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: We are here to help you solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Or if you don’t want to do it yourself, perhaps you are what we call a “direct-it-yourselfer.” Give us a call, right now, because we’ve got some advice that will help you take that all-important first step to get the job done right. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, the New Year forecasts have been coming in. In fact, every day we’re hearing about a new survey or something or other that has to do with the New Year holiday, which we’ve just passed. And guess what? We’ve got one for you, as well. Because the New Year’s forecast for paint colors has just arrived. And we’re going to share with you the color of the year and give you some easy décor tips to help freshen up your home for the seasons ahead.
LESLIE: And also ahead, if you’ve made a resolution to take some more time to just enjoy the little pleasures, we’ve got a great idea for you. How about creating a hobby room so that you can focus on the pastime you’ve always wanted to take on or expand your love of? We’re going to share some tips, just ahead.
TOM: Plus, for most of the country it’s a chilly time of year, which begs the question, which type of heat can warm you up better: forced air or hot-water baseboard? There are lots of pros and cons to each. We’ll tell you about them, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away 100 bucks worth of snow-removal tools from Ames True Temper. It’s a very useful prize for this time of year, for a lot of us folks out there in the U.S.
TOM: So, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That prize package going out to one lucky caller drawn at random at the end of today’s show.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mike in Missouri who’s dealing with a roofing issue. What’s going on at your money pit?
MIKE: We have a new house that we’re building that we don’t have quite done.
MIKE: And it’s got a wainscoting stone on the outside, on the lower part of it, and the fireplace. And the rest of it’s all metal. The metal part is OK, exception of we have a couple seams that are leaking, or screws there, and we can’t seem to find the leak. On an insulated – they put insulation on top of the studs or the trusses and all that. And then they put the metal on top of there, on the roof. And we seem to have a leak there. We can’t locate it in the valley of one of our dormers.
And we’ve called even another company to come out and they want to wait until spring to possibly go ahead and rip it off and put new tin on there. But this tin is only six months old but we can’t seem to find the leak on that.
TOM: Alright. So, when you went searching for the leak, did you try to do it very strategically, with a hose, by any chance?
MIKE: We did not. We talked about doing that. We had been out there after it’s rained and dewed and everything else. And we’ve gone up there with magic markers and marked where we pretty well located the leak coming in two different spots. But we don’t know if it’s running down a nail or coming down a seam or what’s going on.
They have gone up there and recaulked all the nails. They’ve even now gone so far as to pull all the metal up and caulk the seams where the metal overlaps. And the one big valley where the water actually is coming in, inside that they’ve put several tubes of caulk in there. And it’s – even I’ve gone up there and put some on there.
TOM: Can you get under this roof? Is there an attic under there?
MIKE: Yeah, you can go up in the attic and you can see right where it’s coming down. But between the metal and the wood rafters and all that, there’s insulation that they rolled out. And so, we’re afraid that it could come from anywhere.
TOM: Alright, Mike. So using the garden hose and going up there and working at the bottom and then kind of coming up is sort of the poor man’s system for leak detection. And if you haven’t tried that, it’s worth a try. At least you can figure out kind of what height the breach is.
There is a more sophisticated way to determine leaks in a roof and it has to do with using thermal cameras or thermal imaging. And this is done a lot in commercial roofs. And you have to have a company that knows how to handle this equipment and an expert to do this. But with a thermal-imaging camera, essentially, you can detect differences in temperature. And the theory is and the way it works is that where the water gets in, that part of the roof is at a different temperature than the area that surrounds it. So you can really physically see, with thermal-imaging cameras, where exactly the leak starts and then where it travels. And this is done a lot in trying to solve leaky-roof issues that are otherwise difficult to detect.
MIKE: Alrighty. That’s all I need to know. I appreciate it for your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Sue on the line who needs some help removing wallpaper. Tell us what’s going on.
SUE: Well, I live in an older house that has every single wall in the house is wallpapered.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
SUE: And I’m really sick of wallpaper.
TOM: Yeah. Going to be a lot of years of wallpaper, too, huh, Sue?
SUE: Yes, it is.
LESLIE: Well, as a decorator, wallpaper is coming back in a big way. And big, bold patterns sometimes work really well in interesting spaces. But they might not always be what everybody wants.
Now, Sue, tell me, is it paper or is it vinyl?
SUE: I think it might be a vinyl. Don’t want it.
