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: Standing by to take your calls, to answer your questions about your home improvement projects, the do-it-yourself dilemmas that you started, maybe you got stuck in the middle of. Pick up the phone and call us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
It’s been quite a warm summer thus far, so maybe your projects are inside this week. If they are, we’d love to talk with you about how to get them done quickly, inexpensively, correctly. And even if you’re hiring a pro, we could help you with those questions, too. Do you know what questions to ask before the contractor starts his project? You know how to make sure they have the right insurance so if something goes wrong, you’re protected? Great questions. Let’s talk about them. Great topics. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We are here to help prevent your home from becoming a money pit.
Got a great show planned for you this hour. First up, if you’ve been thinking about buying a new house but waiting for the market to warm up a bit, you might be missing a great opportunity. We’re going to tell you why this is the perfect time to buy a house and give you tips on how to find that perfect abode.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, whether it’s from the storms or simply the heat, many Americans, they’ve lost power this summer and some of you for quite a bit of time.
Now, when the power does come back on, you might even be in for some more surprises if an electrical surge was brought on during that storm. We’re going to tell you how to protect yourself from both the power failure and the damage that an electrical storm can bring, in just a bit.
TOM: And here’s a cool idea for your backyard while the weather is so nice: we’re going to tell you about a way to turn it into an outdoor theater. It’s not as expensive as you might think and your kids and your neighbors will love you.
LESLIE: Well, your kids; I don’t know about your neighbors.
TOM: No, they’re going to be peeking out the window to see what you’re playing.
LESLIE: True. True, true.
TOM: Come over with the popcorn, you know.
LESLIE: As long as it’s not too loud.
Alright, guys. Also this hour, we’re giving away the Escape 150 Explorer Kit from GOAL ZERO. And it’s a portable way for you to get power for camping or tailgating. That sounds like fun.
TOM: It’s worth more than $500. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us on today’s program. So pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to the phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: We’ve got Ben in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with a hot attic. Tell us what’s going on.
BEN: My attic temperature has been peaking at about, oh, 45 to 48 above ambient temperature. And I could describe what kind of roof. It’s a hip roof and it’s probably about 42 feet long. And I’ve got 13 feet of ridge (audio gap) up above and I was just wondering what would be the way to go: a ridge vent or wind turbine or maybe electric roof fan?
TOM: OK. Well, first of all, a hip roof is among the most difficult types of roofs to vent, because you have such a small ridge. That said, what I would do is make sure that you have a continuous ridge vent on that ridge; that’s the first part. The second part is you need to make sure you have continuous soffit vents all around the overhang at the edge of the roof. Because the air, theoretically, will enter the soffit, go up under the roof sheathing and exit at the ridge. Does that make sense?
BEN: Well, it was a place built in ‘76 and it had vinyl soffing (ph) put over it and darn few vents. And I just recently got done putting some extra soffit space in there but that didn’t really seem to make any difference.
TOM: Well, are the soffits fully vented right now, Ben?
BEN: No. Just over the old holes. They put in a couple panels of vented.
TOM: Oh, so they covered the old wood soffits with ventilated panels? Is that what you’re saying?
BEN: Yeah, the old wood soffits were about 14x6 and there were three in the long end and two in the short.
TOM: Yeah, you have – I know exactly what you’re talking about; I’ve seen this many times. In fact, when I was a home inspector, I used to check for this by sort of pressing up on that soft, vinyl soffit – it looks all pretty and vented – to find solid plywood underneath.
It’s a problem. You really have to take the vinyl soffit material down and remove all of the old wood soffit material so that now it’s fully open. Then you can put the vinyl, perforated soffit material back up and you’ll have a fully vented soffit.
TOM: You can’t just put vented vinyl on top of wood soffit that has even vents sort of cut into it, because you’re just not getting enough airflow in. With a hip roof, the best place to get airflow is at the soffits and if they’re choked off, it’s never going to be cool up there.
So I would start by opening up those soffits and adding a good-quality ridge vent. Take a look at the vents that are made by CertainTeed – the Air Vent Corporation. And I say that because those vents have sort of a baffle design that improves the negative pressure at the ridge, which helps draw more air out of it. I don’t like the ridge vents that look kind of like corrugated cardboard; they don’t have enough cross-ventilation, enough way to get air out. I like to see vents that are big and fully open so that the air can really pull out of that. But I think a good-quality ridge vent and soffit vents that are properly open all around are really going to solve this issue for you, Ben, OK?
