TRANSCRIPT FOR MAY 11, 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: Hi, I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And you are tuned to the Money Pit podcast. We are so glad that you are.
Now all this month on the podcast we’re going to be talking about staycation tips throughout our show and these are some ideas to make your home a little more comfortable, a little more pleasant, a little more fun if you’re not going to take a vacation this year; you’re just going to sort of stay at home and enjoy the place you have.
Now if you head on over to MoneyPit.com, we’re also making available a free chapter of our book, My Home, My Money Pit. It’s the outdoor living chapter available for free download at MoneyPit.com; chock full with lots of staycation tips to make your summer a lot of fun if you’re staying at home.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you know what? All of this great information and all these great ideas are brought to you by our friends over at Fiberon Decking and also the WORX GT Trimmer/Edger.
Alright, folks. Let’s get started.
TOM: Now, on with the show.
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: Pick up the phone, give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us right now if there’s a project that you’d love to get done around your house this spring before the summer comes; maybe something that’s going to help you make your house a little bit more of a relaxing, staycation kind of retreat. We’re here to help you get the job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
And if you are planning on taking a staycation and sticking around this summer, one of the projects you might be thinking about tackling is the backyard for your kids; a sort of kiddy staycation. (Leslie chuckles) You know, a tricked-out playground is a nice thing to do for the kids, but you need to make sure that you choose the right materials; that you keep those surfaces safe so the kids can actually stay safe while they’re playing. We’re going to have some tips on how to do just that in just a bit.
LESLIE: Now, if your dream staycation includes a backyard pool, we’re going to tell you how to stay safe there as well. We’re going to give you some ideas for pool fencing this hour; along with tips on how to create layers of safety for those little guys at your money pit.
TOM: And if you’re taking our advice and spending your vacation budget to stay home and fix up your money pit, you might want to consider replacement windows. You know, the tax incentives that are out there right now can make energy-efficient windows a really good choice and, to help, we’re actually giving away a free chapter of our book as a free download to teach you everything that you need to know about getting a window replacement project done. Details are available online right now at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Ah, and for more staycation ideas, we have got a great prize for you this hour. We are giving away a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure to one lucky caller that asks us their question on the air this hour; you’re going to win that copy.
TOM: So pick up the phone and give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Stacy in California, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
STACY: I have a bathroom; it has no window in it. But it feels like a sauna after you’ve used the shower. This is an apartment. Shouldn’t there be vents in there?
TOM: The code requires that you have either a window or a vent fan. Are you saying you have neither?
STACY: Yeah. I’m saying I don’t have either one.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, well then I think – if you have neither one, then I think you have a good reason to go talk with your landlord about installing a vent fan; because all that moisture is going to be a problem for that room. Not only does it make it hard to care for; it could be enough water to allow mold to grow.
LESLIE: Which could then turn into a health hazard.
STACY: Yeah, it does make it kind of hard to breathe.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, you’ve got – there’s no way to get that moisture out. Now if there were a vent fan, even though you’re in an apartment building situation, it could be vented to the outdoors; you know, there’s that space between your ceiling and the next apartment’s floor that they would be able to run the venting materials to get that moisture outside. So you do have every right to approach your building to make sure that this is corrected.
STACY: Yeah, I just wanted to know if there was a code because this has been around for quite a while, this building.
TOM: Well, Stacy, I think that if it was new construction there certainly would be a requirement. Whether or not it can apply to an existing apartment is a question for your local code enforcement official; but, from a practical standpoint, you definitely need to have a vent fan in that space.
Stacy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call because you can ask us your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week even on Memorial Day at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, a kid-friendly staycation includes a great backyard playset. Just make sure you put down the right kind of surfacing to keep the young ones safe. We’ll tell you what you need to know, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the WORX GT, the revolutionary trimmer/edger that’s fully adjustable, runs on rechargeable battery power and weighs less than a gallon of milk. See the WORX GT in action at FreelineforLife.com.
