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: Call us right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma because that's what we do. We're here to help you get the jobs done that you need around your house. Whether you're a do-it-yourselfer or a direct-it-yourselfer, call us first and we will make sure you don't become a do-it-to-yourselfer. (Leslie chuckles) The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Hey, if you're thinking of taking on a project that maybe you can't do yourself, well, that's maybe not a bad thing. Hiring a pro for a big job can be a good idea. But how do you do that? How do you find the right guy to get the job done the first time? We're going to give you some tips for hiring pros, coming up in just a bit.
LESLIE: Alright, and for those of you out there with kids in your home, you no doubt have safety latches in your kitchen and your bathrooms but are your kids safe from the toxins and chemicals that you might have lurking elsewhere in your home? If you're not sure what we mean we're going to tell you why kids are so vulnerable to chemicals that you might not even realize are toxic for them in the first place.
TOM: And it's there. It's working for you 24/7 but have you checked out your water heater lately? Would you be able to guess how old it is? That could be important information because most water heaters have a very specific lifespan that ends with a flood. (chuckling) So, we're going to give you some tips today to help identify the age of your water heater and let you know if you're at risk for having to replace it.
LESLIE: And also, you've seen them on TV but now we're giving them away on the radio. We've got a great prize for one lucky caller this hour. It's a prize pack of three as-seen-on-TV products from Telebrands that includes a Go Duster, a Stick Up Bulb and a Closet Doubler. It's a fabulous package. It's worth 65 bucks. It's funny. I'm just doubling the size of my husband's closet. I'm like adding more shelves and rearranging things to make room.
TOM: You giving him four feet?
LESLIE: And was like - shut up. No! (chuckling) And I was like, 'Oh, I actually bought a Stick Up Bulb at the store. (chuckling) I should have just taken it from the prize package.
TOM: I had to kick my wife out of my closet. It's like ...
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. Please.
TOM: ... 'Come on, honey. I need more space.' (chuckling)
LESLIE: Tom, if you know me and my husband, he has more closet space than I have.
TOM: Oh, he does?
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness, and he's already coming out. So, if your prize package arrives without a Stick Up Bulb, I've taken it. No, I'm kidding. I bought one at the store. You're still going to get yours. But you've got to be in it to win it, so give us a call with your home improvement question now.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Let's get right to the phones.
LESLIE: Debbie in Virginia wants to talk replacement windows and doors. What can we do for you?
DEBBIE: My husband and I recently purchased our first home and we have old aluminum frame windows that really let in a lot of cold air. So ...
LESLIE: And you're freezing.
DEBBIE: Yeah. So we've been getting prices from different window companies to try to decide what kind of window company to go with. We've gotten several - quite a range of prices and some of them are on super-windows, which are triple-pane have a different kind of gas than argon gas ...
DEBBIE: ... and I was just wondering if those would be worth the extra money.
TOM: Not in Virginia. I don't think you'll get the return on investment. If you're in an extreme climate - and particularly an extreme northern climate - you'll get a return on investment for a triple-pane window. In your area it's just another way for those guys to make some money ...
LESLIE: It's not really going to do anything.
TOM: ... and it's going to just drive up your cost. I would use a good quality thermal-pane, double-pane window. I would make sure the window is Energy Star rated and there is also a rating called the NFRC rating, the National Fenestration Rating Council, and that will tell you what the UV rating is, what the air infiltration rating is and you can use these numbers to compare apples to apples. And you also mentioned that you're replacing your doors. For doors I would recommend a fiberglass door. Fiberglass doors are eight times more energy efficient than wood doors and they don't ding or dent like steel doors.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They don't really require any maintenance like a wood door would.
TOM: And they're absolutely gorgeous, too.
DEBBIE: How about the difference between vinyl and fiberglass windows?
TOM: I think that either is fine. I'd probably use a vinyl replacement window and a fiberglass door. If you want to check out some really good-looking doors, go to the website for ThermaTru.com. They have a door designer right there and you can see some Therma-Tru doors. Those guys invented fiberglass doors. They've been around for like 25 years. As far as the windows, most of these windows are made by the companies that are selling them locally, so it's harder to use a brand name unless you're going to do completely like new construction-style windows. So I would make sure that I use the rating system to compare window to window. Don't go triple-pane. Go double-pane and make sure it's Energy Star rated and you'll have a good window to put in that house.
