Air Conditioning Maintenance Tips, Matching Old Tiles, Mold Prevention and More
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, because we’re here to help. If you’re stuck in the middle of a project, you don’t know what to do next, call us. If you tackled a project, maybe it didn’t go so well, call us. If you need some really mischievous ways to get your significant other to do the project for you, call us. We’ve got ideas for all of that. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Subliminal messaging.
TOM: Well, coming up this hour, it’s been one of the hottest summers on record but then again, your air conditioner already knew that, as did you. Question is: are you treating it right? If you’re not, it’s not going to last for the remaining few weeks here. We’re going to have some life-saving tips with your – for your old A/C, coming up in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead, do you have some broken tiles that you thought you were going to just have to live with because they’re old and you can’t match them and what are you going to do? Well, not so. We’re going to have tips on matching old tiles. It’s an inexpensive way of getting rid of an eyesore.
TOM: And also ahead, a shocking 50 percent of all homes in America have indoor mold. We’re going to tell you about a way to not just get rid of the mold but also keep it from coming back.
LESLIE: And one lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to get a big head start on their next flooring project, thanks to our friends at Lumber Liquidators. We’ve got up for a grabs a $250 gift certificate for all kinds of flooring options.
TOM: So, give us a call right now with that do-it-yourself dilemma, that home improvement project that you’ve just got to get done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, let’s get to the phones. Who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Matt on the line calling in from Des Moines, Iowa about water pressure. Tell us what’s going on.
MATT: Throughout the house, the water pressure in the upstairs, in the bathrooms is completely fine up until I go to do dishes.
MATT: Once I turn the faucet on, it trickles out (inaudible at 0:03:15). And I’ve replaced some of the piping downstairs, so I’m wondering maybe if it’s the water heater or the faucet itself.
TOM: So it’s only the faucet in the kitchen that this is a problem with?
MATT: Yes, sir.
TOM: Now, how old is this faucet?
MATT: I couldn’t tell you. My girlfriend’s house. She’s lived there about four years and I know it hasn’t been replaced.
TOM: OK. Have you ever removed the aerator?
MATT: I have not.
LESLIE: The tip of the faucet.
TOM: OK, so that’s the first thing to do. Unscrew that aerator and see if your flow is instantly and magically restored. Because the aerators get clogged with a small bit of debris that gets inside the water. You know, it could be a little piece of solder or a piece of mineral deposit or something of that nature and it will log inside the aerator and it will clog it and you’ll get almost no water out of it. If you pull the aerator off and you’ve got – all of a sudden, the pressure is restored, then there’s your problem.
Now, you want to clean out that aerator. Take my advice: take it apart like – it’s like three or four pieces; remember the order in which you take it apart.
LESLIE: Put a piece of paper down. Label one, two, three, four.
TOM: Like one, two, three, four, yeah.
LESLIE: Because it’s so easy to get confused.
TOM: It’s like a puzzle when you go to put it back together again. It only goes together one way but if you don’t get it right, you’re going to be really frustrated.
MATT: OK, great.
MATT: Sounds great. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us, Matt, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joyce in Minnesota on the line who’s got some unwanted houseguests, you could call them. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
JOYCE: Well, we have squirrels in our house. They came in during the winter when we were gone for three months and so we heard one running around in between the first and second floors, about in March. And then a little later, we heard lots of running around.
LESLIE: Oh, God.
JOYCE: So evidently, Mom (audio gap) babies.
LESLIE: You got a whole family of squirrels.
TOM: Yeah. Now, do you know where they’re getting in, Joyce?
JOYCE: We thought we found a place yesterday, down near the foundation, but I didn’t want to block it while they’re still in, so …
TOM: Well, OK. So if you’ve got an open area by the foundation, what you want to do there is sort of create a one-way door so it only works on the way out and not on the way in.
