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 for you in the new year to help you with your home improvement projects, to help solve the do-it-yourself dilemmas, to help you take that first, all-important step on a project that is on your to-do list. Let’s move it to the done pile. And start by picking up the phone and calling us. Let’s talk about it at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, we’re going to talk about a new hue and that’s h-u-e. We’re talking about paint colors and which ones are right for you. We have some colorful, room-by-room advice on the latest trends in paint color, coming up in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead, it’s Fire Prevention Month and residential fires really do peak in the winter. Smoke detectors? They can help. But a recent report is showing that the type of smoke detector can mean the difference between alerting your family in time so that you all escape safely and being too late, which is not a good thing at all. We’ll tell you which type is better.
TOM: Plus, your roof takes a beating year after year as it does its job of protecting your home and its structure and those that live under it. But sometime during its life span, a roof will need replacement. We’re going to talk about those options a little later and we’re going to tell you about a new technology that can actually take a picture of your roof from the sky – it’s satellite-based – and calculate its exact size, which will help you get the most accurate estimate possible.
LESLIE: And one caller this hour is going to win a prize pack from DAP, including Presto Patch, a fast-acting, drywall-repair material.
TOM: So, let’s get to it. That prize package is worth 45 bucks worth of DAP products. Give us a call right now to get on the phone, ask us your home improvement question. We will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and if we choose you, you’ll get that package from our friends at DAP. Let’s get to it, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Ken in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KEN: Hooking up a gas stove.
KEN: And I’ve got a gas hot-water heater and a furnace. And I was just wondering if I can use the same regulator.
TOM: I wouldn’t. I would get a brand-new regulator for that brand-new gas stove because the pressures could be different.
KEN: OK. How do I plumb that then in the house? Just put a splitter on the high end there?
TOM: Well, I’m uncomfortable giving you specific gas piping/plumbing advice because I don’t know your skill set. It’s really not a beginner do-it-yourself sort of project, Ken. And so, if you’re unfamiliar with it, then I really think you should get some professional help because I don’t want you to do it wrong and end up causing an unsafe situation.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Laurie, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LAURIE: We have a Chamberlain ¼-horsepower garage-door opener and it has no remote.
LAURIE: We bought the house as-is, so we have no remote for it. Also, it has a keypad on the outside, which I’m unable to use. So, my question was: if I go to Home Depot or Lowe’s, would a universal remote work or do I have to call a garage-door company out to sell us a Chamberlain remote and program it?
TOM: Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you get the model number of the Chamberlain garage-door opener, which is probably printed on the back of the unit, go to the Chamberlain website and get the owner’s manual for the door opener? With that owner’s manual, you should be able to program the keypad. It’ll tell you the right sequence to do that. And also, you most likely can find out from Chamberlain exactly which remote is designed to work with that unit.
Now, Chamberlain is a very good company and in fact, they have a new technology that’s called MyQ. And the cool thing about the MyQ technology is you can actually put this MyQ unit in your garage and then you’ll be able to open and close your garage door with your smartphone. So, they’re way ahead of the game on this stuff.
LAURIE: Yeah. That’s what I was going to ask you, too. Is this one too old to do that?
TOM: I think it actually works on every garage-door opener that was built after 1996, so it may not be. It might be fine.
LESLIE: Can’t remember if it’s ‘96 or ‘94.
TOM: Yeah, it goes back over 10 years.
LAURIE: Good. OK. Because this one is about six years old.
TOM: I think that’s how I would proceed. I would not just go buy something and hope it works. I would do the research and you’ll figure it out. OK, Laurie?
LAURIE: OK. I’ll go on their web page. Thank you for the advice.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Happy New Year, everybody. What are you working on? We want to give you a hand to get your money pit in tip-top shape for 2014. Let us give you a hand with whatever projects you are tackling this new year. Give us a call, 888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, the difference a smoke detector can make. Learn which type can alert you faster and help you get out quicker, next.
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.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Here to help you with your home improvement projects. Let’s solve the do-it-yourself dilemmas. Let’s take that first, all-important step towards getting your home fixed up, getting your home improved, getting your decoration done, getting on with the process of creating the space that’s going to make you comfortable and happy. We can help you if you take that first step and pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Plus, one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a prize pack from DAP. Now, this includes three of their terrific home improvement products, including DAP FASTPATCH 30, which is a high-performance, powder patching compound that sets fast and dries hard.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it allows you to finish interior repair projects in less time than a traditional patching compound would. It’s easy to mix, apply and then you sand it. There’s no need to prime it. And then, once it’s sanded, you just paint it.
