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 now with your home improvement project. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It's a new year and time to tackle some new home improvement projects or carryover the list from last year. (Leslie chuckles) It's OK. We don't judge. We're not going to charge you for not getting last year's home improvement New Year's resolutions done. We'll help you craft some new ones to get started with right away, starting with your floor. Coming up this hour we're going to talk about hardwood floors. It's becoming a very, very standard choice for most new homes. But with that gorgeous floor comes a bit of upkeep. We're going to give you some tips to help keep your hardwood floor shining like new throughout their entire lifetime.
LESLIE: Ah, and also this hour, if brand new flooring throughout your entire home is not in your budgets this year, that doesn't mean you have to feel like you're stuck in one design look for your entire home. A makeover does not have to be expensive and you can still feel like you've got a whole new room. We're going to tell you how to give a tired room new life in just a few minutes.
TOM: And are you thinking about selling your house this year? Perhaps you've been waiting for the market to start to peak up just a little bit more. It might be a good time to put it out on the market pretty soon, but getting buyers in the front door is key and with many more homes for sale than buyers out there, you need to use everything at your disposal to get them interested. [An active] (ph) front door is one way to do just that. There was a new study out that showed that installing just a door to your house could actually dramatically increase its perceived value. We'll tell you all about that in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also this hour, we're giving away a really cool prize that's going to keep you warm. It's a Reiker room conditioner and it's a ceiling fan that also works like a space heater. Pretty cool and futuristic, if you ask me, and they're darn good looking. It's worth 359 bucks but it could be yours for free so give us a call.
TOM: So give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Gary in Utah has a question about concrete staining. How can we help you with this project?
GARY: I'm finishing my basement and I would like to stain my concrete floor and it's concrete. How do I prepare the floor for the stain?
LESLIE: Hmm, I think you really want to make sure that it's a clean, you know, fresh surface. So, it depends, really, on the product that you're using. There are some that are a concrete stain that's almost as thick in viscosity as paint and there's a certain primer that goes with it. There are some that are translucent. I think the best thing would be to give it a good cleaning and really then make sure that it's dry ...
LESLIE: ... before you go ahead and apply.
GARY: OK, great. Great. Do you think there's any kind of acids or anything that I could use or ...?
LESLIE: Oh gosh, yeah.
TOM: Acid stains are great. They have somewhat of an unpredictable result, so (chuckling) got to be prepared for an unknown finish. But start small in a corner and work your way out, they can look pretty cool.
LESLIE: There's a good website, Gary, for you to check out. It's ConcreteNetwork.com. And they not only give you the step-by-step to concrete staining and acid staining, but they also give you links to the products to help you do it. Because I know with acid staining on the concrete, like Tom says, it really depends on sort of the chemical structure of the concrete itself when it was made. So you can get a variation of the effect that you're trying to get. It might turn out looking something completely different. But they really do talk you through and help you get the best sample kits so you can really test it out before you commit. Because it could be beautiful.
GARY: Great, great. Well thank you for your help.
TOM: You're welcome, Gary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Becky in Utah's dealing with an issue with the cement steps at her house. How can we help you?
BECKY: OK, I have steps going up to my house and there's, you know, a sidewalk going up to it and it has separated from the step. And there's probably about, oh, four to six-inch gap.
TOM: Wow, that's a lot. Well listen, the reason that happens is because you get water in that area and it tends to make things slide around, believe it or not. Even something as heavy as a sidewalk. And the key would be to try to fill that space in. Now, if it's a four to six-inch gap it sounds to me like you might be able to fit a row of bricks in there in between the sidewalk and the step. Would that work?
BECKY: No, it's not big enough for a brick.
BECKY: And it's uneven.
TOM: Alright. Then what you want to do is you want to use an epoxy patching compound. You're going to clear that area out. You're going to repour that with some new cement but it's going to have an epoxy material in it so that even though it's a very narrow strip it'll be designed not to crack. And there are a number of manufacturers that make that. You can usually mix it up yourself and those bags are available at the hardware store or the home center.
