Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 0:025]
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: Pick up the phone and call us now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Well, the holidays are just around the corner and I'm sure that many ...
LESLIE: I can't even believe it.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. And many of us are working to fix up our money pits on the inside to make it look nice and charming when all the guests come to visit. So if you are tired of staring at the cracks and the nail pops that might be littering your walls ...
LESLIE: You know what? Dim lighting; it always does a lot to hide things. (chuckling)
TOM: (chuckling) Is that your secret?
LESLIE: Hey, it makes for a nice table setting. Lower the lights; people don't look at the things on the wall.
TOM: And therein lies the secret of your decorating expertise. (Leslie chuckles) Turn the lights off.
Well, speaking of making things disappear, we're going to tell you how to do that the right way, this hour, when we give you the step-by-step guide to wall repair in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead, are you finding that you have to rewash dishes more often than not. You know, with the holiday season you're going to be washing a lot of dishes, my friend. So it might be a little problem and it could be easily fixed. There's probably something going on with your dishwasher. We're going to tell you how to diagnose this problem a little later and it's going to save you a lot of work. I guarantee it.
TOM: And finally, nothing says dingy bathroom like dirty grout; not to mention bad housekeeping. (Leslie chuckles) You certainly wouldn't want your friends and family to see that. And if you've tried and tried but still have not been able to achieve that sparkle you want, there is one more last ditch effort that can be surprisingly successful. Did you know that grout can be dyed? It's the sort of if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em approach. (Leslie chuckles) You can actually dye the grout a slightly darker color; have it all match and make it look great and people will walk in your bathroom and say, 'Wow, what did you do here?' You know?
LESLIE: (chuckling) 'Wow, I can't even see the dirt anymore.' (chuckling)
TOM: (chuckling) It kind of goes along with the theme of turning the lights out but ...
LESLIE: That's turning the lights down in the most extreme way.
LESLIE: Plus we're giving away a great prize this hour. We've got a child safety kit from our friends over at CableOrganizer.com. It's a $60 prize pack and it's got everything you need to keep your curious little ones safe at home; and believe me, with a five-month-old, I am becoming increasingly aware that they get more and more curious as every day goes by.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. If we answer your home improvement question on the air, we will toss your name into The Money Pit hardhat and may be sending that child safety prize pack out to you. Let's get right to the phones.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Liz in New York has a cleaning question. What's going on?
LIZ: Hi, I have an acrylic insert tub and it's white and the bottom of the tub; no matter what I do I cannot get it clean. I cannot get the dirt off of it. Do you have any suggestions for me?
LESLIE: Hmm, and is it like a soap scum that you're seeing? Like a pinkish dirt? What does it look like?
LIZ: No, it's dirt. It's black-brown dirt; you know, from showering and I just can't get it off. I scrub, I spray, I steam, I bleach.
TOM: Is this in the bottom of the tub or is it on the ...?
LIZ: Yes, on the bottom of the tub. Right.
TOM: OK, you know what's happening here, Leslie? I bet you that the dirt has become embedded in the anti-slip surface of the tub itself.
LIZ: Yes, there is an anti-slip surface (audio gap).
TOM: Yeah. There's a coating on an acrylic tub and ...
LESLIE: That's kind of like sandpapery.
TOM: Well, yeah, and it can tend to get a little gooey and the dirt can adhere to that and not really come clean. It's not really the tub that's the issue; it's whatever that surface is.
LESLIE: Oh, great. So now you've spray-adhesived, basically, the dirt to the bottom of your tub.
TOM: Yeah, you've basically sealed it in there. (Liz chuckles)
LESLIE: Will CLR kind of attack that?
TOM: I don't think so. I would be willing to try a mineral spirit, though; to see if it will sort of loosen up the surface of that enough for you to get some of that dirt out of it. I would try it very, very carefully because it's going to have somewhat of an unknown result but, at this point, you've tried everything else.
LIZ: OK. I'll try it.
TOM: Alright, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Alright, well the good news is Jim in Colorado's got a brand, spanking new place to live; bad news, it still smells like the old homeowner. (Tom chuckles) What's going on, Jim?
