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 where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us now with your home improvement project. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. We'll help you solve it. We may even give you some tools to get the job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today's show, Leslie here's a question for you.
TOM: When is it a good idea to have a hole in your roof?
LESLIE: Is it ever a good idea?
TOM: Yes, it's a good idea when it's filled with a skylight. (Leslie chuckles) We're going to give you some tips on how to properly install skylights today so you can let the light in but keep the rain out.
LESLIE: And also this hour, slow running drains, they can really drain your patience. But chemical uncloggers, they can be toxic and actually harmful to the pipes. So we're going to tell you how to keep your drains running smoothly by using ingredients that you've already got in your kitchen.
TOM: Plus, trips and falls send countless Americans to the emergency room every year and more than half of these types of accidents happen at home. We've got some tips on what you need to know to make sure your next trip is not to the hospital.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And also, one caller that we talk to today is going to win the Eureka Capture Plus vacuum. This is a complete cleaning machine from floor to ceiling with dusting attachments and even a sealed HEPA filter. It's worth 169 bucks but it could be yours for free.
TOM: If you call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974, with your home improvement question. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask us to qualify for that drawing for the Eureka Capture.
And before we get to the calls, Leslie, major announcement coming up this hour.
LESLIE: Ooh, I love 'em.
TOM: We are launching a brand new membership program with the folks from the American Homeowners' Association. We're going to provide you all sort of services that can help make managing your home a breeze and we're launching it the right way. We're giving away stuff. (Leslie chuckles) We're giving away - ready for this? - $50,000 worth of Zircon laser levels and stud sensors.
TOM: The details are coming up this hour. Let's get right to the phone. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Calling from Illinois we've got Sue whose home is cracking up. What can we do to help?
SUE: (chuckling) Hi, yes. Well, I've done - I have a 200-year-old house and, as you might guess, I've got a lot of plaster walls. I applied skim coat to most of the cracks to most of the cracks about seven years ago. And they're back. And I want to know what else I can do. One specifically, upstairs in the hallway, goes vertically from essentially just the roof line all the way down to the baseboard. And that one actually has a little bit of a bow to it. So that scares me more than anything else.
TOM: Sue, if there's a bow to it what's happening is the plaster is separating from the lath behind it. And there's not going to be an easy correction for that. That is the plaster deteriorating. And the option is really to skim that wall with another layer of drywall or to break off the loose plaster and then replaster it.
Now, the solution for the cracks is different. When you just do a skim coat on top of that, that plaster that you put on top is not elastic so it's not going to expand and contract with the old crack. What you need to do is use a piece of fiberglass drywall tape that looks sort of like netting. It's perforated. And you apply that to the crack first and then you spackle on top of that - or plaster on top of that - two or three layers. And that is going to adhere enough where the wall can expand and contract without the cracks showing through. But just to put more plaster on top of the cracked plaster is not going to solve it. The same way it's difficult to solve with a cracked sidewalk. Anything that moves like that has to have something in it that's elastic and very sticky and if you use the tape that'll solve it.
SUE: Actually, I did use the tape.
TOM: You did use the tape? Well ...
SUE: I did.
TOM: OK. Now did you use paper tape or fiberglass tape?
SUE: The fiberglass.
TOM: Well, let's just review how you did it. Did you sand the wall to get rid of all of the old paint first?
SUE: Hmm. (Leslie chuckles) Probably not. (laughing)
TOM: Because that could be like a layer of grease in between the tape and the wall.
LESLIE: And could cause that tape to slip right off as soon as there's any movement.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Exactly.
TOM: So that's probably what happened. That is the solution and if it's sanded, remove the old paint - there's nothing loose underneath it - and then put the tape back on there. You're going to have to pull the old repair out now, by the way. But you do a good job sanding that and that should cover it.
Now, if the bulge is not too bad, you may want to try to spackle over that. And on a wall we're not as concerned as when you have a bulge in the ceiling because that plaster could actually fall. It's pretty darn heavy. Don't ask me why I know. I just do. (Leslie and Sue chuckle) And it can hurt you. (chuckling) OK?