BECKY: OK, so I don't need to pull the old sidewalk.
TOM: No. No, no. I would put a new strip right in there and just kind of go with that.
BECKY: OK. I will do that.
BECKY: That will save me a lot of money because I thought I had to pour the, you know, [new slab] (ph) down.
TOM: No, you get a good patch in there and it's the right kind of material - it's not plain cement; it's an epoxy-based concrete mix - then it'll be just fine.
BECKY: OK and does it matter if the approach is a little uneven? Like it's not completely flat anymore. It's (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: No, because you're going to trowel it, Becky, and make it as even and smooth as you possibly can.
TOM: Alright? And by the way, it if doesn't quite match the color of the concrete you could mix some dye in there and darken it up if you have to.
BECKY: Oh, I'm glad you said that because it is a darker color. It's a dark gray.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yep, you can definitely do that.
TOM: Alright, Becky. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Becky calling from Utah where not only do you have the rain but you get that icy weather and it really moves those concrete chunks around; sidewalks around.
LESLIE: Well, and then you get the opposite extreme. You get ridiculously hot weather there as well.
LESLIE: You are tuned in to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and we can give you that hand that you need to hold any of that extra lumber, materials. Whatever it is, we can even give you the advice to get the job done. So give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week even in the middle of the night; whenever that project needs a helping hand. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, it's time to talk about hardwood floors. They're gorgeous and they're tough and they're a great flooring choice. But even hardwood can have its soft spots. We're going to give you a remedy that's not hard to take and keep them looking great, after this.
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[audio timestamp: 10:18]
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.
TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It's a great hour. It's a great idea. We have tips. We have advice. We have the solutions to your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Perhaps you've spilled paint into your carpet. Well, we can't help you with that. (Leslie chuckles) But just about everything else we could, so call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because if we talk to you on the air this hour you're automatically going to be entered into our random prize drawing because up for grabs is the new ECO Model Reiker room conditioner. It works like a space heater and a ceiling fan all in one. There are no cords to trip over, no fire hazards and no burn risk for kids or pets. The Reiker room conditioner installs and works just like a ceiling fan but it can keep you toasty all winter long. If you want to win it you just must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask us. But we're not scary. We don't bite. We'll actually try to help you out. (Leslie chuckles) The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, maybe you've got a question about your hardwood floor in the house that you've just purchased and exactly what to do with it; how to maintain it; how to keep it looking gorgeous. Well, you've probably realized now that hardwood floors, they're susceptible to chipping, gouging and visibly showing signs of wear and tear. But if it's time for refinishing it doesn't necessarily mean that you've got to sand it down to raw wood. I think that's the biggest misconception people have about a hardwood floor. Because you can use a floor buffer along with a sanding screen and if you just remove enough of that old finish to prepare for a fresh coat and a brand new shine, it will really do the trick and it can save you from having to do that entire floor, which could put a room out of commission for a good couple of days.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Soup to nuts and floorboards to shingles, call us now with your home improvement question. Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Now we're welcoming David in Arkansas to The Money Pit who's got a question about a wall heater. What can we do for you?
DAVID: We've got a small bathroom and when the builder built the house he neglected to put a heat vent in that room.
TOM: Seems like a pretty major oversight. (laughing)
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
DAVID: Well, yeah. And he came around on a guarantee and said oh yeah, he would do it and put it in; he was sorry about all that. But he died about six weeks later and ...
DAVID: At any rate, we have a small bathroom that needs an auxiliary heater. We've been using just one of those little standup heaters - 1500 watt - and it works great but it looks like heck. So we want to put something into the wall.
TOM: Let me ask you a question. How is the rest of your house heated? Is it hot air or hot water? What is it?
DAVID: Hot air.
TOM: And have you looked into the possibility of extending the current central heating system into the bathroom? I mean that would be my first choice rather than any type of wall unit or certainly another space heater?
