Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 1:00]
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. It's a great hour. It's a great idea. Let's tackle your home improvement projects. Let's solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. What are you working on? What are you doing? Trying to redecorate some rooms? Call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Need to solve a leaky basement? Call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Whatever you're doing, whatever you're working on, we are here to help you get the job done.
Coming up this hour, it's deck season once again.
TOM and LESLIE: Hooray!
LESLIE: I can't wait. I cannot wait to get outside. I can't wait for real spring to kick in. I just can't wait.
TOM: You know, building a deck is probably the least expensive way of extending your outdoor living space. You know, it's inexpensive. It's easy to do. And it's generally made of pressure-treated lumber, which is incredibly durable stuff. But there is one area of the pressure treated lumber that may not be so durable. It's all of the hardware; all of the joints; all of the fasteners that are used to assemble decks. If they're not put together correctly, they can rot away and make the deck unsafe. So before you get out on your deck this summer, we're going to tell you, this hour, what to inspect to make sure it's going to hold up to all of that use.
LESLIE: And spring is swarm season. Do you think that your home might have termites? Well, before you panic, we're going to make sure that you can actually tell a termite from maybe an ant or another kind of bug. Not saying that you got bugs in your house but you might. And we're going to give you some of those bug ID-ing tips a little bit later.
TOM: And coming up later in the hour, if you were designing the last house you'll ever live in, what would you include? Well, that's the question the folks at Fine Homebuilding asked a bunch of people and they came up with some really good information. We're going to interview Kevin Ireton, the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, about how to construct the last house you'll ever need.
LESLIE: And we have the most season-appropriate prize this hour. And it's the ...
TOM: We do?
LESLIE: It is. It's amazing. It's the one thing that's going to help you most with your outdoor spring cleanup and it's a pressure washer.
LESLIE: It's so kick-butt. I'm so glad. It's a great prize; especially because pretty much everything on your spring to-do list involves a pressure washer so why not have one for free. You've got to call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and it's a Husky pressure washer. It's worth 179 bucks but it could be yours for free.
TOM: You know, using a pressure washer is a lot of fun because you start in one place and you just can't put it down. You just work your way around the whole house until everything is super clean.
LESLIE: It makes the chore really easy and exciting and I love free gifts. So hey, folks.
TOM: Well, if you want to win the Husky pressure washer, pick up the phone and call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller to today's program will have their name tossed into the Money Pit hardhat and perhaps selected out of that Money Pit hardhat to win the pressure washer.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Mary in Iowa, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
MARY: Hi. We have a toilet that when we flush it, it gurgles up in the sink and this odd - well, bad smell comes out.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
MARY: And I don't know what to do about it.
TOM: Well, it's a venting problem. The problem is that you don't have enough air getting into the waste pipe. You see, as you flush the toilet, you're going to have, you know, couple of gallons of water go down the waste pipe very quickly. That water has to be replaced, that volume has to be replaced by air. And so, if your toilet is not vented properly there's no way for the air to get back in there. It tries to draw the air from the room by sort of gurgling and that's the bubbles and the gurgling and the sort of the sucking sound that you hear.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It's gulping for breath.
TOM: Yeah, that's right. It's starving for air. And so, this is a problem that can solved by a plumber through the installation of an additional vent. If it's possible to get the vent up through the roof and out, that's fine. But there are other ways to install vents to the inside of the house that have sort of ball valves on them so they let air in but they don't let smell out. But this is a simple venting issue and that's going to solve it.
MARY: Would it be just venting the toilet or venting the sink or both or ...?
TOM: It actually could be somewhere in the plumbing line because they're all connected, as you've noticed. You hear this bubbling in different places. It could be vented in one of a number of places but it is a venting issue and that's what has to be done.
Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Russell in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina working on a floor. How can we help you?
RUSSELL: Yeah, I've got a couple little questions here. I'm remodeling a home and doing pretty much all the work myself. So, I haven't been around and done any hardwood floors in a long time. And what I'm doing, I've got the hard pine floors. And I knew you used to could put the - Moisture Cure was a very good finish for high-traffic areas. Is there anything else out there that, you know, compares with this? Or ...
