Bathroom Makeovers, Surviving Appraisals and Air Conditioner Ratings
TRANSCRIPT FOR JULY 6, 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: Pick up the phone, give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We’re here to help you tackle the projects you need to get done around your house; to solve your home improvement solutions, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. We’re here to give you the advice that you need to get the job done once, get it right so you can get outside and just enjoy the summer.
LESLIE: Yeah, enjoy yourself.
TOM: Well, one thing we’re learning with this economy is that home projects are only slowing down a tiny bit. In fact, consumers might be spending a little less on clothes and entertainment but fixing up their home-sweet-home is still a top priority. It’s what you fix up that matters.
So, coming up this hour, we’re going to have tips on a bathroom makeover done right so you can add some value to your house and enjoy that new space to boot.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And with that brand new bathroom you might need to get your home re-appraised. So we’re going to tell you what you need to know before that appraiser rings your doorbell, a little later.
TOM: And if you’re tired of paying high cooling bills this summer, we’re going to get some help from the experts at Consumer Reports. We’ll be interviewing the home editor with the low-down on the best window air conditioners as well as the best central air conditioners and other sorts of cooling devices.
LESLIE: Hey, and speaking of cool, we’ve got a very cool prize that we’re giving away this hour. It’s from our friends over at Villa Deco. Now, it’s a do-it-yourself, crown molding kit that really – I mean, you guys know crown molding makes such a beautiful finishing touch to any room in your home – but it makes the project so simple. It’s worth about 240 bucks.
TOM: But you’ve got to call us with your home improvement or décor question ready. We’ll pick one name out of the Money Pit hardhat and might be sending that beautiful crown molding to your home. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to the phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Verne in California, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
VERNE: Yes, ma’am. I have a large Ponderosa pine growing alongside my asphalt driveway and there’s a large bump in the driveway. I think it’s due to the root and I was wanting to know what you think I should do.
TOM: Well, do you like that pine tree?
VERNE: Not really. (Tom chuckles) I’ve got – I live three miles from Calaveras Big Trees. It’s a state park.
VERNE: We do have lots of trees.
TOM: Yeah, so you can travel a bit to your trees; you can commute to your trees whenever you want them.
TOM: It’s not going to go away. The only thing that you can do here is you can dig up the driveway, cut out the roots, try to get them down well below the surface of the driveway but chances are you’ll kill the tree or send it crashing down if you do that. So that’s the issue; they’re not going to be able to coexist – cohabitate happily.
VERNE: Is there any root killer or anything like that that I could just dump down the hole? I’ve dug down – it’s 18 inches deep. Is there anything that I can just dump down that hole?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Not that I’m aware of. Not from a chemical perspective like that but if you were to go down there and cut out some of the roots …
TOM: … the ones that were coming up, you know, it’s a start. But I’m not saying it’s not going to fix it completely – that it’s going to fix it completely because chances are it’s going to …
LESLIE: I’m sure there’s more than that one root.
TOM: Yeah. And you know, now that you’ve dug it all up, it’s nice and soft; it’s probably going to fill in with some more roots so a few years later you might be doing the same thing again.
VERNE: Yeah. OK.
VERNE: Very good. Thank you very much.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Yep. Soft driveways and strong tree roots do not get along.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? I would always recommend finding, you know, somebody who is a licensed, tree removal expert who works within your area, who knows the types of trees that grow in your neighborhood and knows how to treat and handle them; what’s problematic to a certain type of tree. And they would absolutely know what to do in that situation.
TOM: Good point.
LESLIE: Pat in Illinois is having some problem in the bathroom. What’s going on? Tell us what you’re seeing. You’re seeing something black? Is it mold?
PAT: I don’t know what it is. It just appeared in the last like two months around the bottom of my stool. The linoleum is turning black but it’s coming from underneath. It’s not the top.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, if you’re seeing this mold-looking-like substance around the bottom of the toilet, then chances are you have a leaky wax seal, which is the seal between the base of the toilet and the top of the waste pipe. And if that seal has failed you could be getting some leakage there and that leakage can be causing mold to grow on the vinyl floor.
LESLIE: It could be that the subfloor is completely saturated.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. The water can be getting under the vinyl floor and saturating that whole area and that can cause rot and all sorts of problems, so you need to get that looked at.