DAVID: Well, that would be my first choice too but it would require quite a bit of work. We'd have to take out - you know, take down some ceilings and I was just thinking that it would make more sense time wise, expense wise to cut a, you know, little hole in the wall and recess an electric heater with a thermostat back in there.
TOM: Well look, that's always an option. I mean not only - you probably don't even have to cut a hole in the wall. You could mount an electric baseboard unit in the bathroom on any of the walls. The outside wall would be fine for that. You don't even have to recess it. In fact, some of those recessed heaters are not as efficient because they just don't circulate the air as easily but (ph) a simple strip electric baseboard heater. But I wouldn't give up on extending your central heating system. It doesn't always have to require a massive amount of demolition and even if it does involve cutting open a ceiling, that's not such a terrible thing to fix to have this entire space heated centrally with the rest of the house because it is going to cost you more to heat it with any type of a resistance heater than it would if you can get it added onto the rest of the house.
DAVID: Yeah. OK.
TOM: The other thing that you could think about doing is simply adding a louver door, too.
DAVID: Well, we actually took off the door and we replaced it with curtains.
TOM: That's ... (chuckling)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Still privacy, but not so much.
TOM: Probably not as much as you'd like to have. I don't know. I like to feel the door shut behind me. (laughing) From a building design standpoint, I'd rather see you go built in. If you can't do it I certainly understand the choice to do a recessed. But again, take a look at those simple strip heaters because, frankly, all you've got to do there is bolt it to the wall and run a wire and you're pretty much done.
DAVID: And it's called what? A strip heater?
TOM: Yeah, a resistance heater. Straight, electric, resistance-baseboard heater.
LESLIE: Like an electric baseboard heater. One of the companies that manufactures electric baseboard heaters in an assortment of wattages is - I'm not sure how you say it. I think it's (pronounces We-Let). It's Ouellet and they're available through a ton of different manufacturers. So I'm sure you'll be able to find someone or a brand similar to in your neck of the woods.
DAVID: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Calling from Illinois, we've got Sue whose home is cracking up. What can we do to help?
SUE: (chuckling) Hi, yes. Well, I've done - I have a 200-year-old house and, as you might guess, I've got a lot of plaster walls. I applied skim coat to most of the cracks about seven years ago and they're back and I want to know what else I can do. One specifically, upstairs in the hallway, goes vertically from essentially just the roof line all the way down to the baseboard and that one actually has a little bit of a bow to it. So that scares me more than anything else.
TOM: Sue, if there's a bow to it what's happening is the plaster is separating from the lath behind it and there's not going to be an easy correction for that. That is the plaster deteriorating and the option is really to skim that wall with another layer of drywall or to break off the loose plaster and then replaster it.
Now, the solution for the cracks is different. When you just do a skim coat on top of that, that plaster that you put on top is not elastic so it's not going to expand and contract with the old crack. What you need to do is use a piece of fiberglass drywall tape that looks sort of like netting. It's perforated. And you apply that to the crack first and then you spackle on top of that or plaster on top of that two or three layers and that is going to adhere enough where the wall can expand and contract without the crack showing through. But just to put more plaster on top of the cracked plaster is not going to solve it. The same way it's difficult to solve with a cracked sidewalk. Anything that moves like that has to have something in it that's elastic and very sticky and if you use the tape that'll solve it.
SUE: Actually, I did use the tape.
TOM: You did use the tape? Well ...
SUE: I did.
TOM: OK. Now did you use paper tape or fiberglass tape?
SUE: The fiberglass.
TOM: Well, let's just review how you did it. Did you sand the wall to get rid of all of the old paint first?
SUE: Hmm. (Leslie chuckles) Probably not. (laughs)
TOM: Because that could be like a layer of grease in between the tape and the wall.
LESLIE: And could cause that tape to slip right off as soon as there's any movement.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Exactly.