TOM: Well certainly I don't think that we should be - you should be thinking about using any type of a water-based polyurethane. That's one thing I would not recommend for a floor. When you're doing your own floor finish - you know, the floor installers have some commercial finishes that are two parts that are like - sort of like the gym floor that's really, really durable. But when you're doing this yourself ...
LESLIE: You're not going to be able to get those products.
TOM: ... you're not going to be able to get it and probably your only option's going to be use an oil-based polyurethane. That being said, it's really durable stuff on a hardwood floor. It's going to be important that you put it on very carefully, that you sand the floor, that you prep it properly and that you put it on with a lamb's wool applicator. And make sure you leave more time to dry than it says on the can.
TOM: Because I've actually painted myself in a room once with that stuff.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah. Work from exit to exit. (Russell chuckles) Do not find yourself trapped in a blank corner.
RUSSELL: That's very helpful there. I do have one other question. I've put some white pine on the walls. How's the best way to keep the wood from - you know how, over time, where the poly finish on it or the clear finish on it, the wood gradually darkens? Is there any paint ...?
TOM: Yeah, it yellows. Mm-hmm. No, that's a reaction because of the ultraviolet light from the sun getting into the wood and the wood ...
LESLIE: But there are non-yellowing finishes available on the market.
TOM: Yeah, there are. But I'm telling you, it's eventually going to happen.
RUSSELL: I understand.
TOM: Yeah, it's an oxidation because of the reaction between the light and the finish. But yeah, there are non-yellowing finishes but it does - it will slow it down. One of the things that you might want to think about doing is to stain the lumber; stain it a color. And then you won't notice the yellowing that much, as opposed to being pure white.
RUSSELL: Well, that sounds good.
LESLIE: Pearl from New Jersey, what's going on at your apartment?
PEARL: Yes, hi. I live in a second floor apartment on a two-story building. And this is my second year in this apartment. This year I've been having mold problems, which did not occur last year. And the only two changes that occurred in the apartment since last year was that the landlord had the outside walls waterproofed and we had some electrical work done in the walls. And mold showed up this year.
TOM: There's yet a third change that you're not counting on. Leslie and I both live in the New York area and the third change is we have had a boatload of rain. I mean just a lot of rain compared to last year. So there's been a great increase in the amount of moisture that has gotten into those walls and certainly if you have a lot of moisture you can have a lot of mold that follows.
The secret here is going to be to stay on top of this mold growth. I hope that you're keeping your landlord posted on this because mold is something that has to be dealt with quickly before it sort of takes over on its own. You know, it grows rather explosively if it's uncontained. But if you - if you clean up moist, damp areas; if you wash walls down with bleach solutions, that can really keep it in check. And in an apartment, when you don't own the house, that's really the only thing that you can do as a tenant.
PEARL: Uh-huh. So that's all I can do? Just keep cleaning it up?
TOM: Yes, but you want to make sure that you're cleaning it with a bleach solution because that's what's going to kill ...
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, because the bleach is going to kill those spores and keep it from growing back. Also, do you dehumidify in any way in the apartment?
PEARL: No, actually the - there's - the heat in the apartment is very, very dry.
PEARL: So we have a humidifier which is on low humidity. Just - it doesn't - you know, the mold actually showed up in one of the rooms where there is no humidifier; where it is actually very dry in the wintertime when the heat is on.
TOM: Yeah, you're not going to see this in the wintertime. This is going to be a spring/summertime kind of an issue. What you ought to do is take a spray bottle - like from an old cleaning product - and you want to mix a 10 percent bleach solution in there and keep it handy so if you see little spots of mold start to show up you can spritz that, let it sit for a few minutes so that it kills any mold spores that are there and then you can clean it up.
PEARL: Uh-huh. Is there anything the landlord could do to prevent the problem?
TOM: Well, if it turns out that it's sourcing from a leak obviously he could deal with that. But you say he waterproofed the outside?
