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: 1:00]
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 now with your home improvement question. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974, and it is the dog days of summer. They're here. We know it's hot outside. You probably don't feel like doing much but, you know, it actually is a good time to think about tackling some home improvements right before the season changes because as warm as it is right now, heating bills actually will start to kick in in just a couple of months. So now is a good time to start thinking about the process. We're not telling you to go up in your attic and put more insulation in and stuff like that, but let's just think about it, you know, and we can kind of get a jump on it and this way you won't be surprised when those bills start to showing up.
We're here to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, coming up this hour, we're going to give you some tips that may very well save your life one day. We want to tell you about the poison that kills more Americans than any other. It's carbon monoxide, of course, and the only way to tell if its making its way through your home is to get a CO detector. We're going to tell you how to find the best kind for your house, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead, you know, it's about that time of the summer season when your kids are starting to become a little bored. Summer has lost its razzle-dazzle and this is really the perfect time to get your kids involved in some do-it-yourself projects. We're going to give you some ideas that are good first projects for you to take on with your kids; hey, and you'll have fun while you do them.
TOM: And we've got a great guest coming up to talk about using recycled wood for some of those home improvement projects. It is a great idea. In fact, reclaimed wood is usually heavier, stronger and, best of all, it's got lots of character. If you don't have some old wood lying around right now, not to worry; we're going to teach you where to look to get that great wood with all that great character in just a bit when we talk to the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine.
LESLIE: And we're giving away a great prize this hour. From our friends over at Ryobi, we've got a One+ power tool starter kit. It's worth 109 bucks and you can tackle just about every home improvement project with this kit in your hands. So give us a call.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let's get right to the phones. Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Mary calling from Long Island, New York has a question about flooring. What can we do for you today?
MARY: (clears throat) My question is our rug is like 20 years old and it's reached a point where it has to be pulled up. It's the living room, dining room, stairs and hall.
MARY: So - and we had - this is only the second time we had the wall-to-wall; even though we're here 44 years. Now, we are thinking that why not - if the floors look good after the rug gets ripped out, how would I treat it? What would I do to give it a nice finish?
TOM: I bet you if you've been there 45 years that you probably have hardwood floors under that, correct?
LESLIE: And it's probably in great condition.
TOM: That's right because carpets make a really good dropcloth. So I think it's a perfect time, and frankly, very trendy for you to have hardwood floors right now, Mary. So here's what you'd do.
You'd pull up the carpet. You'd pull up what's called the tackless, which is that strip that goes along the walls that it's attached to.
TOM: You're going to have to do, you know, a bit of cleaning up. You're going to have some holes there that'll need to be fixed. You're going to want to have a contractor come in and sand the floors. Don't do it yourself ...
LESLIE: Oh, it's a big job.
TOM: ... but sand the floors - it's a big job.
TOM: Sand the floors and then polyurethane and then if you want a little carpet just do some throw rugs - make sure you get an anti-skid mat to go under them - and the place will look beautiful.
MARY: Sounds good. You know this was a model house when I bought it and they had paper, thick papers, all over the floor so the traffic wouldn't damage the floors. So I know they're in excellent condition.
TOM: Well, this sounds like the right thing to do. Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Brad in Michigan is not getting the shower that he enjoys. How can we help you with this problem?
BRAD: Well, the problem is that when you turn on the bathtub water to start the shower, the water's coming out of the spout and then it says 'Pull for shower' and when you pull it, only about 90 percent of the water reverts to the shower portion.
TOM: Yeah, that's because you have a problem with your diverter. It's not divertin' (chuckling) like it should be and that's a valve issue and it probably can be fixed by replacing the shower valve; replacing the diverter valve. Unfortunately, it's a fairly difficult thing to do.
LESLIE: Because it's behind all of that tile and wall, correct?
TOM: That's right. The other option is, depending on the age of the valve, some valves have like what's called a cassette, which is like all the guts in the valve in one piece, and it's replaceable. Is this an old house?
TOM: Yeah, it may not be easy to do but it's worth talking to a plumber about. Sometimes you can replace the guts of the valve without opening up the wall and replacing the whole valve itself.
LESLIE: Is there an access panel, Brad?
BRAD: There is an access panel in the bedroom behind the bathroom.
TOM: Well, that's good news.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) That's great.
TOM: That makes it a little bit easier.
BRAD: OK, so it something that still a plumber should be doing though?
