Garage Conversions, Painting Kitchen Cabinets and More
TRANSCRIPT FOR AUGUST 10, 2009, HOUR 1
Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us now with your home improvement project. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. The summer is marching on. We know that you’re probably still pretty hot and sticky right now (Leslie chuckles) so maybe you’d like to make some improvements, to make your house more cool, more comfortable. Perhaps you’re planning on building an outdoor room so that you can extend the summer. All those are great questions. Give us a call right now and we will help you out. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour – speaking of expanding things, if you’re looking to expand the living space in your house, should you consider converting your garage? A lot of people do this and if you’re looking for more square footage without the cost of an addition, you might think it’s a good idea. And it might be but it also might not be; there are pros and cons to this project and we’re going to list them for you in just a few minutes, to help you make the right decision for your house.
LESLIE: That’s right. And later this hour, we’re going to have host, Kevin O’Connor, from This Old House, stopping by with some step-by-step tips to doing a pictureperfect paint job on your kitchen cabinets. You know, it is the easiest and quickest and the cheapest way, I might add, to actually spruce up a super-outdated kitchen space.
TOM: And while you’re in the kitchen, we’ve got a great listener tip on homemade countertops; an easy trick-of-the-trade that you can do to really spice up the countertops in your kitchen.
LESLIE: That’s right. And for more great money-saving ideas, we’ve got a great prize for you this hour because we are giving away a subscription to a new magazine called Fresh Home Magazine. And as they say, this is a magazine with easy ideas for hands-on people.
TOM: And we know you’re hands-on people so pick up the phone right now. Use those hands to dial us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: John from Melville, New York, who’s dealing with a leaky skylight. Tell us about the problem.
JOHN: I have a couple of skylights. They’re in like a bathroom and the bathroom has a high ceiling and the skylights just leak when it’s a really heavy rain or when the rain is coming from out of the northeast.
TOM: John, what kind of skylights are these? Are they glass skylights? Are they plastic bubbles? Can you describe them for me?
JOHN: No, no, no. They’re Andersen skylights.
JOHN: They’re open; you can open them and they have like a copper flashing around them, which is underneath the shingles.
TOM: Right. Now, an Andersen skylight has something called a flashing kit and it’s basically assembled on top of the skylight frame so it can be disassembled, because I suspect that something is breaking down in this flashing area.
Essentially, what you need to do is take the flashing kit apart. There’s a head piece that will come off first and there’s two side pieces and then you’re going to see like a black, rubber band – like sort of a big lip – and that’s going to cover the step flashing that goes around the side of it. Somewhere in that assembly, you’re going to probably find a crack or a break in the shingles or in some piece of flashing that’s allowing the water to get in. It’s a very good skylight and one that should be easy to fix.
JOHN: Oh, wow. Thanks.
TOM: It’s not something that you want to take apart and sort of slap a lot of tar around it. It’s got a good flashing system so just take it apart, figure out what went wrong and put it back together again.
JOHN: Oh. I just had a guy just put a layer of tar around the …
TOM: (groaning) Oh, man.
JOHN: Oh, man.
TOM: That’s the lazy man’s way out.
LESLIE: Yeah, tar is like the worst patch.
JOHN: Oh, wow. So how bad is that now?
TOM: Is it still leaking?
JOHN: I don’t know. He just did it like a couple days ago.
TOM: Alright. Well, listen. I would leave it alone for now but if it starts to leak again, what I would do is I would take the roofing apart around it and you’re going to have to cut out everything that he tarred and reshingle right around that. But hopefully, you can probably preserve the existing flashing kit and if you can’t, you could order a new flashing kit.
JOHN: Oh, great. OK. (Leslie chuckles) So I don’t have to go with a new skylight. Great. That’s great.
TOM: (overlapping voices) No, I don’t think so. I think it’s completely repairable, OK, John?
JOHN: Thanks very much, guys.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Carol in Indiana who needs help cleaning a fireplace.
