TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you tackle your home improvement projects, solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas, take on a décor dilemma. Whatever is going on in your money pit, give us a call; the number is 888-666-3974.
We know you love your house. We know you love your home. We know you want to make it better. You want to personalize it? You want to expand it? Maybe you want to contract it. Maybe it’s getting too big for you and you need to kind of pull back into a smaller space. So whatever the size, the scope of the project is that you’re working on, give us a call; we’re here to help, 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour on the program, has your New Year’s resolution to lose 10 pounds already fallen by the wayside? Well, why not consider putting your house on a diet instead? If you get rid of that extra stuff, you’ll get added space, added serenity and maybe even some added cash. We’ll give you the skinny, coming up.
LESLIE: And your chimney’s liner is an important part of the structure that keeps your house safe from accidental fire. But how do you know your chimney liner is doing the job? We’ll teach you how to check and learn what steps to take if it’s not.
TOM: And we’ve got your list of home improvement trends for 2015. We’ll talk about the top projects that DIYers will be taking on this year. And we’ll help you discover the next wave of up-and-coming trends so that you can show them off before everyone else does.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. It’s a smartphone controller that not only lets you control your garage door from any place, any time, it lets you do it from your phone.
TOM: And you’ll never have to worry that you left the garage door open again. MyQ Garage is worth $129 but it’s going out to one lucky caller we talk to on the air this hour. So give us a call with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Lee in Texas is on the line with a window and foundation situation. Tell us what’s going on.
LEE: Well, I’ve got a house that’s approximately a little over 45 years old and it’s got the original windows in it.
LEE: And I’ve got a foundation problem.
TOM: Alright. What’s going on with the foundation?
LEE: Oh, it’s shifting, it’s cracking. I’ve got a big crack on the westbound side.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
LEE: And it’s spread out quite a bit.
TOM: Do you sense that it’s actively – like it’s growing?
LEE: No, it isn’t growing. It’s stable, just a crack.
TOM: It’s been like that for how long?
LEE: Probably about 20 years.
TOM: OK. Well, then, I wouldn’t be too concerned about it. If it’s not active, which means it’s moving, then it’s probably stopped. It just happened for whatever reason: soil shift, who knows? But if it’s not active, then I don’t think it’s a big concern if it’s been stable for 20 years. So then I think you can move on and think about replacing the windows.
A good time to replace windows. The technology has really come a long way. They’re super-energy-efficient; very, very comfortable; very, very easy to operate. What you want to do is choose your windows very carefully.
If you go to our website at MoneyPit.com, we actually have a free guide. It’s a download from our book, My Home, My Money Pit. Just click on the picture of the book and look for the guide to replacing windows in your house. It will walk you through kind of the whole purchase process and tell you what to look for. You have to decide what kind of frames you want, what kind of glass you want: double-pane versus triple-pane and so on. And it will help sort of walk you through that whole process and then you’ll be more knowledgeable when you start talking to the actual window companies.
But replacement windows are pretty easy to install. They fit inside the existing openings, so there’s not a lot of siding that’s torn off and stuff like that. And for the most part, they can do the whole project in a day or two.
LEE: But if it starts being active again about when it shifts?
TOM: Mm-hmm. Then here’s what you need to do: you need to consult a structural engineer, not a foundation-repair company or a contractor or anybody like that. There’s a lot of so-called experts out there but unless they have the pedigree of a degree, then we don’t want to hear from them. We want you to consult a structural engineer.
Because when you have a serious foundation issue, you have an engineer inspect it, you have them write a report stating whether or not it needs to be fixed and if so, how it should be fixed. Then you get it fixed by a contractor. Then you have them come back and reinspect it so that they can certify that it was done correctly.
And with that record, you won’t have any problem selling your house. If it becomes an issue later on, you can show them that you hired an expert to review it and to review it after it was fixed and it’s been done satisfactorily. And that should be all you need to know to fix the foundation and to protect the value of the home.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jean in Arizona on the line who is looking into some solar power.
Jean, what can we do for you?
JEAN: Wondering if solar power would be a good thing for us. We’re not sure if we want to maybe look at a unit for the roof or maybe a unit for the garage with – for our hot-water heater.
TOM: OK. So you’re talking about – when you say “unit for the garage,” do you mean mounted on the garage roof or what? I mean you’ve got to get this – you’ve got to collect the sun at some point.