JIM: Yeah, my wife and I had bought a home that wasn't - it's not terribly old but the people who previously owned it, we believe, were smokers and, subsequently, when we leave the house - you know, close it up for the day and then come back - we notice some, you know, real strong smoky odors.
JIM: And they're in particular rooms. We didn't notice this when we first bought the house and we don't know why.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Because the windows were open and it was a nice, breezy day. (Tom chuckles)
JIM: Yeah. (chuckles)
TOM: Jim, do you have - what kind of floor coverings do you have? Do you have carpet in those rooms?
TOM: And you've not changed the carpet?
TOM: Well, that's probably part of it.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Did you do any painting?
JIM: We haven't done any painting.
LESLIE: Those are two things that are really going to make a big difference.
TOM: First of all, the carpet is going to be like a filter that soaks up all of the smoke from the years ...
LESLIE: Yeah, those fibers just absorb it.
TOM: ... and depending on the humidity levels in the house, you're going to have different levels of odor associated with that. So I would recommend replacing the carpet. And then the second thing is on the painting; in this case, when you have a real odor issue like that, I would use an oil-based primer on the walls and the ceilings.
LESLIE: It's going to seal everything in there so you're not going to get that odor seeping through.
TOM: Mm-hmm, I think that's going to make a big difference. How is the house heated?
JIM: Gas with ...
TOM: Forced air?
TOM: The other thing I would do is I would put in an electronic air cleaner.
JIM: Oh, OK. Yeah.
TOM: Not just the thin filter kind. I would use a full-blown electronic air cleaner. They can take out a lot more of the contaminants in the air. You might want to take a look at those and they're made by Aprilaire; Aprilaire.com. They've been a sponsor of ours for years and they make a really good one that I have in my house that's called the Model 5000; very effective.
JIM: Hey, I appreciate it very much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, I bet you've got a lot of little projects to tackle quick before the relatives start dinging your bell; so give us a call and we can give you a hand with that at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Speaking of getting your house in shape, is dingy grout bringing down the look of your bathroom? We're going to teach you how to dye it - not how to go on a diet (Leslie chuckles); that you can do after the holidays. No, how to dye the grout; how to recolor it so it looks ...
LESLIE: I'm like this is the wrong time of year to mind what you're putting in your mouth, young man.
TOM: (chuckling) We're going to teach you how to dye the grout so it looks nice and pretty when everyone comes to visit. We'll cover that, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:07:12.6]
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 the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone, give us a call right now, let us know what you are working on. We can help you get the job done right; get it done the first time; and, you know, keep you from going back to the home improvement store like 15 time because you forgot things or didn't realize you should have it. So give us a call; we'll help you out.
Plus, one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a child safety kit from CableOrganizer.com and the kit has everything that you need to keep your kids safe from electrical and any other common household danger that they might encounter. It's worth almost 60 bucks, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your answer and your chance to win.
Alright, we know that many of you are working on your kitchens and your bathrooms and other living spaces to have them look great when the family comes to visit. If you've got dirty grout in one of those spaces or perhaps even a color that you're not fond of, you can actually dye your tile grout. There's a great selection of colors available.
But first you have to clean it with a good household cleaner, using a stiff brush. Now, there's a difference between cleaning it to re-dye it and cleaning it to try to get it white and bright. You know, what we're really concerned about, when you're cleaning it to apply the dye, is just getting the grease out of it. We don't have to have it be completely bright again because, if it was, you wouldn't be dying it in the first place. (Leslie chuckles) But make sure it's completely dry; of course, that's good because if it's not dry the dye will not soak in. And it's a great way to give sort of a new look to either older tile floors or even your kitchen backsplash or the tile surrounds of your tub and shower. It doesn't take a lot of time; it's not a lot of work and it really does make it look great.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you know what? If you're having a hard time - like you can't imagine what the colored grout might look like with your tile - there are plenty of mosaic tile websites that you can just search online and create, say, the same field as your backsplash or your bathroom wall so you can see those same colors and then play around with the different grout options because they always give you those - that choice in those tile design websites. And this way you can kind of see what it might look like because it really does make a huge difference going from a simple white grout to something more bright.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Matt in New Hampshire is looking for some advice on heating this heating season. How can we help you?
