(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.)
Cost Effective Home Improvements, Easy Weekend Projects and More
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
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. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to help you get the projects done around your house. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, here is an important topic. It was an important topic for 2009; it’s going to be an important topic for 2010 and that is what home improvements that you do to your house actually pay off where you live. We’re going to have the breakdown for you this hour. You know, Remodeling Magazine’s annual cost versus value survey report is out and the major headline, curb appeal is the most value-upping project that you can do right now. Across all the categories – they measured like 26 of them – the number one thing that you can do is improve the curb appeal of your house. We’re going to tell you how to do that, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Yeah, and you know, a new year means a new to-do list for your home, unfortunately. So, we’re going to help you figure out which projects just cannot wait; that you have to tackle immediately, if not sooner.
Plus, we’re going to teach you the latest about how to recycle that ever-growing pile of rechargeable batteries from your old cell phones or even your power tools. There is a proper way to do it and it is not your garbage; so, we’re going to have all that information for you.
TOM: And this hour, we’re giving a copy of our book to one caller who gets on the air with us. It’s called My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. Because if you’ve ever tackled a project, you know that home improvement is, in fact, an adventure. It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating and it almost always never ends up where you think it’s going to. (Leslie chuckles) So, we’re going to help you out with a copy of our book this hour; autographed and sent to you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. So, pick up the phone; give us a call right now and let’s get started.
LESLIE: Well, it’s time to talk roofing with Janie in Tennessee. What can we do for you?
JANIE: Yes, the other day I heard your show and you said that you have a snow and ice shield. You recommended a snow and ice shield for your shingled roof.
JANIE: This spring I had a – I didn’t know there was such a thing; so, this spring, I had a metal roof put on. I was wondering if I still need that with a metal roof.
TOM: No. You’re talking about not snow and ice; you’re talking about ice and water shield.
JANIE: Yes. OK, that’s correct.
TOM: Ice and water shield goes under, typically, asphalt shingles along the roof edge – the first three-foot edge of the roof – and it does two things: it stops ice dams, which can freeze at the edge and build up and leak under the shingles …
JANIE: Which happened to me one year.
TOM: Yes. And also, in southern climates it’s put on the entire roof because even if the shingles blow off it keeps the water out; hence it’s name is ice and water shield.
If you have a metal roof, you generally don’t have that problem because even if you do get ice, it’s going to build up at the edge. There’s no shingle to lift up and for the water to push under, so I think you’re good to go on that.
JANIE: Thank you very much. And by the way, I listen to you every Saturday.
TOM: OK, well thank you very much. I’m glad you enjoy the show and thanks again for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re thinking about removing carpet, you’d be like our friend Larry in West Virginia. How can we help you with the project?
LARRY: Hi, guys. I love the show.
TOM: Thank you.
LARRY: Try to catch you every weekend.
TOM: Thank you very much.
LARRY: I had a problem. I had a tree fall in the house and I had an extensive remodeling going on. I put hardwood floors downstairs but the stairs going to my upper level are carpeted and I’d really like to take that carpet off and do all this myself. But I’m wondering what’s under that carpet? Am I going to have to replace the treads or is it one piece of wood or …?
TOM: Are the stairs completely covered, Larry?
LARRY: Yes, I have no way of knowing what could be under there.
TOM: OK. Well, first of all, how old is this house?
LARRY: About 25 years.
TOM: Chances are that the stairs are paint-grade – in other words, they were never designed to be really exposed; so that’s something you should be aware of. When you get the carpet off, you’re going to have an unfinished tread there and you’re going to have to decide if you want to paint it, stain it, whatever.
LESLIE: And if it’s paint-grade, it’s not going to look right with stain.
LARRY: Oh, it is – oh.
TOM: No. No. Now, when you take the carpet off, I will tell you that it’s going to be a really messy job. Having pulled carpet off stairs, there’s a gazillion staples and you have all of those years of dirt in there and you’ll end up sneezing up a storm or getting an allergy attack or something like that; so it’s kind of a nasty, dirty job. Lots of ventilation; dust mask; pull them off; lots of patience.
Then you’re going to have to evaluate what you’ve got. I mean worse comes to worse, you can always recarpet. But remember, underneath that is probably not going to be a finished step.
LARRY: Well, OK. That’s what I was aiming for. I’d like to have maybe not finished but at least wood that I could finish myself.