LESLIE: OK. Now, with vinyl, you’re going to need to score that wall covering first, only because the vinyl is going to stop any of your efforts from actually getting to where the paste is.
Now, I’ve done this before and it depends on how you’ve actually put up the paper and how long it’s been there and what it is adhered to. Was the drywall behind it prepared first? That’s all going to depend on your success rate in removing the wallpaper. But believe it or not – and it’s definitely worth trying; it doesn’t always work but it has been successful many times for me – you can actually remove wallpaper with fabric softener.
LESLIE: I know it sounds crazy.
TOM: Works great.
LESLIE: But you can mix about a 1/3-cup fabric softener with 2/3-cup hot water. Or you can even do it with – what is it – laundry starch: equal amounts of laundry starch and hot water.
And the laundry starch, the benefit I find with that is that it ends up being like a thicker consistency, so it holds the moisture on the wallpaper where you want it, whereas the fabric softener and water is a little bit wetter.
But you – if you’re using the fabric softener, you want to put it in a spray bottle, spritz that wallpaper, get it super-wet, let it sit there for 10 to 15 minutes. That wallpaper, you’re going to feel it start to loosen and then you’re going to peel it away. Start at the bottom, work your way to the top. You may need a scraper to sort of get underneath it and give it a lot of elbow grease. But with the laundry starch and hot water, you can put that on with a paint roller or a sponge. Super-wet the walls again, let it stand until you can peel away.
And I would start there before I start renting steamers and getting crazy chemicals. Just start and see your success rate.
SUE: OK. That sounds easier than I thought it would be.
TOM: Well, that’s what we’re here for. Thanks so much, Sue, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that wallpaper project.
SUE: Well, thank you. I’m going to be starting it probably in the next couple of weeks.
TOM: Good. And then we’ll talk to you next year when you’re finished, OK?
SUE: No, no. It’s going to be (inaudible at 0:07:25). Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
So it’s the new year. Have you guys made any resolutions around your money pit, maybe to get more organized, maybe to finally take on that big project? Well, whatever it is, we are here to lend a hand so that you can do it right the first time. We’re here for you 24 hours a day at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, with all the time we spend inside, winter is a great time to pick up a hobby. But do you have the room for it? We’re going to have tips to create a dedicated hobby space, after this.
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: And we’d love for you to pick up the phone and talk to us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, we’ll give you the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $100 prize pack of snow-removal tools from Ames True Temper.
You’re going to get the SnoBoss 2-inch Shovel with a steel wear strip that allows for more snow removal in less time.
LESLIE: And you’re also going to get an AutoBoss car shovel and a telescoping roof rake. You can check out all of these super-useful tools at Facebook.com/TrueTemperTools.
TOM: And give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT to ask your home improvement question and get in on the giveaway.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Virginia on the line who needs some help with a basement-flooring project. Tell us what’s going on.
VIRGINIA: We want to finish the basement floor.
VIRGINIA: And in the – it’ll be like a kitchen area. And we want to put in – it’s kind of like a laminate, wood-type flooring that you put in sections. Is that a problem? Like somebody said something about – you need a moisture barrier? Is there an issue with that?
TOM: Well, first of all, it’s a good choice for a basement because it is very moisture-resistant. The way you install it is going to depend specifically on the manufacturer’s recommended instructions for it, Virginia. So, it’s really critical that wherever you buy this, you follow their specs because each one’s a little bit different.
But conceptually, it’s not hard to do. I mean in some cases, they’re going to want you to put down a vapor barrier first. In other cases, the vapor barrier could be attached to the bottom of the laminate. The underlayment could be pre-attached to the bottom of the laminate and so on.
So, I would follow the manufacturer’s instructions but it is a perfect choice for a basement. It’s real durable stuff and gosh, today it could look like anything. It could look like hardwood, stone, tile, you name it. It’s a good product and it’s a good application for it.
VIRGINIA: Oh, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, have you ever thought it’d be nice to have space in your home dedicated to your favorite hobby? Maybe for you, it’s a workshop or a sewing room or a writer’s nook or even an art studio. Well, there’s no better time than now to get started with that project.
Now, here’s what you need to do from the beginning. You want to start with basic questions. How much space do you need? How much storage am I going to need? How many electrical outlets? Does my project need special ventilation? These are sort of the basics to get your tick list going.
