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Fireplace Focal Point, Pressure Washer 101, Skills USA Leadership and Skills Conference 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: And we are coming to you today from Kansas City, Missouri, the site of SkillsUSA’s National Leadership and Skills Conference. SkillsUSA is a unique organization that helps keep their tradition of the vocational arts alive in our nation’s high schools and secondary schools.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Because while we may have had shop and even home economics classes available to us as we were growing up, many mainstream high schools today don’t even offer them. So to fill the gap, SkillsUSA works with educators, corporations, trade associations and labor unions to bring technical skill-building curriculums to high school and college students.

    And this includes important skills that all of us need to take care of our homes. Now, SkillsUSA students will become America’s future carpenters, builders, decorators, heating-and-cooling technicians and much, much more.

    TOM: Coming up this hour, we’re going to hear from the head of SkillsUSA about the work his organization is doing. We’ll also hear from a couple of students who have benefited from SkillsUSA.

    And we’ll find out all about this conference which, I’ve got to tell you, Leslie, it’s kind of like the Super Bowl for kids in trade school, with more than 5,500 contestants competing in nearly 100 contests.

    LESLIE: Man, that’s so exciting.

    Plus, we’re going to hear all your questions and we’re giving away a great prize to get all of you home improvers out there – well, actually, one of you lucky home improvers – a good head start on a project. We’ve got a $50 Lowe’s gift card, courtesy of Therma-Tru Doors, to one of you who gets on the air this hour with us and asks their home improvement question. So give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, first up, we’re going to welcome Tim Lawrence. He is the executive director of SkillsUSA.

    And Tim, I guess that sort of makes you the headmaster of this immense class of future home improvers.

    TIM: I guess it does, Tom. I was proud – I’m proud that I was a member of this organization when I was in high school and it truly changed my life as a young man. I was a welding student and it really put me on the right track in life to get into that industry and to really make a difference in my life. And look where I am now.

    TOM: Well, I want to make a point for our audience about where we are in terms of skills and what these kids actually do and what they’re going to do in the future. But I mean this is the farm team here, where the home improvers of the future – this is where you’re going to develop your carpentry schools, your HVAC skills, your electrical skills.

    TIM: Yes.

    TOM: These are the folks that’ll go on – enter the trade and start taking care of our money pits, correct?

    TIM: Absolutely. And we have the best of the best here from all across the nation and Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.

    So, the best kids in the nation that have come through – Tom, they’ve come through 10,000 local, regional and state competitions to arrive here in Kansas City, to compete in what might be perceived as the Olympics of the skilled trades.

    TOM: And I’ve got to tell you, while looking around this exhibit hall here, I saw a lot of really interesting things. So, for example, let’s talk about the carpentry area.

    TIM: Yes.

    TOM: There were, I don’t know, maybe 30, 40 different sets, all identical, where there was sort of a floor made and on top of that, they’re going to have a competition where they frame the walls, they frame the roofs, they do it with wood studs, with metal studs.

    TIM: Yes.

    TOM: They do it with every cut imaginable, every skill imaginable. I saw the cabinet-making area where I asked the – one of the headmasters over there, “What’s the project?” He’s like, “Can’t tell you.”

    TIM: That’s right. It’s a secret.

    TOM: Top secret. Top secret. But last year, it was a desk and it was pretty complicated. And these guys get about seven, eight hours to build it. And we are so happy to be here and to support them in that effort.

    So, I understand that the TeamWorks competitions takes these students to a totally new level. Talk to us a little bit about how that works.

    TIM: Yes. You mentioned the carpentry competition? They’re building a house section. One student builds that section as a carpenter would build it. In the TeamWorks competition, we’ve really taken a look at the real world of construction. So we have a carpenter, a mason, a plumber and an electrician working together over a period of two-and-a-half days to build a full house section, a modular section. It could be a bathroom, it could be a kitchen.

    But they’re starting with the foundation: they’re laying the masonry, they’re building the floor. They’re bringing it from the ground up, doing the wiring, the windows, the doors, the appliances, the plumbing. So it’s a great event to test the skills of four young people working together, just as they’d be working together on a project to build a home.

    LESLIE: In the field.

    TIM: Yes, in the field.

