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 2 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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us for the answer to your home improvement question. Call us to help solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. Whether you're a do-it-yourselfer or a direct-it-yourselfer or the other category that perhaps is sometimes embarrassing; the do-it-to-yourselfer. (laughter) Because maybe you started a project ...
LESLIE: Would that be accidentally like, you know, screwing your shirt to something or ...?
TOM: Yeah, you know, exactly. Or, you know, Crazy Gluing your fingers together or (chuckling) something like that.
LESLIE: You know that's a touchy subject with me.
TOM: I know. Because you've done it. (laughing)
LESLIE: I have done it. One tip - always keep nail polish remover with acetone around.
TOM: Very handy to have around. (laughing)
LESLIE: If there's no acetone, it's not going to undo that Crazy Glue, folks. You'll be slowed down for a few minutes more.
TOM: Yeah, so if you've done something embarrassing, the point is we ...
LESLIE: We like to hear it.
TOM: Yeah. (overlapping voices) (chuckling) Yeah, because we don't want to feel like we're the only ones.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (laughing) It doesn't make us feel bad.
TOM: So call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Because you know, it makes sense to take care of your house. Your house is your biggest investment if you take care of it. You've got to protect it. So if you want to talk about maybe some renovations that make sense; ones that will give you a great return on investment; you want to work on a kitchen, a bathroom, a deck; maybe you wish you had a deck this summer and you just never got to it - hey, a deck's a great fall project. (chuckling) And you can get it done and you still have some months to enjoy it - call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: That's right. We're going to give away a great prize this hour. It's worth $50. It's a plumbing kit from Tomboy Tools including all the stuff you're going to need to take on some common plumbing projects around the house. So give us a call and we could be picking you as the big winner today.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Aloha, Kevin. We're going to talk to Kevin in Hawaii who finds The Money Pit on KHNR. And what can we do for you in beautiful Hawaii?
KEVIN: Aloha. I was wondering - I have a regular water tank - a water heater - and I want to purchase a tankless water heater.
KEVIN: And I was wondering if I'd be able to use a flex - either a steel braided (ph) flex line or a flexible copper tube to run from the existing copper pipe that's on the water (audio gap) run it over into the tankless water heater.
TOM: What manufacturer tankless water heater did you purchase, Kevin?
TOM: First of all, that's a great home improvement to do. A tankless water heater is a fantastic improvement to a standard water heater because it only delivers hot water when you need it. So kudos on that.
In terms of the connections itself - now, I have to tell you to read the owner's manual, obviously, to get the specifics; but I have seen some Bosch tankless water heater owner's manuals. They specify that copper galvanized or suitably rated stainless steel flex line piping can be used for the water heater connection. So you're probably OK with the flex lines but you need to check two things first. Number one - the manual that came with. And number two - local codes because they do vary from place to place. But other than that, I think you should be able to do it.
KEVIN: Wow, great. Well then my only other problem would be hooking up my water softener and the inline house water filter. (laughing)
TOM: Well, you know, we can - we can tackle them one at a time but I think you're on the right track with a tankless water heater. Good idea.
KEVIN: OK. Yeah, that's what I was thinking because it was about the same price as a regular water heater and that's the thing; you're not wasting gas or you know, reheating water or anything like that. So (inaudible) ...
TOM: They're fantastic. And regular water heaters are dumb (chuckling) because they heat water all the time whether you need it or not. Tankless heats it on demand so it's clearly the way to go and the prices are coming down and it's a smart home improvement.
Kevin, thanks so much for calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: You know, if Kevin wants help, perhaps you and I could go over there and ...
LESLIE: Oh, gladly.
TOM: ... help him out there in beautiful downtown Honolulu, Hawaii.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. Always have a suitcase packed to go to Hawaii.
TOM: There you go. And we can install tankless water heaters. (chuckling) Just watch us.
LESLIE: And we'll do it for free. Just invite us.
TOM: Exactly. (chuckling)
Kevin, good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Maybe you're redecorating like John is and thinking about removing some wallpaper. How can we help?
JOHN: This old wallpaper's been on for 25 years.
TOM: And we want to make sure it doesn't take 25 years to take it off, right John?
JOHN: (laughing) 10-4 on that. (laughter) It's peeling bad. Some people were telling me, 'Man, that's going to be a job.' I'm like thinking maybe I should cover it up with paneling or something.
TOM: I don't think so. To get rid of wallpaper, I've had the most success with a wallpaper steamer. Definitely worth renting a handy little tool known as a wallpaper steamer which pushes a lot of moisture into that wall and helps the old glue melt and that paper peel right off. That is so much easier than all of the different chemicals that they have to try to loosen up the paste.
