Garage Door Safety, Home Automation and More
TRANSCRIPT FOR JUNE 15, 2009, HOUR 2
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 2 TEXT:
TOM: Hi, I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And you are tuned to the Money Pit podcast. We are so glad that you are.
Now all this month on the podcast we’re going to be talking about staycation tips throughout our show and these are some ideas to make your home a little more comfortable, a little more pleasant, a little more fun if you’re not going to take a vacation this year; you’re just going to sort of stay at home and enjoy the place you have.
Now if you head on over to MoneyPit.com, we’re also making available a free chapter of our book, My Home, My Money Pit. It’s the outdoor living chapter available for free download at MoneyPit.com; chock full with lots of staycation tips to make your summer a lot of fun if you’re staying at home.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you know what? All of this great information and all these great ideas are brought to you by our friends over at Fiberon Decking and also the WORX GT Trimmer/Edger.
Alright, folks. Let’s get started.
TOM: Now, on with the show.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We’re here to help you get that job done around the house. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up, how safe is your garage door? You ought to know because every year we hear about dangerous doors that come down unexpectedly, potentially trapping you or your kids underneath. So this hour, we’re going to have tips to help make sure that you know how to keep it well maintained so that it works properly and safely.
LESLIE: And while you’re strolling the grounds of your money pit, why not take care of your vinyl siding? You know it can easily get very dingy and dirty-looking but there’s a really easy way to spruce it up after a long winter and we’re going to tell you how to do that.
TOM: And it used to be the stuff of science fiction movies; you know, walk into your home and say “Lights on” and instantly they come on – and we’re not talking about the Clapper, OK? (Tom and Leslie chuckle) But actually, it’s not all that far off; in fact, there are a group of folks right now developing some technology to make sure home automation is done right and we’re going to teach you a little bit about that in just a bit.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a great prize pack from Krylon. They have got the first ever stain that is in spray form. It’s worth 30 bucks, the prize pack, but let me tell you; the process and the time you will save are absolutely priceless.
TOM: So give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.
LESLIE: Janice in North Carolina needs some help cleaning stainless steel. What are you working on?
JANICE: My kitchen sink, it’s fairly new and it looks terrible on the bottom and I’ve tried the different special cleaners made for it but they don’t seem to work.
LESLIE: When you say “terrible,” you mean you see almost like scratches and circular patterns from maybe where you put a pot or a pan down?
JANICE: Yes, and rusty – kind of rusty looking.
LESLIE: Well, the rust, that’s what happens when you put dissimilar metals together for some time. I’ve accidentally done this in my own sink when I’ve taken a pan and maybe there was something baked on and I put water and dish detergent in it and then sat the pan in the bottom of the sink and left it over night. The next day I found like a square mark and rust from the two metals sitting together and that’s because they’re different metals.
The only thing that you can do there is use like a Brillo or very, very fine steel wool and you want to sort of go in the grain of the steel – you’ll see that there’s a grain to the stainless itself – jut because you want to get rid of that stain, that rust stain. And that generally works but don’t leave a pot or a pan in there that’s not stainless steel overnight or for an extended amount of time because you’re going to end up with that happening again.
JANICE: OK. What about the other stains? Is there anything for that?
LESLIE: You know, nothing, Janice. Even though the stainless steel is a very durable material, when you put a plate down and it’s got that unfinished ceramic edge and then maybe put a couple more plates on top and then one twists and turns, you’re going to end up with these sorts of marcations on it and the stainless steel cleaners, I mean they do a great job of cleaning the stainless and making the stains go away; it doesn’t make the scratches go away.
TOM: You know what I use is Barkeeper’s Friend – it’s a cleaner and a polish and it works really, really well. We used it on our stainless steel sink and now we use it on our Corian sinks, too, and it really does a good job of cleaning it up.
JANICE: OK, I’ll try that.
TOM: Give it a shot. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: If you’re thinking about finishing your basement, you might be Matt in Georgia who’s joining us next. What can we do for you?
MATT: Hello, this is Matt and I love your show. Thank you so much for presenting the information you do and in so great a format. I love it.
LESLIE: Thanks, Matt.
TOM: Our pleasure, Matt. So what are you working on?
