Slippery sidewalks, treated with salt, can be dangerous for pets. Learn how to make slippery sidewalks safe for everyone. Find out how to clear a jammed garbage disposer yourself, without a costly repair bill. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about installing a trash disposer, fixing a leaky water heater, drilling a hole in granite, problems with dish washer, installing a wood floor, controlling heat flow, Hot Water Heater replacement, installing a doggie door, and how to measure carpeting.
TRANSCRIPT FOR DECEMBER 21, 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: Happy holidays, everybody. Hope that you are having a joyous holiday season around your house; probably enjoying it with friends and family. We know that you’re probably not swinging hammers this week. That’s OK. You can take some time off. We are here, though, to help you with your future home improvement solutions, your do-it-yourself dilemmas, the things that we know you’re going to want to tackle in your house over …
LESLIE: And you know, Tom, why people aren’t doing home improvements this weekend?
TOM: Why not?
LESLIE: Because everybody is putting together that new toy (Tom chuckles), that new bicycle, using Allen keys to try to figure out what goes to what and kids are screaming.
TOM: Well, you know, we’ll take that kind of a tech support call on today’s show as well. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Hey, coming: icy, slippery sidewalks. Now, we all know that they’re dangerous for us but what you sprinkle on them could also be dangerous for your pets. So we’re going to tell you about a pet-friendly ice-melting solution that will keep everyone safe.
LESLIE: And your kitchen has certainly been very, very busy recently and all of your holiday cooking and cleaning can really do a job on your garbage disposer. Well, we are going to have some great advice on how to clear a jammed disposer, from This Old House plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey.
TOM: Plus, we’ve got a few quick trips and sneaky solutions that you can do right now to make your post-Christmas cleanup easier and faster.
LESLIE: That’s right. It involves picking one needle off your tree every time you pass. (both chuckle) That is all ahead and we’re giving away a great prize. We’ve got a Dremel rotary tool this hour. It’s a great tool for so many projects. Believe me; you will make up uses to just use the tool. So call us right now.
TOM: It’s a prize worth 75 bucks; going to go to one caller who reaches us today at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask us. Let’s get right to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Christine in Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CHRISTINE: We live due south of Chattanooga, Tennessee in a little town in Georgia.
CHRISTINE: And we’re on city water but – and we have a septic tank. And I’m wondering if we can install a garbage disposal.
TOM: Christine, that’s a total, shall we say, old wives’ tale. (Leslie chuckles) Septic systems are not negatively affected by garbage disposers. The only thing that really can impact septic systems is if you have a lot of grease or oil that goes down into them. But a garbage disposer that simply takes other, easily-degradable waste and puts it through the system, that’s not going to have an effect on it. So you feel free to go right ahead and pick up a disposer.
CHRISTINE: OK, well that’s what we’ll do then. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lester in New York needs some help with a patching project. What can we do for you?
LESTER: Yes, hi. I enjoy your program.
LESLIE: Thanks, Lester.
LESTER: I have some stress cracks in my kitchen ceiling.
LESTER: When I clean it off, the paint chips come off and the thickness of the defect is only the thickness of a couple of layers of paint.
LESTER: And I remember last time you said that such defects could be fixed with fiberglass tape and joint compound. And I'm wondering if the tape would even be too thick; that I would have to use either joint compound or spackle alone.
TOM: Well, if you've got a crack, the best way to stop it from cracking is to cover it with fiberglass; perforated fiberglass tape. Now it is thick and it's not an easy project. It takes a number of layers. But what you want to do is first sand down that area so you get rid of any glaze on the paint; you get rid of any looseness of the paint. You put the fiberglass spackle, the fiberglass drywall tape down and then you put probably three coats of spackle; letting each one dry. So start with something that's around a four-inch spackle blade. You sort of just cover the tape; then you put a little more and a little more and you sort of feather it out so it goes ...
LESLIE: So it thins out as it gets wider.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Now, after you're done with that, you paint that ceiling again. If you use flat paint – we would recommend not anything with a gloss; flat paint because it hides those imperfections of the ceiling – then you won't see it anymore. But that's definitely the way to fix it if you don't want to see that crack any further.
