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 now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us because you've got your work boots on and nowhere to go. (Leslie chuckles) Hey, we can find a project for you to do. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
We've got a busy show planned for you. Coming up this hour, find out the worst state to order a home inspection in. That's right. The American Society of Home Inspectors has its annual list of states with the absolute worst home inspection laws in America. Does your state make the grade? Find out if an inspection in your area will really give you the information that you need if you're thinking about buying or selling a house.
LESLIE: And also ahead - this is a pretty staggering and gross statistic - did you know that the average family produces dozens of pounds of garbage each week and all of that trash can really cause an odor problem if you don't take care of it properly. We are going to teach you how to keep your trash cans odor and germ-free, most importantly, this hour.
TOM: And if you're thinking about getting away because it's a bit cold outside, maybe you'd like to go to an island. You say you can't get away? How about an island in your kitchen? (Leslie chuckles) It's almost as good. It's a place to hang out. You can get a lot of things done there. We're going to talk to you about some kitchen design ideas that will help you create the island of your dreams in your kitchen.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you can figure out how to get a tan on that island (Tom laughs) you win our prize this hour, which is we're giving away a Ryobi AIRgrip ProCross laser level. It's worth 70 bucks. It's a pretty cool prize but it could be yours for free.
TOM: So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Lori in Wyoming, welcome to The Money Pit.
LORI: We're building a new home out in the country and I'm wondering if well water is suitable for an on-demand water heater.
TOM: Yes, I don't see why not.
LORI: Well, I wasn't sure whether the sediment and the possible - you know, it's pretty hard water. I was wondering if that was going to ...
TOM: You might need a filter system but it's a great, great technology because it gives you an unlimited supply of hot water. So I think it's a great option for you ...
LORI: Well, I appreciate that.
TOM: ... and there's absolute no reason that you can't use it on well water.
LORI: Alright. Is there any special maintenance then that you suggest that we do with it?
TOM: No, there's typical maintenance associated with it like there would be with any water heater. I'll tell you a good website to check out. That's SmarterHotWater.com. That's the website for one of our sponsors which is Rheem and they make one of the best tankless water heaters out there and on that website you'll find a lot of the technical information to see if they recommend any filters or special installations for well water. But to the best of my knowledge there's absolutely nothing different about that and city water in terms of the installation.
LORI: Very good. I appreciate the information.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Stuart in New Jersey, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
STUART: Hi, I enjoy listening to your show and while I don't catch it on the air I do listen to the podcast. So keep up ...
TOM: Thank you so much.
STUART: I just wanted to ask you a quick question about a new house that we bought. Actually, it's a 100-year-old house. And it has beautiful hardwood floors but, unfortunately, they lost their shine and when we try cleaning them they're very dull. And I just want to see if you have any suggestions or any products that you recommend to bring back the shine.
TOM: Well, it might just be that the finish is worn. Is it hardwood or is it soft wood? Do you know which kind of wood floor it is?
STUART: No, I don't.
TOM: Very often, the very old homes have Doug fir flooring, which is a soft wood; not oak, which is a hard wood.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and it dings up.
TOM: But regardless, if the floor is structurally in good condition; if it's not really deeply dinged or deeply scratched, you can refinish the floors with a lot less hassle than you might think, Peter (ph). The way to do that is to rent a floor buffer with a sanding screen. Now a sanding screen kind of looks like a window screen-type material and it rotates under the floor buffer and it takes only sort of the top surface of the finish off of the floor. It doesn't dig into the raw wood. And then once you buff the floor, you vacuum it up and maybe even damp mop it to get all of that dust out and then you could squeegee on or, using a lamb's wool applicator, sort of mop on an extra couple of coats of polyurethane. Do that one room at a time and work yourself sort of out of the room and that's the right way to refinish an old floor.
STUART: I think the floors are probably in better condition than that. I think it's something that we did when we washed it.
TOM: OK, well I mean it's either that or you could simply wax them with, again, with a floor buffer and floor wax ...
TOM: ... and see if that brings it back up. If it doesn't work then I would recommend doing the sanding screen and putting another coat of urethane on it.
STUART: Do you have any experience using vinegar? Someone recommended that ...