MATT: Well, we have a storage room which is part of our basement and it’s got cement block on two walls and on one wall it has a pipe that extends out that goes vertically up and down the wall and it sticks out about four or five inches from the wall.
TOM: OK, like a plumbing pipe or something? A vent pipe or something?
MATT: Exactly, a vent or a drain pipe. I’m not sure. But I need to be able to put some drywall on that cement block and finish out that room. The ceiling is finished. I just need to finish that.
TOM: First of all, what we want you to do is to frame a wall away from the cement block. I know you’re giving up a little bit of square footage in doing that but you’re better off not attaching the wood and then the drywall right to the concrete block because …
LESLIE: You’re just going to have a whole moisture situation.
TOM: Yeah, yeah. It’s really damp and it’s just not a good thing to do. So we would recommend that you frame a wall out in front and that will deal with the pipe issue.
LESLIE: But only like six inches or so, right?
TOM: Or less. I mean you could just leave a little bit of a space between, say, the bottom sill plate and the concrete block but bring it out in front of it.
Secondly, don’t use regular drywall. Use a product called Dens Armor which is a fiberglass-faced drywall. You don’t want to put a paper …
LESLIE: It’s from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: Yeah, you don’t want to put a paper-faced product down there because it becomes mold food in that damp space. So if you use the Dens Armor product, which you can get at Depot or at Lowe’s and lots of other home centers, you can put a drywall surface there that’s not going to grow any mold.
LESLIE: And it finishes exactly the same way as traditional drywall, so you don’t have to worry about doing anything extra special. (Tom and Matt chuckle)
MATT: Sounds good.
TOM: Alright, Matt. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. You can pick up the phone 24 hours a day and give us a call with your home repair, your home improvement, your decorating, your gardening question. Whatever is going on at your money pit, we have got a solution; so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, garage door openers are a great convenience but it’s important to make sure you use some simple precautions to keep it a safe part of your home. We’re going to help you get a handle on that, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the WORX GT, the revolutionary trimmer/edger that’s fully adjustable, runs on rechargeable battery power and weighs less than a gallon of milk. See the WORX GT in action at FreeLineforLife.com.
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. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If you do, you could win a six-pack of a new product from Krylon. It’s Krylon’s exterior, semi-transparent wood stain that comes in a spray can so you don’t have to dip a brush into a paint can to use this stuff or into a stain can. You just spray it on, wipe it off; you’re good to go. It’s worth 30 bucks; going to go out to one caller who reaches us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you’re thinking about taking one of those new-fangled staycations that everybody’s talking about. You know, it’s like the opposite of a vacation, where you make your wonderful backyard into the place that everybody on your block is going to be completely jealous of and then you stay at home instead of going on an expensive vacation. Well, we have got a staycation project that you can take on today and we want to help you so that you make sure that your garage door is safe.
So, in doing so, it’s really important to keep those garage door tracks lubricated and the springs properly adjusted. Next, you want to make sure to test the door’s safety reverse mechanism as specified by your garage door’s manufacturer. Now, doors that don’t reverse when obstructed, they’re a real danger and they should be immediately replaced.
If you’re looking for some more staycation solutions, go on over to MoneyPit.com/Staycation and right now, when you go there, you have got a chance to win – get this – a John Deere mower. It’s worth 400 bucks, so head on over to the website today and it could be yours.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Susan in Tennessee has a situation in the basement. What happened?
SUSAN: Yes, my mother lives in Tennessee and I’m calling for her and she lives close to the Mississippi River and she has a basement which is – it’s a partial basement, I guess you’d say. She has windows that are above the ground. And while she was gone we had so much rain and her sump pump got stopped up and water has seeped into the basement. We’ve gotten the water out but we want to know what to do about that damp, musty smell. How can we get rid of that and do we know if there’s any mold or mildew down there? How can we treat that?
TOM: Well, you’re not going to know until you actually inspect it but in terms of the smell, that’s going to stem from humidity and moisture reacting with dirt and other things that are down there. You’re probably going to need to add some sort of dehumidification. Now do you have a forced air heating system in that house, do you know?
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what a good thing would be for you to add and that’s called a whole-house dehumidifier. Now these are made by different companies. Aprilaire makes a really good one and I actually work with that product and it takes out like – isn’t it like 90 pints of …
LESLIE: Ninety pints.
