Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 1:00]
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call that number for the answer to your home improvement question, the solution to your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are standing by to help you tackle all those chores that you'd like to get done around your house this day, tomorrow, the next day. You want to plan for some future improvements? Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You feel like you've made some mistakes? We've made every mistake in the book. (laughing) And we're here to tell you how not to do what we do. So call us right now. 1-888-666-3974. Log on to our website to look up lots of good home improvement projects at MoneyPit.com.
Well, if you listen to us regularly, you know that you can sick in your own home just by breathing air contaminated with potentially deadly mold spores.
LESLIE: Yeah, and as a homeowner, if this is happening in your own space, you can easily address this problem. But what if it's in your office or in your school and that's causing a problem, causing you to have chronic cold symptoms and even asthma? So, this hour, we're going to have mold expert and author, Jeff May, who's going to give us some advice on how to keep your home safe.
TOM: Also this hour, a great do-it-yourself project just got a lot easier and you could win everything you need to make it happen. We're giving away a Quick Clips crown moulding kit worth 250 bucks.
Now, Leslie, I'm sure you've put on crown moulding and you know how incredibly difficult it is.
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. Upside down, facing you, opposite angle.
TOM: (overlapping voices) That is like, oh. Right, but I mean it's a nice project that really changes the look of the room. But it's just really hard carpentry to do. These guys have figured out a way to make it real easy and they've given us a kit worth 250 bucks, which should be enough crown moulding to do any nice room in your house; your dining room, your living room, whatever. We're going to give this kit away to one caller this hour. To qualify, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask that question. And if we pick you from today's callers, you could be on your way to creating a professional looking finish in any new room.
So Leslie, let's get right to the phones. 888-666-3974. Who's first?
LESLIE: Jack in Florida finds The Money Pit on WCOA. And you have a deck situation. What's happening?
JACK: My deck is sick.
LESLIE: Your deck is sick.
TOM: Your deck is sick?
LESLIE: Is it coughing, allergies?
JACK: (laughing) I walk out on my deck and it's like walking across the Rocky Mountain range or something like that. I've got loose ends sticking up. There's uneven ... the boards are uneven. The top of the deck is slanted. In general, lately, it just looks like a very haphazard, pieced together ... something that I would build (laughing) as a matter of fact.
TOM: (laughing) OK.
LESLIE: Now, did it always look like this or has it just grown to look like this over time?
JACK: Since we bought the house, it's just gotten worse every year.
TOM: Well, Jack, you might be a candidate for a total deck makeover. It's possible, if the understructure of this deck is in solid condition, that what you could do is remove the railing and the decking boards itself and then replace just those parts with composites, like Trex or something of that nature or Veranda decking, which is at The Home Depot. And this way, you're preserving the structure. As long as the structure is intact - and by that, I mean, you know, it's ... first of all, it would be pressure-treated lumber, it would be securely attached to the building and it's well-supported. Then what you could do is use that structure but just replace the surfaces that you're touching and walking on and get a very, very nice finish that way.
To try to refinish the deck that's this deteriorated, sure, you could repair the rotted boards, you could flip them over, you know, you could power wash the deck and try to put some new finish on it or something like that. But if it's that deteriorated, you might be a candidate for a deck makeover.
LESLIE: Well, and also, the composite decking materials - number one, they look fantastic. But number two, they're so strong and durable. My husband and I were in the Cayman Islands a few years ago and hurricane Charlie came through. And there were two decks - one was at our hotel, one was at the hotel next door - and our hotel had a traditional wood deck - it was gorgeous. The one next door had a composite deck. Woke up the next day, in complete disarray of the hurricane, the wood deck - gone. The composite one - standing there beautiful; people were standing on it admiring it. So in your neck of the woods, you might think about that anyway.
TOM: OK, Jack.
JACK: That's ... is ... now is the Trex or the composite wood, how does that ... let's see, I think you said Trex or ...
TOM: Or Veranda.
LESLIE: Or Veranda.
JACK: Veranda, yeah, decking. I can get it at Home Depot.
LESLIE: At The Home Depot, sometimes you can only find the gray color, which actually ages quite pretty; it stays a really nice gray. But it also comes in a variety of ones that look like exotic woods in different colors. And that can either be special ordered or you might be able to find a distributor in your area online.
