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: Coming up this hour, does it seem that more and more houses in your neighborhood are pulling out the pumpkins, the black cats and the orange rope lights? Well, Halloween is second only to Christmas when it comes to decorating. You know, hanging all that spooky décor, though, doesn’t have to be a fright. We’re going to have some tips this hour to help keep it firmly attached to your home.
LESLIE: And if Halloween is almost here, you know we are all well on our way to winter. And that means it’s time to stop putting off winterizing your home. We’re going to have some dos and don’ts when it comes to sealing drafty windows.
TOM: Plus, now is the time to plant those spring bulbs so tulips and such can make their appearance come next season. This Old House landscaping expert, Roger Cook, has the tips to make sure your garden can grow and he’s coming up, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And fall also marks the debut of a new saw that could reinvent cutting as you know it. It’s a Dremel Saw-Max and it can cut through virtually any material and it’s simple enough to control with one hand.
I love it. Cutting things with one hand? Let’s add a blindfold to this.
TOM: Well, we’re giving away one this hour. It’s a prize worth 130 bucks, so call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Ron from Michigan on the line who is dealing with some water in the basement. What’s going on?
RON: Yeah, I have a – the wall in the basement, there is some water seeping through it. And this house, I think, was built in 1968, I don’t know. We’ve been here 12 years now. I don’t know how many coats of what have been put on that wall prior to me. But I did wire-brush it and sand it down as much as I could, because I wanted to put a sealer on there. I think what I used was Zinsser. It’s a primer/sealer?
TOM: Yep, Zinsser. Yep. Uh-huh.
RON: And actually, also I used some – DRYLOK, I think it was called? I forget the brand.
TOM: You’re making a critical mistake here, which everybody makes, and that is you’re trying to make your house float, OK?
TOM: By putting all of those sealers on, you’re trying to keep the water out any way you can. We need to stop the water at the source, at the foundation perimeter. That’s why the paint is not staying; that’s why it’s peeling and deteriorating and getting wet, because it’s getting through. And I bet it gets a lot worse after a heavy rain, too.
RON: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And another thing, we have a lot of springs here. We have an artesian well in our yard and not too far from the house. And there – this area is known to have a lot of springs here.
And we did – actually, we had to have a company come in and they jackhammered all around the edge of the wall in the basement and put in a – some kind of a drain system that drains into a sump pump.
TOM: Yeah. And guess what? And you still have a problem, right, even though they jackhammered up your floor?
RON: Yeah. Yep.
TOM: That’s because they’ve not dealt with the source.
TOM: The source of the problem is two things. Your gutter system. You’ve got to have a gutter system.
RON: Yep, we do.
TOM: It’s got to be properly sized. Properly sized means 400 to 600 square feet per spout. The spouts have to extend well beyond the foundation: 4 to 6 to 8 feet.
RON: OK. Mm-hmm.
TOM: It’s got to be way out.
Secondly, you’ve got to have proper drainage. The soil around the house has got to slope. I want it to slope 6 inches down over the first 4 feet. Then it can trail off after that. Those two things will manage the water at the foundation perimeter. I am not surprised that you paid all that money to have that interior drain system put in and you still have a problem. You’re going to have a problem unless you keep the water away from the house. That is the number-one leading cause of basement water and moisture issues.
Take a look at MoneyPit.com; search “wet basement.” You will find a lot of articles and a lot of discussion about the success that people have had doing those two things, which is extending gutters and downspouts and cleaning them and fixing the grading.
TOM: That’ll make the problem go away once and for all.
RON: Yeah, we’re – house is like in a side of a hill, our basement, the patio. We have a patio down in back where it’s a quad-level house and we are kind of – side of a hill and it does slope back. But I think the biggest problem here, to be honest, is all the springs. And I don’t know if we’re going to be able …
TOM: Does your moisture problem get worse after a rainfall?
LESLIE: Then that’s it.
TOM: It’s not the springs.
RON: The spring – actually, we have a big thaw. That’s the worst.
TOM: It’s not the spring, OK?
TOM: It’s not the spring. I say it’s not the spring because if it was the spring, it would be happening seasonally and not consistent with rainfall.
