Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 1:00]
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We're here to give you the tips, the tools and the advice to get those projects done. Hey, coming up this hour, lots of great, useful home improvement tips including this one: are the wrinkly carpets looking tired and old and are they also posing a tripping hazard in your house? We're going to tell you how to give your carpets a facelift that will make them safe and keep them looking great.
LESLIE: And also this hour, you might be providing a healthy, fresh supply of wood to those termites in your house without even knowing it. We're going to have some tips to help keep it off the holiday menu of those house munchers, coming up.
TOM: And are you one of the houses on the block that goes all out with the Christmas decorations?
TOM: And speaking of going all out, do you go all out with your holiday electric bill as a result of those Christmas decorations, Leslie Segrete?
LESLIE: (chuckling) (overlapping voices) Maybe. (giggling) Maybe.
TOM: Well, later this hour we're going to give you some tips to help you come up with some energy-efficient decorations for your house this year; keep that bill down a little bit this holiday season and this way you can buy me a better gift.
LESLIE: (laughing) Oh, I thought you were going to say you're going to give me a raise so I can pay for it. (Tom and Leslie laugh)
Alright, folks. And one caller this hour is going to win a digital security home system from Swann. It's worth $199 and it's going to keep you and your family safe all year long.
TOM: So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Chris in New Jersey's got some trouble with some dried grout. What can we do for you?
CHRIS: Oh, Leslie Segrete.
LESLIE: Oh, Chris in New Jersey.
CHRIS: I love you. That's all I have to say first and foremost but now I'll get to my point. (Leslie laughs)
LESLIE: Well, I thank you.
CHRIS: I recently got a job cleaning dorm-type houses; three and four bathrooms apiece and large kitchens. Now every wall and floor surface is covered in tile which was done this past January. Now I go in there and they didn't clean it off properly so it's thick smears of concrete-like, you know, substance. I let it soak. I tried everything. And she's expecting me to get it all off and I'm at a loss. I have no idea what to do. I tried to, like I said, wet it down and, you know, I don't want to scratch the surface of the tiles and that's on walls and floor.
TOM: Chris, do you think this is extra grout? Is that what it is?
CHRIS: It is. It is extra grout. She said so herself. And it looks just like mud's been smeared all over.
CHRIS: They just initially wiped it; did not clean it off properly.
LESLIE: So it's not a clouding? It's actual chunks.
CHRIS: Oh, yeah. It's chunks. It's chunks and smears and thick at some points. Yes, on floor and walls.
TOM: Chris, this is not a cleaning job. This is a repair job, OK?
CHRIS: Oh, no. OK.
TOM: They've done a sloppy job of it to begin with and if you can't get it off through normal elbow grease - and I'm sure you're trying scouring pads and all that kind of stuff -
CHRIS: (overlapping voices) And I did, oh.
TOM: You know, the professional tile contractors will sometimes go at that with sulfuric acid cleaners ...
TOM: ... which are very, very corrosive and have to use very, very carefully.
TOM: But if it's that sloppily done, I'm afraid that there's not going to be a whole lot that you're going to do to make this particular customer happy because it's just not done right to begin with.
CHRIS: Right. Well she just had a friend do it. It wasn't even a professional, obviously.
TOM: Tell her she got what she paid for. (chuckling)
CHRIS: And now I'm stuck with doing these homes. And when you talk about three and four bathrooms, huge kitchens - you know, like dorm-style things? -
CHRIS: - I'm at a loss and I've been mopping and wiping. And she swears that it'll come off but it hasn't (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: Yeah, well listen. You know what our advice is, Chris?
TOM: Walk away.
CHRIS: Walk away?
TOM: Tell her you did your best. You did your best. You got professional advice and that, you know, she probably should have hired somebody that knew a little bit more about tile work. Because if you leave that grout on too long and it gets stuck to the top of the surface, man, it's almost impossible to get it off. You can try scraping it off or even buffing it off, but if it doesn't come off easily it's not - it's just not going to happen.