TOM: Where home solutions live, 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 question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. It’s chock full of great tips, tricks of the trade and presented with a little bit of humor just like our weekly radio show. All you got to do is call in with your home improvement question right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you’re thinking about tackling a backyard staycation this summer. And if that idea of a backyard staycation includes a play area for the kiddies and you’re thinking about doing a playground, remember that your play area should be safe places for your kids. But the wrong surfaces, they can absolutely spell tragedy for tots.
Now when you’re thinking about a playground, remember surfaces made of asphalt are just a dangerous thing of the past; but even grass – you know you think it’s soft but it can actually be too hard to prevent injury to kids. So today, materials like mulch, sand and even recycled rubber provide a much safer alternative in the very likely event of a fall.
Now you need several inches spread out over all of these potential fall zones, especially under swings and monkey bars. So take every step that you can to help protect your little guys.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now if you’ve got a question about any backyard project. Let’s get back to the phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Phil in New Hampshire, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
PHIL: Hi. I just bought a house that has paneling all in the living room.
PHIL: And I wanted to know if – the sheetrock behind it, if I peel it down, the sheetrock is not taped and mudded. And the house was built in ’48.
PHIL: Wondering if I can just reuse that sheetrock by taping and mudding.
TOM: I don’t see why not. If it’s good-quality drywall and you can simply tape it – tape the seams – you certainly can. I don’t see any reason to remove it. Now, if you get it down and you find out that there’s some problems with the drywall, you can simply put another layer over that and you can use 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch drywall that time around.
PHIL: OK. Well, I guess that was it.
TOM: Alright, Phil. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ed in New Jersey’s looking for a way to test the water hardness. Did you just move into a new place?
ED: I’m there about a year-and-a-half now …
ED: … and I tested the water with a retail water tester kit …
ED: … and it turns out that my water is actually soft. So I’m a little confused now because my region is supposedly a hard water region.
TOM: OK. Well, I would certainly believe the test results rather than what the rumors are about the region. Let me ask you this. When you use soap, say to wash your hands or something like that, does it seem to have any problem lathering up?
TOM: Well, then your water is probably soft.
ED: So is soft water OK?
TOM: Yes. So I would not get too worked up about the quality of your water. Most municipal systems are just fine.
ED: OK, that sounds great. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now I’ve heard of a dog eating my homework but John in Colorado is claiming that the dog ate the carpet. What happened? (Tom chuckles)
JOHN: She’s a Labrador and if you don’t watch her she’ll lick and lick at the carpet for some reason and then she’ll start to chew and she chewed about – oh, I’d say about a quarter or half-dollar sized hole …
TOM: Ah, boy.
JOHN: … in the carpet right by the couch.
LESLIE: Can you move the couch? (chuckling) No, I’m kidding.
TOM: Yeah, really.
JOHN: (chuckling) Right.
TOM: Well, first of all, do you have any extra carpet?
JOHN: Yes, we’ve got some out in the garage.
TOM: Well, you could patch it. You may see the seam. So you’re going to have to decide what’s going to be less obvious; the little hole in the carpet where maybe, as Leslie said, you could strategically move some furniture, or a patch.
LESLIE: If you did want to patch it what you would do is you would get a utility knife – a good, sharp one – and you’d cut a square shape around that hole. And you want to make sure that you don’t cut all the way through to the pad but you do want to make like one nice, clean cut on each side so that you do get out a nice, smooth area. And then that piece that you cut out, you want to use that as your template to cut a piece out of the new carpeting. And you need to pay attention to the pile.
JOHN: Oh, yeah.
LESLIE: As wood has a grain, carpet also has a grain; if you will. So you want to make sure that you’re not putting it in the opposite direction where all of a sudden you’re going to see a different sheen or a different color tonation.
TOM: Because then it’s super obvious.