JEAN: As I understand it, you can choose to heat your house through a type of solar unit that looks after your hot-water heat.
TOM: Well, considering that you live in Arizona, solar energy is definitely something that you should be considering because you obviously have a strong sun for most of the year. You can take advantage of this in a number of ways.
If you want to use this to supplement your water-heating cost, that is the easy thing to do. You also might want to consider using active solar panels to basically collect energy that could be converted to electricity. In many cases, there are companies out there that will partner with you, perhaps covering the cost of the panels in return for a share of the energy that it generates. There are also rebates to consider. I would look into what’s available in your market area.
But I think, generally speaking, the concept of having solar panels, especially in a state where you’ve got such sunshine, is a great idea.
JEAN: Thank you very much.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, are you looking for a little extra space or maybe even a little extra cash? We’re going to teach you how you can squeeze a little of both out of your home, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk with on the air this hour is going to win the Chamberlain MyQ Garage Smartphone Controller. The MyQ Garage is going to let you check your garage door. You know, did you leave it open? Are you halfway to work? What’s going to happen? And then you can actually control it right from your smartphone no matter where you are, whether it’s on the highway or in China. Anywhere.
TOM: And it’s worth $129 but goes home free with one caller whose question we answer on the air. So give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bruce in Ohio is on the line with an electrical problem. What’s going on?
BRUCE: We have a switch upstairs that – with a light and it was kind of going off and on. And then I just changed the bulb. Thought maybe it was the bulb but in the meantime, it has gone off completely. And I’ve checked it with a multimeter and like that – and there’s no power to the switch at all now.
And I did have a seasoned carpenter that was here and he checked it. He thought maybe the power going to it from one of the nearby plugs or switches might be the power source for that. But we didn’t see anything was loose on any of those.
TOM: So, you don’t really know how the switch is being powered but there’s no power to the switch. And was it powered before?
BRUCE: Well, it was before, yeah, mm-hmm.
TOM: And it worked fine? And so, all of a sudden, it’s not powered anymore? And I guess you checked all your breakers to make sure nothing was off? And you checked your fuses to make sure nothing was off?
TOM: Well, if it lost power and it worked before then, obviously, there is some deterioration somewhere in the line. And I think with – I’m glad that your seasoned carpenter helped you out but I would get an electrician in there. Because if worse comes to worse, you’re just going to run new power to it. But we want to make sure that there’s no shorted line somewhere, between that switch and where it originally pulled power, that is the reason that it’s not working anymore. Because that could be dangerous.
BRUCE: Yeah, yeah, that’s what concerns me, too, so …
TOM: And while you’re there – while he’s there – you might want to look into having him install some of the new arc-fault circuit breakers. Because in an old house, those are really valuable because they sense arcing inside the wiring itself and shut the circuit down before any heat can build up.
BRUCE: Yeah, I don’t think the – I think the circuit breakers are fairly new. Downstairs, I think they put fairly new circuit breakers in.
TOM: Well, unless they’re – they’re probably not arc-fault, because that is super-new to the market, but it’s a great invention. It’s made by Leviton – L-e-v-i-t-o-n.
BRUCE: Mm-hmm. OK.
TOM: Alright, Bruce? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Holly in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
HOLLY: We’re older and my husband is in their 70s and I’m in my late 60s. And we’ve had the same set of concrete steps and we keep putting salt on it so we won’t fall. And they pitted over the years and I was wondering if there was anything we could put on there to refinish the steps.
LESLIE: There is a product that you can use and it’s by QUIKRETE. And it’s their Concrete Resurfacer product. And depending on how large of an area you need to actually repair, you can either squeegee it on or trowel it on or even brush-apply it. And you just have to mix it according to the manufacturer’s direction but it’s super-easy to use. You want to use it on a day that’s nice and dry.
And then make sure that you buy – Tom, is it calcium chloride the one that doesn’t cause the pitting?
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. The sodium chloride is going to be very corrosive. A better option is calcium chloride. And that’s not going to damage the concrete, so you won’t have a repeat of this problem with the pitting.
As far as the temperature is concerned, you need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I don’t think you want to be applying that resurfacer when it’s below freezing out. But other than that, you should have a pretty wide range of temperature applications under which you can work.
