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: Call us now with your home improvement question. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, we're going to talk about winter storms. They can put a damper on your holiday fun if they cause a power outage, but there is a way to make sure you never get left in the dark again. It's called a backup standby generator. It's a solution that's surprisingly very affordable. We're going to have some tips to help you pick the best option for your home, coming up.
LESLIE: Well, in the event that you do lose power at your money pit, you might be very tempted to walk around your house from room to room with a burning candle, which really is not the best idea. Because you know, there are hundreds of fires which are caused by candle mishaps; especially this time of year. So later this hour, we're going to take a look at the best ways to enjoy the ambience of candlelight but stay safe at the same time.
TOM: And after the guests have left and before the leftovers get served, we bet that you'll be faced with lots of post-holiday cleanup chores. That's why, coming up, we've got a quick tip to make that cleanup just a little bit easier after the holidays; including how not to be picking up those needles or tinsel, say, into July.
LESLIE: Yeah, I always find them under the rug like sometime around June, July. (chuckles)
TOM: A special little surprise; little reminder of the holiday festivities.
LESLIE: Oh, it puts me in the mood for the following Christmas. (Tom chuckles) And we've got a great prize for you this hour. We're giving away one that can help you do a quick couch makeover in your house. We've got a suede stretch slipcover from our friends over at Sure Fit. It's worth 130 bucks but it could be yours for free.
TOM: So pick up the phone and give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Let us help you with your next project. Let's get right to those phones.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Pauline in New Jersey is dealing with a situation where a wall and window are coming apart. What can we do for you?
PAULINE: Before I start, I'd like to thank you both so much for your wonderful show.
TOM: Well, you're very welcome.
LESLIE: Thanks, Pauline.
PAULINE: You absolutely have explanations that are so uncomplicated that for anybody like myself, who knows very little about fixing things, you make it so interesting that I just want to listen to it every week.
TOM: Well, thank you very much.
PAULINE: Yes, and I recommended it to other people as well. You're excellent.
PAULINE: But now I'll ask you my question. (Leslie chuckles) I have a side wall around a single-hung, double-pane window.
PAULINE: It's a double window facing the front of my house in my living room. And all of a sudden I noticed, a few weeks ago, stains on the side wall that frames the window and the caulking is away from the frame of the window ...
PAULINE: ... on the - is this a problem? There's no water on the sill.
TOM: What kind of siding do you have?
TOM: Alright, well first of all, we want to know if there's an active leak or not.
TOM: Do you think it's leaking or do you think it's just a ...?
PAULINE: I don't know because what it is is not's - I have a top - like a transom-type window that's at the very top.
PAULINE: It's nine-foot ceilings. Then I have the top window. It's a tract house so the top window is not double-hung; it's a single-hung. This cracking is starting just above where it would lock.
TOM: OK. What you're explaining is normal wear and tear; normal movement inside a house. You almost always get some expansion and contraction and the gap between the window trim and the inside wall is going to move. And so, from time to time, you do need to recaulk that.
TOM: You do that with a latex caulk.
TOM: It's a very easy project. Yeah, don't use a silicone because it'll get real gooey on you. But, basically, use a latex caulk and you can use that very special caulking tool - you have five of them on each hand (Leslie and Pauline chuckle) - to smear it in there and ...
LESLIE: Your finger. Generally, dip your finger in some water first.
PAULINE: Is there a special brand that's better than others?
TOM: Well, all of the sort of the name-brand latex products are good. I use DAP a lot.
PAULINE: DAP? OK.
TOM: Yep, DAP - D-A-P.
PAULINE: And you use your finger rather than an instrument.
TOM: That and a sponge; you know, to kind of pull off the excess. Once you do that, that will eliminate the draft and the gap. And then in terms of the wall itself, if you've got some discoloration there, you're always better off priming it if you don't know what that is because that gives you a [neutral, reliable] (ph) surface on which to apply new paint. So ...
PAULINE: Thank you again for all your help. You're wonderful and I love listening to your show.
TOM: You're welcome, Pauline.
LESLIE: Thanks so much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steve in South Carolina needs help with a crawlspace. Tell us what's going on.
STEVE: What I'm looking at is I have a crawlspace. It stays damp sometimes and when it rains it seems to get the water that comes underneath the footing of the foundation. It doesn't come through the brick but it comes underneath the footing and then comes back up and then it makes a little stream that runs around and goes back out the bottom of the house. You know it eventually goes out but I was just wondering how you stop that from coming in.