TOM: Alright, well certainly you could do that with a lot of patience. OK, Larry? (Leslie chuckles)
LARRY: Yep. Alright, thank you.
TOM: Alright, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sharon in Texas needs some help with appliance maintenance. What are you working on?
SHARON: Well, I just got this house and (inaudible at 0:05:35.4). Well, I was cleaning up around it and stuff and cleaning the little lint filter out and stuff and was cleaning behind it and I noticed the hose. And I’ve always heard about you need to clean it for chance of it possibly catching on fire, so is there some way to clean it or should I replace the whole thing?
TOM: The dryer exhaust has to be cleaned. You should be cleaning that every six months. There is a special brush that actually fits inside the dryer exhaust duct and I think one of them is called LintEater. It’s like on a …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, it’s by a company called Gardus.
TOM: Yeah, it’s like on a flexible fiberglass rod and you can spin it in there. It hooks up to a drill and a vacuum, so that’s really easy. And once you get one of these and clean it out, you’ll see how important it is because you’ll get a lot of dust out of there.
SHARON: How much does the little snake thing run for the dryer? Do you know?
TOM: The tools?
SHARON: Yeah. (inaudible at 0:06:31.8)
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, I don’t know. Not too much; $20, $30.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And it’s a really fun chore and, Sharon, you’re going to be amazed what comes out of that whole exhaust duct.
SHARON: Oh, I’d probably be so grossed out. (Sharon and Tom chuckle)
LESLIE: It’s not – I mean there’s nothing gross. It’s just a tremendous amount of lint; perhaps a random sock or something odd. But it is a tremendous amount of lint.
SHARON: OK, OK. Well, alright. Thank you very much. I needed help with that. I didn’t know what to do by myself. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sharon. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com and now you can be part of The Money Pit if you pick up the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and ask us your home repair or your home improvement question. Just give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, we know you’ve been putting off some of those nagging chores around the house but it’s time to stop procrastinating. We’re going to have a couple of home maintenance projects that are easy to do and really just can’t wait. We’ll help you get through those, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac automatic standby generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Got a do-it-yourself dilemma; a home improvement how-to question? Just give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we take your question on the air, not only will you get an expert answer; you’re going to be automatically entered into our drawing because we’re giving away a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure; chock full with useful info to help you save money and get your projects done right the first time. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s a new year and it’s time to make new priorities when it comes to getting some of those home repairs done. We know you’ve got a big list of them and we know that you’ve been putting off a lot of these home maintenance tips because it’s been a busy holiday season; nobody really wants to tackle home improvement projects. But now that things have quieted down, it’s definitely time to take on those projects. So here are a couple of easy projects that you really cannot put off any longer and you can actually get them done this weekend.
First, clean out that dryer lint. Did you know that dryer fires are more common than you think and they are very, very dangerous? Now, there are several tools available on the market that can help with that chore and they’re actually really fun to use and you will be amazed at the amount of lint that comes out of that area between the end of your dryer and the vent on the outside. I mean …
TOM: Yes, I believe they’re called lint balls. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Yeah. Tumble lint, is what I call them when they roll across my driveway and then I realize it’s time to clean out the dryer vent. (chuckles)
TOM: (overlapping voices) Tumble lint. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Now, here’s another important project; it’s making sure that you have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your house. Now, you can get a combo-type one that comes with a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector and there are also some that plug directly into the wall.
Now, if you’ve already got some, keep in mind that they lose their effectiveness after about five years; so, maybe when you put up a new one, write down the date that you installed it on the back. Some of them even come with like a 10-year battery and they’ll tell you the date that it was manufactured so you know when you have to get rid of it. But make sure that you update them because there are new technologies and, really, it’s all about your family’s safety.
So, do these this weekend, folks.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Another thing that you should do is pick up the phone right now and give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ron in South Carolina needs some help with a tile question. What’s going on at your money pit?
RON: I took off the sliding doors that were there where the bathroom is, where the tub is. And the aluminum that was affixed to the tiles was glued with some sort of real super-strong glue.
RON: And as I pulled it off, little pieces of the glazing came off. Is there a way to fix that or just to kind of repair it?
TOM: So the glazing came off the surface of the tile?
RON: Yeah, just little spots, say, the size of a pencil eraser.
RON: Here and there, you know? It’s not worth really redoing the whole thing just for that.
