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Energy Saving Tips for Renters, Lighting for Improved Sleep and Home Improvement Projects for Kids

  • 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 to help you on this beautiful first weekend of fall, the time we call the “Goldilocks season,” because it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. It’s time. It’s just right and time to get into your home improvement projects for the season.

    As it cools down, I want you to start thinking about the much colder weather ahead and the projects that can help you save money on your heating bills when that happens. So if you’ve got questions about perhaps replacing your windows, adding insulation, getting a new roof or perhaps you’re thinking about interior projects – so many people, this time of year, start kitchens. And the target date: of course, the holidays. So if you’re starting now, you’ve really got to hop on it because it takes some time to get all that stuff together. That’s a great thing for us to talk about. Whatever is on your to-do list to turn your home from money pit to castle, give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    And hey, we’ve got some special advice, this hour, for those that are not homeowners because – just because you live in a rental doesn’t mean you can’t cut energy costs, too. We’re going to have a list of low-cost solutions for drafts that won’t damage the rental and save you money, too, especially if you’re the one paying for the heat.

    LESLIE: Yep. And also ahead, you know, new research about how the type and color of lighting can impact your mood and your rest. And now, one manufacturer is making adjusting that light color possible via an app. So really exciting technology to help everybody sleep and be more refreshed in the morning. And that’s all coming up.

    TOM: Also ahead, laminate floor is a really popular décor option but is it really water-resistant? Well, there’s a new product that just came out which is. And we’ll have a review.

    LESLIE: And if you call in your home improvement question, you might also win a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.

    TOM: Give us a call right now. We’ve got three copies to give away. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to take a call from John in West Virginia who’s got a question about crawlspaces. What can we do for you today?

    JOHN: Have a crawlspace that’s very, very narrow. And it’s rectangular-shaped but then it also leads into another larger crawlspace. And there is a sump pump in this area with a drain at the bottom. And when it rains quite a bit, it – the sump pump – will kick on and pull all the water into the sewage system. And that part works fine. But when I walk into my house and through the back door, there’s often a kind of a musty, damp, mildew kind of smell after it’s rained frequently. And I was wondering if adding cross ventilation or a – right now, there’s little ventilation in this first crawlspace and if just taking out a couple blocks would assist in this process …

    TOM: So, first of all, you mentioned that this crawlspace floods when you have rain. Is that correct?

    JOHN: It doesn’t flood. No, it doesn’t actually flood.

    TOM: It just gets damp?

    JOHN: Yeah. And first – and I don’t think any water gets in there. But the larger one, where the sump pump is, water doesn’t actually get in there. It just comes up from the – I don’t know why it’s in there but there’s a hole in the floor of the – there’s a cement area that was dug out and put in. There’s a furnace and hot-water tank in that area. And this hole in the ground where the sump pump is, that was like that when I moved into the house.

    TOM: OK. So the first thing I want to do is suggest some ways that you can reduce the amount of moisture and humidity that are getting down there. Because the less moisture and humidity we have, the less issues you’re going to have with odor in that space. I want to make sure you’re covering the basics.

    So the basics would be, first of all, your gutter system: making sure that you have gutters, that the gutters are properly sized. You can do it in sort of an eyeball measurement, sort of, to see the pan’s measurement. You want to make sure you have 1 downspout for every 600 to 800 square feet of roof surface. If you go out there in a really heavy rainstorm and you see that the downspouts are getting overwhelmed, then that’s another way to tell that A) your gutters are clogged which, of course, they can never be and B) – or B) that the downspouts are undersized or just not enough.

    Once you’ve got the right gutters and number of spouts on there, the next thing – and this is probably the most important thing – is to make sure that those downspouts are extended not the typical way that they’re left on a house, which is about 12 inches away from the foundation, but at least 3 to 6 feet away from that house so that you’re dumping the water well beyond what we call the “backfill zone.” That’s the soil that’s basically been pressed back into your foundation after the house was – the soil was dug out for the house to be built. By keeping the water away from that space, you have a lot more – less opportunity for the water to work its way back into the crawlspace. And then lastly, you want to make sure that the soil around the perimeter slopes away.

