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: Call us now with your home improvement project. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Call us because your heating bill is too darn high. We can help at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us because you need a good Valentine's Day home improvement gift recommendation. (Leslie chuckles) I'm thinking about getting my wife a router. Come in real handy around the house.
LESLIE: You just want her to carve your initials in a tree or something with it.
TOM: I think if I give her a router she'll carve her initials in me with that thing. (laughing)
LESLIE: Yeah, probably. (laughing)
TOM: But call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. We are here to help you out. We've got a great show planned for you this hour. You know, it might be chilly now but spring is not that far off and it's almost time for some major home improvement projects to get underway across the country. And if your plans include hiring a contractor, we have some tips to help you make sure you're not ripped off, coming up.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, rot. It is a nasty three-letter word and it's not just a condition. It's actually a living organism that's feeding on your home. Gross when you think about what it really is. We're going to tell you how to get rid of it, this hour.
TOM: And we're also talking smarter hot water. We're going to tell you how to make sure your water heater is safely working and delivering the most efficient hot water possible.
LESLIE: And of course we've got a prize this hour. One caller is going to win a digital security system from Swann. It's worth 199 bucks.
TOM: So call us now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Cindy in Iowa has a question about radiant heat. What can we do for you?
CINDY: Hi, I was wondering if you can put it under the subfloor rather than on top; like under carpet or under installed flooring.
TOM: Is this a room that's going to have carpet in it?
CINDY: If I can afford the whole thing, yes. (Tom laughs) Yeah. Two rooms are carpeted. The rest of the house has vinyl on the floor.
TOM: The answer is yes and yes. If you're talking about electric radiant heat, there are lots of great products out there that can actually go between the padding and the subfloors; generally the place that it goes. One of the leading manufacturers is a company called Warmly Yours. That's their website; WarmlyYours.com. Very, very helpful website. Lots of options for the types of products that you can have.
LESLIE: It's organized by the type of floor, so it sort of gets rid of any questioning.
But Tom, if you were to put the radiant heat itself underneath the subfloor and then you're dealing with padding and carpet or, you know, some sort of foam barrier and then like a laminate, does that sort of ...
TOM: Yeah, I don't think that radiant heat - electric radiant heat - is going to work well by going under the subfloor. What will work under the subfloor is hydronic heat. If you have a hot water heating system and use a product like PEX - cross-linked polyethylene piping - that can be sort of wound underneath the subfloor and sort of warm the whole structure. But generally, with electric radiant heat, it goes on top of the subfloor and under the padding.
TOM: And you can also put it, by the way, on top of the subfloor and under laminate. It's really durable stuff. Check out that website; WarmlyYours.com.
CINDY: I sure will. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Todd, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
TODD: I've got a prefabricated shower stall that's probably made of a pretty thick gauge sheet metal or aluminum. And the hot and cold faucets haven't been used for a very long time and they've been dripping and draining and they've developed a significant amount of calcium and rust deposits; kind of in a teardrop shape ...
TODD: ... halfway down from the faucets, the hot and cold, to the drain.
TODD: And I've tried Lime-A-Way direct without any dilution and left it sitting there then scrubbing it. It didn't seem to do very good. And then I've also tried CLR at 100 percent strength and left it sitting there. And I finally started taking a wire brush to it but, unfortunately, I took the paint with it and got down to the sheet metal.
TODD: I'm wondering if there's something that is a little bit better or maybe I need to leave it on there longer.
TOM: Well, if you've tried CLR and you've tried Lime-A-Way I think you've tried two very good quality products that are designed to remove -
LESLIE: To do exactly what the problem is.
TOM: - yeah - mineral salt deposits. If what you're seeing is still streaking then it sounds to me like there must have been a chemical reaction between the original paint and the minerals itself. And so I think you've done what you can do. At this point you've already stripped away that paint so you're going to need to reseal it, repaint it. And you need to start that with a primer coat.
TODD: OK. That's my next question. Where I've got that down to the bare sheet metal now ...
TOM: Yeah, and in fact, if you don't it's going to rust out on you. So, you know, this is much the same as fixing a metal roof. You have to start with a good quality primer and if you're concerned about appearance you may want to consider spraying this on. This is not a very big area I assume, right?