TOM: You know, maybe in the process of waterproofing it some of the caulking was cracked or some other damage was done. You know, I would certainly let the landlord know what's happening. But in terms of what you can do as a tenant, on the inside, you can do as much as you can to try and keep it under control by cleaning it up before it starts to grow.
PEARL: Uh-huh. OK, thank you very much.
LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Is your spring season to-do list overwhelming you? Well, we can help; especially if you call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, most decks are built with pressure-treated wood. But the process that helps protect the wood from rot and decay can also cause all the fasteners to deteriorate. Find out how to inspect yours to make sure it's safe, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. And you know our magic number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you call us and ask your home improvement question on the air, we are giving away the one tool that you probably cannot live without; especially when you're doing your spring cleanup outside of your home. It is a super prize. It's an 1800 psi pressure washer from Husky. And once you have one - first of all, everything is going to be amazingly clean, but you are going to wonder what the heck you did without it. You can use it to clean sidewalks, your siding, your deck; pretty much anything outside.
TOM: If you call us right now you can qualify to win that Husky pressure washer. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question
Hey, speaking of decks, you know they're usually built with pressure-treated wood. To do that the wood is put in a vacuum-sealed container that's filled with chemical preservatives. Basically, the chemicals are forced into the wood. Now, the downside is that the chemicals don't always completely saturate the wood and these areas are generally found near the center and the end cuts. These are very high-risk areas for rot.
LESLIE: Yeah. And no matter how small those areas are, the wood can easily absorb moisture and allow those decay organisms to enter into the center of the wood. And once that starts to happen the wood is going to rot from the inside out. But this doesn't have to happen to your deck. You can actually protect your deck with what's called a weather resistant self-adhering membrane. And one that's really great is the Vycor Deck Protector. It's from the folks at Grace Construction products. And you would adhere it to the top of deck joists or even around the ends; anywhere where you're finding that that pressure-treated lumber is coming into contact with a joist hanger or any piece of metal or even just the nail or screw coming through from the top decking into that joist. So you really want to make sure that you put an impervious barrier, which is going to protect against water and moisture penetration. It really does make a lot of sense and could prolong the life of your deck.
TOM: And keep it safe as well. If you want more information on Grace's weather barriers for decks, you can get information at GraceAtHome.com.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Paul in Utah's in hot water. How can we help you?
PAUL: Boy, I wish I was in hot water.
TOM: (chuckling) You're not in hot water, huh?
PAUL: Well, I need hot water to exchange my hot water boiler system that gives radiant to my home into something more modern because this one is costing me greatly. It's about 50 years old and it is an old cast iron boiler system with radiant heat.
TOM: Well, you know, the fact that it's 50 years old means it's really served you well. And so, I don't think, Paul, that thing owes you any more years. But I think we can save you some money if we recommend a replacement boiler. Probably the best type of replacement boiler to look for today is called a condensing boiler. And what that refers to is the fact that these high-efficiency boilers take so much heat out of the gas before it's let up the vent pipe that all that's left is mostly water vapor which condenses, runs down to a pump and is pumped outside. So a high-efficiency condensing boiler is the one that's going to be the most energy efficient. You probably should be looking for one that's Energy Star rated. And you're going to see a world of difference in the cost to operate that compared to the old cast iron boiler that you're working with right now.
PAUL: I do appreciate it. Is there a brand or a ...
TOM: Well, Rheem is a really good brand of boiler. R-h-e-e-m. That's one that you might want to start with. There are other good ones as well. But take a look for a condensing boiler and I think you're going to be very happy with your energy bills after that's installed.
PAUL: You're marvelous, folks. Thank you.
TOM: You're welcome, Paul. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Christine in Kalamazoo, welcome to The Money Pit. What's going on at your house?
CHRISTINE: You know my drain that's in the bathroom?
CHRISTINE: (inaudible) pipe that goes right behind the toilet?
CHRISTINE: A lot of people call it a stink pipe or something like that. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) But you know, the fumes come back through that pipe some kind of way. And I was wondering if it could be clogged.
