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: 0:25]
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 happy spring, everybody.
TOM: It's official. Spring is here, which means it's time to pick up the tools and get to work. What project would you like to tackle around your house? Because we're here to help. But you've got to help yourself first and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today's program, are you feeling, perhaps, a bit guilty about leaving the lights on around the house? I know that I'm always doing that and getting yelled at by my children (Leslie chuckles) who are, at times, more energy efficient than I. But ...
LESLIE: I know they reprimand about running the water when you brush your teeth, too.
TOM: Oh, they do, they do. They're incessant. But it's alright; it's a good thing. You know, old dogs can learn new tricks from time to time. But if you're thinking that perhaps your behavior is not green enough, we're going to have some tips this hour to help you get a little more energy efficient in your house.
LESLIE: And also this hour, we've got troubleshooting tips for a leaky hot water heater, or more importantly, how to tell if a leak might be in your immediate future. It's always good to know if something like is going to happen because it could cause major, major damage and we'll let you know how to find out if it's time for a new one and we're going to tell you all about that coming up in this hour.
TOM: And you know, even though the heating season is several months off, it is time to start thinking about improvements to your system. And so, we're going to talk about a new way to heat your home that can actually be traced back to the Roman Empire. It's radiant heat. You know they were actually using that back in the days of Rome.
LESLIE: Hey, we're clever; us Italians.
TOM: Well, you are (Leslie chuckles) and it leaves you feeling pretty toasty and cozy. We're going to give you some high-tech tips on how you can add radiant heat to your own home.
LESLIE: And also, don't forget, one caller we talk to this hour is going to win a super-terrific prize. We're giving away - and this is very in the spring frame of mind - a pair of cedar window boxes from our friends over at Vixen Hill. It's just in perfect timing for you to plant some beautiful spring blooms.
TOM: So pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Let's get right to those phones.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Well, if you're suffering from things that go bump in the night you might be sharing Terry's problem in New Jersey. You're hearing some weird noises?
TERRY: Yes. Actually I moved into my 1966 split-level about three months ago and the first night I moved in I heard these crashing noises. The hardwood floors - there was no furniture in the living room and dining room so it echoed and I actually was so scared I called 911 ...
TERRY: ... and I walked through the house with the police on the line ...
TOM: Oh, no.
TERRY: ... and it was nothing. But then I continue - in the evening, generally, at night - all of a sudden I'll hear crash-crash.
TOM: Have you considered whether or not you had like rodents or squirrels or something like that like up in your attic?
TERRY: Do you know what? Actually, I had some work done in my attic recently; I mean literally in the last two weeks. So I think the contractor would have (audio gap) if that was it.
TOM: It sounds to me like you've got some animals running around somewhere.
TERRY: I do know I have groundhogs living under my deck in the back.
TERRY: Could it be the heating system? It's forced hot air and someone told me that maybe it's just not put together correctly and when the heat goes on ...
TOM: Well, when the heat goes on - and you can do this as an experiment - you can take your thermostat and raise it and then listen very carefully. Sometimes when your heat goes on and then the blower kicks on and the air expands in the duct system, if the duct system is not strong enough it can pop. It's called oil-canning; sort of a tin can sound like a bang.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and if a room is empty with a wood floor it could be a ruckus.
TOM: Yeah, and the sound will echo through all the duct systems. But you should be able to reproduce this. You should be able to turn the heat on and off and hear this banging sound and if that's the case then that's easy to fix. We've just got to get to the duct that's causing the problem and reinforce it.
TERRY: OK, and I guess the heating and cooling guy could do that for me.
TOM: Yeah, but again, this should be very reproducible. You should be able to make this happen by turning the heat on and off. So do this and think about it and listen; and it could take five minutes.
TOM: But if you hear that, you put two and two together and you've got the source of your noise.
