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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. We are here to help you out. We know there's something you want to get done around your house. Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We've got tips, we've got advice, we've got solutions to your do-it-yourself dilemmas all at the end of this phone number. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We've also got a busy show planned for you. Coming up this hour, termites. They love to make a total, munchy meal of your house and even though it's still chilly out, now's the time to think about getting a termite inspection so you're prepared when the nests of termites start to overflow and attack your house in the spring. We're going to give you some tips to help you do just that.
LESLIE: And also this hour, is your latest project a remodel or is it an addition? Wait, aren't they the same? Hmm, I don't know. What's the difference, you're asking. Well, learning the lingo, it's the first step to making sure that your project comes out exactly as you plan. We're going to tell you what you need to know, coming up.
TOM: Also this hour, some appliance tips. Is your dishwasher acting up? Is it a bit of a dud lately? If your dishes are just not coming clean, there may be a simple problem that you can fix with just a little bit of an adjustment. We're going to teach you what that is in just a bit.
LESLIE: Plus, one caller that we talk to today is going to win a digital security system from Swann. It's worth 199 bucks and it's like having your very own personal security camera right at home.
TOM: So pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let's get right to the phones.
LESLIE: Rick in Illinois has a question about a basement. What can we do for you?
RICK: Hi, I was just wanting to try to figure out the best way to soundproof a basement so that the sound doesn't travel upstairs.
TOM: Are you planning your son's rock band playing (Leslie chuckles) down there or something?
RICK: I wish I could say that (Tom chuckles), but it's actually mine.
TOM: Ah! (laughing)
LESLIE: Nice! And it's a real rock band? Not Guitar Hero?
RICK: No, it's real. It's a Christian Prog band and we're all professionals and we're trying to relive our teenage years, if you know what I mean.
TOM: I see.
RICK: We're constructing a new home and it's going to get to the point to where I have to make that decision in the next 30 days or so and I'm trying to figure out the best way to soundproof it so that the sound doesn't bother the rest of the family.
TOM: Well, it's going to be difficult - in a typical, normal construction situation - to make it totally soundproof because as you probably know, if you've been in recording studios, that the way you construct them is quite different than you would ...
TOM: ... in a regular house where you have just, you know, a single-framed wall as opposed to a double wall and so on. That being said, probably the best thing that you could do is to use some of the soundproof insulation that's available - Owens Corning has a product - and fill that basement ceiling with soundproof insulation and then use a double application of drywall with green glue in between, which is sort of like a rubberized soundproofing glue. That helps to take up space between the boards and gives it sort of a place where the sound gets absorbed.
RICK: Now the builder recommended some kind of Z connector so it came off of the floor joists kind of almost in a Z pattern so there was a space before the drywall was actually put up so there was a barrier there.
TOM: That's along the right idea.
TOM: You see, if you're building a soundproof room you usually have a double wall. And so, with these connectors I think what he's trying to do - and the green glue does the same thing as it provides a bit of space so you have somewhat of a barrier between the different parts of the structure, be it the wallboard or the wood frame itself. And all of this helps to slow the transmission of sound.
RICK: And he also recommended that the heating and air conditioning ducts, instead of coming through the ceiling, come through the sidewall so that the sound wouldn't travel up.
TOM: Yeah, that's probably a good idea ...
TOM: ... because it certainly could do that.
LESLIE: You know, Rick, there's a great website that has a lot of, you know, resources and products for soundproofing. It's called SoundproofFoam.com and it's all acoustic products for walls, ceilings, floors, doors, pipes that might help you there with some of the products that are available to you.
TOM: And by the way, make sure you use fiberglass ducts and not metal ducts because fiberglass ducts don't carry the sound like the metal ducts do.
RICK: That's great information, Tom and Leslie. You have a great show and I really appreciate the advice.
LESLIE: Rock out.
Joyce in Hawaii has a question about windows. What's going on?
JOYCE: Well, we have two picture windows here that are thermal pane and we've had moisture seep in between them. And we've been told we have to replace the entire window. So I want to get a second opinion.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, that's true. There is no way, Joyce, to repair a failed thermal pane seal. However, having said that, understand that the only thing that's really bad about this is cosmetic because it'll look foggy depending on the difference in temperature between the outside and the inside. So if you don't mind that, you don't have to run out and replace this right away.
