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  • Transcript

    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.)
    (theme song)

    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 right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We’re here to help you with your do-it-yourself dilemmas, your home improvement projects. We’ve got the advice, the tips to help you get them done once, get them done right and then maybe you could take the rest of the weekend off. (Leslie chuckles) Not us; we’re here, though, to help you through it. The number again is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    Coming up this hour, we’re going to talk dorm room décor. We’re going to give you some tips to make small spaces work for your college-bound teen and deliver big on storage and style at the same time.
    LESLIE: And for those kiddies staying home, we’ve got a great tip on homework organizers that will leave no room for excuses like, you know, “The dog ate my homework.” That’s just not going to fly when you get to these projects.
    TOM: And don’t let a summer storm leave you in the dark. We’re going to have some great tips on choosing a backup generator when we welcome our pal, Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, in just a bit.
    LESLIE: And to help you with your next painting project, we’re giving away a $50 prize pack of Earth Plastic paint cups and roller trays to one lucky caller who reaches out to us this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Now these are 100-percent biodegradable and they are completely made up of recycled plastic.
    TOM: A great way to go green with your next decorating project so call us right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Mark in North Carolina is looking to go green with the energy that they use at their house. What can we do for you today?
    MARK: Well, I am actually a rather ingenious, inventive type of person. (Leslie chuckles)
    TOM: (chuckling) OK.
    MARK: I’m trying not to blow myself up in the process of doing this.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) If I don’t say so myself.
    MARK: But I’m trying to create a proof of concept and part of my proof of concept is going to require that I backfeed the system with electricity. In order to backfeed the system, I know that I have to run my electricity back into the main panel where my power meter goes so that I can, in essence, make my power meter run backwards.
    TOM: Right.
    MARK: Now, my calculated output is going to be approximately 11 to 12 megawatts a month.
    TOM: OK.
    MARK: Which is about 10 megawatts more than I use.
    TOM: OK.
    MARK: So the question I have is, what product or what company would I look at on the web that could help direct me to the correct equipment to do that with?
    TOM: Ah, good question. I’ll tell you a good place to start is North Carolina has a state energy office that – have you talked with these folks yet?
    MARK: No.
    TOM: Because they’re totally set up to deal with sustainable-energy questions and you might want to start there. That website is EnergyNC.net. That’s EnergyNC.net.
    The equipment that you’re talking about is, you know, fairly commonplace; used for zero-energy homes, used for homes that have wind generators and things like that and you’re correct. It essentially safely feeds the power back into the grid. It’s sort of like a transfer switch that you might use with a backup generator but designed just a little bit differently.
    MARK: OK. Is there any particular – other than just the state energy office? Any other advice that you would have for that other than to make sure you adhere to – meet or exceed codes? (chuckles)
    TOM: Well, tell me about this proof of concept idea. You trying to convince a spouse or other significant person that this is a good idea?
    MARK: Oh, no. My wife is all about doing (Tom and Leslie laugh) – anything I want to do, she supports.
    TOM: Alright. Well, it sounds like a great project. Good luck with it. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: And you know what, Mark? You’re actually really lucky to live in the state of North Carolina because your North Carolina State University actually has a solar center on campus. They do a lot of research there. Just Google “North Carolina Solar Center” because the website is kind of confusing and I don’t want you to write it down wrong. And once you’re there, you’ll find a lot of information. So good luck with your project and get off the grid already. What are you waiting on?
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question.
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to chat with Cindy in Alaska who’s got a problem with a deck. Tell us about it.
    CINDY: Well, I have an outside deck that was built with untreated 2x4s and when they sprayed my house (clears throat) – excuse me – they sprayed the deck too and I’ve never been able to get paint to stick to it.
    TOM: Hmm. What did they spray your house with?
    CINDY: An exterior latex.
    TOM: And that’s the last paint that you ever got to stick to the deck, huh?
    CINDY: That’s it.
    TOM: Yeah. Well, when you get to the point where you can’t get any more coats of paint on any type of a wood surface or even a wall surface, then you have to remove what’s there. Now, have you ever tried to do any level of removal of the (inaudible at 0:05:21.6)?
    CINDY: (overlapping voices) I’ve used a pressure washer and it actually chips up fairly easy and I can even, you know, chip up and pick at big strips. It will come off.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Well, have you – if you’ve been able to get the paint off, then you need to let the lumber dry really, really, really well. And after it dries, then you should prime it and I would use an oil-based primer because primer is, essentially, the glue that makes the paint stick. It has different adhesive qualities than paint. So I would definitely try a good-quality primer and then a good-quality top coat over that.
    Had you not painted it, we would have told you to solid-stain it because the solid stain tends to absorb in and just fade away and then when it gets light enough, you just put more stain on. But now that you’ve painted, you’re pretty much committed. You’ve got to get off as much loose paint as you can, you’ve got to prime the surface with an oil-based primer and you’ve got to make sure that the wood is absolutely super-dry or it’s not going to stick again.
    CINDY: Yeah. And in Alaska that’s a tough trick. (chuckles)
    LESLIE: Yeah.
    CINDY: (overlapping voices) It’s got to dry completely?
    TOM: (overlapping voices) I know. You’ve got to have – it’s like a perfect storm; you’ve got to wait just for the right time for the weather to be warm and dry enough. But you just can’t paint wet wood; it’s just not going to work.
    LESLIE: It’ll never stick.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Cindy, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call while you’re enjoying your fantastic Labor Day weekend. We can help you with those last-minute projects, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, we talk dorm room décor. We’re going to have tips to get your teen’s small space working double-duty both with storage and style.