TOM: Well, you know, if you tried all the normal cleaning solutions, then that's fine. You could simply try vinegar and water. It's a very mild detergent. But if you still don't have that shine coming back then you may just have worn it off.
STUART: Mm-hmm. OK. Sounds great. Alright, thanks for your help.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and spring is indeed just around the corner and we can help you get ready for all of those home improvement projects that you've got planned. So give us a call right now or anytime 24 hours a day, seven days a week with your home repair or home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, we're going to talk home inspection. Are the home inspectors in your state really qualified to make sure that the house that you're thinking about buying is not a real-life money pit? Find out if your state is on the list of the worst home inspection states in the nation, 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: 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 you should give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour has got a chance to win a great prize and that prize is the Ryobi ProCross self-leveling laser level with AIRgrip. My goodness, that is a tough thing to say. But basically it is a very cool laser level that will give you a criss-cross of laser lines, so it's great for any type of work where you need an exact grid line like tile or any sort of moulding or anything or you need to know that everything is straight and square and good to go. It's a great prize. It's worth 70 bucks but it could be yours for free. We've got to talk to you on the air this hour so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is the telephone number. If you live in certain areas of the country, you need to be extra careful about home inspections. You've heard me say this time and time again but a home inspection is the first line of defense when you are buying or when you are selling a home, but only - only, only - if the inspector is really qualified and knows exactly what to look for.
Now apparently some but not all states do have some form of home inspection regulation but the laws are not always enforced - that's pretty scary - and state to state, the regulations vary quite a bit. So the American Society of Home Inspectors 2000-state ranking of the best and worst home inspection regulations in the country has just arrived and, you know, we always recommend ASHI-certified inspectors because regardless of the state laws you know that those guys really know what the heck they're doing. But according to ASHI, the states with the best regulatory laws in the nation are Louisiana, New Jersey and Arizona.
LESLIE: Hey, that should make you really proud, Tom; especially with all the work you did for New Jersey as a home inspector.
TOM: That's true, so I should disclose that I was actually very, very involved in drafting the home inspection regulations for the state of New Jersey way back in my home inspection days so I'm glad to hear that those guys are keeping up the good work we started. But check this out at the bottom of the list. Now here's where you definitely don't want to look for a state-licensed inspector; you'd better just get an ASHI guy: North Dakota, Georgia and California. Can you believe that?
LESLIE: And that's crazy because California, with all of the sort of environmental hazards - you know, earthquakes -
LESLIE: - you would think that somebody really needs to know what they're doing, especially when inspecting a home.
TOM: Absolutely. So if you want more information on how to find a good home inspector, go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org.
LESLIE: And also, those of you who are signed up for our Money Pit e-newsletter, you will get the complete list of all of those states in our very next issue and if you're not on our list, sign up. It's free. We're not going to sell your e-mail address either so don't worry about that. Visit our website. It's chock full of information that's helpful and informative. We'll give you projects to do everything you need to know at MoneyPit.com.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Marie in Florida has a question about tiling. What can we do for you today?
MARIE: I want to see if you can help me. We put in a new flooring and it was in the kitchen and the tile is 12 inches by 12 inches. And we wanted to make it look nicer so we sealed the tiles in addition to the joints, which was a mistake because every time I try to wash the floor this sealer comes off.
MARIE: So how do I remove the whole thing ...
MARIE: ... and just leave the sealer?
TOM: I'm wondering if you could do some sort of an abrasive buffing of the floor with the cleaning compound, renting a floor buffer from a rental house ...
TOM: ... and then buffing the tile surface to try to pick more of it off.
LESLIE: You know, Marie, you might want to try acetone. Now, it's something that you would find in the home improvement center, straight acetone. You can buy it. It's really - it's a good cleanser. If, at your home, you've got a nail polish remover with acetone in it - and the reason why I know that there's nail polish remover without acetone in it is because I've glued my fingers together (Marie and Tom laugh) with Crazy Glue before and, believe me, I've tried every nail polish remover that did not have acetone in it; did not get my fingers apart. As soon as I got the one with acetone it popped right apart. The acetone is great at removing sealers; you know, super-strong adhesives. It may react with the tile so you want to make sure that you try it first in an area and if you've got nail polish in the house with acetone give it a test. But if you're going to do the entire floor I would head to the home center and get like a big bottle of straight acetone. I wouldn't go to the beauty store and try the nail polish remover.