MATT: Yes, I had a question in regards to what's called a Heatilator. One of the manufacturers is Thermo-Rite. And basically, the idea is it keeps the heat from just going up your chimney; because I'm not ready for a pellet stove yet.
MATT: What it does is it uses the coals that basically - you know, the ambers from the wood that's burning in the fireplace as they fall which, as you know, leaves a nice, orangey glow; a nice, really hot heat. They fall on top of these aluminum tubes; so basically, this replaces your log holder - the grate that's in there.
MATT: And it then has a fan that plugs into a regular plug ...
MATT: ... and it takes cold air in and blows the hot air out. It turns on at 110 and turns off at 90 and it says that it does 40,000 BTUs an hour; so that's pretty good. And they're relatively inexpensive. So I just wanted to see if - get your opinion on them, actually.
TOM: Well, I think that will increase the efficiency of your fireplace but keep in mind that the most efficient thing you can do with your fireplace is to plug it up because it does let a lot of heat - a lot of expensive, heated air that's been heated with your convention furnace - out the chimney. So if you can't have something like that, you certainly want to take advantage of technologies that are going to help that convective process; and perhaps with the fan assist it will blow more air and direct more air back into the house. So I think it's better than not having it; but again, fireplaces are not the most efficient way to heat your house.
TOM: But like you say, if it's not a lot of money and it's going to hold you over for a while, why not?
MATT: Alright, great.
TOM: We still recommend fireplaces for coziness and for roasting marshmallows (Leslie chuckles) but, beyond that, they don't work so well to heat your house.
MATT: (chuckles) That's true. Alright, I appreciate it.
TOM: You're welcome, Matt. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we've got Marsha in California with a water damage question. What happened?
MARSHA: Well, we had flashing, around our heating and air conditioner, that was on the roof and we didn't realize that that flashing was damaged and so, by the time we got water damage in the bedroom, it's not very good and the ceiling is all stained. And so I was hoping to find out the steps for preparing that ceiling to paint it.
LESLIE: Step one: fix leak. (Tom laughs)
MARSHA: OK. OK, we have a new roof.
TOM: Alright, good.
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK, good.
MARSHA: New flashing, new roof, new heating/air conditioner.
TOM: Alright, those are all good things. Now, how big is the stain?
MARSHA: It covers a good portion of the ceiling.
TOM: Alright, and that's all I needed to know. So here's what I want you to do. I want you to get an oil-based primer - this could be KILZ or it could be ...
TOM: Bin - what's it called; Bin 1-2-3 or something like that?
LESLIE: Bulls Eye 1-2-3.
TOM: Bulls Eye 1-2-3 - any of these good-quality, oil-based primers; and I want you to prime not just the spot but the entire ceiling. And the reason that you're doing that, Marsha, is because if you don't prime the entire ceiling, the ceiling paint that you're going to put on after this is going to absorb differently in the primed versus the non-primed spots. But if you prime the entire surface, it will neutralize that stain; it will give you good adhesion from the old to the new; and it will give you a nice, flat, smooth surface for the topcoat to be on.
MARSHA: After putting the oil base on, is it OK to use latex after that?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Absolutely.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Absolutely. Mm-hmm, yep. Absolutely.
MARSHA: OK. And I was wondering - some friends of mine said that they thought that I ought to wash the ceiling down with bleach because that would kill anything that was in there that was growing.
TOM: No, if it's still - if it's dry - because I presume the leak has been fixed for quite a while now -
MARSHA: Yes. Yes, it has.
TOM: - there's no reason to use a mildicide on it. Primers like that have mildicides in them and I wouldn't worry about that. You just want to get a good primer on there so you can seal that stain in because, if you don't, what happens is some of the qualities of that stain; you get a chemical reaction and some of those colors will leach through the paint unless you prime it first.
MARSHA: Oh, I see. And so then the bleach would be a bad idea?
TOM: Well, it's just not necessary. It's just not a necessary state.
LESLIE: To add more water.
TOM: No, I just wouldn't do it. I would just prime it and that's all you need to do and you can paint right on top of that and be done with it.