TODD: No, it isn't. No.
TOM: I would go out and I would clean the surface really well. I would pick up a can of Rust-Oleum primer; a spray can of Rust-Oleum primer or two.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Made specifically for metal.
TOM: It's good stuff. It goes on with a nice, even coat. You may even put a couple of coats on it. Let it dry really well and then I would put a Rust-Oleum topcoat over that. It really lays on nicely. It's important to use a primer and a topcoat that's made by the same manufacturer because you know the chemical connection is going to work really well. And I think that's the best way to get this stall looking the way it should.
LESLIE: And Rust-Oleum makes a spray primer in a white, a gray and like a rusty red color, in case you're going for like deep tones. So you'll find something that works with whatever topcoat color you're using.
TODD: Yeah, it's just a basic flat white.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, if getting ripped off is your biggest fear about hiring a contractor you are not alone. But we've got some tips to help arm you with the right information to find your pro, 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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and the number here at Team Money Pit is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Swann Digital Private Eye Security System. It's worth 199 bucks and it looks like a simple alarm system but it's super cool. It's got a motion-triggered digital camera that is going to catch anyone who is setting it off right in the act of doing whatever it is they're doing that I am sure they are not supposed to be doing. All you've got to do is call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and ask your question on the air and we're going to choose your name, hopefully, out of the Money Pit hardhat from all of our callers this hour.
TOM: So call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Well, choosing your name for this prize could be left up to chance. Here's something that should not be: hiring a contractor. You know, not all contractors operate within the law. Here are some tip-offs to potential ripoffs.
First, be wary of a contractor who solicits door to door. Believe it or not, these guys are still out there and this is especially prevalent in areas that get hit by some sort of natural disaster: heavy rain, heavy snow.
LESLIE: Even in my neighborhood they come ringing the bell.
TOM: It's amazing. They're still working the door to door. Or beware of somebody who offers you a discount for finding other customers. He may just have happened to have left some material off from another job and if you sign on the dotted line, well, they'll be right there to get to work. That's not the sign of a trustworthy contractor. And also, don't trust the contractor who only accepts cash or asks you to pay in full up front. Very foolish to do.
LESLIE: Also, you want to beware of somebody who doesn't have a listing in the local phone directory and somebody who's pressuring you to make an immediate decision right now, on the spot, or might even suggest that you borrow money from a lender that he knows. These are all really shady, questionable business acts. If you're not careful you could lose your home through a home improvement loan scam. I mean these things happen all the time and I cannot tell you how quickly people agree to something because, you know, quite frankly, it sounds too good to be true.
TOM: Absolutely. And you know, about that finding the listing in the phone book. I used to be a member of the licensing board for home inspectors in New Jersey and one of the requirements that New Jersey had was that you had to have a physical address in order to qualify for a license. So having a physical address is a sign of stability.
Now, regarding the licensing for contractors, be aware that the licensing program changes from state to state. For example, some states have no licensing. Some states require licensing only if the contractor also offers loans to help you pay for the work. So just because a contractor is licensed does not necessarily mean that they are that much more responsible than someone that is not licensed. You really need to understand what that licensing program is all about.
Hope that helps you out. If you need more advice on hiring a pro, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Lazlo in New York has a question about tankless water heaters. What can we do for you?
LAZLO: Yes, hi. I happen to have two tanked water heaters. It's for a four-family building.
LAZLO: And it basically has - I think the two of them are 50 gallons each.
LAZLO: And what I was thinking of doing is minimizing the actual heat on those two tanked water heaters and putting in an additional tankless water heater after the two tanks. So this way that the temperature would be, say, something around 80 degrees in the tank water heaters and then when the demand comes on then the tankless would heat it up to the 105, I guess, or 110 degrees so that somebody can take a shower or, you know, do the dishes or whatever it is that they need the hot water for. I was wondering if that's a good idea or not.
TOM: Are the water heaters that you have gas or electric?
LAZLO: Gas. I'm going to be using gas for both the tankless and the tank.
