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 1 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Take a look around your house. Well, if you're driving, don't look just now. (laughing) But think about what home improvement project you'd like to tackle.
LESLIE: (overlapping) Keep your eyes on the road.
TOM: What has your spouse been bugging you to get done? What's on the honey-do list? Call us right now. Let us help you solve that do-it-yourself dilemma. Do you want to redecorate? Do you want to repair? Do you want to improve? Do you want to add on? Call us right now. Leslie and I are standing by to help you with the answer to your home improvement question and, perhaps, the tools to get the job done.
LESLIE: Yeah, we've got a great prize to give away this hour. It's the Ridgid 9.6 Volt Pivoting Screwdriver. It's super cool. It can be used either in a straight formation or in a pistol grip. It's worth 100 bucks. It's very durable. And it could be yours if you call in now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: And here's a home improvement project you could use that on. Have you ever felt a bit silly calling in an appliance pro and it turns out that what's wrong with your appliance or what's wrong with whatever needs fixing is very, very minor ...
LESLIE: (overlapping) Oh, I've had that happen.
TOM: ... and if you'd only known, you could have done it yourself.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I've had that happen to me.
TOM: Well, you know what? There's a great new website out there now that is specifically designed to help you repair all of your appliance problems. We're going to talk to the repair guru of that site, too. Excellent site; very well done. Really steps you through how to diagnose what could be wrong with your dishwasher, your washing machine.
You know, I had a friend of mine call me on I think it was a Thanksgiving weekend. And her coils in her range had blown out; almost ruined the whole dinner. (laughing) Had to get an emergency coil delivery to fix that electric range so the turkey could be baked.
LESLIE: Were they able to fix it in time?
TOM: Yes, she did. All was well.
LESLIE: That's pretty amazing. And actually, you can also learn, on this website, do you ever get those rusty lines on the rack on the inside of your dishwasher? Well, they're not just an eyesore. They can actually cause the washer to malfunction because the rust particles can ruin the pump and the seals. But there are repair kits available that will inexpensively keep your dishwasher running right for a few more years.
So this is a great website. It's repairclinic.com and it'll give you everything you need to know so you can do it yourself.
TOM: All that, coming up on this hour of the program. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: In Rhode Island, Susan listens to The Money Pit on WPRO. And you've got a smelly problem. What's going on, Susan?
SUSAN: Hi, how are you?
LESLIE: Good, how are you?
SUSAN: Yes, we built a home about 28 years ago. And we added an addition on - it's been like, say, 22 years. So, we have a crawl space in the addition. And the crawl space is insulated but it is a dirt floor. And we have polyurethane - urethylene - polyurethane down. But I still smell - tend to smell ... around the summertime we have a dehumidifier running in the cellar. And I notice, in the summertime, I still smell that, like a moldy ...
LESLIE: Like a moldy moisture.
SUSAN: ... moisture smell.
TOM: The best thing for you to do is to try to take all the steps necessary to reduce moisture at the foundation perimeter. So that would include, for example, looking at the grading and making sure that slopes away. And also, look at ...
LESLIE: At your gutter system.
LESLIE: Do you have gutters on the house?
SUSAN: (inaudible) we have a grading going ... on all sides it goes ... we've got a gutter on every corner and we've got the grading goes ... slopes down to the backyard.
TOM: Well, what about the gutters? Are the downspouts discharging away from the house?
SUSAN: Yes. We have a ... I have like little ... the little pieces that go out like when the drainpipe comes down.
LESLIE: It's like a little concrete fan.
TOM: Yeah. How far does the water from the gutters discharge from the house?
LESLIE: (overlapping) Those are short.
SUSAN: A foot?
TOM: That's not enough.
LESLIE: Yeah, they need to be further away from the house.
TOM: Yeah, not nearly enough. Yeah, you want to go out ... if you have a moisture issue, you want to go out three or four feet. So what you want to do is have the downspout go out and have a piece of downspout material go about two feet. And then you push the splash block out about to the edge of that; so that's like another two feet long. So by the time the water gets to the ground, it's about four feet away from the house.
LESLIE: Well, and also, if you don't want to see the downspout running away from your house on top of the ground, she can bury that under the ground, can't she?
TOM: Yeah, she can run it under ... underground with solid PVC pipe and bring that pipe around and out somewhere. Especially if you have a good slope away; you could have it break out to daylight somewhere else. But if those downspouts are only dropping a foot from the house, that's just going to be flushing lots of moisture into that crawl space area. Those are two things you can do right away.