TOM: Marie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mike in South Carolina is calling with the number one question asked here at the Money Pit - flooring. What's going on at your house?
MIKE: We built our house about 15 years ago and we want to stay in it long term. We - so we're going to replace the whole bottom floor to start with, with either laminate or hardwood. And every home improvement store that we go to seems to have a different opinion on what would be best for the long term. So we want to get an actual opinion.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK, so this is the entire first floor of the house?
MIKE: Yes sir, it is.
TOM: Alright. Well laminate is going to probably be a bit less expensive than hardwood but they're both very attractive. I mean some folks just like the natural look of hardwood and would probably find that to add a bit more value than laminate. But ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, and then you get the refinishing ability. You know, you have the option, as wear and tear occurs, to go ahead and refinish; remove the stain; change the color; re-urethane; you know, really make it last, you know, many, many, many years.
MIKE: And that was one of the advantages that we had looked at because it appears to be a lot more flexible as far as - like I say, we want to stay in the house. We're still relatively house and want to be there for a long time. So we had kind of leaned towards wood but I wanted to actually get an expert opinion.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, I think if you're leaning towards wood then you are probably going to choose wood ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You're not going to be happy with laminate.
TOM: ... and you wouldn't be happy with laminate.
LESLIE: You know, as much as laminate can look like wood, it always, you know, is not real.
TOM: But let me ...
LESLIE: I mean the only other option is an engineered hardwood.
MIKE: Right. Well, in your opinion, is the prefinished better than the self-finish or the aftermarket finish? As far as hardwood.
TOM: Well, if you use a prefinished floor you want to make sure that you buy the best quality finish possible. There are different durability levels. You know, there's residential level; there's commercial level and, believe me, it makes a big difference. The prefinished floors have actually gotten a lot better over the years. Those finishes are now aluminum oxide-based finishes. That's the same material sandpaper is made out of. And they're really, really durable. That being said, there's nothing better than a brand new, unfinished, built-in, hardwood floor. I mean that's really a core part of the building ...
TOM: ... and in terms of refinishabiity, you can't refinish a prefinished floor.
TOM: Yes, you can only refinish a regular, raw, originally-installed floor. If you try to refinish a prefinished floor, you are going to find that -
TOM: - for example, if you think about the profiles of those boards, Leslie, they're - the tongues and the grooves are [often veed] (ph) ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And you're always going to end up with that weird section of stain.
TOM: ... and you can't get in there. And I've also seen problems with adherence between the old finishes and the field-applied and the factory-applied finishes.
MIKE: Yes. Very.
LESLIE: Now if you put down a raw hardwood floor, is it best to then have a pro come in and finish because of the types of urethane coatings that are available to them?
TOM: Not necessarily. I mean I think you can do it yourself and do a pretty good job and have a floor finish that's going to last you, you know, five to seven years.
MIKE: And is it obvious that oak would be the best of the flooring materials?
TOM: Not necessarily. I mean what about a product like bamboo? That's incredibly durable as well.
MIKE: OK. Well, I do appreciate it. I think you've pointed us in the right direction now anyway so I'll let my wife make the - now that I've done this I'll let her do the heavy lifting.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) The executive decisions. (chuckles)
TOM: Yep, you sound like a smart man, Mike.
MIKE: Yeah, I've been married 27 years. (Tom laughs) I definitely have learned how to compromise. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: And now we know why. You're an inspiration, my friend. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Stacy in New York, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
STACY: What I wanted to find out was I have a brick wall on my fireplace. It's like the whole wall is brick and then the fireplace is underneath. And I'd like to put up a mantle or a mantle shelf but the last time I tried drilling into it just to put a cloth over it I found that I couldn't do it with any real - any good results, to tell you the truth. I tried drilling into the brick and I also tried drilling into the mortar and I had a mortar bit on the drill but it still doesn't seem to work very well. Do I have any other options besides drilling a hole?