    Now beyond that, you mentioned you’ve got a sump pump in there, so this must be pretty wet on a regular basis. Do you also have a vapor barrier, by any chance?

    JOHN: No. Unfortunately, no.

    TOM: OK. So that’s one thing. Because if you were just to go down that crawlspace and put in heavy plastic sheeting across the entire surface with as few seams as possible – and if you do have seams, overlap them about 3 to 6 feet, so you have a good layer of plastic laying on top of that soil floor. Then that’s going to stop a lot of the moisture that naturally wants to evaporate off that soil from getting up into the structure and leading to mold problems, mildew problems, decay problems, insect problems and of course, the smell that you called us about. These are the kind of things that will reduce those conditions.

    And one more thing that you could do is you could add vent fans into that space. And if you have the standard sort of block wall, there’s going to be crawlspace foundation vents in there. The crawlspace fans are designed to fit into that same space as one of those 8x8x16 blocks. And so you can break out the vent that’s there, install the fan in there. And the difference with a crawlspace fan is it’s activated by humidity. So it comes with a humidistat and you can have several of these wired together so that when the humidity in that space reaches a certain level, the fans kick on and start to pull drier outside air across that whole area, drying it out.

    So this is a – the solution here has to do with managing moisture. And so, if you can manage moisture in all the ways we talked about, you’re not going to have an issue. And the other thing that you’re going to find is that you’ll probably no longer need that sump pump or at least it won’t work nearly as much. Because if you’re keeping water away from that space, that’s going to be key. And a lot of people think that rising water tables cause this but the truth is that whenever you have a cause and effect between rain and some event in those below-grade spaces, it’s always drainage that causes it. And that’s good because drainage is easy to address.

    JOHN: OK. Great. I’ll give those a try.

    TOM: If you’d like to get a step-by-step on this and some more background, head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com. We’ve got a great article on the home page there about how to cure wet basements. And it’s actually one of our most read pieces on the entire site.

    JOHN: OK. Great. Thanks a lot.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. 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.

    Happy Fall, everybody. We love the fall season. We’d love to hear what you’re working on. It’s the perfect time of year to tackle so much stuff around your money pit, so let us give you a hand. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, apartment dwellers, pay attention. If you’re paying for your heating bill, we’re going to give you some tips on how you can cut those costs very inexpensively, 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.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Yep. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We are just into the fall season, so I know you guys have a lot of stuff to tackle around your house. And you know what? If you give us a call, we’re going to give you a great prize, possibly, this hour. We’ve got three of them to give away. And this will be your guidebook to all of your home improvement adventures when you can’t be with us on the radio. You’re going to get a copy of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.

    Now, that’s going out to three lucky callers this hour and that’s the book that Tom and I wrote. And you can kind of think of it as an owner’s manual for your home. There’s tips, advice, money-saving solutions all right there at your fingertips. So give us a call this hour at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Michelle in Minnesota is on the line with a bathroom-floor “thing” is all I can call it. What is going on? You’re getting moisture coming up through the floor?

    MICHELLE: Started around the warm and humid days. At first, I thought maybe that it was my toilet leaking, because I had a new toilet put in last summer. But the plumber did come out and pull the toilet and it didn’t look like it was leaking or that the seal was broken on it. So we’re thinking that it’s condensation from the concrete slab coming up between the slats of the laminate flooring.

    TOM: So the laminate flooring is on top of a concrete slab?

    MICHELLE: Correct, yep.

    TOM: What’s this looking – what’s this doing to the floor? Is it causing it to deform in any way? Or is it just showing up as a stain?

