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: And we are here to help you, so let’s get started. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We want to hear about your home improvement projects, your home décor challenges. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a direct-it-yourselfer, give us a call. We’re here to help you take that all-important first step, 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour on the program, are cracks, holes and nail pops giving away your home’s age? Well, if your walls could probably use a little TLC, we’ve got tips on how you can fix those problems yourself, coming up.
LESLIE: And while we’re on the subject of cracks – not talking about plumber’s crack, you guys. No, no, no. Talking about a crack in your – you like that, Tom?
TOM: Terrible. You’re terrible.
LESLIE: I’m also talking about cracks in your foundation. Now, they could be nothing to worry about or they could be the sign of a really big problem. So, how do you know the difference? Well, we’ll tell you, in a little bit.
TOM: And no more excuses. It’s time for spring cleaning but could all that scrubbing be getting you nowhere? The germs you’re most likely to miss, coming up.
LESLIE: And one lucky caller that we talk to this hour is going to win a Caseta Wireless Plug-In Lamp Dimmer and Pico Remote. You just plug it in to a standard outlet and you can control a nearby lamp without getting up. Ah, the epitome of laziness.
TOM: It’s a prize worth 80 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show, so let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: David in Alabama is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you?
DAVID: Several years ago, I discovered some termites. And it turns out the insulation of the house insulating the ducts was all soaking wet, so I took it all off and replaced it. And the termite people said, “Well, you’ve got batts under your house for insulation between the joists. And you need to take all that out of there because it tends to trap moisture and cause mold.” So they treated all of the wood and I yanked all the insulation out of there.
TOM: And now you’re freezing.
DAVID: Well, yeah. It was cold in the winter and the floor is noticeably colder and so I’m debating. I had two power ventilators put in under the house. I’m not sure how well they’re working but I was toying with the idea to put the insulation batts back at least under the living room, which seems to be cold. You know, the floor does.
TOM: Alright. So here’s a couple of things, David. First of all, I never would have told you to remove your insulation. That’s kind of crazy advice that the pest-control operators gave you. If you have high moisture under the house – is this on soil? Crosses on the sand floor? Is the crawlspace on the sand floor or what’s the base?
DAVID: Yes, it’s a crawlspace. Starts out about 5 feet.
TOM: Is it on a dirt floor or is it on concrete slab?
DAVID: It’s a dirt floor.
TOM: And do you have a plastic vapor barrier on the dirt floor?
DAVID: Oh, yes. I do now, yes. It was kind of in bad shape when I replaced it but I’ve got it all put down now on the floor, on the dirt.
TOM: Yeah, you do now. Alright. So here’s all the steps that you need to take. First of all, to reduce the moisture, you start not in the crawlspace but outside the house. You check that your gutters are – that your gutters exist, the downspouts are extended 4 to 5 feet away from the house, not just dropping right at the corner of the foundation as most do. And you make sure that the soil slopes away from the exterior wall. Those things will reduce the amount of moisture that gets in there.
Next, you’ve got a vapor barrier. And the vapor barrier should be all across the floor of the crawlspace and up the walls about a foot. You can seal the lip to the wall so that moisture doesn’t come out around that. You mentioned you had power ventilators. That’s good if you install those on a humidistat switch. So when the moisture comes up, those ventilators will kick on and draw it out.
Now, as to the fiberglass insulation, you have another option and that is spray-foam insulation. You could opt to not use fiberglass, which does have to be vented and kept very dry. And you could switch to an Icynene closed-cell spray-foam insulation. Closed-cell spray-foam insulation is very moisture-resistant and has the added benefit of stopping drafts from getting through it, up into the house. And it’s sprayed on very thin and then it expands. It has about 100:1 expansion ratio and as it expands, it insulates and seals.
We have a very old house, where my family lives up in New Jersey, and this house is 125-or-so years old. And we had it insulated with fiberglass until I converted to Icynene and really, I’ve never been happier. It’s been quite warm and comfortable. In fact, our air-conditioning bill last summer was about 50 percent of the cost it was the year before, when we did not have the Icynene. So I think that Icynene is a good product for this particular application because it is going to seal out that moisture and it’s going to leave the floor really super-warm. And it’s going to really step up your comfort.
DAVID: Who makes that product?
TOM: Icynene – I-C-Y-N-E-N-E. Go to Icynene.com. They have a dealer locator. You can have a pro come out to your house and scope it out.
