Inside painting is a popular cool weather project. But paint odor can sometimes be overwhelming. Get tips to get the job done odor free. Learn how an energy audit can help determine exactly where your home might losing energy and deliver the advice you need to get it fixed. Find out how to test for radon in your basement and how to remove radon if the test comes up high. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about restoration of concrete floors, scratched toilets, adding a blower to the fireplace, painting countertops, information on appliances, water heaters, laminate flooring, whistling pipes, and upgrading your deck..
(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 because we’re here to help you with your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Perhaps you’re getting your house ready for holiday hoards; you’re going to do some painting, maybe some decorating. Maybe you’re going to finally fix the squeaky floor, the leaky toilet, the sink that’s falling off the wall. Whatever it is, we can help you make a good impression on your friends and your family; assuming you care to do that. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) You know, if you make the house too nice, they may come back.
LESLIE: They never want to leave.
TOM: So that is something to think about.
We’ve got a great show planned for you this hour. We’re going to talk about painting because it’s a very popular time for doing those projects inside and out. But if you’re going to do it inside your house, you may be concerned about the overwhelming odor of paint that makes your eyes water. We’ve got a solution this hour that will allow you to do the paint project without any odor whatsoever.
LESLIE: And it might be about time for an audit.
TOM: Oh, no.
LESLIE: Naw, not that kind, Tom; you know, the ones that make you run for the hills. We’re not talking about those. We’re talking about an energy audit. Now this one will help save you money and we’re going to tell you what it needs to include, coming up.
TOM: And also ahead, we want to tell you about a potentially deadly gas that can make its way into your home from the soil underneath it. We’re talking about radon. It’s hard to detect but there are ways to test for it and ways to make sure it gets vented outside of your house. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to stay safe, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour we’re giving away an essential-to-fall cleaning prize pack from our friends over at CLR. Now you’re heard us talk about their products many times and now is your chance to actually try them out but for free; so best-best situation over there.
TOM: So give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first? Let’s get right to those phones.
LESLIE: Ron in Connecticut needs help with a concrete project. What can we do for you today?
RON: Yes, hi. I recently volunteered for a community service project that involves restoring two racquetball courts, outdoor racquetball courts, that were abandoned many, many years ago.
RON: And I’m at the point where I need to do something with the floors. Obviously, they’re concrete floors and over the years they have darkened. They’re not black but they’re very, very dark gray. Now, I considered a bleach or a bleach-water mixture; maybe muriatic acid or maybe even just plain, old power wash. How do I – because they’re too dark to play. You lose track of the ball. I need to get this concrete back to the original white color.
TOM: Well, if you haven’t pressure washed it yet, that’s a great place to start because I’m sure there’s a lot of dirt and debris and dust and perhaps some mildew that’s grown in there over the years.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You will be surprised.
TOM: And if you do that with a good mildicide – and bleach is an option; there are other commercially-available products that will do just as good a job – I think that you’re going to find that it’s a lot brighter. And I would caution you, though, to not go too heavy with the pressure washer because it’s old concrete. You will actually cut some lines in it, so you want to use something that’s got a fairly wide fan on it. But you will find that it becomes very, very bright and it might be all you need to do.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and it will become very obvious where you did not clean with the pressure washer. (Ron chuckles)
TOM: Yeah. And Ron, make sure that when you apply the mildicide, that you put on a generous amount and let it sit and do its work. People tend to spray it on and spray it off and it doesn’t work as well. Let it sit; this way, it’ll kill anything that’s there.
RON: Great. I thank you so much for the assistance.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ron. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Time to chat with Nelva in Iowa. What’s going on at your money pit?
NELVA: Yes. I have some scratches in my toilet bowl and I’m wondering …
TOM: What were you eating? (laughs)
NELVA: (laughs) Oh, I think it was an old brush that I used.
LESLIE: Oh. (chuckles) What you didn’t eat but you used to clean.
NELVA: (chuckling) I didn’t eat, no. (Leslie chuckles) But I was wondering, what is the best paint to use to cover that up or is there any way …?
TOM: Well, you can’t paint ceramic.