LESLIE: Well and it's easier if you - you know, there's that wallpaper tiger; that sort of claw thing that scratches everything up, which basically just shreds the paper on the wall to pieces which might make it easier for you to grab pieces away while you're steaming. But I think it's better to just steam the heck out of it and try to pull it down as one piece.
TOM: Yeah. So that's a tool that's definitely worth renting; especially if you've got wallpaper that's been up for 25 years. OK, John?
JOHN: Yes sir, thank you.
TOM: Alright, go to it. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Leaky windows are on John's mind out of Virginia who listens to The Money Pit on JFK. Tell us about the window.
JOHN: The window is a bay window on the side of the house. There's aluminum siding on that side. So, from the two corners of the bay window, you've actually got - if you want to call them - two - a hip on each side. And I looked at it - I'm a carpenter, if you want to call me that. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm needing help on this, but (laughter) ...
LESLIE: That's OK.
TOM: That's OK, John. (laughing)
JOHN: Thank you. Where the center part of the roof of the bay is hitting the siding, there's flashing going up under the siding and there's flashing coming down on top of the shingles. There's no cocking (ph) along the bottom of the flashing. On the side - on either side of the hips, the flashing actually goes under the shingles and behind the siding. So - and there's water damage on the inside on the top of the bay window. And I cannot for the life of me figure out, unless it's getting up under that - it's copper flashing - unless it's getting up under there somehow. At the house from the outside, you can see the flashing coming down on top of the shingle on the center part. But on either side, that flashing is under the shingles.
TOM: Sounds to me like the flashing isn't done correctly. Is it possible to remove the siding?
JOHN: Yeah. I was hoping I wouldn't have to do that (inaudible).
TOM: Well, you and I both know that if you want to get to the bottom of this, you're going to have to start from scratch.
LESLIE: See what's in it.
JOHN: Yeah, I guess. See, I was trying to save this guy some money. He's a nice guy and ...
TOM: Well, I mean anything you do on top of this, if there's a mechanically wrong method to the way that flashing is installed, first of all you're not going to know it until you get the siding off and it's going to probably become painfully obvious to all of you. But once you pull that, the one thing that I like to recommend is when you're going to flash a roof like that, that you put mastic behind the flashing and sort of on top of the flashing and then give it some of that reinforced fiberglass mesh over that seal and then you side on top of that. So now you have a mastic that's sealing the flashing to the wall originally and then you're going to side and tarpaper over that so it really gives you a tight seal where the water can't push up and over and back in. You follow me?
JOHN: Yes sir, I do.
TOM: And I think that once you pull the siding off - and if you want to not do the whole thing, then maybe you just start on the sides because it sounds like where that's leaking - you're going to find out that that assembly, that the steps are not done correctly.
You know, if you don't start at the bottom with flashing and go step by step by step and you put the flashing in, then you put the shingle in, then you put the flashing in, and then you put the shingle in, and if that pattern is broken on the way up to the top of that hip section of the bay window ...
LESLIE: You're just creating a space for the water to get into.
TOM: Exactly. It's going to find it every single time.
LESLIE: And it's better to go deep into the repair than just patch it with, say, tar or something like that.
TOM: Yep, exactly. So I think that's probably the best approach, John. That's what's going to give you the best long term solution. And you know, I appreciate the fact that you're trying to save your customer money on this. And I'm sure that the customer appreciates that as well. But if it turns out that you do, you know, a patch job repair, the thing leaks again in six months, he's not going to be happy with you; he's going to have more damage to the house.
JOHN: He's a Prince William County cop, too, (laughing) so I don't want any tickets that I don't deserve.
TOM: Exactly, you know? Do it once, do it right and get one of those PBA cards, OK? Because it could get you out of a ticket if you do a good job. (laughter)
John, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You know, my grandpa was a cop and I had one of those PBA cards. But I was always too nervous to use it.
LESLIE: I'd, you know, be too embarrassed to sort of be like, 'I have this.' You know, I never knew the segue to just throw the card out there. I guess you could hand it with your license.
TOM: I had - yeah, you're supposed to hand it to him with your license. I had one once which was two or three years old and you know, I hadn't had a chance to use it; I didn't need to use it. You know, it's a free pass; that's basically what it is. You know, it's a free ... (laughing)
LESLIE: You should give it to me.
TOM: I should. But I went to use it once and I got this smart aleck cop who wanted to know the name of the guy that gave it to me. And I couldn't remember because it was like three years go.
LESLIE: You're like, 'I don't know but he was nice.'
TOM: He let me off anyway. Well, that's what this show is; it's like a PBA card for your home improvement projects. You know? Call us right now.
LESLIE: Get out of jail free.
TOM: We don't judge. We'll give you the get out of jail free card. We'll help you with all of those projects. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, Money Pit listeners. If mosquitoes are ruining your outdoor fun and making you all scratchy and itchy, bug spray with DEET is a great way to make sure your backyard fun isn't ruined with all that leg slapping and itching all evening long.