And then, in terms of the vapor barrier, I think you're talking about polyethylene; the plastic sheeting.
TOM: You want to have that across the entire dirt floor and have as few seams as possible. And the last thing you can do, you mentioned that you have a dehumidifier. Do you have any exhaust fans in that crawl space?
TOM: Well, what you could do is ... there are exhaust fans that are designed to fit inside the space that an 8 by 16 concrete block would take up; in the vent space of the crawl space. And you have those wired not to a thermostat, but to a humidistat. So that whenever the moisture gets high in the crawl space area, the fans will kick on and pull dry air right through that space and dry it out.
SUSAN: I never heard of those.
TOM: Yeah, well, that's just another way to do it. You get a crawl space - vent fan for the crawl space vent - and you hook it up to a humidistat. That comes on when it's ... when it gets moist, okay? Not when it gets hot or cold.
SUSAN: Okay. Because we have little vents that are in ... around that ...
TOM: Exactly. And they fit in that space. They're designed to fit exactly in that space, Susan, and that's what's going to help dry it out. So it's not just one thing. It's not a miracle cure, you know? You don't just put one product down. It's a bunch of little things. It's the grading; it's the gutters; and it's the ventilation in that space. Okay?
SUSAN: Well, that's the thing. Because I'd like to ... I'd like to store things in there, too ...
SUSAN: ... and I don't like the idea. And I also ... my husband put a fan there at that opening and hoped that that'll help through the summer. I don't find it in the winter but I find it in the summer.
TOM: Yeah. Think of it as a system. It's a bunch of things that work together to keep the space dry.
SUSAN: Alright. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You're very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we're going to talk to Wayne in Virginia, who's got some unwanted visitors at the house. What's going on, Wayne?
WAYNE: Hi, how are you?
LESLIE: I'm well, thanks. Who's there that you don't want?
WAYNE: Thank you for taking my call. I've got a basement that's unfinished and ... and a number of spiders that seem to find it to be a pleasant place to live. (chuckling) And trying to cut down on the cobwebs and things that get on my tools and other things. I've sought a solution to that and I had a friend mention a temple orange and another item was camphor cakes. And I was told that temple orange is not an orange but some sort of a fruit that you wouldn't eat but spiders don't like it.
TOM: You know, that sounds like some commercial products that they're recommending. And certainly, there are pesticide products that will help with common household bugs.
What's interesting that's happening in the pesticide industry is that the actual products that are being used are getting more and more and more specific. Now, one of the reasons that we may see more spiders in our homes today, as well as other insects, is because of that specificity of the products that are out there. It used to be that there were sort of broad spectrum pesticides that killed everything at once. But now, as we're becoming more careful about how we handle pesticide, you're finding that you have to use specific products to take care of specific insects.
And while I don't recognize the products that you mentioned, I know that there are products that are professionally applied that control those as well. So there's over the counter and there's professional and, in my estimation, you're almost always better off using the professional products because they can do it once, do it right and they don't come back again. And they're not going to over-toxify your basement by spraying a bunch of stuff that you don't need.
LESLIE: Well, and it also doesn't put you in any danger because you're not applying the pesticide itself.
WAYNE: And that's why I was hoping there was a natural, let's say, a more organic thing, as a homeowner, that I could use; like the camphor cakes or one of these citrus fruits that may give off an odor that spiders find offensive and would seek residence elsewhere.
TOM: Wayne, I understand that you would prefer to have a natural solution. But the problem is that it's just not that effective. If you want to control spiders in the long haul, you need to use a product like diazinon or Dursban and they're both professionally applied products. And you know, what happens is these products stay around for enough time so that as other spiders start to walk through them and on the surfaces that have been treated, that they get lethal doses as well.
So it's just not possible, in my estimation, to find a product that's completely natural that's going to be as effective as what you would like it to be to control spiders. Does that make sense to you?
WAYNE: Yes. Yes, it does.
LESLIE: And the orange that you were talking about is called the osage orange - o-s-a-g-e - and they say it's mildly effective. So that's an option. There's also something that's called a cobweb eliminator, which is completely ... you know, it's biodegradable; it's non-toxic; it's 100 percent natural. And it's like a liquid that you put on the walls so that spider webs can't attach. Well, it's not going to get rid of the spiders but it'll keep the webs from forming.