TOM: This is inside the bowl itself?
TOM: No, you can’t paint the ceramic. The scratches that you’re seeing, are you sure it’s not maybe – you may have some mineral deposits inside that bowl and then as you scratched it, maybe you sort of scratched through some of it but not others? Basically, are you sure the bowl was super clean?
NELVA: I mean if I clean it everyday real good, then it doesn’t – it seems like there’s something in our water that it gets so black.
TOM: Well, that’s what I was thinking. (clears throat) Yeah, you may have some mineral deposits there. Why don’t you try some CLR? CLR is a good toilet bowl cleaner – calcium, lime, rust remover; works very effectively; been around forever. Give that a shot and see if that takes off what you think are scratches and maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
NELVA: I’ll give that – I’ll have to – I know the back of the stool is clean because I keep that clean, but it seems like the water gets dirty and I mean comes in and …
TOM: And that’s why I think that you might want to try CLR. Nelva, give it a shot. Let us know how you make out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We’ve got just a few weeks to go to Thanksgiving, so give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question so we can get your home in tiptop shape 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, thinking of painting to give your living or dining room a bit of a new look before the holidays? It’s a very good idea. But what do you do about the smell of all that paint when the weather turns cold and it forces you to keep the windows closed? We’re going to have a solution, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:06:15.0]
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 the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call right now and you will get in on our weekly prize giveaway and this hour it’s the essentials of fall cleaning kit from CLR. It’s worth $55 and it includes all sorts of CLR products including the CLR bathroom and kitchen cleaner, which will take care of pretty much everything in those two rooms: faucets, showerheads, tubs, toilets, sinks, appliances. And you’re also going to get the calcium, lime and rust remover for your outdoor siding, your bricks, patio and driveways. Pretty much anything you need to clean, this prize pack will tackle.
TOM: And that all comes in a carry-it-all container so you can tote it all over the house with you. One caller we talk to on the air is going to get this prize, so pick up the phone and give us a call right now for your chance to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you’re looking for some ways to spruce up your money pit now that we’re approaching the – you know, the busy season of the year. We’re talking about the holidays. And painting a room is really an inexpensive way to redecorate just in time for the holidays when you’re going to be spending a ton of money on gifts anyway.
Now, a new color and some new accessories to match or even contrast the color that you’re going to put on those walls and suddenly you’ve got a whole new space. Plus, without summer’s humidity, you’re going to save on some drying time when it comes to applying that paint.
But what about that paint smell? You’re thinking, “Gosh, the windows are going to be closed, the heat’s on, I’m freezing, it’s going to be stinky.” But it’s really not a big deal. You want to look for low-odor or even scented paints, which are available now from several manufacturers, and these paints work very well for kids’ rooms and you won’t even have to hold your nose after you paint every coat. You can crack those windows just the tiniest bit or not at all. You’ll have a great product and you don’t have to worry about the issues with those odors from painting that you used to get from the old paints.
TOM: Well, if you’ve more questions about how to do that painting project around your house or anything else, before you pick up that painting brush, pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tom in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
TOM IN TEXAS: Yes, I’ve got a really kind of a weird situation here. First time it’s ever happened to me. I spilled a whole gallon of oil-based enamel on my driveway.
TOM: Oh, no.
TOM IN TEXAS: And I just don’t know what to – how to get it up.
TOM: How about paint stripper? Have you thought about that? What about using one of the paste paint stripper products where you apply it to the paint, let it sit and then peel off the stripper and the paint comes with it?
TOM IN TEXAS: Well, yeah, I was thinking about that or maybe putting the paint stripper down and then using a pressure washer to get it off.
TOM: Well, that would be the last step because if you use a pressure washer on that, you’re definitely going to damage the concrete. You will find that you’re going to have to resurface it after that because you’ll probably blast away some of the softer parts of the concrete. You’ll be seeing some aggregate after that but …
LESLIE: But the paint will be gone. (chuckles)
TOM: But the paint will be gone, so that’s a good thing. I would try to use a paint stripper on this to try to lift it up. And I think that it will probably come up. The thing is, if the concrete has really absorbed the paint, it might be deep into it and if that’s the case, you’re going to have some residual appearance of having it. You can decide.