TOM: So that's probably what happened. That is the solution and if it's sanded, remove the old paint; there's nothing loose underneath it and then put the tape back on there. You're going to have to pull the old repair out now, by the way. But just do a good job sanding that and that should cover it. Now, if the bulge is not too bad you may want to try to spackle over that. And on a wall we're not as concerned as when you have a bulge in the ceiling because that plaster could actually fall. It's pretty darn heavy. Don't ask me why I know. I just do. (Sue and Leslie chuckle) And it could hurt you. (chuckles) OK?
SUE: Yes. (chuckles) OK, very good. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Taking a call from Ray who's dealing with some drain noises. Tell us about them.
RAY: Yes, I've got an upstairs toilet that the drain line runs right down in the wall between my kitchen and my living room and it sounds like Niagara Falls every time the (Tom and Leslie chuckle) toilet is flushed and ...
TOM: Makes for great dinnertime conversation, doesn't it?
RAY: (laughs) Right. And I'm going to be tearing into that wall to expand the opening into my living room anyway, so I'm going to get to that pipe soon and I was trying to figure out whether or not I can insulate it in some way from a noise perspective or whether I need to perhaps replace what I assume is a PVC pipe with cast iron in order to get rid of that noise.
TOM: PVC pipes are very, very noisy, Ray, as you've come to learn. If you open that wall up you could wrap the pipe with foam - heavy foam sheeting - and that will help quiet it down. It's really a density issue. The pipe is so thin, you know, it does fine as a drain but it doesn't do much for sound.
TOM: And then I would fill the rest of the cavity with an unfaced fiberglass bat and that will quiet down that space quite a bit.
RAY: OK, the foam insulation you're talking about; is that a spray or is that a ...?
TOM: No, it's ...
LESLIE: No, it's a sheeting.
TOM: Yeah, it's a sheeting. It's like a foam wrap ...
RAY: Oh, OK.
TOM: ... that's made specifically for that.
RAY: Oh, OK. Something similar to what you would put around a water heater? That kind of wrap?
TOM: No, that's fiberglass. This is like a foam pad. It's more like the kind of - the material feels a little bit more like the padding that's used in sports. It's sort of a soft, rubbery foam.
LESLIE: And Ray, before you go ahead and seal up that wall, I would test out all of your noise-deadening things that you've added just to make sure. You don't want to add an extra layer of that foam or maybe you need a little bit more insulation just to help quiet it. This way you don't have to do the same work twice.
RAY: Sounds like a plan.
TOM: Alright, Ray. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We've got Dawn from California. What can The Money Pit do for you today?
DAWN: Hi, I wanted to know - we want to spruce up my girlfriend's deck and it has paint peeling. I wanted to know whether we should powerwash it or sand it.
LESLIE: I think you're going to have to do a little bit of both. So you're seeing a lot of - is it paint or is stain that's on there?
DAWN: It's paint.
LESLIE: OK. And so you're seeing bubbling and blistering ...
LESLIE: ... and things are just popping up.
LESLIE: You want to first start off with your pressure washer. And don't be too overly aggressive because then you can damage some of the wood fibers that are underneath that paint and cause it to splinter and stand up even more but damage to the wood rather than the paint. So you want to make sure that with the pressure washer you get as much of that stuff off as you possibly can. Then ...
DAWN: How far away should we hold it?
LESLIE: What, like 18 inches, Tom? Is it like two feet?
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, that's about. Twelve to 18 inches. But make sure you use the right head on it so it doesn't have too much pressure.
LESLIE: And then once you sort of do that, you know, you might be able to get all of that off with the pressure washer and a paint scraper. If you're having a hard time and it's really not coming off you can go ahead and use a chemical stripping product to get the rest of it off because the goal is to get as much of the old product off so that when you go to put new stain or paint or solid stain onto this deck it's going to stick because it's all about adhesion and prep. And then once you get it down, you know, if you find that you've got to go with a chemical stripping agent, go ahead and use that; rinse it off well; get rid of everything and let it dry out.
