TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Here to help you with your home improvement projects and solve those do-it-yourself dilemmas. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. We’ll see what we can do to help you out. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We’ve got a busy hour planned for you.
First up, we’re coming up on the perfect time of year, Leslie, for so many of those home maintenance projects. It’s fall.
LESLIE: And it’s my favorite time of year, for so many reasons.
TOM: Well, we call it the Goldilocks season because it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold.
LESLIE: It is, though.
TOM: It’s great weather to get just about everything that you need to get done to button up your house for the winter. Now is the time to do it. Coming up in just a couple of weeks, we’ll be smack dab in fall. So, we’ve got some tips on what you need to know to take care of your house, so your house can take care of you all season long.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And while you’re making your to-do list, if you start thinking your list is bad, what about the cast and crew of This Old House? You know, every season they take on monster projects and they manage to get it done in TV time which, of course, is much faster than actual time.
So coming up, This Old House host, Kevin O’Connor, is going to walk us through their current project, which is a real Cinderella story about how to take the ravages of age and make it all fade away with a super-cool facelift. And this week’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Trewax.
TOM: Now, if you are personally ravaged with age (Leslie chuckles), we probably can’t help you; you need to call a medical show. For everything else, though, pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
We’ve also got some ideas ahead for helping you organize all those items around your house, because now is a great time to do that because you’re going to be spending a lot more hours inside as compared to outside. Why not straighten that house up and make that time that much more pleasant.
LESLIE: And if you do give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, we are giving away a great prize this hour. We’ve got the Nutek Flat Tire Survival Kit. It’s worth 20 bucks and it can come in very handy, especially if the home improvers in your house maybe left a nail or two in the driveway.
TOM: I’ve actually been guilty of that once or twice.
LESLIE: There’s one in my tire right now that I actually need to fix and I’ve been ignoring it.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Anna in Alaska is working on a flooring project. How can we help you with that?
ANNA: Well, my husband and I are building a house out-of-pocket. It will be our first home and so far we have a cement block or concrete wall that’s about 40 inches tall and we’re building the floor on top of that. But underneath, it’s going to be either gravel clay pad or cemented. And we’ve gotten a lot of advice from different people that are just really conflicting, so we’re not really quite sure what we should go with.
TOM: Alright, so you’re talking about the crawlspace floor itself?
TOM: OK. Well, do you want to use it for storage?
ANNA: Eventually, yes.
TOM: Well, I think that putting what’s called a dust cover in there, which is a very thin concrete slab, is a very nice, clean way to do that. Typically, you’re going to put down some plastic first and then you would pour the concrete on top of that.
Now, you know, depending on how you do it, if it’s a large space, you may want to break it up by using expansion joints so that it kind of moves independently. Because if you – it depends on how thick you make it. If you make it fairly thick and if you reinforce it like a regular slab, you don’t have to worry about cracking. But if you’re going to put a very thin dust cover about two inches thick on it, if you can break it up into sections, you’ll find that it’ll stay intact for a lot longer period of time.
ANNA: OK. And so that would probably help with permafrost then, huh?
TOM: Well, not necessarily. I mean the temperature is going to be the temperature but you do want to insulate the sides of it above grade. So you would insulate the sides above grade and you would insulate, of course, the box beam of the house, as well.
ANNA: OK. That’s very helpful. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Glad we could help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and as you proceed with the house build, please do call back and let us know how it’s going.
LESLIE: Ron in Iowa is calling in with a roofing question. What can we help you with today?
RON: We’ve got a problem with our existing roof. The shingles were CertainTeed and supposedly they had a lawsuit that they were willing to honor and when they were contacted, they would not honor it. The shingles had curled and the roof line faces the west.
RON: It’s happened on multiple homes and garages and new shingles have been bought; have not been put on yet because of the time factor. But we were wondering: is there any other aspect or avenue that we can use to get some reimbursement on this?
TOM: Well, Ron, there was, actually, a class action lawsuit settlement in the beginning of the year regarding certain CertainTeed shingles. And there’s a website set up to process those claims. Have you been to that site?
RON: Supposedly it was investigated but I can check it again.
