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 is the number to call for the answers to your home improvement question. But Leslie, what if we don't have the answer?
LESLIE: Well, I think we will have the answers. That's why we have this job.
TOM: Oh, that's right. Sorry. (chuckling) I forgot just for a moment. (laughing) Well, test us out. Call us right now at 888-666-3974.
So Leslie, a recent survey revealed that two-thirds of homeowners take on at least one home improvement project each year. And more than half plan to do one in the next year or two.
LESLIE: Well, for new homebuyers, the top project is landscaping followed by deck and patio improvements. Unless you're me, then you wait three years to do those after you move into the house.
TOM: Yeah, but it comes out so good.
LESLIE: 'Cause I've had time to mull it over.
TOM: That's right.
LESLIE: And if you bought an existing home, kitchen and bath and landscaping were key areas for improvement. Good to know.
TOM: So whether you're moving to a new house, you have an existing house or you're going to sit tight right where you are, it definitely makes sense to keep your biggest investment in great shape. So call us now with those home maintenance questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: And while we're talking about your old house, we'll hear from the host of This Old House on PBS. Kevin O'Connor joins us with tips and advice from his Emmy-award winning program.
TOM: And today, one caller we talk to is going to win a really cool prize. Leslie, you can attest to the fact that women are becoming less intimidated by DIY projects.
LESLIE: That's right.
TOM: You get tons of fan mail from them. And so do we, frankly. I love when I get fan mail from women. I ... (laughing) it makes me ... makes my daddy proud. (laughing) But our prize for this hour is a Tomboy Tools auto kit created for women by a woman. The tools are designed to fit in smaller hands and require less strength to use. So call now. We might choose you to win this prize. An auto kit with all the essentials for your trunk. The number, again, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's first on the phone?
LESLIE: Jane in Maryland listens to The Money Pit on WJFK, Free FM. And you're thinking about tiling a countertop. What a great project.
JANE: Yeah, we're renovating a bathroom and it's an odd-shaped cabinet. And we wanted to put a tile countertop on because we found that the other types of countertops would be prohibited based on the size and the cost. But our question is we're not really sure which tile to go with. There's the smaller glazed tiles and the larger porous tiles. And we weren't quite sure what would be best for a bathroom countertop.
LESLIE: Oh, I think that's a matter of what you like. Let's talk about the first steps to building a countertop that you can actually tile. Since it's going to be around a lot of water, I'm assuming ... is there a sink involved over here or is it just a strict counter?
JANE: Nope, there's a sink.
LESLIE: There's a sink. Alright. So you're dealing with moisture. So you want to make sure that you use the proper base, which I would use like a cement backer board. How about you, Tom?
TOM: Yeah, I would use a cement backer board or an MDF that was water resistant; medium density fiberboard.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Make sure, though, if you go with the MDF, you get the one that's moisture resistant.
LESLIE: Because even though it's going to be covered with tile, there's a lot of humidity in the bathroom and that can tend to cause problems with the MDF. So go for ...
TOM: Or what about a marine plywood? I mean that would work as well.
LESLIE: That works as well, too. I just like the backer - the cement backer board - because it's sturdy, it's stiff, it tends to be in a good size depth-wise; the size that the planks come in. Because I think they're like two-and-a-half or three feet by three feet. You know, they're an interesting size when you buy them at the store. So they may get ...
TOM: Yeah, but do you still think it's going to be strong enough, as a countertop, if you have a lot of weight in the middle?
LESLIE: Well, maybe then put it ...
TOM: Like it's going to break. You know, let's say, what if ... see in my house, what if your kid climbs on top of that ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Ah, the kid factor.
TOM: ... to like, you know, reach up for something on the counter. I ... you know, I've gone into houses, in all the years I spent as a home inspector, and seen cleaning people standing in sinks in bathrooms ...
LESLIE: Oh. (laughing)
TOM: ... to try to reach stuff. You know? So I always wonder about the strength of the countertops. That's why just using backer board would concern me a little bit.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Alright, let's say plywood and then backer board.
TOM: Alright. I'll go for that.
LESLIE: How about that, Jane?
LESLIE: Plywood, then backer board. Now, for the tile choice, it's really up to you. I mean small tiles in a mosaic style, picking whatever colors you'd like to choose, that's really trendy right now. And it looks good and it lasts nice and you can get a really good variety of choices. But there's also travertine and there's slate and you can ... I mean it's really your preference.
