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: Reach out and touch the experts. (Leslie chuckles) We are here to help you - what? You didn't like that? (chuckling)
LESLIE: Just make sure you watch your hands first? (Tom laughs) I don't know. (laughing)
TOM: Please Purell first, then call us. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You can already see this is where work and fun meet so call us with your home improvement questions. Even if you're in the middle of one. Even if you started a project and said, 'Oh, my God. I don't know what to do next.' (Leslie chuckles) or you ran into the other - the unexpected defect in the wall. How many times ...
LESLIE: Or - we get these too - the spouse disapproves of what's going on.
TOM: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. That's always - that's always a perfect one. (Leslie chuckles) He said, she said. We will mitigate that dispute and give you our expert opinion. And we don't play favorites.
LESLIE: Not all the time. (chuckling)
TOM: (overlapping voices) So call us now. 1-8 - (inaudible) all the time. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. It's a whole new year, it's a whole new idea. Perhaps you're thinking about taking on some new things. Maybe making a few changes around the house is one of them but don't bite off more than you can chew. We're going to have some advice today on how to learn to walk before you run through those home improvement projects.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you've got any questions about leaks or squeaks, you can call us right now and just about anytime at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And speaking of leaks, did you know that the first step and the hardest part about repairing a leaky roof can actually be finding where this leak is coming from? Coming up, we're going to have a great tip on how to find those tricky roofy leaks and get them fixed once and for all.
TOM: That's a technical term: tricky roofy leaks. (chuckling)
LESLIE: Tricky roofy leaks. Exactly. They're hard to find. And water can travel in those wall pockets everywhere. You will never know.
TOM: (overlapping voices) They can get very, very tricky.
And you know the old saying, 'They don't build them like they used to'? Well, sometimes that could be a good thing, but later this hour we're going to learn about what life was like when leaky roofs were the least of your problems (inaudible).
LESLIE: That's a lot of Ls, Tom. (chuckling)
TOM: You like the way I did that? When leaky roofs were the least of your problems?
LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah.
TOM: From an author who wrote about the so-called good old days of home construction. You know the good old days, like before we had the luxury (Leslie chuckles) of indoor plumbing. We're going to find out how they used to build homes and perhaps there are a thing or two that we could learn about our homes today based on how they used to be constructed.
LESLIE: And also this hour, we're going to be giving away a great prize. It's the Wobble Light. It's actually a floor lamp and it's just like those Weeble toys we had when we were kids. This lamp is not going to fall over no matter how much you wobble it or knock into it. So call in now.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Jeff's on the line from Montclair, New Jersey. Wants to talk about finishing a basement. How can we help?
JEFF: Well, my wife and I bought a home about a year ago with an unfinished basement. And right now it's used primarily for storage. It's pretty dusty. We would like to seal the floor so we can use it for something other than storage. We'd like to have a place for our daughter to play and maybe someplace for us to exercise.
LESLIE: Are you seeing a lot of water down there? What makes you feel like it's not sealed and it's wet and gross?
JEFF: Well it's not particularly wet. It's just very dusty down there. The entire basement is unfinished. There's insulation in the walls and an unfinished ceiling over our heads, where you can see the rafters. It's just very dusty and ...
TOM: So you just want a way to seal the basement floor and create a finished space.
JEFF: Exactly. And I've already bought paint but I don't know if I need to prime or etch or - I just didn't know what to do.
TOM: Well, do you want to have a carpeted surface down there or do you want to have a hard surface?
JEFF: I think a hard surface at this point.
TOM: Yeah good because carpeted surfaces can really be places for mold to grow in a place like that.
LESLIE: I know. (chuckling)
TOM: (chuckling) What's that?
LESLIE: I had an incident with carpeting in the basement ...
TOM: Yes, yes.
LESLIE: ... Jeff and it's not a good idea.
TOM: Not pretty. Yeah. A couple of things. First of all, in terms of sealing it, you can do - probably an epoxy paint is the least expensive and most effective way to do that. Two part paint. Mix the two parts together. You roll it out. You use - they usually have like some sort of color chips or something like that that you sprinkle in it. Gives it a bit of texture; sort of hides the dirt. That's perfect for a workout room.
If you want something a little more finished, you could consider either a laminate floor ...
LESLIE: Even a sheet vinyl.