TOM: But if you're going to use these chemicals, there are some important safety precautions you need to be aware of; including some that are going to surprise you. We'll tell you what those are, next.
[audio timestamp: 10:31]
[audio timestamp: 13:13]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: So have you been bugged by bugs this summer? You want to get rid of them.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, they love me.
TOM: Yeah, do they?
TOM: Yeah, tasty, tasty morsel, huh, that Leslie Segrete if you're a mosquito?
LESLIE: And you know what? I can't resist it. As soon as I feel a bite, I'm scratching, scratching ...
LESLIE: ... and then I have these huge welts.
TOM: Now, do you like to use bug spray?
LESLIE: I do but I - you know, I'm almost wary. There seems to be some dangerous chemicals. I try to go for natural things but they still love me.
TOM: Well, you see, that's the way I feel. I like the chemicals but I am concerned about them. But what's the flip side of this? You could get West Nile virus.
LESLIE: Ooh. Ooh, everybody loves West Nile. (chuckling)
TOM: (overlapping voices) So, you know, it's like pick your poison, you know? DEET or West Nile? What would you like today? (chuckling) As a dessert for your summer barbecue? (chuckling)
Well, seriously, you know, DEET does work. I mean listen, it works better than everything else. But what's really freaky - and I did a story on this once for MSNBC - is if you read the can on the bug spray ...
TOM: ... you will be totally freaked out with the precautions. For example, have you ever sprayed your arms and then maybe later in the evening put a jacket on, on top of those sprayed arms that have the bug spray on it?
LESLIE: Yeah, I have.
TOM: Do you know that you're not supposed to do that? That if you read the instructions on the can, it'll say that you have to wash your - any exposed skin that you have this stuff on before covering it with clothing. Seriously.
LESLIE: But ...
TOM: Read the can. It'll totally freak you out.
LESLIE: Why? What would happen?
TOM: I think because it's sort of like the sauna effect.
LESLIE: You're trapping it in there?
TOM: Yeah, and it's getting deeper penetration into your skin ...
TOM: ... or something. So, when you - when you spray your body with this stuff and you put clothes on, like jackets or maybe throw on some - I don't know, some warm up pants or something because your legs are cold - you're supposed to wash it off first. Can you believe that?
LESLIE: So I guess always carry around handy wipes just in case you find yourself at a picnic ...
TOM: I guess.
LESLIE: ... or a fireworks display and ...
TOM: I guess.
LESLIE: ... and all of a sudden you're chilly.
TOM: Yeah, it's pretty freaky. But I still think it's better than the West Nile virus.
LESLIE: Well, either way, you've got to pick your poison, folks.
Well, in our next newsletter, non-chemical ways to deter biting bugs; such as you know, taking vitamin B, they say, is supposed to emit a scent that humans can't smell from your skin but the bugs hate. I tried it.
TOM: And eating garlic, too.
LESLIE: Whoo. Vampires and mosquitoes; both blood-sucking creatures. Fantastic. Well ...
TOM: And your neighbors, your friends. (laughing) It keeps them all away.
LESLIE: Yeah, unless your friends and neighbors eat it as well. Then you can all tolerate each other.
TOM: That's right.
LESLIE: Garlic's better in groups. (laughter) Alright, folks. So if you sign up for a Money Pit e-newsletter, you go to MoneyPit.com; we're giving great information all the time. It's free. It comes in every week in your email inbox and you'll be so thankful for all the information you're going to receive.
Also, if you call in this hour with a question that you ask on air, we've got a great prize that you could possibly win. It's the Tomboy Tools plumbing kit. It's tools for women, made by women. It's worth $50 and it has all of the tools needed to perform common plumbing repairs around your home. So you'll be feeling like the plumbing fantastic diva in your house in no time.
TOM: Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Mike in Alabama is doing some decorating. How can we help?
MIKE: Yeah, I've got a life-size portrait that's real heavy. And I live in an old house. They left the wood slats behind the sheetrock and for me to find a stud to make it secure is like next to impossible even with an electronic stud finder.
LESLIE: That's because everything seems like a stud to it.
MIKE: Yeah, it picks it up in every direction you want to talk about.
TOM: Yeah, Mike, at some point, you're going to have to locate one stud in this wall. If it's an old house - when was the house built?
MIKE: Right around the turn of the century.
MIKE: About 1900.
TOM: So I'm going to guess that the studs in the wall are probably 24 inches ...
LESLIE: Twenty-four inches apart.
TOM: ... on center.
TOM: And they're probably full 2x4s, which means they're a full two inches wide as opposed to a nominal 2x4 which is only an inch-and-a-half.
LESLIE: What if you start in the corner, since you know there's a stud at the corner positions, and work your way out every 24 inches. And when you get to the region where you want to hang, try to just tap a nail through the plaster. It might require some patching and fixing because you're trying to locate this stud. But if you start in the corner ...
