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 projects. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Because we are here to make your projects easier to do, more successful to do. We're going to save you some time, save you some money, teach you a few shortcuts. But give us a call and let us get going. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
We have a great hour in store for you. First up, we're going to talk a bit about roofs. Do you know how old your roof is? Perhaps you're not sure.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Hmm, I can guess.
TOM: You want to guess? Go ahead.
LESLIE: I think I can guess. In looking at mine, you know, there are things to look for. So if you've just bought a house and maybe you didn't get that info, you can guess by some of the things it will tell you. But I'm guessing mine's like eight years.
TOM: Yeah, and you know the thing is, Leslie, that it's getting harder to guess a roof by its appearance. Now, when I trained many, many years ago as a professional home inspector, I could hit a roof age within five years no problem; any time. But now the shingles - the formation of the shingles, the type of the material that's being used to ...
TOM: ... create them - it's not showing its age in the same way. So there are other subtle signs you have to look for. And the thing is, if you know what to look for, you can spot potential leaks before they become major problems. So we're going to talk about that this hour.
LESLIE: Yeah, and after you've been up on your roof or examining it from the ground, maybe you're in need of a nice, relaxing bath. And you know it's great to sit for a soak but, you know, sometimes it's hard for people to get in and out of the tub. So we're going to have some tips on how to make it easier and safer for you to maneuver in and out of your bathtub. So bathroom safety tips coming up.
TOM: And we've got a great prize to give away to one caller to 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It's a Solo 440 blower vacuum worth - ready for this? - $249.
LESLIE: Cool. Big money prize.
TOM: (overlapping voices) It is great for cleaning up leaves, debris, grass clipping (ph). You know, debris - what exactly is debris?
LESLIE: Mmm, anything smaller than a breadbox?
TOM: It's everything that's not a leaf or a grass clipping that's about your property. It will clean up debris and it's worth 249 bucks. We're going to give it away to one caller to 1-888-MONEY-PIT. To qualify, you must call us at 888-MONEY-PIT and be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Katrina in Virginia finds The Money Pit on WJFK and we've got a tile question. How can we help?
KATRINA: I have - the tile men are in and laying it down and I'm a big retro fan when it comes to tile - black and white - in the bathroom.
KATRINA: But I hate white grout. So, give me some pros and cons of sealing it. They say I can do it. They were going to do it and now they're just leaving the product with me and - to do it. Is it worthwhile; my time - taking the time and expense of sealing the tile?
TOM: Well, first of all, did you ask them about using epoxy grout, which is a lot more stain resistant?
KATRINA: No, I didn't.
TOM: Well, that's one thing to bring up. Now, in terms of actually sealing it, it's a pretty easy job so you certainly could do it yourself.
LESLIE: Yeah, and is the reason why you hate the white grout is because you don't like the white in contrast with your tile colors or it gets dirty?
KATRINA: It gets dirty. I love white grout and I love black and white tiles.
LESLIE: But you definitely, definitely want to seal it because if you don't seal it it's just going to suck up all that dirt almost immediately. If you do seal it you're putting that barrier on there.
TOM: And it's never going to be easier to seal it than it is right now. I would be doing like multiple coats of sealant because it's never going to be cleaner than it is when it first goes down.
KATRINA: Oh, so multiple coats of sealant ...
KATRINA: ... and epoxy grout. OK, good ...
TOM: Well, no, if you do epoxy grout then you don't need to use sealant. The sealant's only for the sand grout.
TOM: OK? But if you're using traditional sand grout then you're going to use multiple coats of sealant. And do it right away. And that's going to give you the best leg up on keeping the grout clean.
KATRINA: Excellent. Good. OK, great advice. Thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Barbara in Indiana has some unwanted visitors at her money pit. What's going on?
BARBARA: My children have these little Amish log homes that they've put on their property in Brown County.
BARBARA: And they're in the woods and they're constantly being bothered by squirrels chewing on, actually eating the wood. (Leslie chuckles) And also these, I think they call them carpenter bees.