BEN: Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tracy in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a universal-design project. Tell us what you’re working on.
TRACY: I have a daughter who’s 21 years old and we need some help when it comes to bathing her. We’re looking at doing a bathroom addition onto her room but we don’t even know, really, how to get started. Do we need to consult with an architect on the design advice? She’s homebound, medically fragile, 100-percent disabled and we just are looking at some advice on how to even get started to meet her needs so that we only have to do this one time.
LESLIE: Is a tub situation easier for you or is a shower?
TRACY: Probably a shower.
LESLIE: OK. Because there are the tubs with the doors that open. It depends on how difficult it would be to sort of move her from chair to seated tub position. It just depends on how comfortable you are with the bathing situation, if you want to get in there and get wet.
But Tom and I have actually done a lot of work with universal design and are quite familiar with some of the processes.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And I do think it’s a good idea to use a certified kitchen-and-bath designer and that’s somebody who is going to be specializing in universal design. You’re going to ask specifically for someone that has that talent, because they’re going to be up-to-speed on the best products that are out there for your particular situation, be able to recommend appropriately and you’re going to get a bathroom that actually looks nice and functions well for you.
I would not, would not call a standard remodeling contractor. Because a remodeling contractor will say, “Yeah, I understand. I know what to do.” And you know what? They just don’t, because it’s very specialized.
In fact, some years ago, Leslie, didn’t the AARP have a special certification program for contractors and architects that were working with universal-design situations?
LESLIE: They did. It was through the Homebuilders Association. And they had a special course that you could take to become certified as a universal-design specialist. So you might want to start with the AARP’s website, just to find some recommendations of folks in your area who are certified. I believe it was called the CAPS – Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist – Program.
And even though that’s not necessarily your need, it has similar associations. So you might want to start there as far as just trying to find somebody who can help you find the right products. Because you want something that looks good, you don’t want it to feel like a hospital, you want it to function and you want it to be done right the first time.
TOM: They have a lot of resources for universal design. Probably the best collection anywhere online is on the AARP website. You just simply click on the Home & Family section and then Home Improvement and you’ll find a lot there.
They also have a section on livable communities, because the universal design just makes sense for folks of any age, whether you are a senior citizen, whether you are disabled or whether you are just a mom that comes home with her arms full of grocery bags and needs to pop open a door with her elbow because she can’t really turn a door knob. You know, there’s tips like that that really make it so much easier for you to live comfortably in your house, regardless of age or physical condition. So I would start there, as well.
But make sure you work with people that are experienced in universal design. There are lots and lots of people out there. You’ve just got to find them, OK?
TRACY: Great. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, summer is almost over. Not officially but the summer weekend is approaching. Labor Day. But we’re really all just – get back into the regular swing of things.
So if you’ve got some projects that you want to get done before the big summer cutoff – Labor Day – we are here to give you a hand. Whatever you’re working on, let us help you get things done right the first time. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here for you 24 hours a day.
Up next, have you been kicking around the idea of trading up for a new home? If so, we’re going to have some tips for you on how not to bite off more than you can chew in this housing market. And that’s all coming up, after this.
MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.
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.
TOM: And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Escape 150 Explorer Kit from GOAL ZERO worth $500. The kit includes a power pack and a solar briefcase, perfect for portable power on the go. The power pack stores 150 watts of power with an integrated, 80-watt AC inverter. The power pack charges in the sun, and in 6 to 10 hours, with the solar briefcase. You can take this thing camping, keep your electronics charged for the whole trip.
So when you go camping in the middle of the woods and you’re trying to get back to nature, your iPhone will always be at the ready. And this way, you can use the geo-targeting features to find your way if you’re lost in the woods or something.
Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win. But you’ve got to have a question.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Ron in South Dakota who is dealing with a bee situation. What’s going on with these busy bees?
RON: So I’m trying to repair my roof on a cinder-block outbuilding. And these bumblebees are all around and I’m having trouble. I’d like to not kill them but I don’t know. Can I do something to make them relocate?
TOM: Yeah, you can. I think what you’re talking about are not bumblebees but carpenter bees.
RON: Oh, yeah. I’m from Memphis, originally, and we had big bumblebees there and one stung me last year and it felt the same way.