    MICHELLE: It is not buckling or anything along the edges. He thinks that maybe it’s a rubber flooring – more of a rubber based flooring – rather than a wood. And so it has not curled the edges or anything like that. It just seeps up as moisture and it comes – like beads up right along the edges of the laminate.

    TOM: Do you have air conditioning in this bathroom?

    MICHELLE: I do not. Uh-uh. Nope.

    TOM: Yeah, I was thinking cooler, moist air against a warmer floor could cause additional condensation.

    So, look, if you want to reduce the moisture that’s coming up through the bathroom, there’s a couple of things I can suggest. First of all, you want to take a look at the grading and the drainage conditions outside that bathroom. Because the slab, if it’s getting very wet, is extremely hydroscopic. So all the moisture in the earth will be drawn into the slab and that’s going to wick up and show up in your bathroom, apparently.

    So, take a look at your gutters and downspouts. Make sure they’re clean and free-flowing and the spouts are extending 4 to 6 feet from the house. Get all that roof water away and then take a look at the angle of the soil and make sure that that’s sloping away.

    Now, do you have a fan in this bathroom?

    MICHELLE: Yes.

    TOM: That is helpful. You might want to think about replacing the fan with one that has a built-in humidistat, because that’s convenient in a couple of fronts. First of all, when you take a shower and you leave the bathroom and turn the switch off, it’ll actually stay on until all the moisture’s properly vented out of there. And if it does get humid on its own, then the humidistat will kick the fan on and also dry it out. They’re not terribly expensive; I know Broan makes a good one. There are a number of manufacturers you can find this from.

    And keep an eye on the floor. Some laminate floors, you know, stand up very well to moisture. I’ve seen laminate floors that can be submerged and they don’t seem to be affected by it. But others will buckle just like hardwood would. So just keep an eye on it. And if it ends up that it does have to be replaced, I would paint that cement slab underneath with a couple of coats of epoxy paint to kind of seal in and stop the moisture from evaporating through and into the room.

    MICHELLE: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: But only if you get that far. I wouldn’t tell you to tear up the floor now. But if you have to replace it, just make sure you seal the slab at the same time.

    MICHELLE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, OK. Thank you. That’s good, thanks.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re a renter and you’re paying for your own utilities, you might think that there’s not much that you can do to cut those costs. I mean you really can’t buy a new furnace or replace your windows or even add insulation to a home that you don’t own.

    TOM: True. But there are a series of things you can do and most are either low-cost or improvements that you can actually take with you. So one is to replace your thermostat. Now, you wouldn’t normally think that that’s not something a renter should do or could do but it’s actually not that hard. And what I would suggest you replace it with is a programmable thermostat, like the Nest.

    I love the Nest Thermostat. We have two of them at our house. And what it does is it senses when you’re home and when you’re not. And when you’re not home, you can choose another set of temperatures to keep your house at. And it’s great because today, so many people don’t have the old-fashioned, say, nine-to-five job where you always leave the house at the same time and come home at the same time. In situations like that, you could use a programmable thermostat to try to control those temperatures. Nest is better.

    When I walk into the house with my iPhone, it senses that I’m home. It’s got geo-fencing built into it. And then it makes it cooler in the summer, it makes it warmer in the winter. When you go to bed at night, you can give it a vacation setting so that when you get under the covers in the fall, the temperature is not as warm in the house. If you get up, start moving around, it kicks the heat on. It’s just so smart.

    And then when you leave, you can basically put the old one back. Replacing a thermostat is something that is a low-voltage electrical project. Nest is good about kind of walking you through. There’s only two or three wires to hook up, so it’s definitely something I think renters can consider doing.

    Another thing is to caulk your windows but not the outside of your windows. Get some latex caulk and caulk the inside of your windows, between the trim and the wall. Just some white caulk so it blends in with the wall. You’ll find that there are drafts that show up in that space and caulking them is an easy way to make it go away.