LESLIE: Oh, do they have those perfectly bored 3/8-inch holes?
BARBARA: Yes, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, they're very industrious little fellas.
LESLIE: And they work so quickly. It's amazing.
BARBARA: It is. And it's so perfect. But we were wondering - we've tried some home remedies that different people have told us. Now these are brand new little log homes like the Amish build.
TOM: Right, mm-hmm.
BARBARA: And they still, they just move to another spot.
TOM: Yeah, they - well, they will unless you treat for them. There are different treatments you can use for carpenter bees. What the carpenter bees are doing, by the way, is they'll drill up into the log and then they'll sort of turn 90 degrees and go with the grain and they'll nest in there and then they'll exit out of it. And you're right; they work very quickly. And as Leslie mentioned, the holes are almost always ...
LESLIE: They're perfect.
TOM: ... a perfect 3/8-inch in diameter hole; depending on, of course, whether you've got a chubby bee or not. But yeah, they make these holes quite quickly. And they are pretty annoying. Now, the one thing about carpenter bees that most people don't know is that they don't sting. And so, even though they'll sort of fly at you and around you and try to intimidate you, they don't sting. So now we're just talking about how to stop them from drilling holes in your wood.
BARBARA: Right, right.
TOM: And there are a couple of things that you can do but they're all professionally applied pesticides. There is Sevin, there's Dursban, there's Permethrin; types of pesticides that have to be applied by specialists ...
TOM: ... that are trained and certified to do that. But if you apply them properly they're not going to come back. The other thing that we did here is whenever the bees do leave you want to make sure you fill up those holes.
BARBARA: OK, sure.
TOM: Because that does help prevent them. They will re-infest the very same holes.
BARBARA: Oh, OK. Sure. And what about the squirrels? Would the same treatment from the professional keep the squirrels - I think ...
TOM: Squirrels are a little bit different and, you know, usually with squirrels, you need to use more humane methods like Havahart traps and things like that where you trap them and then move them - try to move them out of the area and encourage them to chew on perhaps a dead log as opposed to the one that you happen to build your house with.
BARBARA: Oh, yes. Yes, I agree. Well that sounds like it would be a good thing to do then to call a professional in.
TOM: Absolutely. That's going to - you know, sometimes people try to do sort of do-it-yourself pesticides ...
LESLIE: But you can't get the chemicals that the pros can get and they can apply them in a safe manner as well.
TOM: Exactly. You end up putting on too much of the wrong stuff and that's more dangerous than getting a professional in that knows exactly what to put; he knows where to put it. It's done once, it's done right and you don't have to deal with it again.
Barbara, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Are you looking for some help with your summer renovation? Well we can guide you to an amazing project. All you have to do is call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whenever you're working on it or whenever you're dreaming of it we can help at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it's probably been years since you've been on an obstacle; you know, where you jumped and climbed over barriers just for fun.
LESLIE: Oh, but they were fun.
TOM: I call it going to the gym. But (Tom and Leslie chuckle) if you like to take baths, you might be undertaking a bit of an obstacle course in your own home. We're going to give you some tips on how to make your bathroom experience safer, next.
[audio timestamp: 8:22]
[audio timestamp: 12:00]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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.
Hey, if you call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT not only are we going to answer your question but if we answer your question on the air and we enter your name into the Money Pit hardhat - which we do for everybody who gets their question on the air - you have the chance of winning a Solo 440 portable blower vac. It is worth almost $250. This is a huge prize.
TOM: This is a big one for us.
LESLIE: It really is. But it's lightweight and it's really powerful and it's perfect for all that yard work you're going to be doing this summer. But you've got to be in it to win it. It's like the lottery, folks. 888-MONEY-PIT..
OK, before the break we were talking about baths. They can be a very relaxing experience once you actually get in the tub. And sometimes that's the hardest part. Think about it. You have to step over a high tub while you try as hard as you can to keep your balance. Then you have to lower your into the tub using your arms. You do all of this on a wet and slippery surface. It is a bit of a challenge if you think of it that way. (Leslie chuckles) Now, if ...