LESLIE: Yeah, a Tapcon, which is also drilling a hole but it's a special bit that's made specifically for drilling in stone or brick and you do want to go into the brick, not the mortar, because you're going to get the best area to really hold onto things into the brick itself. And a Tapcon, it's a special bit with the drill itself on one end and then the sheath slides over it and then there's an attachment for the special screws at the other end of that. So it's like a whole little kit you have to buy but it's not terribly expensive. It is a bit of a struggle to keep drilling a lot of holes in brick because I've done some work in brick fireplaces beforehand and sometime ...
TOM: Yeah, unless you have the right tool.
LESLIE: Yeah, like a hammer drill is going to help you tremendously. It's going to be noisy and it's going to be a workout but it's going to do the job a lot more efficiently. And then you'll find also that sometimes with the Tapcons, you might find that they spin a little bit in the brick. If you see that happening, I usually take a piece of wire, like double the length or the depth of that hole and fold it in half and put that in there and then as I drill the Tapcon in through the piece of wood - whatever it is that I'm working on - it sort of helps to bind it into the metal. It grips almost like an anchor and helps that Tapcon really get it in place.
Now, you probably want to - I mean are you building a shelf or building this mantle or are you looking to buy something and sort of attach that?
STACY: Yeah, I was just really thinking of maybe a three-foot mantle shelf, really, that wouldn't be holding anything that's too heavy. So I was wondering if I could use something like putties or any kind of adhesive actually instead of actually drilling in.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You know, if it's a shelf like that, I would be uncomfortable with you using any type of epoxy or putty. I would like to see you have some sort of mechanical connection. I know you're struggling with that masonry drill bit. Why don't you look around and maybe you could find somebody that has a hammer drill. If you had a hammer drill -
LESLIE: It would be so easy.
TOM: - which looks like a regular drill except that what happens is it vibrates and it sort of taps the drill bit in as it's spinning ...
TOM: ... and it will cut through that mortar like it's butter. You'll be amazed.
LESLIE: And you know who has interesting shelves that you could use as a mantle shelf that are of a floating capacity - you know, they have a hidden bracket that you would attach to the brick and then the shelf slides over it - is IKEA.
TOM: (overlapping voices) IKEA. Yeah.
LESLIE: They have some really nice ones in either painted finishes or wood stain looks that are kind of modern but would look really nice and simple with a brick fireplace. It might really compliment it nicely and, you know, with the right attachment and the hammer drill you'd be totally able to put that up.
STACY: OK, so the hammer drill sounds like the way to go because what I was wondering is - I just have one of those all-purpose skill drills; you know, not a contractor or a professional model. So I always thought that maybe I just didn't have the power.
LESLIE: Is it nine volts?
LESLIE: Yeah, you'll never get through the stone with that.
TOM: Oh, is it battery-powered?
LESLIE: Yeah, you'll never get through.
TOM: Oh, not going to happen. No, that's - well, if you had a 120-volt drill or a really good battery-powered drill you'd have a good chance. But if you really want to get through that easy, get a hammer drill.
STACY: I'll rent one of those. That sounds great.
TOM: Yeah, it shouldn't cost too much.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and here is a riddle for you. How many pounds of garbage do you think that the average family generates each week? Well when we get back we are going to have the answer plus a tip to put a lid on the smell that all of that trash that average family can generate. So stick around.
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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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we make good homes better. Pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We want to talk to you about your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. If your pipe dreams include building a new bathroom this is the place for you to call for the help to do just that.
LESLIE: Now those would be literal pipe dreams, Tom. (chuckling)
TOM: Literal pipe dreams.
You know, an average family of three people generates 40 pounds of garbage a week. Now, my ...
LESLIE: I believe it.
TOM: My average family of five probably generates about 120 pounds. (Leslie chuckles) I'm probably knocking this way out of the park. But here's a tip to keep those garbage cans looking and smelling clean. Rinse them weekly with a solution of borax and warm water. Borax and warm water does a great job at keeping germs at bay. Now, you can also spray the inside of the can, once you get done with the scrubbing, with a 10-percent bleach solution; the miracle product that helps get everything clean and safe and smelling bright.