    (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. And you can be part of The Money Pit by picking up the phone and giving us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT right now and you could also win a pretty great prize. We’re giving away a $50 prize package from American Trade Products. Now, it’s 100-percent biodegradable and recyclable paint trays and accessories and they’re made with breakthrough materials called Earth Plastic, which is made from completely recycled water bottles. So you don’t have to feel guilty about drinking your bottled water because somebody’s going to use it for a paint tray tomorrow. Now, one lucky caller that we talk to on the air is going to win this great prize so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: Well, if you’ve got a teen heading for college, decorating that dorm room is an important step. It’s usually pretty small and (Leslie chuckles) it’s got very utilitarian furniture. That’s putting it nicely.
    LESLIE: Seriously.
    TOM: So, you want to get creative when you’re decking out the kid’s dorm room. Here are some ideas. You can get stylish by choosing furniture pieces that look great and double as storage: things like ottomans that open up, vertical storage bins and colorful, stackable bin pieces. I mean, The Container Store is your best friend when you’re decorating a dorm room.
    You want to use walls to their fullest potential so simple shelving or even cubes that you can customize or paint – or wallpaper – can add some instant interest while providing storage at the same time. So get creative and make that space very personable to help them feel more at home while they’re away at school and concentrating on that schoolwork.
    LESLIE: You know what I always did? You know those – I mean they’re those horrible, metal blinds that they give you in those dorm rooms and when you close them, it just feels like you’re looking at this metal wall instead of whatever view is outside. So I always took either like a really pretty sheet or a great solid-color sheet or a tapestry and I would get binder clips and I would clip it along that top edge of my blind and then tuck it in the bottom.
    TOM: Right.
    LESLIE: So when it was down, all I would see was the sheet or the tapestry and when I drew the blinds and opened them up, it would make this sort of fun, Roman shade.
    TOM: Well, that’s a pretty cool …
    LESLIE: Just a little, fun thing.
    TOM: Hey, what about Blik wall decals? They would be a good option as well because they’re removable; they’re not going to damage the walls.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) They are. You do have to make sure, though, when you go to their website – which is WhatIsBlik.com and Blik is B-L-I-K – look at the removable ones, repositionable – because they’re not all repositionable and you don’t want to get in trouble from the school.
    TOM: Well, if you want more ideas to help deck out your kid’s dorm room, head on over to our website at Money Pit.com. 888-666-3974.
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Vincent in New York is dealing with a gutter issue. Basically, they are overflowing. What’s going on?
    VINCENT: Yeah. Hi, guys. Enjoy your show very much.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Thank you, Vincent.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Thanks so much.
    VINCENT: Yeah. We have a 100-year-old home. It’s a two-family home and it’s detached. It’s a brick home and it has an attic. When it rains, the gutter – the type of gutter we have is built in; it’s a galvanized gutter. It’s built into the overhang.
    TOM: Right.
    VINCENT: And throughout the years, it’s been tarred and it’s very shallow. And what happens – when the heavy rain comes, it doesn’t leak but it overflows.
    TOM: Right.
    VINCENT: Is there a – now, Tom, is there anything – we just had a new roof put on and the roof is – there’s not much you could do. They fill it up, they tar it and it’s getting shallower and shallower.
    TOM: Yeah.
    VINCENT: Is there any – is any solution (inaudible at 0:10:32.4)?
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, the solution is to abandon the built-in gutter and the way this is done is essentially you have to roof over it; you can’t just put roofing material over it. What the roofer will do is they’ll put a piece of plywood from the edge of the roof, over the gutter and then slightly up the incline so you kind of create a two-planed roofline where it comes down the sharper angle and then it goes out at a the flatter angle. So now we’ve eliminated the whole gutter system completely because, you’re right, it doesn’t hold a lot of water.
