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:
Hi, this is Tom Kraeutler and thanks for listening to the show. Hey, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about a cool contest we're running right now with our friends at Therma-Tru. It's called the Ugliest Door in America contest and two of our listeners could win a brand new, completely installed entry door worth up to $5,000. Entering is super easy, too, at MyUglyDoor.com. So if your front door, back door or patio door is looking a little worse for wear, log onto MyUglyDoor.com and you can enter to win a beautiful new entry door from Therma-Tru. That's MyUglyDoor.com.
[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: And your home improvement projects just got a little bit easier because we're here to help. Pick up the phone and let us help you out at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Hey, coming up this hour, summer time means an extra demand on the local power grid. Is your home ready in case of a blackout? Well, we're going to get you blackout-ready in just a bit.
LESLIE: And if you're hopping all over your sidewalk to avoid stepping on a crack that's going to break your mama's back we'll tell you how to fix those unsightly and potentially dangerous cracks once and for all.
TOM: And here's an appliance that's probably working overtime right about now; your air conditioner. We're going to have a quick tip to help it from working too hard. It's going to save you some money on those cooling bills.
LESLIE: And we're giving away a Ryobi circular saw. It's worth about 40 bucks and you can tackle a lot of projects with it.
TOM: So let's get cracking. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Hey, you must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask us to quality for that giveaway of the Ryobi circular saw going out to one caller who reaches us this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let's get going.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: John in New York, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JOHN: Yeah, I've had my septic system - it's a 30-year old house. It's been inspected twice and everything's fine, they tell me. But sometimes in extremely cold weather I can smell an odor and I told the septic people that and they said it's from the vent stack. I don't know if you ever heard of anything like that.
TOM: Well, depending on the design of your roof, I've heard of winds in certain conditions sort of taking that sewage gas smell and pushing it down close to the ground where you can actually smell it.
TOM: And if that's what's happening and it's seasonal; it happens in odd weather conditions, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
JOHN: Yeah, because what happens is like if there's snow - like up here where I live in, in the Albany, New York area, there's a lot of snow and if there's any snow on the roof, all around the vent stack it's completely melted; you know, during the winter.
JOHN: So I guess it's - I guess it's the gas that's being pushed out.
TOM: That's probably what's happening and it doesn't indicate that you need to make any repairs.
TOM: Just don't invite your friends over on those cold days, OK? (Leslie chuckles)
JOHN: I know, tell me about it. (Tom chuckles) OK, I appreciate your help.
TOM: You're welcome, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Susan in Tennessee has a situation in the basement. What happened?
SUSAN: Yes, my mother lives in Tennessee and I'm calling for her and she lives close to the Mississippi River and she has a basement which is - it's a partial basement, I guess you'd say. She has windows that are above the ground. And while she was gone we had so much rain and her sump pump got stopped up and water has seeped into the basement. We've gotten the water out but we want to know what to do about that damp, musty smell. How can we get rid of that and do we know if there's any mold or mildew down there? How can we treat that?
TOM: Well, you're not going to know until you actually inspect it but in terms of the smell, that's going to stem from humidity and moisture reacting with dirt and other things that are down there. You're probably going to need to add some sort of dehumidification. Now do you have a forced air heating system in that house, do you know?
TOM: Well, I'll tell you what a good thing would be for you to add and that's called a whole-house dehumidifier. Now these are made by different companies. Aprilaire makes a really good one and I actually work with that product and it takes out like - isn't it like 90 pints of ...
LESLIE: Ninety pints.
TOM: Yeah, 90 pints of water a day.
LESLIE: And it's not something that you have to continually empty. It dumps itself, essentially. So it takes the work out of it and it constantly kicks on and comes on in the areas where it needs the most dehumidification in your home, so it'll constantly work in that basement until it takes that moisture to a proper level.
TOM: And the other thing to do is - and I know she lives near the Mississippi, but when you have a lot of rain you also get surface water that drains in there. So make sure that your gutter system is clean, that the downspouts are extended away from the foundation and that the soil around the outside of that wall slopes away from the house.
TOM: Because you also get humidity and moisture that comes down from rainwater in addition to any water that's going to come up.