LESLIE: But what the pros do use, Chris, is the sulfuric acid. You need to buy it at a lumber yard. It needs to be mixed exactly to ...
CHRIS: Oh, yes. And let her friend try that then ...
CHRIS: ... because I'm out of that. But Leslie, I love you. I just want to tell you.
LESLIE: Thanks, Chris. I love you, too.
CHRIS: And I watch all the home improvement shows and everything and I think you're fantastic.
LESLIE: Thank you so much. Don't let one bad project ruin it.
CHRIS: OK. Bye-bye.
TOM: There was a big Leslie fan.
LESLIE: That's my cousin. (Tom and Leslie laugh)
Pete's calling in with a squeaky floor. Tell us about it.
PETE: My floors - I bought the townhouse and the upstairs bedroom right above our master bedroom is very, very squeaky. And the previous owners told me they tried everything from drilling in crooked and sideways and using wood screws and anything you can think of to get these floors to stop squeaking. And they're just not - there's nothing I can do about it really, at this point. I was wondering if you had any advice about that.
TOM: What kind of floor covering do you have on it right now, Pete?
PETE: Well, it's rug and under the rug it's - the subfloor is - I don't know how to explain it. It's probably the cheapest subfloor you can get (Leslie chuckles) townhouse ...
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
PETE: ... so they cut all sorts of corners to probably build this thing. So ...
TOM: Alright, well listen. The way to do this, if you've had such a severe problem, is to take up the wall-to-wall carpet. You've got to take it all up and then the next thing we hope that you can identify where the floor joists are under the subfloor. [But if it's just] (ph) one layer of subfloor it's going to be nailed to the floor joist. Then what I want you to do is to get some case hardened steel screws - about two-and-a-half inches long or so will do it - and you want to drill and screw into that subfloor. You want to attach the subfloor to the joist about every 12 inches across that whole room. That's going to lock down the floor to the joist.
Because the reason you're getting squeaks - there's two reasons that this happens: number one - the boards move up and down on the nails where they're attached to the joist; and secondly, if it's tongue-and-groove plywood - which very often some subfloors are - the tongues and the grooves move together. But regardless of what's causing it, the movement is what has to be stopped. That's why you have to eliminate the nails and go totally with screws; because once that pulls down nice and tight it's not going to move. And that's the best thing you can do to try to quiet that up.
PETE: Hmm. Alright, now do you think - just to add to this - I was thinking about actually tiling up there and, you know, going with a wonderboard first; screwing that down and then laying tile. Do you think that would help clear it up or should I do this project first with (INAUDIBLE)?
TOM: No, even if you're going to put tile down you definitely want to do this project first because if the ...
LESLIE: Because once you put that tile down ...
LESLIE: ... you're going to have to do the repair from the ceiling below.
LESLIE: And that's going to be a huge mess.
TOM: This is the easiest time to address this problem. When you just have to deal with carpet - of course it's a hassle to take the carpet up and put it back down, if you decide to go that route - but it's clearly a lot easier than if you put tile over that. Tile's not going to solve this. It will only make it worse unless you deal with the root cause which is the loose subfloor.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you don't deal with it and that subfloor becomes more loose and starts to move, you're going to see those tiles start cracking.
PETE: That's true. So two-and-a-half inch steel screws - case hardened - right through the floorboard into the joist? Is that right?
TOM: That's correct. That's correct.
PETE: I wrote it all down. I really appreciate your help.
TOM: You're welcome, Pete. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: You are tuned in to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and we can help you with just about any home improvement problem you might be facing, especially at the holidays. We will answer you quick. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Hey, do you need a facelift under foot? (chuckling)
TOM: Not you, actually. Your carpets. We're going to tell you how to add some new life to them, after this.
[audio timestamp: 8:34]
[audio timestamp: 12:16]
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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement questions, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to help you get the job done. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and another reason to pick up that phone and call us is because one caller we talk to this hour is going to win the Swann Digital Private Eye security system. It's worth 199 bucks. Looks like a simple alarm but it has a motion-triggered digital camera that will catch anyone setting it off right in the act. So, if you want to win it you've got to call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you come on the air and ask your home improvement question we'll throw your name in the Money Pit hardhat and you might be taking home that great prize.