LESLIE: Yeah, then it’ll like stare right out at you. And what you want to do is you want to get some carpet adhesive and you want to put that on the backside of the patch and on the pad – it’s almost like a contact cement – and then you want to take carpet glue and you want to – or the same adhesive, whatever you find – and put it on the edges of that pile and then shove it in there and really press it down into that hole and then fluff up the pile with your fingers and really let it dry and then vacuum your patch area.
TOM: Yeah, there’s another way to do it, too; with carpet tape that is heat activated. But for that you need some special tools and it sort of goes underneath the open sides of the hole and then it glues down to the carpet and holds the whole thing in place.
JOHN: Sounds good.
TOM: Alright, John, and listen; keep an eye on that dog, will you? Get a pen. (Leslie chuckles)
JOHN: Yeah, she’s a menace.
TOM: (chuckling) Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Claire in Connecticut needs some help cleaning a hardwood floor. What can we do for you?
CLAIRE: I’d like to know how you can get grease off a hardwood floor.
LESLIE: Like cooking grease?
TOM: Hmm. Has it soaked in, Claire?
TOM: Yeah. (groans)
LESLIE: (groans) Is the floor unfinished?
TOM: But you think it’s soaked through the finish?
TOM: Alright, well listen. If it’s soaked through the finish then you’re not going to be able to get it back out again. You’re going to have to sand the finish down to the wood or at least sand the upper layers of the finish off. I would attack this in stages. I would consider lightly sanding the wood surface to see if I can get some of that staining removed. If it tends to even out, then you could probably just do one coat of finish and you’ll be good to go; if not, you’re going to have it sanded down through to the wood so that you could actually get down to where that oil has resided and then do a new set of – new finish on top of that. You know, once it gets into the wood grain, you’ve really got to get down to the level that it’s at in order to be able to remove it and start again.
LESLIE: Jim in California is getting ready to enjoy his deck. What can we do for you?
JIM: I have a railing on my deck; it’s about – I guess it’s 2×6-inch railing all around the deck and it’s in the sun a great deal of the time. I sanded it and primed it and painted it two years ago and now it needs it again. So I’m sanding and I’m sanding it and I’m wondering do I have to take it down to the bare wood or can I just smooth it out and paint over some of the primer and some of the finish coat.
TOM: What’s it doing now? Is it peeling?
LESLIE: And are you using paint or are you using a solid stain?
JIM: I’m using a primer/sealer and then a trim paint which is outdoor – exterior latex paint.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
JIM: But I’ve been told that there’s something called a deck stain which is really a paint more than a transparent stain …
TOM: OK, what you’re talking about here is something called solid-color stain but the problem is that, now that you’ve painted this railing, you’re not going to get the result that you want out of this because you really need to have unpainted wood for this to work. Solid-color stain – see, wood stain comes solid color or semi-transparent or clear. Clear has no pigment to it; semi-transparent has about half the density and solid-color means just that – it’s consistent in color but you can still see the grain.
TOM: And that’s what we typically recommend for siding and decking. In your case, you’ve already painted it, so we’re beyond that. What I would suggest you do is to scrape and prime and sand to get all the loose stuff off; then I would put another primer coat on top of that. I would use an oil-based primer – not a latex primer – like KILZ or Bin or something like that and then I would paint over that. That’s the best way to get good adhesion and to get a good surface that will hold the new paint.
LESLIE: Heading to the east coast to talk to Miriam in New Jersey about a flushing problem in the toilet. What’s going on?
MIRIAM: We have a toilet that does not have a tank. So it’s an old toilet and it just has a handle that you press – I think it’s called a flushometer – and it’s been working; it just has a lot of water pressure and it flushed a little longer than normally. But then one day last week, when I flushed, it just wouldn’t stop; the water keeps coming. And there’s no way to turn it off because there’s no tank, so I had to go down and shut the water to the entire house.
TOM: Oh, boy.
MIRIAM: So, when I first got the plumber to come, he said what he thinks was wrong was the diaphragm and vacuum breaker was broken but he would replace the whole top part that you flush because it’s an old piece. Well, when they did replace that part, first it didn’t work well; it flushed so little, nothing could go down. They came back again and they made it more water pressure. Seemed to be OK at first and then we had the same problem; I flushed and it just kept flushing and flushing.