TOM: That prize pack is worth $45. You can visit DAP.com for more information on their products or give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Steve in North Carolina on the line who’s having a roofing issue. Tell us what’s going on.
STEVE: It’s probably been 15 years ago I built an addition onto a cabin that I have in the woods on my property and built a bathroom. But I built a flat roof and used an asphalt roofing material to do it. It was more of a tar than an asphalt. Not shingles. But it is – the problem is it’s a flat roof and I’ve got a lot of pines – a lot of tall pines – that leave a lot of debris. And I try to get them off and obviously, the roof is 15 years old.
We’ve got a serious leak, which I assume is somewhere in the seam because the actual interior – let’s say, the main body – seems to be all intact. I guess my question is: is a flat roof a good idea at all? Should I go ahead and – is it cost-effective to just go ahead and build up a pitch and …?
TOM: So you’re telling me that that flat roof is 15 years old?
STEVE: And has lasted that long, yeah.
TOM: And congratulations, first, on your flat roof lasting 15 years.
TOM: And may we be the first to tell you that it’s at the end – well past the end of a normal life for a flat roof. You’re lucky if you get five to seven out of there. So, you must have done a really good job putting that roof together, Steve.
What happens is over time, it loses – the asphalt dries out and the material can become more porous. You can develop very small cracks in it where water can leak through. So, I would just replace that roof and I would do it exactly the same way you did it the first time or you can use an upgraded material. But I think the roof is just worn. At 15 years old, you’re lucky it lasted that long.
STEVE: OK. Well, thank you so much, yeah.
TOM: Alright, Steve. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it’s a fact: smoke detectors do save lives. But it’s very important that you know which type of detector you have, because not all smoke detectors are created equal. And in fact, in a recent study, they found that some detectors may not alert you in time to get out if you did have a fire in your house.
Now, one-quarter of all home fires start during sleeping hours of 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. And more than half of fire-related deaths occur during the same period. But the problem is that a Texas A&M study found that traditional smoke detectors – and we’re talking about the kind that are using ionization sensors – take much too long to detect slow, smoldering fires. And if you can’t detect it, you can’t hear the detector because it’ll just never go off.
LESLIE: Well, the good news is that the technology does exist to better detect those types of fires. And smoke-detector models that include photoelectric sensors, those are more sensitive to the slow, smoldering fires.
Now, if you have ionization detectors, you may want to consider backing them up with a photoelectric detector. Or better yet, you can invest in detectors that are labeled “dual-technology,” so they’re going to incorporate both types of detection technology in one unit. I mean really, this is a life-and-death situation here, people. God forbid you have a fire in your home, you want to know about it. So make sure you’re doing everything that you can to protect your family.
And test them. For goodness’ sake, make sure you test them and stay on top of it. We want you guys to be safe this winter season.
TOM: Just remember, you’re looking for dual-technology detectors. Two types of technology: photoelectric and ionization in the same unit.
888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. Let’s talk about your home improvement projects.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Cheryl in Texas on the line who’s looking to redo a bathroom and make it more modern with just a shower. How can we help you?
CHERYL: Well, I am the mother of four sons and as they get bigger, they no longer like to get in the bathtub.
CHERYL: And we find that they are always in my room, in my shower. So, we’re wanting to take out the tub that’s in their bathroom and turn it into a shower. My issue is I don’t have a lot of space. It’s a Hollywood bath and then the tub and toilet are in a separate little room that you can close off. And the door facing – of that little room sits right next to the tub itself.
So, my question is – when I pull that tub out, the plan was to put a shower pan down and tile the area and then put a glass door – either a sliding door on there. Will that be a wide enough space if it’s only the width of a standard tub?
TOM: Cheryl, I think you definitely can find a shower pan that can fit the width of that tub, sort of elbow to elbow if you’re standing in it. Think about it: if you’re in the tub, you’re taking a shower, right? You’ve got room on – to the right and to the left of you. So we want a shower pan, essentially, that’s the same size.