TOM: It's a bad idea. Because you don't need to preheat the water. If you have a properly-sized tankless water heater then you absolutely don't need to preheat the water and, in fact, doing so would ruin the efficiency of this equation. So I would tell you that if you want to go tankless - I think it's a good idea if your water heaters are getting to be old - put in the right size tankless water heater and eliminate the other two 80-gallon water heaters because they're going to waste a whole lot of gas that you don't need.
LAZLO: OK. They're actually 40 or 50 gallons ...
TOM: Alright, well ...
LAZLO: ... but I see what you're saying. Either way. Right.
TOM: Same point.
LAZLO: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. No, you don't need to preheat the water into a tankless. Tankless water heaters are engineered to take the water from, you know, ground temperature cold to 110, 120 degrees on one shot and they do that endlessly if they're properly sized and properly installed. When you have the plumber come in to install it, make sure that they look very carefully at the manufacturer's specifications for gas line size. Very common mistake they put in too small of a gas line. Tankless water heaters need a large gas line because they use a lot of gas but they use it for a short period of time and, overall, they're much less expensive to run than a traditional tanked water heater.
LAZLO: Right, right, right. That's why I was thinking of going with that. OK. Sounds good. They actually - they are getting on in age, so I would probably have to replace them in about a year or two anyway.
TOM: Smart to do a preemptive strike here, Lazlo, and to replace them before those tanked water heaters start to leak because that's a big mess.
LAZLO: I thank you for your help.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: David in Georgia is looking to properly insulate a bonus room. What's going on at your money pit?
DAVID: Got a question about some insulation on these rafter systems on a bonus room upstairs.
DAVID: What do you guys prefer to insulate that with? Is it just a paper-backed insulation or do you go with a hardboard or ...
TOM: Is this is a cathedral ceiling, David?
DAVID: I'd like to leave it that way, yes.
TOM: OK. So this is a sloped ceiling in like a great room kind of a thing, right?
DAVID: Up above our family room. It's just a bonus room upstairs that we had.
TOM: Alright. OK. So the question is how do you insulate a cathedral ceiling where you don't have a horizontal flat ceiling and then an attic above it. In other words, your ceiling goes straight up. When we're looking up in that bonus room we're basically looking at the underside of the roof rafters, correct?
DAVID: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
TOM: Alright. So in a situation like that let's assume, for the purpose of this call, that your roof rafter is an eight-inch beam; like a 2x8. What you would do is you would install six inches of insulation into that. You would not fill up the entire eight inches deep because you want to leave that extra two-inch space between the end of the insulation and the underside of the roof sheathing so that you can flush air through that. So I would use a foil-faced, six-inch insulation in this example. I would put normal drywall on it. But I would also make sure that I had a ridge vent at the top and then a soffit vent at the base and, this way, air will get into that cavity that's left and it'll dry out that insulation. Because remember, you're going to get a lot of moisture that's going to collect in there. If you try to seal the whole thing up it's not going to vent and a couple of things will happen: the insulation gets really damp - if you add just two percent moisture to it, it loses up to a third of its ability to insulate; and secondly and more importantly, your roof sheathing will rot. It will decay and it will rot over time. So you need to have ventilation in that space. So make sure you don't fill it up all the way. You'll leave an extra couple of inches and you vent it properly and that room will both be warm and dry and safe at the same time.
DAVID: OK. So you said a foil-faced insulation.
TOM: Yeah, it could be foil-faced or it could be paper-faced. Or it could even, frankly, be unfaced.
TOM: But make sure you leave the space. I would prefer foil-faced if it's available to you in your area.
DAVID: Foil-faced towards the drywall ...
TOM: Yeah, with the foil ...
DAVID: ... or towards the roofing?
TOM: No, foil goes toward the heating space - heated space.
DAVID: Towards the heating space. OK.
TOM: Yeah, vapor barrier always goes toward the living space.
DAVID: That's - OK. That's the way I had the rest of it. I just wanted to double check on the roof and make sure that was right.
DAVID: I appreciate you guys' help so much and thanks for having the show. It's a great show and we appreciate it.
TOM: Thanks, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, Leslie, in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector ...
TOM: ... I used to inspect crawlspaces all the time ...
