Find out how to make free cell phone calls from home using your home computer, discover the latest paint color trends for 2010, and learn how radon testing can help clear the air at home and make your home healthier. Plus get the answers to your home improvement questions about, metal roofs, weather stripping a garage door, painting a concrete driveway, cabinets, eliminating termites and cracks in foundation, heating issues, types of insulation, water heaters, and refrigerator ice makers.
(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: 0:01:00.0]
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: And this is where home solutions live. We’re here to help you with your do-it-yourself dilemmas, so pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
We’re also here to help you with the undo-it-yourself dilemmas; those products that you just don’t want to do yourself. Maybe you want to hire somebody to get the job done. We can help you make good choices to get that project done once, done right and then, perhaps, you don’t have to do it again; you can move onto another project.
See, we are all about serial renovation here. Once you pick up the hammer and get going; you get that forward momentum moving; you’ve got the sawdust flying – we don’t want you to stop; we want you to keep going and improve that house. And then maybe you can take a little bit of rest when you’re done. (Leslie chuckles) So give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, coming up this hour, we love to save you money but this one totally takes the cake. How would you like to make cell phone bills disappear like magic?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
TOM: We’ve got info on a new technology that will allow you to make free cell phone calls from your home computer. We’ll have those tips, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead, we’ve got the info on the hottest paint color trends for the year and how you can apply them to your next room makeover.
TOM: And it’s time for us to raise the red flag on radon gas, which turns out to be the number two cause of cancer in America. We’re going to show you how radon can get into even the healthiest of homes and, most importantly, how you can keep it out of yours.
LESLIE: Plus, we’re giving away a bathroom makeover in a box: a whole set of hardware for your bath, from Top Knobs.
TOM: Are you going to be in the box and go to the house and surprise them and help them do the makeover?
LESLIE: That better be one gigantor box. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
TOM: It’s a prize worth 220 bucks, so call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question for your chance to win. 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Jim in Ohio has a question about a metal roof. What can we do for you?
JIM: I have a small home and it’s covered in a new, metal roof with slats underneath it.
JIM: And I insulated the single-car garage, from sidewall all the way up to the trusses and everything, with r-13. In the house, which is hooked to the garage here, I have 13 inches of – I’m sorry – 24 inches of insulation blown underneath the trusses on the attic floor.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
JIM: Should I insulate that metal roof there, also?
TOM: Well, the insulation, if I’m understanding you correctly is – can we say that it’s between the heated space of the house and the unheated space of the house? Is that correct?
JIM: Yes, sir.
TOM: Then you don’t have to go any further than that; you don’t have to do anything above the insulation. It’s OK. In fact, typically those attic spaces and those cavities are at ambient temperature, so they’re the same temperature as the outside. And I’ve got to say, the fact that you’ve got, you know, 22 or 24 inches is excellent because 19 to 22 is the standard and if you’ve got more than that, you are – you’ve done a great job.
Now, I noticed you insulated the garage. Was that because you work there or you spend some time there? Because that’s an unheated space.
JIM: Yes, sir, I do. I work out there quite a bit; on engines and my cars and stuff. Yeah.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. So that makes sense then. I think you’re doing all the right things there, Jim.
JIM: OK. Well, I appreciate your help then and I thank you very much then.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ann in Tennessee is having an issue with a garage door. Tell us about the problem.
ANN: In the garage door, we have a problem with a crack in the concrete floor keeping the garage door from closing satisfactorily.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK. Is your garage door made of wood?
ANN: The garage door is metal.
LESLIE: It’s metal.
TOM: Is the crack displacing? In other words, is the floor sort of buckling up, Ann?
ANN: Yes. About a fourth to a half of an inch.
TOM: A fourth to a half of an inch. Alright. So, the easy way to try to fix this is sort of a way to cheat and that is to double up on the weatherstripping on the bottom of the garage door, so you have more cushion.
LESLIE: Oh, interesting.
