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Easy Tips on Good Lighting Design, Light Bulb Options from the EPA, Red Carpet Makeovers, Winter Pet Care Advice and more

  • 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: Standing by to help you with your home improvement project. Help yourself first. Before you pick up the tools, pick up the phone, call us, 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Because we are here to help you get those projects done around your house.

    Coming up on this hour of the program, it’s the middle of winter. And what home improvements can you do now? Well, it turns out, plenty. We’ve got a list of fantastic DIY projects that you can take care of inside your home, during these chilly days, that will help you save time, save money, save energy and make your home more beautiful and more comfortable, coming up.

    LESLIE: And also this month, we celebrate Presidents’ Day. So we’re going to talk about what it takes to run a presidential dwelling: the White House. I mean it’s huge and it’s got to be a lot harder, I think, than cleaning up just after my two munchkins. But they make kind of a big mess, so maybe so does the President.

    TOM: Yeah. Wait until you find out how much paint it takes to cover that building. It’s pretty insane.

    Also ahead, did you know that 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs are no longer being made? We’re going to have an overview of the lighting phase-out and tell you what you need to know to stay out of the black, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a very cool prize that you’re going to want to get your hands on: the Milwaukee Tools M18 Jobsite Radio Charger. Listen to your favorite tunes with Bluetooth technology and charge your favorite Milwaukee power tools.

    TOM: It’s worth $229. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Debbie in Texas is on the line and is dealing with a basement project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    DEBBIE: Well, I have a cement floor that right now I have indoor/outdoor carpet that’s glued down. And I’d like to peel the carpet up and then paint the floor. So my question is: what type of prep – once I get the carpet up, what type of prep do I need to do and then what type of paint should I use?

    LESLIE: Now, have you started to try and remove this outdoor carpeting?

    DEBBIE: Yes, we have and it is glued and so there’s a glue, I guess, base that’s on the floor. So we’d need to somehow scrape that off?

    LESLIE: Yes. And that – and did you say this was a screened-in porch or a covered porch?

    DEBBIE: No, it’s an indoor – it’s indoors.

    LESLIE: Oh, it’s completely indoors. OK. That’s going to make it a bit of a chore. The reason I was a little excited that you had a lot of fresh air while you were working is because you’re going to need to use an adhesive remover if your plan is to paint this floor. Because you’re going to end up with so much residue from that glue, that’s going to be all over, and there’s a good chance that it’s going to be uneven and raised and spotty in some areas. You’re going to have pieces of carpeting on it and it’s going to be a mess.

    So you’re going to have to find exactly what type of adhesive that is and what is the best remover for it. Because depending on what the base is of that adhesive will depend on what type of adhesive remover you use. So it’s really going to be an experimentation to sort of see what works well.

    And then once you find what really is working well at loosening up that adhesive, you’re really just going to have to use a heavy-duty scraper and work on that glue residue until that’s up. And then even then, your painted surface is going to look really not that great, after all of that work.

    DEBBIE: So, I guess your recommendation would be go back with indoor/outdoor carpet.

    LESLIE: Well, in a lower-level space, carpeting really isn’t the best idea – whether there’s padding or not, whether it’s glued or not – only because you’re dealing with a dust trap that’s sitting right on top of a concrete slab that tends to get moist. All of that moisture gets up into that carpeting, whether or not it’s indoor/outdoor.

    Now, that moisture sort of sits with that dust and creates all sorts of allergens and mold and it’s really not the best idea. Tile would work fantastically. And if you got that floor fairly even-ish, even with the adhesive, you could go ahead and do something with that with tile.

    You know, it depends on what you want the space to look like. If you’re OK with seeing an uneven surface and you want to paint over that, then an epoxy coating is perfect for a floor in that situation. But it depends. I spend a lot of time in my basement, so I wouldn’t want to see such an uneven floor surface, whether it was painted my favorite color or not.

    DEBBIE: And what harm would come if I just peeled the carpet and scraped the glue, scraped it smooth and then painted? Would the paint not stick if there was still all the glue there?

    LESLIE: I don’t think so. The systems, like the epoxy coating systems, are usually sold in kits. There’s several steps. The first one is an etching or a cleaning step. Then there’s your top coat that you mix in with, I guess, all of the different process that sort of cures it and solidifies it. And some of them have that little decorative speckle and that gets sort of sprinkled in there at the end. And you want to work yourself out of a corner so you don’t get trapped down there. But it should stick fairly well.