    So now we have to deal with another type of gutter system and what we would do is put a seamless gutter on the outside of the fascia, hang it off the roof edge and make sure we have enough downspouts to carry the water flow.
    VINCENT: Oh, that’s a great idea.
    TOM: And that’s the way you handle it.
    VINCENT: What a great idea that is. Thank you, guys, again.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Kim in Colorado is having a hard time with her basement floor. Tell us about the problem.
    KIM: OK. I moved into my house about four years ago. It’s a new build and the control joints in my basement and in my garage are starting to rise up.
    TOM: OK.
    KIM: And I didn’t know if – I’ve been told that basement floors, it’s normal for them to be uneven; but it just seems rather odd to me. So I’m not really sure if – is it normal and if not, what is there – what can I do to get it fixed?
    TOM: Do you see any cracking or anything of that nature or is it really just the joint that’s rising up?
    KIM: There is some cracking; not a whole lot. It’s more so the joints.
    TOM: Is it at the point where it’s a tripping hazard?
    KIM: It’s not a tripping hazard but it’s noticeable.
    TOM: Yeah.
    KIM: Now that we’ve laid carpet over it, you can definitely see it.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. Yeah. Is it the filler between the joints or is it the concrete itself?
    KIM: I think it’s the concrete itself; the slab seems to be rising up right where the control joints are.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Hmm. Well, you could be getting some movement in the slab; it’s not terribly unusual. Those slabs are really not set on the footings; they’re really just set on the dirt so if the area around the house gets saturated, if the soil is damp, you could get some movement. And you’re going to get some settlement. How old is this basement area? How old is this house?
    KIM: It’s four years old.
    TOM: Yeah. Then that doesn’t surprise me at all. I think that this is probably normal settlement and I don’t think it’s indicative of a major structural problem, Kim.
    KIM: Oh, wonderful. Well that’s good news. Thank you.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Keep an eye on it. If you see anything that looks a little more dramatic, then the next thing I would do is I would contact a professional home inspector and have them take a look at it. I wouldn’t go to a contractor because they’re just going to try to sell you a new floor.
    KIM: OK. Now, do you know, on a new build, is this something that’s under warranty with a new – or with a contractor?
    TOM: Good question. Good question because new builds in many states have 10-year structural warranties but, unfortunately, the basement floor is not part of the structure because it’s not load-bearing.
    KIM: Oh, wonderful.
    TOM: So I doubt that it would be covered by a warranty. And don’t get too worked up about it because, frankly, those warranties – the builders tend to wrap them around you like they’re warm blankets. I always say they’re wet blankets because they’ve got a lot of holes in them. (Leslie chuckles)
    KIM: OK. Alright. Well, thank you so much for your information. I do appreciate it.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) You’re welcome, Kim. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    You know, Leslie, years ago I was an arbitrator for those home warranty programs and …
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. To determine if something was covered or not?
    TOM: That’s right. And we would see walls that were almost an inch out of plumb and that wasn’t covered. We’d see gaps that were a quarter-inch in molding and that wasn’t covered. And the worst thing is I saw a broken concrete slab in a kitchen floor – and this was a pretty serious, structural defect; I mean, it really broke right in half – and the warranty company said it wasn’t covered because it didn’t render the house “unlivable.” So their standards for whether it’s covered are really weighted towards the builder and not so much towards the consumer.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, as most things usually are. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
    Time to help Grace in Michigan fix up a floor-painting project. What can do we for you?
    GRACE: I live in a 108-year-old house and the linoleum in my room is really old and I was wondering if you would be able to paint it with wall paint.

