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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.)
    TOM: Hi, I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: And you are tuned to the Money Pit podcast. We are so glad that you are.
    Now all this month on the podcast we’re going to be talking about staycation tips throughout our show and these are some ideas to make your home a little more comfortable, a little more pleasant, a little more fun if you’re not going to take a vacation this year; you’re just going to sort of stay at home and enjoy the place you have.
    Now if you head on over to MoneyPit.com, we’re also making available a free chapter of our book, My Home, My Money Pit. It’s the outdoor living chapter available for free download at MoneyPit.com; chock full with lots of staycation tips to make your summer a lot of fun if you’re staying at home.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you know what? All of this great information and all these great ideas are brought to you by our friends over at Fiberon Decking and also the WORX GT Trimmer/Edger.
    Alright, folks. Let’s get started.

    TOM: Now, on with the show.
    (promo/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. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Give us a call with your home improvement question; your do-it-yourself dilemma. This is where home solutions live. We’re here to help you out.
    Hey, are you taking a stay-at-home vacation this summer? Why not take time to invest some time and money into the one investment that is most likely to actually pay off. We’re talking about your house and we’ve got your staycation solutions this hour, including tips on how to make your lawn resource (ph) ready.
    LESLIE: And also ahead, we’re going to tell you how your programmable thermostat – you know the one that saved you money all winter long – how it can actually help cut your cooling costs as well with just one, simple adjustment. Now that’s coming up.
    TOM: And speaking of the long, cold winter that’s just passed, you might be still smelling a bit of musty odor in some spots in your house; very common problem as spring turns to summer. So in just a few minutes we’re going to teach you what causes that musty smell and how to get rid of it once and for all.
    LESLIE: And also this hour, we are giving away a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. Now this is a great reference book. It’s one that you want to keep on hand for all of your DIY questions that may cross your mind or may cross your workbench. (chuckles)
    TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Ann in Connecticut, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ANN: Hi, we put in a pearl hot tub, oh, probably a couple of years ago when we were building our house; and unfortunately, when I did the painting I missed some spackles of paint on the tub itself. It’s navy blue and I got most of it but I’ve got little tiny specks that have been on there now for quite a while. Is there any way to get them off?

    LESLIE: And this is a fiberglass hot tub?

    ANN: Yes.

    LESLIE: What about – have you tried using a rubbing compound? Like very, very delicately; you know, don’t be too aggressive with it. If you just carefully take a little bit of the rubbing compound on a damp cloth and then just sort of, in a circular motion, quickly go over the paint area it should lift it right off then you can go ahead and wax that area.

    ANN: OK, well so is it a rubbing compound for like an auto or is there a special thing that I should look for?

    TOM: The kind of rubbing compound that you use for your car. It’s available at, you know, Pep Boys and other auto part stores and places like that.

    ANN: Fabulous. Well, I’ll give it a try. Thanks.

    TOM: Alright, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Cleaning is on the agenda for Eugene in Michigan. How can we help you with that project?
    EUGENE: I have a furnace that has been sitting for a while and duct work and the duct work is kind of dirty inside. I would like to know is there a way I can clean it myself.

    TOM: Well, duct cleaning requires some specialized tools to get deep inside the duct work and clean it. A better option for you may be to skip the ductwork cleaning and, when you’re ready, have an electronic air cleaner installed into the HVAC system. This is going to give you a very, very efficient filtering system that will stop the ducts from getting dirtier and it will also collect any dust that’s in there now that’s blowing around. You’ll find that if you put a good-quality electronic air cleaner in there you’re going to breathe a lot easier in the house.


    TOM: What kind of filter do you have right now, Eugene?

    EUGENE: It’s a medium.

    TOM: One of those fiberglass filters?

    EUGENE: Yes.

    TOM: We call those pebble stops because that’s about all that they’ll stop.

    EUGENE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: You need a much more efficient filter system if you want to get rid of that dust.

    EUGENE: Uh-huh.

    TOM: Let me recommend a website; Aprilaire.com. There’s a unit there that – I think it’s called the Model 5000 Electronic Air Cleaner – and that’s the one I put in my house and it made a big difference for us.