TOM: Well, it’s CertainTeedShingleSettlement.com. And CertainTeed is spelled C-e-r-t-a-i-n-T-e-e-d – ShingleSettlementWebsite.com. And they have a system in place there to identify whether or not your shingles were actually part of this settlement and, if so, to facilitate the claims. I think that they’re offering somewhere up to around $75 a square, which is 100 square feet of settlement.
So, why don’t you take a look at that website and hopefully that will get you onto the next stage.
RON: Thank you, Tom.
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, Happy Labor Day Weekend, everybody. We know you are trying to relax or maybe get those last projects done before we all get back to the seriousness of the end of summer. My goodness, I can’t believe it’s already ending.
So, give us a call. We’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you get those home improvement projects done. Even if you’re just relaxing this weekend, we can help you tackle a small project. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Yeah, we’ll help you with that home improvement guilt (Leslie chuckles). You’re laying around too much; you want to get something done. (chuckling) We can pick a small project to help you out with. 888-666-3974.
Speaking of small projects, coming up, this is what we call the Goldilocks season – fall, of course – because it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. We’re going to have some simple projects for fall fix-ups that you can get done, that will keep you warm and safe all season long, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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 if you’ve ever been stranded on the highway trying to change a tire, the last thing you need is trouble getting the lug nuts off because rust or grease or brake dust or dirt or maybe a little bit of everything has sealed them in place. The solution is the Nutek Flat Tire Survival Kit, which includes Bolt Off, a product that loosens bolts and nuts easily.
We’re going to give one of those kits away to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You know, you’re also going to get a tire gauge and a few different cleaning products that will help you get your tools and parts clean for just about any job; not just tires. And they’re also going to help you get your hands clean when the job is done.
The Nutek Flat Tire Survival Kit is worth 19.99 and you can learn more about it at NutekGreen.com. But give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because one caller we talk to on the air is going to win one this hour.
TOM: Well, it’s almost officially Fall around here and the perfect weather to take on some projects that’ll make sure your house is ready for those chilly days ahead. So here are a couple of things that you can tackle right now to make sure the road ahead is both warm and safe.
LESLIE: First up, take a look at your water heater. You know, sediment can build up in the unit and cause it to operate inefficiently. So to keep the water heater working properly, you should actually drain two gallons of water from the tank twice a year. You want to make sure that the appliance is turned off at least an hour ahead of time. You want to wear gloves and protective eyewear and also remember to use the drain valve at the bottom and not the one at the top.
TOM: That’s right, because the one at the top is not really a drain valve and if you open it, it may not close again
TOM: That’s the pressure and temperature relief valve.
Next, to help you breathe easy and sneeze a bit less, it’s a good idea to change your furnace filter regularly. Now, this is the very same filter – if you have a central air conditioning system – that’s been cleaning the air all summer long. You ought to be changing it once a month.
So if you’re like, “I don’t remember the last time I changed my furnace filter,” do it now. They’re very inexpensive and they really do help keep the air clean and make the system run as efficiently as possible.
LESLIE: And you know, one more thing that you can do is to add insulation to your home. You know, it’s the single most cost-effective thing that you can do to raise your energy efficiency and cut your energy cost. And there are still tax credits being offered if you take on this project of adding insulation to your home. Now, you can learn more at OwensCorning.com.
TOM: That’s right. And this is also a good time of year to get some lawn and gardening done, including applying a winterizer to your lawn or patching those bare spots. I know that we’ve got a lot around here from the drought that we experienced.
If you want more fall project ideas, all you’ve got to do is go to MoneyPit.com and search “fall home maintenance checklist.” It’s all right there for free online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jed calling in with an insulation question. What can we do for you?
JED: I am looking to insulate my attic. We have fiberglass insulation and I have been told there’s a spray-on foam insulation that helps to insulate an attic and can cut down your power bill a whole lot.
TOM: Well, how old is your house?
JED: It was built in 1987.
TOM: OK. And right now you have fiberglass insulation. And you know how much insulation you have in that attic?
JED: It is supposed to be set for r19.
TOM: OK, so that’s not a lot today. That means you probably have about six inches of insulation and you really ought to have about three times that much.