Lester, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Greg in Washington has a question about some mysterious water by the water heater. Tell us about this.
GREG: I was visiting my daughter in Spokane and, as any good father, sort of checking around her house, see if there’s anything I could do. (Tom chuckles) And I noticed there are about three to four inches of clear water pooling on one side of the water heater.
GREG: And it’s where the overflow pipe is but the pipe was dry. And there’s adequate hot water in the house and the water heater, she guessed, was around five to six years old. So I’m wondering what that means and what I should do about it.
TOM: Well, let’s think about this. There are two places that a water heater valve could leak and that’s the drain valve itself and also the temperature and pressure relief valve. Now, the temperature/pressure relief valve is the one that’s on the side and has the little lever on it. Don’t touch the lever. A lot of people like to “clean those out” by opening the lever. The problem is, it’ll never shut again; sometimes it gets stuck, get a little bit of sand in there.
But those are the two places to monitor. So, if you’re reaching your finger up inside the drain valve or the pipe for the temperature and pressure relief and you don’t have any water there, then that’s probably not the issue.
Now, the other thing that could happen is if your water heater gets used a lot – so it’s completely empty and then it refills and now it’s refilling with cold water – and then the flame comes on, you will very often get condensation because you have a lot of moisture that’s in the natural gas as it burns and it strikes the underside of the water heater and then it condenses. And you can sometimes even hear the water drip back onto the burner with that sort of (makes sizzling sound) sizzling sound as it goes down. I’ve seen that happen in a great enough quantity to collect around the water heater.
And then the other idea is that when you have it – is this in a basement?
GREG: It’s in a basement.
TOM: OK. If the basement is very humid and the water heater, again, is refilling – so it tends to be cold – you can get condensation on the outside of the water heater jacket.
So those are all things that can cause leaks without the tank rupturing. So I would look in those areas. A little bit of water is probably not going to be an issue. I’m more concerned that it’s not an ongoing situation. If it just happened because she emptied it and then it refilled and you had a lot of condensation, not so much of a problem.
GREG: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, you’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit, on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Hey, are you already thinking about your home improvement New Year’s Resolution list? Well, if you are and you need some help planning and figuring out what to do and how to get that job done, we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, we’ve got info on how to keep slippery sidewalks clear without chemicals that can harm your pets’ sensitive paws. That’s coming up, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:07:38.2]
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you can be on The Money Pit by picking up the phone and giving us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Now, every hour each week we give away a great prize to one of you lucky callers who gets on the air with your home improvement question. And this hour, we’re giving away the Dremel 300 Series rotary tool. Now, it has a variable speed from 5,000 to 35,000 RPMs and imagine you can just, you know, be in a little inflatable dinghy and put your Dremel tool in the water and just [kick butt] (ph). (Tom chuckles) That’s what I imagine when I hear 35,000 RPMs.
But this Dremel, it’s got a lightweight design for great comfort and easier handling and right now, at Dremel.com, you can get tons of project ideas when you download the “30-Minute Miracle” brochure and it includes dozens of project ideas that you can do with a rotary tool in 30 minutes. And now, a rotary tool, especially the Dremel, it can be used for woodworking, crafts, home maintenance, hobbies. I promise, you will see the Dremel tool and start thinking, “Hmm, what can I use this tool on.” (Tom chuckles) “Can I carve this”?
I remember getting my first Dremel tool, I want to say, God, 20 years ago.
LESLIE: And it still is in my toolkit. I love it to pieces and I do truly try to find uses for it every, single weekend. So call us right now.
TOM: And when you have something you really need it for, you absolutely need that tool and nothing else. Nothing will replace it.
LESLIE: It’s true.
TOM: Hey, let’s talk about getting rid of snow. You’re probably doing that a bit this week and it’s one thing; but if you have to keep those sidewalks and driveways safe by putting down a deicing product, well, that’s something else. And if you’ve got pets, harsh chemicals can be very hazardous. You know, their delicate paws could get a chemical burn and they can even be poisoned if they lick their paws.
