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:
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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 time to get to work. Let us help you take care of your house. Let us help you with the do-it-yourself dilemmas. We'll help you with the direct-it-yourself dilemmas. (Leslie chuckles) Maybe you just want to, you know, pick a project and hire somebody to do it. You can direct all the work. We'll give you the advice that you need to make the right selection of products and people and get the job done. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, it's a bright idea that's gaining popularity all over the country. We're going to tell you about light bulbs that can last longer and run cheaper than incandescent bulbs in your lamps right now. They're the new CFLs and it's not the old ones that used to be fairly dim. They were efficient but kind of dim. No, no, no. These are equally bright as the ones you have right now. We'll tell you all about it in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also, it's almost icicle season. You may like the look of those icicles hanging off of your roof line but all that freezing and thawing can actually do a number on your roof. And we're going to tell you about those ice dams and why they may be your roof's worst enemy and how to prevent them.
TOM: Plus, baby-proofing is a no-brainer for new parents but why don't most people make changes to their home to accommodate family members at the other end of the age spectrum? Tips to make your home work for all stages of your life coming up.
LESLIE: And if you call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT you're going to get the answer to your home improvement question and even some real live help to take care of your next home improvement project. One caller we choose this hour is going to become one of our very first Money Pit American Homeowners Association members free for a full year. Your membership is going to put you in the network of prescreened, licensed, insured home remodeling professionals. You hire one and you are going to get the American Homeowners Association's $1,000 guarantee that the job is going to get done right. We've got more details available to you about this membership at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: Or you could win one right now by picking up the phone and calling us, 888-MONEY-PIT, with your home improvement question. That's 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Donna in Wisconsin's doing some tiling or un-tiling. What's going on over there?
DONNA: Well, I have a main entry in my kitchen and dining area and I have, right now, ceramic tile on the floor. And we bought a very inexpensive tile, which I will never do again. Because the surface is very porous and the crevices are deep. It's very difficult to clean.
DONNA: And I'm thinking of putting a flooring over that and I'm wondering if I can use a -what type of flooring would be the best without taking up the ceramic tile.
LESLIE: Now Donna, is this - is there a front door or doors that are in this area that might be hindered if you go up a little bit in thickness?
DONNA: No, they would not be hindered.
LESLIE: So this is a completely freeform area; so you can just go right on top?
LESLIE: Alright. There are a lot of different choices, actually. If you're looking to do -so you don't want tile or you're going to go with another tile?
DONNA: I don't want another ceramic tile, no.
LESLIE: Are you open to a laminate floor choice; something that looks like wood; that installs very easily; that's not terribly thick but very, very durable?
TOM: I think that's probably your best choice because there are so many options in laminate floor. You could clearly find something that looks like tile or looks like hardwood ...
TOM: ... or looks like stone. And you could put it down right on top of that existing tile and it's going to be incredibly durable.
LESLIE: And if you have any transitions from that area to other parts of your house where you're going from, say, this new flooring to tile or to carpeting, there are different transitions that you could put to end that part of the room and continue into the next that would vary on the height; what would be underneath from the new laminate then going to the carpet or tile or whatever it is in the surrounding areas. It's very easy to do.
DONNA: What type of - do I have to put an underlayment? If I use laminate do I put an underlayment down first?
TOM: It depends. Some laminates have an underlayment built into the tile themselves.
LESLIE: Right on the back side.
TOM: And some have a separate laminate or separate underlayment that could be like a thin mat or could be like foam-like and you lay that down first then put the laminate on top.
Now the laminates, they also are lock-together so you don't have to worry about gluing them. They snap in place. And so, I really think this couldn't be easier for you, Donna.
DONNA: OK, is that good for when you have pets? I do have a dog.
TOM: Yep, absolutely. It's a great (INAUDIBLE).
DONNA: (overlapping voices) OK, great.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Because they're not porous so it's not going to absorb anything.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yep.
DONNA: Oh, wonderful. OK, thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome, Donna. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Randy in New York, welcome to The Money Pit. What's going on?
RANDY: I recently moved into a house with - a lot of the outlets have the two-prong outlets ...