Now yes, there are spray-on insulations and they do two things: not only do they insulate; they also air seal so that you don’t have as much air movement between the exterior and the interior of the house. Because the attic is essentially the same as being outside; it’s ambient temperature and you want to stop the air from moving in between the attic and the rest of the house.
However, it’s pretty expensive to do that on a retrofit basis. So what the simple thing is for you to do here is to add additional fiberglass insulation and you want to use unfaced fiberglass batts and put them in perpendicular to the batts that you do have. That’s going to be the easiest, the least expensive and probably give you the best return on investment over the next few years. And by the way, if you do it before the end of the year, you may even qualify for a federal tax credit on part of that money.
JED: OK. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pam in Illinois needs some help with a decking project. What can we do for you?
PAM: Well, I need to know what is the best product that I can use to get the best results to repaint my deck with another solid color.
TOM: So you want to do a solid-color stain, Pam?
PAM: Yeah. What we did first was we put on a semi-color stain and it didn’t last very long, so we power-washed it and repainted it with a solid-color stain.
PAM: And now it’s peeling off really bad.
TOM: How long ago did you put the solid stain on? I want to get a sense into how long it lasted.
PAM: It’s about three years.
TOM: OK. Alright.
PAM: And see, it’s in constant sunlight.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, when you put it on top of the previous stain, which was the semi-transparent, did you – I know you pressure-washed it but did you sort of scrape away any of the extra that may have been peeling or did you get it down to a good, smooth surface?
PAM: Oh, we scraped off what we could.
TOM: Yeah, because this comes down to an issue of adhesion and right now, you’ve got two products on that deck. You really are going to have to use, most likely, a stripper product to get as much of the old stuff off as you can.
Behr has a good line of deck and fence and siding stain products that I think would work well for you. But the thing is, you’re going to have to remove the old product first. And so they also – when you buy into a line of finishes like the Behr finishes, you want to use their entire line, because they all work well together.
So they’ve got a premium stain and finish stripper that you would apply first and that is product number 64. And then on top of that, you use the solid-color deck, fence and siding wood stain. And if you get the old finish off and then you apply that and follow label directions, I think you’re going to find that you’re going to have a renewed finish there that’s going to last you a good number of years.
PAM: OK, great. Now, do we power-wash before or after we use this product?
TOM: No, you can power-wash initially to get the loose stuff off but don’t be too aggressive because remember, a power-washer is not only going to take off the old finish; it will dig down into the wood and potentially damage it. So be very gentle with that and let it dry really, really, really well before you take the next steps and you start getting into the Behr prep products and then, of course, the Behr stain product.
PAM: Well, that’s very helpful. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in West Virginia is doing some work in the bath. What can we help you with?
JOHN: Well, I’ve got a slight problem and don’t know how to resolve it. There’s like a yellow stain right in front of the shower stall. It’s a single shower stall (inaudible at 0:14:34).
LESLIE: And it’s on the outside of the step into the pan?
JOHN: Yes. And right beside of it, there’s a commode and then beside of that, there’s your sink and your mirror.
LESLIE: Hey, John, you know what you should try – there’s actually a great product for cleaning the bath. I mean it works great on shower heads; it works great on soapy buildups in the tub, so it could work on this mystery stain. Try CLR; it’s Calcium Lime Rust. And you can pretty much get it at any home center, I think.
JOHN: OK. Well, I appreciate it. We’ll try it and see what happens.
LESLIE: Mike in Minnesota is dealing with a foundation problem with a very old home. Tell us about it.
MIKE: Well, I go down in the basement and I can see it, oh, probably on a multi-basis. It’s starting to fall apart; just deteriorate.
MIKE: I have to take my fingers and scratch at it and it falls apart. Now, the house is 96 years old.
TOM: OK, are we talking about a brick foundation here, Mike? Are you talking about the mortar?
MIKE: No, it’s actually concrete and rock.
TOM: OK. And are we talking about the mortar between it that’s sort of deteriorating?
MIKE: Well, the whole thing is just deteriorating.