MARSHA: Oh, good. So I then I don't have to use the bleach. The KILZ is sufficient.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) No.
TOM: (overlapping voices) No, you don't have to. No, no. Nope, you'll be fine.
MARSHA: I've heard of the KILZ before and I've used that in my bathroom and I know it works really well. We had a ...
TOM: It works great.
MARSHA: ... severe mold problem in there and I had to take the wall out. And so I just didn't know whether or not that stain would give up. (laughs)
TOM: No. If you prime, you will seal that stain right in and you'll never see it again.
MARSHA: We're getting it really cool in the morning and if you could give me a temperature range of when is the best temperature to start painting and the best temperature to stop painting.
TOM: As long as it's not an extreme cold or an extreme hot, you'll be fine.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and if you wait for a really non-humid day, it's going to dry lickety-split.
MARSHA: OK. OK, so humidity is more important than the temperature.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: Yeah, when you're painting inside your house, for sure.
MARSHA: Well, I can tell you, here in California we really appreciate you, Tom and Leslie; the program that you put on here. It's really helpful.
TOM: Thank you so much, Marsha. Good luck with that project.
MARSHA: Thanks a lot.
LESLIE: Rich in New Jersey's got a brick house that's got some issues. What's going on?
RICH: Hey, hi Leslie. I have an old home, built somewhere in the 1880s, and I've got an interior brick chimney and foundation. Now the brick chimney is literally falling apart. I can put my whole arm right through it.
TOM: OK, this is not good.
RICH: (inaudible at 0:15:25.8) turn to dust and I don't know why and the same thing's happening to the foundation; it's turning to dust where the mortar is bonding the stones for the foundation.
TOM: The brick chimney; is that for your heating system or do you have fireplace? What is it serving?
RICH: Heating system.
RICH: The only thing on there right now is the water heater.
TOM: What's happening with your furnace?
RICH: Furnace is a modern furnace. It's vented out the side wall.
TOM: OK, that's good. Well, what's happening here is you are dumping your water heater into the chimney. The chimney is never going to get very, very warm; so you're going to have more condensation, more acidic condensation; it's going to break down those mortar joints. What you really need to do here, Rich, is you need to line the chimney. Now it doesn't have to be expensive. We're not talking about a masonry liner. When you're just venting the water heater, you can drop a stainless steel liner that's sort of like a - kind of looks like a dryer hose where it expands and it goes from the top of the chimney all the way down and comes out the side and then the water heater will attach to that. And that will solve the problem of getting the gases from the water heater out of that chimney safely and then your repair just becomes structural. The mortar's going to have to be repointed from time to time, from place to place just to keep the chimney structure intact; but you won't have to worry about combustion gases leaking out.
RICH: And is that the cause of the bricks themselves disintegrating?
LESLIE: It's the condensate and the moisture, right?
TOM: That and 125 years of house age. (chuckles)
RICH: (chuckling) OK.
LESLIE: And Rich, you'll find that even with older homes, as you update the heating or the hot water system, most of the manufacturers are recommending, if your chimney is not lined, to line it because there's far more condensate or far less condensate - depending on which unit you're using - and the chimney does tend to react to it. So it's just a preventative measure.
RICH: OK. One last, quick question for you. What can I do - because this is an interior chimney and, again, it's an old house; lath and plaster. What can I do to the piece of the chimney that I can see; to repair it? I mean there's literally holes ...
TOM: You're going to have to rebuild those sections with fresh mortar and putting the brick back. So that's all there is to it.
RICH: That's great.
LESLIE: And if you're concerned about replacing some brick and things not looking up to age for pieces that are side by side, try an architectural salvage yard for actual old brick that might have that wear and tear that replicates what you've already got.
TOM: And you know, Rich, there's one other thing you could do altogether and that is to switch out your - change out your water heater to a direct-vent model ...
TOM: ... or install a tankless water heater and direct-vent it. It'll take up less room and be more efficient. If that's the case, then you can disassemble that chimney; take it down from the top. Just keep gravity in mind.
RICH: Right. OK.
TOM: Start from the top and work on down.
RICH: Alright, perfect.