    TOM: Now, are the students that are going to play the role of homeowners actually move into these places to see how it really worked out?

    TIM: No, not really but we are happy that the finished projects will be possibly donated to the Habitat for Humanity in Kansas City. So what the students build will actually be used.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s great.

    TIM: And what they can’t build will be recycled.

    LESLIE: Now, Tim, do they get judged as a group or are they judged on each individual process?

    TIM: They’re really judged as a group, Leslie. They’re judged – primarily, the number-one issue that we’re looking at is safety on the job site. They’re judged for quality, specifications, whether they’re actually – the accuracy of their project to the drawing that’s presented to them.

    And again, they don’t know what that drawing looks like, just like Tom mentioned in carpenting, until they arrive here in Kansas City. State Farm Insurance, Bosch Power Tools and others have sponsored that competition. Their engineering departments put these drawings together for the students to have a world-class project to work on when they arrive here to win the national championship.

    And that TeamWorks event, winning that is so prestigious to our schools and to our students and their communities.

    LESLIE: That’s amazing.

    TOM: We’re talking to Tim Lawrence. He is the executive director of SkillsUSA.

    What do they win for going through the enormous process to get here in Kansas City?

    TIM: There are $1 million worth of scholarships presented here, Tom.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    TIM: And they’ll also receive so many tools of the trade. If you look behind us, you’ll see power tools in stacks that came in in truckloads, that they’ll receive as prizes. They’ll receive tools, they’ll receive materials that they can use – whether it’s measuring instruments or whatever they can use – in their future careers. So the industry folks that sponsor us really take care of the students who come here.

    TOM: Fantastic. Well, congratulations and best of luck for an entire week’s worth of competition. You brought all these kids here from all over the country: 5,700 competitors here …

    TIM: Fifty-seven hundred competitors and about fifteen thousand people here total in support of those students.

    TOM: Wow. And we’re so happy to support you as you do just that. Tim Lawrence, Executive Director of SkillsUSA, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and inviting us to be a part of this exciting competition.

    TIM: Alright. I hope you enjoy the week. Thanks so much for the opportunity.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thank you.

    Alright, guys. 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.

    Still ahead, a fresh idea for using your fireplace in the summer. You don’t have to stare at that empty brick box all season long. We’re going to tell you how to make it a focal point all year round.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by The Home Depot. Upgrade to a Philips 12.5-watt LED light bulb that lasts 25 times longer than a 60-watt incandescent bulb. More saving, more doing. That’s the power of The Home Depot.

    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 we are broadcasting today from the 47th Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City. It’s a huge event that draws thousands of trade-school students from all over the country and includes dozens of competitions in categories like carpentry and web design. SkillsUSA is a terrific organization that helps develop trade and leadership skills in students who specialize in many different fields.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Today, learning a trade is sometimes looked at as an alternative to a four-year college education. But the highly-skilled careers out there, available to the students who complete trade programs, is becoming a big draw for students and parents who might not consider a trade field otherwise.

    So in the years to come, there will be more skilled jobs than people who can fill them. We’re going to be talking to a student, in a few minutes, about what SkillsUSA has done for her.

    TOM: And if you haven’t been able to find a good contractor yet and want to take on a project yourself, you can give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT and we will try to help.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And don’t worry about trying to stump us, either, especially since we’ve got 5,500 future home improvers helping us out today.

    TOM: Exactly. And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 gift card from Lowe’s, courtesy of our friends at Therma-Tru Doors. Therma-Tru’s Benchmark line is exclusively available at Lowe’s. And the Benchmark patio-door systems come with a limited lifetime warranty and are energy-efficient with a low-e glass option to help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

    One caller we talk to on the air is going to win that $50 Lowe’s card. You might want to consider a Benchmark patio door to use with that. So give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    We’re going to go to Iowa now and talk to Kim about her floors.

    Hi, Kim. Welcome to the program.

    KIM: Hi. Hi.

    TOM: So what’s going on?

    KIM: Well, we have an older farmhouse and we were wanting – it doesn’t have a full basement under it. And we had wanted to put a full basement under it but the floor is sloped. And when the people that had the house before we did worked on it, they put new sheetrock and new windows upstairs but didn’t square up the sloping floor.

    TOM: OK.