TOM: Yeah, it's a little complicated and if you start taking it apart yourself I'm afraid you might not be able to get it back together again, Brad.
BRAD: Alright, well thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Brad. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call. Let us know what you're working on. Summer is almost over but we can help you tackle all of those last minute projects before those leaves start falling. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, it's the leading cause of poisoning deaths in America and you can't see it, smell it or taste it. Learn how to protect your home and family from carbon monoxide, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:06:28.0]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional-feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi Power Tools. Pro features. Affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. 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: Call us right now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Ryobi 18-volt One+ starter kit and this is a cool prize, folks. This is a great tool for a weekend warrior looking to start a tool collection. If you're a pro you can never have enough tools.
LESLIE: That is true.
TOM: It's always good to have an extra set of tools around, as evidenced by the six sets of tools in my garage (Leslie chuckles); at least that's what I keep telling my wife.
The kit includes an 18-volt drill and a circular saw and the best thing about One+, what I really like, is that all of these batteries are interchangeable with any other tool in the One+ line so you can easily build out your power tool arsenal with the batteries in this kit. It's worth 109 bucks. If you want to win it, pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Alright, well maybe you're looking for ways to keep your family safe and if one of those things on your home improvement to-do list is to think about home safety and think about carbon monoxide and installing a detector is on your to-do list, do not wait another second. You do need to install one. You need one on every floor in your home because carbon monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in America. Number one, folks. It's an odorless gas and it forms quickly when your heating equipment breaks down. So you want to protect your family with a carbon monoxide detector. It's going to sound an alarm when the gas is detected in your house so that you can get your family out. Remember, you're not going to smell it, so if the alarm goes off, leave; believe it. It's telling you the alarm is going off for a reason.
And you want to make sure that you test your alarms regularly, just like you do your smoke detector. In fact, you might even consider replacing your current smoke detectors with ones that are a combination carbon monoxide/smoke detector duo; they'll work on both. And you need to make sure you change those batteries regularly or get one that has a battery that lasts 10 years and you never have to think about it for those 10 years until suddenly the light goes off and it needs replacing. Keep your family safe. It's a simple step to do so.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question.
Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Catherine in Pennsylvania, you've got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
CATHERINE: Well, I've got a cracked vent pipe and I've opened up the part that was cracked and it's going up to my third floor bathroom as well as to the roof beyond.
CATHERINE: I don't know how I can repair this.
TOM: Is this for your plumbing system?
TOM: And is it a cast iron pipe?
CATHERINE: Correct ...
TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
CATHERINE: .... and it's cracked right along the length of it.
CATHERINE: At the elbow.
TOM: Yeah, very, very common condition. That's pretty much the way those pipes wear. They're very heavy, there's a lot of weight above them and they go through different forces and they will crack. So how do you fix that? Well, generally, you replace it. Is it leaking now, though?
CATHERINE: Well, actually, I've disconnected the toilet because sometimes the water backs up into the crack. So, the third floor bathroom is not functioning and it hasn't been for a year because I can't find a competent individual who can give me a reasonable answer.
TOM: Right. Well, you know what you ought to do? Are you familiar with Angie's List?
CATHERINE: Angie's List? No.
TOM: It's a really good service. It's online and, basically, if you join Angie's List, it's sort of a social networking site that helps you find contractors. You have thousands upon thousands of people in any one area that are on Angie's List and they all openly share ratings on contractors and I bet if you spent a little time on that service you'd be able to find a good guy because it definitely sounds like you're not talking to the right plumbers. You know, cracked cast iron pipes is sort of Plumber 101. If you don't have a plumber that can fix it, you're not talking to the right guys.
LESLIE: Chris in Iowa, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
CHRIS: Yes, hi. I was looking at a home that has a really old heating system. It was built in the 1930s and, basically, what they've got is a boiler system ...
CHRIS: ... and very large radiators.
TOM: I bet. Probably got asbestos on those pipes, too.
CHRIS: Actually, I'm not sure about that.
TOM: That would be common with the old system. Do you know if it's a steam system or a hot water system?
CHRIS: Hot water.
TOM: OK. And so what's your question?
CHRIS: My question is would it be viable to remove those very large radiators and do the baseboard heat?
TOM: Oh, that would be such a shame.
LESLIE: It would be. The only benefit is that you're going to regain some space that, obviously, that big, giant radiator was taking up, Chris.