    It just – is this a utility space that you’re strictly storing things in? Is this your family hangout? You have to think about what that space is and how you want it to look.

    DEBBIE: OK. Well, that gives me some ideas. I guess I first need to get the carpet up and see what it looks like underneath and go from there. Alright. Well, thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. 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 improvement question, your home repair question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, a law that finalizes changes in lighting in this country may have some of you asking, “Which light bulbs are truly available and which ones are no longer being made?” We’re going to shed light on that topic, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question, we hope, if we can figure it out. We’ll try.

    But if you get on the air with us, you’ve also got a chance to win the M18 Jobsite Radio and Charger from Milwaukee Tools.

    LESLIE: Yeah. With it, you can stream rich, full sound wireless from over 100 feet away. Plus, it’s going to serve as a quick and convenient charging station, when you’re on the go, for Milwaukee M18 batteries and your portable electronic devices.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth $229. Give us a call right now. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Robert in Michigan is dealing with hard water. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROBERT: I have a lot of problems with hard water, a lot of iron.


    ROBERT: And I’ve seen advertised these electric water softeners, where you don’t use salt? It goes through an electric box or something? And in my mind, I can’t figure out how they would work.

    LESLIE: Well, we’ve had some experience with one called EasyWater. And how this one, in particular, works is you take a – I guess is it a power supply, Tom? It’s an electrical cord or wire that you wrap around your water-supply pipe.

    TOM: Well, the EasyWater itself actually – that’s exactly what it does: it creates a magnetic field. And so this is wrapped around the supply pipe and then it magnetizes or demagnetizes, so to speak …

    LESLIE: And pushes everything away from each other so that they’re not going to stick. And then it sort of just rinses through rather than getting stuck where you see all of the issues that you get with hard water.

    ROBERT: Alright. How do they work?

    TOM: Well, they seem to work pretty good. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback on the system when we installed it. And we’ve heard from folks that have installed it. It worked well for us and it seems to work well for also the folks that we’ve talked to, so I would not be afraid to give it a shot.

    And I know that they have a pretty good warranty on that so if you have any problems, you can send it back.

    ROBERT: OK. I don’t have any information on it now and I don’t see it advertised anymore on TV.

    TOM: Yeah. You know what? It’s actually pretty easy to find, Robert. Their website is EasyWater.com and that’s spelled out E-a-s-y-Water.com. Don’t use the initials because that’s a competitor. There’s a lot of folks that have been trying to steal their traffic, so to speak. So if you just go to EasyWater – E-a-s-y-Water.com, you’ll find it. The product is made by the FREIJE Treatment Systems Company – F-R-E-I-J-E.

    ROBERT: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, according to a new survey done for our longtime partner, Lutron Electronics, it finds that not many Americans are aware of the 40- and 60-watt incandescent light-bulb ban that actually went into effect the first of this year.

    So, according to the survey, less than 1 in 3 knew that these light bulbs were being no longer manufactured. And only 1 in 10 knew about lighting options, including CFLs, which are the compact fluorescents, and the LEDs, which are the light-emitting diodes.

    Now, 40- and 60-watt incandescent bulbs, you can find them in the basement of my house, where I am stockpiling.

    TOM: You’re stockpiling.

    LESLIE: Maybe. I’m just saying.

    But seriously, the 40- and 60-watt incandescent bulbs make up 60 percent of American household bulbs sold every year. So it seems like a lot of us out there are in for a big shock.

    TOM: Now, the good news is newer lighting technology has never been better. There are just so many options with bulbs that look better and perform just like their incandescent counterparts.

    LESLIE: Yeah. If you want some more information on the available lighting options, you can visit MoneyPit.com and search “energy-saving light bulbs.” Because, honestly, I’m an incandescent holder-onner but at some point, I’m going to have to make a change.

    And when you go shopping, you will be surprised, as I am every time I go to the market, as how far the technology has progressed, how different the light quality is from when these sort of energy-efficient bulbs first came around. So, you don’t have to be in for a shock. There’s going to be some really nice options that you’ll fall in love with, I promise.

    TOM: And one of the things I think we have to get used to, Leslie, is the fact that these LED bulbs, especially – yes, they’re more expensive. You may spend $10 or $12 a bulb but it’s not like buying an incandescent. They’re no longer throwaway bulbs. You are purchasing an appliance.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: And for example, you’re probably going to have that light bulb – if you buy that light bulb now and Charlie is one, right? What’s Charlie?

