TRANSCRIPT FOR OCTOBER 5, 2009, HOUR 2
Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If you’re looking at a box full of tools and don’t know which one to pick up first (Leslie giggles), we can help. If your weekend wardrobe includes a hard hat, we could suggest an alternative (Leslie chuckles) and still help you get the job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
You know, with a few weeks left in hurricane season, we’re not totally out of the woods yet. So coming up this hour, we’re going to have some tips on how to help your home survive a hurricane or a severe storm. Have you ever wondered why some homes make it through those storms while others don’t? Well, the reason is, at least in part, because of the home’s construction. We’re going to cover one of the top reasons a house can stand up to violent storms and we’ll help you evaluate your home so that you know what you might need to improve.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, you know, a beautifully-paved patio or walkway or even your driveway will look great for years to come and it adds great curb appeal to your house, which always helps maintain the value of your home and helps you fetch a little bit more money when it comes time to sell. So we are going to talk about the best way to start a paving project, in a little bit.
TOM: And we’re going to help you breathe a little easier this hour because if you pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, you might just win the Silver Ion HEPA air filter from Alen Corporation; worth 210 bucks. Going to go out to one caller chosen at random who calls us today at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re thinking about finishing your basement, you’re like our friend Robin in New Hampshire. What can we do for you?
ROBIN: Hi. We are going to be finishing the basement; probably most of the work ourselves. And I thought I heard you talk about not doing a treatment for waterproofing. We had about six inches of water in our basement a couple of years ago when everybody was getting wet basements. What would you recommend? Because it was coming right through the cement walls.
TOM: Yeah, what we would recommend is a multi-step process. First of all, when your basement floods consistent with heavy rainfall, which is generally what’s happening when everybody’s getting wet basements, you want to look outside your house first. Look at the grading and the drainage at the foundation perimeter; the immediate four to six feet around the outside of your house. Start at the roof. Look at the gutter system: make sure it’s clean; make sure the downspouts …
ROBIN: We have no gutters.
LESLIE: That’s part of the problem.
TOM: Well, therein lies the big problem, OK?
ROBIN: (chuckles) OK, we’ve got to get gutters.
TOM: You need to have gutters because, otherwise, you’re dumping all the water off the roof edge …
LESLIE: Directly on the foundation.
TOM: … at that back-filled perimeter; where the house was once dug up and then the foundation built and then the dirt pushed back in. Well, that’s very, very absorbent and if that water is being dropped off the roof onto the foundation perimeter, it’s going to go right through the walls. No wonder your basement is leaking. If I wanted to make a basement leak, I would take the gutters off the house. (Leslie chuckles)
ROBIN: Oh, OK. (chuckles) I guess (inaudible at 0:03:31.5).
LESLIE: Or you would take gutters that are on the house and fill them up with a lot of junk so that nothing can get through it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) That’s right. Yeah. Robin, get gutters on the house and make sure the downspouts are extended away from the foundation perimeter. And the fact that you had no gutters and only had one wet basement in all this time, that’s not so bad. That actually is very surprising. So I suspect that just having a gutter system on your house is going to fix this once and for all.
The other things to do, while you’re at it, are to make sure that the soil slopes away from the wall at the outside; it’s not too flat. You don’t want the soil to slope into it. If you’ve got to improve it, you add clean fill dirt and slope that away.
But those two things will solve the majority of wet basement problems and, you’re right, you don’t need to put in basement waterproofing systems; you don’t need to dig up foundations; you don’t need to break up slab floors in basements and put in drains and sump pumps and all that. That is all a waste of money in our opinion. You can solve most wet basements just by cleaning your gutters and regrading the foundation perimeter.
ROBIN: Great. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Robin. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ari in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ARI: Hi. I’m currently buying a 3,400-square-foot home with many large windows and …
ARI: Thank you, thank you. And I was given an estimate on doing a 25-percent window tint. I was given an estimate of between $2,000 and $3,000 and I was told that that would help me reduce my utility bills.
TOM: Well, if this is a new house, what kind of windows are they putting in there, Ari? Are these Energy Star windows? Are they low-e windows? Are they insulated windows?