TOM: Rich, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Yes, when you take a chimney apart, you need to keep gravity in mind. Always a good safety practice.
LESLIE: Or at least have a hardhat.
TOM: That's right.
LESLIE: Alright, I've got a pop quiz for you. Are you ready? Get your pens - got your pen and paper?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, I'm ready. Got it.
LESLIE: What is the difference between spackle and joint compound? (hums Jeopardy theme)
TOM: Why do I care?
LESLIE: Because there is a big difference, my friend Tom. We will tell you how to repair those cracks and nail pops that are going to mess up all your walls and you're looking around and you don't know how to fix them. Well it makes a big difference which one you use. So we're going to sort it all out and give you the step-by-step guide to all your wall fix-up problems, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:50.5]
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: Are you knee-deep in the middle of a home improvement project and don't know where to turn? Well, put down the hammer and pick up the phone and call us right now because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
Well, if you are knee-deep in all of those repairs around the walls in your house - you've got nail pops, cracks, things just aren't looking as good as you would like; especially with a lot of guests about to pop over - and you really just don't know what you need to make those repairs and really make the repairs last and make those walls look great, you're going to head to the home center. You're looking at spackle; you're looking at joint compound but you really don't know what the difference is. Well, a lot of people don't, so don't feel bad about that. Here's the difference.
Spackle - it's thicker and it's used to fill nail holes and any other little nicks that you might have around the house. Now, joint compound - it spreads much more easily and it's used to cover bigger areas that you might have like seams on walls or areas like that where you want to sort of feather it out and spread it out. So you want to make sure that you use the right one because using the wrong one is going to make those results stick out like a sore thumb.
TOM: Well, now that you know what to use, let me tell you how to actually do those repairs.
Now, if you want to fix a nail pop - and for those of you that don't know what a nail pop is, that's where you have a nail that was originally used to nail the drywall onto the studs of your house; it actually backs up out of the wood framing. Why does it do that? Well, the expansion and the contraction, over years, has a tendency to sort of spit some nails out of the wall and it makes a nice, big, round crack about the size of a quarter. That's called a nail pop. To fix it, there are two things you can do.
First of all, you can take another drywall nail and you can sort of cover the original one and drive it back in; sink it right below the surface and, as we've just learned, use spackle to cover that over. Or you could pull it out all the way and replace it with a drywall screw. The nice thing about using a drywall screw is once you put it in, it doesn't back out because it's screwed in place; and again, you can patch that with some spackle.
Now, the wall cracks are a little trickier and Leslie and I like to recommend that you use a tape over those cracks. You want to use mesh fiberglass tape on top of the crack - and that's going to help bridge the gap between both sides - and then you want to use joint compound that goes on very, very thin; you use several layers and sort of widen it out as you go. And sooner or later, you're going to have a very, very smooth, clean wall; you'll be able to prime it, paint it and it'll look fantastic just in time for the holidays.
LESLIE: Alright, well now that you've got all of the walls prepped and ready to go, now we're going to give you some painting tips. They are free and they are in our very next issue of our e-newsletter. All you have to do is sign up right now at MoneyPit.com. We're going to keep your e-mail address confidential so you're not going to be bombarded with offers for Viagra whether you need it or not (Tom chuckles); that's, you know, your business. But seriously, we're going to help you get everything in tiptop shape for the holidays so everybody will be saying, 'Gosh, I can't wait to go to the Joneses house next year.'
TOM: 888-666-3974. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. We are here to help.
LESLIE: David in New York needs some help in the bathroom. What's going on?
DAVID: In my stall shower that's tile floor, tile walls and a - I guess a plaster ceiling ...
DAVID: ... I have a terrible problem with mold and mildew buildup; especially in the corners, along the grout, even in the joints between the tiles on the floor. I'm not sure what else I can do to get rid of it or, even more importantly, how to prevent it. We do have a ceiling fan in the bathroom. We use ...
LESLIE: A venting fan or an actual ceiling fan?
DAVID: Sorry. Actually like a venting fan.
TOM: Well, there's a couple of things you could try. First of all, when you leave the bath in the morning, after the shower, do you typically turn the fan off behind you?
DAVID: Yes, we do.