    TOM: No, because it’s not really – first, two things. First of all, linoleum doesn’t really take any type of paint very well and wall paint, of course, you’d never really be able to use it; it would just wear right off. You’re better off going out and perhaps picking up some vinyl remnants that you could buy at a home center or a flooring store – these are the cutoff pieces; sort of the end of the roll – and putting down some new flooring.

    GRACE: OK.

    TOM: That’s probably the least expensive way to go.

    LESLIE: You know what else you could do, Grace? You could head to the home improvement center and buy some canvas drop cloths – the ones that have, you know a nice, plastic backing or a rubber backing. And you can finish the edges just by using some carpet tape to give it a nice, smooth edge. Then, you can prime that whole piece of canvas and paint it to look like a rug. This way you have like a fun area rug.

    GRACE: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Bill in Alaska is having some water heating issues. What can we do for you today?
    BILL: Well, good evening and yes, I’m wanting to replace a 20-plus-year hot water or hydronic boiler heating system.
    TOM: OK.
    BILL: And I’m looking at the latest models that are out nowadays. Some are very efficient – up to 93 percent efficiency – and some others like in the 80-some percent range. And just wondering what your recommendation is.
    TOM: Well, right now is a perfect time to replace your heating system because that replacement could qualify for a federal energy tax credit. They’re available for both gas and oil boilers as long as you put in a high-efficiency unit but you can get up to $1,500 off of your tax liability by installing one that qualifies. The key is to make sure it qualifies. So this is an exercise, actually, that we just did for Leslie’s mom. You guys – they needed a new boiler and we took the products that were recommended by the contractors, went to the manufacturer’s website and determined that some of the ones that they recommended actually did not qualify for the tax credits.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. Yeah. And you definitely want to make sure that it does.
    TOM: Right. So I would, you know, get some recommendations on brands and then I would go to their website and make sure which models qualify for the federal energy tax credits because the manufacturers keep a pretty tight ship on that kind of stuff; the contractors, not so much.
    BILL: Right, right. Yeah, I’m looking at both and I’m – got kind of mixed feelings about the high-efficiency. Some of the plumbers are telling me that they’re not too trustworthy in terms of the components in them; the power surges and so forth might cause the circuit boards to go out. So, I’m kind of looking at going to the original style, cast-iron boiler – but the new upgraded model – and even though I may not get that rebate …
    TOM: I’ve got to tell you something. The contractors get stuck in the mud. They like to install what they like to install. They don’t like change; they don’t take change very well (Bill and Leslie chuckle). They don’t like to deal with any of the newfangled, high-tech heating and cooling systems but this is where the market is going. These manufacturers are not manufacturing boilers that are so delicate they’re going to blow up the first time you get a power surge.
    BILL: Right, right.
    TOM: So I would recommend that you use a high-efficiency boiler and you make sure it qualifies for the federal energy tax credit and find a contractor that is confident enough in himself to be able to install that properly.
    BILL: OK. Well, we’ll go from there then and I thank you very much.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And let the contractor hate mail begin. (Leslie laughs) It’s true; they get stuck.
    Well, summer storms can quickly leave you in the dark. Learn what you need to know about backup generators and never lose power again. We’ll get those tips when Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, joins us after this.