ARI: The truth is I’m not sure. I know they’re Andersen double-pane.
TOM: Oh, well that’s a very good window then. That’s a very good window. You probably have a low-e coating, so that’s going to reduce the heat; it’ll reduce the solar glare, to some extent, as well. I mean some folks like the tint but I don’t think that there’s an energy-saving argument for it; not on brand new windows like that, that are already pretty energy-efficient.
ARI: Uh-huh, uh-huh. OK.
TOM: I think you need to look into the qualities of the window that you’re getting with the house and make the decision from there. If these are Energy Star-rated windows, I think you’re in very good shape right now.
ARI: Uh-huh. OK, fine.
TOM: Alright? Maybe you can put that into furniture. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
ARI: OK. (chuckles) OK, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ari. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Now you can be part of The Money Pit by calling in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are always here to lend a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, why weak windows can cause devastation during a violent storm and what you need to know to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.
ANNOUNCEMENT: This portion of the Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior paint and primer in one with advanced NanoGuard technology. Designed to not only help you save time, but also preserve your home’s interior finish. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and you could win a great prize. This week’s giveaway is a T100 HEPA air purifier from Alen Corporation and it’s a got a two-pack of their Silver Ion air filters included in this prize giveaway. Now, the Silver Ion air filter, it removes 50 percent of viruses that can cause the flu after only 24 hours of usage. This is a perfect gift for the flu season. If you are prone to getting sick, pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement question because we’ve got a prize package worth 210 bucks but it could be yours for free. But you’ve got to be in it to win it, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now it’s time to talk a little about stormproofing your house. You know, the biggest cause of devastation during a hurricane is the ability of wind to enter a structure through a broken door or window. This can cause a buildup of pressure inside the walls that literally blows out the roof and the walls. You know, homes in a hurricane can literally blow up when the air gets into those spaces and sometimes, depending on the wind pressure, they can also collapse inward on themselves and that happens very frequently during tornadoes. But breaking that outdoor seal, that exterior seal, through windows and doors can definitely cause some problems one way or the other. That’s why you’re going to sometimes see news footage where you have one home that’s perfect and the one next door is just not.
Homes with good-quality, code-improved, impact-resistant windows are going to do well – windows like Simonton has the StormBreaker Plus, which are very good winds that can stand up to flying debris and really brutal storms – because windows like this are going to provide maximum protection and they’re still going to look good. They’re going to add beauty, they’re going to add class; you won’t have to shutter the windows; you won’t have to board up the house. If you have storm-resistant glass, all of that is going to work out very well for you because it’ll protect the house and still look good at the same time.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if this is something that you’re thinking about doing, you know this is a great year to replace your windows; especially if you find yourself living in a storm-prone area. Because there’s a $1,500 tax credit available to help offset the cost of those windows and that’s good through the end of 2010. So if you’re thinking about new windows, go ahead and do it.
And if you need some more information and more information about the federal tax credit, go ahead and visit Simonton.com/TaxCredit because they’ve got all the information there about what makes a good window over another one; what you need to qualify for the tax credit. And we’ve also – on MoneyPit.com, we have got a bonus chapter available about storm windows themselves (ph), correct?
TOM: That’s right. It’s on the home page at MoneyPit.com. It’s everything you need to know about replacing the windows in your house. It’s a free download of a chapter from My Home, My Money Pit and that is on the home page of MoneyPit.com.
888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Let’s get back to the phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Chris in California needs some help with windows. Tell us about it.
CHRIS: I’m thinking about putting the window film on my windows …
CHRIS: … and I was wondering if it was worth the investment and if it really does reflect the sun. And if it does reflect the sun for fading, what happens in the winter? Does it keep the sun from warming my house?
TOM: That’s a good question because I’ll tell you, I remember years ago when I was a home inspector and I was called to do this inspection on a house. The complaint was that the homeowner had installed brand new, energy-efficient windows and she didn’t think they were working very well. And I said, “Well, why don’t you think they’re working well?” She says, “Well, before I put these in I used to sit at this chair at my kitchen table every morning and have my coffee and I really felt the warmth of the sun coming in and warming my whole body.” (Leslie chuckles) And now I’m just cold all the time. (Chris chuckles) I said, “Well, that’s the point of low-e windows.”