DAVID: OK. Thanks a lot.
TOM: It’s good stuff, David. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Susan in Texas is on the line with a water question. What’s going on?
SUSAN: My daughter has a country home she just purchased and there’s a 900-foot-deep water well on it. And she wanted to know, does she need to use a water softener or a carbon filter for the drinking water? And also, how much electricity would that use, that water well?
TOM: Well, the first thing she needs to do is to have a comprehensive water test done. Was that done?
SUSAN: I believe so because they had inspectors come out. But I don’t remember what she said.
TOM: Yeah. Well, I wouldn’t believe anything unless I had a result back from a water-testing laboratory. That’s going to tell you what kind of treatment you need to do locally. So, the first thing she needs to do is to get a water test done – a thorough water test done – that’s going to check for all sorts of contaminates and pesticides and that sort of thing. And then based on that, you can determine what you want to do to treat the water. But you just don’t start treating it first. You start with the test and the test is what determines what needs to be treated. Make sense?
SUSAN: Yes. Lots of sense, yes.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Susan. 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. Now you can be part of the home improvement fun. We are here to give you a hand. And I say fun because even problems with home improvement, they can pretty much be a good time once you get the right solution. And that’s why we are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Here’s a real good time: fixing drywall. Yeah, that’s what I look forward to on the weekend.
It’s a big headache. We’ve got tips to help you save money by fixing those cracks and nail pops yourself, with this week’s Pro Tip, presented by Grayne Shingle Siding from the Tapco Group. And that will be when The Money Pit returns, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, when the sun goes down, it usually means you have to stand up to turn up the lights. Not anymore, though, with this hour’s prize: the Caseta Wireless Plug-In Lamp Dimmer and Pico Remote valued at 80 bucks.
LESLIE: So here’s what you do. You plug it into any standard outlet and then you can adjust your lights with a remote control. You can stay seated, you can stay relaxing. You don’t even have to move and you can adjust the lights. It’s fantastic.
TOM: Learn more at CasetaWireless.com and give us a call, right now, for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Doug in Virginia on the line with a siding question. How can we help you?
DOUG: Yes. I had – my son’s house has some vinyl siding on it. And the folks that owned it before he did were patching something with some of the spray-foam insulation – the crack-filler stuff – and it oozed out all over the siding. So I know I can go back and cut it loose, cut what’s extra stuff. But when I get down close to the vinyl, what can I clean the residue off with to make it clean without damaging the vinyl?
TOM: It’s very difficult because you get – those foams are usually polyurethane and they have real adhesive qualities to it. Real adhesive. So, what you can do is try to gently scrape it off with a putty knife. But make sure you – an older one is better because it won’t be quite so sharp. And very carefully do that.
And then, I’ve stripped off some foam – errant foam – with WD-40 as the solvent. So you might want to try that with a Scotch pad because Scotch pad is not abrasive. But you could spray the siding with the WD-40 and then work the Scotch pad back and forth. You may find that you pull off some of that residue. It really depends on what kind of foam it is. But you’re right, once it’s dry, to cut as much of it off and then try to abrade the rest of it off. But do so with a mind not to damage the siding.
DOUG: OK. Well, I’ll give it a try. WD-40.
TOM: Yep. Try it. It’s one of the thousand uses for that stuff. You know, they say you only need two things in your toolkit: WD-40 and duct tape. They’re pretty close.
DOUG: Then I can go over the whole back of the house with WD-40 to revitalize the vinyl, right?
TOM: Well, I wouldn’t – if it’s the whole back of the house, I mean if you’re talking about spot-cleaning, OK. But if it’s the whole back of the house, then I think you’ve got a bigger problem. I think you’re looking at new siding.
DOUG: But would I get an oily spot when I use the WD-40 that will look different than the rest of it?
TOM: You will, you will. But soap and water will take it away.
DOUG: I guess that’ll fade, yeah.
LESLIE: That’s why it’s good for only like a little spot.
DOUG: Alright. Well, thanks a lot.
TOM: Well, repairing drywall is a pretty common home maintenance project that most homeowners have to take on at one point or another. But if you don’t make those repairs properly, you’re going to do them again and again and again. So we’ve got advice on how to make those wall repairs get done right the first time, in this week’s Pro Tip, presented by Grayne Shingle Siding from the Tapco Group.
LESLIE: Alright. Here we go. The three most common types of repairs that are needed for your drywall situations are nail pops, holes and cracks.