LESLIE: Well, earlier - before Tom started talking about this really cool prize - he mentioned that my feet needed a facelift. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) We were talking about a facelift ...
TOM: I think that's called a pedicure, isn't it?
LESLIE: (laughing) I think that is what they call that, but we were talking about facelifts for your carpet, as weird as that sounds. But it's true. Loose or wrinkled carpeting can really be easily remedied. You do need a little bit of effort and it might cost you a couple bucks with a pro but with restretching it's going to tighten all of that carpeting, it's going to remove those wrinkles in any of those dangerous areas that are major trip hazards on that bunched up carpet. This technique is also going to prolong your carpet's life because loose areas speed up the wear and tear on the carpet. So really, it's a good investment. If your carpet's in good shape, go for it. Have it restretched and it will last a long time.
TOM: So you may not need a facelift. All you really needed was a foot lift. Is that what you're trying to tell me? (chuckling)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Maybe.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Joe wants to talk kitchen lighting. What can we help you with?
JOE: Yes, I'm a new homeowner and ...
JOE: And - thank you. And we've been in our home for about a year now and it's about 12 years old. And one of the things that it came with, in the kitchen, instead of recessed lighting was a fluorescent light.
JOE: And it has trusses, I know, underneath the ceiling and I'm looking to replace that with a round of maybe five or six recessed lights. And I'm just wondering what steps you'd suggest.
TOM: Well, it certainly can be done. It requires a bit of finesse because the electrician has to - the first thing is to locate those lights. And generally, when you're trying to locate those lights you try to figure out where you would really like to have them and then you discover that it happens to be a truss right above it and then you make some adjustments. So figure out where you want the lights. Do a little bit of investigation to figure out if you are trying to place them right where a truss is. You can do that with a stud finder and that'll tell you where the ceiling joists are or the trusses are. And then you cut the holes. Once you have them in place then it's a simple matter of snaking the wiring, starting with the circuit that you have right now, to each of those high hat lights.
So it's not terribly difficult but it's something electricians do everyday and it'll probably be easiest for you to hire a pro for this job.
LESLIE: And Tom, what about the lights that are specifically rated to be in contact with insulation? Should we think about that here?
TOM: Well, in this case - in this case, this is a two-story house so your ceiling does not have any insulated space above it. Is that correct?
JOE: That's correct.
TOM: So you don't have to worry about using an IC-rated light. You're referring, Leslie, to the lights that would typically be up and pressed in the insulation. You're right. If there was insulation above this you'd have to use a light that was rated IC, which stands for insulation contact. But since there's no insulation in there you can use a standard recessed lighting fixture.
LESLIE: And you know, Joe? Another idea, if you want to just take out that fluorescent fixture, because you've already got that power to that one spot on the ceiling you can do sort of a suspended track light where you have a ceiling plate that sort of hangs down to a vertical bar that, you know, maybe it waves; maybe it's straight and it has multiple fixtures hanging off of it. They don't look utilitarian. They can be really gorgeous. They can have multiple halogen heads. And then you can direct them to wherever you need for the kitchen and you don't have to go through all that electrical brouhaha.
JOE: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.
TOM: You're welcome, Joe.
JOE: I took some notes here and I'm ready to go.
TOM: Alright, sounds good. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
We give you the ideas. We give you the inspiration. So if you're going to call us, be ready to get to work.
LESLIE: Going to Pennsylvania where Rosemarie's ceiling is cracking up. How can we help you?
ROSEMARIE: Thank you for answering my question. I enjoy your program tremendously.
I have electric ceiling heat. My home is 37 years old. My ceilings have all cracked.
ROSEMARIE: And I was just wondering what is the best way to pursue this. Just go to a different heating system entirely? Get the ceilings repaired? If so, how do you repair them?
TOM: Well, you have radiant heat in the ceiling; is that what you're telling us?
ROSEMARIE: That's correct.
