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    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. If you’ve got a to-do list, let us help you make that the “done” list. 1-888-MONEY-PIT is the telephone number. We are here to help.

    We’ve got a lot of great tips lined up to help you out with, this hour, in addition to taking your calls. First up, we’re going to talk about a very popular home improvement project and that is turning a master bedroom into a master suite that could rival one of a five-star resort. We’re going to have ideas and advice that will help you take on this project just in time for a very romantic Valentine’s Day.

    LESLIE: Wow. That sounds really lovely.

    And also ahead, one of the most dreaded chores of home ownership might very well be removing that old wallpaper. In fact, I’m willing to bet that there are some of you listening right now that are living with wallpaper that you just hate but you haven’t removed it because you really do not like the idea of taking it down, even more than you don’t like that wallpaper.

    Well, fear not. We have advice from the folks at This Old House for easy wallpaper removal, coming up.

    TOM: And Leslie and I are just back from the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida, where we got a look at innovations and home building, including what’s new in front entryways. A lot of cool stuff happening. It’s an excellent place to start to maximize your curb appeal, so we’re going to have all those details, a bit later in the program.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a very fun tool. It’s a Dremel Multi-Max Tool, which is great for any repair, remodeling or even restoration project that you’ve got on your to-do list.

    TOM: So let’s get right to it. It’s worth 100 bucks. Going to go out to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Tim in Iowa is dealing with a mysterious stain on the wall. Tell us about it.

    TIM: Well, I got an old 1920-built house with plaster walls. I got dark – I got, in one area where there used to a window at one time, I’m guessing, I got some dark spots bleeding through.

    TOM: OK. And do you think that there’s any moisture behind those spots or is it really just a condition of the paint finish that’s bothering you?

    TIM: I think it’s the paint finish. Actually, the other side of the wall used to be exposed to the outside with a front porch but about five, six years ago I finished off the front porch, so it’s not an exterior wall anymore.

    TOM: OK.

    TIM: I actually took a hole saw and bored through one of the dark – actually, two of the dark spots – and I don’t see …

    TOM: You did a little surgery there, huh?

    TIM: Yeah, well, that was my first thing because I thought, “Oh, my gosh. Maybe I’ve got mold in the wall.”

    TOM: Yeah.

    TIM: But going – went in there with a bore scope and I don’t see any mold in the wall.

    TOM: Yeah.

    TIM: And actually, to me, the plaster doesn’t even look discolored. To me, it almost looks like it’s maybe how many years ago some …

    TOM: Sure.

    TIM: You know, some odd, lead-based paint or something that had something in it, I don’t know. But it almost seems to be in the corners where this window used to be, so …

    TOM: Right. Well, what happens is if you get a stain in the wall, that will leach through successive coats of paint. The only way to stop it is by using a good-quality primer and in this case, we would recommend that you only use an oil-based primer. Because the oil-based primer will effectively seal in what’s there and give you a neutral surface to go on top of.

    What people don’t understand is that the qualities of a primer and the qualities of paint are quite different. Primer is kind of like the glue that makes the paint stick and so whenever you have a questionable surface like that, if you hit the whole thing – and you can’t spot-prime this because if you do, you’re going to get sort of an uneven finish when you put the top-coat on.

    But you want to prime the entire wall surface with an oil-based primer and that will absolutely seal in what’s ever there and then you could put wall paint on top of that. I would try to stay within the same manufacturer family but make sure it’s oil-based. It’ll do a much better job than a water-based or an acrylic-based primer.

    TIM: Alright. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Nicki in Indiana is dealing with some moisture in the basement. Tell us what’s going on.

    NICKI: Well, our house is 21 years old. We have a concrete block-wall basement. When we built, we did all the draining and all the things we were supposed to do on the outside. We sealed the concrete block on the inside, painted the walls. And after 20 years, we started having mildew and mold.

    TOM: OK.

    NICKI: We do run a dehumidifier down here. What do you suggest we do?

    TOM: Well, when you say you have mildew and mold, are these walls still concrete block or do you have – are they covered with wood or anything of that nature?

    NICKI: No, we did not, we did not.

    TOM: Alright, so what you’re seeing is like – are you seeing like white-gray, crusty stuff come through the wall?