TOM: OK. What you might want to do is put this on a timer - and there are different types of circuits and different types of fans that work this way - where it's basically based on an occupancy sensor, and after you leave the bathroom or turn the lights off, the bath vent fan stays on for another 10 or 15 minutes to vent out any remaining moisture. Because you know most of the time, when we're done with our showers in the morning, we open the door; all the steam pours out and as soon as the cold air comes in, it starts to condense on all of the surfaces more so -
LESLIE: And then everything gets wet.
TOM: - yeah - even than it did when you were actually doing the showering itself because it chills it down and all the moisture comes out of the air.
The other thing that you could do is we could talk about - you mentioned the tile, where it is meeting the floor, and I suspect that that grout is probably caulked in that area. Is that correct?
DAVID: It had what the tile guy called a cosmetic caulking (Tom and Leslie chuckle) ...
DAVID: ... and under the cosmetic caulking there is the grout where he - it's a relatively - it's a brand new shower.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Cosmetic caulking. I like that.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, what I was going to tell you is - yeah, cosmetic caulking. Didn't know there was any other kind, right? (David chuckles) Cosmetic caulking; that's a good one.
TOM: Well, what I would suggest is you get the cosmetic caulk that actually has an antimicrobial additive to it. DAP has one that has something called Microban in it that's very effective and it absolutely will not grow mold. And the other thing is that you can also buy grout that has antimicrobial additives in it as well. LATRICRETE is one of the grout manufacturers that also has Microban in it and if you use the antimicrobial caulks and antimicrobial grouts, you are far less likely to have any type of mold buildup in those areas and it'll stay a lot cleaner.
LESLIE: Would you then seal that grout even though it still has antimicrobial properties in it or do they sort of cancel each other out?
TOM: I don't know that I would seal bathroom grout. I would probably seal the floor grout. I may not seal the wall grout.
DAVID: OK, great. Thank you so, so much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Hey, are you tired of pulling those dishes out of the dishwasher only to discover that you now have to wash a good majority of them all over again by hand? Well, if you've got that going on, you might have a clog in the system. We're going to tell you how to diagnose the problem, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:25:18.5]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators, America's choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, especially if you are a parent or a grandparent that has kids around the house. Because this hour we're giving away a $60 prize pack, from the folks at CableOrganizer.com, that is chock-a-block full of child safety products; available to one caller that gets to us on the air this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, maybe you're picking up the phone to give us a call because you've noticed that as you're washing dishes in the dishwasher, things really aren't coming out as clean and spic-n-span as you would like them to. Well, if that's happening and you're finding you've got to rewash everything, you might actually have a clog in the drain valve. Now your dishwasher's drain valve; it should only open up during the draining cycle. But if it's clogged by debris, it's going to let water out during the wash cycle, too, so it's not going to clean as well. So listen carefully.
If you hear water flowing into the sink during the wash cycle, that means that your drain valve is clogged and needs attention. Do it sooner than later because you're just wasting a ton of water washing all of those dishes over and over and over again.
TOM: 888-666-3974. If you've got an appliance that's acting up around your house, give us a call right now. We can help.
Leslie, who's next?
TOM: Elaine in Kansas needs some help refinishing a hardwood floor. What's going on?
ELAINE: We discovered that we have solid oak hardwood flooring in our living room and dining room and that ...
TOM: That's a good thing.
ELAINE: They're beautiful but they've never been finished.
ELAINE: And we were told that there was a machine that would help you sand these down and that it would self-contain the sawdust or sanding dust to eliminate the majority of the mess.
TOM: Yeah, there's actually a couple of machines that do that. Now, the professionals will use a floor sander, which is like a big belt sander, and that does contain some of the mess. But there's another machine called a U-Sand - and it's simply U-Sand - that is one machine that has four spinning like disk sanders underneath the same head with a big sort of vacuum attachment to it. I've used that machine on my house and it works real well; very minimal amount of dust and it's kind of hard to screw up your floors. If you use the big floor sander and you hiccup -
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Lean too much on one side.
TOM: - yeah; yeah, that's right - you'll put a big dent in it; but the U-Sand is very forgiving. So ...