    LESLIE: He is.

    TOM: One. OK. So, you’re going to have that same light bulb when Charlie is two, three, four, five and six at least.

    LESLIE: Oh, I’m sure.

    TOM: Same bulb. You’re going to have it through all of those birthdays.

    So, while we’re spending a little bit more money, we’re saving a lot of energy and those bulbs are going to last a long time. And if you move, you’re no longer going to leave your light bulbs behind; you’re going to take them with you. In fact, that bulb will probably last longer than the light fixture that it’s plugged into. Especially like a table lamp with the switches that you have to click on and click off?

    LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. Those things are just disposable.

    TOM: Yeah. They’ll wear out before the bulb wears out. So if you think of it in terms of that, you’re going to start buying light bulbs in a whole different way.

    LESLIE: Carolyn in Arkansas is on the line with a septic-system question. How can we help you today?

    CAROLYN: OK. I have a septic system and we’ve had a lot of rain here. Oh, probably the last maybe three months or so it’s been a lot of rain. And I’m in the kind of the rice land of Arkansas. It’s very wet ground. OK.

    So, anyway, I was having trouble. When I would flush the commode, it – now, it never ran over, which I’m very grateful for. But the water wasn’t going down, OK? And I mean it would go down eventually but maybe take 20 minutes or more.

    TOM: OK. Does everything else in your house drain normally? Is it only the commode that you’re having a problem with?

    CAROLYN: Well, the commode and the sink in the bathroom.

    TOM: But do we know that it’s the septic system? There could be an obstruction in the drain and that’s the first thing I’d look at.

    CAROLYN: OK. I did have some fellows out and – a reputable company – and they did pump out 120 gallons.

    TOM: Well, that’s – but you’re always going to have 120 gallons. The septic tank fills up with water, it overflows into the field. So, pumping out 120 gallons doesn’t really tell me anything. What I want you to do is to have the lines checked, because I suspect there’s nothing wrong with your septic, that you may have an obstruction.

    Let me tell you a story about a guy who had a toilet that was having a slow drain problem. This guy was having a party and was doing this big cleanup for – before all the relatives showed up the next day. And so the toilet backed up and so he figured out that he thought it was a root problem.

    And so he got up early the next morning and dug this huge hole in his ground to get down to this pipe and then snaked it one way, snaked it the other way, couldn’t find any roots in the way. Went back into the bathroom, decided that the obstruction had to be between the hole that he had dug in his ground and the bottom of the toilet. And so he took the toilet tank off of the floor and looked down into it and tried to snake that out and couldn’t find a problem. But in the process of taking the toilet off the floor, he happened to look into the bottom of the toilet and noticed that there was something blue there.

    Now, there’s nothing that’s really supposed to be blue that’s in a toilet. It turns out that his darling son had dropped a toy phone down the toilet and that’s what was slowing the whole thing down. So, this guy had dug up his whole yard, took his toilet apart, all to try to find out what was causing this problem and hurried to get it done before all the relatives showed up. And it turned out to be a toy that was stuck in the toilet itself.

    So, I’d say that guy was a real idiot and that guy was me.

    CAROLYN: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: I’m like, “I’ve heard this story before.” I’m like, “Why do I think this was you, Tom?”

    TOM: I was completely wrong on why I thought that – I figured I was smarter than the average homeowner and knew that it – thought it was the willow tree that had clogged the pipes. It had nothing to do with that.

    CAROLYN: Alright.

    TOM: It was just a simple toy that was stuck in the crux of the toilet that I couldn’t see and finally got that off, put the whole thing back together, threw the dirt back in the hole and then headed off to get ready for the party. So you never know why your toilet is clogging.

    CAROLYN: Well, that’s true.

    TOM: And I wouldn’t always think it’s the most expensive possible thing, which is your septic system. Have the lines checked.


    TOM: Who knows? And maybe you’ll find something that got stuck in there.

    CAROLYN: Alright. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Olen in North Carolina on the line who needs some help with a radiant floor-system project. Tell us what you’re working on. Are you doing this yourself?

    OLEN: Yeah, I am a do-it-yourselfer kind of guy and I’m going to just do the rough end of the tubing myself. I’m going to leave the pumps and whatnot to the professionals. But it’s sort of smart to let the – to have somebody to do the hard stuff for you. But I figure I can do the tubing myself.