Then I would recommend, instead of paint, using a solid stain. Because paint is designed, when you put it on something it sort of sits on the surface; whereas a solid stain is going to be as opaque as a paint but it's meant to saturate into the wood itself. So it's going to do a better job of sticking on there. And the Flood Company makes a variety of solid stains and the good part about their stains is that they feature something called Emulsibond, which is a built-in primer. So it's a primer and the solid stain all in one and it's an oil-based primer and a latex topcoat, so you're really getting the best of both worlds. And if you do the right prep it's going to last around five years on a horizontal surface.
DAWN: And that's called Ultra Bond?
LESLIE: It's called - Emulsibond is their additive but it's the Flood Company and they make a ton of - it's called CWF Solid Stain and I think they offer 65 different colors.
DAWN: Oh, wow. OK. Can you spell the name of that company that makes it? Flood?
LESLIE: It's Flood. Just like what happens when there's too much water. (Tom chuckles) F-l-o-o-d.
DAWN: OK. Great. Thank you very much.
TOM: Dawn, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, what a difference a door can make. Learn how a new entry door can add tons of perceived value to your home, increase security and weatherproof your front entry, next.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
And you know, Tom, I've spent most of, you know, a good portion of 2007 working on exterior makeovers for the new show The Ugliest House on the Block and ...
LESLIE: ... and it really is apparently obvious that curb appeal can make or break your home, especially in this very tough market. And it really is a good time to take stock and see what can be upgraded or even improved on the outside of your house.
TOM: Well, absolutely. And in the 20 years I spent as a professional home inspector, I know that something as a new entryway can add a load of perceived value to your house. And now there's a cool new tool out there that lets you sort of design it online before you buy it and install it. It's from Therma-Tru and joining us to talk about just that is Sarah Theis.
SARA: Hello, how are you?
TOM: You know, all the years I've been in home improvement there always seem to be a gap between what you thought you wanted and what actually showed up after you ordered it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. (chuckling)
TOM: And that's why I think these visualizers are so important. Is this sort of a trend that you've been noticing as well?
SARA: Absolutely. We - from our contractors and homeowners alike, they just like a tool that can help them visualize the end product before they make a purchase. So we just launched a new online visualization tool called our Door Designer and you can choose from 10 different architectural styles and literally try on different door styles to get a sense of the dynamic change that's going to happen before you make that purchase.
LESLIE: Which is nice because then you can try, you know, different size doors; different features, whether they're sidelights or transoms, whether it's glass on the door; something that you might not have had initially that you might even just be sort of playing with the notion of having this. And you're so right. Folks really just cannot see beyond what's on paper. They really need this visual key.
TOM: Now, if you go do that, Sara - you say try it on - are you able to see the door in different settings?
SARA: Yes, yes. For each architectural style there's, I think, two or three different scenes you can choose. So you choose one that, you know, looks like your home, at least directionally, and you can play with the colors and the sidelights and transoms and just mix and match until you're happy.
TOM: Because there's a lot of options that you have available but I think that sometimes manufacturers are tempted to sort of dumb down the designs, in a sense, because if there's too many options it becomes too complicated on the order side when you're actually trying to place that order. But this gives you a tool, I would imagine, where you can actually try all those options out; whether it's brass hardware or whether it's stained glass. You can actually try them out. And then after you do that, does this enable you to sort of output all of the parts of the door so you can actually place an order?
SARA: Exactly. In fact, at the last stage you can print out a summary, find a dealer near you and literally just take the printout and say, 'This is my dream door. Place the order.'
LESLIE: That's really fantastic. Do you find that - I know you'd mentioned that the contractors are using the tool as well. Do you think they're sort of putting this altogether for their clients and sort of helping them take the step for the client that's not showing enough initiative to sort of do the research on their own?
SARA: Well, I hope so. We just launched it but I think it'll help drive upgrades not only for the entryway but also siding, roofing, paint colors, trim - decorative trim. So the options are endless.