TOM: Yeah. And if you’re short on space, why not get creative? For example, you might want to think about how you could take advantage of the closet space with the doors removed. You know, pulling the doors off the closet really does open up that room and it makes it really possible to even, say, build a work desk into that closet space, perhaps some shelves that surround it, that would really pick up some critical area to get that hobby done.
And other areas to consider – for example, the dining room. None of us are using dining rooms these days, at least very few of us. I don’t know about your family. We always eat around the kitchen. Even though I’ve got a perfectly suitable dining room, it does nothing but become a flat surface for everyone to leave their stuff on.
TOM: I threatened, once, to take all the flat surfaces in the house, Leslie, and make them pitched so stuff would roll off.
LESLIE: So you can’t put it there.
TOM: So you can’t put stuff there, right. You had to put it away. I didn’t get too far with that suggestion.
But the point is that there is a lot of space that we’re not using and a dining room is just one example of that.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, here’s some other things you need to think about. When you’re planning your room, you need to think about what are the three most important areas for that room. For example, if you’re creating a sewing area, your key area might be your cutting table or an ironing station or where you sit down to sew. If you’re a woodworker, it’s probably going to be the table saw on your workbench.
So you need to design your hobby room so that you maintain a short distance between the key workstations in a room. Think of it like a kitchen, with your working triangle. Same concept.
TOM: For more detailed tips on planning your hobby space, just Google “MoneyPit.com” and search “hobby rooms” on our site.
LESLIE: John in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOHN: The heat-pump unit is on the north side of our residence. And any time there is precipitation – you know, freezing precipitation or something like that – it ices up on the coils and everything inside in the top of the unit. And so, then we have to switch over to the emergency heat in the house. My question is – if it would hamper the unit if I were to cover that in some way, like build up around it, allowing for clearance on the sides and then probably 10 to 12 inches of clearance above the fan on the top.
TOM: The thing is, John, you shouldn’t have to do that. If a heat pump is freezing – if the coils are freezing over – it’s usually caused by one, two, well, maybe three things. First of all, if the outdoor coil is dirty, then it’s not working properly and it’s not going to be able to warm, so to speak. And that makes it freeze. Also, if the unit is low on refrigerant, that can cause that. And then there’s another mechanical part of the heat-pump system called the “defrost control.” And if the defrost control is faulty, that can also cause the heat pump to ice up.
So, I would have it serviced and check those three things: check for a dirty coil, check to make sure the refrigerant levels are correct and maybe even go ahead and replace the defrost control and see if that solves it. The thing is, if you build something around that, you could impact the airflow and that might do more harm than good.
JOHN: Well, that’s why I called before I did it.
TOM: Alright, John. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Linda in Rhode Island, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LINDA: Yes. This is an old house and in the basement – on the wall, which was fieldstone – in the past, they had painted it with whitewash or – that’s what it was called back then. And no matter what kind of paint I’ve applied, if flakes off.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah, because it’s damp and wet, that’s why. Yeah. You can’t just – if you put any kind of regular paint on that, it’s going to do that. You have to use a basement wall paint. It’s a lot stickier and it can handle the dampness of that wall.
Now, you could also take steps to reduce the dampness by improving your drainage outside. But if you put typical wall paint on the stone, it is going to flake off because water and paint don’t go well together. And those stones are like little sponges and the paint’s just going to peel right off of it.
So, what you want to use is a basement wall paint. And it’s really smelly but it’s really sticky.
TOM: And it’s …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s going to stick to where you need it.
TOM: It will last a lot longer. Does that make sense, Linda?
LINDA: Oh, it certainly does.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to go to Ryan in Utah with a plumbing problem.
RYAN: Oh, well, I have a garden tub that – it just fills so stinking slow. I want to know if there is anything I can do to help speed it up.
TOM: Yeah. When you say “garden tub,” describe that to me.
RYAN: It’s in the master bathroom, so it’s just a tub that’s in the corner. It’s a larger size but it’s not jetted or anything.
TOM: Oh, I think – yeah, we call that a Roman tub. So, it’s kind of a big, soaking tub. Is that what you’re talking about?
RYAN: You’ve got it.
TOM: Yeah. Well, the downside of using water-efficient faucets and fixtures is that they can take a longer time to fill. So, I would take a look at that tub faucet and simply replace it with one that doesn’t have any restrictions. And in fact, if you look at some of the antique supply places, too, you might find one that looks kind of cool and fills it pretty quick.