LESLIE: Yeah, floats very evenly; you're not going to press too hard on one side and cause a divot.
TOM: It really depends on how much you need to take off. Now, have these floors been covered by carpet?
ELAINE: Yes, they've been - since the day the house was built.
TOM: The other option might be to rent a floor buffer with a sanding screen. Now that's a buffer just like you would use in sort of a commercial building to apply wax or something like that, but instead of a buffing pad you use a sanding screen that sort of looks like window screen; it's a round disk that goes underneath it. And what that does is it just takes off the upper surface of the floor; kind of freshens it up and gets it ready for the next coat. And if those have never been really used before, that might be all you need and you may not need to sand it down much more than that.
LESLIE: Next up, we've got Bernard in Pennsylvania. What's happening at your money pit?
BERNARD: When I moved into the house, the basement was not used and what the previous owner die is up on the rafters he put the strips of insulation; you know, to keep the cold air from coming up into the house. I've since finished the basement - right? -and what I have left is to cover up the ceiling and what I want to do is just put just simple wood planking just to cover up the ceiling. And my question is do I need to remove that insulation before I cover up the ceiling or can I just cover up the ceiling with the insulation in place?
TOM: When you say insulation strips, is like a foam board across it or is it fiberglass?
BERNARD: Yeah, it's fiberglass; fiberglass pink strips.
LESLIE: So it's like a batting.
TOM: OK, so it's batts.
BERNARD: Yeah, in the rafters. Yeah, exactly.
TOM: In between the floor joists. Well, there's no reason to remove it. Generally you don't insulate the space between the basement and the first floor, but I will tell you it probably makes the first floor a lot warmer having done that. So I don't see a good reason for you to remove it. I think that you could put the ceiling finish right on top of that. One thing you might want to consider though, for a ceiling finish option though, is a drop ceiling because that will allow you to remain - that area to remain accessible, which is important ...
BERNARD: I see.
TOM: ... especially for wiring and plumbing and things like that. A lot of mechanicals run through that particular space of the house.
LESLIE: And Bernard, the drop ceilings today aren't just those foam panels that are lacking in a ton of character. This railing system itself, the supports; really easy to put up. All you need is a laser level so you know everything is straight and easy to go. And the foam panels that pop in; they can look like vaulted ceilings, coffered ceilings, they can look like pressed tin. I mean there's a ton of different patterns and items available.
BERNARD: (overlapping voices) Oh, OK. Yeah, I was not aware of that. I thought it was - yeah, that's what I was trying to keep away from; you know the old, simple, white kind of dull-looking one. But you're saying they have different options.
TOM: Totally different today. It can look like an old-fashioned tin ceiling, it can look textured; a lot of cool options, so take a look at that.
Bernard, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
BERNARD: Great, thank you.
LESLIE: Now we've got Betty who's got a problem with a deck. What's happening?
BETTY: When we built our house, they put the deck on after the siding was put on.
BETTY: And so they put the board - like the 2x8 or 10, whatever it is that they put, first, up against your house ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) To the house, yeah.
BETTY: Well, we've got siding underneath and it's Masonite siding and that stuff really is not very good siding. And I was wondering, is there a way to keep the water - the water from the deck is going back and getting back behind the board that holds the deck on.
TOM: Right. Yeah, and that's unsafe.
BETTY: And it's deteriorating the siding. Is there any way to keep the water from going back behind there?
TOM: At this point, no; because it was built incorrectly.
TOM: The way to do this is when the siding is off, the deck box beam is flashed; so the flashing actually goes over the deck box beam and up under the siding. So is there a way to stop it now; with it built like ...?
LESLIE: With the entire deck in place?
TOM: Yeah. No, not really. Yeah, you'd have to replace the siding or pull the deck box beam off. It's a pretty major repair.
BETTY: (inaudible at 0:31:53.3)
TOM: Yeah, and that hardboard siding; you know eventually, Betty, you're going to have to replace all of that. It's awful stuff. I used to - I was in the home inspection business for 20 years and whenever I saw homes that had that composite siding, I used to tell folks it was fine as long as you painted it everyday before you went to work. The stuff just melts. It just melts.