TOM: Well, you have an old toilet and you’re going to have old toilet problems associated with it. It’s not something that’s going to be easy to fix. It’s something that’s problematic for you now; it probably will continue into the future. This may be a good time to sort of throw in the towel and get a good-quality, low-flow, very economical water-efficient toilet.
There’s a new EPA program out now called WaterSense and a lot of the new toilets now are WaterSense-certified; which means they’re going to use a fraction of the water that you’re wasting right now with this old toilet.
LESLIE: But still do the job. Don’t be concerned about the term low-flow.
MIRIAM: OK, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joseph from Indianapolis has a question. Welcome to The Money Pit.
JOSEPH: I have – I’m putting the flooring down I got from Lumber Liquidators.
JOSEPH: I’m putting the quarter-round – I have a hard time pounding nails up against there. I tried paneling nails. I don’t know if I’m using the right thing because it’s a real pain, you know.
TOM: OK. Yeah, it’s hard. You got big thumbs, right, and little nails?
TOM: Well, here’s what I would do. I would get a very small, very thin drill bit. I would predrill that quarter-round moulding. I would insert not paneling nails, which tend to bend really easily; I would use regular finish nails – like #4 finish nails; predrill them through the quarter-round and then place the moulding in. Finish off by nailing them through the rest of the way and then set those nails with a nail set. Hit it with some colored putty and you’re good to go.
JOSEPH: OK. Thank you very much and I enjoy your show.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jean in New Hampshire, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JEAN: Hey, my back steps are made of solid concrete …
JEAN: … and the bottom one is breaking away from the rest of them.
JEAN: And there’s about a two-inch gap.
TOM: Ooh, that’s a big one.
JEAN: Plus the railing is loose, too. I was wondering if I could fill it in with some cement.
TOM: But not regular cement. What you want to use is a patching cement. It has an epoxy component to it which makes it very sticky so it adheres well and it’s not going to fall out. That step configuration is going to be pretty elastic. It’s going to move. It’s going to expand and contract and if you use a traditional, plain, cement patch it will crack very quickly and fall out but if you use an epoxy patching compound it won’t. QUIKRETE makes several good products that will do the trick for this.
JEAN: OK, and can I also fill in the holes where the railing is, too, with that?
TOM: Is the railing loose?
TOM: OK. Well, if the railing is loose you’re going to have to take the bolts out, fill the holes or, depending on how it’s set up, you could rebolt the holes in; you could use lead shields; you could use a different size fastener; you could use a mounting plate. You have to look at a more mechanical way to adhere this because putting the patching compound in there is not going to make the railing stiffer.
JEAN: OK, sounds great.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Well, there has never been a better time to replace your windows. You can get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on certain windows. We’re going to have all the details, right after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Install a new energy-efficient Therma-Tru door today and qualify for up to a $1,500 tax credit. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com/TaxCredit.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And I bet last winter you got sick and tired of paying high energy bills and maybe you’ve finally come to the point where you said, “This year we’re going to replace the windows.” If you did, it would be a wise time to do that because there’s lots of great reasons. You can improve your comfort, you can improve your energy efficiency and you can get a tax credit all at the same time.
Did you know that, on average, you actually spend about 40 percent of your home’s energy budget on heating and cooling alone? That’s almost half. You can easily cut about 15 percent of those costs by installing good-quality replacement windows.
LESLIE: Ah, but that’s the key right there: good-quality. And actually, not all windows are created equal. In fact, an Energy Star-rated window will bring you the most bang for your buck; giving you up to an 85-percent return on your investment. So here to tell us more is Tony Eschmeyer. Now he’s the product manager for Simonton Windows.
TONY: Leslie, thanks for having me. Tom, how are you today?
