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: Call us now with your home improvement question. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Any project worth starting is worth starting over with us because we're here to help. If you've gotten yourself in a jam, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, it's a new year. It's a new to-do list. Let us help you get the job done.
LESLIE: Or maybe it's carrying over from the year before. (chuckling)
TOM: Yeah, well that's OK. I say that the whole slate is wiped clean and you start from scratch with the new year.
Hey, speaking of the new year, have you already fallen off the wagon on those New Year's resolutions you promised yourself you'd stick to this year? You know, you can make resolutions for your house, too. Doesn't just have to be about losing weight and things like that. (Leslie chuckles) And in fact, the resolutions that you make to get done around your house, they can actually be easier to keep. We're going to tell you exactly how to do that this hour.
LESLIE: Yeah, and those resolutions around your house can help you burn some calories, too. So it all comes full circle.
And also ahead this hour, do you have a cramped bathroom in your home or maybe a teeny-tiny powder room that could use some extra storage? Well you might think, 'I can't get another thing into this little space,' but you would be surprised. We are going to tell you how to stretch your storage options in just a little bit.
TOM: Plus, are you thinking of buying some new appliances this year? Perhaps a dishwasher, a new washing machine, a dryer or a new refrigerator? What about those appliance warranties that come with them. And worse yet, what about the extended warranties. (Leslie chuckles) Are those a good deal? We're going to dig into that topic in just a bit.
LESLIE: And we've got a great prize to give away this hour. No warranty required here. We're giving it to you. It's a whopper prize package. It's the eco-model Reiker room conditioner. It's worth 359 bucks. We're starting off the new year right with a super-giant prize. It's a ceiling fan that also works like a space heater when you need it, but it's way better. It's super cool and it could be yours for free.
TOM: If you want to win it you have to call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. You must be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question. We'll choose one name from the callers that call this hour and award you that great prize from Reiker. So let's get right to the phones.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Talking to Susan in North Carolina who's dealing with a stinky situation in the wash room at home. Tell us about it.
SUSAN: We have a beautiful home that we moved from one area to the other and it looks great. We've done everything to it just like we wanted. We have this horrible, horrible smell we cannot get rid of. It was rewired and, you know, a new sheetrock put all over it and most of the plumbing was put in new. OK? But there are some like traps maybe that they used but - and we think that's where it's coming from, but we've had the plumber out to look at it again and, you know, we're still getting this horrible gaseous odor at times. Sometimes it's not there, sometimes it's just a little bit and sometimes it will knock you out.
LESLIE: Is this a bathroom that you use often or is it sort of in a ...
SUSAN: No, it is actually where you come into the carport. We have a washroom area and a little entryway ...
SUSAN: ... and it has a washer and dryer there and it has a sink there - like a mudroom sink -
SUSAN: - and then there is a bathroom right next to that area ...
SUSAN: ... that's a really nice bathroom that has a shower and a sink and a toilet. So, you know, we've tried ...
TOM: Is that sink, in the mudroom area - is that sink used enough where the trap is going to maintain some water inside of it?
SUSAN: Maybe not.
TOM: Well ...
LESLIE: That could be the problem.
TOM: Yeah. You see, a trap is called a trap because it holds water.
TOM: And if the trap is allowed to dry out then that becomes basically a sewer gas vent into your space.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the water is the filter that stops that sewer odor from coming up into your living space.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, that's one possibility. The other possibility is that sometimes the plumber's putty that they use to assemble the drains with, if there's a little bit too much of it and it tends to sort of get caught on the outside, that adds - that sort of acts like a stink trap and I've actually seen new bathrooms develop some odors because of an excessive amount of plumber's putty that sort of stuck to the inside of the drain and things stuck to that and then it grew a mildew or a mold on it that had a really strong odor. And that actually happened to my sister once as well as many callers over the years. And so those were the two possibilities. The first one, though, is to make sure that trap is filled with water and if it's still smelling, then you may want to have those drains taken apart and reassembled.
SUSAN: Yeah, we might have to wind up doing that. We've tried to keep water, you know - or if we go through there, you know, flush the commode ...
SUSAN: ... run some water down the sink. But you know, it seems like it could be coming from the washing machine. We stuffed - you know, stuffed rags in that area right there ...