TOM: When it happens consistent with rainfall, it’s drainage, drainage, drainage, OK? You’ve got to fix the drainage. Fix the drainage, your problem is going to go away.
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, frost will soon be on the pumpkin but hopefully not on the inside of your windows. We’re going to tell you how to keep your hard-earned energy dollars from leaking out the window, when The Money Pit Show continues, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by InSinkErator, instant hot or hot/cool-water dispensers. Delivering 200-degree hot or cool filtered water in an instant, at the touch of a lever right at the kitchen sink. Perfect for homeowners looking to save time in the kitchen. For more information, please visit www.InSinkErator.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, everybody pick up the phones and give us a call and let us know what you are working on. But one of you lucky callers this hour is going to get the latest gadget in cutting. It is the Dremel Saw-Max and it’s a new compact saw. And it’s really perfect for crafts and hobby enthusiasts. It’s easy to handle, it’s easy to follow the cut line and it’s really easy to store. I mean it’s super-small; it’s really handy.
It’s worth 130 bucks, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Well, winter is fast approaching and if you’ve felt chilly air blowing through your home, it’s time to check the caulking around your windows. We have some tips to help you do just that, presented by Stanley, the maker of the FatMax Utility Knife.
Now, the first step is to remove any cracking and peeling caulk that’s dried out and past its prime. And that Stanley FatMax Retractable Utility Knife is a great way to do this. You want to use the knife. Just cut along the edge of the window and the edge of the surround, then dig out all of the old caulk using the blade tip and scrape away the loose material.
I like this knife for this project because the blade has a feature called a blade wiper, which removes all of that caulk debris from the blade. It’s also got a push-button blade door that allows for really quick blade changes when you wear it out and easy access to the five standard utility blades that come inside the knife itself.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? When it comes to the new caulk, you want to apply it at the window molding where it meets the wall. And you want to make sure that you use acrylic latex caulk because it spreads really easily and then you can clean it up with water.
Now, a good technique is to squirt a thin bead of caulk at the intersection of the wall and the molding and then use your finger to spread the caulk into the seam. Next, you want to use a sponge in warm water to remove the excess caulk and the same with your finger. As your finger starts to get covered, you want to take your hand out of the mix, wipe it off, start again and then, of course, go with the sponge and the warm water.
Now, don’t forget to caulk under the sill, as well, because this area is particularly leaky. And a good seal-up job is really important.
TOM: Yes, it is and it’ll save you those energy dollars all winter long. 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Elaine in North Carolina who’s dealing with a porch that seems to be falling apart. Tell us what’s going on.
ELAINE: Well, the porch was originally some kind of cement; we’re not sure what. And when the inspector for the termites came around, he said, “Right up next to your house, it’s very – or next to the kitchen, underneath the house, it’s very damp.” And he looked – was looking around on top. He said, “You’ve got a crack right there between your stoop, your porch and the house, where it just runs from one side to the other, you know?”
TOM: Right. OK.
ELAINE: So I said, “OK. Well, I’ll just close that up with a little bit of cement.”
ELAINE: So I thought, “Well, maybe it’d look right and do right. I’d just cement the whole porch.”
TOM: Yep. And guess what? It all cracked and fell out, right?
TOM: OK. And you know why? Because you can’t patch a concrete porch with cement. You have to use a patching compound, usually epoxy-based. There are certain types of epoxy-based cements that are sticky and designed to adhere well to that raw concrete. If you try to put new concrete against old concrete, as soon as you get some water and some frost, even, there, it just breaks apart and falls out and just becomes rubble.
ELAINE: Oh, I see. So what should I use? Should I pull out all of the porch, then? All the – that top layer?
TOM: I’d definitely get rid of all the loose stuff.
TOM: And then I would use an epoxy patching compound. You could pick one up from any home center that sells QUIKRETE products – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. They have patching cements that are designed specifically for this.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Larry in Arizona on the line who’s dealing with a stinky fridge. What happened?
LARRY: Yes. I had a power company disconnect my combination freezer/refrigerator by mistake, at a second home I own down on the desert, elevation 2,000 feet.