    (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. Install a new, energy-efficient Therma-Tru door today and qualify for up to a $1,500 tax credit. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com/taxcredit.
    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Here to stop do-it-yourselfers from becoming do-it-to-yourselfers. So pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right back to those phones.
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Now we’re going to chat with Bruce in California about a metal roof. Welcome.
    BRUCE: Well, with the fire danger out here, they want metal roofs on all our buildings and I’ve got a 40-year-old cedar shake roof on an A-frame. And purchasing a metal roof – I’d like to do it myself and the contractors will supply the metal roof but there aren’t many locations that actually sell metal roofing for a homeowner.
    TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, that’s – and there’s a good reason for that because it does take a fair amount of skill to properly install a metal roof; it’s not exactly a do-it-yourself project. I mean, there are some sheet-metal roofing products that you can use on sheds and things like that but to roof your entire house is really not a DIY job.
    There is a good website that is run by an industry association called the Metal Roofing Alliance. It’s simply MetalRoofing.com and …
    BRUCE: MetalRoofing.com.
    TOM: Yeah, MetalRoofing.com. They’ve got a great site there; lots of information. Lots of experts help you find a contractor and learn about all the different types of metal roofing and they’ve got information about the tax credits. There’s a $1,500 tax credit that’s available if you install metal roofing before the end of 2010, because metal roofing actually is a fairly energy-efficient thing to do because there’s a coating on the metal roof that actually reflects the heat of the sun back out.
    BRUCE: I wasn’t aware of that.
    TOM: Yeah. Yeah. There’s a Metal Roofing 101 section on that website. Really, you should check it out; I think it’s a good place to start your education.
    BRUCE: Oh, thank you so much.
    TOM: Well, backup generators are a great addition to any home. Having one means you’ll never be left in the dark when the power goes out. Up next is a guy who knows a lot about backup generators. He’s actually installed some on his television show, This Old House.
    Kevin O’Connor, thanks for stopping by the program.

