Cut Cooling Costs with Strategic Landscape
TRANSCRIPT FOR APRIL 27, 2009, HOUR 1
Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 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: And we are celebrating Earth Day in a big way this month with 30 days of eco-friendly ideas and tips. We figured why limit green advice to just one day a year? That’s why, coming up this hour, we’re going to have tips on how to use Mother Nature to your advantage; including tips on what you can do outside that will help cool the inside of your home.
LESLIE: Right. And speaking of cooling, we’re going to tell you about a 30-minute project that will help your air conditioning system run efficiently all summer long. It’s not that difficult and it’s going to keep your cooling costs way down.
TOM: Also ahead, how to batten down the hatches, so to speak, when several weather is forecasted. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to make sure things like kids’ toys don’t become long-range missiles that end up smashing your windows in a bad windstorm or a hurricane or even a bad thunderstorm.
LESLIE: It’s true; that wind can really pick up those light plastic things, so you’ve got to be careful.
And we’ve even got a green prize this hour. You know you’ve heard us talking about energy vampires and those are the electronics in your house that use energy all of the time; even when you’re not using them. Well, we’ve got a new product to tell you about that’s going to protect your most important electronic equipment and cut down on your energy costs as well. It’s worth just about 100 bucks and we’re going to hear more about the Back-UPS ES 750G in just a little bit.
TOM: You can learn more about that product and all the green info we’re giving away on the show today in a special section of our website that we’ve set up. It’s simply MoneyPit.com/green; that’s MoneyPit.com/green. Or call us right now with your green home improvement question or your home improvement question about anything that’s bothering you, soup to nuts, floorboards to shingles. Give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Because this is where home solutions live.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Doug in Connecticut needs some help with an insulation project. What can we do for you?
DOUG: Yeah. I have a contemporary construction home that’s got open beams on it that my wife and I fell in love with when we bought the house.
DOUG: Realizing that there really isn’t much insulation on my roof. My roof consists of open beams and then some nice tongue and groove wood. And then as far as I can tell, it’s plywood and then tar paper and shingles.
TOM: Ha. Well, they missed one layer and that is the insulation layer. When you do an open ceiling like that, there is usually a foam insulation that’s like a sheathing; so you would have the tongue and groove and then on top of that you’d probably have a vapor barrier like tar paper and then you’d have like a two or three-inch – and sometimes even thicker – insulating sheet and then …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s like super-dense foam.
TOM: Right. And then you have the shingles on top of that. It’s sort of like a sandwich roof construction. You end up having a very thick sort of fascia at the end because of the sandwich effect but if you don’t have that, Doug – and I’m frankly surprised that they would have built a home in Connecticut without this – there’s no way to insulate that ceiling and still see the beams. You’d have to insulate between the rafters and then, you know put a ceiling underneath of that.
DOUG: Yeah. See, the whole neighborhood – I’ve discovered it – it appears to me was built in the 60s and there are about a half a dozen homes that are like mine in this neighborhood. And it almost appears to me like somebody bought the architectural catalogue from some California architect and then built them all up here in lovely New England.
TOM: Hmm. Well, Doug, at this point, if you want to insulate that ceiling, what you may have to do is try to, you know give up a little bit of the class and you’re going to have to insulate between the rafters and then perhaps you could use another piece of tongue and groove in between that so you’re still kind of looking up at wood but you’re not seeing the full depth.
It’s a lot of work, I’ve got to tell you. It might be easier to think about – the next time you do your roof – strip it off and do it the way it was supposed to be done; with insulation from the outside in.
DOUG: Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking about doing just because I’m going to need a new roof anyways within the next couple of years.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, that’s what I’d do. I mean it’s going to be a big construction project for you anyway.
LESLIE: Yeah, but this way you’re not going to lose any of that decorative look that you’re getting from the beam.
DOUG: Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to help you with your home improvement project. Let’s get your spring to-do list totally done and before the weekend is even over. Pick up the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, a long-term solution to help keep your house cooler in the hot months. It’s all natural and it’s earth-friendly. That’s coming up, after this.
