Get tips on using your microwave to disinfect household items. Learn why spray insulation may be just the right thing for sealing small gaps. How to keep your gutters flowing and your house dry. Learn how to pick the right staple for your project.
Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, painting brick, resurfacing kitchen countertops, flaking foundations, heating options, removing asbestos shingles, cracked tub/shower enclosure, leveling a foundation.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, 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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
The temperatures are dropping; the leaves will be coming down very shortly if they haven’t started yet in your neck of the wood. It is virtually officially fall all across the country by virtue of the temperatures and the energy bills that are going to start to go up. So, why not give us a call about just that?
There’s got to be a cool-weather project on your to-do list. Maybe you want to figure out some ways to cut back on those energy bills. Maybe you want to think about some projects you want to get done before the snow hits. Whatever’s on your to-do list, why don’t you put it on our to-do list by picking up the phone and calling us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT?
We’ve got some great tips coming up this hour, including this one: are you using your microwave only to heat up last night’s leftovers? If so, you might be underusing a pretty versatile kitchen appliance. We’re going to have some tips on how you can use that microwave for things like disinfecting cutting boards and sponges, in just a few minutes.
LESLIE: And also ahead, we’re going to have some tips on a tool that can be used to repair screens, install insulation and even attach trim and molding to your walls. It’s a staple gun but it’ll only do all of those things if you choose the right staples. So we’re going to help you figure it all out, in just a bit.
TOM: Plus, this is the perfect time of year to give your home a onceover to see how well it’s insulated. You know, the right amount of insulation can cut those heating bills and keep you feeling cozy and warm all season long. Now, if you want to do both those things – cut heating bills and cut the drafts – there is only one type of insulation that will do both. And we’re going to talk to an expert about just that, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away the Indulge Contemporary Hot Water Dispenser from InSinkErator. And it’s a great way to save water because there’s no waiting for hot water. And you can use it to make coffee, tea or even warming up a baby bottle.
TOM: So indulge yourself right now with the answer to your home improvement question. Call us right now at 888-666-3974. If you are the caller who – that we draw out of The Money Pit hard hat at the end of this hour, we’ll send you that Indulge Contemporary Hot Water Dispenser from InSinkErator. What a fun – that’s one of those appliances that once you have one, you always want to have one.
TOM: It’s just so darn convenient to not have to put the teapot on in the morning. Just basically open the faucet and instantly you’ve got hot water for tea or for coffee or whatever else you need it for.
LESLIE: Robert in Illinois is on the line and looking to paint a brick home. Tell us what’s going on and why you want to do that.
ROBERT: Just curious about it. I didn’t know if I was going to pull the trigger on something like that or not, because I’m very ignorant about it.
TOM: Well, it’s a big decision, Robert, because you know what comes after paint?
LESLIE: And it’s one you can never go back to.
ROBERT: Yeah, it is.
ROBERT: Repaint, yes. Yes.
TOM: So …
ROBERT: And again, I was looking for some more advice. There’s a coating outfit here where I’m at; I’m in East Central Illinois. The company is called Rhino Coat or something. I think it’s a ceramic-based paint.
TOM: Yeah, don’t do it.
TOM: Don’t do it.
LESLIE: But why do you want to paint the brick? Was it previously painted and it has a shadowing effect or you just don’t like …?
ROBERT: No, no. No. No. No, it’s just – we bought the home. It’s very well-built and we’re – tastes are changing and we’re considering moving or we’re going to stay. And I think we were just considering the idea of painting. And I’ve seen other places that were painted and they turned out very nice, you know?
ROBERT: I guess I’m not much – I don’t mind working.
TOM: Well but – yeah but it’s a big commitment and you will have to repaint it every seven years. So I would tell you that there’s really no good reason to paint brick.
ROBERT: Yeah. OK.
TOM: If you don’t like the look, you can paint all the trim. You can use beautiful shutters, you can use planters.
LESLIE: Add shutters, planter boxes.
TOM: Look for other ways to decorate around it.