TOM: Yeah, but if you control your moisture and try to keep it as dry as possible and if you have it professionally treated, then I think that's going to be a lot more comfortable for everybody. You won't be ... you'll be fairly bug free and you won't have to worry about these other products.
WAYNE: And what would be the frequency of application of this? Is this an annual application? Six months or ...?
TOM: Probably about every ... probably ... you would probably do it in the spring and in the fall.
WAYNE: Twice a year, then. Okay.
WAYNE: Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome, Wayne. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
WAYNE: (overlapping) I enjoy the show. (inaudible)
TOM: Thank you. Thank you for saying that. 1-888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Do you want to know how to get cold, hard cash for your old refrigerator? Find out how, right after this.
[audio timestamp: 11:51]
[audio timestamp: 15:09]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is sponsored by John Deere. John Deere has a whole new line of riding lawn mowers called the 100 Series. Every 100 Series comes with an exclusive John Deere engine, powered by Briggs & Stratton, and can be purchased at The Home Depot.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
And Leslie, I must admit I had no idea that my old refrigerator was worth any money whatsoever.
LESLIE: Well, this is great incentive because my refrigerator is making me really angry these days. And so, before I toss it out, did you know I can actually get some money for it? All I have to do is ask my local utility company about rebate programs. So that means you, out there, all you have to do is call up your utility company and find out what they have as far as rebates go. By federal law, utility companies must offer programs to encourage energy efficiency and trading your old icebox for an energy efficient model may just help you unfreeze some cash in the process.
TOM: Hey, that's a pretty cool idea in more ways than one.
LESLIE: Yeah. It's like, not only do you get a brand new fridge ...
TOM: Yeah, exactly. But you get some money back. And you know, the other thing about switching out your old refrigerator ... the new ones, today, use so much less electricity than ever before. In fact, the new Energy Star models, they use the same wattage as a 75-watt light bulb. Can you believe that?
LESLIE: No way.
TOM: Yep. That's all the power the new ones use. The old ones, you know, when you open and close the door, your lights dim in your house. (laughing) They pull so much juice.
LESLIE: I think I'm still on one of those refrigerator programs.
TOM: Well, if you want to learn how to save even more money, coming up in our next newsletter we're going to give you five great tips on how to keep your fridge running efficiently. Whether you're tossing it or not, sign up today for our free Money Pit e-newsletter at moneypit.com. That's coming up in the next edition.
LESLIE: Alright. And don't forget, we still have a great prize up for grabs this hour. It's the Ridgid 9.6 Volt Pivoting Screwdriver. It's worth 100 bucks. It's got a compact, pivoting body which allows you to use it in either a straight or pistol grip position. So it really gets you into some tighter places that you might not have been able to get your larger model into. It's got an overmold handle for comfortable operation. And Tom likes to say - and it's true - you can drop this thing off the roof (laughing) and it will still work. And it's true. You know, when ...
TOM: Yeah, I don't think that put that in the warranty manual, but ... (chuckling)
LESLIE: But you know what? When the Ridgid folks came out to the While You Were Out site ...
LESLIE: ... when we first got them as a sponsor, they came with these beautiful 18-volt drills and they put them in our hands and they climbed up to the top of the ladder and they just tossed them on the floor.
LESLIE: And they were like, 'Okay, we don't ... we're not really supposed to show you that but you can do that. But don't it. (laughing) But if it does happen, don't be wigged out.'
So it's 100 bucks. It could be yours for free if you call in at 888-MONEY-PIT, ask your question on air and then we select your name out of the Money Pit hardhat. So get to the phones.
TOM: Got a tough question? Ask us. You might get a tough tool. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let's go to the phones.
LESLIE: Michael from Georgia is looking to remodel the basement. Tell us about your plans.
MICHAEL: Oh. Well, hey. First of all, I've got about an 1,800 square foot basement.
LESLIE: That's bigger than most people's houses.
TOM: That's huge.
MICHAEL: It is. It's a ... what they did, when they did my basement, it's actually the same size as my top level where the fireplace ... of the top level. They lined it (ph) down where the fireplace would be down in the basement. And it's really pretty. They gave me a lot of space; very high ceiling.
TOM: Well, that's the key. You know, you've got a lot of space and you have very high ceilings so ... you know, a lot of people don't count on the space that the basement creates. But like you said, it's twice ... you know, it's half the space your house is down there. So it makes sense to remodel it.