HOLLY: Well, thank you very much. You have a Happy New Year.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
So, perhaps you decided that your New Year’s resolution was to drop a few pounds of holiday weight and that just didn’t work out so well. Well, we’ve got a much easier suggestion. Why not put your house on a diet with some simple decluttering?
LESLIE: Yeah, the first step to cutting the fat is taking a good, hard look at all the stuff you own. If you don’t love it or you don’t use it, chuck it. You’ll free up living space that you never knew you had.
TOM: Or you can even drum up some extra cash by selling your discarded things online or at a thrift shop or at a yard sale. Now, if you’ve got higher-quality items, bring those to a consignment shop or to a specialty outlet where they’ll bring bigger bucks.
LESLIE: And once all that clutter is gone, revamp your closets and storage for better efficiency. And consider pieces with hidden storage, like ottomans that double as storage containers.
TOM: And you can put your feet up on it and relax in your clutter-free space that’s easier and cheaper to clean and maintain.
888-666-3974. Do you have an organizational question? Perhaps you want to hang some shelves, you want to find some hidden space or you want to tackle that garage project? Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jacob in Illinois is on the line with a septic problem. What’s going on?
JACOB: Around the septic tank, it’s probably about maybe a 20-foot radius around it. There’s a little circle of grass that doesn’t grow nearly as good as the rest of the yard. I didn’t know if that was an indicator of a problem. Because there’s no problems, that I can tell, with the tank itself.
TOM: Well, is this where you would think the septic field is or are we concerned about the septic tank?
JACOB: I just didn’t – I guess it – I don’t know what the septic field is.
TOM: Well, that’s where – what happens is you have a series of pipes that come off the tank and they usually snake across an area of lawn. And when the effluent rises in the septic tank, it basically flows into the pipes and it goes out across your yard and then soaks into the soil. So that’s what the field is.
If there’s a – is there a problem with the field that could be causing grass not to grow? Usually, it’s the opposite. Usually, all of that effluent is acting as a fertilizer and making certain places greener than others. So I don’t recognize that as a normal problem associated with septic but when was the last time you had your tank cleaned?
JACOB: Let’s see. I haven’t had it cleaned in 15 years, since it was put in.
TOM: Yeah. Well, that might be the first place to start. Have the system cleaned and inspected.
JACOB: OK. Alright.
TOM: Jacob, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ben in North Dakota is on the line and looking to solve a humidity situation in his home. What’s going on?
BEN: Yeah, what’s going on is I need to put 3 gallons of water through my humidifiers a day. Five is better. How could I make it so I don’t need to use so much water in my humidifiers?
LESLIE: Are you using portable humidifiers in each room? Or how are you currently humidifying your home?
BEN: I have two humidifiers for the bedrooms and then I have a large house one for the rest.
TOM: And do you have a humidifier that’s built into your heating system?
BEN: No, I don’t. I was looking at one of those but that’s a little out of my budget for this year.
TOM: OK. Well, I mean that’s clearly the most efficient way to humidify your house. If you take a look at a good-quality humidifier that’s built into the heating system, it’s actually going to measure the outside temperature and the inside temperature and calculate exactly how much water you need to humidify the house and deliver that right to the return duct, where it can be circulated throughout the house. Until you do that, you’re always going to be faced with having to refill portable humidifiers over and over and over again. And they’re probably not going to humidify as effectively as a whole-home one would.
I would take a look at a unit like the ones that are made by Aprilaire. I like those because they’re – I was a home inspector for 20 years and the Aprilaire units are the only ones that I found that were old and still working. So, I’m – I’ve got a lot of respect for that brand, in terms of their capacity to do the job and do it on an ongoing basis.
BEN: That sounds great.
TOM: Alright, Ben. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ellie in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ELLIE: Yes. I just recently moved to Florida and the house I bought, the water softener is broken because – I believe it’s because they had it outside the home. Every other house in my community has them in the garage. And mine, they – for some reason, the water line is on the opposite side of the house, in the garage. So, it would be a – I believe it would be a major thing to have the water line brought from one side of the house to the other so I could have it inside.
And Sears tells me that I can have it put outside but you have to have some kind of protective covering. Lowe’s tells me that they don’t sell any that go outdoors. And a private plumbing company is telling me that they have one that – to put outside, specifically. And other people are saying you don’t even need one, to go – don’t even bother the expense. So, I don’t know what to do.