PAT: (overlapping voices) OK. Oh. Yeah, sounds like fun. (chuckles)
TOM: Now, fixing it is not that big of a deal. You know, if you were handy I’d tell you to turn the water line off, remove the bolts from the base of the toilet, remove the water line from the toilet and then the whole thing pretty much lifts right up and out. And you’d replace the wax seal, which is a fairly standard product ….
PAT: Right. Yes.
TOM: … and then replace the whole thing and I would inspect – when you had it apart, I would inspect the floor at the same time just to make sure that there’s no rot or decay under there.
PAT: (overlapping voices) OK. OK. OK, well thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and that’s also 365 days a year. We are always standing by to help you out so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, how about a project that delivers value to your house, looks great and makes it a lot easier to enjoy that space? We’re talking about a bathroom makeover. Whether you’re planning a simple powder room once-over or a totally new, luxurious master bath, we’re going to give you the tips you need to make sure it comes out right, after this.
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: 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.
TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Villa Deco crown molding to crown just about any room in your house. These crown moldings are made from high-density, architectural foam. They are so lightweight and strong; very simple to cut and install. No need for hammer; no need for nails. Villa Deco crown moldings install with just caulk. You’ve got to love that. It’s a prize package worth 240 bucks.
You can go to DIYCrown.com for a special, limited-time, discount offer exclusively for Money Pit listeners at DIYCrown.com or pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know what? I’ve got to tell you I’m really excited about this so-simple crown molding because, you know – I know you know, Tom, but you guys don’t know yet – I’m about to film a pilot for A&E called “The Hundred Dollar Makeover.” And for a room the size that I’m working on, the molding for that room only costs about 50 bucks so it’s totally in my hundred-dollar budget. I love that it cuts so easily. I love that it goes up with caulk. So, stay tuned. When we come back next week, I’m going to tell you guys how it all went (Tom chuckles); you know, the pilot, the installation. So I’m excited; I’ve seen it before but I’ve not worked with it so I’m very thrilled to do so.
Now, all of you working on a bathroom remodel. If you are upgrading your bathroom, you all know that it can really add value to your biggest investment which is your home. But planning a functional and attractive bathroom can actually be a challenge. So to help you flush out your budget, your needs and your design ideas, you might want to consider hiring a professional bathroom designer because they’re experienced and their access to a range of fixture and detail options are truly going to help you set the stage for beautiful results in your bath.
And you know, nationwide, what is the return on investment; about 80 percent consistently?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, it’s about 80 percent on bathrooms, yep.
LESLIE: So, you’re going to recoup about 80 percent of what you spend on that remodel so plan wisely and you will end up with a beautiful bathroom that also boosts the value of your home.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us with your home improvement question, no matter what room you are working on. We’ll have some tips to get it done right the first time.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Jan in Utah needs some help in the kitchen. What can we do for you?
JAN: Oh, hi. I have a kitchen that is divided from my dining room and there is a small – there is a three-foot wall that kind of sticks out and divides it. We wanted to take that down and just extend our cabinets into the dining room and then move things around. But I don’t know how to tell if that’s a bearing wall or not.
TOM: So it’s a three-foot wall that kind of juts out and sort of forms the end for the kitchen cabinets now?
TOM: I would say not likely, Leslie. I think it sounds more like a partition wall.
LESLIE: Is the rule if they run parallel to the front of your house then it’s generally a load-bearing wall or am I totally making that up?
TOM: Yeah, that’s right and this sounds perpendicular. If it’s parallel to the front and the back of the house, chances are higher that it’s a load-bearing wall. This sounds like a wall that was simply installed to give …
LESLIE: To finish a space.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Sort of finish off that end. We can’t tell you for sure, Jan, without seeing it but it doesn’t sound like it’s a bearing wall.
JAN: Yeah, I was just concerned. Somebody told me it wasn’t but then I keep thinking if that wall continued through the dining area, it would continue right down my garage; where the garage and the house are divided.
TOM: Well, Jan, are you going to do this yourself or are you going to have a carpenter do it for you?
JAN: (chuckling) Well, we were thinking of doing it ourselves. We watch too much TV (Tom and Leslie chuckle) and all the home improvement shows.