TOM: Right. No, it’s not and the only thing I can suggest is if you get some auto body touchup paint. And if you can find one that’s close to the color, you’d have a pretty good chance of sealing in that surface and getting something that matches close to it.
RON: Oh, that sounds great. That’s a good idea.
TOM: Yeah, little trick of the trade. The tile surface without the glazing is going to be pretty absorbent and it should lock in there pretty well. But remember, don’t overdo it with the paints; a little bit goes a long way.
RON: Yeah, that’s a great idea. Thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jean, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JEAN: I have a driveway where a birch tree – the roots of this birch tree are pushing up a hole in my driveway.
JEAN: And I really don’t want to lose the tree. I would say it’s about three feet from where the hole is; you know, where the tree is growing. And I’m just wondering what I could do to stop the root from coming up and, at the same time, save my driveway.
TOM: Well, trees and driveways don’t always go together quite well and – let’s see. To try to save that tree, well, we could try a little bit of trimming but I can’t guarantee you that it’s not going to do severe damage. If you’ve got a cracked driveway already, you may want to pull out those broken pieces, dig down and try to remove some of the root mass that’s in that area and then repatch the driveway. You would use an epoxy driveway patching compound – an epoxy cement – which is going to have more adhesive qualities than plain cement and it will seal it quite nicely. The thing is, if you get a lot of movement under there, though, and those tree roots want to lift up, it’ll crack again.
JEAN: Yeah, I thought maybe if you cut the roof off right near the tree, but …
TOM: Well, I mean you could try that but the thing is it may have some damage on the tree or it might not.
JEAN: That’s what I’m afraid of.
JEAN: OK, well I’ll try it by doing it in the driveway itself.
TOM: Alright, if the tree comes down, remember, 10, 12 feet away next time. OK?
TOM: Alright. (Leslie chuckles)
Jean, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Andy in Michigan is looking to beat a chilly winter. How can we help you with your heating question?
ANDY : Well, I just bought a pellet stove and it’s running great; except for my ranch is – the basement is super hot and the upstairs is super cold. So I was – my idea was what about reversing the furnace? Because you know, the cold air returns are always on the floor and the heat vents are always toward the ceiling.
TOM: (chuckles) OK. So you would like to …
ANDY: (overlapping voices) Is that possible?
TOM: (groans) Now, tell me how the house – the entire house is normally heated by the furnace?
TOM: And where did you add this pellet stove?
ANDY: In the basement kind of opposite the furnace.
TOM: Alright. So obviously that’s why the basement is so warm.
TOM: I would not recommend doing anything different to the furnace because it’s potentially dangerous.
TOM: Furnaces are designed to run – is this a gas furnace?
TOM: Yeah, you start messing with that you could do something dumb and cause a reversal of the draft …
LESLIE: Ooh, that could be very bad.
TOM: … and that would suck carbon monoxide into the house and that would be a really bad thing.
TOM: So I wouldn’t do that. But in order to get some of that heat upstairs, what you might want to do is think about putting in some floor registers in the upstairs that maybe you can close off. If you put some registers in the floor that basically connect the ceiling of the basement to the floor above, then heat will come up that way; in fact, in the old days, that’s how they heated upstairs. They used to have big floor registers so that the heat from the fireplace or from the wood stove would waft up into the bedrooms.
TOM: No, with no duct work; just basically …
LESLIE: Well, they’re essentially a duct themselves; the floor vent.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. It’s a hole right through the floor that has a grate on top.
TOM: Alright, Andy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. And it sounds like Andy’s pellet stove maybe is a little bit too big for that space.
LESLIE: Exactly. I’m like and my basement is always super warm, so I’m like why would you want to put it there?
TOM: But people always do come up with really creative solutions like reversing the flow of the furnace; not such a good idea. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Cheryl in Colorado has got some leaky windows. Tell us what’s going on?
CHERYL: I have some windows that – I’m in a house that I have cold air coming through.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
CHERYL: And I want to know how to get insulation or whatever I can do to stop it from coming through the windows. They’re sliding windows back by …
TOM: Oh, those are really drafty, yeah.
CHERYL: Yeah, and we can feel – we’d be downstairs; we can feel the cold air coming from downstairs.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Are these windows where; in your bedroom?
CHERYL: In the bedroom and in the front room.