SUSAN: OK, well thanks so much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You're welcome, Susan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned in to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, pick up the phone; let us know what you're working on and we can help you get that job done right. Give us a call with your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week whenever that home improvement light bulb goes ding up over your head at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, it's summer time which means the electricity is probably working overtime with all the air conditioning going on around the neighborhood. We also have summer storms to deal with and that can add up to a blackout. Is your home ready when the lights go out? Well, you can generate a solution. We'll tell you how to do just that, next.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional-feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi Power Tools. Pro features. Affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only are you going to get the answer to your burning home improvement question but you will get a chance to win a pretty great prize that you will put to a lot of use this summer. We're giving away a circular saw from Ryobi. It's worth 40 bucks and it's got a built-in laser that's going to help you make clean, straight cuts and a carbide blade to even make those cuts cleaner than they would have been before.
TOM: And that reminds me of a story, Leslie. One time I was working on a project inside a house and I had a circular saw in my hand ...
TOM: ... and the power went out.
LESLIE: Did you cut the cord with the circular (chuckles).
TOM: But because the saw was battery-powered it kept going. (chuckles)
LESLIE: OK. (chuckles)
TOM: So it's like this is a bad situation. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Because I can remember in college building flats for a theatrical set and I was doing something with a circular saw and then there was a spark and my circular saw didn't work anymore and it was because I had cut the cord with the saw. (Tom and Leslie laugh)
TOM: Well, it's always a good idea to have plenty of light when you pick up those power tools and to avoid cutting those electrical cords, but if your power goes out sometimes you don't always have a chance to immediately do that and in fact, 75 percent of Americans have experienced a power outage in the last 12 months. What can you do? Well, you can install an automatic standby generator. It stands by and if the electricity goes out at your home it will repower the entire house. Now we have a Guardian standby generator here at The Money Pit world headquarters and it totally protects our studios from any problems and I also have a Guardian at my house and it's so cool, Leslie, if the power does go out in my neighborhood, to be able to drive home at night and you're the only house that has lights on.
LESLIE: Yeah, but then you're purposely turning the lights off so your neighbors don't come harassing. (chuckling)
TOM: Well, yeah. You can always tell my house by two reasons: you can see that the lights are on and then you can see the line of the neighbors asking me to like keep their milk. (chuckling)
LESLIE: 'Can you hold my milk? Can you hold this ice cream for me? Don't eat it.'
TOM: But it's great to have a standby generator and they're inexpensive. The prices have come down. The installation has gotten a lot easier.
Hey, if you want more information on standby generators you can go to the website for Generac. There are two new residential product lines you might want to check out and their website is GuardianGenerators.com; GuardianGenerators.com. And again, that's the generator that we use right here at The Money Pit and it works fantastically. Keeps us on the air 24/7.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Slater in Texas is looking to boost the value of their home. What can we do for you?
SLATER: Well, I've got a really nice home. It would remind you of an (inaudible at 0:09:15.5) home in Dallas. It was built in '56 and it's real clean and it's been updated and painted inside and out and all that stuff. But my question is I'm planning on selling it in about a year and I want to know maybe four or five things that I can do that cost the least yet bring the greatest reward when it comes to visual impact and to resale value.
LESLIE: When you're saying it's real clean are you talking about the interior has been painted and sort of tidied up or that's the exterior?
SLATER: Mostly exterior. My interior is really squared away. But on the exterior I've got real good curb appeal and it's real clean and all that but I was thinking of like an eight-foot privacy fence around the back.
TOM: Well, creating outdoor living spaces today is a very popular project and some of the cost-versus-value surveys that are out there show, for example, that installing something like a deck or a patio gives you a really good return on investment. So in terms of your privacy fence, if that's part of an overall strategy to create an outdoor room space that's probably a good idea. I would start at the curb. You say you have good curb appeal right now so let's just review what that means. I hope that your landscaping is in good shape. I hope you've got some color in that landscaping. I hope that the outside of your house is well-painted and well-maintained without any rotted areas or distressed areas. I hope that you have good lighting both on the house and on the walkways because that makes a big difference, too.