TOM: Electric radiant heat?
TOM: How are your heating bills, Rosemarie?
ROSEMARIE: Actually, very good.
TOM: OK. Well then, you know, maybe you should just repair it. These cracks that you're seeing, are they very long? Are they in the joints of the drywall where it comes together? Are they sort of allocated (ph) across the whole surface? Describe the crack for us.
ROSEMARIE: They extend along the whole ceiling and there's no particular pattern.
TOM: The best way to repair that type of crack is with fiberglass drywall tape. The fiberglass tape is perforated; it's easy to apply because it sticks up there. You apply the tape first and then you spackle on top of that. You want to use several layers, starting with, say, about a three-inch spackle knife and working up to maybe a six to eight-inch spackle knife. And the reason you're using the tape is because the ceilings are always going to be expanding and contracting and by using the fiberglass tape across the cracked area it's not going to crack again. If you just try to fill in the cracks they will show up instantly.
ROSEMARIE: I see. OK, I will, you know, try that method. Very good. I understand. Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Rosemarie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Derrick in Arkansas, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
DERRICK: Well, I'm buying a lake house and it's a house that has a lot of things I'm not used to dealing with. So I was going to try to get some advice on what you guys would recommend for, first of all, it has a well.
DERRICK: But it's a really sulfury water source.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
DERRICK: And I was wondering what, if anything, can be done for that. And also, it's a septic system and I'm not - I've never had a septic before so if there's anything special I could be thinking about on that as well.
TOM: OK, have you bought the house yet, Derrick?
DERRICK: No, I have not.
TOM: Alright, good. A couple of things. First of all, you're going to need both a well test and you're going to need a septic system inspection. Because there's no telling what kind of condition these mechanical systems are in. And when you have private wells and private septic, then you're kind of your own utility authority, you know what I mean?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. There's nobody there to make sure the maintenance is correct.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. And repairs can be costly; they can be unhealthy. So - if it's done wrong. So you need to get this inspected.
With the well system, you're going to have a water test done. Based on the water test you'll be able to determine what type of treatment is needed, if any. If you're lucky, the water's pure but just smells bad. Then there's different types of treatment systems that can be put on that will make it not smell so bad anymore.
With respect to the septic system, especially being near a lake, that has to be thoroughly inspected. There's a type of test called a dye test. There's also an open pit inspection where the tank is opened. A good inspection company is going to do a very thorough examination and make sure the septic system is not flawed. You know, if you have a bad septic system in a lake, I'll tell you, one - you know, I remember this distinctly, some years ago, Leslie, when I was in the home inspection business.
TOM: I did a dye test where you basically introduce this green dye like into a toilet and you run a lot of water through a house. Well, it was along a lake. I remember going out into the back, standing on the deck and seeing the plume of the green dye work it's way out into the lake from the septic system.
LESLIE: (gasping) No!
TOM: Yeah. It was totally failed. So that's why you've got to have a really good inspection done to make sure the system is working properly.
LESLIE: And it's interesting because a septic system, you know, it's so delicate and it really relies on the stone and the dirt to sort of filter everything out once it sort of passes through the original tank. So it's got to work well and all sort of work together.
TOM: Derrick, here's what I want you to do. I want you to go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. It's ASHI - A-S-H-I.com.
TOM: And enter the zip code in for the area that you're going to be buying this house. They will kick back a list to you of these ASHI-certified members. These guys are the best in the business. They really know what they're doing. Off of that list of inspectors make a few phone calls; find somebody you're really comfortable with and get a good home inspection done. And that's the best way to protect yourself and also to familiarize yourself with these unfamiliar systems.
DERRICK: Now Tom, I do have an option to bring in city water to this place. It's already stubbed out and just needs to be metered and brought to the front of the house. Would that be something you think I should really (INAUDIBLE)?
TOM: Absolutely. Absolutely.
TOM: If city water's available I would absolutely take advantage of that. You may want to keep the well working; especially if you're ever thinking about putting in a sprinkler system.
TOM: That would be a good option for that. But if city water is available it's definitely a better option than well water, in my opinion.
