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Easy Improvements in 30 Minutes or Less, Cutting Down on House Dust and Allergens and How to Plan a New Kitchen

  • Transcript

    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 here for you. Yes, you. As you drive around, as you walk around, as you hang around your money pit, think about what project you’d like to get done. Hey, the fall is around the corner, summer is screeching to a halt. It is the season when we get out of the lawn chairs and start working on our houses so that they are in good shape for when we’ve got to shut them up for the cold weather ahead. What is the project you would like to get done? We know there’s one. Pick up the phone. Let’s talk about it and we’ll help you do just that. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s program, taking care of your home doesn’t have to mean blocking out the entire weekend. We’ve got easy, 30-minute projects that you can take on to make sure your home is set for the season ahead.

    LESLIE: Plus, once it comes time to close up your windows and doors for the chilly weather ahead, dust and allergens, they can begin to build up fast if you don’t have the right kind of filter in your heating systems. Now, there are dozens to choose from, which makes it kind of confusing. We’re going to help clear the air, in just a bit.

    TOM: Plus, one home improvement that has consistently, year after year, delivered the best return on investment is a new kitchen. But how do you get started on planning such a major makeover? It can seem pretty overwhelming but we’re going to have some solid and simple advice, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Plus, we’re giving away the WORX Switchdriver 20V Cordless Drill & Driver to one lucky caller this hour. Now, it features rotating dual chucks, so you can hold multiple bit pairings and get your work done twice as fast with half the hassle. No more fumbling around for those loose bits.

    TOM: So give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Betty in Nebraska is on the line with a mold question. What can we do for you today?

    BETTY: I am having a problem with some mold in the basement that is on cement-block walls. And I’ve heard you mention on your show the product Spray & Forget It. I’ve seen this product in a hardware store back here, in a spray bottle, and it’s for exterior use. And I am wondering if I should be looking for something for interior and where I could buy this.

    LESLIE: So you’re talking about what you think is mold on a cement block in a basement space?

    Now, the chances of that being mold are a little bit on the slim-to-none side because mold doesn’t really grow on the concrete and it needs an organic matter. So, more likely, it’s something called “efflorescence,” which is a mineral-salt deposit from when the blocks get wet and then they sort of – the water dissipates off of it and it leaves sort of a white hazy-ish ring. Is that what you’re seeing?

    BETTY: No, this is black. Black, little spots, dots.

    TOM: Yeah, it would be very unusual for that to be mold because, as Leslie said, blocks are not organic. And you can have a moisture that gets into that block wall and then evaporates and leaves the salts behind. The salts could be white or gray or black but I’m telling you, it’s very unlikely that it’s mold. If it’s on concrete, if it’s on masonry, it’s likely not mold because there’s nothing there for it to grow on.

    Now, if you – and we’d be the first to tell you if it was. I’m just thinking what you’re describing is probably not mold. I would invite you to talk a picture of that and post it to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. We would be happy to take a look at it and give you a better idea of what we think it is but it’s probably not.

    Now, you mentioned Spray & Forget. That’s a great product for getting rid of mold and mildew and algae that forms on the outside of your house. It’s not an interior product but in the case of the basement you describe, I don’t think you need it.

    Now, if you want to deal with the moisture issue, there’s a great story on MoneyPit.com about how to stop a basement or a crawlspace from leaking and it has to do with grading and drainage. It’s not hard to do but it will stop that moisture from coming through.

    BETTY: Mm-hmm. Now, we have had some water come into the basement and we have had the “trenching” or whatever you call that around to remove the water.

    TOM: Ah, yeah.

    BETTY: And so, I don’t know. I guess that’s why I was thinking when the blocks were wet just so far up …

    TOM: That even further confirms my opinion that it’s not mold. If you’ve got a moisture problem, here’s what you have to do: first of all, you have to address the gutter system at the outside of the roof edge. It has to be clean, free-flowing and the downspouts, most importantly, have to be discharging at least 6 feet from the foundation. If they’re not, that’s water’s going to go right back along the wall and show up in the basement.