So, what’s the solution? Well, you need to choose a pet-safe product. These pet-safe products are carried by many of the large pet store chains. Another option is to simply use sand or gravel for traction. You want to be sure to sweep between the storms, as both of these can get pretty messy.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? You never know what your neighbors are putting down; so when you do take Fido or Fifi out for a walk, make sure you just wipe down their paws when you get back in the house, just in case.
TOM: Good tip.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Mary in New Hampshire is dealing with an icy porch in the winter. Let’s see if we can fix this.
MARY: I have a fairly new home. Where the roof of the house and the roof of the garage come, it was just gushing down water on my stairs; so I had gutters put on. But the gutters come at a right angle right over the porch and it’s still dripping; causing ice to form on the stairs.
MARY: And I want to know do you have any ideas.
TOM: Well – so the gutters intersect right over the porch and the problem is that you have two roofs that kind of come together and the water overflows the gutter? Is that what’s going on?
TOM: If the gutter is leaking at an intersection, that’s not unusual. You may need to seal that gutter where it comes together. You can use some roofing cement on the inside of that gutter to seal it because it should be a watertight seal. If you’re …
MARY: Roofing cement.
TOM: Roofing cement, right; inside the gutter, where the seam is. If that’s what leaking, then that’s how you fix it.
MARY: (overlapping voices) OK.
TOM: Now, if because you have two roofs that are intersecting that there’s so much water coming down there and it’s overflowing or it’s splashing, then that’s another problem. In that case, what you would want to do is go up higher on the roof and put in something called a diverter; which basically is sort of a piece of metal that is attached to the roof, that catches some of the water and runs it away from that porch area so it diverts some of the water off of that intersection that’s overflowing and splashing. Do you follow me?
MARY: Oh, I got you. Alright.
TOM: So, two things: repair the leaky gutter and install the diverter. You’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: Rocky in Washington is doing a kitchen upgrade. How can we help you with that project?
ROCKY: Yes, we installed new cabinets and granite countertops in our kitchen. I reinstalled the appliances but the dishwasher has two mounting tabs along the top, designed to screw into like a wood-surface counter.
ROCKY: And I'm trying to attach that to my granite countertop. I tried putting a dab of silicone on each one and then clamping it but that only lasted for about a week, so I came to you.
TOM: OK. Yeah. So the question is, “How do I drill a granite countertop?” and the answer is very carefully. (Leslie chuckles) You do need to drill into the top and then what happens is you will epoxy in a plug, essentially, that’s of a softer material that can actually take the screw. Now, you know, if you were to drill in there, for example, and then epoxy in a wood plug, then you could screw into the wood plug and that’s basically what you do.
But drilling into this has to be done very, very, very, very carefully. You need a masonry bit. You need a depth stop, so that you don’t go too deep. And although, typically, when you use a masonry bit, you use a masonry drill that vibrates, in this case I wouldn’t; I’d be very, very careful about it.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, don’t want it to chip it away.
TOM: By the way, who put the countertop in for you?
ROCKY: A gentleman from another town, that we hired. We hired both the cabinets and the countertops installed and I’m just (inaudible at 0:13:01.2).
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Any chance you can get them to come back and do this for you; perhaps when they’re in the area? Because these guys do it all the time.
ROCKY: Possibly, because we’re talking about putting in one of those wireless switches for the garbage disposal anyway.
TOM: Alright. I would definitely recommend you go back to the installer because you’ve got a beautiful and very expensive countertop and, although you may be able to do this successfully, one false move is going to make your wife hate you. (Rocky and Leslie laugh) OK.
TOM: So just to keep the peace, I’d get a pro in there for this one. Because although it’s not complicated, if you screw it up, it’s going to be a big problem.
ROCKY: Alright. I appreciate your information.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Just want to make sure we keep Rocky and his wife happily …
LESLIE: (chuckling) Happily married?
TOM: Happily married, yeah. Can you imagine? All you hear from the kitchen is, “Oh, shoot!”
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness.