CAROL: Well, I have a stone fireplace and above the opening it’s – over the years, it’s gotten, you know, the soot and the black on the stones and I was wondering if there was a cleaner or a solution that I could use to clean the stone?
TOM: I would say two things. First of all, OxiClean would probably work very well for that.
TOM: OxiClean is like an oxygenated bleach. It’s a really good household cleaner; it’s got a million uses and that’s probably the best product. Very easy to find that in home centers and hardware stores. I would use that to clean the stone.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I would keep – you know, I would keep whatever I’m using to clean it in one bucket and then I’d keep a bucket of clean water and I would kind of use not a very heavy sort of scrub brush but I’d use a good scrub brush that’s not going to fall apart, to give me just a little bit of abrasion to help get rid of the – it’s almost even like a greasy film that you end up with.
TOM: Yeah, make sure that you’re careful with the – you know, with the process so you don’t get that water with the bleach in it on rugs or anything like that that you’re going to lose the finish on.
CAROL: Very good. I will try that. Thank you so much. I do appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call because we’re here to help give you a hand to get the job done right the first time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whatever projects you’ve got going on at your money pit, we’ll give you a hand so call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, are you out-growing your home? Well, you might want to turn your garage into a livable area but know the pros and cons before you do. We’ll have those, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac Automatic Standby Generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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 the number here at Team Money Pit is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the gift that keeps on giving. We are giving away a subscription to a new magazine called Fresh Home Magazine and it guides readers through easy, do-it-yourself projects including the estimated cost, what skills you might need and what you’re going to spend for a store-bought version, so you could really sort of weigh the benefits and see if it’s really worth it for you to do the project yourself.
So it’s a great prize; it’s really going to help you out all year long. But pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Now, one project you might be tempted to do yourself is to convert your garage into living space and, yes, you will be adding square footage to your home. But unless you do it right, it will always look like it used to be the garage. To be honest, it’s not my favorite bonus space; as Leslie says, I’m very anti-this-project. But if you want to protect your home’s resale value, you need to make sure it looks like there was never a garage there in the first place.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And unfortunately, you know, when we do these makeovers a lot on the home improvement shows I’ve worked on, we never do this next tip which means you have to make sure that your driveway just doesn’t lead right up to an outside wall of your house so it’s like, “Oh, this is where my car used to go but now I could possibly drive into this new room.”
So you really need to think about that. You’re also going to have to consider insulation, electric needs, heating and cooling options that you’re going to have to consider, all of the permits and inspections that go along with each and every sort of step of the way. So think long and hard before you really decide to jump into converting your garage into new space.
TOM: Yeah, and the worst thing that you can do – and I’ve seen it done more times than I can count …
LESLIE: Me too.
TOM: … is to simply close the door and nail it shut. It’s really tacky. There’s nothing more disappointing to a home-buyer, for example, that tries to open that door and finds out it’s a dummy door.
Secondly, it’s going to be a real source of leaks and if you’re going to create that space into living space, what you want to do is to remove that door. You’re going to have to build the foundation wall up so it’s level with the foundation in the rest of the sections of the garage. Frame it, put a couple of windows in there and then make sure you cut out at least enough of the driveway, like Leslie says, so that you can plant some flowers so it doesn’t look like the driveway goes right into the room itself; you want a little bit of a border there.
So if you’re going to do it, do it right. But if you don’t do it right, I say don’t do it at all because it’s really not going to add any value to your house and it could, in fact, become a major maintenance headache and it could make it very difficult to sell your home in the future. Hope that gives you some good direction, advice on that project.
If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading on over to Idaho to have a chat with John about a crumbling foundation. Tell us what’s going on.
JOHN: Yeah, it’s an old house. About two feet up from the ground, maybe where the sprinklers hit it, just the face of it is crumbling and I just wanted to know what’s the best thing to be to clean it well and resurface this.
