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: 0:025]
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we make good homes better. Call us right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are standing by to help you get that project done.
Hey, do you want to get something done before the next holiday arrives? Give us a call right now. We'll help you figure out the fastest, the quickest, the easiest way to do that. And speaking of holidays, do your electric bills spike up this time every year? Do you own that house on the block that goes totally all out with like holiday decorations (Leslie chuckles); you know, that you can see from space?
LESLIE: Inflatables, giant lights, disco balls; you know.
TOM: (chuckling) I tell you what; they burn a lot of watts and they cost a lot to run. Traditional holiday lights can really take a big chunk out of your wallet. But in just a few minutes, we're going to help cut that down because we've got some ways to trim those costs with LED lights. We'll fill you all in, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And tis the season to deck those halls; so while you're decorating and up there on that ladder, make sure that you stay safe first and foremost. You know there are thousands of emergency room visits each year and they are caused by falls off of ladders. You've got to use them properly. So we're going to tell you how to check your ladder for wear and tear and how to use it safely.
TOM: And one more way to stay safe this holiday season, we're giving away a tree safety system worth 35 bucks. It'll alert you automatically if your live tree gets dangerously dry and help you prevent a fire. So give us a call right now. That's going out to one caller we talk to this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Let's get right to those phones.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Joan in New Jersey, you've got the Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JOAN: Yes, hi Leslie. Enjoy the show. I have a question in reference to 40-year-old aluminum siding.
JOAN: (inaudible at 0:02:12.7) if I can paint over it; what are the steps; should it be latex, oil; should it be primed; should it be sanded.
LESLIE: Is the siding in pretty good shape? You're just tired of the color?
JOAN: Well, it is white. It looks as though - if I do power wash it, it looks as though it's probably going to be maybe a little bit chalking; I'm afraid I'm going to be losing probably some of the color if I did try to power wash it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, if you want to paint it you're going to want to lose some of that paint that's on the surface.
LESLIE: You know so many times we see with aluminum siding as the paint starts to deteriorate it sort of flakes off and becomes very chalky.
JOAN: Well, it looks as though like it's getting like a lot of black marks around - you know, closer to the ground level.
LESLIE: When you say 'black marks' are you seeing sort of speckled-looking mold?
JOAN: I guess that's what it would be called then. I never really figured that's what it was, so OK.
LESLIE: Well, do you have a lot of mulch in the area on the ground where the siding and where you're seeing this sort of dotting?
JOAN: Yes. Not a lot but definitely it's in front of the house. Yes.
LESLIE: Because Tom and I always talk about there's something called artillery fungus ...
LESLIE: ... or shotgun mold and it appears, a lot of times, on siding and on the siding of homes when you have mulch in your garden and your flower beds, especially right up next to the home, and it's terribly difficult to get rid of. Does bleach and water work on that one as well, Tom?
TOM: Yeah, it will. A siding wash or bleach and water will do it but in terms of painting the aluminum siding ...
TOM: ... essentially what you're going to want to do is try to sand as much of the old paint off as possible. You could wire brush it; you could power wash it.
LESLIE: Be careful with the power washer, though.
TOM: Yeah, you want to get as much loose stuff off as you possibly can.
TOM: And then I would recommend an oil-based primer because you get really good adhesion that way ...
TOM: ... and then you can use a latex topcoat and, if you can, I would recommend spraying the paint; not just brushing it.
LESLIE: This way you're not seeing any brush marks and there are so many nooks and crannies it would just be a wrist nightmare.
JOAN: Oh, OK. Alright, that certainly sounds like very good advice.
TOM: Alright, well good luck with that project, Joan.
JOAN: Alright, thank you.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: And the best is if you rent one of those paint sprayers ...
LESLIE: ... you should also buy one of those little disposable white paint suits that you zip into with the hood and everything. (chuckles)
TOM: Just so you look totally professional.
LESLIE: Just so you look like you're doing the job because you do end up with overspray.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Because the look is very important. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Frank in South Carolina needs some help with some insulation. What can we do for you?
FRANK: I am looking at purchasing an older home and it has a full walk-up attic from side to side and it was built in the mid-40s. And the floor inside the attic is lumber laid diagonally across the floor joist of the attic. They appear to be - shoot - probably 2x6s; something I haven't really seen before.
TOM: Mm-hmm; the floorboard. Not the floor joists but the floor surface?
FRANK: The floor surface is the diagonal boards, yes.
FRANK: And I would assume that it has not been insulated or well-insulated and I'm wondering what I can do to insulate that without having to pull all these individual boards up, which I very seriously doubt I can get them all up.
TOM: Well, do you know if there's insulation under it right now?
FRANK: The best I can see, very, very little.
TOM: OK, and how much do you care about whether or not you have storage space up there?
FRANK: I'd like to utilize the storage space.
TOM: Well, if you - then you kind of want to have your cake and eat it too, Frank, in that situation. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: We would probably recommend you take up the floorboards and make sure that those ceiling joist cavities are totally insulated; filled completely with probably unfaced fiberglass, not faced. Unfaced fiberglass ...
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, to the top of those joists themselves and then again across those joists so that you have way more insulation; sort of building up above the floor itself.