TOM: (chuckling) And there are pieces of countertop flying off all over the place.
LESLIE: Well, and you know what? It’s so funny. It’s like you think you and myself, people who do home improvement projects all the time – when we were childproofing the kitchen, I got those magnetic locks for the kitchen cabinets. And you know, they kept saying, “Oh, use a drill set so you don’t drill through the cabinet door” because you had to go in from behind and I kept thinking, “I’m not going to go through my wood cabinet door.”
LESLIE: Sure enough (drill sound), right through the door.
TOM: Right through, right?
LESLIE: Right through the door.
LESLIE: And if I didn’t learn my lesson the first time, I did it the second door as well.
TOM: That’s when I discovered how good the Minwax wax crayons are for filling holes.
TOM: I once filled an entire 1/8-inch hole in a cabinet door with that stuff. Couldn’t see it. (chuckles)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Did you really?
Sandra in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SANDRA: Well, I’ve been having a problem with my sharp knives; not that I used them on anybody. (Tom and Leslie laugh) But – my sharp knives and my glasses. When I run them through the dishwasher, I get a white film on the sharp knives and some of the glasses; not all of them. It’s selective.
TOM: OK. Are you using a rinsing agent in the dishwasher?
SANDRA: Yes, I am. Yes, I am.
TOM: And that’s not helping at all?
TOM: Hmm. OK. And have you changed dishwashing detergent?
SANDRA: Yes, I have. Well, I didn’t change it. The formula changed of the one I – of the Cascade I used.
TOM: Ah. I see.
SANDRA: But I noticed it happened more after they changed their formula.
TOM: Yeah. Hmm. Well, I think you might just want to be – the easiest thing to do is to try to find a different dishwashing detergent that works better for you. I suspect that you may have hard water and …
SANDRA: Yes. Yes, I do.
TOM: Yeah, and that’s why you’re getting these deposits. Now, there is a system that will soften the water. What’s that called, Leslie? Easy …
LESLIE: It’s EasyWater, I think.
TOM: EasyWater, yes.
TOM: EasyWater. It electronically clamps onto the main water pipe and basically makes the hard water – changes the polarity of the mineral deposits inside the water so that they don’t stick together any more and basically that stops it from sticking to stuff. But you know, that’s an investment, to do that. The easiest thing for you to do is to just rotate your dishwashing detergent until you find one that works better for you because, like you said, you know, you had one that worked a little bit better; they changed the formulation and now it’s not so good.
Don’t you love when they say “new and improved” and it just …?
SANDRA: That was not nice, to do that. OK.
TOM: Yeah. When they say “new and improved,” it never quite is.
SANDRA: (chuckles) You know, sometimes it’s better to leave well enough alone, which …
TOM: You got it. Sandra, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Brandon in Ohio with a flooring question. How can we help you with your projects?
BRANDON: Well, we’re putting in a laminate wood-plank flooring in our living room and it starts in our kitchen and we want to continue it into the living room. But there’s a 1/2-inch drop between the kitchen and the living room. I’m not sure how to kind of raise up the floor so it can be level.
TOM: Do you want to raise it up or do you want to have a gentle slope downward?
BRANDON: Well, I guess I don’t know what works. Because we didn’t really want to put a transition piece between the two rooms; we just kind of wanted to – since it’s all the same material, just wanted it to flow smoothly into the next room.
TOM: Is it a doorway?
BRANDON: There’s no doorway.
BRANDON: It’s kind of like open when you first open our front door. But there’s two rooms.
TOM: Alright. Well, look, you have two choices here: you can either have a saddle with an obvious point of demarcation and a step-down; or you could shim it or build up the floor so that there’s a gentle slope downwards. You’re either going to end up with a slope-y floor, which is going to give you the sensation of walking down a hill; or you’re going to have a clean saddle and a step-down.
LESLIE: Well, and be a major problem for furnishings that would be along that wall in between the two spaces.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: You’re going to have to shim China cabinets.