TOM: Well, something might not be right. Are you talking about the vent pipe that goes from the toilet up to the roof?
TOM: And you're getting odor through that - through like from the walls or something?
CHRISTINE: I think it's from the pipe.
TOM: Well, OK. But see, the pipe should be filled with water and it should be vented up to the roof. So if you're getting odors from that area, then it's possible that the pipe was not connected properly or if you have an old sink or something in that area where the trap dried out, you could get sewage gas back from that. Is there a floor drain in this bathroom?
CHRISTINE: No. There's one in the basement, though.
TOM: OK, that's another area where very often you get odors because those drains are not used very often and if they get dry then they can leak sewage gas back up into the house. Generally, if you have an odor it's because the vent pipe is not working correctly. If it's clogged, that's not necessarily going to contribute or take away from the chances of an odor. But if the vent pipe is not installed right, that's when you'll get odors. So that's the solution to the problem. Get that vent pipe straightened out.
Christine, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alex in Bradley, New Jersey, welcome to The Money Pit. How'd you get paint on your fireplace?
ALEX: The house that I just recently bought is about 80 years old. And a lot of folks had done a lot of work in the house and one of the things, unfortunately, that they did is there was a brick fireplace - there still is a brick fireplace there - and it's been painted at least three times. And I've tried a lot of different things; whether it be some stripper - paint stripper - and I've tried a lot of different products. But I just can't seem to get the paint off and get it down to the natural brick.
LESLIE: Well, the problem, Alex, is because the brick and the mortar are so porous that once that paint goes on there it gets sucked in. I've only seen the paint come off when it's professionally sandblasted. And that is a mess.
TOM: It's a big, stinking mess. (Alex chuckles) Yeah, it really is.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) But it's worth it. Because I hate - I hate painted brick. It makes me so mad. And we had an apartment in Queens that had painted brick and our landlord lived upstairs and she tried so many chemicals and different combinations and it was caustic and messy. And in the end it was white speckled brick.
ALEX: So your recommendation, at this point, would be simply - it's not simply, but to sandblast it at that point, right? Have a professional come in and ...
TOM: Exactly. Unless, you know, shudder the thought, you might just get as much of that old stuff off as you can. And presuming the surface is all even and it's not flaky, that perhaps that you choose, say, an eggshell sheen paint. And then perhaps you could paint the brick one more time in the brick color and at least not have it be as objectionable as it used to be (Leslie chuckles) and have it consistently of color.
TOM: But unless you do something like that, you're not going to be able to get it consistent. And the other thing is, if you do decide to sandblast it, you better be darn sure you know what that brick looks like underneath. Because there's no turning back and it would be such a shame if you got it all cleaned off and decided you didn't like the brick anyway.
ALEX: I appreciate it very much. Even tried heat but, again, I'm sure you well realize that the brick absorbs the heat so it can't even get that hot. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
ALEX: Thank you so much. I appreciate your show and thanks very much for your input.
TOM: Alex, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, the idea of growing in a rocker on the porch is pretty much outdated; especially for us baby boomers who aren't ready to slow down. But up next, what elements to include in the design of your last house? Rocking chairs are not necessarily a part of the plan. We'll get the details from the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, next.
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ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/HomeDesign to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.
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: Call us now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Well, baby boomers everywhere are challenging the idea that your golden years have to be spent in a condo or retirement village. Not so. Most of you want to stay exactly where you are, according to a recent survey by AARP. Or at least you want to retire in a home that doesn't necessarily include rockers on the front porch. We're looking for a more active lifestyle.
LESLIE: That's true. And in fact, the folks at Fine Homebuilding magazine visited a few new homes that accommodate the changing needs of older owners with style so it's not so hospital looking. It's actually quite beautiful. And editor Kevin Ireton is joining us now with some of the design elements making up these great homes where people of any age would love to live.
The story is beautiful, Kevin, and the homes are gorgeous and totally not what you think of for an aging citizen. You know, how did you find these homes?
