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. You got a question about your home improvement project? That is the number to call. 888-MONEY-PIT. We are standing by to talk about your house, your home, your castle, your money pit. We are in the money pit-prevention business.
LESLIE: (laughing) Sometimes you can't prevent it, Tom; it just happens all on its own.
TOM: That's true. But we can help. We can help. We certainly can help you spend a few less dollars on those home improvement projects because we can tell you some shortcuts that will work; as opposed to the ones that everybody tries that don't work and run up your costs.
LESLIE: You know, it's so crazy. We've been having a very bad bout of luck with our money pit, which has been affectionately dubbed into our home. Everything's gone wrong. If it can go wrong, it went wrong.
TOM: But now it's fixed up and looking swell.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. Everything's fixed up but it's always fun when you come back from filming and working and being on the road and you step down in the basement - and I hate to say that you were right, Tom; I'm going back on my word about carpets and basements. (laughing) Carpets and basements. Ah!
LESLIE: It wasn't so major; other than the fact that when I stepped over to my office and went to turn on my computer it went squish, squish, squish, squish, squish, squish, squish. And I was like, 'Tom! No!' You were like the curse word of the house. (laughing)
TOM: I hate to be right but when I'm right, I'm right. That's why ... I always say carpet's a bad idea in the basement. Well, fortunately you got it up before it got really ...
LESLIE: If you're going to glue the carpet directly to the subfloor, go for it. If you're going to put squishy underlayment of foam underneath there so that it can just act like a sponge and really sort of help to keep it in the rug, don't do it. Don't do it.
But it's all fixed. Laminate floor, beautiful.
TOM: Yeah? Looks snappy, huh?
LESLIE: It's really snazzy. And these guys came in and you know, working on my schedule, it was a one day wonder. They were here until about one o'clock in the morning and I apologized to my neighbors who were on the receiving end of some loud noise. But those guys saved the day and saved my house. I thank you.
TOM: Now it looks great.
LESLIE: It really does look great. And now I know when there's water down there, I can just mop it up.
TOM: Laminate floor is a great solution for a basement or for a bathroom.
Well, what do you want to tackle? Have you had any home improvement nightmares that you want to share with us? We'll help you get through them. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Hey, Leslie, there was a new survey out from the home improvement research institute. Do you know that almost half of the people that sold a house fixed it up first? So they're spending a ...
LESLIE: It makes sense.
TOM: ... spending a lot of money before putting homes on the market.
LESLIE: Well, you hope you're going to get it back.
TOM: Well, absolutely. And that's why it's important to only invest in the repairs that do give you a good return on investment. One that's really cheap and easy is to simply empty out your place.
LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. You know, clutter can make a space look so much smaller. Plus it's hard for somebody who's looking at your house for the first time, who's never seen it, to sort of see past all that stuff that's around there. So try to get things organized. You want to make your home look as spacious as you possibly can.
Well, if you don't know where to start or what the best way to do that organizing is, we've got an organizational expert who's going to join us later this hour. Very exciting.
TOM: And we've got a weather channel storm tracker radio to give away. It will automatically alert you to weather threats. It's worth 40 bucks and can come in mighty handy if you live in a storm prone area. It's going to go to one caller this hour, so call now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Pam in Pennsylvania's got some problem with the laundry. What's going on?
PAM: I seem to have a problem with my washer draining.
PAM: It doesn't leave standing water, but when I start to pull the clothes out they're just sopping wet and there's water running off of them.
LESLIE: Does it seem like it's not even doing its spin cycle?
PAM: No, it definitely spins. So what I've been doing is just sending it through the cycle a second time and that seems to clear the rest of the water out.
TOM: Where do you drain this washing machine? Is it drained into a pipe or is it draining into a laundry tub?
PAM: It drains into a pipe.
TOM: It's possible that if there's any obstruction in that pipe and ...
LESLIE: It could be a sock.
TOM: Yeah. Or anything that's in that drain pipe so that drain pipe is slow now. Perhaps there's an obstruction that's building up. What happens is this. If your drain pipe that you're draining into it is backing up at all ...
TOM: ... to the point where it could be siphoning some of the drain water back into the washing machine even after it spins. So it spits it out and then some of it reverses and goes back in. That's one possibility for this particular condition.
You know, there's a great web resource out there that can help you get to the bottom of it. It's called RepairClinic.com. We've had the guy that founded this site on the show before; his name is Chris Hall. He's done a very good job of categorizing every single appliance problem that anyone could ever imagine, providing the solution to it. And of course they're also happy to sell you their parts but you can use the site without buying any parts.
