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:
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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. What are you doing? What are you working on? Call us right now. Let's talk about it. Because The Money Pit is where work and fun meet. Making good homes better. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We've got a great show coming up for you guys this hour. Is it time for a new washing machine? Is that perhaps that on the holiday list of someone that you love? Maybe a new washing machine. I think I would like that as a gift. Well, we're going to tell you how to choose one that's not going to break your back.
TOM: And also, never underestimate what's underfoot. Your flooring helps set the tone and character of your entire room. So, how do you figure out what flooring is right for you? Well, it depends on a whole bunch of considerations. We're going to have some tips to help you figure it out.
LESLIE: And in just a few minutes, we're going to tell you how to remodel green. And we don't mean painting your new room a lovely shade of chartreuse; although that's not a bad idea, especially if you do like the color green. We're going to give you some advice on being environmentally conscious when you remodel your home.
LESLIE: Plus, we're giving away a prize package from Master Lock; everything you need to stay and secure in your home. It's worth 115 bucks and it goes to one caller we choose at random today.
So Leslie, who's up first?
LESLIE: Mike in Missouri, what can we do for you here at The Money Pit today?
MIKE: Yes, ma'am. I'd like to know how would be the best way to insulate an attic in an old Victorian home that was built in 1890 because I'd like to finish it.
LESLIE: Do you have insulation up there now? What's the situation going on up there now?
MIKE: Well, right now it's all bare up there. The insulation would go right underneath where the roof is. So I didn't know if it needed to be able to breathe or anything like that.
TOM: Yeah, you have - you have no floor - unfinished floor area, so to speak, that you could insulate, Mike? You have to put it under the roof sheathing?
MIKE: Well, I was wanting to turn it into like a room.
TOM: Oh, OK. OK. So you want to refinish an attic. That's a little bit different than just putting insulation into an old house. If you want to refinish that attic space and you want to put insulation in in the roof rafters, which is what you're talking about, there are some important considerations.
First of all, you can't use insulation that's the same thickness as the roof rafters are deep. So for example, if you have 2x8 roof rafters - and in an older house, it's usually the original - the full 2x8. It's a full two inches wide by eight inches deep - you can't use eight inches of insulation there because there would be no room left for ventilation. So what you need to do is use insulation that's less thick than the roof rafter is deep. So you might use six inches of insulation. It would be flush with the rafter on the inside of the house. You'd leave that two-inch gap between the back of the insulation and the roof sheathing for air to cool that roof surface area.
The next thing is you need to have ventilation to cool that space, which means you need a continuous soffit and continuous ridge vent. The ridge vent's pretty easy. In an old house, the soffit vent can be a little tricky, depending on how the fascia and the soffits are constructed. If you have no overhang, you can use something called a drip edge vent, which lets just enough air into that space to keep the roof cool. Because if you don't vent it, Mike, what's going to happen is you're going to get condensation in there that can potentially rot out the roof sheathing and you're going to overheat that space and that's going to make the roof wear out that much quicker.
Now Leslie, what about decorating that space? Any tips for a small space like that?
LESLIE: Well, with a small space, especially in a Victorian - is your ceiling very slanted? Is it sort of vaulted? You don't really have a lot of space except for the middle of the room?
MIKE: No, it's vaulted and it's like almost 10 foot tall. You can walk around up there comfortably and it covers the whole side - you know, sides of the house. It's huge.
LESLIE: Well, that's great. So that gives you a lot of space to use up there. You can divide up that space by using fabric if you don't want to put up walls to divide up separate areas. You can use interesting sliding fabric panels to create definition of what room is where. You can create a lot of interesting (inaudible) of uses of space, whether it's a sleeping area or a sitting area; almost like a suite that occupies the whole upper floor. It's going to be the favorite room in the house.
MIKE: Yes, my wife's wanting to use it for her craft room to make quilts.
LESLIE: Oh good, and you should get good light up there. So that'll be really nice.
MIKE: I thank you.
LESLIE: Roy in Maryland, what's going on at your money pit?
ROY: I'm having a problem down in my basement area in reference to my closet - two closet areas. The basement is made out of gray brick but the basement is completely finished. And I noticed that I see a lot of mold and wetness, you know, around in the brick area. Also, I was reading some information that you had on the website - before you start hiring contractors. I did have an inspector come in and she took some pictures and everything. What I'm trying to find out, do I need to use a professional contractor to fix this problem? Or how can I relieve this problem?