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 give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because we’re giving away a great prize that’s going to protect your computer and it’s also going to save you energy at the same time.
Now think about your computer: you’ve got family photos; all of your music – you’ve probably even thrown away all your CDs at this point, which I’ve been dying to do; all your personal files and it’s all stored right there in your computer. But if you don’t have it protected, it’s vulnerable for power surges.
Now the new Back-UPS ES and SurgeArrest, they use power very, very wisely and have a feature that automatically powers down idle devices to help conserve energy. It’s worth about 100 bucks but it could be yours just by asking us your question on the air. So pick up the phone and give us a call. Our number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. And if you don’t get through to us this hour, you still have a chance to win a Back-UPS ES 750 when you visit MoneyPit.com/green. It’s all on our special section with all of the green info, the green advice, the green tips that you need to know to be more earth-friendly in your home.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, here’s a green tip for you. Are you looking for a way to keep cool naturally? Well, if you are, then go ahead and plant some trees. You know if you put a leafy tree on the south and on the west sides of your home, you’re going to help create instant climate control because the shade – it’s going to keep your house cool in the summer and then those bare, budding branches are going to let in all that sunshine that you want for warmth during the winter months.
Now you can also plant trees or shrubs to just shade your air conditioning units. Just be careful that when you do so you’re not blocking the air flow that those units need. Now a unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10 percent less electricity than the same model operating in the blazing sun. So plant a tree, be good to Mother Earth and save a dollar at the same time.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Betty in South Carolina needs some help with a granite countertop. What can we do for you today?
BETTY: I had granite counters installed in my kitchen about a year ago …
BETTY: … and I – when the people installed my counter they just installed it and I thought I was all set to go. And a friend of mine recently had a granite countertop installed and they were told that they have to have their granite sealed every year and, until they get it sealed, they set something on the counter and it stains it with moisture and then it dries out.
BETTY: Is there a difference in granite counters; that one would need sealing and one wouldn’t? My dealer had nothing to – didn’t say anything about sealing.
LESLIE: Well, generally, a granite countertop – when you purchase it – will come sealed initially. It sounds like your friend’s, for some reason, either doesn’t have a sealer on it or has a very minimal level of sealant because granite is not going to – especially with a sealer that you’re getting from the manufacturer, it’s not going to get a stain. Like if you spill wine on it, it’s not going to suck through unless you leave it there for days.
But it is true; annually you do want to seal your granite only because the sealer that they put on – when they slice the granite into the sheets that will be the countertop itself, sometimes natural portions of the stone sort of pop out in the cutting process. So when they put the sealer on it, it fills in all of those little divots and then creates a uniform top on the surface of the countertop and then over time, with wear and tear and with cleaning or with dropping pots and pans on it, sometimes those areas that were filled – those divots that have popped out – sort of tends to chip off; especially on the end and especially if you went with a more decorative edge on your granite. You’re going to find maybe, you know a couple months from now, you’ll be cleaning and you’ll feel like a rough spot and that’s an area …
BETTY: I do that now. That’s another concern that I had.
TOM: You know Betty, it’s pretty much normal wear and tear. I mean people put in these countertops and they are gorgeous but they think because it’s granite it’s going to, you know, basically be as durable as a rock. Well, in fact, it’s not because it does need to be finished; it does need to be sealed every once in a while. And if you watch it, as Leslie says, you’ll start to feel some of the finish chip off and know that it has to be redone again.
BETTY: Yeah, OK. Thank you so very much. That was very helpful to me. I appreciate it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You’re welcome, Betty. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in Texas needs some help with a fireplace. What can we do for you?
JIM: I’ve got a log home with a fireplace with three flues in it.
TOM: OK. Is it one chimney, Jim, with three flues?
JIM: The middle flue goes down into the basement and they put it too close to a beam.
JIM: What can I insulate a stovepipe with that would be sufficient to protect the heat?
TOM: Alright, Jim, stop right there. Is it a metal stovepipe or is it a masonry chimney?