JOYCE: Oh, I do. It looks like my window is dirty.
TOM: It looks - aw, and that's - and you're just not going to put up with that living in paradise now are you, Joyce? (Tom chuckles)
JOYCE: No, I'm not. I know people walk in and they do (ph). (chuckling)
LESLIE: (chuckling) It's messing up the view.
TOM: Well, you're getting the right scoop, Joyce. When a thermal pane window fails there's a seal around it. It's called swiggle.
TOM: It's usually a black seal in between two panes of glass and that's installed at the time of manufacturer. It's does under suction and there's usually different types of gases inside thermal pane windows -
JOYCE: Oh, OK.
TOM: - either argon or krypton gas that add an insulation quality to it. And when that seal goes there's no way to repair it. That panel does have to be replaced.
JOYCE: Thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and although it's still wintry and quite chilly in many parts of the country, I am sure that you are all dreaming about those springtime days and those home improvement projects that you are going to fill them up with. So give us a call right now with your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, now you probably know that getting a termite inspection when buying a home is a must, right?
TOM: Well, that's because in most parts of the country the mortgage companies won't lend you the money if you don't have the inspection done. Let me give you a little clue. The termites don't know your house is for sale. (Leslie chuckles) So think about it. They might actually be eating it right now even if you're not having any plans to sell it or have been in it for years and years and years. So up next we're going to give you some tips to help you flush out the termites in your house.
[audio timestamp: 7:22]
[audio timestamp: 10:52]
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 where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and the number here 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 this super-simple-looking alarm system is really quite high-tech and awfully spy-like. It's going to take pictures, up to 20,000 of them, of people getting caught in the act of doing whatever they are doing. All you have to do to be able to win it is give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and ask your question on the air and you might be so lucky that we pull your name out of the Money Pit hardhat at random and you will be a winner.
Now, here is something that infests your house that's never too pleasant. Termites. You know, they build nests deep in the soil and they come up to eat dead wood; in other words, the framing of your house. But because termites need to maintain high humidity and warm temperatures in the nest, their underground tunnels, winter weather tends to greatly restrict how far they can travel from the nest. And this has to be taken into consideration if your house is being inspected for termites during the winter months. And inexperienced inspector could miss a termite infestation or consider it inactive when, in fact, it is active; just not at this time of the year. So, make sure you ask the inspector specifically about this and look for an experienced inspector when searching for termites in your house and it's something you really need to do once a year.
LESLIE: Yeah, and to keep those termites from making a meal out of your house, you want to protect it by keeping wood, like firewood, away from your foundation. And make sure you have those yearly inspections performed, preferably in the spring or the summer, so that those new termites can be treated before any new damage is done.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: We're going to take a call from Oregon with Debra who's dealing with a flooring issue in the bath. How can we help?
DEBRA: My bathroom had a problem. There was a leak and the particleboard flooring overlayment rotted away. So I'm attempting to do it myself. What I'd like to know is what type of overlayment should I be using and how thick?
TOM: I think you mean underlayment. (laughing)
DEBRA: OK, underlayment. Yeah, there's two ...
TOM: Hey, some people call it over. Some people call it under. (Debra chuckles) It's a floor one way or the other.
DEBRA: Yes, I'm ...
TOM: Is the leak under the toilet? Is that what happened?
DEBRA: Yes ...
DEBRA: ... and the wood rotted away and ...
TOM: Alright, so here's what you have to do. First of all, obviously you have to remove the toilet.
TOM: Secondly, you're going to - now, what kind of sink do you have in there? Is there a vanity that's going to be near the toilet?
TOM: Well, the best thing to do, believe it or not, would be to remove that as well because what has to happen, you have to cut out that rotted floor. And if you're going to - is this only one layer of subfloor here? Is it an older house? Do you have multiple layers? Because if you're going to cut through the floor joists you have to cut something wide enough where it goes beam to beam? Do you follow me on that?
DEBRA: Yes, I do. Matter of fact, someone did repair that portion of it.
DEBRA: So that part has been done ...
DEBRA: ... but now I'm going to do that other layer that's on top of it.
TOM: Do you have anything else that you have to match to it? Is it halfway there in some other part of the bathroom or has the entire floor been replaced?
DEBRA: Yes, just the part around the toilet, oh, there's been like a couple of feet - two feet, two-and-a-half feet - that ...