TOM: Well first of all, if what you're seeing is on the masonry surface, it's probably not mold. It's probably mineral salt deposits.
LESLIE: Does it look white?
ROY: It's kind of - kind of white and brown.
TOM: Yeah, it sounds to me like it's mineral salt deposits. Mold does not generally grow on a masonry surface. You get moss on the outside, which is more of a plant growth, but inside in a basement area, generally it's mineral salt. What happens is you get moisture in the wall on the outside and then the moisture sort of evaporates into the basement air, Roy. And then what happens is it leaves the mineral salts that are in the groundwater behind. And that's what is that sort of brown, crusty - whitish brown crusty stuff. And there's an easy way to tell. Take some vinegar and spray it on that ...
LESLIE: Some white vinegar.
TOM: ... and it'll melt it right away.
ROY: Is that right?
TOM: White vinegar, yeah. But it's basically pointing to a deeper problem and that is that I think, Leslie, he probably needs to address some drainage issues outside.
LESLIE: Yeah, you need to look at the outside of your house before you start addressing what's going on on the inside. And there are a couple of things that you can take a look at, Roy.
First, look at the gutters on your house. Make sure you have gutters, make sure you have enough for the size of your house and make sure you have enough downspouts. Now with your gutters, make sure they're clean. Make sure you clean them out as often as you can or if you're not going to get up there a lot to clean them, put some sort of cover on them so that the debris doesn't get in there and sort of clog everything up. Then you want to make sure that the downspouts are clear so everything flows through nice and smoothly. And then you also want to make sure that where the downspouts deposit the water is not right next to your foundation. You want it to go as far away from the house as you can; minimum three feet. Get it away from there. So look at that.
Then look at the grading, also, on the outside. You want to slope down about six inches over four feet. So it's not drastic but it's enough to get everything moving away. And if you can address those things, you can really keep the moisture down inside your house.
ROY: Oh, OK. So that - based on what you're telling me, I need to do these things first, as far as like trying to get a contractor to deal with any type of drainage issues. Check these areas first, am I correct?
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Because the contractors that deal with moisture problems in the basement, in my opinion, are mostly dishonest.
ROY: I believe that.
TOM: The waterproofing contractors across this country don't tell you the easy things to do, like improve your grading and drainage. What they like to do is to sell you expensive solutions that involve digging up the soil on the outside of your house or digging up the foundation and the floor area on the inside of your house and putting in expensive drainage systems. But if you're getting moisture - and especially if your moisture's consistent with rainfall - it's always stemming from outside drainage issues. And the bottom line is that those are just easy to fix. And they can't make money doing that so they don't tell you about it.
ROY: OK, well I really appreciate that. As I said, before one came over and was telling me about a different type of static pressure (inaudible) ....
ROY: ... brick walls.
TOM: No, you know what? That's like - that's the standard line. They try to scare you. They talk to you about hydrostatic pressure in the wall.
TOM: Well you know, it doesn't make any sense if you think about it, Roy, because if you have water in the soil on the outside, even if they drain it on the inside, that pressure is going to be the same before, during and after.
TOM: So you need to just improve your grading and drainage like Leslie is talking about and that's going to stop the water from getting there. What I would do is I would go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors ...
TOM: ... and put in your zip code and find an ASHI certified inspector in your area. Those guys are the best in the business. And if you put in your zip code, you'll probably get eight or ten that come up or more. You can call through that list, find somebody you're comfortable with and have them do an inspection of that basement. And that's a good idea because those guys are not in the business to sell you any repairs; just to kind of get your problems straightened out.
ROY: And that's called American Home of Inspectors?
TOM: The American Society of Home Inspectors - A-S-H-I.org.
ROY: Oh, thank you so much. You've been extremely helpful.
TOM: You're welcome, Roy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Theresa in Virginia, you're on The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
THERESA: I have a problem with my upstairs being colder than downstairs.
LESLIE: What type of heating system do you have at the house?
THERESA: Gas forced air.
TOM: And is it one zone?
TOM: Do you have a return duct in the hallway on the second floor, Theresa?
THERESA: Yes, I do.
TOM: Is it in the hallway or is it in each individual room?
THERESA: No, it's in the hall.
TOM: A couple of things that you can do.