MIKE: I've done a bunch of that already. (chuckling) See, I've been going 16; not 24. That's what I haven't been doing.
TOM: Now, I think - yeah, that's probably where you went wrong. Now, all you do is find one and then you can find the rest.
TOM: Now, once you identify that, then, since this is so heavy, what you might want to do is put a cleat on the wall. And so, what this basically involves is you attach a piece of wood across the two 2x4s. So this would be - depending on how wide this portrait is; you know, 24 inches wide, it might have to be a 28-inch cleat. Attach that securely to the wall; then attach the portrait to the cleat. And this way, you're not attaching the portrait directly to the wall; you're attaching it to a cleat that's solidly connected first.
LESLIE: To two studs. This way it's really strong.
TOM: It's a little bit easier for you to work with that way.
LESLIE: Right. And you're bolting the cleat to two studs. So it's really spreading the weight out.
MIKE: Yeah, that will cover the portrait because the portrait I think is like 20 - 29 or 32 inches wide and is - it's huge.
TOM: Yeah, that's perfect.
LESLIE: And it gives you a little bit of play. Since the portrait is larger than the cleat, you'll be able to slide it to either side, you know, a little bit so that you're still covering the cleat but you have some play as to where you want to put it on the wall and you'll know that it's spread out well and really sturdy.
MIKE: That'll be great. You gave me an idea I didn't even think of.
TOM: Alright, terrific. Thanks, Mike. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: It's been a stormy summer in the U.S. and Ken in Delaware is having a leaky basement when it rains. How can we help you?
KEN: What I have is I wanted to locate a toilet roughly 20 feet away from the drain that runs out to the street in my basement. So what I did is with a jackhammer, I broke a - dug a trench basically; busted up the concrete floor from that drain that runs out to the street over to where the toilet's going to be installed. So having busted through the concrete floor, I then put a pipe in and it had the proper slope to it and everything. So the toilet function works perfect. The problem comes in when I filled in the trench with new, fresh concrete, I poured the concrete in; leveled it all out and it looks nice. However, when it rains, the hydrostatic pressure from underneath the floor comes up and it seeps through between the interface between the new concrete that I poured and the old concrete which I busted up with the jackhammer.
TOM: Yeah, you know why? Because you created a nice trench for that water to find it's way right back into your house.
LESLIE: To pool up in, too.
TOM: Yeah. It's like when you have a hole in a foundation wall and sometimes people will call and say, 'Well, this hole always leaks when it rains.' Well, it's not the hole that's leaking; it's just where the water happens to find the path of least resistance. But the solution to this, Ken, is the same.
LESLIE: Yeah, Ken, you want to look at the outside of the house because this is where the water is finding its way into your basement. So you want to look at a couple of things. Make sure the grading is good. You want to make sure you're going down about six inches over four feet. So it's not really that much of a drastic slope but it's enough to slope that water away from the foundation. And then, also look at your gutters and your drainage system. Make sure your gutters are clean because if they're dirty or they're overflowing, they're going to backsplash up and over the gutter and get under your roof and behind the walls and that - even though it's on the wall or upstairs in the attic - can find its way all the way around down to the foundation and end up in your basement.
And look at your downspouts also. You want to make sure they deposit the water about six to 10 feet away from the house. Get it the heck away from the house. And also, make sure those downspouts are clean because if a stick or something is stuck in there, that could cause things to back up as well. So if you do all of that, you should be able to control that moisture in the basement.
KEN: What I was wondering is there any kind of a seal that I could paint or plaster over top of the concrete to kind of keep that from leaking up because it's clearly coming right in between the fresh concrete that I poured and the new concrete that was already there that ...
TOM: Ken, does this floor leak consistent with the heavy rainfall? Does it seem to leak when you get heavy rain?
TOM: Well, if it's leaking when you get heavy rain, you've got a drainage problem outside. And anything you put on to try to seal that at this point, it may not be effective. You've got to figure out where the grading and the drainage design of the foundation perimeter of your home is going bad. Because if your basement leaks consistent with rainfall, it is always, always, always due to a problem with the grading or a problem with the gutters.
TOM: And once you fix that, the water's going to go away. So, go outside. That's where you need to look and that's where you're going to find the solution to this problem. And after you solve it, then and only then could you look at something, for example, like an epoxy floor paint, which works well in the basement. QUIKRETE makes a good one, for example, that's effective. But that's not going to stop a leak if you have that water ponding on the outside of the house. So that's what you need to do first and the painting's what you need to do second; or any other type of sealant. Make sense to you, Ken?
KEN: OK, I got you. OK, I'll give that a try.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
So what if your dishwasher breaks down? You know what I do? I take away their allowance when that happens, Leslie.