TOM: Mm-hmm. So it is a block foundation or a brick foundation?
JOHN: It’s cement.
TOM: It’s cement? OK. Very common. You may be right about the sprinklers but, more commonly, you get overflow from gutters and you get rain that hits the ground and bounces up; so that particular area of the foundation is common to have cracks and loose, falling concrete and that kind of thing.
The key here is that you want to break off anything that’s loose. You want to clean it really well. I would use something like a JOMAX, which is a siding cleanser, to clean any mildew that’s attached to there. Then you’re going to mix up a new mix of stucco and you’re going to patch right over that.
Now, there are epoxy patching compounds that are stucco with sort of an epoxy mix. They’ll tend to be a lot stickier. They may not match in color – I’ll warn you there – so if that’s the case, once the patch is done, you may want to paint that section of the foundation.
JOHN: Good, good. And so any particular epoxy brands or …?
TOM: Well, QUIKRETE is a leading brand in that category and they have a variety of stucco products that are designed to be used for repair, where they stick to places like that.
JOHN: That sounds great. Thank you very much.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, John? You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Billy in Texas has a question about a water heater. How can we help you today?
BILLY: Yes, ma’am. I live in an 11×60 mobile home and it’s just me and my wife and our electric bill has been running us anywhere from $200 to $300 a month or more during the summertimes. But I have a 50-gallon water heater and I’m debating over whether I should go to gas or go to a smaller electric.
TOM: Billy, do you have air conditioning also running in the summer?
BILLY: Yes, we do.
TOM: Is that a central system or is that like a window unit?
BILLY: No, it’s central.
TOM: OK. Well, I mean I think probably those are the two most costly appliances to operate in your home; the central air conditioning and the water heater. Now, with respect to the water heater, do you have a timer on that?
BILLY: No, sir.
TOM: Alright, so let me give you a little trick of the trade here that can actually cut your water bill in half or even less than that and that is to install a 240-volt timer on the water heater. Because the water heater actually will maintain the water in a very hot-to-warm condition for most of the day without it running very many hours at all.
So, a timer basically goes on the circuit. It sort of goes – you split the wire between the water heater and the circuit breaker and, of course, you need to be a qualified person to do this; either hire an electrician or, if you’re not familiar with electricity, get somebody that is to do the job because we’re talking about big, big current here.
BILLY: Yes, sir.
TOM: But you install the water heater timer between the water heater and the circuit breaker and essentially you set it so that it comes on, say, a couple of hours before you get up in the morning, stays on throughout morning showers, then it can go off for almost all day and then come on again for a few hours in the evening. Generally, you’re going to run this water heater about eight to ten hours a day instead of 24/7. That, plus make sure the water temperature is set to around 110 degrees – that’s as hot as you’ll need it – and that will have a significant impact on the expense of running that water heater.
BILLY: Alright. Well, that sounds good to me.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now, Tom, if you’re going to do something like laundry or run the dishwasher, do you need to do that in that sort of chunk of time when you’ve allotted that the water heater is on or will you maintain enough hot water to do it, you know, in the night time when you’re sleeping, to run things or in the middle of the day?
TOM: Yeah, I think that 50 gallons is quite a lot of hot water and you certainly could run your dishwasher or run a load of laundry without having to worry about having that water heater on throughout the entire period. Now, if you’re going to do multiple loads, obviously, then you can’t do that but for the most part, you could certainly run one load or more.
LESLIE: You know, because it’s always – it’s so much more energy-efficient and energy-smart to run your dishwasher at night, especially in the summer. So if you’re not going to have the water heater on, it’s good to know that you still can do that.
TOM: And your dryer, by the way.
TOM: Running that at night actually helps you avoid some of the cooling costs that you would incur due to the fact that the dryer will heat up your house, as well.