MIKE: Not just the mortar itself. I mean it’s a concrete foundation but chunks of rock; you know, I’m talking baseball-size rock.
LESLIE: Is it like a deep chunk or is it just like a surface; sort of like a fascia peeling off?
MIKE: Well, the surface is starting out to come off. And I mean I can just dig at it and it’ll fall off. And I’ve tried to kind of dig at it and I’m trying to find a way to patch it. Is there a product that most – just to patch it, yeah.
TOM: Mike, stop picking your foundation apart, OK?
LESLIE: First step, stop picking at it.
MIKE: Yeah. I’m trying to get to the dirt, darn it.
TOM: Well, if you keep doing that, you will.
MIKE: Yeah. But I’m also having a problem with moisture coming through.
TOM: Alright. Well, listen, Mike, the reason you’re having this problem is because of the moisture.
LESLIE: Is the moisture.
TOM: You may be deteriorating the foundation; you might be actually witnessing mineral salt deposits, which will be …
LESLIE: Well, there are two reasons. The moisture and your fingers.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. But you may be seeing mineral salt deposits that are left over when the water evaporates and so, let’s address the moisture issue first. We want to make sure that you have a gutter system; that it’s clean and free-flowing and extending the water well away from the foundation. Four to six feet is recommended.
LESLIE: Yeah, you don’t want your downspouts to just deposit the water right by the foundation.
Second, you want to look at the grading around the entire perimeter of the foundation. You want to make sure that the soil isn’t sloping towards the foundation; you want it to slope away. And you need it to sort of go down about six inches over four feet. So it’s not drastic but it’s enough to move that water away from the foundation.
TOM: Now, once you’ve achieved those two things, I’d like you to monitor this foundation and see if it still appears to leak. If you can remove any of the loose mortar that’s on the surface, you could probably apply an epoxy patching compound to the inside surface here and give yourself a clean place to start. But I wouldn’t apply anything to the inside unless we know we have the moisture under control.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, hear a home improvement Cinderella story. It’s about a house with no charm or curb appeal that turned into an architectural thing of beauty, all thanks to the experts at This Old House. We’ll tell you all about that, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, for its 2010 season, the This Old House TV crew is tackling a curbside Cinderella. It is a ho-hum house along the Charles River that they plan to transform into an architectural thing of beauty.
LESLIE: That’s right. For the latest on this amazing project, we welcome host Kevin O’Connor with details and maybe a tip or two on how to turn your house from bland to beautiful.
KEVIN: Hi, guys. It’s great to be here.
TOM: Hey, it’s our pleasure. Now, this house is interesting because when you look at the photos online at ThisOldHouse.com, the before photos, it’s really a pretty boring house.
KEVIN: This is a very uninspired house but its hidden secret is its location. It sits in a community that is a peninsula and the water that surrounds this neighborhood on three sides is Boston’s famous Charles River. So it is an incredible site; that you could be on the river and about 10 minutes from downtown Boston.
TOM: That’s interesting. Now, these houses on the river have a real history. They were part of commerce many years ago, weren’t they?
KEVIN: Well, you know, the river was actually key to Boston and the surrounding areas and all the mills in the area were run off of it with water power. And in fact, the area where our house sits is called the lake region. As you look out on the vistas, you can’t even tell it’s a river; it looks like a big, giant lake that you’re in the middle of and that’s because there’s been significant damming of the Charles River over the last century or so.
So it’s an important river to Boston and to Massachusetts; it’s got a great history. And for us, it is a great backdrop for our latest project.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Does the house sort of stand out among the neighborhood? I mean is it a similar architecture to what else is going on on the block or is it really stand-alone in its simpleness?
KEVIN: It stood out because it was sort of a dog. It was kind of a tired, old house really, one of the last houses in this neighborhood of about a hundred homes or so that hadn’t been touched.
It was built in 1940. It was a custom, architect-designed house at the time, so you would think it would sort of be this grand, old, iconic style. It wasn’t. It was sort of a square house. It’s technically not a four-square but it’s got a lot of similarities to that and it’s got this sort of really non-descript, little, one-story, flat-roof garage protruding off of the front. And it’s kind of an odd-color blue.