If it’s a hole in the foundation, you can cover, for example, with a piece of rubber like a flapper. That would be one way to do it so that they can get through it, they can push it out of the way but then it sort of flops closed after that. Or a piece of screening would do it, as well, like a piece of woven wire mesh, so that they can get out but they can’t get back in. I would do that because we want to get them out first.
And then, when you have a pretty good idea that they’re out, then just start repairing those holes one at a time.
JOYCE: Bright idea. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Joyce. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, we’ve got a few, short weeks left to the official summer season. You know, Labor Day is right around the corner. So if you’ve got some projects that you want to finish up, start up or just figure out how to get it done before the fall weather arrives, give us a call. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, it’s not that difficult to get rid of mold, right? Well, the hard part is how do you keep it from coming back and not harm the environment or yourself. We’ll have those solutions for you, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.
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 do you want to get a head start on your next flooring project? Well, if you do, check out LumberLiquidators.com. They’ve got lots of great information for really every kind of flooring option that’s out there. And if you want an even bigger head start on your flooring project, then give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. Because one caller that we talk to on the air today is going to win a $250 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators.
TOM: Wow. You can do a lot with that.
LESLIE: You really can.
TOM: Lumber Liquidators has brand-name flooring for less because they cut out the middle man and buy directly from the mill. Hardwood, engineered wood, cork, bamboo and laminate, you name it, you can get it for a great price at Lumber Liquidators. And one lucky listener is going to get it for $250 less than a great price, because they’ll win the gift certificate.
If you’ve got a home improvement question, maybe you’ve got a flooring question, pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call; we’d love to give you a hand with whatever it is you are working on.
And here is some kind of scary news. You know, experts say that half of all homes in America have indoor mold. Half. That’s a lot of houses. Now, most minor mold issues, those can be resolved with traditional solutions like bleach. However, bleach is going to kill the mold; it’s not going to keep it from coming back.
Now, we want to tell you about a new product that we found from Planet People and it’s called Concrobium Mold Control. And what’s so great about it is it’s a non-toxic, two-in-one solution that both eliminates and then prevents the mold from coming back. And you won’t have to resort to hazardous chemicals to clean the mold again.
Now, bleach can stain surfaces and then give off toxic fumes while Concrobium – it’s safe for any surface that’s water-safe and it’s completely non-toxic.
TOM: That’s right. Now, Concrobium is perfect for mold that’s found during home renovations or mold that’s caused by severe weather. In fact, many homeowners are using Concrobium behind walls during home renovation because it’s also so effective at preventing mold. You can find Concrobium at home centers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menards. Or you can visit their website at Concrobium.com and that is spelled C-o-n-c-r-o-b-i-u-m.com. A great way to prevent mold from taking hold in your house.
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Rodney in Illinois on the line with a question about a roof. What can we do for you today?
RODNEY: Yes. I was just kind of wondering what would be better. I live in the Midwest, in central Illinois, and my house doesn’t have hardly any shade at all.
RODNEY: I’m going with either a metal roof versus a shingle roof.
TOM: How long are you planning on being in that house, Rodney? A long time?
LESLIE: And how much do you want to spend?
RODNEY: We’re going to be in the house quite a while longer because we’re planning on adding on in about another five years and I don’t know.
RODNEY: I mean I know the shingle would be a lot cheaper; I was just kind of – which one’s better?
TOM: Right. Well, a metal roof is definitely better than a shingle roof. And the other thing about putting in a metal roof is today, the metal roofs have low-e coatings. That will help you in the summertime because it will reflect a lot of the UV from the sun back out again and it’ll keep the house actually cooler.
LESLIE: Away from the house.
TOM: Now, that said, as Leslie referenced, it’s pretty expensive. It’s called investment-grade roofing for a reason.
LESLIE: But it’s beautiful and it’s going to last a lifetime and you can have it with standing seams or that beautiful, rounded sort of scalloped shingle. You can pick it to look like anything in pretty much any color. It’s a gorgeous roof but it is pricey.
