Cracked Concrete Fixes, Energy Efficient Windows, Bug Free Backyards and More
(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 1 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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma, because we are on your how-to team. We’re here to help you with the tips, the advice, the information you need to turn your house from house to home to castle. We are sort of in the money pit prevention business on this show. We invite you to participate by picking up the phone and giving us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
We’ve got a busy show planned for you. Coming up this hour, crumbling, cracking, concrete walkways are not only unsightly but they can be very dangerous. The good news is that this is not a terribly difficult DIY project. We’re going to walk you through it in just a few minutes.
LESLIE: And also ahead, is your midsummer night’s dream becoming a nightmare because of annoying mosquitoes? Well …
TOM: (slaps) Ow!
LESLIE: (chuckles) I’m telling you, you’re lucky because usually they bite me, so maybe I’m the lucky one in this scenario. (Tom chuckles) Well we don’t want you to get bitten, so we’re going to teach you how to take the bite out of your backyard fun.
TOM: And lots of homeowners are cashing in on their replacement windows. Tax credits are available through the end of the year. And just because they’re energy efficient, though, doesn’t mean that your new windows have to look utilitarian. Learn about some stylish new options, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And this hour, we’re giving away a CEIVA connected photo frame. Now this is really cool because you can upload photos to any CEIVA frame from just about anywhere, whether you’re on your computer or on your phone. So Grandma and Grandpa down in Florida – that’s right, I’m talking to you Mommy and Poppy – they can see those new baby pictures as soon as you take them.
TOM: It’s a prize worth 147 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 those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Sonya in Illinois needs some help with a pergola. What can we do for you?
SONYA: Hi. My husband recently built a pergola on the back of our home and I was wondering if you have any suggestions as to what we could use on two sides to make it a bit more private and to give some protection from the western setting sun and also what would a preferred stain method be.
TOM: What did you build it out of? It’s out of wood?
SONYA: Pressure-treated pine.
TOM: OK. Good. Well, first I would start with the staining of the wood. Behr has a line of premium wood stains and finishes that just came out under a new formulation that’s 100-percent acrylic and they really stand up to the weather quite well. And the application is just so much easier now because it’s an acrylic base. So you might want to take a look at that. There’s a bazillion colors that it comes in. And you want to get that on first.
Now, in terms of blocking some of the sun, Leslie, I think she could probably do something with sailcloth for that, couldn’t she?
LESLIE: Yeah, there’s actually – there’s a company – and I’m completely spacing on the name right now – but they manufacture a tracking system that goes on top of the – I don’t know if you would call them joists but the boards that are on the roof of the pergola.
SONYA: Yep, on the support beams.
LESLIE: It sort of would sit on the top edge of that so you don’t see it. And then it runs on those two tracks, panels, of fabric.
LESLIE: So that when you want it open, there’s a stick; you just slide it all the way back and it’s open. And then when you want to close it for sun or get rid of the sun, give yourself more shade, you just grab that stick and slide it across and it becomes like a smooth, full panel of fabric. That’s a great way to add privacy. I’m sure a quick internet search will point you in the right direction of the company that I’m completely forgetting right now.
LESLIE: But also, if you look into outdoor fabrics – like Sunbrella is a great manufacturer and they can – you know, you can buy Sunbrella buy the yardage or even by premade, exterior draperies and just put curtain rods up on the side panels that you want to create the draperies on for privacy; you know, put a full, long, curtain rod that you can completely then close with your drapes.
LESLIE: And otherwise, you just have them secured to the side and then you can tie them to the support posts so that they’re not blowing around in the wind when they’re not closed.
SONYA: Right. OK. That’s a great idea. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kim in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KIM: I’ve got a Trane air conditioner. The service rep came out – it has a leak – and he believes it’s in the coil.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
KIM: And it’s 14 years old and I’m debating whether or not – the coil repair would probably be close to $1,000. I’m debating whether or not to just go ahead and replace it and upgrade or shall I fix the coil.
TOM: Well, if it’s a 14-year-old unit – I mean a Trane is an excellent piece of equipment but at 14 years, there’s always the chance that something else inside it could break after you replace the coil. So I would suggest, for that reason and the fact that you could qualify for a tax credit now of up to $1,500 if you make this replacement for the end of the year, that you upgrade to one of the higher-efficiency Trane units.
TOM: Because between now and the end of the year, if you do so you can get a $1,500 credit off of next year’s taxes.