RYAN: OK. OK. Yeah, I’ll sure take a look at that.
TOM: That’s probably what’s going on. Assuming that the valves are functional and there’s nothing restricting them, it’s probably just a matter of a fairly water-efficient tub faucet.
RYAN: OK. I bet – I think that’s right.
TOM: May be working against you.
TOM: Alright, Ryan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Susan in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SUSAN: I was calling because I have a large room that was converted from a garage into a living room but it’s got some dark, ugly paneling on it. And what’s the best way to remove it or how do you undo paneling?
LESLIE: I mean it really depends on how much work you want to do and how that paneling that’s there was attached to the existing structure.
Now, it was the garage previously?
SUSAN: Yes. And it was ridiculous. It was paneled and – like it was a really elite garage when we moved in. It was crazy.
LESLIE: Now, do you know, is the paneling just attached directly to the studs of the wall? Or is it attached by glue to drywall? Have you had any clue what’s behind it?
SUSAN: I don’t.
LESLIE: I wonder if there’s a place where you can lift up a piece of trim or remove a switch plate and see what’s sort of going on with that? Because it could be that it was a garage. It could just be that the paneling was put directly onto those studs and then you could pull that off and have a clean slate and just go ahead and put some drywall up. And while you’re at it, add some insulation. Because if it was a garage, there’s a good chance there wasn’t any there before.
Now, if you do find that it was attached to some drywall, it’s probably glued on and everything behind it’s going to be a mess. So you’ve got two choices there. You can either just make that paneling look attractive by painting it. And you know what? When paneling is painted like a glossy white or a glossy neutral color, it actually doesn’t look so bad. It can kind of be that great, interesting base texture with sort of a modern country feel, if that makes sense.
But if that’s something that you’re like, “Oh, God, no, I don’t even want to see it,” you can easily go over it with ¼-inch drywall. The only thing is where you’ve got switches or outlets or trimming, those things are going to have to bump out a little bit. So that requires a little bit of carpentry but it’s not the end of the world and it is a do-it-yourself project.
SUSAN: OK. So it really depends on what it’s over.
LESLIE: Depends on what it’s over, how it’s attached and how involved you want to get.
SUSAN: OK. Well, I guess the first thing I will need to do then is take a piece off or figure that out and go from there.
LESLIE: Don’t sound so down; it’s not a difficult project.
SUSAN: OK. Well, I appreciate the advice.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s a little too chilly outside for most of us to do our gardening out of doors. But if you’ve got the green thumb and you just can’t wait to get to gardening, Roger Cook from This Old House is stopping by to help us select the perfect houseplant, whether you’ve got a green thumb or a brown thumb or anything in between, so stick around.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.
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: Hey, check out our Pinterest board “Let It Snow!” online, right now, for tips and tricks for easy snow removal. You’ll find it on The Money Pit Pinterest board. Just head on over to MoneyPit.com and click on the Pinterest logo.
LESLIE: Jay in North Carolina is dealing with a supreme oopsie on a countertop. What happened?
JAY: Well, I don’t know. I purchased the property about a year ago and actually, I have my son living there. He’s graduating from a college in the Raleigh area and he’s living in that – in the apartment – and it’s wonderful. The only problem is there’s a burn hole on the laminate countertop.
TOM: Now, Jay, there’s a story behind that but of course, your son hasn’t – yeah, your son hasn’t coughed it up yet, I’m sure.
JAY: No, well, no, no. This was before he moved in but hey, it’s OK.
JAY: My point is it’s right out in the middle of the thing, so it’s this big burn hole. And I was just wondering, is there a way I can cut it out and then put another patch of laminate over it? It’s in butcher-block style.
TOM: Well, the good news is that you could do a built-in countertop and – a built-in cutting board or a built-in piece of marble. And if you do it in something that’s complementary – look, it may be a little bit weird to have a cutting board on the finished side of the countertop like that but it’ll certainly look like it was always intended to be there and you’ll get away with it.
The other thing that you could do is you could relaminate the countertop. You can’t fix the burned surface because the plastic’s been damaged, so that’s not something that’s possible. You can’t cut in a new piece of laminate because it’ll be patchy and it’ll look lousy. What you could do is you could put a new piece of laminate across the entire surface. So you’re keeping the structure of the countertop but you’re gluing a new piece of laminate on top of that.