RANDY: ... and I wanted to put in three-prong and grounded outlets. I took wire from the grounding lug to the wooden - the metal box - to make a ground and it still shows open ground.
TOM: Yeah, well that's because the metal box is not grounded. The ground in a two-prong system is through the neutral. Now, there is a way to create ground protection - and this is something that only an electrician should do. But it's possible to install a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet - this is the kind with a test and reset button in it - and install it in such a way that if there is a short to ground that it'll trip the outlet itself and turn it off. That will give you, actually, a grounded outlet without the entire system being grounded. But you can't just join a wire to the metal box and hope that it's connected through the ground because that whole circuit would have to be connected through the ground; the box, the conduit through a grounding right outside and that's just not the way that's installed. The ground is designed to go through the neutral in a two-wire system.
RANDY: Well, I've done that before and it showed - with a tester it would show a completed ground.
TOM: Well, maybe in this particular case there's a break in that ground somewhere. It's not actually connected through.
RANDY: So I need to go - every place that I wanted a grounded outlet I need to put a GFI in?
TOM: Either that or run a separate wire. Run a ground wire through the entire circuit. Yeah, I mean it's not easy to do this conversion.
TOM: And you are grounded because you're grounded through the neutral.
TOM: But if you want to have a three-prong outlet and you want it to be ground protected you could install a ground fault but it really should be done by an electrician ...
RANDY: Right, right.
TOM: ... so it's done correctly.
RANDY: Right (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: Yeah, that's what I would recommend; certainly for your bathroom, your kitchen and areas like that ...
TOM: ... so you definitely would have that protection.
RANDY: Where there's danger of water.
TOM: Exactly. Randy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned in to The Money Pit and now is the perfect time to start winterizing the outside of your house and we can help you get organized so call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Question: how many smart homeowners does it take to change a light bulb? (Leslie chuckles) Well, just one if it's you and you want a bulb that lasts longer and uses less electricity than the one you're using right now. We'll shed some light on that answer, next.
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[audio timestamp: 11:39]
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 if you give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT one caller that we talk to - it could be you - this hour is going to win a one-year membership to The Money Pit American Homeowners Association. With it you can save hundreds a month on groceries. You're even going to save on contacts and eyeglasses, legal services and even home improvement products; which we know you love to buy.
TOM: And services because you'll be also in the network of AHA-referred contractors who are prescreened, licensed and insured and if you hire one of these guys to do a project and you have a problem there's a $1,000 guarantee behind it that AHA says the job will be done right. If you want to win it call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must have a home improvement question; be willing to come on the air and ask us.
LESLIE: Ah, but fear not. If you don't win today you can still get in on this special offer. It's going to cost less than 35 cents a day to try it out. And if you're among the first 1,000 listeners to sign up, you are going to get a very special gift; a Zircon LaserBall 360 laser level and Zircon's i60 OneStep stud sensor. This is a $50 value. But you've got to be in it so you can visit MoneyPit.com today for details.
TOM: Well, alright. We were talking about these compact fluorescent light bulbs before the break. You know they really are a terrific idea. We all want to be a little greener right now; a little more environmentally friendly. And compact fluorescents are really the way to go. What's changed about these is when they first came out, Leslie, I don't know if you were an early adopter like I was on these. It's funny, I was a late adopter on iPods ...
TOM: ... but I was early-adopter on CFLs. You know, try out a new home improvement product. They were very dull. I mean they weren't bright all even though they were ...
LESLIE: Well, it was just a different kind of light.
TOM: Yeah, and now it's totally changed. I was amazed. I've got a CFL like in my desk lamp now and it's just as bright as the light I had before.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And there are a lot of different choices as far as color and shape and size. So there's a ton of options available now on the market.
TOM: Yeah, and they use one-quarter the electricity of traditional incandescent light bulbs so they are really a bright idea in many more ways than one. If you'd like more information on those check out Energy Star's website; Energy Star.gov. Lots of advice there on how to choose the right CFLs for your house. Or pick up the phone and call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Alright, now to take a cleaning question from Julie. What's going on? It sounds like it's busy at your house.