    NICKI: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s not mildew. It’s not mildew and it’s not mold. What you’re seeing are mineral salt deposits.

    NICKI: Well, now, it does turn black, dark and then I was finding mildew on some of the furniture, some of the cabinets, is the thing.

    TOM: Yeah. OK. Well, that’s a different issue. But you’re not going to get mold on those walls because they’re not – there’s no organic material there for the mold to eat. Typically, what you’re having there is mineral salt deposits and you can prove this to yourself. If you take white vinegar and spray it on there, you’ll find that it usually disappears.

    NICKI: OK.

    TOM: But the reason this is happening is because you have a moisture problem outside and I think you should address the drainage. And the fact that, you know, it’s fine except for now after 20 years means something broke down.

    So let’s go through the basics. Make sure your gutters are clean and free-flowing, make sure the downspouts are extended 4 to 6 feet away from the house and make sure the soil slopes away from the house a drop of 6 inches over 4 feet.

    NICKI: OK.

    TOM: Those three things will stop almost all wet-basement problems.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, you’ve still got some time to create that perfect Valentine’s Day home makeover for your honey on your to-do list, so give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, we’re going to have tips to help remodel your bedroom and convert it into a master suite worthy of a five-star resort and a great Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetie.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to get not only the answer to their home improvement question but they could also win – and that day could be you – a Dremel Multi-Max, an oscillating tool which is used to repair, to remodel and to restore lots of things around the house.

    It’s got great control, so you can work very safely. It cuts precisely and all while keeping dust to a minimum. The Dremel Multi-Max cuts, grinds, sands, scrapes and removes grout. It’s worth 100 bucks. Going to go out to one caller who has the courage, the fortitude, the determination to pick up the phone and call us right now with their question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    If we pick your name out of The Money Pit hard hat, we will be sending that Dremel Multi-Max Tool to you. So don’t waste any time. Let’s get to the phones right now and call us with your question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. But before we jump to the phones, I want to fill everybody in: Valentine’s Day is in like two weeks, guys. That’s a week, right?

    TOM: Now, when you said you wanted to fill everybody in, why did you address it to the guys?

    LESLIE: Well, because it’s the guys that always forget and then the girls are the ones who get upset. So as the girl here on Team Money Pit, I must inform everybody that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so if you’re still wondering what to get the sweetie in your life, why not think about a home improvement project? And turning your bedroom into a master suite has become one of the most popular home remodeling projects in recent years. And really, it is quite a romantic project, as well.

    Now, most newer homes, they’re built with a master suite already but older homes really require extra space to expand to do so. Now, one option is to extend your master bedroom right into a neighboring bedroom. But keep this in mind that if you plan on reselling your home in the future, you want to think carefully before you reduce the total number of bedrooms in your home.

    Of course, you can also opt for building additional space onto your home that would accommodate your new, extended, master-bedroom suite.

    TOM: Now, once you’ve decided on the size of the new master suite, you want to think about how to use it. One person’s idea of luxury can be completely different from someone else’s.

    So, think about this: some couples want to separate closets and dressing areas; others dream of a very cozy reading nook; some plan for a small, personal gym. Have fun with the extras. Now that you have the space, figure out what you’re going to do with that.

    More and more homeowners are even adding mini-bars and even mini-kitchens to their master suites, including small fridges, microwaves and gourmet coffee makers.

    LESLIE: That’s like the epitome of laziness right there.

    TOM: You can make – I was just thinking, you could make microwave chocolate-chip cookies and coffee and serve them right in your master bedroom without ever leaving that space, right?

    Hey, it’s totally up to you. Build it, use it, enjoy it. Call us if you’ve got questions and we will show you how to do just that. 888-666-3974. Get back to the phones.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Diane in Iowa, how can we help you today?

    DIANE: I have an old house built in the early 1900s. It has an unfinished basement and my kitchen floor is very, very cold. But I just put a new floor in, so I don’t want to rip that up.

    TOM: Right.

    DIANE: Is there any way that I can warm up that floor from underneath?

    LESLIE: Well, in your unfinished basement, is the ceiling also unfinished?

    DIANE: Yes.

    LESLIE: OK. So that’s fairly easy because if you insulate the ceiling of your basement, you’re then insulating the floor in the kitchen above and that should really do a great job of keeping your tootsies warm.