DEBBIE: Alright, thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Debbie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Going over to Florida with Lenore who wants to talk floors. What can we do for you?
LENORE: Well, I have two questions. One is I had heard something about putting car wax on ceramic tile to make it look better or prettier and keeping it from staining. Have you heard - is there anything to that?
TOM: No and what that's going to do is make it super slippery and pretty dangerous.
LESLIE: Yeah, make you slip and fall. (Debbie chuckles)
TOM: The only use for car wax inside your house that we've recommended is sometimes on shower doors. You can use them on the inside of shower doors and other fiberglass surfaces like that.
LESLIE: Which helps the water bead up so it doesn't sort of sit there and cause water stains.
TOM: But if you do that you have to be careful not to put it on the tub surface, of course, because of the same reason.
LENORE: You'd slip.
TOM: It's super slippery.
LENORE: OK, and then the other question, we had put this polyurethane over our hardwood floors and it scratches. So I was wondering is there anything, any kind of wax or something, you could put over the polyurethane to kind of protect it?
TOM: Yeah, certainly you can use a floor wax on that which gives it protection and is not slippery at the same time. The best way to do that is with a floor buffer. If you don't have one you can rent one. They're pretty inexpensive. And that will buff the floor wax into the surface and shine it at the same time. It'll protect the floor and leave it looking great; sort of buff those scratches right out.
LENORE: OK, well thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned in to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, next month the IRS is going to be looking for your paper trail ...
TOM: ... in the form of your tax return. Paper trails, though, can be very helpful; especially if it has to do with hiring a home improvement contractor. We will tell you why after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:07:30.0]
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: If your sliding door is stuck and all you have around to fix it is a handy three-pound mallet (Leslie chuckles), call us first at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We will save you a very, very expensive mistake.
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. One caller we talk to this hour is going to get a chance at winning three prizes we're giving away from the as-seen-on-TV folks. We've got the Go Duster, the Stick Up Bulb and the Closet Doubler. But wait; there's more. (Leslie chuckles) The only way to get in on this special offer is to call us at 888-MONEY-PIT and ask your home improvement question on the air.
LESLIE: Alright and maybe your home improvement question that is burning on your mind is, 'Gosh, I'm thinking about doing this major electric overhaul in my house. Should I do it myself?' Well, the answer is if you are not a certified electrician, no. So hire a pro and if you're doing any project that requires the hiring of a pro, whatever the project is, it's so important to leave a paper trail that goes along with everything that you're doing along the project because you never know when you might need all of that documentation.
You want to make sure that you keep all of the paperwork related to that one specific project in one place, folder; whatever your organization system is. Utilize it. If you don't have an organizational system, start one now. This is going to include copies of the contract; any change orders that you and the contractor have implemented and correspondence with your home improvement professionals that you're working with. You might even want to keep a log or a journal of all the phone calls, conversations and activities and actions; like 'You said you were going to do this,' 'I said I was going to buy that.' It's a good idea to take photographs as the job progresses because these records are especially important if you find that you have problems that occur after the project or even during the project.
So, be informed. Keep your information. You never know when you're going to need it. It just makes sense to stay organized.
TOM: And the most important document of everything that you just talked about, my friend, is the change order.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: That's the one that people use the least and it is absolutely the most important. What's a change order, you say? Well, if your contractor had given you a proposal to do this particular project and there's a change to that project, no matter how minor it is you should have a document between you two, between you and the contractor, that is a change order. It says that you asked for a 24-inch window and now we're putting in a 30-inch window and you're going to pay me X dollars more or the other way around. Maybe you downsized it and you're due a credit. But having that track every step of the job, all the way through, is really important. It'll help you avoid surprises at the end when the bills are presented and all of a sudden it's thousands of dollars more than what you expected. You at least have the documents and you'll know exactly how you got there or maybe it'll be less money because you took away some things during the course of the project. So, if nothing else, make sure you use that change order.