LARRY: No air conditioning. I didn’t discover the problem until three weeks after it had been disconnected. Obviously, I had a terrible odor problem and it was very difficult to remove. And I’m just wondering if you folks might have had a suggestion. I still have a lingering odor but for the most part, I think it’s pretty much gone. But it was a mess and lots of people suggested I should have just thrown the combination freezer/refrigerator out and had the utility company buy me a new one.
LARRY: They thought they were disconnecting for lack of payment but it was a neighbor three doors down.
LESLIE: Oh, my God.
TOM: Ugh. Wow.
LARRY: But it’s a second home that I only get to maybe once a month.
TOM: Right. So you didn’t know about it, yeah.
LARRY: Yeah. I spent three days working on it.
LESLIE: I can imagine. And you probably used all the standard tricks of the trade: the baking soda; white vinegar and water; baking soda, making a paste of it and putting it all around the refrigerator and cleaning that off; then taking fresh vanilla – like real vanilla seed pods – and putting that on a damp paper towel and then sticking that in the refrigerator.
LARRY: I think so.
LESLIE: Those are generally the tricks of the trade. But what happens is there’s an insulative layer inside the refrigerator and freezer that makes it stay cold. And when you have something that spoils and stays in there and the odor stays in there, it seeps through the plastic that sits on top of the insulation and then gets into the insulation. And at that point, there’s nothing you can do short of reinsulating the refrigerator/freezer. And it’s going to be probably more money than buying a new one.
LARRY: Boy, isn’t that the truth? And what happened, it was on the freezer side, mostly wild-game meat, which can’t be replaced unless you’re lucky enough to get drawn for a hunting permit in Arizona.
LESLIE: Oh, God.
TOM: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
LARRY: And it turned, of course, to liquid so it basically permeated the bottom of the refrigerator.
LARRY: And the biggest problem was getting rid of the odor from the rubber seals.
TOM: Well, you can replace those rubber seals.
LARRY: Yeah. But the more I think about it, it may not be too late to approach the utility company and verify what I did and what I was dealing with and maybe they’d replace it.
TOM: I think that that’s – I think that’s exactly what you should do.
LARRY: But in any event, I appreciate the suggestions. And you’re new to our radio station here in northern Arizona and I enjoy it very much.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pauline from New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PAULINE: Hi. My question is I have to redo my deck and right now, in spots, there’s algae growing on some spots of it. And when it rains, the wood gets really slippery. It’s like you stepped on a banana peel, you know?
TOM: Yeah. Absolutely.
PAULINE: So my question is what do I have to do to make sure I do a top-rate job and eliminate that problem so I can stain it and waterproof it?
TOM: Right. What you want to do is you need to apply a mildicide or you can use oxygenated bleach, both available at home centers. You could use like a siding wash, too. Any of those products are going to be mildicides and the trick here, Pauline, is that you need to put it on the deck, you need to let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes. Don’t let it dry in the sun but let it sit, let it saturate, let it go to work. And then you can scrub it. I want you to get a floor brush, like the kind you use when you’ve got a really dirty floor and you’ve got to really scrub it?
TOM: And really work it in and start loosening that stuff up and get it off the deck. After you get the moss off and the algae off, then you can let it dry really good. Don’t try to go from this in the morning to staining in the afternoon, because you’re going to have another problem in that your stain is not going to absorb. So schedule this as sort of its own project for the weekend. Get as much of this off as you possibly can.
Now, is it possible that you could, in the future, arrange for a little more sunlight to hit that deck? Is it possible that you could trim some trees or anything of that nature or are you pretty much blocked in by the buildings?
PAULINE: It does get full sun in the morning, the deck.
TOM: OK. Yeah, because if you have a real shady space, you’re going to get more of that moss and algae growth. And we always say that if it’s possible to sort of thin out some trees or any overhanging things like that, then that actually will reduce it in the future. Of course, if you’re in a tight, urban area like Brooklyn, then people get really emotional when you start sort of taking their building apart so you have more light on your deck.
LESLIE: When you knock down their buildings.
PAULINE: OK. Thanks so much, guys.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Freddy in New York is calling in with help on a flooring – actually, a tiling project. Are you using floor tiles on the walls? How can we help you with this, Freddy?