KEVIN: Well, actually we're lucky enough that these homes found us. In both cases, the architects who designed these houses sent them to the magazine and it's - because they took two different approaches, that's what inspired us to do a story that looks just at, you know, what are baby boomers wanting in retirement homes and what makes a good retirement home?
TOM: What are some of the areas that you looked into? Obviously, accessibility has to be the first element of any home that's going to be able to last through the years.
KEVIN: Exactly. You've got to design a house that's accessible to somebody in a wheelchair or in a walker but at the same time, you know, doesn't look like a hospital and is comfortable to everybody. And a lot of times there, it's a matter of wide hallways and wide doorways.
TOM: And I think a lot of people think, 'Well, I have to live in a ranch but that's not so anymore.'
KEVIN: One of the things that surprise me, one of the houses we found is actually a three-story house. And that's because, given the lot that these people were building on, building up rather than out made sense. And the key there is to include an elevator. And a residential elevator can be installed for anywhere from about $12,000 up. So it's not always as expensive as people might think.
LESLIE: And you know, Kevin, in the story what I found really interesting was that the architects were saying that in the design of the home they were able to minimize the upkeep needed for the exterior. What are some of these design features that really help you to do that?
KEVIN: Well, you know, the first and most important one is to choose low-maintenance materials. I mean, you know, masonry is less - try to minimize the number of things that need painting. But another key is to have deep overhangs on the roofs. It's as simple as, you know, a broad rim on the hat is going to protect the house. And it keeps the rain and the sun off the house and those are the things that make that siding and those windows deteriorate.
TOM: And you know, that's a passive solar design element that is sort of getting new life now when you talk about accessible homes and homes that are more maintenance free. But when you're building a house that is going to work with the sun, as opposed to against the sun, if you have a high overhang like that then the sun, when it gets up high in the summer sky can't get through the windows and therefore can't add to your air conditioning costs. But in the winter when you want a lot of light in, it easily peers under the roof it's lower in the sky.
KEVIN: Yeah, you're exactly right. And there are ways to calculate what that overhang needs to be for your part of the country.
LESLIE: And some of the other things you were talking about, in addition to the accessibility and low maintenance, were energy efficiency and ease of day-to-day living. And I think it's interesting because especially the three-story one with the elevator, it's huge. I mean isn't there just an enormous amount of energy consumption and how do you then keep that down as you age?
KEVIN: That's a matter of taking advantage of some of the better insulations that we have on the market today. This house, we used a spray foam insulation that's very airtight, high r value and also added an extra half-inch or inch of rigid foam on the outside of the walls. And that's just going to help keep that house so that it's not as - it's much more comfortable and it's not going to be expensive to heat and cool that house, which is going to be a great boon if you're on a fixed income.
TOM: We're talking to Kevin Ireton. He's the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine. On newsstands now, the article is called 'Designing the Best Last House.'
Finally Kevin, you talk about easy to day-to-day living spaces. It occurs to me that when we think about the flow of the home, probably most of us are familiar with the idea of the working triangle in the kitchen; trying to make an efficient path between the sink, the range and the refrigerator. But it seems that there are traffic patterns that we need to be concerned of when we get into a situation where we want to build a house that works well for folks of any age and the layout of, really, the entire floor plan. What areas did you see that were common to - that people are including in these homes so that they work well together? Like a home office, for example. That's becoming more popular.
KEVIN: Well, exactly. Home offices and home work spaces for hobbies. You know, because as people retire their hobbies are going to take a much bigger role. So whether that's a woodworking shop for you or a sewing room or a home office. But trying to keep those spaces close by to the kitchen, close by to the master bedroom is probably, you know, similar to the kitchen work triangle only you're expanding it to your bedroom, your kitchen and your public living space.
LESLIE: Well and also by custom designing these dedicated-use rooms, you're really able to put cabinets and drawers and pet pass-throughs at accommodating heights so you're not putting a lot of physical strain on yourself as you age.