JANE: Well, our concern was ... my husband's theory on it was that with a bathroom, you're placing lots of containers on the ... on the countertop and he was afraid that all the grout lines, if they're not exactly at the height of the tile, would cause those bottles to be unstable.
TOM: Oh, no way.
LESLIE: Oh, I don't think so.
TOM: Nice try, pal. I wouldn't go for that at all. You know, if you're going to come up with a story to try to convince your wife that your way is the right way, you're going to have to do a lot better than that.
LESLIE: And number one, the width of a grout line is an eighth of an inch.
TOM: I never ... I never heard of anything falling over because the grout line was too ... was too thick or too wide. (laughing)
LESLIE: That is hysterical. Janie, remember, when you're picking out your tile, make sure, if it's a porous tile, that you seal it properly so you don't have to worry about going back there and trying to clean it to get a stain out of it. I would say go for a grout that has some sort of ... would you ... is there a grout with a mildicide they could get in there?
TOM: Yes, actually LATICRETE has Microban built into it. LATICRETE is a grout manufacturer that has Microban, which is an antimicrobial additive.
LESLIE: Alright, our next caller's from The Quake in California. And it's Patrick. You've got a question about soundproofing. What can we do for you?
PATRICK: I'm trying to soundproof an old barn; like a turn-of-the-century barn. And it's going to be a rehearsal space and recording space for my band.
TOM: Oh, very cool.
PATRICK: And so, I'm wondering like how I can do it on a budget. Like I've looked online and stuff and all the products are like really high-end products. But I was wondering if there's like an alternative product, like you know, that work just as well?
TOM: Well, tell us about this space. What are you trying ... is the garage completely standalone, that you're trying to soundproof? The barn completely standalone?
PATRICK: It actually was like a winery at the turn of the century. So there's like ...
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, it sounds really nice.
PATRICK: ... there's like three different spaces inside of it and they're all about the same size. But ...
TOM: Alright. Well, you know, to soundproof a space, especially a recording studio, you need dead air space. Most of the time, when you go to a professional recording studio, you have a room within a room. And there's dead space and large, deep doorways and door jambs that create this dead air space that give you the insulation ... the soundproofing ability.
Now, you know, the poor man's way to soundproof is to use insulation. There's insulation that's developed for soundproofing; it has special batting that's designed to muffle the sound. But it's not as good as having a disconnected space. I mean, typically, if you're building this and you could create a wall inside of a wall, where the walls don't physically touch and each one is insulated and then there's air space between these two cavities, that will give you a lot of sound deadening capability. But it really comes down to separating one room from the other. Do you follow me?
PATRICK: Yes. So, on the ... on the vertical walls we're going to have that, for sure.
PATRICK: But on the ceiling, you know, we're ... like there's a ... there's ... on the ceiling there's an upper floor kind of thing.
PATRICK: And you know, so ...
TOM: So are there people above? Will there be noise above the ceiling?
PATRICK: No, there's nobody up there.
TOM: Alright. So what you want to do is probably suspend the ceiling down. You're going to use heavy insulation, like a rock wool insulation batting, on that ceiling. And that will give you some deadening capability at the ceiling level as well.
LESLIE: Patricia in Massachusetts, who listens to The Money Pit on WPRO, has a leaky roof. What's going on?
PATRICIA: Hi there. I was calling you because I have a persistent leak that I have during a nor'easter.
PATRICIA: And I have an old Victorian house. And the leak is ... I have two floors in my house and the leak is on the first floor. I have a flat roof and I live right by the ocean. So I'm thinking maybe it's coming in through the rubber roof or ....
TOM: Well, Patricia, that's a tough roof. It's a tough roof. You got a flat roof and you live near the ocean so you've got a lot of exposure, sure you got a lot of wind and you've got a lot of driving rain. And a flat roof is, you know, very susceptible to leakage. Let's face it. It's not nearly as leak resistant as a pitched roof is.
So, what do we do about this? Well, we have to be a bit creative. Now, have you thought about trying to hose down portions of that roof - of course, on a dry day - to see if you can make it leak? Because, probably, what's happening is one of the flashing points - and it could be around a parapet wall or it could be where there's a protrusion through the roof, like for a vent or a drain - is leaking. And when you have a lot of water pressure because of that driving rain, that's when it's coming in. So you have to become a bit of a detective when you have a roof leak like this and try to put your roof through some paces so you can try to figure out exactly where it's leaking. And only then will you be able to address it.