TOM: Yeah or - well, sheet vinyl. But as far as laminate, same kind of laminate that countertops are made out of but like about 20 to 30 times tougher.
Or you could also consider, if you want something super nice, an engineered hardwood floor. Now you can't use solid hardwood in a basement but you can use engineered hardwood, which is sort of like fancy plywood. It's different layers that ...
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They're made to be structurally stable for a moist environment ...
LESLIE: ... like a basement and directly on the subfloor. But a laminate flooring is a beautiful option because you can go with a variety of looks and a variety of price points. You know, you can go on the lower end of the spectrum or way up there high, depending on what your budget is. But you can have a beautiful wood-look floor. In the end, that's what we ended up doing in our basement and it's gorgeous.
JEFF: Yeah my - I guess my only thought is the laminate tends to be much more pricey than just a simple paint coat.
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely.
TOM: Well, it certainly will be. Yeah. Mm-hmm.
JEFF: If we did low end, maybe just cleaning it off thoroughly and then painting it and then touching it up if it chips, I suppose.
TOM: Yeah, low end I would recommend an epoxy paint. QUIKRETE has one. Rust-Oleum makes one. They're all good. They're two-part mixes. You mix them together and they work well.
LESLIE: Those - if you were to go with an epoxy coating kit, it comes with everything in it. It comes with a cleaner; it comes with a primer; it comes with the paint and it comes with the topcoat. It's all together in a box.
As for your ceiling, if you're looking to finish up the ceiling, you can easily install a drop ceiling and those grids are quite simple to install with a laser level. All you need to do is follow a straight line and then you just drop everything in.
TOM: Alright, Jeff. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Talking heating with Susan in Illinois. What's going on?
SUSAN: Oh, I was wondering if you could help me with some baseboard heaters that I don't know what to do with. And they're old and I don't know what to replace them with or whether I should go back to keeping new baseboard heaters.
LESLIE: What kind do you have now?
SUSAN: Why, they're only about eight inches high and they only have very small vents pushing the air out.
TOM: How old is your home?
SUSAN: These heaters were put in back in 1978 when the building was new.
LESLIE: It sounds like they're aluminum. Do they make like a tinny sound?
SUSAN: Oh yes, they do.
LESLIE: Yeah, those are aluminum.
TOM: They're not cast iron. We were going to tell you if you had cast iron not to replace them.
SUSAN: This is an all-electric building.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh!
SUSAN: And I'd give anything for, you know, a furnace or the radiators (Leslie chuckles). But these heaters ...
LESLIE: And your electric bills must be astronomical.
SUSAN: Please don't even mention that. (Tom and Leslie laugh) They're going up 24 percent. (laughing)
TOM: Sore subject.
TOM: Is it possible for you, Susan, to consider a fossil fuel? Is it - you know, propane, oil, gas? I mean ...
SUSAN: No, that is not allowed in the building. And I did check on an electric furnace but that's going to cost $5,000 and it's going to take almost all of my seven-foot ceiling space (inaudible) for duct work.
TOM: Well, it sounds to me like you're pretty much stuck with electric radiators. The only thing that we can suggest is if - is to try to make your home as warm as possible you might want to be looking at insulation, perhaps new windows. You could consider a different type of radiator or you could consider additional radiators on - even on interior walls of the room.
Are these on thermostats? Are they controlled by wall thermostats?
SUSAN: They're controlled by wall thermostats but even when I turn the thermostats up to 80 degrees the temperature only gets up to 68 in here and ...
TOM: Alright, it doesn't sound like these radiators are working properly. It sounds like it might be time for new ones.
SUSAN: Do you know if - considering these things are 30 years old - if these things - new ones would actually be more efficient in pushing out the air.
TOM: The fin (ph) design might be a little bit more efficient in terms of moving the air through.
SUSAN: I've heard of something - I believe it's a Reiker fan that has the (inaudible).
TOM: Yeah, a Reiker room conditioner, yeah. That is a good option. Basically it's a ceiling fan that heats. And it works very well.
LESLIE: You might want to put up a very heavy drapery in the colder months. Get something that is lined and interlined. Maybe even like a heavy cotton-based velvet or chenille just to keep that drafty air away from the heater.
SUSAN: Would the honeycomb shades help make a difference? I've heard those are supposed to do something and I don't see how but ...