Now, when it comes to residential, prefabricated shower pans, they start at around 24x24, so that’s 2-foot-square. You know, that would be probably the smallest that you would need but you might be able to go up even bigger.
But a little trick of the trade: if you were to find, for example, that for whatever reason – the way this room is configured – a 24x24 would not work, then you should shop for a smaller shower pan, which you will find, sold for RVs – recreational vehicles. Because they have tiny showers in them, right? And there’s a whole host of RV shower pans that are smaller than 24x24. I don’t think you’re going to need it. I think you’re going to be fine starting there, maybe even going up.
But the size of the shower pan is what you want to figure out first. Then you can basically build around that, OK? Does that make sense?
CHERYL: Sure, sure. That’s what I want to do. OK.
TOM: Alright, Cheryl. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Mike in Iowa on the line who needs some help insulating a garage. Tell us about it.
MIKE: Hi. I have a three-and-a-half or four – basically, a four-car garage underneath a house that’s a ranch. The trusses – the floor, it has trusses in it and it’s cold in there. And it gets cold here in Iowa and it stays, I don’t know, 35, 45 degrees during the winter, even in the coldest day.
And it has batting insulation in it but it’s still cold. And our bedroom is above it, so I was thinking about putting some insulation in it, either in the – blowing some – drilling the holes and blowing it in or just doing it around the outside, the outer walls. Or am I just wasting my time trying to do any better?
TOM: Alright. So, the garage ceiling – the walls between the garage and the house – should already be insulated. So what you’re asking is: can you add additional insulation to the exterior garage walls? Is that correct? Because that would be, theoretically, the only part of this garage that was not insulated.
MIKE: Correct. Well, the outer walls are concrete.
TOM: Oh, OK.
MIKE: So it’s basically the ceiling I’m after. Would it be – because the cold air goes up the rooms above the garage.
TOM: So, do you have any – the way the ceiling is configured, it’s drywall right now?
TOM: So there may not be any additional room above that to add additional insulation. You mentioned blown-in. If that ceiling was built correctly, there’s already insulation there, so you may not be able to add more to that.
This might be a situation where you need to improve the heat more than add to the ceiling insulation. Because short of building it downward so that you have more depth, I don’t see how you’re going to add additional insulation if it’s already insulated.
MIKE: Well, there’s batting up there. I didn’t know if it would do any good to have them blow it in and pack it as tight as they can get it with that blown-in insulation.
TOM: No, because insulation doesn’t work on being packed as tight as possible. Insulation works on the principle of trapped air. And so if you overpack the insulation, it becomes less effective, not more effective.
MIKE: Right. Alright. Well, that tells me I would’ve wasted my money if I’d have – went and had somebody come out and blow it in.
TOM: I know it might not be the answer you want but at least we didn’t have you spending money on something that wasn’t going to work, Mike. I hope that does help.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joe in Illinois on the line with a plumbing question. How can we help you today?
JOE: We just got through renovating the kitchen or – well, we’re almost through with renovating the kitchen. And the brass fitting inside the wall, when they put everything together, the galvanized nipple was cross-threaded into it.
JOE: And so when I went down – and I mean I cleaned out an unbelievable amount of corrosion. Had to use naval jelly to get all the rust out and finally got the threads cleaned up real good. And got the galvanized pipe and doped it up and went to screw it in and it would only go so far. When I backed it out, cleaned it back up again and took a look, it’s cross-threaded, because that brass is softer.
TOM: Huh. Right.
JOE: And what I wanted to find out, is there any kind of a thread repair tool that I can get? I’m fairly adept with construction stuff. My dad was a general contractor and he didn’t like giving kids money but he’d let you earn all you wanted to. So, as a consequence, I got a little bit of working knowledge.
TOM: Well, look, if you were a plumber, you would probably have a tap that was big enough to clean that up, but that’s a pretty expensive piece of equipment. Now, you’re trying to connect a piece of galvanized to a piece of brass and you can’t thread them together, so the other option that comes to mind is a Fernco, which is like a rubber boot with two radiator clamps on either side. And a lot of times, when you’re using – when you’re trying to attach dissimilar drain pipes like that, you can use a Fernco. You get them together as best you can using a Fernco around the outside and strap them up and that keeps it nice and tight and it’s really easy to do.