SUE: Yes. (chuckling) OK, very good. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
SUE: Jim in Nevada listens to The Money Pit on KBZZ. And you've got squeaky floors. Tell us about it.
JIM: Well, our house was built in 1939 and we - mostly in the high traffic areas we have a lot of squeaking but I'm not sure where it's coming from. I'm not sure if it's coming from the subfloor, which is, I think they're like 1x6 planks like and (INAUDIBLE) between that and the joist or if it's coming from between the subfloor and the hardwood floor itself.
TOM: Well, have you been walking around and sort of trying to zone in on where the squeaks are coming from; stepping carefully?
JIM: Yeah, we've been walking around and like I say, mostly in the high-traffic areas. And I'm going - we have like a half-basement and I've been walking down there to see if there's any gaps between the subfloor and the joists and I'm not seeing a lot there. Nothing.
TOM: Well, regardless of whether or not it's between the subfloor and the joists ...
LESLIE: It's happening.
TOM: ... or the subfloor and the hardwood floor, in either case it's being caused by movement in the floor and if you can arrest that movement you should be quieting those joists.
Now, there's two ways to do this. The easiest way is if you can locate the floor joists and you can do that with a stud finder so you know exactly where - you know, you know which direction they're going but you can figure out exactly where it is. Then what you want to do is pilot hole a very small hole in that wood, in that hardwood, so that you can drive a finish nail in there. The best kinds of finish nails are like #10 or #12 hot-dipped galvanized nails because they have sort of a very rough surface and they tend to hold really well. And you put them in at a slight angle and then you drive the head right through the surface of the hardwood floor so all you have now is this little dot that has to be filled in and you can fill them in with one of those wax pencils that Minwax makes or something like that.
TOM: And you'll have to do that in a couple of places.
Now, the second way to do this is to drill and screw it down but then, of course, you're going to have to use a plug in that floor ...
TOM: ... and that's going to require a little bit of refinishing. But the idea here is to secure the floor. So, I would take the noisiest, loosest areas and work on that kind of one nail at a time. And if you do it right you won't see the nails once they're installed and it will quiet down that floor quite nicely.
JIM: Will I have to put a lot of weight on that or will the nail suck it up itself?
TOM: You mean will it pull it down itself?
TOM: I think the nail will pull it down pretty nicely.
JIM: OK. Alright. So I'm not going to have to put a lot of weight on that to ...
TOM: No, I don't think so.
JIM: OK. Alright, well ...
TOM: Alright, Jim?
JIM: I really appreciate that.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website is MoneyPit.com. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. It is officially fall and we can help you zip up your house and make it energy efficient to keep those dollars down. All you have to do is call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, what you can add to your home that can make it seem roomier, save you money and might actually help strengthen your bones and teeth.
TOM: Hmm, there's a riddle. Learn the answer, after this.
[audio timestamp: 8:56]
[audio timestamp: 11:20]
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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. And neat freaks, if that's you, you're going to especially love our prize today. It's the Eureka Capture Plus vacuum. A couple of really cool things about this particular vacuum is it has a telescoping dusting wand that is statically charged to attract dust in hard-to-reach places. It's also got a power paw. It's worth 169 bucks. If you want to win it call us now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You said neat freaks and my ears perked up and then all of those fantastic attachments had me drooling. You know that I love to keep things clean and that sounds like a kick-butt vacuum.
Alright, Tom, before the break you said, 'What can you add to your home to help make it seem more spacious, save you money and possibly help strengthen your bones and teeth?'
TOM: That's right and it's a skylight.
LESLIE: Yeah! Did you know that skylights, not only do they open up rooms by adding natural light; they make small spaces seem a lot bigger and they actually create energy efficient possibilities that might even help lower your utility bills. And who doesn't love that? Plus, some studies are actually showing that people who are exposed to more sunlight may boost their vitamin D, which is known to strengthen teeth and bones. So there you have it.