TOM: Yeah, 90 pints of water a day.
LESLIE: And it’s not something that you have to continually empty. It dumps itself, essentially. So it takes the work out of it and it constantly kicks on and comes on in the areas where it needs the most dehumidification in your home, so it’ll constantly work in that basement until it takes that moisture to a proper level.
TOM: And the other thing to do is – and I know she lives near the Mississippi, but when you have a lot of rain you also get surface water that drains in there. So make sure that your gutter system is clean, that the downspouts are extended away from the foundation and that the soil around the outside of that wall slopes away from the house.
TOM: Because you also get humidity and moisture that comes down from rainwater in addition to any water that’s going to come up.
SUSAN: OK, well thanks so much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Susan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bea has a question about insulation. What can we do for you today?
BEA: Yes. I have just put in new insulation in my attic.
BEA: And I had heard you talking, one time, to a man, about what to put on the papers; to be sure and include certain things when you go to get your credit on your – for your, you know, energy improvement.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yep.
LESLIE: Bea, when did you put the insulation into your home?
BEA: Well, about two weeks ago.
TOM: Ah, well alright. Then I think that you’ll probably qualify. The requirement is it has to meet the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code. How much insulation do you have in your house; how many inches?
BEA: Ten inches.
TOM: Ten inches? Hmm, that doesn’t sound like it might be enough. You’re going to have to find out what the required insulation level is for your area in the country.
TOM: You could probably do that through the local building department. But if you meet the International Energy Conservation Code, then you can qualify for a 30% tax rebate on the cost of that insulation up to 1,500 bucks. So it’s pretty …
BEA: Now what’s the name of the code you’re talking about?
TOM: International Energy Conservation Code.
TOM: That’s the requirement. It’s got to meet that code. OK?
BEA: (overlapping voices) OK. I’ll call them and find out. Thanks.
TOM: Alright, well good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Good luck with that.
BEA: Thanks. Bye.
TOM: You’ve got to pay your taxes anyway; you might as well get the government to …
LESLIE: Get something back.
TOM: Get something back out of it, exactly. (chuckles) Alright.
LESLIE: Nate in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. I understand you’ve got a flooring question.
NATE: Yeah, I sure do. I’ve got a relatively new house here and the basement is pretty flat and I was wondering what type of underlayment I want to use with a floating floor.
LESLIE: Are you going with a laminate?
NATE: Yeah, and a few people have told me I can just put maybe a four mil poly or something like that and I know they make, you know, a laminate underlayment; I just didn’t know what the best would probably be for the money.
TOM: Well, most manufacturers of laminate specify a certain type of underlayment. I know Formica has one that sort of looks like foam. Armstrong has one that looks more like – I hate to say this – crushed paper, but it’s not really paper but it kind of looks that way.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, because it’s waterproof.
TOM: Because it’s waterproof. Yeah. So I would turn to the manufacturer of the laminate for the particular product. You want to put something down that has a little bit of give to it, Nate.
TOM: So just putting plain plastic down is not the solution.
LESLIE: Yeah, because you want most of them sort of – even though they’re thin, they’re made out of this foamy type of fabric, if you will, that sort of covers over any slight differences in height or anything that might poke out of the floor. This way it sort of creates a more even surface. I’m not talking about great differences but, you know, like slight little juts here and there. That foam sort of creates a nice base and then your floating floor goes right over that. And also, some manufacturers of laminates put their underlayment directly on the backside of that plank. So double-check to make sure that that’s not what you’re getting and make sure that you do use whatever the manufacturer specifies.
TOM: Nate, hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Carolyn in New York, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
CAROLYN: Hi, yes. I have a question about an illegal extension on my house. My husband and I purchased a home two months ago. Our contractor, when he was doing some work on our house, is actually the one that poked around and found that our extension – originally we wanted the house for the extension – was built on wood, so it doesn’t have a permit. So now the extension has to come down.
TOM: It was built on wood?
CAROLYN: It is built on wood that is basically rotting.
TOM: Oh, boy. Hey, Carolyn, did you get a home inspection done when you bought this house?
CAROLYN: Yes, let me tell you. I had two real estate people. I had an engineer. I had a new survey done. I had a lawyer and I had a title company and not one person found it.