TERRY: Thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Wow, a house noise that qualifies as a 911 emergency. (Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: You are listening to the Money Pit and springtime is home improvement season and we here at Team Money Pit can help you get prepared. So give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day; seven days a week; whenever you are working on that project list, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, would you like to learn a few more ways to be green around your house? Well, you're not alone because a new study says that folks like you are making more attempts to be environmentally responsible than ever before. Up next we'll have some easy ways to help you do just that.
[audio timestamp: 0:05:13.0]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation's leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer and add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information visit ThermaTru.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us right now if you have a home improvement question. Call us if you have a do-it-yourself dilemma. Call us if you need to know the accent color for mold green. (Leslie chuckles) We can help you out by getting rid of that mold. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: It would be bleach clear.
TOM: There you go. (Leslie chuckles) And if we talk to you this hour you could win a pair of window boxes from Vixen Hill worth 120 bucks. They come in a traditional design with a sloping front and side panel to maximize the planting area. That sounds like your basic window box design but these are pretty attractive and well-built. We're going to give out a pair to one caller to today's program at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, and best of all, they're free to one lucky caller. So hey, those are some kickin' good window boxes.
Alright, guys, well we keep talking about - and I'm sure you keep hearing about it everywhere you go - going green and if you like that concept or you keep hearing about it and you're concerned, confused -- all of those things about it - you might be wondering where you do fit in. Well, it turns out that not all Americans are the gas-guzzling, wasteful, energy hogs that, you know, we sometimes appear to be and you might actually be greener than you think. In fact, a new study - and this was a study that was done by the Insight Research Group in partnership with HDTV and the Natural Resources Defense Council and the study was called Moving Consumers From Green Interest to Green Action. And it finds that more than 84 percent of those asked say that it's a moral obligation to take care of the environment and most of them are already taking part in at least one green activity. So good for you, America.
TOM: Yes, but respondents also said that they're not sure which green actions can really help and which are just hype and that's where we come in. One very simple and inexpensive idea is to change your five most frequently used light bulbs to energy efficient compact fluorescents. You can also turn of unused lights and unplug unused electronics and appliances.
Now, if you'd like a whole host of ideas on ways that you can make your home more energy efficient, check out the video that I did for the folks at Energy Star. It is the Energy Star video podcast. It's online at EnergyStar.gov and I will give you a room-by-room tour and cover all of those easy improvements that you can make to make your home more energy efficient and comfortable all at the same time.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and it's a great video tour, folks. It's very informative and Tom is his usual pleasurable self and he gives you lots of great information.
TOM: Thank you very much. (Leslie chuckles) Or pick up the phone right now and call us with your green home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Andrew in Oregon's looking to reclaim some space by turning a crawlspace into a wine cellar. Let's help him out on his journey. Hello.
ANDREW: Yeah, got a question. The crawlspace I have underneath one of my rooms is fairly large and, basically, a room-sized area ...
ANDREW: ... and there's currently a deck under there.
ANDREW: So, I was thinking - and it was used to, I guess, keep things off the ground if you used it for storage.
ANDREW: So I thought if I basically put walls on that and above it basically put like a trap door and had stairs go down into that area, basically tile it up and make it into a wine cellar.
TOM: Well, how damp is it down there and the reason I ask because I have a friend that was a wine collector and he used to keep all of his wine in the crawlspace and while the temperature was perfect for the wine it wasn't so nice for the labels which promptly became completely infested with mold.
TOM: So, if your crawlspace is not really dry, that dampness down there can turn those labels into really moldy pieces of paper and it's not pleasant.
ANDREW: Oh, I see. Never thought of that.
ANDREW: Well ...
LESLIE: You can always invest in a China marker.
ANDREW: (chuckles) What if I use it just for - like basically it's an area I want to take advantage of.
TOM: Right. Well, if you were to seal the ...
ANDREW: (overlapping voices) Would you actually have to have a permit ...?