TOM: So, first of all, the question is: do you need a water softener or not?
ELLIE: Right. I’ve looked online and I see the pros and cons.
TOM: Right. Well, if you – if you’re accustomed to a water softener and you eliminate it, you may find that you don’t like that experience. You certainly could bypass the water softener just to see if you like the water.
Is the water city water?
ELLIE: Well, it’s not well water. So does that mean it is city water? I don’t know.
TOM: Yeah, it’s city water. If it’s city water, you probably do not need a water softener.
ELLIE: Well, I was – I think no. You know, I don’t think it is city water because people in Ocala, I think they told me that they don’t need it; they have city water. I could be wrong; I’m not sure. But everybody in this development says you need it.
TOM: Ellie, the first thing you want to do is figure out if you’ve got city water. If you do, it’s going to be treated. If you’ve got well water, then you do need, probably, a water conditioner, as well as to have the water tested to make sure that it’s safe. And that’s something that should be done on an occasional basis.
Now, in terms of the enclosures, given the fact that you’re in Florida, we’re not concerned about freezing pipes. I wouldn’t be too concerned about putting it outside. I would want to have it enclosed. Now, how do you do that? Well, you either use one that’s rated to be outside – and perhaps your – the water-treatment company – the plumbing company has one that has such a certification, that’s designed for interior or exterior use and that’s fine. And if not, you’re going to have to construct something or have something constructed or perhaps pick up a small shed or something of that nature where the equipment could be protected from the weather.
But I think the first thing you need to do is determine whether or not you need it and determine what kind of water supply you have. If it’s well water, get it tested. You can even have the hardness tested. You’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with. And if it’s city water, then I think you can try bypassing the system you have right now and see if you like it.
I hope that helps you out. Ellie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, don’t get too comfy by that fire. There’s a chance your chimney is a safety hazard. Find out how to make sure that yours is safe, coming up.
ADAM: Hey, this is Adam Carolla. And when I’m not swinging a hammer, I’m catching up on The Money Pit with Tom and Leslie.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety and convenience, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.
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 if you like The Money Pit, then why not like us on Facebook? You’ll get a steady stream of home improvement tips, behind-the-scenes pics and more, all at your fingertips. You can follow us on Twitter, too. The handle is @MoneyPit.
But first, give us a call with your home improvement question. The number, again: 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Andrea from Ontario, Canada is on the line with a mold question. How can we help you today?
ANDREA: My question (inaudible at 0:20:11) regarding black mold. And it’s behind my sink, between the sink and the backsplash. There’s a little bit of space. And this black mold settles in. There’s a lot of moisture, obviously. They’re running the water and it splashes, so – behind and around the sink, as well as around my tub.
I tried bleach. I scrubbed it. We, at one point, took out the caulking and recaulked it but it came back. So I’m at a – kind of a loss what to do with this.
TOM: Mold is going to grow any place that you have an organic material, which could be drywall. Or it could also be, believe it or not, soap scum. It can have organic matter in it and that can feed mold. And so, you have a condition there that’s going to be prevalent to mold regrowth. Even when you clean it, it’s going to come back. You’re not going to permanently prevent it unless you change the environment – the climate – that exists in that particular area.
So, with respect to the tile area, let’s deal with that first. When you retiled – when you recaulked, I’m sorry – did you pull all the old caulk out?
ANDREA: Pulled it all out. Took it all out. It was actually our contractor who said, “Keep it very dry.” “Bone dry,” he called it. And then once we had it all dried out, then he came back and put a layer of the white material. I’m not exactly sure what it was but he finished it all.
TOM: OK. So you’re not quite sure what the product is.
Here would be the steps. When you pull the old caulk out, you need to spray the joint between the tub and the tile with a bleach solution. That’s going to kill any mold spores that are left behind. Then after that’s dry, one additional step: fill up the tub with water because it makes it heavy and it pulls it down. And then you caulk it.
And when you caulk it, you want to use a product that has mildicide in it. Now, DAP, for example, has a caulk that has an additive called Microban. And Microban will not grow mold; it will prevent it from growing. And so, if you use the right product and you take the step of treating it with a bleach solution first, before you apply it, that helps it to last as long as possible. But again, if you don’t control humidity conditions, eventually it will come back.