TOM: Ah, but there is a big risk of having a skylight and that is leaks.
TOM: If your skylight is not installed right you might end up with some very costly water damage. So when building a skylight or other roof detail - like a valley, a rake-edge, a chimney, a ridge or a dormer wall - you need to take precautions to prevent water permeation; water leaks; water intrusion. You know, there's a product designed by Grace that's actually the first of its kind designed specifically for waterproofing those really odd-shaped roof details. It's called Roof Detail Membrane and it does just that. It's a flexible membrane and it conforms very tightly to roof details; just a little bit of extra protection that can go a long way.
If you want more information on that product or Grace's entire family of weather barriers you can go to their website at GraceAtHome.com. Or you can call us right now with your roofing question. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Calling from my neck of the woods - Long Island, New York - Dorothy, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with?
DOROTHY: Hi. I have a garage door that at night opens by itself.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
DOROTHY: First time I didn't know what time. The second time I happened to get up at 2:30, looked out the window. The garage door was closed but when I went to the garage it was open at 6:30. Now, my garage door is not hard-wired. So what I have been doing is closing the door and then walking 10 or 15 feet and unplugging the door. However, I am handicapped and this is difficult for me.
Now, I came in on one of your programs, in the middle, where you - one of you said there was something that had a whole bunch of different codes for the garage doors.
TOM: Dorothy, how old is your garage door opener?
DOROTHY: Well, I had a new unit put in four years ago.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.
DOROTHY: But that company, unfortunately, is out of business.
DOROTHY: Now, what gets me is I'm afraid to call somebody because I'm an old lady by myself and I'm afraid they're going to take advantage of me.
TOM: Alright, Dorothy, let me tell you what's going on here. If you have an older garage door opener or one that is not up to modern standards it's not going to have the right type of encoding. The very - the old openers only had, you know, four, five, six, eight, ten different possible codes. And the new ones use something called rolling code technology. So every time the door goes up, every time you use your remote, it actually physically changes the code and there are millions of different codes. And it all is handled automatically by the opener itself; by the transmitter that's the kind that you keep in your car.
LESLIE: And Tom, that would be bad so - because if your neighbors got a similar code and they go to open their garage, yours would open, too.
TOM: Well, exactly, and that's what I think may be happening to Dorothy. Someone else in your neighborhood may have the same code and when the conditions are right that's actually opening your garage door. So I think the solution here, Dorothy, is a new garage door opener and you have to specifically ask if the opener has something called rolling code technology. It is very common. It's not hard to find. Most of the new openers have it and that's what you need to ask; about rolling code technology. If they have that, then you will probably be absolutely fine and solve this problem and you'll not have to unplug your garage door opener anymore.
LESLIE: There's no way you can switch it yourself?
TOM: Well, there might be. It depends. If you look at the back of the garage door opener there's a set of switches; they're call dip switches.
TOM: And they're probably going to be adjusted one will be up, one will be down and so on. And that's going to match the pattern of the dip switches on the transmitter itself. Now, what you could do is try to change that pattern and if you do that, you know, it may be that if someone else has the same pattern then perhaps [your good fortune enough] (ph) that it doesn't open and close automatically anymore. But even so, it's not really smart to have a garage door opener that's not protected by rolling code because, you know, the crooks can have a garage door opener with, you know, 10 different combinations ...
LESLIE: And just try every one.
TOM: ... and they can just go up and down the street and try every one. Exactly.
LESLIE: Roger's calling from West Virginia and he wants to talk windows. How can we help?
ROGER: Hello. I had a question about getting into replacement windows that has to do with triple-pane versus double-pane. Some of the technology is a little overwhelming and I'd like to be able to understand that more clearly as to which way to go; is it necessary.