KEVIN: Exactly. You know, you mentioned pet pass-throughs. One of these houses did something that I thought was very cool and that is that they've got - you know, they've got a fenced-in backyard and they've got kind of a mudroom-pantry with a pet door in it. And one of the things that does is mean that the dogs have access inside and out on their own any time they want. Which means that, you know, you don't have to worry about getting home to let the dog out and that sort of thing, which is - you know, frees up people to, you know, to kind of keep their own hours.
TOM: Kevin Ireton, thanks always for great information straight from the pages of Fine Homebuilding magazine. More information available at FineHomebuilding.com.
LESLIE: Well, spring swarm season is here and you might be noticing some bugs in and around your home. But if you looked at a pest lineup, could you properly identify a termite? We're going to tell you how to spot these pesky criminals after this.
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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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: It's a great hour. It's a great idea. Call us now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. A great reason to call is that one caller we talk to this hour is going to win an 1800 psi electric pressure washer from Husky. It's worth 179 bucks. You know, a pressure washer will make those spring cleanup projects around your house a real breeze. You can use it to clean sidewalks, decks, siding, windows. Call us now if you want to qualify. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to ask it on the air.
LESLIE: Alright. Well you think you've got termites. Well, we've got a quick way to ID these little bugs around your house. A termite - they're going to be about a quarter of an inch long and termites are smaller than ants and only have two body segments. And unlike ants, they also sport a pair of really long wings. They're almost like teardrop-shaped; like fairy wings. They're actually quite pretty but if you see them you're in big trouble. And they also have straight antennae. Knowing exactly what a termite is and what the symptoms of a termite are, this way when you see them you can quickly squash their interest in your home and get rid of them once and for all.
TOM: Yeah, you know, the best way to treat termites today is with something called an undetectable termidicide.
TOM: Basically it's installed by a pro. It goes in the soil and then the termite doesn't know it's there so they kind of pass through this and take it back to their termite nest and pass it to all their termite brethren and then you never have to worry about them again. So there are high-tech ways to get rid of them. But knowing what you're looking at is really critical.
LESLIE: And a lot of these companies that have these undetectables, they're even saying that they're seeing 10 years where they're not seeing a return of termites to the same location. So ...
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, they last a long time. Yeah. Good stuff.
LESLIE: ... just because you're not seeing them doesn't mean that your neighbor might not have them and they'll eventually find their way to you. So really do a checkup once a year at least.
TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.
Leslie, let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Donna in Florida has been neglecting your tile work. What's going on?
DONNA: Well, not really neglecting. We just moved in here and this is ...
TOM: Somebody else was neglecting it, huh? (chuckling)
DONNA: Yes, badly. And ...
LESLIE: (chuckling) We love it.
DONNA: ... the grout has been badly neglected. It's kind of a light putty in the clean areas. But for the most part, it's very dirty and grungy. And we would like to know the best way to clean it without, you know, messing it up to where we have to reseal it and everything.
LESLIE: Do you have a bird? What's going on over there?
DONNA: Yeah, I do. I have seven birds.
TOM: Oh, man. (Tom and Donna chuckle)
LESLIE: Are they talkers?
DONNA: I have an amazon that's quite a talker.
LESLIE: They're so funny. And when they learn to talk they actually start speaking in the same exact voice as whoever they've picked it up from.
DONNA: Yeah, pretty much. She does sound a lot like me. (Tom chuckles)
LESLIE: That is so funny.
So you're pretty sure that the grout is just dirty? It's not like we need to scrape it out and start all over?
DONNA: I don't think so. It's just dirty. Because a few places my husband has cleaned - he got some stuff called Crud Cutter.
TOM: Right, that's pretty good stuff.
DONNA: And actually we got it to get the tile - well, they painted the woodwork and got it on the tile. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Oh, boy.
DONNA: So he's using that all the way around the house ...
DONNA: ... to lift the paint off the floor. And he's tried it on the tile and it actually works pretty well. But to do the whole house with that would be a mess. I mean I don't think he can do it with the - it's a spray bottle of, you know, stuff. So ...