    EUGENE: Alright, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Eugene. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
    Well, we are almost at the final countdown to the big Memorial Day weekend. If you need a hand getting your money pit in tiptop shape for the summer, give us a call 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: Up next, your staycation solutions for a lovely, lush, landscaped yard that’ll make you feel like you’re on a tropical vacation. That’s coming up, after this.

    (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.
    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement or home repair question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. And if you get on the air with us this hour, you could win a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure; chock-a-block full of the same information you hear on the show every, single week.
    And going on right now at MoneyPit.com, we’re actually giving away a free chapter of the book; available as an electronic download. It’s everything you need to know about replacing the windows in your house. It’s available for free this weekend at MoneyPit.com.
    LESLIE: Alright, well pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you are thinking about how to get your home in tiptop shape for perhaps this staycation that you might be taking this summer; you know where you’re sticking around at home, saving some bucks by not traveling far but definitely making your home super vacation-ready. So we’re going to give you some tips on lawn care right now.
    And you know a nice, manicured lawn; it does go a long, long way in creating a resort-like atmosphere in your own backyard. So to get it that way, you want to make sure that you trim overgrowth around any decking posts or fences and also edge your lawn; that’s going to give it a nice, finished and manicured look.
    TOM: Speaking of which, there’s a great new power tool on the market right now that’ll make the job a whole lot easier. It’s a trimmer/edger combo from WORX GT. It’s got a lithium ion battery; so it’s really lightweight, it adjusts to any height and it’s really powerful. It’s also got a self-adjusting trimmer string, so no bumping on the ground to get that right length. The best part, you’ll get free replacement spools for life; so you never actually have to buy the spools for this thing. It’s a great tool. It’s out just about right now. If you’d like some information on that product, you can visit FreeLineforLife.com.
    888-666-3974.   That number is also free and we’re standing by for your calls.
    Who’s next?
    LESLIE: Valerie in North Carolina has got a kitchen project. What’s going on and how can we help?
    VALERIE: Yes, I replaced the kitchen cabinets in my kitchen. It’s been over 10 years ago. And I had a freezer in the kitchen but I’ve gotten rid of that since then. And now I’m trying to fill that space in with a cabinet that will look OK and I’m having a hard time matching what I have here.

    LESLIE: Well, have you thought about not exactly matching and choosing something that’s in the same finish but compliments it; say, with like a glass-front door or something a little bit different that makes it it’s own special piece?

    VALERIE: Well, I thought about that. The person that I talked to about the glass front said the inside would still have to match and because the color has changed that I’d have a hard time doing that also.

    LESLIE: What color are your existing cabinets?

    VALERIE: It’s an oak; just like a golden oak color.

    LESLIE: Is it something where if you got an unfinished cabinet you’d be able to purchase a stain and stain it on your own to match?

    VALERIE: I guess that’s a possibility. I hadn’t really thought that way.

    TOM: That’s probably the best way to go because this way you’d have control of it. If you got the unfinished oak cabinet, what I would also do is go out and buy a couple of pieces of oak scrap …

    VALERIE: Uh-huh.

    TOM: … and then you could experiment with some different stains. Get one that’s maybe a little lighter than what you have; one that’s a little darker; and come up with one that matches as close to that cabinet as you possibly can get it. If you use an unfinished cabinet and you have total control over the coloration, I think that’s probably the best way to get something that’s really close to what you have. And then even if you put it in and it still looks a little bit different, as the sunlight gets to it over the years you’ll find that it gets warmer and warmer and eventually it’s probably going to match perfectly with what you have.

    VALERIE: OK, well that’s a good – I hadn’t thought of doing that myself.

    TOM: Yeah, in this situation I think that makes the most sense.

    VALERIE: Can I ask another question that’s related to that? I’ve got – since that freezer left I had laminate floors put in.

    TOM: Right.

    VALERIE: And somebody told me that I was going to have trouble putting something down on top of a laminate if a put a cabinet there.