TOM: If you were to seal the crawlspace and take some supply air - because there's different techniques for drying a crawlspace. Today, when you build a really efficient house with a crawlspace you completely seal the crawlspace. The whole thing is sealed and then some supply air from the heating system is actually diverted down there to make sure it always has some dry air. If you were to do that it'd be OK.
ANDREW: (overlapping voices) Well, actually ...
TOM: But if you have the standard, very damp crawlspace then it's not. It'll be too damp and wet. Water, moisture and air and those paper labels on the wine bottles are going to grow mold.
LESLIE: And fabric and storage boxes and paper and photos; I mean everything.
ANDREW: Well, would you need to get a special permit even if you're just putting up, basically, four walls under there?
TOM: Probably not.
TOM: Nah, probably not.
TOM: It's not structural. You're basically just putting up some structure to hold some shelves to keep the wine off the floor.
ANDREW: Right, right. Now ...
TOM: But keep that moisture in mind, Andrew, because that is going to really come out to bite you.
ANDREW: OK. Yeah, I never thought of that. That's a very good point.
TOM: Andrew, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lisa in New Jersey wants to refinish a fireplace. Tell us about what it looks like now.
LISA: Old looking.
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.
LISA: It's red brick (chuckles) and it has - the cement in between the bricks is discolored and it's cracking. It has a couple old vents on the front of it. It's about six - I think six or seven feet wide and as high as the ceiling, which is probably about eight or nine feet. And it just looks dilapidated and I think it detracts from the room. We'd like to refinish it with a stone front or we're not quite sure what and we're not quite sure if it's something we can do ourselves or if we need to hire someone to do it and I'm just looking for some pointers.
LESLIE: I think it really depends on the material that you're interested in. You know, there's a lot of products that are manufactured to be stone. Owens-Corning, for example, makes one called Cultured Stone and their website, simply, is CulturedStone.com. And they offer a variety of different profiles from a ledgestone to a river rock and these are fantastic for an application on a fireplace or even an exterior of a home. If you want to go natural stone you're going to be dealing with something that's a lot heavier and, therefore, a little bit more of a feat of engineering in how to install it. I know even with the Owens Corning stuff -- you know, I've installed it; it's easy to do -- they do recommend that a pro does it just to make sure that it really is adhered well and done in a proper way. You can do it either way on your own. Both really do deliver a beautiful look and if you're tired of that brick it's the quickest way to update it.
LISA: Mm-hmm. Does the Owens stone come with instructions that might be fairly easy for a layperson like myself and my husband to follow?
LESLIE: Their website has amazing directions. They are very simple to understand. I think where it gets a little tricky is when we're talking about it for a home's exterior and you're dealing with certain types of adhesives and certain types of fasteners. You do need to get it through a distributor and they would also be able to talk you through the installation process and give you all of the installing materials as well. But also head over to a local building material and look at their stone yard and chat with them about the type of concrete to use as your adhesive and the type of stone that you're interested in. You know, one might be more cost effective than the other for your budget and one might be also easier to install, but both will give you a beautiful look.
LISA: Do you have any ideas for grates or - right now we just have - they look like old register grates that are on the front.
LESLIE: Are you looking for something a little bit more vintage or classic or architectural?
LISA: I would say - I wouldn't - I'd say classic; not vintage. I mean, you know, if it's a stone fireplace I don't want anything that's ornate. But you know, just something that's more - aesthetically, more pleasing than what I have now; which I know you can't see, but ...
LESLIE: There's a good website - it's Van Dyke's Restorers - and they have a lot of architectural elements from hinges to doorknobs to registers to radiator grates that are a lot more aesthetically pleasing than just the standard stuff you'd find at a local home center.
LISA: Well, thank you. That's a good start for us.
TOM: Lisa, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LISA: Thank you.
LESLIE: We've got Rhoda who wants to talk air conditioning. How can we help?