There was another survey that was done by Therma-Tru that showed that replacing your front door can drive up the home value as much as $24,000. They did an interesting study where they showed photographs of homes with and without front door makeovers - new entryways in them - and they asked focus groups to estimate what the homes were worth and every, single time the homes that had the improved front door were judged to be worth a whole lot more money than the homes without it. So you know, those are the kinds of things that you could do that could really drive up home value and make the house easier to sell.
TOM: And Slater, we're running a contest right now on MoneyPit.com. It's called the Ugliest Door in America contest. So if you're thinking about changing your front door enter that contest and the folks at Therma-Tru could replace it for free.
TOM: And Slater if you want to enter that contest you've got to do it before July 1st and again that's at MoneyPit.com.
Slater, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Argentina in New York is dealing with some inefficient windows. Tell us about what's going on.
ARGENTINA: I have 18 windows in my house and they're aluminum windows. What happened is I did have storm windows but I took them out and it's like the air is coming in. Even if I put plastic paper inside it doesn't help. So I don't know what to do. Do you think storm windows will help?
TOM: Well, storm windows will help but I can tell you what, Argentina. It's like throwing good money after bad. The aluminum windows are so antiquated today; they're so drafty; it's so almost impossible to make them energy efficient. I would rather see you take the money and concentrate on replacing the windows; maybe not doing the whole house, starting on the north side then the east side. Work from the coldest sides to the warmest sides and start replacing those windows with vinyl-clad, thermal-pane, Energy Star-rated replacement windows. It'll make a huge difference and rather than see you take that money and put it into storm windows I'd like to see you put it into good-quality replacements.
ARGENTINA: OK, thanks very much.
TOM: You're very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: If you're thinking about finishing your basement you might be Matt in Georgia who's joining us next. What can we do for you?
MATT: Hello, this is Matt and I love your show. Thank you so much for presenting the information you do and in so great a format. I love it.
LESLIE: Thanks, Matt.
TOM: Our pleasure, Matt. So what are you working on?
MATT: Well, we have a storage room which is part of our basement and it's got cement block on two walls and on one wall it has a pipe that extends out that goes vertically up and down the wall and it sticks out about four or five inches from the wall.
TOM: OK, like a plumbing pipe or something? A vent pipe or something?
MATT: Exactly, a vent or a drain pipe. I'm not sure. But I need to be able to put some drywall on that cement block and finish out that room. The ceiling is finished. I just need to finish that.
TOM: First of all, what we want you to do is to frame a wall away from the cement block. I know you're giving up a little bit of square footage in doing that but you're better off not attaching the wood and then the drywall right to the concrete block because ...
LESLIE: You're just going to have a whole moisture situation.
TOM: Yeah, yeah. It's really damp and it's just not a good thing to do. So we would recommend that you frame a wall out in front and that will deal with the pipe issue.
LESLIE: But only like six inches or so, right?
TOM: Or less. I mean you could just leave a little bit of a space between, say, the bottom sill plate and the concrete block but bring it out in front of it.
Secondly, don't use regular drywall. Use a product called Dens Armor which is a fiberglass-faced drywall. You don't want to put a paper ...
LESLIE: It's from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: Yeah, you don't want to put a paper-faced product down there because it becomes mold food in that damp space. So if you use the Dens Armor product, which you can get at Depot or at Lowe's and lots of other home centers, you can put a drywall surface there that's not going to grow any mold.
LESLIE: And it finishes exactly the same way as traditional drywall, so you don't have to worry about doing anything extra special. (Tom and Matt chuckle)
MATT: Sounds good.
TOM: Alright, Matt. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carolyn in New York, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
CAROLYN: Hi, yes. I have a question about an illegal extension on my house. My husband and I purchased a home two months ago. Our contractor, when he was doing some work on our house, is actually the one that poked around and found that our extension - originally we wanted the house for the extension - was built on wood, so it doesn't have a permit. So now the extension has to come down.
TOM: It was built on wood?
CAROLYN: It is built on wood that is basically rotting.
TOM: Oh, boy. Hey, Carolyn, did you get a home inspection done when you bought this house?
CAROLYN: Yes, let me tell you. I had two real estate people. I had an engineer. I had a new survey done. I had a lawyer and I had a title company and not one person found it.
TOM: That's unbelievable.
CAROLYN: It is unbelievable.