    TOM: Why would have trouble putting it on top of laminate?

    VALERIE: They said something about it kind of floats; the floor should float.

    TOM: This cabinet’s going to go on top of the existing laminate floor?

    VALERIE: That’s right.

    TOM: I don’t see any reason you can’t do that except you’re going to find that the laminate floor went up to – like against the original cabinets; that you may find that a new cabinet is taller when you put it side by side.


    TOM: And if that’s the situation you have two options. You can either cut out the laminate and sort of drop the new one in.

    LESLIE: So that it’s at the same height as the others.


    TOM: Or you could cut the new base cabinet.

    VALERIE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: Cut a half-inch off it or so and make it a bit shorter so that it fits right over that floor.

    VALERIE: Oh. OK, well that’s a good idea then. I’ve come across all kinds of problems and I didn’t realize it was going to be so difficult just to put one cabinet in there.

    TOM: Well, we are your problem solvers, Valerie, so thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    VALERIE: (laughing) Well, thank you.
    LESLIE: Neal in New York is about to have the party house. (Tom chuckles) You’re building a bar, huh?
    NEAL: Yeah, it’s about time. Twenty-one years in the house (Tom chuckles) and I finally have my dream bar. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: You’re finally old enough to drink, huh Neal?

    NEAL: I’m old enough to drink a long time. A long time. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: How can we help you?

    NEAL: My wife and I have been having, you know, conversations on how do I finish the top of the bar. She’s concerned, you know. My wife’s very neat and she likes everything nice and she doesn’t want me to scratch it or, you know.

    TOM: What did you make the bar out of, Neal?

    NEAL: It’s plywood.

    TOM: OK.

    NEAL: It’s plywood. I did all of the wood. The entire basin and the shelves and everything is finished. I’m about to finish the top and what I did was I went and I bought a three-quarter, you know, 4×8 plywood sheet. It’s a red veneer oak.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Oh, nice. Mm-hmm.

    NEAL: Yeah, so I’m just about – I was going to cut it tomorrow night when I got home from work and I was going to just give it, you know, five coats of the Minwax polyurethane; sanding in between coats. I figured four or five coats because when I did – I used birch on the bottom of the bar and I stained it red mahogany and then did three coats of the polyurethane, the clear polyurethane, with sanding in between and it’s like glass.

    TOM: Yeah. Let me give you one more suggestion for the top.

    NEAL: Yes, sir.

    TOM: Use a sanding sealer first.

    NEAL: A sanding sealer? Yeah, my nephew uses that, right.

    TOM: Yeah, put a sanding sealer on it and then sand it for the first time because what happens, if you put a sanding sealer on it, it seals in the grain and it kind of raises it a little bit and it gets a little rough.

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    NEAL: OK.

    TOM: And then you sand it down and this way, when you put the coat of polyurethane on it after that …

    LESLIE: It really grabs it.

    TOM: Well, not only does it grab it but it doesn’t bring those little fibers of the wood up, so you don’t have to sand nearly as much.

    NEAL: Fantabulous. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now to talk heating with Tom in Texas. What can we do for you today?
    TOM IN TEXAS: I’d like to install the radiant floor heating under either ceramic or porcelain, but my question relates to a radiant barrier. It’s going to be on a concrete slab and I had read somewhere on the internet that if I apply that to concrete slab the heat will radiate down through the cold slab instead of up. So I had read that I need a radiant barrier. What is the best product or do I even need that?

    TOM: Are you talking about electric radiant heat or are you talking about making this a hot water radiant heated floor?

    TOM IN TEXAS: Electric.

    TOM: Tom, that’s a good question. If you’re going to put a radiant floor, an electric radiant floor, above a concrete slab it is important to insulate the slab first. So typically, the order would be to put an insulation down first, then to put the radiant panels, then to go with the finished flooring on top of that. Now, whether or not you put a radiant barrier is really up to you. Some insulation products have a radiant barrier integral to the insulation; others do not. But either is going to isolate the heating unit from the concrete and help throw most of that heat up; which is the goal here, to throw all the heat up into the room.
    LESLIE: Louise wants to talk flooring. How can we help you?
    LOUISE: I have an old carpet and I would like to just dye it …

    TOM: Hmm.