LESLIE: (chuckling) It’s working.
TOM: You see, it is working because it reflects the heat back outside.
CHRIS: I have the low-e and the dual pane but I have – what is it; the west-facing side of the house? – wherever the sun beats in in the afternoon and the late afternoon – it just really – it fades the furniture and I don’t have drapes on these windows and sliding glass. So I’m looking for an efficient way to block some of the heat and keep the furniture from fading.
TOM: Well, in that particular situation, you sound like a perfect candidate for window films. You know, applied properly, they can give you good UV protection; they can prevent some of the fading of the furniture. I don’t think it’s going to have a tremendously adverse effect in the winter, in terms of your comfort or your clarity of the windows. I know that 3M has a big line of window films. They seem to the be the market leader on this. I do know, however, that the application is really, really critical: it’s got to be done right; the windows have to be super-clean; you’ve got to get great adhesion. But if it’s done well, I think it could be very effective in this situation.
CHRIS: Oh, great. Well, I appreciate your help. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Chris. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mark in Virginia is dealing with a very moist garage. Tell us about the problem.
MARK: Yes. I have mold in my garage. It’s due to standing water on the outside. Came home from a business trip and come inside to cut the grass; I grab my work boots and they’re all covered with mold. Since then, I called the landscaper and he’s going to be regrading the yard to put soil around the house to push the water away. We also talked about putting plastic downspouts under the ground and carry it our further away from the house.
TOM: Well, those are two very good things because you do want to move the water away from the house. Make sure, if he adds soil, that it’s not topsoil because landscapers love to put too much topsoil around the house. The grading improvement should be made with clean fill dirt, not topsoil. You can put a little bit of topsoil on top of it but the grade has to be made with clean fill dirt. If you put too much topsoil around it, basically it’s going to do the opposite and, Mark, it’s going to hold water around the house. You don’t want that to happen.
So those are two things to do. Have you cleaned up the mold that you found in the garage?
MARK: I am in the process of doing it and that is a very timely experience, I tell you that.
MARK: I’ve thrown away a lot of cardboard boxes.
MARK: Just using plastic bins right now.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right, well that’s all mold food.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, and that’s the best thing.
MARK: Oh, OK.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, you don’t want to …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Anything that’s a natural fiber. Fabrics, papers, cardboard – which are typically things that you store items in – are terrible in a high-moisture situation. And once you get a good system with those plastic bins, you’ll be able to see everything that’s in them; be super-organized, which is great for an extra space like this.
MARK: OK. Awesome. That’s great.
MARK: Awesome. Alright. Well, I want to thank you very much. My wife and I love listening to your show. We think it’s awesome.
TOM: Thanks, Mark.
LESLIE: Well, thank you so much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Tom from Connecticut. How can we help you?
TOM FROM CONNECTICUT: Oh, yeah. Hi. Love your show, love your book.
TOM: Well, thanks you very much.
TOM FROM CONNECTICUT: OK. I have a wood-frame house up here in Connecticut; built around 1944. I had ridge vents installed about three years ago when I had the shingles replaced and then I got your book and it mentioned soffit vents. So …
TOM FROM CONNECTICUT: But I don’t have soffits.
TOM FROM CONNECTICUT: I have gable vents up there.
TOM: Alright. So, you want to know how to create soffit vents when you don’t have them?
TOM FROM CONNECTICUT: Right.
TOM: There’s a type of vent called a drip-edge vent and what a drip-edge vent does is it essentially creates sort of a mini-soffit. It extends the edge of your roof shingles and creates sort of like a two-inch overhang in that space and that’s where the air gets in. There’s a good website for one of the ventilation manufacturers. It’s simply Airvent.com.
TOM FROM CONNECTICUT: Airvent.com. OK.
TOM: And you can see pictures of drip-edge vents there and that’s the way to get a soffit vent onto the edge of a roof where you don’t have one that’s designed in.