So, it’s surrounded by these beautiful cottages and colonials. They’re all very well kept up; very unique. And here’s this little diamond-in-the-rough just sitting there, waiting for someone to pluck it and polish it.
TOM: We’re talking to Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, about their latest project called the Auburndale House.
So, Kevin, when you guys first rolled upon this – you describe it as a very ho-hum, bland-looking home. You know, if our listeners have a home that they feel could use a little spark, what are some of the thoughts that you have about how you can take what you start with and then really add the polish to it to make it stand out?
KEVIN: Well, with this house – and I think with any house – the first thing you do is look around. What have you got right around the house that you can play off of that you can accentuate?
And here, well, we’ve got the Charles River in the background but we’ve also got a beautiful neighborhood. The houses are tucked in on little lots but they’re presented properly to the street. And so, just a little bit of curb appeal on the front of this house is going to make a big difference. And curb appeal is going to make a big difference on most people’s houses.
We’re also going to turn the house around, sort of metaphorically-speaking, so we’re going to have the living space look out onto the backyard where you can see the river. And these are small little tricks that you can use to really take the house and make sure that it communicates well with its surround. It’s always a great place to start when you’re thinking about a project.
LESLIE: You know, when you look through the gallery of photos, when you get to the image that’s of the back of the house, it’s so boring. And considering that you’re facing this wonderful vista, there’s not really a very usable deck. There’s this weird portion that juts out. Can you share with us any of the plans for the back of the house?
KEVIN: Yeah. The plans for the back of the house are really sort of the heart and soul of what we’re going to do. We’re going to update a kitchen; we’re going to tear out a 1940’s vintage, lemon-yellow kitchen and make it bigger for the way we live today.
But really, it’s about taking the back of the house – which is this tall, imposing wall, as you say, Leslie, that you can’t see much of the backyard; you can’t really get to it – and we’re going to bump the house out. We’re going to have a family room with lots of glass and access to that yard down on the ground level. And then above it, we’re going to have access through a deck and stairs down to the yard and a sun-porch living area.
And you’ll even be able to walk off of the master bedroom – way up top on the third floor – onto a deck, which is going to have phenomenal vistas of the Charles River. And that’s where we’re going to concentrate most of our efforts.
TOM: Well, it’s a beautiful home. It’s a beautiful project and I can’t wait to see how it all comes out. We will get back with you as the project progresses, Kevin, and I look forward, again, to seeing it completed. Kevin O’Connor, host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
For more tips, you can go to their website at ThisOldHouse.com and you can even click on the webcams and see the team as they transform this house from a ho-hum, bland structure on the Charles River to a real majestic masterpiece.
KEVIN: It’s great to be here, guys. Thank you.
LESLIE: Hear more from Kevin and the entire This Old House team when you catch episodes of the project as it progresses, on your local PBS station or you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.
Up next, an easy project made even easier. We’re going to tell you about a cool, new finish nailer from Stanley Bostitch that can help create very simple storage solutions that’ll help you get organized around the house. That’s coming up, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your toolbox, visit StanleyTools.com.
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 and you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win the Nutek Flat Tire Survival Kit. Now, it includes Bolt Off, which is going to loosen bolts and nuts easily, especially if they’re super-rusty. Now, you’re also going to get a tire gauge and a few different cleaning products that will help get your tools and parts clean for just about any job; not just tires. And they’re also going to get your hands clean when the job is done, too.
The Nutek Flat Tire Survival Kit is worth 19.99 and you can learn more about it at NutekGreen.com. But give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win one.
TOM: It’s a perfect addition to your car trunk; you’ll always have it handy when you need it.
Now, if you find, though, that you can’t find things you need, it might be time to think about getting better organized. And it’s not actually that hard to create some storage solutions for your stuff. In fact, it’s an easy weekend project and there are lots of ways that you can go about it.
And Leslie, I know you’ve done a lot of these storage and organizational projects for yourself and on your shows over the years.
LESLIE: It’s true. I mean organization really is not that hard if you sort of go about setting up a system. You know, you can put up shelves, you can hang pegboard or cork panels, you can add cabinets in your garage or your basement. And there’s a great new tool out now that can help with some of these projects: it’s the Stanley 16-gauge finish nailer kit. You really don’t need to think about what you need to organize and how you want to use it and then think about how to create that perfect storage solution.