RHODA: I live near the ocean and a couple of air conditioners that we had - regular window air conditioners - rusted after about four years. They could not be fixed even though the five-year guarantee I had purchased, you know, was not over yet and I was wondering about portable air conditioners.
TOM: Versus what; a window unit?
RHODA: The two that rusted were window air conditioners.
TOM: OK, and you're - so your question is what's the difference between a window air conditioner and a portable air conditioner.
RHODA: Yes, whether a portable air conditioner would be a ...
TOM: No, I think that your first choice would be central air conditioners, the second choice would be a window air conditioner and the third choice would be a portable. Because a portable has to be ducted and it's a little unwieldy.
LESLIE: Yeah, but a portable is going to put the compressor inside the house ...
LESLIE: ... so that it's not going to rust out. Because she lives right near the water and all that salty air and salt water is just going to rust anything that's outside.
TOM: Yeah, I realize that but I think it's going to be more efficient if you use a window unit; even though you have to pay the price of living near the water.
RHODA: Right, every few years.
TOM: Every few years.
TOM: Yeah, it's one of those small taxes for living ...
TOM: ... with the good view that you enjoy. (chuckles)
RHODA: For the benefit.
LESLIE: And you know what? Rhoda, the benefit of replacing them so often - number one - don't get that extended warranty because you know it's not going to last the full time - but the benefit is that every time you upgrade or enhance your air conditioning you're probably getting a more energy-efficient model and check with the state and check with the city because a lot offer refunds to upgrade your systems.
TOM: And Rhoda, do you take those out of the window in the off season?
RHODA: No, no.
TOM: Well, if you could manage to do that, that will actually save a heck of a lot of wear and tear because now ...
LESLIE: Or put a cover on it.
TOM: Yeah, put a cover on it.
RHODA: Who would do that kind of work? Because I wouldn't be able to do that.
LESLIE: But you can get a soft cover that just slips on; almost like a toaster cozy.
RHODA: From the outside?
RHODA: I see. Where would you purchase something like that?
TOM: Oh, they're available at home centers all over the place. I see them very frequently.
RHODA: And then you get - and then a handyman could put them on.
TOM: Exactly. It'd just take a moment or two to slip it on.
RHODA: OK, well thank you very much. I appreciate it.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. When we come back we've got a great guest standing by to chat with you about keeping your tootsies warm in our upcoming winter season. I know it's spring right now but you might want to start thinking about upgrading those heating systems with some nice and energy-efficient radiant heat, so stick around.
[audio timestamp: 0:16:38.7]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is 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: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Don't look now but your home improvement projects just got a bit easier. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and you know, this time of year I think everybody's big thought process turns toward energy, energy savings, how to heat your home and keep your dollar costs down. And one of those ways to heat your home that can be traced back to the Roman Empire, get this, it can save energy and it can even make you feel warm and cozy and toasty.
TOM: That's right. It's called radiant heat and here to tell us all about it is a friend of the program and a true expert in the topic. His name is Frank Lesh and he is the 2007 president of the American Society of Home Inspectors and if you're a regular listener to this show you know that we have often referred folks that need a second opinion on a home repair problem to find a qualified home inspector by going to the website of the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org. And Frank is the president and Frank, we're pleased to have you with us.
FRANK: Well, thank you, Tom. I'm glad to be here.
TOM: And as it is with most home inspectors, you have multiple skills; one of which is that you're an expert in radiant heating. Before we get to that, give us a brief overview of what's been happening with the American Society of Home Inspectors this year and how you're working to help consumers.
FRANK: Oh, wow. Well, that's a great topic. We are working on energy efficiency. We are in the middle of negotiating a contract where we will be certifying people to actually do energy audits on homes.
LESLIE: Oh, wow.
TOM: Oh, that's terrific.
LESLIE: What a great service because even prior to the home-buying phase, you know, it's lovely to know that there are steps that you can take and then this is even great to bring someone in sort of a later date, after you're in the home, and see what a mess those heating bills are.