LESLIE: (chuckling) You are too funny. Of course you're referring to your children, I suppose.
TOM: Of course. But what if you have a mechanical dishwasher that breaks down? Well, actually there's a very common problem that evolves with mechanical dishwashers. It's easy to spot; it's easy to fix; and it'll make your dishes come out clean once again. We'll tell you what that is, next.
[audio timestamp: 22:48]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Peerless. If you're putting in a new bathroom or kitchen faucet, Peerless can help you with every step including the hardest one - getting that old faucet out. For a complete undo-it-yourself guide, visit the Peerless faucet coach at faucetcoach.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You got a question about your home improvement project? We want to hear from you right now about what you're doing in your house.
Now, perhaps you've noticed that your dishwasher's just not doing the job lately. Well, from my many years in the home inspection business, before I got behind a microphone, I learned this little trick of the trade. It might be because your dishwasher's drain valve is clogged. The valve should only open during the draining cycle; but if it's clogged, it's going to let water out during the wash cycle. So how do you know? You need to listen carefully. If you ...
LESLIE: You've got to stare at the dishwasher and watch the lights and see exactly what cycle it's on.
TOM: No, just use your ear. Well, that's right. If you hear water flowing into the sink during the wash cycle, the drain valve is clogged and needs to be cleaned out.
LESLIE: That sounds like a great project you can give your teenager or any kid at home. 'Watch the dishwasher. When it goes into this cycle, do you hear a noise? And let Mommy know.'
TOM: 'And if you walk away from it, you're going to wash all the dishes by hand.' (laughter) 'Again.' So there's a little trick of the trade for making sure your dishwasher's firing on all cylinders.
LESLIE: Doug in Rhode Island listens to The Money Pit on WPRO and you're prepping for winter. Thinking about your heating already?
DOUG: Yes. (laughing) How you doing today?
LESLIE: Well, I suppose you need things on your list to do. We're well. How about yourself?
DOUG: We're doing excellent. It's beautiful in Rhode Island; nice and hot.
LESLIE: (chuckling) So of course you're thinking about heating.
DOUG: Right. (laughing) What I'm doing is I'm doing my bathroom over. And the baseboard was - the heating, the covering - was separating right from the wall. And I just, you know, painted over it and there were big chunks of it. So I removed it. I, you know, pulled out the nails and moved it. And now I'm not sure about reinstalling. Is there any special procedure I need to know?
TOM: Not really. That's pretty much just a cosmetic piece that helps to reflect some of the heat out. It's not physically connected to the pipes if it's like most radiator covers. And so, what you want to do is, now that you've got that clean - did you refinish it while you had it off?
DOUG: No, I bought all new ones.
TOM: Oh, you bought all new ones?
TOM: No, I think it pretty much just slips right back behind the baseboard fins. You have radiators that go along the baseboard, right?
DOUG: Right, yeah, it's just ...
TOM: So do you have the pipe with the fins on them?
TOM: OK. So just slip it back there and by the way, while you have that off, make sure if there's any damaged fins, that you sort of rake them in the sense that you get them all straight in a line. Because that's what the air passes through to kind of pick up the heat. So make sure they're nice and clean and no, go ahead and slip them back behind there and then attach them to the wall. Generally, they just nail or screw right to the wall; right to a stud or to the base - sill plate of the wall. And then you're good to go. Nothing too complicated about that. Pretty much a cosmetic improvement that will reflect some heat and shoot it right back out into the room.
DOUG: OK. One other question. Laminate flooring - is that acceptable in bathrooms?
LESLIE: Of course it is. Laminate flooring, you know, is a manufactured type of floor so it's completely manmade. It's made of plastic and even though it's made from plastic, it can look like wood planks; it can look like tile. And it's really made to stand up very well in high moisture situations; kitchens, bathrooms, basements. Great choice.
TOM: Doug, it's less expensive than tile and you're going to be a lot happier.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It's easier to install, too.
TOM: Yeah, it is easier to install.
DOUG: (inaudible) guys are in Rhode Island, I'd be happy to have you come over and help me.
TOM: I bet you would. (laughing)
LESLIE: (chuckling) I just got back from Providence. You missed your chance.
DOUG: (inaudible) darn it.
TOM: Doug, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Paul in Florida's got a dirty problem in the garage. What's going on?
PAUL: Well, I was looking to, you know, put one of those painted surfaces on the garage floor.
PAUL: And you know, it's got oil stains on the floor and I was just wondering what would be the best way to get rid of the oil stains so that the painted - you know, the painted surface will be able to stick or adhere better.
LESLIE: Well, Tom, there's a lot of epoxy coatings out there right now. They seem to be the hot item for garages. But do you need to clean that oil stain before you apply these epoxy?