TOM: That's a good question, Roger, and the answer is no. Because double-pane and triple-panes are fairly similar. Now, if you get up to a real brutal climate, like you're up in the high hills of the north part of the country where you're dealing with just brutal winters, you might get a better return on investment. But in your part of the country, in West Virginia, and in most of the center of the country, I would say no. It's not going to be a big difference between double-pane and triple-pane. What is more important is that the window is Energy Star rated and it's never been a better time to replace your windows with those that are Energy Star rated because there is a federal tax credit that you may be eligible for which goes from now until January of 2008 where you can actually get an income tax credit or ...
LESLIE: Of up to $500.
TOM: Yeah, for putting in new windows that are Energy Star rated windows.
ROGER: Oh, that's good to know.
TOM: Yeah, so it's a good time to do it.
ROGER: Now, I was also on the internet trying to understand some of this technology that's new that's come out; I guess some of the gasses that they put in between the panes.
ROGER: And I guess there were two main kinds. One is a fairly new.
TOM: Argon and Krypton.
ROGER: Yes, yes. And out of those two I didn't know - you know, you get salesman hype and you don't know what to believe. But also it was saying that it's not so much how many panes you've got but the distance between the panes.
TOM: Listen, Roger, you know, there's a lot of science between designing a window that's energy efficient and I commend you for trying to understand the science. But the government's done the job for you. If the window is Energy Star rated you know it's meeting the model energy code; glass and whether it's got swiggle or whether it's got ...
LESLIE: I love that word. You know I love that word. (Roger laughs) Swiggle. It's my favorite. I've been waiting for you to say it.
TOM: Exactly, she just loves to hear me say it. Swiggle, swiggle, swiggle.
LESLIE: My swiggle. (Leslie and Roger chuckle)
TOM: But really, Roger, you don't have to do that work. If you get an Energy Star rated window it's going to meet all those standards for the model energy code and don't try to - you know this way you get out from under, you know, what one salesman says versus the other. Just say, 'Hey, is it Energy Star rated? What Energy Star rating does it have?' and go from there.
ROGER: Do you have a brand that you would lean toward?
TOM: Well, sure. I mean we like Pella windows, we like Andersen windows. We like those good - you know, good quality name brand windows.
LESLIE: And it's not just the window manufacturer. You have to make sure that they're set nicely in a good frame. Stay away from aluminum-framed windows because they're just going to cause condensation and it's not going to be really good because they're going to hold a lot of the temperature whether it's cool or hot. Make sure you go for a nice vinyl or wood-framed window. Triple-pane glass; not necessary. Go for the double-pane. And Energy Star rated. That's all you need to know and you'll be really happy.
ROGER: That's great.
LESLIE: And let them measure for you.
ROGER: (chuckling) That's great. That folds it down into - puts the jelly on the bottom shelf where I can get it.
LESLIE: (chuckling) I like that.
TOM: There you go. Roger, thanks so much for calling 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Calling in from Louisiana we've got Steen (sp). Welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help with?
STEEN (sp): I have a problem with discoloration around the columns on the front of my house. And I didn't know if there was something maybe I could seal it with; something I could - some kind of paint or something that would, you know, let the stuff wash right off of it instead of me having to wash it once a week or so.
TOM: Is it a - is it a mildew that's causing the discoloration?
STEEN (sp): No, it's not really a mildew. It's just - I guess it's just dirt, dust, something. It's - you know, I can get down and scrub it off.
Well, what you're going to want to do, Steen (sp), here is - first of all, you're going to want to repaint the columns and I want you to use an oil-based primer. It's going to give you a smooth, even surface for the topcoat layer to adhere to. Then I want you to use a semi-gloss. Don't use a satin because it's not going to clean as well.
TOM: Use at least a semi-gloss if not a gloss. And once you do those two things then what you can do as a final step - and there's the trick of the trade - take some car wax, like some Simonize or Turtle Wax or something like that, and wax the columns. That's going to create a layer that will help keep that dirt from sticking.
STEEN (sp): Alright, sounds great. Thank y'all for taking my question.