RODNEY: Right. See, there’s a couple of houses in the neighborhood that’s done that and I was just kind of – I was like, “Well, I don’t know which one to do.” I’m just …
TOM: Well, that’s the reason to go with it. If you can afford it, Rodney, I think it’s a great idea.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you’re going to be in the house 20 years more, it’s worth it.
LESLIE: If you’re not going to be there that long, a shingled roof is more affordable and that’s going to need to be replaced in about 20 years anyway. I would consider those factors. But especially since you’re in full sun, you don’t get any shade, your house is probably quite warm, you’re dealing with expensive cooling bills in the summer season – and these stand up to high winds, so …
TOM: A good website to see what’s available in metal roofing is just MetalRoofing.com. It’s a website that is put together by the Metal Roofing Alliance, which is sort of an alliance of manufacturers and contractors. I’ve got a great photo gallery there, so you can really get a sense as to what the possibilities are.
RODNEY: OK, OK. That’s great.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Iris is calling in from Texas with a toilet question. How can we help you today?
IRIS: Hello. I had a plumber put in me a new commode and it works fine but when you flush it, everything’s fine. But the next thing I know, this water is coming up between the floor and the commode. It’s down at the bottom, at the floor and the commode. And I was wondering what would cause that.
LESLIE: And this has only happened since the new commode was installed? You didn’t have any issues with the old toilet?
IRIS: Oh, yes. I never did have any trouble with the old commode; I just got a new one.
LESLIE: It’s got to be an issue with the wax seal. When a toilet is installed, new or old – and sometimes even with an older toilet – you need to replace the wax seal, which essentially looks like a rubbery, waxy doughnut that goes over the plumbing through the floor. And then the toilet sits upon that and that sort of creates a seal between the floor and the toilet and water. And this way, nothing gets out.
But if the seal is not put on properly or isn’t fully intact, that could absolutely cause a leak.
TOM: And if it’s been happening since the toilet was installed, I’d definitely have the plumber back and tell him that it was …
IRIS: Well, I had the plumber back but he didn’t fix it.
TOM: Well, what did he tell you?
LESLIE: What’d he do?
TOM: What did he do?
IRIS: Well, I just let him go in there and I just thought he fixed it. When he left, I found out he didn’t fix it. And I called him later but I haven’t seen him since.
TOM: Yeah, yeah.
IRIS: So that’s the reason why I called you. I was wondering what was the cause of it. Is it a major deal or something?
TOM: Yeah, the cause is the wax seal and the solution is simply the toilet has to be taken up and the wax seal replaced and put back down again. And you should be able to flush it immediately and see if you get a leak. And you get that plumber back there and don’t let him leave until you test it.
IRIS: I’ll just get me another plumber, then.
TOM: I think you’re going to have to get you another plumber.
IRIS: I think so, too. I sure appreciate you.
TOM: Alright, Iris. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Albert calling in from my neck of the woods: Long Island, New York. What can we do for you today?
ALBERT: My question is about exterior home painting.
ALBERT: I have a house that’s in need of painting. It has wood shingles and the paint is chipping. What’s the best way to remove the paint and how much primer should I apply?
TOM: Well, you’ve got to get off all the loose paint and with a wood shake, the best way to do that is simply to wire-brush it. Because you could use a chemical stripper but that’s an enormous job. But you want to wire-brush it and get off all the loose stuff you can and then I would apply an oil-based primer if you want to make sure that whatever new paint you put on is going to last as long as possible.
Using an oil-based primer is essentially the glue that makes the paint stick. And if you do that, let it dry real well, then you could put a latex top coat over that. And that’s the best way to get the adhesion that will ensure that you get long-time coverage out of that paint job.
ALBERT: Now, do I need to sand it, as well?
TOM: You could. I mean you could sand it; you could wire-brush it. You need to abrade it but you’ve got to get the loose stuff off. Because you can’t put good paint over bad paint, because the bad paint will continue to lift off and it’ll lift the good stuff with it.