    KEVIN: Ah, it’s my pleasure to be here, Tom. And you’re right; they are great devices to have. You know, they are especially useful in areas that are prone to outages or if you’ve got important equipment that can never be without power. You’re probably going to install it primarily in your backyard and it’s mostly going to run off of propane or natural gas. They’re typically going to have an automatic transfer switch and that means that it’s going to sense when the power goes out. It’s going to automatically turn on the generator and then it will power the house.
    TOM: Now, backup generators can come in any size. Is bigger always better?
    KEVIN: Well, you know, you could get one that could power the entire house but, most likely, a generator is going to be sized to provide power only to certain critical circuits, lights and appliances. And if you want more information about backup generators, there are several videos on ThisOldHouse.com.
    TOM: Kevin O’Connor from This Old House. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
    KEVIN: Always good to be here, Tom.
    LESLIE: You know and Tom, you actually have a Generac backup generator at home and at the studio and seeing how many times your Generac has saved us, I am absolutely ready to buy one for my home, too, and we have had a lot of blackouts this summer where I live.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) It is totally a good idea.
    LESLIE: I mean it’s really crazy and if you think this is something you might like for your own home, guys, you know, we encourage you to take a look at the videos on ThisOldHouse.com and they’ll walk you through the entire generator-shopping process.
    TOM: And This Old House is proudly sponsored by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.
    Well, a blackout might be a good excuse for those kids who didn’t finish their homework but Leslie has got a great idea for a homework organizer that will get rid of any excuses your kids could come up with; we promise. We’ll have that, next.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Two-Part Epoxy Garage Floor Coating. Transform drab, grey, concrete garage floors into attractive and functional spaces with a showroom-quality finish. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-E-H-R.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You could win a $50 prize package from American Trade Products. It’s a 100-percent biodegradable and recyclable paint tray and accessory set made with a breakthrough material called Earth Plastic. It’s basically made from recycled water bottles – pretty cool – and it’ll help you do your next decorating project and go green at the same time. It’s going to go to one caller whose name we draw at random at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Well, pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you’re thinking about doing a project with your kids to help everybody get back into that back-to-school routine which, believe it or not, is right around the corner. And for some of you in the southern states, your kids have been back at school for weeks (Tom chuckles) and you might already be seeing organizational issues.
    So, if you find that your little guys and maybe not-so-little guys are having a hard time remembering assignments and due dates and it’s just been a nightmare for you guys, here’s a great idea that’s going to help.
    Now, you might not find this at a big-box store but you can definitely find it at those smaller building material shops. It’s a material called Homasote and it’s a compressed, grey paperboard and it makes for a terrific pushpin-holding organizer. It’s sold in four-foot by eight-foot sheets and what you want to do is cut it. Have them cut it if they’ll do it for you because it gets to be kind of messy but if not, no worries; you can totally do it yourself.
    And you want to cut it into pieces. You can either go like a 2×4 board or go 12×12 squares. Think about how you want to create this organizer for your wall. Do you want one or do you want a lot to sort of lay out a grid of maybe the week or all your classes? And then what you do is you cover these little pieces of Homasote with fabric and you can staple right into the backside of each panel and you can use the fabric right as it is or get some fun ribbon that coordinates with the fabric and you can create a fun, sort of decorative grid pattern over those panels to sort of give you a place to tuck assignments into or clip on to.
    And then, when you want to hang it, you just get a picture hanger and you attach it right to the backside and then use a nail to hang it right up on the wall. And if you’re going to go with a lot of them to create a grid of, say, Monday through Friday and then you want to do Math/English/Science, you can then paint right on your wall, sort of headings for each row and column. This way, there are no questions asked; everybody will know what assignments are due, where. You can even use it for chores.

    So get organized; it’s a great project to do together as a family and it actually looks great when you’re done, too.
    TOM: And in fact, I think you made that very organizer for the Today show once, didn’t you?
    LESLIE: We did. I made it for the Today show. We did it on an episode of Trading Spaces where I designed a home-school classroom and it worked out great. You know, I got to work on the project with the neighbor. It was a lovely project and the kids actually used it; we hear back from the families time to time and they said it’s been very helpful.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. And Homasote is actually made in New Jersey; it’s one of our state exports.
    LESLIE: Is it? (chuckles)
    TOM: Yeah. That along with pork roll (Leslie laughs) or Taylor Ham, as some folks call it.
    LESLIE: (chuckling) It makes a lot of sense.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Let’s get back to those phones.

    Who’s next?
    LESLIE: Diane in Maryland is just not getting the proper pressure in her shower. What can we do for you today?

    DIANE: Hi. I’m having trouble with the water pressure in my whole house, actually.

    LESLIE: The whole house?

    DIANE: I have low water pressure upstairs and really high water pressure downstairs. Is there anything I can do about it?

    TOM: Low water pressure upstairs and high water pressure downstairs usually means that your main water line into the house is not delivering enough water and the fixtures that are the farthest away from the main water line have the least flow.

    DIANE: Gotcha.

    TOM: So that’s not unusual. How old is your house?

    DIANE: It’s about 40 years old.

    TOM: And what kind of pipes do you have coming into the house? Do you know?

    DIANE: They’re copper.

    TOM: They’re copper. So, the copper is not going to restrict like a steel pipe would but it might be a problem with the valve.

    DIANE: OK.

    TOM: So the pattern that you’re describing is probably plumbing-related in terms of a valve that’s restricting water to the second floor. And what I would do is I would sort of dissect or have a plumber dissect the supply lines up to the second floor and figure out where the drop in pressure is.

    DIANE: OK.

    TOM: Now, the pressure on the second floor that’s low, is that low through all the fixtures in this bathroom? Is it one bathroom, first of all?

    DIANE: It’s the bathroom in the kitchen upstairs.