JIM: No, well, it’s – the flue is masonry but it will be a metal stovepipe.
TOM: So the metal stovepipe goes from where to where?
JIM: The metal stovepipe goes just from – through the wall into the flue.
TOM: OK. And the beam is near the top of this stovepipe? And it’s off a wood stove or what’s the stovepipe from?
JIM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Woodstove. Near the ceiling. So I’ve got to – if I put a stove there at all, I’ve got to protect it.
TOM: Mm. I’ve got to tell you, that’s a very, very important thing that you’re asking us about here because if that pipe is going to get super-hot and if it’s too close it could definitely be a fire hazard. I mean there are ways to put heat shields between the stovepipe and the wood surface but you have to follow the National Fire Protection Association’s standards with that. You know this is something that you should refer to the code books on.
I can tell you that there are a couple of ways they do this. In the best scenario, they keep the pipes away from the beams by three feet.
TOM: If they’re closer, they put heat shields on it, which is – there are different ways to do it. You can wrap the beams with metal. You can have a shield that stands off of the wall or the beam that has like air space behind it, which helps cool it. But you really need to work with the wood stove installer, if you’re working with one, or with your local fire inspector to make sure you follow the NFPA guidelines. If you don’t, it’s going to be very dangerous.
LESLIE: Jean in Georgia, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JEAN: I have a cinder block, concrete blocks on my foundation and they’ve been painted and the mortar is falling out.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
JEAN: What can I use to refill those cracks and to paint it in the future?
TOM: Well, all of the loose mortar should be pulled out and it has to be repointed. There’s mortar mix that I would purchase to do that. You may want to use a mortar mix that has some patching compound qualities to it. It might be one of the epoxy mixes. It’ll be a little stickier than a traditional mortar mix but that’s available, you know, at home centers and hardware stores.
A good website for more information on the available products is Quikrete – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. They have a guide there on that website to all sorts of masonry repair projects; this being one of them.
LESLIE: Frank in New York is being haunted by the ghosts of the past; meaning old paint. What’s going on? And I hope it’s like some hideous color (chuckling) that’s driving you crazy.
FRANK: Yeah. Yes, my bathroom – you know I primed my bathroom with the best primer possible and I put two coats of paint on with bathroom paint and you know how my daughter is: she takes like 45-minute showers with (inaudible at 0:13:45.0) …
TOM: Oh, yeah. You know we know how your daughter is. (Leslie laughs) She’s terrible, Frank.
FRANK: Yeah. It’s unbelievable. (Tom laughs) It’s unbelievable. And it’s like …
TOM: Just like my daughter. (chuckles)
FRANK: Right, and my walls keep on staining. It’s bleeding right through it still.
TOM: Yeah. Well, Frank, how many coats of paint do you have on that bathroom?
FRANK: I put two coats of paint on there.
TOM: Well, but you put two coats on now. How many have you had before? How old is this bathroom?
FRANK: It’s over 20 years old so probably maybe like …
TOM: Well, you know here’s what might be going on, Frank. There’s a point of no return when you put so much paint on that it just continues to delaminate. That’s one issue.
TOM: The second issue is you may need to have a more powerful fan in there so you can properly ventilate that space. Do you have a bath fan in there right now?
FRANK: Yes, I do.
TOM: Alright. Well, it may not be doing the job because – I mean if you get – if your window fogs up, your mirrors fog up when somebody is in the shower, it’s probably not strong enough.
FRANK: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It’s not a strong enough fan.
TOM: It’s not strong enough because all that humidity is condensing. So, at this point, what you need to do is: first, you need to strip off the old paint and I do mean paint stripper. You need to get off as many of the old layers as possible. You can’t keep putting good paint over bad paint.