TOM: OK, well what you have to do here is you have to see what was there before because you have to match the thickness. There are different types of underlayment material. Sometimes there's plywood; like luan plywood. Sometimes there's wafer board.
TOM: OSB. So you need to figure out what was there before and match height. And then what kind of finish floor are you going to put in?
DEBRA: I'm going to put a linoleum down.
TOM: OK, that's one option. Another one that might be easier is laminate floor because laminate floor is going to be more forgiving of the unevenness of that repair job. And laminate floor can be installed pretty easily by yourself because all the pieces lock together. They all snap together today.
LESLIE: Yeah, if you go linoleum, because it's a sheet product it's going to sort of rest into areas where the floor, the underlayment is uneven and you're going to notice a lot of those dips and dives.
DEBRA: Yeah, I'm going to replace the entire thing because it was particleboard and the water spread out quite a bit.
LESLIE: I think that you'll find that laminate floor is the best way to go because it's a very sturdy floor. Plus it comes in just hundreds of different patterns. You can have one that has a pattern similar to a vinyl floor or you can go something that may represent a wood floor and it'll be permanent, it'll be moisture-proof and it'll look great.
DEBRA: OK. About the fixture, the toilet fixture. How do I get underneath that lip that's there? The height.
TOM: Underneath the lip that's there? Well, once you put the new subfloor in, then you're going to make sure you raise the pipe so that it's flush with the finished floor. And that's a plumbing project. And you'll use a new wax seal between the drain and the toilet.
DEBRA: OK. And it has to be flush?
TOM: Yes. Well, fairly close. If it's not flush you may have leaking issues.
DEBRA: Right. So that it would have to flush with ...
TOM: With whatever new floor is going to be there, right.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Patrick in California has a heating question. What can we help you with?
PATRICK: The question that I have is I live in [Hermosa Beach] (ph), California and - down by the beach - and I'm getting ready to put in a new bathroom and pull all the flooring out and I want to put in a heating system that's sub-tile.
PATRICK: And once all the tile's out I just have a wood surface. And my understanding is that the actual heating pad is somehow tacked onto the floor and then it's floated with like a thinset to keep it in place. Is that true?
TOM: Are you going to use the electric radiant heat panels?
PATRICK: Yes, sir. The electric radiant.
TOM: Or do you want to use the hot water system?
PATRICK: No, I just - number one, we don't have basements in Southern California, as you know.
PATRICK: And I just wouldn't have a space for it. And it's just this one small area. It's going to end up being about four foot by six foot total. So 24 square feet.
TOM: Alright, well then you can apply the radiant floor panels right to the subfloor ...
TOM: ... and then you could put a mortar bed on top of that. That's the best way to do that.
PATRICK: OK. One last question. When I ordered it they suggested I get a secondary alarm to tell if there's any breaks or any cuts or any kind of defects in the system. Would you recommend installing that or is that just a wasted dime having a secondary ...
TOM: Well, that sounds to me like a continuity tester ...
TOM: ... and you would test that before you put the mortar down. So after the mortar's down, if you have a break in the system, how does that help you?
LESLIE: Going to be hard to repair it.
TOM: Yeah, how does that help you? You'd end up tearing up the floor anyway.
PATRICK: Yeah, I guess you've got a point there. So it's really overdoing it then by putting that in there.
TOM: Sounds like it's good overkill. If you put it down before you put the mortar down and you test the continuity so you know there's no breaks in that ...
PATRICK: Right, right.
TOM: ... and everything's working fine then I think you just go with it from there.
PATRICK: OK. That's excellent. I'm glad I learned what I needed to know and I'm ready to go do it now.
TOM: Alright, Patrick. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Enjoy those warm feet.
Phil in Florida's got a problem in the bath. What's going on?
and I do have a garden (Tom laughs) ...
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.
PHIL: I do have a garden tub that's fiberglass and I was wondering what could I sue to bring the shine out. I've tried all kinds of products, you know, from Dow and Lysol and stuff like that and I was wondering if like a marine boat polish, if that would work.
TOM: Well, it certainly would work. Something else less dramatic, you may just want to approach the same way that you might polish a car. If you've got any fine scratches in those you could correct those with a rubbing compound, the same kinds of products that you use to get the scratches out of your car, and then you could polish the sides of the tub - but not the bottom, for obvious reasons - with car wax.