TOM: And that'll do it.
STEEN (sp): Alright.
LESLIE: That's super clever, Tom. I have to say.
TOM: (chuckling) You like that one?
LESLIE: I really think that's a clever tip and ...
TOM: Yeah, occasionally I think of a good one. (chuckling)
LESLIE: And you know, it's going to be so helpful when his kids come running home and swing around those poles as they're like, 'Hey! [We're suing] (ph)!'
TOM: No, you know why I thought of that? Because that's a trick of the trade that we use in the bathroom. Sometimes if you have a shower door, if you have really hard water and it gets a lot of mineral salts on it ...
TOM: ... you can use car wax on that, too. It doesn't hurt anything.
TOM: You just have to make sure you don't use the car wax that has an abrasive in it. Just use like the plain, old-fashioned Simonize. I've been using it for years. It works great. Just don't ever use it on a floor surface and it does a really good job of keeping the dirt from sticking.
LESLIE: You're the cleverest.
More great calls coming up after the break but first, do you need a simple, cheap way to unclog sluggish drains? Well, you only need three things and you probably have most of them - if not all of them - right in your kitchen right now. We're going to give you the recipe for clog relief after this.
[audio timestamp: 22:39]
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
And a lot of Americans are actually worried about mold in their home. It's the great mystery. Sometimes you see it, sometimes you don't but people are always concerned about it. Well, we are going to tell you everything you need to know at MoneyPit.com when you check out our mold resource guide. All the info there, it's free and it's from the expert resources so you know you can count on it. So stop being afraid. Do your research and know what to do when you see mold.
TOM: Another thing you might find at MoneyPit.com is this recipe to free up sluggish drains. You simply mix one-half cup each of salt, baking soda and vinegar and pour it down the drain. Follow with two quarts of boiling water and you've not only saved money but you also have saved your plumbing by using a natural solution instead of a harsh chemical which can be very dangerous as a drain cleaner.
You need more tips? Log onto our website at MoneyPit.com.
Leslie, who's next?
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?
DONNA: Yes, badly. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) And the ...
LESLIE: 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. (Bird squawks)
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 sounds 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 Krud Kutter.
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 get the stain 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. (chuckling) 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 two levels of 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 puts something on there, not to try to 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.
TOM: 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.
DONNA: So any kind of the stuff you buy in a home ...
TOM: The grout strippers, I think, are better than a grout cleaner. OK?
DONNA: OK, grout stripper?
DONNA: OK, great. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Next up we've got Rodney in Pennsylvania who's got renovation on the menu. What can we help with?
RODNEY: I have a home that was built in 1898.
TOM: Ah. OK, that's a youngster compared to mine but go ahead. (Tom and Rodney chuckle)
RODNEY: I had frozen pipes and I had to go in behind the plaster.
RODNEY: What I found behind the plaster was wire mesh underneath what appears to be wooden, like, backer (ph) slats. Now, I'm going to replace all that. I'm going to pull all that plaster out and put drywall in.
RODNEY: (INAUDIBLE) if I should pull that wire mesh out along with it.
TOM: Well, if it's flat and intact with the wall, you could probably drywall on top of it. There is a strategic decision to try to figure out how deep you want to go. And if it's not deteriorated and pulling away from the wall and loose I think you can just leave it and go right over it.
RODNEY: OK. So you don't think it would interfere with anything?
TOM: No, I don't think so. You know, the more you take off the worse it gets. I mean generally when you're - if you have old plaster walls I don't recommend pulling the old plaster off because it's just such a big, stinking mess.
TOM: I generally tell people to go on top of the plaster. But if you've already pulled the plaster off and you have a flat surface I think you can stop there and drywall right over it.
RODNEY: Well, the plaster's so uneven. That's why I was thinking about maybe going room to room, you know, as a winter project or something.
TOM: Well, you might want to try putting drywall on top of it because it does hide a lot of sins and it's a heck of a lot easier to work with.
RODNEY: OK, I ...