LESLIE: But unless you go with a cast iron baseboard heater, you will never get the heat retention that you once had from those big radiators. They've got a ton of character. You can build beautiful coverings for them that have built-in storage; that are sort of - you know, vented window seats that you can sit on if it's a lowboy radiator in front of a window. You can do these wonderful covers that have sort of a vented top with a nice cushion so you can heat up your little booty while you sit out there and watch the snow fall on a nice winter day.
LESLIE: Wouldn't do it. Especially if you're going with aluminum baseboard; it's going to be tinging, it's not going to retain the heat and it's just going to be an annoyance.
TOM: It really will detract from the value of your house, Chris. We really wouldn't recommend that you pull out those great, old, cast iron radiators. They're a very fantastic way to get heat.
CHRIS: Very good. Well, I appreciate the information.
TOM: You're welcome, Chris. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Robin in Massachusetts has a rabbit problem at her house and they multiply in great numbers, we know. (Tom chuckles) Welcome, Robin.
ROBIN: Oh, hello. I'm calling because the rabbits are eating all the flowers from the marigolds.
TOM: That's terrible.
TOM: Well, rabbits need to eat, too.
ROBIN: And the squirrels are eating all the strawberries. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: OK. (chuckles)
ROBIN: So we need to know what to do.
LESLIE: Stop planting such tasty things around your house.
ROBIN: That would be a good idea. (Leslie and Robin chuckle)
TOM: You know, there's a good product out from the folks at Havahart. It's the Woodstream Corporation and it's called Defence and it's a rabbit repellent. It actually repels rabbits and deer. You can buy it for around $12 or $13 a bottle and basically it's as easy to use as it gets. You spray it on the plants. It works on flowers, it works on ornamentals, it works on any kinds of landscape areas and one application lasts up to three months and it will make those beautiful flowers very not tasty to the rabbits.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and the best part is the USDA certifies it as being approved for organic gardening. So you don't have to be concerned about it, you know, damaging your strawberries.
ROBIN: Oh, good. And where can I find this?
TOM: Well, you can find it in different home centers and garden stores or you can find it online. It's one of the Havahart products, so I would maybe start with their website which is Havahart.com.
ROBIN: OK, thank you.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill in Florida, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BILL: I purchased a home in 2000. It was a spec home built by a contractor. And so when I saw the home and found the home it was finished, but it was new; had never been lived in. It had stucco on the exterior and the stucco was the traditional stucco, which is you know the cement - the lathe and the cement ...
TOM: Right, mm-hmm.
BILL: ... and the stucco finish.
BILL: Probably four years after we moved in the home, it started developing cracks - horizontal cracks; not vertical along the expansion joints but horizontal cracks. The cracks progressed until they actually started bubbling and the stucco started falling away from the home.
TOM: Oh, man.
BILL: Exactly. Oh, man. Nightmare. So I have a contact who is a stucco person and he came out and looked at it and when he pulled some of it away he told me that stucco, correctly applied - and you guys maybe can tell me if this is accurate or not, but should be roughly three-quarters-of-an-inch thick. That's from the lathe or the wood backing all the way out to the finished surface. Mine was probably an eighth to a quarter-of-an-inch thick at the thickest places.
TOM: Oh, boy.
BILL: This was not the new ...
TOM: Yeah, EIFS; the exterior insulated foam siding. No, it's real masonry stucco.
BILL: Real masonry stucco. So my question is how would I fix this correctly ...
BILL: ... so that if I ever decided to sell the home I wouldn't be selling a junk product to the future homebuyer.
TOM: Bill, you know there's a company called Gardner that makes a whole line of stucco repair and masonry repair compounds that can address this. They're sold under the brand name of Permanent Patch ...
TOM: ... and their website is Gardner-Gibson.com.
TOM: Gardner-Gibson.com. And I think this is a situation where we all know that the best thing to do would be to rip all that stucco down and do it right all over again; but while that's not practical, you're going to have to stay on top of the cracks that are forming and the key here is to stop the water from getting behind it because, as you know, once you have that water get behind it you're really opening Pandora's box because of the fact that the water is going to rust out the fasteners and make it come off the wall all that more quickly.
BILL: Great. Thank you for your time.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Always great home improvement advice here at The Money Pit and if you're looking for ways to go green, we have got the ultimate green building material for you. We are talking about reclaimed wood; reclaimed lumber. But where do you find it and how do you go about getting it? Well, we're going to have all of those answers when we come back.