TOM FROM CONNECTICUT: Great. Wonderful. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?
BILL: Hey, good. How you guys doing? Hey, I have a kitchen floor and it’s probably about ten years old. And in front of the oven it’s like buckling up on the joints and it goes down like in 2’x2′ squares. Any idea what would cause that or what’s the best way to fix it?
TOM: Hmm. So it’s pressed up against the oven. You’ve had some movement in that floor. What kind of material is it, Bill?
BILL: Well, it’s not linoleum. I’m not sure what it is but it goes down in, like I said, 2’x2′ squares and right in front of the oven there it’s – like in the joints – it’s popping up. You know?
TOM: Right. So, is it – it’s loose in terms of popping up or the edges are pressing together?
BILL: The edges are pressing together; like it’s pushing up; like would crown up. You know? Crown up a tad.
TOM: Right, right. And what kind of floor is this over?
BILL: Good question. I guess they put it down over the original kitchen floor, I guess.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah. Well, obviously you’ve had some movement in this floor and the fact that these edges are pushing up together means they’re not going to lay down flat because they’re hitting each other. Is it possible to remove the tiles and reset them?
BILL: Yeah, I guess. I was trying to figure out the easiest way. I guess that’s the only way to do it.
TOM: Well, the only other thing that you can do, if it’s strategically possible, is to cut one of the high edges of this material to make enough room to press both down. Do you follow me?
BILL: Yeah. In other words, trim it a little bit and then try to push it back down again?
TOM: (overlapping voices) You’d have to trim it – that’s right – and push it back down again.
TOM: But even doing that, you may have a hard time getting it to lay flat. It sounds like ten years is a long time; you know, a lot of wear and tear for a floor, Bill. You may need to be thinking about something new. You know, a good option here might be a laminate floor because it’ll lock together and it’ll sit right on top of what you have.
BILL: OK. Alright, good. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bill. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, if you’re thinking about updating your driveway or your walkway or even your patio, a great do-it-yourself project is pavers. And you know what? Not only is it a great project to do with your own hands; it is a beautiful way to maintain your home’s value while making it look good at the same time. Up next, we’re going to tell you how to get started on this project the right away.
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: 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: The website is MoneyPit.com. There you will find lots of tips and advice on all sorts of home improvement projects including how to install a paver patio; one of the more common questions we get. And the fall is the perfect time to do this project because it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, the ground is not frozen and a lot of contractors that do it, well, they’re looking for work right now. So whether you’re going to do it yourself or you’re going to hire a pro, now is a good time to think about a paver patio, paver sidewalks, paver driveways. But the key thing to do is to make sure you prepare the base properly because that’s where people make the big mistake.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It really is super-important to do the proper step-by-steps at the beginning of the project. Then you can have a little bit of fun with the pavers and choosing the layout, the pattern; however you want to use them and the pavers themselves. But when you get to the beginning stage, you want to make sure that you excavate the area. I would go down six inches, eight inches. You need to clear a good amount of that top layer of grass and then all of that dirt.
Then what you want to do is – you know, you can try to get that area as level as possible; remove any roots that could be in the way, large stones. Things that could just become an obstruction, get that out of the way and then go ahead and you lay out a base of – is it #9 contractor’s gravel?
LESLIE: You just want an assortment of aggregate. Lay that out there and then you go ahead and get sand and you want to put a good inch or two of sand – maybe even more. You know, depending on how deep you’ve excavated, you want to go about two inches of sand over that #9. And then the best thing to do is rent a tamper. I mean you cannot underestimate the importance of proper tamping; especially at this point of the project.
TOM: Absolutely. If you do prepare the base properly, installing the pavers is the easiest part. It’s like putting a puzzle piece together. And in terms of the tools, well, you can rent them all at a local rental center. You can get a saw to cut the bricks. And it really is a project that you can do yourself if it’s small and if it’s manageable. Now, I wouldn’t make my driveway, my double-wide driveway, the first project you do yourself.
LESLIE: Oh gosh, no.
