Discover the benefits of using reclaimed wood and find out where to get it, learn how to save money on your hot water bills, learn insider tips to get your home chosen for a TV makeover show. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, Generators, cleaning soot from a fireplace mantle, insulation products, fixing a rotted floor, popping deck nails, cleaning a yellowed vinyl floor, leaky windows, pesty bees, electrical shocks in the shower, smoothing panels.
(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: Standing by to answer your home improvement questions, to solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If there is a tough question that you have on your mind about how to get something done around your house, call us right now and give us a chance. We will try to help you out.
Hey, wouldn’t it be nice if miraculously you could just sort of step away for a weekend and come back and your home repair or your home renovation would be totally complete?
TOM: That’d be nice, right. I mean after all, that’s how they do it on TV, right? Half-hour show, total gut-job kitchen remodel. It’s as easy as that. Well …
LESLIE: Like quit picking on my other job.
TOM: It may look easy but there’s actually a lot that goes into it. The question is how do you get chosen for one of those projects. Did you ever wonder how TV crews select the homeowners that they work with on shows like Leslie’s shows or shows like This Old House? Well, we’re going to get some tips and tricks from another expert this hour when Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House stops by to tell us exactly how This Old House selects their projects and also an interesting story about how Kevin got his job. Because actually, he submitted a project to This Old House which resulted in him getting the host job; so hey, you never know where it could go.
LESLIE: Boy, talk about the golden ticket there, huh?
Alright, well maybe you’re looking for ways to save some money on your next home improvement project and you thought using recycled wood might be a great idea to help you do that. Well in fact, recycled wood is gorgeous; it’s usually heavier; it’s stronger and it’s got a lot of that patina and character that you really look for when you’re looking at that reclaimed wood. Well, if you aren’t so lucky to just have some old wood lying around your money pit, it’s actually not that hard to locate. We’ll tell you where to look a little later this hour.
TOM: And also ahead, if your hot water bills have ever had you gasping for breath, we’ve got an easy and a free way to help you get your head above water by cutting those bills way down.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour we’re giving away a whopper of a prize. Thanks to our friends at Lumber Liquidators, you could win a $500 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators if we choose your call at random this hour.
TOM: So give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Tom in Virginia is looking for some help with a generator. What can we do for you?
TOM IN VIRGINIA: Well, I was just wondering if there are any alternatives to the generators that are run by diesel fuel, that you can get hold of. The electric companies, they have their plans but I was wondering if there’s anything else out there.
TOM: Well, absolutely. In fact, my house is run by a Generac standby generator and I’ve used it twice today since we had some storms that rolled through the house. And it’s great because my Generac is powered by natural gas, so I never have to worry about fuel for it; it’s just hooked up to the gas pipe. And it comes on within about 15 seconds of losing power and then it repowers about half the house; that’s how we have it set up. And so you can use a natural gas standby generator and the prices have come way down on them.
And I’ll tell you what, there’s a lot of security to having a standby generator because you don’t have to worry about losing food and losing your heating system and things like that and not losing lights on a dark, stormy night. So I really believe in standby generators. I think everyone should have one. I’m glad to see that the prices are coming down.
You might want to take a look at the Generac website at NeverFeelPowerless.com. There’s a lot of information about standbys there and also ways that you can calculate the size that you need.
TOM IN VIRGINIA: OK, that sounds good. Yeah, the last time we had a hurricane come through there, people thought my house was possessed because we had power.
TOM: Yeah, right? I know. Yeah, the neighbors will come down the street with their milk and eggs to borrow and put in your refrigerator.
TOM IN VIRGINIA: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, for three days we had breakfast at my house.
TOM: There you go. Alright, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Karen in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina needs some help with a fireplace project. Tell us what’s going on.
KAREN: Hi. I’ve got soot on my brick fireplace.
KAREN: And I wanted to know what the easiest way would be to get the soot off. It’s been on there perhaps more than a year or so. And you know, I want to do it right the first time.
TOM: Yeah, does it – you think it’s building up over this time? I’m wondering if you have a draft problem inside the house.
KAREN: I think I did. I’ve gotten rid of my wood-burning and I’ve converted to gas.
TOM: OK. And you did check to make sure that you don’t have any combustion issues with this, do you? Because we want to make sure that none of that gas is working its way back into the house.
KAREN: No, it’s pretty well open. The damper is not easily adjusted now.
KAREN: It’s pretty well open.