JULIE: I am just wondering about granite countertops. I haven't had them before and I'm not sure what to clean them with. Somehow I missed the day where they explained how to clean those granite countertops and never to scratch them.
TOM: You were absent from school that day. (chuckling)
LESLIE: They usually don't explain it either. (chuckling) They usually are like, 'Here's your beautiful, fancy, expensive countertop. Best of luck.'
JULIE: Yes, exactly.
LESLIE: You really want to make sure because you don't want to use harsh chemicals on it. There are several stone-cleansing products that are available. You can even go to any sort of store. I know Target has, you know, that Method brand which is all natural and very organic. They have a granite-cleansing product; even a wipe. But if you're looking for something maybe that you've already got in your house, you can use like a dish soap solution with water and just a wet sponge and then a dry cloth.
LESLIE: Or if you find that you get a stain on it, I mean it's not porous and it is sealed so you're going to find that stains really aren't going to soak into it. But if you do find that you get some stains on it that are giving you a tough time you can mix a paste of flour with dishwashing liquid and water and make it sort of like a paste and let it sit on the stain.
And if that's not working or if you find that the stain is oil-based - you know, like a grease or oil - you can use - instead of the dishwashing liquid you can use hydrogen peroxide and the flour.
JULIE: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: And those are sort of natural solutions that'll work really well on the granite countertops and you do - they do recommend resealing your granite countertop every year. However, I find it takes more than like a year or two to notice some imperfections in the granite surface you might find. You might find some pocking or some areas where the solution that they put on top to seal everything starts to pock out.
LESLIE: And once it gets to that point you definitely need to reseal it. So I wouldn't go every year but pay attention to it and do use special care on the products you put on it.
JULIE: And I can just get that sealer just at a supply store; like Home Depot or something or ...?
TOM: There's a good website called Stonecare.com and they ...
LESLIE: Oh, that's a great site.
TOM: And they have all sorts of granite cleaning and sealing products there. They've been around for a long time and seem to make a pretty good product.
JULIE: OK. Oh, I appreciate it.
TOM: You're welcome, Julie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: James in Virginia's doing some redecorating. What's going on at your house?
JAMES: I was wondering what kind of vacuum cleaner I could get for a berber type of carpet. It's sort of a small weave and the one I have doesn't pick up too much. I need something heavier.
LESLIE: OK, so this is a new carpet. This is a brand new carpet?
LESLIE: And it's not - the berber is a short shag and it's a tight weave. It's not really like a pile or like a loop, correct?
JAMES: Tight. Real tight. High traffic.
LESLIE: I mean it really depends on what your budget is. You really definitely want to look for something that has a HEPA filter built into it because when you're vacuuming you're going to kick up a lot of dust obviously and you want it to get sucked up into the vacuum and not be re-released back into the air causing allergens.
LESLIE: So a HEPA filter is something definitely you want to look at and depending on your budget there's actually a good website; it's ConsumerSearch.com. And they are a consumer-based website that people put up all sorts of reports and research based on usage and testing to different appliances; vacuums are one of them. You can look by budget. You can look by uprights. I have a Dyson. We also have a berber at our house. It's fantastic but it's a little bit more on the high end of price-wise. It's really up to you and your budget so I say do your research and you can start on the web with some really specialized searching as far as your budget will allow.
JAMES: Hey, thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Calling from New York and listening in on WABC we've got Catherine. What's going on at your money pit?
CATHERINE: I had received from my son-in-law a child's desk; a school desk that he had when he was a young boy that they sold to the - you know, they gave away.
TOM: Oh, how cool.
CATHERINE: And now I want to refinish it for my granddaughter and I want to know the best thing to use to strip it.
LESLIE: OK, is it one of those solid wood, oldie ones where you slide in from the side?
CATHERINE: (overlapping voices) Yes, yes. Solid wood but it has a Formica top.
TOM: OK. Well, the first thing you're going to probably want to do is take the top off, wouldn't you think, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah, if you can get the top off it'll make it a lot easier for you to work with the wood. But the seat is wood, the legs are wood, everything else is wood but the desk top?