[audio timestamp: 0:16:42.8]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters, you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and there's nothing better than getting ready to start a new project - any type of building project that you're working on at home - then going to the home center and picking out the lumber that you're going to need for your project. And often, the best wood that you can find is an older wood, which a lot of people are referring to as reclaimed wood. You know it's got tightly-spaced growth rings; it's got a good, straight grain; and a harder, heavier feel. And the reclaimed wood is loaded with character and history and the bonus is, because it's recycled, reclaimed wood is the ultimate in green building. But contrary to what you might think, reclaimed wood is not cheap.
TOM: That's right, but there is some good news. The folks at Fine Homebuilding have done some of the work for you and with us to talk about just that is editor Kevin Ireton with his tips on the best sources for recycled hardwoods. Kevin, we think about recycled plastic, glass, newspaper but not so much hardwoods. What's the best way to take advantage of those?
KEVIN: Well, the truth is, everybody complains about the quality of lumber these days and that's one of the reasons why you're seeing more and more recycling of wood; because you get the best old-growth timber if you look at the wood that was originally used to build a barn or industrial buildings. Even wine vats, water towers are all being dismantled; sent to saw mills again to be re-cut up into flooring and timber frames.
TOM: So you're not necessarily going to see the original form of this stuff because basically it's been cut down so you might see an old nail hole or something of that nature. But other than that, it's pretty much indistinguishable from what you might consider new wood?
KEVIN: More often than not, you can tell if you know what you're looking for. Again, it's those telltale signs like you just mentioned. It's rust stains from nails or it's bolt holes. It's things like that that are adding character. But there's also a kind of patina. Even when this wood is remilled ...
LESLIE: The color is different.
KEVIN: Absolutely; especially because you have certain species like heart pine that just are hard to find through any other source than a reclaimed source and it just has this incredible golden glow.
LESLIE: Now I know about using the reclaimed lumber as a finishing aspect; whether you're using it for a floor or the top of, you know, a handcrafted table or even the exterior of an armoire. But what would make the benefit of using this reclaimed lumber for framing; especially if you're not going to see it?
KEVIN: The only time it's used for framing is when it's a timber frame house where you are going to see it; where those beams and those posts are going to be exposed. Then you're going to enjoy the beauty of that wood all the time.
TOM: Now reclaimed lumber is typically very, very expensive. Any suggestions on how to take advantage of the beauty of reclaimed wood without spending a whole lot of cash?
KEVIN: If you're looking for flooring, then one of the best ways to do just that, Tom, is to look at an engineered floor where you've got a plywood substrate and you've got a thinner layer of that reclaimed lumber where the reclaimed lumber is sawn down to about a quarter-of-an-inch thick; therefore, you're getting the maximum beauty and not spending as much money on the reclaimed flooring.
LESLIE: You could always go buy, you know, a dilapidated barn and ask the owner if you can steal some boards. (Tom and Leslie laugh)
KEVIN: You could take it down yourself, that's right.
TOM: Hey, many people do just that. You know, it doesn't make sense to throw away lumber anymore. Very often it makes sense just to hold onto it for another project. At least that's the excuse I've been using for years around here.
KEVIN: Don't throw anything away; that's my motto.
TOM: (chuckling) That's right.
LESLIE: Now is there sort of an easy way for, you know, homebuilders or folks who are just craftsmen and doing something in their own home to source this; especially if they're just looking for pieces to build, you know, a piece of furnishing themselves?
KEVIN: Because this industry is really booming right now, the best thing to do is look for local sources in your area; lumber that hasn't had to be transported as far is going to cost less ...
LESLIE: And be more green.
TOM: And Kevin, with all of the claims of greenness these days, is there a way to tell that the reclaimed wood was harvested responsibly; comes from qualified programs? Is there any type of certification program associated with this?
KEVIN: There's beginning to be. Some of the reclaimed lumber is FSC-certified, but not much of it.
TOM: And that stands for the Forest Stewardship Council, an organization that certifies that the reclaiming process is done correctly.
KEVIN: That's exactly right but it's just now making inroads into reclaimed lumber. Mostly you're going to have to do your homework here. You know, look closely at people's websites; make a few phone calls to check references. But in general, this industry is a good industry and, you know, I haven't heard of a lot of people being, you know, sold a bill of goods when it comes to reclaimed lumber.