TOM: And if you do that on a regular basis that will certainly restore the shine. Now, a trip to the boat store, living down there in Florida, is not a bad idea because fiberglass boats have the same ...
LESLIE: Well, boats are fiberglass.
TOM: ... types of issues and you may be able to find a gel-coat product or something of that nature that would also restore that shine.
PHIL: Oh, super. Alright, well thank very much and I enjoy your show.
TOM: You're welcome, Phil. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dean in Utah is looking for some faster hot water. How can we help you?
DEAN: My master bedroom is far away from the water heater and so my wife turns it on and it takes, you know - in the morning it takes about five to ten minutes to get the hot water to it. And so I wondered if you have any idea or any solution to it.
TOM: Sure. The reason it takes that long is because of that physical distance. So if you were to cut that distance, say, in half it would take a lot less time.
DEAN: (chuckling) Right, right.
TOM: Now typically, you know, when we build domestic hot water systems, we have that one water heater in the house because the water heaters are so big. But because of the tankless water heater technology, today we can actually put multiple water heaters in a home and, hence, cut the distance that that water has to physically travel to get hot, especially for that first shower in the morning. So what you might want to think about looking into is installing a tankless water heater closer to the bedroom. They're very small. They can fit either in a closet or even outside the house, if it's a ranch; mounted to the exterior wall. If it's a two-story home it could hang up higher. They're direct-ventable so you don't need a chimney system for that. And that would actually cut the distance and deliver you an unlimited supply of hot water in a very convenient way.
DEAN: OK. And what's the price - I mean are they affordable?
TOM: Tankless water heaters are more expensive than tanked water heaters but they're much more efficient. A good website to go to, to check this out, is SmarterHotWater.com. That's the Rheem tankless water heaters and they are a sponsor of our show and they make a great product or we would not have them on the air. So why don't you check that out. It's a great place to start. SmarterHotWater.com.
LESLIE: Talking to Dean, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DEAN: Yeah. The reason I was calling is I have an 1,800-square-foot home and I have two corn stoves in it to heat it with and my humidity is right around 35 percent. Am I drying the air out too much in that house? Do I need to put a humidifier in?
TOM: Humidity is a comfort issue and if you're feeling comfortable, you're not waking up too dry, then I don't think you should worry about it.
DEAN: OK. Alright, I tell you what. Those - both they really heat the - they heat good.
TOM: Yeah, those corn stoves work great.
DEAN: Yeah, they do.
TOM: Very efficient.
DEAN: About seven bucks a day to heat the whole house.
TOM: It's like a space heater on steroids.
LESLIE: And you know what? Thirty-five percent, your relative indoor humidity is perfect because the EPA even recommends 30 to 50 percent. So you're good.
DEAN: Sounds good.
TOM: Alright, Dean. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and what are you working on? Do you have a home improvement project happening? Is your home improvement project a remodel or an addition? Hmm. How do I know the difference? Which one's easier to do than the other one? We are going to explain it all to you after this.
[audio timestamp: 22:47]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we help turn your pipe dreams into a brand new bathroom. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And I'm Leslie Segrete and we have got some tips for you and some information that's probably going to clear up a lot of this home improvement confusion that maybe you've been, you know, muddling around in your brain for some time.
TOM: The lingo.
LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. We've got a glossary of terms that we're going to go over with you now; specifically, what is the difference between an addition and a remodel. Alright, both a home addition and a home remodel, they begin with an existing structure. The difference is that a remodel is going to change the existing area of the structure. An addition literally adds additional space to the structure. To decide which best is going to suit your needs, your dreams, your home improvement project and budget, you want to check with local zoning laws to make sure that your project will not exceed those limits and then require a costly approval process. Make sure you do the research in advance before you start the project and then find you've got to take it all down.
TOM: You'll find that the zoning officials have no sense of humor when it comes to those errors. (chuckling)
LESLIE: (chuckling) 'I didn't know?'
TOM: Unlike us, so call us right now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Dennis in California needs some help installing an exhaust fan. Tell us about your project.
DENNIS: Well, I've got an idea to put an exhaust fan in the garage so that when I pull the car in in the summertime and the garage door opener, the light comes on and stays on for about whatever, 10 minutes or so - it seems like forever (Leslie chuckles) - instead of having that light on to have it power the fan so that ...