CATHERINE: Yeah, it looks like it's maple, probably.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK, well that's great.
CATHERINE: It's a nice, solid wood.
CATHERINE: And the Formica top is really on quite well so what I did was I taped around the top.
LESLIE: OK, perfect.
CATHERINE: Because I don't think I can take it off.
LESLIE: Do you want to stain it or do you want to paint it?
CATHERINE: I haven't quite decided but I was leaning towards staining it. Her bedroom is very blond but she also has some white things. So it'll be either keeping it sort of very light, maybe even natural, or white.
TOM: And it's natural right now?
CATHERINE: Well, yes. It was light. It was light. You know, I started trying to remove the stain with something I got from the hardware store but ...
CATHERINE: ... it's not working as well as I like, so ...
TOM: Well, here are a couple of things that you can do. Leslie, what would you recommend here? Rock Miracle, probably?
LESLIE: Yeah, I like working with Rock Miracle only because it's kind of thicker in consistency; almost a rubber cement so you have control in putting it on; it's not so liquid-y. And you can put it on into some tricky spots and then you really let the chemical sit there and do it's job and then go ahead and, you know, use a stiff bristle brush and, you know, try to get rid of whatever's already peeling off. Then in areas where you end up with some problems you can go in with sand paper - you know, medium grit to fine grit - and work those areas. And you just want to get down as close to raw wood as you can; especially since you're going with a lighter color finish.
And once you get down to raw wood you want to make sure you give it a good sanding. Then you take - what is it? - tack cloth.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: And really make sure that you wipe away all of that sawdust because even though it might look like there's nothing sitting on it, that tack cloth is so sticky it's really going to get rid of all of that residue that's sitting on there. And then you can go ahead and finish it any way you like.
CATHERINE: How do you spell that?
LESLIE: It's usually in the paint aisle.
CATHERINE: Oh, OK.
CATHERINE: Tack. OK. I got you. And what was the name of this product?
LESLIE: I like Rock Miracle.
CATHERINE: Rock Miracle?
LESLIE: Also in the paint section.
CATHERINE: OK, OK.
TOM: Sounds like a fun project. Catherine, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Nice when you can find your desk that you had as a child, huh?
LESLIE: You know, we had my dad's from when he was a kid and I used it at my house to do my homework. Of course, where it is now I have no idea. (Tom chuckles)
Talking vinyl siding with Eli. What's going on? What happened?
ELI: Well, my children were playing in the backyard and they threw a hard object against the siding and broke a hole in it. (Leslie chuckles) And I'd like to repair that or somehow make it look a little better.
TOM: Well, here are a couple of things you can do. If you can find a piece of siding in a less obvious place on your house, you can swap out the good siding for the bad siding and move the piece that has the hole to an area that's less obvious. If you can't identify - if you cannot identify any replacement for this, that's one way to address it.
ELI: Can you take out a small piece of siding in the middle of a whole wall?
TOM: Yes, you can. There's a little tool called a zipper tool.
LESLIE: Oh, it's going to save your life.
TOM: It disconnects that piece of siding and it can be removed without disturbing the rest of it. Now, if you can't do it yourself you may just want to have a siding contractor do this. It shouldn't be more than sort of a service call charge.
ELI: Well, great. Sounds good.
TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
ELI: Thank you.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and winter is coming up. It can be pretty. But what it can do to an unprotected roof isn't very pretty. Coming up we're going to give you some tips on how to deal with ice dams; specifically, how to prevent them so they don't cause leaks into your house.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by - well, by us. Save hundreds a month on groceries, not to mention significant savings on home improvement products and services with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That's 866-REAL-HOME. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where a leather tool belt is considered high fashion. (Leslie chuckles) I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and are you a subscriber to the Money Pit e-newsletter? If not, you should be. It comes to your inbox every single Friday and is full of ideas, tips and seasonal info to keep your home running smoothly. In our next issue we've got tips to keep those tricksters away this Halloween. It's not that far off, folks; just a few weeks away. So is your house the neighborhood target for mischievous prankers? Well if it is, we're going to tell you how to scare away those ghosts and goblins this year. So sign up for our free e-newsletter at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: And not far behind Halloween is Old Man Winter and, for some people, along with the freezing temperatures come ice dams. Ice dams form when the warmth from inside your home melts the bottom layer of snow that's piled up on a roof and that sends water trickling down to the roof's edge, exposing it to frigid air. This trickle quickly refreezes clogging gutters. It can cause water to pool up behind it. And basically it's going to back right up and into your house; usually right through the shingles.