TOM: Even if it's uneven, you know, it really does a good job of smoothing things out. Listen, I've done it both ways, Rodney, and I've got to tell you it's just a lot better when you don't take it off. It's just a real dusty, dirty mess and it doesn't really buy you that much to strip it down to the studs.
RODNEY: OK. Alright, I appreciate that.
TOM: You're welcome, Rodney. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, lots of great home improvement calls here, as always, at The Money Pit.
Hey, did you know that accidents in the home send tens of thousands of Americans to the emergency room every year? In fact, according to the AARP, half of all falls happen right in your own home. But there are very simple things that you can do right now to prevent most of those very common accidents. That's coming up, next.
[audio timestamp: 28:41]
[audio timestamp: 31:25]
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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show making good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. And the number here at The Money Pit is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And someone who calls that number today and asks a question on air is going to win a $169 vacuum from Eureka. It's the Capture Plus and this machine is going to reach more dirt on more surfaces than any other vacuum. I mean, as a neat freak myself, it is something that is making me very excited about the next vacuuming job you've got to tackle at home. It's got a static-powered dusting wand that's going to grab dust on places that you can't even reach, like your fan blades. Yes folks, you are supposed to clean those; not all the time but at least once a month. Come on. All you've got to do now is call in. You've got to be in it to win it because it could be yours for free.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
And if you're in my house you may be tripping over the vacuum because my kids do a bit of vacuuming but then they leave it ...
TOM: ... leave it out there. (chuckling)
LESLIE: At least - you know, at least the chore is getting done, but you know.
TOM: Yeah, that's right. You know, we want to encourage them. But you know, you may not realize that there are probably trip and fall hazards like that throughout your home. And not good since falls are one of the most common household accidents that send Americans to the emergency room.
LESLIE: Yeah, in fact, the folks over at the AARP say that a third of all home accidents can be prevented. And there are simple things that you can do right now to decrease your chances of you or your family members from taking any sort of tumble. For example, get rid of throw rugs and if you've got to have those area rugs make sure that they're held down with either that double-sided carpet tape or even skid-resistant padding underneath them. And rearrange your furniture so you've got clear, wider passageways so you're not tripping over things trying to squeeze in between stuff.
TOM: You can also remove cords that are running furniture and rugs. Very dangerous thing because the cord itself can be abraded by the furniture or by the carpet and become a fire hazard. So run them along the wall instead.
Also, install nightlights and use the highest wattage bulb approved for lamps and light fixtures. You know the little sticker on the side of the light fixture?
TOM: It says, max watt 100 watts; 60 watts; whatever it is? Use that maximum wattage because that's going to give you the most brightness and eliminate the chance of you not seeing what you're doing and falling.
If you want more information to keep your whole family safe, you can go the website for AARP at AARP.org/HomeDesign. That's AARP.org/HomeDesign. Or call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Tiling is on Glenda in Florida's mind. How can we help you with your project?
GLENDA: I would like to know how to redo the floor or fix the floor under a commode. Because when I was at work and I had the floor done originally, he put the tile up to the commode and didn't put it underneath the commode.
TOM: Aw, I hate when that happens.
GLENDA: So I'm wanting to know what to do; how to get it fixed right.
TOM: Do you still have the tile? Is it available to you, Glenda?
GLENDA: Yes, I do have some extra tiles.
GLENDA: And in fact, I did take up the tile that was right around the commode immediately.
GLENDA: And I was able to get it up without breaking. And the thing is the floor is not completely level all the way there.
GLENDA: I'm having to do something to make it level. And that's what I really needed help with.
TOM: OK. Well, here's what you need to do, Glenda. You need to take the toilet up. The toilet's going to have to be reset. Once you take the toilet up and then you're going to extend the existing tile right to the actual drain in the floor. Now, there's a flange extension that can be added there - and this is probably not a do-it-yourself project but it would be very simple for a plumber to do that. It can extend the height of that drain by about the half-inch that you'll need to make up for the new tile. Once it's extended and once the new tile is down you simply put in a new wax seal, drop it back on and then you'll have to extend the plumbing lines because, remember, the water line now is going to be a half-inch short because it's actually taller than it was before.