First of all, you're probably not getting enough return air there, so I would want to make sure that the return duct is working properly. A good way to check that is with your heating system on, or at least the fan on, take a tissue and hold it right near the return duct and make sure it sticks to it because it would be sort of sucking in.
The second thing is, with all of the rooms upstairs, you want to make sure that if the doors are closed they have a very good sized gap underneath them. You need about an inch under the door for the air that's supplied to the rooms to be able to recirculate back to the return duct. And only by recirculating that way will you be able to have enough temperature build up in the air to warm it up.
And then lastly, the thing you should be checking is insulation. The attic ceiling above that has got to have 10 to 15 inches of insulation; otherwise, all of these things will be for naught.
So take a look, Theresa, and see if any of that makes sense to you. But you're probably not getting enough return air upstairs and that's what's going on.
LESLIE: Hey out there in Money Pit land. Maybe you're having that big holiday festivity at your house and something's not going right. Whatever it is, you can call us with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We don't even take New Year's Eve off. We're always here for you. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, is it time for you to buy a new washing machine? Well, AARP says you should consider getting one that will keep up with every phase of your life. Tips on how to do that, next.
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ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/UniversalHome to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. This show could be the difference between a grounded outlet and an embarrassing trip to the hospital. (chuckling) So, don't make mistakes with your home improvement projects. Call us first; we can help you out.
For example, if you're thinking about buying a new washing machine, AARP suggests you check out the new front-loading models. Here's why. You load these washers through a door at the front of the machine. The washer's controls are also on the front, so they're easy to reach. It's going to save your back. You can use these appliances while you sit in a chair; if you're in a wheelchair it's not a problem; and you can also put them on a platform so you can use them without bending whatsoever.
LESLIE: You know, plus, front-loading machines are known for doing a better job of washing the clothes. And it's really fun to watch all the soap suds swirl around. It's something that I enjoy about the front-loading machines. You know, they use less water; less energy; they're gentler on your clothes; they use less detergent; and many models also spin so fast that the clothes are dryer when the wash cycle is over, which is going to help you save money on your electric bill because your dryer is not going to have to work as hard to dry your clothes. So think about a front-loading machine to save money now, save your back later and it gives you something fun to watch while the clothes are being washed. So, not a bad idea.
TOM: For more information, you can log onto AARP's website at AARP.org/UniversalHome. That's AARP.org/UniversalHome.
Well, you can get information about your home improvement projects 24/7 by going to our website at MoneyPit.com where you can also sync n go our podcast. Because, unlike some shows that think you should pay for podcasts, ours - just like our radio show - are free. You can download them anytime you like. You can even search the transcripts for topics you're interested in. Just hit MoneyPit.com. And while you're there, sign up for our free Money Pit e-newsletter.
LESLIE: You know, we just love free things; free advice, free newsletters, free prizes. You know, one caller we're going to choose this hour - at total randomness - is going to win a Master Lock gift pack. It's worth $115. Yours for free if you're the big winner. It's got a luggage lock, a cargo kit, a contractor-grade padlock, a combination lock and one of these really cool Night Watch deadbolts.
TOM: So call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: In Alabama you can find The Money Pit on WRJM, just like David does. What can we do for you in your Money Pit?
DAVID: Hi, I had a question about my house and putting in hardwood floors versus laminate. My house is fairly new. We're the first occupants. And my wife wants laminate but I want hardwood. And it's only worth about 80, maybe 85,000. Would we get the value when we sold it in several years if we put hardwood versus, you know, the cheaper ...
TOM: What are we talking about? Where in the house?
DAVID: The bulk of the house. It's a three bedroom, two bath and we're going to put it in the living room, dining room and kitchen.
TOM: I think you're probably going to get better ROI, if you're concerned about resale, by putting in real wood versus laminate, as good as ...
LESLIE: But is it a single floor house? Are you going right on concrete slab? Is it many stories?
DAVID: It's a single story on concrete slab.
TOM: You can put wood floor down but it has to be engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood is made just like plywood is made with opposing ...
LESLIE: It's like the compromise of hardwood.
LESLIE: It's the hardwood that can go many places in the house.
TOM: Yeah, and I'd recommend the prefinished because the finishes today are very, very durable. And look at the grades carefully. You know, they have residential grades and the commercial grade stuff is virtually indestructible. It's just a lot tougher. And so, that would give you a really long term, good-looking wood floor that would contribute to resale. As good as laminate is, I'd still think that the hardwood floor - engineered or solid - is going to give you better ROI when it comes time to sell.