TOM: Hmm. Well, a couple of things. First of all, if you didn’t need to open the windows – which, in the bedroom, you might have to because they’re an escape route – we would recommend that you use a temporary caulk product. You can actually caulk the windows shut – several manufacturers make these – but, essentially, it’s a temporary caulk where you can caulk the window and then peel the caulk off. It peels off in a string.
LESLIE: But it seals up that draft all around the operable parts of the window.
TOM: And sometimes you have a really old window that’s got big gaps; it’s a good solution.
Another thing you could do is to look at weatherstripping to see if you could find some ways to seal that a little bit better. You could use some heavier curtains. You could use a honeycomb shade.
LESLIE: Yeah, Levolor makes that honeycomb shade that really has good insulating power.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, they do. Yeah, and it’s a good one. That, coupled with a heavier curtain, will stop – you want to stop the cold air not only from coming in but the warm air in the house that strikes it …
LESLIE: From going out.
TOM: … will chill and then fall because of convection and that causes a draft.
CHERYL: And what kind of weatherstripping would I get; just foam or …?
TOM: It depends on the design of the window but if you look at how the window was designed to seal originally, then you could choose probably one of the self-stick products and you could improve it. And they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and so on and they’re at the home center, they’re inexpensive and I would do a little bit of experiment and try to see if you can get one that works well.
And finally, the last thing that you could do is if you really don’t want to deal with it is you could use a shrink film over it. You know, there are these shrink window – these window film kits where you basically put like a clear plastic across the entire opening.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It’s like a wrap.
TOM: And then, with a hairdryer, you heat it and it pulls really nice and tight and clear and that totally stops the draft. And if you ever had to get out in the event of emergency, you just punch right through it.
TOM: So there are a few ways to deal with those leaky, sliding windows and I think if you’re thinking about a good improvement, moving forward in the future when you get the time and you’re ready for that investment, I think you’d get a lot of enjoyment out of some new windows because there’s nothing worse than the leaky, sliding ones.
CHERYL: Mm-hmm, they’re bad. (Cheryl and Leslie chuckle)
TOM: Yeah, they sure are.
CHERYL: (chuckling) Yes.
CHERYL: Alright then. I sure appreciate it. That’s what I wanted to find out.
TOM: Alright, well good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, why curb appeal is king and how making modest outside improvements to your home can add some real value. We’ll tell you how to get that job done, after this.
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.
Well, we know times are tough and in a tight economy, like we’re dealing with right now, you tend to think about how you spend every, single dollar and, sometimes, whether or not it’s going to pay off. Now, it’s especially true when it comes to fixing up your house. Will you ever recoup any of the investment on a new kitchen or, say, bathroom? Well, it depends on where you live, for one thing.
TOM: Now, you can get a pretty idea of your return on investment on dozens of projects with the annual cost-versus-value report put together by the team at Remodeling Magazine. Here with the details from this year’s report is Sal Alfano, the editorial director of Remodeling Magazine and Replacement Contractor Magazine.
TOM: I have to tell you this is a great service because we get a lot of questions on the show about where I should be putting my remodeling dollars. And you guys have the only truly independent and expert source of information on what exactly the return on investment is. So, what do we learn in this year’s survey?
SAL: Well, we’ve actually – in the last couple of years, we’ve identified a trend. You know, the peak appeared to be in 2005; the real estate markets were pretty hot just about everywhere. Since then, we have found that the most valuable products, in terms of return on investment, have been more maintenance and repair oriented. So, a lot of the replacement products – window replacement, siding, decks, exterior-type products – have moved to the top of the list. And actually, the last two or three years, seven out of the top ten projects have all been exterior replacements.
LESLIE: Sal, do you think it’s from, say, a real estate shopper standpoint; you’re looking at the exterior first and so the first thing you see is the siding of the house, the front of the house, the walkway? Is that why these changes have become so beneficial?
SAL: I think it’s part of the picture. Our valuation estimates come from realtors – members of the National Association of Realtors – who are thinking about resale value. You know, that isn’t always the main motivation for someone in a remodeling project but it generally enters into the equation. So, when they’re looking at these projects, yes, they’re saying, “Wow, if we replace these windows or if we put on brand new siding, that immediately boosts curb appeal and that gives a good impression to perspective buyers.” So I think those exterior projects, curb appeal, is a big factor. It also turns out that most of those projects are the least expensive that we study.