TOM: Because if it’s displaced like that, you really have to break it out and repour a patch, because you’re not going to get it to lay back down again. And the reason Leslie asked you if it was a metal or a wood door is because if it was a wood door, you could recut it to fit. But because it’s a metal door, you’d have to beef up on the weatherstripping to try to get it to have enough cushion so that it would overlap that.
And then you’re going to – do you have a garage door opener on this?
TOM: You’ll have to adjust the garage door opener so it closes properly. But if you have a buckled floor that’s keeping the door open, there’s no easy way to get that floor to lay back down.
Now the good news – if there is some good news – that replacing a concrete floor in a garage is not a terrible project because that concrete, if it’s like most concrete floors, is fairly thin – maybe about four inches thick – and usually, you can break it out with a sledgehammer; so the whole thing could be torn out and replaced in a few hours.
But if you want to try to stay away from doing that, I would just tell you to double up on the weatherstripping on the back of the garage door or you could add another piece that would be attached to the face of the metal door that had weatherstripping on it and that could be at a slight angle, so that you’ll get that seal. Because I presume you’re trying to get a good seal there, to keep water and insects out.
ANN: Yes. Yes, sir.
TOM: Yep. So there’s two ways that you can go with it, Ann. 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. Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will not judge what is going on at your money pit; we’ll just give you a hand to get the job done right, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, new technology to help you make free cell phone calls from your home computer. We’re going to tell you how to save those minutes for when you really need them.
[audio timestamp: 0:06:49.8]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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 the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Now, one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a bathroom hardware kit from Top Knobs. Now, Top Knobs provides kitchen and bath hardware with a sealed finish that’s not going to reflect the age – meaning, you know, the time that you actually have it – or the wear and tear that builds up from frequent use.
Now that means that the knobs and the pulls that you use more frequently are going to hold up just as well as the ones that you don’t use that often. Up for grabs this hour is the stylish Edwardian collection.
TOM: Did you name that after your husband?
LESLIE: Maybe. I think it had to do with a specific period of design of style. (Tom chuckles)
Now, you’re going to get six of those; making it look like you spent thousands of dollars when you didn’t, because the prize is worth 220 bucks. So visit TopKnobs.com for more info or just pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, more and more of us today are using our cell phones for just about everything and in many cases, even giving up the hardwired line at home. But with all this use, the minutes really add up.
Now, however, there’s a new way that you can use your cell phone from home without incurring any cell phone charges. This comes to us from the manufacturers of a handy, little device called Magic Jack, which you may know allows you to make a call over the internet for virtually no cost. Well, now there’s a new generation of Magic Jack that works with your cell phone. And here’s what you do.
You register your cell phone number with the company; then you plug the Magic Jack into your computer. And all you’ve got to do is step within eight feet of it and your cell phone will automatically be activated. And after that, you can make a cell phone call from anywhere in your house; be your own personal, little cell tower for free.
LESLIE: That’s amazing. And you know what? The best part is that it improves reception and you can also call from foreign countries for nearly nothing. Just bring your laptop and use it exactly the same way. It sounds like a steal but it is perfectly legal.
TOM: And I love the fact that we’ll no longer need to pay for all those calls which the cell phone carriers love to use as marketing ploys, like Friends and Family minutes and all that kind of stuff. Hey, they’re my minutes; I’ll use them any way I want (Leslie chuckles) and I don’t have to pay you a stinking, extra penny.
888-666-3974 will also not cost you an extra penny. It’s a free call, so pick up the phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement question.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Don in South Carolina needs help with a painting project. What can we do for you today?
DON: What type of paint should I put on a concrete driveway?
TOM: Mm-hmm. What’s the condition of the driveway, Don?
DON: Well, it’s in good shape; it’s not cracked or anything like that but down here the sun gets so daggone hot and stuff. I just don’t know what type of material to put down on it [inaudible at 0:10:11.1].