    TOM: OK, so it’s just one bathroom.

    DIANE: (overlapping voices) So yes, all the fixtures.

    TOM: And you say all the fixtures, so we’re talking about both – what – a tub and shower and a sink?

    DIANE: Yes.

    TOM: Any problems with the toilet?

    DIANE: Yes.

    TOM: Hmm. Alright, well I would say to check the cold water supply line up to that space because I suspect that it’s restricted somewhere and that’s why you’re having this pressure problem. I doubt very seriously there’s any problem with the clogging of a pipe because as long as everything is copper there’s really nothing for you to clog.

    DIANE: OK. Well, thank you for your information. I want to check into that.

    TOM: Alright, Diane. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
    LESLIE: Kevin in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    KEVIN: Hi. I have a house for sale through a realtor and I was wondering how long an appraisal would be valid for if I were to go ahead and just do that myself. Now here in Texas, the buyer usually has to pay for the appraisal but, as the seller, if I go ahead and do that will it be good for 30 days or 90 days or how long?

    TOM: Well, I mean I certainly would expect it to be good for, you know, three to six months. It really depends on the market. Now, the reason that you’re doing this is just for your own edification so you can help price the home appropriately?

    KEVIN: Yes, I just want to make sure the realtor and I are (inaudible at 0:29:00.6) it appropriately, yes.

    TOM: Yeah, I mean I think that that’s – it’s reasonable to expect it to be – and it’s an estimate; it’s an educated estimate based on home sales in your area. That’s what an appraisal is. And I would expect it, in most markets, to hold for three to six months. But things can change quickly and, in which case, it may no longer be valid and have to be adjusted. And if that was the situation, I would speak with the appraiser about – that did the original appraisal – and say, “Hey, has anything changed dramatically?” Maybe you can do some quick rechecking of the specs of the comparable homes that are used to create the appraisal and make adjustments accordingly.

    KEVIN: OK.

    LESLIE: You know, Kevin, there’s a great website; it’s the AppraisalFoundation.org. And it’s authorized by Congress and it goes over all the guidelines and what makes an appraiser, what are the standards of appraisal, how long will it last for. It’s a great, very user-friendly website that could probably point you in the right direction there as well.

    KEVIN: OK, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Edna in New Jersey wants to talk about porches. What can we do to help you with?

    EDNA: Well, I need to have it repaired. I think it’s called pointing or something like that. And then I also saw someone that had a metal one that they just bring in and put it in. But I just don’t know like underneath if once they take the old one I’d have to have that all cemented. And …

    TOM: Alright. So first of all, Edna, you have a porch that’s made of brick?

    EDNA: Yes.

    TOM: And it needs to be restored because some of the mortar is falling out of the brick joints?

    EDNA: Correct.

    TOM: Well, I would do that. And brick is about as durable a product as you can get. I certainly wouldn’t tear it out just because it needs to be repointed. Repointing is normal maintenance for bricks.

    EDNA: Oh.

    TOM: And repointing refers to the process of taking the loose mortar out that’s between the bricks – just the, you know, the outside edge of it – and then pushing some new mortar in there. And masons do this all the time and it only has to be done once and it lasts a good 10 or 20 years.

    EDNA: Oh, because it’s actually lasted over 40 years. So, you know, now it …

    TOM: Well, you see? So that porch doesn’t owe you any money, does it, Edna?

    EDNA: No, it doesn’t.
    LESLIE: Well, how do you know when doing it yourself is out of the question?
    TOM: Like when you nail in the last piece of wallboard and suddenly can’t find the cat?
    LESLIE: Because I really have a … (chuckles)
    TOM: This is a clue. (chuckles)
    LESLIE: Well, if that’s your situation, (Tom chuckles) maybe that project is best left to the pros. We are going to answer those questions when we get back.