TOM: Well, there's usually (ph) two levels of a grout cleaner. There's grout cleaner and there's grout stripper. Grout stripper is a lot tougher than grout cleaner. And you can buy both in the home centers. And really, trying to get that grout clean is a big job but I mean the idea here would be to mix it up and do it once.
DONNA: Someone told him not to try to mop - like when he put something on there not to try and mop it up because all it did was move the dirt around and put it back into the tile. And they told him to use a wet/dry vac.
TOM: Well, I wouldn't suck the excess cleaner up because you don't know what's in there. And a wet/dry vac ...
LESLIE: And it could be volatile.
DONNA: Yeah, it could be volatile. Exactly. So I wouldn't do that. But I think if you use a lot of fresh water then that shouldn't be an issue.
LESLIE: John in Connecticut, what can The Money Pit do for you?
JOHN: I live in a four-bedroom colonial.
JOHN: I have hot water baseboard heat. And during the heating cycle, on - in three spots on the second floor I get a very loud creaking.
JOHN: And then if I go down to the first floor, below those areas, I get the creaking about the same loudness.
TOM: OK. How old is your house?
JOHN: It's about 15 years old. I've been in it about nine years and it's been doing it every year.
LESLIE: And it's only in the winter?
JOHN: Yes, when it goes to the heating cycle. The - I'm sure when the copper pipes are expanding they're obviously rubbing up against something. And there was one spot in a bathroom where it's a tile floor and I raised the pipe a little bit and it stopped. But I tried to, you know, use wedges to, you know, once it's expanded to see if that would do it and nothing seems to be doing it. It doesn't seem to be coming from like the hardwood floors.
TOM: And you have a hot water - you have a hot water baseboard system?
TOM: Well, obviously, somewhere where the piping is going through the structure the piping is rubbing against the wood. And hot water pipes do expand a lot when they heat up, as you correctly stated. And when they do, they make this sort of cricking, squeaking sound as they rub against the pipe. Sometimes it sounds a lot like a drip. You'll very often hear this when you turn hot water on in a bathroom.
Unfortunately, this is probably occurring somewhere inside of the structure of the floor/ceiling assembly. And it's going to be rather difficult, if not impossible, to track this down. The good news is that aside from the annoyance, this really is going to have no impact on the wear and tear of the heating system.
JOHN: What I - I was going to sort to - and I won't if you don't recommend it - taking down some drywall in the ceiling on the first floor to try and expose it and see where it is.
TOM: I think this really - is really bugging him, Leslie. (chuckling)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah, because that's going to be a big undertaking. I mean if it's really bothering you enough where you do want to have to do some drywall repair work, then definitely you can get into the inner workings of it and secure that pipe more efficiently to sort of contain it as it's expanding and contracting so it doesn't do that rubbing.
TOM: You're going to have to basically trace down the route of that pipe and I will tell you this; that sound could be happening a lot farther down the line than what you might expect.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) From where you actually hear it
TOM: And so, you could take it down right under there and find out that the sound is originating from somewhere else. What you're going to end up doing is taking it down, cranking the heat up and watching it and seeing if you can figure out where it's occurring. But it's kind of a big undertaking for something that's really just an annoyance. Again, no reason, structurally, to be concerned about this. It's really - should be defined by the old-fashioned term 'charm.' (Leslie chuckles)
JOHN: The odd thing is the pattern of the creaking is the same every, single time; like a song you just memorize. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Yeah. (chuckling) John, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Gosh, talk about Chinese water torture.
TOM: Really. (chuckling)
LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Maybe you've got this problem, too. Are you looking to insulate a room but you don't have any space to fill in the gaps? Well, we have an e-mailer and we're going to help them with that problem, next.