ALBERT: Alright, guys. Thanks a lot for your time and courtesy.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Albert. Good luck with the project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Charlotte in Alabama on the line who’s dealing with a leak in her house. What can we do for you?
CHARLOTTE: OK. Well, I think I must have a leak above my front door, inside my house.
TOM: OK. What’s it look like?
CHARLOTTE: Well, it looks like gray little mountains above the frame of the front door.
TOM: Gray little mountains above the frame.
LESLIE: Oh, like a vertical shadow.
CHARLOTTE: Yeah, yeah. That’s what it is.
TOM: Yeah, OK.
LESLIE: OK. So nothing’s sticking off the wall; it’s something – I got it.
TOM: Yeah. That’s the water stains.
TOM: So yeah, what’s happening is the water is leaking in above the door and then it’s getting absorbed up into the wallboard and that’s what’s making it have those kind of funny patterns to it.
Now, is this very new or has it been there for a while?
CHARLOTTE: No, it’s new.
TOM: Alright. Well, the most common cause of this is the flashing above the front door on the outside of your home. Now, right above the trim, there should be a piece of metal that goes basically over the wood trim and then up underneath whatever kind of siding you have.
What kind of siding is it?
CHARLOTTE: It’s aluminum.
TOM: Aluminum, OK. So I suspect that that flashing is breaking down and that’s why the water is getting in. You can try caulking it around the outside of the door; see if that – if you happen to catch it, you would use a silicone caulk for that. But if it persists, you may have to take the siding off of the front of the house right above the door and properly seal that door with new flashing. And then you could put it back together and it’ll never happen again.
CHARLOTTE: OK. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Charlotte.
CHARLOTTE: Is that very expensive?
TOM: Doesn’t have to be. Try caulking it first but that’s where you want to try: the outside top of the door; that’s where the water is getting in.
CHARLOTTE: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Charlotte. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JOHN: Hi. I just want to ask you guys a quick question on radiant barriers.
JOHN: I have a – I’m wanting to do a radiant barrier underneath my rafters in my attic.
JOHN: I’ve got soffit vents already cut.
JOHN: I’m going to redo my roofs. I’m going to put a cupola up top.
JOHN: And I was wanting to put the radiant barrier to exhaust all the heat before it gets into the house. Do I need to use solid or do I use a perforated? I live in a very dry climate, too.
TOM: OK. First of all, do you intend the cupola to be the exhaust venting for the attic space?
JOHN: Yes, I do.
TOM: A cupola is a good-looking piece of architecture but it’s not necessarily an efficient exhaust vent. The soffit vent is the right idea because you open up the overhang. But the best exhaust vent is a ridge vent that goes down the entire peak of the roof; not just sort of the center where the cupola is.
So you could still do the cupola but I would definitely couple that with a ridge vent because then what’s going to happen is, as wind blows over the roof, it will depressurize around the ridge area and the cupola area; it’ll draw the heat out of there. But at the same time, it’ll pressurize the soffit area so it’ll push air in the soffits up underneath the roof sheathing and exit at the ridge.
And that cycle will repeat 365 days of the year and that’s what’s going to keep it as cool as possible.
JOHN: OK. But would I use solid or use the perforated type of aluminum?
TOM: For the radiant barrier? So you want to press that up underneath the roof sheathing?
JOHN: Yeah. No, I’m going to put it to the bottom of the rafters underneath – inside the attic.
TOM: OK, I don’t – well, the thing is, you don’t want to obstruct the airflow. I think I’d probably go with perforated.
TOM: Because otherwise, you’re basically creating a channel that – where the ventilation would have to go between the radiant barrier and the underside of the roof sheathing, almost like a finished attic, you know what I mean? So I think I would use perforated.
JOHN: Just use the perforated?
JOHN: Because I was wanting to draw the air from the soffits straight up to the …
TOM: Yeah, exactly. And it’ll pull more heat from the attic space that way, too.
JOHN: OK. I appreciate that.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
That kind of an improvement will definitely cut his air-conditioning bills down, as well.