TOM: That is a very cool product and I’ve had a chance to work with it. And there are a couple of things about it that I think are really unique. First of all, those finish nailers – you always used to have to grease them up. Not this thing. It’s actually an oil-free operation; it doesn’t require any regular maintenance and it completely eliminates the risk of oil stains getting on that fresh project that you just got done being so careful to build.
It’s also got a selectable trigger system that converts from sequential to contact operation. Now, you know what contact operation is, right?
LESLIE: Just when you tap it down.
TOM: You tap it; it fires the nail. That makes it really, really easy to use and it’ll switch back and forth between them. It’s also got a really quiet exhaust system with actually a muffler, so it directs that blast of air away from the user. It has something …
LESLIE: And not directly in your face.
TOM: And not in your face, right. It’s got a depth control called Dial-A-Depth. It’s very lightweight; it’s actually a magnesium design, which makes it really durable and very lightweight.
And the kit has everything you need: it’s got the finish nailer; it’s got a swivel fitting; it comes with a thousand, two-inch finish nails; it’s got the tips and the carrying case. It sells for about 169 bucks and you can learn more about it at StanleyTools.com.
And if you’re wondering what you’re going to use that to build and how you’re going to get all those organizational projects constructed, head on over to MoneyPit.com because we’ve got an entire section devoted to that topic.
LESLIE: Oh, everything. Mm-hmm. I do have to say once I finally got myself my own finish nailer – you know, I’ve used them on the shows and I’ve used them on projects. But once I got one in my own house, every room has crown molding; there’s not a project that I don’t ever feel like tackling where I’m like, “Oh, I’ll use my finish nailer,” because it’s a great tool and it makes the project fun.
TOM: Call us about your next home improvement project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to John from Melville, New York, who’s dealing with a leaky skylight. Tell us about the problem.
JOHN: I have a couple of skylights. They’re in like a bathroom and the bathroom has a high ceiling. And the skylights just leak when it’s a really heavy rain or when the rain is coming from out of the northeast.
TOM: John, what kind of skylights are these? Are they glass skylights? Are they plastic bubbles? Can you describe them for me?
JOHN: No, no, no. They’re Andersen skylights.
JOHN: They’re open; you can open them and they have like a copper flashing around them, which is underneath the shingles.
TOM: Right. Now, an Andersen skylight has something called a flashing kit and it’s basically assembled on top of the skylight frame so it can be disassembled, because I suspect that something is breaking down in this flashing area.
Essentially, what you need to do is take the flashing kit apart. There’s a head piece that will come off first and there are two side pieces and then you’re going to see a black, rubber band -sort of a big lip – and that’s going to cover the step flashing that goes around the side of it.
Somewhere in that assembly, you’re going to probably find a crack or a break in the shingles or in some piece of flashing that’s allowing the water to get in. It’s a very good skylight and one that should be easy to fix.
JOHN: Oh, wow. Thanks.
TOM: It’s not something that you want to take apart and sort of slap a lot of tar around it. It’s got a good flashing system so just take it apart, figure out what went wrong and put it back together again.
JOHN: Oh. I just had a guy just put a layer of tar around the …
TOM: Oh, man.
JOHN: Oh, man.
TOM: That’s the lazy man’s way out.
LESLIE: Yeah, tar is like the worst patch.
JOHN: Oh, wow. So how bad is that now?
TOM: Is it still leaking?
JOHN: I don’t know. He just did it like a couple days ago.
TOM: Alright. Well, listen. I would leave it alone for now but if it starts to leak again, what I would do is I would take the roofing apart around it and you’re going to have to cut out everything that he tarred and reshingle right around that. But hopefully, you can probably preserve the existing flashing kit and, if you can’t, you could order a new flashing kit.
JOHN: Oh, great. OK. So I don’t have to go with a new skylight. Great. That’s great.
TOM: No, I don’t think so. I think it’s completely reparable, OK, John?
JOHN: Thanks very much, guys.