Then, I would prime it and I would prime it with an old-based primer because you’re going to get the best adhesion. Then I would put my top coat and you’re right to use bathroom paints because they have mildicide in it and then, in between all of that, make sure you get a better bath fan and put one in that’s on a timer so that it can run even when somebody is done with the shower and out of the bath. It’ll run for another five or ten minutes to absolutely get all of that moisture out. That’s what’s going on.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And you know what, Frank? You can even get a bath fan with an occupancy sensor put in; you know put it into your system there. This way, in case your daughter goes in for one of her marathon showers and forgets to put on the fan, it will automatically go on for you.
FRANK: (overlapping voices) Right. (chuckles) OK, great. Alright. Thank you for your time.
TOM: You’re welcome, Frank. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: June in Utah has a tiling question. What can we do for you today?
JUNE: OK, we have a fireplace in our home. The home was built in 1960. And it is stone and we would like to modernize it with granite squares. Can we put the granite squares right on top of that tile stone?
LESLIE: Well, you should be able to just use a mastic that’s appropriate for granite – correct? – and adhere right to that as long as the surface is smooth. What do you think, Tom?
TOM: Well, I think if it’s fairly flat, then I don’t see a reason why you can’t go on top of it. As long as it’s flat and secure, I think you can go over it.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
JUNE: OK. And it is and that’s very helpful. OK. Thanks so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where home solutions live. Speaking of which, most of us are just turning the corner into warmer weather about now but before you know it, you will be turning on the air conditioning system in your house or the window units, whatever. Take 30 minutes to tackle right now a much-needed maintenance project that will keep it running efficiently all summer. We’ll have the details on how to do just that, right 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. You can count on Therma-Tru for beautiful, reliable and easy-to-install entry doors. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Well, it is just about time when the weather starts turning a bit warmer and you know sooner or later you’re going to have to flip on that air conditioning system for the first time this season. In order to run efficiently, that central air conditioning compressor needs to be kept clean. Here is what you need to know.
You need to inspect the coils that are on the outside unit and wash them down with a hose to free up loose dirt. Also, be sure that all the bushes are trimmed back; they need to be trimmed back at least 12 inches. The reason is that the unit cannot cool properly and it’ll have to run longer to cool your house and that’s going to drive up your cooling costs. So remember to clean that outside air conditioning compressor. Add that to your spring cleaning projects and it will lower your cooling bills.
LESLIE: That’s right. Energy efficiency equals more money in your wallet.
Hey, you know we’ve got lots more fantastic, energy-efficient tips for you in our special green section at MoneyPit.com/green. It’s full of great advice; it’s very user-friendly. Go there, sort by project and you’ll find out exactly how to make a green home improvement to your money pit.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.
LESLIE: Kelly in Indiana needs some help in the basement. What’s going on at your money pit?
KELLY: Hi. A few years ago we had some waterproofing done and where they seamed the new concrete to the old I have mold growing and I can’t kill it and I was wondering what I need to do to kill that mold. It’s white mold …
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK, that’s not mold.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, that’s not mold.
TOM: That’s not mold.
KELLY: Oh, it isn’t?
TOM: No, it’s mineral salt deposits. What that …
KELLY: Well, it gets – it’s fuzzy-looking, though.
TOM: I know, I know. It’s mineral salt deposits. I’ll prove it to you.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Because it’s the salt crystal like sticking outward on itself.
TOM: Go take some white vinegar and water. Mix up a solution, spray it; you’ll watch it melt away.
KELLY: White vinegar.
LESLIE: And water.
KELLY: And water.
LESLIE: You’re going to have to do it again and again but …
TOM: What’s happening here, Kelly, though is that the reason you’re seeing that is because it’s evidence of moisture.
TOM: So you still have moisture in there and you know we generally don’t recommend waterproofing surfaces because they’re almost never needed. I know Indiana has some pretty wet areas but unless it’s a high water table you don’t need it. If your basement got wet after a rainstorm, then it’s always curable with improvements in grading and drainage outside; extending gutters, downspouts, that sort of thing. I would look to the exterior and make sure that all that is in proper order: the gutters are clean, the downspouts are four to six feet from the house and the soil around the house slopes away with no obstructions. You need to reduce the amount of water to slow down that mineral salt deposit.