TOM: We’re talking to Sal Alfano – he’s the editorial director of Remodeling Magazine and Replacement Contractor Magazine – about the 2009-2010 cost-versus-value survey. This is a really essential tool if you’re thinking about taking on a home improvement project and you’re wondering whether or not you’re going to get the money out of that project when it comes time to sell your house. This survey, done every year by the experts at Remodeling Magazine, tells you just that.
Sal, for many years, we’ve been talking about the importance of kitchen and bath improvements as some of the improvements that actually give you a very good return on investment. Are they holding steady now or are they declining?
SAL: Well, the upscale projects are all in the bottom half of the list this year and I think that’s just an indication that the economy has been pretty soft for the last 18 months and so those higher-end projects have dropped off. But K&B is still a place where a lot of people do a lot of remodeling.
And one of the things that our report doesn’t do is measure the sort of utility value of a project. So, if you have an outdated kitchen, including appliances and countertop surfaces and backsplashes and tiles and light fixtures, all of that is changed; you’ve really upgraded the space that you’re now going to use for a number of years. A lot of people are doing this whether they intend to sell or not. In fact, remodeling a kitchen is probably not what you’re going to do if you’re going to sell the house tomorrow.
TOM: Right. You know, one thing that was very surprising in this survey were the number of projects that actually showed an increase in return on investment year over year and I think there were seven total; three of which had to do with replacing your front entry door. (Sal chuckles) All three seemed to have a better return on investment this year than last year. Now, this is a story that we’ve been telling for a long time. But again, it goes to that curb appeal, doesn’t it?
SAL: Yeah. Well, and of course these are three of the least expensive projects on the list; so, right off the bat – again, from someone evaluating dollar spent for dollar returned – you’re getting real good value. But curb appeal has a lot to do with it as well as energy efficiency. You know, these happen to be – even though we didn’t figure this into our analysis, entry doors now qualify for a tax rebate.
SAL: So it’s an attractive replacement to make and it increases energy efficiency. So, if you have a drafty, old, warped, wood door and you replace it with steel or fiberglass, you’re not just making the place look better; it’s a lot more comfortable for the occupants.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Sure. And those fiberglass doors by Therma-Tru are gorgeous.
SAL: (chuckles) Can’t tell the difference, I’m telling you, unless you’re right on it.
Another thing that has a better return on investment this year over last year is a backup power generator. Now that’s becoming more of a common product to install in your house so that you have some standby power in case the lights go out.
SAL: Well, yeah. And unfortunately, that’s because of the frequency of disasters these days. But I think it’s – depending on where you are in the country – I mean if you’re in the Gulf Coast or Tornado Alley or maybe up north where you’re getting hit by snow storms, it makes a big difference.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I have to say, Sal, your website is so serviceable as well – it’s really easy to use; it’s easy to follow; you can click on your region, you can click on project – to really see how your project will improve your house as a whole and for your resale value as well.
SAL: Well, we make it easy to look at national and regional numbers but you can go to that map and click on an individual city. So we cover 80 cities – the 80 largest cities in the country – and it’s pretty easy to get a PDF download to your computer that shows you how your city compares to the national and regional data. So you can dive pretty deep with this report.
TOM: Well, it’s very, very well done, Sal. Congratulations, Sal Alfano from Remodeling Magazine. The survey is called the cost-versus-value survey. It is on their website at CostvsValue.com and I’ve got to tell you, no matter what project you’re thinking about doing – bathrooms, kitchens, deck, entry doors, garages, home offices, roofing replacement, siding replacement – it is documented in this survey; you’ll know exactly what the ROI is if you decide to make this improvement in 2010.
Sal Alfano, congratulations again on a great job and thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
SAL: Thanks a lot. Enjoyed talking with you.
LESLIE: Alright, well still ahead we’re going to have info on how to recycle all of those rechargeable batteries that you’ve been collecting in that box in your garage that’s got those old cell phone batteries, your power tools, etc. We’re going to tell you how to dispose of them properly, when we come back.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Rheem heat pump water heater. It’s easy to install and more than twice as energy-efficient as any standard electric water heater. The new Rheem heat pump water heater qualifies for federal tax credits. For more information, visit www.RheemHPWH.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and we are so thankful that you listen to us here at The Money Pit and we’re even more thankful that you love The Money Pit. And you probably find yourself working on projects where you’re like, “Darn, I wish Tom and Leslie were right here with me; coaching me, helping me get this job done.” Well, you can, kinda sort of (Tom chuckles); and especially if you call in this hour.