TOM: ... with the vapor barrier on the bottom of the insulation. And about every 24 inches on the insulation it would be stamped. It would say this side towards living space. (Leslie chuckles) It would always be upside down.
LESLIE: Of course.
TOM: Nobody reads anything anymore.
LESLIE: It's like the simplest directions are always the ones that are overlooked.
TOM: That's right. Vapor barrier towards the heated space. If it's your crawlspace it's your floor. If it's your roof structure it's facing the inside of the house.
LESLIE: Nancy in Virginia, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with?
NANCY: My walk - it's a walk-down basement. It's in an area way.
NANCY: And it's outside and the outside wall of it is cracking. It's like the concrete that's over a cinder block wall.
NANCY: And we've had somebody come by that says that it just needs reparging, which I'm not sure what that is.
TOM: Parging is the stucco mix that goes on the outside of the concrete block.
NANCY: Alright. And then we had another person come by and say it has to completely come down.
TOM: He needed a bigger job than the first guy. You see, apparently his mortgage payment was coming due and he needed ... (Leslie chuckles)
NANCY: Well, that's what I'm thinking. (Tom laughs) Yes, indeed.
NANCY: But he wanted to completely take it down, shore up the wall and, you know, put it back up. So ...
TOM: Are we only talking about the parging on the outside that's cracking?
NANCY: Yeah, the parging on the outside. It's a 50-year-old home ...
NANCY: ... so it's an old home.
NANCY: And the bricking on top is kind of - you know, not that great. And it has an iron railing on top that needs to be replaced as well.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.
NANCY: So what I was hoping to do is just replace the railing and then reparge it.
TOM: The only reason to do any dismantling is if it's structurally cracked and it's really falling apart. Parging frequently cracks. Just like stucco it cracks and it can be repaired either by sealing those cracks or by putting another layer of parging on top of that. There's no reason you can't do that. Unless the block itself is, you know, really cracking, deteriorated and sagging and structurally a mess there's absolutely no reason to tear it out.
NANCY: Well, how do you find that out? How do find out if it's bad?
TOM: It's pretty visible.
NANCY: Do you just take off the ...
TOM: I mean if it looks intact but just cosmetically cracked ...
TOM: ... it's probably fine. I mean if you don't see any shifting of it or anything like that then it's probably OK.
NANCY: And how do you know if it's shifting? It just looks crooked or something or ...
TOM: You would - yeah, I mean if it's so hard for you to figure out, I'm telling you that my guess would be it's probably fine.
NANCY: Just reparging?
TOM: Just reparge it. Exactly. Save the money. Reparge. It'll look great. Probably last you another 20 years.
NANCY: Now what if we wanted a contractor to do that? What types of contractors do that sort of thing?
TOM: It's sort of a handyman job and it would be nice - I mean masons can do it as well. When you reparge you want to use a fairly sticky mortar mix so that you get good adhesion. But if it's done correctly it could last a long time. Frankly, it's something that you do have to do from time to time; usually maybe every, I don't know, 20, 25 years you end up having to do a complete reparging of a foundation.
NANCY: Oh OK, great.
TOM: Not unusual.
NANCY: OK, well that's good to know. Very reassuring as the other guy was going to charge us over $10,000.
NANCY: So I think you're right.
NANCY: He was looking for (chuckling) - looking for a job.
TOM: He was going to get a lot of mortgage payments out of you then, wasn't he?
LESLIE: Or a vacation. (chuckling)
NANCY: I think he was.
TOM: (chuckling) Nancy ...
NANCY: Yes, exactly. (chuckling)
TOM: ... thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Marvin in North Carolina, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
MARVIN: I'm going to install three-quarter-inch PEX pipe on my well out front ...
MARVIN: ... and run it in two directions and I'm going under a driveway on each side of the well.
TOM: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
MARVIN: And I'm going to run it about 15, 18 inches deep.
MARVIN: And what I'm wondering, is that pipe going to be OK just in the ground? Now this is just a gravel-topped driveway.
TOM: No, if you dig the trench out and run it under the driveway - and you said you're 15 to 18 inches deep - as long as you tamp the soil over it ...
TOM: ... I don't think you're going to have any problem. That's pretty strong pipe and it's not easy to crush it.