KELLY: OK. Thank you very much for your help. I really appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Monique is calling in from New Hampshire. She’s got a question about flooring. What can we do for you?
MONIQUE: Actually, this winter was a rough winter for New Hampshire and I had ice dams on my roof outside …
TOM: Oh, that’s nice.
MONIQUE: … which caused a leak that came into the house through the door frame – which was under a covered porch – and it buckled my hardwood floor.
TOM: Oh, too bad.
MONIQUE: So, my question is – I’ve had lots of advice as to how to prevent the ice dam next year. I’ve got insurance fixing the floor for me but I’ve got to take care of the bigger issue, which is how to prevent this from happening again.
TOM: Well, first of all, your roof in New Hampshire, I would have thought that it was constructed with something called Ice & Water Shield, which would have prevented this. It sounds like it wasn’t.
The first thing that you should do – and this should be covered by the insurance company as well, I would think – is you need to remove the roof shingles along the first three to four feet of the roof and apply something called Ice & Water Shield. You might want to go to the website for Grace Construction Products Company; it’s GraceAtHome.com. They pretty much invented this product, Ice & Water Shield. And it’s sort of a rubbery, three-foot-wide sheet that’s put right against the roof sheathing all along that edge and what it does is if you get any ice that backs up at the roof edge, it can’t get under the shingles and leak through to the house.
TOM: It can get under there but it’s not going to leak and that’s why you put in Ice & Water Shield. And in your part of the country, Ice & Water Shield should be a standard part of any roofing project. I’m surprised you don’t have it.
Now beyond that, it’s a good idea to have proper ventilation; which means the overhang, if there are soffits there, have to be open and free flowing and the insulation should not block those soffits. In other words, you should make sure that the insulation in the attic doesn’t push so far forward towards the exterior wall that it blocks the air flow. You have Ice & Water Shield …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Sometimes, there’s even plywood blocking the soffits.
TOM: Well, I mean that assumes that she has vents.
TOM: I mean you do need to make sure you have vents. But if you have good ventilation and you have Ice & Water Shield, you shouldn’t really have an ice-damming problem next year.
MONIQUE: That is good. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Monique. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, April showers bring May flowers but spring storm season means rain and sometimes dangerous winds. Up next, we’re going to tell you what you need to do to keep your money pit safe.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And you should pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because we’re giving away a great prize that will protect your computer and save you energy at the same time.
You know you’ve probably got photos, you’ve got music, you’ve got personal files all stored in your computer but you won’t have them for long if the power goes off while you’re working on those files. Computers are very, very vulnerable. They need electricity and if the power goes off because of a power failure or something of that nature, you could be up a creek, my friends; and that’s why, in my office and in my house, we have Back-UPS – Back-U-P-S – the uninterruptible power supplies from APC.
There’s a brand new one on the market now called the Back-UPS ES SurgeArrest. It does a couple of things: first of all, it gives you backup power for your computer; it also is a surge protector; and most importantly, no matter what you plug into that, it will not let those appliances leak any of that vampire electricity that really adds on to the electric bill.
It’s a great product; it’s worth almost 100 bucks but it could be yours. We’re giving one away this hour if you call us right now with your question. You’ve got to have a question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: And hey, no worries if you don’t get through this hour. You still have a great chance to win the Back-UPS ES. All you need to do is visit Money Pit online at MoneyPit.com for the contest details and it is all in our very special section: MoneyPit.com/green.
TOM: Well, it is storm season and bad storms can bring pretty brutal winds that can turn harmless objects – like lawn ornaments, furniture, trash cans, kids’ toys, whatever – into missiles and if you’ve got forewarning it’s a really good idea to bring inside or tie down whatever you can. Don’t try to retrieve those items during a storm because it can kind of happen very, very quickly. It’s always safer to track down those belongings after the fact.
That’s why I’m always returning my garbage cans to my neighbors (Leslie chuckles) after one of those storms and, sometimes, neighbors that are like three or four houses away. But don’t be like that; tie that stuff down, put it away. Don’t let it become a missile because they really can cause some pretty severe damage in a storm that’s packing some pretty high winds.