But that's one thing that comes to mind right away, Pam; is a problem with a clogged drain pipe causing a siphon back in because it is spinning. At least mechanically it sounds like it's working but if there is some obstruction you're going to suck water back into it.
LESLIE: Chris in Virginia's doing some gardening. How's it going?
CHRIS: We have some pretty severe underbrush that I have been unsuccessful in about three different attempts in six years to (inaudible).
LESLIE: Well, what have you tried, Chris?
CHRIS: I have done everything. At one point, we sprayed an herbicide on the back slope and then, you know, waited a couple of weeks and planted grass. Other times, I've gone through and just shaved it to the ground and tilled it and tried to, you know, pull out roots and anything I could to just kind of clean it up.
TOM: Have you tried Roundup, Chris?
CHRIS: Not specifically, no.
TOM: Roundup is a very ... is a very good way to take an area of your yard that's completely out of control and get it back to sort of ground zero.
TOM: And what you do is you spray this on everything that you want to get rid of. And the best time to do this is the fall. It will start to die away probably within two to three weeks. And then, as it starts to get brown, you can plant grass seed right above that. Because the Roundup that you sprayed on the plants, after a couple of weeks, won't affect the grass seed. And what happens is that underbrush will kind of die away and the grass will come up through it. And the underbrush does a good job of holding that grass seed in place and not letting, you know, the birds get to it. And really giving it a place to knit.
And the reason you're doing this in the fall is because it gives the roots a chance to take hold and get long enough to support it through the hot summer that will occur next year. If you try to do this now, you're going to find that it's too hot for the grass to really grow. So wait until the fall, apply some Roundup to all that underbrush, wait two to three weeks, plant some grass seed and you should be good to go. By next year this time, you should be looking at a nice lush green lawn.
LESLIE: Dan in Florida's next and your water has an unwanted scent. What's going on?
DAN: The landlord replaced two water heaters and about two months after they were installed, it started to get a foul odor when I ran the hot water only in the kitchen. And the kitchen is closer to the hot water heater. The single bathroom, which is like 15 feet away, when I turn on the hot water doesn't get that odor.
TOM: Is this house on city water or is it on well water?
DAN: This is city water.
TOM: Hmm. OK. And is the smell you're getting kind of a sulfur smell?
DAN: It's that sulfur and (inaudible) ...
TOM: Rotten egg sulfur smell?
TOM: Yeah. That's ... the reason you're probably getting that is because the warm water is causing that water and the smell to vaporize when it comes out the faucet. So you're kind of creating a cloud there. It's probably just as bad in the cold water; it's just that since it's not heated, you don't smell it quite as regularly.
The only solution for that, Dan, is for you to add a charcoal filtration system to the water supply. That's going to be something that is in the municipal system that's being delivered to your house with that sulfur content and that sulfur odor. I'm sure it's perfectly safe. But it just doesn't smell good. So that if you add a filtration system to it, you'll eliminate that.
But the reason it's happening with hot rather than cold is because it's being heated and it's offgassing into the air and then it's getting up in your nose and that's why it smells like ...
LESLIE: Or the heat is releasing the funk. (laughing)
TOM: Right. So that's why it smells like rotten eggs.
LESLIE: Mary in Delaware finds The Money Pit on WDEL. And you're thinking about replacing your roof. Tell us about it.
MARY: I'm a little bit leery on ... how do you go about finding a good roofer?
TOM: Well, finding a good contractor is not as impossible as it might seem. The first thing that you want to do, Mary, is identify what kind of roof you want to put on; whether that's an asphalt roof or a metal roof. Try to develop that specification so you know what kind of roof that you want. Then once you know that, then you're going to want to interview probably two to three to four different contractors and ask them for prices and their recommendations on the kind of roof process that you want to undergo.
The reason that you're making these decisions ahead of time is, otherwise, you're not going to be in a position to compare apples to apples. One guy's going to recommend to go with one way; another guy's going to recommend to go a different way. It's better off to have those decisions done ahead of time. If you need a specification prepared, it's not something you can do yourself. You could hire a professional home inspector or an architect to do that for you for a small fee.
Once you identify the roofers, then it's best to get, from each roofer, a list of their references. And then actually physically call those references. In the roofing business, the other thing that's nice is if you have the address of the property, you can drive by ...
TOM: ... and see what the work looks like. But there's nothing that replaces that level of leg work when you're trying to find a contractor (inaudible).
LESLIE: Yeah. And the type of questions to ask the references that you're going to call are: did they do the job on time; did they come in at the same amount of money that they estimated at the end of the project; how much longer did it take than they said it was going to take. Just go through the whole process of the ... of the new roof installation itself and find out how they did overall and would these folks use them again or recommend them; that's the biggest word there.