    And if you have an upper-floor unit where you have a hatchway to the attic, you want to make sure you weather-strip the edges of that hatchway or weather-strip the underside of an attic stair, if you’ve got it. Because a lot of heat will push up against that ceiling and force itself into the attic. And you just don’t want to do that because you’re giving that heat away.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, there’s other things that you can do and these are all, guys, simple solutions that don’t cost a lot of money. You can pick up some very reasonably priced supplies at your home center.

    Now, here’s an area if your windows feel drafty, whether you’re getting a draft around the frame or on the glass itself. But the windows, you get a lot of air movement there potentially. So you can add a cellular shade: those ones that look like honeycomb. And those work really well because the pocket that makes up what looks like the honeycomb sort of acts like an insulative barrier itself. And the cellular shades, you can buy them at a Lowes or a Home Depot. They’ll cut them to size. Not terribly expensive. You can go with the super high-end ones, which will be more pricey and give you more insulative value. But you can find sort of one of those cellular shades at every price point. And that makes a huge difference.

    Another thing is a drape. Simply putting up a heavier fabric drape on your windows in the winter months, whether it’s a velvet or a chenille or some sort of heavier upholstery-weight fabric, that will do a great job of sort of stopping that draft, as well.

    Another thing is a lot of people love to push their furnishings against a wall. Remember, furniture does not have to play right against the wall. And when you do so, chances are you’re blocking a register or a radiator or something and you’re blocking all of that heat from moving around the space. So look at where you have things. Sometimes you might even have a drape in front of a radiator, especially a baseboard one. So you want to make sure that things are tucked up behind the baseboards or just completely moved out of the way from your – where your heat is coming into the space. And that’ll make a huge difference.

    And here’s another tip that I love: for about a dollar, you can buy these foam gaskets that’ll go behind your light switches and your outlets. And basically, it’s a piece of foam that’s cut to the same shape as your outlet or your light switch. And those – put those on your exterior walls, wherever you have an outlet or wherever you have a light switch located on an exterior wall. Because there, you have an open cavity that really isn’t insulated. So you can put this foam gasket on there. It goes right behind the light switch or the outlet cover. You screw it back on. And that also will do a huge difference there in cutting drafts. You do a couple of these things and you’re going to see a big difference.

    TOM: So you don’t have to be a homeowner to cut those energy costs. If you’re a renter, there are a lot of little things you can do around your apartment or your house to save money, as well.

    Give us a call, right now, if you’d like to save even more money on your home improvement project. We can give you some economic tips, as well as how-to solutions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Heading down south to Florida with Phil on the line. What can we do for you today?

    PHIL: I’m looking for a product. I want you to recommend one that will get rid of mold on my tile in my bathroom, please.

    TOM: Alright. So there’s a couple of things, Phil, one of which is – I want to just make sure you know that there are ways to reduce the propensity for that mold to grow. And it has to do with keeping as much moisture out of that space as possible. And generally, the best way to do that is with a ventilation fan. Do you have one of those in your bathroom now, Phil?

    PHIL: Yes, yes.

    TOM: And what you might want to do to that fan is replace the type of switch that activates it with one that’s based on a timer so that after you use the shower or the bath, you step out, you can set that timer for 10 or 15 minutes to keep that fan going so it does vent as much of that air out as possible.

    Now, in terms of the existing mold that’s on the walls, is this tile or is it drywall? Where are we seeing the mold?

    PHIL: This is tile.

    TOM: Phil, there’s a product out that can actually clean that mold from the shower and actually stop it from forming again. And it’s made by a company called Wet & Forget. And that’s their website: WetAndForget.com. Now, they have a number of products there but the one you want to look for is Wet & Forget Shower. You put it on once a week – so it’s easy to apply – and it has an applicator built right in. There’s no scrubbing with this. You just apply it. And then what happens is it’ll start to go to work making that mold pretty much disappear on its own. Might take a little while the first time you apply it but then when you get into doing this on a weekly basis, you’re never going to see mold form again.

