Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 00:25]
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: Call us right now with your home improvement question. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Because we're here to help you get the job done. Want to work on a curb appeal project this weekend? Pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Maybe you want to tackle an inside improvement. We can help at 888-666-3974. Hey, maybe you want to make your home more energy efficient; a home improvement project that is always a good idea. You know, the Department of Energy has announced, actually, a revised criteria now for these Energy Star compact fluorescent light bulbs. They're going to be available, Leslie, for everything from chandeliers down to nightlights.
LESLIE: Which is fantastic because that's always been sort of the reason why, I hate to say it, but I've been hesitant to fully convert; because we have a lot of candelabra bulbs in the house.
TOM: Well we're going to have those tips coming up in just a bit.
LESLIE: And we've also got, for you guys, another way to save money and the planet. We're going to teach you all about some all-natural cleaning solutions and we're going to tell you how to clean a tile floor with an ingredient that you've got in your pantry right now. That's ahead in a few minutes.
TOM: Also, some cleaning solutions for your kitchen; in particular, how to take care of that kitchen exhaust fan, which always gets really stinky from - at least if you cook the way I do.
LESLIE: (chuckling) That would be because you're burning things, Tom.
TOM: The thing is, though, if you don't clean it, it really smells up the house and actually it can become pretty dangerous. So we'll give you some tips on how to do just that.
LESLIE: And we've got a great prize this hour. We're giving away something that all of you nature lovers out there are just going to adore. It's a birdfeeder and seed from our friends at Scotts.
TOM: That's worth 175 bucks so let's get going. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: June in Utah has a tiling question. What can we do for you today?
JUNE: OK, we have a fireplace in our home. The home was built in 1960. And it is stone and we would like to modernize it with granite squares. Can we put the granite squares right on top of that tile stone?
LESLIE: Well, you should be able to just use a mastic that's appropriate for granite - correct? - and adhere right to that; as long as the surface is smooth. What do you think, Tom?
TOM: Well, I think if it's fairly flat then I don't see a reason why you can't go on top of it. As long as it's flat and secure ...
TOM: ... I think you can go over it.
JUNE: OK. And it is and that's very helpful. OK, thanks so much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We've got an HVAC question with Charlie. What can we do for you today?
CHARLIE: We have just built a new home and we have eight tons of HVAC system and our furnace is run off of propane; we're in more of a rural area. And our propane bill is just ungodly, unsightly. And so, I was trying to consider what the benefit would be to maybe going to a heat pump and maybe have the heat pump warm the house; say, it's about 38 or 40 degrees and then switch to furnace. I just wanted to get your opinion on that.
TOM: The way a heat pump works is it only maintains the temperature between what you set it at and what it actually is across about a two-degree spread. So if you set it at, say, you know 72 and it falls to 70, the heat pump stays on. But if it falls to 69 the heat pump goes off; it actually brings on the electric-resistance furnace and that costs about two to three times as much to operate as the heat pump. So you want to make sure that you are, in fact, not using the thermostat kind of rising it up and down.
In terms of whether it will be less expensive to run off of propane, it could be. But then again, you've got all the upfront cost of investing in new equipment.
CHARLIE: So, what's more or less the ratio on something like that? Because like our propane last month was $900.
TOM: Hmm. And what was your electric bill?
CHARLIE: Two hundred.
TOM: Well, I have a feeling that, as high as these costs are, that it's probably more efficient to run off of the propane than it will to run off straight electric; even a heat pump. If you had a ground loop heat pump, probably it would be more efficient; but a straight electric heat pump, probably not as efficient.
You know what you might want to think about doing, Charlie, is having an energy audit done because there could be other reasons that you have a $900 propane bill.
CHARLIE: OK, thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome, Charlie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are listening to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and now is the perfect time of year to give your money pit a top to bottom cleaning; I mean a really thorough one. It is spring, after all. And don't feel bad because Tom and I do it, too, in our houses. We're not that fond of it either. But we can help you get started; do it right. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, we'll start that cleaning project in your kitchen with some tips to keep your exhaust fans running right and safe.