JOE: Is that a readily available – and how permanent is that?
TOM: It’s very permanent. I would go not to a home center for that but I would go to a plumbing supply center and explain the situation. And make sure you measure the pipes because they come different sizes based on what you’re trying to connect.
JOE: I do appreciate the advice, sir.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jeff in Missouri is on the line and needs some help with a patio project. What are you working on?
JEFF: I really already got it done but I failed to put a sealer on my patio. And I was wondering what I can do about that at this late date. It’s been poured about six months.
TOM: So why do you want to put a sealer on it?
JEFF: Because the leaves and the grass stain it.
TOM: You could clean it. You could use a trisodium-phosphate solution to scrub it and clean it and brighten it up again. But then you have to wait until it’s really dry, so doing this in the chilly weather is not a good idea. You want to make sure it’s super-dry and then you could add a concrete sealer on top of that.
The concrete sealers that you want to make sure you get are ones that are vapor-permeable and that means that the moisture moves in and out. You don’t want to completely seal the brick, because then what’ll happen is the moisture will still get in it but it’ll freeze and start to break apart or spall, as the technical term goes.
So if you get a good-quality concrete sealer and get it clean to start with, certainly you can reduce some of that staining going forward.
JEFF: Good. And what do you call it so it breathes in and out?
JEFF: I appreciate that. Thank you, you guys, for what you do.
TOM: Oh, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, your roof weathers every storm, it protects the rest of your home’s structure and it keeps you and your family warm and dry. But a roof? Bad news, guys: it’s not going to last forever. So still to come, we’re going to give you some roof-replacement tips from This Old House’s general contractor, Tom Silva.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And on the home page right now, you can check out our gallery on winter safety. You can learn everything you need to know to weather every single storm and prepare for every emergency, right now, on MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Mark in Wisconsin is having a gutter issue. Tell us what’s going on.
MARK: Oh, yes. We have lots of trees around our house. And so, in the fall, they fill up with leaves and also, we have pine needles and lots of acorns. So I was wondering what product you would recommend for curtailing that issue.
TOM: Well, there are many, many, many different types of gutter guards, as I’m sure you know. The basic screening that we kind of all grew up with, as the very first gutter guard, is somewhat effective but it’s high-maintenance because all of those – especially those pine needles get right through that. You end up having to pull the screens off to clean it.
So, one product you might want to think about is this type of gutter guard that, essentially, let the leaves wash off the gutter but takes the water into the gutter. They lay on top of the gutter, they go up under the first roof shingle and they work on the principle of surface tension. As the water runs down the roof, it comes across this gutter guard and it goes over sort of a curved edge into the gutter. But the leaves wash off the type – off the top.
There’s many different manufacturers that make this but I’ve seen them work and work very well, in most situations. If you happen to have a roof that has a high pitch with a lot of – forcing that water coming down in a heavy rainstorm, I can see it also bounce right off of that and go over the side of the house, which you don’t want it to do.
The other thing that you might want to think about is if you do choose to use one of the screen systems, make sure it’s a hinged system. And these screen systems today have hinges so that you can lift up – lift them up every 4 feet or so, get your hand in there and clean out the junk in the gutter.
MARK: Oh, OK. I’ve never seen a hinged system before.
TOM: On the MoneyPit.com website at MoneyPit.com, we have an article called “Cost of Gutter Guards: Are They Worth It? Tips to Select the Best Way to Prevent Clogged Gutters,” which describes about a dozen different types of gutter guards that are on the market right now. So take a look at that and hopefully, that will help you out.
MARK: OK. Sounds real good. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Well, one of the most important structural components of your home might not just be the foundation. We’re actually talking about your roof. It’s going to weather every storm, it protects the rest of your home’s structure and of course, it keeps you warm and dry if it’s in good shape.
TOM: That’s right. But with all the beating your roof takes, a roof replacement is usually in every homeowner’s future at one time or another. Here with tips to help us through that project is Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House.
TOM SILVA: Thanks, guys. Nice to be here.
TOM: Nice to have you back again. And Tom, just because you have a leak in a roof might not mean that you need a new roof. But what are some of the key signs we should be looking for to know if our roof really has reached the end of its life?