MARVIN: OK. That's what I ...
LESLIE: But then it's soil over the pipe and not directly gravel, correct?
MARVIN: Right, it's soil. It's ...
TOM: Right. It's 15 to 18 inches deep in the soil.
MARVIN: It's pure sand over it and just, you know, a little bit of gravel on top of the driveway dirt. But ...
TOM: Well, you know, if it's sand and it's real malleable ...
TOM: ... it could be a problem. But if it's tampable and you can compress it, I think it's OK. If ...
LESLIE: Could you switch out some of that sand for that sand that's mixed with concrete that's used in like southern areas where the soil tends to be pretty moist?
TOM: You may be able to just tamp that area with, you know, more of a gravel mix. But the key is you want to make sure it's tamped really well. If you get a solid tamp then you're not going to have a problem.
MARVIN: OK, good.
MARVIN: Apparently then the soil kind of disperses the way?
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
MARVIN: OK. That's what I was hoping you'd say.
TOM: Alright, Marvin.
TOM: We're happy to help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, it's smarter hot water for your home. We're going to tell you what safety features you should consider when you're buying a new water heater.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Soup to nuts, floorboards to shingles. Whatever you're working on we want to talk to you about it.
Hey, one of the things you might be thinking about is your hot water. You know, especially when it gets a bit chillier out, that hot water starts to certainly be more important. There's nothing worse than a cold shower on a cold day.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (chuckling) On a cold morning.
TOM: But you know, by their very nature your standard water heaters, I guess let's not pick on them but they could be said to be a bit dumb because they keep the water the same temperature all day long whether you need it or not and that can actually be a big waste of money and energy.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you're thinking about getting smarter about saving your money, saving energy, you might want to think about getting smarter with your water heater as well and consider a tankless unit. And here to tell us about the benefits of going tankless is Peter Blaha from Rheem.
PETER: Tom, Leslie. It's a pleasure to be on your show.
TOM: So Peter, talk to us about how a tankless water heater works. We've got a lot of questions about them over the years. Folks are concerned as to whether or not they can really deliver the capacity and can stay hot all the time. How does the technology actually function?
PETER: Well, when people see a tankless water heater the first thing they notice is the size. Tankless water heaters are a little bit larger than a standard medicine chest in your bathroom and the first thing people wonder is how can something so small deliver ample hot water to supply my entire home. The difference between a tank and a tankless water heater is that tank water heaters have a storage capacity of hot water so that when that hot water runs out you're left with cold water until the water can regenerate.
PETER: Tankless water heaters, however, as the water flows through it's continuously heated. When you activate a fixture the smart technology inside a tankless water heater will signal the burner to ignite and to heat your water to a precise temperature and consistently deliver that water to your fixture as long as water is flowing through the unit.
TOM: The other thing that I think people get confused about is they think that tankless water heaters deliver water at a hotter temperature. So seemingly you wouldn't run out. But that's not the case. It just has the ability to deliver the correct temperature in the correct amounts at the time you need it.
PETER: Yeah, the tankless water heaters have a thermistor which allows consumers to set it for a particular temperature. So if you desire to have 126-degree water in your home, you can set it for that precise hot water temperature. And that's ...
LESLIE: And can you set that from a remote location or is that something that's done on the unit itself?
PETER: No, actually the remote control has a 90-foot lead to it. So you can set that up to 90 feet away from the unit.
TOM: Wow, that would great for kids. If your young child is going up to take a bath or a shower you can just dial down the temperature and instantly you know that they're protected from scalds.
PETER: Absolutely, absolutely. And that's a great safety feature in the unit.
LESLIE: Well, I think people get a little confused - again, as Tom was saying - with tankless units because they still don't understand that regardless of tanked or tankless, it's the distance of the fixture to the heater itself. So they think that putting in a different heater is going to deliver the water faster when, in fact, the beauty of tankless is that if you have a problem bath that takes a long time to get hot water, due to the size you can have more than one water heater within your house to deliver that water faster. Do you think that's one of the benefits of the size and the technology itself?