    KIM: I wondered what kind of a problem – if it would be possible to put a basement and leave the floor slanting or if we should just scrap the whole thing and hope a fire or tornado comes through or …

    TOM: Well, we have another word for those sloping floors: we call it “charm.” And when you buy an old house, those floors settle over many, many years.

    Now, it doesn’t mean that they’re structurally weak; what it means is that over time, because of the normal movement of the building, you have developed some shifting, some differential settlement. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to bring them back up. So I would handle this on a case-by-case basis.

    In terms of dealing with the slope itself, it’s far easier than to try to relevel the floor to use something called floor-leveling compound, which is a very lightweight, slurry mix that you could add on top of the floor for those areas …

    LESLIE: And it works wonders.

    TOM: Works wonders. For what you want …

    KIM: But we’re talking about a 3-inch drop.

    TOM: You can still do it with that.

    LESLIE: And you can apply it in layers. You just have to let it cure as you sort of pour some in because if you make it thicker, it’s going to take forever to cure. But if you sort of work your way, add another one as it cures – I mean we had a substantial drop in our basement floor and it looked great after we used – Tom, did we use that Abatron Abocrete?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. You can use an epoxy material called Abatron for this entire project and it really looks fantastic when it’s all done.

    So I would take a look at the floor-leveling compound and I wouldn’t panic about the settlement, Kim, because I think that that is absolutely the way to go.

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

    You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, coming to you from the 47th Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, this is like the Super Bowl for students and vocational education. We’ve got thousands of kids competing in nearly a hundred competitions: everything from carpentry to masonry. And every competitor here is already a gold-medal winner – it’s awesome – from their home states. So we’ve got some really fierce competitions going on here.

    TOM: The event is organized by SkillsUSA, which is a great organization that helps fill the need for skilled education. And that’s the kind most mainstream high schools no longer offer like, for example, shop, metal and auto class. Now, I was a former industrial-arts teacher and I’ve got to tell you, there’s not too many of those folks still out there teaching today. A lot of those classes have been suffering because of economic cutbacks. And this is an organization that really fills that gap. We’re going to have more info about that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But right now, it’s time for your Fresh Idea, presented by Citrus Magic. And this week, I’ve got a great tip for using your fireplace all year round. You don’t want to just cover it up with a screen. Make that fireplace a true focal point all year round.

    Now, you can do this in so many ways. First of all, you can use candles in it to create a warm glow without the heat of a fire. You can also place the candles in piles of colored stones to sort of anchor them and that also covers the soot and the stains and makes it look more attractive on the inside.

    Now, you can use different styles and heights to give you some more added drama in there. You can also use fresh or even artificial flowers to dress up that interior space or even just some empty vases or pottery in varying sizes, heights, colors. And you can even use the same style for a cohesive look: maybe an Asian-inspired look or a country look. You really have a great opportunity to showcase your design skills and make something look beautiful in there.

    And that’s your Fresh Idea for the week, presented by Citrus Magic.

    TOM: And to keep your home smelling fresh and clean all the time, we recommend Citrus Magic’s natural, odor-absorbing solid air freshener. It’s 100-percent natural but it still works very well to remove even the toughest odors from your home. It comes in several scents and one solid air freshener can absorb odors for weeks. You can visit CitrusMagic.com for more information.

    And we’ve taken great advantage of Citrus Magic in our house. We use it in many, many rooms.

    LESLIE: We really do. I mean it’s a great product, it’s super-natural so I don’t feel nervous about using it around my young son or our pets. And believe me, our pet population is growing, as it is at Tom’s house, as well. And it does a great job of keeping all those odors at bay.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We’re broadcasting here in Kansas City, Missouri today.

    And Leslie, I was telling you – starting to tell you before – this is like a shop class on steroids.

    LESLIE: It’s the biggest shop class ever.

    TOM: I saw a plumbing area before that was set up for these kids to go in and hook up not only the waste line but the vent line, the sink, the vanity, the whole thing. It takes seven hours and they prove if they’ve got the stones to do this right and get it to come out just perfect.