TOM: Now, while those ice dams are more common in older and poorly-insulated homes, even the roofs of newer homes can leak water if it runs upward between the shingles. Water against gravity; not good.
LESLIE: Yeah, and leaks that can be caused by those ice dams often lead to structural damage and mold problems which can cause millions of dollars of damage to homes every single year. You want to prevent this from happening to your home so be sure that your roof is protected with something like a product we recommend called Grace Ice and Water Shield. Now this is a self-adhered roofing underlayment that's applied underneath your roof shingles and directly to the roof's decking. This is going to create a water-tight bond that's not only going to protect your roof from pools of water that are caused by those ice dams but also from wind-driven rains and snow. If you're repairing or replacing a roof this is a great time to do this; to add this underlayment.
Visit a great website, GraceAtHome.com, for tips and info to protect your roof from the elements all year long.
TOM: You know, when I was on vacation this past summer we took the family to Yellowstone and ....
TOM: ... there's a gorgeous building there, that is on the National Register of Historic Places, called the Old Faithful Inn.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: Very famous building, built in 1904, and they were replacing the cedar shingle roof on there. And they were putting that exact product - it's funny you mentioned -
LESLIE: Oh, that's a great climate for it.
TOM: - under the entire roof; not just the edge but the entire roof surface ...
TOM: ... all the way up was being covered with Grace Ice and Water Shield. You can see the - you know, the labeling on it.
LESLIE: Well, now I know in areas like - in parts of the country like Florida where you have a propensity for roof shingles to be pulled off it's a good idea to use a product like Ice and Water Shield all over the whole roof but I didn't think about Wyoming.
TOM: Yeah, and they have some pretty violent snowstorms out there. In fact, they close that inn in the winter because the snow gets so thick and - 30 feet deep out there.
LESLIE: And it's too much like The Shining? (chuckling)
TOM: I guess so. (chuckling)
888-666-3974. Call us with your spooky home improvement questions.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Mike in Maryland's dealing with moisture in the basement. What's going on?
MIKE: Well actually I'm having a problem with water coming in and I don't know if it's - we have Bilco doors in the back and whenever it rains we have a sump pump which pumps the water out but it seems like we're getting a lot more water than - and it's an unfinished basement. About a third of it's unfinished and that's where it seems to be coming in. And I'm at my wit's end because I was told to put some kind of a sealer on the floor and on the walls and I did that but it doesn't seem to be working.
TOM: Mike, I hate to tell you but no matter how much of that sealer you put on your basement, your house is not going to float.
MIKE: (chuckling) Darn, well ...
TOM: So what you need to do here ...
MIKE: ... I guess we're stuck in the neighborhood we're in then.
TOM: Your problem - yeah, you're not going to sail down to a new lot. Your problem is gravity, alright? So let's deal with that.
First of all, the fact that you're getting water in your basement after a rainfall is actually very good news because that means that the source of this is not a rising water table; hence, you really don't need that sump pump if we can get this drainage problem fixed.
TOM: And drainage is the problem. So I'm going to tell you how to do your own wet basement inspection here from the 20 years I spent doing these sorts of things as a home inspector. I want you to go outside first and I want you to look at the ground right around the foundation perimeter. In a perfect situation you're going to want to see soil that's sloping away from the wall. I'd love to see it drop about six inches over four feet. I'd also like to make sure that there's no top soil; no mulch; no stone; no river rock, you know, trapped by a brick edging; or anything like that that's going to impede water flow away from the foundation walls.
LESLIE: From getting away.
MIKE: Oh, OK.