LESLIE: I personally would not paint brick, especially if you’re considering selling at some point, because a brick home is a standout feature to a buyer. People are looking for mason homes, masonry products that are going to stand up and really look fantastic. And a brick home is a big selling point.
LESLIE: And once you put paint on a brick home, it never comes off; you’re going to have to sandblast it and even then, it’s going to get a shadowing.
TOM: And then you damage the brick.
LESLIE: And it’s damage. And say you were to paint it yourself, you’re going to take a gallon of paint, put it on that brick and it’s going to get sucked into the brick.
LESLIE: And then you’re going to put another gallon and another and another.
ROBERT: Right. Right.
LESLIE: I wouldn’t do it.
ROBERT: Nope. I appreciate it. I didn’t know – I was going to pull the trigger on it like tomorrow. I was just kicking around the idea and I wanted – I just stumbled on your show, I think it was last week or so, and this is an idea that just floated in the back of my mind but it was never going to be in the forefront. But I was just – I figured as much. Yours is the same advice I’m getting – I’ve gotten from others, so …
TOM: Alright. Well, we’re happy to keep it in the back of your mind. Far back.
ROBERT: Yeah, you – no, no, no, no. It’ll stay there.
TOM: Alright, Robert. Well, good luck with that project and remember, there’s a lot of other ways to change the look of the outside of the house besides painting that brick.
LESLIE: Nancy in Oregon is on the line with a kitchen-counter question. How can we help you?
NANCY: Yes. Thank you so much. What I’m calling about is an overlay that I’ve seen advertised of granite over Formica. We have a very tight, sturdy, Formica countertop in the kitchen and I’m wondering whether this is a practical solution or not.
TOM: Hmm. A granite overlay over Formica? I’m not really familiar with this.
LESLIE: Are they presenting it as tiles or is it an additional layer of laminate, that looks like granite, that’s placed over?
NANCY: As I understand it, it is granite – full granite – except that they can use the base instead of starting, literally, from scratch, as I understand. Now, I haven’t had the man out; I’ve just seen it advertised but …
TOM: OK. Well, you know what doesn’t make sense to me with this? Granite cannot have any flex in it whatsoever and laminate tops, by their very design, are fairly flexible. So any type of granite veneer, if that’s what this is, it seems may not stand up well. So, I think that we would need more information to feel very comfortable recommending that. But I can tell you, just based on the description, it doesn’t sound like it makes a lot of sense.
And countertops are not so complicated to replace that it really makes any sense doing any kind of a laminate on top of that or a second layer on top of that. If you want a new countertop, get a new countertop. You don’t take a countertop and build more on top of it.
NANCY: I see. Well, I thought it might be sturdier and be less costly and so you’ve answered my question. I guess it’s not such a great idea.
TOM: OK. Nancy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
NANCY: Well, thanks for your professional advice on this.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, two short weeks left to summer at this point, so if you’ve got some home improvement projects burning up your to-do list, give us a call before the cool air sets in and those tools go to rest for the winter season. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, is your microwave being underused? If you’re only using it to heat food, probably so. There are many ways a microwave can help around the house, including things that you can do like sanitizing cutting boards and even sponges. We’re going to share a few of those tricks of the trade, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:09:02]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by InSinkErator, instant hot or hot/cool-water dispensers. Delivering 200-degree hot or cool filtered water in an instant, at the touch of a lever right at the kitchen sink. Perfect for homeowners looking to save time in the kitchen. For more information, please visit www.InSinkErator.com.
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: Hey, how would you like to have 200-degree water come right out of your sink instantly? Well, imagine making coffee, cooking pasta with no boiling. One lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour will be able to do just that, because we are giving away an Indulge Contemporary Dispenser from InSinkErator. It provides hot or cool, filtered water with just the touch of a lever. Going to go out to one caller we pick at random from those who call us this hour with their question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand with all of your home improvement projects.
Well, it’s time now for this week’s Fresh Idea, which is presented by Citrus Magic. If you’re only using your microwave just to heat up your leftovers, then you are missing out on a ton of different uses, let’s say, for that microwave. Did you know that you can disinfect your kitchen sponge and even get rid of that funky sponge smell with your microwave?