LESLIE: Well, they help because they put a pocket of air, you know, in between the surface of the window and in the room.
TOM: Yeah, Levolor makes a product called a cellular shade, which is just like that. It's a honeycomb structure. They're very beautiful.
LESLIE: But then I would still do a heavy drape over it.
SUSAN: I want to tell you how much I appreciate this. I think you two are the best people on giving advice (inaudible) ...
LESLIE: Thank you.
SUSAN: (inaudible) callers. I certainly appreciate your helping me out with all of my problems. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Our pleasure.
SUSAN: Thank you ever so much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Can't decide which home improvement project to tackle first? Well, that's why we're here; to help you sort it all out. So call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, do you have big plans for your home this year? Well, before you start your do-it-yourself dream project, find out what you can learn from a baby. You might be surprised. That's next.
[audio timestamp: 10:32]
[audio timestamp: 14:35]
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Are you a do-it-to-yourselfer? (Leslie chuckles) Well, regardless if you're the former, here's how to make sure you don't become the latter.
LESLIE: I have to tell you I always have a wound like on my left hand by my thumb or like in the webbing between my thumb and my pointer finger ...
LESLIE: ... from like mishammering, the screw gun jumping off of the nail head. You know, something like that.
TOM: Listen, no project is complete unless it includes a bit of sweat, blood and tears. So ... (chuckling)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Exactly.
TOM: That's what we mean when we say put a little bit of yourself into the project, right? (chuckling)
Well, if you want to avoid home improvement mistakes, you need to make sure the projects that you choose are realistic. You need to make sure that you're working within your ability. Start with simple repair or small paint jobs, for example. You know, not too difficult. Hard to screw up. And if you do, easy to fix.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Easy to fix.
TOM: Take baby steps. Learn that from a baby. You'll leave yourself some learning room and you'll be able to successfully complete projects and feel very well rewarded.
You need to also thoroughly research each project before you start. Now it's very easy to do that at MoneyPit.com. You can learn something - some small trick of the trade; something that you did not know - before beginning even the simplest of projects by logging on to our website at MoneyPit.com. There's over 1,000 pages of content there easily searchable, easily indexable and ready for you to learn from at MoneyPit.com.
For example, do you know how to double the life of your outside paint projects? There's a tip about just that at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And while you're at the fantastic website, MoneyPit.com, you can sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter. In our very next issue we're going to have three projects that you should probably not tackle by yourself; especially if you're just starting out in the home improvement area. And if you're not an e-newsletter subscriber, well, why not? Our famous e-newsletter comes right to your inbox every single Friday and it's full of tons of great information, tips and advice. We're even going to answer one of your e-mail questions each week, so you never know if yours could be in there. So sign up now at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: And pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. One caller to our show today wins the Wobble Light Jr. worth 60 bucks. It is a great work or outdoor light.
LESLIE: Yeah and it's got a weight in the base, so if you bump into it or knock it over or accidentally trip into it, it's going to just wobble around but not fall down; just like your favorite kids' toy. It's really cool and only one person's going to get it this hour, so call 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Listening from Manhattan, we've got Michael who wants to talk tiling. What can we do for you?
MICHAEL: I just bought a place in Manhattan here and I'm trying to redo the bathroom. And I had a couple questions for you as far as what tiles to use ...
MICHAEL: ... and what color schemes. Obviously, it's a small bathroom. It's Manhattan Place. (Leslie chuckles) And I think it's 5x7.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Oh, that is small. Do you have a window?
MICHAEL: No, of course not. (Leslie laughs)
TOM: Do you have early 60s avocado now or ...? (laughing)
MICHAEL: Well, it's like that cottage cheese ceiling, which I tried to take off myself.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, the cottage cheese ceiling. OK.
MICHAEL: It's a pain in the neck.
LESLIE: Did you get the ceiling off or no?
MICHAEL: I did get the ceiling off but it's quite porous. And I was going to do it in the rest of the apartment but it's going to take way too long and way too many bloodied fingers. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Now, when you - when you stripped off that textured ceiling, did you use - did you wet it down first and scrape it off or what?
MICHAEL: Well, that - see that ...
LESLIE: That's the trick.