Hey, do you have a question about hiring a contractor? Maybe you're trying to decide whether you can do your project yourself or you need to hire a pro. We can help you right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bobby in Texas has a question about a water heater. What can we do for you?
BOBBY: Hi there. I live in a home in Texas and I've been here for several years. I've had, recently, a problem with my water heater; the temperature not being real consistent. And I've called my home warranty people and had them check it out, thinking they would look at it and determine what the problem might be. They told me that the water heater was about 17 years old and they blamed the inconsistency on the temperature to be the bottom of the tank not being flushed out properly.
BOBBY: And since then I've also noticed a very definite rust color whenever I turn the hot water on. Is that an indicator of the thing going out finally or ...?
TOM: Not necessarily. Is this a gas water heater or electric?
BOBBY: It's gas.
TOM: It's gas?
TOM: Probably the reason that you have inconsistent hot water is because you have a bad thermostat and the fact that the water heater may or may not have been flushed out is not going to affect the temperature. If you have a lot of hard water, you get a lot of mineral salt deposits on the bottom of the tank, that could act as an insulator and make the water heater slightly less efficient. But that's not what's causing this problem. You, my friend, have a bad thermostat and that valve's got to be replaced and your warranty company is trying to weasel out of doing just that.
BOBBY: That's what I figured.
TOM: So you get those folks back in there and tell them to stop the double talk and fix your water heater or replace it ...
TOM: ... or you will report them to the Consumer Affairs folks in your state.
TOM: Because this is a very bad habit that these home warranty companies have; is trying to give you a lot of double talk about what may or may not be wrong. If the water heater is not working properly and it's under warranty, they have to replace it. Don't take no for an answer, Bobby.
BOBBY: Right. Thanks for your help.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we've got Sonny in Florida who's dealing with some uninvited visitors to the home. What can we do for you?
SONNY: I've got the sugar ants, Pharaoh ants and there's a few other names I want to call them. (Tom and Leslie laugh) I mean it's just - I take that stuff that you buy at the store - the sugar stuff with whatever is in it -
SONNY: - I mean they chew on it for a couple of days and they disappear and they show up somewhere else. And I mean I've done it like three or four times.
TOM: This may be the time to stop being your own do-it-yourself pest control pro and hire a real one. You know, there are products out today for ants, Sonny, that are undetectable and what's cool about these is that the ants - once these products are applied by a pro, the ants can march through them and not know that they're exposing themselves to these chemicals and then they take them back to the nest and it wipes out the whole colony. It's a far more effective way than the baits which require each ant to actually eat it to be eradicated.
TOM: And there's a lot more of them than there are of us so you need to kind of get smart with it and having a pro come in and put down one of the undetectable pesticides is probably the best way to do this.
SONNY: Alrighty. I appreciate it.
TOM: Sonny, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Calling in from Colorado with the number one questions asked on The Money Pit, about flooring, we've got Beverly. What can we do for you?
BEVERLY: Well, hopefully you can solve our problem. We're in a debate over the fact that we'd like to take up the carpeting in our dining room but we have ceramic tile on our kitchen and hallway and we'd like to put down the hardwood floors that are so popular right now. And so ...
TOM: On top of the ceramic tile?
BEVERLY: Well, that's what my question is. We take up the carpeting ...
TOM: OK, if you wanted to put down engineered hardwood, which is thinner than sort of standard hardwood, you could put an underlayment down - it's sort of like a thin sheet of foam - and you can lay that on top of the ceramic. Now, did you say this is in the kitchen?
BEVERLY: That part is in the kitchen.
TOM: What you have to watch out for in the kitchen is you don't want to lock in your dishwasher ...
TOM: ... because if you floor right up to the edge of it you'll never be able to get it out. You know, as many - in as many years I've been given that tip I got a call from my sister about six months ago. She was - her dishwasher had died and the guy from the appliance company came to put it in and said, 'I can't change it because it's locked in by the ceramic tile floor.' The guy that she bought the house from had tiled right up to the edge of the dishwasher. We had to pull the countertop off to get the dishwasher out. So you've got to be careful about that sort of thing.