TOM: I'll tell you what. That home inspector's got some explaining to do.
LESLIE: And the home inspector wasn't recommended to you by the realtor, by any chance?
CAROLYN: No, he was recommended through a family friend's lawyer.
TOM: Well, I've got to tell you. The one professional involved in the transaction that sounds like probably should have found it, assuming it was accessible, was the home inspector. The home inspector may have errors and omissions insurance that you may be able to claim against. I think that your lawyer should probably bring in an outside expert to have that thought confirmed and if you want to understand what home inspectors are required to report on go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org. And also in New York home inspectors are licensed, so your state department is going to have - or your licensing bureau is going to have some standards as well that are probably very similar to the ASHI standards, but the question is what was the condition of the foundation at the time of inspection; was it accessible; is it, in fact, a defect and if the answer to those questions is yes then the inspector should have pointed it out to you.
CAROLYN: OK, thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Carolyn. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Charles in North Carolina's got a leak. Let's see if we can help.
CHARLES: I've had several leaks around the plumbing vent pipes poking through my roof and I was wondering if I can reduce the number of vent pipes by using (inaudible at 0:17:07.4).
TOM: Is your roof older?
CHARLES: It's about 15 years old and I've used some stop-leak product from the home center and it seems to do the job but it only lasts maybe a couple of years and I just thought maybe when I get the new roof done maybe that would be possibly a good time to reduce the number of penetrations through the roof but I haven't checked the local plumbing code either.
TOM: Charles, well if you're going to reroof that's the time to correct this. What you're doing now is by putting like a roofing sealant, an asphalt sealant on there, that's only going to last you a short period of time. There's some new technology in flashing products that you really ought to look at. I would go to the website for the Grace Company; GraceatHome.com. Those guys are the experts at keeping a roof leak-free and there's a product I want you to look at called Grace Vycor which is a self-adhered flashing. It's designed to cover those areas of the roof that are odd shaped or that are prone to leakage and if you put that ...
LESLIE: Because it's super flexible.
TOM: It's very flexible. You can stretch it around all those places. If you use a product like that with proper underlayment, I don't think that that plumbing vent's going to leak anytime soon.
Up next, fixing cracks in concrete is easy to do when you know what material to use, but what if you don't want something that dries hard; something that can move and expand and contract with that sort of moving sidewalk that you have outside your house. We'll tell you what material works well for that, next.
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ANNOUNCEMENT: The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior paint and primer in one with advanced NanoGuard technology to help you save time and money while preserving your home's exterior finish. For more information, visit Behr.com. That's B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
So if you find yourself walking around your property, especially on the sidewalk or the areas of concrete, and you're hopping over the cracks more than just walking a straight line because you're so superstitious and you've heard that song one too many times - 'Step on a crack, break your mama's back.' (Tom chuckles) Well, I know that was like the worst Devo impersonation but whatever; I'm kind of congested, allergies.
Alright folks, you can easily fix those cracks in concrete with a flowable urethane. It's a sealer. You get it at any home center or hardware store. And this material is actually going to fill that void that's left by the cracks but it stays flexible so it's never going to become brittle and it's not going to fall out or crack out or crumble out as your concrete expands and contracts. It's an easy do-it-yourself job and it can actually prevent even worse damage and also eliminate any tripping hazards: you know, neighbors walking by; kids playing in front of the house. It's always better to be safe than sorry; plus your sidewalk is going to look amazing.
TOM: Amazing is good. I love when people walk up to my house and say, 'Tom, your sidewalks look amazing.'
LESLIE: (chuckling) Is that a compliment you get on a daily basis?
TOM: I think so. (Leslie chuckles)
888-666-3974. If you want some help turning your home improvement projects into something that amazes your neighbors, amaze your friends, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Mike in Oklahoma is dealing with a water heater problem. What happened? What's going on?
MIKE: Well, I don't have a problem but I am unable to have one of these tankless water heaters because I do not have gas or propane.
MIKE: And what I have kind of thought through on my own was kind of cycling my electric one on and off by using my circuit breaker when I'm gone. I'm gone quite a bit, so the circuit breaker is by the back door and I just flip it when I leave.
TOM: OK, are you gone for, you know, like more than a day at a time, Mike?