But that's all that it's going to take to fix this up; is you have to extend the drain for the toilet. And the tile guy didn't do it because he was afraid of getting into a plumbing problem and it was probably a wise decision. But he should have told you that there was an option to go under the toilet or go around the toilet and if you wanted to go under it then you would need to have a plumber reset the toilet. And you know, it's just too bad that you had to learn that the hard way.
Glenda, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Matt in Alabama has an electrical question. How can we help?
MATT: I purchased a new home and I had a reputable nationwide home inspection company do an inspection on the new home. I thought that was a very - a good idea for me to find some things. He pointed out a few things and then he left the premises with his report. And I went up in the attic, not knowing what to look for, and I noted an electrical junction box that was blue that wasn't fastened to anything but a lot of wires were going into it with black electrical tape. But yet no cover was on it and it was exposed. What am I to do with that problem?
TOM: Well, if it's - if the junction box is open like that there ought to be a cover on it and it ought to be secured. We don't want to have it where it's going to be disturbed by anything. An open junction box could be a fairly minor electrical repair. Have you closed on the house yet?
MATT: Yes, I did. I moved in and I've been in the home for six months.
TOM: Oh, OK. Well, it should be a standard electrical box. You could simply go pick up a cover for it. It's not a major issue but it's something you ought to tend to.
MATT: Great. Thank you so much for your help. I love your show.
TOM: Oh, you're very welcome.
LESLIE: Enjoy your new house.
TOM: And Matt, call us again. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Brian in Utah's got some cracks in the stucco. Tell us about them.
BRIAN: My house was built about three years ago in northern Utah and last winter I noticed a very, very large crack on the side of the stucco. I'm guessing it's from the (INAUDIBLE) melting, running down. I'm wondering what I can do to solve that problem.
TOM: Well, if you have cracks in the stucco, what you're going to have to do is seal them and the best thing to do to seal them is to use a very flexible caulk; like a flowable urethane or a silicone. If you slow the water from getting in there that's going to prevent it from freezing and loosening up and sort of bursting off more sections of it.
BRIAN: Is that paintable caulk or is it more of a silicone type?
TOM: Well, if you use a silicone it's not going to paintable but if you use an acrylic latex it will be paintable.
BRIAN: OK, then [it's matched with] (ph) my existing stucco color?
TOM: Yes, and you can actually tint it. Actually, Red Devil has one where you can be tinted to match exactly the stucco color or you could choose one if it happens to be close to a standard color.
BRIAN: OK, then how do I prevent it from continuing? How would you suggest?
TOM: What exactly is happening that's causing the crack to occur?
BRIAN: Well, it's right over the - [I'm not sure what to call it] (ph) - the roof line comes down to the where it drains down to the stucco pillar?
BRIAN: Sort of meets in the valley there on the roof line.
TOM: Alright. Can you use a diverter on the roof? And what a diverter is a piece of flashing that's attached to the roof flat that moves that wash of water away from the place where it's overflowing.
BRIAN: Yeah, I could probably look into that. Sure.
TOM: Yeah. Something like a diverter is a good solution for that situation.
BRIAN: And where would I find something like that?
TOM: Oh, you would make it yourself. You'd pick up a piece of like aluminum angle and you would attach it to the roof with a bead of caulk between it and the roof and then - we use this very often over front doors where the actual water's coming through and falling over the front door and you don't want that to happen so you put an aluminum diverter above it. The water comes down; the roof hits the diverter and runs off to the side. And that'll solve the problem.
BRIAN: OK, I'll try that out then. Thanks for all your help.
TOM: You're welcome, Brian. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: More great home improvement information coming up. But first, we are going to answer two of the most frequently asked questions about foundations and basements. That's all coming up and more so stick around.