TOM: You’re 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, phantom flushings and eerie noises in your pipes are more common than you think and the culprit? It’s not a ghost. Up next, we’re going to share solutions to those noisy plumbing problems.
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: Announcing a very special road trip. Leslie and I are heading out to the Craftsman Experience Store in Chicago. We’re going to be taping an episode of the program on October 2nd. We’d love for you to join us.
This is a very, very cool place. It has hands-on activities. The Experience Store has clinics; it’s got project stations. It’s sort of the ultimate DIY playground where you can get up and close and personal with all of Craftsman’s woodworking tools and automotive and mechanics tools; even the lawn and garden products and the garage storage products are there. It’s a total, one-of-a-kind experience.
They’ve got a Craftsman shop, so you can even take home your favorite Craftsman product that very day. A really cool store; brand new concept. And we’re going to be there to help introduce it to the world.
LESLIE: That’s right. And we want you guys to join us. So join Tom and I at the Craftsman Experience on Saturday, October 2nd. We’re going to be broadcasting from downtown Chicago and we’re going to be leading special project demonstrations during the day.
And if you don’t live near Chicago, you can follow along right online at Facebook.com/Craftsman.
TOM: And it’s a great location, too. It’s in Chicago’s downtown River North neighborhood. So we hope to see you there on October 2nd. For more information, visit Craftsman.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, if you can’t wait and you’ve got a home improvement question that has to be answered, you can e-mail us at MoneyPit.com by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon.
And I’ve got one here from Mike who asks: “We have been hearing horn sounds in our pipes for over six months. The water department says our pressure is normal. Any hints?”
LESLIE: Horn sounds. I’ve never heard that before.
TOM: It must be like almost a full orchestra. (Leslie chuckles) They’ve got the brass section there playing.
You know, plumbing systems, first of all, make noise because as the water runs through the various valves in your house – and this could be the flush valve in your toilet; it could be the water valves in your faucets. As it runs through those valves, it does create a vibration which transmits into sound. And because most plumbing systems are made of copper, that therefore transmits to the entire house via those pipes. So that’s why plumbing can be very, very noisy.
And also the fact that water is very heavy causes this, too. You know, sometimes when water runs down the pipe and you turn a faucet on or off, you get a pipe sort of banging sound and that’s called water hammer.
So, the way you deal with that is with something called a water hammer arrestor, which is sort of like a shock absorber that takes that water that’s flying down the pipe and sort of cushions it, so it doesn’t make that banging sound.
And the way you deal with those noises is to figure out which is the offending valve. And you can do that one valve at a time until you figure out which one it is, by opening and closing them. And if you – I’ll give you a little trick of the trade, though, where you can actually listen more closely to the pipe; into the valve. Take a metal screwdriver and tap it to the pipe itself and if you hold the other end of that screwdriver sort of near your head, it sort of transmits right up and goes to your ear. I used to do that as a home inspector and I actually could hear plumbing leaks in the copper pipes.
It was sort of like my stethoscope, Leslie.
LESLIE: That’s amazing.
TOM: You can imagine a screwdriver sort of touching the side of my head near my ear and then touching the pipe. You can actually hear the leaks in the pipes that way, through the plumbing.
LESLIE: You are one crafty, creative dude, my friend.
Alright. Steve writes: “The toilet in my bathroom runs about two to three seconds by itself, all day and night. What do you think it is and how can I fix it?”
TOM: Leaky flush valve. Very simple fix. It’s the flapper in the bottom of the toilet. You may have some grime under it, Steve, and you could flush the toilet and turn off the water and then wipe the bottom of that valve. You might have a little bit of grime or sand in there and that’s letting some water in. If not, the valve might just be worn. The good news is that it’s only about, say, five bucks or so to replace it.
LESLIE: And not a difficult fix.
TOM: Not hard. Oh yeah, very simple to do. And it can definitely save you some water because, remember, every time that toilet fills up, it’s replacing water that leaked out.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Steve? Once you silence that runny toilet, it will make your life so much better, because that is that little noise that just gets at you all day long. So get to it and silence the commode.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. The show continues right there, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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.