TOM: Yeah, and the four most expensive words are 'While you're at it' ...
LESLIE: Yeah. (chuckling)
TOM: ... when it comes to home improvement.
TOM: There's always a lot to do.
Sara, let's talk a bit about fiberglass doors just as a category. Therma-Tru pretty much invented the fiberglass door. What are some of the advantages of a fiberglass door over wood or metal doors that are so common today?
SARA: Fiberglass is the most energy-efficient and durable option out there versus a (INAUDIBLE) or a wood door. It's also going to give you the low maintenance. We only recommend that you have a new clear coat every so often; every couple of years. But it's literally going to give you the beauty of a [wood and seal] (ph) door but with none of the maintenance and all the durability of fiberglass.
TOM: And I guess the clear coat is just to kind of maintain the shine.
LESLIE: The luster, yeah.
TOM: Yeah, but other than that there is no organic matter to decay. Like with a wood door, we always see that they swell and then they warp. But with a fiberglass I guess it's dimensionally stable.
SARA: You got it.
LESLIE: Yeah, and they really are gorgeous. So you're so right. You offer so many choices and it can become very confusing, so I only imagine that you're going to see your sales boost because of the simplicity and the ease now which a homeowner can really see the potential that the front of the home could achieve.
SARA: I hope so. I mean we used to receive complaints because our catalog was just so overwhelming, but yet there's always that homeowner that says, 'Wow, I wish I could have this glass and this door in this size.' So, hopefully, if they don't see what they want they can make a special request.
TOM: Well, the website is so much better than a catalog the size of a phone book. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
SARA: Exactly. And better for the environment, too.
TOM: Sara Theis, Public Relations Manager for Therma-Tru Doors. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
If you'd like to check out this Door Designer, you can go to Therma-Tru's website which is at ThermaTru.com and that's ThermaTru.com.
SARA: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright, Sara Theis. Thank you so much for giving us some good ideas and advice for making our homes look like they cost a lot more money than they actually do and making them actually look fantastic in the process.
Well, now that you've made the outside look super-duper, how about that inside interior design that you are stuck with and feeling a bit tired of? Well we're going to tell you how to wake up your living areas without exhausting your budget, right after this.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, that's what we do. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and we can make your home better if you give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because one caller we talk to this hour who asks their question on the air is going to win a Reiker room conditioner. And this is a ceiling fan and an energy-efficient room heater all in one and it's going to work for you all year round. It's great for that room that's always a little bit chilly or maybe if you've got one of those three-season rooms that you want to extend the usage of it's a great prize. It heats, it cools, it's worth 359 bucks and it could be yours for free.
TOM: So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
We talk about the big home improvement projects here; you know, the rough ones: the wall construction, the new doors, the new windows. But sometimes we talk about the softer side, too, like decorating. You know, you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars or completely redecorate a room to give it a new look. Simple changes like new accent pillows or a throw with some bright colors can actually make a big difference. Try taking some updated family photos and stick those in very colorful frames. We just did that with some old photos that we had and it really changed the look of the wall of fame that we have everybody (Leslie chuckles) tacked up to here. You know, even a different furniture arrangement can add a bit of new life to an old room. Leaf through some of those interior design magazines or check out some of those sites online to give yourself some extra ideas of ways to kind of spruce things up around your house. If you change things up just a bit and add some interest to that same old view, you might be looking at a whole new space.
LESLIE: Yeah, I love to move around all of like my little decorative props from room to room. This way it's - one week it's in the livingroom. You know, maybe the next season it's upstairs in the guest room. This way it always keeps things fresh and it also saves my wallet because I'm not going out and buying a ton of new stuff.
TOM: Good advice.
Let's get back to the phones. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: William in Indiana's having some chimney situations. William, how can we help?
WILLIAM: Hi. We just bought a brick house. It's a one-story Cape Cod, all brick. And we have some bad - well, I've been told it's called spalling -
WILLIAM: - on top of our chimney.
