Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. It's a new year. There's got to be a new home improvement project on the horizon for you.
Leslie, what did we read about the New Year's resolutions that included home improvement projects? A whole bunch of folks are planning on doing them.
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh, I think it's like 64 percent of Americans who are making New Year's resolutions are planning on doing something in any capacity - whether it's painting or a full remodel - to their homes. So people are listening and people are doing home improvement work.
TOM: And we're here to help you keep those resolutions that involve your house, your home and your castle.
Hey, coming up this hour, are you planning on taking on an aging parent? It's what millions of Americans do. They help care for their loved ones and this hour we're going to tell you how to make the transition smoother when an aging parent moves in your house with you.
LESLIE: Plus, if you're weatherproofing your home, you want to keep in mind that rain doesn't always fall straight down. That's right, folks. Sometimes it comes sideways and I swear, sometimes it comes from the ground up; although that is not possible. Well, find out how to make sure you're stopping all the leaks in just a little bit.
TOM: And we're going to have some tips on what your window blinds can do to actually help keep you warm and give your windows a great new look. There are some new window coverings out there that actually will help you be warmer in your house. That's coming up just a little bit later.
LESLIE: And also this hour, we're giving away a great prize to help shed some light on your current DIY project. It's called the Wobble Light Jr. It's a compact but powerful light that's going to right itself instead of tipping over. I like that idea. I wish someone would make that for me.
TOM: Kind of like those toys that we had as kids; the Weebles that wobble but don't fall down.
LESLIE: They certainly don't.
TOM: (chuckling) That's what we need for the - because I'll tell you, in the home improvement projects I do, the tireder I get the sloppier I get (chuckling) and things are always falling off ladders and getting knocked over and ...
LESLIE: But that's always how it is. I swear to you I have bull-in-china-shop days. (chuckling) There are some days where I can make anything, do anything; be it crafting or a huge home improvement project. And there are other days when I'm breaking glass, I'm gluing my fingers together. It's a nightmare. You've got to be careful of those days.
LESLIE: Let's talk about your home improvement projects. Let's make your home improvement project days better. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Squeaky floors in West Virginia must be making Scott crazy. How can we help you fix this?
SCOTT: Well, it's in my master bedroom. We just had the house built about two years ago. And you walk across the floor and it just makes that screeching noise.
TOM: Alright. What kind of - what kind of floor surface do you have? Is it carpet? Hardwood? What?
TOM: OK. Well, the hands down best way to address this, Scott, is to pull the carpet up.
TOM: Because underneath that carpet, you're going to find that your subfloor is nailed down. And generally, when you nail down a subfloor, they use a nail that's called a cooler. And it's like a seven-penny common nail. It's almost like a very thin nail. And it's called a cooler because it has glue that it's dipped in and the idea is that when you nail the floor down, the glue - because of the friction of driving the nail in - is supposed to melt and then set in place. And when it cools it sets in place. That's why they call it a cooler. But the problem is that it doesn't always do that. And because the rosin is on those nails, as they get pulled in and out of the joist below, they make an awful squeaking sound. I mean think about when you put rosin on the bow for a musical instrument, you get good friction and a beautiful sound. When you put rosin on a nail and it rubs in and out of the wood, it really drives you nuts. So what you need to do is kind of lock that ...
SCOTT: (laughing) Yeah, no doubt. I'm with you on that.
TOM: What you need to do is sort of lock that floor down and I think, Leslie, screwing that floor down is probably the best option.
LESLIE: Yeah. If you can get under that carpet, use a stud finder, find out where those floor joists are, use a chalk line, mark it out so you know exactly where it is and then take a couple of wood screws and just put them every, you know, 12 inches, 16 inches and get that subfloor secured to those joists. If, for some reason, you can't get that carpet up, you can just as easily locate those floor joists with a deep scan stud finder and then you can drive some nails through that carpet into that floor joist. And once you get it down through, pick up that carpet so that the head of the nail just sort of pops through. And it'll do the same. But by far, the best answer is to pull that carpet up and get right to the subfloor itself.