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, have you ever thought that you might have to rip out an entire tile floor or countertop because you just can’t find a match for a couple of old, broken tiles? Well, you don’t. Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House is here and he’s going to give us some tips on how to find and replace those old tiles, next on The Money Pit.
MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. That’s a money pit but still filthy.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, summer is still hanging around and paying attention to your water supply is crucial. If you need some tips on how to conserve the H2O, head on over to MoneyPit.com and search “save water.” You and the water supply will be very happy that you did.
LESLIE: Donna is calling in with some questions about lead paint. What can we do for you today?
DONNA: Yes. My son purchased a home that was built in the 40s.
DONNA: The garage has probably about 1×4 planks of wood covering a frame with peeling paint that is lead-based. We tested it with one of those home test kits.
DONNA: And I’d like to know what’s the best way that we can remove it safely.
TOM: How much lead paint is there?
DONNA: It’s probably about 800 square feet.
TOM: Ooh. That’s a lot.
LESLIE: I don’t know if you want to do this, Donna.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t think you want to do it.
LESLIE: I mean was it the EPA that just earlier this year mandated that pretty much …?
TOM: Well, contractors have to be certified now, yeah.
LESLIE: Yeah, every contractor has to have an EPA certification for the proper removal of lead-based paints and the proper sort of cleanup and sectioning-off methods from one area of your home to the area of the house that’s actually being worked on with the lead paint. Now …
TOM: Now, this is outside and what can happen is if you get those chips into the soil, you can basically toxify the soil around the house.
LESLIE: In the ground.
TOM: And then little kids that are playing there can get into the lead and that can get into their bloodstream, so it’s really not a project for you to do yourself when you’re talking about that much paint.
LESLIE: When you go on the website for the EPA, they don’t really mandate this for homeowners who are taking on the projects on their own, which I think is unfortunate.
You know, we had some work done in my house last year. October, we put in central air conditioning and at the time, my son was 18 months old. And as clean as the folks were and as clean as I was in the house, my son touched something, putting it in his mouth and had elevated lead levels. And it was a huge concern for us. And thankfully, everything’s OK but I would not mess with it myself.
TOM: You can go to EPA.gov/lead. EPA.gov/lead. There’s a link there for renovation, repair and painting and they walk you through the requirements. And they have tips on what to do for various levels of lead exposure: in other words, how many square feet you have to get rid of. But it’s definitely, I don’t think, something you want to do yourself, not with that much.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you want to look for a contractor who has this new certification.
DONNA: OK. You’ve answered my question. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, ceramic tiles, you know they’re durable and easy to care for. But from time to time, you might need to make repairs to your ceramic-tile floor or your shower or your walls. And those repairs can vary from grouting repairs to even replacing some cracked tiles.
TOM: Ah, yes. But the problem with replacing tiles is often not having matching tile handy. Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, joins us now with some magic tricks to make them reappear.
KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.
TOM: Well, this is actually something that happens an awful lot as you set out to do a bath remodel and it’s not always with an old house. Even a 10-year-old tile can sometimes be hard to get your hands on.
KEVIN: If you’ve got a little kid and he drops his tricycle on the bathroom floor because he’s riding where he shouldn’t be, you’re going to need a new tile from time to time. It’s true.
The number-one tip that I would give people is there might be or there should be an extra tile squirreled away somewhere. If you’re doing a tile job or someone’s doing a tile job for you, get a little extra, put it in a box, label it and put it down into the basement. That is the easiest way to get a perfect match.
TOM: And that is so true because in all of the years that I was a professional home inspector and I went through thousands and thousands of basements and attics, you found boxes of tile everywhere.
LESLIE: Did you always find tile?
TOM: They do – people do squirrel them away. They put them up in the floor joist, they put them in all kinds of crazy places.
LESLIE: Even if you mis-order a tile for a job and, say, you’re 10-square-feet short, suddenly that manufacturer is looking to match that dye lot. You really have to go back and take into consideration how was yours dyed, what was it baked at, to make sure that they match consistently, especially if you’re covering an area where it’s going to be obvious to the eye.