TOM: So I think that’s the smart ticket.
KIM: Great. Thank you very much. I appreciate the advice. And there are actually two units. I think I’ll probably just go ahead and replace both.
TOM: Alright, makes sense. Kim, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We can help you create the money pit of your dreams, so give us a call while you are working away these summer weekends and we can give you a hand with your project 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, they are bloodthirsty and relentless.
TOM: No, we’re not talking about your contractor. (Leslie laughs) We are talking about mosquitoes. The mosquito population around your house can be really nasty. They can be super-ferocious. But we’re going to tell you – with just a few, simple steps – how you can eliminate them from your backyard, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru Doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit Therma-Tru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because if we talk to you on the air, not only will you get an answer to your home improvement question but you’ll automatically be entered into our prize drawing. This hour, we’re giving away the CEIVA connected photo frame. It’s not your ordinary digital frame, though. It’s fully connected; allowing you to receive and view photos via a wireless connection; either Ethernet or a phone connection. The winner will get the CEIVA Pro 80 starter pack with a one-year picture plan worth 147 bucks. Call us now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: You know, that’s a great prize because I, like many people, have in-laws or parents living down in Florida and so often I have to print up all our pictures of our little guy and mail them down to Florida and be like, “Here,” because most grandparents are not that savvy with the internet. But with this, I’m going to save so much money. I mean, really, what a great prize. So if you see Leslie Segrete as the prize winner today, don’t be surprised. (Tom chuckles) No, seriously; you guys deserve it. But I’m going to go buy one.
Alright. Now we’re full into the summer season. Everybody loves being outside. And if you’re unlucky like me, I get completely bit by mosquitoes by just sort of walking across the grass to check out a flower in the evening. And mosquitoes, they’re more than just pests; they actually can be unhealthy, in some cases. And they really only need two things to breed: a little standing water and I mean just a little bit of time. In as little as a few days they can form. And even a capful, like a soda cap, of standing water can be a mosquito breeding ground.
So you want to look for empty flowerpots, any buckets, jars, wheelbarrows, kids’ toys, water tables – anything where you can store even just the tiniest bit of water – and really check them out after the rain and make sure you dump them out. If you’ve got big trash cans or larger containers, you can drill holes in the bottom of those to make sure that the water drains out on its own. Check your kids’ toys like their wading pools, sand boxes. If you’ve got birdbaths, you want to flush those with clean water at least once a week; this way you’re going to wash away any of those mosquito eggs. Because really, it takes just a couple of days and they’re going to be all over you.
TOM: Absolutely. And don’t be fooled by some of the mosquito remedies out there. For example, bug zappers are probably a very, very common one. People buy these because they have a sound effect associated with them. But all of that zapping does almost nothing to kill mosquitoes. In fact, surveys have shown that only one percent of the mosquitoes in the yard are impacted by a bug zapper. So forget that. The best way to avoid mosquitoes here is preventative maintenance. Make sure you keep that water from forming in your yard, your gutters, anywhere, and you will keep the mosquito population down and you will have a bug-free summer.
888-666-3974. You won’t bug us if you pick up the phone and call us right now with your home improvement project. Our answer might bug you (Leslie chuckles) but, hey, there are no guarantees. The advice is worth more, though, than what you pay for it.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Which is free.
TOM: The number again is 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Cheryl in Michigan is dealing with a leaky basement. Tell us what’s going on.
CHERYL: I live in a home that was built in the 70s and the hole that brings the well water into the house, it used to leak a little bit for many years and then I pulled out what I thought was greasy stuff and I guess it must have been the beeswax that you would use on a toilet seal.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Mm-hmm.
CHERYL: And I had the well people out and they said, “No, no, use this foam …” They put that foam expander in which didn’t help at all. Now when it rains, it really pours into the basement.
TOM: Yeah. Alright, well this is an easy problem to fix. First of all, wherever the pipe comes through the wall, I mean that just becomes the point of least resistance and that’s why, when you broke the seal around the well pipe when it happened to come in, water is just continuing to find that space. But the overall issue is that you have a lot of water in the ground right outside that and if you can address reducing that water, then that will solve this problem.
So the way you do that, Cheryl, is by looking at the grading – that’s the angle of the soil around the foundation at that area; and then secondly, the gutters – making sure they’re clean, they’re free-flowing and they discharge water away from the house. Because as you said, when it rains it leaks. So if we can manage the water outside and perhaps seal around that pipe a little bit better – I wouldn’t necessarily use an expandable foam insulation; I’d probably use something like silicone caulk or a urethane sealant – that would solve it.