DAVID: OK. People will just automatically know or ...?
TOM: Well, can you fool them, you mean, if you put down laminate?
TOM: You could but not in the listing (chuckling) when they ask you about floor type and you're going to have to say laminate even though it looks like hardwood.
LESLIE: I mean but the difference is that laminate can go anywhere. If you're dealing with high moisture, laminate's an excellent choice. It can look like anything so if you didn't want it to look like wood it could be anything else under the sun. It's going to be probably similar in price, if you were to go higher end on the laminates, to the engineered hardwood. But it's very important, when you look at the hardwoods, go engineered; otherwise, you really cannot put a solid hardwood on the concrete.
TOM: Yeah, it'll warp and twist and you'll be very unhappy.
You know, there's a good book online at the website for Armstrong Floors. It's The Complete Guide to Flooring and it has all of the strengths and the weaknesses of various types of floors. You might want to print that out - it's about 40 pages - and take a good read-through of that. But I think you'll find that a wood flooring - engineered wood flooring - is probably a great choice here.
DAVID: OK, I appreciate it.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pam in Missouri, what's going on at your money pit?
PAM: Well, I have a shingle roof that's white shingles. And there are black stains showing all across the shingle roof; like a mold. And I want to know how to get that off.
LESLIE: And are you seeing it on the shady side of your house; perhaps like the north side? Or is it all over the roof?
PAM: Mostly on the north side but there is some on the south side also.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, that's generally because perhaps on the south side there might be a tree or something that's blocking it.
LESLIE: So what you want to do is try to, if you can, trim back any of the trees that are sort of creating the shady areas on the roof because the shade really encourages the mold growth and the sun will really kill it if it gets a moment to get on it. And then you can use different things. Are you comfortable with getting up on the roof or does it have a steep pitch and you can't really get up there?
PAM: NO, I can get up on it.
TOM: What you want to do is use a roof cleaner and you can either make one yourself out of bleach and water - one third bleach, two thirds water - or you could use a mildicide that's available at any home center, usually in the paint department. And when you apply the mildicide, you let it sit on the roof for about 15 to 20 minutes so it really starts to get at the mildew that's on the roof. It'll kill it and then you can rinse it off. But remember, if you're working on the roof, it's very steep; it'll slippery with the water, so you have to be very, very careful.
And there's one final thing you can do and that is with respect to the ridge vent. If you have a ridge vent - or even if you don't - you could put one in or replace the one that you have with a copper or a nickel ridge vent. And the reason you'll do that is because as the rain strikes that, some of that metal will release and that will clean the roof as it goes down. So, start with, as Leslie said, cut back the trees so you have a lot of light up there; clean the roof; and then add a copper or nickel ridge vent. And that will keep it clean in the long haul.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: If you're in Chicago, you can find The Money Pit on WYLL, just like Naomi does. What's going on at your house?
NAOMI: Hi, thank you.
During the early part of the year, our old Chicago bungalow, which had sheet metal gutters, ice and snow melted and froze in the gutters and then at one point the gutter fell to the ground ...
TOM: Oh, no.
NAOMI: ... and the other part was still up there. My problem is I want to, you know, replace the gutters - the sheet metal gutters - by having a workman or two come and solder it back together. Can I do that? I can't find them in the telephone book.
TOM: I think, Naomi, this is a job for a gutter repair company ...
TOM: ... that perhaps is accustomed to working with these. I think that you may be hard-pressed to find someone that knows how to solder but they may be able to do a mechanical connection.
LESLIE: Are you interested in keeping the sheet metal ones because of a historical aspect? Because it might be more cost effective just to get completely new gutters.
TOM: Yeah, that's what I was thinking as well.
NAOMI: Well, I don't want to replace the roof at this time and I think it would be difficult to replace the roof after you get new gutters put up. So ...
TOM: Why do you have to replace the roof to - why does it - why does that ...?
NAOMI: No, I just meant when I am ready to, in a few years.
LESLIE: But you don't have to touch the roof to put new gutters up.
NAOMI: Oh no, I know that. My thought is if I put up the new gutters, then the roofing will be difficult for the men without damaging the new aluminum gutters.