TOM: And if you do that, Mary, I'm sure you're going to come up with a good roofer and a good roofing job.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
So, Leslie, did you realize that the average life span of a lawn mower is like three years?
LESLIE: That's it? But you only use it for about a quarter of the year.
TOM: People don't maintain them. They leave gas in them throughout the season and things like that.
LESLIE: Which is so bad.
TOM: Yeah, it's really bad. If you've ever done it, (chuckling) you know how bad it is. Especially if it turns to varnish and you have to try to get it out (laughing) next spring and you're pulling and tugging and pulling and tugging on that cord; it just won't start. So we're going to save you some of that aggravation.
When we come back, we're going to give you some lawn mower maintenance tips that can definitely extend your mower's life and save you from very bruised and sore shoulders.
[audio timestamp: 10:50]
[audio timestamp: 13:05]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Metal Roofing Alliance. We call metal roofing investment-grade roofing. Because in your lifetime, a metal roof will save you money and add value to your home. To find a Metal Roofing Alliance contractor or to learn more about investment-grade roofing, visit www.metalroofing.com.
TOM: Welcome back to this hour of 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.
So, have you dragged your mower out and it's not working so well? Because perhaps you didn't put it away properly last year. Did you leave some oil and gas in it? Things like that can really shorten the life of your mower. Here's what you need to do every season.
First, you need to change the spark plug because the spark plugs do wear; they do get dirty; they do get combustion deposits on them and if you don't change it every year it's not going to run reliably.
The next thing is to sharpen the blade because if you sharpen the blade, the mower's going to do a much better job in cutting that grass without beating it to death. (chuckling)
Also, lubricate all moving parts; you know, the wheels, the handles, the cranks. And use a silicone spray or use WD40; it works great for everything.
LESLIE: Yeah, those are all great tips. But what about the carburetor, Tom?
TOM: Ah, good point.
LESLIE: Yeah, the carburetor is always ... well, usually it's the first thing to go on a mower and for about a ...
TOM: It's like the hardest working part of your motor.
LESLIE: It's true. It's the heart of the mower; let's put it that way. It takes care of everything. And for about 100 bucks, you can have a repair shop clean your carburetor, which will keep it lasting much, much longer. And 100 bucks is way less than you're going to spend replacing that mower.
So these are just a couple of steps you can do and you'll be really happy when that warm weather rolls around next year.
Alright, folks. We've got a great prize to give away this hour. It's the Weather Channel storm tracker. It's by Vector. It's worth about 40 bucks and it's a weather alert radio which gives you an automatic alert signal of any sort of hazardous warning conditions. So it's a great thing to have no matter where you live in this country.
TOM: And you know what I like about it? It's got a hand crank so you can actually recharge the battery just by turning the crank on it. You don't need to replace the batteries because they may not be available during a weather emergency. So you just crank up the power and you're good to go.
1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Michael in Ohio's up next and you've got a question about gutter maintenance. What can we do for you?
MICHAEL: Hey listen, the last few years I've spent about two or three hours a year just cleaning my gutters out (chuckling) and I'm tired of it. I've got a neighbor that just put some gutter guards on. I was wondering if that's something that you think it'd be a good idea to do.
TOM: Yeah, well I definitely think it's a good idea to do if you don't want to have to take the gutters out. But there a couple of different types of gutter guards and you really need to choose carefully.
First of all, you have the kind that are like screens that lay on top of the gutters. Don't usually recommend those because the leaves ...
LESLIE: Because things still get through.
TOM: Yeah, they get through and they ... and they ... not only do they get through but they get through and ....
LESLIE: And makes them smaller.
TOM: Yeah, and they kind of clump and rot and they end up like ... you know, like plaster of Paris in the bottom of the gutters themselves. So I don't like those. What I do like are the kinds that go on top of the gutters that are like gutter covers. And they work on the principal of surface adhesion. So the water runs over them, hangs on this gutter cover, drips into the gutter itself but the leaves wash off.
LESLIE: And do those get installed underneath that first shingle? Are they kind of difficult to install as an afterthought or are they pretty easy?
TOM: They are a little tricky because they should go under the shingle. But there are different types. The ones that are smaller - that are like about four feet wide - those are easier to slip in. But they're also available up to ten or twelve feet wide if you're putting a new roof on and you don't have like three people to like lift up the lip (chuckling) of the old shingles. It does definitely slip in nicely.
MICHAEL: Is there any chance of bees' nests or wasps' nests getting in there?