    Then, secondly, the soil around the house has to slope away from the wall. It can’t just be flat. It can’t pitch in. It can’t have a lot of mulch or grass or even stone. It’s got to have a coarse slope away from the wall. We’d like it to drop about 6 inches over 4 feet.

    If you get those two areas of drainage under control, I think a couple of things will happen. First of all, the basement will stop leaking. And secondly, these spots that you see showing up will stop forming. Does that make sense?

    BETTY: Well, yeah. But we have a high water table.

    TOM: Does your basement leak after a heavy rain?

    BETTY: Mm-hmm. Yes.

    TOM: OK. It’s not your water table, alright? My biggest problem with this solution is people don’t believe me. It is not a water table. Water tables move seasonally, they move slowly. If your basement is leaking after a heavy rain or a snow melt, it is caused by your drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter. It’s easy to fix, Betty. Trust me. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I have fixed thousands of wet basements this way.

    Go to MoneyPit.com. Read the article on the home page about how to fix a wet basement. And read the comments below. You’ll hear a lot of people that speak to this issue and couldn’t believe it was easy to do as it turned out.

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

    LESLIE: Lance in Ohio is on the line with a plumbing question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    LANCE: Well, I have a problem with a cast-iron pipe. It comes out of my commode and it goes down into the basement. There’s a clean-out at the floor. But on the straight piece of cast-iron on one side, there’s a leak that looks like mud or – I don’t think it’s human waste, because there’s no smell to it. But it comes out of one side and drips – just kind of runs down. And on the other side, about maybe 6 inches lower, is another ball – just sediment or whatever – going around the other side.

    Now, it’s a slow leak and it’s nothing on the floor as of yet. But I can see streaks where it’s – you know, it’s been maybe a month or so. And I’ve been watching it. And I just want to know what to do.

    TOM: So, Lance, this particular leak – you say you’ve been watching it. So you’re sure that what you’re seeing wasn’t there before? Because sometimes, those joints leak oil because there’s a material that’s like an oakum that’s used to pack those joints. And sometimes, it leaks oil and it leaves a stain, which looks like a leak. But you’re sure that it wasn’t there before and it actively is dripping now?

    LANCE: No. Our house was built in 1962. I’ve lived in it 13 years. And it’s not at a joint. It’s in the straight part of – there’s red joints. And this is maybe 6, 8 inches below a joint.

    TOM: OK.

    LANCE: And it’s in the straight piece of cast-iron. The cast iron is maybe 6 foot …?

    TOM: Yeah. I mean the cast-iron itself wouldn’t be leaking. It must be the joints. So the water must be coming back out of the joint.

    LANCE: Yeah. Nothing above the joint. It’s right there. It’s just coming out of the sides. That’s all.

    TOM: Hmm. I guess it’s possible a crack could develop in the cast-iron: a very small crack that’s hard to see. But that would be very, very unusual. So, I think at this point, you’re going to have to have a plumber look at this because it’s kind of beyond what you can do to repair it. If the joint itself is leaking – you mentioned it was sort of below the joint. If the joint itself was leaking, that may have to be repacked. If you look very carefully at that pipe – and I would do this with a good, strong light; you may have to run a work light over there – and find that there’s a crack in it, again, it would be very unusual. But if you did see it, then I guess that could explain it.

    Typically, when those pipes leak, there’s also a bit of a backup that causes this, because they’re not really designed to work under any kind of pressure or reverse flow. So, the other possibility is if there is any kind of backup, even a temporary one where it backs up and then it drains out, that could also lead to the link, as well.

    But in any case, I think this is not a DIY job. We’d love to tell you that it is, Lance, but it’s not. So, get a plumber, OK? 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. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, now that cooler temperatures are almost here, it’s a good time to get your ceiling and room fans cleaned up and ready to store for the off-season. It’s a project you can do in 30 minutes or less. We’ll tell you how, next.

    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: Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We would love to help you with your home improvement question and we may just give you the tools to get the job done. Because this hour, we’re giving away the WORX Switchdriver.

    It’s a 20-volt cordless drill and driver that’s got a unique benefit: it’s got a rotating dual chuck that can be loaded with an endless combination of drilling and driving bits. So you drill with it, you flip the chuck and then you drive with it.