Installing a laminate is not that difficult if you have some basic DIY skills. You would scuff up the original surface, you would apply contact cement to both the new laminate and the old laminate. You would lay it down and you would press it from the middle on out to get out any air bubbles and rub it all out. And then with a router and a special laminate-trimming bit, you would trim the laminate edge very clean to the existing edge of the top and you’d have a brand-new laminate surface when you were all done.
It’s best if you can take the old top off temporarily to do this so that you don’t have to work around walls and that sort of thing. But it’s not hard to do and that’s one way to have to – to get it repaired without having to physically replace the whole thing. Does that make sense?
JAY: Excellent idea. Thank you so much. Appreciate your help.
LESLIE: Even if you don’t have a big, beautiful lawn in front of your home, you can still create a beautiful landscape with container gardening that can surround your front or even your back entry.
TOM: Yes. But to be a successful container gardener, it takes a little more than just arranging pretty pots. Here with expert tips to help turn your thumb green for this project, we welcome Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House.
ROGER: Great to be here.
TOM: So, Roger, container gardening has become really popular. It’s not just for flowers and shrubs. You can really grow just about anything with the right combination of containers, correct?
ROGER: Containers and the right amount of sun. I have people who grow tomatoes and herbs and every other thing in containers, right at their back door. And it’s great. They walk outside and pick what they need to make pasta.
TOM: I remember when my wife and I first got married and had our very first apartment. And she wanted to grow basil. And so we had these sort of flower boxes that hung off a railing. And we couldn’t get it to go. And then, one day, I’m in the supermarket and I see basil with the roots attached in the supermarket. So I bought them from the supermarket, came home and planted them. And within weeks, we had like bushes of basil. So, there’s a lot of ways to do this.
ROGER: Yeah. I mean it’s just picking the right plant for the right spot, again. And you can have a lot of fun with them.
LESLIE: Now, Roger, I think, really, one of the key components to having a potted plant or a container garden is the watering element, because they do tend to dry out so quickly.
ROGER: You have to remember they’re exposed all the way around to the sun and the wind. So they’re going to dry out faster than the surrounding environment. You need to make sure that the pots are watered adequately.
TOM: Now, I actually saw you guys use a system on one of your Ask This Old House segments, which I thought was really interesting. It was sort of a PVC – almost like a manifold with a pipe laid in the bottom of the pot, totally covered by soil. And it had wicks that came out of it so that you filled the pipe up with water and then, I guess, instead of having to water every day, you could fill this pipe up and have it water itself for a week or so.
ROGER: Well, I think that’s the key is keeping containers moist all the time, to the right level, and not letting them dry, get wet, dry, get wet. And that system was beautiful, to just fill it and then walk away. That’s a win situation.
TOM: You’ve got to check that out. It’s on ThisOldHouse.com. Really interesting system.
ROGER: And the other thing is to remember to have a container large enough that can sustain the plants and hold some water.
LESLIE: And how do you know that the container is large enough for what you’re putting in there? Is there a rule of thumb?
ROGER: Yeah. If you have a container that’s 18 to 24 inches wide, then you probably want to put just three to five plants in that and give them a chance to grow out, get their roots into the soil. If you put too many plants in, the roots will all be tied together and you won’t be able to get any moisture in the soil.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I’ve always found that whenever it comes to our yard, I always use the containers as a really great place to sort of highlight annuals and bring in a lot of color. Is that really the best use for them or can I think about putting a perennial in there?
ROGER: It’s a good place to put annuals because it’s condensed; you’re not going to spend a lot of money. But I like to combine annuals and perennials. I like to use a perennial as a specimen, in the middle. And if it goes by – say it’s a plant that flowers early, I can flip it for another perennial and take the one I took out and put it in the landscaping, so I’m recycling the plant material and not throwing it away.
TOM: We’re talking to Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House.
Now, Roger, when we talk about containers, we typically think about the individual flower pots and square containers and that sort of thing. But what about the sort of living-wall version of container gardening, where you have the containers sort of mounted to a wall and they go up and up and up? Number of systems available for that today, right?
ROGER: A whole bunch, including one that’s a blanket that will just cover the whole wall and has drip irrigation that starts at the top and comes all the way. I’ve seen them done in commercial applications but you could do it in a residential, also.