TOM: I don't think so. No chance greater than not having them. I do think it's a good idea, though, because gutter leaks ... gutters that overflow cause a lot of structural problems. You know, they can cause the basements to leak; they can cause foundations to crack; they can cause sidewalks to get slippery in the winter. So for all those reasons - not to mention the safety of you not having to have yourself up there on that ladder, you know, once or twice or three times a year - I think gutter guards are a good investment, Michael.
LESLIE: June in Nebraska's next who finds The Money Pit on KCNI. And this is an interesting question. June says husband gouged too deep with the snow plow in the yard and wants to know if plants and grass will come back.
So June, is this a he-said/she-said debate? What's going on?
JUNE: Well, yeah. I don't know if I need to replant or if it's going to come back.
TOM: Did he hit the bedrock?
JUNE: (laughing) Well, about.
TOM: (chuckling) Alright.
JUNE: It was just ... you know, he was moving snow and he didn't realize, you know, how deep he was going ...
JUNE: ... and boy, he moved all the bluegrass off. (laughing)
TOM: Oh, boy. Well, listen, you've got to just regrade that area. I would start with fill dirt. You don't need to use top soil to, you know, the depths of this hole. Build it up with fill dirt and leave yourself about four to six inches for top soil and then go ahead and reseed it, tamp that area.
There's a self-repairing grass seed, which is made by Vigoro, that might be very handy for a repair like this. The grass seeds that are designed for repairs tend to grow very quickly and fill in very nicely. And the time to do this might not be right now because the heat of the summer is a hard time to do it. But wait until it gets cooler in the fall and, this way, the seeds have a time for the roots to grow and get some length in them before the heat happens in the following summer.
LESLIE: Alright. Don in Oregon's up next and you've got an unwanted visitor to the yard. What's happening?
DON: I've got ... I've heard it called nut grass. And it's ... I've got fescue. And then there's nut grass that comes up; it's a lighter color than the fescue and it grows like three times faster. And it's kind of sparse and as the summer goes by it starts spreading and the hotter it gets, the worse it gets and it really looks bad because it grows so much faster than everything else. And I want ... I'd like to know how to get rid of it.
LESLIE: Well, I can totally understand because they tend to grow really well; especially if you've got full sunlight and lots of adequate watering. It really just tends to grow and what happens is it spreads so quickly because the root - the tuber which is underground - sort of just spreads and infests and just takes over. And one of the most effective things that you can actually use on it is something called Roundup.
DON: Won't that kill the rest of the grass?
TOM: Not if you're strategic about applying it. It's only going to ... it's only going to affect what it hits. So if you wait for a dry day and try only to hit the tubes that shoot up, then it's going to affect the plant. And I think the best time to apply that is probably a month or two after it appears.
LESLIE: Yeah, you don't want to do it when you first see it popping up. You want to give it some time to actually grow. Unfortunately, you want to wait about two to three months so that it will actually mature - this nut grass. And then what happens is you want to make sure you weed once or twice, remove any annual (ph) weeds and apply that Roundup two to three months after you see this emergence and that should do the trick.
DON: But how do you keep it from hitting the rest of the grass?
TOM: Yeah, well ... how do you keep the overspray down? Well, what you need to do is, you know, if the tuber grass comes up high, you can hit that high. If not, take out the whole patch and then plant grass seed through it. Because what happens is that grass in the area will die off, but the seed - the new seed - will still germinate and it'll come up through. And the best time to do that is the fall because it gives the seed a good chance to germinate and grow roots before the next summer's hot sun starts to hit it and beat down on it.
LESLIE: Up next is Ed from Tennessee who listens to The Money Pit on Discovery Radio Network. And you've got a hot attic. That's a surprise. What can we do for?
ED: Yes. What happened was is that we needed a little extra room so I took an old walk-in attic area, I threw some walls up, put some drywall up then finished out the ceiling. And I've done the insulation in the wall but I'm still having some temperature problems with it.
TOM: Ed, is this room attached to your central air conditioning system by any chance?
ED: No it is not. I've got ... what I did, I went out and bought a portable air conditioning unit that you duct to the wall somewhere. That's what I'm filling it with.
TOM: Well, listen. When you're going to refinish an attic and do a finished room, there's a lot of considerations.
First of all, compared to any other room in your house, that attic room has more areas that are radiated by the sun than any other space in your house. Hence, the conventional rules of how big the air conditioner has to be just don't apply. I mean, generally, with central air conditioning, you figure 600 to 800 square feet per ton. With a portable, you can kind of half that. You expect, you know, an air conditioner to do about half as much. But when you stick it in an attic and you have all of those surfaces that are being beat down by the heat all day long, sometimes even that is not enough.