    And my question regards the choice between PEX and Onix tubing and about cost-effectiveness.

    TOM: OK.

    OLEN: And which one is more appropriate for my region? I’m in North Carolina.

    LESLIE: Well, what type of subfloor are you working with?

    OLEN: I’m going to be working on my existing, open floor joists and 16-inch centers, so I’ve got plenty of space under there to staple up either the aluminum plates or to put up the rubberized Onix material.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And what’s going to be your flooring?

    OLEN: Above it, I will have a hardwood floor and in some areas, I’m going to be putting down the cement board and tile on top.

    LESLIE: OK. Now, when you’re dealing with radiant flooring with hardwood, you have to make sure that the certain type of hardwood you buy is appropriate for radiant. And it depends on the way the graining is cut. And I forget exactly what it’s called but you have to make sure you buy the correct type of grain, the way the piece of flooring for the wood itself is cut. Otherwise, you’re going to get a lot of shifting and movement just due to the nature of the heating.

    OLEN: Right. I hear that the PEX tends to cause a little bit more expansion and contraction in the tubing itself. And my floor is actually existing pine floor; it’s only a certain area where I’ll be putting in the cement board and the tile.

    TOM: Well, look, I think that either product, as long as it’s installed consistent with the manufacturer’s instructions, is going to be fine. PEX is really the more common, known product for this and we’ve seen it in many, many houses. PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene. Onix is cross-linked EPDM, so it’s another formulation for a radiant-tubing product.

    Personally, I would use PEX only because it seems to have the history. I know that Onix was used a lot on outdoor applications for snow melting and that sort of thing. But because it’s inside the house and because it’s got such a great reputation, I would use PEX. And I have seen PEX become very, very indestructible when it comes to its ability to work with all sorts of conditions inside the house.

    In fact, I saw a demonstration once. One thing that’s cool about PEX is the memory that it has. You can heat this stuff and stretch it to twice its length and let it go and it goes back to its original shape. So it retains its original shape.

    So it’s a pretty impressive product and I think it’s got the history. And that’s what I think I would trust if I was going to go radiant in my house.

    OLEN: OK. Well, thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still to come, winter weekends, they are so perfect for tackling many home improvements. We’re going to tell you what you can be doing around your money pit this month, when we come back.

    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: And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to think about a romantic home repair project that you might want to take on for your Valentine, like a master-bedroom makeover or maybe a master-bath makeover. Nothing says “I love you” like a soaking tub. That’s what we like to say.

    LESLIE: Hey. Or a dishwasher.

    TOM: Or a dishwasher.

    Hey, give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mary in North Carolina is on the line with a mossy roof. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    MARY: Well, we have a 10-year-old roof – asphalt shingles, I believe they are – and the sections between shingles are beginning to be filled up with moss.

    LESLIE: It’s like a mossy grout line.

    MARY: Yeah, that’s right. I’d like to know how to get it safely clean and keep it from growing back again. It isn’t the entire roof. We are in an A-frame house, so it’s very sharp, very steep roof. And it’s just about the 8 or 10 feet closest to the edge.

    LESLIE: OK. Do you see it all the way around or do you just see it on, say, the north-facing side or in the area …?

    MARY: It’s just on this north-facing part.

    LESLIE: OK. So that’s the area that gets the least amount of sunlight.

    MARY: Right.

    LESLIE: Do you have a large tree that’s adding more shade to this area?

    MARY: We have a lot of trees, yeah.

    LESLIE: A lot of trees.

    TOM: Yeah, therein lies the problem.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, I mean the best solution here is – can you trim out or thin out those trees in any way to get more sunlight onto that portion of the roof? Because if you can do that, sunlight really is your best weapon in getting rid of this moss and keeping it away. Now, you’ll have to do some work to get it to be gone in the first place but if you can add more sunlight, you’re going to help it stay away.

    MARY: Alright. Very good. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. So nobody is going to tell you that February is the most ideal month to be working outside on your home but that doesn’t mean you can just cuddle up inside and let your house go to pot. So, here’s a quick checklist of February to-dos.

    First of all, start by checking for ice dams. If you’ve got them, they can destroy a roof and I mean destroy. And they form when melting snow slides down and then hits that cold, icy edge and freezes. If you’ve got them, don’t ignore them. You really need to insulate your roof and that will keep that snow melting and keep your roof in good condition.