PETER: Absolutely. And that's something that some people will do. They'll actually - if they have a larger home with multiple bathrooms they'll actually put two units in and they'll plumb them separately. One thing you have to remember, though, is that tankless water heaters - some people do have the understanding that they have the instant hot water the second they turn on the fixture, which is not the case because it really depends on how long the run is from - the water pipe run from the tankless water heater to the fixture. You have to remember that there's cold water in that pipe that has to clear before the hot water is distributed.
TOM: Right, but you would need a huge space to put in another full-size unit nearer to that faraway bath. With a tankless, I mean you need a very, very small space because these boxes are just so small. And they're also easy to vent. I mean can't you directly vent these out of a side wall so you don't have to go up through a chimney?
PETER: Yes, we have outdoor and indoor units. So the outdoor units work better in more temperate areas such as California, Texas.
PETER: The issue is not the tankless water heater freezing because our tankless heaters are freeze protected up to 30 below zero. It's the piping which would have to be insulated if it was installed in a state such as Michigan or Minnesota.
TOM: We're talking to Peter Blaha. He's a product manager for Rheem and an expert in tankless water heaters.
Peter, there's another compelling reason, right now, to go tankless, especially before the end of the year, and that is this tax credit that's available. That sounds like a pretty good reason to buy a water heater if you're ready for one. Talk to us about it.
PETER: Absolutely. And that's one of the things that I hope that people that are considering installing a tankless water heater do consider. The federal government currently has a $300 tax credit which can be applied to the end of 2007. There's quite a few people that do not know about that. So that's something that we definitely want to promote as much as possible. Tankless water heaters are a little more expensive than a standard tank water heater. You can buy a standard tank water heater anywhere between $300 and $500. Tankless you're talking anywhere from $650 up to $1,100 for the unit itself.
LESLIE: But the energy savings you'll see are drastic, correct?
PETER: Absolutely, absolutely. Compared to a tank electric you're going to save about 40 percent in your energy savings and with a gas tank you're going to save about 25 percent.
TOM: And that plus the fact that you have a $300 tax credit if you buy before the end of 2007. Good reasons to go tankless.
Peter Blaha from Rheem, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
PETER: My pleasure.
TOM: If you'd like more information you can go to Rheem's website at RheemTankless.com or you can pick up the phone and call them at 866-720-2076.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, now that you're getting smarter about hot water it might also be time to get smart about rot. And it's not just a condition. It's a living, breathing, pack of organisms that can wreak havoc on your home. We're going to tell you how to evict these unwelcome houseguests, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and you'll get the answer to your home improvement question and an opportunity to win the Swann Digital Private Eye security system worth 199 bucks. It looks like a simple alarm system but it's got a motion-triggered digital camera that will catch intruders in the act. Pretty cool prize available to one caller to 1-888-MONEY-PIT drawn at random from our little hardhat here at the end of the hour.
LESLIE: Well, you might be super excited if you find out that you've won our great prize this hour but I bet you one thing you will not be excited about if you find out you've got it in your house is rot. If you've got some wood around your house that's mysteriously falling apart then chances are you've got rot.
Now rot, it's a kind of fungus which opens up the door to mold, mildew, staining and it robs wood of its structural integrity. And sometimes the infected wood even has to be completely replaced to prevent it from spreading to the rest of the structure. I mean this can spread like wildfire if you don't treat it.
If you find rotted wood you want to be sure to repair it quickly, including treating the affected area with a mildicide to avoid any further damage and to protect the rest of your home.
TOM: Now the good news about rot or decay is when it dries out it actually stops rotting, it stops decaying. So if you can't get to the repair right away one good thing to do is just to dry it out. Take whatever steps it needs to make it sure it doesn't get wet and the rot will stop to develop.
If you've got a rot spot in your house and you need some advice on how to fix it, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Talking to Dorothy in Texas who's dealing with some holes in a floor. What happened?
DOROTHY: Yes, when we drive in our garage after we had a snow and we have the salt off the highways, our garage floor crumbles.
DOROTHY: I'd like to know what I can do to repair that or do I have to take the whole garage floor out.
TOM: Well, it depends on the level of deterioration. If it's just some surface deterioration, that can be repaired with an epoxy patching compound. If the entire garage floor surface is really structurally deteriorated, then that might be a situation where it has to be broken out and replaced. But if it's just minor ...