WILLIAM: Just, you know, sections of the brick are - it's one or two bricks where a chunk of the brick is actually popping out ...
WILLIAM: ... of the chimney.
TOM: Fairly common in an older house. What is it? Like a 50-year-old Cape or something?
WILLIAM: Built in 1951.
TOM: OK. Yeah, so pretty close. (laughing)
TOM: Fifty, sixty years old. Very common. What happens is as water gets into the brick and it freezes, it kind of breaks apart the brick. Happens most commonly at the top few courses of brick. And generally you have to do a number of things here. Number one, you have to make up a concrete mix to patch the brick and you can actually dye some epoxy patching compound ...
TOM: ... to match that brick so it'll be red - I'm assuming it's a red brick - and then repoint the mortar joints. But most importantly, the very top of the chimney is going to be a crown made of cement that goes from the liner to the outside edge of the brick chimney and I'm going to guess that that crown in cracked. They very, very commonly do and it needs to be either replaced or certainly those cracks in that top crown should be caulked because that will slow the water that's getting down into that space and if you slow the water you're going to slow that spalling effect and keep those bricks intact for as long as possible. But nothing too complicated. Nothing terrible for you to have to worry about. Fairly normal wear and tear for a 50 to 60-year-old brick chimney.
WILLIAM: OK. So, that chunk of brick that's actually popping out ...
WILLIAM: ... it's not an entire brick, it's just a rather large chunk; like a four-inch-long chunk.
TOM: If it's clean you may be able to mortar it back into place.
TOM: If it's really broken up then I would fill that kind of like you'd think of filling like a hole or a cavity and I would mix up a mortar mix and I would tint it to match the brick. If you go to the home center or hardware store you'll find out that there are concrete tints. They're usually powder.
TOM: I just did this not so long ago; repairing a brick step on my dad's patio and I was able to mix it up very carefully to get a color that was fairly close to what was there. And it's not going to match exactly but it's better than having a gray patch on a red brick chimney.
WILLIAM: OK. Great, thank you.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, calling in we've got Grace from North Dakota who listens in on WDAY and everybody loves to drink water, except when yours is stinky. Grace, what's going on?
GRACE: I do have a sulfur smell to it when it comes out of the faucets.
LESLIE: Is it just the cold or is it the hot or both?
GRACE: It seems to be both. I cannot distinguish which it is. But if I let it set on the counter for a while or my ice does not smell and I let it sit on the counter for a while it doesn't smell. I run it through a Brita filter ...
GRACE: ... for my drinking.
TOM: Grace, when you turn this faucet on, does it only smell sort of initially or is it always the same?
GRACE: No, different - no, it's always the same smell ...
GRACE: ... but sometimes it doesn't.
TOM: Well, have you had the water tested, Grace?
GRACE: Yes, I have gone to my health department and had the water tested and ...
GRACE: ... OK, fine.
TOM: So then the only issue here is really the odor and that could be solved with a charcoal filtering system. Now, the filtering system can be put on at the point where the water comes into the house and it's going to be activated charcoal; a large tank that will run the water through the charcoal and that will deal with the odor issue. Or another option is you could put on the charcoal filter right at the kitchen sink, for example, if it really bothers you there but not perhaps not as much in the bathrooms.
TOM: Now, the charcoal filters are available from tap size [like attaching] (ph) to the end of the faucet. I don't so much recommend those. I would use a larger one that would fit underneath the kitchen cabinet or, better yet, have one put in right to the well system where the water line comes into the house and that will cover everything.
LESLIE: Now, Grace, have you had any work done recently to the plumbing around this sink or near this fixture?
GRACE: No, but that'll ...
LESLIE: No. OK, because sometimes Tom talks about a putty that can be kind of stinky also.
TOM: No, I think that would be a drain issue, but this is all the time then it's probably the well itself that has the water that's not pleasant. And that, again, could be fixed with a charcoal filter.