    DIANE: Alright. Well, that sounds simple enough. The house had the old knob-and-tube wiring. Is that going to present a problem? I’ve replaced most of it.

    TOM: Well, yes. I mean knob-and-tube wiring is a potentially unsafe system and so it’s not a good idea to keep that, because it’s ungrounded and it’s ungroundable. So …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if it’s in the area that you want to insulate, you absolutely cannot, because it needs air to keep it cool.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s actually designed to be an air-cooled system; that’s why it has those knobs and tubes with the wires strung along the beams. So you absolutely cannot cover it with insulation.

    DIANE: Alright. So I’ll check and make sure that’s all been changed before I proceed.

    TOM: Alright.

    DIANE: Any particular type of insulation?

    LESLIE: Now, Tom, this is where it always gets confusing. Faced or unfaced insulation for the fiberglass batts and if you go faced, does that go to the kitchen side or the basement side?

    TOM: Yeah, I would go unfaced and not worry about it. I would use unfaced. You use faced -and whenever you use faced, you put it towards the heated side which, in this case, I guess would be the kitchen since the basement’s not heated. But I would just use unfaced batts, because I don’t think you have to worry about moisture issues in this area.

    LESLIE: And then you’re going to find that there’s these little springy things that are called insulation hangers. And you’re going to need to affix those to those ceiling joists or the floor joists, depending on which way you’re thinking of it.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: And that will hold that fiberglass batt up against your basement ceiling and help you to warm the kitchen floor. And you’ll see a big difference in the heat in the kitchen in general.

    DIANE: Excellent. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Rich in Indianapolis has a question about some lighting in the kitchen. Tell us what you’re working on.

    RICH: Hi there. Absolutely. With the 2011 goals and resolutions, one of them is to update our kitchen.

    TOM: Well, alright.

    RICH: And we have about eight canister lights with three switches coming in from three different areas.

    TOM: OK.

    RICH: And my wife would like to put a rheostat or dimmer on it and I can’t find any four-way dimmers.

    TOM: Rich, a good solution for this problem might be one of the lighting systems that’s been developed by Lutron. They have a wide range of lighting controls. They, of course, invented the dimmers back in the 50s.

    RICH: Lutron.

    TOM: And then they have all of these home control systems that do all sorts of things. And best of all, what I really like about this company is that they actually have some consumer support. So they have toll-free numbers where you can call and get design assistance and get technical assistance by contacting them directly.

    RICH: Alright. That’s a lot better than the stores I’ve stopped at in the past three or four days.

    TOM: Oh, yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah, who told you it doesn’t exist?

    RICH: That is it exactly.

    TOM: Yeah. Go to Lutron.com.

    RICH: L-u-t-r-o-n.

    TOM: R-o-n, right. And remember, these guys invented the dimmer, so this is the source. And they have a customer-service department that provides design assistance, so they can recommend a specific product that will handle this. And then they also have a technical-assistance department that will walk you through the installation. So I think that’s pretty good.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the design-assistance number is 888-LUTRON1, so that’s pretty easy.

    RICH: Fantastic. I sure appreciate everything you’ve done and do and I want to wish you both a much successful 2011.

    TOM: Thank you so much, Rich.

    LESLIE: Thanks very much.

    TOM: Good luck with that project and thank you for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Don in South Carolina needs help with a painting project. What can we do for you today?

    DON: What type of paint should I put on a concrete driveway?

    TOM: Mm-hmm. What’s the condition of the driveway, Don?

    DON: Well, it’s in good shape; it’s not cracked or anything like that but down here the sun gets so daggone hot and stuff. I just don’t know what type of material to put down on it (inaudible at 0:14:32).

    TOM: You know, there’s a product that QUIKRETE has. It’s called a concrete resurfacer. And it’s kind of like paint but you sort of mop it on with a squeegee.

    DON: Yes, sir.

    TOM: And what I like about it is it’s incredibly durable stuff and it sticks really well. And frankly, I think it’s going to stick better than any of the typical epoxy paints, in that particular situation, because you’re right: with all the sun that comes beating down on that, you want a product that’s got really good adhesion.

    DON: Yeah, yeah. Exactly, exactly.

    TOM: And it really makes it look like brand new.