Now, nail pops are the result from a nail that has loosened. Now, this is the nail holding the sheet of drywall to the studs behind it, so that nail is starting to loosen and then it’s backing its way out of the drywall. So what you can do is simply tap it back in and then drive a new nail right next to it. But you want to make sure that you cover the head of the old nail with the head of the new one. Then you go ahead and spackle the area, smooth it, allow it to dry well, sand it and then you can touch-up the area.
Now, you can also use drywall screws instead of nails. Because if you use a screw because of the threading and you’re driving it into the wood, there is no chance of that backing itself out. It’s not going to happen.
TOM: Now the best way for a homeowner to fix a wall or ceiling crack is to use a strong, perforated drywall tape. Now, this type of tape has like small, square holes in it and it looks kind of almost like netting. You apply this first to bridge the gap in the crack, then you want to smooth a generous amount of spackle or drywall mud over the wall or the ceiling crack. And once the area is dry, it can be sanded and then repainted. Now remember, you’re going to need about three coats to get that done.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, if you’ve got holes in the drywall, what you’re going to need is a scrap of drywall, a leftover piece of window screening, some joint compound and a few, common tools that you’ve probably got kicking around the house anyway.
Now, our favorite patching method includes a great tip: you want to cut the hole that you already have in the drywall to fit the patch and not the other way around. Even if it means making the hole that you’ve accidentally made in the drywall bigger. You just want to be able to accommodate that patch.
And now, this method really is kind of virtually foolproof. So, when you’re working with a joint compound, remember it’s like an art. Patience. You want to apply thin coats and don’t fuss with it. After two or three strokes, just leave it alone and let it dry and then sand it and paint and you’re as good as new.
TOM: And that’s today’s Pro Tip, presented by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from the Tapco Group. The uncompromising beauty of Grayne’s 5-inch shingle siding offers the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com – that’s G-R-A-Y-N-E.com – or ask your pro today.
LESLIE: Joyce in Missouri is on the line with a floor-finishing question. How can we help you?
JOYCE: I do have a question about my hardwood. It’s the old, solid hardwood from – it was put down back in the 50s. I love it and I refinished it, oh, probably about 15-17 years ago. And with the time and traffic, the top is wearing now and I need to sand it down and resurface it. When I did it then, I used GYM-SEAL. But I want to know what would be the best product that would be long-term lasting and something that would be user-friendly for an individual.
TOM: OK. So first of all, in terms of the sanding-it-down part, does the floor have any really severe wear or is it just the finish that’s worn?
JOYCE: Just the finish.
TOM: So you don’t have to sand it down all the way. What you can do is you can basically just lightly sand the surface. There is a machine called a U-Sand machine, which is like an abrasive disk sander that you can rent at a home center or a hardware store. It has four abrasive disks in it. It does have a vacuum system built in so it doesn’t leave dust all over the place.
But it won’t wear down the wood too much. It’ll just sort of take that top layer of finish off and get it ready to be refinished. Because with hardwood floors, you don’t want to sand them completely down if you don’t have to, because that takes many years off their life when you take all that finish off down to the raw wood. It’s really not necessary.
And then after you sand it, then you can apply an oil-based polyurethane. So not water-based but oil-based, not acrylic-based but oil-based. And you’re going to apply that with what’s called a “lambswool applicator.” It’s kind of like a mop. And you dip it into a paint tray, you apply it in a very smooth, even coat. Start on one end, work your way out the door and then leave for a good four or five, six hours depending on the weather.
JOYCE: OK. With the windows open?
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. If it’s a nice, dry day and the windows are open, that’s the best thing. But just remember: whatever it says for drying time on the can, at least double it because it tends to be a bit sticky for a while.
JOYCE: OK. So an oil-based polyurethane and a lambswool applicator.
TOM: Yup. And then with a light sanding before you start the whole thing. OK?
JOYCE: Sounds wonderful. Thank you so very much and you all have a wonderful day.
TOM: Thanks, Joyce. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, we get more questions on floors than any other topic on this program.
LESLIE: And they occupy a large portion of your home.
TOM: They do.
LESLIE: And there’s always something to do with them.
TOM: And they take a lot of abuse, so that’s probably why people need to fix them all the time.
LESLIE: They do.
Jim in Washington is on the line with a fireplace question. What can we help you with?