TOM: See, the problem is, Frank, you need more insulation than you have ceiling joist ...
LESLIE: Than those bays allow.
TOM: ... depth to fill in. So you're going to have to have some insulation up and above the ceiling joists and you can't compress it. Now, if you want to just do something that's a lot easier and maybe have a little less insulation, what you want to do is sort of carve out the area, perhaps around the attic stair, that you can use for storage and for the rest of the area go out and pick up some unfaced fiberglass batts; lay them right on top of that floor. That will give you some additional insulating power without you having to rip up the floor. But again, you have to sort of carve out some area where you're going to store. You'll have less insulation there and more insulation in the areas perhaps towards the outside walls.
FRANK: Alright, well I certainly appreciate it. Thank you very much. I enjoy your show.
TOM: You're welcome, Frank. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, it is the ho-ho-home improvement season and we're going to give you some tips to trim your electric bill when you decorate for the holidays this year.
[audio timestamp: 0:07:14.6]
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: 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 in addition to doing all of your holiday prep work, especially with things around the house, pick up the phone. Here's a task for you. Pick up the phone, give us a call, let us know what you are working on and what you need a hand with because we can help you sort it all out and get it done just in time for the big holiday meal. So call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Christmas tree safety system from Ulta-Lit Technologies. It's a sensor and an alarm system that's going to let you know if your live tree is getting dangerously dry. It could save you a very expensive home improvement project if there were to be a disaster. (Tom chuckles) It's worth 35 bucks but could be yours for free, so pick up the phone for your chance to win.
TOM: 888-666-3974. One caller we talk to this hour is going to win that Christmas tree safety system from Ulta-Lit. We will choose that name at random out of the Money Pit hardhat and you've got to have a home improvement question, which might be, 'How can I save money on my holiday light display, Tom and Leslie?' Well, the answer is LEDs. You know LED illumination has come a long way since its early, somewhat dimmer days. Now they can shine even brighter than the traditional incandescent bulbs that we find on most of our holiday light strings.
You know this holiday season, if you shop for and decorate with LED products, they can slash your energy bills. They can also, of course, cut down, at the same time, on your carbon footprint and last longer than incandescents. Consumer demand has basically brought more of these lights to the market than ever before and the prices are really, really good. So why buy incandescents? Buy LEDs today. They last longer and you won't be searching the entire string to find out which one is burnt out (chuckles) and is causing your whole string to go out.
LESLIE: And you know what? Last year, the tree at Rockefeller Center - which everybody sees the tree lighting on television and, of course, you know if you watch NBC in the morning you see the tree all the time lit up and beautiful - they used LED lights and it really made a wonderful presentation and when you went down to look at the tree in person it looked gorgeous and sparkly and didn't seem any different from a traditional light. And the best thing to keep in mind, folks, is that they're 90 percent more energy-efficient than those regular lights and, in fact, we can break down the cost comparison for you so you know exactly what you're saving and how much you're wasting, depending on which way you go.
In our very next Money Pit e-newsletter we're going to tell you how much money you're going to save and we're going to give you some more ideas to help you cut costs for your Christmas display. So sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter right now at MoneyPit.com and, remember, we keep your e-mail addresses to ourselves, so fear not. Sign up today.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Loretta in Rhode Island needs some help fixing some drafty windows. Tell us about the problem.
LORETTA: First of all, I want to say we love the show. My husband and I have been long-time listeners.
It's not drafty windows. We have cracks. I've heard other people call in the past. We've been in our house now 28 years and we have radiant heat in the ceiling.
LORETTA: So we're wondering is there something - 28 years we keep patching and undoing. Every spring it looks like as if the patch got thicker. So he sands it down again, puts the paint and it looks good. As soon as we put the heat on we see these fine, little, hairline cracks.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, because everything is drying out.
LORETTA: Yeah, so what do we do? I mean he was using spackle, so now he's been using joint compound.
TOM: If we tell you how to fix it, what is he going to do all spring?
LORETTA: Oh, he's got yard work to do, believe me. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
LESLIE: I'm sure Loretta can come up with a honey-do list for her man, no problem.
TOM: If you've got cracks around the windows and doors ...
TOM: ... it really doesn't matter. That material is not actually going to repair the crack in the sense that it's not sort of gluing the two parts of the wall back together.
LESLIE: Just patching over.
TOM: It's patching over and those areas are obviously the part of the wall where you have the most movement. Very, very common to have cracks around windows and doors because it's sort of the weaker part of the wall. If the wall is going to shift and move and expand and contract, it's going to show up around a window and door before it'll show up across the solid wall surface.
Now, the only thing that you can do to try to minimize this is to use a drywall tape over that crack and the type of drywall tape ...
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, you're skipping a step and a material, Loretta.
TOM: Yes, and the type of drywall tape we would recommend would be a fiberglass tape.
TOM: It's perforated. It's ...
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, it looks like mesh, Loretta.
TOM: And it's very easy to install. And once you put this across the crack itself, then you can spackle over that and that has sort of an adhesive effect of covering over both sides of the crack and does a nice job of hiding it.
LORETTA: OK. Hope that does it. Thanks a lot.