PATRICIA: Right. I did have it replaced once - the rubber roof - but ...
TOM: And did that solve it?
TOM: It never solved it. Well, then maybe it's not the flat roof at all. It could be coming in somewhere else.
TOM: I mean, you say it's a two-story house and it's coming in on the ... down on the first floor. You know, it could be coming through siding. It could be coming through flashing. Do you have a chimney that comes up through it? There could be a bunch of different places that that's coming in. So what you really need to do here is to separate the roof into different sections and try to flood those sections and see if you can make it leak.
Leslie, is your fridge cool enough for you?
LESLIE: I think so. But how would I know for sure?
TOM: Well, there's a simple test. We'll tell you, next.
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[audio timestamp: 14:03]
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. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. So Leslie, has your refrigerator been misbehaving?
LESLIE: Oh, it constantly misbehaves. It might be the fact that anything that's toward the back end might just freeze. We have clear lettuce. And it's a very personal problem that's close to home because we had some extra money this year ...
LESLIE: ... and I said to my husband, 'Alright, here's the choice. Big screen TV. New refrigerator.'
TOM: Oh, let me think. He thought about it long and hard and said (laughing), 'Oh, honey, I really think we should go for the big screen TV. It's such a good investment.' (laughing)
LESLIE: And it also happened to be the week before the big game, if you know what I mean.
TOM: Oh, well that was too much pressure.
LESLIE: And he was like, 'Aah, TV!'
TOM: You shouldn't even have given him that choice.
LESLIE: I know. You know?
TOM: (laughing) You knew where that's going.
LESLIE: I knew where it was going and now every time I reach in there and the lettuce is like clear and frozen together, I'm like, 'Ugh!'
TOM: Well, here's something you might want to check. You know that little dial that usually has the numbers from one to nine?
TOM: Well, how do you know, you know, what the temperature should be? Well, what it should be is 37 degrees Fahrenheit. That's the proper temperature for a refrigerator. So get one of those meat thermometers that goes like from zero to, you know, 220 or whatever ...
TOM: ... and stick it in the refrigerator.
LESLIE: You mean don't ask the milk?
TOM: No, just go ahead and stick it in there. Close the door for a couple of minutes and then check it.
LESLIE: Well, the temperature is 35 degrees. That's what the milk would say.
TOM: Yeah, it would say it's ... it would say it's too warm and that's why I taste sour.
LESLIE: (laughing) (INAUDIBLE)
TOM: But check it. It's got to be 37 degrees. If it's too cold, then lower it down. If it's too warm, then pick it up. But if it's not the right temperature, it's not going to cool properly. And the other thing is, try to keep stuff from pushing ... being pushed way up against the back of the wall because it interrupts the convective flow of the cooling air. And that might be why you're getting some of those areas that are freezing ...
TOM: ... when they're unexpected.
LESLIE: Well, isn't that awfully fancy of you.
TOM: Well, there you go.
LESLIE: The convective flow. I like that.
TOM: The convective flow of your refrigerator.
LESLIE: I like that. Do you keep a dictionary on hand?
TOM: I don't. But you could start one for me.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Convective Flow, by Tom Kraeutler.
TOM: Well, just from our callers, we can tell you that women are definitely becoming less intimidated by do-it-yourself projects. And today, we're going to choose a prize that's designed especially for women. It's the Tomboy Tools auto kit and it comes with a wrench, a tire gauge, a flashlight, jumper cables, screwdriver, tarp and a bag to hold everything you need should you ever become unfortunately broken down on the road.
LESLIE: That's right. Tomboy Tools are a line of products that are designed with women in mind, so they're really great. And this prize is worth 83 bucks and can be a lifesaver in case of a breakdown or accident. So call now to get in on our prize giveaway. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Bill in Texas needs some help finding a faucet. What can we do for you?
BILL: Yes, ma'am. I've got a faucet that's all worn out. And I ... it's six inch (INAUDIBLE) sink that has a six inch between the valves. And my plumber tells me they don't make those anymore; that I'm going to have to replace the ... I'm going to have to replace the whole sink and countertop and everything.
TOM: The spread between the valves is only six inches?