TOM: Well, not necessarily. And I would suggest this to you, Naomi. You can put the gutters up with - instead of using gutter nails, they can use lag bolts. There's a very long bolt that's especially designed for gutters. It usually has a Phillips head and it has like a lag screw on it. So you can physically remove the gutters when it comes time to replace the roof without worrying about damaging them.
NAOMI: Oh, is that right?
TOM: Yeah. So why don't you think about doing that because, you know, repairing gutters is usually not something that's cost effective. For the cost of getting somebody there to do that work, you could probably replace them completely.
Naomi, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you've heard many times before - and Kermit the Frog says it a lot - it's certainly not easy being green. But it is easy to be green. Up next, we're going to have tips to help you incorporate environmentally friendly building solutions into your remodel.
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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: Let's talk about your home improvement projects. Let's talk about your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Let's talk about the new trends that are out there.
LESLIE: Yeah, and I love right now that - well, it's not right now. It's been a trend that's been a long time coming back and I'm so glad for it. It's the trend of thinking green and being a tree hugger and being nice to Mother Earth. And I'm so glad that it's hip to be green. And not only is it hip, it's easier on Mother Earth, healthier for you and cheaper in the long run. And remodeling a home green is much, more easier than you think. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry - or NARI - just launched it's new green remodeling educational program.
TOM: That's right. This program helps remodeling contractors across the country incorporate cost-saving and earth-sustaining concepts into their clients' homes. Joining us to tell us easy ways that you can go green is Ron Cowgill. Ron's the owner of DR Services Unlimited, a remodeling firm in the Chicago area where, I might add mention that that The Money Pit is heard on WYLL.
RON: Hello, sir. How you doing?
So, contrary to Kermit the Frog (chuckling), is it easy being green?
RON: (chuckling) I was just going to make that comment. (laughing) But you beat me to it. (laughter)
TOM: Well. I'm a pro. (laughing)
RON: Yeah, it's your show, right?
TOM: That's right, that's right. You ...
LESLIE: Yeah, Tom's allowed the punch line.
TOM: That's right, that's right.
Well, but you know, we're kidding but I mean it used to be that it was very hard to go green. It was hard to find green materials. It was hard to use green construction.
LESLIE: Well and it was something people didn't automatically think of or even want to include. But it makes so much more sense these days; from energy efficiency to resource efficiency of what things we're finding on the earth itself and what we're running low on.
TOM: So Ron, why don't we start by defining green construction? What is it?
RON: I think it used to be 'My windows are drafty. Can I get some weatherstripping?'
RON: That's evolved into, you know, indoor air quality and you know, energy conservation. There's a lot more to it. And so, what people are doing now is they look into the materials they're using and making sure that those are coming from renewable resources and they're really concerned about that. And sometimes they tend to cost a little bit more but a lot of times it doesn't. And it's just a matter of watching what's going into your home to make sure that it is green.
TOM: Well, what's interesting is that even though the materials might cost a little more, the consumers are driving it now because there's a lot of interest in being environmentally responsible, as there should be. And as a result, you have consumers demanding green products; products that are made with environmental responsibility in mind and that are installed in ways that are environmentally responsible that end up leaving you with a house that's environmentally responsible.
TOM: And what's happening is that's driving the cost down. So I don't see the cost being - it being a premium for much longer.
RON: No. No, it really isn't. And the more areas where we have to go purchase the materials and we're not ordering from, you know, California and they're shipping them here to Chicago, you know, those costs are coming down. Suppliers are actually carrying a lot of the products now that, you know, two or three years ago, they didn't.
LESLIE: Ron, do you find that it's - is it something that you can only do if you're doing a new build or starting from scratch? Is it easier then to go green or are there things that you can do to retrofit your current home?
RON: That's all we do is remodeling and home repair stuff. And there's - if you take out a wall, why can't you reuse some of the 2x4s? Or you know, there's things like that; reuse some of the wire, the pipe that we pull out. A lot of times some of that can be reused. In the past, we would throw it in a dumpster and it would just go to the landfill.
TOM: You gave us a good list of ways that you can implement green remodeling into your own home. Let's start by talking about a few of these. Nontoxics, paints and sealants. Why is that important?
RON: That goes directly towards the indoor air quality. And especially as it starts getting colder, you know, this time of year, people have their windows closed and they're using paints that have, you know, they do have offgassing. And so you end up with that smell and a lot of people tend to be irritated with that; you know, the chemicals that are released into the air.
