: But there’s no rafters there. I mean it’s just empty space there with that …
TOM: So it’s just like – comes to the roof sheathing and down? There’s got to be something behind it.
NIVEN: No, there’s nothing behind it. That’s the problem.
LESLIE: What if you took a piece of like 2x2 or 1x1 sort of stripping – 2x1 is probably better or 2x2 – and then screw up from the bottom just to give you like a support into your roof and then you can tack from the front with a new piece.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, basically create a firring strip.
NIVEN: Oh, OK. So I could screw that into the roof and then tack the fascia board up to that.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. To that.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Right.
TOM: And here’s what you want to do on the fascia board. I wouldn’t use wood. I would use one of the composites like AZEK.
NIVEN: A-Z-E-K. OK.
TOM: Yeah, looks like wood; cuts like wood but it’s made – it’s actually extruded …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) No one wants to eat it. (Niven chuckles)
TOM: Yeah, it’s extruded PVC.
NIVEN: OK. And they have those links and I can …
TOM: Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I put it on my garage when we had a bad carpenter bee problem; they ate up all the fascia.
TOM: Yeah, bees kept staring at it but they couldn’t figure out how to get into it after that.
NIVEN: (chuckles) Well, these are about 20-footers.
TOM: Yeah, you can get long ones.
NIVEN: Ah, great. OK.
NIVEN: Sounds great. Thanks an awful lot.
TOM: You’re welcome, Niven. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, we’ve all been there. You’re sitting on your commode minding your own business and suddenly you are caught off-guard by a movement that you were absolutely not expecting. (Tom laughs) And I’m not talking about your stomach here. I’m talking about a wobbly toilet.
TOM: Well, it’s a common problem. It’s actually not too difficult to fix. Here to tell us exactly how to do just that are our friends Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, and the program’s plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey.
Welcome, guys. Where do we begin?
KEVIN: Most toilets sit on a very small base. This small footprint allows you more space in a bathroom and it makes it easier to clean. Unfortunately, it can also mean that if the toilet is not properly installed, it can wobble.
RICHARD: Right. Now, underneath the toilet, there is a flange. Now this flange is designed to hold the toilet and connect it down to the drain pipe that sits below the floor. Now, oftentimes, wobbly toilets are caused by a broken or cracked flange. Now, you can simply pull the toilet up and install a flange repair kit and sometimes that will fix it. Now other times, the problem is that the flange is actually installed too high. Now some people would put little shims underneath the toilet to try and hold it at the right height but I would much prefer to reset the flange at the exact correct height.
KEVIN: But resetting the flange, especially if it’s cast iron, is a pretty big job.
RICHARD: It can be; you know, if you have to pour a new lead and oakum joint like we have done for 100 years. But sometimes, instead, I’ll use a compression flange that can be secured right to the floor.
KEVIN: Alright. And we’ve got step-by-step videos of repairing and replacing a closet flange on ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And those wobbly toilets can actually develop into leaks that end up rotting out the floor, huh?
RICHARD: Right, we often see that; that a wobbly toilet gets ignored and sooner or later you have to go back and rebuild the entire bathroom floor.
TOM: So a wobbly toilet doesn’t mean you just need to go lose some weight.
RICHARD: No, no, no. And you don’t want to ignore it because it never gets better.
TOM: Alright, Richard Trethewey, Kevin O’Connor, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
RICHARD: Thanks, Tom.
KEVIN: Our pleasure. We’ll talk to you next week.
LESLIE: And believe me, if there’s one place in the house you want to feel secure, it is certainly in the bathroom.
TOM: And a solid toilet can help you do just that.
And you can learn more by watching Richard and Kevin on This Old House which is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Up next, wondering why your dishes aren’t coming out clean? Well, it’s probably because your kids aren’t working at it hard enough. (Leslie chuckles) We’re going to help you figure out why your dishwasher may not be getting your pots and pans clean and how you can fix the problem, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:24:51.2]
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 and we’d love for you to be part of The Money Pit, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Now one lucky caller that we speak to on the air this hour is going to win a great autumnal prize. We have got the push sweeper from Agri-Fab up for grabs this hour and it’s a great way to pick up the leaves or any small debris that you’ve got kicking around your yard. There’s no fuel or cords to worry about. It runs on human people push-power, so it is absolutely earth-friendly. You just push the handle and the rotating brushes pick up the leaves and then push all of the leaves into an easy-to-dump bag. It’s worth 149 bucks but it could be yours if we pick your name out of the Money Pit hardhat for absolutely zippo-zero-free. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
OK, we promised you a tip on getting the dishes clean and if you actually have a dishwasher and don’t use your kids (Leslie chuckles), like I do from time to time – well, actually, my kids love to just put the minimum in the dishwasher and leave the rest out until that load is done so now it’s only …
LESLIE: And leave them out for someone else’s problem?