TOM: But certainly a small patio or a small walkway is a doable project and it looks really good and it’s going to last for many, many years. So …
LESLIE: And you know what? If you’re a little nervous about cutting the pavers, go ahead and make sure that when you figure out the layout and the dimensions of all of your paving stones …
LESLIE: … make your patio or whatever you’re working on the dimensions that you won’t have to cut any of the stones. (chuckles)
TOM: (chuckling) Good point.
888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Maybe you’ve got a different fall project on your mind. We are here to help.
LESLIE: Joanne in Florida is having a problem in the bathroom. The plaster is bubbling up. Tell us what’s going on.
JOANNE: Alright, I have a house that was built in 1967. It’s a block house and in my bathroom it’s plaster on top of the block.
JOANNE: Between the window and the corner of the room, there’s a section about two feet tall and about a foot wide that the plaster keeps getting soft and bubbling up. And I’ve tried spackling, years ago, and that bubbled out; and I’ve tried a plaster patch repair and, over time, that bubbles out.
TOM: Hmm. It sounds to me like you have a leak, Joanne …
JOANNE: A leak?
TOM: … and we need to get to the bottom of that. Yeah. You mentioned it’s a concrete block house. The thing about concrete block is it’s very hydroscopic. It’s going to absorb water and that water can not only sort of fall down with gravity but it can actually get drawn up and across the wall. So the first place I would look is right around that window to make sure that we’re not letting any water in there that’s getting drawn into the block and pulled across to the wall. Because what you’re describing is exactly what happens when that block gets wet and, as such, the plaster can’t attach to it; it gets very saturated and sort of keeps falling off. Could be happening very slowly over time but we’ve really got to get to the bottom of this leak and I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening.
TOM: So take a look at the window, take a look at the flashing, take a look at the caulking around it and try to seal it up as best you can and then keep an eye on it and see if it repeats itself. And by the way, the next time you patch this and get it all nice and dry and smooth, make sure you prime the wall with an oil-based primer. That would help as well.
JOANNE: OK. Great.
TOM: Alright, Joanne, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So, do you want to know a $10 home improvement tip that will take hundreds of dollars off of your energy bill? Well, we’re going to …
TOM: I do. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Yeah, well we’re going to tell you what it is with this hot tip, 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: 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: Call us right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If you do, you’ll get the answer and you can win of our weekly giveaways. This hour it’s the T100 air purifier from Alen Corporation; comes with two extra Silver Ion HEPA air filters and it’s eco-friendly and non-toxic and naturally provides antibacterial and antifungal and antiviral protection. There’s a lot of antis in here. (Leslie chuckles) It’s worth $210. Going to go out to one caller who reaches us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with their home improvement question.
LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call; especially if you are looking for a quick, easy and cheap way to save money at your money pit. If this all sounds like something you are interested in, then let’s talk about your hot water bills.
Now, your water heaters, they lose plenty of heat through their outside shells. So, if you’ve got 10 bucks kicking around, head on over to your home center and pick up an insulating jacket and that’s going to keep heat from escaping – and I’m talking about a jacket for your water heater; not for yourself. You might be able to find one there but let’s stick to the water heater.
They’re easy to install and they can save hundreds of dollars on your energy bills over the life of the heater. So quit messing around. Head on over to the home center and spend 10 bucks to save yourself lots of dough in the long run.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Perhaps you need to save money and get a home improvement project done. We can help you do just that.
LESLIE: George in New Jersey has an issue with garage doors. Tell us about it.
GEORGE: Well, I have a rollup garage door with about four panels and they’re wood-framed but the veneering that you look at, as you look at the door, is a masonite. And there’s a tendency, with splashing of rain up on the doors, for the masonite to absorb the water and, essentially, kind of swell; almost like sheetrock would with water.
TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yep.
GEORGE: And I’m wondering what kind of a sealer might be applied that would make the masonite essentially impervious to the water.
TOM: Not possible.
GEORGE: At all, huh?