[audio timestamp: 0:05:25.5]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation's leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer and add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information visit ThermaTru.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 you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only are you going to get an answer to your home improvement debacle that could be plaguing you at this moment, but one caller that we talk to on the air is going to have the opportunity to win. It's a good prize for all of you nature lovers out there. It's the Yankee Flipper Squirrel-Proof feeder plus a ginormous bag of deluxe birdseed from Scotts. It's great for bird watching. It's going to keep those birds from eating all of that lovely lawn seed that you've just sprinkled around there to get your yard in tiptop shape and it's going to attract all types of wild birds. It's worth 175 bucks but it could be yours for free, so give us a call now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number that you need to call right now for the answer to your home improvement question. Maybe it's about cleaning the kitchen. Maybe it's about replacing the countertop. Maybe you need a new floor. We can help at 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Sandy in New York finds The Money Pit on WABC. What can we do for you today?
SANDY: Hi, I just finished painting my kitchen cabinets inside and out and some of the outside came out OK but some of it, it seems like part of the roller - the fuzz from the roller - came off.
LESLIE: Oh, you see some of the nap or the hair in the paint.
SANDY: (overlapping voices) Nap, exactly.
LESLIE: Do you see the fibers or you just see the sort of the pattern that they made?
SANDY: Yeah, it looks like little pieces or dots or something on the outside. It looks ugly.
TOM: Yeah, did you use new rollers?
SANDY: All new rollers.
TOM: Huh. That's rather unusual ...
SANDY: Is it?
TOM: ... for it to come and I can't imagine - I don't think it's ever happened to me. But you know, if you had a bad roller I guess it's possible. Unfortunately now, if it's embedded into the paint and the paint is dry, there's nothing that you can do short of sanding it down to a flat surface and putting an additional coat on.
LESLIE: Yeah, redoing that area.
TOM: If you want to be super sure to not have the problem again ...
TOM: ... try the foam rollers. I think it gets pretty smooth, yeah.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Foam rollers give a very smooth finish.
SANDY: Do they?
LESLIE: Oh, yes. Sometimes they give a little bit of texture, depending on how hard you press into it as you're rolling ...
SANDY: Oh, I see.
LESLIE: ... but it's really great for smooth surfaces to get a nice, good flow of paint and make things look really even.
SANDY: (overlapping voices) Can I go over this with a foam roller once I sand it ...?
TOM: Yeah, absolutely.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: And it's also nice for a small project like a kitchen cabinet where you don't want to use a big 12-inch-wide roller. You can use the smaller ones that are only about four inches wide. Lot easier -
LESLIE: Yeah, the little hotdog roller.
TOM: - Yeah, a lot easier to handle.
LESLIE: Also Sandy, make sure that when you sand down the area that's giving you some trouble, as you're repainting on top of the area that was problematic and then area around it, make sure you sort of feather your paint out around it so you don't end up with this harsh line of where the new paint job and the old paint job are.
SANDY: When you say feather it what do you mean?
LESLIE: Take - you know, roll it out and then take a brush and sort of wisp it away into the paint that's already there.
SANDY: Oh, I see. OK.
LESLIE: So it's not just a harsh line. Let it sort of flow loosely into the other one.
SANDY: I got you. OK, I'll try that. And what number sand paper should I use?
TOM: About 150 first and then I would do a second sanding with about 220.
SANDY: OK, great. Oh, that sounds terrific. I'll give it a shot.
TOM: Oh and by the way, Sandy, make sure you use a tack cloth to pull out all of that dust before you start on the second one.
SANDY: (overlapping voices) Oh, yeah. I do; I have some left.
TOM: Alright, good girl. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
SANDY: (overlapping voices) Thanks so much.