TOM: And Scott, finally, remember that just because the floor is squeaking doesn't mean it's a structural problem.
TOM: It's pretty much cosmetic and just designed to annoy the heck out of you, which it sounds like it's doing.
SCOTT: Sounds like it's doing it, huh? (chuckling)
TOM: Scott, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we welcome Bob from Georgia who listens to the Money Pit WBLJ. And you've got an electric issue. What's happening?
BOB: Yes, ma'am. Thank you for taking my call.
I had a weird thing happen on my deck and my sunroom. Evidently, they're on the same circuit and working fine. My wall plugs are also there. And one day, I closed the door and they did not come on.
BOB: Then about a week later, my wife accidentally slammed the back door and everything came on. (chuckling)
TOM: Oh, that's not good.
BOB: They went back off again and I - I don't know too much about electricity but I tried to trace some, maybe, shorts and can't find anything. So I don't know what's going on.
TOM: Well, you've got a short somewhere. It's breaking the circuit, Bob, and it's potentially dangerous because if it's that loose that the slamming of the door is helping it make contact and not make contact, what you probably could be getting is some arcing in that circuit where you can have some heat buildup and that could cause a fire. So I would recommend, at this point, that you get an electrician involved because it's beyond the scope of what you could do as a homeowner. There's a problem in that circuit and those wires are separated somewhere.
How old is your house, Bob?
BOB: Seven years.
TOM: Seven years.
TOM: So it's not that old.
TOM: Which is good. Which means you have modern, safe wiring. But if that circuit is going off, you've got to get to the bottom of it because there's definitely a short somewhere.
Where's the main electric panel? Is it near that area? Is it anyplace where the impact would ...
BOB: No sir, it's in the garage; about 80 feet away.
TOM: OK. And is this a ground fault circuit? Does it have a ground fault circuit breaker attached to it; the kind that will ...
BOB: Yes, sir.
TOM: ... pop off?
TOM: Yeah. That's even more sensitive. You know, one of the things that you could try is simply to replace the ground fault breaker because they do wear out quicker than the others. It could be in the circuit breaker itself or it could be in an outlet. But even that, unless you're really experienced with electricity, can be dangerous, Bob. So I would get an electrician in because if you're having the circuit pop off and pop on, that means you're getting arcing and sparking and that can lead to heat and that can lead to fire.
Bob, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ray in Rhode Island finds The Money Pit on WPRO. And you've got something going on with your concrete stairs. Tell us about it.
RAY: Yes. Well, I've got a poured concrete front step. It's about four steps going up. And I've got a crack right down the middle. It's probably - you know, over the last few years, I've been kind of procrastinating on ...
RAY: ... fixing it. It's getting pretty wide. And I was wondering what's probably the best way to alleviate that problem. Or is it going to keep cracking or should I just blow it up and try to get the whole thing out ... (chuckling)
TOM: Well, don't do anything quite that drastic, Ray. The best way to repair that crack is with a silicone caulk. But I can give you a trick of the trade to help you hide the appearance of the crack. And that is - what you could do is if you had a masonry drill bit and you found an inconspicuous place - like say on the side of that stair or someplace where you're not going to see this - if you were to drill a couple of holes into the side of the stair and collect the concrete dust that comes out as you do that, what you do is then you put the caulk into the crack and then you take some of that dust and you cover the top of the caulk while it's wet - with the concrete dust.
TOM: And it'll blend in perfectly with the step around it.
RAY: Very good.
TOM: Alright? There you go, Ray. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Another satisfied customer.
TOM: Absolutely. You get more than you pay for when you call 888-MONEY-PIT. (chuckling)
OK, Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Raul in Illinois listening on WYLL. What's happening with your floor?
RAUL: Oh, it's got a bulge in it. It's an even bulge. It's not buckling. It's a wood floor and it's in the basement.