    DON: When’s the best time to put that down? Because it – I mean …

    TOM: Yeah. Not temperature extreme, so not too hot and not too cold. So, early morning is probably fine.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you want it to be super-dry.

    TOM: Yeah.

    DON: OK. OK. Alrighty. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Judy in DeKalb, Illinois has a question about carpeting. What can we do for you?

    JUDY: I have indoor/outdoor carpeting glued onto my concrete front porch.

    TOM: Wow.

    JUDY: Horrid.

    TOM: Nothing harder to remove, Judy.

    JUDY: Well, I’m – that’s why I’m calling you.

    TOM: And you’re falling out of love with that beautiful indoor/outdoor carpet, huh?

    JUDY: Well, I just bought it with the house.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s tough. What you’re going to end up doing is pulling up as much of the old material as you can.

    JUDY: Sure.

    TOM: And then, if it’s fairly flat to the concrete so there’s no chunks stuck on it, what I would do is I would resurface all of the concrete with either an epoxy paint or an epoxy patching compound, if you have any unevenness to it. And you could trowel that on and have sort of a stucco appearance when you’re all done and it’ll stick to whatever is underneath it, which is most important.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. If you’re trying to get rid of that adhesive, pretty much the only thing that’s going to work at this point is a solvent and some sort of scraping device that’s very, very durable, on a long stick to save your back. Because you need to put the solvent on that glue and let it really get to work on it to sort of break it down and then scrape it away. Luckily, yours is outdoors so it’s not going to be too odorific, if you will, for you.

    I’ve worked on this type of stuff in a basement before, for clients, and it’s stinky and it’s back-breaking work but that’s the only solution if you want to get rid of it completely.

    JUDY: What about a heat gun?

    TOM: Oh, that would even be stinkier.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    JUDY: Well, I’m outside.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah but the …

    TOM: No, I’m telling you, you’re going to end up breathing some of that stuff and God knows what’s in it.

    JUDY: OK.

    TOM: I wouldn’t do that at all, Judy.

    LESLIE: And you need the solvent to liquefy whatever that adhesive is. And there’s – it’s going to be trial and error unless you happen to know what that adhesive was. Sometimes it’s an alcohol-based solvent and sometimes it’s a mineral spirits-based solvent. It really depends, so you’re going to have to mix and match and try some things. Of course, let the first one dry completely before you try another one.

    JUDY: Or try a different spot.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    JUDY: Well, thanks. I didn’t think it was going to be fun and you certainly have “concreted” that opinion.

    LESLIE: It’s no fun.

    JUDY: Well, thanks very much and I’ll give it a go as soon as spring comes.

    TOM: Alright, Judy. Let us know how you make out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Michael in Washington is working on a kitchen renovation. How can we help you with the project? 

    MICHAEL: Yeah. I have a very small kitchen; there’s no room to expand. And I’m wondering if putting a refrigerator under the counter would be good, value-wise, so that that would give me 7 feet of working counter space. Right now, I only have 2 feet of working counter space. 

    TOM: Hmm. Well, I think it would be convenient for your particular situation, Michael. But remember, you’re not going to have much storage space because – you know, you’re going to essentially have half the storage space that you have right now. It also could potentially impact resale because most folks expect a full-sized space for the refrigerator. 

    MICHAEL: Would it be better to take an exterior door out that’s in the kitchen and build the cabinets along that wall, with just a slight out-hook in the wall where the kitchen door is, to accommodate the cabinet? 
    TOM: Is that your only back door? 
    MICHAEL: No, there’s a sliding glass door about halfway across the front wall and then there’s a front door. 
    TOM: Oh, OK. Well, if you have … 
    LESLIE: Yeah, I would go that route. 
    TOM: Yeah, I would, too. If you already have two back doors and you can give up one, that would be smarter. 
    MICHAEL: OK. I thank you. 

    TOM: Well, you’re welcome, Michael. That was easy, huh?

    LESLIE: Yeah, that was a good one.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still to come, after years of living with it, you have finally decided to tackle removing that ugly wallpaper in your house but you need a brilliant solution for the easy way to do just that.

    TOM: Well, unfortunately, there’s no magic wand to wave. But we can help you with a few tips and tricks that can make it just a little bit easier and we’ll show you exactly how to do just that, next.