TOM: Excellent. So Tony, how do we determine if a window is efficient? You know, I’m always amused by the commercials that we hear all over the radio about – from window – not window manufacturers but mostly window installers that say, “Install our windows and you’ll save 50 percent on your energy bill,” and I always think to myself, “If I had no windows, maybe; otherwise, probably not.” (Tony and Leslie chuckle) I mean how do we get a realistic expectation of energy savings? How do we know if a window truly is energy efficient? What actually plays into the equation to make one window more efficient than another?
TONY: Well, Tom, to be honest with you; it actually doesn’t surprise me to hear some of those claims because of some of the products that still exist in the marketplace. I’ve traveled across the country and have still seen single-pane, aluminum-frame, non-thermally-broken (ph) windows being installed in new homes and it absolutely just blew me away.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, but when you’re looking at a window, I mean there are labels all over the entire face of glass and you’re looking at numbers and you’re trying to figure out, “Do I want a lower number or a higher number?” How do you sort everything out and know that you’re getting something that’s really going to be truly efficient?
TONY: There are two numbers, really, that you want to pay attention to, Leslie, and those are: number one – the U-value or U-factor; and the second is solar heat gain coefficient or SHGC.
TONY: And in both instances, you want the lower number. So the lower the number the better.
LESLIE: Well, I mean that really clears a lot of stuff up because you’re looking at these labels and it just gets so confusing. So once you’ve figured out the labeling system and you know what you’re looking for, does it make a difference what kind of gas is used to fill between the double panes? Because we get a lot of questions where people are looking at windows and they say, “Do I want argon? What’s the thing that I want?” Does that make a difference?
TONY: Sure, it absolutely does and, actually, the material that the window is made out of makes a difference. The amount of space that you have between the panes of glass can make a difference. So – and as you mentioned, Leslie, there are gas fills – argon and krypton – that actually do improve U-value performance. Both of those are inert gases that are heavier than air, which impedes the transfer of heat across that insulating glass unit.
TOM: Now Tony, I’ve always wanted to ask this question: does krypton come from the planet Krypton or somewhere else? (Tom laughs)
TONY: It is Superman’s least favorite gas.
TOM: Alright. Let me talk to you a little bit about not only the solar heat gain but the UV degradation. You know a lot of times you’ll get windows where you have decent-quality furniture and rugs that get like totally washed out because of the direct sunlight that’s getting through. What do we look for in the quality of glass that will keep that fade from happening?
TONY: Tom, really – and that was why I mentioned the solar heat gain coefficient. That is the measure of the amount of light that is coming through the window as well as the amount of heat that’s being generated by that light that’s coming through the window.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
TONY: To minimize UV ray damage to the inside of your home, you want to be looking for a glass that has a low-e coating on it and that low-e coating, essentially, is a – it’s a metallic coating that you can see through but it really does help impede the amount of UV rays that are going to be coming through that window.
LESLIE: Now Tony, we shouldn’t assume that all windows come with low-e coatings or a different kind of gas fill. These are really sort of special order items that you need to request at the purchase time?
TONY: For some manufacturers it may be special order but it is quite common now in the industry; so I think it’s becoming a little bit more – actually a lot more readily available.
LESLIE: But don’t just assume; ask.
TONY: So you definitely want to specify. If fade protection and UV rays are one of the things that you’re making a purchase decision on, you definitely want to request having a low-e-coated glass in your window.
TOM: Sounds good.
Tony Eschmeyer from Simonton Windows, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Good information; a lot to know; an important decision and, as I mentioned before, a great time to think about installing replacement windows because the government has made it possible for you to receive a tax credit up to $1,500 towards the cost of purchasing good-quality replacement windows.
For more information, you can go to the Simonton website. They’ve got an entire website set up for tax credit information at Simonton.com/TaxCredit. Pick up the phone; call them at 800-SIMONTON or you can also go right now to MoneyPit.com. On our home page we’ve got a brand new guide which is a replacement window guide. It’s a bonus chapter to our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure, and it’s free. Its available for free download at MoneyPit.com. Everything that you need to know about choosing replacement windows for your house – what kind of windows are good; what different styles of windows; about window hardware; how do you pick the best installer – all contained in the replacement window guide online right now at MoneyPit.com.