TOM: I’d rather see you put a clear saddle across there and work it into the design. Whenever you have something odd like that, sometimes it’s easier to shout about it and make it look like it was supposed to be that way than to try to hide it. If you try to hide it with the slope, it’s not going to feel right when you’re walking on it and, like Leslie said, furniture issues and so on. Could be even unsafe, too.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and a saddle is going to have a clear transition between the two. I mean you’ll see on either side, on the base of the saddle, where it is for one floor height and where it is for another.
BRANDON: Where would I be finding a saddle to do that? At any home …
TOM: Oh, any lumber saddle will have hardwood saddles.
LESLIE: Well, and wouldn’t the company that manufactures the laminate that he’s purchasing also sell saddles?
TOM: Perhaps. Yep, they should. Just check the links that are available. Except I would probably use a real wood than a laminate saddle.
LESLIE: Just for durability issues or …?
TOM: Yeah. It’s going to take a lot of beating.
BRANDON: OK. Alright, well thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Hey, don’t let a jammed garbage disposer put the brakes on your dinner. We’ll walk you through the simple steps to un-jam it, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:19:02.3]
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 on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lamar in Utah has a venting question for Team Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
LAMAR: Hi. I had four vents installed when I had my roof reshingled and we've got extremes of weather here in Utah; very hot summers. And so it was recommended to put those vents in to help keep the heat out, but in the winter it gets real cold and I'm worried about energy loss.
TOM: Ah, so you're wondering if you should seal those up in the winter.
LAMAR: Yes, is that advisable?
TOM: The answer is absolutely not because, actually, they serve a very important purpose in the winter, Lamar, and that is to vent that attic space and let moisture escape. Now …
LESLIE: So that your insulation works properly.
TOM: Right. Your insulation has to be dry. If it's not dry it won't insulate. So a drafty attic is actually a very good thing. What you should do, if you're concerned about energy efficiency, is make sure that you have plenty of insulation; probably at least 22 inches of fiberglass, in your part of the country, along that attic floor so that you have lots of resistance to heat loss and then the ventilation will help keep that nice and dry and make sure it's effective.
LAMAR: Alright. And help prevent ...
TOM: So that was a good thing. They did you a favor.
TOM: You know, the vents keep out the heat in the summer; they keep out the moisture in the winter and make sure the insulation works year round.
LESLIE: And Lamar, you want your attic space to be the same temperature as it is outside. So if it's cold in the winter months it's doing the job.
LAMAR: Oh, terrific.
TOM: You know, there's a good website with tips on this topic. It's called InsulateandSave.com. It's put together by the experts at Owens Corning. And there is a homeowners guide to insulation that you can download on that website, which will give you sort of a more scientific explanation of why you need that ventilation and what you can do to make sure your house is really as efficient as possible.
LAMAR: Terrific. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome, Lamar. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, one of the hardest-working appliances, at the busiest cooking season of the year, has got to be your garbage disposer. And you know what? Nothing puts the brakes on your kitchen cleanup like a jammed disposer.
TOM: Well, fixing that jammed disposer is not hard if you know what to do. Here with step-by-step advice is Kevin O’Connor, host of TV’s This Old House, and plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey. A very useful appliance when it works; correct, Kevin?
KEVIN: You got that right. Garbage disposers are great. They make cleaning up the kitchen after a big dinner a lot easier. But we often take them for granted, until they’re jammed.
RICHARD: For sure. And what causes jams, well you name it: it could be coins - a little dime can wreak havoc down in there; bones; broken glass; we’ve seen turkey pins and even silverware.
Now, what you want to do first is to identify, on the disposer, every one now has some sort of circuit breaker built in. It’s called a reset button. At the very bottom of the unit, you can find a little red button. If you hit that button, it will clear the circuit breaker that may have tripped and you may be back in business.
But if it isn’t, you have to go to the next level. With the power off, you try turning the motor from underneath with a special Allen wrench that’s shipped with the disposer. If that doesn’t work, you can try turning it from above; reaching down in with a special wrench. And you know what? I’ve actually used two broomsticks. You put them down inside and try to turn that grinding wheel.
KEVIN: Alright. Any other tips?