TOM: Yeah, you can kind of decide how important that is to you.
TOM IN TEXAS: Well, OK. I appreciate the advice.
LESLIE: Hey, it happens to the best of us.
TOM: Hey, Tom, I’ll tell you what happened to me. My two-year-old son spilled a gallon of paint down the staircase from upstairs; so it gets worse. (chuckles)
TOM IN TEXAS: Oh, no. Well, I guess I’m not the only one, huh?
TOM: That’s right. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yes, and we all know why the Segrete household has the white striped painted in the garage. (both laugh) The sound of that can of paint flying off the shelf was just - and it was so late and the project was so done. I was like, “That looks fine to me.” (both laugh)
TOM: You’re like, “Can’t see it from the kitchen. I’m done.” (laughs)
LESLIE: Matt in New Hampshire is looking for some advice on heating this heating season. How can we help you?
MATT: Yes, I had a question in regards to what’s called a Heatilator. One of the manufacturers is Thermo-Rite. And basically, the idea is it keeps the heat from just going up your chimney; because I’m not ready for a pellet stove yet.
MATT: What it does is it uses the coals that basically – you know, the ambers from the wood that’s burning in the fireplace as they fall – which, as you know, leaves a nice, orangey glow; a nice really hot heat. They fall on top of these aluminum tubes. So basically, this replaces your log holder; the grate that’s in there.
MATT: And it then has a fan that plugs into a regular plug and it takes cold air in and blows the hot air out.
MATT: It turns on at 110 and turns off at 90 and it says that it does 40,000 BTUs an hour; so that’s pretty good. And they’re relatively inexpensive. So I just wanted to see if – get your opinion on them, actually.
TOM: Well, I think that will increase the efficiency of your fireplace but keep in mind that the most efficient thing you can do with your fireplace is to plug it up because it does let a lot of heat – a lot of expensive, heated air that’s been heated with your conventional furnace – out the chimney. So, if you can have something like that, you certainly want to take advantage of technologies that are going to help that convective process and perhaps with the fan assist it will blow more air and direct more air back into the house. So I think it’s better than not having it but, again, fireplaces are not the most efficient way to heat your house.
TOM: But like you say, if it’s not a lot of money and it’s going to hold you over for a while, why not.
MATT: Alright, great.
TOM: We still recommend fireplaces for coziness and for roasting marshmallows (Leslie chuckles) but, beyond that, they don’t work so well to heat your house. (Matt chuckles)
MATT: That’s true. (chuckles) Alright, I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Matt. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Anita in West Virginia needs some help in the kitchen. What can we do for you today?
ANITA: I have a Formica counter in my kitchen.
ANITA: And I’d like to change the color, if I could.
ANITA: I’ve been hearing about bar coat and I was wondering if I could maybe do some feathering, like marbleized, with paint under it and then put the bar coat on top.
TOM: Well, I don’t believe that you can finish a Formica top with any type of an application like that. I’ve never seen it done successfully. Formica is not really designed to hold paint. However, what you can do, Anita, is you can relaminate on top of what you have as a base. For example, you can have your existing countertop covered with another piece of Formica and, of course, there are just hundreds and hundreds of different types …
LESLIE: Endless of choices.
TOM: Choices that can give you anything you want. So you’re not stuck with the color and you don’t have to replace it. You can relaminate it and that will achieve the goal of giving you a totally new look.
ANITA: Oh, OK. (chuckles) Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Anita. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re got Doreen from Oregon calling in with some sort of basement wall issue. What’s going on?
DOREEN: Yes, I have a little leaky basement.
DOREEN: And there’s a spare bedroom and some of the walls got wet. So I had a friend take out the lower portion where the wall was damaged and put some – plaster it. And it seems to have a bulge in it. I painted the walls green. It has a bulge and I was wondering do I sand it to get rid of that bulge or should I cover it with something darker to hide it.
TOM: Is this bulge a buildup of what you’re calling plaster? And by the way, when you say plaster, do you mean drywall?
DOREEN: He put drywall and plastered it and I can’t understand why. Why would he plaster?