TOM SILVA: If you don’t like to be up on a roof, I’d say a nice pair of binoculars to look from the ground, to look at the condition of the shingles.
TOM: Good advice.
TOM SILVA: Usually, the granules will start to wear off. If you clean your gutters and there’s a lot of granules in your gutters, usually at the end of the season, that means that they’re starting to wear down. If the roof is cupped or if the corners are peeled up, that’s a sign that the roof is getting ready to be replaced.
They wear out. The rainwater comes down, hits them and they get abuse from the wind, the rain.
TOM: And the sun, the UV.
TOM SILVA: The sun, yes. Yep.
TOM: Yep. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: Now, here’s something that we talk about a lot on the show. We talk about when you’re replacing your roof, do you put the new roof on top of the existing roof shingle? Do you take everything off? I know we looked into replacing our roof and in our village, you needed to sort of jump through the hoops to remove the existing layers of shingles there. But if you wanted to just go right on top, you didn’t need any paperwork at all. And I feel like you should take it off.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Well, I don’t ever put a roof on a roof. I do not like it. I think it’s absolutely stupid. That roof is going to end up in a landfill, eventually, anyways.
TOM SILVA: So, for someone to say, “Oh, no, leave it on and go over it,” that’s wrong. It’s absolutely wrong. You’re adding problems because, number one, you’re adding more weight – constant weight – to your roof. And you’re shortening the lifetime of that shingle anyways because it’s sitting on top of an insulation bed, so it can get hotter. And if it gets hotter, it’s going to wear out faster.
TOM: Now, if you are going to strip your roof off, you have an opportunity to reconstruct it, really take advantage of some of the more modern materials that are available today. What would you recommend in terms of, you know, underlayments and ice-and-water shields and that sort of thing, to kind of make sure the base is good to go? And would that change based on what part of the country you’re in? So, for example, if you’re down in Florida – an area that’s prone to hurricanes – might you build it different than you were up in Vermont?
TOM SILVA: Mm-hmm. Well, yeah, absolutely. There are a lot of products out there that will basically keep your house dry and the roof shingle, in this case, becomes basically aesthetic. And their materials are really great.
But one of the things that I look at, when I strip a roof, is I now am able to look at the existing sheathing. What’s the condition of it? Does it need to be replaced? Are there boards that have to be fixed? Then I can look at that, fix what I have to fix and then I automatically re-nail off the whole sheathing, tighten it back up to the roof structure. That’s important.
Now, if I live in a climate that has a lot of snow and ice, I want to think about ice protection from ice dams. And I’d want to put on a self-sealing membrane. There’s a few of them out there. For example, Grace Ice & Water Shield is probably the one that’s most known for.
But a lot of people put that on incorrectly and even roofers put it on incorrectly. The first layer – the first row – should overhang the roof edge by at least 3 or 4 inches. That should then wrap down around the leading edge of the sheathing, down under and onto the fascia board. Then that has to get protected by another piece of wood because the sun will break it down. Then you put your first course of drip edge on that. It’s a self-sealing membrane. So when you nail through it, the water won’t leak.
TOM: And that’s a great reason, right there, to strip the roof off down to the sheathing every single time. Because you couldn’t do that if you were putting a second layer on.
TOM SILVA: No, you cannot do that. Yeah, absolutely.
TOM: And another point that you made, which I think is great, is about that sheathing. What I used to see in all the years I spent as a home inspector was that the older homes – especially the homes that were built, say, in the 60s or 70s which, of course, to a guy from This Old House is not that old. But that said, those homes, I find, in that era, the ventilation was very poorly done and you see a lot of damaged sheathing.
TOM SILVA: Oh, yeah. A lot of damaged sheathing and lots of times, the sheathing is too thin.
TOM SILVA: Because they started using plywood back then. It was a new deal and the plywood – “Oh, this is really strong. We can put in ½-inch when you shouldn’t put ½-inch on a roof.” You should have a minimum of 5/8. And if you’re replacing a board when older – in older houses, you want to make sure that the board you use is the same thickness that the board’s existing. Because with the shingles that they have today, if you use a standard three-tab, fiberglass shingle, that shingle will actually fall into that little valley and you’ll see a dip in the roof shingles.