FREDDY: Oh, yeah. My son is installing some tiles on a wall for me. They’re actually floor tiles, so they’re a little bit heavier than wall tiles. But we used the normal thinset; it’s like the cement that you attach the tile to the wall with. But the tiles seem to be slipping; they’re apparently a little bit too heavy. So I was wondering if there’s something you can mix with the thinset or maybe there’s another product.
TOM: Yeah, I think you’re using the wrong product. Thinset usually goes on the floor.
Tile adhesive is what would go on a vertical surface, right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah, which is like a mastic.
TOM: Yeah. There’s actually another option. Now, where are these tile walls? Is this in a bathroom or …?
FREDDY: No, no. It’s in the living room.
FREDDY: As a matter of fact, it’s just the sides that are on the face of a fireplace.
TOM: Alright. I have a better suggestion for you. There’s a new product out called Bondera – B-o-n-d-e-r-a. And it’s a tile mastic; it’s a tile adhesive but it comes in a sheet, like a roll? And basically, you peel off one side – you apply it to the wall, in your case – and then you peel off the other side and you stick the tiles right on this. It’s like a two-sided adhesive sheet.
LESLIE: And then you can immediately grout once you get all the tiles on.
TOM: Exactly. No fuss, no muss.
FREDDY: That sounds very easy. Bondera.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I think that’s a Lowe’s product, right? You can get it at Lowe’s?
TOM: Bondera Tile Mat Set and yes, it’s available at Lowe’s.
FREDDY: Fantastic. Thank you.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, it’s not even winter but it’s time to start planning for spring already. Can you believe it?
TOM: It’s hard to believe.
LESLIE: Well, you at least want to start planning. I know, seriously, it’s like we’re not even having snow on the ground yet and we’re already like, “Ooh, planting bulbs.”
But really, this is the time when you want to plan what kind of color that you’d like to see in your garden and when it’s time for those blooms to pop up. So we’re going to share some tips with you when The Money Pit continues.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: So who wouldn’t love to win a $10,000 dream-room makeover? It is possible. Our friends at Arrow Fastener will be awarding one lucky winner a room makeover worth 10 grand, with the help of Leslie Segrete, somebody that I know very well.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, it’s really easy to enter. You just have to head on over to ArrowDreamRoom.com. And when you’re there, you’re going to click the route to the Facebook page. You have to “like” Arrow and then you will be able to enter the contest. It’s really fantastic because we’ve got $10,000 to spend on whatever you might need: furniture, wall coverings, rugs. You name it, if it’s required to make your dream room a reality, we will get that for you.
So make sure you enter today, tell us what your room is, why you need that makeover. Keep your fingers crossed, because it could be you.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Well, nothing signals the start of spring better than those fresh blooms, like daffodils and tulips in full color. But if you want to enjoy those beautiful, spring blooms, you kind of need to get planting right now.
TOM: And to find out just how to do that, we welcome Roger Cook, the landscaping expert on TV’s This Old House.
And Roger, the secret to successful blooms all starts with the timing, right?
ROGER: Absolutely. But to be a gardener, you have to have an absolute leap of faith because when you’re talking about bulbs, you’re talking about putting something in the ground over the winter and it’s going to bloom in the spring.
TOM: It just doesn’t make sense.
ROGER: Doesn’t at all, expect when you figure out where these bulbs come from and the mountains where they freeze for the winter and then bloom. This is the only way they can survive.
LESLIE: So really, with all blooms, the secret is put them in in the fall, with all bulbs. There’s really no other opportunity to plant later in the season and have them come up, say, in the summertime or …?
ROGER: There’s two different categories of bulbs. The spring flowering bulbs all have to be planted in the fall. Summer flowering bulbs like dahlias and things like that are planted in the spring.
LESLIE: It’s a great mystery.
ROGER: So confusing, isn’t it?
LESLIE: It really is.
TOM: Yeah, it really is.
Now, what are some basic rules that sort of apply to all bulbs? Like starting with the type of soil that they like.
ROGER: Well, bulbs hate wet soil and some of them won’t do well in shady areas.
ROGER: They’ll bloom the first year but they won’t reset for a second year if it’s too shady. The biggest mistake people make is not planting bulbs deep enough.
LESLIE: Well, because they’re a squirrel’s favorite food, right?