Tony, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great information.
TONY: Tom, Leslie, thank you. I appreciate it.
LESLIE: Thanks so much, Tony, for all of that great information.
When we come back, we are going to share with you some information about the number one cause of death when it comes to small children. We’re going to tell you how to protect your kids from drowning, right after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic, the 100% natural odor-eliminating air freshener. Unlike other air fresheners, Citrus Magic actually eliminates odors and lasts up to four times longer. Visit CitrusMagic.com for more information. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: 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 the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call with your home improvement or your home repair question. Now if you get on the air with us this hour, you could win a copy of our new book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. Now our book is full of the same kind of informative advice, tips and tricks of the trade that you learn here on The Money Pit each and every week, but you get to keep it with you and refer to it whenever you feel like it. So give us a call for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Time to talk about a pretty serious topic. You know it’s the number one cause of accidental deaths in young kids. We’re talking about drowning. But a properly-designed pool fence is the most effective way to keep small kids from danger. You need to know a couple of things.
First of all, the fence height needs to be at least 48 inches and the spacing between the chain links should be only 1.25 inches. Now, it’s important to note: this is not standard chain link fencing. The grid is much smaller; it’s harder to get a toehold and thus harder to climb. So the spacing has to be designed for a pool fence; again, no more than 1.25 inches. And make sure that all of those fences have self-closing hinges to prevent the gates from accidentally being left open.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now beyond fencing, we want you to think of layers of protection for your backyard pool, including a pool alarm. Now a pool alarm, that’s going to sound if a large object or small child should disturb the water. Also think about an alarm for your back door so that should you be in the kitchen and all of a sudden some of your little kids run out that back door, you will know about it before something terrible happens. So think in layers and protect your family.
TOM: Yeah, all of those things are important. If the kids get through one layer, you have two, three, more layers to stop them. Very important to set up that zone of protection to keep kids safe all summer long.
888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Charlie in Texas is dealing with some residue from a sprinkler system. Tell us about it.
CHARLIE: Yes, I’ve got some – my lawn sprinklers have been running on the side of the wall on my exterior brick; it’s a red brick home. And that white residue – the water out here is real hard and that white residue; I’m wondering the best way to take it off.
LESLIE: So you’re seeing mineral deposits; that’s really what you’re seeing when you see that white sort of fog. The easiest thing to get rid of it is a white vinegar-and-water solution. If you just put some white vinegar mixed up with a little bit of water and spray it on there you’ll see it’ll go away lickety-split.
CHARLIE: Great, I’ll give it a try.
TOM: Alright, Charlie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Anthony in Georgia is looking to keep an attic cool. What’s going on at your money pit?
ANTHONY: I was – I built a house last summer …
ANTHONY: … and they installed three little vents at the top. I was in a smaller house; about 1,200-square-foot house. I put a powered attic fan up there; not the gable mount but up at the ridge.
ANTHONY: I mounted it at the top and cut a hole in the roof and put it in there.
TOM: Right, right.
ANTHONY: Seemed to help a lot but I have since been told that you can actually pull cool air out of the house into the attic doing that.
TOM: That’s correct, because what happens is when you turn the attic fan on not only does it depressurize the attic space but it’ll reach down through the walls and through the ceiling, through all the little gaps like where wires run through the walls and that sort of space, and it’ll actually reach in and find its way into the interior space of your house and actually suck out some of the air conditioning.
TOM: So attic fans, even though they do a great job of cooling the attic, unfortunately they don’t stop there and they pull air conditioned air from the house itself.