First of all, it’s really easy. All you want to do is soak the sponge in water and vinegar – just a good mix, maybe 50/50 – and then stick it in the microwave for a minute. You can also do the same with a cutting board. What you want to do with a cutting board is rub a little lemon on it, then heat it for a minute and bye-bye last night’s raw chicken germs.
TOM: And if you’ve ever found that your honey jar can be a crystallized, solid mess, you can zap that back to life on medium power in about 30 seconds. You can also cut grilling time for potatoes or bell peppers or anything else that you want to put on the grill by sticking them in the micro for a minute or two.
And remember, though, to use oven mitts when removing these things from the microwave so that you avoid a nasty burn.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Especially the sponges; they are scorching hot.
TOM: They get super, super hot. And that is this week’s Fresh Idea, which is presented by Citrus Magic. To keep the rest of your home smelling fresh, try Citrus Magic Natural Odor Absorbing Solid Air Freshener. It’s all-natural but still works very well to remove even the toughest odors from your home. And one solid air freshener can absorb odors for weeks.
Visit CitrusMagic.com for more info on this and other great, all-natural products.
LESLIE: Michael in Pennsylvania needs some help painting a basement. Tell us what’s worked and what hasn’t.
MICHAEL: So far, it’s a neighbor of mine; it’s his basement. And I went in and I looked at it and I’ve never seen paint kind of like disintegrate right off the wall: I mean just a fine, powdery mist. And I do know that he’s had some moisture problems.
MICHAEL: And he had painted it, I guess, five years ago and I asked him if he had prepped it or sanded it or primed it or anything and he said no. So I don’t know if that’s the problem or not and I was – he was asking me what could he do to remedy that problem.
TOM: Yeah, you’ve got a water problem; that’s your problem. If the walls – if the paint’s not sticking to the walls, the walls are wet. And it may not be obvious to you but that’s most likely what’s happening.
MICHAEL: OK. Is there any way to – I know he had a dehumidifier in the basement. That was …
TOM: Oh, well, that further confirms our suspicion, right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Oh, completely. If the basement is moist and the walls are moist, then nothing is going to stick. And really, the best way to keep a basement dry is yes, to use a dehumidifier. But look at what’s going on with the water and the drainage and the moisture on the outside of the house.
And that generally – wet or moist basements usually mean you’ve got clogged gutters, clogged downspouts or when the rain comes through those downspouts, it’s being deposited right next to the foundation wall. So you really want to make sure that you’re keeping your basement dry, that those gutters and downspouts are clean, that where the water comes out of those downspouts is 3 feet from your foundation wall or more, that the soil around the perimeter of your home is sloping away from the house. And that will keep the moisture down in the basement and then you can go ahead and prime, prime, prime and then paint.
MICHAEL: So, at this point, you wouldn’t suggest doing anything as far as putting paint or at least primer on the walls at all?
TOM: No, I would get the moisture problem under control and then you can peel off the loose paint and then painting with a damp-proofing paint will be your next step after that, OK, Michael?
TOM: Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
MICHAEL: Alright. Thank you.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Darlene in Oregon on the line who’s dealing with a heat pump and looking to get more energy-efficient. Tell us what’s going on.
DARLENE: In the wintertime, my bill gets quite high trying to keep warm. And I have one of those small, little heaters. I think they run on oil; it’s enclosed. And I put that in my bathroom to heat up the bathroom before my shower in the morning. And I was wondering if maybe – a couple of those only cost about $50. Maybe put one in the living room and one in the bedroom, if that would be more economical than running a heat pump.
TOM: Well, the thing about the heat pump is that you have to understand how to run it. And in Oregon, it’s firmly – just say that it’s really not an appropriate …
LESLIE: It’s really cold.
DARLENE: Yes, it does get very cold.
TOM: Yeah, it’s not an appropriate technology. But you can reduce your expense on it if you kind of set it and forget it, like the old commercials used to say for Ronco, you know?
LESLIE: For making chicken.