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. OK. OK. Because you have to.
LESLIE: Yeah, you have to cover; you can’t just leave the raw paper.
TOM: You have to cover the seams. Right.
DOREEN: Oh, I see. OK.
TOM: Well, you mean he plastered over the whole drywall?
DOREEN: Well, hmm. That’s interesting. I wonder if he was trying to match something. That used to be a way that walls were built a long time ago but I don’t know why your friend did it. (chuckles) But if it’s the bulge …
LESLIE: (chuckles) Well, he works on houses and …
TOM: Well, I’m sure he was trying to do his best for you, Doreen. But if the bulge is made up because of some extra spackle that was there or extra plaster, certainly no reason you can’t sand that down. Just be careful you don’t sand down too much because if you go through the paper surface, you’re not going to be a happy puppy because it will look very, very bad.
DOREEN: Maybe I should have gotten a professional. (chuckles)
LESLIE: No. Give your friend the benefit.
TOM: Yeah, give him a break. He’s trying to help you out.
DOREEN: I know he is. (all chuckle) OK.
TOM: Doreen, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Wendell in Michigan needs some help with, actually, a heating idea: blowers to a fireplace. Good idea or bad? Welcome, Wendell.
WENDELL: Well, I’ve got a Heatilator fireplace that vents outside the wall.
WENDELL: And I don’t have a blower. It puts out a lot of heat. My question is, is there going to be any advantage to putting in a blower in addition to just letting it thermal siphon?
TOM: Well, if it feels like it’s delivering plenty heat right now, I don’t know that adding a blower is going to make that much difference to it. It’s going to be an expense to buy it, to install it and to run it.
LESLIE: To run it, they all run off of electricity, correct?
TOM: Mm-hmm, yep, absolutely. And they’re also a little bit noisy sometimes. So if you’ve got a good, natural, convective loop; it’s working well within the room, I don’t think I would add a blower to that.
WENDELL: Yeah, I was kind of feeling that way and so I’m glad you confirmed it.
TOM: Our pleasure, Wendell. (Leslie chuckles) Anytime you need somebody to agree with you, you just call The Money Pit; we’ll help you out.
WENDELL: (chuckles) OK, thanks a lot.
LESLIE: JC in Nevada’s got whistling pipes. (whistles, Tom chuckles) Are they at least being melodic or is it more annoying?
JC: Oh, totally annoying. (Leslie chuckles) OK, I bought the house 16 years ago; brand new. About 10 years ago, they moved the water source from down the hill to up the hill. They came in; they put a pressure regulator and then an expansion tank on the water heater. Everything was fine for eight years after that; then, two years ago, my pipes started whistling. Also, I notice if my sprinkler system – which takes the water off before the pressure regulator – if I have my sprinklers on, the pipes don’t whistle. And also, the whistling comes from the wash room and also I turned off all the valves on the toilets but I still get whistling as well. So that’s what I’ve done. I don’t know …
TOM: Does the whistling seem to happen when you turn anything on; like is it activated by turning on a faucet or anything of that nature?
JC: Seems if it’s closer to the washroom, that’s when I get the whistling.
TOM: Well, it must be happening when something is demanding water. I don’t know if that’s the toilet or a dishwasher or something else. Typically, the whistling in the pipes is caused by a valve problem and if the valve goes bad, then you get that kind of high-pitched sort of screaming noise. And because the pipes are metal, it tends to carry through the entire house. Now, the reason it’s not happening when the sprinklers come on – I’m going to speculate – that’s because the pressure drops then.
JC: Yeah, that’s what I was wondering. You think it’s the pressure regulator? I could – it’s cranked up open all the way.
TOM: Yeah, I mean it’s probably one of those pieces of plumbing there and you have to isolate it to try to narrow it down.
JC: OK, so what would you advise; going down there and turning …?
TOM: You might just want to replace the pressure regulator.
TOM: It’s a pretty simple plumbing project to do. And see if that makes …
JC: Well, it’s underneath the house. It’s sort of a pain in …
TOM: Oh, it’s tough to get to it? Yeah.