    LOUISE: … and I’ve heard about that. This is a tan carpet. It’s got some stains that cleaning won’t get out. I would like to dye it a dark brown or a dark blue. Is that pretty cheap? Is it easy to do? How do I do that?

    LESLIE: Alright, Louise. I mean I’ve heard it done and it can be done. It’s certainly not going to be inexpensive because the dyes themselves are expensive and not every kind of carpet can be done. Synthetics certainly need to be tested in inconspicuous areas or scraps to make sure that it will even adhere the dye.

    LOUISE: You read my mind about cleaning it later, yes.

    TOM: Yeah, mm-hmm. Absolutely.

    LESLIE: And you know, wools or wool blends; those will accept the dye really well. You have to make sure that the material itself that your carpet is made from will be willing to take the dye because some it just – you know, some are so stain-resistant it’ll just bead right off.

    TOM: And Louise, imagine how much work is involved when you go to paint a room; how you have to cover everything that you do not want paint to get on. Well, it’s much the same preparation when you have pros come in and dye your carpet because that stuff is called dye for a reason …

    LOUISE: That’s right.

    TOM: … and if it gets on the places you don’t want it, it makes a big, stinking mess. There’s a lot of specialized equipment involved and it’s a big project. So …

    LOUISE: I guess it’s just not worth it, probably.

    TOM: Well, I think you need to compare it …

    LESLIE: I mean it could be.

    TOM: … against the cost of a new carpet.

    LOUISE: Right, and that’s the thing. OK.

    TOM: Let me give you a website where you can go to get some more information. It’s Americolor.com; A-m-e-r-i-color.com. They sell all of the gear there and they have some homeowner products, too, that you could take a look at and learn a little bit more about this process.

    LOUISE: OK, well I thank you kindly. Have a good day.

    TOM: You’re very welcome.
    LESLIE: Heading to the great north to talk to Gary in Alaska about some rotting wood. Tell us about the problem at your house.
    GARY: Well, what it is, is a little, single-story partition on the house where best I could guess is 2×10 or 2×12 set into the cement pad and it sticks out four or five inches into the soil and it’s slowly sinking because it’s rotting.

    TOM: Hmm.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    GARY: And it’s level with the pad and I can’t figure out why it was built that way or how to stop it.

    TOM: So your sense, Gary, is that the wood was actually built on top of the soil?

    GARY: Partially, yes; but like oversize.

    TOM: What you’re going to have to do here is a couple of things. First of all, you have to cure the soil-to-wood contact and depending on how you’re grading is around the house you need to try to get that lower so that you don’t have that contact anymore. The second thing that you really need to do is to open this up.

    The easiest way to do this might be from the outside. Even though it sounds fairly destructive it’s generally easier to take siding off than it is to take flooring out. And in doing so you can examine the condition of the floor joist. If it turns out that the ends of those joists are severely rotted, what you can do is sister those joists and that refers to the practice where you put a new beam next to the old beam, attach them together and then the new beam carries the weight of the old beam. It has to go back deep into the house well over that cantilevered wall by at least two-thirds of the distance that it overhangs the wall.

    LESLIE: To structurally take that weight.

    TOM: Exactly, and that would be the correct way …

    GARY: I can dig the soil away pretty easy; that part.

    TOM: That would be the hot ticket. If it turns out that it’s deeper there than the rest of the yard, then you want to sort of install like a retained area there. It’ll look almost like there’s a trench against the house but it’s OK as long as once the soil starts it runs away.

    LESLIE: Well, this time of year not only brings lovely weather; it brings our winged friends, termites, and Glen in Arizona is dealing with them right now. Tell us about it.
    GLEN: I’ve got a problem that’s been bugging me.

    TOM: Alright.