TOM: (overlapping voices) You know, there’s a product that QUIKRETE has; it’s called a concrete resurfacer. And it’s kind of like paint but you sort of mop it on with a squeegee.
DON: Yes, sir.
TOM: And what I like about it is it’s incredibly durable stuff and it sticks really well. And frankly, I think it’s going to stick better than any of the typical epoxy paints, in that particular situation, because you’re right: with all the sun that comes beating down on that, you want a product that’s got really good adhesion.
DON: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Exactly.
TOM: And it really makes it look like brand-new.
DON: When is the best time to put that down? Because it – I mean …
TOM: Yeah. Not temperature extreme; so not too hot and not too cold. So, early morning is probably fine.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. And you want it to be super-dry.
DON: OK. OK. Alrighty. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we're going to head over to North Carolina where Shelly needs some help with a kitchen cabinet project. What can we do for you?
SHELLY: We have about 12-year-old white, thermofoil cabinets and at this point they have started to discolor unevenly, so some are sort off-white and others are whiter.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And some are kind of yellow.
SHELLY: Yes. And in other places, like over the stovetop, they’ve started – the plastic coating has peeled away a little bit and we were wondering what our options are; whether we need to – we've talked to some refacers who would replace all the doors and drawers completely or is painting them an option?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
SHELLY: We just wanted to know what are options are for correcting this.
TOM: You know, it's probably possible to paint the thermofoil. I would use an oil-based primer. But I've got to tell you, it's a very difficult cabinet type to work with because it's a fairly economical type of cabinet type; not – and I know this is not what you wanted to hear – not designed to last, you know, like a lifetime. (chuckles) It's a fairly short-term product.
The cabinet refacers – where they're going to reface the entire front of them – is definitely an option or you might just want to think about replacing all the cabinets. I mean, the second one, where you do the refacing, is usually about 60 to 75 percent of the cost of doing the whole kitchen over again.
SHELLY: The problem is we have already done the granite work and that's in place and we're hoping not to have to rip that out.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, boy. So you put expensive granite on top of the thermofoil cabinets.
SHELLY: (chuckling) Yeah, not smart.
TOM: Yeah. Well, listen, why don't you try the painting and see if you like it?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) But Tom, on the box – on the thermofoil cabinets, is the box the same material or is the box more of a solid wood?
TOM: No, the box is typically some sort of a composite board; like a waferboard or something of that nature or a chip board. Sometimes medium-density fiber board but typically it's not solid wood.
LESLIE: Hmm. The painting, I think, with the thermofoil – I mean, everybody who's ever attempted this just has major adhesion issues.
TOM: Yeah. And especially if you're telling us that the cabinet is delaminating. I mean, basically, the doors and the fronts are so damaged now that you couldn't really paint it because that's not the issue; what you're painting is going to peel away.
SHELLY: Yeah, those doors, in particular, would have to be replaced even if we did.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Yeah. You might just want to think about new fronts or replacing the cabinets to begin with. I mean the granite counter can be pulled very carefully and reinstalled as long as ...
LESLIE: And it's not like you're going to change the layout.
TOM: Yeah, as long as you don't change the layout. There's no reason you can't use the counter again; you've just got to be really careful about taking it out.
TOM: Make sure they reinforce it from the top, especially around the sink, because that's the weakest part. I bet you if you remember when it was put in, they were probably very careful around the sink opening.
SHELLY: Yes, I think that's right.
TOM: Yep. So it's got to be reinforced before it's taken apart.
SHELLY: Right. Well, that's really helpful. Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, you're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
If we had a dollar for every time someone called us about ratty, thermofoil cabinets, we’d be rich people right now, Leslie.
LESLIE: Aww. It’s terrible and it’s always the discoloration and everybody thinks, “Hey, I’m getting a good deal. Look at these snazzy, white cabinets.”