JC: Yeah, it’s underneath the house and it’s real annoying.
JC: That’s why I have to get a professional to do that.
TOM: Yeah, that’s probably what it is. It’s typically in a plumbing valve assembly like a pressure regulator, which is essentially a valve that takes high pressure and drops it down a little bit before it goes into the house. And if something breaks down in there, you get that water that runs across it and it does make a very annoying, vibrating sound and that’s going to carry all through the house.
JC: OK. Well, thanks for your help. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome, JC. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
JC: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, does the word “audit” make your skin crawl? Well, this one won’t. We’re talking about an energy audit that can help you figure out exactly why your home wastes energy and what you need to do to fix it. We’re going to share that tip when Kevin O’Connor from This Old House stops by with the answer, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:19:02.5]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Install a new, energy-efficient Therma-Tru door today and qualify for up to a $1,500 tax credit. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com/TaxCredit.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, do you guys have an empty nest out there? Have the kids flown the coop? You ready for some downsizing? Well, head on over to MoneyPit.com and search “downsizing your home.” We’ve got lots of tips and articles on how to do just that online right now at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Going down to Florida to chat with Robert. What’s going on? Your floor is buckling?
ROBERT: My son and daughter just built their home, a 4,000-square-foot home, and they put those floating floors down. OK?
ROBERT: And they did a really good job but I was over there the other day and I was looking at it and not all of it but some of it looked like where they butted up together – you know, when they put them together; it was a snap kind, you know – where the ends butt up together, it looks like they’re peaked up. They’re like they’ve been pushed up. And I’m fixing to do my house because I was so impressed with the floor and I said, “Oh, God.” I asked John, I said, “What happened there?
TOM: Well, what kind of floating floor did they put down, Robert? Was it a laminate floor or was it a hardwood floor?
ROBERT: It’s a laminate floor and it’s one of those floating floors. You know?
TOM: OK. Well, all the laminate floors are floating today and they do essentially lock together. I’m not quite sure what the product was that they used but, you know, we’ve had good success with a number of manufacturers. I’ve used Formica in my home; their laminate floor. We’ve done a lot of work with the folks at Armstrong and they have a good locking floor. So if you have a good-quality locking floor, you should not see that raised edge between the different sections. It really should be completely flat and flush.
ROBERT: OK, so you think – you know, I’m a pretty good carpenter but …
TOM: I think you can do it yourself, then. It’s pretty easy to put down.
LESLIE: They go in very easily. You don’t need an extra subfloor or an underlayment. Most of them are attached to the backside or you can buy a roll of it that goes out. And all you need to do is cover it with a molding as you get to the edges. You can do like a quarter-round or a shoe molding just to cover where the floor meets your wall.
ROBERT: Right. Well, listen; I really appreciate.
LESLIE: Alright, I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Well, today more than ever, there are lots of reasons to try and reduce your energy use at home. You’ll save money on those utility bills every month and you’ll help the environment by reducing your carbon footprint. An energy auditor can help you target specific areas for improvement. With tips on how to get one done in your house, is our pal Kevin O’Connor from This Old House.
KEVIN: Hi, Tom. Great to be here.
TOM: Now this is a fantastic service if you know what to do.
KEVIN: Yeah, there’s a lot of good reasons to do an energy audit these days and here’s how it works. An energy audit will often start with a blower door test that’s going to pressurize or depressurize your house and then the auditor will take some special tools – including the manometer, an infrared thermal camera or something as simple as a smoke pencil – to identify problems with air sealing and gaps in your insulation. A comprehensive audit is also going to include a combustion analysis for your mechanical systems and then they’ll give you a report which will identify specific areas to improve so you know exactly what to do.
TOM: Makes a lot of sense. This way you know exactly where to spend your efforts. Now, what does an energy audit cost? Is it expensive?
KEVIN: Well, it depends and the first place you should start is with the utilities because they may actually offer some of the services for free. If you do end up hiring an independent energy auditor, it could cost you about $500. But again, you may qualify for some rebates from the utilities or even a tax credit from the government. So if you want to see a video on a comprehensive energy audit, you can go to ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: Great tip.
Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: My pleasure. Always good to be here.
LESLIE: You know, and what a great way that is to know exactly for sure where you’ve got drafts or gaps in your home because, Tom, you know, I think far too often, people just guess and then they’re getting it wrong.
TOM: Well, I think they do and they end up wasting a lot of money that could be placed a little more strategically and more accurately and really achieve those lower energy bills.
Hey, for more tips just like that, you can watch Kevin on TV as he hosts This Old House, which is brought to you by GMC, a proud sponsor of This Old House. GMC – we are professional grade.
Up next, if you’re in your basement very often, you might want to take the time to test for radon gas. It’s a colorless, odorless gas that can cause cancer. We’re going to tell you how to test for it and what to do if you find radon, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:24:01.9]
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.
Hey, pick up the phone right now and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only will you get the answer to your home improvement question but you’re going to get a chance to win our prize this hour and it’s a container full of the essential cleaning products for all of your indoor and outdoor cleaning needs from our friends over at CLR. Now, this kit, it’s worth 55 bucks and it includes the CLR bathroom and kitchen cleaner; the calcium, lime and rust remover. And now those are going to work pretty much on everything and anything that you need to clean in your house and you’re also going to get the outdoor furniture cleaner and the power plumber. And you could be our lucky winner and get all of that for free, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your answer and your chance to win.
Well, if you spend any amount of time in your basement, you really want to make sure it’s tested for radon. You know, basements are a great space to fix up; very useful for family rooms or kids’ play areas but you really need to make sure that it’s safe. And radon gas forms naturally in the soil and it’s known to lead to cancer.
Now, you can pay about 15 or 20 bucks for a do-it-yourself test kit or up to about 100 to have it done by a pro. And if the results indicate a level of 4 picocuries per liter of air – that’s the measure; 4 picocuries – if it’s 4.0 or higher, you need to install a radon mitigation system. Now don’t panic because they’re not all that expensive and they work very, very well. The systems are installed underneath the slab of your home, the slab of the basement, and what they do is they draw off the gas before it actually gets into the air and it’s vented outside. Simple to install; not real complicated; done by a professional radon mitigator and sucks that radon gas literally right out of that space, rendering it completely safe. Definitely something you need to know if you’re going to spend some time in the basement. Make sure you test for radon and get rid of it if you’ve got a problem.
888-666-3974. If you’re concerned about that or any other environmental or home improvement issue, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bonnie in Utah needs some help in the kitchen. What can we do for you today?
BONNIE: Yes, I need some tips for installing a garbage disposal.
TOM: OK. Now, is this a new one or are you replacing one?
BONNIE: I’m replacing one.
TOM: Alright. Well, that’s good because it’s a lot easier project to do. Do you have a new one in mind; did you pick it up yet?
BONNIE: Yes, I have. I have measured the center line; the – excuse me, width, height – and they all line up.
BONNIE: The existing p-trap and discharge tube are going to line up. I do need to knock out the dishwasher plug from the unit and [that’s not scary] (ph).
TOM: Right. Yeah, that’s pretty easy to do.
BONNIE: The power source is a plug cord and I have a GFI plug and switch set up.
TOM: Well, it sounds like this is going to be a real easy project for you to do. I mean it’s basically you’re going to disassemble what you have and install a new one in the same way.
One of the nice things is that you already have the snap ring in place. That’s the sort of piece of hardware that is at the bottom of the sink where the garbage disposer actually attaches to it. That’s fairly universal, so you won’t have to replace that. So I think you can basically go piece for piece, pipe for pipe, screw for screw and pull out the old one and put in the new one. This is not a hard job to do.
LESLIE: What do you have to turn off? Do you have to turn off the circuits? Do you have to turn off the water? What are the steps there?
TOM: It’s a plug-in situation, so all you have to do is unplug it. And because we’re talking about the drain, just make sure nobody runs the water while you’re under there and, you know, there’s nothing to be worried about. You know, when you take apart the trap, you’re going to have some water that’ll pour out of it but no so much. Have a couple of towels underneath and you’ll be OK.