TOM: Well, you do and some of the epoxy systems - I know QUIKRETE has one that comes with a cleaner. They're actually matching the paints and the cleaners together for this very problem, Paul. Basically, you use the cleaner first, which etches the surface and gives you a good, neutral surface that the paint can attach to. And then you use the epoxy coating on top of that.
LESLIE: Yeah, and what's really cool is it's all coming in a kit for you, Paul, and it even comes with an instructional DVD. So if you have any questions or any concerns, it'll address all of that for you so you do a great job that lasts and lasts.
PAUL: Alright, thank you. I appreciate that.
TOM: You're welcome, Paul. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Would you like to change the look and ambience of your favorite room for about $5 and 15 minutes of your time? We'll tell you how to do just that, next.
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[audio timestamp: 30:06]
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. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us with your home improvement projects. Call us for help solving those do-it-yourself dilemmas. Call us if you're a do-it-yourselfer. Call us if you're a direct-it-yourselfer. Call us if you're a do-it-to-yourselfer. No matter what's going on, call us right now. We want to help you with your home improvement projects. Like decorating.
LESLIE: That's right. If you want to change the look of a room without spending a whole lot of money, there is an easy fix. In about five minutes and $15, you can switch to a great new look with dimmer switches. Dimmer switches for your lighting are a simple, inexpensive way to add depth and mood to any room. There are many options from toggles to slide and it's definitely a do-it-yourself project that's truly a bright idea.
TOM: That's right. And if you call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, we'll also give you some tools to help you with all your home improvement projects around the house; especially if they're plumbing projects because we have a Tomboy Tools plumbing kit worth 50 bucks to give away. It has all the tools you need to perform common plumbing repairs.
LESLIE: Like fixing the runny toilet, stopping the drippy faucet, tons of things. You'll be using this plumbing kit all the time.
TOM: To win, call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Cleaning is on Rita's mind from Georgia. What's dirty? How can we help you?
RITA: Hi. I have a retaining wall that has a drainage pipe that comes through it. And unfortunately, the pipe is rusty so every time it rains, our cement platform gets stained with rust. And I've cleaned it once already with a power washer but, I mean, I don't want to constantly do that because I'm going to eat away all the cement. (chuckling) I was wondering if there's some kind of a sealant that I could put on the cement that would prevent the staining.
TOM: Probably not, because the concrete is so hydroscopic; it absorbs moisture so easily, so readily, that I don't think you're going to be able to make it completely impervious to that rust-stained water that's leaking down there. What you might want to try for regular maintenance is something called TSP - trisodium phosphate. It's available at home centers. It's usually in the painting aisle. It's a powder. It comes in a small box; very concentrated. And if you mix that up ...
LESLIE: And you make a paste of it.
TOM: Yeah, a little bit of a paste of it. You can put it on the rust stain; it usually lifts it off. So, Rita, unless you can figure out a way to remove that pipe and eliminate the problem, I'm afraid you're going to be stuck with it. Because I'm not aware of any type of cement sealant that's going to be so good that it will stop that rust from showing through the surface. I guess, probably, nothing short of paint; maybe an epoxy paint. But then again, once you paint, you have to repaint.
Rita, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Listening on Discovery Radio Network is Dan in Florida. What can we do for you?
DAN: I've been looking all over trying to find something to cover an old porch with. It's about a 20x12 concrete porch. Has a couple of seams in it and very small cracks here and there but it's not - it's not in too bad a shape.
TOM: OK. Does it have a roof over it, Dan?
DAN: Yeah, it has a roof over it.
DAN: Part - well, part of it has. I might go further if I can find the right product. That's the thing. There's two parts to it. (clears throat) But it's - what I'm looking for is something that's not too thick; that looks like sandstone. And real sandstone would be nice but I'm told that there's too many problems trying to keep it from cracking and things like that if it gets too thin.
LESLIE: If it's more of a veneer of the sandstone, that could be bad.
DAN: Yeah, right. Something like that. Because it will - my thresholds are too close to the porch already. I mean there's ...
TOM: Dan, what about doing a terracotta tile?
DAN: Well, the problem is I've got something of that like in the house. (inaudible) I have a particular look in mind that I want ...
LESLIE: So you're looking for something that's a matte finish; something that has depth and texture and almost an airiness to it.
DAN: Yeah, well, natural stone of some kind that's light colored and sand colored; something like ...
TOM: Yeah, what I was thinking about was a light colored - what about a light colored unglazed tile? One that's more of a sand color to it?
DAN: Are we talking about square tiles, though? That's what I'm trying to avoid.
TOM: You're trying to avoid square.
LESLIE: Have you looked into travertine?
DAN: I saw some travertine. The square tiles. I can't find any natural shape ...