MIKE: And my main question is am I maybe doing more harm to the electronics or anything in there by flipping it?
TOM: Absolutely not. You're doing exactly the right thing. If you're going to be gone for an extended period of time, turning off the 240-volt circuit breaker to the water heater is the right thing to do. If you were gone only like a day or two here and there what we would be telling you to do is to put a 240-volt timer on the water heater. But your job takes you away for several days at a time. The right thing to do is to turn it off at the circuit breaker panel.
MIKE: OK, well thank you so very much. I appreciate that.
TOM: You're welcome, Mike. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Suzanne in Florida has a septic tank with a crack in it. This doesn't sound good. Tell us about the problem.
SUZANNE: Yes, I've had a problem here. I've owned this home. It's built in 1984. I believe that the septic tank was never pumped out before I owned it. Had it pumped out. Everything was good to go but - and I could see to the bottom of it with the service contractor that I had here and he pumped everything out but there was a crack in the side and it looked just like a hose of groundwater leaking in. It looked clear; everything looked good and he said, 'Oh, my goodness. You're going to need a whole new septic tank and drain field.'
TOM: Well, why do you need a new drain field if your septic tank is cracked? I don't understand that.
SUZANNE: Well, I don't know but - well, apparently - I don't know; if that's just what they want to sell me. But ...
TOM: Yeah, that's what it sounds like.
LESLIE: So the drain field, Tom, never becomes compromised if there had been a leak in the septic tank.
TOM: No, there are two - we're talking about two different geographic areas here.
SUZANNE: Oh, we are?
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: The septic tank is the tank itself and it's usually a precast concrete tank. The drain field is a series of pipes that goes underground and it's perforated and it distributes the effluent that comes up and over the tank. So we're talking about two separate things here. So if that contractor said you need to replace both without a reason for replacing the drain field I would lean towards thinking he's trying just to sell you something that perhaps you don't need.
You know what would be a good thing to do here, Suzanne ...
SUZANNE: Please tell me.
TOM: ... would be to get an independent evaluation. I would call a local professional home inspector. Find one that's certified by ASHI - the American Society of Home Inspectors. Talk with them on the phone. Make sure that they are experts in septic tank evaluation and have them take a look at it and get them to prescribe a repair here, because I doubt you're going to have to do a total replacement here. Concrete that is cracked and damaged can be repaired in a number of ways quite successfully; none of which would involve completely removing and replacing this.
SUZANNE: Thank you ever so much and good luck to you and thank you.
TOM: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we like to have some fun with some cool promotions now and again and this is now your last chance to get in on our latest contest. It's called the Ugliest Door in America and this is the last weekend to qualify to win a $5,000 makeover from our friends at Therma-Tru Doors. Here's how it works.
If you've got a door on your house that you think is a bit ugly - it could be your front door; it could be your back door; it could your patio door, your slider; hey, it could be your neighbor's door - maybe you want to just enter them (Leslie chuckles). It could help the whole neighborhood.
LESLIE: Drop a hint, subtly.
TOM: All you have to do is take two photographs of the door - one up close and one that kind of covers most of the house or you could shoot a video, a one-minute video, in the alternative - send it in with a brief description of why you think you have the ugliest door in America and if yours is selected by America - America is going to vote on this starting in a couple of weeks. If yours is one that's selected - you can get all your friends to vote for you - guess what? The whole Therma-Tru team is going to come on over to your house and they're going to tear out that ugly door forever and put in a brand, spanking new, beautiful fiberglass entry system from Therma-Tru worth up to $5,000. The deadline is just moments away. It doesn't take long to enter so get out that camera, get out the door, take your photos, write your essay, send it on over and we could be showing up at your house and helping you put the trim on that brand new door from Therma-Tru. To enter just head on over to MyUglyDoor.com; that's MyUglyDoor.com and we're going to make sure your door is ugly no more.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Hey, what are you waiting for? Go out there, grab your cameras, get in on the contest. Who doesn't want a free beautification process of the exterior of your home? But hurry back because when we do come back we're going to be talking about storm windows. You know you might think they're only a good option for the winter season but wrong. If you keep them installed during the summer they can help you save a ton of dough even on the hottest summer days. Find out how, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:25:59.2]
ANNOUNCER: Stay-Green lawn care products and gardening supplies provide practical solutions for seasonal lawn and garden needs at value prices. Stay-Green products are available exclusively at Lowe's and come with a written guarantee printed on every package and label. The complete line of Stay-Green fertilizers, growing media, weed controls and grass seed help keep lawns looking beautiful year-round and are the perfect blend of science and technology at an affordable price.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You'll get the answer to your home improvement question and an opportunity to win a great prize because this hour we're giving away the Ryobi 7.25-inch circular saw worth 40 bucks. It's got a very powerful 13-amp motor to help with the toughest cutting jobs around. It's also got a laser alignment system - I love this - so you can always get a very straight cut every, single time. If you want to win it you have to call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT and have a home improvement question for us. We might pick your name out of the Money Pit hardhat and send that saw over to you.