TOM: Exactly. Now, what if you searched high and low and you can’t find any extra tile? What are your options?
KEVIN: Well, go hang your head and cry because you didn’t do what you were supposed to do. But there are other options. I would start with a well-stocked, well-respected tile store. They’re going to probably be your best resource to find you that tile. Because they’re going to recognize what you have, they’re going to know the manufacturer, the style or such. And they’re really going to have good resources to dig deep and go far into the tile industry.
We’ve actually had good luck with one of the tile guys that we’ve worked with, where he’s able to turn a tile around, look at the back and just from either the markings or an indication on the back, tell us exactly where that tile came from, who made it and such. So a good tile store, a really experienced tile man or woman, they’re going to be your first line of defense.
LESLIE: Now, if you can’t get your hands on a tile genie, as you are able to do so, is it possible, without damaging a tile, to, say, move the refrigerator and take one from under there?
KEVIN: Absolutely. I mean we do it with wood floors all the time, right? You’re down to the last two or three square feet on a repair, you go into the closet and you harvest some of that wood. Well, do the same thing with tile. There are a lot of places where you’re not looking at it all the time or can’t see at all, as you point out, Leslie, underneath the refrigerator. Go harvest one of those tiles and that’ll save you a lot of time and energy trying to track down an exact match, because you know that that tile on the floor is going to be a match.
TOM: Now, if it’s really, really important to you, can you actually find tile companies out there that will make them for you to match?
KEVIN: Yeah, believe it or not, you can get custom-made tiles just for what you want. It’s going to be a little bit more expensive than the tile off the shelves. We’ve seen some that are about $30 a square foot but you’re not going to need much, so it’s not going to cost you a ton of money and it is going to save you a lot of leg work and a lot of research.
LESLIE: And then you can squirrel those extras away.
KEVIN: Buy a couple extra and be a good citizen: leave them for the people afterwards.
LESLIE: Now, let’s say you try your best, you’ve gone everywhere, they can’t match it, they can’t custom-make it, what can you do to fill that void but yet have the whole story make sense?
KEVIN: Well, now you’re out of magic and you’re sort of into artwork. Now you’re getting creative and you’re going to probably start thinking about an accent tile. You’ve got a little void in the floor or in the wall. You’re going to put in something different and so now, all of a sudden, you’re going to continue that accent maybe throughout the rest of the bathroom, the kitchen or the floor. And you’re going to make it look like it was a deliberate choice.
TOM: So fake it until you make it.
Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: My pleasure, guys. Thank you.
TOM: And for more tips just like that, including a great story about how to match old ceramic tile, head on over to ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And you can watch Kevin and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by Stanley. Stanley, make something great.
Coming up next on The Money Pit, are you counting the days until the thermostat takes that big dip? Imagine how your air conditioner might feel a little bit of relief. We’re going to have some tips on making sure your air conditioner can make it through the rest of the summer, just ahead.
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TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you call us right now with your home repair or your home improvement, your home décor question, you may just win a $250 gift certificate from our friends at Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, they sell brand-name flooring for less because they buy direct from the mill and cut out the middle man.
LESLIE: Yeah. And there are over 200 stores nationwide and they offer financing and installation at every single location. So if you want to find a store near you, order a sample pack, check out a catalog or even shop directly right there online, check out their website: it’s LumberLiquidators.com. Or give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win that $250 head start.
Well, it is quite hot and sticky right now and the last thing that you need is for your air conditioning to go on the fritz. So here are a couple of things to remember, to make sure it’s working properly and to keep it so. For best results, you always want to keep your thermostat at about 78 degrees.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It really does do the trick.
TOM: It does. If you turn it down to 70, it’s just not going to cool your home any faster. It might feel like it’s going to but it won’t. If your system does not seem to be working right, you want to make sure that that thermostat is set lower, of course, than the actual room temperature.