Grace, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. When we come back we jump into our e-mail bag to help a listener from Alaska deal with a water heater.
[audio timestamp: 39:48]
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. We are available 24/7/365 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and we've got lots of great advice for you here at Money Pit and at MoneyPit.com and one of those things that we love talking about is, you know, what to do with that new design for your room. You know, are you not exactly sure what color to go with? Are you thinking that new furniture that you love is way too trendy? Or maybe is it so trendy that it's becoming a new classic? Well, in our next Money Pit e-newsletter we are going to talk about design trends for 2008; for this brand, spanking new year. We're going to tell you what's hot and what's not in our next e-newsletter that comes to your inbox every Friday. If you're not a subscriber, why the heck not? Go to MoneyPit.com right now and sign up today. It's free.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number. Call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week with your home improvement question or log onto our website at MoneyPit.com and shoot us an e-mail question by clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie just like Richard did from Alaska.
LESLIE: That's right. Richard from Anchorage writes: 'I live in Alaska and I'm interested in a whole-house tankless water heater. The house is about 1,900 square feet and has two bathrooms. Our water comes into the house at 40 degrees. Is the water coming into the house too cold to use a tankless?
TOM: No, because a tankless takes hot water that is basically at ambient temperature and brings it up to the temperature that you call for and it does so instantly. It does so with no delay whatsoever.
Now, let's see. The house is 1,900 square feet so it's an average size house with two bathrooms. Another advantage of tankless is that you can actually zone your tankless water heater so that you can have more than one water heater in the house. You could have one for the upstairs bath; one for the downstairs bath. And what that's going to do is shorten the amount of time it will take for that water to have to get hot. So there are a number of advantages to tankless water heaters, including the fact that they can take that water that is 40 degrees and bring it right up to that nice, ambient 100 to 110-degree water that we're used to having coming out of our faucet.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got another here from Pogue in Stanhope, New Jersey who writes: 'When I'm using air conditioning in the summer, mold grows under and around my air conditioning vents in the ceilings of various rooms. I take off the vents and clean with a mold and mildew remover but it seems to keep coming back. Any suggestions?'
TOM: I suspect, Pogue, that what you're seeing is not mold but dirt. Because you have a lot of air movement that happens around that wall. As the warm air or the cold air falls the warm air rises. It takes all of the dirt that's in the air - and let's face it. Even though our air is circulating all the time there are dirt particles in there and as it strikes the wall it condenses on the wall. It sticks to the wall and it leaves that sort of staining look. One thing that you might want to think about doing is improving the air filtration in the house. If you have ducts you should have a whole-house electronic air cleaner that will clean that air 24/7. That's a much more efficient thing to do ...
TOM: ... than the fiberglass filters that are like a buck apiece. They're very inexpensive but they don't really stop too much. I call them pebble stops because the particles have to be, yeah, huge. Right.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (chuckling) Because that's about all they do stop.
TOM: So put in a good quality electronic air cleaner. One of our sponsors has one. It's called Aprilaire that's really, really good. Just a very efficient air cleaner like that centrally installed will really clean up that air and stop that streaking problem from happening again.
LESLIE: Well, and I think another thing that's important about whole-house air cleaners is that, you know, especially with the one that Aprilaire makes, is that they get out viral-sized particulates.
TOM: Yeah, good point.
LESLIE: So some things that are so super-teeny-tiny that you don't even see in the air that cause respiratory infections and viral infections and allergies, you know, will come all out of the air. So you'll be feeling better, you'll dust less and you won't have to deal with that sort of situation around your vents again. Alright, Pogue?
TOM: You've been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
Hey, coming up next week on the program, is your home at risk for an electrical fire? Millions are. During a certain era of home construction in this country, a specific material was used for wiring that is now considered extremely dangerous. Find out what it is and if your house is at risk right here next week on The Money Pit.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don't have to do it alone.
[audio timestamp: 44:30]
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(Copyright 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.)