TOM: Well now, wait a minute. If it's coming from - if you think it's coming from the washing machine, the washing machine has to have a trap, too. That drain has got to have a trap.
TOM: Somewhere it sounds to me like you have an open sewer vent. Somewhere it sounds like there's no trap. It's either dry or it doesn't exist. You need to look carefully at that. You shouldn't be having to stuff pipes filled with rags or anything like that. The water does the job if the trap exists. Take a look, Susan. I think you're going to find your answer right there. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Robert in Kansas has a question about a patio door not closing correctly. Tell us about the problem.
ROBERT: What I have is a new house under construction. The house, we started to frame it in late July. We're just now getting ready to move into it. But because of the temperature changes and - it's gotten much colder here in Kansas and of course the house is warm on the inside - the trimmer stud - the trimmer - [I call it a jack stud, the king stud] (ph) and I actually have three boards there - they have bowed. They're bowing out now to where the patio door, you cannot shut it from the outside because you have nothing that you can grab a hold of to kind of pull in on the door. What it is is a vinyl - has a vinyl frame. It's a CertainTeed sliding patio door.
TOM: So why is the opening bowing, Robert?
ROBERT: Well, the studs have bowed.
ROBERT: If you put a six-foot level on the outside, it's bowing out. You can just (INAUDIBLE) a six-foot stud. The trim board from the outside ...
TOM: Well, unfortunately they don't make doors that are going to make on curved walls. (chuckling) At least not that door, so it's ...
ROBERT: See, since it's a vinyl frame, the vinyl frame has just kind of moved with the studs as they ...
TOM: Yeah, it's probably bent and you don't have a weatherstrip - you don't have a weather-tight seal there anymore.
ROBERT: No, you can't even shut - you have to push in on it to shut it when you're on the inside.
TOM: My only suggestion to you, Robert, is this. If you were to disconnect that jamb from the wall and basically let the jamb come back straight and then reattach it so that it's, even though the wall was curved, the jamb was still now straighter, that will give you a better seal and perhaps you could deal with any gaps around the outside of the jamb that are caused as a result of that. But if it's moving with the wall, the only solution here is to straighten it back out again.
ROBERT: Yeah. See, I thought about maybe taking the trim off the outside and then cutting the nailing flange off of that frame so it will allow me to - right now, with the nailing flange on the outside, it's not going to let me push it; move it. So I'm going to have to take the trimmer off on the ...
TOM: Just to get to it. Yeah. Well, what you might want to do is if you take the trim off you can take a saws awl and insert the blade between the jamb and the wall ...
TOM: ... and run it all the way down. And that will cut the fastener so that you don't have to physically unscrew things or find a way to get the nails out.
TOM: Sometimes it's easier to cut the fasteners when you're trying to separate a jamb from a wall like that.
LESLIE: And it's far quicker.
TOM: Yeah, very quick. And then perhaps you do that, you know, it'll straighten itself out and then you can reattach it right away and put the trim back on. You've got to get creative with a situation like this, Robert. Of course, you know the right thing to do here would be to open up that wall and fix those studs, but I understand that that's a whole lot of work that you may not be prepared to get into right now. So at least if we can get this jamb straightened out you can make that door tight and keep the wind and the rain and the snow out ...
TOM: ... from your house and that would kind of get you through it. OK?
ROBERT: Yeah. Alrighty. Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Robert. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned in to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, give us a call right now with your home repair or your home improvement question any darn time you feel like it 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, does your little bathroom have you feeling a bit cramped? Are you running out of space to put all of your towels and toiletries? Well, you can find more storage space if you know where to look. We'll help you find it, next.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation's leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer. And add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information, visit ThermaTru.com.
TOM: If your home has green shag carpet and pink walls you're in exactly the right place because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better, including perhaps giving you some decorating advice. (Leslie chuckles) I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and hey, pink and green are so 80s and you know, they are back again in a big way.
TOM: I knew you were going to say that. (laughing)
LESLIE: (chuckling) It's true. If you wait long enough, something that once was hideous becomes fabulous again. So, we can help you learn to enjoy it or we can help you fix it. And you know what you can do is you can give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that we talk to this hour is going to win a Reiker room conditioner. And this is a super cool ceiling fan but it's also an energy-efficient room heater. It's all in one model and it works for you year round. In fact, it's a perfect solution for a room that's always too cold or even if you've got one of those three-season rooms that you would love to use all year long. It's worth 359 bucks. If you don't win it you can learn more at BuyReiker.com but give us a call right now for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Alright. Well, you survived the holidays. All those folks in your house. You ever feel like perhaps there's just not enough room for everybody? Or you've got lots and lots of new towels and cool stuff for the bathroom and there's nowhere to put it? Well, small baths don't provide many places for storage, but hidden storage areas are sure to be found in you know where to look. Here's a couple of places to start.