BILL: It's ... it was not a standard size is what he's saying.
TOM: Well, Bill, I can see how that might be a challenge because, typically, you have four-inch and eight-inch spreads on the faucets. But there's another option. You could use a faucet that has the three individual pieces. So you have the hot valve, the cold valve and then the faucet itself. So you don't really have to have a base that matches that spread. Do you follow me?
BILL: Yes sir.
TOM: So, just about every faucet manufacturer out there has the separated faucets like that.
TOM: They're basically surface mounted, you know? They're used very commonly when you have tile surfaces and Corian surfaces and things like that. So you don't have to have the one piece. You could have the three piece separate and then you have a lot of flexibility.
LESLIE: Philip in Alaska's up next. And you find The Money Pit on KENI in Alaska and your shower's got something going on with it. Tell us what's happening.
PHILIP: Yes. I've got a rain forest shower head in my shower.
PHILIP: And every time I use it, it continues to drip for hours afterward.
TOM: Well, that's not the showerhead. That's the ... that's the diverter. The valve for the shower is leaking a bit. It's not shutting all the way and that's why it's dripping. So you need to replace the shower valve and that will stop the dripping problem.
PHILIP: Well, I was told that the pipe that comes over at the top of the shower has residual water in it after I shut the valve off.
LESLIE: Yeah, but that wouldn't drip for hours and hours I don't think.
TOM: Yeah. That would only drip for a couple of minutes. That would empty out pretty quickly. If it's dripping for hours and hours, there's a steady ...
PHILIP: (overlapping voices) Well, the shower head holds a gallon of water. (laughing)
TOM: That's OK. There's a steady stream of water coming out?
PHILIP: Yes. And then it just drips.
TOM: Well, the problem is that the valve is letting that water get through.
TOM: And so, you need to replace the shower valve and that will stop that. Alright, Philip?
PHILIP: Oh. Hey, I appreciate it.
LESLIE: Al in Florida's in a sticky situation. What's going on with those tiles?
AL: Well, I wish sticky is the answer. (laughing) Because I want to ... we've done a few projects around the house that we've been successful in doing. And we've got one more on the drawing board and that is to retile the kitchen flooring.
AL: And what I was concerned about, I wanted to know ... I currently have on the floor 12 inch squares of flexible something. I don't know whether that's vinyl or what it is. And it's been down, I'm sure, 20+ years. And ... but what I want to do is select another 12 inch flexible stick-on type tile ...
AL: ... that you can just press on, on some sort of flooring, and have it come out right. And that's what ... can I do that? Can I put one over the other?
TOM: I doubt that was self-stick, if it's lasted 20 years. Self-stick almost never lasts 20 years. It was probably a glue-down tile.
AL: I would think it would be, too.
LESLIE: It's probably a VCT; those vinyl tiles.
TOM: Yeah. I've never seen a self-sticking tile last very, very long. One thing that you might want to think about, if you like the tile look, Al, is there's these new very, very heavy luxury tiles. I think Mannington has one called Adura - A-d-u-r-a - and they're very thick, very heavy vinyl tiles that are a little bit more money but they're really tough. And they have to be put down with a tile adhesive. But if the old vinyl below it is sticking, you should be able to put the glue down and put it right on top with a glue trowel. That's the notched trowel.
LESLIE: Now, Al, if you're thinking about stick-on tiles because of budgetary concerns, there's another product from Armstrong. And it's a sheet vinyl flooring product. It's around $2.50 per square foot, which is a great prize. It cleans up really easy with a mop and it does need to be installed by a pro, only because the sheet vinyl can be, you know, kind of unwieldy and heavy. But the price is right and it comes in some really great looking patterns: a wood style; a slate; a brick; a small tile; even some ...
AL: I probably would prefer to try and do the glued on squares. Is that a ... that's a vinyl type surface?
TOM: Called a luxury vinyl tile. You know, one other thing that you might want to think about - are you familiar with laminate floors, Al?
AL: Like a wood laminate, or ...?
TOM: Well, they're ... laminate floors can look like wood or they could look like tile or they could look like stone. And it's a complete do-it-yourself project. You'll probably spend anywhere ... maybe around $4 or $5 a square foot to do this. And it's a really tough surface and it's not hard to do. The whole thing can float right on top of the floor. There's no glue involved. It's all locked together. All you have to do is cut the boards to fit around the edges of the wall. That's what I have in my kitchen and it's really tough stuff and it's lasted a very, very long time. And through three kids, too. So, I'm really ... I really like laminate floors for kitchens.