TOM: OK. Alright. Well, to clean the soot off of the bricks, what you could do is mix up a solution of trisodium phosphate and that’s available usually in the paint aisle.
TOM: It’s a cleaner – TSP. And you can apply that – you don’t have to make it – I don’t think that she has to make it too terribly thick, Leslie, for just a soot issue.
LESLIE: No, I would kind of keep it even a little bit more loose; maybe 1/4-cup of the cleanser to a gallon of water. Kind of follow the directions on the packaging but more wet than more solid because sometimes you can use that as a paste if you’ve got like an oil stain or something but you don’t need to be that serious.
And then, because it’s brick and it absorbs the cleaner so fast, you might want to spray it on rather than wiping it on.
LESLIE: And then you want to give it a good scrub. Maybe use a bristle brush but not like a metal one; something that will give it a little bit of abrasion but not too aggressive. And then you want to rinse it with a clean sponge and let it dry and that really should do the trick. But make sure you cover up everything around it because as you’re scrubbing it with the bristle brush, you might end up with little splatters and you don’t want to get anything on your furnishings.
KAREN: Seriously. (ph) OK, well that’s great. I wanted to do it right the first time.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call because there are a few valuable weekends left to this summer before the big Labor Day holiday sort of ends it all and we start getting back to reality. Autumn is just around the corner. So let us help you finish all of those home improvement projects on your to-do list. Give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, it’s the ultimate green building material. We’re talking about reclaimed wood. But where do you find it and how do you go about getting it? We’ve got those answers, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:07:26]
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 Therma-Tru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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 and you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because our prize this hour is a big one. We are giving away a $500 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators and that’s enough to redo the floor in at least one room of your house because Lumber Liquidators carries everything from hardwood to engineered wood, green flooring options, laminates; you name it and they’ve got something in every price point. And they’ve also got stores in nearly every state in the union and they ship anywhere. Lumber Liquidators – hardwood floors for less. Call 1-800-HARDWOOD for the location nearest to you. And the number for your chance to win and your home improvement answer is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, speaking of lumber, it might sound nostalgic but they really don’t make wood like they used to. Older, reclaimed wood, though, has tightly-spaced growth rings; straight grain; and a harder, heavier feel. But just because it’s reclaimed doesn’t make it cheap. Demand and the process of reclaiming keeps the cost as high as 30 bucks a square foot for some boards.
And if you’re ever wondering where that wood comes from, well, some of the most common sources are industrial buildings and also barns. As they take them apart, they save the lumber and resell it.
LESLIE: Hmm. And believe it or not, it can also be harvested from the bottoms of rivers and lakes where experts estimate millions of submerged standing trees around the world can actually be reclaimed.
TOM: Now you know you often wonder how is that possible that the wood doesn’t rot. Because there’s not enough oxygen.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s not like all swelled and …
TOM: Not enough oxygen.
TOM: Yeah. If you don’t have air, you can’t feed the decay organisms, so the wood just sits there for a long time.
LESLIE: Hmm. And I wonder what the process is when they do finally bring that wood to surface to keep it from almost instantly decaying.
TOM: I bet it doesn’t float anymore.
LESLIE: But you know what, guys? If you’re in the market for some reclaimed wood, make sure you do your research before you just buy something that you think looks cool.
TOM: Well, that’s right. Because the grade characteristics will vary by dealer. Now most suppliers sell grades of wood that will reflect a degree of patina and the character. So if this is something you’re into, it really is a great way to build green and enjoy the richness and durability that all the older wood has to offer. It can really be gorgeous stuff.
888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement project. And perhaps you started and now you need to recycle and start again (Leslie chuckles); we can help you with that, so give us a call.
LESLIE: Wayne in Virginia is dealing with a heating and cooling issue in some bedrooms, tell us about it.
WAYNE: Well, the air conditioning system works fine but the three bedrooms, which are situated over the garage, I can’t seem to get them very cool. They pretty much stay warm; not as cool as the rest of the house.
WAYNE: Tried a lot of things; nothing has worked yet.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, they’re second-floor rooms. They’re surrounded by unconditioned space; not only on the exterior walls and roof but now also the floor.
TOM: Where a first floor, you have the cool basement, a slab or a crawlspace, now you’ve got a hot garage. So it really is quite a chore to get enough air conditioning to do that space. What’s the square footage of that space? Can you estimate that?
WAYNE: Well, it’s three rooms: 15x12; the other two are about 10x12.