TOM: Ah ha.
RAUL: I don't know what type of wood it is. It's got a smooth bulge in the middle.
TOM: Yeah, say no more. You've got hardwood floor in a basement and no wonder you're getting bulges. Because moisture and hardwood floors - basement moisture - don't go together too well.
RAUL: OK. So is there any way to fix that problem without tearing the whole floor out?
TOM: Probably not. Is it a solid hardwood floor?
RAUL: Yes, it is.
TOM: Yeah. You're not supposed to put hardwood floor in a basement. There's too - it's too damp down there. There's only one kind of hardwood floor that you could use in a basement, Raul, and that's called engineered hardwood and it's built a little bit differently, isn't it, Leslie?
LESLIE: Well, it's built more like plywood at opposing grains in many, many layers with then the top being hardwood, almost in a veneer. So this way it's structurally stable. The problem is you've got the solid hardwood and it's probably just over an underlayment directly onto your concrete subfloor, which is just wicking moisture and putting that moisture into the hardwood which is sucking it up. Now it's buckling. The only solution is to pull that hardwood up and put something else down there.
TOM: Yeah, if you have the area that's buckled the worst, you could possibly cut out the buckled pieces and replace them and it might last for a little while. But really, if you have a - if you have any kind of humidity down there, the hardwood's just not going to be - it's not the right place for it.
Sorry we don't have better news for you. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Need help getting your home improvement resolutions started? Well, you know, now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We're always here for you. And you know that number. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, few things matter more to an aging parent than maintaining their lifestyle, safety and their independence. So, if you're considering bringing a parent into your home, work with them to create a safe and comfortable environment for everyone. Up next, we'll have some tips on how you can do just that from the experts at AARP.
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[audio timestamp: 14:54]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. What are you doing? What are you working on? We're here. You're there. So call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. So we're talking about some tips from our friends at the AARP. And whether or not you're inviting an elderly parent to live with you or you're thinking about doing so or if you're even helping an older relative just adjust to their living space and maybe a new physical or medical condition, AARP has got practical ideas that are going to help make any living space more senior friendly.
You want to think about easing the strain on older eyes and you can do that by adding plenty of lighting options and paying special attention to the areas that they use for detailed work like a hobby or sewing or reading. Give special project lights so they can really get good light for the projects that they're working on.
And provide easily accessible storage that's not going to require a lot of reaching or bending or straining. You want to make sure things are exactly where they can get at them without bending over too much.
TOM: Yeah, speaking of which, you know, in the kitchen, you can create a seated work area for food prep tests. Now, I'd like to have this. You know, a small table and a chair with nearby access to utensils is a good solution. Also, consider investing in dining chairs that provide a good back support and have strong, sturdy arms.
Remember that the goal in redesigning a living space for seniors is to enable that senior to maintain freedom within a safe and comfortable living environment. Work together to make that happen and everybody's going to be happy in the long run.
LESLIE: Alright, if you like those ideas and you want some more information, you can go to AARP.org/UniversalHome. And that website again is AARP.org/UniversalHome.
Alright, well if you want to know how to save money on your heating bills without feeling a chill, we've got those answers for you. Or how about a quick project that's only going to cost a few bucks to save money on your water bills. Who doesn't like to say some dough; especially in this winter season after the holidays when you're strapped for cash.
Well, you can find out all of that and more at MoneyPit.com. It's our fantastic website. Just go to the Repair & Improve section. You've got tips and ideas and projects that are going to help you save money. And while you're there, shoot us an e-mail with your home improvement question. We answer those, too.
TOM: 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us right now. You'll get the answer to your home improvement question and a chance at winning a Wobble Light Jr. We're going to give one away to one caller this hour. It's worth 60 bucks. Basically, a 360-degree self-righting work light. So if you knock it over, no big deal.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Ann's out in Big Sky country in Montana listening on KBLL. What can we do for you today?