LESLIE: Alright, well everybody over here at team Money Pit loves to share good home improvement and energy saving advice and now we've got a great tip for you that's going to keep your air conditioning from not working too, too hard this summer season as we're all sweating it out and cranking it on and the best part is it's totally free. If your house has central air conditioning, go ahead and keep your storm windows down because it can help you save expensive energy leaks by slowing the flow of hot air outside of your house into your home because remember, homes, they leak just as much in the summer as they do in the winter and we're not just blowing a lot of hot air at you. It's a good tip. It'll save you some bucks.
TOM: Hey, would you like a few more tips just like that to help you save some money all summer long? Well, head on over to the Money Pit website and sign up for our free Money Pit e-newsletter. Next week we're going to have air conditioning efficiency tips that are going to save you big bucks. If you're not a subscriber you can sign up right now at MoneyPit.com and again, it is totally free just like our phone number, 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Kyle in Indiana is having a tile situation. What's happening?
KYLE: Hi. Yes, I have some tile on my kitchen floor and a couple of places the grout's starting to come up. When I bought the house they did leave some tiles and a bag of grout. Can this just be filled in or does it need to be replaced or more extensive work done to fix this?
LESLIE: Well, are you seeing actual damage to the tile or is it just the grout is breaking up and sort of moving away?
KYLE: Just the grout is starting to come away in a couple places on a couple of the tiles.
TOM: Well, I think that you certainly can mix up some of that grout and it's great that you still have it. The one caution I would give to you is that even though it perhaps is the original grout and originally was the exact same ...
LESLIE: It's not going to match the wear and tear.
TOM: Yeah, as it was originally; the exact same color. The existing grout no doubt has gotten dirty over the years, so when you first put it you may find that it's very obvious that it's a patch but as it wears and as it gets dirtier over time, as you're washing the floor, it'll probably sort of melt right in there. So I think it's great that you have the existing grout. I would mix some up into a paste-like consistency. I would go for sort of a toothpaste-like consistency and fill in those places. Make sure you get it as clean as possible before you do this ...
TOM: ... and you should be good to go.
KYLE: Great, thanks a lot.
TOM: You're welcome, Kyle. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: With rolling power outages on the plate for much of the United States this summer we've got Tom in Louisiana who wants to beat the blackout. What can we do for you?
TOM IN LOUISIANA: I need to get some recommendations on a whole-house generator.
TOM: We can do that. How big is your house, Tom?
TOM IN LOUISIANA: About 2,400 square feet.
TOM: I have one here. I have a Guardian generator by Generac and I like it because it runs, in my case, on natural gas. Now do you have natural gas there?
TOM IN LOUISIANA: Right on the other side of the wall.
TOM: Perfect. A natural-gas generator is totally the way to go because this way you don't have to look for gasoline when the power goes out; which, of course, many people don't recognize the fact that when the power goes out the filling stations can't pump gas because they've got no power to ...
LESLIE: So you have to have the gas on standby.
TOM: Right. And they actually just came up with this automatic transfer switch now that does it all for you. Basically, when you put in the standby generator you can put in this new automatic transfer switch and within, you know, 15 to 30 seconds it automatically moves those critical circuits from the utility company side of the electrical panel over to the generator side and does it all for you. And the good news is the prices have come down on these things now. So I think that that would be the hot ticket; a Guardian generator by Generac.