TOM: Yeah. Set it and forget it. In other words, set the thermostat, walk away. With a heat pump, if you bounce the thermostat up and down, then what happens is you force the electric-resistance heater to come on and that costs about twice as much or more to run than the heat-pump system. Because every heat pump has electric resistance built into the back of it.
And as long as the temperature – the difference between the temperature that it’s set at and the temperature that the room is is 2 degrees, the heat pump is going to run. When it becomes 3 or 4 degrees, the resistance heater comes on and that’s what really drives the cost up.
In terms of these electric radiators, that is another form – I mean these oil radiators. It is another form of electric heat. Will that be cheaper? You know, maybe because you’re only heating on a room-by-room basis. But it may not be because it’s running on electricity. You just basically have electric coils inside that oil heater.
DARLENE: Oh, I see.
TOM: One thing that you might want to think about is a type of heater called SUNHEAT, which has a blower built into it. We have one cold room in our house. We use the SUNHEAT there; it does a pretty good job of keeping that one room warm. It’s also electric but because it’s got a blower, it really helps it along.
LESLIE: It sort of helps to spread that heat around.
TOM: And it’s very quiet and it’s got a beautiful wood cabinet. But it’s more expensive; I think it’s about $350.
DARLENE: Yeah, because that might be the cheaper way to go then.
LESLIE: But I would use that sort of in partnership with your heat pump set correctly, not one over the other.
TOM: But just – right, set correctly. Yeah.
DARLENE: Oh, OK. Oh, I see. Alright. Now I understand.
DARLENE: But you seem to think if I would just let that – just set my heat pump and just leave it there …
TOM: Right. Whatever temperature makes you comfortable, set it and leave it there. That’s right. Don’t move it up, don’t move it down like, “Oh, I’m cold. Let me move it up.”
TOM: Because when you do that, your resistance heat comes on and the reason it feels warm right away is because you have electric-resistance heat now that’s coming on and heating up the air very quickly.
DARLENE: I see. I see.
TOM: So I would set it and forget it and then if you need supplemental heat, use the space heaters.
DARLENE: Yeah. OK, fine. I really do appreciate your time and effort. You guys got a good show; I like it.
LESLIE: Jason in Kentucky is on the line with a shingle question. What can we do for you?
JASON: I got a house in Kentucky and it’s a pretty old house but it’s got those asbestos shingles on it and I’d like to know what the cost would be to remove those shingles. I’ve heard it was kind of expensive but I’m not really sure on it.
TOM: Well, first of all, the shingles are going to be contained – asbestos shingles are where it has asbestos contained in a cement binder. So it’s not very easy for that asbestos to be released to the air.
LESLIE: Unless you completely shatter them and crumble them.
TOM: Right. Now, in most jurisdictions, removal is not regulated but disposal is. So that means that anybody can really take them off the house but they have to be disposed of properly.
So, what kind of siding are you thinking about putting on, Jason?
JASON: I was wanting to put that vinyl siding on there and like you said, I know that you can’t really nail that stuff on there because once you crack it, it’s airborne and you can’t do that.
TOM: Well, that’s true and a lot of siding companies will do that: they’ll nail right through that stuff. And I always think that’s a very bad practice, so I would encourage you to take it off. I don’t think it should be terribly expensive. It’s all outside, it’s held inside of a cement binder. If you’re concerned about dust, sometimes you can wet it down; that will cut back on that. Wear the appropriate respiratory protection.
But you can get that off and then just have it properly disposed of and then you’ll be able to put the new vinyl right onto the sheathing.
LESLIE: And Tom, when you’ve removed this before, your trick was to sort of tap the nail completely through the shingle so that it …?
TOM: Well, that was only if I was pulling one shingle off, like to do a repair.
LESLIE: Not all of them.