ANN: Hi. I have this tub, turn-of-the-century - that's from 1899 to 1900 - old tub that has a pedestal under it rather than claw feet. And the outside of the tub - it's been outside in my backyard for three years and the outside of the tub has rust spots on it. And the pedestal - the inside of the pedestal is totally rusty and the outside has rust as well and old paint and stuff. And I'm putting it on a brand new, white tiled floor and I don't want the rust to get onto the floor. And I want to know how to get it painted and get it cleaned up and painted so that it looks decent in my new bathroom.
TOM: So basically, you want to stop the rust from coming through the feet - or the bottom of the pedestal - onto the floor.
LESLIE: Well, and also it sounds like this - the whole item needs to be recast. You know, when you're dealing with a cast iron tub, all of the finishes are baked on. So it's probably, you know, best to have it professionally done and have it completely reenameled.
ANN: That would be great but it weighs 1,000 pounds.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: Yeah, we know. We know. But the - you know, the enameling kits that you can do yourself are just not nearly as effective. Think of them as a glorified paint job for your tub. And with something that's as gorgeous as that, that might be something that you want to have done professionally.
Now if you're simply just trying to reinstall it without worrying about transferring this rust, you might want to think about a material that you could put between the pedestal and the floor to sort of stop any rust from coming through that area.
LESLIE: Like a membrane or ...
TOM: Yeah, think of like a rubber - like a piece of rubber roofing material that was cut flush with the bottom of the pedestal so it didn't really show. But it would prevent any contact so that any rust couldn't come through.
Alright, Ann, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Oh, I'm so jealous. All I want is a bathtub where I can sink in and get all cozy.
TOM: (chuckling) My problem is that when I sink into the bathtub all the water leaves. (laughing)
LESLIE: You know, it's like our bathtub is so shallow ...
LESLIE: ... that to even like remotely get yourself in there, it's just this acrobatic act. So it's like I never take a bath. Thank goodness I'm on the road as often as I am because I get to see a variety of bathtubs at many hotels. But you know ...
TOM: You know what the secret is? You have to buy like a two-person bathtub if you want one for yourself. It's like buying tents. You buy a pup - a one-person tent, you can't fit in it. If you buy a two-person tent, it's perfect for you and your pack.
LESLIE: My dream is a claw foot tub. But I've heard that our floor joists run the wrong way. So it won't support the weight of such a hefty, hefty tub.
TOM: I don't think that's true. I think if you distribute the weight properly, you could do - you could fine. Even if you need a little floor reinforcement, you could brace it up from the underside.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, when Ed and I want to stay in your house while our bathroom's redone, (chuckling) you'll have to allow us in the guest room.
TOM: So that you don't end up with like a real live version of The Money Pit where the tub falls through the floor?
LESLIE: All we have is one bathroom!
TOM: (laughing) Alright, well we'll work on that.
LESLIE: We've got Sean from Wisconsin who listens online at MoneyPit.com. And you want to know about how to determine what type of insulation to use. What can we help you with?
SEAN: Well actually, I need help to find out what kind we have. We purchased a home that was built in the 40s and moved to the current location in 2001.
SEAN: When they moved it, they put a bunch of new drywall and things inside. But as we had a major window replaced, we noticed that it only had R9 in one of the walls.
SEAN: And I'd like to know if there is a convenient or any inexpensive way to find out what the remaining walls have in it without completely tearing down all the drywall.
TOM: Well, what you could do is you could have an infrared survey done. There are energy professionals out there that use infrared tools that basically can take a picture of the - it's like sort of a thermal imaging picture of your walls. And the cold spots in the walls show up and so it's very clear, when you see one of these thermal cameras, what walls are insulated, what walls are not insulated. And even walls that are insulated, sometimes you can actually see where the gaps in the insulation are.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well, it let's you know about areas of deficit and where you might need to, you know, beef up your insulation.