BEVERLY: Yeah, because we weren't going to - we were asking if we could put that on top of the tile. But now, if we put it on top it is going to block the dishwasher.
TOM: Well, you could pull the dishwasher out and you could, if you have enough room for another, say, half-inch of flooring you could just adjust the legs of the dishwasher.
TOM: Just want to make sure that you do that.
BEVERLY: Oh, yes. That's wonderful.
TOM: Well, that's why they're adjustable. (Leslie chuckles)
BEVERLY: And then to make it even with the dining room he'd have to put down - after he brought up the carpeting he'd have to put down a board, right?
TOM: Or a saddle, yeah. Mm-hmm, that's right.
BEVERLY: You call it a saddle. OK, I'll write that down.
TOM: A saddle, yep.
LESLIE: Well, the saddle would be the transition between the dining room ...
TOM: Between the two rooms.
LESLIE: Between the two rooms.
BEVERLY: Right. Right.
LESLIE: So you're not stepping up or down.
BEVERLY: Right. OK. That's wonderful. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome, Beverly. Thanks so much for calling 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: David in Florida has a cleaning question. What can we help you with?
DAVID: Oh, yeah, thank you very much. Your program is very valuable.
LESLIE: Thank you.
DAVID: I have stains that occurred recently, I guess, when I parked my car after using the air conditioning because I'm down here in Florida. And I noticed some spots and stains on the pavers that I have. I tried to clean it with bleach; I tried to clean it with some home cleaning fluid but it's still - several spots have bleached out the reddish from the main driveway so it looks kind of ugly in a few spots. I checked the car. The car's fine but I guess I must have just done it too many times and ...
TOM: You overdid it?
DAVID: ... it's annoying.
TOM: Yeah, well you're not going to get that color back, so you know what the nice thing about pavers, David? They're the same color on both sides. (Leslie chuckles) Take the paver out and flip it upside down and put it back in again.
DAVID: I thought of that but they said they're interlocking, so someone said if you turn them over - which sounded like a clever idea - they said it's really not possible because there's like a different shape. But maybe you're right. I don't know.
TOM: No, I don't think so.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) I don't know about that.
DAVID: Oh, OK.
TOM: No, I don't think so. I mean, yeah, there are different patterns to them and they lock in different ways but, you know, hopefully you'll be able to get the right combination if you turn enough of them over.
DAVID: Now, how ...
TOM: If worse comes to worse maybe you'd be one paver short and you could always go pick another one up.
DAVID: Right. And that tool, it seems like a tool - is there a special tool to get in between these pavers at a very tight ...
TOM: No, you're just going to have to get creative. You know, I mean if it was me I'd probably be trying to like sort of surgically reach down there with some thin-bladed tool like a putty knife or a thin screwdriver or something like that and try to lift the brick out. You know, they're just held in there by their weight. They're not mortared in place. So once you get the first one out it'll be easy.
DAVID: Well, thank you, thank you. Sounds great.
LESLIE: You're so welcome, David.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, good luck.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, their pint size puts kids at risk for hidden dangers in your household. Learn how to keep them safe, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:36.2]
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: Your home improvement projects just got easier because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and for those of you out there with kids, we've been talking about, briefly throughout the show, about the hidden dangers; secret toxins that you might have lurking around the house. Because it's important. You've got to think about it. Even though kids are small, pound for pound, kids are breathing more air than us adults and babies have more than double the skin area in relation to their tiny organs. So they're at greater risk for inhaling or absorbing particles from household products that you're using around the house.
You know, of course you lock up your medicines and your cleaning supplies, but even products that you might consider mild could be unsafe for your children. You want to reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals by switching to less toxic cleansers, beauty products and pesticides. You know, there's so many wonderful green products out on the market; even from major manufacturers that you know and love like Clorox. Full line of green cleaning materials around the house that you can use for anything. They're made from all-natural products and you don't have to worry about using them.
So be smart when you're doing your shopping. Look for things that are organic, that make sense and just choose wisely because your kids mean a lot to you.