    TOM: Now, you also want to service your boiler system or your furnace. Even though it’s running, it may – in fact, it’s probably not running efficiently and it can waste energy. It’s kind of like a car: if you don’t tune your car up now and again, it starts to waste gas. And the same thing will happen with your heating system.

    Now, if you’ve got a fireplace, it’s a good time to check your firewood storage. Make sure it’s stored in a dry place with a good circulation of air or you could be inviting a termite buffet.

    It’s also a good time of year to be thinking about home improvements and your taxes. You know, the government and Energy Star wants to pay for some of those energy-efficient improvements that you may have made. You can get tax credits for things like adding insulation, replacing windows and certain high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment, as well.

    If you’d like more information, you can visit the Energy Star website and search “tax credits.”

    LESLIE: Joe in Pennsylvania is on the line dealing with some heating issues. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    JOE: We have a furnace; it’s a propane furnace. It’s about five or six years old. It’s pretty good for heating the house but it seems like some of the rooms are hotter than (inaudible at 0:23:40) and some of the rooms seem to be cooler. And what happens is there’s no consistency, so I have a hard time with getting everything fluctuated so that everything stays even. And I don’t know how to adjust that so that it would heat the house evenly.

    TOM: OK. So your furnace is kind of dumb in the sense that either it’s on or off, right? So that takes care of the furnace part of it. The problem here is with the duct system; it’s the distribution throughout the house.

    This is a forced-air system, Joe?

    JOE: Yes.

    TOM: So, the duct system is what has to be tweaked here to get the balance just right. Now, the way you adjust the duct system is first by designing it properly, which may be the issue here. And that’s kind of hard to fix without adding additional ductwork to it or rerouting things that you have.

    The second way you adjust it is by controlling the dampers – the duct dampers. Now, duct dampers are going to be mounted usually somewhere close to the furnace or at least at the very beginning of a duct line.

    JOE: OK.

    TOM: And it’s evidenced by a small handle on the side of the duct. And if you look at the nut and bolt that the handle is attached to, there’s going to be sort of a flat slot to it. If the flat is perpendicular to the duct system, it’s off. If it’s going with the duct system, it’s on. And you can adjust the flow with those duct dampers. And the third way you can control this is with the actual registers inside the room, whether they’re opened or closed.

    Now, if those adjustments don’t change anything, the other thing to look at is the return air: where the return is pulling from. The best HVAC-system design has returns in every room. If you don’t have both the supply and return in the same room, you’re going to have a central return, usually a bigger register in the hallway near a bunch of rooms. And if you improve the airflow back to the return, that can improve the balance, as well. How much you do that? Well, it could be something as simple as undercutting doors.

    But this is a balance issue; it has nothing to do with the fact that you have a furnace that’s a propane furnace. It’s going to supply heat as it’s designed to do but the distribution is the issue. And it’s possible, also, that there could be fan adjustments to the fan speed that could impact this. But I think it’s over and above what you can do when we get into the fan work and the multi speeds and that sort of thing. That’s really a job for a service professional. But you could take a look for those duct dampers and see if they exist and see if you can tweak the airflow to make it a bit more comfortable.

    JOE: Alright. I would be happy to do that.

    TOM: Alright, Joe. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, you guys. You think maintaining your money pit is a hassle? Just consider what it takes to keep the People’s House running. We are talking about the White House. We’re going to share some fun facts, next.

    ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor staining project? Make it faster and easier with Flood Wood Care products. Start today at Flood.com/Simplify and use the interactive selection guide to find the right Flood Wood Care products for your project. Flood, simple across the board.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we are taking your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    One caller we talk to on the air today is going to win an M18 Jobsite Radio and Charger from Milwaukee Tools. It comes with an AM/FM tuner, electronics charger and even the all-important bottle opener, which I’m sure you’re going to be utilizing when you use the radio tailgating and not on the job site, alright? Deal, guys?

    TOM: It’s powered by Milwaukee’s revolutionary M18 REDLITHIUM Battery, which makes it compatible with the entire M18 system. So you can even change your Milwaukee power tools.

    It’s worth $229, so call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tim on the line who’s dealing with a big crack in a driveway, causing some unevenness. Tell us what’s going on.