As for the sink, the same advice applies. You not only have to clean it, which takes away the visual, but you have to spray it with a mildicide. And so you could mix, say, a 10- to 20-percent bleach solution with water. And then let it dry and that will help prevent it from coming back.
ANDREA: I’ll try that.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, many older chimneys serve their homes well but over the years, they’ve become unsafe. A main reason for this is the lack of a chimney liner.
TOM: Well, fortunately, new liners can be installed into old chimneys, making them usable, once again, for a variety of purposes, including heating systems and fireplaces. Richard Trethewey is the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House and he joins us now with tips on how to do just that.
RICHARD: Hey, guys. How are you today?
TOM: We’re doing well. So what, exactly, is a chimney liner and why do we need one?
RICHARD: A liner is just as it describes: it’s some sort of material, either clay or metal, which fits inside of an existing chimney. If you looked at a masonry chimney on the outside of a building, it’s usually brick that you see on the outside. And if we just relied on the brick, we would worry about flue products leaking out through the mortar joints and we’d worry about actually, also, so much cold air being against those bricks that the flue products wouldn’t want to leave the chimney.
A liner is really important for two things. One is to make sure the products of combustion – and that includes creosote, one of the byproducts of wood burning, or some of the carbon that’s in oil exhaust – gets completely up and out of the chimney and doesn’t build up on the inside where you could cause a chimney fire. So, liners are important for that. But also, it’s important to make sure we have proper draft inside of it.
LESLIE: So, now, what are these liners made out of? You know, I know we recently had ours replaced because when we had our standard service, everything was opened up for cleaning and crumbled-up pieces of clay were at the bottom, which was a failed liner.
RICHARD: Right, right. Yeah, right.
LESLIE: So, do you go for a new clay one? Do you go with something more like a metal or an aluminum one?
RICHARD: Well, there was a time that the only product was that clay liner. It was usually 6½x6½ on the inside diameter, sometimes 8x8. And it was built at the time that the chimney was first installed. And if it did crack, you would try to repair it and things like that.
Well, later, materials were available – both stainless steel and aluminum – where you could have a metal liner that was corrugated. Now, I’m not a big fan of aluminum as a material inside of a chimney. Aluminum is not a noble enough metal to take the products of combustion. So if you’re going to use a liner, it always should be this stainless-steel liner that can be pulled in in a retrofit.
Now, the best …
LESLIE: I mean it’s kind of interesting to see them do it. It’s like …
RICHARD: That’s right.
TOM: Sort of snake it down from the top, right?
RICHARD: That’s right. Now, the best liner is actually a straight liner – a smooth liner – that goes in sections that you drop down. But many times, the existing conditions don’t allow you to drop because it’s not always straight. And sometimes, there’s protrusions on the inside where the old liner was.
But when I have my druthers – and I’m going to go with conventional efficiency equipment – I’d love to see a nice, smooth, stainless-steel liner that’s connected together and dropped down into place. And now you’ve got nothing to stop the flue products from going out. It helps to insulate a little bit.
At the next case, it would be the stainless steel. At the least case would be the aluminum.
TOM: And this is equally important for, say, an upgrade to a higher-efficiency heating system, as well as, say, taking a really old fireplace and making it usable once again. Because perhaps it never had a liner.
RICHARD: That’s right. Many of them didn’t and that’s why you read through history about so many fabulous older homes that have burnt to the ground. Because sooner or later, that unlined chimney, the creosote is so rich in between the joints that it’s nothing but a big fire stick to light it up.
Now, as we get more and more efficient in our equipment, there’s an important call-out (ph), an important distinction that when you have efficient equipment, it means we’re getting more and more of the heat that we bought and burned into the building and less is going up the chimney. So, now, if I was going to use a conventional, modern, high-efficiency furnace or condensing appliance – what condensing means, it gets so efficient that there’s hardly any flue products left.
If I put that into a regular clay or even a metal chimney, if it’s too big, there’ll be no choice but condensation or water to rain on the inside of the chimney and the liner. Now, you’ll see – at the base of your chimney, you’ll see water and you’ll say, “It’s not even raining. Where did this water come from?”
TOM: Big puddles, yeah.