LESLIE: Marilyn in California, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
MARILYN: I'm the president of a homeowners association in a condo building. We have six small townhouses and one water heater. It's about 16 years old and one of these days it's going to go. And I've been wondering if it's possible to use a tankless water heater to replace this for, you know, six units.
LESLIE: Well, it would be a tankless per unit, correct?
TOM: Not necessarily, Leslie. It depends on the size. Now you would have to have it sized correctly by the plumber that installed it but it might be that a single tankless could do it or there could be a series of two or three tankless that are hooked up together side by side that work together. This is a very common situation in a commercial building and very often the solution is some number of water heaters hooked up in series. But they have to be done correctly because they're all computer controlled and in order to keep the flow where it needs to be they need to be properly installed. But certainly, tankless is a good option. I presume here, Marilyn, that you have gas-fired water heater?
MARILYN: We do.
MARILYN: But here's an issue. Because I've been in some condos where they had them in individually and it's - and one person I know had it retrofitted and it's on the third story and it takes forever to get hot water in her kitchen downstairs. And we have a pump, a circulating pump, that keeps hot water going for a good portion of the day.
TOM: I see.
MARILYN: So how do you stop from having to use a lot of water to get to your hot water or could you?
TOM: Well, you would have to do some new plumbing.
MARILYN: Oh, OK.
TOM: The advantage of tankless water heaters is that they're small. I don't think one per unit but maybe one per floor or something like that. You may be able to get additional ones but remember, that's going to require additional plumbing work to close that loop. The idea that you're circulating a hot water loop throughout the whole building is wasting an enormous amount of energy; an enormous amount. And I'd love to see you find a solution around that. But I think that at this point, considering the age of that unit, it's a good idea ...
TOM: ... to bring in a good contractor or a number of them and let them give you some options and some pricing for those options because as an association, you have the ability to fund that perhaps over some number of years so it wouldn't be a dramatic cost all at the same time.
MARILYN: OK. Alright, I really appreciate all that feedback ...
TOM: You're welcome, Marilyn.
MARILYN: ... and I love your show. I listen to it every week.
TOM: Thanks so much.
LESLIE: Now we're going to help Mark in New York with a heating question. What's going on at your money pit?
MARK: Bought a house three years ago and it's time to update the heating system.
MARK: So my question is I have an old oil heater and - old by 30 years - heated by radiator heat; converted from steam now to water. So the pipes are about three inches big. So my question is how should I upgrade?
TOM: If you have a 30-year-old boiler; you have an old, honking oil burner; you want to update it, I think installing a gas, modern, high-efficiency boiler would be the right thing to do because it's going to save you a lot of money moving forward.
MARK: OK, great. Thank you very much, guys. I'll look into that.
TOM: Alright, Mark. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: If you've got squeaky floors you might be our friend Cheryl in Massachusetts. Tell us about what's going on.
CHERYL: We just moved in and I was wondering what we needed to do about if we're walking on the floors and all we hear is, you know, squeaking. We want to lay carpet, so we were just wondering if there's something we needed to do before we did that.
TOM: Well Cheryl, what kind of flooring do you have right now? Is it carpet or hardwood?
CHERYL: It is very, very old hardwood; 1850 pine, probably. It's a floor with the spaces in between, pretty much.
TOM: Ah. (Leslie chuckles) Well Cheryl, then you need to think about those floors by their technical definition which is charm.
TOM: You can quiet them somewhat and we'll tell you what to do and it certainly is a good idea. What you would want to do is you would want to screw the floor down to the joists below. So you need to identify where the joists are, then you would face screw through the loose boards down and once you do that they'll pull tight to the floor joists and they won't squeak nearly as much. Have you considered refinishing these because it sounds like they're pretty beautiful.
CHERYL: We actually just want carpet. We're very - you know, we're from the south originally so we want - we love, you know, carpet being upstairs. And so, I think that's what we would do, you know, in the end.