    It’s available at Home Depot and Amazon and WORX.com. It’s worth 100 bucks but it’s going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Abraham in New Jersey is on the line looking to vent an attic. What’s going on there?

    ABRAHAM: OK. I basically have a regular home; it’s a Colonial. And the attic is a rough attic with the spray-foam insulation. There is zero ventilation in that attic and the second floor has central air.

    So I would like to know two questions: would I be saving on air-conditioning if I would vent the attic – there’s no ceiling fan, nothing – if I put in either an attic fan or a window exhaust fan? And also, part of the attic has an entrance door – a heavy door – leading to attic. Would it take away the air-conditioning to leave that entrance door open, thereby allowing the hot air to enter the attic and leave with an exhaust fan? Or is that something I should not be doing?

    TOM: So, Abraham, that’s a great question. And if you told me that your attic was insulated with fiberglass insulation, as most are typically, we would talk about what kind of ventilation you’ll need. But you said your attic was insulated with spray foam. So, is the spray foam up on the underside of the roof rafters, as well as across the floor? Describe it to me.

    ABRAHAM: Not on the floor. The floor just has regular boards between the second floor and the attic. But there’s all – all the walls and the roof all have spray foam.

    TOM: So what you have, Abraham – and it’s actually the same kind of insulation setup that I have. It’s called a “conditioned attic.” In other words, the attic itself is conditioned and it does not need ventilation. So, no, you do not need to vent that. It’s actually pretty efficient right the way it is.

    Now, you mentioned that there was a door between those two spaces. If that door tends to get a little warm or the wall or the ceiling tends to get a little warm, you could add some additional insulation there. In my case, I actually had an older house. So my attic floor/second-floor ceiling already had fiberglass in it. We left that there. But then we spray-foamed the underside of the roof rafters and the gable walls. And it’s amazing. When we go up in our attic, it’s practically the same temperature as the rest of the house. It’s just done so well. So you do not need to ventilate an attic that was sprayed with foam because it’s not the type of attic that needs to be vented.

    ABRAHAM: Yeah. Because when I go up to my attic, it is extremely hot. I know I never measure with a thermometer how much warmer it is. So that’s why I was wondering if that’s going to warm up the second floor, requiring me more air-conditioning to the second floor. So I was thinking of ventilating the attic to cool off the attic.

    TOM: I think that if it was done right, you don’t need to vent it. How long ago was the spray foam done? And who did it?

    ABRAHAM: It was locally and it was within the past year; it’s a new home.

    TOM: Oh, really? Oh, it’s brand-new, within the past year.

    ABRAHAM: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah. I wonder if they put enough insulation in there. Because the insulation should be keeping that heat on the outside and the air-conditioning or the internal sort of ambient temperature of the house should be keeping it pretty comfortable on the inside. I wonder if you have enough insulation in there.

    And I have a suggestion for you that you speak with another spray-foam manufacturer – spray-foam contractor – aside from the one that did it and kind of have an opinion as to whether or not there’s enough insulation in there for your part of the country. I think that will actually make a lot of sense.

    ABRAHAM: OK. Thank you so much.

    TOM: I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, home maintenance doesn’t always require a free weekend to get things done. Many projects you can actually do in as little as 30 minutes. And we have a whole host of those in our book, My Home, My Money Pit.

    TOM: Yep. So here’s one: now is a good time to clean the fans in your house. For example, after the long, hot summer and all of those extra showers – washing off from the days at the beach, the lake or the pool – your bathroom fan could probably benefit from a good cleaning. So you want to turn off the power, remove the cover and wash that with dish soap. Then, wipe the fan blades clean with a damp rag. Because as the dust clogs and sticks to those fan blades, it can make them vibrate when the fans run again. And that can make a racket, not to mention the fact that it makes it pretty ineffective.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, this is also a good time of year to look at your ceiling fans, the ones they use for cooling in the summer months. I’m talking about using them year-round. But first off, let’s clean those ceiling-fan blades. And then while you’re up there, change your ceiling fan direction for winter’s use. There’s going to be a small reversing switch on the side of the motor.