    (theme song)

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question or head on over to MoneyPit.com and post it in the brand-spanking new Community section of MoneyPit.com.

    While you’re there, you can also create your own home improvement blog or post pictures of your project and share it all on Facebook, all at the same time. It is all free at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Chris in Georgia is on the line with an attic insulation question. What can we do for you today?

    CHRIS: My wife and I moved here from Nebraska, which is – prompts the insulation question to Georgia, so different needs.

    TOM: OK. OK.

    CHRIS: The house we have, second floor over the garage in the long room – and part of it is shaped with the angle of the roof, which leaves dead space and small doors that go into attic space. And those spaces are not insulated but the housing envelope is, if that makes sense.

    TOM: OK.

    CHRIS: Do I need to insulate those?

    TOM: The answer is yes and no.

    CHRIS: OK.

    TOM: Now, in a structure like that, what would be insulated would be certainly the roof, since the roof is essentially the ceiling at the same time, correct?

    CHRIS: Yes.

    TOM: So you would insulate the roof but you wouldn’t fill up the entire roof cavity. If it’s a 2×8 rafter, you’d only go 2×6 – I’m sorry, you only go 6 inches of insulation – so you leave a 2-inch gap above it for air to ventilate. And then those knee walls with the doors in them, you would insulate the back of that. Treat the knee wall as an exterior wall. So you would insulate the back of that knee wall.

    And then the space beyond the knee wall – the storage area – you don’t have to worry about that. So the back of the knee wall and the rafters themselves, leaving room for ventilation is what you need to insulate in that kind of a house.

    CHRIS: Wonderful. Thanks for the intelligence and I thought there might be a difference in climate between Nebraska and Georgia.

    TOM: Well, you’re right about that. There is a difference in climate between Nebraska and Georgia but you insulate homes the same way.

    CHRIS: Yes. OK. Thanks for the time.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Yeah, just a small climatic difference between Georgia and Nebraska.

    LESLIE: Slightly.

    Well, after years of living with it, maybe you’ve finally decided to tackle the large, floral-print wallpaper in your dining room that’s been driving you crazy. Well, now comes the hardest part: how to get it off that wall.

    TOM: And unfortunately, there is no magic way. It’s just a lot of hard work but you can make it go a little easier with a few tips from the experts at This Old House. Joining us with that advice is This Old House general contractor, Tom Silva.

    Welcome, Tommy.

    TOM SILVA: Well, thanks. Nice to be here.

    TOM: Now, this has to be one of the most frustrating decorating chores out there when redoing a room in your house, because the wallpaper was really never designed to come off, was it?

    TOM SILVA: No. You put it on, it’s supposed to stay on.

    TOM: Forever and ever and ever.

    TOM SILVA: And ever and ever, right. Right.

    TOM: So, any tips to simplify that process?

    TOM SILVA: Well, there is no simple way. There’s a variety of different papers out there, so you’ve got to handle each one a little bit differently; you’ve got to attack it a little bit differently. Vinyl papers, for example, don’t come off well at all when you spray something on them, so you want to break the seal of that paper when you spray something on it, like a wallpaper remover.

    LESLIE: Because you have to get underneath to the paste.

    TOM SILVA: You want to get to the paste, that’s right. If you spray something on a vinyl paper, it’s just going to run off, yeah.

    LESLIE: Uh-huh. Now, I’m always amazed at the fact that this even works: liquid fabric softener and water. Why does that work so wonderfully well when you’re dealing with a paper?

    TOM SILVA: I don’t know why it works well but I’ve been using it for a long time and it does work excellent.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So is it the fact that you just spray it on and sort of let it sit there and then it just peels away?

    TOM SILVA: You spray it on. If it’s a paper, you spray it on and really let the paper get wet.

    LESLIE: Like super get it wet.

    TOM SILVA: It really has to get – yeah, yeah. And like I say, if it’s vinyl, you want to scratch the surface. They have these little tools out there that you can rub all over the wall.

    LESLIE: And the fabric softener will also work on the vinyl as long as you score it?

    TOM SILVA: As long as you score it and break the seal so that the fabric softener can get in back of the paper.