LESLIE: I mean it may be that there’s a header above this partition wall that is indeed load-bearing, but I doubt that this three-foot section itself is holding up your home.
JAN: OK. Yeah, OK. Well, and I did have somebody that had done some construction say, “No, that’s not, that’s not,” and I was just a little nervous so …
LESLIE: For peace of mind, Jan, you can always get an engineer in and ask the very same question.
JAN: Yeah, yeah. Either that or I can go find the guy that built the house. I think I know his name but (Leslie and Jan chuckle) …
TOM: Alright. Well, if he’s still around you can ask that question.
JAN: I’m not quite sure where he is but thank you so much. I just wasn’t sure if there is a telltale sign or not.
TOM: Well, I think the only telltale sign we can say is if it’s perpendicular to the exterior wall and it’s just finishing off the end of that cabinet, it probably is not a bearing wall.
JAN: Great. Thank you so much.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Jan, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tom in Pennsylvania has an insulation question. How can we help you today?
TOM IN PENNSYLVANIA: Yeah, hi. I have a – about a 90-year-old frame home. It’s two-story. And I was wondering if it would be economically and energy-feasibly to insulate the ceiling of my basement.
TOM: Well, why do you want to do that? What are you trying to achieve? Is it noise? Is it energy efficiency?
TOM IN PENNSYLVANIA: (overlapping voices) No, no. Just for – to conserve natural gas with a forced-air furnace.
TOM: Is the basement a finished space?
TOM IN PENNSYLVANIA: It’s not a finished basement; it’s the old-style basement with the, you know, stone walls and it’s got a concrete floor.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, if you insulate the floor or the ceiling above the basement, it’s going to make the first floor a little bit warmer so it’ll be a little more comfortable. If you’re concerned about noise, it’s not a smart thing to do. If you’re concerned about, you know, insulating the basement, it doesn’t help. But if it’s the first floor, it’ll make it a little bit warmer and if you’re not planning on finishing the basement, I see no reason not to do it.
TOM IN PENNSYLVANIA: OK, because – and that’s also where my thermostat is located, is on my first floor.
TOM: Yes. You will have some energy – if it’s an unfinished space under the house, you know, I’d give you the same advice if it was over a crawlspace. If it’s an unfinished, unheated space, you can insulate it.
TOM IN PENNSYLVANIA: OK. Alright. Very good. OK. Thanks so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tom. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Martin in California needs some help with a remodel. How can we help you?
MARTIN: Yes, I want to remodel an old farmhouse. It’s got a good cement foundation underneath it but when it was built, the floors weren’t level.
TOM: Well, if you have an old floor, there’s a process – there’s a compound called a floor-leveling compound, which is sort of like a liquid slurry that’s …
MARTIN: Yes, that’s what I’ve heard about.
TOM: Yeah, Martin, one of the major manufacturers of that product is LATICRETE – L-A-T-I-C-R-E-T-E. LATICRETE International. They have a product called LatiLevel – L-A-T-I-L-E-V-E-L – which is basically that; it’s a cementitious powder. You mix it with water and you get out of that a very free-flowing, self-leveling, sort of underlayment that you can put in any type of – a number of floors on top of that.
MARTIN: Does it just adhere to wood or will it adhere to – some of this has that old asbestos tile on the floor?
TOM: No, I don’t think you want to cover the asbestos; I think you’re going to have to professionally take that off first and then you put …
TOM: And then use the floor-leveling compound above that. We don’t like creating asbestos sandwiches around here. (Martin chuckles)
MARTIN: But it would have to go on a wood; you couldn’t just go over like a linoleum or anything like that?
TOM: That would be a bad idea because it wouldn’t stick.
MARTIN: Yeah, so get down to the original wood on it, yeah.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Yeah. Martin, you know, I would get used to some of those uneven floors – that’s what gives the old house its charm – and do this very strategically. I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
It takes a lot of years for those floors to settle and get out of level. And to try to remove them and change all that is a big, big project so I want to suggest that you approach that very strategically.
LESLIE: Linda in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
LINDA: Yes. Hi there. My daughter has a pine dining table and some deep scratches are in it. We were wondering how she could sort of fill them in, other than, you know, just trying to put a piece of glass over the top so we don’t get anymore scratches.