TOM: Well, those are carpenter bees and they’ll bite but they don’t – they’re not as bad as getting stung by a wasp or something like that. But what they do is they look for usually the soft trim, like around a porch or a fascia or a soffit. And they’ll drill into that trim, usually from the edge grain, drill up and then they’ll turn 90 degrees and then kind of go with the grain, go in 2 or 3 inches and nest. And that’s where they’ll actually nest.
So, to get rid of them, a couple of things you can do. Of course, you can have a pest-control pro come out and they can put a powder insecticide in and around where those carpenter bees are and that will take care of the problem.
The second thing you can do is you can actually eliminate some of the wood and replace it with composite. So, for example, on my garage, I had pine fascia board behind the gutters. Started to get a big carpenter-bee problem with them, so – and actually, it had done quite a bit of damage, because they didn’t get to it for a while. So I pulled the pine fascia down and I replaced it with AZEK – A-Z-E-K – which is extruded PVC. Looks like wood, cuts like wood, doesn’t taste like wood to the carpenter bees. And so they left it alone after that because there was nothing left to eat.
And so I think you need to figure out where they’re nesting. They’re going to be drilling in somewhere and the thing is, if you get close to where they’re drilling, you can hear them; they make noise. They kind of make a grinding noise into your porch deck or …
RON: Yeah, I think my wife heard that.
TOM: Yeah, she probably did. So I think that you’ve got a carpenter-bee problem and you can either have them treated or get rid of some of the food source, one way or the other.
RON: OK. They’re going in a small 1x3 opening in the cinder block. There’s not that much wood right there but I’m sure they’re getting into the eave. If you’re …
TOM: Yeah. I think they may be going in and out of that but there’s probably some wood somewhere in that path that they’re traveling, Ron, OK?
LESLIE: Well, everything seems to slow down during these dog days of summer, including the housing market. I don’t know about you but I love looking at houses in the summertime.
TOM: It’s fun.
LESLIE: It really is fun and I’m sorry, realtors who I’ve been out with. I wasn’t purposely wasting your time. I kind of wanted to buy a house but it’s just not for me right now.
TOM: It’s a little voyeuristic, though, isn’t it? Like peeking in other people’s houses when you’re not really going to buy them?
LESLIE: It’s very fun. You know, I do enjoy it; I just like seeing what’s out there. And I’m telling you, if there was no such thing as real-estate taxes, I could buy a ton of houses where I – throw in those taxes, it’s a completely different story.
But if you guys are in the market and serious, this actually is a great time for you to think about taking some action and buying. And we’ve got some advice for you who are really thinking about purchasing your dream home.
TOM: That’s right. Now, first, you want to simply know what you can afford. It might seem like a no-brainer but a lot of people get in over their head by not doing the math. Don’t let anyone talk you into a mortgage larger than your budget and be sure to choose a real-estate agent who’s going to respect that number, as well as what you want to find in a home. I can’t tell you how many times, as a home inspector, I saw agents that were sort of verbally pushing around home buyers to try to make them fit the house that they were selling, as opposed to working with them to find the house that would have been perfect for them.
LESLIE: Also, don’t rush, you guys. The current market may seem in your favor but you still want to do as much research as possible.
First off, check prices for similar-sized homes and styles in the area you’re looking for. Think about your commute. Give it a trial run; make sure it’s not too long. Make sure it’s the best commute ever. My sister and her husband just bought a house that’s an hour-and-35-minute train ride and I’m like, “Ugh. That seems a little long.” So you want to think about it.
And if you’re really into a house, try to get a home inspection done. It’s something you’re going to do at some point in the process. So if you’re really into it, do it because it can help you in the negotiating process.
Now, you can find a good home inspector on their site, which is the American Society of Home Inspectors. It’s a great place to find somebody that’s – really has good experience, is going to help you out. And that website is American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org.
TOM: That’s ASHI.org. Good group of people.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Paulette from Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a concrete cracking issue. Tell us what’s going on.
PAULETTE: My entry, when you come into my house, the sidewalk – oh, I don’t know – the walkway? Just where the step is and the walkway is, there’s a huge gap. It was small but now it’s getting a lot larger. It’s like 1½ to – 1 to 1½ inches. I just measured, so – and then it’s on a decline. I noticed that from this crack, all the way to the – I would say it’s like one, two – I would say three squares of concrete? And it’s going downward.