JACK: How's that cost going to be when I compare it to just pressurized wood?
TOM: It's going to be more. But the advantage here is that you're not going to be replacing it, you're not going to be maintaining it.
TOM: It'll be about 50 percent more expensive than pressure-treated lumber.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) There's no painting it, re-sanding it, re-staining it. It's done.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Worth it.
LESLIE: Once it's done, it's done.
TOM: And remember, you don't replace the structural parts of it; just the surfaces with that.
LESLIE: And you don't have to worry about splinters anymore.
JACK: That's ... that was the biggest thing because I've really gotten to the point where I'm afraid to walk out there because of actually getting splinters in my feet.
TOM: Yeah. I think pressure ... I think the pressure-treated lumber has seen better days. And definitely, the composites are the way to go. OK, Jack?
JACK: Well, thank you very much for your ...
TOM: You're welcome.
888-666-3974. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Call us right now with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Alright. Our next caller downloads The Money Pit on her podcast to her iPod. And if you're not a Money Pit subscriber or a listener on your podcast, you can do so by sync and go at MoneyPit.com like Jeanette does in Pennsylvania. What can we do for you?
JEANETTE: Hi, yes. I have a question. I currently had switched from oil to gas heat. And when I got the gas put in, they told me that the oil company would just come out and pump out the old oil for me.
JEANETTE: However, they're ... they ... I called several oil companies and nobody will pump out the oil for me. So, now I have oil just sitting in my basement and I'm hoping to try and figure out how to get rid of it.
TOM: So the oil tank is in the basement?
TOM: Hmm. Well what ...
JEANETTE: It's above ground, though.
TOM: I understand. What you're going to have to do is you're going to have to call a tank remediation company. There are companies out there that specialize in removing oil tanks.
TOM: And that service includes removing ... you know, pulling the old oil out of the tank and then, of course, in your case, cutting that tank apart and getting it out of your house. The oil dealers themselves really can't take the oil back because it would be, technically, contaminated and probably illegal for them to do that. So the oil dealers are not the right contractor to call. You want to call an oil tank remediation contractor. And there's lot of those guys around and they work generally with abandoned underground storage tanks. But in your case, they clearly could remove the oil from an existing tank.
JEANETTE: OK, great. Thanks. That really helps.
TOM: You're welcome, Jeanette. And thanks for downloading the podcast at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Lea in California's up next, from Santa Rosa. And you're looking for a vacuum recommendation. What are you trying to clean?
LEA: What am I trying to clean?
LESLIE: Yeah. Everything.
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah.
LEA: (laughing) Yeah, my floors, my upholstery. And I went to my ... the guy that fixes my vacuum - which has broken twice now (chuckling) - and he ... I asked him what to look for so I could get a good vacuum. And he said it didn't really matter. (laughing)
TOM: It doesn't matter.
LEA: Yeah, he said, 'It doesn't really matter.' I said, 'Well, what about the horsepower or should I get one with a bag or without a bag' and you know, all this stuff. And he said, you know ... I said, 'What's the best suction?' and he said, 'Well, it doesn't really matter. Horsepower just means it's going to have a little more power ...'
TOM: He's just upset because you're going to buy a better vacuum and you won't need him anymore.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And not bring it in.
LEA: (laughing) I won't need him. Yeah.
TOM: There's a new vacuum that we're using in the studio now which we really like. It's called Vax - V-a-x. And it's nice because it has a retractable cord; it's got an integrated hand wand ... like a wand handle, so you don't have to have an extra part around; and it's got a dirt cup so it's very easy to empty. And it's a lot stronger than some of the comparable vacuums. So, that's just one that's brand new that we've had some good luck with. Their website is VaxUSA.com. V-a-x-USA.com.
LESLIE: Yeah, and I prefer the bagless ones only because it's really easy to empty quite quickly. Also, sometimes you have a really hard time finding the replacement bags. And if you don't have the exact right one, it's not going to work. And also, you want to think about HEPA filters and that makes sure that as you're vacuuming up the dust, the air that's coming back out of the vacuum is not recirculating any of that dust back into the air. But it's really important.
On my vacuum, I didn't realize every six months I'm supposed to pop that filter out and clean it out. And I probably had the vacuum about a year and one day, it just wasn't working anymore. So I started fussing with it and taking it apart. And as soon as I rinsed out that filter and let it dry - and that's easy; you just wash it out in the sink and dry it out - and it works fantastic again. So, always look for a HEPA filter; it's very helpful.