TOM: And the nice thing about working with a home inspector is they're not trying to sell you the repair service. So great idea, Frank. Hope that works out for you guys.
And speaking of energy efficiency, we're starting to see more and more folks turn to radiant heat as a way of heating their homes. Now, as we said, it dates back to the Roman times. What took us so long to figure out that this was good for modern times as well?
FRANK: Well, that's a good question. I think part of it is that radiant heat gives you that; a comfortable sense of warmth and coziness. What it does not do, though, is it does not provide us with cooling ability and when central air conditioning first came into vogue, right after WWII, it wasn't as easy to install that in a house that was heated by radiant.
TOM: Alright, for those folks that are not familiar with radiant heat, let's start with a radiant heat 101 description of how that heating system works.
FRANK: OK. Well, basically, the sun is a giant radiator. That's where radiation comes from. It's radiant. It goes in all directions - up, down, sideways; it doesn't matter. So if you stand in a sunny window you're feeling radiant heat. And when you have it in a house the heat is radiating from the floors, the radiators, the ceiling; wherever it's installed, that's where you're getting the direct shot from the heat source.
LESLIE: So it's not one small radiator unit itself. In the instance where it would be in the floor or in the ceiling, this is almost in - like an electric blanket, if you will, underneath your flooring surface to heat the entire floor.
FRANK: Leslie, that's a great analogy. It's just like a heating blanket. You feel the - there are some things with an electric blanket that you actually - it does touch you, so that is a little bit different form of heat; the blanket actually touches you. But if you held the electric blanket above you, you would still feel the heat from it and that's the radiant heat that you're feeling.
TOM: Frank, when it comes to radiant heat, are we always talking about hydronic heat or are we talking about electric radiant?
FRANK: You can be talking about both.
FRANK: Electric is also the same thing. It can do the same - any heat source can provide radiant heat.
TOM: But is it just as efficient with electric versus hot water?
FRANK: Well, that depends on the price per kilowatt hour. In most areas of the country it's cheaper to do it with hydronic heat because water is the best medium for transferring heat. That's why our cooling towers are - use water; because they can carry so much heat into an area.
TOM: We're talking to Frank Lesh. He's the 2007 president of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
LESLIE: Now would a radiant system be the predominant heating system for your entire home or would you use it sort of as ancillary or additional heating source for specific areas?
FRANK: Well, you can use it for both. If you do have a boiler you have radiant heat right now. If you don't have a boiler, if you have a forced-air furnace, you can install radiant heat on a small scale on a room-per-room basis; say like starting in the master bathroom. If you're going to put a new tile floor down you can actually install an electric radiant heat system. It's just a very thin mat that goes underneath the new tile and you can turn a switch on and in the morning, before you get up, you'll have a nice, toasty, warm floor to step on.
TOM: Great advice. Frank Lesh, the president of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks so much, Frank, for your tips. And for more information on the American Society of Home Inspectors you can go to their website at ASHI.org; A-S-H-I.org.
Frank, thanks so much for stopping by.
FRANK: You're welcome, Tom and Leslie. Thank you very much and take care.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much, Frank. It's always nice to chat with you and thanks for sharing some great information with us about radiant heat.
Well, now that we're talking about water, what do you do if your water heater is leaking? Or what do you do if you think your water heater is about to leak? How do you know? We're going to tell you what to look for, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:22:37.3]
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, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because everybody who we talk to on the air today is going to be automatically entered into our random prize drawing. And this hour we're giving away a pair of window boxes from our friends over at Vixen Hill and two of them; that's right, a pair. They're heavy-duty, cedar window boxes. They've got great mounting brackets, adjustable support brackets so they'll work on any house, anywhere. Just takes about minutes to install them but they will be on your home for you to enjoy for decades to come. They're worth 120 bucks. It's the perfect springtime project to really spruce up the exterior of your home. So give us a call now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
So, when was the last time you checked your water heater? You know, you just turn the faucet on and the hot water is there, right? Well, you ought to be checking it regularly because you could avoid a leak if you do just that. There are some subtle signs that you should be looking for. First of all, of course, if the age; but how do you know how old your water heater is? Well, water heaters have a data plate right on the front of them (Leslie chuckles) and very often the date the water heater is manufactured is actually stamped right there in English and easy to see. It can say, you know, March 2001, for example. Now the older ones, sometimes they're not quite that obvious but if you take a look at the serial number you will, with not too much work, be able to decode the date. It's usually like the last few digits of the serial number, or the first few digits.