BONNIE: Sounds good. Well, I appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Bonnie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading down south to Florida where Umberto has a question for us. What can we do for you today?
UMBERTO: Yeah. Thank you for taking my call, first of all. I have a condominium in Florida and it has brick construction, so it’s not – it doesn’t lend itself to a lot of cutting and patching that drywall.
UMBERTO: So that and I want to add a washing machine. And my idea was to put a washing machine next to the kitchen sink. So, I’m looking to see if there is, on the market, a washing machine that goes under the kitchen counter like …
TOM: Umberto, I know exactly what you’re speaking of and there actually are a couple of manufacturers that make washers or what’s called a washer/dryer – it’s one appliance that does both washing and drying; one of which is an appliance company called Thor – T-h-o-r. They’re a not-well-known brand but they’ve actually been around since I think the early 1900s.
TOM: Their website is ThorAppliances.com – T-h-o-r-Appliances.com and their washer/dryer combination – which, again, is one unit – is about the exact same size as a dishwasher; it’s 23-3/8 wide and 33-1/4 high, which will fit underneath your countertop.
UMBERTO: That’s even better.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you know what? Umberto, there’s another one out there and it’s from a company called LG, which I’m sure you’ve heard of and you see them at every home center. They do a separate washer and they also do a combo washer/dryer. And you’re looking at their 4.5 cubic foot ultra-capacity, high-efficiency steam washer. Now, they’re both pricey. The Thor one is in the $1,900 range and the LG one is in the $1,700 range but they both look really cool; they’re both made to go under counters and save a lot of space. So …
TOM: And they’re Energy Star-rated as well.
UMBERTO: Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Wanda in Texas needs some help redoing some cabinets. What kind of project are you working on?
WANDA: I’m considering redoing my cabinets in the kitchen and in the bathroom. And I heard of this project while I was listening to one of the do-it-yourself shows. It’s called liquid sandpaper and I was just wondering if you’ve ever heard of the product and, if so, do you recommend it?
LESLIE: Well, what type of cabinets are they? Are they solid wood, are they laminate and what are you trying to do to them? Do you want to restain them or do you want to paint them?
WANDA: I want to paint them and they’re solid wood.
TOM: Well, you use liquid sandpaper a lot. We’ve talked about that before.
LESLIE: Yeah. I’m just trying to think, you know, if they’re solid wood and you want to paint them, pretty much what you need to do is really give them a good cleaning because you want to make sure you get off any grit and dirt and yuck that’s been on them over the years of usage; especially in a kitchen environment.
WANDA: Yeah, I know there’s a cleaner for that; the TPS or TSP. Is that what it’s called?
LESLIE: TSP. That’s perfect. Then the liquid sander, what that is you put it on with a sponge applicator or you can brush it on and it just sort of grits up the surface just enough; you know, rather than sanding it down to get to raw wood. But it does sort of open up the finish on the wood itself so that it’s a lot more tolerant to whatever you’re going to put on it; in this case, it would be a primer. And you want to make sure you use a very good primer and then you want to go ahead and use a high-quality paint as well.
WANDA: I see. And you take off the doors. And do you need to do the inside of the doors?
TOM: Not necessarily. It’s up to you. But you know, it may look nicer that way because when the doors open it’ll all be the same color.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Or what you can do – first of all, when you take off the doors, you want to either leave the hinges on the door themselves or on the cabinet base and then label every cabinet to every door exactly where it came from; like A-A, B-B. This way you know exactly where things go and you’re not trying to be like “Oh, which hinge matches up to what?” and you know exactly how things go.
Now, for the backside, you can either take some fabric on some cardstock – just so it’s nice and thick – or even some pretty wallpaper and you have like a nice surface to adhere to and then use upholstery tacks just to – so when you open the door you’ve something pretty on the inside.
WANDA: Oh, that’s a great idea.
LESLIE: Or you can use rolled-up cork so you have someplace to put little notes or even chalkboard paint.
WANDA: That’s a wonderful idea. Thank you for that.
LESLIE: You’re so welcome.
TOM: You’re welcome, Wanda.