LESLIE: And it heats it very efficiently. (Leslie and Tom chuckle)
Amy in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
AMY: Hi. Well, I’ve got trees growing out of my gutters. (Amy and Leslie chuckle)
TOM: Ah. That’s the first sign that you need to clean them, Amy.
AMY: Yeah, yeah, I know. I am a baby do-it-yourselfer and I just started listening to your show and realizing how important it is to clean out my gutters.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
LESLIE: Well, let me guess. Do you have a wet basement, Amy?
TOM: Yeah. (Leslie chuckles)
AMY: Although it’s not growing mold; it’s doing that mineral deposit thing.
TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s the first sign; that mineral deposit thing is when the water evaporates into the basement space and leaves its minerals behind. But when you get enough water, you’re going to get leaks in that wall so we’ve got to get those gutters clean. So you’re going to have to do that the hard way. Get up there, clean out all the junk that’s in those gutters and get them free-flowing and then think about some sort of a gutter guard.
AMY: Well, that’s my problem. It has a gutter guard. We have three, very large maples and it keeps the leaves out but now all the whirlybird seeds stick in it.
TOM: OK. What kind of gutter guard is it? Is it like a screen?
AMY: It’s like a mesh net but the holes are just big enough …
AMY: … that it just locks all of them in there and so now it’s clogging around the inner corners really bad.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, those – the mesh slows it down but it doesn’t really stop it.
LESLIE: Because what happens is everything sort of just gets mashed and mushed from like the weather and the weight of itself through that screen and it still gets in there. There are louvered kinds that sort of overlap one another so that the water kind of moves in and through but everything else washes over.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. You know, when you buy those mesh gutter covers, they come with a hinge for a very good reason, because you’ve got to lift them up and clean the gutters out pretty regularly.
AMY: (overlapping voices) Oh, good.
TOM: The louvered type that Leslie is talking about, there are a lot of different brands. There are do-it-yourself brands, there are brands that you can have installed like – what’s one? Gutter Helmet, I think, is one of them. And those are more effective at keeping the whirlybirds out.
TOM: But keep those gutters clean; that will keep that basement dry and we won’t be hearing from you the next time it floods.
AMY: And how often should I clean them? Like I’ve never cleaned gutters before.
TOM: OK. Well, the first time …
LESLIE: We do ours four times a year.
TOM: Yeah. The first time, you’re going to have a big project but after that, if you stay on top of it – don’t let the trees start growing in the gutter; that’s way too much, OK?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah. (Amy laughs)
TOM: Alright, Amy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’ve got Jack, who is a trucker, who is currently somewhere between St. Louis and Mt. Vernon.
So welcome, Jack.
JACK: Hi. How are you doing?
LESLIE: Great. Keep both hands on the wheels, please. (Tom and Jack chuckle)
JACK: I’m parked right now.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK, good.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Ah, good thing. Alright. How can we help you?
JACK: My wife and I recently purchased a home and before VA would approve the purchase, the made the owners replace the deck on the porch that was covered with indoor/outdoor carpet.
JACK: And what I’m wanting to know is what can I do to waterproof that wood before I put new indoor/outdoor carpet on there?
JACK: Otherwise, I’m afraid that, you know, every three or four years, I’m going to have to pull everything up and …
TOM: Why do you want to put indoor/outdoor carpet on it?
JACK: Well, the only thing that’s there now is a plywood deck.
TOM: Oh, plywood. It’s a plywood deck. OK, so here’s what I would do. First of all, all the plywood today is exterior grade so you don’t have to worry about the glue. If you want to try to protect the wood, I would use a product called Cuprinol – C-U-P-R-I-N-O-L; it’s like an exterior wood stain. I think if you seal it with that, that will do a good job of protecting the wood as best as it possibly can.
Another option would be use something called WOODLIFE, which is a product that stops it from rotting. You can’t use both; use one or the other. And then after that, you can go ahead and put the indoor/outdoor carpet over it.
JACK: I see.