TOM: Yeah, they have to handwash, now, everything that doesn’t fit in the dishwasher; otherwise it never gets done. But if your dishwasher is not cleaning well, there may be a simple fix that you can do. It usually has to do with a clog in the drain valve. Now, your dishwasher’s drain valve should only open during the draining cycle but if it’s clogged by debris, it’s going to let water out during the wash cycle, too. So, listen carefully and if you hear water flowing into the sink during the wash cycle, problem is the drain valve. It’s clogged and it needs attention. Pretty easy thing to do.
Now, if you have trouble getting the dishwasher to operate from time to time, another thing to do is to check the float which is on the bottom of the dishwasher.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) In your toilet tank?
TOM: No, not in your toilet tank, Leslie. (Leslie chuckles) In the bottom of the dishwasher; usually a – but it looks a lot like the float in the toilet tank, now that you mention it.
TOM: Yeah. But actually if you grab it, you can actually pull it up and down because as it fills with water, the float comes on and stops the dishwasher from overflowing and sometimes they get a little clogged, too; so occasionally, you have to move that up and down to kind of shake the debris loose.
So, before you call the service guy or figure out you need a new one, just go ahead and check the float, check the drain line and that might be the simple fix that you need to get yourself back on track.
Now, if you’ve got another home improvement project that you’re in the midst of, you need to get back on track, we want you to go to your phones right now and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Cliff in New Hampshire is dealing with a tile floor that’s showing cracks. Tell us about it. Where do you see them? How many are there?
CLIFF: I have a floor that is showing hairline cracks and is nine years old. An outside inspector has said that these cracks are due to some kind of movement or stress fracture in this area. The warranty – the lifetime warranty is no good. I was wondering what I could do to ensure that these cracks don’t reappear.
TOM: Now, the cracks are in the tile or in the grout lines?
CLIFF: No, they’re in three places in the tile but right in the middle of the tile; it’s not on the grout line.
TOM: OK. OK, and where is the tile installed? Is it a kitchen floor?
CLIFF: Kitchen floor to a laundry area to a bathroom.
TOM: OK. Cliff, the reason this happened is because of an installation problem. The base – whatever the tile was put on – was not solid enough. Now, do you recall what the tile was put on top of?
CLIFF: It was put on top of hardy backer board. I watched the gentleman install it.
TOM: And how big are these ceramic tiles? Are they like 12x12 or bigger or what?
CLIFF: Yeah, I think they’re 12x12. Yep, 12x12.
TOM: Yeah. So, the bigger the tile the thicker the back has to be and if this was just put on like a tile backer – it wasn’t put on any type of reinforced sheathing; it wasn’t put on a mud floor – you know, what’s happening is you’re getting movement in this floor and that’s normal. I mean hardy backer is a good product but it’s not designed to stiffen the floor. It’s designed to be a backer for the tile and as it sags with the floor, the tile doesn’t bend; it breaks and it cracks. So having these hairline cracks is a result of the way the tile was put down.
You know, to say that tile has a lifetime warranty – is that what you were referring to? Tile is always going to have a lifetime warranty because it really doesn’t wear out. It’s like a toilet. A toilet never wears out. The valves wear out but the toilet is fine forever; it’s ceramic.
TOM: But what’s happening here is the base is moving and that’s why it cracked; because tile won’t bend. It’s not supposed to.
CLIFF: I see, I see. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Cliff. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Yeah, if he’s got a claim at all, it’s against the installer; it’s not against the tile. And the bigger the tile, the wider the tile, the better that base has to be. You know, if you have mosaic tiles, you can get away with a reasonably flexible base.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, because that movement sort of spreads out.
TOM: Yeah. Because there’s a lot of places for the tile to move. But if you’re going to put in 12x12s or 18x18s, that base better be like as solid as concrete or it will crack.
LESLIE: Jan in Utah needs some help selecting a finish for her project. What can we do for you?
JAN: I have been refinishing my front door and I’ve stripped the whole door down. It’s a solid wood. I think it’s knotty elder, so it’s a soft wood. I stripped it, I stained it and now I want to put a polyurethane or something on the front of it. It’s an east-facing door and we live in the desert – well, pretty much the desert. We’ve got real penetrating sun and it’s sunny almost all the time. And I did the back door, which faces the west, about two years ago and the finish is just gone.
TOM: Yeah, you need something that’s got really good UV protection. I would recommend a marine varnish. Have you thought about that?
JAN: I haven’t. Now will that leave a yellow kind of – well, does it turn yellow?