TOM: OK. So, underneath the step, you’re stepping down to a sidewalk or a patio? Is that correct?
PAULETTE: Right. Like a small patio, yes. It’s about …
TOM: OK. And so the patio has slid away, so to speak, from the step.
PAULETTE: Right. It cracked away, yes.
TOM: It cracked away. So it was – at one point in time, it was one piece – which would be odd, by the way – but now you’re telling me that there’s a big crack there.
TOM: And the crack is as wide as the step or wider?
PAULETTE: It’s about, let me see, probably about 6 feet long.
PAULETTE: It’s as long as my – that little sidewalk area.
TOM: What you’re going to do is this: you’re going to use an epoxy patching compound.
TOM: Yes. Epoxy. And the reason you’re going to do that is because the epoxy is going to stick to the old concrete.
What happened here, Paulette, was when this was originally built, there should have been an expansion joint put in there. This was improperly constructed, because you’re not going to be able to stop a staircase or a step and a patio from separating like that. So because they built it the way they did, you have a crack. So now you have to patch that and you don’t want to use just regular concrete for that because if you do, it won’t stick.
What you do need to do is to use epoxy patching compound. And the epoxy will adhere to the old concrete and it may be a slightly different color. But if you do a nice, neat job, that will stop any water from getting in there.
And that’s important, too, because if the water gets in there, then it just – it compounds itself because it expands and it gets wider and so on. So then I would do that now, before next winter, so that you prevent that from happening to you. OK?
PAULETTE: Because I can see dirt in there, underneath there, way down.
TOM: Yeah, clean it out. Clean it out and then do the patch.
PAULETTE: Mm-hmm. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, as if the heat and drought haven’t been torturous enough, remember we’re still in the storm season. That’s right. If an emergency is declared, boarding up your windows correctly can actually save your home. We’re going to tell you how to do it the right way, after this.
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LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And this summer has been brutal and it’s not over yet. Thousands of records have been broken all across the country for heat and lack of rainfall. And it’s time to get serious about water conservation. We can help. Go to our website at MoneyPit.com and search “water conservation.” You’ll get tips on collecting rainwater and using less water in your home and in your garden.
LESLIE: Tyler in South Dakota is on the line who’s got some unwanted visitors in the yard: moles. Have you bitten it more than once in the yard, due to their little hole-digging?
TYLER: Yes, it’s actually been quite the adventure having those little friendly guys in your yard.
LESLIE: And they’re so adorable, aren’t they?
TYLER: Yeah, they are. They’re wonderful.
So, we’ve been having this problem with moles and I think what this animal is called is called a “vole” – v-o-l-e.
TOM: Vole. Yeah, very similar to a mole.
LESLIE: It’s like a mole/hamster.
TOM: The reason they’re there, Tyler, is they’re looking for food. And specifically, they’re looking for grubs.
TYLER: Oh, that was – I was going to ask you about that, because my backyard has been hit by these dry patches which, I just found out, I think are grubs.
TOM: Yeah. It all is making sense now, right?
TOM: Because the grubs are in your lawn, they’re killing your lawn. The moles are probably saving part of your grass, because they’re eating the grubs. But what you need to do is get some grub control at GrubEx on that lawn. And that will get rid of the grubs. And once the grubs are gone and there’s no food left, the moles will move on naturally to your neighbors and try to find where all the grubs are living.
TYLER: Every six weeks? Every six months? How often do I put down this …?
TOM: Just follow label directions. And some of these products, you can put down once a season.
TYLER: Sounds great. Oh, that’s very helpful. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tyler. Good luck with that project. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, unless your home is equipped with hurricane shutters, an approaching storm means you had better get busy putting up some plywood.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And that does take some work. There are some ways to make the project go easier, though. And with us to talk about that is Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.
KEVIN: Hi, guys.
TOM: We have had an awful lot of storms this past year and I think more and more folks are looking for a way to make this project a little less stressful. What do you think?
KEVIN: Well, I think it is very important and actually keep this in mind, because the damage to your house can actually be significant. And one of the biggest problems is when the house has a penetration in it. If you lose a window or you lose a door, it’s not just the glass or the door that’s at risk: it’s the entire house, because it can pressurize and it can literally blow the roof off the house and cause the whole house catastrophic damage. So you really do need to pay attention to this.