    Now, in the summer, you should feel that fan pull the cooler air up from the floor. And in the winter, you should feel that fan pushing the warm air down from the ceiling. So that’s – you’ve got to check for it.

    TOM: Now, the last fan you want to address is one that really does need to be cleaned on a very regular basis. And that is your kitchen-exhaust fan. Now to do that, you want to pull off the filter and soak it in a warm-water solution, like dish soap, to really get that grease out of it. You want to very carefully wipe the grease clean from the inside of the exhaust fan all the way around. You want to wipe it off the light bulb, of course, while it’s turned off. If you see the exhaust-fan blades, again, wipe them, as well. Keeping that exhaust fan clean will make sure that it can keep exhausting all of that cooking steam right out of your house.

    If you’d like more tips on how to do those quick 30-minute projects, it’s all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going over to Eunice in Arkansas who has a retaining wall that thinks it’s a chameleon. It’s changing colors. What’s going on?

    EUNICE: Part of it is – the part that’s turning white powdery-looking is the part that’s exposed to the weather. And it’s kind of spreading. It looks like it’s – the whole thing will eventually turn white. I don’t know if it’s oxidizing or if moisture from the ground is making it change colors or what.

    TOM: You know, that’s exactly what’s happening, Eunice. What you’re seeing is called “efflorescence.” And essentially, water from the ground pulls up because those concrete blocks are very hydroscopic. So it – water pulls up and then as the water evaporates, it leaves its mineral salts behind. And that’s what that whitish/grayish deposit is.

    So it’s not harmful; it’s really just cosmetic. And there’s not going to be a lot you can do to stop it, though. If it’s an outside wall like that, if there’s going to be a lot of moisture collecting in that area, you’re going to get that sort of thing from happening.

    EUNICE: Oh, OK. So power-washing it or using a chemical or anything wouldn’t make a difference?

    TOM: Well, really, all you need – I’ll give you a little trick of the trade. If you use white vinegar – so if you were to mix up some white vinegar and mix it with water in a pump-up sprayer, that will melt the mineral salts right away.

    EUNICE: OK. Very good. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Eunice, good luck with that project. You’re very welcome.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Randy from Maryland on the line with a decking question. How can we help you today?

    RANDY: I just put a brand-new deck on the back of my house. The house was actually built in 1988, so it’s good and settled. I just wondered how soon I could treat it. I’ve heard two months, three months. I’ve heard a whole season. I don’t want to wait too long but I don’t want to do it too early.

    TOM: Randy, what’s the material the deck is made out of? Is it pressure-treated lumber or cedar or redwood? What?

    RANDY: Yeah. It’s pressure-treated lumber.

    TOM: OK. So what I would do at this point is I would wait until next spring. Let it be exposed to the environment for a while. It is true that the lumber, when it first goes in, is very moist. And by waiting maybe six months in your case, you’re going to find that it’s going to dry out a bit. And it’ll be ready to sort of take a stain better than taking it right now. So I would certainly let it sit for a while and then stain it before next summer when it gets sort of cool and dry out.

    And then in terms of the stain itself, I would recommend that you choose a solid-color stain. It will still show the grain through but it’ll have more pigment in it and it’ll last longer. Does that help you out?

    RANDY: I think so. So basically, say, wait a full season then?

    TOM: Yeah. I would wait a full season and then I would stain it after that.

    RANDY: OK.

    TOM: Thanks, Randy. I hope that helps you out. We appreciate you calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rivella (sp) on the line who wants to talk about painting furniture. How can we help you today?

    RIVELLA (sp): We just bought some outdoor furniture and we were sort of – by adding some spray paint to it. But it already started to chip and it’s the outdoor spray paint. So, before I paint it again and it’s the winter months coming, I don’t know if it would be best just to – what would be the best way to protect the furniture for the winter from it chipping even more?

    LESLIE: Hmm. Alright. So you’ve already painted it and it’s just not holding up. Are you – where are you located?

    RIVELLA (sp): Pittsburgh.

    LESLIE: OK. So you’re going to get a colder winter. Are you able to store the furniture in a garage or do you have to store it outside?