TOM: Mm-hmm. So, 15x12. Alright, so you’ve got like maybe 400-and-some-odd feet there.
WAYNE: That sounds about right.
TOM: Now, typically, you need about 12,000 BTUs per 600 square feet of space. So if you had three 5,000 BTU air conditioners – one in each room – that should do it. What size air conditioners do you have there?
WAYNE: I have central air.
TOM: So you have central air conditioning in the whole house and everything cools properly except for this space.
TOM: Well, the problem is you’re not getting enough supply air there, so you need to have additional ductwork done or larger ductwork put in so you deliver more air and you also need, probably, some return work done as well. Because cooling those spaces that are so super-hot because they’re surrounded by three exterior walls plus the roof with the garage underneath is going to require an awful lot of BTUs. Typically, with a house, you figure that you’ve got about 12,000 BTUs for every 600 square feet of house. And so, in your case, you may not have enough tonnage or you may have plenty but you’re just not distributing it right.
WAYNE: Alright, then I would probably need to see an AC expert then to have that figured out.
TOM: Yeah, I think you’re going to need an HVAC guy to add some additional ductwork to the house.
WAYNE: Alright, that does it. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to take a call from Oregon with Debra who’s dealing with a flooring issue in the bath. How can we help?
DEBRA: My bathroom had a problem. There was a leak and the particleboard flooring overlayment rotted away, so I’m attempting to do it myself. What I’d like to know is what type of overlayment should I be using and how thick.
TOM: I think you mean underlayment.
DEBRA: OK, underlayment. Yeah, there’s two …
TOM: Hey, some people call it over; some people call it under. It’s a floor, one way or the other.
DEBRA: Yes, I’m …
TOM: Well, is the leak under the toilet? Is that what happened?
DEBRA: And the wood rotted away and …
TOM: Alright, so here’s what you have to do. First of all, obviously you have to remove the toilet.
TOM: Secondly, you’re going to – now what kind of a sink do you have in there? Is there a vanity that’s going to be near the toilet?
TOM: Well, the best thing to do, believe it or not, will be to remove that as well because what has to happen, you have to cut out that rotted floor. And if you’re going to – is this only one layer of subfloor here? Is it an older house and you have multiple layers? Because if you’re going to cut through the floor joist, you have to cut something wide enough where it goes beam to beam. Do you follow me on that?
DEBRA: Yes, I do. Matter of fact, someone did repair that portion of it.
DEBRA: So that part has been done but now I’m going to do that other layer that’s on top of it.
TOM: OK. Do you have anything else that you have to match to it? Is it halfway there in some other part of the bathroom or has the entire floor been replaced?
DEBRA: Yes, just the part around the toilet, oh, there’s been like a couple of feet – two feet, two-and-a-half feet – that …
TOM: OK, well what you have to do here is you have to see what was there before because you have to match the thickness. There are different types of underlayment material. Sometimes there’s plywood – like luan plywood; sometimes there’s waferboard.
TOM: OSB. So you need to figure out what was there before and match the height. And then what kind of finished floor are you going to put in?
DEBRA: I’m going to put a linoleum down.
TOM: OK, that’s one option. Another one that might be easier is laminate floor. Because laminate floor is going to be more forgiving of the unevenness of that repair job. And laminate floor can be installed pretty easily by yourself because all the pieces are locked together; they all snap together today.
LESLIE: Yeah, if you go linoleum, because it’s a sheet product it’s going to sort of rest into areas where the floor, the underlayment is uneven and you’re going to notice a lot of those dips and dives.
DEBRA: Yeah, I’m going to replace the entire thing because it was particleboard and the water spread out quite a bit.
TOM: I think that you’ll find that the laminate floor is the best way to go because it’s a very sturdy floor; plus it comes in just hundreds of different patterns. You can have one that has a pattern similar to a vinyl floor or you can go something that may represent a wood floor. And it’ll be permanent, it’ll be moisture-proof and it’ll look great.
DEBRA: OK. About the fixture, the toilet fixture, how do I get underneath that lip that’s there?
TOM: Underneath the lip that’s there?
DEBRA: The height.
TOM: Well, once you put the new subfloor in, then you’re going to make sure you raise the pipe so that it’s flush with the finished floor. And that’s a plumbing project. And you’ll use a new wax seal between the drain and the toilet.
DEBRA: OK. And it has to be flush?