LESLIE: It's not even just paints. It's stains on prefabricated furnishings. It's carpet fibers. It's materials. I mean you're seeing so many companies becoming more responsible and using natural fibers and renewable fibers to create these things so that they don't offgas.
RON: Right. Right. We even had a client that was - because some of the glues in plywood are - use formaldehyde and he was allergic to that. He actually had to move out of his house. We didn't know he was allergic to it until we installed a new subfloor in his kitchen. So, there - you - as a contractor, you have to really be aware of ...
TOM: You could really be sensitive to this.
RON: ... what's going on and what products you're putting into the place.
TOM: Some other things you talk about - programmable thermostats, energy efficient appliances. I might add that now is a good time to invest in energy efficient appliances because most appliances that are energy efficient are available for the energy tax credit program and you can actually get some money off of your taxes as a result of installing things.
Tankless water heater's a great idea. Quality insulation. Native plants for landscaping. Does that mean look around your area as opposed to importing plants that might cost more in fuel to get to your house?
RON: Exactly. That's exactly what they're wanting you to do instead of, you know, shipping stuff across the country.
LESLIE: And you know that your garden or your landscaping is going to thrive because these are things that do well in your area, rather than bringing something from California all the way to Chicago only to freeze.
RON: Right. They belong here. You know ...
RON: ... we don't have very many palm trees. (chuckling)
TOM: Well it's nice to see the National Association of the Remodeling Industry sort of taking some leadership on this. You know, remodeling is projected to be a $292 billion industry in 2006 alone and going to be growing in leaps and bounds; especially as new homes get - the new home market sort of chills a little bit. Many people will be staying put and I think you guys are going to do very well and I'm glad to see that you're promoting environmentally responsible remodeling projects.
Ron Cowgill from NARI, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
If you want more information, you can call NARI's national hotline at 800-611-NARI or you can log onto their website at RemodelToday.com.
LESLIE: Well, if the things topping your home improvement list are flooring, there's a wide array of flooring choices out there with inspiring looks that range from genuine materials, such as hardwood and ceramic, to the great pretenders - as Tom likes to say - such as laminate and vinyl. So, how do you decide which material is right for you in your home? Well, we're going to have the step-by-step solution, 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: From rugs to bugs and coast to coast, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us with your home improvement question right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. Never, ever underestimate the power of a floor. It helps to set the tone for the character of your entire room, so before you decide which floor is right for you, think about the lifestyle and performance needs of the area in your home where this floor is going to go.
First, consider the warranty. You know, different floor types are warranted for different physical aspects and for different lengths of time. Also, consider that the floor's life expectancy - you know, some floors, such as hardwood and ceramic, they might last a lifetime if you maintain them properly; while others, such as a laminate, might only last for about 15 to 30 years, which is a really long time; while still others, such as a peel and stick floor - you know, those vinyl tiles - they might only last a few years. So think about how much work you want to do, how long you want it to stay there and what you want it to look like. And that'll be a good tip.
TOM: Also think about this. Do you have an active household? You know, some floor types are better than others at standing up to different types of traffic like pets and liquid spills and kids. And you know, you really need to think about what kind of traffic you're going to have in this area. Vinyl sheets and vinyl tile are great choices for homes with kids and critters.
Finally, consider the care and maintenance of the floor. Most of today's floors offer easy maintenance to keep them looking good over time, but some are easier to care for than others. You know, some require nothing more than vacuuming and mopping, while others require periodic refinishing. Laminate and vinyl sheet are also two of the easiest floors to care for.
You a little confused by all of this information? There is a guide online that can help you sort it out. It's at Armstrong.com. Just click on The Complete Guide to Flooring at Armstrong.com.
LESLIE: Well, if you like our free advice, you're going to love our free prizes. If you call us right now and get your question answered on air, we're going to choose one of those lucky callers at random who could win the Master Lock gift package. It's worth 115 bucks. It's got a ton of different kind of locks plus this really cool Night Watch deadbolt.
TOM: That's right. The Master Lock Night Watch deadbolt is the only deadbolt that's designed to prevent an intruder from entering your home even if they have your key. Want to qualify? Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question.
So Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Pat in Nebraska, listening on KFOR, what's going on at your house?
PAT: Oh well, you would not believe this.
LESLIE: Uh-oh, try us.
TOM: Try us.
PAT: I have a two-story house and my upper stairs bathroom - the toilet itself - will actually go ahead and drain itself down.