    PHIL: OK.

    TOM: So the solution is really two-fold. Number one, I’d like you to increase ventilation in that shower space, perhaps by adding a timer to that fan. And then secondly, I’d like you to pick up the Wet & Forget Shower Cleaner and apply that to the shower, kind of let it sit and then repeat that every week, OK?

    PHIL: Thank you so much for that.

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

    LESLIE: Up next, if you’ve ever had trouble sleeping, it could be that the lighting in your home is the cause. Up next, we’re going to have some information on a completely new lighting system that can help and it’s as easy to install as screwing in a new light bulb. So stick around.

    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.

    Well, if you’ve ever had a hard time sleeping, the reason may be that your sleep cycle keeps getting interrupted.

    TOM: Well, it turns out that better lighting might be the key to getting you back on track. GE is introducing a new connected product called C-Sleep that’s designed to do just that. With us to talk about it is Jeff Patton, the general manager of home product management and innovation for GE.

    Welcome, Jeff.

    JEFF: Hi, Tom, Leslie. Great to see you.

    TOM: So, how exactly does proper lighting impact sleep? I mean you think about – if you want to get to sleep, you better turn the lights off. But tell us more about how lighting can mess up our sleep cycles.

    JEFF: Yeah, definitely. It’s interesting. It goes back, I would say, to the time of the caveman. It’s really the way that the sun affects our bodies and it hasn’t really changed over time. As you see bright blue light in the morning, it can really help you wake up. And as you see amber light more towards sunset, it really helps you fall asleep. And as you vary the light you’re seeing, it can really affect your sleep patterns.

    LESLIE: So is the idea of GE C-Sleep really to sort of be a light that mimics all of these natural lights to sort of optimize how you sleep?

    JEFF: Exactly, exactly. So, what the product does exactly is you can set the color mode in the morning and set the color mode in the evening so that it really does optimize your overall sleep patterns. It goes back to the hormone melatonin and how it’s actually controlled in your body. And the light bulb is designed to really make that very simple to manage.

    TOM: Now, from a technical perspective, this is a connected product; it’s a smart product. Do I imagine then that you control these different types of color choices with your smartphone so you can sort of adjust it to your own personal preference?

    JEFF: It allows you to very easily – from your phone, from the app – to pick the time you want the light to come on to really help you wake up. You can allow it to shift to another light to sort of be that sort of standard, soft-white light during the day. And in the evening, you can set the time you want it to really sort of help you wind down and eventually fall asleep. It’s a very easy product to use.

    TOM: It’s interesting because you used to have to buy a separate bulb for all those different types of lights. If you wanted a bright office light/work light kind of a color or you wanted that soft white, that was all a separate bulb. And now you can have it all in one.

    JEFF: Exactly. And this is even a little bit more different than what you can typically buy. The morning color is really a particularly powerful blue color. And the evening color – the PM mode, we call it – is a deep amber, almost like a fireplace color. So it kind of goes beyond what you could typically buy in a store, historically. But now we’ve put it all in one product to make it very easy to use.

    LESLIE: Alright. You are tuned to The Money Pit. We’re here with Jeff Patton, the general manager of home products and innovation for GE.

    So, Jeff, sleep cycles and sleep, in general, it seems to be a big topic. You know, it’s in the news all the time. I know I certainly have a hard enough time sleeping. What did the experts at GE really have to say about this? And what made them start to think about it?

    JEFF: Yeah. It’s a great question. There’s been lots of knowledge over years about the power of sleep and then some knowledge about the power of light and sleep. It’s really come to the research, that’s as recent as 2001, that really understands how a particular wavelength of light can affect the melatonin in your body. There’s been lots of interest for a while but more recent research that occurred showed this real impact we could have.