TOM: Minwax has a scratch-filling pencil that’s sort of like a freezer pencil, you know, where you peel the paper back and sort of …
LESLIE: China markers.
TOM: China markers – and it kinds of unwinds; the paper comes off and then you have sort of the wax underneath.
TOM: And what you can do is you can get – if you can find one that’s the same color, that’s great. If you can’t, you know, find one that’s a little lighter and another one that’s a little bit darker and mix them together. When I use them I usually take like a butane lighter and I’ll heat the end of the pencil to make it really soft and sort of dip it in there. And you can be a little bit sloppy with it. And then with your finger or like with a credit card, you can kind of rub off the excess and it really blends in very, very nicely. And I’ve used this stuff to fill everything from a scratch to a quarter-inch size hole in wood.
Now, it’s not real durable in terms of, you know, washing the table and rubbing stuff on it. That’s the only downside to it. But it does do a really good job of hiding scratches.
LESLIE: Mike out on the east end of New York is calling us with a question about a roof. What can we do for you?
MIKE: Hi. I have an asphalt roof and I have an overhanging tree on one corner of it and that produces this green mold which, you know, is pretty typical when you have that and the sun can’t bake it off. But on an open, clear area of the roof, I get these black streaks that are coming down the asphalt.
MIKE: And I’m not sure what the – that is. I would imagine it must be some sort of mold or something but I’m not …
TOM: Well, it’s probably moss or mildew and sometimes when you get the black streaks, it’s because there is slight temperature difference – changes across the roof surface where you have a rafter that’s going to be cooler than when you don’t have a rafter. And so where you have …
LESLIE: And then what happens is the moss or the dirt is sticking to that area.
TOM: Right. You get a little more condensation; a little more stickiness right there and then it builds up. What you have to do is clean the roof with a mildicide. You can use a product like Jomax – J-O-M-A-X; that will clean that off. The other thing that you can do is to add some – either a copper or a nickel ridge vent to the peak of the roof. What’ll happen if you do that is as it rains, some of that metal will release and actually clean the roof every time it rains; it works very, very well.
MIKE: You know, that’s funny you say that because what I did do when we put the roof on – and this is going back about 10 years – I put lead – a lead …
MIKE: … strip and …
TOM: Yeah, same thing. And how did that work?
MIKE: It didn’t. (chuckles)
TOM: It didn’t. (Leslie chuckles)
MIKE: I think it may have worked for a couple years.
MIKE: And then it just overtook it, you know. What …
TOM: Maybe. Yeah, you know, normally we recommend copper or nickel – not lead – but I know that some people do it with lead.
MIKE: (overlapping voices) OK. Uh-huh. Alright. I’ll give that a shot.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, are you in the market for a new air conditioner? Well, don’t sweat through another summer. We’re going to tell you which ACs give you the best bang for your buck with help from the experts at Consumer Reports, after this.
TOM: 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. 888-666-3974. Call us right now if you are sick and tired of paying high bills because of the air conditioning. You know you want it. If you don’t have it, you’ve got to get it. And if you have it, well, you’re enjoying it but you’re tired of the high bills because it is the season.
And I think that a lot of folks don’t realize that homes are just as leaky in the summer as they are in the winter but we don’t feel the draft so we don’t think about the energy efficiency. But you should and you should also think about it when it comes time to picking an air conditioner.
You know, the easiest way to save money on cooling in the summer is to get the right cooling system for the space, whether using a central air conditioner, a window unit, a ceiling fan or a split-ductless system. And we’ve got an expert standing by that can help us do just that.
LESLIE: That’s right. I mean, there is so much to sort out so let’s get right into it with Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman, who is the home deputy editor for Consumer Reports.
CELIA: Thank you. Thank you very much.
TOM: Timely story, Celia, of the – the bills have been going up all summer. What if we’re thinking about buying some new equipment? You say that getting one – the right one for the space is important. Where do we begin with that?
CELIA: Well, yeah, you really want to get the right size and that goes – that cuts across all different kinds of cooling systems, whether or not you’ve got window units or you’ve got a central system or a split-ductless system. Because if you get a unit that’s too small, it’s not going to cool the room off comfortably and if you get one that’s too big, it’s going to mean that the compressor kicks off before all the humidity is out of the room so you get a cold, clammy room.