TOM: That’s unbelievable.
CAROLYN: It is unbelievable.
TOM: I’ll tell you what, that home inspector’s got some explaining to do.
LESLIE: And the home inspector wasn’t recommended to you by the realtor, by any chance?
CAROLYN: No, he was recommended through a family friend’s lawyer.
TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you. The one professional involved in the transaction that sounds like probably should have found it, assuming it was accessible, was the home inspector. The home inspector may have errors-and-omissions insurance that you may be able to claim against. I think that your lawyer should probably bring in an outside expert to have that thought confirmed and if you want to understand what home inspectors are required to report on, go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org. And also, in New York home inspectors are licensed; so your state department is going to have – or your licensing bureau is going to have some standards as well that are probably very similar to the ASHI standards. But the question is what was the condition of the foundation at the time of inspection; was it accessible; is it, in fact, a defect and if the answer to those questions is yes then the inspector should have pointed it out to you.
CAROLYN: OK, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Carolyn. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: With rolling power outages on the plate for much of the United States this summer, we’ve got Tom in Louisiana who wants to beat the blackout. What can we do for you?
TOM IN LOUISIANA: I need to get some recommendations on a whole-house generator.
TOM: We can do that. How big is your house, Tom?
TOM IN LOUISIANA: About 2,400 square feet.
TOM: I have one here. I have a Guardian generator by Generac and I like it because it runs, in my case, on natural gas. Now do you have natural gas there?
TOM IN LOUISIANA: Right on the other side of the wall.
TOM: Perfect. A natural gas generator is totally the way to go because, this way, you don’t have to look for gasoline when the power goes out; which, of course, many people don’t recognize the fact that when the power goes out the filling stations can’t pump gas because they’ve got no power to …
LESLIE: So you have to have the gas on standby.
TOM: Right. And they actually just came up with this automatic transfer switch now that does it all for you. Basically, when you put in the standby generator, you can put in this new automatic transfer switch and within, you know, 15 to 30 seconds it automatically moves those critical circuits from the utility company side of the electrical panel over to the generator side and does it all for you. And the good news is that prices have come down on these things now. So I think that that would be the hot ticket; a Guardian generator by Generac.
TOM IN LOUISIANA: Well, I’ll slide down and get that rascal. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, the high-tech home is no longer science fiction. Find out how hundreds of companies are joining forces to bring wireless home communications to real life, 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. Install a new, energy-efficient Therma-Tru door today and qualify for up to a $1,500 tax credit. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com/TaxCredit.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And it’s not science fiction anymore. The high-tech home is becoming more of a reality every, single day and one thing that makes a high-tech home high-tech is interconnectivity.
LESLIE: And that’s where the ZigBee Alliance comes in. You know, this is an organization that’s helping to create a universal wireless communication language so that, basically, all homes are speaking the same language. And here to tell us more is the president of the alliance, Bob Heile.
BOB: Hello, good to be here.
TOM: So Bob, what exactly is ZigBee? You need to kind of give us a peek here into the Jetson’s house of the future. What’s it going to be like when you achieve total world domination with this technology? (Leslie chuckles)
BOB: Well, actually, we don’t think of it in the Jetson’s sense. (Tom chuckles) We think of it just sort of in practical things it’s going to make your life a little bit easier, a little bit more convenient and, we hope, a little less expensive to boot.
TOM: Sounds good.
BOB: ZigBee is in alliance now with 300 companies from around the planet, so it’s a very global organization. It was focused on coming up with a way of tying together [a devices and sensing] (ph) control; you know, like a thermostat or window and door sensors or a motion detector – that kind of stuff. And it’s a way of networking these things together amongst these devices so that, you know, you can do lots of interesting things. Like people with home entertainment systems, when they hit the DVD player “On” button, all of a sudden all the lights go down into movie mode and/or …
TOM: Oh, that’s very cool.
BOB: If you’re in bed and you forgot to turn the lights off in your house or you forget to set the security system, you just hit the remote and bingo; off it goes and your security system is set and the lights go to mode, you can set the alarm clock in your kids’ rooms, you can do all sorts of fun stuff.
TOM: That’s really cool.