    GLEN: We had to cut some oak trees down; they had some disease and such and I decided to cut them into one-inch boards to make some – 10 or 12 gun cabinets out of and then I stacked them away inside on a gravel floor and I put treated 2x4s under them and a year or so later I’m looking at them and they’ve got – they’ve had termites get up in there.

    TOM: Well, what you need to do is you need to treat that area. If you want to use that to store the wood then I would treat the soil underneath and the way to do that today is with an undetectable termidicide. There are a couple of different manufacturers that make these products. They have to be professionally applied. But the way they work is pretty sneaky. Once they put the termidicide in the soil the termites don’t know it’s there so they go through this on the way back to the nest because termites live deep in the soil and they return to the soil for water then they come back up into the house – or, in your case, the shed – to feed on that nice, new oak that you have there then they go back for water. So as they pass through the chemical and they take it back to their nests it totally wipes out all the termites. So if you’re going to use this for wood storage I think it would definitely be worth your while and, while you’re at it, make sure that you have the insect guys check the house because you may be having termite problems there and it’s a good idea to have it inspected.

    GLEN: Great advice.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
    Up next, did you know a programmable thermostat can actually help you save money all summer long? Just like it does in the winter, it can actually help cut your cooling energy costs in the summer. We’re going to teach you how to do just that, next.

    (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: 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: Are you planning a summer staycation? It’s a great idea. Stay home and get that yard, patio or deck ready for a relaxing getaway in your very own backyard. We’ve got your staycation solutions to help at MoneyPit.com/Staycation. Our special web section is presented, in part, by WORX GT; makers of the very first lithium ion-powered lawn and garden tools.
    LESLIE: Alright, well our mission here at Team Money Pit is to make sure that you have the best staycation and the best money pit on your entire block; so let’s get back to those money pit staycation tips.
    Now, earlier in the program, we mentioned how your programmable thermostat; we know it saves you money in the winter. Well, now we’re going to help you save some money in the summer with it. So let’s talk programmable thermostats.
    You know they allow you to control your home’s climate around the clock and even in the summer, we’re talking about. In fact, setting your thermostat to control the operation of your central air conditioner can actually manage excess humidity in the home and then reduce your overall cooling bills, which is a fantastic idea because we’re all looking to save some money. Now, your programmable thermostat, they’re available for as little as 50 bucks and installing them is a simple project for a service professional; so not a big expense there.
    TOM: And if you’re going to do that, you also might want to check with your utility company because many of them have what’s known as a voluntary demand response program. Basically, you let the utility company install a special thermostat that gives them the ability to turn off your air conditioning for a very, very short and unnoticeable period of time. Now, it doesn’t mean much to you comfort-wise but allows them to balance the electrical needs across the entire community and prevent a brownout and, often, these programs come with a promotion; like I think I got a $50 gift card when I had one installed in my house. So it’s a pretty good deal for you, for the utility company and for the environment as well. So make that call to your utility company before you buy a new programmable thermostat because they might just install one for free.
    888-666-3974 is the free number to reach us. Let’s get back to the phones.
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Pauline in Massachusetts, welcome to The Money Pit. What’s going on at your house?
    PAULINE: Well, what’s going on in my house is that on my bathroom window and also my den window, which are both on the same side of the house, there’s a water mark as though there was a spill on the windowsills all on the right side and it looked a little blown up. I was away and I came home and it was a little blown up and now it’s dried up but we’re left with water marks as though there’s still a spill on it but they’re dry. What can I do or is there a possibility that it’s not dry somewhere else underneath?

    LESLIE: This is on the sill not on the glass, correct?

    PAULINE: Yeah, on the sill and a little in the bathroom where there’s a Jacuzzi underneath; you know, it’s flush against that wall which wasn’t used at all.

    TOM: I think you’re going to have to keep an eye on it because we need to know if it’s still active or not.

    PAULINE: No, it’s not active now. It’s totally dry.

    TOM: OK.

    PAULINE: But it looks as though there had been a spill there, you know, and now it’s stained. It’s sort of – it’s the same color but it looks – there’s a watermark like you get sometimes in carpeting? That line?

    TOM: I understand. But it’s on the windowsill. Is the windowsill …?