LESLIE: So, how do you know what the right size is, regardless of what type of cooling unit you’re using in your house?
CELIA: Well, if you’re looking for a window unit, you’re going to want to use a sizing calculator. I mean, there are – we have one on our website, ConsumerReports.org. And what that’ll help you do is it helps you take into account things like if you’ve got a lot of windows in the room or if you have doorways to other ways – to other rooms in that room or if you have a patio door. It’ll give you a better sense of what size window unit you’ll need so that way you get the right size.
If you’re buying a central system, you want to think about the house. If you’ve already got a system and you’re upgrading it, you want to think about what have you done to the house since you last bought the system. Did you make your – did you add insulation? Did you change out your windows and now you have more energy-efficient windows? If that’s true, you may not need as big a system as you had.
Or if you’ve had an addition – if you add an addition to the house, you may actually need a bigger system. So you need to have your air conditioning person do a cooling load calculation to actually figure out what you need.
TOM: And essentially, that’s what you’re doing when you use the calculators that you have for the window units and the room units. But when it comes to central, you really do need to do that heat loss analysis and you’re right, it’s over and above the scale of what the average consumer can do because it has to take an awful lot into consideration.
But now is a good time to purchase a new air conditioning system because of the federal energy tax credits that are available, don’t you agree?
CELIA: Yes, I think it is because what’s going on now is that Uncle Sam is offering a tax credit of 30 percent on the cost and the installation of these systems; of either adding or upgrading your central air conditioning or your split-ductless system. And that’s for a credit of up to $1,500 dollars and that’s available for this year through 2010.
LESLIE: Now, Celia, you mentioned the split-ductless systems. That’s sort of like a hybrid, if you will, between a central unit and a window unit. What are the benefits, really, of the split-ductless? Is it because you don’t have space for duct work? Are they more efficient than central units? Are they far more efficient than window units? What’s the appeal?
CELIA: The appeal of a split-ductless system is really mostly for people who don’t have duct work for their heating. Because if you’ve got duct work for your heating, it’s not that difficult to add in central air because you’re using the same ductwork to circulate the cool air as the hot air.
But if you don’t have ductwork, adding ductwork to your house can be expensive and it’s messy.
TOM: We’re talking to Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman, Deputy Home Editor for Consumer Reports.
Great information, Celia, about air conditioning and how to buy the perfect one for your house and how to take advantage of the energy tax credits.
If you want more information, you can head over to their website at ConsumerReports.org.
And Celia, before we let you go, any advice on purchasing a ceiling fan this time of year?
CELIA: Yeah. I think you – also, again you want to size it to the room. I think you want to look for an Energy Star model because one of the things that people are not aware of is that fans are very, very efficient but if you get one that’s got a lot of light bulbs, you’re going to use more energy to run the lights than it will to run the fan.
LESLIE: Now, Celia, testing really is the name of your game at Consumer Reports so I know you guys have tested a lot of central air units. Do you have any information about the reliability of one brand over another?
CELIA: Yes. We actually did do a survey of over 32,000 of our readers and we have – which are the most and least reliable central air conditioning systems for both regular systems and then systems that are heat-pump based.
TOM: And what did you find out?
CELIA: In our survey, we found that central air conditioning systems from Trane, Rheem and Ruud were most reliable whereas ones from Goodman and Heil were going to be likely to need the most repairs.
TOM: Interesting. So, well, that’s why we love Consumer Reports; because you find out what it would take us years to discover and probably a lot of aggravation.
Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great tips, great advice.
If you’d like to get some more information on this article and more, head on over to ConsumerReports.org.
CELIA: You’re very welcome.
LESLIE: You know, air conditioning is a great improvement that you can make at your money pit but if you’ve been doing renovations or remodels, how do you know what your home is worth and how do you know that your house is insured for all of those new additions that you’ve made at your money pit?
Well, when we come back, we’re going to have the latest in appraisals to make sure that everything is up to par, so stick around.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic, the 100 percent 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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you should pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a really fantastic prize. It’s going to completely change the look of any room in your money pit.
We are giving away a do-it-yourself, crown molding kit from our friends over at Villa Deco. Now, this kit is going to cap about 100 linear feet and save thousands of dollars compared to traditional wood moldings if you were to have it installed by a contractor.