TOM: The second thing - and this is even more important than the grading. This is like 75 percent in terms of the importance scale - is your gutter system. You have to have a gutter system. The gutters have to be clean. The downspouts have to extend water not right to that corner of the foundation but out four, five, six feet away.
TOM: If you've got a wet basement the water has to get pushed out well away from the first few feet of the foundation. The reason ...
LESLIE: And you have to make sure you have sufficient downspouts; enough of them.
TOM: That's right. You need one downspout for every 600 to 800 square feet of roof surface.
MIKE: Now, I know in the front of the house where it's finished they had - because the house is over 25 years old. They had the tubing that goes out of the front spouts through the front of our yard that they dug a trench and it goes into the gutter or the (INAUDIBLE) trench in the front but in the back that's not the case.
TOM: Well, is the water coming in the back or the front?
MIKE: In the back.
TOM: Alright. OK.
MIKE: So it's in the unfinished part of the back of the house.
TOM: Well, where do the downspouts discharge for that area?
MIKE: Just up - almost up against the house. I think (INAUDIBLE) ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) That's the problem.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, there you go. Well, there you go. See? We solved it. You're going to go - listen ...
LESLIE: You have no idea how much of a difference this is going to make.
TOM: Mike, this is going to be huge.
Here's what I want you to do just - you're going to - just to entertain us. I want you to go out to the home center and pick up a couple of links of downspout and hook it up to the end of that discharge. I don't care if it's eight or ten feet out. Just drop it out there so all the water now runs away from the foundation ...
TOM: ... and then watch what happens.
LESLIE: And pray for rain.
TOM: Pray for rain. (Leslie chuckles) You're going to eliminate this problem. This is so obvious and so easy to fix you're going to kick yourself when you see how quickly it remedies itself.
MIKE: Well, what I'm kicking myself now, after speaking to you guys, is the two plumbers that I've had out here, they have talked to me about raising the level of the sump pump surround and ...
TOM: If you call a plumber you're going to get a plumbing solution.
MIKE: Response, right.
TOM: You understand what I mean? This is what these guys work with all the time so they're going to give you something - it's not that they're being dishonest with you. [It's just that] (ph) their area of comfort is how to maybe improve the work of the sump pump. You know, my area here is trying to keep that water out to begin with ...
TOM: ... and when a house floods because of a rainfall it's always drainage. You should be looking up not down.
MIKE: Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome, Mike. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You know, Tom, I was at a friend's house in Westchester and in those cute little communities over there a lot of these old homes are built, you know, practically on the sides of rocks ...
LESLIE: ... or rocks protrude into their unfinished basements.
LESLIE: And the friend is new in the house and they have this unfinished space and they get water, he says, run through. You know, an inch comes down from where the rock is coming through the wall all the way through the basement and then out the garage door.
TOM: That's a waterfall. We usually charge more for that.
LESLIE: (chuckling) So as I was looking around his house I noticed that there were two buried drains that went from the upper part of the rock wall area that came down through the property and then out to the street and I looked up them and they were clogged completely. And I said, 'Get someone. Snake these out.' I said, 'And I guarantee you're going to see a major improvement.' It's amazing how much water can move and you really do need to clean these spouts.
TOM: It's almost amazing how a very, very, you know, simple solution like extending your gutters or cleaning your gutters can solve what's perceived to be a very expensive and complicated problem. It's really not.
LESLIE: Oh, I know.
TOM: Very easy to fix.
LESLIE: And inexpensive.
TOM: Mike, thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: More great home improvement advice coming up, but first tips from AARP to make sure that you and your parents are able to stay in your homes as long as possible so stick around.
[audio timestamp: 31:51]
[audio timestamp: 33:53]
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: 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: Call us right now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You might get in on our prize giveaway because one caller we talk to this hour is going to win a membership in The Money Pit's American Homeowners Association. This is a very special offer available only for Money Pit listeners. Membership entitles you to a boatload of services. You can get referrals to contractors. You can get free shipping on all of your packages that you buy online. You can get vision care. You can get legal services. It's really a wonderful assortment of services that are available to members of the American Homeowners Association. So call us now if you'd like to get in on that. It's 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are going to choose one caller out of the calls to today's show and you are going to win, if that's your name, this new membership in the American Homeowner's Association.