LESLIE: Because the expandable foam really doesn’t stop water infiltration, right?
TOM: No, it doesn’t.
LESLIE: It’s more like air leaks.
CHERYL: Yeah, that’s what I thought but she said, “No, this will take care of it,” and she (sound effect).
LESLIE: Well, it looks effective; it’s not. (chuckles) And you know what else you want to do, Cheryl, is make sure you don’t have any gardens or flowerbeds that are right up against the foundation that maybe have stone walls that sort of keep that water sitting right in there. And when Tom said the grading, you want to make sure it slopes away from the house. Those are really simple steps that can be hugely impactful if one of those is the problem.
TOM: You can’t be like the little Dutch boy that put his finger in the dike, OK?
TOM: That’s what you’re doing by sealing that up. You’ve got to stop the water.
CHERYL: OK. Very good. Thank you so much.
TOM: Cheryl, I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kevin in Georgia is having some difficulty with the air conditioning. What can we do for you?
KEVIN: I’ve got a unit that runs just the third floor of my house and a separate unit that runs the first and second floor.
KEVIN: And it seems that the unit that runs the first and second floor will run; keep it cool at a desired temp – say 79 – and it runs on and maintains and kicks off relatively quickly. But the third floor, it just seems to run constantly for quite a bit of time – maybe 15, 20 minutes; constantly blowing if it’s really hot in the middle of the day. And I’m wondering if it’s just a matter of lack of insulation in the attic or where the thermometer is located in a little hallway or what might be the issue.
TOM: Or perhaps the third floor is the hottest room in the house.
KEVIN: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean physics are applying here, definitely.
TOM: It’s probably a factor of the size of the compressor. Now this is a central air conditioning system on the third floor?
TOM: So it’s a split system? You have an air handler and you have a compressor?
KEVIN: Correct. Yeah. And both are relatively new. The compressor is about two-and-a-half years old and the internal unit that’s in the attic is like a year old.
TOM: Well, I suspect that it may not be big enough.
TOM: Because air conditioning systems are fairly dumb and when you set that thermostat, it’s going to keep trying to meet that goal of whatever thermostat setting you choose. And so if it’s really hot upstairs, like it’s going to be in Georgia in the summer, what’s going to happen is it’s going to run and run and run and run until it reaches that particular temperature.
So I would question the size of the unit with the HVAC contractor that put it in. I’d also make sure that the system is serviced in that there are no refrigerant leaks because even though it may feel cool, it might have to run longer to do the same job. You mentioned insulation; absolutely. Insulation and ventilation play a big part in keeping your home cool in the summer, especially if you have a central air conditioning system.
Do you happen to have an attic fan as well?
KEVIN: No, that was my other question because the attic is …
TOM: Yeah, well no; don’t put it in. Don’t put it in, if that’s what you’re going to ask me, because that would just rob more air conditioned air. When you have central air conditioning, putting in an attic fan is not a good idea because it typically reaches down into the conditioned space of the house and sucks out the cool air.
LESLIE: That you’re paying for.
TOM: Yeah. Continuous ridge and soffit vents are the best way to vent an attic. But I think that those are all the areas that you need to look into but I do suspect that the system is probably too small; that’s why it runs so long.
KEVIN: How long do you think it can run safely constantly before I’m looking at issues with the blower or the compressor?
TOM: Oh, it can run pretty much indefinitely. It’s going to run til it dies, you know? It just generally doesn’t run for 20 minutes at a time, you know? It’ll run for probably seven or eight minutes and then shut off and then come on back on again.
KEVIN: Right. Each room is like 10×12 and I’m pretty sure it’s like a 1.5 ton. Do you think it needs like a 2.5 ton or …?
TOM: It depends on a lot of factors. A contractor has to do something called a heat loss calculation. All I’m saying is that what you’re describing to me sounds a lot like an undersized system.
Kevin, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dominic in Brooklyn needs some help around the pool. What can we do for you?
DOMINIC: Yes, ma’am. I’d like to know if you are aware of any product on the market that may help me clean the cement walkway around my pool.
TOM: Yeah, is it getting kind of like mossy?
DOMINIC: Well, I’ve used a power washer in the past and – not mossy but just like the dirt is just embedded in it; even after power washing it, it doesn’t come out …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right.