DERRICK: Perfect. Well, thank you so much, you guys.
TOM: You're welcome, Derrick. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
You know, when you're buying a home and you're unfamiliar with it, that is one of the services that home inspectors ...
TOM: ... are really good at. I mean they're good educators. It's funny, in all the years I was doing that, Leslie, no one ever hired me to teach them about their house but that was truly a big benefit of having a good home inspection done. Because you really understand and know how to take care of it so that it can take care of you.
LESLIE: Well and you know to be prepared for certain things and what to expect. So it really is a huge service.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and we can make your holiday decorations a little greener with some energy efficient lighting. That's why we're going to give you some options to do just that, right after this.
[audio timestamp: 22:47]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem tankless water heaters, which qualify for a $300 energy efficient tax credit if purchased before the end of this year. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
And you know, this is the time of year where everything gets bejangled and bejeweled with a gajillion holiday lights and some people really do go over the top and ...
TOM: Those are like three new verbs I just learned. (laughing)
LESLIE: I know. It's really crazy. We tend to - right by where I live there's a town over where every house - it must be a competition because there are inflatables and lights and sparkly things. It's insane. But I imagine that, you know, my electric bills go up. Could you imagine what their electric bills are doing for the month of December? It's got to be crazy and you really have to make sure that you're not taking a giant chunk out of your wallet just to run all those lights. You want to spend it on gifts.
TOM: Well, fortunately there are more energy-efficient ways to deck the halls and here to tell us about them is our green scene reporter, Aimee Oscamou.
AIMEE: Hey, guys. How are you?
TOM: Are you in the holiday spirit?
AIMEE: Yes, I am. I'm definitely in the holiday spirit and ready to shop for lights and decorations of my own.
TOM: Alright, well my first question is about energy-efficient lighting. We've been hearing about different types of energy-efficient lighting for years; in particular, LED lighting.
TOM: Now, it never seemed to be too available; even though, in theory, it seemed to be a good idea. Are LED lights available?
AIMEE: They are widely available. In fact, I was a little surprised myself at the great variety that's out, especially this season. Now LED light products are - they can even shine brighter than incandescents and they save you a lot of money because they're not burning the same amount of energy.
TOM: Alright, we're talking about light-emitting diodes. How much less energy is it actually going to use?
AIMEE: It's going - they are 90-percent more efficient than incandescents and they only use - every bulb uses about .04 watts of energy.
LESLIE: Are they made differently? Is it a different material inside the light itself? What makes them different from the incandescents?
TOM: Well, the main difference is that with LEDs they're converting energy from the electricity into light rather than heat, which you get with incandescents. So that's one difference. And even the makeup, the way they're manufactured, is really nice and green because there isn't mercury or other toxins in the manufacturing process and in the light itself.
LESLIE: Oh, interesting.
TOM: That's a pretty cool development. You know, I mean this is literally a way to have a green Christmas in more ways than one (Leslie chuckles) because you're using a heck of a lot less energy on the trees.
What about from a safety standpoint? I imagine they don't get nearly as hot as the small bulbs do.
AIMEE: Exactly. Again, because they're not putting heat out there like your traditional Christmas lights would be. So they're safer that way and they last a long time. You're not going to have bulbs burning out that you have to go replace or that are going to put out a whole string of lights in your complicated display.
TOM: My favorite lie is 'a string stays lit even when one bulb goes out.' (Leslie chuckles)
AIMEE: Mm-hmm, right.
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah.
LESLIE: And it's so not worth it to spend the time ...
TOM: Oh, no.
LESLIE: ... checking each. I'm like, 'Chuck it' and run to the store and get another one.
LESLIE: Aimee, is it something that - are these labeled readily as LED lights or do we need to sort of pay attention to the packaging to make sure that we're buying more energy-efficient holiday lighting or decorative items?
AIMEE: They are labeled very directly and, you know, you want to keep an eye out for LED. But as I mentioned, they're going to be really easy to find this season. I did a little online shopping myself and I'm really amazed at all the different shapes, colors, configurations. You can even buy those lawn display ornaments made with LED lighting now. So ...