TOM: You’re stepping into a well-established problem here with – it’s very similar to the composite siding and hardboard siding issues. There’s a lot of lawsuits over this over the last decade or even more where you had this hardboard-styled surface that got wet, swelled and basically started to fall apart. So you’re never going to get it to be completely impervious. What you can do – is this a stained door or a …?
GEORGE: Yeah. Well, it has a finish paint or stain. I guess it’s a paint.
TOM: Alright. Well, what I would do is this: I would try to make sure that we seal any gaps between the hardboard surface and the wood frame of the garage door; so any gaps there, you can caulk those. And then I would just use two coats of good-quality exterior paint. I would prime it first with an oil-based primer and then I would put about two coats of exterior paint on top of it. And you know, painting regularly is the best way to preserve a composite surface but, you know, the product is kind of working against you and eventually you’re going to have to replace those doors.
GEORGE: Gotcha. Thought there might be something, with all the modern technology, that could …
TOM: Well, there is and it’s called a better garage door. (all laugh)
GEORGE: You’re right about that.
TOM: George, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Going over to Utah where Mary Jane needs some help fixing cracks in the basement. Tell us what you see.
MARY JANE: Well, in the middle part of the basement where we once had a great big furnace, there are tiny, hairline cracks. And they don’t appear to be leaking or have air or anything like that but I just wondered what you would do. It’s a concrete floor.
TOM: If they’re hairline cracks, I would probably not do much about it, Mary Jane. Do you want to finish the floor somehow?
MARY JANE: No, it was just that I didn’t want them to get worse. (chuckles)
TOM: Well, the hairline cracks are probably shrinkage cracks and it’s not likely they’re going to get worse. They’ve probably been there for a long time, as you said. If they’re bigger cracks and we’re just trying to seal them up so that we don’t get water in there, we don’t get dirt in there, we don’t trap our heels in there, then we would tell you to use an epoxy patching compound or to use a flowable urethane caulk product. But if they’re hairline cracks, there’s really not much you have to do; and, in fact, if you use, perhaps, one of the epoxy floor paints, they’ll probably fill in nicely and you won’t even see them anymore.
MARY JANE: Oh, OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright, Mary Jane. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: James in Rhode Island is going green with some solar panels. What can we do for you?
JAMES: I had a discussion with my brother. Basically, are there any types of maintenance issues you have to handle with solar panels – yearly, quarterly, electrically or cleaning – in this issue area if you put them on your house?
TOM: Well, there’s going to be some mechanics involved with the panel. You’re going to have a circulation pump, for example, that needs to be oiled. But in terms of cleaning the panels, unless you have some odd event that gets them really dirty, like a very severe storm or something of that nature, I really don’t think that you need any maintenance to the panel surface itself. I mean those panels are really, really durable and continue to perform well even when they have normal accumulation of dust and dirt on it just from the environment. So I don’t think you have a lot of maintenance there. You will have some mechanical maintenance, though, to make sure that the system is continuing to circulate. I presume we’re talking about active solar panels here for a hot water system.
JAMES: Well, yes. And it’ll apply to electrical, too, then; the same issue.
TOM: Well, it certainly would and, you know, there’s been a lot of changes in the electrical solar panel industry. Probably the most recent is that they’re starting to come out with solar tiles that look like roofing shingles or at least shaped to work within a roofing system that actually are photoelectric collectors.
LESLIE: And they’re so thin. They lay in the exact profile of the existing roofing material; so they do sort of blend in while providing the greenness and the energy efficiency you’re looking for.
JAMES: Amazing. Amazing. Well, thank you so very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You know, I can understand why he’s asking the question; because if you search the web and just try to do some research about solar panels, tons of companies will pop up saying, “Oh, we’ll come to your house and clean your panels.”
LESLIE: It’s not really a huge necessity.
TOM: Right, exactly. And you know, there’s always going to be somebody out there to sell you something you don’t need or something that you do need at an exorbitant price and that’s why you can pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, winterizing a summer home is an important step to avoiding damage and the same applies to all those snowbirds, retirees and other folks who head to warmer climates in the winter.
LESLIE: That’s right and we’ll tell you what to do to make sure your home withstands winter’s chills even when you’re not there.