RICHARD: Well, if you’re buying a new disposer, look for one with a little bit of power – 3/4 horsepower, I think, is about the minimum that I’d want. And there’s also a great feature called auto reverse that can help to clear a jam. And the best way to clear a jam is to actually prevent it from happening in the first place.
KEVIN: Alright, good to know. And to watch a step-by-step video of clearing a jammed disposer, visit us at ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And to watch a step-by-step video of people jamming a disposer, come to my house any time.
KEVIN: (overlapping voices, chuckling) Come to your house.
TOM: Richard, Kevin, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great tips.
RICHARD: Keep jammin’, Tom. (Tom chuckles)
KEVIN: Always a pleasure.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And you know what, guys? Here is actually a bit of trivia – if you’ll allow me to play Cliff Claven for a moment. Most people actually call them garbage disposals but that name is actually the brand name of the first type that was ever manufactured. You know, it’s sort of like Q-Tip or Kleenex; you know, the brand name became the way the product is known as.
TOM: Good point.
Hey, for more tips from the team at TV’s This Old House, you can watch them on PBS and it’s brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot – more saving, more doing.
Still ahead, we know that you’re enjoying your Christmas holiday right now but the cleanup is just around the corner. We’re going to have some tips to make that easier, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:24:09.9]
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.
TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Every hour, we choose a great prize to give to a caller and this hour we’re giving away the Dremel 300 Series rotary tool. It’s got a variable speed which runs from 5,000 to 35,000 RPM and a lightweight design for comfort and easy handling. Worth 75 bucks; going to go to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to hear what has happened at your money pit in this holiday season. I’m sure a lot of you are dealing with post-holiday, post-party cleanup. Perhaps you’re still having a party before the new year. Well, here are some tips.
If you’ve still got a big event to cook coming up this week, think about investing in some of those roaster bags. You can find them in the supermarket in the aisle where you’ll find like plastic bags and foils, et cetera. And they really do work. I’m telling you I have used them before and I have gone to cooking school and people would think, “You use these things?” You can use them.
Basically, you put whatever you’re roasting – whether it’s beef or a bird of some sort – and you put all of your flavors and what-not in there. Then you seal up the roasting bag and pop everything in the oven and then your pan is spotless; one last thing to clean.
Whenever I’m making appetizers for a party, I always line all of my pans with tin foil. Then I just take my tin foil, crinkle it up, put in my recycle bin, don’t have to wash the pans; which always take up a ton of space in the dishwasher, by the way, and you know, give you dishpan hands if you choose to go at it that route.
Now, wake up from your party and suddenly you realize, “There’s a ton of scuff marks on my floor” or “Somebody dragged a chair across my freshly painted wall.” Here’s a tip: grab one of those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and keep them under your sink. They are truly fantastic at getting anything and everything off of pretty much any surface. Here’s the trick a lot of people don’t realize, though: you have to wet them first. So make sure you wet it with some water, squeeze it out. Then you can get scuff marks; you can get chair marks off of walls; you can get crayon off of walls. It really works fantastic and if you keep some of these things in the house, it truly saves your cleanup time.
TOM: Yeah, good point. And speaking of cleanup, our gift to you – the most popular article on our website this week has been “Natural Cleaning Products.” If you search for recipes for natural cleaning products at MoneyPit.com, you will find a complete list of how to make polish, glass cleaner, toilet cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, disinfectants, drain openers, even cleaners for your microwave oven and your furniture polish and how to get that brass looking new again. All of that is online at MoneyPit.com; ready and waiting to help you with your post-holiday cleanup chores.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones and tackle some of those future home improvement projects.
LESLIE: Beverly in Delaware needs some help with a heating question. What’s going on?
BEVERLY: I need to know – we have an upstairs second floor that was added on later, before we bought the house, and there are two rooms with radiators but there's a large hall upstairs that doesn't have any heat.
BEVERLY: Is it better to leave the doors open or to keep the doors closed to the other rooms? Does it help for the heating for this first floor?
TOM: Well, are you using those rooms? Are you using both of those bedrooms?