LESLIE: It's like when you break it down like that you're like, 'Wow, I can't believe we're all not slipping and falling every five minutes.' (chuckling)
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, I can't believe I do that everyday. (chuckling) Well, if you're a parent bathing a small child, the bathtub fitness test is just as hard. It's not easy to bend over or kneel down while you're trying to catch a slipper toddler who wants to swim and squirm like a fish.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And they're always trying to get out of the tub so quickly and it's really just a dangerous situation for everybody. Well, here's the good news.
If you're thinking about a bath remodel or you're looking for something that's a little bit more comfortable to get in and out of; basically, if it's time for a new tub you want to look for one that has a ledge or something that's called a transfer bench built right into the side of the tub. It helps you get in and out of the tub safely because you're sitting on this ledge and then you sort of swing your legs into the tub and then you can use those grab bars and rails to lower yourself safely into the water. And the ledge also gives those young parents a place to sit while they're bathing that slippery, squirmy youngster who just wants out of the water.
And the best thing about these really nice, new tubs is that they look like they belong in a model home and not a nursing home. So it makes you feel good about making a smart choice.
TOM: For more bathtub tips you can visit the website for AARP at AARP.org/HomeDesign. That's AARP.org/HomeDesign. Or call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Robert in Massachusetts is tuned in on WPRO. What's happening at your house?
ROBERT: Well, I just got a subfloor not too long ago. It's a half-inch. It's called ThermalDry plastic. It's a half-inch thickness ...
ROBERT: ... and it has - it's tongue-and-groove installation. And underneath the top part of the plastic it's sort of got grooves under that so that - it's 100 percent guarantee against moisture and any rain water, et cetera.
My question is, since it's that hard plastic that does prevent the mold and mildew, et cetera, can that be painted over? Like for example, Glidden Gripper as a primary base and then something over that. Do you know anything about that?
TOM: Well, if it's a subfloor, why would you want to paint it? Aren't you putting a finished floor over this?
ROBERT: Well, no, it's a subfloor. Like I said, it's the one-foot square tiles and - it's sort of gray-colored. But I was just thinking rather than putting like a rug over it or anything like that there would be 100 percent certainty that I would know if there were any rainwater in the future by just painting the plastic tiles.
TOM: Bob, I think what you're talking about is not a subfloor in the traditional sense. Generally, when we talk about subfloors we're thinking sort of a wood subfloor that goes right above the floor joist. I think what you're talking about is one of these basement tiling systems where you have plastic tiles that sit up off of a concrete floor giving you a little bit of a space between the concrete floor and whatever finished floor you're going to put on top of it. Now ...
LESLIE: It's like a vapor barrier but not like a rolled format.
TOM: Now what you want to do is be able to monitor this to see if you have any continued moisture problems. What I would tell you to do is to live with it in its raw state until you're satisfied you've licked the moisture problems for good and then put another finished floor on top of that. I would not recommend a carpet because even though these tiles are - you're able to put cover over it, carpet's a really bad idea in a basement. I would suggest that you look into a laminate floor or perhaps, Leslie, even an engineered hardwood floor.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And engineered hardwoods are a great choice because they're sort of built in the same way as plywood is. It's opposing layers of grain pattern with a topcoat veneer of the actual wood that you would choose. So they're meant to be structurally stable in a high-moisture environment like the basement, kitchens, baths. I mean rugs in the basement, if you do have a problem you've got a big problem because now you've got to fix it and get rid of that yucky carpet.
I wouldn't paint these only because, you know, they're plastic; they're on the floor. Even if you use the best primer and like those great plastic spray paints or plastic paints, it might still wear and tear and scratch off. And the gray is actually quite attractive.
ROBERT: Thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome, Robert. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Listening in on KKBJ from Minnesota we've got Elizabeth. What can we do for you today at The Money Pit?
ELIZABETH: Yes, I have three main problems with some all-vinyl windows ...