TOM: So now is the right time to actually fit hurricane shutters before we have a hurricane or any other type of storm, right? You don’t have the stress, there’s no lines at the home centers buying plywood. It’s a project that you could tackle at your own leisure and be ready for the next one.
KEVIN: Do it now when it is sunny and dry so that you’re prepared for the next storm. And start with a good, thick piece of plywood; 5/8-inch thick is the way to go. And keep in mind that you’re going to be reusing these, so put a little thought into it.
Measure beyond the window about an inch on either side. Try to find out where the studs are, because that’s what you’re going to be screwing into. Cut the plywood so it covers the entire window and screw it into those studs, preferably every 16 inches. Don’t nail it, because you’re going to be taking these screws out, taking this plywood off and reusing it over time.
TOM: And that attachment is definitely something you want to think about.
What about hanger bolts, the kind that have sort of a lag on one side and a machine thread on the other?
KEVIN: Well, what’s great about this is if you’re actually putting these on and off, on and off, screwing in and out even into the studs, that can loosen up over time. And so the hanger bolts allow you with a permanent fixture, a permanent sleeve in the house. And the bolt goes into that, secures the plywood and it comes off very easily. And you don’t have to worry about that connection deteriorating over time.
LESLIE: Now, it’s probably a good idea, with your – I want to call them “homemade hurricane shutters” with the plywood – to label which way is up, which window is what.
KEVIN: Sure. Right.
LESLIE: Otherwise, a storm’s coming, you’re going to be standing there with the biggest puzzle you’ve ever seen.
KEVIN: You’ve probably got 20, 30 maybe 40 windows on the house. There’s a whole bunch of different sizes. You do not want to be thinking about this when the skies are starting to get dark and the rain is starting to fall.
Exactly right, Leslie. Label them, number them, you’re good to go.
TOM: Now, if you have a masonry house, there’s another way that you can install these and you’re suggesting using barrel bolts for that.
KEVIN: Yeah. You don’t want to be drilling into the masonry, into the brick and having to secure in and out of that all the time. So now you cut the plywood so that it’s the size of the opening, so it fits within the opening. And then these barrel bolts, you can imagine them being a deadbolt on a door where you actually slide it into the hole. Put those around the perimeter of the plywood and then slide them into the masonry so it holds it nice and secure.
LESLIE: Can I ask you guys this silly question? You know, we were faced with Irene in the Northeast and I can’t tell you how many times I saw people taping up windows. Does that do anything?
KEVIN: Well, it doesn’t …
TOM: It depends. I saw a lot of people taping it up with the blue masking tape. I don’t think that does so much.
LESLIE: Right. I saw clear packing tape and I saw blue tape for painter’s tape. And I was like, “I don’t think either are going to do anything.”
KEVIN: So, wait, I think here’s what the homeowner is imagining: that they’re going to have a tree limb, for example, come flying through the window and the glass is going to shatter. The tape may cut down on some of the shatter but as I said before, that’s not the real risk.
KEVIN: Broken glass is easy to clean up. The risk is that that house gets pressurized and you have something much more major going on with the home.
TOM: Good point.
Now, Kevin, to completely avoid the potential of storm damage, it seems that it makes more sense to consider, these days, the storm resistance when you buy anything in terms of building material, whether it’s siding or doors or windows, don’t you agree?
KEVIN: Yeah, I do. If you’re going to replace anything, if you’re going to fix anything, if you’re going to renovate anything, this is the time to upgrade. And code helps us with that but all codes are not created equal.
And if you recall Hurricane Andrew, which hit South Florida back in 1992, that really forced the Miami-Dade County to step up their building code. And they probably have the strongest, tightest code out there right now. So if you want to know what to get, look to that building code. And if you build to that, you’ve built to the best code that we’ve got in this country.
TOM: And that’s a good point. And that’s a bragging point for a lot of manufacturers. They will actually brag on their labeling and identify that their particular product meets that Miami-Dade building code. And as you say, if it does, you know that you’re good to go.
TOM: Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, great advice, as always. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Pleasure to be here.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos on this project and others that you can do for your home, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.