Up next, from This Old House to your old house. Host Kevin O'Connor joins us with some great tips and advice.
[audio timestamp: 22:47]
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. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Well, one of the most famous home improvement shows in the world - probably the number one home improvement show - it's been on for ...
LESLIE: Is The Money Pit.
TOM: (laughing) TV show, Leslie. TV show. (clears throat)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Oh, OK, clarify the media.
TOM: But thanks for putting me in the good company of the folks from This Old House. You know, they've been on the air for 27 seasons. That is an incredible amount of time.
LESLIE: That's amazing.
TOM: Think about all the things that have happened in 27 years. I mean 27 years ago, you had almost no home improvement media. Now, we are everywhere. And we have This Old House to thank for getting that whole process started.
With us to talk about the new season on This Old House right now, though, is Kevin O'Connor, the host of This Old House.
Hi, Kevin. Welcome to the program.
KEVIN: Hi, guys. How are you?
TOM: We are excellent. This is an exciting time for you guys. You're jumping into a new season and you've picked a new house to work on. Tell us about it.
KEVIN: Yep. We have ... we have just started up our 27th season, if you can believe that.
KEVIN: It's quite amazing. Is that unbelievable?
LESLIE: And I think I've been watching it that long.
KEVIN: (laughing) Well, I love to hear that because I've been watching it that long, too. (chuckling) But yeah, this year, we're going to be in East Boston; one of the neighborhoods of downtown Boston here. And we're doing something a little different. We're going to be working on a two-family. It's been in the same family for four (audio gap). It is in dire need of repair, as so many of the houses that we work with are.
LESLIE: And probably just some updating.
KEVIN: It needs a lot of updating. It needs electric. It needs insulation. It needs a lot of cosmetics. It needs two new kitchens, a couple of new bathrooms. Pretty much top to bottom work.
LESLIE: Wow. So your tick list is quite full.
KEVIN: Well, you know, they're usually big projects that we do and we like to take them on so that we can show the viewers all the different things that have to go on in any given house renovation. So we're excited about this one. And you know, we're excited about the two-family angle. We like to be back in the city, working in Boston.
TOM: Well, it's interesting, Kevin, because it seems like you're going to have like two sets of story lines going on here at the same time. You've got really two ... what could be completely separate spaces that you're renovating. How are these two spaces going to be different from each other?
KEVIN: You know, it's interesting that you point that out, Tom. We just started filming a couple weeks ago. And there are - just as you said - two completely different ideas from the women who live there. The upstairs - the aunt - she's a little bit more traditional. She wants to go with some more of the formal dining room space; to keep it smaller intimate rooms downstairs. The niece, who's younger, she wants to sort of blow it out; turn the kitchen and the living room into one big room so that it faces the water.
And as we go through this process, we're going to learn what drives and motivates these two women differently. How they want to have different fields, different styles put in the houses. And we're going to respect those requests. We're going to do it differently upstairs than we do downstairs, as you would expect anyone in a two-unit house to do it separately.
LESLIE: Well, and you've got to imagine that there's going to be some family friction as to different ideas, as well.
KEVIN: Well, you know, they're really good friends. It's funny. They've actually lived with each other before. They've been through this because it has been in the family for so long. And they are separate units, you know. They get to ... they get to decide what they do with their own unit; sort of exclusive of the other. Now, they're definitely going to have input from the aunt and from the niece. But it's really ... they're going to get to do what they want to do and we're going to help them out along the way.
TOM: We're talking to Kevin O'Connor. He's the host of This Old House. Hey Kevin, for those of us that are unfamiliar with how This Old House selects properties, you have quite a competition that goes on to become the project that's renovated in every season on This Old House. Talk to us about how that works.
KEVIN: It's definitely more of an art than it is a science. (chuckling) You know, we certainly go out looking for stories to tell; something that we think is going to interest our public and our viewers; different ideas. This time around, we knew we had to be in and around the Boston area because our guys actually do all the work. Tom Silva and his general contracting company runs the project. So we put out a public call. We told all the neighborhoods that they could send in photographs, letters and such. And we got hundreds - literally thousands - of people who sort of contacted us and begged us to do their house.