DENNIS: Well, because the heat from the car then (Tom chuckles), as you drive the car in after a trip would be exhausted - some of it would be exhausted out. We use it for our office.
LESLIE: You sit at your desk next to your car?
TOM: Ah. This is an unusual garage. (Leslie and Dennis chuckle) So you basically drive right to the office. Is that what you're saying, Dennis? (all chuckle)
LESLIE: Wait, do you actually get in your car, drive around the block and then pull back in just so you can be like, 'I'm here at work?'
DENNIS: Well no, but I've thought about that to heat the garage. (he and Leslie chuckle) Which I would disconnect the exhaust fan during the winter.
TOM: If you're running this fan it might help to cool the heat from the engine a bit quicker, but have you ever thought about simply pulling the car like up to the house and leaving it out of the garage for that 10 minutes? (Dennis laughs) That might be - probably make a bit more sense.
DENNIS: No, my wife, she has to get in and shut the door as quickly as possible.
TOM: Well, listen, when you get into the garage - and you should probably not shut the door immediately behind you because if the car's still running you're going to build up a bit of carbon monoxide there. But aside from those safety issues, that light is not designed to power a motor but I'm sure there's a timing circuit that you could put on that would do just that.
DENNIS: Exactly. Thank you.
TOM: You know, a motion sensor would probably do it as well; an oc sensor that activates - maybe positioned so it just hits the car and it turns on the fan for the 10 minutes and then goes off and that's that.
DENNIS: Huh. A what kind of sensor?
LESLIE: An occupancy.
TOM: It's called an oc sensor. An occupancy sensor. Have you ever gone into a bathroom ...
DENNIS: Oh, yeah. I see, yeah.
TOM: ... and then you walk in the door and the light comes on?
DENNIS: Oh yeah, right.
TOM: Yeah, an occupancy sensor. See? Didn't think of that, did you?
LESLIE: Instead of like you walking in the bathroom, it's your car going in the garage.
TOM: Plus, it's quirky and high-tech enough to fit right in with this home improvement scheme you've got. (Leslie and Dennis chuckle)
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Linda, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
LINDA: Yes, I have an odor with my laundry washing machine and for several weeks or maybe a month I've been having this foul odor after I do the laundry. And ...
TOM: Well, whose clothes are you washing?
LINDA: (chuckling) Very clean - fairly dirty clothes. (Tom chuckles) But this is an odor that is outside of the washing machine even and it lingers there unless I open the lid of the machine and let it air for overnight.
LINDA: And then it finally goes away. But I'm using a good detergent and well known and it's not a cheap detergent that would have something but it smells like - almost like fertilizer or something.
TOM: Where is your washing machine located? Is it in the basement of the house?
LINDA: No, no. No, it's on the first level of my house ...
LINDA: ... in a room just by the kitchen.
TOM: By itself?
LINDA: Yes, mm-hmm.
TOM: Typically, if you have a plumbing odor it's associated with the venting system. There's going to be a trap behind the washer where the water drains into.
TOM: And if there's something broken about that trap or if it's getting dry or if part of it is disconnected, you may be getting some sewage odor that's working its way up.
LESLIE: Which would exactly smell like fertilizer.
TOM: Yeah. That's probably the first place that I would check.
TOM: That's what typically causes it. The only other thing I'm thinking of here is if you have different types of seals and caulks and PVC sealants that get into the pipe and they can react with some types of detergents and cause an odor. I've actually seen that happen before but most likely it's a simple fix of identifying where the drainage issues are and why the trap is not working and how the sewer gases are getting in and that ought to solve it.
LINDA: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. That is the phone number. 888-666-3974.
Up next, let's talk dishwashers; especially if yours seems to be a dud lately. There's a simple repair that might get it working properly again. We'll tell you what it is, next.
[audio timestamp: 29:00]
[audio timestamp: 33:12]
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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: It's a great hour, it's a great idea. Call us right now with your home improvement project. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Call us to tell us about the job you started that just didn't work out quite as you planned. Call us if you're wondering if collecting power tools is a legitimate hobby (Leslie chuckles), but just call us at 888-MONEY-PIT because we'll give you the answer and a chance at winning this hour's prize which happens to be the Swann Digital Private Eye security system worth 199 bucks. It's this cool security camera that works on a motion detector and helps you keep an eye on your property even when you're not there. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. All calls to the program this hour will have their name tossed into that Money Pit hardhat and you might just win yourself that random prize from Swann Digital.