TOM: If you’re pulling them all off, you’re going to use a big, flat-ended sort of pry bar and lift them all off. But you’ll find that they come off pretty easy.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, if your gutters aren’t flowing correctly, you could have some big problems on your hands. So we’re going to tell you the three steps that you need to know to be sure to keep those gutters clean, your basement dry and your foundation secure, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:19:30]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the HydroRight Drop-In Dual Flush Converter, proud sponsor of Water Conservation 2011. The HydroRight easily converts your toilet into a water- and money-saving dual-flush toilet. Push the quick-flush setting for liquids or the full-flush for more. Look for the HydroRight at The Home Depot and other fine retailers or visit SaveMyToilet.com.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Want to make sure the products you use in your home are green? Check out our top picks for eco-friendly products. Just Google “money pit green product guide” and you’ll learn about all the new green products that we have reviewed.
LESLIE: Robert in Indiana is on the line. How can we help you today?
ROBERT: Hey. Thanks for taking my call. Got a home built in the mid-70s. It has a one-piece, fiberglass tub/shower unit in one of the bathrooms. It’s developed a crack in the – right in the stress point in the middle.
ROBERT: Any way of repairing this? It appears that the gentleman that built this house must have put the tub in and then built the bathroom around it because there’s no – without tearing this up into small pieces, there’s no way I can get it out of the bathroom.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. You can head on over to the local auto-repair/auto-parts store and you can pick up some Bondo.
ROBERT: Yeah. Right.
TOM: And you could repair it with that or with a fiberglass patch kit. I mean basically, you can do a fiberglass repair to this with resin and then fiberglass material and more resin on top of that.
Now, the thing is, it’s not going to look totally like the old one did; it’ll be very obvious that there’s a patch. But I’ve actually repaired fiberglass shower pans using more fiberglass material and it does a good job; it’s kind of like repairing a boat.
ROBERT: I appreciate that a lot. I’ll try that before I tear the wall out in the bathroom, anyhow.
TOM: There you go. You’ve got nothing to lose, right?
ROBERT: No, nothing to lose.
TOM: Alright, Robert. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Yeah, you can repair fiberglass shower pans and fiberglass tubs with Bondo and/or fiberglass repair material. It does a really good job.
LESLIE: Well, rain gutters aren’t a very exciting or even attractive part of a home and you hardly notice them until something goes wrong.
TOM: Ah, yes. But then it’s the wrong kind of excitement. You know, if your gutters become damaged, you need to make repairs quickly to avoid further and long-lasting damage deep inside the house. Here to tell us exactly how to do that is This Old House general contractor, Tom Silva.
TOM SILVA: Well, thank you. It’s nice to be here.
TOM: It’s great to see you again.
I think most people think that gutters are just there to keep water from running off the roof and onto your head. But they actually have a pretty important structural role, as well, don’t they?
TOM SILVA: They have a very important structural role, not only to the sidewall of the house but to the foundation or the basement of the house, letting water go into the basement. And then you’ve got to think about splash-back off of a roof that would need a gutter. The splashing on the ground, the water coming up, it’s going to rot the seal in the first couple of courses of your siding. So gutters are very, very important.
TOM: There’s a lot of things that could go wrong if you don’t have a functioning gutter system.
LESLIE: Now, what’s the first step to make sure that your gutter system is effective?
TOM SILVA: Well, I would say the first step is to make sure that the gutters are pitched right, make sure that the water goes into the downspout and the downspout leads away from your house so it doesn’t settle the water right there at the foundation.
TOM: And that’s a great point because I tell you, time and time again, I’ve seen builders and even gutter contractors install those downspouts so they drop a grand total of about 6 inches to a foot away from the house. And that dumps a lot of water.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Oh and here’s your splash guard. Good, done.
TOM SILVA: Exactly, exactly.
TOM: Yeah. And that dumps all that water right there were it can go right down to the basement or at least wash out the soil right in the [backfield zone] (ph).
TOM SILVA: It can wash out the soil, it can create a trough and collect there, run down. And you can actually get water in the basement through a crack in the foundation.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean we’ve had that happen in my own home. A downspout was clogged and it caused a major leak in the basement, completely on the opposite side of the house from that clogged downspout. But that was the culprit that caused a huge mess.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely.
TOM: But the thing is they’re pretty easy to fix. So any tricks of the trade for taking care of those sags, for example?