Now that you've already finished the room, I'm not quite sure what else we can tell you to do. Had you called before you finished it, I would have kind of gone through a checklist with you of A - making sure that you had insulation in the walls; B - making sure you had insulation in the ceiling surface that you put across that ceiling, not in the roof rafters. If you had to put them in the roof rafters - such as if you had a cathedral ceiling - you would use about a third less insulation than you had space so that you would leave some space between the insulation and the underside of the roof sheeting for ventilation. Then we would have talked about putting in soffit vents at the roof overhang and ridge vents at the roof peaks so that you're always washing air above that insulation, under that roof surface where you're taking the heat out in the summer and the dampness out in the winter so you make it efficient.
But even after having done all of that, you still are going to find that you need more air conditioning than you probably expected. And in this case, I wonder whether or not the system you put in is a bit undersize because those were all the things on the checklist that I would advise you to look into to try to reduce the temperature of the room as much as possible, Ed.
LESLIE: Well, if you're selling your house, the first investing you can do to make it more attractive is to clear out and clean up.
Coming up next, we're going to have expert tips on how to do it right.
[audio timestamp: 22:47]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by Aprilaire, developers of revolutionary whole-home dehumidification technology. Aprilaire's professionally-installed Model 1700 whole-home dehumidifier removes just the right amount of moisture for ultimate comfort. And unlike messy portable dehumidifiers that work in just a single room, Aprilaire dehumidifiers work throughout your entire home. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com.
TOM: Welcome back to this hour of 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.
So Leslie, according to a new survey, more than half of those who plan to sell their home fix it up in some way before they put it on the market. That's according to ...
LESLIE: Smart move.
TOM: Yeah, that's according to the Home Improvement Research Institute. And a quarter of those surveyed said they wait to do their home improvements after listing but before selling. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. (laughing)
LESLIE: (laughing) Procrastination is key, apparently.
TOM: And some even spruce up the house after an offer has been made and accepted. Popular projects include painting and flooring.
LESLIE: Well, it just shows that most homeowners want to put their house in the best light when they're trying to sell it. And there's one project you can take on which is basically free and it will add tons of perceived value to your house.
So joining us to talk about what that is, is organization guru Cynthia Ewer. Well, since you're into organizing, Cynthia, let me guess. Should we actually clean our homes before we try to sell them or not?
CYNTHIA: Well, it isn't so much about cleaning. It's about clearing the visual fields so that you can let the prospective buyers put themselves in your home. And one of the problems you find with clutter is that we become ... it becomes invisible to us. We no longer see it. It's just our stuff. But when you want to bring fresh eyesight or a fresh look to your home before sale, really give clutter a good hard scrutiny with an item; moving it out so that the prospective buyer can see themselves in your home.
TOM: You know, that's a good point because I think that when a prospective buyer is looking at a house, you have to remember they're basically buying space. And if that space is cluttered up with all your old stuff, they're not going to be able to envision how their lives are going to be able to fit in that space. So you really need to show off the product by getting rid of everything that's obscuring the product; being all of the stuff that's obscuring how your house looks to them.
CYNTHIA: Well, absolutely. And the other thing is that if you have a cluttered home, it creates a poor impression in view of the idea that the buyer looks in and cannot see the back of the closet; can't see the back of shelves and says, '(gasping) My stuff will never fit here.' Even if the home would fit that buyer, because the clutter is obscuring the view, it prevents that home from showing well.
LESLIE: Do you recommend, Cynthia, just clearing everything out or just trying to make it all organized in an attractive way.
CYNTHIA: Well, no, because the problem is what's an attractive way to you tends to choke off the view. And others really don't have the same emotional bonds to, say, your photographs or your pictures. So when you put a house on the market, it's important to depersonalize it. And that means getting rid of things that are appealing to you but tend to obscure the view. So as bare as you can get it, the better you allow the buyer to see themselves in that home.
TOM: Well, let's face it, Cynthia. Organizing a home is an overwhelming process and that's why so many of us put it off (laughing) for so long.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Mm-hmm.
TOM: So, when you're looking at the big stinking mess and you're finally forcing yourself - kicking and screaming the whole way -
TOM: - to straighten it up, where do you begin? How do you tackle it maybe in baby steps so it's not such a horrible thing to do?
CYNTHIA: Well, first of all, it shouldn't be a horrible thing to do. Think of it as a freeing thing to do. Clutter and disorganization kind of trap energy and make you feel constricted and constrained in your surroundings. Even small changes to (audio gap) will just release that stale energy and bring a new excitement into your home. And that helps you take the next step. But if you see it as, 'Oh, gosh, it's the horrible process,' you're going to feel that.