TOM IN LOUISIANA: Well, I'll slide down and get that rascal. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. When we come back we're going to talk about our number one asked about topic on this show here which is flooring and our e-mail this week proved it. We got a lot of them. We're going to lay out some flooring answers, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:31:20.6]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators, America's choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And how would you like to learn to do your part to conserve water? It's important that each of us take the steps necessary to do jus that and so I'm going to help a little bit because I've got a great new article on our website at AOL. It is simply at MoneyPit.AOL.com. It will teach you how to save water and save money by plugging the leaks. Part of the problem is finding those leaks: are they in the sinks; are they in the toilets; are they in the valves. How do you know? We're going to give you the quick tips that you need to know to plug those leaks once and for all if you download my new column at MoneyPit.AOL.com.
LESLIE: And while you're searching the web, go on over to another very valuable website, MoneyPit.com, and if you want to you can click on an icon there called Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us your e-mail questions. We've got a couple to go over today. We've got one from M in Syosset, New York. Ooh, very mysterious. (Tom chuckles)
'I have a swarm of carpenter bees that are digging holes into my cedar deck and everything I have tried is not working to get rid of them. It seems that the bees are growing in numbers. My deck is about 19 years old. How can I save the deck and get rid of the bees?'
TOM: Maybe you need to get some steelworker bees. You know, kind of work together.
LESLIE: I'm like maybe they need to put their tool belts on and get back to work.
TOM: (chuckling) Well, carpenter bees are a problem. They do cause a fair amount of annoying type of damage.
LESLIE: Now these are the ones with the big, black bottoms?
TOM: Yeah, and they're ...
LESLIE: Like larger bees.
TOM: Right, they kind of look like - most people would call them bumblebees or low-flying attack helicopters ...
TOM: ... because they kind of try to intimidate you. But here's a little secret. They try to intimidate you but they can't bite you. They have no stinger. So they're woodborer bees. They will chew but they will not sting you.
LESLIE: And they chew like the perfect like wood plug hole size. It's amazing.
TOM: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And that's what you need to know because if you do have carpenter bees you have to do two things. Not only do you have to spray an insecticide in the actual bee hole; you have to also plug those holes or they'll come back and use them every year.
Now, the over-the-counter type insecticides will kill the live ones but if you want to keep them from coming back year after year you really need to have a pro come in because there's a powder type insecticide that's a lot longer-lasting and will keep them away.
The other thing that you can do - and I know you mentioned this is in parts of your cedar deck - very often these things will also infest like the fascia around the house; the white trim that's sort of behind the gutter. I had a piece in my home that was ravaged by that. I replaced it with AZEK, which is the PVC ...
LESLIE: It's like a composite.
TOM: Yeah, it's a composite product. It's made out of plastic. Looks like wood, cuts like wood but they can't chew it. It was so funny, Leslie. The bees kept swarming around this saying, 'Hmm, I think it's wood but I can't eat it.' (chuckles)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Alright, we've got another here from Chris in Ontario who writes: 'Can ceramic tile be covered with other flooring?'
TOM: I think so. What kind of other flooring do you want to put down, Chris? I mean you certainly can put a laminate floor on top of it and also it's possible to put ceramic tile on top of ceramic tile. So you could actually have two layers of ceramic tiles. So that's a situation where if it's down really well, maybe you want to leave it in place. But remember, you're going to create a bigger lip there and that could be an issue because of tripping and you certainly don't want to block in any appliances.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and also you can adjust your base molding with a quarter-round or a shoe moulding just to finish it off really nicely.
TOM: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We are just about out of time but the show does continue online at MoneyPit.com where you can download our free podcast of this show or any show from the past year. You can even search our transcripts for perhaps a tip that we don't want you driving off the road trying to write something down. When you hear it, go to MoneyPit.com and click on the transcripts if there's any portion of this show that you missed. And while you're there you can sign up for our free newsletter and/or click on Ask Tom and Leslie and send us an e-mail message. And finally, remember it's the last weekend for the Ugliest Door in America contest sponsored by Therma-Tru. Go to MyUglyDoor.com, send us the photos of your ugly door and we might show up and replace it for free.
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: 0:36:03.2]
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(Copyright 2008 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)