Well, don’t let those home improvement projects blow you away. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get back to those phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: We’ve got an HVAC question with Charlie. What can we do for you today?
CHARLIE: We have just built a new home and we have eight tons of HVAC system and our furnace is run off of propane; we’re in more of a rural area. And our propane bill is just ungodly, unsightly. And so I was trying to consider what the benefit would be to maybe going to a heat pump and maybe have the heat pump warm the house – say, it’s about 38 or 40 degrees – and then switch to furnace. I just wanted to get your opinion on that.
TOM: The way a heat pump works is it only maintains the temperature between what you set it at and what it actually is across about a two-degree spread. So if you set it at, say, you know 72 and it falls to 70, the heat pump stays on but it falls to 69, the heat pump goes off. It actually brings on the electric-resistance furnace and that costs about two to three times as much to operate as the heat pump. So you want to make sure that you are, in fact, not using the thermostat; kind of rising it up and down.
In terms of whether it will be less expensive to run off of propane, it could be. But then again, you’ve got all the upfront cost of investing in new equipment.
CHARLIE: So, what’s more or less the ratio on something like that? Because like our propane bill last month was $900.
TOM: Hmm. And what was your electric bill?
CHARLIE: Two hundred.
TOM: Well, I have a feeling that, as high as these costs are, that it’s probably more efficient to run off the propane than it will to run off straight electric; even a heat pump. If you had a ground loop heat pump, probably it would be more efficient but a straight electric heat pump, probably not as efficient.
You know what you might want to think about doing, Charlie, is having an energy audit done because there could be other reasons that you have a $900 propane bill.
CHARLIE: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Charlie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: If you’ve got squeaky floors you might be our friend Cheryl in Massachusetts. Tell us about what’s going on.
CHERYL: We just moved in and I was wondering what we needed to do about if we’re walking on the floors and all we hear is, you know, squeaking. We want to lay carpet, so we were just wondering if there’s something we needed to do before we did that.
TOM: Well, Cheryl, what kind of flooring do you have right now? Is it carpet or hardwood?
CHERYL: It is very, very old hardwood; 1850 pine, probably. It’s a floor with the spaces in between, pretty much.
TOM: Ah. (Leslie chuckles) Well, Cheryl, you need to think about those floors by their technical definition which is charm.
TOM: You can quiet them somewhat and we’ll tell you what to do and it certainly is a good idea. What you would want to do is you would want to screw the floor down to the joists below. So you need to identify where the joists are, then you would face-screw through the loose boards down and once you do that they’ll pull tight to the floor joists and they won’t squeak nearly as much. Have you considered refinishing these because it sounds like they’re pretty beautiful.
CHERYL: We actually just want carpet. We’re very – you know we’re from the South originally so we want – we love, you know carpet being upstairs and so I think that’s what we would do, you know in the end.
LESLIE: Well, you know what? In the long run, if you go ahead and put carpeting down, it usually does very little damage to the hardwood floor below. You’re just dealing with some tack strips along the perimeter of the room. So if you do decide, at some point, to go back to the hardwood and refinish and repair, you’ll at least be protecting the floor with the carpet and carpet is a good choice; it’s nice and cozy.
TOM: Yeah, except if she really wants to quiet the floor down then you really have to screw those floors to the joists below and to do that you’re going to have a lot of visible screws unless you take the time to counterbore each one, which is another …
LESLIE: And plug them.
TOM: And plug them. Yep, exactly.
CHERYL: OK. And if we did decide just to refinish the hardwood, would we have a lot of nails showing? How would we – you said we would have to screw it down?
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: And what you would do is you would either use a trim screw – which has a really small head and sort of counterbores itself right through the floor – or you would actually use a plug and cover the top of the head of the screw.
TOM: But you know screws are the best way to quiet those floors because if you use nails they eventually just pull back out again.