LESLIE: Now wait, most are going to be good for about - what? - 10, 12 years?
TOM: About 10 to 15 years. The warranties are generally in the 10-year range but they'll typically go 10 to 15 years.
LESLIE: Should you be precautionary and at 12 years just ditch it and replace or, really, do you just pay attention and ride it out?
TOM: Well, I'll tell you. Sometimes, despite all of the good advice we can give you, a water heater is just going to leak when it wants to leak anyway because sometimes the deterioration is internal; you don't spot it. So, I would say that if your water heater gets to be in that 15-year-old area, I'd think about a preemptive replacement so you don't have to worry about that happening to you.
TOM: But some other things that you could look for that might give you some signs is rust in the burner compartment. The burners on a gas water heater need to be cleaned from time to time, so whenever you have your heating system serviced - perhaps in the fall - make sure that the water heater is serviced as well. If you have a lot of rust down there - because, remember, gas is very corrosive so it does corrode that burner compartment - that needs to be cleaned out and adjusted. Also, look for rust at the base of the tank and, if you have an electric water heater, put it on a timer. Why? Well, not only are you going to save some money because it's more energy efficient but think about it; if your water heater is only heating half of the time, as it would be if you didn't have a timer, it's not - it's going to have less wear and tear and it's going to last longer and save you money at the same time. So a few tips to help you predict how long your water heater will last and make sure that you replace it or repair it before it leaks on you.
If you want some more information, there's a great website out there that is run by one of our sponsors - Rheem - and that is SmarterHotWater.com. They've got more tips and advice on things that you can do to improve your water heater there at SmarterHotWater.com.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Betty in Michigan is removing some ceramic tile. Usually we get questions about putting it on but Betty wants to take it off. What's going on at your money pit?
BETTY: Yes, I have tiling; I'd like to remove it. Twelve by twelve measurements and it's small squares. I'd like to remove it and it's on plastered walls. How can I do this without damaging the plaster behind it?
TOM: Boy, that's a tough one. Yeah, that's a difficult one. Is this a bathroom?
TOM: Yeah, that's very hard to do because it may not be on plaster walls. It might be on a mud base. Did you ever consider that, that ...?
BETTY: No, it's plastered. The wall - the house has been given a first coat of plaster and a second coat of plaster.
LESLIE: And then the tile was put on top of that.
BETTY: And then the tile was put on that and I don't want to do something to damage it.
TOM: Well, you're very, very likely going to damage the plaster and have to put on a third coat of plaster ...
TOM: ... if you try to take that off.
BETTY: Oh, no. Oh.
LESLIE: Because, generally, you're going to want to break up the grout and then you're going to want to get some sort of chisel item behind the tile and tap it down ...
LESLIE: ... and then pop it off. But ...
TOM: And I'm sure it was adhered to the old plaster wall, which is very porous.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Which is super porous.
TOM: So, you're definitely going to end up pulling off some of that plaster work at the same time, Betty, and you're going to have to replace it or repair it.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we're going to talk floors. You know, flooring questions are among the top - actually, they're the number one topic that we're asked about on the show and so, coming up, we're going to give you some tips and advice when it comes to selecting a hardwood floor or a laminate floor for your home. So stick around.