TOM: (overlapping voices) It is terrible. Yep. Yeah. Well, they’re only white for like, what, five years? Yeah. Yellow cabinets. (Tom laughs)
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) But let’s talk in five years and we’ll talk about your snazzy, yellow, not-so-great-looking things.
TOM: Yeah. Go with peach walls; that ought to make a [inaudible at 0:13:58.5]. (Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Embrace it, Tom.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Let them match it. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Sorry we’re giving up bad news.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright. Let’s get back to the phones. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Jack in Texas needs some help with the flooring in his 150-year-old farmhouse. Tell us about the project.
JACK: Well, in our bedroom, there’s the original wood floor; an old, pine floor. Each board runs the entire length of the room right next to the outside wall and it’s under our headboard, so we don’t see it. But there’s a place about two or three inches back from the wall that’s just rotted out and with termite damage. And I really don’t think I can replace those boards and just wondering how I could best maybe fill those, just to seal up the holes that are there.
TOM: Well, there’s no reason that you can’t mill your own replacements for those, Jack. I’ve got a – not a 150-year-old house but one that’s over 100. Had a similar situation where we had areas of the floor that were worn out. The floorboards, of course, were not available at the local lumber yard or home center.
So what we did is we milled some to the shape of the old floors and then we did a standard floor – hardwood floor replacement technique where you take out the bad boards and then you sort of put the new ones in in a pattern, so that the new boards are sort of intersplined with the old boards. It’s not a straight cut; it’s sort of an overlapping pattern.
Now, when you’re done, what you’ll see is that the new boards will be very bright and shiny and probably a different color but, over time, as the light gets to them and the oxidation sets in, it will all sort of melt into the same glow.
JACK: Great. Thank you very much. I appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Jack. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bobby in Wasilla, Alaska, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BOBBY: Hi. I have a second home that I visit on weekends and I installed an on-demand hot water heater in that cabin. My problem is that the water comes out of the ground at 36 degrees and it doesn’t seem to heat up or it takes a tremendously long time to go through the system for me to get hot water out of the faucet. Is there a way that I could make this a little bit more energy-efficient so it wouldn’t take so long to do that or do I just have to live with it and it’s better than paying for heating water when I’m not there?
TOM: So it’s a tankless water heater that you have, Bobby?
BOBBY: It is.
TOM: Well, that was the right thing to do. Now, usually the cold water problem is a function of the distance between the water heater and the faucet itself because the water has to travel that distance. So, are they at opposite ends of the building?
BOBBY: They’re on opposite ends of the building but it’s a relatively small building; it’s 24x30.
BOBBY: But I think the issue is that the water coming out of the well is 36 degrees.
TOM: Well, I would also double-check, though, that the water heater was properly installed. Sometimes, typically what happens is they use a too-small – plumbers use too small of a gas line. Most tankless units, you need a one-inch gas line; not a three-quarter, which is standard for tank water heaters. And so, if it’s not firing completely, that could be the problem. I mean conceptually, that 36 degree water, once it hits the tankless water heater, should come out the other end at 110 degrees.
LESLIE: The desired temp.
TOM: At whatever you set it at. It doesn’t have to recirculate to get hot; it just hits it, it gets hot and then it gets delivered. And then there is some time between – to cover the time it takes for the water to get from the water heater to the faucet. But if it’s not coming out the other end of the water heater hot enough, then there may be a problem with the water heater and I – and the most likely culprit would be an undersized gas line.
BOBBY: That’s terrific. Thank you very much. I’ll check on that.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bobby. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Yeah, no place like Alaska to have really warm water. I mean you don’t have a cold shower.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah. And that’s like an icy-cold shower. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah. That’s four degrees over freezing. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Zoiks. Might as well just roll around in the snow.
LESLIE: Rebecca in Kentucky needs some help with a foundation issue. Tell us about it.
REBECCA: I have three foundation cracks in the basement that leak when we get a heavy rain. And I am looking for a permanent solution to repairing the foundation cracks.
TOM: OK. This is a two-part problem.