JIM: It’s a brick fireplace and this is on the outside. I don’t know if this will be the right term but it seems to me there are buttresses on each side where the firebox, if you will, would be surrounded by this brick. And then it goes up to the chimney going to the roof.
And right at the edge of the buttress, a brick within, about half of the bricks are cracked. And so a fourth of the way down from the top of this buttress and a fourth of the way up from the bottom, they have not cracked but the rest have almost a perfect line of a crack going down them. The house is about 25 years old.
I’ve never seen a crack on there before now but I don’t know – is this something to worry about? Is this something that I should take care of? Or is this something that I really need some pro to come out and take care of?
LESLIE: And you’ve never noticed this sort of vertical line – this crack – going through all of it?
JIM: Correct. It just happened.
LESLIE: Hmm. I’m kind of sort of prone to believe that it was there but maybe you just didn’t notice it. But we did all have such an extreme winter that it’s possible this could have been that maybe you were getting some water in from somewhere. And then through a freeze and a thaw, it sort of expanded and cracked that brick.
JIM: Yeah. We’ve had a mild winter out west here and probably not more than a couple, three days below freezing, so I don’t think that was it. And I also have flowers planted around there that I replant each year, so I’m sure I would have noticed it.
LESLIE: I mean generally, with a crack in a brick, what you’re going to want to do is – if it’s a big crack, you might have to repoint or replace that brick itself. But if it’s something thin, QUIKRETE has a ton of different solutions for filling in a crack in either masonry or brick and it can be tinted to match. And this way it’s almost even like – I think they have something that’s almost like a flowable urethane that’s almost in a caulk gun that you’d be able to sort of fill in that crack line on the brick. Because you don’t want water to get in there and then you’ll have problems with the internal firebox or the chimney going up.
So you want to make sure that you do seal those cracks. And I might start with that approach and just keep an eye on it through the summer season and see how you’re doing in the winter. And see if there’s any more changes or if it expands above or below what’s currently there. And if that’s the case, then we’d rethink the whole situation.
TOM: You also want to take a look at the drainage around the base of the chimney. Because if you happen to be trapping a lot of water on that side of the house, that could force the foundation to perhaps settle a bit. So if you try to keep the downspouts drained away from that side of the house, if the soil slopes away, that can make the foundation for the fireplace chimney.
But Leslie is right: just a bit of caulk in those cracks to seal out the water. Because if the water does get in, it’ll freeze and expand and that could make it worse.
JIM: Right. Very good. I’ll start with that. I’ve already noted how long the cracks are and where they start from the top and bottom, so I’ll be able to keep an eye on it.
TOM: Good idea. Jim, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So you might be wondering about that crack in your home’s foundation. And you’re worrying about it and you’re stressing out about it but do you need to be worrying about it? We’re going to help you get to the bottom of cracks in the base of your home, when The Money Pit continues.
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: When you’re ready to search for a home, start at Realtor.com. Realtor.com is the most accurate home search site. And be sure to work with a realtor to help you through the process. Realtor.com and realtors. Together, we make home happen.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Taking a moment to say hello to KMLB-AM in Monroe, Louisiana. Welcome to The Money Pit family. A brand-new radio station for The Money Pit in Louisiana. We look forward to hearing from you, Louisiana. Welcome aboard.
LESLIE: Donna in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
DONNA: I live in an old – it’s two-story, cedar-shingle house. And anyway, years ago I used to be able to put Olympic stain on it and I kept up the stain. But then they changed the law where I couldn’t stain anymore. So it was painted in the late – oh, probably ’99. Well, now the paint started peeling, so I had – one of my sons came and pressure-washed it.
This was about two years now but he couldn’t get all the paint off. And it’s flaky and because of the shingles in these little grooves, you can’t get it all out. And I live in a two-tone house: a brown stain where the paint’s peeling and a green where the paint’s not peeling.
And it looks terrible. And I’ve called – I’ve phoned two different contractors and gave them the address and they must have just come by and looked at it. And they never even called back, let alone stopped by.
TOM: Chased them off, huh? Yeah.
DONNA: Yes. Plus, they have to have a special license because the house is so old it has to be – in this state anyway, it costs them thousands and thousands of dollars because – or in case there’s lead outside in the paint. Well, it was stained, not painted.
TOM: So, you know, aside from all the drama associating with this, it’s really quite a basic problem. When you have all of these layers of paint that are on the material over all of these years, at some point you’re going to lose adhesion to the original substrate, which is the cedar. The only solution, in that case, is to remove the paint to get down to the originally natural wood.