LESLIE: Ah, but if you don't win today you can also sign up for your very own membership right now for less than 35 cents a day and if you're among the first 1,000 listeners to sign up you're going to get a Zircon LaserBall 360 laser level and Zircon's i60 OneStep stud sensor. These are a $50 value but totally yours for free, not to mention the thousands you'll save with your Money Pit's American Homeowner Association membership. So visit MoneyPit.com today for details.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is the telephone number if you have a home improvement question. We were talking about ways to improve your house that are simple, low-cost and even no-cost that can make your house more accessible. There are lots of tips like this available from our friends at AARP. For example, in the bathrooms, make sure you put in night lights; make sure you place nonslip strips or decals on the bathtub and also on the shower floor; and mount grab bars by the toilets and tubs and also think about installing a hand-held, adjustable showerhead. Some quick things that you can do to make the bath space a bit more accessible.
LESLIE: Yeah, and you should also think about taking these accessible ideas outside as well. For instance, if you install a security peephole on your exterior doors it's going to keep you a whole lot safer and it's easy to do. You can even put a bench next to the front door to set packages down or just to take a break on your way into or out of the house. You can install photo sensitive porch or entryway lighting that's going to come on at dusk and go off at dawn so you don't ever have to worry about turning that switch on or off.
You know, these few changes now are really going to keep you safe in your home for a long time to come. If you want some more info or some more ideas on changes you can make at home right now you can go to AARP.org/HomeDesign. Website again - it's very great, very serviceable - is AARP.org/HomeDesign.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Donny in Montana, welcome to The Money Pit. What's going on with your roof?
DONNY: I was interested to know if 50-year shingles are worth the added cost over 25-year shingles.
TOM: They will be if the - depending on the answer to this question: are you going to live in the house for 50 years?
DONNY: Probably not.
TOM: Then I'd say not.
TOM: Because on the resale you generally are not going to get any more money because you have a 50-year roof. If you're going to live in the house and enjoy all 50 years of those shingles then why not put on the longest possible roof that you could afford? If you're not going to be enjoying it for 50 years then you may want to use more of a standard shingle which is going to go 20, 25 years.
LESLIE: But Tom, there's no benefit as far as weather or environmental conditions as far as durability of the shingle itself?
TOM: Well, I mean it depends. Are you talking about an asphalt shingle? If it's an asphalt shingle I wouldn't think twice about it. If I wasn't going to be there for the full time I wouldn't spend extra money for it. If it was one of the composite shingles that maybe looks like slate and is incredibly attractive and there may be some aesthetic value to it and I might just want to enjoy the roof and the way it looks, then I might consider it.
I mean, metal roofs, for example, are a good example. Metal roofs are gorgeous. Now, there are probably very few of us out there that are going to live in a home for the life of a metal roof which is 100 years and ...
LESLIE: But you put that on there because you like the aesthetic of it. That's a look.
TOM: Exactly. Exactly. So if it's an economic question the answer is no. If it's an aesthetic question then the answer is it's up to you.
DONNY: And I guess the other part of my question was will 50-year shingles really, honestly, last 50 years?
TOM: You know, if they're properly installed and you have good ventilation then they probably will. What we tend to find is that, you know, a 50-year shingle or a 40-year shingle or 30-year shingle is really dependent on it being installed perfectly.
TOM: What does that mean? Generally, a single layer because if you have multiple layers the original layer acts as a heat sink; stores heat that accelerates the evaporation of the oil in the shingle and forces it to dry out more quickly. Secondly, you've got to have good ventilation in your roof. Good ventilation might be a combination, for example, of a ridge vent that goes down the peak of your roof and a soffit vent at the overhang so that the underside of the roof sheathing is continually cooled, so to speak, in the summer as air moves up under it. So if you have good ventilation and you have a single layer, then I think there's a real good chance it will last as long as the manufacturer says it will.
DONNY: Cool. Well thanks, guys.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: More home improvement information coming up after the break, but first rodent infestations. They're icky and they actually can be a health hazard.