    PAULINE: It’s on both sills.

    TOM: The sills are painted or stained?

    PAULINE: Painted.

    TOM: OK, well then this is easy to fix. Do you happen to have any of that paint around?

    PAULINE: Yeah.

    TOM: Good. Don’t put it on before you put a primer step on first.

    PAULINE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: OK? You’ve got to use a primer coat because what’ll happen is if you try to repaint that with a water stain …

    PAULINE: Yes?

    TOM: … that stain will put right through the paint and it’ll show up again and you’ll …

    PAULINE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: … you’ll just be – you’ll be hating yourself. So …

    PAULINE: Is there any particular kind of primer? Is there a kind that I have to use?

    TOM: If it’s just a little water stain like that you can use a water-based primer. You can go out and pick up a Behr water-based primer or a KILZ water-based primer. Get a little small can of it. They come in the pint-sized can. Get one of those foam brushes …

    PAULINE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … as you have a really small paint job here and do a coat of primer first. Prime the entire sill, not just the spot …

    PAULINE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … because otherwise when you put the paint on it won’t sort of lay right.

    LESLIE: Not going to match.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, it’s like rougher in one area than the other. And then just repaint the sill …

    PAULINE: How long do I wait in between the processes?

    TOM: Just enough for the primer to dry; you know, an hour or so if it’s a warm day. Shouldn’t be a problem.

    PAULINE: OK. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Pauline. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
    Well, if you’re noticing a musty, stinky smell in your home, it’s probably not your husband’s cologne. (Tom and Leslie laugh) It could actually be living, breeding microorganisms to blame. We’re going to tell you how to get rid of them, right after this.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Fiberon. Bring your vision to life with Fiberon; innovate, reliable decking that enhances your outdoor living space. For more information, go to FiberonDecking.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: Where home solutions live. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to not only get their home improvement question answered but they’re also going to win a great prize. We are giving one lucky caller a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. Now our book, it is full of great tips, tricks of the trade and all of this very informative information is presented with a little bit of kick of humor involved in there; you know just like we like to give you every week when you tune into The Money Pit with us. All you have to do is pick up the phone, ask us your home improvement question and you could be our lucky winner. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Alright, now before the break, we were talking about these musty smells that you get inside the house sometimes. They’re very common. They’re caused by microorganisms that actually emit gases that create that smell. They’ll make themselves at home wherever there’s an organic food source, a little bit of air movement and light, wet and humid conditions.
    Now, to prevent these problems, you want to make sure that you identify and treat moist, damp areas with an antimicrobial treatment. You can mix one up yourself with a 10-percent bleach solution. Ten percent bleach is all it takes to wipe out those organisms and make that smell go away once and for all.
    888-666-3974.   Let’s get back to the phones.
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Well, it’s the summer barbecuing season and sitting out on your deck is a great place to be but Mike’s dealing with a problem out there. How can we help you?
    MIKE: Well, I have a deck that goes all the way around the house and it’s covered but the guy who built it I guess didn’t use pressure treated wood and the paint is peeling up. I was wondering if there’s anything else I could do besides replacing these boards; if I could get like a sander – you know, like you do hardwood floors – and then repaint it.

    LESLIE: Well I mean absolutely. What you’re going to have to do is you’re going to have to get down to a raw surface; especially in the areas where you’re dealing with the paint chipping up and peeling. You can use a chemical stripping product – Flood makes some great ones that are out there – to get all of that paint off and get down to a raw surface, which will save you a ton of elbow grease from the sanding. You know you may need to sand some areas where you’re dealing with problematic pieces of paint that won’t come off, but once you do that and you put more paint on it’s going to need to be painted again and again.

    A better option might be a solid stain; you know, especially depending how much of that paint you can get off and how comfortable you feel and what color you’re going with, a solid stain – every manufacturer makes one – it just penetrates the wood. Rather than sitting on top like a paint does the stain goes into the grain itself, but it’s – you know it’s very opaque almost as a paint but you do still see some of the graining texture to the lumber itself. So it’s not like the paint that just covers over everything.