LESLIE: When you power wash, Dominic, are you just using water? Have you not tried any sort of soapy solution or anything?
DOMINIC: No, just basically water; maybe with a little bit of bleach.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. Well, you might want to try either a lot of bleach or there’s a product called Jomax – J-o-m-a-x – that’s essentially a siding cleaner but it works well on sidewalks as well. And it’s a bleach product that will soak in and it will clean and kill the mildew that’s growing there so that when you follow up with the pressure washer, it will become brighter than ever before.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Well if you’ve got gorgeous concrete driveways, patios, sidewalks but they’re not looking so great these days, we are going to share with you the step-by-step solutions to repair those concrete areas for safer walking and a more beautiful view, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And on MoneyPit.com, you can listen to our show anytime; in fact, the entire archive of Money Pit programs are there. There are transcripts for each show. If you miss something that you heard, you need a web address, you want to hear a tip again, head on over to MoneyPit.com; check out the Radio and Podcasts section of the website and it’s all there for your use for free.
LESLIE: Bonnie in Minnesota, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BONNIE: We had a hose on our dishwasher that somehow came loose and when we came home there was water all over the floor. And in addition to that, of course, then it had leaks and we had damage now on our lower level – because we have a ranch-style – and anyway, along the ceiling as well as down the wall in a basement bathroom. Now we’ll need to do some repairs and I’m just wondering would you have any kind of an idea what the cost might be to know whether to even turn it on insurance? Or sometimes I’ve been told you’re almost better just to pay for it because your insurance rates can go up.
TOM: Well, I mean if it’s done significant damage, that’s why you have insurance …
TOM: … and I don’t think the occasional claim like that is going to impact you. If it does, shame on your …
BONNIE: Well, I imagine it’ll have to be the ceiling and then, like I said, down a wall.
TOM: Yeah, and what I would do is I would consider hiring an independent insurance adjuster because this way they’ll make sure that you’re not missing anything. If you just use the insurance company adjuster, they’re going to probably try to do the minimum. But if you use an independent adjuster, basically the more you claim, the more they make; so they’re motivated to make sure that not only do they get every possible thing but they report it in a standard that the insurance company is used to seeing.
BONNIE: Oh, OK. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bonnie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, concrete is probably America’s most frequently-used building material inside and out of your home. It’s ideal for everything from foundations to walls but it’s most commonly used for driveways, walkways, patios, sidewalks, you name it. Well, when it’s in great condition, it can be absolutely gorgeous. But when it starts to deteriorate and crack up, it can actually be dangerous.
TOM: Absolutely. We’re going to get some tips now on how to deal with that issue from Kevin O’Connor and Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House.
And Kevin, it’s not just a cosmetic issue.
KEVIN: Concrete walks that crack or deteriorate are not only ugly but they can be dangerous, especially if the crack opens up and forms a lip above the sidewalk that you can trip on.
Roger, you probably see this all the time. Any tips on dealing with it?
ROGER: Kevin, sometimes you can get a concrete product that’s made to go into that spawling or cracks but I find they only have a very short lifetime. Usually, the best remedy is to jackhammer out that walkway, replace it with a brick paver walkway or a concrete paver walkway.
There is one other thing you can do if your patio walks are settled and that’s called mudjacking.
KEVIN: So how exactly does mudjacking work and is that something a homeowner can do themselves?
ROGER: It’s not a DIY thing, Kevin. It involves heavy machinery where they come in and they push liquid concrete under pressure under the walk so it actually makes that walk raise up.
KEVIN: Sounds good.
ROGER: In fact, we even have a video of that happening on ThisOldHouse.com and it’ll walk you through the whole process.
TOM: That sounds like a fun project.
Roger Cook, Kevin O’Connor, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Our pleasure. We’ll talk to you next week.
LESLIE: Man, you guys and mud. I swear it’s something that you’re always talking about or at least interested in. And I bet mudjacking is something that you guys would actually have a lot of fun with.
TOM: Absolutely. (chuckles)
LESLIE: You know, there are actually some do-it-yourself projects on the market that can help with simpler fixes. In fact, QUIKRETE has a great line of products for many doable projects including concrete resurfacing; no mudjacking but, you know, resurfacing.
TOM: And probably just as much fun. (Leslie chuckles)
Well, for more tips on how to take care of your house, you can check out the videos at ThisOldHouse.com or watch Kevin and Roger on This Old House Television. This Old House is brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot – more saving, more doing.