TOM SILVA: Well, yeah. Let’s say you have an aluminum gutter that’s sagged in the middle and now that gutter may be put up with spikes and ferrules. Now, a spike is a long spike that goes through the gutter and into the substrate, like a …
TOM: It’s like a super-long nail, right?
TOM SILVA: Exactly.
TOM SILVA: And in the middle of that, in between the gutter, the spike goes through the face of the gutter through a ferrule. And then that ferrule keeps the gutter from pushing in if you ever leaned a ladder against it. So it’s …
TOM: So a ferrule is essentially like a thin, aluminum pipe.
TOM SILVA: It’s a big spacer, exactly.
TOM: Got it, got it.
TOM SILVA: Yep, yep.
TOM: OK. So the spikes pull out. What do we replace them with? More spikes?
TOM SILVA: No. Because the spike is pulled out; it’s done its time. They have – basically have a long screw – a gutter screw – that will screw into that rafter tail and it won’t pull up.
LESLIE: Now, what about if you’re dealing with a gutter system that maybe has holes or the joinery where the two pieces meet, there’s a leak there? How do you fix that?
TOM SILVA: Well, they have actually sealants that you can put in there. But before you put the sealant in there, you’ve got to make sure the gutter is really clean and dry. When you put the sealant in there, you want to put a good amount in there and you want to feather it out, especially around the outlet. You don’t want to create a dam; you want the water to fall right into that hole.
TOM: Good point. Now, Tommy, we shouldn’t really talk about fixing damaged gutters without talking about our favorite season of the year: fall. And they call it “fall” for a very good reason. What’s your favorite gutter guard or gutter cover to keep those leaves out?
TOM SILVA: Oh, boy. There’s a lot of them out there. There’s a mesh that you can put right in the gutter now and leaves fall on it and they blow away. There’s a type of gutter product that you can slide up underneath the second course of shingles and it’ll act like a lip that the rain will collect to that, surface tension will pull the water in but the debris won’t go in. And they actually have one-piece gutters that basically have a helmet on the top. Water surface tension brings it in but there’s just a little slit across the front.
TOM: All built into one.
TOM SILVA: All built into one.
TOM: Now, that makes a lot of sense because let’s face it, there’s no need to buy two separate products here. We have the technology; we should be able to extrude a gutter that has the gutter protector right built into it.
TOM SILVA: All in one, yeah.
TOM: Great advice. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: It’s a pleasure being here.
TOM: For more tips just like that, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And you can learn a lot more by watching Tommy and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you by the National Association of Realtors.
Coming up next on The Money Pit, your staple gun is an important tool for any do-it-yourselfer but you know how to pick the right staple for the job? There are many, many to choose from and we will sort it all out, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:26:33
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac, makers of the number one-selling Guardian Series Home Standby Generators. Now introducing a full line of consumer and professional power washers. Whether you need to power it, clean it or protect it, Generac can help. Visit Generac.com to learn more.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. If you do, we may just choose your name from The Money Pit hard hat and send you the great prize we’re giving away this hour. It’s the InSinkErator Indulge Contemporary Water Dispenser.
This is a very cool, little appliance that hooks up to your sink and it can instantly dish out either hot or cool water. And by the way, that hot water? It’s up to 200 degrees hot. And that’s hot enough to make your tea or your coffee. It’s all filtered so it’s going to taste great, too. It’s going to go to one caller who gets on the air with us this hour with their home improvement question. The number, again, is 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand with your home improvement projects.
And maybe this time of year, you’re trying to wrap up those outdoor projects, get everything sort of buttoned-up for the cooler weather and then of course, the winter season. But maybe you’re starting to think about: “what tools do I kind of need to keep in the house and what am I going to be working with?”
And you’ve probably, in going through all of your things around your tool drawer and in your work shed, come across a staple gun. And a staple gun really is a very, very valuable tool for a ton of different projects. But getting the right kind of staple for the job that you are about to tackle or work on is the key.