Up next, have you taken your whole family to a movie lately? If so, I bet it set you back an arm and a leg. The good news is there’s a cheaper way and it involves turning your backyard into a theater. It can be done pretty easily, pretty inexpensively and we’ll tell you how, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by BATH FITTER, the one-day bathroom remodeling company. Call 866-654-BATH today for your free, in-home estimate or visit www.BATHFITTER.com.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. And the number here is active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But if you call now while we’re on the air, one lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win the Escape 150 Explorer Kit from GOAL ZERO. It’s worth 500 bucks.
Now, it’s really cool because this kit includes a power pack and a solar briefcase. I mean it sounds like something out of Mission: Impossible; it’s really awesome. And it’s perfect for portable power on the go.
Now, the power pack stores 150 watts of power with an integrated, 80-watt AC converter. So that power pack is going to charge in the sun for about 6 to 10 hours with the solar briefcase. You can take it camping with you, you can take it tailgating and it will keep your electronics charged for the entire trip. So when you’re trying to escape busy modernization, social interaction in the middle of the woods, you can still have everything that you need and check Facebook and do whatever else you have to do.
TOM: Of course. It’s important.
LESLIE: All the important stuff.
TOM: Yep. Update: “Just got bit by a rattlesnake.”
LESLIE: Update: “Somebody come and rescue me in the woods. Is anybody out there?”
Alright. Well, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ve got to ask your question on the air for your chance to win.
TOM: And we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat. One caller at the end of today’s program will win that prize.
LESLIE: Carol in California is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?
CAROL: I have an old house. It sits high off the ground and it’s one of the houses that when they dismantled the camps, they took houses out and people bought them and set them up. And it’s all open underneath and it is freezing cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. Is there something that I can do underneath the house?
TOM: So there’s no insulation?
CAROL: I don’t think so. Very little, if any.
TOM: Yeah. Are there – is it like a sort of open floor joist? Like do you see the floor joists when you look under and up?
CAROL: You know what? I haven’t been under the house.
TOM: Yeah. Well, look, you’ve got to get somebody under there, Carol, to see what the structure is. But we have the technology, OK?
TOM: You know, if it’s a standard floor-joist construction, you can add insulation in between the floor joists and then under that, you could use 2-inch insulating foam board and then nail that to the bottom of the floor. And that would seal up the floor from the cold air that’s getting up in there.
And I would also take a look at the attic to make sure that that’s insulated. And you just may have a house that needs a few very basic, energy-saving improvements to it.
LESLIE: So I don’t know about you, Tom, but where we live, on Monday nights at the local community pool, they have Outdoor Movie Night, which is so great.
LESLIE: And even when I lived in Manhattan, we would go to Bryant Park and they would show classic movies. Just so lovely to see movies out of doors on a summer evening.
Now, you can pack a picnic, you can sit under the stars while watching your favorite movie. But you don’t have to wait for your town or your local city to do it. You can actually have that experience in your own backyard.
TOM: That’s right. And of course, you’ll need a screen but a canvas drop cloth or even a white wall actually works pretty well.
Now, you can dust off your old projector or you can invest in one from a garage sale or classified ads. Or if you happen to have, say, a PowerPoint projector – maybe you’re a business person, you carry one of those around with you on the road. Listen, we set up on a Boy Scout camping trip once. We tied sort of a bed sheet to two trees, so we made the screen out of that. And then we had a PowerPoint projector. We were able to get power and a DVD. And through the computer and the projector, we watched a movie.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean it really is so great. You can also buy or rent – I’ve seen them for sale in outdoor magazines or catalogs – an inflatable – like a bouncy-house, outdoor projection screen. Actually, a neighbor of ours has it and it sort of gets passed around. And it’s really great.
If you guys are actually interested in a more high-end version, there’s many manufacturers now making TVs that are specifically designed for outdoor use. If you want a full list of equipment and some options out there, Google “money pit home theater.” You’re going to get a lot of great ideas there. And go outside, enjoy a movie. Make sure you put on some bug spray, because you’re going to need it.
Alright. Now we’ve got Sue in New York on the line who’s got a problem with cleaning laminate flooring. How can we help you?
SUE: How do you – what’s the best way to clean a laminate floor?
TOM: Damp-mopping it or with a very light cleaning chemical.
SUE: Like what?
LESLIE: Well, I would even say just vinegar and water.
SUE: Vinegar and water?
TOM: Yep. Mm-hmm.
SUE: OK. Because plain water just doesn’t do it when you’ve got two big dogs.
LESLIE: No, it doesn’t.
TOM: No, I could see that.