Up next, are the kids making you tear your hair out? Well, why not tear into a home improvement project with the kids and teach them a thing or two. We’ve got tips on how to do just that, after this.
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 should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re going to answer your home improvement questions, help you get the home of your dreams. But we’re also giving away a great prize this hour to one of our lucky callers. We’ve got the CEIVA connected photo frame and it’s super-cool because it’s a frame that’s fully connected to the internet, so it allows you to receive and view photos automatically via a wireless or an Ethernet or even a phone connection. So it’s the perfect gift if you’ve got grandparents that live down in Florida and you want to keep them up to date with photos of the grandkids. And you know, you can kind of surprise them with new photos without them even knowing. When they turn around, something different is on the screen. It’s a great prize pack. They’re going to get the CEIVA Pro 80 starter pack with a one-year picture plan worth $147.
If you want some more info, visit CEIVA.com – C-E-I-V-A.com – or call us now with your home improvement question for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, about now you’re probably starting to count the days until the kids go back to school.
LESLIE: (chuckling) It’s only been a week.
TOM: I know. Well, no; it’s been a little more than that at my house. You want to keep the kids busy though and teach them some valuable skills. Why not take on a simple do-it-yourself project with them. You know your to-do list is waiting, so get the kids involved. You know, even young children can help carry tools or paint in small areas. It’ll help build confidence and it will also build lifelong skills.
Now, in my neighborhood, Leslie, we’ve been building a footbridge here as part of my son’s Eagle Scout project and he’s got all of his scout friends there. And so I’ve been trying to take some time to teach them construction tips while we’re doing it, so we’re learning things like how to crown floor joists. I mean let’s face it, that’s not covered in elementary school; it’s not covered in intermediate school; and frankly, most of you don’t know what it means either. (both chuckle) But for those kids, it was a valuable lesson. It teaches them how to put the floor joists in so they don’t sag and settle.
LESLIE: (chuckling) But you know what? You’re right. I mean they took away a lot of woodshop programs and a lot of technical skills from the educational system, so it really is a great opportunity to teach your kids a valuable part of life and something that they’ll be able to use when they become homeowners themselves.
And you know, even if your kids are too young to tackle, say, a bridge-building project in New Jersey like Tom’s son, you can get a child of pretty much any age involved in the planning process. Even as young as five or six, you can have them look through magazines and pull out pictures of things that they like for their own room or help you get ideas or at least let them contribute to the color selection. Don’t be afraid if your daughter wants to paint the room hot pink and lime green; it can easily be covered over but it could be that creative energy that inspires her to take the steps that she needs to succeed at school. So allow them to participate. It’ll be a lot of fun for the both of you.
TOM: When my kids were really, really young, I let them help me paint the hallway upstairs – until my son kicked over the paint can.
LESLIE: Oh, down the stairs.
TOM: Down the steps. It was ugly. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Was it carpet or wood at that point?
TOM: It was wood. It was wood. We cleaned it up. And that’s when I really learned about how difficult it is to clean up paint. (chuckles)
TOM: But there are safer things that you can do with kids and it really is a good, good time to teach them a few basic home improvement skills; help them build some confidence. Because you know, seriously, I went to school to learn how to teach industrial arts. You don’t get those kinds of lessons anymore.
LESLIE: Not at all.
TOM: You’re pretty much on your own. So I take every opportunity I have to teach my kids and their friends how to handle tools and do simple home improvement projects. I think they’re skills that will stay with them for their entire life and now is a great time to do that.
LESLIE: And we ask them about technical things and they ask us about home improvement things. It’s a win-win situation.
TOM: That’s right.
888-666-3974. Speaking of win-win, pick up the phone and call us right now, toll-free, at 888-MONEY-PIT for your home improvement answer to your home improvement question. Let’s get back to those phones.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Dave in Texas who’s calling in with a tiling and flooring question. What can we do for you?
DAVE: I was just wondering – we’re going to put ceramic tile down.
DAVE: And I have an area – I want to do my family room and my kitchen. So the kitchen currently has linoleum. Is it OK to put the tile down over the linoleum?
TOM: Well, you can’t glue it to the linoleum. If you’re going to put – you can put an underlayment down on top of the linoleum and then adhere the tile to that. So if you use like a tile backer board, you could nail that to the floor right through the linoleum and then adhere the tile to that. You can’t put the tile right on the linoleum because it’s not going to stick.