TOM: Does it seem to get worse after a heavy rainfall?
STEVE: Well, a heavy rainfall it'll puddle up a little bit at the crawlspace door ...
TOM: Mm-hmm, right.
STEVE: ... and then by the next day it'll filter out.
TOM: Right. Well, in any case, the way to deal with this is starting outside that crawlspace area, Steve, by looking at the grading and the drainage at the foundation perimeter. Leslie, I'd start here at the roof, probably.
LESLIE: Yeah, you want to make sure that you've got gutters along your house and that the gutters are clean and your downspouts are free-flowing. And then you want to look at where the downspouts deposit the water. You want to make sure that it's not depositing all that runoff at the foundation wall. You want it to sort of go three feet or so away from the house. You want to get that water away.
You want to look at the grading. You want to make sure that you slope down about four inches over six feet so that it just gradually slopes away so that the water moves away from it. You want to make sure, if you've got any stones or anything holding dirt and water in a flowerbed around the foundation, that you allow that to have more drainage.
If you work from the outside in it really does a great job of keeping the moisture out and especially since you see more water with a rainfall it really is consistent with water that's happening outside.
STEVE: Alright, thanks a lot.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. It is perfect time to make your list of New Year's resolutions and perhaps one of them is to finally fix that squeaky front door (Tom chuckles) or save more money by not using so much energy. So whatever it is, we want to help you get everything all lined up for a fantastic 2009. Give us a call 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up, storms, blizzards, even some bad snow can knock out power in your area but you don't have to get left in the dark. When we come back we're going to tell you all the ins and outs of installing a power system that never, ever goes away.
[audio timestamp: 0:07:21.2]
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 you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Sure Fit stretch suede slipcover. It's worth 130 bucks. Now these are fantastic slipcovers. They just sit right on top of your existing sofa. You do a little tucking. Everything looks fantastic and the best part is that they are completely washable. So if things get a little out of hand on New Year's Eve, you don't have to worry. You can wash all of those wine stains away after a fantastic party. But you've got to be in it to win it, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Now, if you've ever been in a power outage - say, during a bad winter storm or, these days, perhaps there seems to be no reason; your power just goes out - you know it's not fun. It's pretty inconvenient. You're in the dark. You're probably cold with no way to power your fridge, your lights or just about anything else in your house. And with the aging power grid, blackouts are becoming more and more common. That's why it's a good time to think about installing emergency backup power; especially if you've got kids or an elderly person in your home that really, really needs to have that power 24/7.
LESLIE: Yeah, and power outages; they can cause numerous risks from illness, from food-borne bacteria. And not to mention the money that gets wasted when an entire refrigerator or freezer full of food gets completely spoiled. And then there's also the risk of fire from candle use; which you should never do, by the way. And then there's also the risk of heat stroke or hypothermia depending on what the weather is; whether it's super hot or cold outside. Either way, you want to make sure that the air inside your home is conditioned to the right temperature situation.
TOM: Well, a great way to avoid all of this is to install a standby backup generator. These are fantastic appliances that have become a permanent part of many homes' mechanical systems. Basically, they're there when you need it. In fact, my house is actually powered by a Guardian standby generator. It's fantastic. It comes on within about 15 seconds of us losing our power and the only thing that's not so hot is when the neighbors line up with all of the milk and cheese and eggs that I need to refrigerate until the neighborhood comes back on again.
If you want more tips on backup standby generators, we would recommend Generac.com. That's the website for the Guardian generators. Generac.com. You can check out the different options there and, as I said before, they are surprisingly affordable, not so hard to install and can have you powered up permanently in a very short timeframe.
888-666-3974. Let's get back to those phones and power up some home improvement projects.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Let's head on over to Ann in New Jersey who's got a hole in the basement wall. What's going on?
ANN: I was in my kitchen and I heard water running down in my basement. I go down my basement and there's a hole. It's like 34 inches - I measured it - from the corner and about 25 inches up from the floor and it's coming in like a faucet.
ANN: Now about tens year ago I had my basement waterproofed. There's a drain pipe on the corner and I'm wondering could that have broken or something.
TOM: Ann, let me ask you a question. What was the weather like when you found this? Had it rained recently?
ANN: It had started pouring.