LESLIE: Yeah, and perhaps you're calling in today to ask us 'Why is my dishwasher just not doing its job lately?' You know, if you've got a dishwasher at home you are no doubt in love with this valuable, time-saving piece of machinery that you have in your house. And as soon as something goes wrong with it you suddenly realize, 'Oh, I've got to wash these all by hand again?' Well, if yours has been acting like a bit of a dud lately, many of today's dishwashers, they've got these self-cleaning filters. But some of the older dishwashers actually have filters that need to be periodically cleaned by you, the homeowner. If your dishwasher seems to have lost its shine, go ahead and check for a filter at the bottom of the unit itself. Go ahead and clean it or even replace it. It's an inexpensive item and it's going to restore your dishwasher's cleaning power at a fraction of the cost of a new appliance. We're talking dollars here to hundreds of dollars. All it takes is a little bit of time investment on your part but think of all that time you will save when that dishwasher gets back to doing its job properly.
TOM: Here's something else that is a great time investment on your part. Pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Vernon in Colorado, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
VERNON: Yeah, I live in a house that - it's 12, 15 years old. And it came with one of these plastic, molded garden tubs. And over the years, that thing has become more and more dingy looking ...
VERNON: ... and we just haven't found anything that seems like it will brighten it back up again. Do you have any suggestions for that?
TOM: Have you tried Bon Ami?
VERNON: Not that brand specifically.
TOM: You know, I've got a solid-surface sink in our home and that's the only thing that seems to pull the stains out of it. I mean I've tried bleach and other things like that. Bon Ami seems to work pretty well. I will say that plastic surface does deteriorate and it tends to discolor and some of that ...
LESLIE: Especially in the sun.
TOM: ... is a chemical reaction of the plastic. But if you give it a try, I would give that Bon Ami a shot and see if that does it for you.
VERNON: OK. Alright. Appreciate it.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Virginia in Texas is looking to get cozy by an electric fireplace. How can we help?
VIRGINIA: Well, I just wondered if I needed special wiring or do they have to tear out a wall or do they just sit in here?
TOM: Well, generally, the electric fireplaces are essentially an appliance that just gets plugged into your existing outlet structure. I will say, though, that some of the larger electric fireplaces have bigger burners on them. Some of them, you know, can deliver sort of like a space heater; you know, maybe 5,000 BTUs or something of that nature.
TOM: And in those cases, just like any large appliance, be it a space heater or a big vacuum cleaner, you may, in fact, plug it into an outlet that's pulling from other areas of the house and end up tripping circuit breakers or blowing fuses. But short of that, you should just be able to plug it in.
VIRGINIA: Oh, that sounds real good. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dennis in New Hampshire's got a question about a septic system. How can we help?
DENNIS: Hi. I've got a question about it. What I have is an older house with just a tank and no leach field and the septic seems to be draining off into a wet area of the yard - off in the corner of the yard - and draining into a brook area.
DENNIS: Are there any programs out there to help me pay to put a regular leach field in?
TOM: Geez, I don't know if there's any programs but that's definitely a very unsanitary situation. And you're definitely going to have to get that fixed because you basically are polluting the waterway by doing it that way. You know, with old houses you never know. Now, are you sure, in this case, that part of the system that's doing that is for the black water, as it's known; the actual sewage waste? Or is it possible that you have two waste pipes coming out of the house? Because what you're describing sounds more like a gray water discharge; where you have water that comes, say, from your laundry area or your sump pump where it's not actually contaminated with sewage. In that case it's not that unusual to see it drain over ground.
DENNIS: We do have two separate tanks but this - we had it inspected and they couldn't find a leach field and showed us the area where it was coming out.
TOM: Did they do a dye test where they flushed dye through the system and you saw it turn up in the brook?
TOM: Well, that would be the next thing to do. And if it's definitely connected that way it won't take very long for you to see that. A septic dye can be introduced at, say, the toilet inside the house. And you flush it and you run some water for maybe a half hour, say, through the tub or sink. And that water is going to turn green and you'll be able to go outside within 20 minutes and see green water in the brook if it's really doing that.