ELIZABETH: ... in my home that was built in 1996.
ELIZABETH: The window - two of them - bulge and you can see them from the outside; like the window is about to pop out.
ELIZABETH: And then the balance came out of one of my windows. We had to pull it completely out because the window started jamming and wouldn't shut.
ELIZABETH: And you'd often have to push it in at the very bottom; almost like it had a too-big old stomach or something. You'd have to push it in to get it to go all the way down in order to lock it. Now those are single-hung windows. And then in the basement we have sliders and dust and dirt accumulates right on the window sill and we're trying to figure out, you know, where all the dust comes from.
TOM: Alright, let's talk about the upstairs windows first. Elizabeth, this is a home that you own?
TOM: OK. So the windows you guys put in during your tenure here or they were here when you bought the house or what?
ELIZABETH: They were already in. When we bought the house it was about a year old.
TOM: 1996 vinyl clad windows is probably - they're probably sort of what we call first-generation vinyl. Before that most of the windows were metal. The windows were usually aluminum thermal pane windows and they were kind of junky, too. And now the first-generation vinyls came out. So you're really looking at 12-year-old vinyl windows here and it sounds, clearly, like you have a lot of wear and tear in the infrastructure for those windows; the springs and the balances that make them work.
The thing that's throwing me is you're talking about this bulging. And I'm just wondering whether or not there's any structural issues associated with this; whether there's additional pressure on the window that shouldn't be there that's causing ...
LESLIE: As if maybe a header is broken down or ...
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. The bulge is - can you just sort of describe that? Is the window bulging in the middle like there's too much pressure from the top?
ELIZABETH: Yes, you can see it from the outside.
TOM: Then I would have a professional home inspector or a licensed engineer take a look at this just to make sure that you don't have a structural issue going on above it. If it's just the window itself that's breaking down then that's not as big of a problem. Replacement windows today you can buy for as little as, you know, maybe $300 on up. So it doesn't have to be terrible expensive. But I think that you're going to have a very difficult time finding replacement parts. I mean certainly it would be nice if you could just hop down to the hardware store or home center and buy new balances for these windows. But there's just so many, you know, hundreds of different models of vinyl replacement windows. It's almost impossible to find parts to rebuild them and you end up replacing them rather than rebuilding them.
ELIZABETH: We have the name of the person - the manufacturer that put these windows in.
TOM: Well, that's a good thing. Now have you talked to those folks about maybe some repair work? Because that sounds like what you need.
ELIZABETH: Yes. They're planning on coming out to look ...
TOM: Well, I think that's probably the best solution. Because you know, if you can - if you're lucky enough to know the exact manufacturer, maybe the parts are available. The trouble is that usually when you buy into a house it's already got the windows up; you don't know who that is. And in the replacement window business there is - there are as many manufacturers as there are window contractors out there and sometimes it's hard to nail it down. So I think you're on the right track, Elizabeth. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Deirdre in Maryland, welcome to The Money Pit.
DEIRDRE: Hi. I have a question. We have a house built in 1955.
DEIRDRE: And it has cracks in the walls and in the ceiling. But I was wondering, could I use dry - the drywall tape to fix the crack in the ceiling?
LESLIE: Well, where is it?
DEIRDRE: It's a long, straight line. But it looks like (INAUDIBLE) separating.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) So it seems like almost like a - mm-hmm, like a seam between two pieces of drywall. It's not like a water crack or some sort of interesting leak thing happening.
DEIRDRE: Yeah, it's not a leak because there's no markings.
TOM: Well, in 1955 the house may, in fact, be plaster lath, which means you had what was sort of the precursor to drywall which were smaller pieces of drywall that are about two feet by four feet covered with plaster, which gives you a really hard surface. But it does crack because there's really no way for it to expand and contract. And ...