TOM: First of all, the reason they’re leaking is because you have a drainage problem on the outside. So you need to look to the exterior walls and make sure that, number one, the soil is sloped away from the wall; and number two, you have a gutter system there and that the downspouts are extended away from the foundation perimeter. Reducing the volume of water on the outside foundation perimeter is going to be very, very important.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s important because you mentioned that it’s consistent with rainfall, so these are the reasons why we know that you’re getting the water through this area.
REBECCA: (overlapping voices) OK.
TOM: Repairing the crack after that is really a cosmetic issue, Rebecca; so you can simply caulk that with a silicone caulk and then paint over them.
REBECCA: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, we’ve got an alert about a potentially harmful gas that can be making its way into your home, right now, without you ever knowing it. You’re going to learn how to detect and get rid of radon, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:19:03.0]
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.
TOM: And regardless of whether you are buying or selling a home or you just want to know more about the condition of the home you live in right now, getting a professional home inspection is a good idea. If you’re not sure what you need to be aware of, get a home inspection checklist right now, for free, at MoneyPit.com. Simply search those words: home inspection checklist. It will magically pop into your screen. You can download it and get on the way with doing your own home inspection.
But if you decide, “I’d rather not do one,” well, then, you can go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. And I’ve got to tell you, having a home inspection done about once every five years is a pretty good idea, because it’ll give you the information that you really need to stay on top of critical repairs and improvements that can save you time and save you money and make you just more comfortable in your home.
LESLIE: John in Tennessee is having a heating issue. What can we help you with today?
JOHN: Yes, ma’am. I’ve got a 30x36 building and a 9-foot ceiling.
JOHN: And I’ve got a gas heat-and-air unit and the people that I bought it from said it was – telling me it was a split unit but it’s not. It’s one that’s in so I’ve got – I go through the ceiling and I’m wondering what would be the best place to locate that unit and how to get that air up to the ceiling; that heat-and-air up through the ceiling and through the ductwork.
TOM: Is this a utility building or is this like a home or what kind of building is this?
JOHN: No, it’s just a – it’s a building; it’s a fellowship hall for a church.
TOM: OK. Alright. So you don’t want to have big, noisy space heaters hanging from the ceiling; you want to permanently heat this, correct?
JOHN: Yeah, that’s right.
TOM: Yeah. Well, you can’t serve your heat from the ceiling; you can’t have ceiling registers because the heat never gets down to the floor. You’re going to have to find places where you can drop supply ducts down from the attic space. Is that where the unit is?
TOM: Yeah. You have to find places where you can drop the ducts down from the attic space and then bring them out near the floor – within a few inches of the floor; and you’ll find another place – which could be in the ceiling – where you pull back the return ducts. If you don’t have good circulation that way, between supply and return, you’ll have a very inefficient and very frustrating heating system.
JOHN: Mm-hmm. OK.
TOM: So, it’s a bit of construction work here to find that but I will tell you that, you know, good HVAC contractors can find ways to do that kind of work with very little disruption. In fact, Leslie just had a lot of duct work put in her old house and you can hardly tell it was there.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. Yeah, I mean, it was carefully thought out and very carefully planned; making sure where all of the joists were and which direction they were going in and cleverly running things in between. So, it can be done very tidily with a lot of planning.
JOHN: Yes, ma’am.
TOM: And in our house, we had a duct that needed to run down through a room and there was absolutely no way to get it inside of a wall, so we laid it in a corner and then basically framed over like a 45-degree angle to it and it ended up making the room look kind of cool.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. We actually had to do that.
TOM: (overlapping voices) So there’s always a way to do it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. We did that in two places in my house and it was very easy; we just built out the wall that it was right next to, so suddenly that bump-out was a little bit bigger than before.
JOHN: Alright. OK. Well, I thank you for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome, John.
JOHN: Thank you for the information.