LESLIE: Yeah, but that’s going to add quite a bit of height to the floor.
TOM: Yeah, it’s going to add thickness. You’ll have to work around that.
DAVE: Yeah, yeah. Because the linoleum right now is only maybe a 1/16-inch. I figured I could smooth out that transition.
DAVE: But if it’s not going to stick, then I can (inaudible at 0:27:17.0).
TOM: No, it’s not going to stick. Can’t do it.
LESLIE: But keep in mind, Dave, that when you’re adding, say, the backer board and then the mastic and the tile, you’re looking at maybe an inch of height added to the floor and you want to make sure that you’ve got clearance for your appliances – especially like a dishwasher that would be under the counter. Pull it out; tile underneath; adjust the legs to make sure it fits. Don’t tile in the dishwasher; I’ve seen that done a million times. Tom has had to deal with that at his sister’s house.
TOM: Yep, mm-hmm.
DAVE: OK, so then what’s the easiest way to take up linoleum? That’s what I was trying to avoid; to just try and get that stuff up off the floor.
TOM: Well, I mean it can be difficult because the glue is so unknown. If it turns out that the glue is fairly weak and you can rip it up in pieces, that’s fine. But then again, you’re going to have a rough surface. Now even in that situation, you can’t adhere the tile right to the subfloor. You must have a proper base for tile. If you don’t take the time to create a proper base, what’s going to happen, Dave, is the tile is going to get loose or it’s going to crack and you’re not going to be happy. I mean it really is important that you have a good base for tile or it won’t work.
DAVE: It’s a cement foundation, so it’ll be all cement.
TOM: Oh, it’s a concrete foundation? OK, well that helps.
TOM: Alright, well that helps.
TOM: Well, you’ve got to get the linoleum up nonetheless and then the question will be how much glue is under there and can you get a good portion of that up so that you can get the thinset down on top of that.
DAVE: So there’s some kind of scraping tool or something I can rent to do that or …?
TOM: Well, a big floor scraper. Yeah. Not something – well, you could rent it or buy it, I suppose.
DAVE: OK. OK. Well, thanks a lot, guys.
TOM: Alright, Dave. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yvonne is calling in from South Carolina with a fireplace question. What can we do for you?
YVONNE: Yes, I’d like to know the most economic way to put in a fireplace that can be seen from the dining room as well as the living room – the same exact fireplace; and something that is efficient as well as safe.
TOM: I think that …
YVONNE: Reasonable. (chuckles)
TOM: OK, I got it. (chuckles) I think probably the best way to go would be to look at zero clearance fireplaces. These are manufactured fireplaces that are called zero clearance because they can go against combustible materials with no space in between. If you used a masonry fireplace, obviously you’d have a very expensive project because you’d have to tear up your floor, go down and create a foundation and go right up from there. With a zero clearance, you can put it on an existing floor and then sort of frame around it.
Now there are a lot of options out there. There are a lot of brands. You can even get them to be gas-powered as opposed to wood-powered.
YVONNE: Wonderful. That was my next question; who would you recommend. Whose fireplace would you recommend?
TOM: There are a lot of good brands out there. Let’s see, Heatilator is a good one; Heat & Glo.
LESLIE: Ooh, Heat & Glo always has the real cool ones, too, that look like tornadoes and, you know, interesting takes on a fireplace as well.
YVONNE: Oh, wonderful. Yes, because we do have tornadoes and hurricanes here.
TOM: And you can have a fireplace to match.
YVONNE: (chuckles) OK, thank you so very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Yvonne. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lloyd in Kansas is dealing with some concrete walls that are cracking up. Tell us about the problem.
LLOYD: I have a – it’s actually cinderblock.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
LLOYD: And I’m getting a hairline crack between not all of them but several of them and it goes all the way through so …
TOM: Is it a vertical crack, Lloyd, or is it a horizontal crack?
LLOYD: No, it’s a horizontal.
TOM: And where is it located, say, from …?
LLOYD: It’s right in the mud area, where they …
TOM: Does it seem to be opening though or is it just sort of – like more like expansion and contraction?
LLOYD: Yeah, that’s probably it right there. It’s a little bigger than a hairline crack; some of them are. It’s got several in it and some of them are and some of them are a little wider than others but they’re not real wide.