TOM: Besides LED, what are some other ways that we can cut energy costs at the holidays?
AIMEE: Well, another product, I should just mention, are the fiber optic Christmas trees and ...
TOM: Oh, I've seen those. They're awesome.
AIMEE: Right. Those are great and those are ...
TOM: Really cool.
AIMEE: And those are powered off of just one bulb inside that sends the light out to the cool fibers that, you know, light up and glisten. But again, those don't put heat out there ...
AIMEE: ... so they're much more energy efficient.
LESLIE: But we still need to be cautious about leaving even these LED lights on the tree if we're not going to be around. We shouldn't just leave them on when we're not there to ...
AIMEE: Right, definitely. Yeah, you want to take the same safety precautions you would be with incandescents in planning your display and maintaining it through the season. You're right. You don't want to leave lights on after you've gone to bed or when you leave the house. You want to make sure everything's shut off.
Also, when you're putting together a display of lights, make sure you're checking the labels on light strings to make sure how many can be strung together safely because even though LEDs are running cooler, they're still using electricity and the wiring in a system can be a risk if you're not being careful.
TOM: Good advice from Aimee Oscamou, our green scene reporter, and I see, Aimee, you have a couple of websites for additional information. One is EnvironmentalLights.com and the other is the website for Alliance to Save Energy at ASE.org.
AIMEE: Great, thanks you guys.
LESLIE: Yeah, and you know, those LED lights, they really do look great. Thanks so much, Aimee.
Alright, folks. Is your home on the menu for termites? We are going to have some tips to dissuade those house munchers, also known as termites, when we come back.
[audio timestamp: 28:26]
[audio timestamp: 32:39]
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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and you should give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because you could win the Swann Digital Private Eye security system. It's worth 199 bucks. It looks like a simple alarm system but it's got a motion-triggered digital camera and it is going to catch intruders in the act. It can record up to 20,000 images. I mean it's pretty cool. If you like it and you want a chance to win just give us a call now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and if you get on the air we are going to throw your name into that Money Pit hardhat for our random prize drawing.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
OK. Now, in most parts of the country winter is not a season where we have to worry so much about termites, unless you have a fireplace. 'Why?' might you ask? Do termites enjoy fireplaces? Well, no, but they enjoy the firewood that they store outside for that fireplace and if you're not doing it correctly you will be serving up a meal for termites come next spring.
You need to make sure that if you have a storage solution for firewood that it's up off the ground. Do not store the wood, even in the winter, on the ground next to your house because it's a steady source of food not only for termites but also a nesting place for rodents and carpenter ants that can get under it next spring. So, make sure you keep that wood up off the ground and you will keep your house off the termite menu.
Got a structural question for us? Maybe we were a bit too late with that termite advice and you got some damage. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bruce in Nebraska's got some leaky roof vents. What can we help you with?
BRUCE: Hey, I've got a problem with some roof vents in my house.
BRUCE: And in the wintertime the snow blows in them. (chuckling) And then it melts when it warms up.
BRUCE: I was wondering do you have a solution for that other than, I don't know, stuffing newspaper in them or whatever or what? (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: What kind of roof vents do you have? Are they the big, square ones or are they ridge vents? What do you have?
BRUCE: No, they're the square ones, you know, that you put up in your roof.
TOM: OK. You know, Bruce, when you have a lot of wind-driven snow like that there's a special type of vent called a filter vent that has like a filter material in it that lets the air go in and out but it stops some of that snow from blowing in. And it's sort of like a fiberglass filter material that sort of sits in the vent opening. Now, unfortunately I don't know if this material is available in a retrofit situation where you have the existing vents. But I know that different vent manufacturers make filter vent type products. And I think one of them is CertainTeed. I think they make a filter vent product that has the matting in it so the snow stops blowing in.
You know, I've seen that happen many times; although, generally, it's never added up to any type of damage. So it may just be an annoyance for you.