TOM: Well, there are a lot of things that you should do to make your home safe for you and for your family. And one very important thing that’s easy to overlook is testing for radon gas; something I did for many years as a home inspector. Here to give us the step-by-step on how to do just that is Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House.
KEVIN: Hey, Tom. How are you?
TOM: Now, radon is something that people don’t think about but it’s still as big of a problem as it ever was.
KEVIN: No, absolutely. And let’s start with what radon is. It’s actually a naturally-occurring, odorless and cancer-causing gas, which can enter the home through cracks and gaps in the basement floors and walls. And it’s a real problem. It’s estimated that one in every fifteen homes in the United States has elevated radon levels.
Now, testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon and the action level is four picocuries per liter. So if you get a reading that is 4.0 or higher, it’s time to do something. Radon mitigation systems can be installed and the most common type of system is one that uses a fan in a vent to pull radon from beneath the house and to vent it safely to the outside.
TOM: Alright. So now if you’ve got us all freaked out and people are thinking about if they have radon in their own house, what’s the first step?
KEVIN: Well, if you’re concerned, the first thing you do is contact your state radon office and they’ll give you a list of qualified testers.
TOM: Good point, because a lot of those testers are actually licensed these days.
KEVIN: Absolutely, and that’s who you want to work with. You can also see a video of a radon system installation on ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: Great tip.
Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Always a pleasure.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know, a lot of times, these home test kits are actually free. And in fact, we just had a listener write in about getting a free radon test, which really helped ease the financial worry; for the testing part, at least.
TOM: And you know, you probably can check with your county extension office or your municipality because many times, they have either low-cost or no-cost radon tests available. And you can test your house and get the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you don’t have that stuff in your basement; unlike my friend, Leslie, who works in a basement all the time. (Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: Spends countless hours in her basement.
TOM: Yes. Well, we’ll get your house tested, as well.
Well, if you’d like to learn more from the experts at This Old House, you should watch them on TV, where This Old House is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Up next, 2010 paint colors and how to incorporate them into your décor. We’ll have all the tips that you need to know, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:25:02.1]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac Automatic Standby Generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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.
TOM: You know the easiest way to change the look of a boring kitchen or bath? Well, it’s by adding new hardware. Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because one caller we talk to on the air is going to win a set of bathroom hardware from the folks at Top Knobs. It’s worth $220 and it comes with six knobs, a towel ring, a robe hook, a toilet tissue holder and so much more.
The Top Knobs sealing process assures that the finish won’t wear faster on the hardware that gets more use. Check it out at TopKnobs.com or give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Give us a call if you’re wondering exactly what are the paint trends this year, because it’s still early enough into the year for us to talk about the trends we’re seeing for 2010. And according to the Rohm Haas Paint Quality Institute, hot hues this year take inspiration from social and economic influences. Alright.
Now, more and more homeowners are taking on simple home projects to save money and improve their current space.
TOM: But we knew that.
LESLIE: Exactly. And others are sprucing up because they’ve got to put their home on the market. So, some of the trending colors that we’re seeing include honey-like hues, such as tan or a pale gold; even corals, yellow and mineral grey. And I’ve always been a big fan of grey paints; I think they’re fantastic.
Now, other ways to cheer up a room – break the rule that all trim has got to be white. You can create a classic, monochromatic feel by painting your baseboards and moldings the same exact color as the walls but go with that color in a super-glossy sheen; it really stands out and it looks fantastic. And if you’ve got leftover paint, don’t just put it in a closet; put it to work. You can actually add pizzazz to your overlooked closet or pantry.
Now, if you want some more ideas, head on over to MoneyPit.com, because Tom and I both have blogs that we love to chat about, on a weekly basis, about some cool, new things that are going on.
TOM: And you’ve got a great blog on the paint color trends.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: John in Georgia has an issue with a water heater. Tell us what's going on.
JOHN: Hi. This is a – it’s a gas water heater on – this is my first rental house that I just bought. And so, it's been sitting for a while and what's happening is it won't light.