MICHAEL: Yeah, that's a little bit easier. The next time you want to tackle removing that textured stuff, get some water and a spray bottle. And the pump up garden bottles, like they use to apply pesticide - of course, make sure you have a clean one - and dampen it down and then take like a spackle knife and work to sort of scrape it very ...
LESLIE: Like a wide, metal spackle knife.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Very slowly. And you'll find that it'll come off and when it's all done, what you want to do is make sure that you prime that surface. I would recommend oil-based primer. And then when you paint it, make sure you use a flat paint.
TOM: Because if you use anything with a sheen whatsoever ...
LESLIE: You're going to notice any imperfections.
TOM: Yeah, it ...
LESLIE: Anytime you hit the ceiling with a spackle knife and made a dent - which you know is going to happen. So use a flat paint. And you can use a latex paint as the topcoat.
Now, we've totally strayed from your tile question.
TOM: (chuckling) But go right ahead.
LESLIE: Alright, tile.
MICHAEL: Oh, OK. So I was looking to buy tiles and being that it's a small bathroom, is colored tile OK? Or should I stay with white tile or ...?
LESLIE: Are you talking the floor or the walls?
LESLIE: Hmm. I think if you go with lighter color on the walls, it's going to seem bigger. But that doesn't mean that you have to put tile from floor to ceiling. You can put tile almost as like a wainscoting to about waist or chest height, depending on what you like ...
LESLIE: ... and depending on how much splashing you think is going to anticipate in there. You really can go either way. You can just paint above the tile. You can tile everything. I say go for a smaller tile. I wouldn't do something super-duper big. Even mosaics are beautiful. And if you chose to do sort of a run from the floor to the ceiling, where the mosaic sort of feathers out - and these would be the 1'x1' really small ones, which are really easy to apply because they come on 12x12 sheets. On some websites, you can custom color blend. So you can even do a gradient where you start off heavily saturated on the lower part of the wall and then as you go toward the ceiling it lightens up and becomes almost while or a very pale color, which could make the room seem really tall.
MICHAEL: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: And that could just be one wall. That could be in the shower. That could be behind the sinks. And then do everything else really simple.
MICHAEL: So is it OK to mix and match like that?
LESLIE: I think absolutely.
MICHAEL: And now what about for the floors? Do you use separate tiles for the - I'm totally new at it. I'm looking at all these different tiles and I don't know what's for the floor, what's for the ceiling, what's - I mean what's for the floor, what's for the walls.
TOM: Well, one of the things you need to be concerned about is the slip rating on the tile. There are tiles that are meant for walls and there are tiles that are meant for floors. And if use a wall tile on the floor, it could be very slippery and be very dangerous.
LESLIE: Even though your bathroom's small, you're going to fall down in it.
TOM: Michael, when you choose the floor tile, you want to make sure that you're using a tile that has a slip resistance to it. There are differences between floor tiles and wall tiles. And floor tiles basically have a higher coefficiency of friction. There's a rating that's done by the Porcelain Enamel Institute. It's called the PEI rating. It goes from zero to three. You want to make sure that you use a tile that has a high slip resistance so that, you know, you don't break your neck when the floor gets wet. So when choosing the type of tile, there's clearly a structural difference.
Now in terms of the color, Leslie, you think it's best to go dark with the floor and dark grout and lighten up the walls in a small bath and keep a light ceiling. That's probably going to make it look the biggest it could possibly look.
LESLIE: And it'll probably be the easiest as far as maintenance. Because even if you go with a light color tile and a light color grout, you're going to deal with cleaning a lot. So whatever you choose, make sure you seal that grout once you're done. This way you don't have to worry about too much discoloration.
MICHAEL: And what about for size of the - like I saw ones that were a square foot. Is that too big for ...?
TOM: Definitely. If you use a very wide tile like that, that's going to make the place look smaller. I would ...
LESLIE: Because you're only going to get like four in there.
TOM: And also, if the room - I've seen, in small bathrooms - especially in the city - that they're slightly out of square because - nothing is really perfectly square - it really shows up if you have a tile that goes like say from six inches at one end of the bathroom to seven inches at the end because something is out of square. It really looks odd. So a small tile is probably best for a small bathroom.
LESLIE: You can even use a laminate flooring option, which could look like wood or it could look like a tile. So if you wanted to do a little bit more of a spa or a hotel look, which is very chic in Manhattan, you can do almost a dark wood-look laminate.