    We are broadcasting today from the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, which is kind of the Super Bowl of events for students that study the trades, that are the same ones that are going to keep your money pits from becoming a real-life money pit.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And right now, we’re going to talk to one of those students who’s leading the way. Her name is Katie Grimnes and Katie is an industrial-engineering student attending Weatherwax High School in Aberdeen, Washington and a SkillsUSA national officer.

    Welcome, Katie.

    KATIE: Well, good morning. Thank you for having me.

    TOM: Well, it’s our pleasure to have you and I’ve got to tell you, I understand that your nickname is “The Power Girl.”

    KATIE: Yes.

    TOM: Is that correct? Because you’re studying electricity.

    KATIE: I’m studying residential wiring and HVAC, heating ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration.

    TOM: Wow, congratulations.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    TOM: That’s an unusual skill set for a student. How old are you?

    KATIE: I’m 18.

    TOM: Wow.

    KATIE: Yes.

    TOM: And you’ve got – you know more than a lot of the guys that are out there working today, don’t you?

    KATIE: Hopefully.

    LESLIE: And how are your competitions going so far, Katie? Can you talk about it at all or is it super-top secret?

    KATIE: For the national competitions, we’re currently setting up the floor and it’s truly an amazing thing to see, because there’s so many industry sponsors who are here giving up their time, their financial – so their contributions, yes.

    TOM: Contributions, yeah.

    LESLIE: Support, yeah.

    TOM: There have been major tool drops all over this floor.

    KATIE: Yes.

    TOM: I saw Milwaukee drops, I saw DEWALTs, 3M, IRWIN; you name it, they’re here.

    KATIE: IRWIN. Yes.

    TOM: And these manufacturers are supporting these students and even the Teamsters here are volunteering their time to support the students. There’s a big community here that’s coming out to help these kids in the competition.

    You know, why don’t you tell us about the competition? Now, we’ve said that you had to go through many layers to get here. But how does it start? What’s the very first competition you have to win to work your way up to the national championships?

    KATIE: In many situations, the first competition that you have to win is your regional competition. So, like in my own chapter, we have about 13 students who compete in our own classroom. And then, we move on to our regional competition.

    And what that is is students from – each state is broken up into regions or districts. And the competitions are held by the local – the committee – the technical committees.

    TOM: What actually are you doing in the competition? How do they prove – how do you have to prove your stuff that show people that you know how to do things, how to wire things, how to hook up HVAC systems? What actually do you do in the (inaudible at 0:17:23)?

    KATIE: In residential wiring, you’re given a technical test, so you have to prove that you know industry standards.

    TOM: OK.

    KATIE: And then you also have a SkillsUSA knowledge test to prove that you know what our organization stands for. And then the other part is the hands-on. We do EMT bending and we also do the – we recreate a wiring unit. So they give us a wiring diagram and we have an 8×4 little stretch and you create the wiring diagram.

    TOM: So you’re actually really doing the hands-on work as part of this.

    KATIE: Yes.

    TOM: You’re testing your knowledge with a book test, so to speak, and then you’re actually taking the tools out and going to work and wiring up the walls and wiring the switches and making sure that it all works right.

    KATIE: Exactly. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Do you ever blow anything up?

    KATIE: I have not. I flipped a breaker though. And then you get marked down a couple points.

    TOM: Yeah, I bet.

    KATIE: But during the competition, there’s – you can apply power.

    TOM: That happens to Leslie all the time.

    KATIE: Oh, does it?

    LESLIE: Now, Katie, what are your goals post the SkillsUSA training?

    KATIE: After training, I’m actually applying for an apprenticeship to become an electrical lineman in Warrenton, Oregon. So I’ll go for a 10-week program there and then from there, I’ll go into the construction apprenticeship.

    LESLIE: That’s amazing.

    TOM: What do you do with SkillsUSA? You’re a board member, that I hear?

    KATIE: No, I’m the National High School Division President.

    TOM: Alright. Fantastic.

    KATIE: Yes.

    TOM: Well, Katie Grimnes, thank you so much for stopping by our show today and telling us everything about SkillsUSA.

    KATIE: You’re welcome.

    TOM: Congratulations and much future success.

    KATIE: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, we’re going to hear from more of tomorrow’s tradespeople as our broadcast continues from the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.