[audio timestamp: 39:39]
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where you can pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or go to MoneyPit.com, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail. Let's get to some of those right now.
LESLIE: Alright. Here we go. This one is from Sue who's listening in on WPRO in Providence. 'Is insulation needed for basement walls? I have a 70 to 79-percent humidity level in my basement.' Whoa!
TOM: It's practically raining, Sue. (laughing)
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. 'How can I lower this? I have a dehumidifier and two exhaust window fans running for the last six weeks and it has not helped.'
TOM: Yes, of course you have a very high humidity because you have poor drainage conditions. Sue, you have to stop working inside; start working outside. You know, putting in the dehumidifier is a good idea, but you've got to reduce the amount of moisture that's getting there in the first place. Here's what we want you to do.
First, go outside; get up on a ladder and clean out those gutters. Make sure they are perfectly clean.
LESLIE: Let me tell you. My next door neighbor - and Joe, I hope you're listening - has like grass growing out of his gutters!
TOM: This is a sign, Joe. (Leslie laughs) When you see the trees growing out of your gutter it's time to clean them. And Sue, if you see those little saplings coming out of your gutter definitely get them clean. Because what happens is the water overflows and then drops right at that foundation perimeter, against the foundation wall. The walls are very hydroscopic. So even if it doesn't leak in your basement the water will be drawn through; drawn completely through that concrete block and evaporate into the basement creating that high level of humidity.
The second thing is get the soil sloping away from the walls so you don't build up any ponding at that foundation perimeter. Those two things alone will cure most of the humidity problems and certainly cure most of the wet basement problems.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got Charlie in New Jersey who's listening in on News Talk 77; WABC. He writes: 'I have a crack in my foundation. It's about six feet long and runs diagonally. I would like to put my house on the market within the next two years. Do I need to have it fixed? If so, how and is it expensive?'
TOM: And actually, Charlie, this could actually be related to the basement question from Sue because it's caused by the same problem; poor drainage conditions.
TOM: (INAUDIBLE) water in that foundation perimeter what happens is it freezes and then presses or pushes in on the wall and it causes a crack to occur. And over time, you get this sort of ratchet effect where it moves a little bit the first year and the next winter it moves some more and next winter it moves some more.
Now, if it's a thin crack it's probably going to have no effect whatsoever. If it's actually opened up - I've seen these, Leslie, so bad where the wall is actually leaning in ...
TOM: ... an inch, two inches with a big, old crack. That's the case ...
LESLIE: And then that's a major fix right there.
TOM: Major, major. So minor crack; no problem. OK. Major crack, you need to get an engineer in there to evaluate it; design a repair. Then using the engineer's design, hire the contractor to make the repair then have the engineer come back and reinspect it and certify that it was done correctly. That would give you a pedigree you could present to any buyer, any home inspector that sees your house in the future and they'll know it was done correctly.
LESLIE: Yeah. And within two years the real estate market should shape up. So Charlie, you should get a good price for your home.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we mix home improvement and cleaning tips; like when you wash your clothes are they really getting clean? Perhaps not. That's the topic of today's edition of Leslie's Last Word.
LESLIE: Alright, you think, you know, you're doing the laundry. You've got water. You've got soap suds. You got lots of stuff going on in there. So why doesn't the washing machine get clean? Well, it actually doesn't because your washing machine might not be washing the germs that are in that laundry out of your family's clothes. So over the years your washing machine is going to actually become contaminated with bacteria that could potentially millions of germs behind in your laundry. Gross, it's filled with water. You would think it would be clean.
If you want to correct this problem - and you should - you want to run the washer without clothes using just hot water and one half gallon of bleach. That bleach is going to sanitize the machine and all of its plumbing components; therefore killing any bacteria that's left behind. Not only is your machine going to be clean; so are the clothes. I would do this twice a year just to be safe.
TOM: Great tips, great advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week at MoneyPit.com or pick up the phone anytime and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don't have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 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.)