TOM: Well, look, you might have some movement in that wall that could be causing this and, typically, if you get movement in a concrete block wall, it’s because of a drainage issue outside. You know, if you have a lot of water that collects around the bottom of the wall, that can contribute to the movement of the wall. And a simple explanation for that is if you walk across your lawn after a rain storm, you kind of sink because wet dirt doesn’t hold as much weight as dry dirt.
And so, if you try to stabilize the soil a little bit, that can cut some of that down. But that said, expansion and contraction is not unusual in a block wall and it’s going to exhibit itself by hairline cracks in the joints and it doesn’t always indicate a structural problem.
LLOYD: OK. Alright. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Up next, we’ve got tips on windows that look great yet still qualify for a $1,500 tax credit. Learn why energy efficiency doesn’t have to be boring, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And you know, in tough economic times, more homeowners are choosing their home improvements very wisely, as they should in these days. Energy-efficient upgrades and money-saving improvements top the list. One thing that can increase your home’s value and save you money instantly on the soon-to-be-paid air conditioning bills are new windows and if you’re going to buy new windows, you want to make sure you’re going to buy Energy Star-rated replacement windows; very, very important if you want to experience the savings.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, that’s right. So here to tell us more is Tony Eschmeyer who’s the senior product manager for Simonton Windows.
Now Tony, when you go window shopping, it’s really not sort of a one-size-fits-all when it comes to, I guess, ratings and what-not. So how do you know, based on climate, which windows are best for you?
TONY: Well Leslie, that’s a great point. There are actually four Energy Star climate zones; so one in the northern, one north-central, one south-central, and then one for the southern region of the country.
TOM: So the windows are actually made differently for those parts of the country to get the Energy Star certification? In other words, if you’re looking for good-quality Energy Star-rated windows, do you have to specify the zone that you’re buying for?
TONY: Yes, yes; that’s absolutely correct. And Tom, I do want to state that on January 4th of this year, the Energy Star program actually introduced new criteria to improve performance levels of windows and doors.
TOM: Now Tony, does that mean that the Energy Star windows now all meet the qualifications for the tax credit program as well? Because it didn’t always use to be that way.
TONY: No. And Tom, I want to be very clear on that point. Just because a window is Energy Star compliant does not mean that it meets the 30/30 criteria for the tax credit.
TOM: OK, and the 30/30, by that you’re talking about the U factor and solar heat gain coefficient which is the technical determination as to whether or not the window qualifies for that federal energy tax credit which we should clarify, for the folks that are not familiar with this, can actually reimburse you about $1,500. So if you take all the money that you owe the government at the end of this year, you can take all of those taxes, take 1,500 bucks off as a credit just by putting in energy-efficient windows.
TONY: That’s correct. And that program was for both 2009 and 2010.
LESLIE: Well, now that we know, Tony, that the windows to meet this tax credit and to meet the Energy Star criteria have to be suited for your climate zone, I mean does this rating sort of go across the board in décor and design choices or are you stuck with one model per region?
TONY: No, that’s the beauty. What we’ve been able to do, actually, is integrate Energy Star-compliant packages in all of the different finish options that we have.
TOM: Right. So that would be a pure white, vinyl window or a wood grain window. Now regardless of the style of window – and by style I mean the decorative style – you can now get glass that fits your particular zone of the country.
TONY: That’s absolutely correct.
TOM: Got it.
TONY: One of the major introductions that we had last year at Simonton was an updating of our interior finish program. We call it Decorum. And that Decorum really takes what used to be kind of a – if you remember the old contact paper that you used to put in your cabinets.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yes.
TONY: That’s what a lot of the interior wood grains used to look like. We’ve actually updated that and upgraded the performance levels for our contemporary oak, our maple and our antique cherry interior finishes.
LESLIE: That’s great. Now what about your options for hardware? I mean could I upgrade if I wanted; if I wanted something really specific or specialized?
TONY: Yeah, absolutely. And one of the pieces of research that we did showed us that consumers want to be able to customize their windows to match their homes. So if they have an upscale kind of a brushed nickel hardware on their cabinetry, they wanted to be able to match that throughout the home. Well, that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve been able to introduce an oil rub bronze, a brushed nickel, a polished brass or a dark bronze hardware finish.
LESLIE: Tony Eschmeyer from Simonton, thank you so much for joining us.
If you want some more information, head on over to their website, Simonton.com, or check out the free window guide that we’ve created with Simonton’s help at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
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(Copyright 2010 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.)