ROGER: No, they’re not. That’s – no.
LESLIE: Really? Then what are they doing in my garden all the time?
ROGER: If you plant a bulb with a bone meal, bones are something that squirrels eat naturally. They go after that particular product. But that’s planted underneath the bulb. They’ll actually dig, throw the bulb out of the way and eat the bone meal out of the soil.
TOM: Oh, so it’s not the bulb, it’s the bone meal they’re looking for.
ROGER: Right, right.
ROGER: So that’s why we use a product called “superphosphate,” which encourages root growth in the bulbs but it’s not attractive to rodents.
LESLIE: And what’s the trick? I mean we had wonderful success with tulips one season – there was a bajillion of them – and then the following year, maybe like a third.
ROGER: Yeah. Wow, that’s the thing with tulips is especially if they’re planted shallow, they’ll only bloom one year and they won’t follow that up. They won’t keep reblooming or – naturalizing is the term we like to use.
So what – the trick with tulips, plant them deep and every year, supplement that bed with the same-color tulips you put in before.
LESLIE: OK. And how deep? Am I going down a foot or just a couple inches?
ROGER: Basic math formula is two-and-a-half times the size of the bulb.
ROGER: That’s how deep you dig the hole. So in most cases, for a tulip, you’re going to be at 5 or 6 inches.
TOM: Now, what about daffodils? Those are sort of the workhorses of the spring flowers.
ROGER: Daffodils are my favorite. They seem to never fail. They thrive, they naturalize, they come back year after year. And for the money, I think they’re your best bang for the buck.
TOM: How do you plan a garden that’s going to be all bulbs? Do you bunch the colors together? Do you mix them up? Are there considerations about height?
ROGER: Absolutely. And more important than all is sequence, is when they’re going to bloom.
ROGER: Because you don’t want a tall one blooming in front and have a short one behind it and not be able to see it. It’s all about sequence and massing of plant material. I love to mass bulbs: a whole bunch of them planted together.
LESLIE: Now, so many mail-order catalogs flood our mailbox at home and you see these beautiful blooms and you’re like, “Oh, I’m going to order these bulbs.” Is it better to get them from a catalog or head to my local home center and really see and touch?
ROGER: I do both. I love to support the local garden centers but sometimes I can’t get what I need at the garden center, so I have to reach out and get it someplace out. The key to remember is that when you buy bulbs, they’re all bought by size. So you have to look and compare size. If you’re going to buy a 12-centimeter bulb or an 18-centimeter bulb, there’s a different in price. And the bigger the bulb, the bigger the flower or the more flowers it’ll have.
LESLIE: The bigger the height or …?
ROGER: No. Just the bigger the flower: the bigger the plant itself.
ROGER: Within each species of plant, you can buy little, short ones, medium and tall. And then the sequence goes with that: early, medium and late.
LESLIE: Oh, goodness.
ROGER: So one thing that you can do is you can always buy bulbs in a naturalized mix, meaning that when you buy it, there’s three or four different types in there. So when you plant it out, they sequence themselves; you don’t have to do the math and figure it out.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But do you need to physically look at the size of the bulb and sort them based on the size of the bulb, so that you can see everything in the bed?
ROGER: No, no. When you buy a bulb, you’re going to know what height it’s going to be. And these mixtures, you just throw the whole mixture out and they’ll all pop up at different types and they’ll all be about the same height.
LESLIE: Very nice.
TOM: So buy the mixture and they kind of do the work for you.
TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
And for more tips, including a video of how to plant bulbs, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And remember, you can watch Roger and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: Thanks, Roger.
ROGER: Oh, you’re welcome.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. Home Depot, more savings, more doing.
Still ahead on The Money Pit, want to encourage those trick-or-treaters to come to your home but not end up with a Halloween-decorating horror show? We’re going to give you some tips on how to safely transform your home into a spooky delight, after this.
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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: You should be sure to give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement questions because if you do, you might just win a very cool saw. It’s the Dremel Saw-Max. This is the new, go-to cutting tool for do-it-yourselfers, woodworkers, hobbyists and crafters for a lot of great reasons.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Really because it’s small and compact. But it can cut through wood, plastic, laminates, even drywall up to ¾-of-an-inch thick and even sheet metal. So, if you want to work on a project, this really is the saw for you. It’s worth 130 bucks, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your project and a chance to win.