    TOM: Plus, if you have older windows that are beautiful but big energy wasters, Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House is going to be by with tips to help you decide if you should refurbish them or completely replace them. That’s all coming up, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide four times the insulation of a wood door.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Exterior Weatherproofing Wood Stains and Finishes, with an advanced, 100-percent acrylic resin that seals in the beauty and seals out the weather. Behr helps you restore and protect decks, fences and siding for the summer and beyond. Don’t just waterproof. Weatherproof. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. For more information, visit B-e-h-r.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show broadcasting from the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City.

    LESLIE: Alright. And you guys, this is a really awesome sort of championship-style event. You can kind of call it the Super Bowl of home improvement technology, if you will. And it’s for the students learning highly specialized trade skills so that they can help you take care of your home in the future.

    TOM: And we’re going to take your calls right now to 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s go now to Texas and talk to Gene who’s got a drywall question.

    Hey, Gene. Welcome to the program.

    GENE: Hey. Thank you very much for your input on the ceiling. My question is, ceiling has cracks in it with tape over it. I want to redo them so it looks all the way through.

    LESLIE: OK. And the cracks that you’re seeing, Gene, they’re sort of consistent with where the seaming would be for sheets of drywall, correct?

    GENE: Yes.

    LESLIE: OK. Now, the tape. Is it coming off? Do you want to peel that tape off or is it something that you can repair?

    GENE: Well, I can do some drywall but I can’t do drywall on a ceiling. I don’t know (audio gap) how to do that.

    LESLIE: So is there currently no drywall or are you just working on those tape lines?

    GENE: It’s old drywall. I’m working on it. I guess you want to call it tape lines.

    LESLIE: OK. So what you want to do is if you’ve got areas where the tape is really sticking up and it’s kind of a disaster area, if you can peel that off, go right ahead. Because the paper tape, that’s kind of a tricky thing to sometimes work with. You have to mud, tape, mud, tape. And if you don’t get it exactly right, it’s never going to look attractive.

    And what you want to work with is something called fiberglass tape. And it looks like a mesh, almost like a gauzy type of consistency look to it. And it’s adhesive. So what you want to do is pull off that old paper tape, sort of sand it, make it look smooth underneath and get rid of any unevenness. Put up that fiberglass tape. Then what you want to do is use your joint compound or your spackle, whatever you’re working with. Go over that fiberglass tape in thinner layers: sort of cover it over, feather it out as you go along. Let it dry, sand it, apply another layer and do that until you get a smooth consistency.

    And now with this ceiling, you’re going to want to prime it and paint it, the entire surface. And since you’ve got some unevenness, you’re going to want to go with flat ceiling paint; this way you’re not going to see anything.

    TOM: That’s right, Gene. And I’ve got to tell you, when you apply that spackle, three very thin coats is the hot ticket. Don’t do it all at the same time.

    LESLIE: Well, while we all know that older homes are often built to last, they can actually be energy hogs, especially when it comes to old, drafty windows. So what’s the best way to deal with them?

    TOM: Well, replacing windows may be the most tempting option but it’s also possible to restore them and reclaim at least some improvement to the energy-efficiency. Here to tell us just how to do that is a guy who knows a lot about restoring old homes: general contractor Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Tom.

    TOM SILVA: Well, thank you. It’s nice to be here.

    TOM: And you know, Tommy, the old windows may be drafty but they sure do look great. Any tips on how to restore them so the energy bills don’t totally break the bank?

    TOM SILVA: Well, you’re right. They do look beautiful and I love old windows but there’s a lot of advantages and disadvantages to windows. I mean if you take a window – an old window – and you’re going to want to replace it, let’s start with the weights and pulleys, for example.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: Lots of times, they’ll break, one of them may be gone. You’ll have to take the window apart. You’re going to take one out, you might as well replace them both; get them new. Now, when you start to put that window back together, you want to make sure that the window is going to be efficient, so you want to see if there’s ways to put weatherstripping on the window. Make sure that the meeting rail between the two windows is clean and it’ll go together nice so that when you lock it, it’ll tighten itself up.

    TOM: Now, when you say meeting rail, that’s where the upper sash and the lower sash sort of cross each other, correct?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. It’s a double-hung window.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: Now, the other thing is is where the window is held into the opening, there are these stop beads that go on each side of the window. You want to make sure that they’re adjusted properly and against the sash so it keeps the bottom sash pushed up against the meeting rail between the two sashes, which cuts down on the draft.