TOM: So the best way to cool that attic is probably by increasing the amount of ventilation that the builder put in initially. You mentioned three separate vents. It sounds like you have three separate roof vents and what you would want instead is a vent that goes down the entire peak of the roof and that’s called a ridge vent and you want to match that with fully-open soffit vents. Continuous ridge and soffit venting is the best way to flush the warm air out of the attic in the summer and the cooler and moist air out of the attic in the winter when that can cause condensation and mold problems. But not an attic fan.
LESLIE: Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. When we come back, we’re going to answer your e-mails, including one on whether a pest-control project is one that you can and should do yourself. That’s coming up, after this.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie. And David did just that from Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. Got lots of e-mails. Let’s tackle his first.
LESLIE: Alright. David writes: “I’m looking for home pest protection inside and out. What can I use for self-application of termites protection? I’ve got two homes; New Jersey and Florida. I hear so many ads but I want to do it myself.”
TOM: Termite treatment is not a do-it-yourself project, David. There are some termite products out there that could be considered DIY – they’re usually these bait-type stations – but I don’t recommend them. They’re not nearly as effective as a professional treatment. I mean I just had termites at my house. I used a product called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r – their website is TermidorHome.com – and I had it professionally applied because it’s not available over the counter, so to speak. And the nice thing about the professional termidicides is that they are undetectable. The termites don’t know that they’re there, which is a good thing because they’ll go through them; they get them on their insect bodies, take them back to the nest, pass them to each other and that’s the way it eliminates the entire colony. Think of it as sort of germ warfare for termites. (Leslie chuckles) It’s much more effective than trying to use anything that you could buy at a home center or hardware store.
So with termites, I definitely would not do the project myself. I would call a pro, get it done once, get it done right because they really can cause a lot of damage.
LESLIE: Alright, Sandra from New York writes: “My house was built in 1968. Most of the wood floors are in great shape. There are a few which are showing signs of wear. Gaps are appearing and the floor seems to give in some areas. Can anything be done short of replacing the floor?”
TOM: Well, if the house was built in 1968 those are probably really good-quality floors. I mean that was a great year for wood floor installation. It was pretty much the norm. You say they’re giving in some areas? I’d like to know why they’re giving. I would take a look into that.
In terms of the gaps, you can fill those up with jute, with rope, and then finish right over them and that will seal them in.
LESLIE: Alright, now when you pick up the jute, what you can do is – you’ll see that it’s in many layers; sort of twisted and wound up to create the actual piece of rope itself; you can unlayer it to make sure that it fits into the crack that you’re trying to fill, dip it in the stain, let it dry and then use a paint scraper to help you really get it in there and it’ll look exactly like the floor.
TOM: Well, if you’re thinking about redoing your kitchen or your bathroom this spring, it’s a good project and we know that you’re counting every dollar. But there’s a little sneaky trick on this that can help you save some money on at least the tile. Leslie’s got that tip in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: You know, this really is a great trick; especially if you are low on budget but super-high on your design dreams. Go ahead and when you’re thinking about tiles choose a simple and inexpensive tile – let me stress that: inexpensive – and use that tile to cover the main field portion of your kitchen backsplash or your bathroom walls; whatever it is that you’re working on as a tiling project. Now, if you go then and splurge a little bit – just a tiny, little bit – on a few beautiful, decorative tiles that are really rich in color and style, this will help you create some major visual interest. And then just go ahead and mix those into your plain field tiles; lay it out as a pattern. Or even if you just want to use those simple, plain tiles, turn them on the diamond; that instantly sort of upgrades something that’s so simple and makes it look special and then go ahead and splurge a little bit on a border tile.
If you can sort of mix all these things in, you’re going to get a great, decorative detail in a very small quantity. This way you can really splurge on something that’s extra special for that room or use that extra money to start another home improvement project. Just think about the nickels and dimes here, folks, and think about creating huge visual impact with something so special – just like a decorative tile – and it will make your project look fantastic.
TOM: Great tip.
If you’re looking for a deck you can enjoy without the time-consuming maintenance associated with that, we’ve got a great solution for you on that project coming up next week on The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Helping you build big dreams.
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(Copyright 2009 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)