You can win a copy of our book. We’re giving away My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. It’s a great book that Tom and I wrote together and it is filled with all of that same home improvement advice that you hear us talk about on the radio every, single week and you’re going to refer to it again and again. I mean there’s great information: how long will a certain material last; what’s the proper step; how do I plan on a budget? It’s a really super-useful book. I mean I find myself looking at it all the time because I enjoy it so much. And one lucky caller is going to win a copy this hour, for free; so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your answer and your chance to win.
Now, we’ve got lots of info on the topic of green in our book; including tips on recycling like this one. If you’re like most home improvers, you are always upgrading your power tool arsenal. So what do you do with those rechargeable batteries? Well, you can recycle them. You should visit the Recycling Battery Corporation at RBRC.org and learn where you can recycle rechargeable batteries in your area. They’ve got a great index covering the entire country and this would include everything from power tools to cell phones to digital cameras and even computer batteries. It’s all there online at RBRC.org.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Dan in Illinois needs to clean some tar off of brick. Tell us what you’ve got going on over there.
DAN: Yeah, I bought a brick ranch house and, apparently, they must have had problems with water in the basement and they put tar and seal between the concrete patio along the front and the back of the house.
DAN: And the tar runs up the bricks probably two inches and out on the concrete about two inches.
TOM: (chuckling) They tried to …
DAN: It’s real hard and dry.
TOM: They tried to tar it shut, huh?
DAN: Yeah, it didn’t work. I replaced the gutters on the house and cleaned out the window wells …
TOM: (overlapping voices) And that made it all go away, right? I bet that solved it.
DAN: That solved the problem.
DAN: But anyhow, I’ve got to get rid of this tar on there. I try to scrape it and that doesn’t seem to work very well.
TOM: Have you tried any type of a solvent?
DAN: I haven’t and I thought about trying gas on it but I thought that might be the wrong thing, so …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Aw, no, no, no, no. I wouldn’t try gasoline. I would try a solvent like mineral spirits. And you might want to use a degreaser. Sometimes you can use it together with the mineral spirits. I would try a little bit at a time to see if we can soften this stuff up. Because that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to soften it up and scrape it off. It’s not going to come off easily but I’d try to get off as much as I can.
And then the other thing that you could do is you could pressure wash the rest. Pressure washing can tend to get under it and lift it but you’ve got to be real careful because if you do go to heavy you’ll damage the brick.
DAN: Alright. Well, I’ll give that a try and see if that helps me out.
TOM: I think it will, Dan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk flooring with Rae in New York. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
RAE: I have an Armstrong tile marble, tan-look floor in my kitchen. I bought it about two years ago. After 3/4 of the year, the floor near the area of the stove, sink and refrigerator turned grayish coloring. I called Armstrong. They came, looked at it, picked up the floor – they didn’t know why – and put the same floor down again. And now, the same thing is happening.
TOM: Is this a vinyl floor?
RAE: No, it’s a laminate.
TOM: Hmm, interesting.
RAE: And we don’t know why.
TOM: And they don’t know why either, so they just …
RAE: No, they don’t know why either.
TOM: I’ve never really heard of laminates changing color, so that’s kind of a new one for us. And if the folks at Armstrong can’t figure it out, I don’t think that we can either. I would stay in touch with them because perhaps with the passage of time, they’ve discovered why that problem is happening. It’s a good company; they make a good product.
RAE: Right. It’s interesting that underneath the further ends of the kitchen, where the dining area is, you really don’t have that happening. You have it towards the front where the stove and the sink and …
TOM: Well, the areas that you describe would be those parts of the kitchen that you spend the most time standing in front of, so there’s probably more wear and tear there.
RAE: (overlapping voices) Right. Right.
TOM: You know, the way laminate is built, there’s a clear laminate surface – usually an aluminum oxide coating – that’s over the color coating. I just wonder if some of that is breaking down and you’re getting down to the color code of the floor and wearing off some of the surface; bringing up whatever is gray underneath of that. That’s the only thing that would make sense to me; unless there’s just a manufacturing defect in the product.
But I think your best bet is to go back to the folks at Armstrong. If it’s been replaced once, like I said, maybe by now they know what’s going on. And maybe you just select a different product from them next time.