LEA: Oh, OK. So ... because you can use it over and over.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, same one. It's like a sponge.
LEA: (overlapping voices) Yeah, because that's one of the things I was told. That ... you know, not to get a bagless because the filters break and then you ... it's really expensive to replace.
LESLIE: It's just about making sure they're clean.
TOM: But Lea, don't forget to send your poor vacuum cleaner repairman, who will now be lonely, a card, maybe, at the holidays. OK? (laughing)
Lea, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
So Leslie, I know that you have a home office and you know, of course, that I have a home office. The one challenge I have - especially in my house, with a big house full of kids - is dealing with the noise when you're trying to get something done. There's a certain level of sort of interior noise pollution (laughing) that anybody that works at home has to constantly deal with.
LESLIE: Yeah, and overcome to make sure you get everything done successfully and on time. So if you want some tips on how to control your home noise pollution, we'll tell you, next.
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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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website is MoneyPit.com, your source for great do-it-yourself or direct-it-yourself information.
Well, home architecture is definitely a reflection of how busy we are and that's good. But with the more rooms in the house for more activities, noise has definitely become an issue; especially if you're working at home. Because today's houses just aren't designed to muffle sound. But you can do something about that.
LESLIE: Yeah, one thing that you can do is during the construction phase of your home, or if you're doing a remodel, you can use bat or blanket insulation between the studs or joists and that'll help muffle the sound.
TOM: And that's including interior walls, which you would not be doing it for an insulation purpose but for a sound purpose.
LESLIE: Yeah and it probably helps a great deal. And if you're thinking about doing any sort of renovation work, definitely add it; especially if you're facing those issues. And major insulation manufacturers make thick, fiberglass or rock wool bats and they're specifically made for this purpose. And consider replacing core doors. One of the best ways to minimize room-to-room noise is to install solid doors. It makes a huge difference and they look great.
TOM: Great tip. And if you want to make your room look really great, call us right now because we're giving away a Quick Clips Crown Moulding kit. It's worth 250 bucks. This helps you put up crown moulding in a snap. It'll make you a pro. It'll make your room look good. And if you call right now to 1-888-MONEY-PIT - 888-666-3974 - you could win. Quick Clips is a mitre-free system that allows you to snap mouldings into place. If you want to check this out online, you can go to their website at FocalPointProducts.com. But call us right now if you want a shot at winning it. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright, Leslie's up next. Not me. Someone from Pittsburgh who listens to The Money Pit on WAMO. What can we do for you?
LESLIE FROM PITTSBURGH: Hi. I ...
LESLIE: Great name, by the way.
LESLIE FROM PITTSBURGH: Yeah, I like your name. (laughing) I had some questions ... a question about putting in sod. I recently put in a small, 90-gallon pond in my backyard and the area around it is just bald. And the ground's kind of hard. So I was looking for the best way to like - when I put the sod in - how to kind of even that out with the rest so that it runs even with the rest of the yard where there is grass.
TOM: Well, Leslie, it sounds to me like there's a couple of things you have to do. First of all, if the soil is really packed down like that, you're really going to have to break it up and loosen it up a bit. Because, when you put sod in, you want it to be able to knit; you know; to kind of grab into that dirt. So you're definitely going to want to loosen up the packed soil. The second thing is if you have areas that you're trying to level out, you should do that, of course, at that time. You might want to use fill dirt if you need a lot of dirt and then cover that with topsoil.
Now, regardless of the time of year that you plant the sod, you need to spread a fertilizer over the soil ...
TOM: ... and you need to follow the manufacturer's instructions to make sure you get the application right. That's really important you give it something to do.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And don't just apply it. Make sure you retill the earth again, so that it's really getting into the ground.
LESLIE IN PITTSBURGH: OK, OK.
TOM: Yep. And then, the bottom line is put the sod down and water it, water it, water it. You've got to keep that stuff watered while it's ... while it's growing. The first two months is really critical.
LESLIE IN PITTSBURGH: First couple ... only takes about two months to ... for it to take?
TOM: Well, to really start to knit. Yeah.
LESLIE IN PITTSBURGH: OK. Alright, great.