And this was one of the houses where the folks called in and they let us know about it. We actually put it out on the web at the local newspaper. We let the community vote on it. We got - I don't know if it was five or 10 or 15,000 different people voted on which house they wanted.
KEVIN: Yeah, it was a pretty big event here in Boston. So, it was a little bit different. We don't always do it that way but we always do sort of seek out some letters and proposals from the public.
LESLIE: I think it's really interesting. You've picked two single women homeowners and that's very indicative of what's going on in the market right now as buyers and do-it-yourselfers and renovators. How do you think that's going to play into all of it?
KEVIN: You know, I didn't realize this, Leslie, until we got into this project. That single women are sort of the second fastest growing purchasers of new homes. And once you hear it, it kind of makes sense. Certainly it's the married couples ... they get married, they go out and they look for their own home. But then, right after that, the fastest growing population - demographics buying homes - are single women. And there are a lot of professional women who work in and around downtown Boston.
Housing is in sort of a crisis mode for us up here because it's so tight and so expensive. And so this is an option where people want to come in, they want to own their first home. And in this case, they're actually sharing a home, sharing the cost because they're buying a two-family. I think it's going to resonate with a lot of people here in town. Not just from the female angle but from the first-time homebuyer angle and also buying the two-family and the condo-ization (ph) of this property.
TOM: Terrific. Kevin O'Connor, host of This Old House. It sounds like a very exciting project.
Kevin, thanks so much for taking some time out of your busy construction day to be on The Money Pit.
KEVIN: It's my pleasure, guys. Always a joy to be on the show.
LESLIE: Thanks, Kevin.
TOM: Kevin, what's the website for those that want more information?
KEVIN: ThisOldHouse.com. You can go there, you can check out our production schedule, you can look at the webcam, follow along with construction. We'll be on the air in October and we're also starting our fourth season of Ask This Old House. We'll be crisscrossing the country doing smaller projects and helping homeowners out with that. All of that schedule information and everything you need to know is on ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: Kevin O'Connor, host of This Old House. Kevin, thanks again for stopping by The Money Pit.
If you want to check out the latest on This Old House, go to their website at ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: So does your bathtub caulk fall out right after you replace it? Well, learn how to make it stay in for good, right after this.
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[audio timestamp: 32:09]
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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Here's a quick caulking tip that we absolutely love. And in fact, we get a lot of people that right us and ask us to repeat this. It's about how to caulk your tub and make sure that it stays in for good. The secret is this.
First of all, obviously, remove the old caulk. And if you're having trouble getting the old caulk out, there's a product called a caulk softener; much like a paint stripper. It softens the caulk so you can easily peel it away. Clean the surface, use a little bleach and water to get it ready to rock and roll.
But here's the essential tip. Before you caulk, fill the tub with water all the way to the tippy-top. The reason you're doing this is because you want to weight down the tub. Then caulk and let the caulk dry. Then let the water out of the tub. By doing so, the tub sort of comes back up and compresses the caulk and it won't pull out when you step in it with your heavy body for all of those showers that you're going to take. It'll last a lot longer and it looks great.
LESLIE: That's a great tip, Tom.
Alright, folks. If you have any tips you want to share or questions that are burning in your mind, right now, that you need an answer to your home improvement dilemma, make sure you call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And you might have a question about your bathroom, your roof, your garage, just about any part of your home-sweet-home. And I bet you, we'll have an answer.
And one caller we're going to pick out of The Money Pit hardhat is going to win a really cool prize. It's from Tomboy Tools. It's an auto kit that includes a wrench, a screwdriver, a tarp, a flashlight and a reflective bag to put everything in.
TOM: So call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Chris in Tennessee's up next and you're thinking about adding a bathroom to the basement. Tell us about your project.
CHRIS: Yes, I am thinking about adding a bathroom to the basement but I have a slight bit of a problem.
TOM: Let me guess, Chris. Does it have to do with gravity?
CHRIS: Yes, as a matter of fact it does have to do with gravity. (laughing) And digging. (laughing)
CHRIS : And what we do about this. The house was built in '67. When it was built, it was on a septic system.
CHRIS: And sometime after that, before I bought the house, it switched over to city water and sewer. The ... it's a ranch home and the basement is mostly underground; not all the way. There's a drive-in garage. The sewer pipe is midway up the back wall in the garage.