TOM: You mean like it'll just sort of flush on its own?
PAT: No, no. This is not a flush. The tank and stuff always stays like full ...
LESLIE: But the bowl empties out?
PAT: The bowl empties out. It's real frustrating when you have to go up there with a plunger, you know?
TOM: Yeah, I bet.
LESLIE: Is it - is it a toilet that you frequently use or is it sort of in a spare room that nobody really bothers with?
PAT: Oh, no, no, no. It's used quite often.
TOM: Well, I'm not sure if this will solve it but have you changed the fill and the flush valves?
PAT: Oh, yes.
TOM: Because once the bowl - the water should be steady because there's a trap there that basically the water fills - when the bowl is filled, it sits and there's a trap here that sort of holds the water in place until you lift the flush valve and the water drains and then it pulls out. But if your flush valve is leaking, that could cause this problem.
PAT: No, no. It doesn't leak out. I've even put dye into it.
TOM: Oh, really?
TOM: What's probably happening in your house is you have a blocked vent. And because the toilet can't vent normally, it's trying to pull that air from the different traps around the toilet and that's what's causing the water to actually go down. The solution here is to snake out the drain pipe from the roof on down. Because somewhere there's an obstruction in the vent pipe and that's what's causing suction on the bowl, which is making the water go down.
PAT: Well, I have to give that a shot.
TOM: Alright, Pat. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: I've heard of the sky falling but windows falling? Well, that's what's happened in New Jersey. Annie, what's going on?
ANNIE: Oh, lord. That window has got to go because every time I open the window I pray that the top don't meet with the bottom and get my fingers caught. And I've already had that done already on the kitchen window but we already fixed that problem. We just keep it closed. We don't even go near it.
LESLIE: Oh, no.
TOM: OK, so when you open it up the window falls?
ANNIE: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: Is it like the springs are broken?
ANNIE: (chuckling) I got my fingers got in it about 40 plus years ago ...
TOM: Oh, boy.
ANNIE: ... and we haven't touched that window since. (chuckling) This house is older than Methuselah. (laughter) But anyhow ...
TOM: Well, if it's a 40-year-old window, do you think it might be time to think about a new window, Annie?
ANNIE: I know, but right now the money.
TOM: Well, you can buy a replacement jamb for a window. And what a replacement jamb is - are these wood windows?
ANNIE: Yes, they are but the wood has like about had it.
LESLIE: In the jamb or around the sash itself?
ANNIE: The whole thing. It's sliding down. So my husband put a piece of metal up there - it's like one of those little jammers, like you said - and stuck it up in there but the thing fell.
TOM: There are replacement jambs that are available at home centers or building supply centers. And basically what they do is they pinch the window. They sort of grab the sides of the window. You take both operable sashes out; you put the replacement jambs in and they sort of pinch the window in place. So instead of being a spring that holds it from the top, it kind of pinches it from the side.
LESLIE: The jamb pieces are the two pieces on the side that have the tracks built in. And the sash are the upper and the bottom piece of glass that sort of move up and down and make the operable window pieces. So you can still use that sash but then replace the sides; the jamb panels is what Tom's talking about.
ANNIE: OK, could we possibly take that window out and put another window in? But the problem there is that if we put a new window in, we have an air conditioner and you know it rocks up and down. There's not going to be any much of a lip for it to hold onto.
TOM: Well, Annie, another thing that you might want to think about doing here is simply installing a replacement window. Now, a replacement window fits inside the opening of the old window. You basically remove those operable windows and you take them out, you take the jambs out on the side of them and you basically buy a replacement window to fit inside that. And all replacement windows are pretty much custom today ...
TOM: ... unless you happen to be fortunate enough to find one that fits exactly. But they can be ordered at any home center. The ordering of the window doesn't really add a lot of cost to it because they're all - they're all made to be custom. They're all made to fit somewhere.
ANNIE: You saved my life. (chuckling)
TOM: Well, thank you very much. (chuckling)
ANNIE: I thank you so much for the information on our bathroom, by the way, which is a gorgeous bathroom. You did say get tiles and, oh boy, did I win.
LESLIE: Oh, good.
ANNIE: The best thing I ever put in there was tiles; not linoleum.
TOM: So you're repeat Money Pit customers, is that what you're saying?
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
LESLIE: Glad to help.