LESLIE IN PITTSBURGH: Thanks. That's kind of what I was (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: Well, you're very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joseph in Virginia's a WJFK listener. And you've got a flooring question. How can we help?
JOSEPH: Hi. My home ... an addition was built back in about 1979 by the previous owner. I guess they were trying to save money. They put down some kind of particleboard. Then they put vinyl ... self-adhesive vinyl tiles over the particleboard. Over the past few years from our girl (ph) mopping the floor, the water has seeped down under the particleboard, made it expand. My question is I really don't want to tear this floor out. It's a 30 by 15 foot room ...
JOSEPH: ... and it's a functioning office. It was a living room for the previous owner but it's a functioning office. I wanted to know if you thought maybe I could go over it with like marine plywood and screw it down with maybe like screw nails and then put another flooring over it. Or am I working on something unstable and I'm going to be really sorry in the long run if I do that?
TOM: Well, how swollen is it? Is it just a little bit swollen? Is mostly the ... is mostly the problem that tiles are popping off?
JOSEPH: It's only a little bit swollen ...
JOSEPH: ... and it's particleboard underneath that's swollen.
TOM: I understand. So here's what I think you should do, Joseph. I think you should think about installing a laminate flooring. Because I don't think you're going to have to put another layer of plywood. You could, if you wanted to put, say, some quarter-inch luan under it. But if it's not like deformed in any way, you could put underlayment down for a laminate floor - which is sort of like a soft foam or sometimes a laminate floor is actually backed with its own underlayment. And then the floor tiles themselves, or the flooring strips - depending on what time you ... type you choose - actually lock together. So they make a very strong floor when it's all done and all installed properly.
LESLIE: And they're structurally stable ...
LESLIE: ... so that it fits in a moist condition or the way you're cleaning or whatever it is that's in there that might compromise the integrity of the flooring. It's not going to affect it any way because it's a manufactured flooring. It's actually a plastic product that's made to look like whatever it is you want.
JOSEPH: OK. I'm going to go ahead and do that and I'll send you an email in a couple of weeks and I'll tell you how it went.
LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with it.
TOM: Joseph, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sue in Florida's up next and you want to talk tankless water heaters, which Tom and I love. So what's your question?
SUE: Well, hi and thank you for taking my call. I'm a condo dweller and ...
SUE: ... and the tank that is in my house has been there ever since the condo was built, like 25 years ago. So I know it's time to start thinking about replacing it.
LESLIE: It's overdue.
SUE: Yes. And I'm happy about that. And everybody's talking about this but I don't know anyone personally that has a tankless hot water heater. And so I went to my local home repair place and found out that you can buy it but no one is interested in installing it there. And I'm thinking, geez, maybe this is, you know, something that isn't really a practical thing. I don't know what the upsides of the ... you know, everyone says, 'Oh, it's going to save you a lot of energy and ...' You know, do you have an opinion about that?
TOM: Well, we do. We like tankless water heaters. And it's unfortunate you haven't found a referral to somebody that can install them.
TOM: But rest assured ...
SUE: Oh, yeah, I'm sure that I can find somebody.
SUE: But you know what I mean, they don't install them where they sell them.
TOM: No. No, I do think that they're ... they're a very good piece of equipment. You know, the way it works is it basically heats the amount of water that you need on demand. And that gives you a lot of advantages. A usual ... a typical water heater is pretty dumb because it basically heats the water to where the thermostat's set and keeps it heated, even if you're not using it.
LESLIE: Well, all day long ...
LESLIE: ... when you're not even wanting it.
TOM: Yeah. Tankless water heaters are much smarter in that they only heat the amount of water that you need and when you need it. And that's what makes them so much more efficient. Now, they are more expensive, but they do last longer and they also take up a lot less space.
So, I think that tankless water heaters are a grand idea and I think it's definitely something you should consider.
SUE: Well, do you think that the initial cost of installing it is, you know, worthwhile in the long run? How long do you think that one would last?
TOM: I think that one is going to last a good 15 or 20 years.
TOM: Now, the cost benefit question really gets into how long you're going to live in that condominium. You have to measure against the ... the savings against how long you actually have it. But generally speaking, it's a very smart thing to do. They're also, by the way, Energy Star rated and you might be able to even qualify for an energy tax credit by buying one now.
SUE: Well, that sounds good. I'll do a little more investigating.