LESLIE: It'll do the trick.
TOM: Alright, Loretta. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steve in Iowa needs some help with a mysterious stain in the bathroom. Tell us what's going on.
STEVE: Well, basically, what I have is a galvanized water line going to my bathroom sink ....
STEVE: ... and those lines are (AUDIO GAP) either have a small leak or when they sweat that line drips to the floor.
TOM: Now you say they're limed over. You mean there are mineral salts on these lines or are you saying that you can't get any water out of them?
STEVE: There are mineral deposits covering the galvanized lines.
TOM: Well, what happens is those galvanized lines obviously rust; they develop pin holes. The water leaks out, then it evaporates and the mineral salts sort of crust over on the outside.
TOM: Now if you've got galvanized pipe, you know it really is time for you to start thinking about replacement because I guarantee you that's going to get worse, it's not going to get better and eventually those holes will get so big that you'll have a steady leak that, despite the evaporation of the water, it won't crust over and it'll just be a big, stinking mess.
STEVE: OK. So basically I just need to replace my water lines under the sink.
TOM: Yeah, basically that's it. The galvanized pipes, you know, they'll typically last around 50 or 60 years and then they really start to rust out. The other thing that happens is you'll have a greatly reduced water flow because the pipes will rust inward and they'll clog up. You know think of it sort of like a clogged artery and the water can't get through. So by replacing those pipes, you'll have an improved flow at that sink as well.
STEVE: OK. Well, thanks a lot. I guess I'll call a plumber.
TOM: (chuckling) OK, Steve. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in Connecticut needs some help with a basement. What's going on at your money pit?
JIM: Hi, I have a house that's about 70 years old ...
JIM: ... and my kitchen floor is sagging a little bit. And the house is made out of like a lot of milled timber; not your traditional 2x12s.
JIM: And one of the pieces has rotted and they put up a steel post under it but I'd like to raise my floor up a little bit to make it even when I redo my kitchen. And I know if I do it too fast you can crack the plaster, so I wanted to know what the best way is to jack it up a few inches.
TOM: Well, Jim, it takes 70 years for that house to sag and trying to lift it back up any quicker than that is bound to cause you some problems. What I would recommend is you stabilize the structure and by that I mean if you've got any rotted or decayed areas you want to basically stabilize it so you don't get any further movement.
In terms of trying to level that floor, you're almost always better off trying to level it on top of the floor than to try to raise the floor structure. By using, for example, a floor leveling compound, once you - if you're doing a kitchen you want to pull all the cabinets out, level the floor with a compound and then start your new build on top of that so you have a flat floor surface to kind of work up from. If you try to jack things up, you're going to find that you are going to crack walls; you could pull wires apart, pipes apart; all sorts of things can happen when you try to move a structure that's well settled in at that age.
JIM: Excellent and thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome, Jim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Marilyn in California, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
MARILYN: I'm the president of a homeowner's 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 that 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 a 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 individual units 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.
TOM: The advantage of tankless water heaters is that they're small. I don't think you need 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.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, this common household accident causes more than 150,000 emergency room visits every year. We're going to teach you how to prevent one of the most common causes of falls, right after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:21.0]
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: 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 we unabashedly will recommend My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure as the perfect holiday gift for your loved one. Why not show them that you care with a great home improvement book that we wrote. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) How was that for a commercial?
LESLIE: Shameless plugging.
TOM: Shameless plug. You know we often get the opportunity to look at a lot of gifts this time of year and we thought why not plug our own product.
LESLIE: (chuckling) We spend so much time talking about other people's things. But you know what? Our book, it really is very user-friendly. It is a fun read. It will give you lots of great ideas and really save you a ton of time and money as you tackle home improvements or as you hire folks to do those jobs for you. So it will be money well spent and a very happy gift to be given and received.
And another great gift idea is ladders and it doesn't have to just be for the home improver in your life. Ladders are really important. You know you use them quite often and they're really more important to use a regular ladder than just a chair, especially a chair with wheels, because a lot of people get hurt this time of year and thousands of those people are seriously injured because the ladders are just worn out or you're not using them correctly.
So before you get out all of your decorations and get to work, you need to make sure that your ladder has slip-resistant rungs and feet. You want to inspect the ladder itself for cracked uprights, split rungs or any loose rivets. And when you're using an extension ladder, here's a simple formula that's going to help make sure that you are secure: the bottom of your ladder should be away from the wall by at least one-quarter of the height you need to work. So if you're going to go 20 feet up the ladder your ladder should be at least five feet away from the base; you know, the base away from the wall. So always be sure you lay them on the wall properly, use them correctly and when you climb up to the top and there's that little sticker that says, 'Never, ever, ever stand on the top rung,' they mean it. (Tom chuckles) Be safe. Stay out of the hospital, folks.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Call us right now if you are stuck on top of a ladder and don't know what to do next. (Leslie chuckles) Actually, you probably should come down first.
Alright, let's get back to the phones. Who's next?
LESLIE: Steven in Texas has an interesting home situation. Tell us about your unique house.
STEVEN: Yeah, actually I'm living in an apartment right now, y'all, and me and my fianc