[audio timestamp: 39:47]
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 you like to fix stuff that's not broken you are in the right place because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
Hey, even if you break stuff while you're fixing it, we can help you with that problem, too. And if you listen to us here at The Money Pit on a regular basis, you're pretty well aware that a window is a major weak point in your home and it really can allow moisture in. But how do you keep that water out and how do you prevent those leaks and mold and warping and eventually costly structural damage to your home? Well, we're going to tell you, of course, in our very next Money Pit e-newsletter. It's free and it comes into your inbox every week. So sign up now at MoneyPit.com. And while you're there, if you're feeling a little shy; if you don't want to pick up the phone or maybe you don't need that answer right away, you can send us an e-mail by clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie.
Alright, I've got one here, Tom. Can I jump right in?
TOM: Let's do it.
LESLIE: Alright ...
TOM: Dean in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
LESLIE: OK. Dean says, 'I'm tearing down the plaster in a room which is small. I will replace it with drywall but I want to insulate it. The problem is the outside is brick and inside there are only firring strips which leave me only about an inch of space to insulate. What would be the best way to do this? I don't want to put up 2x4s for r13 because the room is small and that's going to lose a lot of space.
TOM: Well, without a lot of space you're not going to be able to add a lot of insulation.
LESLIE: What about a blown-in or a foam or a polyisonene?
TOM: Well you know, you could do all that but the bottom line is that you don't have - you need depth to build up the r factor.
TOM: So if you've only got, you know, an inch of space to insulate, you're only going to get a very small level of insulation.
LESLIE: Regardless of the type of insulation you use?
TOM: Yeah, but if you use - yeah, well I mean the foams might be a little bit higher of an r factor, but I think one of the reasons that the foams might be a really good thing to do is because you're also going to have a lot of draft issues with this house and that would do a really good job of slowing some of the drafts. So if you could - if you do have it completely exposed and you did spray it with like a polyisonene or something of that nature, that would probably do a good job.
A less expensive way to do it, which could be probably just as effective, is to use like a Dow styrofoam board ...
TOM: ... or a Thermax, which is a different type of insulating board. And you can cut these to fit in between ...
LESLIE: Those firring strips.
TOM: ... the firring strips. Right. And then attach ...
LESLIE: What about moisture situations because it's so close to the brick?
TOM: Well, if you use a styrofoam or a Thermax, it's not going to be an organic product so you don't have to worry about any type of a moisture problem with that. But you know, on top of it, if it's a damp area I would use a drywall with a fiberglass face as opposed to ...
TOM: ... drywall with a paper face so that you don't have to worry about any additional concerns from that.
LESLIE: Alright. Good to know.
Alright Dean, good luck with that project and stay warm.
TOM: Well, it's time to take a bath. (Leslie chuckles) It's the weekend and we like to do that occasionally. And speaking of baths, you know fiberglass showers; very, very common; very popular. They're less expensive to install than tile. But there is a trick of the trade to cleaning them and that is the topic of today's edition of Leslie's Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, they're kind of finicky and if you're not really careful about what products and what manner in which you clean your fiberglass shower or tub - whatever it is - you could really notice a dulling and even almost sort of a swirling of the finish. So you really want to make sure that when you're cleaning them remember that fiberglass showers, they're finished with a layer of gel coat and that's what really can be damaged by an abrasive cleanser. So make sure you choose your shower cleaner carefully. And if you want to keep that shiny luster and prevent that water spotting when you're taking a shower and once it air dries, you want to try waxing the shower walls once a month with a liquid auto wax. And remember, walls only!
TOM: That's right. (chuckling)
LESLIE: You don't need any help making that floor more slippery than it already is.
TOM: Good point.
LESLIE: So be really careful with it.
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah. Yeah, that would ruin your best shower. (laughing)
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. And that would be just really difficult to sort of get to disappear. So protect that floor while you're doing the walls.
TOM: Good point.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hopefully we have given you a lot of good points this hour. Thanks so much for being a part of our program. And if you missed anything, remember, all of the information that is contained on this show is available online 24/7 at MoneyPit.com. You can search the transcripts of the show, you can listen to the podcast, you can look up the answer to any home improvement question at MoneyPit.com.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don't have to do it alone.
[audio timestamp: 44:32]
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(Copyright 2007 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.)