TOM: Now, once you identify the problem then you're going to have to get it fixed. If it is, in fact, leaching you're going to have to put a septic field in. You're going to have to have that engineered for your particular township. I'm afraid that I don't know of any programs that could help you pay for that but I can definitely tell you it has to get done.
DENNIS: OK, thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we deliver advice to do-it-yourselfers and direct-it-yourselfers and if that's you we've got some advice for you coming up on why you should be as involved as you can, down to choosing the actual materials for your project. We'll tell you how to do just that, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by - well, by us. Save hundreds a month on groceries, not to mention significant savings on home improvement products and services with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That's 866-REAL-HOME. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website is MoneyPit.com; home of the Money Pit free e-newsletter that comes out every Friday morning. And coming up in next week's edition, you've probably seen and coveted the top-of-the-line closet organization systems that you see in all these model homes and magazines. Well, now you can have an organized closet too that's very affordable as a do-it-yourself project. In our next edition, we're going to help you customize your closet. So sign up for our free e-newsletter now at MoneyPit.com and while you're there you can shoot us an e-mail question by clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got one hear from Julia in Rhode Island who writes: 'First, thank you. You would not believe how much we've learned and how much confidence we feel as first-time homeowners because of your show.' Well gee, thanks Julia.
TOM: That's very nice.
LESLIE: 'We have already applied your tips to our home improvement projects. For example, we learned from a recent newsletter that we should choose our own materials for a project. Well, we're hiring a contractor to build our deck. We want to go with pressure-treated lumber but we have no idea how to find the right kind of wood that is quality enough for longtime standing, especially in this New England weather. Please help.'
TOM: When it comes to a deck, Julia, there are different levels of pressure-treated lumber. The lumber that may be used in the soil is ground contact lumber and that's a big different sometimes than the pressure-treated lumber that's used up in the frame. Cost a bit ...
LESLIE: But those are like 4x4 posts and 6x6 posts.
TOM: Yeah, but that's generally - exactly. It's generally just a 4x4 or 6x6 if, in fact, you're going to have any lumber that's in contact with the ground. What I would recommend is you use pressure-treated lumber for the frame, but you might want to consider using a composite for the outside surfaces because, frankly, there's a lot more composition now in the composite business. The prices have come down and it really is a real attractive way to finish the outside of that deck. It's not going to warp. It's not going to twist. It's not going to lose color. And it's very easy to maintain.
TOM: In New England it gets kind of ...
LESLIE: Very damp.
TOM: Very damp and it's easy to wash it off and it's just a really good product to use on the outside surfaces. So use the structure ...
LESLIE: And there's also no refinishing.
TOM: Right. So use the pressure-treated for the structure but use the composite for the decking and the railing.
LESLIE: Now for the structure, for the framework itself, you're going to use 2x6s or 2x8s?
TOM: Well, that depends on the span. Now, in this case, Julia's hiring a contractor so obviously the pro will figure it out. But in most cases, the narrowest floor joist you might use is probably at least a 2x8. Two-by-ten to two-by-twelve is much more common and if you're in doubt use a bigger beam. It's not that much more expensive and you'll be sure to be safe.
LESLIE: Alright, Lyle in Holland, Michigan writes: 'What is the best way to update a family room with dark paneling and rough-sawn cedar beams?'
LESLIE: Yeah, totally. (Tom laughs) Paint it up and if you're not opposed to it, paint those beams. Go ahead and even paint them the same color as the ceiling if you just want a fresh new look. Otherwise, restain them; refinish them just to freshen it up. Add some new colors; new coats of paint. Just really brighten it up in there. Go with color. You can never go wrong. It's a cheap investment. If you don't like it you can do it again.
TOM: Soup to nuts and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we are available 24/7/365 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Also online at MoneyPit.com where you'll find the answer to virtually any home improvement question that you might have by searching, using our Project Finder button right there on the home page.
Hey, coming up next week on the program, have you always dreamed of your very own island?
TOM: Well, I'm talking about your kitchen island, so ...
LESLIE: Oh. Well that too.
TOM: Which is also, you know, a pretty cool place to be trapped.
LESLIE: Well, I dream of a kitchen big enough to hold an island.
TOM: Well, that's possible as well. (Leslie chuckles) Well, that's what we're going to talk about next week on the show. We'll cover all of those issues on The Money Pit. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don't have to do it alone.
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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.)