LESLIE: Hmm. Because travertine, in addition to coming in square, also comes in elongated rectangles, small squares, a variety of sizes so you can create, you know, a random pattern. But I've never seen travertine sort of free form. But travertine, you know, comes in a variety of colors, so it doesn't just have to be the white. It can come in like a pale yellow and a pale orange as well. It has a lot of interesting texture to it in - there's holes - sort of airspaces in it as well - which wouldn't be a trip hazard because they're very small. But it gives it a really nice texture and I've seen them in half-inch tiles as well.
DAN: Half-inch thick you're saying?
DAN: And that would be - how would you - what would you put that down with on a concrete porch?
TOM: You would use a tile mastic for that. You would basically float it over the - over - the same way you'd attach it to a slab. It will go down well. I think you're looking at some sort of a tile product here, Dan, because you've talked about the fact that it can't be too thick and you want the natural look. So, if you're not going to use an unglazed tile, the travertine is an option; maybe even flagstone is an option, which comes in, you know, unusually shaped pieces. But I think that's pretty much what you're talking about here and you're going to need to adhere to that concrete base and then go up from there.
LESLIE: On our way to New Jersey now where Lou listens to The Money Pit on WCTC. And you've got water in the basement. There's been a ton of rain lately. Tell us what you're going through.
LOU: OK. We had - we had a house inspection on a house that my son bought. The house was approximately built in the 1930s. And the house inspection was good. A week later, we went back for a subsequent inspection to fix up the minor that they were supposed to fix - the minor details - and we found that there was water in the middle of the floor and we noticed and we noticed some hairline cracks in the floor.
LOU: And a week after that, the realtor went down there and found like snake-like water coming in other areas of the floor. And the home does have a sump pump and it seemed that the water level of the sump pump was low enough that you wouldn't think water would be seeping up through the floor.
TOM: Well, that water that's seeping up through the floor may not necessarily be caused by a rising water table that's going to kind of come up even with the sump pump. It doesn't work that way, Lou. I suspect that what's happening is that there's a drainage problem around the foundation perimeter of this house; that the gutter system is dumping water too close to the foundation or that the soil is not sloped away and all that water, as it collects around the outside wall ...
TOM: ... can actually push down under that foundation wall and come up through that floor. I've seen drainage problems on the outside of foundations show up as geysers in the middle of the basement floor.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. And if there's been a tremendous amount of rainfall - which we know the northeast has seen all summer - you know, that ground could just be so heavily saturated with water and then your gutter systems backing up and over could just be causing this water to find its way in.
TOM: Lou, let me recommend that you go to our website at MoneyPit.com and search on Don't Get Soaked by Wet Basements. That's a column we wrote that takes you step by step through everything that you need to do to resolve a water problem in your basement and I'm certain that's going to leave you high and dry when you're done.
Lou, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Faded vinyl siding is on Terry's mind from Maryland. What can we do for you?
TERRY: Well, I've power washed it in the past to get it clean and everything. But it's old and the color's dated and I'd like to actually change the color on it and get rid of the fading out of it. Is there anyway I can paint it?
TOM: Uh, well, hmm. Painting, no; but restoring it, yes.
TERRY: Without having to replace it. I don't want to have to replace the entire thing.
LESLIE: But you know what? You would be surprised. There are some great products that, with just a little bit of cleaning and some elbow grease, will really restore that color and you might find you might not need to paint.
TERRY: (inaudible) dated (ph) the actual house. So I'd like to maybe change the color of the siding but it - I've used all the chemicals that I can use on trying to get the fading out of it, but ...
TOM: Well, there may be one more that you haven't tried yet. It's by Flood and it's called Restora - R-e-s-t-o-r-a. They actually have a low-luster vinyl finish; it's an exterior vinyl revitalizer. It comes in a gallon can and it's basically designed for use on vinyl shutters, siding, window trim, soffits, fascia, entry; any vinyl product around your house. And I've actually seen before and after shots of the samples of this stuff, Terry, and it's just amazing how good it comes out. So you may find that even with faded vinyl, if you use this Restora revitalizer, that it's going to come back and look so good that you may not be so interested in doing something else. I have not found a product that I'm comfortable recommending ...
LESLIE: That adheres well enough to sort of stand up to the elements, right?
TOM: In paint. Yeah, exactly. It just - I've just not seen it. It's been tried but I haven't seen one where I could ever recommend that you'd paint vinyl siding. But I could recommend vinyl restoration and this is an opportunity for you to try that. Flood's a good company; they make a good product and you might want to give this a shot. I saw some before and after samples of a shutter and I was really, really amazed at how good it came out.
Terry, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, Leslie, like I always say: carpet in the basement, bad idea.
LESLIE: That is a touchy subject, Tom. (laughing)
TOM: I know it is. I know it is. Because you didn't believe me for at least a couple of years; the first couple of years you knew me. And then, all of a sudden, you had the flood in the basement ...