    TIM: Well, I have a concrete driveway. It’s 3 inches thick; I found that out after I saw the crack in the driveway. And they poured this driveway in one – as far as width. And they put it – it’s probably 16-foot wide and they poured it in 16×12-foot sections with – it looks like fracture pieces in it instead of the actual expansion joints? And where it goes over my drop – the ditch over my cupboard – it has a spot about a – 1 foot in a triangle – 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot – where it has dropped.

    And I’m trying to find some way to bring that piece back up level with the rest. That way, I can see – I’ve already had it sealed but I put a silicone in there along the joints to keep any further erosion from happening.

    TOM: How big is the piece that’s dropped? You said – is it cracked 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot?

    TIM: Yes. It’s a 1-foot triangle piece.

    TOM: So can you dig that piece out?

    TIM: No, I can’t because it did not break on a smooth line. It fractured and it dropped down.

    TOM: Yeah. Because you know – I tell you what, I’ve broken sidewalks in half before, because I had to run pipes underneath them, and then put them back in place kind of right where they were and just sort of filled them up and made it level. So, it would be sweet if you could extract that piece of concrete but I guess you can’t. And so now you’re going to have to pour a new piece.

    How thick is the – how far down has it dropped?

    TIM: The front – on the back edge of it, it’s still level. On the front, it’s probably dropped about 3 inches.

    TOM: OK. Well, not so bad. What you’re going to do is you’re going to mix up an epoxy-based, concrete-repair product that has good adhesion.

    TIM: OK.

    TOM: And then you’re going to put a second layer on that. And QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E …

    TIM: OK.

    TOM: Yeah, you want to use the type of concrete mix that’s made to be a patch. And the difference is that it sticks to the old stuff. If you use regular concrete mix, it won’t stick. But if you use the patch mix, then it will stick. And they also have good step-by-step videos on their website to kind of show you how to do this.

    TIM: OK. Would I be better off by just knocking that one piece – that piece – out and refilling it, since it’s not that big of a piece?

    TOM: Yeah, you might be, because I want to make sure it’s stable underneath. But they – there’s a vinyl, concrete patcher product that can be used on top of this. And it’s designed to adhere to what was there before and not crack again. OK?

    TIM: I appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, as we get ready to celebrate President’s Day Weekend, it might help your attitude towards your chore list if you consider the maintenance that’s needed on the symbol of American history: the White House.

    Now, construction began at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in October of 1792 but it took eight years before President John Adams and his wife moved in in 1800. But that first White House only lasted about 14 years because those crazy Brits, they set fire to it in 1814 which, of course, resulted in its first major reconstruction.

    TOM: Now, perhaps the biggest renovation was during Truman’s presidency. The White House’s load-bearing walls were found to be close to failure, so the Trumans had to actually move out, across the street, while the interior was gutted and new load-bearing, steel-frame walls were constructed inside the exterior walls of the White House.

    LESLIE: See, contractors have been getting a bad rap for a long time, apparently.

    TOM: And apparently, rightfully so.

    LESLIE: Do you think he would have been charged with treason had he crushed the President? I mean you never know.

    Well, as far as upkeep goes, it takes about 570 gallons of paint – 570 gallons of paint – to cover the outside walls. And chipping, of course, is not tolerated. But before you go feeling sorry for anyone, keep in mind the White House, they have a permanent staff of painters year-round. It also has a team of plumbers, carpenters, electricians and even 33 handymen. That’s kind of, you know, enough to make a person jealous.

    TOM: So that’d be a great retirement job for me. “I’m a White House handyman.”

    LESLIE: That’d be amazing.

    TOM: “That’s what I do.”

    888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. You may not have the White House or maybe you do have a white house. Whether you do or you don’t, we’re here to help you with your next project at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lu from North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a water-pressure issue. How can we help you today?

    LU: I don’t have any water pressure in my house and I wonder how to make the water pressure a bit higher.

    TOM: Now, has this always been a problem or is it a recent problem?

    LU: I think it’s always been a problem.

    TOM: Yeah. How old is your house, Lu?

    LU: Forty-three years old.

    TOM: Is it a well-water system or is it a city-water system?

    LU: I don’t know.

    TOM: Do you pay a water bill?

    LU: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. So it’s city water, then, if you’re paying a water bill.

    So, then, what I would do is this: I would start by having the water pressures checked at the street and find out what the water pressure is coming into your house. It needs to be between about 50 and 80 pounds or so to give you decent water pressure.