Now, the Villa Deco crown molding, it comes in a smooth, bright white finish that is paint ready so you don’t need to prime and it includes pre-mitered corners. Now, it’s a prize worth 240 bucks but the amount of time it is going to save and the beauty it is going to add to your room are just priceless.
Now, go to DIYCrown.com for a special, limited-time, discount offer exclusively for you guys, our Money Pit listeners. The website is DIYCrown.com or pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question for your chance to win.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Now, if you are a serial renovator like so many of our listeners are.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Like Tom and myself.
TOM: And including us. You know, there’s one thing that you really need to do after you complete a major renovation project and that is to have your home reappraised for tax purposes so you know what it’s worth, so that you can get the appropriate insurance for it; homeowners insurance, that is.
So before that appraiser, though, rings your doorbell, make sure you have all your documents on hand, including a copy of the original plans and specs if they’re available, a survey of the house and property, the deed or the title report, your purchase date and price, a recent tax bill and a list of those improvements. The appraiser can use that; put it all together to give you an estimated value for your house and this way you’ll know how much homeowners insurance you need or what your house is worth if you’re thinking about selling it in the not-too-distant future. Hope that helps.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones; see who else we can help out this hour.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Heading over to Iowa to chat with Cindy about a garage door. Tell us about what’s going on.
CINDY: Hi. I’ve got two cracks under my garage door from the edges of concrete in. The space in between the two cracks is heaved. My garage door now is kind of high-centered. It’s a little worse on the east side than the west side and I didn’t know if there’s anything you can do about like …
TOM: What kind of door is it, Cindy? Is it wood or metal?
CINDY: I think it’s fiberglass. It’s insulated.
TOM: The garage door is?
CINDY: Yes, the garage door is.
TOM: OK. If it was wood, you could actually score it and shape it and cut it to sort of follow the flow of the uneven garage floor. If it’s not, the only other thing that you could really do is to try to double up the weatherstripping or add some padding to the bottom of it to try to take up some of that space.
TOM: And this way you can get perhaps a better seal. You know, garage floors are not dimensionally stable like they would be if it was, say, a slab foundation or something of that nature; they’re basically just covering the dirt. And so they do tend to move a lot and crack and shift. And sometimes the only way to get that to work is with some additional weatherstripping.
Now, the other thing that you could think about doing is you could add to the backside of the garage door another piece of trim; whereas the trim is actually cut to the shape of the floor. Think of it as like adding a piece of baseboard molding, where it’s sort of a one-by material that attaches to the back of the garage door and then that gets shaped to the floor. The weatherstripping goes on the bottom of that piece.
CINDY: OK. I can do that.
TOM: So there’s a couple of ways to deal with this. It’s not so unusual and not something that you have to worry too much about.
LESLIE: Fred has got a plumbing question. Let’s see what we can do for him.
FRED: Yes. I live in a 1933 house and I installed a tankless water heater a couple of years ago.
FRED: My primary complaint is in the winter time not being able to get hot water in any kind of immediate fashion when I want to wash my hands and the water is really cold.
FRED: And the plumbing to the house is such that it takes quite a while for the hot water to reach all the different faucets.
TOM: OK, the tankless water heater is not going to solve that problem. That’s a problem of the distance between the water-heating appliance – be it a tankless water heater or a tank water heater – and the actual fixture.
Now, the way a tankless water heater could help you is if you zoned it. Because a tankless water heater is so small and it’s so easy to install in places that a tanked water heater would not fit, if you were to put a second tankless water heater closer to the bathrooms and create a second zone, then it would get there that much quicker. But it’s a factor of the distance.
FRED: I guess that’s what I’ll have to do to remedy the situation.
TOM: Alright, Fred. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to chat with Merrill in Rhode Island. What can we do for you today?
MERRILL: I have a problem with my toilet. This sounds strange. Once in a while it just flushes itself. (chuckles)
LESLIE: That’s not strange.
TOM: You have ghosts in your house, Merrill.
MERRILL: That’s what I was thinking.
MERRILL: I mean it happened in the middle of the night.
TOM: It’s a very simple explanation. What you have is a leaking flush valve.