The space above that toilet. It's a large enough space fore a full 12-inch by 30-inch storage cabinet and you can use a kitchen-styled cabinet with some, say, plain doors; ones that you could decorate to look like they fit inside the bathroom. Or you could use an inverted sink-base cabinet. That's another option. Where a large drawer is designed into the bottom of the basin. That'll give you some storage under the sink. Now, a rack hung to the back of the door can give you some extra storage space for the towels and don't forget to look up. You can add shelving or cabinets all the way up to the ceiling for, again, some extra storage. Just looking at your small bathroom in a new way will give you plenty of spaces to open it right up.
Hey, you have a storage question for us? You need an organizational tip? Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Ricky in Georgia has a question about a handrail. What can help you with?
RICKY: Yes, I was trying to get hold of somebody about putting a handrail on brick steps.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
RICKY: My back porch is brick and I know that brick, you know, the mortar and all can really be loosened and all when you go to drilling in it and I was just trying to figure out the best way to do that. Should I hire somebody to do it or ...
TOM: Do you want to - Ricky, do you want to put on a metal handrail? Like a wrought iron one?
RICKY: That or else hard plastic.
TOM: Like a composite. Like Trex or something of that nature?
RICKY: Yeah. You know, something to match our siding.
TOM: OK. Well, listen. You have a couple of options. Typically, if you have brick steps, the way that you generally install handrails is use a wrought iron handrail that has like a one-inch square steel tube that ends up being the post and that's drilled into the brick and into the step and then set in with a special type of cement ...
TOM: ... that expands and seals and locks that in place. It's called post cement.
LESLIE: And you don't drill it into the mortar because of exactly your point. The mortar will crumble and fall apart over time.
TOM: Yeah, typically you drill right in the middle of the brick and it is a pretty big job and it requires some specialized tools.
Now, if you wanted to go with sort of more of a do-it-yourself project, I have constructed wood handrails over brick steps by simply making a post and taking that post and say you use a 4x4 post and you notch it so it fits on top of the step. And then you drill it into the step and attach it to the front of the step using lead shields or Tapcon fasteners and secure that post to the step and then you can build up a wood handrail from there. It all starts with a post and the complication of this job is getting that post set straight and square and solid and once that's done that's the hard work. The rest of it is easy.
RICKY: Well then we'll give it a shot, then.
TOM: Alright, Ricky. Those are your options. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Taking a call from Helen in New Hampshire who's got a question about the doors in her house. What's going on?
HELEN: Yes, I want to sell my house in the near future and my cat - one of my cats scratched - what you do call? The door jamb?
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
HELEN: And I don't know whether to have them replaced. I'm trying to cut down on cost, to be honest with you.
TOM: What's the door made out of?
HELEN: It's wood. I guess ...
TOM: Is it like a stained wood or varnished wood or is it painted?
HELEN: Oh, no. It's stained.
TOM: OK. Alright. And how bad is the scratching?
HELEN: Pretty bad.
TOM: Hmm. Alright, well why don't you refinish the door?
HELEN: It's not the - it's the door jambs. You know, the frame - you call it the frame around the door?
TOM: OK. Yeah, why don't you refinish the door jamb? It's probably the easiest way to address this. Is it already stained a dark color? Is it a medium? What's it look like?
HELEN: I'd say a medium.
HELEN: More like a maple.
TOM: Well, here's what you're going to want to do. First of all I would pull that door off so that you can get access to it. You're going to want to sand it lightly and then you could put some stain on top of that. And the stains today - like Minwax makes a good quality stain - you want to find one that's about the same color and there's lot to choose from. And that's going to fill in the scratch marks and sort of bring the color [off to be similar] (ph) all the way along. I would sand as much as you possibly could to try to minimize those scratches, but then I would simply rub some wood stain on it ...