LESLIE: Is there a price point that people should really keep in mind for those interested? You know, is there a number per square foot that seems like a general price these days?
KEVIN: There isn't. It's really all over the board because there are all these different species. So you're going to pay - certain species are much rarer than others; some are more common. I mean Douglas-fir is more common, Southern Yellow Pine is more common. Those are going to be your less expensive species. Then it's going to depend on, you know, what grade you want and the kind of character that you're looking for. So you're just going to have to do your research.
TOM: Good advice. Kevin Ireton, editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
If you'd like some more information on reclaimed lumber, check out the July issue of Fine Homebuilding magazine on newsstands now or available online at FineHomebuilding.com.
LESLIE: Alright, Kevin. Thanks for all that great information. You know I usually find that when we're doing episodes of Trading Spaces or While You Were Out and we find, you know, a stack of lumber or an oil railroad tie, we do sort of pick it up and turn it into something great for the show. That is the truest form of reclaimed lumber right there.
Well, this is the time of the year when your kids are starting to go a little bit bonkers. They are bored, school is over, summer is just about done and everybody is out of their routine. And this summer vacation can seem to be dragging on like an eternity, but it's the perfect time of year to introduce your kids to some basic do-it-yourself projects and these projects are going to teach your kids skills that will last a lifetime. Look at Tom and I. We're going to have that information for you, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:23:25.3]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators, America's choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.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 and if you need help making your good home better, pick up the phone and give us a call. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you talk to us on the air this hour, you could win a pretty fantastic prize. We are giving away the Ryobi 18-volt One+ starter kit and this kit includes an 18-volt drill and a circular saw; pretty much everything you need to tackle just about any home improvement project. And these are all from Ryobi's One+ line of tools, which means that all of the power tools in this One+ line run off the same, exact battery. So you don't have anymore tool clutter building up in your garage or your workshop; everything works off the same battery and you can just keep adding to all of your home improvement arsenal as you like. But you've got to be in to win it for this fantastic free prize, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if your kids are anything like mine, it's about this time of the summer when the excitement of vacation has just about worn off and they're looking for something to do; I mean anything to do.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Anything.
TOM: It's a great time, though, of the year to tackle some of those DIY projects with your kids. You know, today's kids don't have the same experiences with hammers and nails that we may have had growing up. I know that I used to be a shop teacher. I mean that was my first formal job when I got out of college.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, kids right now have no idea what a shop class is.
TOM: I know. We don't even have shop classes anymore. So basically we've got generations of kids growing up that don't know what end of the hammer to hold. So now is a great time to teach them some of the basics of home improvement and let them participate in those projects. You know you could start with something simple like some outdoor furniture. You can build a sandbox. You can let them participate in their own room makeover. Leslie and I both believe that it's a great idea to talk to your kids when you're doing these home improvement projects and let them help; let them participate; let them go to the hardware stores, the home centers and let them make some decisions. It's a great way to build confidence, early on, in those home improvement projects and now is a great time to do just that.
LESLIE: That's right and handy kids become handy adults who have beautiful homes that they are well maintaining and taking care of. So start them young and get them involved in home improvement. It'll keep them happy.
TOM: Otherwise, you're going to end up going back over to their house and doing all the repairs for them forever.
LESLIE: Yeah, totally; or they're going to be spending a ton of money hiring people to do these projects for them. (Tom chuckles) So give them the skills to become handy folks.
If you want, we've got a ton more kid-friendly do-it-yourself ideas. That's coming up in our very next e-newsletter. We give it to you free every week. You sign up at MoneyPit.com and then, Friday morning, bing-bong; it's in your inbox waiting for you to check out lots of great ideas there and good information. So sign up today.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Who's next?
LESLIE: We're going to talk to Lorraine in Missouri about an outdoor project dealing with a porch. What happened?
LORRAINE: It's cracked. It was painted and it faces south and it cracks and I want to know what - if I can put that - something in that crack before it's repainted.
LESLIE: Now this is a concrete porch?
LORRAINE: No, it's wood and the wood is cracked.
TOM: Are the cracks between different floorboards?
LORRAINE: They're on the top rail and on the floor, yes.