CHRIS: So what I want to do is add a bathroom over ... you know, within the basement.
CHRIS: But the problem is, you know, with the sewer being halfway up that wall, I've either got to - from what I understand - either pump it up to that ...
CHRIS: ... or my other thought is maybe if I were to drop that whole sewer pipe down and dig in, you know, in the garage area and go that route. But I don't know what's the best way to do it.
TOM: Or you could build a throne, like about four feet tall and just sort of climb up there to use the bathroom. (laughing)
CHRIS: You know. And actually, I think I'm worthy of that. (laughing)
LESLIE: That's why they make gold toilets.
TOM: That's right.
CHRIS: It's not a bad idea.
TOM: There you go, Chris. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit. Next question. (laughing)
Alright, well Chris, this is not a difficult problem. It seems impossible, but there's a solution and you mentioned it before. It is a pump. It's called a lift pump. And (audio gap) grinds up the waste and then pumps it up high enough so that gravity can, in fact, take over and drop it down the typical drain waste vent pipe. It's not terribly difficult to put in. It does, of course, involve breaking open the floor.
So as long as you can get the demolition done, it can be installed. It's a little noisy. It's going to run, you know, all the time. It may not run with every flush but as it fills up, it will just kick on because it's float actuated just like a sump pump is. But I'm telling you, they use them everyday. They work very well. They'll work for many, many years. They don't cause a lot of problems. The only thing you have to remember, Chris, is if you have a power failure, don't use the bathroom toilet in the basement.
CHRIS: Oh, I didn't think of that.
LESLIE: Mm. (laughing)
CHRIS: That's an issue, isn't it?
TOM: It could be. It could be. Or you can just get a backup generator. But really, it's not a bad project and it's the way to add a bathroom to the basement. And if you're going to put a ... you know, do a home remodeling project, there's nothing that adds value like a bathroom ... like adding a bathroom to your house. It really does pick up the value.
LESLIE: Evelyn in Georgia has a problem with her door. What happened?
EVELYN: The paint is chipping on the back door. I have kept the heat on. But when I went to open the door to check on the house - back door - it's the white enamel and it's been several coats of paint. And it's all over the floor and it's kind of bustling up on the door itself.
TOM: And what kind of door is this, Evelyn? Is it a wood door?
EVELYN: Wood door, uh-huh.
TOM: OK. If you have a lot of coats of paint on that door and especially if the heating and the cooling in the home is running inconsistently because it's a vacant house, what you might be finding is that that door simply can't hold anymore paint. And so it's stripping. As that wood starts to get moist, especially, a lot of that wood will fall off. So if you're not running the air conditioning all the time or if you're not running the heat on a regular cycle, it's not going to stick very well. At this point, the best thing to do is to strip the paint off the door and to repaint it because if you try to put new paint on top of that, Leslie, I think it's not going to stick.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It's not going to stick. And your best bet is to take that door off of its hinges. You know, pull the pins, pull the door off and lay it down on some horses outside and work on it on a flat surface. Because it'll really help you to strip the paint more efficiently.
EVELYN: I figured that much, but I didn't know what to use. That was my question.
TOM: Well, the best thing for you to do is once you get the old paint off is I want you to prime it next. Don't put a topcoat on it directly without putting a primer first. And for a wood door, I would use an oil-based primer like KILZ.
EVELYN: But how am I going to get the paint off to start with?
TOM: Well, you're going to scrape off all of the loose stuff and then you're going to sand whatever's left. You don't have to go right down to the raw wood but get as much of it off as you can ...
LESLIE: And get it to as smooth as you can.
TOM: Yeah. You know, you don't want to leave any loose stuff on there is the bottom line. But then you want to put a primer on it. I would use an oil-based primer like KILZ. And then, use a surface paint over that. Just use an exterior grade trim paint, is the best thing to use because the trim paints - on the exterior grade - they have more pigment in it. They have more titanium dioxide, which is the colorant in paint. And that tends to stand up and be a lot harder and tougher; especially in a problem paint area. So that would be the way to do it, Evelyn, and I think if you do that, that door's just going to look good all over again. OK?
EVELYN: Will it not look like it's had holes in it? Like, you know how it be like ... I guess I get down thin enough it won't.