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    TOM: Now, what if you’ve got a wall that’s got, say, multiple layers of wallpaper that’s been on there for a lot of years and man, you’re going to be fabric-softening that wall for decades and not get it off? Is there any equipment that can help?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, you’ve got to bring out the big guys, the big …

    TOM: The big guns?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, the big guns. Go to the rental store and get yourself a wallpaper stripper. It’s a steam-activated machine.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: And you can really just take this big pad and drop it on the wall and just get – you’ll get a rhythm. And just work it right across the wall and you’ll take off multiple layers at a time.

    TOM: So you basically hold it to the wall and it’s sort of enclosed and just shoots steam into that one area?

    TOM SILVA: Yep. It shoots it right in there. It’s probably the size of a piece of paper.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: You hold that on there. Just be careful, it’s hot. And then, you’ll actually feel it take it away and you’ll actually see it starting to go. And take a little knife and put it up underneath it and it’ll get real soft and just come right off.

    LESLIE: I mean regardless of the method, it certainly does take a lot of work to tackle this project, right?

    TOM SILVA: Well, it’s a lot of work not only to take the paper off and then you’ve got start repairing and patching the walls because of all the gouges you’ve made.

    TOM: Now, let’s talk about that. Once you get the wallpaper off, you’ve got some gouges that you’ve repaired, you really need to start from scratch from that point. Is it a good idea to prime the wall?

    TOM SILVA: Once you get all your patches done and you’ve puttied them up with spackle or joint compound – whatever needed to do – then you want to make sure you do prime the wall, especially if it’s a drywall wall. If you have new drywall, especially you want to prime it; don’t want to paper over that.

    TOM: That’s going to give you sort of a neutral surface to put anything on top of that that you need to.

    TOM SILVA: Exactly, exactly.

    TOM: Now, do you ever have folks that just want to give up because it’s just too much work and then they end up skimming the wall, say, with another layer of drywall?

    TOM SILVA: I’ve actually seen people paint over the wallpaper.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s the worst.

    TOM SILVA: And then you’re really in trouble trying to take it off, yeah.

    TOM: Oh, yeah. Yeah, you’re just passing that along to future generations.

    TOM SILVA: Exactly.

    TOM: It’s going to come off one way or the other.

    TOM SILVA: It’s like putting a roof on a roof, you know?

    LESLIE: Now, have you seen – is there any different approach when you’re trying to get the wallpaper off, if you know that there’s drywall underneath or if there’s plaster underneath?

    TOM SILVA: Well, you’ll know if there’s drywall on it and they didn’t prep the drywall correctly because 9 times out of 10, you’re not going to get the paper off without destroying most of the drywall. So you really are in trouble there.

    So that’s why it’s very important that if you do a new drywall work, you want to prime the wall first. The primer acts like a release when you want to remove that paper later on.

    TOM: Great advice. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: My pleasure.

    TOM: And for a great video on how to strip wallpaper, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com. And I might mention that I’m pretty sure that that video is Kevin O’Connor’s first-ever This Old House project.

    TOM SILVA: Ah, I think you got it right.

    LESLIE: If he only knew then what he knows now, it’s all about elbow grease.

    Alright, folks, you can watch Tommy and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and on Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Still ahead, Leslie and I have the scoop on brand new innovations in the home improvement space, from the International Builders’ Show. We just got back and it was a very exciting event. We’re going to tell you all about it and all the new products that we found, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. Want hardwood floors but are on a budget? The affordable and feature-filled Skil Flooring Saw is just what you need for your installation project.

    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. And we’d love for you to be part of The Money Pit, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a really great and super-useful prize.

    We’re giving away the Dremel Multi-Max Tool, which is an oscillating tool that you can use to repair, remodel, restore pretty much anything and everything around your house. It’s got great control, so you can really work safely. It cuts precisely and it keeps the dust to a minimum.

    Now, the Dremel Multi-Max, it cuts, it grinds, it sands, it scrapes, it removes grout. Pretty much you can do anything with it that you want. It’s worth 100 bucks, so call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, we’re just back from Orlando, where Leslie and I had a chance to attend the International Builders’ Show. And my mind still has not stopped spinning with all of the new products we saw. First of all, this place is huge; it’s just immense.

    LESLIE: Ginormous.

    TOM: And so you really …

    LESLIE: You will walk miles and miles and miles daily.