MICHAEL: Right. So what I want ... how do I get started? By drawing out the plans of where I want ... do I have to get like an architect to get the plans drawn out? Or do I go to like a little private person? How do I get a blueprint of what I want on paper first and then ... I'm going to try to do it ... contract it myself. I've got different people coming in looking at it. But one concern I've got, I have different people telling me to do the concrete side a different way about ... so it won't get any moisture. So I'm concerned about do you put sheetrock against the concrete or ...?
LESLIE: No, you never put the sheetrock directly against the concrete. You have to fir out the concrete or frame out sort of a fake wall a few inches ... Tom, what do you say, like six inches out?
TOM: Yeah. I would never ... I wouldn't even fir against it.
LESLIE: Because you know what? We just filmed some episodes down in the south - in Florida - of While You Were Out. And their construction there is cement block with a firring strip and then drywall and there's not enough place for air to circulate behind that drywall. And when you try to adhere anything or put up a shelve or put any sort of support bracket into that drywall ...
LESLIE: It just crumbles. So you need to get that drywall away from that cement block as much as you can. Because that cement wicks in moisture from the ground and it will have nowhere to go except right into that back side of your drywall.
MICHAEL: Okay. I had one ... I guess, one ... I guess I'm using the right word - (inaudible). This tile or metal frame where you can put (inaudible) and lay the concrete ... I mean lay the sheetrock against that. Have you ever heard of anything like that?
TOM: Yeah, you're wrestling with ...
LESLIE: (overlapping) Well, that's just using metal studs.
TOM: You're wrestling with questions ... different contractors have different ways they work and some use steel studs, some use wood studs, some like to go against the concrete - which we think is a mistake - and some don't. Earlier, you mentioned, Michael, that you're trying to decide whether or not you should hire an architect.
LESLIE: I say yes.
TOM: I say yes. And in this case, an architect is going to do a great job. Not that you need one structurally, but they're going to give you a lot of design help. They're going to try to figure out what to do with that 1,800 square feet and then they're going to spec out what, exactly, has to happen. And since you're willing to hire contractors, what'll happen is after you get the specifications from the architect, you simply go to those contractors, give them all the same set of plans ...
LESLIE: And they'll all be bidding on the same exact thing.
TOM: Yeah. Because otherwise, you're going to be right where you are right now; trying to figure out who's right. First of all, you have to buy into A - is the guy giving you the right advice; and B - what's the price difference. Maybe one guy is pricing the construction one way ...
TOM: ... somebody else is pricing it differently. Becomes impossible for you to compare apples to apples.
LESLIE: Well, plus, if you meet with an architect, you already have an idea of how you want to use this basement space.
LESLIE: You can say, 'I need this room for a family entertainment area. I want this area for storage.' They can, then, help you divide that space up; decide if you need to do any built-in storage or cabinetry. Or maybe you need to sort of divide off the room somewhere and put up a wall to make it a little bit more private. They'll help you to figure out the best way to lay it out so you'll get the most bang for your buck and really get good usage of the space.
MICHAEL: Right. Is that expensive?
TOM: I don't think so. Not in connection with all of the work that you're putting in. I would budget about five percent of the project for ...
LESLIE: To the architect.
TOM: ... for the architect.
MICHAEL: Okay. (inaudible)
MICHAEL: Alrighty. I thank you very much.
TOM: Alright, Michael. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Well, it may be April, but that doesn't mean you have to be a fool. Don't pay someone to fix an appliance you can fix yourself with the right parts and the know-how.
TOM: We'll tell you where to get both, next, when we talk to Chris Hall at repairclinic.com. You don't want to miss this.
[audio timestamp: 22:44]
[audio timestamp: 23:02]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Peerless. If you're putting in a new bathroom or kitchen faucet, Peerless can help you with every step including the hardest one - getting that old faucet out. For a complete undo-it-yourself guide, visit the Peerless faucet coach at faucetcoach.com.
TOM: So, Leslie, a friend of mine called me in an absolute panic. It was not last Christmas ...
LESLIE: And just to clarify, the friend was not me.
TOM: No, it wasn't you. (laughing) Exactly. It's like when you, like, say you go to a doctor: 'I have a friend with this problem,' you know. (laughing)
No. Actually, she did call me and she was visiting her family in Tennessee and was preparing Christmas dinner when lo and behold, the coil on the electric range blew up ...