WANDA: OK. I appreciate that.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, up next, you know, fall is a great time to do deck repair so that lumber can stand up to the winter. Now, we’ve got a listener who wants to know if there’s an easy fix for a splintered wood deck. Now there is and we’re going to share that tip, next.
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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: A special thanks goes out to the fans on Facebook who called in and if you do fan us on Facebook, we will send you a secret studio hotline number where you can call us when we are actually here behind the microphone doing the show live and in person; give you a chance to ask your question on the air. You can do that at MoneyPit.com. Just click on the Facebook icon.
LESLIE: And while you’re online, you can click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and you can e-mail us your questions and we will answer them as we do at this point in every show. And I’ve got one here from Scott who writes: “I have a large wood deck that is very structurally sound but looks old and the kids get splinters when they walk on it. I’ve been told that you can get vinyl covers to go over a 2x6 board that comes in different lengths. I can’t afford to replace my deck with composite boards and I don’t want to replace the wood boards as they’re still good. I also found a coating online that claims to seal all the splinters, et cetera. Any thoughts about any of these applications?”
TOM: Interesting. You are searching high and low for an answer here that is right before you; more accurately, is right …
LESLIE: Right under your feet. (chuckles)
TOM: It’s right under your feet. That’s right. If you have splintered deck boards, the easiest way to fix those is to flip them over. The reason they’re splintered is because they’re exposed to all the ultraviolet rays of the sun, which breaks down the wood fibers and causes the cracking, the checking and the splintering. However, if you take those boards out and flip them upside down, you will find that the underside, while perhaps a little bit dirty, is perfectly in good shape with no cracks, no checks and no splits and you can get another good ten years out of it before you have to do a darn thing.
So, that is clearly the easiest and most inexpensive way to do that. Do that to all the boards in the deck that are really bad, then you can maybe do a new stain or something on top of that to even out the color. But you don’t have to go through great lengths to fix a split. Just flip the board over and it’ll be good as new.
LESLIE: Alright, I hope that helps.
Now we’ve got one here from Hugh who writes: “After about two years, I replumbed my whole house with PEX. I installed a backflow preventer on the water heater but not expansion tank. A plumber friend of mine said an expansion tank is necessary. Does this make sense to you? And if I do install an expansion tank, do I install it after the water heater or near where the main comes into the house?”
TOM: Typically not; unless you have well water. The reason you have an expansion tank is to take the pressure off a well pump so it doesn’t have to come on and off every time you open a faucet. But if this is municipal water, you really don’t need one; so there’s no reason whatsoever to have one. If you’ve got well water, your plumber friend could be correct; but if you have city water, I don’t think it’s necessary to you.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got one here from Pat who writes: “We have a thermostat that has four different time slots for each day of the week. One of us wants to lower the temperature to 55 degrees while we’re at work, then two hours before we return, have it reset to 68. Another one of us wants …”
TOM: (chuckling) Another one of us.
LESLIE: “Another one of us thinks it’s too much of a differential. How many degrees would it be practical to lower a setback thermostat?”
TOM: Yeah, it sounds like a marital dispute here in the making.
LESLIE: Right. (chuckles)
TOM: Yeah. Well listen, Pat, you can’t drop the temperature down too dramatically. I think 55 is a little bit chilly. My concern is that if you have an area of your house and it’s the middle of winter and it’s below freezing and windy outside, if you drop the temperature to 55 degrees, you may find that you have some spot in your house where you’ve got, say, a water pipe too close to an exterior wall or something of that nature and it can freeze and break. So, I think 60 is about as low as I would go and if everyone is happy with it at 68, then fine. You might want to buy the other one a sweater.”
LESLIE: (chuckles) I was going to say keep a sweater in your car; this way, on your way home from work, you can be armed with the sweater when you get into your chilly house.
TOM: (chuckling) Absolutely.
LESLIE: Alright, Pat. I hope that helps solve all marital disputes and thermostat questions.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
Hey, you can follow us on Twitter, you can fan us on Facebook or you can simply visit MoneyPit.com for the answers to your home improvement projects. And remember, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week our call center is open at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we are not in when you pick up the phone and call us, we will call you back the next time we are.
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.
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(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.)