TOM: And coming up in the very next edition of The Money Pit's free e-newsletter, we'll tell you about the most dangerous places in your home and I'm willing to bet your kids are there every, single day. You're not a newsletter subscriber. Well, we can fix that. Go to MoneyPit.com right now and sign up. It's free and comes to you every Friday morning.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Etta in Ohio has a question about a basement floor. What can we do for you?
ETTA: Hi. I bought an 80-year-old house and seems like everything was wrong with it but I've got most of it fixed and now I'm in the basement and I'm real fortunate. It's a dry basement and the original cement hasn't been stained. I want to clean it; just regular clean it and dry it. But I want a clear sealer to put on it so that - I've seen paint before that peels and that and I think a clear sealer would just be so nice because you could sweep it and it's sealed and it doesn't stain or anything but I can't find a clear sealer.
TOM: Oh, there's lots of masonry sealers out there, Etta. You know, the kind of paint that you might also want to be thinking about is something called an epoxy paint.
TOM: That's what really sticks like the dickens on a concrete surface. It's a two-part epoxy. You mix it up as you apply it, working one gallon at a time and it really hardens quite nicely. It has tremendous adhesion qualities to it and some of these epoxy paints come in kits with floor cleaners and it's all sort of one system and when it's all done it works really well. You know, we used one of the epoxy paints on our local Boy Scout house and I've got to tell you, there's - I can't imagine many concrete floors will get more traffic than this particular one does with all the kids and their camping supplies and all of the wet and the dirty that goes through that and it really is set up quite nicely.
ETTA: Well, where do you buy that and does it come in clear?
LESLIE: It doesn't come in clear. There is a company that makes a clear and the name of the company is R.S. Hughes. It's a little bit pricey but they do offer a clear epoxy sealer.
ETTA: That would be great. And then, like I said, I've seen some of the floor paints just peel and that or scrape when you do what you do in the basement. So ...
TOM: Mm-hmm, but if you use the epoxy paints they're not going to peel. There's a couple of manufacturers. These paints are available at home centers everywhere. There is - Rust-Oleum makes one called EPOXYShield and ...
LESLIE: QUIKRETE does.
TOM: QUIKRETE makes an epoxy paint. So they're very available and they're very reliable and they do a great job. OK, Etta?
ETTA: Yes. You know, I was at a store the other day and I was tempted by this one and it said for exterior use only. I can't use that, can I?
TOM: Yeah, if it says for exterior use you can certainly use it for interior use and that actually ...
ETTA: I could?
TOM: ... would be OK.
ETTA: Well, great. Thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome, Etta. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Peter in New Jersey has a question about home heating. What can we help you with?
PETER: Hi. Well, I've heard about biodiesel for your cars and trucks, like the French fry oil or soybean oil, and I was wondering was there any type of biofuel for your home heating oil?
TOM: Not yet; although, you know, the soybean oil, there have been a number of research projects where they've tried using soybean oils in your typical oil-fired heating system gun kind of a thing and it does work. They have to change the size of the actual burner and the orifice that lets the oil out, but it's not developed to the point where it's readily available. But I'd love to see something like that develop in the future. I love the idea of growing your own fuel.
PETER: Yeah, me too. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome, Peter. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and I can guarantee that you probably take your hot water for granted every, single day or you might be super thankful in the morning and say, 'This is the best hot shower ever.' You know, you turn on your water and it's there just waiting for you. But your water heater, it works hard and it could be time to replace it without you even knowing it. We're going to tell you how to tell if it's on its way out, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:24:19.6]
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 right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You're not only going to get your home improvement question that you just can't figure out answered right now on the air, but you're also going to get automatically entered into our random prize drawing because we're giving away three super-cool products from the folks at Telebrands; those as-seen-on-TV people. It's a Go Duster, a Stick Up Bulb and a Closet Doubler hanging system. The whole thing is worth 65 bucks but it could be yours for free.
TOM: If you call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and, remember, you must have a home improvement question in order to qualify for this hour's prize.