LESLIE: Oh, God.
TOM: ... at the least opportune time.
LESLIE: Turkey in hand.
TOM: Exactly, exactly. And you know what? The dinner was practically ruined. It turned out that she actually was able to find, by some incredible luck, a replacement part from a local shop. But the truth is that most of the time, you can't find replacement parts today ...
LESLIE: And how do you even know what you need?
TOM: Well, exactly. And there's going to be twelve trips back and forth to the store even if you do have a guy locally. And our next guest has actually sort of solved that problem. They have, pretty much, the most successful appliance repair website on the internet. It's called repairclinic.com. With us to talk about that is its president, Chris Hall.
Hi, Chris. Welcome to the program.
CHRIS: Hi, Tom. Hi, Leslie. How are you?
TOM: So do you get a lot of emergency calls, for appliance fix-it advice, when people are in the middle of preparing a dinner party or something of that nature?
CHRIS: Oh, yeah. We sure do. We get thousands of calls a month with just that scenario you suggested. The oven's ... holidays are coming up and their oven isn't working or their burners aren't working or their refrigerator died or ... some people even consider a dishwasher repair an emergency.
TOM: We've always told people that the worst time to clean your oven is right before that big family event because it puts a lot of stress on the coils. Is that true?
CHRIS: Absolutely. In fact, a lot of times the door lock mechanism on an older oven will fail just at that inopportune time. And the problem with self-cleaning an oven before a holiday is it's real hard to get a technician to come out and take a look at it.
LESLIE: Because of everybody else who self-cleaned right before the holiday.
TOM: (laughing) They're all ... they're all standing in line. So let's go back and talk to us about repairclinic.com. You've got a website that, basically, enables consumers to go ... actually research the actual condition that they're experiencing. Maybe the display is out on the dishwasher. Maybe the coil's not working on the range. Maybe the washing machine is spinning and spinning and not emptying or something of that nature. You guys have gone through a lot of work to try to make it easy to figure out what's going wrong with the appliance.
CHRIS: That's right, Tom. We ... I believe we've put together just about the most comprehensive set of information for appliances on the internet. There's all kinds of free information we've put together. Interviewing technicians and finding out what types of things go wrong. We have frequently asked questions. We've got illustrated diagrams. We have quite a bit of repair help on the website.
LESLIE: What is the most frequently asked question?
CHRIS: The most frequent repair is for a washing machine. There's a little coupler device that connects the motor to the transmission and that part is the most frequently failed part of anything we support.
TOM: And what does that do?
CHRIS: Well, it's a belt replacement and most washing machines, in the past, used to use a belt to kind of connect the motor to the transmission and ...
CHRIS: ... and this particular brand, they decided to go with a ... a little plastic coupler with the rubber insert. And that coupler is designed to fail to preserve the transmission if something gets jammed. So they ... because this manufacturer produces the most washing machines of anybody out there, there are a lot of these couplers.
TOM: And you notice how Chris is being very careful not to tell us (laughing).
LESLIE: Well, I was just going to ask you, Chris, what happens if somebody calls up and they have one brand of washer? Are you familiar with every type of brand that's out there?
CHRIS: Well, we're familiar with 75 different brands. There's a few minor brands that we haven't had much experience with yet. But for every brand that you've - pretty much - that you've heard of, we do support it with both repair help and parts.
TOM: Chris, let me ask you this question. What's the most common way people abuse appliances and cause them to break down? What are some of the most common mistakes that people make? I would imagine you see them because you're always selling them the parts to make those repairs.
CHRIS: I would say neglect is probably the most common thing. Not cleaning out the lint from your dryer vent can cause all kinds of problems; thermostats to fail, grills to fail.
LESLIE: Yep. Fire.
CHRIS: Yep. Fires. (chuckling)
TOM: Yes, Leslie has had a dryer vent incident. Her dryer coughs up lint balls occasionally.
LESLIE: It coughed a lint ball out of the side of the house. (laughing) I pulled up in the driveway and the house was basically like (coughing sound) and there it was. (laughing) I was like it's tumble lint. Interesting.
CHRIS: Right. Yeah, it is important to clean that out. And then, for dishwashers, people will let a rusted dish rack go too long and then a little piece of that rack will fall down into the pump and cause the pump to get a cut in the seal and the water will leak out of the bottom.