    TOM: So, basically, we’ve got to try to tighten it up anywhere we possibly can.

    Now, can you get modern weatherstripping that works well in older windows?

    TOM SILVA: You can. You can get – there’s all kinds of stripping that you can get at the home center that stick onto the window. There’s types of weatherstripping that you can cut a groove into the windows at the meeting rail, at the bottom and the top sash. So when you close them and lock them, the lock will do a couple of things: the lock will pull the two meeting rails together; it will also push the bottom sash down and the top sash up into that weatherstripping, tightening up the window.

    LESLIE: Now, Tommy, how difficult is it to find a contractor willing to work on such a historic window and how difficult is it to get parts?

    TOM SILVA: Well, it can be difficult to find someone that wants to work on them, because it’s time-consuming and a lot of guys just don’t know how to price that kind of a thing because of that.

    As far as the parts, the parts are pretty easy. You can get them in the home center. You can get chains to replace the rope, so you can get just the old kind of ropes if you like that look. And locks, you can get those at the home center, too.

    TOM: So bottom line, if you value the architectural beauty that’s offered by an original window, you want to work to preserve it but keep in mind it’s probably going to cost you a little bit more energy-efficiency than if you were to replace it.

    TOM SILVA: Right. But again, you can tighten that up with weatherstripping and you can tighten it up with a storm window.

    TOM: And that could go inside or outside the house, right?

    TOM SILVA: That’s right. Inside windows, you don’t see them from the street. Outside windows protect the window from the weather.

    LESLIE: And I guess if you put them on the inside, it doesn’t really compromise the historical aspect of the home.

    TOM SILVA: Exactly.

    TOM: You know, Tommy, there’s a product out. It’s been out for a while but a lot of folks don’t know about it. It’s sort of a removable caulk. Have you seen this?

    TOM SILVA: I have.

    TOM: Where you can actually caulk a window shut for the off-season. That’s kind of a cool way to weatherstrip it in the winter. You don’t need to open it.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, you – no, you don’t need to open it. It goes right around any of the gaps and voids around the window stool, where it meets the sash around the meeting rails. All those kind of things, you can just put it in, you can roll it up, save it and use it again for another year.

    LESLIE: Now, if you do decide to sort of scrap the restoration of the window, if you will, is there a way to replace that window with a quality insert? And if I go that route, what should be my top priority?

    TOM SILVA: Well, first of all, my top priority is always trying to make it look good, to look like it belonged. Because when you do a replacement window, lots of times it’s going to look like a replacement window.

    LESLIE: New, yeah.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. So there are different types of replacement windows. If the unit or the jam of the window and the sill of the window is in good shape, you can replace it with two different types. There’s a type that’s just the sash, where it goes into the unit – a sash and balancing system separately – or a box unit that would fit right in between the sash. And a couple of hours, you get a new window.

    LESLIE: And should energy-efficiency of the glass itself be my top priority?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, you’re going to get insulated glass but lots of times, you want to make sure that you order the right muntin size, so the window looks pretty good. Lots of times I see a lot of the insulated glass going in and the muntins are much too big for the house.

    TOM: It really is a system and it all has to fit together perfectly, doesn’t it?

    TOM SILVA: Absolutely.

    TOM: Tommy Silva, the general contractor from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: My pleasure.

    TOM: For more great tips, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    LESLIE: And you can tune into Tommy and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Still ahead, moss, mold and algae: three words you won’t have to worry about staining your sidewalks, sidings and decks if you have the right pressure washer. We’ll show you how to choose the one that’s right for you, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac, makers of the number one-selling Guardian Series Home Standby Generators. Now introducing a full line of consumer and professional power washers. Whether you need to power it, clean it or protect it, Generac can help. Visit Generac.com to learn more.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to take your home improvement questions, solve those DIY dilemmas. And we’re broadcasting today from a sort of job site where thousands of future home improvers are testing their home improvement talents, at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

    LESLIE: That’s right. A couple years down the line when you call up a home improvement professional, one of these kids could be showing up at your house. And you know what? If you get one, you’re really lucky because these guys really know – and gals – know exactly what they’re doing.