There’s all sorts of systems that will fit into what you have at your house. It’s just finding the right one for you and then making sure there’s a way to keep it adequately watered.
TOM: I want to ask you about drainage, too, because, of course, we’ve got to water them. They do need as much water as other plants. We don’t want to overwater them and have that water sit in there and rot the roots away. I saw one of your Ask segments, I believe it was, where you actually installed a very cool drainage system into a container. It was sort of a PVC arrangement. Can you talk about that?
ROGER: Right. It was a PVC planter which came with piping in the bottom. And it just allowed the water to come into the pot itself. So you would just fill it up and it would release water to the soil.
There’s a number of things we do to help hold the water in the soil and there’s things we do to drain. We want that water to drain out; you don’t want to have too much. And that’s why I always put a little bit of stone and filter fabric in the bottom. And the key to watering is to water and find out how deep down that water is getting. If you see it coming out the bottom of the pot, that’s one indication. But you always can stick your finger in and see if the soil is moist or not.
TOM: So no limit to what you can really do with these container gardens if you’ve got the right sunshine and the right watering mix in the soil, just as important.
ROGER: And a great solution for people who only have small yards or a deck or even a balcony.
TOM: They say curb appeal really makes the difference when you put your house on the market. So it really doesn’t matter if it’s a condo or a co-op or a single-family house, you really can create a landscape one container at a time.
ROGER: And it’s a great way to have some fun.
TOM: Absolutely. Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks again for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: My pleasure.
LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.
Up next, would you like to makeover a room but aren’t sure what color scheme to go with? Well, perhaps you might want to choose the 2014 Color of the Year. We’ll reveal it, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a $100 snow-removal prize pack from our friends over at Ames True Temper. You’re going to get three tools, including a telescoping roof rake.
Now, the handle is going to allow you a very long reach, which is much safer than climbing up on the roof to clear the snow, which can become very heavy. And it’s really important that you do get the snow off the roof.
TOM: And you’re also going to get the SnoBoss 26-inch Snow Shovel and the AutoBoss, which is a shovel that stores in your car’s trunk so you’re never caught off-guard in a storm again.
Check them all out at Facebook.com/TrueTemperTools. And call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re thinking about doing some decorating this year but you don’t know where to start, you might want to start simply by choosing a single color and building your décor around that. So, according to the Pantone Universe, a well-renowned authority on color, the Color of the Year for 2014 is Radiant Orchid. And as its name suggests, it’s a purple hue that’s already been showing up on those fashion runways that we all follow so closely.
TOM: Oh, yeah. I’m all over that.
LESLIE: I know. Me too. You can tell by – my work pants match my tool belt so well. And perhaps my tool belt happens to be this amazing Radiant Orchid.
But seriously, guys, you’re going to see it pop up in home accents, paints, fabrics, furniture. So, get ready. It’s here to stay for the year.
TOM: Now, if you’re not quite that brave to go with the Radiant Orchid purple, you’ll be happy to know that the Paint Quality Institute says that the Neutral Color of the Year is gray, which is much more palatable to me.
TOM: Now, the Paint Quality Institute says that white’s going to remain a strong neutral color, as well. And also, Mustard Yellow is as popular as ever as an accent color.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s funny because I love putting Mustard Yellow with gray, so I can see how those two would work well. And when you look at the color wheel, you’re supposed to look at opposites on the wheel or complimentary colors. Even though it doesn’t seem like purple and Mustard Yellow would go well together, they are complimentary on the scale. So, I bet it’s going to work.
TOM: So, Radiant Orchid and Mustard Yellow: two colors that you’ll never find in a guy’s man cave, I’ll tell you that right now.
In the end, though, it – beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, choose what you love and enjoy it. It’s a great time to take on a décor project because let’s face it: we’ve got a few more months of this chilly weather. If you’re staring at those walls, might as well make them walls that you really feel comfortable with.
LESLIE: Bill in Hawaii has got a squeaky faucet.
Bill, tell us what’s going on.
BILL: When I turn a faucet on anywhere in the house or I flush a toilet, I hear – there’s a high-pitched whine. And it doesn’t seem to make any difference where and which faucet, whether it’s hot or cold or upstairs or downstairs. I get this quite high-pitched whine or high tone in the plumbing.
LESLIE: Does it go away after it’s been running awhile or does it stay on?
BILL: No. As long as I have a faucet on, it continues.