TOM: Yeah. Well, this is an easy fix, Ann. The good news is that the reason that the wall leaked is because you have poor drainage conditions right outside the wall. And by that I mean that the gutters are blocked or the downspout is not directed far enough against the foundation or the soil is flat and holding water against that.
Now the solution is two-fold. First of all, we want you to fix up the drainage conditions outside and if you go to MoneyPit.com and search 'wet basement' you'll find everything you need to know to do just that. Secondly, in terms of that hole, that's just a simple repair. Go to a home center, pick up an epoxy patching compound and fill that hole in. It's kind of like you'd spackle a wall; it's just a little bit stiffer material. And those two things will stop that from leaking.
Ann, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Bonnie in North Dakota needs some help keeping a crawlspace warm. Tell us about what's going on.
BONNIE: I was just wondering how you insulate a crawlspace when the floor joists go one direction and then your water lines go another direction.
TOM: Very carefully. (all chuckle) You know, it's not so hard to do. I mean that's very common that the water lines are going to go perpendicular to the floor joist. Typically, you want to use unfaced batt insulation; so unfaced fiberglass. You're going to carefully - I would use the precut pieces; they're easier to handle. And you're going to squeeze those up in between the floor joists. You're going to support them in place with wire hangers and whenever you come to a place where there are pipes in the way, just sort of work the insulation around it. But remember, don't jam the insulation in; don't compress it, because insulation has to be fluffy to work properly.
TOM: And then after you get the insulation in, make sure you put a vapor barrier down across the crawlspace floor to reduce the amount of humidity in the crawlspace. That will help keep the insulation drier and make it even more effective.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Because once it gets moist it cuts the r value.
BONNIE OK. OK, great. Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Bonnie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: James in Kentucky, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JAMES: I've got a 1968 Buddy trailer that's semi-stuck into the house (inaudible at 0:13:37.4) and I'm just curious enough to call you to find out whether or not it would be worth my while to pull the rest of it our or ...
TOM: James, what's a buddy trailer?
JAMES: It's a 12x60 trailer.
TOM: OK. OK.
JAMES: House trailer that was built by Buddy.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
JAMES: And my wife bought it about 20 years ago. We've been married 18 years and I've been building onto it ever since.
JAMES: I've taken the frame out from underneath it and the roof is still on it; the original roof. There's an A-frame over the top of it but the original trailer roof is still in there ...
JAMES: ... and there's still part of the floor there.
JAMES: But, for the most part, the trailer has been eliminated. And we were thinking of selling our house and I was just wondering if it would be worthwhile to take that out or is that going to be - I mean it's going to be in the disclosure that it was once a trailer.
TOM: Mm-hmm. I think that right now you're probably better off just disclosing what it is; unless there's anything - is there anything wrong with it? I mean is it a problem in any way?
JAMES: Not for the most part. It's all just about brand new.
TOM: Well, then I wouldn't disturb it. I mean I would disclose it and let the next owner decide if it's an issue or not. But I wouldn't spend money trying to eliminate it just because maybe it wasn't built properly. If it's not been a problem and you say there's a lot of new stuff in there, I'd disclose it so you're covered and let the new owner decide what they want to do.
JAMES: OK. Well, that's a real big help.
TOM: Alright, James. Well ...
JAMES: I really like your show. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: OK, well thanks so much. You like our show and you like our answer, huh?
JAMES: I love it. But I thank y'all very much ...
TOM: You're welcome, James.
JAMES: ... for taking my question and it's been a big help, believe me. (chuckles)
TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jean, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JEAN: I have a driveway where a birch tree - the roots of this birch tree are pushing up a hole in my driveway.
JEAN: And I really don't want to lose the tree. I would say it's about three feet from where the hole is; you know, where the tree is growing. And I'm just wondering what I could do to stop the root from coming up and, at the same time, save my driveway.
TOM: Well, trees and driveways don't always go together quite well and - let's see. To try to save that tree, well, we could try a little bit of trimming but I can't guarantee you that it's not going to do severe damage. If you've got a cracked driveway already, you may want to pull out those broken pieces, dig down and try to remove some of the root mass that's in that area and then repatch the driveway. You would use an epoxy driveway patching compound - an epoxy cement - which is going to have more adhesive qualities than plain cement and it will seal it quite nicely. The thing is, if you get a lot of movement under there, though, and those tree roots want to lift up, it'll crack again.
JEAN: Yeah, I thought maybe if you cut the roof off right near the tree, but ...