    TOM: Yeah, you really get worn out walking through the place. But you’re just bombarded with all kinds of new products and your mind just keeps going with all the new ideas.

    One of the things that I saw that I thought was really awesome was the Classic-Craft Canvas Collection from Therma-Tru. Just gorgeous, new entryways.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know what? I totally agree with that. It’s the first line of premium, smooth, fiberglass doors and it carries the Therma-Tru name, which you know we love and trust. And this is the door that homeowners are looking for, with a smooth, paintable surface but it’s still a very energy-efficient door.

    Now, because the door is paintable, you can then easily customize the look of your entryway to match the overall design of your home’s exterior. If you want a red door to stand out against your Colonial, white home, not a problem. Or if you want a green, brown or even fuchsia door – although I’m partial to turquoise; turquoise really looks fantastic as a door color – the paintbrush is in your hands; totally up to you guys.

    TOM: You know what’s also cool is that the architectural detail on these doors, it’s very accurate. Did you notice that?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. There are really good, period details on the doors. I mean really lovely. And when you think about efficiency, you cannot beat it.

    TOM: Exactly. They’ve got those very wide center panels and the very rich embossment details. They look a lot like the – sort of the custom, high-end wood doors that are just thousands and thousands of dollars but these certainly aren’t that expensive. Therma-Tru really has a winner, I think, with this new door. The combination of durability and security and energy-efficiency and even the ability to customize the door to complement your home color-wise, like you’re talking about, really a pretty impressive set.

    And remember, replacing that front entryway, that is one of the least-expensive ways to drive up the value of your house. The surveys have shown time and time again that a good-looking front door really increases that perceived value of your home.

    So all that is possible when you replace the front entryway. If you want more details on the new Classic-Craft Canvas Collection from Therma-Tru that we saw, you can get them at ThermaTru.com. That’s ThermaTru – T-h-e-r-m-a-T-r-u – .com.

    LESLIE: Mary in California is having an electrical issue at her money pit. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARY: Well, the bathroom plug-ins, where you’d plug in a razor or a hair dryer, in two different bathrooms – opposite ends; one upstairs, one downstairs of the same house – suddenly have no power to them.

    TOM: Right.

    MARY: And I checked the circuit-breaker box and everything is on. I bought one of those little tools to stick in the holes and there’s no power to either of them but I have power all over the house; everything else.

    TOM: Well, there is a very simple solution.

    MARY: Oh, there is?

    TOM: And it’s so simple, it’s going to – you’re just going to laugh.

    MARY: Move?

    TOM: No. No, the outlets that you talk about are covered by a ground-fault circuit interrupter; GFCI.

    MARY: No, they’re not.

    TOM: Well, it sounds like they are. And you’re saying they’re not but I’m going to tell you where to look, OK?

    MARY: OK.

    TOM: Because the – somewhere in this circuit – and the circuit could include – do you have a garage?

    MARY: Yes.

    TOM: OK. Circuit very often includes the garage. It also includes the outside and it could include the basement. Somewhere in those rooms, you’re going to find an outlet that has a ground fault.

    LESLIE: That has a ground-fault circuit interrupter.

    TOM: And you’re going to see one outlet with a test and a reset button on it.

    MARY: Right.

    TOM: And the reset button is going to be popped out and you’re going to push it back in and instantly you’re going to have power in your bathrooms again.

    MARY: Well, I do – in the third bathroom, I have one of those things and it’s connected. It works. It works.

    TOM: But that might just be for that bathroom. The other bathrooms may be on a bigger circuit that covers the entire house. This is a very common problem. We hear it all the time. And people swear that they don’t have one or they can’t find it or they’ve checked. And I’ve had people call me on the phone, when I was a home inspector and had this conversation and I’d say, “Get a cordless. Walk with me around the house. Go to your garage.” “It’s not here, it’s not here. Tom, it’s not here. Oh.”

    It’s right there, OK? Go find this little outlet with the test and reset button on it.

    MARY: OK.

    TOM: Because what happens is all of the wet-location outlets are wired together and the ground faults turn them off if somebody’s getting a shock. A regular circuit breaker only turns itself off if there’s – the wires are overheating. And if you’re part of that circuit, you’re in trouble. But a ground-fault breaker turns it off if there’s someone getting a shock and very, very quickly.