    So, we’ve seen in the news a lot lately that there’s more and more research that sleep can impact different aspects of your health. And we really wanted to help provide some of these wellness benefits overall to the broader consumer markets. So, the timing now with connected products really starting to come into their own is really key for us to deliver this product to the market.

    TOM: And with connected products, it would appear that you can do more things than you could have if the product was built-in. So, for example, if you had a standard light bulb and you wanted to dim it, you would have to have a dimmer in the wall to do that. But with a connected product, you can dim right from the smartphone, correct?

    JEFF: Tom, exactly right. And it’s a great convenience for people that they can have this extra functionality without actually having to put in the extra hardware or wires to enable dimming, because it’s so easy with the connected items.

    LESLIE: Jeff, it really is such a great idea. Taking it one step further, can you sort of set it on a schedule to kind of encourage you to go to sleep when maybe you’re not quite ready?

    JEFF: Absolutely. You can actually set the exact time you want the light to come on to wake you up and it has a warm brightening. And then you can set it for exactly what time you want to go to sleep and it’ll slowly dim for you.

    TOM: I wonder if this would work with my kids. They seem to ignore alarm clocks.

    JEFF: Yes, exactly. That’s right.

    TOM: Well, Jeff Patton, the general manager of home product management and innovation for GE, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    JEFF: Thank you for having me on the show.

    TOM: And if you’d like to learn more, why not check out their website on this product? It’s at simply CByGE.com. That’s CByGE.com. And C by GE is available at Lowes and Target.

    LESLIE: Well, laminate flooring is a very durable and less expensive alternative to hardwoods. But what happens when it gets wet? We’re going to highlight a new innovation in laminates that can take a soaking, 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.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away three copies of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. We will even scribble them with graffiti, vis-à-vis our signatures, if you’d like an autographed copy.

    But give us a call right now. We’d love to hear from you, we’d love to offer you the solution to the project that you’re working on, some tips, some advice on how to get it done faster, quicker and easier so you don’t have to tackle it again, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Mike in Michigan is on the line and is dealing with a ceiling leak. What’s going on?

    MIKE: We were sitting at the table in the kitchen and all of a sudden, we see water dripping in my dog’s dog dish – water dish. And trying to figure out – look up in the ceiling and it’s coming from the ceiling.

    TOM: Oh, no.

    MIKE: Well, we traced it to the – yeah, we traced it to the roof and there were some nail pops and the stack vents were leaking around the flashing.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: So we got that taken care of but now – this house was built in ’41 – we got all this wet plaster with the lath and wire mesh. And we got all – some of this wet plaster is starting to break loose. A lot of it is onion-peeling but some of it is the plaster itself. How do I save that without ripping all that off and replastering the ceiling?

    TOM: So, is the ceiling deformed or is it still flat?

    MIKE: It’s flat but with the cracks, the way that the water has seeped through – because it must have been going on for a while before it finally broke through.

    TOM: Well, your dog was happy.

    MIKE: Oh, yeah, he was getting extra water with a little bit of plaster.

    TOM: Alright. Well, what happens with wood lath – and to the same extent with wire mesh but perhaps it’s not as much of an issue – is when the plaster is applied, it squeezes through the wood lath and forms a bit of a handle on the back that sticks to the back of the stick.

    Now, when that gets wet, those little pieces that are securing that plaster in place loosen up. And the plaster can separate from the lath and that’s how you get chunks of plaster that fall. So, it’s going to really depend on how loose this plaster is. If we’re just talking about cracks, I’m not as concerned. You can spackle those cracks using standard spackle on top of a mesh spackling tape – a mesh drywall tape. You don’t want to use the paper because it’s just hard – too hard to work with. But if you use the mesh, you ought to put the mesh on first and then spackle right over the top of that.

    If the plaster is loose and falling down as if it’s going to become dangerous, then you’ve got a bigger problem. Your options, at that stage, are to tear out that loose plaster and try to replaster it. Or the easier way to do this, when you have deteriorated plaster walls, is to simply put a second layer of drywall on top of that. Use drywall screws and screw it right through the old plaster, into the ceiling joist above.