SUE: But vinegar will work?
TOM: Yep, it sure does.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Vinegar and water will work. Also, depending on the manufacturer of your flooring that you have in the house – like I know Armstrong has their own brand of laminate-floor cleaner, which is essentially a mix of things that are appropriate to that type of surface, that won’t cause chemical reactions in our – actually a soap base in there that gives you a little bit of extra cleaning oomph that you might need for the dogs.
LESLIE: So look at the brand; search them up online, whomever you’ve got. And I bet they’ve got one that you can get at a home center.
SUE: Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, many homeowners tell us that their deck is the favorite part of their home but not when it comes to maintaining it. Heck, I don’t even like to do it. We’re going to give you some tips on low-maintenance decks, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, do you like to call yourself a “do-it-yourselfer”? Well, maybe you’re one of those do-it-yourselfers who loves to talk about whatever project it is that you are working on, because your projects are kind of like your kids. You may even like them more than you like your kids. They certainly give you the same amount of (inaudible at 0:33:05), so you’re definitely bound to talk about it.
Well, then, if you are one of those folks that loves to chat about what you are working on, join The Money Pit community online. If you do so, you can get great project ideas, you can get advice and encouragement from fellow do-it-yourselfers, as well as Tom and me, too. It’s all in the Community section of MoneyPit.com.
And John in New York joined the community and sends us this question. Now, John writes: “My house recently lost power. When it came back on, I found one of the circuit breakers had tripped. I reset the breaker and it tripped again. The breaker controls the living room, which has eight outlets. I unplugged everything and tried to reset the breaker but it still pops. I went around to each outlet with a tester. All outlets indicated correct but the breaker keeps tripping. Do you have any suggestions as what I should do next?”
TOM: Well, first of all, you need to understand why breakers trip. Now, they don’t trip because the breakers are bad; the breaker is a safety device. What it’s doing is it’s measuring the amount of current that’s going through the wire. Every wire in your house is rated to take a certain amount of current.
So, for example, if you have a Number 14 wire, that’s rated for 15 amps. So if that circuit is pulling more than 15 amps, the breaker is popping. So the question is: well, how could it be doing that if there’s nothing plugged in? Well, how it could be doing that is because there may be a short that was caused by an electrical surge, that ran through the wiring of your house as a result of that storm. This is something that would not be visibly obvious to you but I suspect that’s what’s going on. That’s why it’s a good idea to have surge protection added to your main electrical panel, because it protects you from this happening.
So at this point, I would have an electrician get in and take a look at that circuit and try to figure out where this circuit is tripping: in other words, which part of it is causing the overload. Maybe they can get into it. It might just be at the panel itself. You don’t know. But it’s not something for you to do yourself. You’ve taken it as far as you can. As a consumer, you can operate circuit breakers; you can’t open panels up, pull circuit breakers out, look behind them.
I will tell you in the years I spent as a professional home inspector, I’ve seen circuit breakers that look perfect from the panel: the side that you see with your eyes. Open that panel up, take the circuit breaker out – which, again, only a pro like myself or an electrician knows how to do – and look at the back of it and find it all burned out.
So you just never know. You’ve got to get a pro to check it out, John. So do that, be safe and get it fixed.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Rose in New Jersey who wrote: “I have a 12x20-foot deck, which is about 6 years old. Each year, I have to refinish it. I would like to give the deck a good finish and then put a composite deck over it to cut down on the maintenance. What do you think?”
TOM: I think it’s part of her summer recreational plan.
LESLIE: Well, seriously, what are you going to do next summer? Geez.
TOM: That’s crazy. It shouldn’t be every year; it should be like every six years.
LESLIE: Three to five years. Which tells me that you’re not doing the finishing correctly, which – you could learn to do it properly, which is proper prep work, drying time and proper application. But if you’re going composite, I mean you’ll never have to do any of that again.
And you don’t actually put it on top of the old decking. You remove that previous decking and use just the structure, correct?
TOM: That’s right. You can do sort of a makeover where you use the original floor joists and such and then just add composite on top of that.
LESLIE: And you’ll never have to finish it again.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some ideas and tips to help make your money pit a more pleasant place for you and your family to live. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers, 24-7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can log on to the Community section at MoneyPit.com, post your question right there, have it answered by us and the thousands of community members who pitch in, as well.
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 2012 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.)