    RIVELLA (sp): It has to be outside. There’s not enough room in the garage, unfortunately.

    LESLIE: OK. So if you can stack them or get them sort of clustered together, I would just put them with a furniture cover over them, just to sort of help keep them from snow and ice and water just sitting on it all winter long. And then once the weather does warm up, I would sort of give them a good wire brush to sort of get away whatever’s chipping and cracking. And then lightly sand or sand as much as you’re going to need to, to sort of even out those edges between the chipped pieces and the raw metal.

    And then once you get it to a nice feel, Krylon, actually, has a great spray paint. It’s called the Dual Superbond Paint + Primer, so it’s all in one product. And when it goes on, it really bonds to those hard-to-adhere-to surfaces. It works really well on metal, even plastics. And it comes in a lot of fun colors, which is what I always find challenging when you’re dealing with spray paints. And we’ve had great results with it.

    RIVELLA (sp): OK, yeah, I’ll definitely give that brand a try. Maybe it’s the brand I’m using. Who knows?

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Hey. Are the nights starting to get cooler in your home? Well, don’t close up your windows and doors before you do one thing to help cut back on dust and allergens. We’re going to tell you what that is, next.

    TOM: This is 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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Adam in Rhode Island is on the line with a leaky skylight. What’s going on?

    ADAM: I have a bay window in my bedroom and it’s below a skylight. And for a while, it started to create those brown stains on my ceiling. But for the most part, the biggest problem was there was a leak in the bay window. So, my father and I went up there. We put a new flashing kit on the skylight and it seemed to help the problem but it did not eliminate the problem.

    And I had a contractor friend over who took a look at it, as well, and he noticed that if you go out on the outside, the bay window abuts the gutter where the gutter attaches to the roof above it. And it’s his opinion that there should be, perhaps, some 6- to 8-inch gap there between where the gutter meets the house and where the bay window starts. So it’s his opinion that the bay window might have been improperly installed.

    TOM: So, it sounds like the bay window is up too high? Is that what you’re saying? So it basically goes right up under the gutter?

    ADAM: Right. It certainly – there’s certainly no separation between the soffit but there’s also no separation from where the gutter meets the house, either.

    TOM: Alright. And does the bay window have its own roof on it? Or is the roof sort of built into the soffit structure?

    ADAM: No. It’s under the overhang.

    TOM: Oh, it is under the overhang. OK. Mm-hmm. Is it possible that the gutter is overfilling and perhaps the water is backing up through the gutter, getting into the soffit and running into the bay?

    ADAM: I thought that at one point. And I have gone up and checked and the gutters are clean.

    TOM: OK. And where this is on the roof, is there sort of a long stretch of roof that goes down before this – before it hits the skylight?

    ADAM: Yeah. I guess so. Maybe 10 or 15 feet.

    TOM: So, I’m going to give a trick of the trade and this might solve it. You might be getting so much water against that skylight that it’s just sort of forcing its way in. One thing you might want to do is to try to put a diverter on the roof, right above the skylight. And this – see if this works. It’s really easy to do and so there’s kind of no reason not to try it.

    But you make a – you take a piece of aluminum in the shape of an L and you basically attach it to the roof. And you essentially want to intercept that flow of water down the roof and have it run around the skylight and around the bay window. So you’re slowing the volume of water that’s coming down that roof, running full steam towards that skylight and that bay-window area and running it around that space. And all you’ve got to do is tack that onto the roofing shingles, put some silicone caulk to help seal the edge and see what happens.

    ADAM: So you caulk the edge of the L with silicone. And how do you affix the aluminum to the roof?

    TOM: Yeah, you could simply nail through the shingle and with a roofing nail.

    ADAM: OK.

    TOM: Because you’re – well, the caulk will help seal it. And basically, you’re capturing that water as it’s running down the roof. And it’s sort of running right around that skylight/bay-window roof combination and then off to the gutter.

    ADAM: Alright. Sounds good. I’m willing to try it.

    TOM: Good luck, Adam. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, now that we’re looking ahead to a change of season, it’s a good time to think about replacing your furnace filter. Because no matter how clean your house, a dirty filter can keep dust and allergens in play. And it can reduce your furnace’s efficiency.