TOM: Yes. Well, fairly close. If it’s not flush, you may have leaking issues.
LESLIE: Louella in Oregon needs some help with attic insulation. Tell us what you’re thinking about using.
LOUELLA: Oh, I don’t know. That’s the reason I’m calling you; I don’t know what to use.
LESLIE: Alright, how can we help?
TOM: Alright, how can we help you and what are you considering?
LOUELLA: Well, my east roof is made of – if it were made of glass, this time of year, with all those fall-colored leaves, one could see a giant Scotch Tartan muffler (Leslie chuckles) of russet green and gold stretched from Canada to Mexico for as far as eyes can behold.
TOM: OK. Alright.
LOUELLA: But how do I divorce the intense heat of summer and the cold of winter? Everything up there now is the backside of the roof. You can’t see that beautiful view and I want to know how to make it into glass.
TOM: Yeah. Now, is this roof over an attic? So do you have space for insulation?
LOUELLA: It’s in an attic.
TOM: Mm-hmm, OK.
LOUELLA: But that would block out my view, wouldn’t it?
TOM: Well, what are you seeing now? I mean you’re talking about installing some skylights? Is that what you’d like to do?
LOUELLA: Well, I just want to be able to see that view and all I can see now is the backside of a bunch of boards.
TOM: Alright, well – alright, so here’s what you need to do. You need to install skylights and you have lots of options with skylights. We would recommend that you use a curbed skylight and that means that it sits up off the roof by about four inches. It’s easier to make it watertight.
And once you put that in, then you have to build what’s called a well – which is sort of a light shaft that goes from the skylight through to the ceiling – and then that’s all covered with drywall. So when you’re done, you can look up and you can look out. And depending on the angle of your roof, sometimes, if you have a very steep roof, you put in something called a roof window where you can actually even open it up. So that’s an option.
While you’re working up in there, though, I would make sure that you add some insulation because that’s what’s going to keep the rest of that hot, radiant heat coming through the roof from getting down into your house and warming it up in the summer. And the skylight that you put in, it should have low-e glass; high-performance glass that actually reflects the heat of the sun back out. If you do that, you can have your view, you can watch your birds, and you can stay cool in the summer.
Louella, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of super-lucky homeowners to get their home makeover broadcast to millions of TV viewers. But what makes a home and its owners the right fit for a home makeover TV show? We’ll find out from the host of This Old House and he’s got a big secret to tell, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:33]
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: This is 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: And have you ever wished that a reality TV show could just drop in and handle your renovation or fix-up project? Well, the team at This Old House and also Ask This Old House has screened thousands of projects over the years and knows what it takes to find a project that’s good for the homeowners, the show and the audience.
LESLIE: Alright, to find out how they do that and what you need to do to be considered for an upcoming episode, we welcome host Kevin O’Connor.
Welcome, Kevin. So what’s the secret?
KEVIN: Well, it’s good to be here, guys. I’ll tell you the secret is this: first and foremost, understand that your house – not you – is going to be the star of the show. (Tom chuckles) We’re not looking so much for the homeowners as characters and people who are going to be very emotional and have all these sort of problems. We’re looking for a house that’s going to provide the drama. And for us, things like rot and termites and old kitchens and falling-down porches is what we consider drama. And that is really the guiding principle. We want to find a house that has got a story to tell.
TOM: And that’s great because that’s one of the reasons the program has been around for 30 years; because while you have a lot of reality TV shows focusing on the characters, your character is the house and if it’s a good house, it’s going to be a good show.
And I think many in our audience may not be aware of this, Kevin, but you actually got your start as a host on This Old House by submitting a project to This Old House many years ago.
KEVIN: I did. It’s sort of a remarkable story. My wife and I had bought our first house; a fixer-upper. Lots of work needed to be done. It’s just what we were looking for. And not that long into the project, we did what I think a lot of people do and that’s e-mail or call This Old House for some help. We did that. Tom Silva and some of the crew came out to help us with a small project for our sister show, Ask This Old House, and what I thought was a house call turned out to be a casting call. Couple of months later, they invited me to be the host of both shows. So you never know what’s going to happen when This Old House shows up on your doorstep.
LESLIE: That’s amazing. What crazy luck that you have. That’s so fantastic.
KEVIN: I know. Well, you know what they say, "Better to be lucky," right?
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: And how did your project come out?