BRUCE: Yeah, that's kind of annoying. You know it looks like your roof's leaking in the house.
TOM: I've gone on the roofs in the middle of the winter and seen small snow piles inside the attic. (Leslie chuckles)
BRUCE: Yep, yep.
TOM: It's kind of disturbing but it doesn't really hurt that much, believe it or not.
BRUCE: Okey-doke. Well that was my question.
TOM: Alright, Bruce. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Calling in from New York we've got Rhoda who wants to talk air conditioning. How can we help?
RHODA: I live near the ocean and couple of air conditioners that we had, regular window air conditioners, rusted. After about four years they could not be fixed even though the five-year guarantee I had purchased, you know, was not over yet. And I was wondering about portable air conditioners.
TOM: Versus what? A window unit?
RHODA: The two that rusted were window air conditioners.
TOM: OK, and so your question is what's the difference between a window air conditioner and a portable air conditioner.
RHODA: Yes, whether a portable air conditioner would be a ...
TOM: No, I think that your first choice would be central air conditioners, the second choice would be a window air conditioner and the third choice would be a portable. Because a portable has to be ducted and it's a little unwieldy.
LESLIE: Yeah, but a portable is going to put the compressor inside the house ...
LESLIE: ... so that it's not going to rust out. Because she lives right near the water and all that salty air and salt water is just going to rust anything that's outside.
TOM: Yeah, I realize that but I think it's going to be more efficient if you use a window unit, even though you have to pay the price of living near the water.
RHODA: Right, every few years.
TOM: Every few years.
TOM: That's one of those small taxes for living ...
TOM: ... with the good view that you enjoy. (chuckling)
RHODA: For the benefit.
LESLIE: And you know what, Rhoda? The benefit of replacing them so often - number one, don't get that extended warranty because you know it's not going to last the full time. But the benefit is that every time you upgrade or enhance your air conditioning you're probably getting a more energy efficient model and check with the state and check with the city because a lot offer refunds to upgrade your systems.
TOM: And Rhoda, do you take those out of the window in the off season?
RHODA: No. No.
TOM: Well, if you could manage to do that, that will actually save a heck of a lot of wear and tear because now ...
LESLIE: Or put a cover on it.
TOM: Yeah, put a cover on it.
RHODA: Who would do that kind of work? Because I wouldn't be able to do that.
LESLIE: But you can get a soft cover that just slips on; almost like a toaster cozy.
RHODA: From the outside?
RHODA: I see. Where would you purchase something like that?
TOM: Oh, they're available at home centers all over the place. I see them very frequently.
RHODA: And then you get - and then a handyman could put them on.
TOM: Exactly. It'd just take a moment or two to slip it on.
RHODA: OK, well thank you very much. I appreciate it.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got a curb appeal question from Joel. How can we help you?
JOEL: Yeah, hi. I recently bought a house and the stoop was redone. It seems like they didn't do a proper job so there's like some white residue left from the mortar between the bricks. And is there any way to get rid of that after like a few months later or am I stuck with that?
TOM: The white residue that's left may very well be mineral salts. Have you tried to wash it out with a vinegar solution?
JOEL: I haven't tried but I'm saying it's rained many times and it doesn't seem like - I mean I've been working on it and I think it might be part of the mortar from the brick.
TOM: Well, the other thing that happens is you get mineral salts that are in the brick and sometimes it takes quite a while for them to sort of all rinse out. And as the water gets drawn out of the brick it leaves this sort of white, crusty deposit on it. And all you can really do is clean it but it will eventually stop.
JOEL: So what would I clean that with?
TOM: I would start, just as an experiment, with some white vinegar. Get a gallon of white vinegar; mix it up with a couple of gallons of water and wash it down and see if that takes the salt away. That's very, very commonly what causes this kind of staining and it's really pretty simple to get rid of.