TOM: Alright, Sue.
SUE: Thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Now, that's a good example of somebody that heard about something that seemed like it makes sense and needs to check it with us. And we're happy to share what we know.
LESLIE: Yeah, and they're fantastic, those tankless water heaters. And having a 25-year plus water heater, Sue. It's time for a new one.
TOM: Yeah, you better change that before it schedules a change on its own and decides to break open on you.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (chuckling) Which could be a big mess.
TOM: And you know, in a condo, that's an even bigger mess because it ... especially if it leaks to the neighbor.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Dealing with neighbors.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
Sue, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. So we know you're dealing with some indoor air quality issues at home; whether it's allergens, dust, mold, whatever it is. If there's something in your house that's making you feel sick, it's really easy for you to address that. And we here at The Money Pit have helped you many times in dealing with these situations of indoor air quality at home. And in fact, if you go to MoneyPit.com, we have a whole indoor air quality resource kit online. You can learn all about how to address these issues at home.
But what if it's happening in your office or your school and you seem to be getting sick there?
TOM: Yeah, like you have no control over that. You know? You can't change the carpet in your office. Well, we've got some advice. Up next, mold expert and author, Jeff May. New book out called 'My Office is Killing Me.' He's going to tell us all about it.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Plus Interior Sateen Kitchen and Bath Enamel with advanced NanoGuard technology to help consumers protect these areas, keeping them looking new longer. For more information, visit Behr.com. That's B-e-h-r.com.
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.
Hey, I got a question for you. Are you sick of going to work?
TOM: Or do you just get kind of sick at work? If you seem to get sick when you go to work, there could be a problem. If you're suffering from chronic colds that disappear when you're away from work for a while, you could be a victim of poor indoor air quality; not at home, but at the office.
LESLIE: Yeah. Unbeknownst to you, bacteria and mold could be lurking undetected in carpeting or ducts at your school or office and making you or your kids sick. So, Jeff May explains how to identify and deal with this problem in his latest book, 'My Office is Killing Me.' Jeff is an indoor air quality expert and a good friend of The Money Pit.
Hi, Jeff. Welcome.
JEFF: Hi, Leslie and Tom.
TOM: So, Jeff, the interest in indoor air quality - we talk a lot about it when it comes to homes but it also applies to offices and other public spaces - but the interest in this really started back in 1976 when 29 veterans died in Philadelphia when they were attending a meeting of the American Legion in the Bellevue-Stratford hotel. And that was pretty dramatic and that was the birth (INAUDIBLE) of ... or the first finding of Legionnaires' Disease. Now, that is sort of the extreme sick building syndrome. Have we gotten any better at detecting this since that happened?
JEFF: Well, that's the extreme. There are ... you know, there are other illnesses that are also causing a lot of big problems in buildings. And you know, people have chronic asthma; they can get something called hypersensitivity pneumonitis and a lot of diseases that are really quite debilitating.
TOM: Well, when you ... when you get a job, you don't have much control over the space that you work in or certainly not as much control as you might need to impact, say, the ventilation system. But are there things - clues - that people can look for in there workplace if they think that the building is just not right and it might be making them sick?
JEFF: Yeah, I think it's pretty much what you started off with. You know, if you go to work and you feel fine before and you go to work you feel sick, then you go home and you feel better again, that's really telling you something. And I think if people smell a very ... like a musty odor or some kind of a (INAUDIBLE) odor, often that's an indication that there's a moldy carpet or there's mold in the heating or in the ... you know, in the cooling system. And that can cause a lot of respiratory problems.
LESLIE: But are these just sort of allergic symptoms or can these lead to long term health problems?
JEFF: Well, yes and yes. Some of them are just allergic symptoms and they're mild. But as people get these prolonged exposures to mold or bacteria or any of the chemicals that might be offgassing, they can actually become lifelong conditions. A lot of nurses and other professionals have been forced to actually leave their jobs permanently. Even teachers, because of what they've been exposed to at work.
TOM: Wow. We're talking to Jeff May. He's an indoor air quality expert and the author of 'My Office is Killing Me.' Jeff is also the author of the Mold Resource Guide which you'll find at MoneyPit.com. We recently updated that and added photos of some of these conditions. And you can view those right on the website at MoneyPit.com. Just click on Ideas and Tips and then the Mold Resource Guide.