MICHAEL: Alright. And also, there was a little - the little tiny tiles which are like quarter shaped. They're like hexagons. Is that ...?
MICHAEL: That's OK in a small bathroom as well?
TOM: Yeah, those are mosaics. And those are fine because although they come in big sheets ...
TOM: ... they're actually - it's easier to install that way. They're actually very small tiles and when they're all completely installed you're not going to see the seams.
LESLIE: No, and they would look really cute in there.
MICHAEL: They would?
TOM: Alright, there you go, Michael. Lots of options. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Well, most of you listening right now are probably constantly in the process of updating and changing your house; which, of course, is why the show is aptly named The Money Pit. But think about it. Think about how far we've really come with home construction.
LESLIE: Yeah, that's true. Imagine what it was like to live in a home in the 17 or even the 1800s. You know, no indoor plumbing - the thing you've grown to love so much - or sanitation or pest control. You know, I don't even know if I want to imagine what that might actually be like. (Tom laughs)
Well, up next, we're going to talk to somebody who has not only imagined it. He's thoroughly researched it and even written a book on it. So stick around.
[audio timestamp: 22:48]
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TOM: Welcome back to 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 The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show because you can't watch television while you're doing home improvements. (Leslie chuckles) Or at least you shouldn't because you need to pay attention to what you're doing.
LESLIE: And where your fingers are.
TOM: And where - that's right. (Leslie chuckles) Take inventory before the project, compare it to the numbers at the end of the project. If there's any difference in the balance sheet, you know, you might have blood (inaudible).
LESLIE: Don't look on the floor. (chuckling)
TOM: Well, you know, if you think you have it rough taking care of your money pit right now, think about the days before things like indoor plumbing and pest control. What was it like before sprawling Mcmansions, when the extended family all lived together in a very small house; perhaps with even a chamber pot and no running water? Yuck!
LESLIE: Well, our next guest has studied how we lived extensively and writes about it in his book called Where We Lived: Discovering the Places We Once Called Home. Jack Larkin is with us today.
So welcome, Jack.
JACK: Hi, how you doing?
LESLIE: Great, thanks. So tell us, how shocked do you think that home dwellers of, say, even 150 years ago would be and how they would react to our homes today and what we complain about?
JACK: Well, I think most of them would be completely astonished by the technology that we've been able to apply to(chuckling) making the basic processes of living so much - so much simpler and so much easier for us. For them, everything like that was just a question of incredibly hard work or endurance of conditions that we only experience maybe when we're camping out in the mountains (chuckling) someplace (inaudible).
TOM: Yeah, we're like so inconvenienced during a power failure.
JACK: Right, right.
TOM: Well, let's talk about the early American home. What were the general living conditions like sort of in terms of sanitation, pest control, plumbing; you know, things that we take so for granted today?
JACK: Sure. Well, I mean we can start with crowding. You know, the average houses in early America were actually - were actually very small. Sometimes an awful lot of people lived in one-room houses; two-room houses; houses of only three or four or five hundred square feet.
LESLIE: And how many people would occupy that space?
JACK: Well, there could be - because families, of course, were much larger back then. You could ...
LESLIE: Well you needed them to work the fun. (Tom chuckles)
JACK: Yeah, you could - well and then birth rate was just high. So you could easily have seven, eight, nine, ten people in a very small house at a given time; you know, much, much - houses were much smaller and families were much bigger. So people had to learn to navigate in crowded conditions.
As far as plumbing went, well, there really wasn't any plumbing (Leslie chuckles) until ...
LESLIE: Plumbing was your brother John bringing back a bucket of water.
JACK: Yeah, that was - that was bad. And there was going out to - going out to the pump or to the well to wash. Most people didn't have the facilities, really, for bathing much more than their hands and their feet and their face and their neck. And basically it meant using the privy and the - the privy building outside the house and the outhouse and the chamber pot when you were - when you were inside and trying to keep all that clean, (chuckling) which took a lot of work.
TOM: Now Jack, I have to ask you. Was the outhouse considered a luxury item back then?
JACK: Well, most people had outhouses in ...
TOM: (chuckling) Thank goodness.
JACK: ... certainly in the north. Now in the south, where the climate was more salubrious most of the time, there were a fair number of houses - especially houses of relatively poor folks - that probably just had a little path off into the next clearing and a little patch of woods.