LESLIE: Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Hey, still to come – our favorite tips and tricks from our friends at This Old House. Today, we’ve got Kevin O’Connor stopping by with the right way to paint kitchen cabinets, right after this.
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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: Pick up the phone and give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 for the answer to your home improvement question and you ought to visit MoneyPit.com/Staycation right now because you can have a chance to win a walk-behind lawnmower from John Deere. A great product worth over 400 bucks; getting lots of entries into that contest. Easy to enter; easy to win. Head there right now and you could be cutting your grass this fall with a brand-spanking new, John Deere mower. Let’s get back to the phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Kay in Colorado needs some help with a patio project. What can we do for you today?
KAY: I have a cement patio that was part of the original house and it has the wrought-iron posts and everything all the way around. And on that, it has a corrugated roof and I need to figure out how in the world to put on a gutter because there’s no place to hook it to. You know, this wrought iron just goes up behind it and it’s been just hooked to it with little clips.
TOM: So it’s like a covered patio? Is it like a metal roof?
KAY: It isn’t metal; it’s kind of a corrugated plastic of some kind.
TOM: OK. And you want to try to figure out a way to connect a gutter to that?
KAY: Yeah, it’s across the front because from there you can step down and go into the backyard and if it’s raining you can’t because you get rained on.
TOM: As you know, normally a gutter is attached with long screws or nails that go through the gutter and into the fascia behind it. Now, if you cannot create a section – a fascia-like material where you can attach things – there’s another type of gutter that’s used very commonly on old houses, where the bracket actually goes on the roof and hangs on the roof itself. So you can attach to the face of the corrugated roof that you have and the gutter would hang off the roof rather than hang off the fascia.
You’re not going to find that bracket in a hardware store or a home center; you’re going to have to go to a gutter company for it and have them make this piece for you. But there is a way to hang it off the roof without having a fascia and I think that will solve the problem.
KAY: OK. Well, I’ll go in there and see what I can do. Thank you so much.
TOM: Great. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you want a new look in your kitchen but can’t afford a major renovation, painting your kitchen cabinets can make a dramatic difference. If you do it right, it’ll look great and it’ll last a long time. Here with the step-by-step to get it right the first time is our friend, Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House.
KEVIN: Hey, Tom.
TOM: This is a popular project right now; people are trying to save some money. Not that hard to do.
KEVIN: No. It’s a great way to save money and it is not hard to do. Now, there are a lot of different approaches but here’s one to think about if you’re going to paint oak cabinets using, let’s say, a latex or a water-based paint.
Here are the steps: clean and degrease all the surfaces; then, lightly sand and clean all the surfaces with a tack cloth; next, you want to prime with a bonding primer that’s going to make sure that the paint sticks; and then you can apply two coats of latex.
And here’s the kicker: on top of the latex, try applying two coats of polyurethane.
TOM: That’s a good point because cabinets take a lot of punishment. Now, you go through all that work; how about some jewelry for those cabinets? Good idea to replace the hardware?
KEVIN: It is. That’s a great finishing touch. Once you’ve painted the cabinets, you’re going to want to replace existing knobs, pulls and hinges, too. And if you want to see a step-by-step video of the tools, materials and techniques for painting cabinets, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: Great tip. Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Always a pleasure.
LESLIE: Kevin, those are awesome ideas. It’s so great for you to share those with us, because we get so many questions here at The Money Pit where folks are looking to affordably make over their kitchen and certainly, painting those cabinets is a great option.
Hey, if this sounds like a great idea to you guys out there, head on over to ThisOldHouse.com. As Kevin mentioned, there is a great step-by-step video to help you get your project done right.
TOM: And This Old House is proudly sponsored by Bellawood Prefinished Hardwood Floors.
Up next, another great kitchen makeover idea: finishing off counters with wood. We’re going to have a great tip on how to achieve this look and do this project, after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Two-Part Epoxy Garage Floor Coating. Transform drab, gray, concrete garage floors into attractive and functional spaces with a showroom-quality finish. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-E-H-R.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.