TOM: And Deirdre, certainly you can use a drywall tape with that. We would recommend a perforated drywall tape. It kind of looks like netting. It's a fiberglass material. It looks like netting; comes on a roll. It's easier to use because it sticks to the crack and then on top of that you're going to put multiple layers of spackling compound to cover it. And the tape will help sort of spread the - it will seal the spackle across the crack and not let it come through again. And the trick here is to start with a small spackle knife of about four inches. And then you want to do the next one with a six-inch spackle knife and then maybe finish it with an eight-inch or more spackle knife.
TOM: And you can buy, in the home centers today, throw-away spackle knives that are made of plastic that are very inexpensive. So it's not like you have to buy some expensive tools to do this. But that would be the way to build it up. Sand in between each coat; then prime it; then paint it and that ought to cover the cracks up.
ELIZABETH: Oh, OK. Great. Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Deirdre. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned into The Money Pit.
Hey, if you give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or maybe you're feeling kind of shy and Tom's a little scary on the phone (Tom chuckles) - I know, I know - but if you really want to ask your question but you just don't want to pick up the phone you can e-mail us your question. The address is HelpMe@MoneyPit.com. We may even answer your e-mail on the air.
Stick around. We've got more great home improvement information.
[audio timestamp: 22:47]
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, making good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Reach out and touch the experts. (Leslie chuckles) Well, don't touch us but sort of touch your telephone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We've got that great blower that we're giving away from Solo; the Solo 440 worth 249 bucks if we pick your name out of the Money Pit hardhat. That's 888-666-3974.
OK. Let us now talk about water heaters and broken pipes. You know, if you break a pipe or if you break your water heater, you are going to send a flood of water throughout your home. And if that happened would you be able to quickly locate the main water valve? It is amazing how many of us have no idea where the main water valve is. You couldn't find the main water valve if you had a week to look for it. (Leslie chuckles) Imagine if there was a broken pipe ...
LESLIE: Imagine if it's an emergency and you're running around like a crazy person trying to stop that water.
TOM: What a tizzy you would be in. So here's the tip, folks. Everybody in the family should know where the main water valve is and how to turn it off in an emergency, which is why, in our next Money Pit e-newsletter we're going to give you the tips to find it and use it. And did you know, Leslie, that main water valves need to be exercised?
TOM: Sort of main water valve calisthenics? Yes.
LESLIE: Like once a year; twice a year?
TOM: Well, you know, sign up for The Money Pit e-newsletter because we're going to talk about it in the next edition. Comes free to your Money Pit inbox; to your Money Pit - to your e-mail inbox, I should say, every Friday morning. So sign up at MoneyPit.com.
Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Winona in Maryland, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
WINONA: I just got a new deck put on my home.
WINONA: And I want to know how to finish it.
LESLIE: OK. What material did you make it out of?
WINONA: It's wood.
LESLIE: Is it pressure-treated? Is it cedar? Is it ...
WINONA: It's pressure-treated.
LESLIE: It's pressure-treated. OK, generally what you want to do with pressure-treated lumber is you want to leave it raw for a year so that it has time to cure before you put anything on top of it. If you decide that you can't wait and you've got to do it and you've got to have it now, there is a product from a company called Flood and it's called DEKSWOOD and it removes that mill glaze that's on fresh lumber.
LESLIE: And if you clean the deck with the Flood product - the DEKSWOOD - I think you have to wait six to eight weeks and then you can finish it; which is a heck of a lot better than waiting a year.
WINONA: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: But it's really up to you. It depends on what your level of patience is. And when you're ready to finish the deck you want to make sure you do it on a dry, not humid day at all. Then you want to make sure you give it a good cleaning at first. Let it dry again. And then you can finish it in any way you like. There are semi-transparent stains that allow you to put a color on there while still seeing the grain. And because your deck is so new you don't want to cover it up with a solid stain because that's sort of like a last resort when it's really got a lot of wear and tear. Or you can just go with like a natural sealant that's in a natural wood toner; even something clear. You have to decide if you want to see, you know, a lot of a natural wood presence or if you want to bring some color into there while still seeing the graining. Both are great options; it just depends on your d