Up next, we're going to tell you how to safely and effectively get rid of that mouse in your house. Or two or three.
[audio timestamp: 39:47]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by - well, by us. Get a $1,000 guarantee that the contractor you hire gets the job done right with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That's 866-REAL-HOME. 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.
TOM: Hey, are you in the middle of a painting project? That is a perfect fall project. Maybe you're up to your eyeballs in tile. Whatever your current DIY dilemma, we have the answers for you at MoneyPit.com with our new project finder; new feature on MoneyPit.com. You can look up everything we've ever written by project. So, you're doing a roof? You can search all of the roof articles. If you're doing a kitchen you could search all of the kitchen articles. Very easy to use. Totally free with one click of the mouse; available right now at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: Hey, and while you're there, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question, just like Gladys did.
LESLIE: Alright, this is from Gladys. She writes: 'My husband Joe and I are interested in purchasing and installing hot water on demand. Can you please tell us what are the benefits and the pitfalls?' Is she talking about the one by the sink; you know, instant hot water for your tea and hot cocoa?
TOM: You know, that's a good question. I'm not quite sure, from Gladys's question, whether or not she's talking about instant hot or a tankless water heater.
TOM: So why don't we cover both?
TOM: I'll take the instant hot. Instant hot is a pretty nifty thing to have. It's a small appliance - a water heating appliance - that is located under your sink and the water is fed up through a separate faucet; very narrow faucet like a half-inch pipe that comes up and around or a quarter-inch pipe. And once you push the button it delivers, you know, pretty warm water. I don't know what the temperature is. About - what? - 160, 170-degree water probably comes out of that thing.
LESLIE: That's pretty hot.
TOM: Yeah, so it's hot enough to make a cup of tea right out of the tap. And I think it's a cool product. It's probably pretty expensive environmentally because it's heating the water all of the time.
TOM: As opposed to a tankless water heater which only heats water when you need it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So now, if you're talking about a tankless water heater, those are actually a fantastic addition to your home. They take up far less space. They heat water efficiently because they're only heating the hot water when you need them. They do need to be installed properly to work efficiently; meaning - you know, Tom notices this a lot of times - on the install the gas line feeding the tankless heater themselves are too small for the feed so it's not getting enough gas, on the initial burst, to heat that water. So you have to make sure that the size of the pipe feeding the gas is correct for the unit. But they make a lot of sense and they save a ton of money.
TOM: Absolutely. And you know what, Gladys? You could save enough money, with a tankless water heater, to pay for the energy to run the instant hot water heater.
TOM: It could kind of work out in the wash, right? (chuckling)
Alright, let's take this question from Samantha in Old Bridge. She says, 'A few months ago I successfully controlled a mouse problem with poison packets. The problem is the mice are back and this time they are not going for the bait.' (Leslie laughs) Ah, they're outsmarting you.
LESLIE: Yeah, they are.
TOM: 'What's the best place to put the poison packets and induce the mice to feast once again?' (chuckling) You know ...
LESLIE: (sighing) Under the dishwasher.
TOM: ... there are a couple of things that you should do. First of all, it's not just a one-stop shop when you're trying to control a rodent population. You want to start outside your house. Make sure you don't have nesting areas piled up around the outside. This could be firewood. This could be garbage cans. You need to have some space.
Inside the house you want to make sure you pack up all your food; including the dog food and any kind of packaged food. Keep it in sealed containers up off the floor. Those baits - good thing but watch out for the pets. Put them inside of bait stations so the pets cannot get to them. And collectively, all of those things working together, can control a rodent population.
LESLIE: Yeah, and look in places. Pull out your stove and your oven. Look behind there. Because if you've got pet food that's been sitting out I bet you you will find piles of it back there. Those are the places the mice love to go and hide.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
We are available 24/7/365 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. If we are not on the air when you pick up the phone and call us we'll take your number and call you back the next time we are. So we try to be accessible for when you need home repair advice. You can also e-mail us your home improvement question just by hitting MoneyPit.com and clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie. 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: 44:30]
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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.)