TOM: ... and then I would hit it with probably two coats of water-based polyurethane. I say water-based because it dries really fast and it'll blend in nicely with whatever you had there before.
TOM: Not too terribly difficult to do, Helen. OK?
HELEN: Yeah, OK. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Jim in Alabama is dealing with some brick that's cracking up. Tell us about the problem.
JIM: I have a front porch that has bricks up the front and it's back underneath cover. But part of the problem is that a lot of places on the brick there's cracks and I guess it's from settling of the house. And we've tried to fill it in with grout before but then, eventually, the cracks come back again. I was wondering is there a way to put something flexible in there or some way I can solve this?
TOM: Yeah. Certainly a silicone caulk is the best thing to use to seal up cracks in the brick. Are any of the bricks loosening up?
JIM: Well, the bricks are not loosening up but then it looks real bad. There's a crack and like if I put caulking in there you've got grout and caulking. It's just - it's like in the middle of the wall.
TOM: So it's in the wall? It's the brick wall?
JIM: It's the brick wall.
TOM: OK. So here's a little trick of the trade for you. You're concerned that if you put the caulk in you're going to see that instead of the brick color itself?
JIM: Actually you will because it's a big crack.
TOM: Alright. So here's a little trick of the trade. What you can do is you want to find a place in the brick wall where it's not going to matter if you damage your brick a little bit. Because I'm going to tell you to get a masonry drill bit and collect some filings, so to speak, of the brick dust. I want you to drill a few holes in the brick and collect the dust that comes out of those holes. And then what you can do is after you caulk the brick across that surface, you take some of that dust and you press it into the silicone and it ends up being the exact same color as the brick and it hides it amazingly well.
JIM: Ah. OK.
TOM: Got it?
JIM: I'll try that. I appreciate it.
TOM: You're welcome, Jim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Where there's a will, there's a way.
LESLIE: Charles in North Carolina is looking for a way to weatherproof his home. How can we help you with this?
CHARLES: Yes, I was just looking at the best way to weatherproof your house during the wintertime.
CHARLES: For the winter season.
TOM: Well, gosh. That's a big question, Charles.
CHARLES: Any new, you know, ideas or ...?
TOM: You know, Charles, what's old is new here and weatherproofing your house doesn't have to be something that's complicated or high-tech.
TOM: The first thing you need to do is get some information. One website we would recommend is EnergyStar.gov. That's the EPA's energy efficiency program. There's a tool there called Energy Star at Home and it's an interactive tool that walks you through each room of the house; gives you specific step-by-step advice.
Another thing that you might want to do is contact your local utility provider and ask them about doing an energy audit.
LESLIE: And most of the time they'll come in and do it for free, which is kind of crazy because, in the long run, you're going to save money so you're not going to be paying them as much as you would have been in the past. And they'll run tests to let you know exactly where you have energy leaks.
Other than that, you want to look to your attic and make sure you have proper insulation and if it's sort of become compressed over the years you want to refresh it and add some more to the top of it to really help it meet the r value that you need for your part of the country. You want to look at weatherstripping around your windows and your doors. You want to look at outlets on exterior walls and remove that outlet faceplate cover and maybe put a foam gasket behind there that helps seal that because you do lose a ton of energy there.
CHARLES: Oh. Yeah, yeah. OK.
TOM: There's a lot of little things that can give you a big impact, Charles. So, do the research. Start with the Energy Star site. Contact your utility provider. I think it's pretty cool that utility companies have to provide ways to make your home more energy efficient so you use less of their product. (Leslie giggles)
TOM: I mean imagine that in any other industry. Imagine if McDonald's had to teach you ways to buy fewer hamburgers. You know?
CHARLES: (chuckling) Yeah.
TOM: It just doesn't work that way. So it's kind of cool that the utility companies will do that for you and it's part of their chore for getting the monopoly that they have in providing us with getting gas and electricity across the country.
TOM: So check them out, get some advice and get to it. You will definitely be more comfortable and save some money all winter long.
Charles, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. And are you finding that your New Year's resolutions are to make more money or to lose more weight; you know, the typical things that you always put down first, which are always the first things that you tend to cross off the list not from completion but because you just tend to forget about them. Well, why not let your house do those things for you? We're going to tell you how you can accomplish that, after this.
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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: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
You know, Tom, I bet you there are so many first-time homeowners out there who sort of, you know, buy the house with this na