TOM: That’s the flapper valve in the bottom of the toilet tank and as the water leaks out, when it gets to a certain level, the fill valve kicks on again and then refills the toilet; it sounds just like a flush.
MERRILL: Oh, really? That sounds good. I’ll try that. Thank you so much for helping me out.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You’re welcome.
LESLIE: Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. We are so glad that you joined us this hour.
Hey, now that we’re fully into summer, are you finding that your garage just heats up way too much during these summer months? Well, we’re going to offer you a solution to that, 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.
TOM: Head on over to MoneyPit.com right now for not one but two bonus chapters of our book, My Home, My Money Pit; both available for free at MoneyPit.com. First up, you have the Replacement Window Guide; everything you need to know if you’re considering replacing windows in your house. And because of our staycation promotion, you can download the complete outdoor-living chapter from My Home, My Money Pit, “Bringing the Inside Outside”; all the tips that you need to establish a deck, a patio or any other type of outdoor living environment. That chapter is available free for download right now at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: That’s right. And if you like what you read, why not go ahead and pick up a copy of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure because there is lots of stuff in there that’s going to help you save a bunch of money. And who couldn’t use help with that, like in our section on 50 design ideas under 50 bucks? And we’re going to have one of those fantastically fun ideas coming up in just a few minutes.
But first, let’s tackle those e-mails. And you guys know while you’re on MoneyPit.com, click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and your e-mails come right to us. And we’ve got one here from Michael who writes: “Hello, Tom and Leslie. I am a real estate broker in Tucson, Arizona. Every year about this time our garage heats up to well over 120 degrees.” Holy cow. “I have a three-car garage and the doors are insulated as well as the wall that’s connected to the house. What can I do and what can you recommend to get the garage cooled down without buying an air conditioner for the garage?”
TOM: Well, you’re battling an awful lot of heat. There’s an awful lot of BTUs there that are beating down on that garage.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) That’s a big garage.
TOM: The fact that the wall between the garage and the house is insulated helps to keep the house cooler. What you could do is also insulate the ceiling overhead and the additional exterior walls. That will help prevent some of the heat from the outside of getting to the inside.
Short of that and adding some shading – you know, trees, that sort of thing – there’s no other way you’re going to get that garage any cooler. But insulating those walls and the ceiling above will help keep the temperature as cool as it possibly can, short of adding some air conditioning to that space.
And if you are going to add air conditioning, you know a great thing to add in there – and I’m assuming that you have a good reason to do this, like you’re working in there or something like that – add a split-ductless system. It’s an air handler that mounts on the wall inside the garage; the compressor is outside. It’s quiet; it’s energy-efficient. Get one that’s Energy Star-rated and you can probably deduct part of the cost off next year’s taxes because of the federal energy tax credits that are available, Michael.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know, those split-duct systems are absolutely part of that tax refund; you just need to make sure that you buy a model that’s correctly energy-efficient for the tax credits out there. And if worst comes to worst, Michael, you can always open one of those hot yoga studios in your garage. (Tom chuckles)
TOM: Well, in this economy, you may not have a whole lot of extra cash to tackle a home improvement project but not to worry; there are lots of things that you can do for under 50 bucks and Leslie has got some suggestions on just that in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. To keep this under 50 bucks, you can either work with a piece of furniture that you’ve already got and pick up a can of paint or pick up a vintage piece of furniture and a can of paint at the same time.
Now, whether you’ve got that existing piece of furniture already in your house or you head over to the salvage store and you find something, here is a great trick that’s going to help you instantly give it new life. You want to choose a table, a desk or a sideboard that has very classical styling and maybe a lot of detail in the wood legs – in the spindles – and then paint it a very surprising and unexpected color like bright pink or turquoise or deep purple. And go for it in like a shiny gloss if you can tolerate it.
Now you’re going to find that the mix of color and the shape of that piece of furniture are going to play together in such a fun and surprising way that that piece is going to work anywhere in your money pit.
TOM: Great tip. Coming up next week on The Money Pit – have you ever wondered if your air conditioner was really doing the job? Was it really cooling your house as efficiently as possible? Well, there’s an easy way to tell and we’re going to have all the troubleshooting tips and advice you need to keep you cool all summer long and keep those energy bills down, on the next edition of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
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 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.)