KEVIN: They left me hanging. (Tom and Kevin laugh) No, it was a wallpaper story of all things; how to get four paint-covered coats of wallpaper off the wall. And my wife Kathleen and I figured there has to be some sort of a silver bullet out there that can just make the stuff go away. And the experts showed up; we tried a bunch of things. And when it came right down to it, lot of elbow grease and warm water; that was about it. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Exactly. Yep, I know. We get asked the question all the time and there’s no substitute for hard work; although a steamer can help sometimes.
KEVIN: Yeah, I’m not complaining though. They left me with the wallpaper but they gave me a job.
TOM: That’s right.
TOM: Alright, so let’s talk about Ask This Old House. What is the process? What kind of information does somebody need to be able to submit a project?
KEVIN: Well, what we’re looking for on Ask This Old House – as you guys know, these are smaller projects that we’re going to tackle in about a half a day or a day; they’re fixing a leaky faucet, repairing a rotted window. Tom and I just walked off a jobsite. We were repointing a front, brick stoop before it got too bad.
What we’re looking for there are medium-sized projects that we think most homeowners would be willing to tackle in a day or a weekend and we’re looking for something that’s sort of typical. We don’t want an incredibly unique or arcane project that only makes sense in the hinterlands of the Pacific Northwest. We’re looking for a project that’s going to apply to most folks so that when we come out there and our experts – Roger, Richard, Tom – when they come out there and start teaching the homeowners lessons, they’re lessons that all of the viewers can benefit from. So, simple projects; medium-sized; something that needs an expert’s touch but not something too arcane.
LESLIE: And how do they go about actually applying? Do they need to take video footage, photographs, write a story or just e-mail in?
KEVIN: Our applications come to us all different ways. It can be as simple as an e-mail to ThisOldHouse.com; there’s a form on the website that folks can use. We’ve gotten some pretty clever submissions that included poems and people singing and making little YouTube videos. It does help to have pictures of what you’re talking about and a couple of pictures of the family and the dog so that we know what we’re getting ourselves into. But we look at all sorts of things. And so just make a compelling story; that you’ve got a problem, you’re stumped and you think that the guys who’ve been doing this for 30 years are going to be able to help you and teach you a lesson or two.
TOM: Well, there you have it. Kevin O’Connor, the host of Ask This Old House and also This Old House. And not only is he the host, he’s a customer. (all chuckle)
KEVIN: A satisfied customer at that. Great to be with you guys.
TOM: Thanks, Kevin. Have a great day.
KEVIN: You, too.
LESLIE: Alright. To catch more of Kevin and the entire This Old House team, including information on their current project – which really is a gorgeous one – visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Paul in Connecticut is dealing with a situation with his wood deck. What’s going on, Paul? Tell us about the problem.
PAUL: Hey, thank you so much for talking to me. I love your show. I get to hear a lot of good information from you.
TOM: Well, thank you.
PAUL: I have a deck and the nails are coming [out of] (ph) the deck and I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t maintained the deck properly but every so often I’ll catch my foot on it and I’ll have to hammer it down. It’s happening quite a lot. Somebody suggested that I take out the nails and put screws (beeping sound), which seemed like an awful lot of work and I thought maybe there’d be an easier solution.
TOM: Well, if you just press the nails down or hammer the nails back down in the same hole, they’re going to push back up again. As wood expands and contracts and based on the type of nails that was used originally, if they’re starting to loosen up and sort of press out of the board, that’s going to be something that repeats itself. So you really have two options: you can either pull the nail out, replace it with a screw; or you can hit a second nail in and slightly overlap the heads of the first one with the second one.
LESLIE: So it’ll hold that first one down.
PAUL: Oh, OK.
TOM: That will hold it down. Right, exactly.
PAUL: Yep, that’s a better option than just hammering it back in then. That makes sense.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, because if you hammer it back in, it’s just going to pop back up again.
PAUL: Is there anything I should be doing to treat the deck, to prevent it?
LESLIE: Well, I mean there’s nothing that you can do that’s going to prevent the movement besides replacing the nails with screws, which won’t back out. But you should be doing pretty much annual maintenance to your deck. You want to make sure, first of all, that nothing is rotted; especially in the structural areas – all of the supports and the building beneath the decking itself – just to make sure everything is safe for your family to use during the summer months. Then you want to make sure you give it a good cleaning at the beginning of the season with a pressure washer. Don’t be too aggressive with it. Kind of go lightly onto the wood surface.