So, it’s not – structurally, it’s fine. It’s just appearance-wise. And those are the little things that bug me. If it’s not perfect, it’s not right.
TOM: That’s right. And that’s our motto: do it once, do it right, you won’t have to do it again for a very long time.
Tom Silva, General Contractor from TV’s This Old House, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: My pleasure. Nice to be here.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some step-by-step videos on many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
And still to come, we’ve got some ideas for a green makeover of your kids’ room so it is healthy and safe.
TOM: 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. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
One caller that we talk to this hour is going to win a great prize pack from DAP. It’s got products in it that are going to help with fix-ups around the house. Included, you’ve got the DAP Presto Patch, which is a drywall patching kit that includes everything that you’re going to need to repair any hole in the wall. It’s structural, permanent and it gives you an invisible repair.
TOM: You’re also going to pick up the DAP FASTPATCH 30 and Kwik Seal Grout Recolor Kit.
It’s a prize pack worth 45 bucks. You can visit DAP.com for more information or call us right now for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, nothing says “fresh start” like a new coat of paint. And with the new year upon us, a new hue is just what you need.
Now, if you don’t know where to start when it comes to selecting a color, a paint wheel is a great place. Now, the paint wheel is – you know, it’s called a “paint wheel,” it’s called a “fan deck.” It’s that big stack of every color that a painting manufacturer is going to make.
Some manufacturers have more than one fan deck and some of them seem to have a ton of colors that kind of look similar but maybe they’re not. It’s really exciting. I really enjoy looking at a paint fan deck. I think it’s exciting and inspiring. So, you really want to look at colors closely and you want to look at them on their color wheel and see what’s going to create a calm palette.
Now, while you’re on the opposite ends of the spectrum, you could add some drama. For example, if you’re looking at hues of orange or rust or gold, you might want to put those with shades of blue if you’re looking for something dramatic.
TOM: Now, if you’re nervous about color, you really can’t go wrong when you choose shades that are found in nature. But don’t be afraid of it, either. I mean even something like a robin’s egg, that has an unmistakable sort of pop of blue, can look fantastic. And remember, when you are choosing your colors, there’s more to a room than just the walls. A white ceiling can be boring. If you add a little paint color over your head, that can add some warmth to the room.
And door-and-window trim also doesn’t have to be white, either. You can use shades of your wall color in a high-gloss paint and that will really contrast with the flat walls and look really cool.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Finally, my one piece of advice is to always sample your paint colors. You want to use a board that you can move around the room. You want to make sure that you look at paint in different light, both natural and artificial, because paint colors truly do change throughout the day. And that’s going to give you a sense of what that room is really going to look like. And then once you sort of feel comfortable, just go for it.
TOM: 888-666-3974. You should go for it. Give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Jo in California is on the line and needs some help with some bar-stool restoration. Tell us what they look like.
JO: Well, they have wooden arms and they’re padded, they’re cloth. And then down at the bottom, where the feet are at, they’ve got little wooden rails on them. And I need to redo them. I’ve got them cleaned and brushed down and everything. And somebody said I should use spar varnish on them and I need to know what to get to put on them – on the wood.
LESLIE: Is there any metal at all? It’s all wood?
JO: No. Everything else is padded.
LESLIE: So everything else is fabric.
JO: The arms are wood. It’s got one, two, three, four little metal legs on it, at the bottom, and halfway up. And bare wood. And I’ve got them ready to paint but I don’t know what to put on it.
TOM: So you want to refinish the wood in a clear – the clear finish or a painted finish? A clear finish?
JO: Clear finish.
TOM: OK. So, yeah, you can use spar varnish on it; that’s a fine product. What you’re going to have to do, though, is lightly sand all those wood surfaces.
JO: They’re ready. They have already done that.
TOM: You’ve done that. OK. Well, then, you’ve done the hard part if you’ve done all the sanding. But what I would tell you to do is to be very careful to get the varnish only on the wood and not on any of the padded areas or the metal areas.
LESLIE: Yeah. This is going to be about creative masking and taping things off and covering things with plastic and tape and …
TOM: Yeah. Because if you get it on there, you’re going to have a problem. So you want to mask it very carefully to keep it away from the areas where you don’t want the spar varnish to get.
JO: Yeah, OK. And you think that’s the best to get? Because somebody else said, “No, you don’t want to use that. You want to use clear acrylic.”