JOHN: And I can see when I hit – the water heater itself is about a year-and-a-half old. When I hit the igniter switch, I can see the spark. So what I did was I opened the line, the gas line, and I bled the line out thinking maybe there was just air in there.
TOM: You know, typically, with a water heater, you have a thermal couple and you have to light the water heater by hand and you have to hold the gas valve down until the thermal couple heats up and then you let the gas valve out, turn it on full and you're good to go.
TOM: But if you have an electronic ignition, then that's really above and beyond the scope of what you can do yourself.
JOHN: It's not electronic; I mean I've still got to hold the button down ...
TOM: The gas line – the pilot valve?
JOHN: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
JOHN: Right. And then it's – you know, like on a gas grill where you hit the igniter?
TOM: And it clicks?
JOHN: (overlapping voices) The push-button igniter?
JOHN: That's what's on there.
TOM: Alright. So look, here's what you can do. If you have an igniter there and it's not working – it's not getting the spark far enough away – you could probably light it by hand.
TOM: If just the igniter is not working. But you're probably – you're better off calling a plumber to do this, because I don't want you to stick a match in there without knowing what to do with it.
LESLIE: Hey, you want to make sure nothing is clogged or leaky or – before you just run around with a match.
JOHN: (overlapping voices) Right. OK.
TOM: And if it's just the igniter itself, you're right: it might be the alignment that's – you know, the gas is not getting to the right place. When the gas valve opens up for the pilot light, that doesn't throw a lot of gas out; so if it's not connecting the spark, it's not going to light and you don't want to hold it on too – hold it open too long because that could cause a dangerous condition.
JOHN: (overlapping voices) Right. OK. Right. OK.
TOM: Doesn't sound like a big deal, though. I think you're going to get to the bottom of it without replacing that water heater.
JOHN: OK. Yeah, I shouldn't; it's only about a year-and-a-half old.
TOM: But John, think of this as the first of many repairs in your rental house.
JOHN: (chuckling) Absolutely. Alright. Thanks for your help.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kim in North Carolina has a countertop that is just not standing up to the test of time. Tell us about the problem.
KIM: About five or six years ago, we put in another countertop and it’s – the countertop is in two pieces. Where the two pieces of countertop butt together, some water seeped down in.
LESLIE: Kim, this is one of those laminated sort of countertops that you buy; the ready-made pieces at the home center, right?
KIM: Some water got down in on the one side and it’s formed a little bubble.
TOM: Here’s what you’re going to want to use. Laminate is adhered with a contact cement and there is a contact cement release agent that’s sort of like a contact cement remover.
TOM: What you’re going to want to do is peel up gently the edge of that laminate and probably with something that’s like a syringe or a turkey baster or something like that, where you can work some of this into that space, very slowly but surely saturate that to be able to peel back the laminate until you get to the place where the air bubble is.
Once you get to that spot, then what I want you to do is to let it dry. Then you’re going to apply new contact cement, a couple of coats to the bottom and the top of that piece; and then, after that gets tacky – and you may have to stick like a little wood block in there or something to hold it apart – after it gets tacky, you can readhere it and then press that down. You’re going to essentially roll that down. You can use a rolling pin; you can use a towel. You want to press it in place really, really well and that will fix it.
So, in order to repair the gap and the bubble, you have to take it apart first and then press it back together again.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, attic insulation is only as good as how well you put it in. So up next, we’re going to have tips on the best way to score big energy efficiency with new insulation.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:11.4]
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. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. You guys know that we consider you our friends, so why not be our friends by friending us on Facebook? You can follow our blog there; Tom puts up great stories. I mean there are always some good high school photos of him there, as well (Tom chuckles), which are worth a laugh.
TOM: Yeah. How about that? I’d like some high school photos of you, my dear.
LESLIE: I don’t …
TOM: Maybe at least a baby shot.