But instead, if you say, 'My goal today is make it easier to get up tomorrow morning. What can I do?' (laughing) - seriously - and clearing out just the shelf where you keep the coffee cups and the mixing spoons.
LESLIE: I'm such an organizational freak in my own home that there are some days where if the things in my closet aren't folded properly, I can't progress to the things on my to-do list because I know that the sweaters are a mess. So, besides being so hyper organized, where's a good place to start?
CYNTHIA: Start with your daily routine. You want to look at the things that are tripping you up every single day. In other words, don't go rooting around in a back closet looking for, you know, sweaters that aren't folded for next winter. (laughing)
Instead, take a look at your routines and see where they're falling short. Can you get out the door in the morning without losing something or looking for something? Are the children able to get off to school, if you have them? Are they able to get out of the house without having to hunt for their homework? When you come in, do have the things you need to prepare dinner or is there always a trip to the store in your life?
These are the areas that where you make that initial investment of energy, you're going to reap immediate daily rewards and it's going to motivate you to keep decluttering, keep organizing and keep making your house work for you.
TOM: Cynthia Ewer, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
Hey, you want more advice from Cynthia? Check out OrganizedHome.com.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Well, do you want to know a hot trend right now for outdoor living? It's outdoor kitchens and I'm not just talking about a barbecue, folks.
TOM: That's right. Have you been thinking about installing the outdoor kitchen of your dream? Up next, we'll be cooking up some hot tips to make sure you get it right.
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[audio timestamp: 31:00]
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.
We're talking about outdoor kitchen tips. Do you know what the three most important things are in real estate, Leslie?
LESLIE: Location, location, location?
TOM: And that is the same three most important things when it comes to picking your outdoor kitchen's place. You want that outdoor kitchen near your indoor kitchen. Why? Because you're always going to be moving things in between. And you also want it within easy reach of utilities and, of course, away from flammable structures like trellises, arbors and vinyl siding.
You know, in the years I spent as a home inspector, I cannot tell you how many times I saw the (laughing) arched vinyl siding meltdown. It perfectly matched the width of the charcoal grill or the gas grill. If it was a small gas grill, it was about a three-foot arc; if it was a large gas grill it'd be like an eight-foot arc (laughing) of melted vinyl around the house. It never melted enough to fall through but it would ...
LESLIE: It takes on that like brownish color as well. It's terrible.
TOM: Well, yeah. And it never melted enough to kind of go all the way through but it always just sort of deformed the siding. (laughing) So location is very important. Keep cooking appliances away from your house.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. And don't forget. The very first thing you should tackle is checking your local zoning laws and code requirements. You don't want to build something, spend a lot of money, create this area that you love only to find that you have to take it down. And also, keep in mind that any weather situations your area might have - whether nor'easters or hurricanes; anything that might go on - you want to make sure that the structure you build is going to last and last no matter what happens.
TOM: OK, coming up next week in the next issue of our free Money Pit e-newsletter, we'll have more outdoor kitchen tips including materials that are weather proof. They can be installed and they're going to stand up to the sun, the heat, the rain and the snow in the off-season. Sign up now at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, no matter what the weather condition is in your area, we've got a great prize this hour. It's the Weather Channel Storm Tracker by Vector. It's $40. It's a hand-crank radio. It also operates on batteries but you don't have to worry about using them if you don't have them on hand. And what you can do is you can check any sort of emerging weather systems that are coming up and it will alert you if anything dangerous is happening in your area. So it takes all the guess work out of what's going on in Mother Nature. It's a great prize to have on hand no matter where you live.
TOM: Call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If your home improvement project's coming out kind of rough, consider a sand paper for your brain. Call us. We'll help you out. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Jerry in Pennsylvania's up next with a potentially hair-raising problem. What's going on with the electricity?
JERRY: Hi. Well, I don't know if maybe a couple of years ago I changed the switches and messed up the wires or what. (chuckling) But I'm wondering if there's an easy way to troubleshoot a three-way switch.
TOM: What's it doing, Jerry?
JERRY: Well, downstairs I can, you know, switch the lights off or on. But if I switch them off upstairs, I can't turn them on again downstairs. I have to go upstairs, turn it on - as if it was a two-way switch - and then I can control it from the downstairs again.
TOM: Yeah, I know exactly what you're talking about because I did the exact same thing in my office once. (laughing) It took me a couple of days to figure it out. But if you put the wires together improperly, that can happen; and especially with older wiring if it's not ... if it's not marked so you don't know which wires you're holding.
I'm uncomfortable, on the radio, telling you how to diagnose this because without seeing it, without testing it and without having the instruments, we can't give you the advice to get this correct. But the condition that you have explained basically means that the three-way circuit isn't wired correctly and, at this point, I'd contact an electrician and get it straightened out that way. Alright, Jerry?
Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Yeah, that's a little embarrassing when that happens. Even to the best of us. (chuckling) But it's easy to confuse them when the wires are old because they're not color-coded anymore and you really can't tell which ones you should be hooking up to the switch and which ones you should just be leaving alone.
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. We recently ... on Trading Spaces we're changing out a ceiling fixture and we pulled down the original fixture. All of the wires had been painted. We're like, 'Oh, which one's which?' So it happens to everybody and sometimes it happens intentionally.
Alan in Illinois is up next. What's your home improvement dilemma?
ALAN: Oh, I've got a ... I've got some rental property. I have a mobile home. It's got like a trailer top and my question is it's got a couple of leaks. Is there something that I could spray on; like to cover the whole thing so I can (ph) insulate it and maybe seal it up also? Is there some (inaudible)?
LESLIE: Are you talking about air leaks? Are you talking about water?
ALAN: Water leaks. It's got a couple of water leaks. Instead of replacing the roof, I was wondering if there's something like you can spray on it that would cover it up.
TOM: Like a spray roofing patch?
ALAN: Yeah, something like that. You know, through the whole roof. Is there like contractors out there that would do something like that or ...?
TOM: Alan, you know, there are a whole series of different types of spray roof patching compounds that are out there. They're usually in aerosol cans so they're really meant for repairs rather than replacement of the whole roof. So ...
LESLIE: Unless you want to buy a whole bunch of cans.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. A lot of them.
ALAN: Yeah. (laughing)
TOM: They're usually ... they're rubber based or asphalt based. And Leslie, you ... can you give a recommendation for one or two?
LESLIE: Yeah, there's a fun one; I like its name. It's Rescue 911. And it's just ... it makes it seem like it really does a good job, which we know that it does. And so what you want to do with this one, it sprays on. It's great for all types of things - whether it's plumbing, heat or air ducts, roofing - just like your problem, ceiling around air conditioners and roof vents. It adheres to just about any surface. It's not going to run or sag. It's about $14 per can. So it's a good thing to look into; especially for what's going on with your house. It's not going to freeze or crack. So it's really a good idea.
ALAN: OK. Well, that sounds good. I appreciate it.
LESLIE: And one can is going to cover 15 to 30 square feet so keep that in mind when you're thinking about your full roof coverage.
ALAN: Oh, OK. Where would I find that? Like your basic home improvement store?
TOM: If you do a Google search, you'll see that it's available in web stores all over the country.
LESLIE: Jacquelyn from Texas is up next, who listens to The Money Pit on KFNC. And you've got a texturing question. What can we do for you?
JACQUELYN: I actually had some sheetrock work done in my living room, and some texture work. And he didn't exactly match the texture. And I wanted to know if there's any way that I can go ... I mean, you know ... I mean what can I actually do to at least kind of camouflage it somewhat so it don't be so obvious?
TOM: Well, there's a bunch of ways to add texture to walls. Jacquelyn, what did you have before that you're trying to match? Was it a fairly low profile texture? Was it like a sandy finish? Was it a swirly finish? What did it look like?
JACQUELYN: It's like a crow's foot finish that's up there.
TOM: Hmm. Leslie, how do you like to texture walls?
LESLIE: Well, it depends. I usually try to do texture through painting rather than actually applying something on because paint is at least something that's reversible. Whereas if you go with something that's dimensional, you're kind of stuck with it for, you know, the long haul; rather than just paint - you could cover over it.
So what he did doesn't match exactly? Does it seem ...?
JACQUELYN: No, it doesn't. It's very obvious where the work has been done. And I was hoping to kind of camouflage that ...
TOM: Did he make an attempt at trying to match it?
JACQUELYN: No, he didn't.
TOM: OK. Well, listen. The only thing you can really do at this point is to choose the smallest of the two areas and take them down and try to do one pattern all the way across the whole thing. Now, if he did this dimensionally - so perhaps he used drywall spackle, which I've seen done - one of the ways that that's often done is with a wallpaper brush. I know I have a ceiling in my house that has spackle on it, where we took a wallpaper brush and made swirls in it ...
JACQUELYN: Oh, OK.
TOM: ... and so it kind of created a pattern and it looks pretty cool. But then again, I was pretty sure that's what I wanted and, as Leslie said, if you do do that and you change your mind, you know, it's kind of difficult to take that back down because you're going to end up sanding an awful lot of that dust away and making a big ... a big mess. But ...
LESLIE: Is it in a section of the room where that wall can sort of stand on its own? Or is it really on a long expanse of wall?