TOM: Well, look, it’s a personal preference. The varnish is – I believe spar varnish is oil-based, which is fine. And it’s actually – you’ll find that the oil-based finishes are a little more durable in terms of abrasion resistance.
LESLIE: And I think they give a better sheen, as well.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a good point. Mm-hmm. They take a little longer to dry but they are a tougher finish.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. With the acrylic – “clear coats,” as they call it – it’s even available in a spray I’ve seen. I guess that really kind of depends on how raw the wood is, how much coverage you want. Again, masking is going to be the key here. And you really need to consider how much of a sheen you want. Think about that, as well, when you’re making your selection. Because if you want something that’s super-shiny and almost has that wet look, really, that oil-based varnish is the way to go.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still to come, if your heating system is chugging along but your house still stays cold, the problem might not be the furnace. We’ll explain, next.
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LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Here to help you with your home improvement projects. Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your question on our Facebook page or in the Community section of MoneyPit.com. That’s what Jake did and he’s having an issue with his heating system.
LESLIE: That’s right. Jake writes: “I have a 1942 Cape Cod-style home with forced air. My cold-air return vents all run on the exterior walls of my house. Since the weather has gotten cold, I’ve noticed that I’m getting a lot of cold air and drafts coming from the returns when my heat is not on. I’ve taken the return covers off and I can see the old wood siding on the exterior of my house. Is there a way that I can insulate the vents or seal them up so that I don’t get these drafts?”
TOM: So, Jake, it sounds to me like you really don’t have return vents. You’re missing the duct itself. You should not be looking through what you think is your return and seeing the siding; you should be seeing the inside of a duct. And if you don’t see that, then you’ve got a bigger problem than perhaps you think. And certainly, the reason you’re feeling all those drafts is because the air is blowing right through the walls and then through that return, which now is becoming a supply of cold air. Bad idea.
So, what I would do is I would seriously investigate where those so-called returns are running. It could be that at some point in the history of this home, since 1942, somebody tried to construct a return into the frame – sort of building one, essentially, out of wood – to get that return air back to the furnace. I don’t know but you’ve got to figure that out and trace the flow of air from the return all the way to the furnace.
And then, you’ve got to basically either line that wood frame – which you can do with some insulated foam board, like a THERMAX type of board or something like that – or better yet, you could install a new duct right inside that space and pull that air back. And then, once you do that, you seal all the gaps around the duct and that will eliminate the drafts.
So, unfortunately, a slightly bigger project than I’m sure you were counting on but one that will have to be done. When your heating system does not heat the house, it may not be the system. Assuming it is sized properly, it more likely is the ducting or, in the case of hot water, the radiators and the way that they are installed that can make all the difference.
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean it definitely sounds like something is missing. And Jake didn’t tell us but I wonder, almost, if this is his first winter in the house. Because it seems like this would be something you would notice.
Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Keloboe who writes: “We own a house with an old oil furnace that works. The house was built in the 60s and has industrial blowers that are obsolete. They continuously break and parts are impossible to find. We had the A/C unit replaced in 2010 and our contractor said he could replace the oil furnace with a heat pump and use the existing ducts. Would we be better served to replace the furnace or the blowers?”
TOM: Well, you would be best served to replace the furnace but I would absolutely, positively not replace it with a heat pump because you have oil. So if you’ve got an oil system, you want to replace it with a new oil furnace. Get the one that’s the most efficient that you can afford but do not replace it with a heat pump.
You will be very sad because heat pumps run at a temperature of around 100, 110 degrees. An oil furnace is going to blow air out at around 140 degrees. And the number-one complaint with a heat pump is that you feel cold air when it comes on. It’s not really cold but it’s a lot cooler than what you’re accustomed to. So, I would consider replacing it with an oil-fired furnace.
LESLIE: And you know what? Make sure that when you’re searching for one, you go with one that is Energy Star-rated. And if you can, try to find out if you can get any federal tax credits, because this is an energy-efficient home improvement and you’re entitled to some.
TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com where the show continues 24-7. Remember, you can also post your questions to our Community section or our Facebook page, both accessible from MoneyPit.com.
Thanks so much for spending this hour with us. Now, get out there and get to work, will you?
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.)