    LESLIE: Yeah. So if you want to breathe easy and sneeze far less this winter, it’s important to change that filter on a regular basis. Now, standard filters last about a month during the heating season and they need to be switched out at least that often. Now, high-efficiency, particulate air filters, those capture a much higher percentage of the mold spores and dust mites that travel through your heating system. They can last a bit longer but they’re also more costly.

    TOM: Now, changing the furnace filter is a pretty easy project. It’s located either in the main return duct or inside the furnace near the blower. Simply pop in a new one and make sure the arrow on the side of the filter indicates the airflow. You want to make sure that it’s pointing towards the blower. Because otherwise, you’ll be putting the filter in backwards and it’s not going to work quite as well.

    888-666-3974. What’s on your to-do list? Give us a call right now. We are here to help.

    LESLIE: Liz in New Jersey is on the line and she has a kind of thrifty idea. She wants to reuse wall-to-wall carpeting? What’s going on?

    LIZ: Yes. I have carpeting that is 20 years old but it’s in my living room, which hardly anybody – you don’t have to step on it to go through other parts of the house. And it looks fine. And I was wondering if I could have that taken up, because underneath is hardwood and I wanted to refinish it. But my carpeting in my bedroom, which is smaller, is worn. And I was wondering if I could put that carpet in the bedroom.

    TOM: I don’t see any reason that you couldn’t do that. Pulling the carpet up is pretty easy to do as long as it was put down correctly to begin with.

    Now, I will caution you, if that space in the living room turns out to be not one piece of carpet but carpet with a seam in the middle of it, that seam could be your weak link. Now, that seam might not be obvious to you if it was done well to begin with but when you take the carpet up, you may find that it’s basically two pieces of wall-to-wall carpet seamed together with seam tape. And then if you try to move that piece upstairs, the tape could break apart because now you’re kind of disturbing it. And you may have a bit of a mess on your hands.

    But I see no reason why you couldn’t reuse the carpet. It’s certainly possible. That said, I think the most expensive part of this project is going to be the labor, because you’re going to have to have a professional carpet installer do this work. And considering the fact that the upstairs bedroom is fairly small, the added cost of brand-new carpet might not really add that much to the overall project.

    LIZ: Oh.

    TOM: So think about the economics of this, OK? If you’re going to spend money on an installer, then it’s going to cost you X dollars to have them come in, take the old carpet out, cut a new piece to fit upstairs and move it upstairs. You know, how much more can the carpet possibly cost you, especially if you bought a remnant or something of that nature?

    LIZ: Oh, I see. Yeah. I think it’s one whole, long piece. I really do.

    LESLIE: It depends. Because, usually, the bolts of carpeting are 13 feet. So if you’ve got a run of the room that’s bigger than 13 feet, then you’re probably going to have a seam somewhere in there.

    The other thing to consider is that 20-year-old padding might not be reusable, so you might have to get new padding. Whereas if you got new carpeting, they’re going to throw in padding, for the most part. So, think of all those things.

    TOM: Alright, Liz. Well, good luck with that project. We gave you some stuff to think about, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you thinking about updating your kitchen? Well, repeating its existing layout can be tempting but the real kitchen of your dreams probably includes updated functionality and a flow. We’re going to have some tips for seeing your kitchen’s full potential, 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.

    Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the WORX Switchdriver 20V Cordless Drill & Driver.

    Now, the Switchdriver features a rotating dual chuck system that you can load with, really, an endless combination of drilling and driving bits. So it’s going to cut down on your work time and really make you so much more efficient.

    Now, you can check it out at WORX.com. That’s W-O-R-X.com. You can also see it at Home Depot and Amazon. It’s a prize worth 100 bucks but it’s going out to one lucky caller this hour, so give us a call.

    TOM: 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Anna on the line who needs some help with some door improvement. Tell us what you’re working on.

    ANNA: Hi. Yes, I have one metal door and three fiberglass doors that – I got a guy to paint it. And not knowing – when I got home, he actually painted with a spray-can paint. So when the heat hits the door, I can’t open the door because it’s sticking to the door jamb.