[audio timestamp: 0:27:50.5]
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: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and hey, listen, folks; if you can't get to the phone or maybe you're too shy to pick up the phone and you just don't feel like talking to us - I know; I'm kind of scary. You know how I get with my mood swings; pregnancy and all (Tom chuckles) - you could actually e-mail us your question if you want to and we will get to them like we do every week at this part of the show and you do that at HelpMe@MoneyPit.com or go to MoneyPit.com and click on that cute, little flashing question mark icon that says Ask Tom and Leslie. We've got a bunch of slate for today and we've got the first one here is from Bill in Brick, New Jersey who writes: 'Our condo is on a slab. Can a wood floor be put down on top of that? If not, what other types of flooring would be a good idea?'
TOM: Well, you can't put a hardwood floor down on top of concrete because there's going to be too much moisture there, Bill, and it will swell and warp. But you can put a product down that's called engineered hardwood, which is hardwood that is made in different layers; it's cross-laminated so it's dimensionally stable. And that will look just like real hardwood. In fact, you'd have a hard time telling the difference when the job was done.
LESLIE: Well, and I mean it's interesting because the topmost layer on it is an actual veneer of the hardwood itself, so it really does look exactly like the hardwood; because it is, essentially. And then there's the laminate choices; of course, tile is a great option.
TOM: Hope that helps you out, Bill. Now we've got an e-mail here from Ed in Hawaii who says, 'Is there any way to repair deep scratches on a laminate floor?' Gee, I wonder how you got those deep scratches, Ed (Leslie chuckles); being the nosy people that we are. And actually, there is a laminate floor filler. It's a plastic compound that's designed to flow into and fill up that crack.
LESLIE: It's got to be some sort of a urethane.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, I've used it myself.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Do you premix it to match the color or do you order it from the manufacturer to ...?
TOM: You order it from the manufacturer and the kind that I got came in like a toothpaste-like tube and we were able to very strategically, actually, mix two colors together and it did a really good job and it filled in the scratch.
LESLIE: You know, I wonder, if you've got a very prominent graining on your laminate pattern and you do have some deep gouges, do you then go ahead and fill in, perhaps, with a base color and then even almost apply, once that's in, a deeper tone to create that graining with a paintbrush, if you can.
TOM: Yeah, or a good way to get the graining after the fact is when you have the filler in there just take a paintbrush and run it over the top to create that texture.
LESLIE: Very good. Alright, hope that helps, Ed in Hawaii and stop dragging your furniture across the floor.
Got another here from Nancy in Maine, who writes: 'We replaced the windows on our home. We get a lot of condensation on the inside; especially if we have our shades closed. We do have a whole-house humidifier but this was happening even before we had that installed. Any ideas?' Wouldn't they want a whole-house dehumidifier?
TOM: (chuckling) That's right. You got it backwards. A whole-house humidifier is going to put a lot of moisture into the house (Leslie chuckles); a whole-house dehumidifier will take the moisture out. So that would be the first thing. But other things that you can do, Nancy, to reduce humidity in your house: first of all, we always say start on the outside because if you have poor drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter water will collect around that area; it'll saturate into your foundation and wick up into the house. So make sure you take care of your gutters and your grading. Secondly, inside the house make sure that all of your appliances are vented outside. So that would be, for example, the exhaust fan in the kitchen and also the exhaust fans in the bathroom. And in addition to that, make sure that you try to improve your attic ventilation because that moisture gets into the attic and it sits there. So if you don't have good ridge vents and good soffit vents, the moisture will also hang and all of those things can contribute to the condensation that you're seeing on your windows.
LESLIE: Alright, Nancy. Hope that helps you out.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you for spending this hour with us. Man, we covered a lot of ground today.
If you'd like some more tips, some advice, some information about the home improvements that you want to get done in your house, the show continues online at MoneyPit.com where you can pick up the phone anytime and reach us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
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 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.)