TOM: Yeah, little rust chunks.
CHRIS: Little rust chunks. Or somebody won't clean the refrigerator gasket and then that starts to tear the gasket apart from the little sticky syrup and things that have spilled on it ...
TOM: Yeah, that's a question we get from time to time. And we always tell folks to replace the gasket.
LESLIE: Ooh, ask him about the refrigerator after the hurricane.
TOM: Oh, yeah. We had a call from a gentleman that his refrigerator was in the hurricane. And it did ... apparently, did not flood. But for some reason, it lost all of its magnetic appeal. In other words, the seal just did not grab anymore.
LESLIE: Now of course, Chris, I thought he couldn't put any decorative fridge magnets up and I'm like, 'What does that mean?'
TOM: Yeah. (laughing)
LESLIE: Who cares? (laughing)
TOM: Any idea what could have caused that?
CHRIS: I doubt that it had anything to do with the hurricane at all.
TOM: Well, that's a good point.
LESLIE: (laughing) It was just coincidence?
CHRIS: Well, impact ... magnets are subject to impact. If they are hit with a hammer or something, they can lose their magnetism. But, boy, for a refrigerator door magnet; that sounds a little weird.
TOM: It was an odd one, too. Well, good, I don't feel so bad now, that we couldn't solve the problem. Because we certainly try to solve everyone's problem that calls us. (laughs)
CHRIS: More likely, what happened is the door was just a little twisted or something and not making good contact.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: I'm like, 'So buy a new Six Flags magnet. Big deal.' (laughing)
TOM: Alright, Chris. If people can't ... can't get online to repairclinic.com, is there a number they can reach you?
CHRIS: Absolutely. They can call 800-269-2609.
TOM: Terrific. 800-269-2609. Chris Hall from repairclinic.com. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
Well, if you don't have a green thumb, faux foliage - as in fake foliage (chuckling) - is a great way to bring greenery inside without the care that goes along with the real stuff.
LESLIE: Yeah. And fake plants don't need any watering. But they do need the occasional shower. We'll tell you why you should give fake plants or silk flowers a refreshing bath, right after this.
[audio timestamp: 30:02]
[audio timestamp: 32:48]
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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
So we were talking about fake plants. And Leslie, I can kill fake plants from over-watering.
LESLIE: Well, I was going to say I have like the worst green thumb. I kill everything.
LESLIE: Everything. We just happen to be lucky and we've got one thing that's doing really well. One African violet. I almost don't even like to talk about it. (chuckling) I'm knocking on the wood. Knocking on wood because I don't want anything to happen to it.
But really, did you know that faux greenery actually needs some care? You can't just put it in the corner and forget about it. Faux greenery can really bring some life to a room. And it's easy to take care of because silk or artificial plants don't need water.
TOM: Yes. But they actually could use a scrubbing now and again. And so, for that reason, what you want to do is remove them from the pot and place them in the shower stall and rinse them gently or use the sprayer on your kitchen sink to rinse them. And you can actually put a little bit of soapy dishwasher detergent in a spray bottle.
LESLIE: Ooh, make them shiny.
TOM: Yeah, and you can like squirt them and then rinse them off with some cold water. And that will keep them looking fresh and green; as opposed to dusty and moldy and cruddy (chuckling), which would kind of give it away pretty quick.
LESLIE: Oh, you mean they're not supposed to have that nice gray film over them?
TOM: No. No, they're not. It would be an interesting fungus that attacked a fake plant, don't you think?
LESLIE: This is my special fungal plant. I know, it's unique and rare.
TOM: Well, if you don't have a green thumb but you are a handy person none-the-less, you might want to call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because we're giving away the Ridgid 9.6 Volt Pivoting Screwdriver worth 99 bucks. What's a pivoting screwdriver, you might be asking? Leslie's going to tell you.
LESLIE: Well, it's super cool because it can operate in a straight formation or you can bend it over and it's got a pistol grip just like any other power driver you might use.
TOM: And you know where this would come in handy if you actually are tackling one of those home repair projects that Chris was talking about? Like, let's see, you're working inside that dryer to try to ...
TOM: ... replace the pulley or the motor or the vent or something, you can actually bend the screwdriver.
LESLIE: Well, I mean sometimes the shape of the gun itself, you can't even get it in there, the driver is so bulky.