    If there’s good water pressure at the street, then we have to go inside and start to figure out where it’s being restricted. It could be by the pipe, it could be by the water valve or it could be by fixtures. But if it’s evenly poor across the entire house, it’s more likely to be somewhere near the main water valve. It could be partially closed, it could be obstructed with mineral deposits.

    But I would start by contacting the water company and tell them that the water pressure in your house is not acceptable and then have them test the water pressure at the main for – where it comes into your house and see what’s going on. It could be that there’s a problem at the main that they could fix right there without even having to come in your house. OK, Lu?

    LU: OK, OK. I’ll contact them.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, winter blues. Do they have you feeling down? Well, we’re going to tell you how color, because it’s so exciting, can give your mood a boost, after this.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, are you ready to get your shop on? President’s Day sales can offer some of the best bargains on electronics and big-ticket items, like appliances. We’ve got tips on how to get the most out of those sales, on MoneyPit.com. Just search “President’s Day sales.” There’s lots of tips there online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I’m going to be searching for tips on how to buy the best dishwasher. I’m doing it. I’m pulling the trigger this year. I’m getting a new dishwasher. How many years have you guys heard me say that?

    TOM: You go, girl.

    LESLIE: But I am doing it. So if you are like me and you need some help getting those things for this amazing Presidential sale time, head on over to MoneyPit.com.

    And if you’ve got a question, you can post it there in the Community section. And Richard writes: “I have a tile shower built in the 60s. The grout is gone between the tiles and the drain and the shower base that are also failing. I get leakage downstairs.” I’m pretty sure you do. “I would like to have it repaired but I’m worried that the moisture has settled behind the tile and under the basin and there’s maybe mold. I’m unsure who to contact to get this repaired and who would be available to evaluate any damage behind the walls.”

    There’s got to be mold back there.

    TOM: Well, you’ve got a tile shower built in the 60s. You’re wondering if it leaks. It does.

    LESLIE: Especially if there’s no grout. And I mean grout is not 100-percent waterproof anyway.

    TOM: The thing is the way these shower pans were constructed is they were put over lead. The lead pan was laid in first. This was way before fiberglass, so the lead pan was put in first, then the tile was laid on top of that.

    Now, even though the grout fell out, that doesn’t concern me as much as the age of this shower pan. Typically, those that are more than 30 years old or so are going to leak.

    You can prove this, though, Richard. What I want you to do is to block that drain with a washcloth or something of that nature. Fill up the shower pan. You want to put 3 or 4 inches in that pan. Then instantly run downstairs and check to make sure it’s not leaking. If it’s not leaking right away, leave that water in for about an hour; see if you get a leak. I suspect you will. That will confirm that the shower pan itself has failed and unfortunately, my friend, you’re going to have to tear out that shower to replace it. That’s the only thing that you could do at this point. It’s just part of the normal maintenance when you have a shower stall that’s constructed in the 1960s.

    LESLIE: Let’s bring it up to modern standards. It is 2014, guys.

    TOM: Well, winter is not a favorite time of the year for many folks. But if you get cabin fever and maybe the winter blues, Leslie has some ideas on how to brighten your outlook and your home, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Don’t underestimate the effect that color can have on your mood. You know, psychologists have been studying the effects of colors for decades and they say that there are definitely some hues that can brighten your temperament and your room. So let’s apply that same science understanding, of what color does, to your décor.

    Now, red, for instance. It’s associated with love and desire, so it can raise the energy of a room. I always find, though, that red works great in a kitchen because it kind of makes you hungry and it makes you want to cook. Now, yellow can add vibrancy and it’s considered optimistic.

    White. I know most people feel like white – that’s not a color. But white actually is a sunny color and it can add a clean and peaceful feeling to a space. Plus, it becomes the ultimate backdrop to any other color that you want to highlight in the room. So you want to make sure you pair it with a lot of bright, poppy color so you don’t end up with an overwhelmingly sterile space. You can also consider shades of whites or shades of vanillas to sort of make everything feel layered and nice.

    Now, you don’t have to go out and paint your whole entire home red or yellow. Just add pops of these colors in things: maybe like tiles on a backsplash or on a fireplace surround or throws or pillows. And suddenly, your room and your mood is going to brighten and it’ll be springtime before you know it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, have you ever felt like you’re outgrowing your money pit? Well, you can create two rooms out of one if you learn how to frame out a partition wall. Tom Silva from This Old House will be here next week to tell us how to do that.

    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 2014 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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