Well, autumn is a great time of year. Besides the cooler temperatures and the changing foliage, it is the official start of the holiday decorating season. In fact, Americans spend almost as much time and effort decorating for Halloween as they do for Christmas.
Leslie has got some great ideas for creative and fun Halloween decorating right now, presented by Arrow Fastener.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, I love to do this. You can stack pumpkins in a large pedestal planter and that really adds a great surprise to any front entry. And pumpkins and gourds, they come in a variety of seasonal colors and even fun shapes that are going to stack really well and last way longer than any flowers or mums that you’re going to pick up at the garden center. So look for flat, squatty ones; the Cinderella pumpkins; the cheese pumpkins. They really make a great job as far as a stacking pumpkin will go.
Also, it’s never too early, in my opinion, to start decorating with holiday lights. And orange lights, they’re simple to hang and they look fantastic on greenery. And I like to put spooky garlands around them for Halloween and then take them down – the garlands only – after Halloween and leave the lights up until Thanksgiving. At that point, I like to call them holiday lights rather than my Halloween lights.
Now, to hang the lights and the garland, I like to use my Arrow PowerShot 5900 Cable Tacker because it’s a very cool tool, it’s lightweight, which is great for working in areas where I’m reaching over my head a lot. It also uses those insulated fasteners that surround the electrical cord without piercing it. And the insulated fasteners are also great for the garland, because the staple never smashes the garland down so tight that it becomes impossible to take it down and reuse it for the next season. It really is a super-handy tool.
So be sure to check out my blog on MoneyPit.com for detailed decorating ideas and step-by-step instructions.
TOM: And this decorating tip is brought to you by Arrow Fasteners. Check out their Facebook page to get in on a great contest: the $10,000 dream-room makeover designed by our very own Leslie Segrete.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Chuck in Pennsylvania on the line who needs some help in making a home purchase decision. How can we help you with that?
CHUCK: Well, looking at a house to purchase and the house has radiant heat in the ceilings of the bedrooms.
CHUCK: The house was built in the 70s, I guess, when they did that. Now, each bedroom has its own thermostat. Would that be efficient with that radiant heat like that or would it be better to go with something like putting a heat pump in?
TOM: Well, you have electric radiant heat. That’s the most – one of the most expensive ways to heat the house. The reason it has individual thermostats is because each one is a separate circuit.
Heat pumps will be a little more cost-efficient, because heat pumps are interesting in that they’re really two systems in one. One is electric-resistance heat, which is designed for the hottest – I’m sorry – which is designed for the coldest periods. But most of the time, it runs in the heat-pump mode, which basically is sort of like an air conditioner that runs backwards.
You know in the summer when you see a window air conditioner and on the inside, it’s blowing the cold air; on the outside, it’s blowing out hot air? You can take that and flip it and blow the hot air in. That’s kind of what a heat pump does: it reverses the refrigeration cycle. But it only maintains that warm temperature for a two-degree spread between what the thermostat’s calling for and what it is in the house.
So let’s say, for example, in the house it’s – you have the thermostat set at 70 and it falls to 69, the heat pump comes on. Falls to 68, heat pump stays on. Falls to 67, heat pump says, “I can’t keep up with this and we’re going to need to bring on the electric heat to kind of give us a little bit of a boost here.” So it kind of works together.
So the electric heat is probably almost as expensive as the radiant. The heat pump would be substantially less. So the thing is, though, if you do this, you’re going to have to run ducts through the house. Do you have air conditioning in the house?
CHUCK: Yes, sir.
TOM: And do you have a ducted air-conditioning system?
CHUCK: Yeah, they’re in the floor. The air conditioning’s in the floor.
TOM: Alright. Well …
CHUCK: And the heat’s in the ceiling, which seemed odd.
LESLIE: It seems totally backwards.
TOM: Yeah, it’s backwards, right? It’s backwards.
CHUCK: Yes, sir.
TOM: Well, listen, the ducts release in the right place for the heat to work. So I think in your situation, I would seriously consider a heat pump for those reasons.