    So, it really comes down to how deteriorated that ceiling is. If the plaster is loose and in danger of falling, then you have to tear it out or you have to cover it over with drywall. If it’s still relatively secure – I mean if you can push up on it and it doesn’t seem to have a lot of give, then I might just spackle it and call it a day.

    MIKE: Some of it is a little spongy but I was wondering about actually using the good, old plaster that you mix up from the old days, where I think Gold Bond makes one or something where you can actually replaster it with wet plaster. And that’s what I was thinking about doing if I had to.

    TOM: You can do that but here’s the thing: if you – even if you plaster over that crack, that crack is going to reform. Because now that it’s showed itself and as the ceiling expands and contracts, it’ll open and close unless you use drywall tape across it, OK? You have to reinforce it.

    MIKE: Because I’m wondering if I’m going to have to take a hammer and tap on it. And if it starts falling down, I’m probably going to have to rip it out like you’re talking about. And I’d rather do it with wet plaster and keep it original than adding drywall to it.

    TOM: Yeah, I hear you. It’s just a lot of work.

    MIKE: Yeah. Well, I thought maybe you had some magic tricks there, listening to your show.

    TOM: It’s a miracle cure?

    MIKE: Yeah. You know, a little success in a can there.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Well, listen, all I can say is that there’s probably better ways to keep that dog bowl filled with water than a roof leak.

    MIKE: Alright. Thank you, dude. You have a blessed week. I’m really glad that you called back.

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

    And we did call Mike back. We’ll call you, too, if you pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT and we’re not in the studio. That’s the way it works because we are here to help you with your home improvement project.

    LESLIE: Well, there’s a new, very durable laminate flooring on the market now at The Home Depot from Pergo. And it’s called Pergo Outlast+ with SpillProtect24.

    Now, the cool thing is that it’s water-resistant and it’s designed to protect against spills for up to 24 hours.

    TOM: And I don’t like that because how many times have we gotten a call on the radio show from a homeowner who had a party or some other event where the floor was damaged, usually just because it stayed wet until somebody noticed it maybe the next day? This is a really good feature because it prevents that.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Since it resists water, it ends those worries. It’s also very durable against wears, scratches and stains. And the designs look really authentic.

    Now, the flooring actually has a deep texture to it, which gives it a super-realistic appearance. These are stylish, durable floors that’ll easily add charm to your home.

    TOM: Yep. And the price is great at 2.79 a square foot. Pergo Outlast+ with SpillProtect24 is available at The Home Depot. Check out the collection, online, at HomeDepot.com/Pergo.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Charlene in Tennessee with a flooring question. What can we do for you?

    CHARLENE: Well, we built our house in 2006 and we purchased, from the mill, solid-oak hardwood planks, you know, that we were going to put down for flooring. And it’s 6 inches wide, tongue-and-groove.

    Underneath that, we put – my husband thinks it’s called AdvanTech. It was a 50-year warranty and the mill told us between that and the tongue-and-groove solid oak to put 6 mil of plastic.

    TOM: Alright. So what’s the problem we’re trying to solve here?

    CHARLENE: The problem that we’re solving is in a few areas, one which is mainly the bath and the other is the kitchen, there’s a squeaking noise. It’s like you can’t sneak in that area. It’ll make that noise.

    TOM: So when you go on a diet, your husband can hear you when you try to sneak into the kitchen to get to the refrigerator, huh?

    CHARLENE: Yeah, something like that.

    TOM: Alright. So, look, this has little to do with what is underneath the floor and more to do with just sort of normal wear and tear and expansion and contraction. The reason those floors are – those boards are squeaking is because they’re moving. And so, what you need to do is to tighten them up.