    So why don’t you give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT? Not only are you going to get the answer to your home improvement question but one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 gift card from Lowe’s, courtesy of our friends over at Therma-Tru Doors, which you can use towards the purchase of a beautiful and energy-efficient Therma-Tru Benchmark door, available exclusively at Lowe’s. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, if you’ve had a look at the outside of your home or sidewalks lately and just plain did not like the mold, the mildew or the algae that covers it, a pressure washer may be in your future. In fact, the experts at Generac tell us that pressure washers are becoming increasingly popular as a must-have home improvement tool. And that makes total sense, because using a pressure washer is not at all that complicated and it does deliver great results.

    LESLIE: And super-fun.

    TOM: And very fun, as well. And now pressure washers can make cleaning easier by developing a high-pressure spray of water that it delivers to do the job. The pump is powered by a gas or electric motor and on more professional-grade models, the spray is even powerful enough to strip paint. So you’ve got to be very careful when you take this on.

    Pressure washers work with many different detergents, too. So you can pick the right detergent for just the job that you need to get done.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? It’s always interesting to see how much research that these manufacturers are doing before they put out a brand new model.

    For example, Generac, they surveyed homeowners and found that they needed a pressure washer that was easy to move around because, obviously, you’re doing lots of projects and then, of course, your neighbors are borrowing it. And as a result, they balance the engine and the pump directly over the axle so that the unit is so easy to maneuver, regardless of the type of terrain that you’re working on.

    And Generac also uses a horizontal-shaft overhead-valve engine to make sure that the pump and hoses are kept well above the ground, avoiding snags. And they also designed an ergonomic spray gun with a cushion grip and an easy-to-pull spray trigger that’s going to help you cut down on fatigue. Because once you get started pressure washing, seriously, you do the entire block.

    TOM: And you don’t want to stop.

    LESLIE: It’s so fun; I really enjoy it.

    TOM: If you’d like more info on the latest in pressure washers, you can visit the Generac website at Generac.com.

    888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Tony did just that. He’s joining us from New York.

    Hi, Tony. You’ve got a question about walls. How can we help?

    TONY: Hey, Tom. How are you? Yeah, I had a question. I live in a pre-war building, 1927.

    TOM: OK. Oh, it sounds great.

    TONY: Any time a bracket falls down or a curtain rod falls out and I get a little hole in the wall or something. I have trouble finding out exactly what kind of wall it is, because I know my apartment has several different types of walls in it. So I’m wondering if there is a way to find out without having to break the thing apart and look on site.

    TOM: Well, do you sense that the walls or hollow or solid? I suspect that they’re solid, correct?

    TONY: Yeah, yeah.

    TOM: So, then, I think what you want to do is not so much focus on what kind of wall you’ve got but what kind of fastener is going to be universally the best thing to use here. And because we don’t know what it is and because we think it’s solid and it may be a masonry or masonry-like material, I’m thinking that a Tapcon fastener could be your new best friend. Do you know what that is?

    TONY: No, no, I don’t.

    TOM: OK, so it’s a screw that’s designed to go into bricks. And because it’ll go into brick, it’ll go into just about anything else. So if you use Tapcon fasteners, if you’ve got dead plaster, it’s going to work; if you’ve got brick, it’s going to work; if you’ve got block, it’s going to work; if you’ve got terracotta clay, it’s going to work. So all of those things would work very, very well with a Tapcon fastener.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? They’re great. You get them at the home improvement center. They come with the bit. They’re really easy to use so you can go ahead and put that into the wall, then use your screw. It almost acts like a really super-duty anchor and that’ll hold pretty much anything.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And it’s difficult when you have an old house like that, because you really have such a large assembly of wall materials. You really have to take it, sometimes, on a case-by-case basis. But that’s why we say if you can land on the universal fastener that’s going to do the job, then I think you’ll be in good shape.

    Still ahead, what sells better: a home with more bedrooms or bigger bedrooms? We’ll help you figure out which home improvements help and hinder future sales, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by The Home Depot. Upgrade to a Philips 12.5-watt LED light bulb that lasts 25 times longer than a 60-watt incandescent bulb. More saving, more doing. That’s the power of The Home Depot.