BEVERLY: Not all the time.
TOM: OK. So I mean is this like for guests or that sort of thing?
BEVERLY: One is for guests; one is for an office but we don't use it ...
TOM: Well, for the one that's for the guests I'd keep the heat turned down there. You say it's radiators? Can you control the individual radiators by partially turning them off?
BEVERLY: We haven't done that. How do we do that with the radiators?
TOM: Well, you can partially turn off the valve to the radiator. That will reduce the amount of heat that comes out of it. I mean the bottom line is if you're not using the room and there's no bathroom in there, there are no pipes to freeze, I would try to cut as much of the heat as I possibly can and I would keep the door closed.
TOM: And the hall - you know, many hallways don't have heat because it gets it from downstairs; it wafts up. But I mean if you want to save some money in winter and you're not using a room, I would definitely try to do what I can to turn the heat off.
BEVERLY: OK, great. Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Beverly. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dan in Colorado is looking for a water heater. How can we help you with that search?
DAN: Well, we’ve got a house with five bedrooms, three baths and, eventually, two adults and three kids, we’re hoping.
TOM: OK. (Leslie chuckles)
DAN: And the water heater is about 12 years old. I know that’s getting towards the end of its life. I was trying to decide whether we should go with a tankless water heater – someone told me if you do that with that size of a house, you might want two; or if we should go with a high-efficiency heater with a tank.
TOM: Both of those ideas are solid and here’s why. A tankless water heater is only going to heat water when you need it and, because you have a large house, the tankless water heaters are also very small; you can have two of them. So you essentially zone your hot water – you have one upstairs and one downstairs – and what that’s going to do is make sure you never have to wait very long for hot water. Because even if you have a tankless water heater, if it’s in the basement and, you know, your master bath is up on the second floor, you know, it could take a few minutes for the hot water to go through the system and work its way up there. So that’s why putting two in is a good idea.
Now, the other option is a heat pump water heater, which is probably the most efficient out there right now.
LESLIE: Yeah, there’s actually a model out right now from Rheem called the HP-50 and it’s super quiet.
DAN: Does that involve a tank? I’m not real familiar with their heat pump.
TOM: Yeah. It’s brand new. It’s a heat pump water heater. It’s sort of like a tanked water heater with a heat pump built into it and, basically, it’s more energy-efficient than either electric or even a gas water heater. You can save as much as about $300 a year on your energy costs and it also qualifies for federal tax credits right now, so you can get up to $1,500 of the cost of the product …
LESLIE: And you know what, Dan? Some of your local utility companies even offer an extra rebate. So if this is a model you’re considering, you might want to contact your utility company just to see if there’s something that your state or your local utility company might offer in addition.
TOM: Yep, it’s called a heat pump water heater. It’s made by Rheem; the HP-50.
DAN: And one would cover the whole house; wouldn’t need two?
TOM: Yes, correct. You wouldn’t need two.
DAN: OK, very good.
TOM: Why don’t you take a look at the website for Rheem? It’s Rheem.com. And the website for that particular product is RheemHPWH.com for heat pump water heater. OK?
DAN: Very good. Thank you both.
TOM: Alright? You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill in Idaho is looking for some help with a doggie door. Tell us about your project.
BILL: Yeah, I wanted to install a doggie door. It’s for a medium-sized door – or dog.
TOM: (laughing) OK.
BILL: But anyway, in the summertime, it gets about 101, 102; but in the wintertime, you know, we’re talking below zero here.
LESLIE: Well, that’s a nice range of climate.
BILL: So what I want is, you know, something that I can put into there that I don’t have Wally Waterdrop come flying into the house.
TOM: Yeah, you know, there are some pretty good insulated extreme-weather dog doors out there. I know PetSafe makes one that actually has like three layers. So there are like two vinyl flaps with like the magnetic weatherstripping; then there’s a foam insulating layer in between. You can probably find that online if you search for “extreme weather doors for pets.”