TOM: OK. Well, I mean this is a fairly common condition with wood. It's always going to expand and contract and what we would recommend you do is sand down the paint and then fill those areas; I would use a good-quality wood putty. You know Elmer's makes one that's very flexible, comes in different size - you know quart size and down to like half-pint size cups. And it dries very quickly, it's easy to sand and then you prime it. That's very important. You want to make sure when you do a wood putty that you prime over that and repaint it and you'll be in good shape.
LORRAINE: OK, thank you much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show heading into a break now. When we come back we're going to take an e-mail that is pretty scary, from one of our listeners who gets a shock every time she takes a shower. You know, water and electricity is a bad combination. We'll get to the bottom of that, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:28:00.2]
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.
TOM: And you might think it's a bit too soon to think about your heating system but now is actually the perfect time to check it out and make sure it doesn't need any repairs or replacement before the cool weather comes. You can learn about that in my next AOL column which is online right now at MoneyPit.AOL.com; everything you need to know to make sure your heating system is good to go for the fall.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you've got other questions about what's going on in your house and how you need to get ready for the autumn, go over to MoneyPit.com. We've got a ton of information there. We've got monthly maintenance tips, projects for every weekend. You name it, we've got it. We can help you get that job done. And if you're feeling like, 'I can't find that or I've got a specific question I need the answer to,' click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and you can e-mail us your home improvement question. You can even send us a picture of what's going wrong and we'll say, 'Hmm, you did this backwards. We can help you with that.' So send us your info. Let us know what you're working on and every hour on the show we jump into our e-mail bag and I've got a question here from Maureen in Bountiful, Utah who writes: 'While taking a shower, if I reach up and touch any part of the metal fixture, I get an electric shock.' Holy cow. What do you suggest I do to remedy the problem?' Not touch the fixture?
TOM: Um, take a bath? (chuckles)
LESLIE: That does not sound good in any way.
TOM: That is very, very scary, Maureen, and I suspect that somewhere you obviously have a short circuit. You've got - some part of the electrical wiring is coming in contact with the copper pipes - which, of course, as you know, conducts electricity quite nicely - that's feeding that shower and when you touch it you may be a good ground for that and, hence, you're getting a shock. So this is potentially very dangerous and an electrician can sort this out simply by turning off one circuit at a time and putting a meter onto the shower and basically checking for the flow of current. It's going to take a little bit of detective work but I've got to tell you, it's real important you get to the bottom of this as fast as possible because it's not going to get any better and it can get quite dangerous and you just don't want to take a chance.
LESLIE: Yeah, in the meantime, don't touch that fixture.
LESLIE: Geez, Maureen, be careful and wear your flip-flops in the shower. Stay grounded.
TOM: That's right. Insulate yourself.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got another one here from Sandra in Auburn, Massachusetts who writes: 'We have a 1972 ranch-style home. We recently noticed some wood particles that look like sawdust that seem to be coming from one of the breather holes in a strip of wood to which the gutter is attached. We are worried that this could be termites. What do you think?'
TOM: (chuckling) This is really funny. She thinks that those holes are there so that the wood can breathe. I hate to tell you, Sandy; those holes are there because you've got an infestation of carpenter bees.
LESLIE: Yeah, totally.
TOM: They're drilling these perfectly round, usually 3/8-diameter holes inside the wood and if you've got so many you think that they're supposed to be there, I guess you've got to give the carpenter bees credit for making them so evenly spaced.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Because they're evenly spaced? (laughs)
TOM: (chuckles) Yeah, exactly. What happens is they drill up into the wood and then they sort of turn sideways and go parallel with the wood and they go to the back of their hole and that's where they lay their eggs and then they come back out. And they can actually work quite quickly and that's why you see the dust falling out. So you need to do a couple of things.
First of all, you need to spray an insecticide, inside those holes, that blocks the carpenter bees and kills what's there and then you've got to patch the holes. If you don't, they'll actually come back season to season. Now another option is you can take down the gutter, take out that fascia board, which is their favorite treat, and replace it with a composite product like AZEK, which looks like the wood but it's really not and they can't eat it.
LESLIE: Hey, they also tend to like screen doors (Tom chuckles); not that I know from any experience but maybe I do.
TOM: You are listening to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We're just about out of time this hour. Boy, we covered a lot of ground, Miss Leslie.
LESLIE: We sure did.
TOM: And we've got more information online right now at MoneyPit.com where the show continues.
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.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:40.7]
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(Copyright 2008 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.)