LESLIE: Yeah, if you like that tip - which I love because even as a family of two, we generate so much trash. I cannot believe it. And you know, I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, so the trash always has a lot of organic materials. I know a lot of you out there like compost. Compost! But I'm not at that stage yet. I'm not quite that green. I want to be but I'm not there. And it's so important to keep those trash cans safe from bacteria because you could easily spread it around the house.
So if you like that tip, we have hundreds more like it available at MoneyPit.com. We can teach you how to save time, energy, money and be less stressful with our Tip of the Day. You can even get a new tip to pop up daily on your own website absolutely free, so it keeps your website fresh and informs your visitors of a great home improvement project. Find out how to do that at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us with your home improvement question right now.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Chris in North Carolina is having foundation issues. Why don't you tell us about the problem?
CHRIS: Well, you know, I went down after a few days of rain - about a week afterwards - and noticed it was a little damp in the crawlspace. Went under a little further and saw that my - the blocks in my foundation, you could see the water creeping up. So I've had several different dry solutions come out and I'm just trying to determine which is best because each one of them downplays the other.
TOM: Is this - are you talking about waterproofing contractors?
CHRIS: Yeah. Yes.
CHRIS: I would say waterproofing and also they would dehumidify and all that kind of thing.
LESLIE: Now Chris, are you only seeing this water after rain? You're not seeing it any other times?
CHRIS: Now, down here in lovely Raleigh, North Carolina the - it's been pretty dry here. So the fact that there's moisture up to the middle of my foundation blocks, there's definitely a problem. It's coming in - because my house is actually right next to a berm.
CHRIS: So I imagine it comes down off the berm. It has no place to go but towards my house.
TOM: Alright. The solution here does not involve most of the systems that I'm sure these wet basement folks have been recommending, which I will just take a guess includes sump pumps and digging out foundations and this sort of thing. Is that correct?
CHRIS: Absolutely. Yes it does.
TOM: Yeah. Here's what we would recommend you do. If you have a water problem that's related to moisture, heavy rain, that sort of thing it always sources with outside drainage. So let's start at the beginning.
First of all, I want you to look at your downspouts.
LESLIE: And your gutters themselves.
TOM: And your gutter system.
TOM: Make sure they're clear. Make sure the downspouts are discharging at least four to six feet from the foundation; not at the corner of the foundation into little splash blocks.
TOM: But extend it out well away. Now, if you don't want to see all these pipes coming off your house, trust me. Just do it for the short test and you'll find out that it's going to make a big impact and then you can finish how to neaten up later; perhaps by running them underground through solid PVC pipes or something of that nature.
TOM: The second thing is the angle of the soil around the foundation perimeter. If it's flat; if it's mulchy; if it has any type of like ...
LESLIE: If it tilts toward the house.
TOM: Yeah, or landscaping edging that's holding water in. If you have a moisture problem you want to have the soil slope away from the wall about six inches over the first four feet and what's going to happen then is any rainfall that lands in that area is going to stay away from the backfill zone, which is that first four feet at the foundation perimeter.
Now, in terms of this berm that you say could be running water into the house. I can't get a sense as to how much that may or may not be contributing to the problem. But if you have a hill that runs off in towards your house and you're pretty sure that water from that hillside is getting in too close to the foundation, the solution is called a curtain drain, which is like a trench that is at the base of that hill that's filled up with a bit of stone and then a perforated pipe and then more stone and then more grass so it's invisible. And then that pipe collects the water; runs it around the outside. But I would not do that until I do these very simple things first.
Now, besides the gutters and the grading, get in that crawlspace and lay down a plastic vapor barrier across the entire floor. Is it a dirt floor?
CHRIS: Yeah. No, there was a vapor barrier but it has long since - the house is about seven years old and long since been destroyed at this point.
TOM: OK, so get a good vapor barrier down there. Try to have as few seams as possible.
And then lastly, if you want to try to move some air across there, you can put in some crawlspace ventilation fans that fit in the same space as an 8x16 block.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) They replace a cinder block.
TOM: And then what you want to do is hook those up to a humidistat. So then when the humidity gets high down there the fans will come on and they'll pull drier air across the crawlspace and dry it out.
CHRIS: Where can I get something like that?
TOM: Oh, you can get them online. You can get them at home centers. They're fairly available.
CHRIS: And they're called what again?