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. And you should give us a call with your home improvement or your décor question. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one lucky caller is going to win a subscription to Fresh Home Magazine and this is a bi-monthly publication that has money-saving, do-it-yourself ideas geared towards both men and women. So give us a call right now for your chance to win, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Well, we’ve been asking you for your best uses for Liquid Nails adhesives. And we’ve got a great tip this week from Thomas Cook. He says that: “Last year, I built new kitchen counters and for the edge trim, I used hardwood molding with a light stain. I didn’t want nails to attach the moldings since they would show, even when filled with putty. I was also not sure that small finish nails could securely hold the molding onto the counters, where they’d be leaned on and stressed. I decided to use Liquid Nails to attach the molding. The results are great. The holding power is stronger than nails and the molding is unmarked by nail heads or other filler dots.”
You know, that’s actually a really good idea because any time you can use fewer nails, you’re always better off. I mean, I think you should think of nails as the clamps that hold it in place while it dries but it shouldn’t be the primary way to attach the molding to the countertop.
LESLIE: No. And truly, we know that Liquid Nails is so super-duper strong, so this was a really smart application for it. And thanks so much for sharing that with us, Thomas. What a great Liquid Nails project.
Now, Liquid Nails is the gold standard of construction adhesives and with a whole line of project-specific formulations, there is sure to be a Liquid Nails exactly for you and your project.
Now, to share your Liquid Nails story, go ahead and send us your story at MyStory@MoneyPit.com. And if we use your tip on the air, we are going to send you a Liquid Nails gift pack worth 65 bucks.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Andrew is calling in from New Jersey, needing some help with an exterior hot water heater. Oh, I said it, Tom. I said, “Hot water heater.” (Tom chuckles) Trouble.
Welcome, Andrew. How can we help you?
TOM: (overlapping voices) It’s redundant. It’s redundant. (chuckles)
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) I did.
TOM: Hi, Andrew.
ANDREW: I have a – yeah, I have a water heater outside. It’s in like a closet in my condo.
ANDREW: And it’s getting pretty hot in New Jersey now and it’s – when it’s really hot and you want to take a shower, the water comes out like super, super hot.
TOM: OK. Well, what do you have it set at?
ANDREW: Oh, I have no idea what it’s set at.
TOM: Well, see, now that would be the first place to start, Andrew. We want to check what the temperature is. Is this a gas water heater?
TOM: OK. So there’s going to be a gas knob and normally there’s a control on there that doesn’t have, necessarily, the temperature written on it but it usually says somewhere in the middle : “normal.” I would set it right to the left of “normal” and see how that works out for you. If it happens to be turned up all the way, it could be way too hot.
You want the water temperature to be at about 110 degrees coming out of that. Turning it up is going to push it up northwards of 135 or 140 degrees and that’s very, very dangerous. So check the temperature, if you can, with a thermometer and make the adjustment. But if it’s just a straight, normal gas valve, it’s going to have a “normal” button on it. You want to set it right to the left of that.
LESLIE: And Tom, the water heater being outside – say if it’s in a space that gets a lot of direct sun at a certain time of year – is it possible that the …?
TOM: Has no effect on it.
LESLIE: Has no effect. It’s not heating what’s in there?
TOM: (overlapping voices) No, because – right. You’re measuring the temperature of the water and you’re telling the gas valve to come on or off based on what the water temperature is.
Now, certainly, there’s going to be less system loss in the winter than there is in the summer; it’s going to be more efficient in the summer than it is in the winter. But the fact that it’s in a hot space is not going to change it.