Well, one of your questions might be about your water heater. Perhaps you're not getting enough hot water lately and maybe you're wondering what you can do about it. You know, you turn on the tap you get hot water, you hope. And most of us don't give it a second thought. But have you checked the water heater lately? The average lifespan of a water heater is anywhere from eight to twelve years and unfortunately there's no test or telltale sign, sometimes, that a water heater needs replacing aside from that major, messy leak. So we generally recommend that if your water heater is getting into that 10-to-12-year range it might be time to think about replacing it before it actually malfunctions and leaks and causes a big, stinking mess; usually over the weekend when you've left for the entire two or three days (Leslie chuckles) and you come back and, you know, the thing can just run and run and run and run and run.
LESLIE: Now, Tom, say you've bought a house ...
LESLIE: ... and there's an existing water heater and maybe you didn't get the information from the previous owner. Is there a way to tell by looking at it what the year, date, model, anything is?
TOM: Yes. On the water heater there's going to be a label and, generally, if you go to the water heater manufacturer's website they will help you decode this label but it's not that hard. It usually has the year built right into the serial number; not the model number but the serial number. And the other date ...
LESLIE: And that's the year it was made.
TOM: Yeah, the other date that's on there is the date for the standard of the gas code that the appliance was built to and that's not as accurate as the water heater date itself but it kind of gets you in the ballpark. So the dates are stamped on there and sometimes it's super obvious where it just says, you know, 'Manufactured June of 99' or something really simple like that. And so, if you take a look at that label you may have a pretty good idea how old that water heater actually is.
Now, if you're going to replace your water heater you want to consider the cost to operate the water heater and probably the best technology right now to reduce cost is a tankless water heater because these water heaters only work on demand when you need them and they never, ever run out of hot water; something that can be very helpful if you have a house full of teenagers. If you want more information on tankless water heaters, there is a great website - brand new - called SmarterHotWater.com. You'll find information on all types and sizes and even how to find an installer for a tankless water heater. That's SmarterHotWater.com and there's even information in there about tanked water heaters as well. SmarterHotWater.com.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Richard in New Jersey, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
RICHARD: Yeah, I had a root problem in my cellar, which the plumber came and took care of. And he recommended I get this Breakthrough and I got it in our local plumbing supply store and the first time I ever used it - and it's a root killer - and I poured it, per instructions, down the toilet in the cellar and the first dose was only about a - maybe a cup full. Then the second one, I through it down there; flushed the toilet plus extra water. Ever since then I'm getting this odor coming through my toilet downstairs and my sink downstairs.
RICHARD: I even had the fire department here and ...
RICHARD: ... it was really bad ...
TOM: Did it smell like a sewage odor?
RICHARD: No, more like the acid. It was the second dose. It was only about a coffee cup full and I flushed it, threw extra water down there and ...
TOM: How old is your house?
RICHARD: Built about 1955.
TOM: So what do you have? Cast-iron waste pipes?
RICHARD: I believe so, yes.
TOM: Yeah. You know what? It might be a good idea to do a drain inspection, Richard. A drain inspection is done with a camera. It's something like a drain service company can do for you. It's not terribly expensive.
LESLIE: And it's not invasive at all.
TOM: Yeah, it's not invasive.
TOM: And basically the camera is run down the line. You must have something that's obstructing your sewage lines that's causing this gaseous backup. Something has gotten stuck in there and it may not be roots. It could be something else.
RICHARD: Yeah, one plumber came and he took the toilet downstairs off; resealed it and everything, which was good, and he said, 'Maybe you need a smoke bomb down in the ...' - it comes out of your vent out of your roof.'
TOM: I wouldn't - that sounds kind of explosive to me. I think a camera is a lot safer way to go, Richard.
RICHARD: Camera? Yeah, OK.
TOM: Yeah, because a guy that knows what he's doing can look through those lines and find out if they're broken, they're cracked, they're clogged or obstructed and he'll know exactly what to do. You won't be speculating and guessing and trying this and trying that only to have the smell come back.
TOM: So we have the technology. I'd recommend you get a camera line inspection of those lines. You'll know exactly what it is and then you can figure out exactly what to do about it.
Richard, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
When we come back we're going to talk about laminate floors. They're an inexpensive and a beautiful flooring solution. It can look like wood, tile, even marble. But caring for it properly; that's the key to making it last. We're going to tell you how to do just that, next.