    So, you’ve got to find the ground fault. It’s somewhere in an outlet in your house. It could also be outside, by the way. Most typically, it’s in the garage, OK?

    MARY: OK. I will look for that.

    TOM: Alright. Alright, Mary. Let us know how you make out, OK? Good luck with that project.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, when you buy a home that’s listed in “as is” condition, should that be a red flag that there could be major repairs that are needed? Well, perhaps. We’re going to help one listener determine if an “as is” home is really worth it, next.

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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: Hey, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can head on over to MoneyPit.com and post your question in our Community section right there.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I’ve got one here that Jreid from Colorado posted and he wrote – I’m assuming it’s a he, sorry: “I’m looking at an ‘as is’ house to buy. Built in 1956, it has this cement/asbestos flue pipe for the furnace/hot-water heater exhaust. It does not appear to be friable; it seems solid. I will have to replace the steel from the top of the flue in the attic to the – through the roof fitting. Is there any problem just leaving this pipe in place or could it be a nasty headache in the future for resale, et cetera?”

    TOM: Hmm. Well, it depends. First of all, 1956 generally is a very good year for houses, so …

    LESLIE: It’s a good vintage.

    TOM: It’s a good vintage, yeah. It did have some bumps in the road and asbestos is certainly one of them. The fact that this is a solid asbestos pipe, though, mean’s it’s cement asbestos and therefore it’s not easy for those fibers to be released, so that’s good. But there’s …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Unless you break it or it begins to crumble, correct?

    TOM: Right. It’s not likely it’s going to crumble. You have to be careful when you take it apart to remove it, though. But here’s a concern that you might not have thought about, J, and that’s this: in 1956, heating systems were very inefficient, so the flue gases that went up those pipes were very hot. Because they’re hot, there was no problem with draft. In other words, the flue would rush up because of the …

    LESLIE: Because of the extreme heat.

    TOM: Extreme heat would rush up and go out of the house. Now, if that furnace has been replaced with one that’s much more efficient, that flue temperature is not nearly as hot. That means that because the pipe’s not insulated, it can get colder and it can cause condensation and it can actually reverse the draft which is terrible, because that means that you could get carbon monoxide that could come back into the house. So, you have to be really careful matching the heating system against that pipe.

    Secondly, you’re saying that you have to already have to replace the steel part like through the attic and through the roof. If you’ve got to do that much work, I would just tell you to replace the whole thing. Typically, the average vent for a gas heating system today is what’s called a Class B vent. It’s a double-walled pipe, it’s available in sections, it snaps together. You need to check with your heating contractor, because I have no idea what kind of furnace you have and you have to make sure you have the right vent for that. But most of them are Class B. And then just replace the whole thing

    Removing the asbestos pipe, not so much of a hassle; not regulated. Disposing, on the other hand, can be a hassle, because it has to be taken to an asbestos-disposal facility. It might be your town dump, it might be a hazardous-waste facility run by your town or by your county. But it has to be brought to the appropriate place.

    So, my advice would be to go ahead and replace that with a modern venting system and just not have to deal with it after this.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Especially if the actual furnace is of a certain age where you’re going to need to be replacing it sometime soon or maybe you do have a more efficient furnace currently. You really need to make sure because even if you were to buy a new furnace today, you’re going to have to do this major renovation.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: So it really does make sense to do so.

    TOM: I would not spend any money attaching anything to an asbestos pipe when …

    LESLIE: Seriously.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Alright. Here’s another post from Kgosi, I imagine, from Botswana, Southern Africa who writes: “I need a solution for affordable housing and hope that you might have some suggestions.”

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: Wow, that’s awesome.

    TOM: Well and I bet they do need a lot of affordable housing, as we do in this country. My suggestion would be that there are so many good organizations right now that you might want to consider partnering with.

    For example, Make It Right. We had an opportunity recently to see a presentation on all the good work that they’re doing in New Orleans and I know that they’re looking to do projects all around the world. And also Habitat for Humanity. I mean organizations like that been there, done that. They have the technology, they have the materials sourcing and I would seek to partner with an existing organization like that. There’s no sense reinventing the wheel here.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And they might even be able to set you up with a list of instructions or at least a step-by-step on how you can sort of start an organization like this and begin to do good work in your neck of the woods.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.

    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.)

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