Now, I went on the internet and one of the suggestions was that there was a pressure regulator on the input water to the house. So, a month ago, I was pulling and adjusted that one way and it got worse. So just yesterday, I went and turned it the other way and now it seems to get better. Now it just has a high-pitched whine when you turn it on or shut it off but not during. Is that a possible – something wrong there?
TOM: Yeah. I mean it’s probably the pressure regulator or even the main water valve. And the reason that you have such a loud noise is because plumbing makes a really good transmitter of sound, you know? So, if you get a little bit of noise down one end of it, it will transmit through the entire house. And the fact that this is consistent no matter where you are in the house and what you turn on means that it should be at the main, coming into the house, because that’s the only pipe that’s on all the time.
So, I think you’re onto something there with the pressure regulator and I would consider having that replaced and/or the main valve replaced, because I think that’s where the sound is coming from, based on what you’ve just described.
BILL: Alright. Well, hey, very good. I appreciate it.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, a fireplace can provide excellent supplemental heat if you know how to make the most of it. We’ll have tips, just ahead.
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TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Here to help you with your home improvement project. Pick up the phone and help yourself first by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT or posting your question in the Community section of MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Just like Ray did and Ray writes: “I have a standard, wood-burning fireplace with no perks, like a blower system. It really is not meant to heat the house but I would like to have it supply a little supplemental heat. Is there some kind of system I could get to make it more efficient and possibly add some supplemental heating to our home?”
TOM: First off, fireplaces generally are not the most efficient types of supplemental heating sources. Frankly, they’re very inefficient unless they’re very carefully constructed.
So, you’re trying to make a system efficient here that’s simply not designed to be. That said, a couple things I would consider is this. First of all, the type of wood that you burn makes a big difference. The harder the wood, the more BTUs it releases.
So, for example, oak is going to be a much hotter, durable fire than pine, for example, which will go much quicker and not produce as many BTUs. So, always burn hardwood. Always work with a very clean fireplace. That’s important for safety reasons.
If you want to have that fireplace provide some warm air to the house, then you have to consider an insert. An insert in a brick fireplace can fit right inside of it and it’s usually hooked up to a fan that will move that air around. But short of that type of major upgrade, it’s just simply difficult to get a lot of heat out of a fireplace.
So, that’s kind of where you’re at. Most of us just have them because we love the appearance of them, we love the smell of the wood burning. But just don’t fool yourself to think that it’s going to be a very efficient heating system, because it simply isn’t true.
LESLIE: I almost even find that it sometimes sucks the heat that you’re creating from your radiators out of the room.
TOM: Well, it certainly does because it has to draft to operate. And so, remember, it’s pulling all of that heated air – especially that heated air that you paid to heat – up the chimney with the rest of the smoke to be able to ventilate properly.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, they look nice, that’s for sure.
Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Edward17 who writes: “As it starts to get cold outside, the foyer and kitchen floor of my house are really cold. I can have the heat running at 70 degrees but the floor itself still stays cold. Is it worthwhile to insulate the ceiling joists of my basement? Would this help?”
TOM: Absolutely. And there’s certainly no reason not to do that. Insulation is inexpensive and if you do insulate the underside of the floor, since it’s accessible, with unfaced fiberglass batts, you could suspend those in between the floor joists with insulation wires. They simply sort of bend and spring and it sort of puts side pressure on the other side – opposite sides – of those joists that will hold the batt in place. And I think that you’ll see a big difference.
I mean the basement is not a conditioned space, for most of us, so why not go ahead and insulate it? And if at some point you decide to heat the basement later, no big deal. You’ll need less heat because the main source of heat loss will be already insulated.
LESLIE: Yeah, Ed. You know, there’s one other place that you should check, which is the band board which surrounds the perimeter of your basement area. There sometimes could be a lot of air leaks there. And if you can control the amount of air that’s coming in by sealing those areas where you might see gaps creating those drafty, leaky areas, that will sort of help keep that basement space a little bit more conditioned, a little bit less drafty, which will then help you a lot with keeping that floor space above much warmer.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending another hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some great ideas that can help you get started on your next project. We are here 24-7 at 888-MONEY-PIT.
And you can always call. If we’re not in the studio, you can leave a message. We’ll call you back the next time we are. Or better yet, you can post your question on our Facebook page or in the Community section of MoneyPit.com.
Happy Home Improving, everybody. 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 2014 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.)