And also, make sure that the selector switch is on “cool.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in homes where a homeowner had thought the system was not working and they just didn’t have the thermostat set correctly. So, make sure that is done correctly, set correctly and that it has fresh batteries. Very, very critical.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you also want to check for power by moving the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” Now, if the blower runs, there’s power. If nothing happens, a control is burned out or the power is disconnected.
Now, if the system uses a furnace for heat, you want to check that the emergency switch is on because, otherwise, it’s not going to work.
LESLIE: Now, if you’re familiar with the fuse or the circuit breaker panel, you can always check for blown fuses or any tripped breakers and make those corrections there where needed.
TOM: And that includes both inside the house and outside the house at the compressor.
And finally, one thing that you can do to see how efficient your system is is you can check what we call the “temperature differentials.” Pretty easy. If you have a refrigerator thermometer, anything that will measure around room temperature, this works very well. Take the temperature at the return duct – that’s where the air goes back into the system – and then also at a supply register pretty close to where the air conditioner or the furnace is located, so you want a pretty strong flow. If that measures a difference of between 12 and 20 degrees, it’s probably working correctly. If it’s not giving you that 12- to 20-degree difference, then you may be low on refrigerant and one service call should get you back into action.
If you need more tips on how to solve air-conditioning situations that are happening in your house, just search “air conditioning” on MoneyPit.com. We’ve got lots of great content that can walk you through some possible solutions.
LESLIE: Joe in Maine is working on a piece of furniture. How can we help you with that project?
JOE: Oh, yes, ma’am. Actually, what I’m looking to do is put a new top on a workbench. It’s actually an old desk with filing-cabinet drawers. I’m not sure how to go about attaching it on. It’s kind of – the drawers make it difficult to bolt anything down to it.
So, my first idea was using LIQUID NAIL but I figured I’d see if there’s any other options out there.
TOM: Well, can you take the drawers out of the desk and then screw from the bottom of what would be the top of the desk up?
LESLIE: Yeah, to get under there. The top.
JOE: The only problem is you can take the bottom drawers out but there’s a little table, like a shelf, on the top of those and that doesn’t seem to come out.
TOM: Right. OK. And you can’t pull that out?
JOE: No, it doesn’t come out.
TOM: So there’s no way you can get underneath the what is now the top of the desk that you want to cover, is that what you’re saying?
JOE: Right. Only in the middle; the middle drawer comes out of it but not on the sides where I need it the most.
TOM: OK. Mm-hmm. Alright. And then what’s on the top – what kind of top do you have on this now?
JOE: It has a covering over the metal. I think it’s metal.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Alright. Well, why don’t you do this? Why don’t you simply drill through the workbench top, down into the desk and bolt it on that way or use sheet-metal screws to attach it?
TOM: What you could do is you could drill down through the top. What are you making this out of, like plywood surface or something of that nature?
JOE: Yeah, the top – I just have ¾-inch plywood, really.
TOM: Alright. So all you’ve got to do is drill down until you reach the surface. You can use – if it’s a sheet-metal top desk, use sheet-metal screws; they have a very, very thick thread to them. You want to clearance-drill the wood top and then pilot-drill the original top to the desk underneath and then screw it down that way. If you want, you can plug the holes or you could just recess them below the surface. Since it’s a workbench, that’s probably all you need to do.
LESLIE: Or you could even do a second layer of plywood on top of the first and attach it to the first piece with finish nails through a pneumatic nailer or something and then do a nice edge piece. This way, your top piece is nice and clean. And then you could do a one-by as the side to cover up both pieces.
JOE: Right, OK. That sounds good. I do appreciate that.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead on The Money Pit, installing a hardwood floor is a project that has gotten a lot easier over the years. We’re going to have tips to help you with your next flooring project, next.