Then you want to assess what’s going on with the finish of the wood. If it seems like it’s really dry or the stain is not looking as good as it used to, you can address those situations by either stripping what’s on there, adding a solid-color stain. It really depends on what the deck looks like and what you want it to look like.
PAUL: Well, thank you very much. That answers my questions.
TOM: Paul, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carol in New York needs some help with a flooring situation. Tell us what’s going on?
CAROL: Hi. I have either an Armstrong or a Congoleum kitchen floor.
CAROL: Been down for ten years and it was very white when it was new. I steam-clean it but it’s yellow in the traffic areas. What will whiten it?
TOM: Hmm, OK. Sometimes, after all of those years, you get a chemical reaction from all of the cleaning agents and the dirt gets ground into it and it’s almost impossible to get that to go back to its original color, I’m sorry to say, Carol. If you’re cleaning it the way you describe, then I don’t think that any of that discoloration is the result of any type of dirt that’s on the surface. I think as those products wear, the oxidation that they receive through just exposure to sunlight will make them darken and change color. But that’s a typical wear pattern that you’re describing there, Carol.
I mean the good news is that these linoleum floors, the prices have come way down on the vinyl floors. And so it might just be time, if you’ve gotten ten years out of that, to think about replacing it.
CAROL: Yeah. OK. Well, thank you so much. I enjoy your show.
TOM: Well, thank you very much. Very nice of you to say. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that floor project.
LESLIE: Well, hot water bills, they certainly can drown you. But we’ve got a quick, easy and free way to cut them down. We’ll tell you what it is, right after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because our prize this hour is a huge, gigantor prize. We are giving away a $500 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators and that’s enough to redo the floors in at least one room: maybe a powder room and a living room; maybe two living rooms. Totally up to you; depends on what kind you pick. Now, Lumber Liquidators carries everything from hardwood to engineered wood to green flooring options, laminates. You name it, they’ve got it. And they’ve got stores in nearly every state in this entire United States and they will ship their flooring to you anywhere, regardless of where you live. Lumber Liquidators – hardwood floors for less. The number again is 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Well, have you been drowning in your hot water bills? There is actually a free and easy way to cut down on those costs. All you need to do is to lower the temperature of your water heater from the average, scalding-hot temperature that way too many people use of about 140 degrees down to 110; 110 is plenty hot enough to do anything that you need it to do in the house, including clean the dishes in your dishwasher. And it’s a lot safer to have it at 110 degrees. You’ll have plenty of hot water for showers and you’ll also save energy costs and it will protect you and your children from accidental scalding. So remember, drop the temperature on the thermostat on the water heater down to about 110 and you will be much safer and richer in the process.
LESLIE: Debbie in North Dakota is having a window situation. What’s going on at your money pit?
DEBBIE: Well, I was just wondering what to do with a problem I have here with water. Every time it rains really hard, water comes down into the – I have an egress window, it is, and water comes in there and then leaks in my window.
TOM: So when you say egress window, where is this? Is this in the basement?
DEBBIE: Right, right.
TOM: OK. And what kind of window is it, stylistically? Is it a slider? Is it a double-hung?
DEBBIE: No, it cranks out.
TOM: It cranks out. So it’s like an awning window.
TOM: OK. Alright, well, and the leakage is occurring in heavy rain or all the time, Debbie?
DEBBIE: Well, it’s in real heavy rain.
TOM: Mm-hmm. And what have you tried to do to fix it? Have you done any caulking? Have you tried replacing flashing? Anything of that nature?
DEBBIE: OK, we caulked there with seems to be – and we’ve covered the window well but it’s like it’s coming in between the window well and the side of the house or something.
TOM: So is this a leaky window problem or is this a drainage problem? It almost sounds to me like this is a problem with drainage.
DEBBIE: I think maybe it could possibly be drainage. I mean so …
TOM: Yeah. Well, look, here’s what I want you to do. First of all, go out on a dry day and get a hose and hold the water – hold the hose up on the siding right above this and let it run around the window and see if you can force it to leak. Once we know that the window is not leaking, which I suspect is exactly what you’re going to find, then let’s talk about the drainage condition.
Generally, the problems with drainage are caused by imperfections in the grading, which is the soil around the house. Usually, it’s too flat or it’s graded in or sloped into the house or – and probably more commonly – the gutter system. You may have gutters that are dumping water out too close to that area, to that corner, to that window. I’ve seen, in my experience, those window wells fill up like a fish tank.