    Now, since it’s a finished floor, you can’t just go willy-nilly throwing nails and screws into it; you’ve got to be a little more strategic. So what you want to do is find the place where there’s a floor joist underneath. And you can do that with a stud finder.

    And once you identify that spot, you drill small holes through the floor and you use what’s called a “trim screw,” which is only a little bit bigger than a finish nail. You screw through the finished floor, into the floor joist and that will pull that floor down and make it tighter and reduce the amount of movement that it’s capable of. And that’s what’s going to quiet down your squeak. A little harder to do when it’s a finished floor but that’s the way to do it.

    CHARLENE: OK. It sounds like it might be an easy fix.

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

    Hey. Could you use an extra hand around your house? Well, if you’re a parent, you may already have a few of them. We’re going to share some tips for involving kids in your home improvements and teaching them a few things in the process, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.com.

    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.

    We’ve got an e-mail question here from Mark in Rhode Island who writes: “I have a flagstone walkway and the mortar between the stones is breaking apart. Can I clean it out and repoint it like you do with bricks?”

    TOM: Not really. I mean look, you could do that and you could repoint it. It’s going to break apart again, because the secret to stopping that from happening is to completely rebuild the base. If the base is built up, it’s almost as solid as a concrete slab. That keeps it much more stable so that those joints won’t actually break apart. The problem is water gets under that, it freezes, it lifts it, it’s cracked. So, yeah, you could do it again as long as you don’t mind the fact you’ll have to do it one more time in about five years.

    LESLIE: Yeah. That’s good advice, Tom.

    TOM: Well, do you need some home improvement help? Well, why not let the kids lend a hand? Leslie has got tips for doing just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. With a list of seasonal projects ahead of you, don’t underestimate what your kids bring to the table and what they’re going to learn in the process. Tom and I are products of our parents putting us to work with different home improvement projects around the house. So you never know where your kids are going to end up if you teach them a few things to do around the house.

    Now, a great starting point for home improvement togetherness is planning and shopping. So you want to talk to your kids about the project solution and the shopping needs. And then go ahead and go to the hardware store together. Read the signs, read the product labels for the items that you want on your list and pick up a pair of youth-sized safety goggles while you’re there. This way, your child gets in the habit of wearing all the safety procedures that go with home improvement projects. There’s even kid-sized earplugs, safety goggles, all that stuff. You’re going to want it.

    Now, when you’re back home, work together on all of the prep that goes along with your project. Make sure you put safety to the front and center of the whole process so they get in good habits here. Then let your child pass you the materials, even help with measurements. And let them take on more age-appropriate responsibilities once they’ve proven that they’re interested and they’re showing some of the basic skills.

    Now, many a handyman and handywoman got their start where these adults let them help out. So truly, guys, not only are you giving them a good base of things that they can do and work on around their houses when they grow up for themselves or even just when they’re living in their first apartment, you can really be sort of laying the foundation for an amazing career.

    Now, once you’ve got a sense of what they can do and what they can’t do, consider delegating easier projects around the house, whether it’s touching up paint or trimming a room. And don’t forget to take a before-and-after shot so that your child can really feel proud of their hard work and the results.

    I don’t know if you guys remember but it was two years ago I took on a laundry-room project in my home. And I kept posting on our Facebook page and my personal Facebook page my son painting the laundry room. I let him pick out the paint color. I put out three or four colors that I liked and was like, “You get to pick from these.” He picked the paint color, he rolled out the paint, he really had such a great time and was so proud of the fact that he did it. And every time he walks in that laundry room – not that he’s doing the laundry – but anytime he goes in the laundry room, he’s like, “I did this.” Makes everybody feel so proud and it’s a great time for you to be together with your kids. So get those kids involved.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Hey, coming up next week on the program, if your concrete patio is dragging down your outdoor living space, you can give it a facelift. This is a good fall project. We’re going to talk about options for updating a concrete patio, with anything from dyes to beautiful decking tiles, 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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