    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 you could be the first to weigh in on our most recent blog post, our new articles and product recommendations when you fan us on Facebook. Also, get inside information on our weekly prize giveaways. Check us out at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And while you are on MoneyPit.com, check out our Community section and you can post everything that you are working on, your questions, anything you like about home improvement right there.

    And if you’ve got a question, we jump into those right now. And I’ve got a post from Diane who writes: “We have a 2,300-square-foot home built in the 70s, with a small master bedroom with a 6×6 closet and same-sized bath. We are considering taking out a wall in the room adjacent and making a larger room with full bath and double the closet size. Will the improved three-bedroom version sell better or worse than a four-bedroom house? We may only stay here another three to five years.”

    TOM: The answer to that is very risky, because home values are in large part based on the number of bedrooms.

    LESLIE: Amount of bedrooms.

    TOM: And with the slowness in the real estate market, folks are trying all sorts of things right now, both to try to sell their house and also, in the case of Diane, trying to make improvements so that they can stay there longer.

    LESLIE: And enjoy it, yeah.

    TOM: But it does have a down side. And when you eliminate a bedroom, that is quite possibly it. But here’s the thing: if you have two small bedrooms and now you’re going to have one gigantic master bedroom, it might be that that is so attractive that it doesn’t significantly impact that home value.

    So what I would do is this. I would talk with my local real estate agents because as unique as you think your house is, believe me, there are lots of homes just like that all over your neighborhood, each one of which has a value. They can look back through the comps, they can see if anyone has done that particular improvement in the past, they can see whether it’s added to the home value or it’s taken away from the home value.

    And I will say this: no matter what you do, do it right. Anybody that tries to do an improvement like this and doesn’t do it all the way, I mean when you get done with this, it should look like your home never had a fourth bedroom. It should totally look like it was designed that way from the get-go.

    You know, Leslie, we’ve seen so many improvements that were done in situations like this but they weren’t done well. And that definitely takes away from home …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that hinders the value.

    TOM: In a big way.

    LESLIE: Absolutely.

    TOM: Well …

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got one here from Bonnie in California who writes: “My gutter is leaking at a corner right above the front entry. I’ve noticed a small hole and have tried to caulk it but it’s still leaking. Is it possible the seam is leaking, as well? Is it possible to fix this leak myself with caulking? If so, what should I use?”

    TOM: I have a hard time believing that you caulked it or did whatever you did to fix the leak and it’s still leaking, so I suspect that the water may be coming from someplace else, because it’s just not that hard to fill a hole with caulk, obviously. So where might it be coming?

    Well, I’ll tell you what happens a lot. A lot of times, as the shingles age, they sort of curl up. And after a while, they can almost miss the gutter, so you want to make sure that the …

    LESLIE: Oh and then it diverts the water away, even from the gutter itself.

    TOM: Or even behind it. And it could be somewhere down the line from where it’s showing up because remember, because of the force of capillarity, that water will also hug the underside of the gutter, run down and then drip off. So it may not be right above – directly above – where you’re seeing this particular leak.

    So I would take a look at the alignment of the roof shingles. Now, if it turns out that they’re short, it’s an easy fix. All you need to do is to slip some flashing underneath those shingles so it rolls in and points the water right into the gutter. The other thing that’s a possibility to check here on this, Bonnie, is to make sure that you don’t have a lot of roof going down into that one gutter, where the gutter is becoming overwhelmed. And if that’s the case, you may want to consider adding an additional downspout. Or if it’s just this one area that’s a bit troublesome, well, you can put a diverter there and direct some of the flow.

    LESLIE: Just avoid it completely.

    TOM: Right, from that one area and send it to some other part of the gutter system. And I think that that will – should really do the trick.

    Hey, if you’ve got a question, you can post it to our Community page at MoneyPit.com.

    You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, coming to you from the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. We want to thank the staff and the students for letting us play a very small part in their home improvement education.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And hey, if you know a student who’s interested in a career in vocational arts, check out what SkillsUSA has to offer. We’re talking about anything from web design to carpentry to masonry, culinary arts, you name it. If it’s a specialized skill that requires extra training, SkillsUSA can help. Visit SkillsUSA.org for more info.

    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.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2011 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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