DOROTHY: No, it's only a small area.
TOM: Well, if it's a very small area then you can patch it with an epoxy patching compound.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, like AboCrete or AboCast.
TOM: AboCrete, right. Mm-hmm, exactly.
LESLIE: These are self-leveling. You mix them up. You pour it onto the damaged area. It's going to fix itself and adhere to the area very well and make it nice and even and smooth. But keep in mind, Dorothy, that the salts, especially that the highway department uses, you know, you'll see after a winter season, when there's been a lot of salt deposits on that highway, a huge amount of potholes. You know, it does a great job of removing that snow and ice but it also does a wonderful job of damaging the concrete.
LESLIE: So you've got to, you know, know that this is a repair that if you've got a wintry season - you know, a snowy winter - it's going to be something that you're going to have to sort of stay on top of because it'll continue to damage it.
TOM: You know what I would recommend, Dorothy? Fix the pitted areas, fix the deteriorated areas and then paint the entire garage floor with an epoxy paint. It's a two-part mix; very easy to do. You mix it up. It cures pretty quickly. Paint that whole floor and that ought to protect it from that road salt.
TOM: Dorothy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Valerie in North Carolina has got a kitchen project. What's going on and how can we help?
VALERIE: Yes, I replaced the kitchen cabinets in my kitchen. It's been over 10 years ago. And I had a freezer in the kitchen but I've gotten rid of that since then. And now I'm trying to fill that space in with a cabinet that will look OK and I'm having a hard time matching what I have here.
LESLIE: Well, have you thought about not exactly matching and choosing something that's in the same finish but compliments it; say, with like a glass-front door or something a little bit different that makes it it's own special piece?
VALERIE: Well, I thought about that. The person that I talked to about the glass front said the inside would still have to match and because the color has changed that I'd have a hard time doing that also.
LESLIE: What color are your existing cabinets?
VALERIE: It's an oak; just like a golden oak color.
LESLIE: Is it something where if you got an unfinished cabinet you'd be able to purchase a stain and stain it on your own to match?
VALERIE: I guess that's a possibility. I hadn't really thought that way.
TOM: That's probably the best way to go because this way you'd have control of it. If you got the unfinished oak cabinet, what I would also do is go out and buy a couple of pieces of oak scrap ...
TOM: ... and then you could experiment with some different stains. Get one that's maybe a little lighter than what you have; one that's a little darker; and come up with one that matches as close to that cabinet as you possibly can get it. If you use an unfinished cabinet and you have total control over the coloration, I think that's probably the best way to get something that's really close to what you have. And then even if you put it in and it still looks a little bit different, as the sunlight gets to it over the years you'll find that it gets warmer and warmer and eventually it's probably going to match perfectly with what you have.
VALERIE: OK, well that's a good - I hadn't thought of doing that myself.
TOM: Yeah, in this situation I think that makes the most sense.
VALERIE: Can I ask another question that's related to that? I've got - since that freezer left I had laminate floors put in.
VALERIE: And somebody told me that I was going to have trouble putting something down on top of a laminate if a put a cabinet there.
TOM: Why would have trouble putting it on top of laminate?
VALERIE: They said something about it kind of floats; the floor should float.
TOM: This cabinet's going to go on top of the existing laminate floor?
VALERIE: That's right.
TOM: I don't see any reason you can't do that except you're going to find that the laminate floor went up to - like against the original cabinets; that you may find that a new cabinet is taller when you put it side by side.
TOM: And if that's the situation you have two options. You can either cut out the laminate and sort of drop the new one in.
LESLIE: So that it's at the same height as the others.
TOM: Or you could cut the new base cabinet.
VALERIE: Oh, OK.
TOM: Cut a half-inch off it or so and make it a bit shorter so that it fits right over that floor.
VALERIE: Oh. OK, well that's a good idea then. I've come across all kinds of problems and I didn't realize it was going to be so difficult just to put one cabinet in there.
TOM: Well we are your problem solvers, Valerie, so thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
VALERIE: (laughing) Well, thank you.