So Jeff, let's talk about some of the things that can cause a sick building, starting with the footprint. How can the layout of the building cause it to become a diseased building?
JEFF: Well, schools are typically very low and flat; maybe one or two stories. And so, they have huge roofs and a lot of below grade space. So a lot of classrooms can be subject to either leaks from the roof or cracks in the foundation. Office buildings tend to be a lot taller and there's not a whole lot of roof, really, so people will be impacted by other kinds of problems; either penetration, let's say, windblown rain at the walls or from heating and cooling systems. But schools really have a lot of leak problems.
LESLIE: And is there anything other than just the building itself? Are there sometimes ... is it just items that you put into the building - like carpeting or furnishing - that can cause these problems as well?
JEFF: Yeah, sure. Carpets can offgas chemicals. Pieces of furniture or even computers. I mean I actually had a ... an incident in a school where a classroom was evacuated because of this horrible musty smell. It turned out that it was ... it was the plastic in the computer. It really ... and it smelled exactly like mold.
TOM: Well, Jeff, let's wrap up by talking about what people can do if they suspect that they have a sick building. We've identified that sick buildings can be caused by the structure, by the mechanical systems, by even the furnishings. If you suspect this, what would you suggest is the ... is the first step?
JEFF: It's very difficult for people who are employed ... who are employees in a building to really do very much. So the book really tries to help people understand what the problems might be. One ... but one simple test that anyone can do if they think that there's particles in the air that might be causing allergy symptoms, they can just wear a NIOSH N95 mask temporarily and just see if that relieves their symptoms. And that can make a big difference because it'll filter out all the particles.
TOM: What about filtration units that you might put right near your office space?
LESLIE: Like a portable unit?
TOM: Yeah, like a portable?
JEFF: Well, a portable unit can help. But the problem is that if ... let's say if there's a moldy carpet and people are walking around on the carpet in the office ...
LESLIE: You're activating it.
JEFF: Yeah, it's ... but one thing that you can do is get this painter's adhesive - and I've actually done this ... had to do this myself. It's a sticky plastic that painters use to prevent soiling on carpets when they're painting. And you can cover up carpet with this thing - it's very inexpensive - temporarily. And that should eliminate all of the emissions - 100 percent - immediately.
TOM: Jeff May, author of 'My House is Killing Me' and now 'My Office is Killing Me.' What a positive guy to have on the show. (laughing) Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
You want to check out Jeff's book, it's available at Amazon.com.
LESLIE: Well, if you're thinking about how hot it was last summer and you already have the hot of this coming summer on your brain and you just can't even think about sweating through another one, you might want to consider getting an air conditioner.
TOM: But which size is the right air conditioner for your home? We'll give you that answer, next.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
So, if the thought of sweating through yet another hot summer is stopping you cold, it's a good time - right now, before it gets too terribly hot - to think about installing an air conditioner. But remember, when it comes to AC, bigger is not always better. In fact, if your unit is too big - if it's oversized - it's going to cycle on and off too frequently and that's not going to cool your house. And secondly, it's going to leave it feeling very clammy and dank and wet and musty. It's called short cycling and it will definitely reduce its effectiveness. And by the way, not only will it reduce it and make you feel nasty, it will cost you a ton of money to run it.
LESLIE: On the other hand, if your unit is too small, it can speed up the wear on system components, which will lead to premature failure. So what's the best way to properly size an air conditioning system for your house or room?
TOM: Well, there's actually a couple of things to think about there. Normally, if you have a central air conditioning system, it's 600 to 800 square feet per ton, is the way it's sized. But the best way to do it is to have an Energy Star-certified contractor actually measure the square footage of your rooms that have to be cooled. And they'll measure the glass on the outside. And there's a way to calculate what the cooling needs are of this particular room.
Now, what if you have portable units? You don't know what size portable to buy? Well, coming up in this week's e-newsletter, we're going to give you a guide to show you exactly what size air conditioner you'll need if you want to buy a portable one this summer. So log onto MoneyPit.com and sign up for the free Money Pit e-newsletter today.
LESLIE: Alright. And another benefit of going to visit MoneyPit.com is you'll learn how to call us. Not like you don't already know 888-MONEY-PIT. But if you call us, not only will you get a great answer to your question that's been plaguing you and eating away at your mind, you'll get a great chance to win a wonderful prize. That is, if we answer your question on air. And we're giving away a great prize this hour. It's the Quick Clips Moulding Installation System from the Focal Point folks. It's worth $275.