TOM: You look at them from the other side and you see the water level like floating. And so I suspect that this is an issue with grading and drainage more so than an issue with a leaky window.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, a shower can certainly revive and refresh you but should it be giving you a shock every morning? We’re going to help one listener figure out exactly why the electricity and water seem to be mixing together in her house, after this.
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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: Water-saving lawn and garden tips available right now at MoneyPit.com. Learn what your lawn really needs during these dry conditions and get tips on summer watering that’ll save you money and keep your lawn and garden looking very, very green. It’s all free at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And you know what else is free at MoneyPit.com; an answer to your e-mail question. You can e-mail us what you are working on right there and we can help you get that job done.
I’ve got an e-mail from Maureen in Utah who writes: "While taking a shower, if I reach up and touch any part of the metal fixture, I get an electric shock." That really does not sound good. "What do you suggest I do to remedy this problem?" Oh, my gosh.
TOM: Stop bathing. Stop bathing right away.
LESLIE: And stop touching the fixture.
TOM: That is a really crazy situation, Maureen. I’m suspecting that you have, obviously, a short somewhere in your wiring or the wiring is touching the plumbing system; you’re diverting some current over to that plumbing system. When you touch it, you’re making a really good ground and it’s coming out into you.
So I’ve got to tell you, my first question is does it only happen at the shower. Because that would be actually good news because that means it’s probably some of the electrical wiring in a wall behind the shower faucets and that’s all going to come up usually one wall. So you need to get in there and have an electrician open the wall up so you can figure out where this is occurring. But obviously you’ve got a short somewhere that’s connecting with a pipe and that’s not a good situation. So, seriously, don’t use the shower. Get it fixed right away.
LESLIE: My goodness.
Alright, now I’ve got one from Sandra in Massachusetts who writes: "We recently noticed some wood particles that look like sawdust that seem to be coming from one of the breather holes in the strip of wood to which the gutter is attached. We are worried that this could be termites. What do you think?"
TOM: It’s not termites. It’s something …
LESLIE: Carpenter bees, right?
TOM: That’s right. Something much, much larger that also likes wood. These are carpenter bees and carpenter bees typically eat the fascia and the trim boards around the house. They like the area behind gutters because that wood is very soft, very moist and very tasty, if you’re a carpenter bee. And what they’ll do is they’ll drill up inside that fascia board and they’ll lay their eggs and then they’ll just keep coming back to sort of tend to the nest.
Very difficult to get rid of sometimes. You can have them sprayed as a powder insecticide that exterminators will use that will kill the current infestation, but the problem is they like to come back and back and back and back. I actually had them for a number of years in my house. I gave up one year and I took the gutter down and I replaced the wood fascia with AZEK.
LESLIE: You tricked them.
TOM: I tricked them. AZEK is a cellular PVC product that looks like wood and cuts like wood but, apparently, if you’re a carpenter bee, it doesn’t taste like wood.
LESLIE: Yeah, they don’t like it.
TOM: So they’ve left it alone. You can also plug the holes but, again, they’ll keep coming back if they like your house.
LESLIE: Yeah, they’ll make a new hole and then they’ll find …
TOM: Yeah, the good news is that the damage is almost always limited to just the trim. I’ve never seen a carpenter bee do serious structural damage.
LESLIE: We had them try to get through the wood frame on a screen door to our screened-in porch.
LESLIE: And I was amazed that they came in like one part of this piece of trim and then almost tunneled through and then came out another and there was like this huge mess of sawdust. I’m just amazed at the efficiency and wish that I could work as well.
TOM: You can actually see them as they chew the wood and the wood streams out of the hole like a drill bit was in it. You know? It just falls and you can hear them.
LESLIE: And it’s a perfect 3/8-inch plug, if you [want to know] (ph).
TOM: (chuckles) Yep. Exactly.
LESLIE: Alright, Betty in Florida wants to know, "How do I make paneling look like a smooth wall?" Embrace the linear-ness of the paneling.
TOM: Yeah, you really can’t. What you could do is cover it with drywall.
TOM: But I would use very thin drywall. The 3/8-inch-thick drywall is fine. You’ll just have to tape the seams. But that’s really the only way. We’ve had people try to spackle paneling.
LESLIE: Oh, it’ll just fall out.
TOM: Never, never works. Never works. Always falls out.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Betty, you could always just go with the lines that are there and paint your wall in a handsome stripe; totally up to you.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips, some ideas to help you improve your home. 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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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.)