LESLIE: So now, Bob, when you’re sort of – I mean you just said you can set the alarm clocks in your kids’ rooms. So now I’ve got this – is it a remote; is it a panel that’s attached to my wall; is it something that – I know I’ve got a lot of questions because I’m excited but is it something that where everything I then plug into an outlet in the house is now speaking to this central communications system?
BOB: No, actually, it’s anything – it’s all wireless. I mean that’s the cool thing about this is you don’t have to have the expense of putting in wires or doing anything like that. So all this stuff forms networks all by itself with all the other devices that have the radio technology in it …
TOM: And where is the central control point? Is it …?
BOB: There is none; that’s the beauty of it. Because you don’t want a central control point because that’s a central point of failure.
BOB: So all radios are equal and they know how to organize themselves into a network and they know how to share information with each other.
TOM: So simply by plugging them in, they’re already networked.
TOM: I see.
BOB: And even devices that are battery-powered; this is technology that was set up so that the batteries last a long time.
TOM: Because the power is always being perfectly managed.
BOB: It’s being perfectly managed; it’s very low-power technology, so it’s – I mean the whole idea is to be very user-friendly. This technology was designed so that it could support networks up to 70,000 radios.
TOM: Wow, so it’s totally scalable, in other words.
BOB: Totally scalable. And I think the really cool thing that it’s going to be used for – but you’ll see the most probably early on – is the energy industry. The electric companies discovered that …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right.
BOB: You know, the one thing they can’t control or have access to is the power we use in our homes because there’s just too many of us, right?
BOB: So now they’re looking at this. This says, “Oh, wait a minute. There’s a thermostat there that I can now talk to. There’s a load controller on the hot water heater that I could turn on and off.” And so what they’ve done is they’ve said, “Let’s put the technology in the meter.” So now ZigBee and ZigBee Smart Energy is the basis of what is really a very excellent smart metering program and over 30 million meters in the U.S. now have been committed to deploying ZigBee Smart Energy in the meter and what this will do is allow you to get real-time information to how much it’s costing you, right now, to do this. So you’ll be able to see, “Ooh, I’m going to turn this off because it’s going to cost me a lot right now.” Or you can say …
BOB: Yeah. Or you’re going to say, “I don’t want to bother with this. I’ve got other things to do” or “I’m not home at 2:00 in the afternoon. I’m going to give my electric provider the – I’m going to give him the authorization to turn my thermostat down three degrees to save energy.”
TOM: We’re talking to Bob Heile. He’s the chairman of the ZigBee Alliance, a technology that lets pretty much everything in your house talk to each other and gives you an incredible amount of control.
And Bob, speaking of energy savings, I think that so many times we sort of speculate on where our energy losses might be but with technology like this, we can see in real time. If we happen to notice that, gosh, in the last 24 hours we used a lot of electricity, we can start thinking about, “Did I leave lights on? What appliance am I running? How can I change my habits and my practices so that I don’t use more electricity than I really need to?” It gives you sort of an early warning system.
BOB: Exactly. In fact, not only will you see that “I used more electricity” then “How did I do that”; it’ll tell you exactly what you did. It’ll say, “You left that light on” or “You did your clothes dryer thing at 2:00 in the afternoon when the price of electricity was high. So I mean …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Can I have it make a cell phone call to my kids when they leave their lights on in their room? (chuckles)
LESLIE: (chuckling) You wish, Tom.
Bob Heile from ZigBee Alliance, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit; filling us all in on this fantastic technology.
For more information on ZigBee, you can go to their website at ZigBee.org. That’s spelled Z-i-g-B-e-e.org. ZigBee.org.
Bob, thanks for stopping by.
BOB: Oh, my pleasure. Thanks.
LESLIE: Alright, Bob. Thanks so much for giving us that vision of homes of the future.
Alright, up next, guys, protecting the outside of your home from all of those elements that Mother Nature can dish out.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic, the 100% natural odor-eliminating air freshener. Unlike other air fresheners, Citrus Magic actually eliminates odors and lasts up to four times longer. Visit CitrusMagic.com for more information. 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 all you do-it-yourselfers out there, if you have ever stained any piece of wood, furniture, whatever project that requires staining, you know that it’s not only time-consuming but messy and, for some reason, that stain never, ever, ever comes off of your hands. Well, you know, there are multiple steps and then you’ve got to find a room to store the leftover stain and then does it go bad and what do I do with it.