ANNIE: Keep it going. I love your show. Thank you again.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Annie, a Money Pit frequent flyer club member, apparently.
LESLIE: Hey, we're glad to help.
TOM: Up next, we're going to reach into our e-mail bag to answer some of your questions. Like this one from Barb, Leslie. She's having trouble with mold around her windows.
TOM: Let's solve that, after this.
[audio timestamp: 39:47]
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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website, MoneyPit.com, making good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: So you got a question? Getting in touch with us is as easy as 1-2-3. Just call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT or log onto our website where we get e-mail questions 24/7 as well.
Leslie, let's jump into that e-mail bag.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got one here from Barb in Deer Park, Illinois who writes: 'I have mold on the edges of my wood windows. It affects the ...' Ooh, sorry. I was going to say it affects the mood. I'm sure it does. (laughter) 'It affects the wood where the caulk and the window meet.' (laughing)
TOM: Yeah, that's very depressing. (laughing)
LESLIE: 'We do not keep our humidifier, which is on the furnace, on. I've tried scrubbing the mold with bleach and soap but have not been successful. Do you have any suggestions?' I hope my stupid reading made some sense.
TOM: Well, you know, I think probably when it's on wood windows, it's just - it's the wood itself that's probably starting to decay. It may not be mold in the sick house sense of it but you might be having some moisture problems and some decay. And that's endemic to the wood itself. It's not on top of the surface. It's really nothing that you can scrub off. And it's a wood window; you may have to sand it off to get to that particular part of the surface.
LESLIE: Well, if it's - also if it's where the caulk and the window meet, maybe there's something that's malfunctioning within the wall or where the window was installed or maybe it's just so old it's time to replace it.
TOM: Or, you know, you might be using the wrong kinds of caulk. There are different types of caulks out there. And if you have a moisture issue, kitchen and bath caulk works really well because it has a mildicide in it. DAP makes one that has Microban in it which works really well. It just can't grow mold. The other thing to look at is your humidity inside the house. Make sure that you have fans that are vented out, like at your kitchen and bathroom; not the kind that recirculate. And also, look at the drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter. Believe it or not, if you have clogged gutters and water that collects at the foundation, that will weep into the house. It will raise the humidity level inside the house, making that house so much more damp. And where you have a lot of dampness and you have a lot of cold windows, you're going to get condensation. And that ...
LESLIE: You're going to get moisture. You're going to get mold. So make sure, Barb, you look outside; keep those downspouts clear; keep those gutters clear; look at your grading, make sure it slopes away; get that mildicide caulk. And you should be in good shape.
TOM: OK, so you're ready to tackle that next home improvement project. Maybe you're not going to do it yourself. You've hired a reputable contractor with a current license and insurance. You've done your homework and know the payment schedule. You've gotten lien releases from the subs. So, what do you do next? Well, it can mean the difference between living through a relatively easy home improvement project and barely surviving your remodel. Leslie has this information in today's edition of Leslie's Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, nothing like a home improvement project can be totally disrupting in your home. But it doesn't have to be that bad. If you take a couple of steps in advance and do some things before that contractor shows up, you can actually help them to help you have a better experience. So here's what you do.
Before that contractor shows up, have them make a list of the phases of the projects they'll be doing. This way you're going to know exactly what work's going to be done when and the amount of time needed for each phase so you're not expecting something that's not going to happen. Make sure you clear the area and make room for the workers and their gear and their materials. Let them know which bathroom they can use and which door they're going to come in. This way, you're not unhappy and they know exactly what's going on.
Make sure you keep that builder's phone number handy just in case of questions during construction, but don't use it too, too often. Save it for when you really need a swift answer. And remember to expect the unexpected. Even just tearing down a wall may uncover a whole host of problems that are going to require a change in the plan. And remember, think about deciding what you're going to do without water or power; you know, just in case there are shutoffs. Even when they're not expected, you're going to have a plan.
And finally, remember, nothing wins workers over more than a word of appreciation and a nice hot cup of coffee. So be friendly. They'll love you for it.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us any time with your home improvement questions.
We're just about out of time but before we go, we want to talk to you about next week's program. It's going to be a great one. We're going to talk about kids. You know they're curious by nature. It's how they learn. So it's real important to be extra cautious and make sure all of your baby grouping (ph) skills are up to snuff. We're going to get some help on that topic from our good friend, Bob Vila, who will join us next week on this program.
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: 44:30]
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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.)