So, pressure-washing it is fine for the loose stuff but beyond that, you’ve got to scrape and sand. Because you’ve got to get some of that natural wood to kind of show itself through the remaining stained areas that are painted. Because once it’s ready – truly ready – where you’ve got all the loose stuff off and your surface has been abraded properly, then you can apply an oil-based primer. And the purpose of the primer is kind of layer – it has different qualities than paint.
Primer is the glue that makes the paint stick. And so, if you use an oil-based primer on there, you’ll get very good adhesion to the cedar. Once that thoroughly dries, then you can paint on top of that. And the top coat of paint does not have to be oil-based but the primer does. That’s what’s going to give the adhesion. But you can’t just keep putting good paint over bad paint, otherwise the problem of peeling will just continue to repeat itself. Does that make sense, Donna?
DONNA: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, something that you might not be aware of is that movement is all around you. It’s your house. Now, you might not realize this but your home is always expanding and contracting with temperature changes and settling.
TOM: And that movement can result in cracks to your foundation. But how do you know if a crack is serious or just the result of some normal house movement? With that, we turn to Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House.
TOM SILVA: Thanks, guys. Nice to be here.
TOM: So, I’m sure just about every home has its share of cracks, right?
TOM SILVA: It sure does because the house is always moving, as Leslie says.
TOM: And there are a lot of reasons that that happens?
TOM SILVA: There are a lot of reasons that it happens. Wind, number one. But in the ground, it’s expansion and contraction from different times of the season. You got a cold area, you’re going to get expansion from the ice and in the winter it’s going to relax, so the pressure on the wall is going to push back.
TOM: And you get more structural issues, like poor drainage? You get a lot of water around the foundation?
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. That’s why you want to relieve that pressure so the ice doesn’t form and less chance of pushing against the wall.
TOM: So if we see these cracks, how do we determine if it’s a minor sort of insignificant crack or one that really requires some attention?
TOM SILVA: A small, hairline crack is pretty common and that can usually happen in the pouring of the wall. The setting with the sun is – too much sun, it could set up a little bit too quick and it’s really not an issue. But if you get a crack that’s wide or getting wider or you’re unsure, what I like to do is take a pencil or a Sharpie and draw a line across the crack and then go through a season and see if it has dropped, if the line has moved.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s really smart.
TOM SILVA: And that tells you that there’s been some settling underneath, that maybe some organic matter got underneath the backfill process and has rotted away.
TOM: Like a tree stump or something like that? Mm-hmm.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, yeah. Or poor drainage or maybe water getting underneath, washing some silt away. And it’s going to cause it to settle.
Another type of foundation crack is a horizontal crack. And lot of times, you see that in a block foundation where there’s too much pressure against the wall.
TOM SILVA: And those are ones that would really concern me because the wall is actually bowing in to the base.
TOM: Hmm. It’s actually displaced.
TOM SILVA: Right, right.
LESLIE: So too much pressure may be from the backfill when the foundation was poured back in or from the weight of the structure above? What would cause that pressure?
TOM SILVA: Or also the freezing/thawing outside because of the poor drainage. So there’s a lot of issues there.
TOM: So you get a lot of water in that soil and that water is going to expand that soil and push on the wall and it sort of ratchets it over the years.
TOM SILVA: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
TOM: It gets a little worse every year; doesn’t go back.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. No, no. It doesn’t go back. When it expands out and in the summertime when it dries, the soil falls back in, fills the little void from the vibrations of airplanes and trucks and wind and everything else. Then it freezes. Now you have a little more bite to push it out a little more. So it’s only going to get worse.
TOM: So when you get that level of sort of structural crack, that might be a good time to call in an expert, like a structural engineer, correct?
TOM SILVA: Structural engineer is the best way to go right there. He’s going to tell you how to fix and solve that problem.
LESLIE: And he doesn’t do the job himself, so that’s sort of like a good, non-biased opinion of what needs to be done.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, yeah. You are going to pay this guy to tell you how to fix the problem and then you’re going to hire somebody that’s going to fix the problem.
TOM: And follow his advice.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. To the T.
TOM: I always think it’s a good idea to have the engineer come back later and kind of sign off on the project, because that sort of becomes a pedigree. Says it was done right.