ANDREW: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Andrew. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carol in North Carolina is dealing with some squeaky floors. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
CAROL: Oh, well, the hardwood floors squeak. I want to repair them. I want to stop the squeak but I don’t want to ruin the floors and I’d rather not put down the carpeting. So is there some way I can take repair these floors without putting, you know, a new mortgage on the house or anything? (Leslie and Tom chuckle)
TOM: Sure. Squeaking floors are pretty straightforward; they happen because the boards are loose and what you would need to do is secure them. So, the first thing is to identify where the floor joists are under the hardwood floors. You can do that with a stud finder or you can sort of measure it off if you can get underneath it and figure out where the floor joist is.
TOM: And then what you’re going to want to do is – if it’s a hardwood, you can either pilot drill it and screw it down and you’re going to have to countersink it and plug it, which is a bit of a woodworking project or …
TOM: … you could pilot drill it with a very small drill bit and then use a finish nail, driven on a slight angle, in a couple of different places and that’ll pull it down, too. You want to drive it in on an angle because it doesn’t pull out quite as easily. But if you do that, then you can just simply fill it with some nail filler.
TOM: But you want to tighten these boards up and that’s what’s making the noise. I will warn you, though: just as soon as you get one spot real tight (Leslie chuckles), probably it’ll start squeaking somewhere else.
CAROL: Well, I figure if I just do every board in – you know, every board right to the joist, it should eventually disappear.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Exactly.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, my goodness. And that’s an ongoing project.
CAROL: Yeah, and then I just go ahead and I’d use screws because I know that’s the better way; even though that’s going to be – oh, that’s going to be a lot of work to cover all those screw heads.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) A bigger hole to fill.
CAROL: Yeah. Yeah. I’m going to have to think about this long and hard.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) What’s below? Is there any way to repair this from below? Can you get – is it a finished ceiling space below this floor that’s squeaking?
CAROL: Yeah. Yeah, I had it torn out a couple of years back because of a leak but I didn’t think to fix the squeaks then.
TOM: Well, this is not a complicated project, Carol. If you identify those floor joists, use a stud finder like we said and just slightly drill down and then nail at a slight angle, you’ll tighten them up and you’ll quiet them down.
CAROL: I will quiet them down. I will have little, round holes though.
TOM: Well, small, little, round holes which you can fill in.
CAROL: (chuckling) Which is probably better than the big squeaks. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: That’s right. What will be less annoying to you, Carol?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Exactly.
CAROL: I think the small holes.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) There you go.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright. And that’s – we agree. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Wayne needs some help with those energy-savings rumors that are going on out there with those tax credits. What can we do for you?
WAYNE: Yeah, hi. You know, I’ve got a one-story house and I have a bonus room upstairs and it is significantly hotter than the rest of the house, so we don’t really get to use it as a bonus. And I’ve been calling around to these radiant barrier places down here in Dallas and they claim that they can lower my attic temperature up to 20 to 30 degrees and they can save me up to 30 to 40 percent on my electricity bills and I just don’t know what to do. I’ve heard of the spray-on kind; I’ve heard of the roll-on kind. Do you guys have any suggestions to – or anywhere I can go to back up these claims?
TOM: I think in your part of the country, applying a high-efficiency, radiant barrier makes sense. There are spray kinds that work; there are sheet products that work. I do think that a lot of the installers tend to overestimate what the potentials savings are but nonetheless, I do think that you will experience some savings.
There are some do-it-yourself products out there but usually it requires some advanced equipment, like spray guns and things like that, so you probably are going to want to work with a contractor. So I would decide which way you want to go and then I would research the quality of the contractor. Talk to some folks that perhaps they did this same project with last summer and see what kind of savings they had and make your decision based on that.
WAYNE: So you guys believe that it does help in some way, then?
TOM: I do believe it will save.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh absolutely.
TOM: It definitely will lower your cooling costs.