RAE: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Rae. Sorry we couldn’t be more help. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Hey, did you goof on a do-it-yourself project and need some help getting out of that mess? Well don’t worry. Even we’ve made a mistake or two in our time.
Up next, we’re going to dip into our e-mail bag to answer a question about a tiling job that just might have to be redone, so stick around.
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: You can find us on Facebook or text us on Twitter. The Money Pit is available whenever and wherever you need us. Check out our Ideas and Solutions section at MoneyPit.com right now for help with keeping your home healthy. We’ve got tips on everything from dealing with dust or mold to avoiding the dreaded VOCs in your paint; that’s all the chemical stuff that can make you pretty irritated. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And while you’re there, you can e-mail us your question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and we’ve got one here from Russell, who writes: “I recently laid new tile in our master bath. Once done, I went back to reinstall the toilet and accidentally pulled off the metal base plate from the lead drain line that goes into the slab. Now, a plumber says we’d have to replace the lead line; which means going into the slab to the T (ph) and breaking up a section of my new tile. Is there any way around busting up that slab and having to replace that whole line?”
TOM: Well, the base plate is what attaches the toilet bowl to the floor; and so, if that’s separated from the lead line, then yeah, that’s kind of a problem. I think you’re going to have to do some demolition around that in order to basically reform the lead. The good thing about lead is it’s soft, it’s meltable and a good plumber can actually pour a joint that would reattach it to the base plate that you removed it. So I’m not sure that you have to tear up the whole floor and bring in the jackhammers but it definitely is a project that’s going to take a good two or three hours of a plumber’s time to tackle.
And that’s one of the tragedies of having old plumbing; you know, they just seem to fall apart like that. And when you have old plumbing, here’s a tip: get an old plumber; they know how to handle it. (Tom chuckles)
LESLIE: (chuckles) Seriously, they’ve been around. They know what they’re doing.
Alright, now we’ve got one here from Susan, who writes: “I have a ranch house on a cement slab. The heating ducts are under the house. They leaked water since we closed them off with cement and installed electric baseboard heating. Now the question is: should drainage be added to the house or does it matter now that the ducts are sealed off?”
TOM: Well, you don’t need to drain them but if you improve your drainage on the outside of your house, they’ll drain themselves. So, in other words, improve the gutters; improve the grading; make sure the downspouts are kicking out at least four to six feet from the house and you will find that the water that’s in those ducts will just completely dissipate and not come back.
LESLIE: Alright, Susan. I hope that’s the answer you were looking for.
TOM: Well, winter storms are definitely unpredictable and they can whip up at any moment. Your best defense, however, is preparation. Leslie has got some tips on how to do just that on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. Snow – I have a feeling it is going to be a very heavily, snow-filled winter this year. I just get that – I don’t know why; I just do.
TOM: You think so?
LESLIE: I really do. I don’t know. And you know, in New York, we don’t get that much snow anymore. I remember when we were kids there were snow days and tons of snow and now I barely …
TOM: Yeah, that’s because you were shorter then.
LESLIE: (laughing) Probably.
TOM: Snow drifts look a lot bigger. (both chuckle)
LESLIE: Well, no matter where you live, when winter storms are forecast you know that snow can accumulate quickly and suddenly; so, as Tom said, your best bet is preparation. You want to gather all of your snow removal supplies and check that they’re in top operating shape. You want to make sure that your snow shovel isn’t going to give you a backache. You might even consider a shovel with one of those angular handles because they really do help take the load off your back.
You also want to make sure that you have your snow blower serviced and then fill that tank with fresh gasoline. And you need to remember that gas, it’s only meant to last about 30 days; unless you add that fuel stabilizer to it, so do that. This way, you can keep that fuel in as long as it takes for you to use it for the season.
Then you want to stock up on supplies of calcium chloride for deicing. You want to mix some sand. This way, this combination that you’re going to use, it’s not going to hurt your concrete driveways, walkways, steps, everything like sodium chloride would and does. And you also want to keep a shovel and a supply of your deicer mix in your mudroom, your side entrance, your back entrance – wherever you come in and out of your house – just in case you wake up in the morning and there is a winter wonderland, which is so pretty.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, no one thinks it will happen to them but fires cause millions of dollars in damages and take lives every, single day. Coming up next week, we’re going to have tips and advice on fire safety because this is the most dangerous time of year for fires. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to stay safe, on the next edition of The 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 2009 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.)