LESLIE: I’m not sure; I think they’ve all vanished. (Tom laughs) So, on another note, if you want to follow us on Facebook, you can actually do it really simply by texting Fan The Money Pit to Fbook at 32665, from your cell phone, and you’ll be instantly added as a friend of The Money Pit and a fan. So we’re happy to have you there, so go on now and do that.
And while you’re online, you can e-mail us your question. I’ve got one here from Theresa in Illinois who writes: “I have blown attic insulation. However, when it was blown in, there was plastic left all over the attic floor. Over the years, the plastic has caused ceiling cracks and moisture and mold. How can this be fixed?”
TOM: Hmm. Well, you know, very …
LESLIE: Does she mean on top of the insulation?
TOM: I wonder where this plastic kind of came into the whole thing because, frankly, you really should not have plastic on top of insulation, because it traps …
LESLIE: That sounds like a vapor barrier, right?
TOM: Yeah, it traps moisture and, in fact, all the years I spent as a professional home inspector, Leslie, I used to see insulation in the attic upside-down all the time where they had the paper face up or the foil face up. And that’s a mistake because as the humidity sort of raises out of the house, it gets collected underneath the vapor barrier, saturates the insulation and then it doesn’t work.
So, the solution in your case, Theresa, is probably to remove this plastic. But short of doing that, what you need to do is to slice it and this is a trick of the trade that I’ve always given people …
LESLIE: Just to vent it?
TOM: Yeah. You take a utility knife and basically slice it about every six inches so that there’s ventilation there and the moisture can get out, because you don’t want to trap things underneath. And if it’s gotten so bad that it’s already causing a mold problem, I would definitely remove it and, frankly, I’d think about removing all the insulation. Because even though insulation is not organic and doesn’t grow mold, you get a lot of dust in there and then the mold grows on the dust and it can leech down into the house. So, if it’s really moldy now, I probably would just pull the insulation and start again.
And the good news is, it doesn’t have to be terribly expensive. I mean, a few hundred dollars, you can insulate most attics.
LESLIE: No and think about, you know, you’re going to be improving the r-value; you’re going to see improvements in …
TOM: And the air quality.
LESLIE: Exactly. And you’ll see improvements in your energy bill, so that’s good, too.
Alright. I’ve got one here from Kevin who writes: “I’m looking into purchasing a new refrigerator and most come with a water filter that goes in the supply line for the icemaker or water dispenser. Can I install a water filter from my local hardware store instead of purchasing filters through the refrigerator manufacturer?”
TOM: I mean you can install any filter that you buy through a plumbing supply store; I don’t know about your hardware store, because it’s kind of specialized. But a plumbing supply house sells water line filters all the time.
Just make sure that you have a steady supply of the filter cartridges, because typically what happens is people put these in and forget them. It’s not like Ronco; it’s not set it and forget it, you know? If you don’t replace it, it’s going to become toxic after a while.
So, very important that you install it, mark on your calendar or your day planner or your Outlook calendar – however you track time – when it was installed and, most importantly, when it has to be replaced; which is anywhere from one month to twelve months, depending on the filter that you choose. And then make sure you stay on top of that; otherwise, it could make you sick.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Alright. We’ve got a quick e-mail from Tom who writes: “I heard on your show that in order to prime ceiling tiles, you should use an oil-based interior primer. What’s the problem with using latex primer?”
TOM: Well, there’s no problem with using a latex primer and I don’t think the advice we gave you was specific to ceiling tiles. But generally, if you have a ceiling tile or anything that’s water-stained, then we typically suggest that you use an oil-based primer because it just does a better job of sealing in whatever is underneath and gives you a good, neutral surface to go forward with.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? It’s also really good, Tom, if you’re using it on a surface that you have no idea what’s there. So that’s always a good time to grab the oil-based over the latex. Well, good luck with your painting project.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We’re just about out of time. The show does continue online, though, at MoneyPit.com. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
[audio timestamp: 0:36:52.4]
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(Copyright 2010 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.)