RICHARD: And it really isn’t. It’s a byproduct of being really efficient. So all the modern appliances have to have a non-metallic liner. You’ll see it. It’ll be done with polypropylene plastic. I’m not a big fan of PVC; I’d rather have a higher-grade of plastic for those flue products. In that case, they’ll use the existing chimney as a chase to run that plastic vent up and out. And nothing beats putting the flue products up and away. I prefer to do that than to see another tailpipe on the outside of a house where you’re seeing flue products all the time.
TOM: Right. We’re talking to Richard Trethewey – he’s the plumbing and heating contractor on TV’s This Old House – about the value of adding liners to chimneys.
So, Richard, how do you know when it’s time to add or replace a liner?
RICHARD: Well, if you’ve got an aged chimney and you suspect that the liner might be – it’s really time to have a professional – some chimney professional – to come and look at it and do an inspection. They will get up on top of the roof, they’ll come down and they’ll put a camera down inside. That’s another tool that didn’t exist 15, 20 years ago.
TOM: Years ago, right.
RICHARD: You know, now you’d look down with a mirror in the old days.
RICHARD: With this, it’s amazing. You go down, you can take a videotape of it. You can see where the cracks are, you can see where the buildup is. So that should be done.
And if you use your fireplace a lot or if you have a chimney that is working hard, you shouldn’t overlook doing this once a year, maybe once every other year. You should do it enough that you’re not in an unsafe condition.
TOM: Good advice. Richard Trethewey from This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Rich.
RICHARD: Great to be here.
LESLIE: Alright. You can 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 on PBS by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Up next, are you looking to keep your house and your yard current? We’ve got a sneak peek into some pretty cool products and design ideas that are on the rise for 2015. That’s all coming up, next.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Chamberlain MyQ Garage, which is a smartphone controller that’s going to let you check the status, up or down, of your garage. And then, you can control it any time from any place in this entire world.
TOM: And all from your smartphone. You’ll never worry about your garage door again. It’s a prize worth $129 but it goes home to one caller we draw at random from those that call us with their questions, on the air, this hour. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOHN: I have these double doors – stormproof doors. They’re made out of fiberglass and they have a steel piece that goes down the middle. And the insulation has receded from where it’s supposed to be and I’d like to know where I would find the stuff to replace it with.
TOM: So these are metal storm doors, John?
JOHN: No, they’re fiberglass. The metal rod that goes down the middle – there’s a metal piece that goes from top to bottom, in the middle, and that has insulation in it. And it seems to have receded at the bottom of the door and at the top of the door.
TOM: Oh, I know what you’re talking about. Yeah, that’s the astragal, which is the piece in between. And that piece of insulation typically will pull back at the upper corner and the lower corner of the door. You should be able to find maybe not that exact type of insulation but one that’s similar, in a weatherstripping-supply center, so a hardware store or home center. You should be able to find either rubber or a heavy felt weatherstripping that could replace that original one that was part of the manufacture. Because sometimes with older doors like that, it’s hard to get the exact part.
JOHN: Right. And the doors have no labels or anything that tells me who the manufacturer was.
TOM: Yeah, I know. And that’s a part – that’s the piece of weatherstripping that typically does wear out first.
So I would think about being creative. You’re not going to be able to find the exact part but you’ll find something very similar that you should be able to make work.
JOHN: Alrighty then. I think I can handle this then.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, a new year brings new trends. And if staying ahead of the curve is on your list, here are a few product categories to watch in this new year.
TOM: The buzz word we’re seeing for 2015 is homegating. Think about tailgating in your own backyard. Homeowners are taking entertaining to another level, even when in their own backyards. We’re talking about high-end additions, like pizza ovens and complete outdoor kitchens that are going to be more popular than ever before.
LESLIE: Yeah. And another trend is home automation. And it’s gone from being a thing of the future to pretty much an everyday reality. New gadgets are going to allow you to remotely manage everything, from home security to temperature. And that list is growing by the day. Many of them even let you do it from your smartphone.
TOM: And forgive the pun but solar-powered items are also hot this year, from solar-powered lantern lighting to outdoor furniture that doubles as charging stations. Solar products are only getting better and better and more useful.
LESLIE: Craig in Pennsylvania is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?