And they've really made putting up crown moulding an absolute breeze. Because if you've ever installed it, you know it's very confusing and I always have to keep a sample of one cut piece right next to me that says facing you, upside down. I have to remember because you know, you need to cut it backwards and it's kind of confusing. And moulding can be expensive. And one wrong cut can mess up everything. Well, this takes all of those questions away and makes it really easy.
And if you want more information on the product - if you're not our lucky winner or you think it's super cool - visit them at www.FocalPointProducts.com for more information.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Scott in Wisconsin's got a messy problem on his hands. What happened?
SCOTT: Hi, I've got an old farmhouse and I've got some carpet that's been glued down to tile. And I'm trying to find something that will loosen up that glue so I can get it off and start all over again.
TOM: Well, there are adhesive solvents that are designed for this. And I've got to tell you though, Scott, it's a big, messy, sticky job. Now what kind of a floor covering do you want to put down?
SCOTT: I'm probably going to put a subfloor down and then either linoleum or tile on top of that. So I don't really care about flooring ... anything underneath the carpet. It's just that I can't budge that carpet up even a little bit.
TOM: Is it like an indoor/outdoor carpet?
SCOTT: It's more of a ... it's an indoor carpet. It's a real tight nap; a real thin carpet.
TOM: And you just can't ...
SCOTT: (overlapping voices) But the glue must have been cheap.
TOM: You just can't get any of that carpet off the floor?
SCOTT: No, I've tried everything and ...
SCOTT: ... I've tried even cutting it with an exacto knife and I ... still it ... glue must have been cheap in those days.
TOM: Mmm. (laughing) Well, if the carpet's very thin ...
SCOTT: Yes, sir.
TOM: ... why don't you just put the plywood on top of it?
SCOTT: That will work?
TOM: Sure. I mean, you know, it's not the best thing to do but I don't see any reason it won't work.
SCOTT: I guess I never thought of that.
TOM: Yeah. If it's thin carpet, you know, very often, floors are built up of multiple layers. We don't ... generally, don't like to suggest that. But if the carpet is that tight, you might as well just go with it. Put a thin layer of half-inch plywood on top of it or quarter-inch ply ... as long as you can get a flat surface, then you can go ahead and put new carpet over that or whatever you want to do.
SCOTT: Great. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: James in California listens to The Money Pit on Discovery Radio. How can we help you?
JAMES: Well, OK, I do have a problem with my roof because the add-on part is a two-story and the ... somewhere, when it rains, the water is coming down the wall on the inside. It isn't coming down on the outside. The shingling looks really well. I mean it is fairly old but ... I'd say, probably, oh, 20 years old maybe is the shingling on it right now. It's composition shingles. And somehow, the water is getting in and running down the inside wall.
TOM: OK. Well, let's talk about the areas of the roof that are typically most vulnerable. That would be, first of all, where anything comes through the roof. So, if you have a plumbing vent pipe, if you have a chimney, if you have the vent for your furnace or for your dryer. Whatever is going through the roof, areas around there are really the first thing to check.
The second thing is you mentioned that your composition shingles are 20 years old. Well, that's about as old as those shingles are going to last. And the way they deteriorate these days may not be that easy to see. It used to be, in the old days, you would look at the shingle and it would sort of curl up and get very, very brittle. But shingles today don't curl up anymore. What they do is they fissure and they crack but sometimes you can't see it until you're right on top of it. And as they do crack, they will let water get in.
And thirdly, what you want to do is look for any areas where there are roof intersections; where two sections of the roof come together, such as a valley or a place where a low roof and upper roof come together. Those are the areas that generally leak.
Now, the next thing that you could do to try to limit this and identify where it is, is simply do a hose test. See if you can get some water running down the roof in the area of the leak and see if you can actually make it leak without having water go, you know, through all sides of the house. Once you identify where that leak is coming in, you'll have a better idea of what it's going to take to fix it.
JAMES: Oh, that's a good idea. I didn't think about doing that. Yeah, it's an open beam ceiling and it just seems to be strictly coming down the inside wall. I just cannot figure out how to ... but I'll give that a try.