LESLIE: And Cheryl, the plugs are going to be wood plugs that you’re going to drill a hole that’s going to sit right on top of it and it’s going to fill right in with this wood plug and then you’ll stain it and you won’t even notice it.
TOM: Cheryl, hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we’re going to tackle an e-mail question about a wood deck that may just be beyond repair, so stick around.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators, America’s choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better. 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, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and Leslie will be happy to answer your call personally. (Leslie chuckles) Especially at like, say, three in the morning on a Sunday. She is there; boy, that girl works hard.
No, actually, you can head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com and shoot us an e-mail question any time of the day or night. While you’re there, check out the new green section of MoneyPit.com with all kinds of green tips and information and your opportunity to win the Back-UPS ES and SurgeArrest from APC. It will protect your most important electronics and save energy as well. Learn more about how to win it at MoneyPit.com/green.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to jump into our e-mail bag and, first up, we’ve got one from Joanne in New York who writes: “Our wood deck has many cracked and/or split boards and some are actually starting to peel. Now we can’t afford to replace it at this time. Is there any way of fixing this problem? Can it be sanded? We coated it last year with a semi-transparent seal, which took a beating over the winter months and looks terrible now.”
TOM: You know one thing about deck boards that’s really cool is they have two sides, Joanne. It’s sort of like one of those coats that you can wear inside-out and it has like two different types of material.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Not like the Jerry Seinfeld pink-striped lining?
TOM: Yeah, exactly, you know. But decks are the same way; you can actually remove those deck boards, flip them over, expose the side that has been exposed to the dirt all these years – which has not had almost any UV radiation strewn upon it – and you’ll find that it’s not cracked and it looks like the day it came out of the lumber yard. Sure, it’ll be a little dirty and grimy but you can clean that off.
So, badly-cracked deck boards – not a problem. Take them out. There’s a tool called a cat’s paw that actually is used to drive into that rotted side of the deck or the split side of the deck. Pull the nail out, then flip it over and put it back down. You won’t see the digs from where you used the tools to get the board out and it’ll look perfectly. Do that to all the worst boards and then you can finish it again and it’ll look great.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And definitely – since you’re dealing with a very aged, decking surface – if you go ahead and use something like a solid-color stain, that’s going to allow you to still see the graining but it’s going to cover everything very thoroughly. You’re going to see some saturation of the color but it’s going to make things look uniform; especially as you’re dealing with some flipped boards and some not-flipped boards. And if you do that and you do it according to the directions on the can, it should last you about five years.
TOM: Alright. We now have an e-mail from Ted in New Jersey who says: “I have a double-pane window that has fogged up inside. I want to know if it’s possible to clean it and how to do just that.”
Ted, no, unfortunately it’s not possible to clean it because what you have here is a bad seal. When that window was made, there was a vacuum placed between those panes of glass and it was probably also filled with an insulating gas like argon or krypton. Now once that seal breaks, you’ll get moisture inside of it; that’s what’s causing the fogging. So you can clean this all day long; it’s not going to do anything.
The good news is that the – it doesn’t affect the window structurally; it doesn’t cause the window to leak. It’s really a cosmetic issue and of course it affects the window’s energy efficiency. You may want to talk to a local glazer and see if they can replace just that panel itself – which is possible – or you may have to replace the entire window.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Barbara from Florida who writes: “I’m thinking of buying a house but when the owner turned on the microwave the lights in the family and the dining room went out and had to reset the circuit breaker. (Tom chuckles) Is this a serious problem?”
TOM: That’s a really bad thing to happen when you’re trying to sell your house.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, and of all things, to test the microwave.
TOM: I think you need an electrician there. Of course, we always advice you get a home inspector but get an electrician in there. It could be, if it’s an older house, that there are too many circuits in the kitchen that are on the same breaker and that’s why it tripped. But get it checked out professionally; it is not a good sign.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And a home inspection is the best couple hundred bucks you will spend because you will know everything about that house, inside and out. Good luck, Barbara.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com.
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.
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(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.