TOM SILVA: If I have an engineer come on site to do anything in the house, if he said we have to do something, he then comes back and said, “Yeah, it’s OK,” you’ve done it right.
TOM: Right. Good advice. Now, if you have a minor crack and one that you do want to tackle yourself, how would you approach that?
TOM SILVA: First thing I would do is I would open that crack up. I’d take a ½-inch chisel and I would go down the crack and make it wider and I’d make sure that the sides are flat. You don’t want to have it V-shaped. That way, you can put your cement or your water in that joint and it will have something to go against. You can’t just take hydraulic cement and lay it on the crack.
TOM SILVA: It will only dry off and fall off. It needs to be between two walls to work correctly.
TOM: Now, that’s a good point. And it’s somewhat counterintuitive because people that see a crack don’t think the first thing they want to do is make it bigger.
LESLIE: Make it bigger.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. But that’s what you have to do. And you have to make it bigger and you have to make it flat on both sides.
TOM: So if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, what would you say is probably the best, most foolproof material to use?
TOM SILVA: If you’re going to do it yourself, you’re going to chisel a groove, you’re going to make sure you have flat surfaces and you can use a hydraulic cement if it has two surfaces to go against.
TOM: Now, good advice. And speaking of being a DIYer, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve seen homeowners make with foundation repairs?
TOM SILVA: Caulking.
TOM: Yeah. Thinking caulking solves it all, right?
TOM SILVA: Caulking will solve it all, yeah. Latex caulking. Now, silicone is the worst thing you can have because silicone doesn’t stick to a porous surface.
TOM: That’s great advice. Tom Silva, the contractor from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: Always a pleasure. Nice to be here, guys.
LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House andAsk This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Lumber Liquidators. Hardwood floors for less.
Up next, spring cleaning leaves your house feeling great but just how clean is it really? We’re going to find germs that are hiding in plain sight, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.
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: Well, at the end of a long day, the last thing you want to do is have to actually get up from your couch or your recliner to adjust the room’s light. Well, good news, there’s a remote that can do it for you.
LESLIE: Feel like there’s a remote for everything, so why not your lighting? We’ve got the Caseta Wireless Plug-In Lamp Dimmer with the Pico Remote. And now that’s going to let you control table and floor lamps from pretty much wherever you are. It works on incandescents, CLFs or LED bulbs. And we’re giving the dimmer and the remote away this hour.
TOM: It’s a great prize worth 80 bucks. Learn more at CasetaWireless.com and give us a call, right now, for your chance to win with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, this time of year, we all like to do spring cleaning and it makes your house feel great. And it actually gives your mood a nice lift, as well. But could your house still be dirtier than you think?
TOM: There are a number of places that most homeowners don’t think to clean. And if they’re overlooked for too long, they can actually become health hazards.
LESLIE: First off, let’s talk about the top of your ceiling fan. Now, those blades get really dusty and really dirty and then when you turn the fan on, it’s just going to send all of that dust and dirt and germs flying into the air every time you use that fan. So you want to clean the top of those blades with every seasonal cleaning that you do.
TOM: Now, another germ magnet? Stair banisters and door knobs. Just think about all the germs that are on those spots. You want to keep your home healthy by giving them a quick wipe every week or so with a cleaning spray or hot, soapy water.
LESLIE: And you cannot forget about the top of your refrigerator. You’ve got kitchen grease, you’ve got dirt, you’ve got grime. All of that likes to gather up on top of your fridge and have a party and that just leads to germs and possibly even fungus. So keep the top of your fridge clean. It’s really important, especially if you’re storing food up there.
TOM: And finally, let’s talk about those reusable, cloth grocery bags. Now, they’re great for the environment but could they be bad for your health? Well, they could if you don’t keep them clean. I mean think about it: they touch everything from shopping carts to raw fruit and meat. And they need a good wash after each use, so toss them in the laundry. Unless the bag says otherwise, just wash them every time you use them, in soap and water.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Gary in Maryland with some wall cracks. Tell us what’s going on.
GARY: The cracks are along the one outside wall – or the one wall on the short side, on a 26-foot side. And they’re both on either side of the bathroom, which is between two bedrooms.
TOM: So what you’re describing is a pretty normal scenario. We typically get movement in walls of homes and where you have seams between walls and ceilings, one wall and another wall or above a window or above a door. That’s where the movement tends to evidence itself.