    TOM: Oh, boy. What a mess. What a mess.

    ANNA: How do I repair that?

    TOM: Well, you know, even though he painted it with spray paint, it should still work. I mean it should dry. The fact that it’s spray paint is not making it any more or less tacky than perhaps if you use paint out of a gallon. But the fact that it’s sticking might mean that the door needs a bit of adjustment inside the opening. Are all the doors sticking?

    ANNA: All the doors stick right on the rubber of the door jamb. It’s like – I think that it’s a shoo-shoo (ph) can paint, not – I’m like, “Well, you sprayed what to the door?”

    TOM: What kind of paint did he use?

    ANNA: I call it a “shoo-shoo (ph).” Regular can paint. He went to the hardware store, got a spray-can paint and sprayed it.

    TOM: Well, look, what you should do now, if you’ve had a bad paint job, is you really have to pull that old paint off. So I would take the doors off of the hinges, lay them down horizontally, use a paint remover to pull off the paint that’s there.

    Once you get it back down to where it was when you started, then I would prime the doors first. And I would use an oil-based primer, because that’s going to give you good adhesion to both the metal and the fiberglass doors. And then I would put a good, top-quality finish coat on that using a semi-gloss paint. Then let them dry really well and then reinstall them.

    ANNA: So is it possible then to – this is on metal and fiberglass – to get a paint remover for this thing?

    TOM: Yes. There’s paint removers – the citrus-based removers are the most effective, so use the citrus-based paint removers, pull off the old paint, prime the doors and then repaint them. You should be good to go. OK, Anna?

    ANNA: Thank you so very much again.

    TOM: Well, have you been thinking of updating your kitchen this fall, perhaps getting it done well before the holiday gatherings set in, but you just don’t know where to start? That’s understandable. It is a very overwhelming project. However, if you’re going to take it on, it’s easy to think you have to stick with the same, old current design. If you start thinking outside the box, though, you can bring some inspiration on a brand-new kitchen layout that will really be stylish.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you really need to think about it. Have you ever gone to, say, a friend or a family’s home and thought, “Wow. This is the kitchen of my dreams.” It’s really time to revisit those emotions and take stock of exactly what brought out those feelings. Is it the functionality of the counter space, the location of the sink? Are the cabinets or the drawers – do they have unique organizational features? Really take notes of what it is that you love and why.

    TOM: Next, you want to think about sources of inspiration, like design showrooms or design websites or magazines. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the grandeur of it all. So what I suggest is you sort of break it down into which parts of the design you love, because those will become the building blocks for your new kitchen. If you see one or two elements that really stand out, jot those down. Put those kind of on your wish list and this way, you’ll be able to pull them together when it comes time to start putting a design actually in place.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? I know looking for all of these things that are your inspiration, it can seem intimidating. But if you break it down, you can actually avoid the pitfall of repeating the same kitchen design when remodeling. And that’s really the goal. If you’re going to remodel, make it work.

    TOM: And if you’re just not comfortable doing it yourself, get some professional help. There are certified kitchen-and-bath designers out there that are well worth the expense of hiring them, because they’re going to give you ideas that you never had before. They’re going to save you some money by not making mistakes on the design or the layout. And you’ll really be assured that what you dream your kitchen will be can actually come true.

    888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Greg in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    GREG: I have a – I just moved into a house in Milford, Delaware. And I have a limescale buildup on my shower door from the previous owners. And I tried every chemical possible – Kaboom and CLR – and it was ineffective. I’m wanting to know, what’s the best solution or the best tool I can use to get limescale buildup off a glass shower door?

    TOM: If it’s limescale for sure and CLR is not removing it, then I wonder if it’s something else. Because CLR is really effective at removing limescale buildup.

    Have you tried to test this deposit with some vinegar?

    GREG: No.

    TOM: Because if you put some white vinegar – saturate a sponge with white vinegar and wash across that what you’re calling a “lime deposit,” it will instantly melt it, if it really is lime. If it’s really calcium and lime, it will instantly melt it and then you can rinse it off.

    If it’s not, then I wonder if there’s something else that’s staining the door.

    GREG: Oh. What else could it be?