LESLIE: What about windows and screens? When did we even see the appearance of windows? And the smartness to, you know, create a bug barrier?
JACK: Yeah. Well, there were - windows were - you know, most - everyone had some kind of windows to let light in. And most people, after the very early 1600s, had some kind of window glass in their windows. But a lot of houses only had - you know, had a couple or three or four windows and glass was fairly expensive at first. Got a little cheaper later on and people had bigger windows. But window screens were really pretty rare. And so, what people did - housewives did - they just lived with flies and flies and bugs of all kinds. So fly specks on the food; fly specks on the napkins, on the tablecloth, on the walls were ...
TOM: So there was really no measurable form of pest control? Were there sort of the home remedies to try to keep the insects out?
LESLIE: Yeah, it was shooing your broom at them.
JACK: Yeah, well you could shake your broom at them. There were - you know, a few people were trying things like fly paper and fly traps. People sometimes sprinkled, you know, strong spices that they hoped would keep ants away. None of them worked - none of them really worked terribly well. If you wanted to get away from mosquitoes, you could sort of cover your bed with kind of light fabric; kind of mosquito netting.
TOM: We're talking to Jack Larkin. He's the author of Where We Lived: Discovering the Places We Once Called Home.
Jack, you're a museum scholar. You're a historian. You work at Old Bridge - Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Which I've been to.
TOM: ... which is a fabulous visit back into history. If you've never been there, I would highly recommend a trip to there.
Let's talk about - one of the things about Sturbridge is it's so accurate. Everything there is so realistic as the way it was when the village was built. Let's talk about furniture inside homes. I understand that there's an interesting story between - about the evolution of beds.
JACK: Well, yeah. I mean at first an awful lot of people would - you might only have one real bed in the house and everyone else was kind of sleeping on small straw pallets. Actually, if you look at the very poorest houses, you see people with nothing that we would really talk about as a real bed.
The bed itself has a kind of interesting evolution because what people really wanted in the early American was what's called the hung bed; a bed - you know, you've seen those beds with curtains all around. And those curtains - those curtains really had two, maybe three, real important functions. One was to show that you were well off enough that you could have all these bed hangings; you could afford all this cloth. One was to keep yourself warm; after all - in the north at least, after all, houses got pretty cold in the winter time. You didn't keep the fire. You kept the fire pretty well banked at night. And the third was for some kind of privacy. You can imagine a married couple looking for some kind of privacy if they're in a one-room house with seven or eight ... (Leslie chuckling)
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, with nine people? laughing)
JACK: ... with seven or eight other people. And so, the curtains come in very handy for that as well.
TOM: You know what amazes the most about the homes, the way you describe them with these very, very large families moving inside them? You know, today we've got like - what? - a 50 percent divorce rate. (chuckling)
JACK: Oh, sure.
TOM: Back then it was unheard of. (chuckling)
JACK: Yeah. No, very little divorce back then. You needed a decree of the legislature most of the time to get a divorce.
TOM: Well, you needed all those people to create heat. (Leslie laughs) What, are you kidding me? (laughing)
JACK: Well, that's probably true as well. That would have worked to some extent.
TOM: Interesting book. Jack Larkin, author of Where We Lived: Discovering the Places We Once Called Home, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
If you want more information about Jack and his book, you can check out Taunton.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Well the houses in Jack's book certainly had leaky roofs but your house does not have to have one. In fact, roof leaks, they can ruin a home quickly. So finding them and fixing them fast is critical. Up next, we're going to have some do-it-yourself tricks to help you find and fix leaks before they cause damage to your home, so stay with us.
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[audio timestamp: 34:18]
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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us right now, especially if you've ever had a roof leak because you know how quickly that kind of a leak can damage a house. If you want to fix that leak before it becomes a problem, here's what you need to know.
First of all, when hiring a licensed contractor to do this job, the smart choice might be a roof inspection. You can do it yourself or you can hire a pro. If you want to do it yourself, here's what you need to know. You can start on firm ground and examine the roof with a pair of binoculars. It's a lot safer than walking on the roof. Go around and very carefully look at the whole roof surface. Especially look at the areas where there's any penetration of the roof's surface. For example, if there's a spot where a plumbing vent comes through or where the chimney comes through; if you see loose, cracked shingles in that area, it's most likely to be an area that could leak.