    TOM: There’s some options for you, Mike. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Marion in Massachusetts, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
    MARION: I have a musty smell in my home and I’ve tried airing it out but it doesn’t seem to help.

    LESLIE: Where are you finding this odor? Is it in the basement? Is it …

    MARION: It’s mainly in the main house. All on …

    LESLIE: So throughout the entire house on the first floor, second floor, even where you have …

    MARION: The first floor.

    TOM: Have you had a lot of rain?

    MARION: No, but I did have a leak in a Frigidaire that went down …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    MARION: … probably through the floor.

    TOM: What kind of heating system do you have, Marion?

    MARION: I have hot water.

    TOM: Hot water. So you have a very humid heating system, which is not unusual because you’re going to have a lot of moisture in a house when that happens. So, the musty smell is pretty consistent with that.

    I think what you’re going to have to do is take some steps to reduce that level of humidity in the house and the way you do that is by starting on the outside of the house looking at the grading and the drainage. This is the angle of the soil around the house. You’re trying to reduce the amount of moisture that gets around the foundation perimeter. If you reduce the moisture in your house, usually can reduce those odors as well. So, grading and drainage of the outside foundation, which means keep an eye on the landscaping, make sure the soil is sloping away from the wall. Keep an eye on the roof gutters. Make sure they’re free-flowing, they’re empty, they’re not clogged and the downspouts are extending out well away from that foundation perimeter.

    Inside the house, take a look at the roof ventilation. You want to make sure that you’ve got vents on the roof because what happens is you get moisture that traps at the foundation, it works its way up through inside the house, it builds up a vapor pressure and it kind of sits and it adds to that musty, moist smell that’s going on inside the house. And if you can move some of that air through you’re going to reduce that odor.

    MARION: Oh, great. Thank you very much.

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

    Moisture management 101 here on The Money Pit Radio Show.
    LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to David in Oklahoma about water heating. What can we do for you today?
    DAVID: Well, I’ve heard y’all talk about the tankless water heaters. Do they make a gas tankless water heater or is it only electric?

    TOM: No, it’s actually the opposite of that. They do make electric tankless but we never recommend them because they’re not efficient. The gas water heaters, on the other hand, are super, super efficient; either propane or natural gas. That’s where you get your tankless water heating efficiency is with the gas units; not with the electric units.

    DAVID: Oh.

    TOM: So if you’re thinking about replacing your water heater and you’ve got gas, you have everything you need.

    DAVID: Well, we do have one that is gas and then we have one house that’s all electric, so …

    TOM: Well, with the electric house what I would do is I would replace – and again, if it’s time for a new water heater there I would replace it with a high-efficiency electric water heater. They have a sort of a heavier outer shell that’s very well insulated. Then you can increase your energy efficiency even further by adding a timer to that; a 240-volt timer so that you’re only running the water heater when you absolutely have to, which is a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. The in-between time you generally can leave the water heater off and, because it’s well-insulated, the water will still stay hot.

    DAVID: OK. Well listen, thank you very much. I’m really glad to hear about the gas being the most efficient.

    TOM: You’re very welcome, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Doug in Utah, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
    DOUG: Yes, I’ve got a question regarding an earthy smell from my hot water …

    TOM: Hmm.

    DOUG: … that is coming through when we take a shower, when we use the sink; and the situation is the house is only four years old and what could this be. And it hasn’t always been that way. It just started within the last couple of months.

    TOM: Doug, are you on well water or city water?

    DOUG: City water.

    TOM: That’s unusual. You may want to have a water test done just to confirm for yourself that there’s nothing harmful there. But when you have city water, generally there is very thorough oversight of the quality of the water.

    DOUG: Right.

    TOM: If odor is a problem or taste is a problem what you can do on the point of you side is add a large charcoal filtration system right near the main water valve and that will run that water through the filtration system and take out the odor or the taste issues.

    DOUG: Alright, well we’ll get the test done and go from there.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
    When we come back, we’re going to share with you great ways to enjoy a vacation in your own backyard.

    (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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