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TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Hey, if you’ve got something you’re working on, why not post your question, your tips if you figured out something really cool and you want to share it with everybody else or even your pictures of whatever do-it-yourself project you are working on, on The Money Pit’s Community section at MoneyPit.com. You can get some advice from your fellow do-it-yourselfers, Tom and I will chime in and let you know what we think of your project or give you a helping hand. It’s all right there at MoneyPit.com.
And if you’re sort of stumped and you want to e-mail us a question, you can post it there, as well. And I’ve got one from Rich in California who wrote: “I want to put prefinished hardwood floors down in my home: real hardwood, not laminate. My home has tongue-in-groove 1x4s down for the subfloor. Can I install the hardwood directly over the 1x4s or do I need some kind of barrier?”
TOM: You know, you can put it down directly over the 1x4s. That’s sort of the original type of subfloor. Now, it doesn’t matter that it’s 1x4s or plywood. What is important, though, is that it’s smooth and flat. So, I would examine the subfloor and make sure it’s not twisted or any section of it has sunk in or any place that’s sort of humped up a little bit. If it’s nice and flat, there’s no reason you can’t go right on top of that.
What you might want to put down in between there is something we call rosin paper; it kind of cleans it up, makes it easy to work with, gives you a little bit of a vapor barrier. But other than that, there’s no reason you can’t go on top of that.
And by the way, great that you’re putting in what you call real hardwood floors. There are other options beside laminate that are actually even easier to install than that: it’s called engineered hardwood flooring.
Engineered hardwood flooring is real hardwood on top but it’s made up of layers of hardwood, kind of like plywood has layers but the top surface is that real hardwood. It’s less expensive but very dimensionally stable, so not susceptible to moisture or twisting or turning and pretty easy to install. You don’t really nail it down; it kind of floats in place.
There’s lots of great options in hardwood floors at LumberLiquidators.com. You can go there and check out some of the engineered products they have. But I really like engineered because it less expensive, it’s super-durable and it’s really easy to put down compared to sort of standard hardwoods.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It just sort of locks in place; it’s really fantastic. And again, you can find some really great options.
And even if you’re looking at something as bamboo as an option for hardwood, you’ll find it there at Lumber Liquidators. Really beautiful options out there. So enjoy that project, Rich. You’re really going to be happy.
Alright. The next post is from Mahindra (sp) in New Jersey who writes: “I live in a 46-year-old, 3-bath house with ¾-inch plumbing. I don’t get enough water pressure to use two baths at the same time. Water company says there’s enough pressure in the line but I don’t have enough volume because of residue buildup.”
What can she do?
TOM: Hmm. Well, that’s kind of the excuse that people give when they don’t know what the reason is for the problem.
LESLIE: When they don’t know what to do.
TOM: The only way you may have “residue buildup” is if you have a steel line. If your house is very old – if it was, say, built in the 30s – you may have a steel water-entry line. And steel pipes do close and shut down from interior rusting.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s like an artery.
TOM: Yeah, like an artery: kind of clogged. Exactly like that.
Now, if you’ve got a steel pipe, you really need to replace it, OK? Because it’s only going to get worse and eventually, it’ll shut down. It could break at the most inopportune moment, so you could replace that.
But I would look elsewhere, OK? I would look at the valves and make sure that you don’t have a bad valve that’s maybe half-closed somewhere. Now, ¾-inch to the house is pretty typical. I mean most houses may have an inch but I don’t really see this as the main cause of this problem. I think it’s somewhere else and if you’ve got a steel line, then that’s probably the culprit right there.
LESLIE: Yeah, Mahindra (sp), old homes, they’re really great. Tom and I both have them and they come with some issues, so you really have to know where to look for these problems. And old plumbing, especially with steel pipes, that is not going to last. So if you look there, I’m sure you’re going to find the culprit.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show does continue online 24-7 at MoneyPit.com, as do our phone lines. They stay open every day of the year. We don’t even close for holidays because we know that your home improvement projects don’t take a break either.
LESLIE: It’s true.
TOM: You can always call us with that question and we will get back to you the next time we are in the studio.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2011 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.)