TOM: ... and knew, all of a sudden, that I was right.
TOM: It's a very bad idea. (laughter) Well, coming up ...
LESLIE: You were on that receiving end of that midnight phone call.
TOM: (laughing) I was.
LESLIE: 'Why do you always have to be right.' (laughing)
TOM: Well, coming up, one listener who also did not heed my advice and is wondering how to fix a major mess. Have you had a water problem in your basement? We'll get to the bottom of the cleanup, next.
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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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, reachable at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or by logging onto MoneyPit.com. Click on Ask Tom and Leslie. We are available electronically, as we are on the telephone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Let's get right to that email bag.
LESLIE: Okey-dokes. This one's from Jeff in Centreville, Virginia and Jeff, I feel your pain on this. 'I am replacing water damaged carpet in the basement with vinyl tile and area rugs. Is it ...?'
TOM: That's a good idea.
LESLIE: Yeah, totally. Carpet in basement, bad. Now we know. 'Is it possible to lay self-adhesive tiles directly on a concrete basement floor and what kind of prep does the surface need?'
TOM: Mmm, I think bad idea.
LESLIE: But I've always heard that if you put self-adhesive tiles directly to a concrete subfloor, it should be OK.
TOM: I don't - I would never put self-adhesive because I have no confidence in the adhesive level. But what you could do is if you use the mastic with the vinyl tiles (inaudible) ...
LESLIE: You can go directly to the subfloor.
TOM: Yeah. I mean that's - I mean that's been done since the dawn of time. I mean remember all those old asbestos tiles ...
TOM: ... that are in the houses from like the 40s and 50s that like lasted for like practically 50 years.
LESLIE: And the mastic is good because it won't react to the moisture and the vinyl tile is definitely a good choice because that also, you know, is man made; it's manufactured. So that's not going to have any problems when, inevitably, there gets to be moisture in the basement.
TOM: You know, before I was a home improvement expert I was in college. I was living in the basement of this apartment; it was one of the many places I lived throughout those (chuckling), you know, poor college years. And the landlord said that if I tiled the basement, he'd give me the product, right? He'd give me the stuff. So I figured that was a good idea. Except it was so cold down there that the tile would not sort of conform ...
TOM: ... to the - to the floor.
LESLIE: It has to be warm. You can't use it. That stuff will crack.
TOM: I had a solution. It's called the oven. (laughing) So I put the tiles in the oven and it was going great until I started ...
LESLIE: How many did you lose?
TOM: ... until I got a little bit tired and started leaving them in there a little bit too long.
LESLIE: And then the plastic fumes from the oven.
TOM: And they got kind of out of square. They were no longer like that perfectly 12-inch square. And also I got - I got pretty buzzed on the ...
LESLIE: I'm sure.
TOM: ... on the smell of the vinyl in the air.
LESLIE: And some of them suddenly weren't a quarter-inch thick anymore. Some of them were really flat.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. So I would recommend something besides that for softening up those tiles. It didn't work out so well for me.
But really, the self-adhesive glue - I don't have much confidence in the kitchen on brand new luan plywood; but you know, in a basement, no way. Wouldn't do it. Use a mastic and a regular vinyl tile. Or go ahead and put down a laminate floor.
Well, the attic might be the hottest place in your house but it can also keep you cool. You know why? We're going to find out because that's the topic of today's edition of Leslie's Last Word.
LESLIE: That's right. There are several things that you can do in your attic - you know, the hottest place in your house that you never, ever want to go up in - that will keep your entire house much, much cooler.
TOM: It's the poor man's sauna.
LESLIE: It's like Las Vegas in your house without the gambling. (laughing)
TOM: (overlapping voices) There you go. (laughing)
LESLIE: Alright. Here are some things you can look at in your attic to help keep your house cooler.
Look at your insulation. Well insulated homes should have a minimum of eight inches of ceiling insulation, which will help insulate against the hot air. Think about an attic fan. They keep your home cooler by reducing the temperature of trapped, warm air in the attic. But keep in mind - don't use your attic fans when you have central AC because this is going to draw the cooled air right out of your house and you'll just be paying tons of money. So don't do that. And remember, a well ventilated attic should be as close to the ambient outside air temperature as possible. So to achieve this, most homes should have a combination of ridge and soffit vents. And the nice thing about this ventilation system is that it works year round; unlike attic fans, which run only in the summer and cost a ton of money to operate. So here's some things to keep in mind and you should be cooling down that house; including Las Vegas of your home - the attic.
TOM: And just like your ventilation system, we work year round on The Money Pit home improvement radio show. In fact, coming up next week, it's almost time to put that grill away after a summer of it working very, very hard for you. Do you know what things you need to do to make sure it'll fire up perfectly and safely next Memorial Day when you drag it out? We're going to tell you on next week's program.
Until then, 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 2006 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.)