TOM: Terrific. James, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, the subject of my Last Word. How to get your kids safely involved in home improvement projects. So stay with us.
[audio timestamp: 39:47]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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 you can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can email us by logging on to MoneyPit.com and clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie. Now, let's get to the email bag.
LESLIE: Okey-dokes. Becky from Indiana has a two-part question and the first part is: 'We're going to be building a new home within the next year and I was wondering what do you think about panelized construction or kit homes.'
TOM: Well, you know, I actually used to build panelized homes in one of the many jobs I had in construction, kind of growing up. And I think panelized homes are pretty cool for a couple of reasons. Any type of factory-constructed home can be a very well-built home because the manufacturers usually have great buying power. So they're buying, you know, train cars full of lumber. And secondly, a lot of that construction is going on under a roof and in a factory situation. So the accuracy is actually, perhaps, better than a stick built house is ...
LESLIE: And it would probably get built quicker, since you're controlling the weather.
TOM: Well, it would get built quicker. And also, it can get assembled quick (audio gap) when you're risking being exposed to the weather.
Now, with a panelized home, what happens is the foundation is installed conventionally. The floor system is conventional. But then, usually, the truck comes out with the panels on them and they basically get dropped and sort of interlocked in place one at a time. So the framing happens very quickly and, in fact, the siding could be attached, you know, on some of these panels. The drywall could be attached to these panels. In some cases, it can even be pre-wired.
You know, a similar type of construction to this is called modular construction; where, basically, the home comes in in chunks. But I think both of those are very good systems and you could get a very result out of that, Becky.
LESLIE: Alright. And here's the second part to Becky's question.
LESLIE: 'Is it a good idea to general contract your own home if you have no prior construction experience'?
TOM: No, no, no, no, no.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (laughing) And can we say no one more time?
TOM: Yes. Bad idea, Becky. This is not the place to learn. The 10 to 15 percent you may save by doing it yourself ...
LESLIE: Have saved.
TOM: ... if you make one mistake, you will all of a sudden lose all that money. So no, it is definitely worth the money to hire a general contractor. If you have no construction experience, this is not the place to learn. Building an entire house is a complex job and if it's not done right, it may not be safe. So, not a good idea to do this yourself.
LESLIE: And especially since it's such a huge investment. You want to make sure that it's done properly. So, better stand back, watch it and enjoy your new home, Becky.
TOM: Absolutely. Yeah, don't ... tackle something a little simpler. You know, maybe, paint the house, but don't GC the whole thing.
Well, home improvement can be a family activity if it's done safely. And on today's edition of Leslie's Last Word, you have some tips on how to get the kids involved in doing those jobs.
LESLIE: That's right. In fact, being a weekend warrior can actually get tricky when your weekend also involves entertaining the children who are at home. So what can you do? Well, get them in on the act. Have them actually help you with whatever your home repair. And teach them about the valuable lessons along the way. And it's great memory making for you and the kids. It's really a fun time.
So here are some things you can do. You can set up toddlers with blocks of wood or a plastic pail and brush and let them have at it. Let them think they're helping you and they'll be having a great time. Older kids can help with age-appropriate projects. For example, you might want to assign filling nail holes with putty or putting on a coat of primer or even cleanup duties, as long as they're not too big and heavy. And kids who are pre-teens and older can actually work right alongside you if they're supervised. And remember, doing home improvement projects together will give any child a sense of accomplishment and togetherness that they're not going to get anywhere else. Plus, it's always nice to spend a Saturday with your Mom and Dad.
TOM: My first ... my first venture into home improvement was when my grandparents used to get rid of me by sending me outside with a can of nails and a block of wood and a hammer. (laughing) And that's how they babysat me. (laughing)
LESLIE: And how many thumbnails did you go through as a child?
TOM: I don't know. I don't know. I'm still ... I'm still banging them today, so they must have done something right.
Hey, coming up next week on The Money Pit, speaking of safety - you know, besides keeping the kids safe through home improvement projects, it might be also a good idea to keep an eye on the pets that are around your house. So we're going to talk to the head of the ASPCA's animal poison control center about what you can do to keep your pet safe during home improvements. That's next week on The Money Pit.
For now, that's all the time we have. Thank you so much for being a part of this program. Remember, you can call us 24/7 at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement questions. 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.
[audio timestamp: 44:30]
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(Copyright 2006 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)