CHUCK: OK. Well, what about a propane gas-fired stove?
TOM: Another good option.
TOM: But just get a really efficient furnace – really efficient propane furnace.
TOM: High-efficiency, OK?
CHUCK: OK. That would be better than a heat pump probably.
TOM: Yeah, that would be less expensive than a heat pump, I think. Yep.
TOM: Good luck with that project.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, we’re getting a ton of basement-makeover questions in The Money Pit community online at MoneyPit.com. We’re going to handle some of those questions, solve some do-it-yourself dilemmas, solve some painting problems in basements and much more, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by The Iron Shop, the leading manufacturer of spiral stair kits. Visit www.TheIronShop.com today to find out how you can own a beautiful, iron spiral staircase.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or head on over to MoneyPit.com and post your question in The Money Pit community, where we are seeing lots of folks that want to work on basements. I guess they’re getting ready for the winter season. That’s a good place to hang out and spend some time.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Heck, we’re not moving so we might as well stay put in our houses and take over all that extra space.
Alright. And the first post we’ve got here is from Dottie in Indiana who writes: “I’m getting ready to paint my cement basement floor. What is a good paint and/or technique that will stand up to wear and tear?”
TOM: Yeah, that’s a good question. Now, painting cement is a little bit trickier than painting a wood surface or a drywall surface or something of that nature. You need to have a paint that’s going to really adhere well and the best paints on the market to do that are the epoxy paints.
Now, epoxy paints are unique because they are paints that have to be mixed together on-site. And the reason you mix them together on-site is because they have only a limited cure time. The cure time, usually two to three hours – something in that nature – depending on the outside temperature.
Well, what’s cool about the epoxy paints that are being sold for garage floors and for basement floors is that they come also with different types of color chips that you can toss into them and give them the appearance of having a pattern, almost like an old sort of vinyl floor kind of a pattern. It helps to hide the dirt, as well, and they’re pretty darn tough. So I think epoxy paint is definitely the way to go. Now, once you’ve got the epoxy paint down, you know that you’ve got something that’s really tough.
And maybe if you decided not to use some of those color chips – Leslie, it seems like this could be a really good opportunity to maybe do some of those painted throw rugs that you like to do so much.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the epoxy paint is available in a ton of different colors. So if you’ve got some ideas for maybe a checkerboard, to make it look like a tile, or some sort of tone-on-tone area rug, it’s really easy to paint what could look like a rug on your floor. And then go ahead and use that epoxy paint kit with it so that you really have a chance to seal everything in and it’ll stand up and be super-durable.
So be creative: think about painting a border, think about painting a rug. And that really will make a big difference when it comes time to spend time in your basement.
Alright. Next up, I’ve got a post here from Sherry in Montreal who writes: “My laundry room, which is located in the basement, needs a makeover. One wall is cinder block and they have been painted royal blue.” Very nice. “And I have a combination drywall and cheap paneling on the other walls. Can I paint all of these surfaces? If so, should I use oil, latex, primer? What’s first?”
TOM: Wow. She’s got a regular potpourri of surfaces there.
TOM: It seems like somebody couldn’t make up their mind how they were going to finish that basement.
As far as the drywall and the paneling, you can do the same thing and that is you should use a primer. If you’re concerned about adhesion, an oil-based primer is probably the best place to start and after that, you could use a latex top coat.
As for that cinder-block wall, for that you’re going to probably want to use a damp-proofing paint. One of the commercially-available damp-proofing paints is apt to stick better to that wall. Once we have good adhesion, then we can choose a top-coat color to give it some pizzazz and match everything else that’s in the room.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I think with the paneling, sort of embrace what you’ve got; don’t try to fill in anything. You can either remove it and replace it with drywall or re-drywall the whole area. But I would just say sort of embrace it, go with a very neutral color: white, off-white, sort of a taupe-y beige. Keep it lighter so that the space seems more uniform and unified and it’s not going to be like, “Look, I’m crazy, different surfaces.”
And then hang stuff on the wall to help mask that. And that’ll really help you create a cozy basement that’s perfect for sort of hiding away during these winter months.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Happy Halloween Holidays to you, once again. Hope you’re enjoying all of that decorating that’s going on this weekend.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don't have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)