TOM: Well, I mean you could try that but the thing is it may have some damage on the tree or it might not.
JEAN: That's what I'm afraid of.
JEAN: OK, well I'll try it by doing it in the driveway itself.
TOM: Alright, if the tree comes down, remember, 10, 12 feet away next time. OK?
TOM: Alright. (Leslie chuckles)
Jean, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, this time of year we're certainly using more and more candles around our homes and if you are lighting the menorah or using candles to decorate for the holidays, we've got some tips to keep you safe. That's coming up, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:17:30.8]
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. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and, as a homeowner, you guys are probably painfully aware - of course, by things breaking down - that your house and the items inside of it need regular maintenance. But you might not know exactly where you need to start; what do you have to do first; what do you do every month; what do you do once a year; what do you do once a season; and what you can do maybe every couple of years. I know it gets really confusing.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely, but that's where we come in. You need to visit MoneyPit.com because right there on the bottom left side of our home page is your home improvement calendar. It will lay out your home maintenance projects for you weekend by weekend, one month at a time all year long. It's all free at MoneyPit.com. Check it out.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you head on over to MoneyPit.com right now I bet you can find some projects that have been brewing and maybe want to be number one or number two on your New Year's resolution list. So head over there today. And, in fact, we've got some great information about the holidays and candles and how everybody loves to have candlelight in your house and they really do add such a beautiful softness and just glow to a party or even just an evening at home. But you do need to keep in mind that there are safety tips that you do need to follow. Just because it's a candle and the flame is very small doesn't mean that it doesn't pose a hazard to you and your family and your home.
Number one - never leave a candle burning in your room unattended. Make sure you just blow them out before you leave the room; even if it's just for a few minutes because a few minutes can turn into a half-an-hour if you get a phone call or something. And make sure you especially blow them out before you go to sleep.
If you celebrate Hanukkah, make sure you get an electric menorah. If you really, really have to have the real thing next year, make sure you choose a menorah that has sturdy candleholders in them so that the candles themselves aren't going to tip over or burn and fall down and get wax all over the place. You really want to make sure that there's a little bay area underneath the candle itself to catch that dripping wax.
You also want to keep your candles away from clothing and books and magazines; especially curtains. So mind where you place them. And after you use your candle, make sure you trim the wick to about a quarter of an inch and don't use pillar or taper candles when they get within two inches of the holder.
So you really want to make sure that you do safe operations and you maintain your candles properly. I know they seem like a small thing but a small situation can turn into a really bad fire. So pay attention and enjoy them.
TOM: Good advice that will keep you safe.
888-666-3974. Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Gary in Oregon, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
GARY: I have a shower that probably hasn't been cleaned in many years.
GARY: And it has a buildup of water spots on the glass and on the metal framing and also on the - it has cultured marble sides.
GARY: And we're doing very well getting the soap scum off but the water spots are terrible and they're on the metal framing of the glass door and the window.
TOM: OK, well there's a product called CLR. Have you heard of that?
TOM: CLR. It stands for Calcium-Lime-Rust. It takes off a lot of those mineral deposits, which is what you're seeing. And that should be all you need.
LESLIE: Well and also Gary, if you've got some white vinegar around the house, I would just put some on a sponge and see how you do with that because the white vinegar does very well at sort of disintegrating all of that mineral buildup as well. Because it's been there for ages and ages you might need to step it up to the CLR but I would start with vinegar.
GARY: OK, thank you.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Catherine in Indiana is dealing with an issue in the toilet tank. What do you have; rust stains? What's going on in there?
CATHERINE: Oh, well the inside of the tank gets a lot of rust in it. I have water with some rust problems and no water softener. And I can clean the bowl with a toilet brush but I'm thinking if I could get all of that rusty scum out of the tank, maybe the toilet bowl wouldn't get dirty so fast. Now I have tried using a brush on the inside of the tank. What that does is just settle all those rust particles down to the bottom ...
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
CATHERINE: ... and then sucks them into the toilet again. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Have you tried using CLR; Calcium-Lime-Rust?
CATHERINE: No, I have not.
TOM: OK. That's a good product for cleaning up toilet tanks and toilet bowls. CLR. It's been around for a zillion years and it really works pretty well. I'd give that a shot. Not so unusual to find those types of rust deposits; usually from the iron that's in the water that builds up over a number of years and that product is specifically designed to try to get it out.