JOEL: OK, thanks a lot. That's very helpful. Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and we've got more great home improvement advice coming up, including if you've got a leaky roof but you have no idea where the hole is. Well, we are going to tell you how you can figure it out without climbing up on a ladder, next.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by - well, by us. Save hundreds a month on groceries, not to mention significant savings on home improvement products and services with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That's 866-REAL-HOME. 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 you can get a jump on that holiday shopping, if you've not started yet, by visiting our website at MoneyPit.com and checking out some of the Money Pit fan gear, including an opportunity to purchase a special edition 'I love my Money Pit' t-shirt for you or your loved ones and it will be delivered in time for this holiday season. It's available at MoneyPit.com. And while you're there, why not click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got one here from Patty in Houston, Texas who writes: 'Is there a way for us to check our roof for signs of damage ourselves without breaking a limb? A bad storm caused some leaks for our neighbors and although we haven't had any leaks yet ourselves, I want to make sure that our roof is OK.'
TOM: Well, actually there are few things that you can do, Patty. First of all, the best way to inspect your roof is with a pair of binoculars and you can do that from the street without ever climbing up on that ladder. I can tell you where to look with those binoculars and usually if you have problems it's going to be the areas around the flashing. So this is where like a plumbing vent comes through the wall or where two sections of the roof intersect. Those are the areas that leak most commonly. You're looking for missing shingles, cracked shingles, gaps where the pipes come through the roof; areas like that.
The next thing you could do is you could take a peek inside your attic. If you see sagging or deteriorating decking between the rafters - that's they plywood, the wood sheathing. If it's sagging; if it's stained; if it looks like it's leaking, that's a problem area. And if you see outside light coming through, that's a simple way to check for areas of roof leaks. And remember, leaks move; they walk; they travel. So sometimes if you have a leak somewhere that's coming through a ceiling, the source of it could be several feet away.
And if turns out that you have to replace your roof, make sure you do it correctly. Use good quality materials. Use a good, talented contractor. Use Ice and Water Shield, for example, to make sure that that roof doesn't leak. That stays - keeps the roof intact even when it leaks because if the shingles blow off the Ice and Water Shield stops the water from coming through until you get the next set of shingles on. Grace makes a good Ice and Water Shield. You can get information on it at GraceAtHome.com. There's also a product called Tri-Flex which is one of these high-tech, synthetic underlayments that also works super well.
LESLIE: Yeah, and I think it's so important because people really just think that the tarpaper is what you should use, but that is not going to hold up, especially if it gets during the installation process, and it's just going to hold water right to your roof deck. So do it once, do it right, be smart and save your roof in the long run.
TOM: Well, it is the holiday time of year, Leslie, and that means two things: food baskets and fruitcake (Leslie chuckles) that end up sitting in the fridge for quite a while before you eventually get around to either using them or tossing them out or perhaps using them as a doorstop, in the fruitcake situation.
LESLIE: (laughing) I've never seen anyone eat a fruitcake ever.
TOM: I know. It's just - I think it's the same fruitcake collection. Just passes around from season to season. (Leslie laughing) There must be a fruitcake storage facility somewhere for them.
Well, it's a good thing we're talking about this because that gives me a good way to introduce today's edition of Leslie's Last Word.
LESLIE: Alright, well you've heard, of course, of storing a box of baking soda in your refrigerator, but we've got another natural solution for you to keep your fridge nice and fresh, regardless of whatever holiday gift items from cheese to sausages you might put in there. It's vanilla extract and a little bit really does go a long way towards removing any musty or even strong food smells from your fridge. If you want a fresh start, go ahead; empty out all of the things from your refrigerator and clean all of the surfaces with a solution of water and baking soda. That's going to get rid of any scents or stickiness that you might have in there. Then go ahead and soak a paper towel with vanilla and leave it in the fridge overnight. When you come back to it in the morning, you are going to be greeted with a fresh, delicious scent that's going to last and make your refrigerator lovely.
TOM: Tips, advice, 24/7/365 available at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Hey, coming up next week on the program, is your bathtub looking worse for wear? Well, you don't have to do a major renovation and get a brand new one. We've got some tips to teach you how you can refinish your tub and get that totally brand new look without laying out the cash. We'll have that next week on the show.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don't have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2007 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.)