TOM: No, it certainly won't. And if you do a good job with the sanding ... if you have, you know, a place where you took off a lot of ... a lot of paint and then there's still some paint on there, just sort of feather the edges so that you sand down that rough edge so it's all smooth and one again. OK?
LESLIE: So it doesn't jump down.
TOM: Yeah. Alright, Evelyn?
EVELYN: OK, thank you so very much. You're welcome.
LESLIE: Well, they cause millions of dollars in damage but are rarely seen. Hmm. Do you know what that is? Well, you should. Find out how to test for termites in your house, next.
[audio timestamp: 39:32]
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: 888-666-3974. Call us now with your home improvement question or log onto our website at MoneyPit.com, where you can also send us an email by clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie.
Leslie, let's jump in the email bag right now.
LESLIE: Alright. Kenneth from Summersville, West Virginia writes: 'Is there a way to test for termites?'
TOM: Well, it's not so much a test for termites but there is a termite inspection. You recently had an experience with that, didn't you?
LESLIE: Yeah, we did. You know, we tend to see the wings occasionally in the spring time. We saw them when we first moved in and then now, four years almost later, there they were again. So you know, it's clues. There are clues to look for. If you feel soft spots in the wood - like we did on the stairs; hm-hm, not saying anything (laughing).
TOM: That's why it's a good idea to have a termite inspection done. You can contact a local pest control professional or a home inspector and have an inspection done. I do think it's a good idea - especially if you're in a termite prone area - to have an inspection done at least once a year. And if termites are found, Ken, there are treatments today that are undetectable treatments. They're put into the soil. The termites go through them. They don't know that they're there. They ... clearly, the best way to find them is with an inspection by a professional.
LESLIE: Alright. Here we've got another one from Derwood in Maine, who owns a duplex, bought a 6,500-watt portable generator to run the furnace and some lights during a power outage. 'I also have a manual transfer switch to transfer each circuit. My problem is, because it's a duplex, there are two meters, two electrical boxes. Furnace is on one; sump pump and lights are on the other. Transfer switch instructions say I need a common ground to connect both panels. What is a common ground and can I do this myself?'
TOM: Hmm. If you're asking that question, Derwood, I'd say no.
LESLIE: No. (laughing)
TOM: Don't ... do not do it yourself. You know, it's a very complicated matter to actually install a backup generator for a couple of reasons. The power for it has to be installed just right. If it's put in wrong, it could send power the wrong way down the power lines and that could injure a lineman or somebody working on it. And of course, you could also be injured yourself working on it. And it might just not ... plain not work. So putting in a transfer switch is something that I would not recommend a do-it-yourselfer tackle. So get some professional help on that.
However, having said that, I will say that the idea of putting one in is a solid idea and one definitely worth doing. Just don't do this one yourself.
LESLIE: Yeah. Generally, when a home improvement task involves the possibility of death, I avoid it.
TOM: Yes, death is definitely a distraction (laughing) and a deterrence from tackling home improvement projects. But again, it is a good idea to put one in. It's just not a do-it-yourself project. And if you are choosing generators, remember, they're available with gasoline power as well as natural gas power and even propane power, which is cool because that means you don't have to go out and find gasoline when the power goes out.
Well, gas prices have been getting so bad that newlyweds are now registering at Exxon and Shell instead of their local department store. But Leslie is here with her last word and some advice on how to save some gas this summer.
LESLIE: Alright. Hopefully, this will help to take a tiny bit out of the sting of the gas prices. Here are suggestions and they're from AAA so you know they're good. Alright, folks.
Keep your tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires cut fuel economy by as much as two percent for each pound of pressure below the recommended level. So check it and fill them up if you need to. Accelerate gently, break gradually and avoid hard stops. Use the air conditioner only when necessary because it definitely uses more gas. And when traveling, avoid excess weight on the roof and in the trunk by carefully packing your vehicle. So if your trunk is like your closet in the basement, empty it out and store it in the garage. That's what it's there for.
TOM: And here's another quick tip. Before you take off from your home in that car for a vacation this summer, make sure you turn off the main water valve. Why? Because if you get a breakdown while you're away, you won't come back and find your furniture floating down the street. (laughing)
Well, coming up next week on The Money Pit, getting top dollar for your home includes making it shine when you show it to potential homebuyers. Find out how to make your home look good and more spacious before those buyers show up, next week on the program.
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: 44:07]
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(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.)