SEAN: Well, I understood those thermal cameras would show you where you have a leak but I wasn't aware that it could actually tell you what kind of insulation you have in. That would probably be the place to start?
TOM: Well, that would tell you where you have the leaks. In terms of the actual type of insulation, I mean it's most likely that you have fiberglass or rock wool for a house that was built in the 40s. When you said it had R9, how did you determine that? Was that because you had - you know, that's not very much insulation, by the way.
TOM: That's only about - that's less than three inches.
SEAN: It was - some of it we had to remove out of the wall to put the bigger window in and it actually had R9 on it.
TOM: Yeah. Well, that's not very much. And I think you're going to have to evaluate where your money is best spent. If you find areas that don't have any insulation in it, you might want to consider doing blown-in insulation because that could really warm up those walls that have the big voids in them.
Sean, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Looking for a way to keep out the bright, morning sunlight so you can perhaps sleep in? How about keeping warm air in so you can stay cozy as well this winter?
LESLIE: Well, I love both of those ideas. And did you know that window blinds can actually accomplish both? We're going to tell you more about that, 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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your calls about your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas, your direct-it-yourself dilemmas. Are you wanting to work on a project? Do you want to do it yourself? Do you want to hire someone? We've got the answers. Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You know, maybe you're even thinking about updating the look of a room or maybe even adding some extra warmth. And a good way to do that to a space is with window treatments. And you might actually think of blinds as something that are more utilitarian than a design feature for your windows. But they can actually add tremendously to the look of your room and so much more.
You know, blinds can even come in all kinds of styles and patterns and colors. Plus, they can actually help insulate a room and even help you sleep better by blocking out that early morning light.
TOM: Well, Levolor - a name that is synonymous with window coverings - has a great new product out. It's called a custom cellular shade. Here to tell us more about it is Sarah Rushay (sp), product manager for Levolor windows.
So Sarah, this product is pretty interesting to me because it's the first time I've ever seen a window fashion combined with an element of energy efficiency. Is that unique to the industry?
SARAH: Well, cellular shades are energy efficient because they basically combine two fabrics - one to the front and one to the back - to form the honeycomb pocket. And they trap the air, which makes it more energy efficient in the home. And honeycomb shades - or cellular shades - are energy efficient whether - you know, throughout the industry.
LESLIE: And is it something that's energy efficient for all year long; even when you're cooling the inside as opposed to heating the inside?
SARAH: Yes, they're great year round because they keep the room cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
TOM: Well Sarah, I have these in my house. Here's something that I noticed. We have an easy chair. Everyone has, you know, the easy chair; that place that everyone loves to sit in the living room. And it's near a window. And I used to feel sort of a draft coming through the window. Now I knew - because I am a home improvement expert and I do this stuff - that I didn't really have any air coming through the window. But what I was feeling was the cold - the air in my house, in the living room ...
LESLIE: The coldness from the glass.
TOM: Yeah, the chill of the air actually striking the window and, because it was becoming cooled by the window, it would fall and then sort of waft across you as you're sitting on the couch or on the chair. But when we put these cellular shades up, that was totally eliminated because now that warm air was not actually striking the cold glass. It was hitting an insulated surface and it really made it much more comfortable in the house.
SARAH: That's exactly right. Because that honeycomb structure - that pocket - really traps the air and it prevents it from either escaping into the room if it's cold air coming through the pane or if it's warm or cooled air in the window - excuse me, in the room - from escaping out into the outside of the window structure. So it really does kind of prevent that draft.
LESLIE: And Sarah, that's really smart because generally with home decorating, you see almost two different type of window treatments: one for the summer months, which is sort of cool and airy just to sort of make things feel light; and then something for the winter months that's, you know, lined and interlined and maybe there's many layers of draperies to sort of cut that down. At least this is an efficiency - you know, by - you don't have to change things twice a year and also it just works all year long. And it works for your design tastes.
SARAH: Right. You can focus more on the design and the d