TOM: Well, exactly. But this way you can because you can twist the thing into position and get it right in there.
LESLIE: It's great. And it's got an ergonomic two-finger switch for comfort and ease of operation and even comes with a quarter-inch quick coupler for quick bit changes, which is always a great accessory to have. It's got two batteries, a quick charger. It's worth 100 bucks but it's yours for free if you call in now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You've got to ask your question on air.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, chimney liners. Judy in Pennsylvania wants to know if it's helpful to use one. And I don't know much about them. So Judy, let's talk about chimney liners. How can we help?
JUDY: Well, I recently moved into a home that has a fireplace and a chimney. And I had someone come in to clean the chimney and check it out before I lit it for the first time. And while he was doing that, he also checked the part of the chimney that my oil furnace vents into.
JUDY: He said there was a small crack going up the chimney. And he recommended putting in a chimney liner.
TOM: Was this a chimney sweep guy?
TOM: Yeah, no kidding.
TOM: Yeah, standard operating procedure; SOP. Get hired for a chimney cleaning; recommend and sell a chimney liner. Every time. They don't make money for the cleaning ...
LESLIE: It's like, do you want the belt that goes with those pants?
TOM: Yeah, exactly. (laughing) That's the example of did you want fries with that sandwich? (laughing)
LESLIE: So now, what is the benefit of a chimney liner? Or isn't there any?
TOM: Well, certainly there is a benefit. But I mean it sounds like this ... in this case, you have one but they're saying you have a slight crack. I mean, how old is your house? Let's start there, Maureen.
JUDY: It's about 50 years old.
TOM: Okay. It's about 50 years old. So you probably have a lined chimney.
JUDY: No, there's no liner in it that I could tell or he told me about.
TOM: Well, when you stand at the chimney and you look at it from the outside, do you see a clay top of the chimney where a pipe inside of the brick comes up?
JUDY: No, I haven't been to the top of my roof to look at that.
TOM: You know, it would be unusual - very unusual - for a 1950's house to not have a lined chimney. That would be very unusual. So, we need to figure that out to start. Now, if it's a fireplace ... is this a fireplace or just the oil ...?
JUDY: Well, there's a fire ... there's a fireplace chimney and then, I guess, part of the chimney is ...
TOM: Splits off, right?
JUDY: ... also connected to the oil furnace.
TOM: Well, if the fireplace chimney is lined, then the oil place ... the oil chimney would also be lined.
JUDY: All I see inside the fireplace is the brick wall.
TOM: Yeah, but that's the wall. To see the liner, you have to look upside into the chimney.
TOM: Upside down. And it'll look like a clay pipe. And first of all, we need to determine if it's lined. A fireplace chimney should always be lined. I would not use one if it wasn't lined. One for an oil furnace ... it's nice if it's lined; it's not 100 percent required all the time. I mean my house has got ... had an oil furnace for many years and never had a lined chimney. And we always just kept an eye on it and it lasted over 100 years. So you don't necessarily need one.
TOM: You do need it to be clean and you need it to be functioning. And if you're going to use a wood-burning fireplace, it's got to be lined. But you don't necessarily have to have it be lined if it's gas or it's oil. Doesn't have to be ... it will work. There's more condensation and corrosion on the mortar joints and you have to keep an eye on it; but it's not totally necessary.
And I'm very concerned because the chimney sweeps out there, most of them that I'm aware of, simply always recommend these expensive repairs and always get you upset and nervous about it and tell you that your house is going to burn down. And they're just trying to sell you work. That's all they're doing; just trying to sell it.
JUDY: Yes, he was trying to sell me a $900 liner.
TOM: Yeah, well that was a bargain. I've seen them for two, three grand.
JUDY: Okay. Which I ...
TOM: But you know what? If it's 900 bucks you didn't need to spend, then it isn't a bargain, is it?
JUDY: That's right. And I really don't need to spend that right now.
TOM: No. I think you'll probably be okay.
LESLIE: Judy, just make sure. When you go outside, look at the top of your chimney and see if there's - at the top - if there's like a little protective grading - a screen. Otherwise, you'll end up with some unwanted visitors entering through your fireplace.
JUDY: Yes. I do have a chimney cap on.
LESLIE: Okay, good. (chuckling)
TOM: Alright. Judy, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, up next, copper or plastic? We'll answer an email question about what the better material might be for your plumbing system.