TOM: It's a vent fan for a crawlspace.
CHRIS: OK, I think I've seen some that are like solar-powered. Is that ...?
TOM: No, no, no. These would be 120 volt ...
CHRIS: OK. Alright.
TOM: ... and you want a good-quality one because it's not like you go down there everyday. You just want it come on and work reliably. You may have to buy the humidistat separately.
But that combination of suggestions will dramatically dry out that crawlspace. The problem with calling the waterproofers is they only know how to sell you an expensive solution and this is one that involves a lot of common sense and a lot of practical work and not a lot of expense.
CHRIS: Now, what if I have shrubbery fairly close to that side of the house?
TOM: Yeah, that could be a contributing factor but before you tear up your shrubs work on the gutters first because that's the number one thing that causes this.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit and hey, Tom, I've got a great question for you. Have you ever wanted your very own island?
TOM: Absolutely. It's always been a fantasy. As a kid I grew up watching Fantasy Island.
LESLIE: (chuckling) The plane! The plane, boss! (Tom chuckles) Yeah, well I'm not exactly talking about a tropical island. I'm talking about something completely different and we can help you create an island for your very own kitchen. It's like your own paradise in your own home. We'll tell you how, next.
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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: If you've been wondering whether collecting power tools is a legitimate hobby, you are in exactly the right place because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. And sometimes we even use tools to do just that. (Leslie chuckles) I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because we've got some tools for you this hour. We're giving away a Ryobi AIRgrip ProCross laser level worth 70 bucks. It includes three different laser levels. Help you to keep all your products on the straight and narrow; have them come out great every, single time. We're going to toss all callers' names into the Money Pit hardhat and draw perhaps yours out at the end of the show and send that laser level right to you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, that's right. One lucky caller's got the chance to win that and then they can add, you know, the laser level to their tool collection. And perhaps you're running out of space to store that tool collection. Well we can give you a little extra space in your kitchen. You can gain so much unclaimed real estate if you create an island. It's going to give you a great work area and it really will become a fun gathering place for your entire family. And there are so many ways to accomplish this.
You can use something like a butcher block top on an existing piece of furniture like a bar or a tall desk. Bing bam, you've got something great to put right in the middle of your kitchen. Or you can build one out of stock cabinets and a salvaged piece of granite or other stone. And remember, if you go with a smaller size or head to a granite or stone quarry shop near you that might have, you know, a leftover piece or something that was cut irregularly, you might be able to make something work at a very low cost.
You can even use a pass-through area. You know that seemingly useless hole in the wall between your kitchen and your dining room? Just create a bigger surface area and add a few stools.
And don't forget to think outside of the box. You can custom design an island with angles and features so that it'll really best suit your own kitchen and your needs. It doesn't have to be super giant and it doesn't have to be teeny-tiny. Just make it work for your space and you will gain so much more valuable real estate.
TOM: But once you have the island, how do you get the suntan? That's all I want to know. (Leslie chuckles)
888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Kim in California wants to talk replacement windows. How can we help you?
KIM: I was curious about replacing all the windows in my home. It's about a 2,300-square-foot Mediterranean stucco home, double story, and it's 15 years old. And of course I'm always deciding to either replace or just move. But ...
TOM: OK, yeah.
KIM: And I got a quote from some local people. I live in a fairly small town in Northern California and we have a lot of local window replacers and they quoted me anywhere from $10,000 to $14,000 ...
KIM: ... to do the whole house. I probably have about, on the average - as far as counting windows - probably about 14 windows.
TOM: OK, so you're talking about - what? - $800 to $1,000 a window?
KIM: That sounds like what it would come out to.
TOM: Alright, so what's your question?
KIM: Question is, what would be the best window and most cost-effective in case I want to get the biggest bang out of the buck ...
KIM: ... since it's a large investment?
KIM: Are there certain brands, like off brands, that could be just as good as some of the major name brands?
TOM: There may be and here's how you figure it out. First of all, you want to make sure that your window is Energy Star rated.
TOM: So use that as the first qualifier. The second one is there's going to be a label on the window that's called the NFRC label. And this stands ...
LESLIE: It's the National Fenestration Rating Council.