Now, the solution here is going to require that you redo the seam between the cracked areas. What you’ll do is you’ll pull off the old drywall tape, if it’s loose. If it’s not loose, you could probably leave it in place. But if it’s loose or if it’s wrinkled or anything like that, I would pull it out. And I would replace that with fiberglass drywall tape.
Fiberglass drywall tape kind of looks like a netting and it’s sticky, it’s easier to handle. And so you press it into the seam. And then once it’s pressed in place, then you’re going to add three layers of spackle on top of that, making each one as thin as possible. So you start with the first one, try to keep it pretty narrow and just cover the tape. And then the subsequent two, you go a little wider and a little wider and try to feather out the edges. And that actually will bridge that gap between the two surfaces and the crack will not form again.
If you try to spackle over a crack without doing that, it’s just going to show up. You could spackle it and paint it but it’s going to come out every winter or every summer, depending on whether it’s swelling or shrinking that’s causing the crack. It’s going to pop open again.
GARY: Good. Thank you very much. Good show, too.
TOM: You’re welcome, Gary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Say, are the ducts and the vents in your house pretty much making it impossible for you to find a moment’s peace and quiet? We’re going to help you keep that noise in check, when The Money Pit continues.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.
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: Well, it’s just about here: the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. And Leslie and I are very excited for this industry event and you should be, too. Because we’re bringing you the inside scoop on the hottest, new products directly from our Top Products Pavilion, located right on the hardware-show floor.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s pretty amazing. And we’ve gotten a few sneak peeks. And one of the coolest products that I’ve seen so far is Krylon’s Covermax Spray Paint. I mean you guys know I love to spray-paint pieces of furniture and things that I find for all of the makeovers that I work on. And Covermax not only dries in 10 minutes or less, which is faster than any other general-purpose aerosol out there, it’s also the only general-purpose with built-in rust protection. That’s the Krylon Covermax Paint, where color meets performance.
TOM: And you can check it out in our Top Products Gallery online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, post a question in our Community section. And Michelle from New York writes: “We have a ranch house with forced-air heating and cooling. The master bedroom is across the hall from the nursery and the ductwork runs under the floor, between the rooms. With both doors closed, we can hear the baby in his room through the vents. Is there a way to prevent the sound transmission, short of covering up the ducts with blankets? Covering the ducts will make the vents ineffective for heating and cooling.”
TOM: Well, just think about all the money they’re saving by not needing a baby monitor.
LESLIE: I know. But think about it: they’re talking, watching TV and who-knows-what-else.
LESLIE: And the baby’s hearing all that, too.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Well, generally, the best approach is to use an insulated heating duct.
Now, insulated ducts are lined with fiberglass and they can reduce some but not all of the sound transmission. Now, to accomplish this, the entire duct has to be removed and replaced, so you might be better off thinking towards the future where maybe the baby won’t be crying that much. It’s a major repair for a very short-term problem.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one from Juan in Texas who writes: “I offset and reconstructed a retaining wall against my house recently, which exposed more of the basement’s exterior cinder-block wall. This previously underground cinder block has tar coating on it for waterproofing and I hate the way it looks. Any suggestions on what might look nicer? I was hoping something like a white tar coating exists, just so it looks nice.”
TOM: It does. You can get those coatings in different colors. There’s a product called Tanner Tuff – T-A-N-N-E-R. Tanner Tuff. I think it’s actually called Tanner Tuff II. And I know that it’s sold at Home Depot; I believe it’s online, as well. It’s a product that comes in the dark, concrete gray colors but it also is available in white.
And you have to keep in mind, though, with all these coatings, you want to make sure that the surface that you’re applying it to is clean and dry. The dampness, especially when it comes to the foundation where it can really work against you – because remember, the concrete block is like a sponge. It’s very hydroscopic; it’s going to soak up a lot of moisture. So you really want to wait for a dry day – perhaps a summer day, after the moisture burns off in the morning – to try to work on this project.
And you probably don’t need to remove the existing coating. It was there for a reason. Scraping it off is not going to have positive results. So follow label directions. Look for the Tanner Tuff II product and then they can get that foundation in a color that’s going to really make the house look nice.
LESLIE: And still of course, help you deal with the dampness. And then make it look nice for you to be happy. But not damp.
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 that we’ve helped you out with your spring home improvement projects, crossed a few of those jobs off the spring to-do list. Remember, if you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers, 24/7, at MoneyPit.com or by calling us at 1-888-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 2015 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.)