[audio timestamp: 30:22]
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: Have you started a home improvement project? Perhaps got stuck in the middle; don't know where to begin? Pick up the phone and begin with us. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
Hey, if you missed something or you just can't get enough of The Money Pit, why not take a little bit of Tom and Leslie to go? You can easily download our Money Pit podcast. It is absolutely free. We don't charge you a dime. You will love it because you can sort of download entire episodes of the Money Pit; all the questions, all the interviews; everything that you wanted to know within that one hour or two or you can even go by section and by topic. So you can download whatever you want all the time and then tune in when you're actually doing that project. You can even download a year's worth of past shows and it's all free.
TOM: At MoneyPit.com and while you're there click on Ask Tom and Leslie and send us an e-mail question. We've got one here from Lisa in Mount Pleasant, Texas.
LESLIE: That's right. Lisa writes: 'We installed a laminate floor in our kitchen, dining and living areas. The flooring has lost its shine. We've tried all different kinds of cleaners recommended for laminate floors; even simply a water-and-vinegar solution. Nothing helps. It stays dull and streaky looking. What can I do to keep it clean and maintain a shiny luster at the same time?'
TOM: Lisa, Leslie and I talked a bit about this ...
TOM: ... and all the laminate floors that we know are not supposed to have a super-shiny finish to it; more of a ...
LESLIE: No, more like a sateen.
TOM: Yeah, or satin finish. Right, exactly. Sort of a matte finish.
LESLIE: Like a matte finish.
TOM: So it may not be that your floor is designed to have a real shiny finish. Now, the other concern is this. You've used a variety of different cleaners on this and it's entirely possible that you've etched the surface and that's why it's no longer shiny. What we have found to be most effective is the vinegar-and-water solution. We use very, very hot water and vinegar in our house and it always works very, very well. One other trick of the trick to help the evaporation is to add a bit of alcohol to it. Now, Leslie, would that be ...?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, rubbing alcohol.
TOM: That's rubbing alcohol, correct?
LESLIE: Right. Yeah, yeah. You would use some rubbing alcohol and you could do equal parts vinegar, rubbing alcohol, hot water or just sort of, you know, match the vinegar to the rubbing alcohol that you would to the water; whatever your combination is. That helps it evaporate. It's going to help it dry a lot quicker, so you're obviously going to be left with less streaks. But generally, if you use super hot water you're not going to be left with a streaky surface. I'm not sure why that's happening for you.
TOM: Yeah, you might be using cold water. And by the way, the best way to learn to maintain your particular brand of laminate floor is to check the manufacturer's website. They always have cleaning solutions there and cleaning advice and this way you'll make sure that whatever you put on your floor is not going to damage it.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got another one here from Kelly in Ocean View, New Jersey who writes: 'I have paneling in my bedroom at home which we painted when we moved in 10 years ago. The paint is now peeling off between most panels. It's chipping off by each gap between panels and a majority of the panels are cracked from the floor to the ceiling. When looking at the paneling that has been uncovered beneath the paint it appears dry and rough. It's also lighter; almost bleached-out looking in color. I'd rather not get into the trouble of ripping the paneling down. What are my options? What should I do?'
Gosh, it's been 10 years. Paint it again.
TOM: Exactly. What are you complaining about, Kelly? That's pretty darn good. I'll tell you, probably the reason it's cracking is because of the expansion and contraction. The way to deal with that, caulk the seam before you paint it. Use a paintable latex caulk. Caulk that seam between the boards of paneling and that will make sure it will expand and contract the next time the house expands and contracts and doesn't crack.
LESLIE: Yeah, and go ahead and prime it first before you put a new coat of paint on.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that you learned a thing or two about how to solve a do-it-yourself dilemma around your house.
If you need more information on how to do just that, we want to point you to our website where the show continues at MoneyPit.com. Click on the project finder there. You can actually pick any topic having to do with the house and you can look up everything we've ever written about it. Got a heating question? It's there at MoneyPit.com. You got a question about plumbing? It's there at MoneyPit.com 24/7/365 and our call center never sleeps either at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Thank you so much. 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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END HOUR 1 TEXT
(Copyright 2008 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)