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[audio timestamp: 40:02]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being 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 prices. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Now, if you can't call us, you can always email us. Simply go to moneypit.com and log on to the Ask Tom and Leslie section of the website. You can send us a question and we will hop right on that, perhaps in the next edition of the show. Let's take an email, then, Leslie.
LESLIE: Okey-dokes. Howard from Queensbury, New York writes: 'I'm thinking about changing the water pipes in my house, which is about 35 years old, because the drain caps on the shut-off valves are corroded over. I would like to use plastic so as not to have this problem again. Would you do this? Or should I stay with copper?'
TOM: Hmm. Well, first of all, it sounds like your water might be a bit acidic and, therefore, you could use a water conditioner. But I would never replace copper with plastic. Now, I know that a lot of the new homes are being built with plastic today and, certainly, the plastic that's used today is a lot better than the plastic that was used years ago, which is the subject of many, many class action lawsuits. However, having said that, I still think that copper is the most reliable plumbing system available today.
LESLIE: And is there no way to fix the areas that have the corrosion?
TOM: Yeah, if it's just the valves, just cut off those valves and replace them. You don't have to replace the piping. But if you're getting pinholes in the pipe - which happens because sometimes you get acidic water -
TOM: - then he may need to end up replacing some pipes as well. But, certainly, replacing all the plumbing system is not the correct solution. They're just some corroded, deteriorated valves; those can be replaced by themselves. So Howard, I would stick with the plumbing that's made of copper; I think that's your best bet.
LESLIE: Yeah, and at least it's not such a huge project that he still could use the copper. So the money cost is staying down.
TOM: Exactly. Okay.
LESLIE: Alright. Time for one more. We've got Dean from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania who writes: 'The previous owner of my home did a bad tile job ...'
LESLIE: '... and water got behind part of the tile in the shower. I removed all the bad drywall behind it where water was getting in. And my question is how to clean the old tile so I can reuse it.' Well that was probably the first mistake. You shouldn't put drywall behind tile; especially in a shower. Correct?
TOM: Exactly. You definitely shouldn't use drywall behind tile. I would use that GP product; the Dens Armor product that's out now - the tile backer.
LESLIE: Well, what about even a cement backer board?
TOM: Or a cement backer board. Yeah. Either way, you want ... definitely do not want to use drywall and even the water-resistant - so-called - drywall is not a good thing to do.
Now, we've gotten this question before about people that want to save old tile and, unfortunately, the answer is it's just very, very difficult to do. Because you've got a lot of glue that's caked on there and it's difficult to get that glue off. Another idea is generally, since the bad tile's along the bottom of the wall, is to use a complementary color there and actually put some new tile in. So maybe if it's a tan shower, use a brown tile; couple of rows of that along the bottom so it looks like it was always supposed to be that way.
LESLIE: Well, or even they make tile that has a beautiful sort of border look to it; like a bull nose or some sort of decorative border tile. So you can actually just take a different tile - doesn't even have to be something of the same size or color - just that brings in something that draws the eye to it. And you can use the other tile to fill in there.
TOM: Well, spring has sprung and you're thinking the fireplace season must be over. But not yet. Leslie's got some great tips on how to fix up your fireplace so it'll be looking swell all year long on today's edition of Leslie's Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, just because the weather is warmer doesn't mean you can't still enjoy the beauty of your fireplace. You can give your fireplace new meaning during the spring season. If you give it a good cleaning, why not put a beautiful plant in the opening? You know, ferns do well in shade and add a punch of life to your room. If you're lacking a green thumb, consider making a screen from plywood and painting it. You can personalize the screen with anything from a collage of images, stenciled patterns or photos or you can even buy a beautiful candle holder and put that in there so you have a fire still but it's much smaller and doesn't give off that much heat. So you can still use it even though it's warm outside.
TOM: Great ideas on today's edition of Leslie's Last Word.
Well, we're just about out of time. But before we let you go, I want to talk about next week on The Money Pit. We're going to share the secrets of a four-letter word. Guess what that is.
LESLIE: I don't know. It's scary.
TOM: M-o-l-d - mold; and how to get rid of it. In fact, we're going to have an interview with Jeff May who's the author of 'My House is Killing Me' and also the guy that helped us put together the mold resource section of moneypit.com. We're going to tell you what it is, what you should be concerned about and, most importantly, how to get rid of it. Coming up next week on the program.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don't have to do it alone.
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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.)