    (theme song)
    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And do you need advice on a specific do-it-yourself project? I mean, you really have something in your mind right now? Well, if you go to MoneyPit.com, whatever you’re working on, you can search by your home space – like kitchen or bathroom or bedroom – or by the project type that you’re working on: “I want to hang a shelf; how do I snake a drain?” Whatever it is – painting, renovating, designing – you’re going to get a list of everything that we have ever written or said about that subject, right at your fingertips, and it is completely free and available right now at MoneyPit.com; so head on over.
    TOM: And while you’re there, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and send us an e-mail question. We’ve got one here from Bill in New Jersey who says: “I used a shovel to mix cement and didn’t clean it right away. Now it has a bumpy, quarter-inch layer of cement on it. How can I clean it off?” Well – oh, “It’s a good shovel otherwise.” Glad to hear that, Bill. (Leslie chuckles) You should have thought about that when the cement was wet. There’s a reason it’s called cement.
    LESLIE: Seriously.
    TOM: (chuckling) Because it’s not designed to come off. At this point, Bill, the only way you’re going to get that off is by grinding it off. I might suggest you try wire brushing first and you may need to get a wire brush – the kind that’s like a wheel and goes in your drill – and really start to abrade it off. Make sure – absolutely sure – you wear not only goggles but a face mask because you can throw pieces of …
    LESLIE: And long sleeves.
    TOM: Yeah, you’ll throw pieces of this stuff around; make sure nobody is around you when you do this. You’ll probably be able to get it off and then after you do that, I would get oil-based primer and oil-based enamel and repaint the end of that shovel because, otherwise, it’s going to rust pretty darn quickly.
    LESLIE: Oh, true. Alright, next up, we’ve got one from Peggy in Missouri who writes: “We have a cold-air return that runs up the middle of our home. When it gets over 85 degrees outside, the condensation drips so badly that we pull the ceiling tiles and let it drip in buckets.” Yikes. “How can we fix this? I tried taping off all basement vents to make it warmer; no improvement. (Tom chuckles) I just purchased a heat pump air unit; no improvement. I tried adding insulation around it but that became saturated. I was thinking of trying spray foam but I’m concerned about what I can’t see and the buildup of mold. Any suggestions?”
    TOM: You’re fighting building science here, Peggy. When you live in Missouri and you have very, very humid days near 100-percent humidity, air conditioners are just not made to be dehumidifiers. Everyone thinks they are because in most parts of the country, when you have lower relative humidity, they do a decent job; but they’re really not efficient at dehumidifying and when you have that much humidity, you’re going to get condensation.

    What you need and what I would strongly recommend is a product called a whole-home dehumidifier. Now, this is not the portable dehumidifier that sits in your house and fills up with water and you have to dump all the time. This is actually installed into the HVAC system. It becomes part of the heating and air conditioning system. It runs 24/7 and it dehumidifies the air; it pulls out that moisture. In fact, it’ll pull out about 11 gallons of water a day. Aprilaire makes one; there are other manufacturers but that’s what will solve this problem once and for all. So forget all these other things you’re trying; get a whole-home dehumidifier and you’ll be good to go.
    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have from Charles in Colorado who writes: “How hard is it to replace faucets on our bathroom and kitchen sinks? We have zero do-it-yourself skills.”
    TOM: I’d say put down the tools and step away from the project. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) You know, a plumbing project can go bad real quick and, normally, it goes bad if you can’t get the valve turned off that feeds the water supply to it. If you can get it off, then at least you can control the mayhem.
    It’s not terribly difficult to replace a faucet but you want to first make sure that you can turn the water off. Sometimes these valves get really old, very sticky and very persnickety and they just won’t turn off. If yours will turn off, then you’ve got a shot at it.
    LESLIE: And you know what, Charles? Head on over to this great website: it’s FaucetCoach.com. Once you’re there, you’ll see this huge icon: Faucet Installation. It will show you everything you need to know. Just make sure that water is off and give it a shot.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com where you’ll find tips, advice and the ability to listen to any past show. You missed something we said? Need a product recommendation? You’ve got a question, you can always click on Ask Tom and Leslie.
    That’s 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.

    (theme song)
    (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.)

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