LESLIE: More great home improvement information still to come on The Money Pit, including lots of great ideas for those of you who want to make your basement warm and ready for relaxing in front of the TV or even just chilling out and folding laundry. Up next, we're going to tell you how to cozy up your cold basement.
[audio timestamp: 39:48]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by - well, by us. Save hundreds a month on groceries, not to mention significant savings on home improvement products and services with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That's 866-REAL-HOME. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. Hi, I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and we want you to make sure that you are performing regular maintenance around your house. We cannot stress how important it is to pay attention to your home and really do a lot of little things - you know, seasonally, monthly; depending on what the project is - just to make sure that your house is operating in tiptop shape. You're probably thinking, 'Where do I start? What do I do first?' Well, we have made it very easy for you. We've got a to-do- list. It's all laid out for you one weekend at a time. It's in our monthly maintenance calendar and it's all on our fantastic website at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: And while you're at MoneyPit.com why don't you click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail just like Darlene did from Washington Terrace, Utah.
LESLIE: And Darlene writes: 'My basement is very cold. I've got a laundry room and a guest area down there. How do I insulate the whole area to make it more comfortable?'
TOM: Well, you know, your basement is separated, from a heating perspective, from the rest of the house. It's not a conditioned place in the house. So there's really two things you need to do, Darlene. First, you need to add heat to the basement space and that can probably most easily be accomplished by adding an additional duct or perhaps even a register off of your existing heating system. It's very easy if you have a forced air system but, again, have it done by a pro because if you do it wrong it could be unsafe.
Another way to add heat to a basement - and I only suggest this because it's a room that you don't use all the time - is to add electric heat to that because if you have a room that's not used all that often, it's probably OK to add electric heat to it because it's a lot less expensive than trying to sometime extend the existing central heating system. And if you're only going to use it part of the time then it's probably going to make sense even though it's more expensive to heat your house that way.
The second part of this is to add insulation and you want to really insulate the entire wall surface. Now, if you're going to finish it, what you should do is frame out the walls and then insulate those walls. And you're going to want to use an insulation that is not paper-faced but generally foil-faced.
LESLIE: Yeah, because it's super moist down in your basement and you want to make sure that you're not introducing something that's going to grow mold. And if you're going to finish that space like we're leading to here, a great product is a paperless drywall. It's from the folks over at Georgia-Pacific and it's called Dens Armor Plus and it's fiberglass-faced so it's not going to introduce any organic material that that mold is going to feed on. If you do this right you'll have a nice, cozy basement to relax and fold that laundry in.
TOM: Well, if you like the look of wallpaper but the thought of applying it is just a bit more than you can stand, there is another way to get that very same look. Leslie's got that explanation in today's edition of Leslie's Last Word.
LESLIE: That's right. Wallpaper is back in a super big way. I'm talking big prints, beautiful colors. And even though the look might be for everybody, certainly the installation process is not. Now you can easily recreate the look of wallpaper by using paint and stencil. There are so many stencil patterns available on line, at craft stores. Just head out and keep looking for them until you find a pattern that works for you. It could be simple. It could be busy. All you want to do is pick out something that really speaks to you and your design style.
Then you want to apply that stencil pattern using a latex paint over a painted wall or even you could apply it over plain or textural wallpaper. What you want to use is a stipple brush. It's all even-end bristles on the same plane, you'll see, and then you sort of stamp them. You want to apply your paint by stamping this brush, stippling it over the stencil itself and even sort of overlay the edge of the pattern so you're not leaking the paint underneath. And you want to make sure that you clean your stencil between every single use. I know it's time-consuming but this will help you avoid making any mistakes.
And if you're going to apply that stencil to existing wallpaper, try to test it out so you know what the end results are going to look like on a scrap piece or even an area behind a heavy piece of furniture that no one's ever going to see. Make sure you love it and you will end up with a beautiful look and it's easy to do and it's a nice weekend project for you and the family.
TOM: We tackled our very first stenciling project on the kitchen and it came out great.
Hey, if you need advice on stenciling or building some cabinets, adding some countertop, adding some hardware or just about any other home improvement topic, we can help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week at MoneyPit.com. Just click on Find a Project and your answer will be right there.
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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(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.)