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, mold, moss, mildew; three things you find in your refrigerator? Well, no; actually, we hope not. What is the difference? How do you get rid of this gross stuff that you see growing all around your house? Well, we’re going to teach you how to do just that, next.
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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.
TOM: On air and online at MoneyPit.com. If you’d like to follow us on Facebook, you can simply text, “Fan the Money Pit” to FBOOK – that’s 32665 from your cell phone – and you will be instantly added as a fan. You can also do that from our fan page, which is available through MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and while you’re online, you can click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and you can e-mail us your question. We’ve got some here for today.
First up is John from Florida who writes: “Part of my front porch never gets sun.” Never gets sun? I can’t believe that. You’re in the Sunshine State. (Tom chuckles) Alright. But it never gets sun and “there’s both moss and black mold growing on my wood railings. How do I get rid of it and is there a way to prevent it from coming back?”
TOM: Well, first we should point out that one of the reasons that your railing has mildew probably growing on it is because you don’t have a lot of sun. If you have a shady side of your house, you’re more likely to get that type of moss and mildew growth. Doubt it’s black mold – although, frankly, everybody calls it that; so we just kind of take that with a grain of salt.
In terms of how to get rid of it, you’re going to need to use an oxygenated bleach product on that; a product like OxiClean or Jomax or even mix up some bleach and water. We want you to protect your plants – which are right under them, potentially – so that you don’t kill them. We want to have a nice, clean railing but we don’t want you to get rid of all that nice landscaping that’s surrounding it. And then, if the railing looks like perhaps it needs a new paint job, the next time you paint it, mix in some mildicide – there are mildicide additives – into the paint and that will perhaps slow the growth of mildew on the return.
And keep an eye on it. Usually, by the time you get to it, it’s real obvious, it’s pretty thick. If you clean it on a regular basis, then you don’t really give it a chance to build up.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, John? Because you live in Florida and you have high humidity and there’s tons of sunshine, everything that you have in your yard and perhaps just trees on your property, will grow and grow and grow and grow. So whatever you can do to cut something back or prune a bush or whatever to just allow more sunlight to get on that area of the deck will really help to hinder the growth of the mildew, so see what you can prune back. And you know what? By cutting all that back, you’ll make your house look a lot bigger as well.
Alright, now we’ve got one here from Patricia in New Jersey who writes: “What’s the best way to measure carpet; especially when stairs are concerned? I need to order carpet for my double set of stairs with a landing in between and a hallway upstairs with odd-shaped nooks and corners. I don’t want to be short or pay for extra that I don’t need, which I’m afraid will happen if the carpet store measures it.”
TOM: Ah, good point. Here’s what you do. Typically, you take length times width of the space that you need the carpet on and divide it by eight. Now, that’s going to give you the number of yards and the reason we say divide it by eight instead of divide it by the nine square that’s found in a yard is because you’re allowing for some waste, which is going to be necessary in order to get the patterns to line up and just to have everything sort of work out.
Now, in terms of the carpet, I would count each tread as a single yard. Carpeting stairs really takes quite a bit of carpet because you’ve got to wrap it across the tread; around the nose; down the riser; wrap the sides, if you’re going to do it that way. So if you figure one yard for every tread of stairs and then take length times width of all the other areas and divide it by eight, you will know how many yards you’re going to need to budget for.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Patricia? You can work each area separately, as Tom mentioned. You know, measure the landing; figure that as one. Just keep a notepad with all of the areas on it and then, when you’re done, add up all those sums and that’ll help you out tremendously there.
Alright, Bill in Ohio writes: “I have a pink substance on the shower floor that won’t go away. I think it’s from the water but it only appears in the shower.”
TOM: It might be hard water deposits and probably the best product to use there is CLR, which stands for calcium, lime and rust. It’s a really great bathroom cleaner and I’m sure it will take that right away.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you know what, Bill? You can pick it up at any store and it works instantly and your bathroom will seem brand, spanking new.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this holiday week with us. We hope that you are having a wonderful week at home with family and with friends. Be careful on all those visits. Lots of people on the roads right now. Take it easy. Enjoy it. We’re going to see you next year.
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.)