CRAIG: I had an exterior concrete porch and I enclosed it. And I’m trying to make it part of the house now. But the floor itself, I said, is concrete. It’s all cracked and it’s breaking up. Is there some easy way or some way I can smooth it out or do something with it to make it look like an interior room now to this part of the house?
TOM: Absolutely. First of all, if the surface is deteriorated, you’re going to have to use a patching compound on it. And I would recommend the premixed QUIKRETE Concrete Patch Compound. It comes in a tub and you simply apply it to the surface. You can fill in all of those areas that are deteriorated; you can fill over the cracks.
And the reason you’re using a patching compound is because it’s designed specifically to stick to the concrete. If you use regular concrete, you’re going to have a problem with that because it won’t stick; it’ll just split off again. Alright? But if you use a concrete patching compound, it will adhere.
CRAIG: Thank you very much. I appreciate your help.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s got a roof, it’s framed out but can your screened-in porch be turned into a bedroom, a family room or any other usable living space? The way to find out is coming up.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.
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.
Hey, check us out on Facebook, where we’ve got a ton of more answers, more advice and some fun stuff that doesn’t fit into our show. You can find it all at Facebook.com/MoneyPit. If you like us, you can get your Money Pit fix whenever you want.
And while you’re online, post a question in the Community section. I’ve got one here from Darlene who writes: “How do I insulate my porch to turn it into a livable bedroom?”
TOM: You know, you don’t want to assume that you can, because you have to address the legality first. You need to find out if that porch has a proper foundation. So many times, we see decks or porches that were built a little less formally, shall we say, than a traditional foundation. And then over the years, people try to convert them into living space and you end up with these sections of the house that kind of look like they belong but look like they don’t belong. And maybe they start to sag and move and they’re hard to insulate. And then, if you turn around and sell your house and it turns out that it wasn’t properly constructed, well, then you’ve got a real big problem on your hand. Because it may not be that it can be made up to code, so to speak.
So, it’s not just a question of how do I insulate my porch and turn it into a livable bedroom. Your porch structure may not be suitable for that. You need to look at the structure first and then worry about the details, like insulation, well after that.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a question here that says, “Did you say that a pasty mixture with salt, vinegar and baking soda is good for polishing brass?” And that is from Susan in Utah.
TOM: And actually, it’s salt and lemon juice. And you can use it on both brass and copper.
LESLIE: Yeah, that really works.
TOM: It works really well. And I found, though, that you need to use real lemons; you can’t use lemon juice in the bottle. But if you use real lemons and the sort of the kosher salt or the sea salt, that seems to be absolutely the best combination because it’s kind of abrasive enough.
LESLIE: I’ve done – I’ve taken a fresh lemon and cut it in half and then I’ve dipped the cut end in the kosher salt and then sort of squeezed and polished and …
TOM: Yeah, it’s like a built-in scouring pad.
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean it really does work. I remember growing up, my mom was a big collector of all of those copper – I guess they were cake pans. But nobody ever used them in the 80s to actually bake anything. We just hung them on the kitchen wall.
TOM: Yeah. When our kids were younger, our favorite souvenir to get at different places we went around the country was one of these flat pennies. You can’t beat the 51-cent investment. But the kids love them and they collected them. And so, invariably, at lunch or dinner after we got a flat penny, I would take the lemon out of the iced-tea glass, add a little table salt and polish it up nice and shiny. And then we’d stick it in our pocket and put it in that album later on.
So, it does work. It works really, really well.
Alright. Let’s go to New York now and take a question from Darla who’s got spotty radiant heat. She says, “Hi. I am a new listener and already can’t tear myself away.” Well, thank you for that. “Purchased my first home in Upstate New York and I’m having issues with the radiators. My concern is that my second-floor radiators don’t seem to heat as well as the first floor. What could the problem be?”
Well, with old houses and hot-water radiators, the most common issue that you may be facing is simply air in the radiators. So the first thing I’d do, Darla, is I would bleed those radiators. You’ll notice on the top of the radiator, there’s going to be a small valve that comes off. You need what’s called a “radiator key.” It’s like a square socket wrench. You turn it in there, open that valve up until the air comes out and a little bit of water spits out. Then close it and voilà, it should fill completely with heat once again.
LESLIE: Yeah. Basically, you’ve got to burp your radiator.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. That’s about all the time we have but the show does continue online. And you can always call us with your home improvement questions, 24-7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
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 2015 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.)