    TOM: Sometimes, depending on the types of cleaners that people have used in the past, they can actually scratch those doors. If you use something that was an abrasive cleaner to clean the shower door, you can put kind of like a fog across it that looks a little bit like a limescale buildup. But it’s really just the damage to the surface of the door.

    Do the vinegar test, Greg. See what happens and then let us know, OK?

    GREG: OK. I definitely will.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Up next, in the battle against drafts, are you getting blown away? Well, we’re going to have some tips to seal up some of the biggest and least obvious sources of those drafts, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete and Cement Products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    TOM: This is 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: You can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 24/7, or post your question at MoneyPit.com. That’s what Bill did from Boston.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Bill, he writes: “I have a disappearing attic stairway that sags, so there’s air coming in our house from the attic and vice versa. What can I do to fix or minimize this? It’s doing a number to my heating bills.”

    TOM: A couple of things, Bill. First of all, obviously, replacing the stairs is a good thing to do when it’s in that bad a shape. I put in a type of stair called a Rainbow Stair into my house recently, which I really like. It sort of is like – it pulls down from the attic kind of like an accordion. And when you put it back up, it really snaps shut and is very, very efficient.

    Now, if you don’t want to replace your stair, you can, of course, put weather-stripping on the underside of it, assuming that it closes enough to actually create a seal with that weather-stripping. Or the other thing that you could do is install what is actually called an “attic coffin.” It’s an insulating box that actually fits over the entire opening above that folding attic stair.

    Now, the only problem is that you’ve got to flip this thing up and move it every time you go up or down. I’ve seen these insulators made out of Styrofoam and I’ve also seen them made out of a flexible fiberglass with sort of a foil face on it. But again, that’s something that you have to operate every time you go up the stairs: pick it up, push it out of the way and drop it back down.

    But while we’re talking about those types of drafts, think about other places where there’s leaks between the exterior and the interior that you may not be thinking about. For example, outlets on the outside wall or light switches on the outside wall of your house very often are big sources of drafts. If you put your hand – the back of your hand – right in front of it on a windy day, you may actually feel the wind blowing through. You can put insulators behind those plates, which are very inexpensive, a few cents apiece.

    And then the windows. Obviously, windows can be drafty. Most of the time, they caulk it on the outside. Well, you should also think about caulking it on the inside. If you caulk the inside of the window, that’s another place that air gets in that wall and escapes into your house. So, a simple acrylic latex caulk around the inside can also help cut back on those drafts.

    Lots of little places, Leslie, where those nooks and crannies can let air in. But it really adds up to a big energy-waster.

    LESLIE: And not only is it just an energy waste but you’re going to feel so much more comfortable. I mean it really is just a game-changer when it comes to properly heating your home. So, go take the time and seal up all those drafts.

    TOM: Well, now that September is underway, your desk is likely filling up with paperwork form school activities and kids’ birthday parties and your own to-dos. If you’d like to keep all those invites, notes and projects handy and organized, Leslie has a great idea, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, I shudder to think that all of this paperwork that’s really beginning to accumulate is only going to get bigger and bigger, bigger. But guess what, guys? A shutter is actually the best solution to the problem.

    Here’s how this project works. First of all, you have to find a small house shutter. Then you can go ahead and sand it and paint it and spray a clear satin finish or some sort of glossy finish on it. And then just hang it upside down so that those spaces between the overlapping slates will face up.

    Now, you can use binder clips to secure all those papers and invites and photos to those slats and ta-da, it is the perfect organizational tool. Trust me. It really looks great and it can work in a variety of décor. It’s a great place for card holders around holidays, as well. And it’s also the perfect display for your kids A-plus tests and their artwork. And it’s really a fantastic way to recycle a salvage-yard find.

    Now, keep in mind if you find one that looks really cute and patinaed and age-y and antique-y, don’t refinish it. Use it just like it is. You can really make this work for your décor and it’s a great project.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, electric heat gets a bad rap as the most expensive way to heat a home. But when an energy-efficient heat pump is part of the mix, it can actually be one of the most efficient. We’ll tell you more, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    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.


    (Copyright 2016 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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