JACQUELYN: It's on a long expanse of wall.
LESLIE: So it's not on a section that sort of sticks out a little bit or is recessed at all?
JACQUELYN: No, ma'am.
TOM: Yeah, Jackie, the only thing you can do here is make it look like it was always supposed to be that way by, like Leslie said, making it an accent or secondly, decide what's the smallest, easiest area is to modify, scrape it down and start again.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Jackie has a lot of work to be done there, Leslie.
LESLIE: It could be a huge project.
TOM: Sometimes it's easy but sometimes it's not. You trying to decide which way to go? Call us right now. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Coming up, we reach into our Money Pit email bag. Is your wiring up to par? Well, we're going to find out what one listener wants to know about the outlets in her house, next.
[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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You can call that number 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are always standing by to take your question. Our live call screeners never sleep. We are awful to work for (laughing) but it's for your best interest. If we're not in the studio when you do call, we will call you back the next time we are.
You can also log onto our website at MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie. And that's what a listener did in California.
LESLIE: Alright, this one says: 'Half of my house has grounded three-prong outlets. The other half has the old two-prong outlets. I have computers and an air conditioner that I want to install. Should I use an adapter or do I need to have the rest of the house rewired?'
TOM: Ah, good question. Well, you could use an adapter; as long as the adapter has a ground plug on it and is properly attached to the box and the ground screw on that. Now, unfortunately, even though there's a ground clip on those adapters that convert three-prong plugs to two-prong plugs, you don't always know that the ground is actually continuing actually through to the ground - the soil, which is where the ground (inaudible) eventually has to go.
So the best thing is to run an additional outlet; especially if it's for something like an air conditioner that's going to pull a lot of power. Because the other thing that you have to be concerned about is if you have an older house, you may not have enough power in the circuit to actually run that air conditioner. Add a hair dryer, add a lot of lights, add a vacuum cleaner to that and you could be ...
LESLIE: Yeah, fuses are going to be popping left and right.
TOM: Exactly. And that's going to be a hassle and could also be unsafe.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got time for one more. This is from Philip in West Virginia who writes: 'What is the best way to keep mold from regrowing in my basement?'
TOM: Well, as we know, mold needs three things. It needs moisture, it needs air and it needs food. So if you could suck the air and the moisture out of your basement, you will have ...
LESLIE: And get rid of all your wallboard and your furniture and fabrics ...
TOM: Yeah, you won't have a problem. No, really, seriously, you need to keep the moisture down in the basement to improve grading and drainage. Don't put materials down there that mold can eat on. If you're going to do any finishing, use the new paperless drywall that's out by Georgia-Pacific called Dens Armor Plus. It has a fiberglass surface that's not going to grow mold.
LESLIE: Yeah, that's great to know. And it finishes just like your regular paper drywall product does. So it's a really nice product to install and it stops feeding the mold. Stop its food source.
TOM: Well, we provide a lot of improvement and remodeling tips on what might go into, say, a bathroom or a kitchen or a basement or another area of your house that you want improvement. But you know, the design of that area can make the difference between a safe improvement and one that's not so safe. Up next, Leslie, you've got some tips on how to make sure those improvements - especially the bathroom - are done safely so you don't trip and fall.
LESLIE: Yeah, the bathroom can be a really dangerous place. You've got a lot of wet surfaces and those surfaces can be slippery, too, when that water gets on them. You're dealing with showers; you're dealing with tiled floors. All of these things - and fixtures that are stuck to the wall; whether soap dishes or towel bars - those can all lead to a recipe for disaster. So you want to make sure, to avoid being one of those thousands of people that are hurt each year due to slip and falls in the bathroom, that you do a couple things to keep you and your family safe.
You want to make sure you choose a flooring that's not going to make you slip when it's wet. If you're going to go with tile, choose something that has a high slip resistance so that you're not going to go slipping and sliding when that water inevitably does get on the floor. Make sure you use some bathroom mats - you know, the ones that have the traction on the back - so you're not going to slip and slide.
And when you install a shower versus bathtub, think about it; sometimes those thresholds on the bathtubs - or even a low threshold shower - can really trip you up when stepping in. So if it helps, just put in a shower that no threshold so you can just get right in there. And make sure, if you need, that you install strong hand holds and grab bars to give you that extra support. And that'll keep you all upright in that bathroom.
TOM: Hey, and if you want more information on how to make sure your house is safe for all members of the family, check out the website for the AARP - the American Association of Retired Persons. It's AARP.org. They've got a section on universal design that will give you some tips to make sure that all these rooms in your house are safe for all members of your family.
That's all the time we have for this hour of the program. Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don't have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 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.)