Now, the experts at Arrow Fastener – who manufacture the bestselling T50 Staple Gun, by the way – say that there are six different sizes of staples for that gun alone. So I can understand why it’s kind of confusing as to which one you should grab for what project. So to figure out what size staple you’re going to need, what you need to do is determine the materials that you’ll be using for your project.
For example, if you’re reupholstering in maybe a thick velvet, you want to choose a longer-legged staple. Now, I just worked on reupholstering a chair cushion and the chair that I was working with was made of oak, which is a super-hard wood. I used the 3/8-inch staple because that would really give me the best hold, considering the type of fabric and the wood I was working with. So you want to look at these materials and then make your staple decision.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And if you want to always make sure you get the right staple, a rule of thumb is to simply make sure the material you’re fastening takes up about half of the depth of the staple leg. So, just like Leslie did for the harder woods, you’d use a shorter staple for more holding power.
And if you’re working on outdoor projects, say, where rust is a concern, you can choose stainless-steel staples. And if you’re working on electrical projects, well, they even have insulated staples that will sort of cushion the wire and not break through.
If you want more information on how to choose the right staples for all your projects, along with info on the state-of-the-art T50 stapler from Arrow Fastener, take a look at their website at ArrowFastener.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Randall on the line who’s looking for a solution to leveling a slab foundation. Tell us what’s going on.
RANDALL: Well, the foundation – looked up at the eave of the house and it’s cracked out about a ½-inch. And it’s going – well, looks like I need to get a slab foundation leveled and I’ve always hated slabs but this was a nice house when we bought it.
Anyway, I want to know what’s the best solution for that in our type of soil in the – around the bottom. It’s the Red River area, north of Dallas.
TOM: So you’re interested in stabilizing the foundation or just leveling it for cosmetic reasons?
TOM: Hmm. OK.
RANDALL: Leveling it permanently where it’s everything’s like it should be.
TOM: Randall, are you seeing any cracks or you just noticed that it’s sort of up in this one corner?
RANDALL: It’s in at the peak of the house where the roof line – at the peak. I looked right up here up the side of the wall and there’s about an inch crack and it’s coming down. And I noticed it when I had to repair my air conditioner because the blower motor went out.
TOM: Alright. So this is not a floor. This is a wall when you say it’s going up to the peak?
RANDALL: The wall. But the floor in the kitchen has got some lumps in it. I thought it was carpet but it’s not.
TOM: OK. So, here’s what you need to do. First of all, in terms of the floor in the kitchen, you’re going to use a resurfacer product for that. It’s called a floor resurfacer. It’s a powdered mix that you add water to and basically trowel it on. And you can even out the floor and it frequently uses sort of an underlayment to either resilient flooring or vinyl flooring or ceramic tile.
And it comes in 50-pound bags. QUIKRETE makes it. It’s called, again, a QUIKRETE floor resurfacer, self-leveling product. And it’s basically a compound that you mix up, you spread it out. You can level your floor with that.
Now, in terms of the crack that’s on the exterior, would you consider this hairline or is it open quite a bit?
RANDALL: Oh, it’s open about almost an inch.
TOM: OK. You need to have this inspected. That’s a major crack; that’s not a minor crack. And we need to find out why that’s happening. So you’re going to have to contact either a professional home inspector or a structural engineer. Because if your wall opens up a full inch like that, then I’m concerned about some movement under the foundation on one of the opposite corners that would force that to happen – cause that to happen.
RANDALL: Right. I know there’s got to be movement there when I’ve seen that.
TOM: Yep. Yeah, because it’s – right, there’s no other way to explain it. So, you’re going to have to get this inspected and let me tell you why that’s very important that you do it once and do it right. It’s because someday you’re going to want to sell this house and when you have a major crack like that, somebody’s going to want to inspect the house. And if they see that crack and they don’t see a real professional repair, they’re going to ask you about it.
And what you want to tell them is that “yeah, I identified the crack; I had a structural engineer come out and inspect it.” “The engineer gave me a report, told us how to fix it. Then I had a contractor come out and fix it, then I had the engineer come back and reinspect it and here’s his letter saying everything is great.” And that becomes, in effect, a pedigree on that structural repair so that any future buyer will have no concerns whatsoever about anything else happening to that wall.