TOM: Not as much as it used to. The marine varnish is a really durable product and it’s something that’s specifically designed to give you a very high level of protective coating from ultraviolet radiation. The other option you could use is a spar urethane. Minwax makes a product called Helmsman which has pretty good resistance to sunlight. But I think if I wanted to be really, really cautious, I’d probably go with a marine varnish.
JAN: Oh, that’s such good advice. Well, I have tried the spar varnish and I was wondering whether it matters if it’s the water base or the oil base.
TOM: Ah, it does matter. To me, I really don’t like water-base urethanes.
TOM: I just don’t think they’re very durable. I would use them on like maybe furniture or something like that that I don’t really need to have the level of wear resistance on. But anything that’s going to really take a beating, I always use the oil-based urethanes.
JAN: Oh, that is such good news. OK, so marine varnish; where do I get it?
TOM: Oh, any hardware store or home center or marine supply house; anything like that.
JAN: Alright. Oh, thank you so much. That was just the answer I need.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
There’s a project you want to get done pretty quickly so you can get that door closed again.
LESLIE: (chuckles) Up next, we’re going to tell you how to maintain your paver patio so it looks great for years to come, so stick around.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:44.5]
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.
Hey, head on over to MoneyPit.com. There you can subscribe to our podcast from iTunes where we are the number one home improvement podcast over there. It is fantastic. It makes me feel thoroughly cool and you should be part of it and get our podcast every week.
Hey, while you’re at MoneyPit.com, you can e-mail us your question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and we’ve got one here from Ava who writes: “My husband and I recently moved into a new home in Myrtle Beach. We spent a small fortune on a beautiful paver driveway. However, my husband was adjusting our sprinklers and now we have what looks like rust stains on our beautiful pavers.”
LESLIE: “Is there anything that we can do to brighten the pavers and get rid of the stains?”
TOM: I think you’re supposed to water the grass and not the pavers.
TOM: I’m pretty sure the pavers don’t grow when you water them. However, the rust stains will grow, as you’ve learned. Solution for that is something called TSP – trisodium phosphate – available at a home center or hardware store; typically in the paint aisle, by the way, because it’s also a paint prep material. And what you want to do, if you’ve got a really bad one, is kind of make a paste of it and cover the paver area with that; sort of soak it in there a little bit and then it should draw the iron stains out of it.
I will warn you, though; you’re going to have to check the color – see how the color holds to the pavers. It is possible that if the pavers’ coloring is a little bit weak, it could lighten them up; so you need to be very careful about how you use this. I would test it in – you know the old saying – in an inconspicuous area; as if there is one paver.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, or on an extra paver.
TOM: Yeah, test it under the picnic table so it doesn’t really matter what happens.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices, chuckling) Pick up a paver, turn it over, test it there, put it back. (chuckles)
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, there you go. You can always flip the pavers over. Actually, that’s a very good point, Leslie. If it’s a small enough area, pull them out, flip them over, put them back. They do have two sides.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and then don’t get the sprinklers on them again. (chuckles)
TOM: Oh, yeah, adjust the sprinklers the right way this time.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got one here from Marietta who writes: “I have well water. Water in one of my bathrooms has a foul odor. I have old, galvanized pipes which I am told is causing this. My question is that this only started happening about five months ago. What happened to cause this?”
TOM: I don’t think it’s the galvanized pipe. There’s nothing about rust that causes that odor. If it’s in the bathroom, it probably is biogas, which is what sort of grows when you get a lot of mold and muck and mildew and algae and stuff. And one of the places that that often happens is in the overflow pipe of the sink.
So what I would do, in this situation, is I would fill up my sink with hot water to the overflow and I would add in, you know, maybe a half a gallon of bleach and let it overflow down that – you know, that’s the part of the sink that’s cut out. And that will kill anything that’s in there and also then you can let it down through the drain; it’ll sit in the trap and I bet you that that will probably clean this out.
LESLIE: Alright, Marietta. I hope that helps and that it helps you back to enjoying your bathrooms odor-free. Thanks so much for writing.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, why not head on over to Facebook and fan our Facebook page because if you do just that, you will be privy to some special secret information like a number when we’re in the studio that you can call us direct to answer your question without going through the call center and, this way, you can get your information much more quickly; also, lots more tips and advice there.
LESLIE: Well, and also, a pretty rad – might I say – photo of Tom as a high school shop class attendee? (laughs)
TOM: (laughs) Yes, there is a photo there from my high school metal shop days; small journey down memory lane. But we have a lot of fun stuff on the Facebook fan page, so check it out. You can get there by going to MoneyPit.com and just click on Become a Fan.
That’s all the time we have this hour. Hope you learned a lot about how to take care of your home and took one step towards being in the money pit prevention mode.
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: 0:37:21.8]
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.)