TOM: Right. And on the NFRC label they're going to have some numbers for different qualities. They're going to have a number that tells you the UV resistance. There's a number that determines how much light gets through. There's a number that measures the efficiency of the gas seal between the panes and so on. And by comparing the numbers on the NFRC label as well as whether or not the window is Energy Star rated, this way you're going to be able to determine which is the best window and make an apples-to-apples comparison with several different window types that you're considering.
KIM: OK. That makes sense.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, are cold floors doing a number on your little tootsies? We're going to have some ways to help you warm up those floors, next.
[audio timestamp: 39:47]
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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and if you're looking to make your good home better and don't feel like picking up the phone and calling us with your question, go to MoneyPit.com, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and e-mail us your question just like Rob did in Raleigh, North Carolina who writes: 'What are the best insulation options to keep a tile floor warm when it's installed over a crawlspace? Would a reflective blanket stapled to the joist make any difference? What about the new spray types of insulation and are there any fire concerns with that type of insulation?'
TOM: Good question. I would say, in your situation, the best thing for you to do is really the simplest thing to do and that is to put in unfaced fiberglass bats in between those floor joists. Doing the spray foam insulation in that space is going to be rather difficult after the home is built. It's certainly possible. It'll probably be a lot more expensive. In terms of fire resistance, those spray products mostly are very fire resistant. So there's no concern there, but it's just a pretty expensive thing to do and, frankly, I don't think you need to do it. I think this is a very easy project for you to do, Rob. I would go down to the crawlspace. I would use unfaced fiberglass bats. If the floor joists are 2x12s, I would use 10-inch bats. I would support those in between the floor joists. You can use the insulation hangers to do that.
TOM: And just make sure you do a really good job and don't miss any places. When you come to a duct, cut around it; don't squish the insulation. And you'll find that the floor is going to be really warm.
LESLIE: Rob, just remember to wear long sleeves and eyeglasses and a mask while you're working on it because the fiberglass can make you itchy and really affect your respiratory system.
TOM: Well, at this point cold weather probably has kept you indoors long enough to start really noticing some of those cracks around your house. And if you're seeing some, we've got a solution for you because Leslie has her last word now this hour with some advice on how to fix those cracks.
LESLIE: Alright, you're not cracking up. Your house might be but trust us; it is not structural in any way, shape or form. They're just driving you crazy because of the looks. But don't worry. We've got a great way to keep them fixed and seal them up and get them solved once and for all. If you've got cracks where your walls are meeting the ceiling, that's fine; as are any cracks that you see in seams or joints of your walls themselves.
To fix these, go ahead and remove any of that old piece of drywall tape that's hopefully there in the first place. Then next, apply a continuous piece of the fiberglass drywall tape over that joint. And the fiberglass tape is the one that's sort of meshy and adhesive and it looks a little bit thicker but it's easy to cover up. You're never going to notice it back there. Then you want to apply thin layers of joint compound and make sure that you allow each layer to fully set before you go ahead and apply the next one. You can even sand lightly in between each layer. And once the tape is fully covered, sand that entire area using a fine grit sandpaper. This is going to smooth everything out and you'll see a nice transition. There's going to be no hump or bump. You'll see. It's really nice. Then go ahead and repaint that entire area of the wall.
If you see any cracks along your crown moulding, you can easily fix that with a bead of latex paintable caulk. Then go ahead and smooth the bead of caulk with your finger and let it dry. Then you can go ahead and paint that caulk to match the trim; if it's necessary because your trim is probably white and the caulk is going to be white.
All of this is going to button up all of those tiny details and really make things look beautiful. This way the rest of the time you're indoors, you'll be looking at nice, smooth, straight surfaces.
TOM: And you know what's great about those projects? They can all be accomplished in a single weekend. They're easy to do. You really can't screw them up and the house is going to look great.
Hey, if you're looking for other weekend projects, a bite-size project that can really make a big impact on your comfort in your house and the appearance of your house and the style of your house, go to our website at MoneyPit.com and click on the February weekend projects which are right there on the home page. Lots of tips on a weekend-by-weekend basis and projects that you can do right now; seasonal projects that can make your house look just great.
That's all the time we have this hour. 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 2008 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.)