Now, for the next part of this, you need to go up on the roof. It can be dangerous, so if you are inexperienced or uncomfortable doing this for any reason, don't do it. Get a pro to do it. Get someone that's more comfortable with that spot to do it. It's really a two-person job. Here's how you do it.
You take a spray nozzle and a hose and a ladder and a flashlight and a helper. Start with ...
LESLIE: And these are a lot of things to remember so, folks, if you're interested in learning about the stuff, you can also go to MoneyPit.com and get transcripts of the show so you'll get exactly all these things that you need. So don't run and get a pen and paper.
TOM: Yeah, especially while you're driving.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Exactly.
TOM: But here's what you need to do. Start with one person on the roof with the hose while the other's in the attic with the flashlight. Up on the roof, you can use sort of a low pressure water flow to let the water wash down the roof. You want to work it about five feet at a time, working the area of the leak where you suspect the leak. And then slowly move the hose across the roof until the leak reveals itself. Now, the person in the attic may not find the leak exactly where you think it's happening because very often the water will come in and it will hug the underside of the rafter. And I've seen water run 20 or 30 feet, from rafter to rafter to rafter or a different part of the roof structure, and then show up where you see it in your ceiling. But if you follow it while you're up in that attic with a flashlight and the water flowing on top, that's the easiest way to find it because you're only kind of working one section of the roof at a time.
LESLIE: Yeah, it might be a good time for walkie-talkies for you and your friend, which everybody loves to play games with those.
TOM: (overlapping voices) There you go.
LESLIE: And you want to make sure that you work your way from the lowest section of the roof to the highest. You don't want to blast any water under the shingles because that might actually cause leaks and damage and cause some leaks you don't even want. And also, remember not to stand on any of the wet parts so you don't slip. And remember, the person in the attic should use the flashlight to inspect everything and if you see a leak, even if it's a small one, fix it immediately. And you know what? While you're there it also could be a good time to consider upgrading your roof's protection.
TOM: Absolutely. And if you're going to repair or replace your roof, be sure you tell your roofer to use good quality waterproofing roofing materials. For example, we would recommend Grace Tri-Flex 30 and Grace Ice & Water Shield. These are two products that are part of a roofing system. You don't want to use tar paper. It can cause a lot of leaks. Ice & Water Shield prevents those ice dams. They're both - they both go under the roof surface. They're made by Grace. It's a good quality company. I think their website is GraceAtHome.com. And this is the way that you build a roof once, you build it right and you don't have to worry about it leaking again.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. We've got some good news for you out there. You can now have Tom and I in your pocket. You don't need a super-huge pocket; you just need an MP3 player. That's right. The Money Pit is portable. So you can help yourself to our entire library of Money Pit podcasts. You can even search by topic. Just go to MoneyPit.com and best of all, they are totally free.
TOM: Call us right now if you have a home improvement question. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We'll give you the two-for-one special. First of all, we'll answer your question and we'll throw your name in the hat for a great gift because this hour we're giving away the Wobble Light Jr. worth 60 bucks. It's a pretty cool light because it's got a weight in the base so you can knock it over but it'll just pop right back up - it's very stubborn that way - and help you light your way through those home improvement projects. Call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Linda in Tennessee is thinking of remodeling. How can we help you?
LINDA: I have a 1988 model mobile home that I bought last year.
LINDA: I'm an over-the-road truck driver so I don't get to spend much time at home. I'm doing the maintenance required to keep it up but I'm wondering - now mobile homes, I know, they don't hold their value like a regular house does. But it would - would it still be worthwhile to do some renovations and change things around? Or with that kind of a setup would it better to just do the maintenance and then, after a few years, get a new one?
TOM: Oh, I don't know, Linda. I mean with all those hours you're spending on the road, I think you want that place to be as comfortable as you can possibly make it. So while I wouldn't spend a lot of money on remodeling, I certainly would not hesitate to put a new kitchen or bathroom in that space.
LESLIE: Change the flooring.
LESLIE: New paint. Why not freshen up? It's your space now.
LINDA: Ooh, ooh. That's what I want to do.
TOM: Yeah. Well, we knew that. (Linda chuckles) That's why we're giving you our blessings.