WAYNE: Alright. Well, thanks very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, you can smell the mold but you can’t find it? Where do you even begin to look? We’re going to answer that question, after this.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’re giving you staycation solutions all summer long at MoneyPit.com, brought to you by Fiberon and by WORX. Don’t want to burn through a bunch of cash on an expensive vacation? Why not take a getaway in your own backyard? It’s easy with a few, inexpensive ideas. A beautifully manicured lawn, lush landscape and a killer deck or patio are all you need. Find out more at MoneyPit.com/Staycation.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And while you’re there, make sure you enter because time is running out for you to get your hands on a fantastic prize we’re giving away from John Deere. We’ve got a walk-behind mower worth over 400 bucks that is going to be free for one of you lucky folks that goes over to MoneyPit.com/Staycation and enters in today.
And while you’re at MoneyPit.com, make sure you e-mail us any of your questions that you’re just too shy to ask, by clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie. And I’ve got one here from Shawna in Edmond, Oklahoma who writes: “The master bath shower in our new home has a musty smell. Cleaning didn’t help and it seems to be coming from the drain so we called a plumber. Well, it’s not from the drain but the plumber says that there might be a leak that’s causing mold behind the walls. Now, the smell is making my family sick and we can’t even walk into this room but we just don’t know where to start to find that mold.”
TOM: I think the plumber is speculating and plumbers love to speculate. And their solution is to get a big hammer and start banging holes into walls.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Break walls open? (chuckles)
TOM: Yeah. Bad idea. I think I know what’s causing your problem, Shawna. It’s probably bacteria. Sometimes, with these drain pipes – especially if you have plastic drain pipes – you get a film that grows in sort of the gunk that sticks to the sides of the drain pipe wall …
LESLIE: And is it like shower residue; like soap and skin and yuck?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right, exactly. And the bacteria grows in there and the bacteria really smells bad; bad, bad, bad. So …
LESLIE: Does it smell moldy, like must?
TOM: It can. It can. It has all sorts of different, nasty odors but it’s a very common complaint. What you want to do is you want to get a very strong bleach solution; like an oxygen bleach. You can buy oxygen bleach at home centers, hardware stores.
Mix up a solution and you want to wash down the sides of the pipe. You can use like a turkey baster or something like that to sort of saturate the sides of the drain pipe wall to kill the bacteria that’s there. Rinse it out and I think that’s going to make your smell go away. I would not go on a witch hunt here to try to find a leak that you don’t know exists.
If you did have a leak inside of a wall, you would certainly see some saturation in the wall that was causing that. I don’t think that’s the cause of this problem; I think it’s simply bacteria that’s got a strong odor to it.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one from John in Burlington, New Jersey who writes: “I have a concrete driveway and the expansion joints have rotted away. Is there any way to repair these joints?”
TOM: Yeah, and it’s a good idea to do that because you don’t want a lot of water to pour in there, John. But if you simply caulk it with nothing behind the caulk, you’ll end up wasting a lot of it.
So what you want to do is a two-step process. You want to pick up something called a backer rod; it’s sort of like a foam strip that’s round – it’s one inch in diameter – and you shove it in the slot between the two slabs of concrete and it creates sort of a base.
And then, against that, you’re going to get something called flowable urethane, which is sort of like a loose caulk, and you’re going to pour it so it hits the top of the backer rod and then flows out between the two slabs of concrete. That will actually last quite a long time and it won’t take a whole lot of material if you do it in those steps.
And this will prevent some water from getting in there because if you let water saturate that area, what’ll happen is the soil will get soft and the concrete will crack and that’s not going to be a good situation.
LESLIE: Will it also lend to more damage from, say, like a freeze and thaw cycle?
TOM: Well, certainly, if less water gets in there, you’re going to have less freezing and heaving of the driveway and again, cracking.
LESLIE: Alright. Good idea. I hope that helps with your project.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve helped you out with lots of great home improvement tips to fill out those busy, summer weekends with projects that will make you cooler, more comfortable and allow you to enjoy your home that much more.
The show continues online at MoneyPit.com. Head there any time of the day or night and pick up the phone and call us whenever you have a home improvement question, at 1-888-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.
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(Copyright 2009 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)