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: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question or log onto MoneyPit.com and click on the Contact link and you can e-mail us your question. And while you’re there, let us know what you think of our brand new website; newly organized and optimized to make finding your home improvement solutions that much easier.
LESLIE: Alright, and those who did e-mail in, we’ve got one here from Mark in New Jersey who writes: “I have a summer home in the Catskills and was wondering if there is something I could install that would use pressure to push all of the water through and out so that I don’t have to manually drain the water before the winter.” Do you want to drain all the water out of your pipes?
TOM: Well, if you’re not going to be there, yes. It’s a good idea.
TOM: And no, there’s nothing you can have to really push it out except for compressed air. I mean that’s the way a home is winterized. When you do need to get rid of all of the water that’s in the pipes, you need to blow that water out with compressed air. So you can drain it. You can have a valve at the very bottom of the plumbing system, you can open up all of the other faucets in the house. But if you want to be absolutely sure, you need to blow some air through that. And sometimes, also, what a plumber will do is he’ll add antifreeze to toilets and other places where there’s traps so that if those pipes happen to have any water that’s left behind in the drain, in the waste, it won’t freeze and break.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and this is a situation where you’re not heating the house at all; not even to, say, 50 degrees in the winter; like you’re just turning everything off.
TOM: Well, you know, if you’re going to be away for a long time, it’s not a good idea to have the water on. It really isn’t. And by the way, you make a good point with respect to the heating. I don’t think it’s a good idea to turn the heat completely off. I would leave it probably around 55 even in a vacant, winterized house. Because you know, if you turn it off completely, you’re going to have a lot of moisture and humidity problems. It makes doors swell, wallpaper falls off walls. It’s not pretty when you come back.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s bad for your furniture, too. And I think – you know, just because you’re not going to be there for the winter, you need to think about maintaining everything that’s inside and, you’re right, I’ve seen wallpaper come crashing down from these summer homes that people just ignore during the winter months. And you know what? The Catskills, Mark, are absolutely beautiful in the winter, so why the heck aren’t you using it then? Tom and I can go visit.
TOM: And mold is a big problem, too. When it’s very, very cold in the house like that, you get more condensation and when you think about it, wallpaper and other paper surfaces – even the paper of the drywall – can easily grow mold. So, for all those reasons, winterize it but don’t totally turn the heat off.
LESLIE: And seriously, Mark, if you’re looking for some housesitters, hello, you’re talking to them. (Tom chuckles) I like to ski. I’ll go there.
TOM: Well, one of the fun things we do on this show is to always help folks out of very sticky situations. But there is one time when you really do want a sticky situation and Leslie’s going to tell us about that in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: (chuckling) That’s right, Tom. We’re talking about wallpaper and when it comes to wallpaper, let me tell you, the stickier the better; especially when you are hanging it because you want it to stay up. So, your bathtub – you’re thinking, “Why do I want to take a bath and do the wallpaper?” No, your bathtub is a great place when you’re thinking about a wallpaper project because you’ve got to wet those pre-pasted wallpapers and a warm bath is the perfect place for it. You want to dip it in there. It’s going to help soften up the glue.
And another trick is once you’ve got it all sort of wet and the glue seems to be getting all sticky, you want to take it out, lay the sheet of wallpaper on a work table and then sort of fold one half to the center and the other half to the center. It’s called bookmarking. This way you’ve got the two adhesive sides sort of sticking together and you’re looking at the decorative side of the wallpaper with a seam in the middle and then you want to rub those adhesive sides together. This way you’re going to maximize the glue’s effectiveness. Once you’ve got that working, open it up or carry it, folded over, to the wall surface you’re going to hang it. This way you’re not going to get glue anywhere else. Hopefully you’ve got your work table right nearby. Go to the place where you’re at, open it up, hang it up, smooth it in place and you truly will have a very sticky situation, in a good way.
TOM: 888-666-3974. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Coming up next week on the show, we’re going to help you take the scare out of Halloween with some safety tips for decorating your home that will keep the neighborhood ghosts and goblins very, very safe.
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.
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(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.)