LINDA: Oh, then I will. Then I definitely will.
TOM: Alright, Linda. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Coming up, find out why carpets are a bad idea in your garage and some better flooring options for making better use of your garage space.
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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. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let us help make your home better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: You can also log onto our website at MoneyPit.com and shoot us an e-mail by clicking on Ask Tom & Leslie. Let's jump right into that e-mail bag. We've got this one from Ed in Dunnellon, Florida. Ed says: 'I've got a two-car garage which is carpeted. I'm looking to replace the carpeting with ceramic tiles.' That must be the ultimate luxury. A carpet garage.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Or it's probably really dirty and stinky.
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah. Kind of unusual. 'Can I do this job myself? What should I do to prepare? I'll be parking the vehicle there in the garage. Not going to be living in it, obviously. I live in Florida. I'm not worried about freezing. What can I do? Should a particular quality of tile be used? Please advise me of a procedure for installation.'
I don't know about the tile in the garage. What do you think?
LESLIE: I'm not sure. Alright, Ed. Assuming that the floor - your structure - once you pull up that carpet and get any sort of, you know, foam that's underneath there and any of those tack strips. Get all of that out of there. Now assuming that the substructure - your cement or concrete floor - is in good condition, you would want to put down a mud base and then use a ceramic tile; probably a larger one like a 16 or a 20-inch square. And you can put that right on there. But if there's any movement in that underfloor and things start to shift a little, when you park a car in there, those tiles might crack. You're going to see grout lines cracking. Things might get pretty hairy.
So, if you're feeling like things are in good shape, I say go for it. Or there's a couple of other options. You can use an epoxy sealer on a concrete floor, which is basically a series of steps which gets a really super-hard epoxy coating which doesn't keep stains; it looks good; it comes in nice colors. That's an option. Or you can do something called acid staining, where you do a finish technique to concrete. You can buy different kits online. Depending on the coloration that you use, it comes out in different styles and colors and you can do a blend of colors. That's called acid staining. Or you can get tiles. There's something called Dyno (ph) tiles, which are these plastic tiles that lock together. And those are great. They can withstand the car's weight. You can even get those rubber tiles that look like puzzle pieces.
So lots of options for your floor. Don't think ceramic's the only way to go.
TOM: Alright. Let's go to this e-mail from Joe on Stanton Island. 'Should I insulate my attic floor even though the attic ceiling is insulated and drywalled above it?'
If your attic ceiling is finished, Joe, then that becomes the end of the weatherproofing of the inside of your house. So you don't want to insulate the floor of the attic because I'm presuming you have a finished attic here. If you did insulate the floor of the attic, as long as you had a heat source up there and you had an air conditioning source, it would probably work. But generally, you only want to insulate the uppermost layer.
Well, they're plentiful, they're pretty and they're free. In today's edition of Leslie's Last Word, you've got the lowdown on where to find some natural fire starters for your fireplace.
LESLIE: That's right. Alright. You can buy those fire starters but you don't have to. You might like them because they crackle and they change colors. But they can be pricey and you go through them pretty quickly. Well, dried out pine cones can make a great natural fire starter for your fireplace or even your wood burning stove.
If you're feeling creative, folks, you can also dip them in wax. You know, melted candle wax is perfect and it's a great way to use up all those little nubs of candles you've got lying around the house because you know you stick them in a drawer or your wife does or somebody you know does. And they're there. So you can gather them up. If you want to melt them, make sure you use a double boil method to melt the wax. You never, ever want to put the wax in a pot right directly on a flame because it can burn and it can get really hot. So always use the double boil method. And it's best to just buy an inexpensive pot to use strictly for wax because, believe me, it's a pain to clean. And you can roll around the pine cones in there. And once their wax hardens up again, your pine cone is going to be a great fire starter; it's going to keep your fire going; and it's going to make your house smell so wonderful. So enjoy it and use Mother Nature.
TOM: And the next time you try to use that same pot to cook your soup ...
TOM: ... it's going to taste really funky. (laughing)
LESLIE: Don't. That's why you buy an inexpensive one.
TOM: Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Coming up next week, speaking of fires, we're going to have some tips on how to clean those dirty fireplace screens.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don't have to do it alone.
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END HOUR 2 TEXT
(Copyright 2006 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.)