CATHERINE: Now that's not going to interfere with the plastic mechanism that's inside there, is it?
TOM: No. No, no, no. Not at all. What you have to watch out for when it comes to the mechanisms of the toilets are bleach-based cleansers.
TOM: Bleach is very corrosive. But if you use a product like CLR you'll be perfectly fine.
CATHERINE: Oh, I hope so. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you might be staring at your Christmas tree and noticing that it's getting a little dry and crunchy and the needles are hitting the floor and you're thinking about ways to get it out of your house pretty soon. But you're wondering, 'How can I get it out without 8,000 needles hitting the floor and then me finding them next year?' When we come back, we're going to tell you how to make that post-Christmas cleanup a little bit easier.
[audio timestamp: 0:23:37.7]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators, America's choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: 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: Call us right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. And one question you might have is, 'How do I keep my furniture looking new all the time?' We've got the solution if you call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We're giving away a Sure Fit stretch suede slipcover worth 120 bucks. It's washable, it's easy to use and your old furniture will get a whole new look. If you want to win it, pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask us.
LESLIE: And if you are lucky enough to be our fantastic winner this hour, you are going to get that great slipcover and you know a slipcover is really an excellent way to not only change the look of a room in your house but you can also cover up some unsightly stains, especially if you've got kids in the house; they spill everything on every piece of upholstery and, at some point, you just give up on the cleaning. So a slipcover is an excellent way to do that.
Now, with your Christmas tree, when you end up with a huge stack of needles you really don't want to sweep those under the rug. So we've got some ideas here to help you make your Christmas cleanup a lot less of a headache than it usually turns out to be.
First off, skip the tinsel. I know it looks great and it's really festive but it gets everywhere, including on your cats and dogs, and you will be finding strands of that glittery silver stuff until the summertime.
TOM: You know what? Speaking of cats and dogs, do you know what Spot did last year?
LESLIE: Gosh, did he eat it?
TOM: He ate the tinsel.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And there was silver poop?
TOM: Apparently it tastes good, so ... (Leslie chuckles) But after a while I noticed that the tree was sort of tinsel light, you know, maybe about two feet off the ground.
LESLIE: But Spot was receiving radio transmissions fantastically? (laughs)
TOM: (laughing) Exactly.
LESLIE: You know what we do instead of tinsel, which I think is a great idea? I bought like a red, beaded garland and I cut it up into maybe eight-inch-long pieces and then I draped it over the branches of the tree; so it was like a thicker beading. And they weren't beaded on a string. They were sort of like the bead was affixed to the string; so when I cut it, it didn't all slip off. You know what I'm saying? And that really looks fantastic.
TOM: How about foil wrapping? That's probably another good idea to do.
LESLIE: Oh, gosh. Foil wrapping paper is fantastic. It looks great. It's not as easy to open as paper-paper; so you know, when the kids want to sit down and just rip into a gift they need to be a little bit more cautious at it. But it means that there's less paper to clean up; plus, it's recyclable.
TOM: And finally, a quick tip now to clean up all those pine needles. I love Christmas tree bags. You know those big bags that go under the tree; you simply lift them up and around and over the tree and toss the whole thing out.
TOM: But what do you do if you forgot to put one down? Well, actually, if you wait 'til after Christmas you can probably buy them half off (Leslie chuckles) and with all of the ornaments and stuff off the tree - it actually gets kind of light because it's pretty dried out by then - just lift it up, slip the bag underneath and then pick it up around the sides and take it outside. In fact, I don't even pull the stand out. I take it outside and then I cut open the bottom of the bag and like extract my stand ...
TOM: ... when it's already on the side of the road. Yeah. So I don't have any needles that hit the ground.
LESLIE: I always lay it down onto a sheet and then roll the whole thing up in a sheet. And having lived in Manhattan for many years, there was a time when my tree was so petrified and so wide that I cut it up into like four sections and brought it down sideways.
TOM: Well, there you go. Some tips, some tricks and techniques to make your holiday cleanups just a bit easier.
888-666-3974. Who's next?
LESLIE: Ernie in Kansas needs some help with a swimming pool. What's going on?
ERNIE: I have an in-ground swimming pool and the finish coat on the steps where you enter into the pool is - there's a hollow sound underneath there which tells me that the topcoat, water has gotten in underneath it. Seems like the coat is about 3/8 - between 3/8 of an inch and