LESLIE: Well, you know what? In the long run, if you go ahead and put carpeting down, it usually does very little damage to the hardwood floor below. You're just dealing with some tack strips along the perimeter of the room. So if you do decide, at some point, to go back to the hardwood and refinish and repair, you'll at least be protecting the floor with the carpet and carpet is a good choice. It's nice and cozy.
TOM: Yeah, except if she really wants to quiet the floor down then you really have to screw those floors to the joists below and to do that you're going to have a lot of visible screws unless you take the time to counterbore each one, which is another ...
LESLIE: And plug them.
TOM: And plug them. Yep, exactly.
CHERYL: OK, and if we did decide just to refinish the hardwood, will we have a lot of nails showing; how would we - you said we would have to screw it down?
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: And what you would do is you would either use a trim screw, which has a really small head and sort of counterbores itself right through the floor, or you would actually use a plug and cover the top of the head of the screw.
TOM: But you know, screws are the best way to quiet those floors because if you use nails they eventually just pull back out again.
LESLIE: And Cheryl, the plugs are going to be wood plugs that you're going to drill a hole that's going to sit right on top of it. It's going to fill right in with this wood plug and then you'll stain and you won't even notice it.
TOM: Cheryl, I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rick in Texas has a question about radiant barriers for the attic. What can we do for you?
RICK: My question is I'm thinking about having a radiant barrier sprayed in underneath my roof and someone told me that that wasn't the best way to do the radiant barrier.
TOM: That it was not the best way to do the radiant barrier?
RICK: Right. That there was something besides spray and that's the only way I know to do it.
TOM: Right. Well radiant barriers typically do go under the roof and they reflect the sun from the outside back out and they also keep the heat that emanates up into the interior space back down.
RICK: But what they do is they spray it and is there anything better than that?
TOM: Rick, there are really two common applications. You know, the one that you're talking about is a spray-on and most of them are sheet products. But either of them will work very well. Let me point you to a great website for additional information. It's the website for the Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association. It's RIMA.net. And there you're going to find all of the technical data on the various types of reflective barriers, radiant barriers and you can make your choice based on the data that you find right there. It's a good, independent organization with some great technical details about this product. RIMA.net.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
When we come back we'll have some tips to keep your tile floor looking like new using a natural ingredient found in your kitchen right now.
[audio timestamp: 0:16:48.7]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And our website is MoneyPit.com where we have for you a treasure trove of resources to help you improve your house 24/7/365 and you can check out our tip of the day and learn how to get a new one everyday on your website. You can even look up our project of the week and check out the monthly maintenance calendar if you're saying, 'Gosh, I don't know what I should do this weekend.' (Leslie chuckles) Hey, we can help at MoneyPit.com. While you're there, sign up for the free Money Pit e-newsletter. All of that information is designed to help you keep your house in tiptop shape.
LESLIE: Yeah, and just one of the hundreds of tips that you'll find on our website are natural cleaning solutions and here is a good one for you because I know a lot of you out there have tile floors; maybe in your basement, laundry rooms, bathrooms. You've probably got them in a lot of places; especially if you're listening down south.
To clean tile floors inexpensively and stay environmentally friendly to you, your home, your self, your health, the environment, you want to make a solution of white vinegar and water. You've got both of those things in your house right now; I guarantee it. The vinegar cleans and then it shines without leaving any streaks on the floor. Plus it's less than half the cost of those expensive chemical tile cleansers that you're going to find at the big box stores and it's a natural product; it's safe for everyone. So give it a try. You will be happy; I guarantee.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let's go right back to the phones. Who's next?
LESLIE: Albert in Wisconsin's got the number one question here at The Money Pit; flooring. What can we do for you, Albert?
ALBERT: I went and I - my wife says to me, she says, 'If you refinish the basement you can buy a new cycle.' (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
ALBERT: So guess what I did?
ALBERT: I went and I remodeled the basement and this is before I listened to you saying never, ever, ever put carpet in a basement. But before I put the carpet in I put plastic on the walls and on the floors; I put polystyrene on the outside walls; I also put radiant heat tubing, half-inch PEX, on the floor. I put