So that’s what I would do is I would have it inspected, get the advice, get it fixed and then you can move on.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, as the temperatures are starting to dip, many of you may start thinking about improving your home’s insulation so that you can actually lower those heating bills. Yeah, that’s something that we want to do. We don’t want to give all our money to the heating company; we actually want to save some.
But if you do want to cut drafts and lower those bills, there’s really only one type of insulation that’s going to do both. So we’re going to have those details, next.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by The Iron Shop, the leading manufacturer of spiral stair kits. Visit www.TheIronShop.com today to find out how you can own a beautiful, iron spiral staircase.
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. Well, fall is fast approaching and it’s time to take on those fix-ups and projects around your house to get it in tip-top shape through the colder weather. And the big focus right now is saving money on winter energy bills.
TOM: That’s right. And one of the simplest ways to save energy is to make sure your home has enough insulation. And one of the best ways to insulate is with spray foam.
Now, this is ideal because of its ability to do two things: that is to seal and insulate, especially in those smaller cracks and gaps around your home. Here to tell us more about spray-foam insulation is Betsy Gallacher. She is from the Icynene Corporation.
BETSY: Hi. How are you guys?
TOM: We are excellent.
So, Betsy, now, we have seen Icynene – Leslie and I – because for good times, we go to home improvement trade shows. But for our listeners that have not seen how this stuff works, let’s do sort of the Icynene 101 on how this differs from what most people perceive as the only type of insulation and that is fiberglass batt.
BETSY: Well, the biggest difference, and you’ve really mentioned it already, is the air barrier. At the end of the day, if you don’t have an air barrier, you’re not getting the, I guess, type of insulating comfort that you need. When you use other types of traditional insulation, there’s air gaps and air can come in. Then you would be amazed at the amount of air that is coming in or escaping from your home.
But with the air barrier, you can regulate the temperature within different floors within your home and keep it at the temperature that you want. So it’s great and you mentioned as winter comes along, it keeps you comfortable inside your home and warm. But in the summer, it also keeps you cool and keeps that cool air inside and doesn’t let it escape.
TOM: We’re talking to Betsy Gallacher – she’s the vice-president of marketing for Icynene – about the benefits of spray-foam insulation.
LESLIE: Now, Betsy, if you’re adding this into an attic space and you, say, have existing fiberglass batts that are compressed, you’ve got to remove all of that. You don’t want to put this on top of anything, correct?
BETSY: No, you wouldn’t put it on top of it. Absolutely not. You would – the contractor would take all that existing insulation out. They would spray in the attic and what they can do is put it back in. It just provides a little bit more R-value but they can put it back on top of the insulation.
TOM: We’re talking to Betsy Gallacher. She’s the vice-president of marketing for Icynene.
Betsy, one more question before we let you go. In the attic situation, you talked about the need to remove, obviously, all of the old, inefficient, fiberglass insulation that might be all compressed and not really doing its job and use it – start with a clean, open bay to spray in the Icynene. Do you still have to ventilate the attic the same way you would if you were using batt insulation?
BETSY: You can have vented or unvented attics. If you want to make a conditioned space in the attic, then you can do a procedure where it becomes an unvented attic. But ventilation is always important: mechanical ventilation. So we always say, “Seal it tight but ventilate right.” So it’s always important to have ventilation and the contractors will recommend to homeowners what is the best way to achieve this.
TOM: Great advice. Betsy Gallacher, Vice President of Marketing for Icynene, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us all in on this technology. It’s very exciting and I’m sure you’re going to be saving folks a lot of energy dollars this winter.
BETSY: And thank you. It’s been wonderful talking with you today.
TOM: If you’d like more information on the Icynene product, you can visit their website at Icynene.com. That’s spelled I-c-y-n-e-n-e.com or call them at 888-758-7325.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. That’s all the time we have this hour. Thank you so much for joining us.
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 2011 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.)