BETTY: Yeah, well I kept it painted real good and I haven't had any trouble anywhere but there.
TOM: Yeah, because the water is trapped against it. So maybe it's worth doing the repair.
BETTY: Yeah. Well I added a board on top of the deck - you know, about a one-inch - and that keeps the water out away from it.
TOM: Yeah, but it's not a weatherproofing repair, Betty, and what you don't understand is that if that starts to rot away the connection, this deck can become very unsafe. So it really needs to be done correctly.
Up next, a messy concrete project has one of our listeners wondering if her driveway will ever be the same. We're going to help her figure out how to clean up that big mess, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:54.4]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Owens Corning. It's easy to insulate your home and save money. What's stopping you? Learn more at InsulateandSave.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we make good homes better. Pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. We'll do our best to help you out.
Hey, would you like some ideas on how to spruce up your house for the holidays? Well, if you don't have much time, you can check out my current AOL column, '10 Fast Decorating Makeovers Before the Holidays'; online right now at MoneyPit.AOL.com.
LESLIE: And while you're online, head over to MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie and e-mail us your question. We've got a bunch here today.
First up, Susan from New Jersey writes: 'We recently had our foundation recoated with concrete. The contractor spilled some of the concrete on our driveway. It was just a dusting, so I thought it would wash away in the rain but it mixed with water and hardened into a thin sheet in several large patches. Can this be power washed off? Our driveway is also concrete; a different color.'
TOM: What a mess. Sloppy, sloppy work from the contractor there, Susan, that's left you in quite a situation. Now, can you pressure wash it off? Well, if it's hardened, probably not. You may be able to break it up but my concern is that pressure washer is not going to stop at that top layer; it's going to dig down ...
LESLIE: It's going to pull off what's below, don't you think?
TOM: Well, it won't necessarily pull it off but what it will do is it'll wash away the softer parts of the concrete and it'll leave the aggregate; so it'll definitely look rougher right there.
In this situation and considering that we are moving into the winter, I would recommend you leave it alone. Because when you put thin concrete on top of existing, it never sticks; and I suspect that it's going to freeze and lift off and next spring you're going to have a lot less of it to deal with. You know the other option is to try to use muriatic acid, if it's not actually hardened into a sheet, and just sort of clean it. But chances are that will also discolor the concrete below. So unless it's super noticeable, I would tell you to leave it alone; wait 'til spring and see what it looks like after the winter. It's certainly not going to look any worse, Susan.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got John from Wellington, Colorado who writes: 'I bought my new home ...' - I'm sorry - 'I bought my home new about five years ago. When I landscaped the area around the house, I put in stone about four feet from the foundation. I noticed, about three months ago, the area around my house and the backyard, where I have the stone, is sinking. It's down about a foot to a foot-and-a-half. How can I fix this problem so it won't happen again?'
TOM: Well, hopefully, it didn't happen overnight, John.
LESLIE: Yeah, seriously.
TOM: That's probably the settlement that you're seeing over the five-year period and you just noticed it now. You have to remember that when you actually build a house, you excavate the soil at the foundation perimeter. And then, after the foundation walls are built, that soil is pushed back in; but now it's not compact. So settlement in that perimeter is very, very common and so what you're seeing is probably normal.
Now, if it's not still sloping away from the foundation, that could be a problem because that can collect water that can wear on the foundation; it can cause cracks and all sorts of issues there.
So we would suggest that what you might want to do is rake back the stone, add some soil, grade it to slope away from the foundation. You want it to drop about six inches over about four feet. Then, when the soil is just perfectly sloped, you can add the stone back on top of that to prevent erosion.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, John, you know it's an incredibly common condition. We get calls about it all the time. Good news is it's easily fixable and even better news is that it's something that you can do yourself. So you're going to keep the cost down, which everybody is looking for; especially in this economy.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and we are just about out of time. We thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that we've given you some tips to make your money pit more comfortable, more energy-efficient and given you some ideas to get it ready for the holiday season which is just around the corner. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If some new question comes to mind, simply pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we're not in the studio, we will get back to you the next time we are.
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: 0:37:32.6]
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(Copyright 2008 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)