Well, no more troubles with staining projects because Krylon has come up with the first ever spray stain – a spray stain folks – that you can apply cleanly to both vertical and horizontal surfaces without any runs or drips. And one caller that asks their home improvement question on the air today is going to win a six-pack of this fantastic Krylon exterior semi-transparent wood stain. So pick up the phone and ask us your question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now it’s time to talk a little about siding. You know, siding takes a real beating from the weather and it needs a little regular TLC to keep it in good shape. So here are some tips to do just that.
For starters, you can give your siding an annual washing once in a while with a long-handled brush and a mild detergent. Now, if you choose to use a pressure washer, it can help but, remember, you need to use a very gentle, very low pressure with that because that pressure can cut right through the siding if you use too much power in one of those very narrow, little streams. But the result is that the siding is going to look great and protect your house for years to come.
If you’ve got an outside maintenance question or an inside do-it-yourself dilemma, pick up the phone and give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Suzanne in Florida has a septic tank with a crack in it. This doesn’t sound good. Tell us about the problem.
SUZANNE: Yes, I’ve had a problem here. I’ve owned this home. It’s built in 1984. I believe that the septic tank was never pumped out before I owned it. Had it pumped out. Everything was good to go but – and I could see to the bottom of it with the service contractor that I had here and he pumped everything out but there was a crack in the side and it looked just like a hose of groundwater leaking in. It looked clear; everything looked good and he said, “Oh, my goodness. You’re going to need a whole new septic tank and drain field.”
TOM: Well, why do you need a new drain field if your septic tank is cracked? I don’t understand that.
SUZANNE: Well, I don’t know but – well, apparently – I don’t know; if that’s just what they want to sell me. But …
TOM: Yeah, that’s what it sounds like.
LESLIE: So the drain field, Tom, never becomes compromised if there had been a leak in the septic tank.
TOM: No, there are two – we’re talking about two different geographic areas here.
SUZANNE: Oh, we are?
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: The septic tank is the tank itself and it’s usually a precast concrete tank. The drain field is a series of pipes that goes underground and it’s perforated and it distributes the effluent that comes up and over the tank; so we’re talking about two separate things here. So if that contractor said you need to replace both, without a reason for replacing the drain field, I would lean towards thinking he’s trying just to sell you something that perhaps you don’t need.
You know what would be a good thing to do here, Suzanne …
SUZANNE: Please tell me.
TOM: … would be to get an independent evaluation. I would call a local professional home inspector. Find one that’s certified by ASHI – the American Society of Home Inspectors. Talk with them on the phone. Make sure that they are experts in septic tank evaluation and have them take a look at it and get them to prescribe a repair here, because I doubt you’re going to have to do a total replacement here. Concrete that is cracked and damaged can be repaired in a number of ways quite successfully; none of which would involve completely removing and replacing this.
SUZANNE: Thank you ever so much and good luck to you and thank you.
LESLIE: Thanks, Suzanne.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
OHN: Yeah, I’ve had my septic system – it’s a 30-year old house. It’s been inspected twice and everything’s fine, they tell me. But sometimes in extremely cold weather I can smell an odor and I told the septic people that and they said it’s from the vent stack. I don’t know if you ever heard of anything like that.
TOM: Well, depending on the design of your roof, I’ve heard of winds in certain conditions sort of taking that sewage gas smell and pushing it down close to the ground where you can actually smell it.
TOM: And if that’s what’s happening and it’s seasonal; it happens in odd weather conditions, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
JOHN: Yeah, because what happens is like if there’s snow – like up here where I live, in Albany – in the Albany, New York area – there’s a lot of snow and if there’s any snow on the roof, all around the vent stack it’s completely melted, you know, during the winter.
JOHN: So I guess it’s – I guess it’s the gas that’s being pushed out.
TOM: That’s probably what’s happening and it doesn’t indicate that you need to make any repairs.
TOM: Just don’t invite your friends over on those cold days, OK? (Leslie chuckles)
JOHN: I know, tell me about it. (Tom chuckles) OK, I appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, we are going to answer your e-mails including a question about what kind of flooring is best to use in a basement. We’re going to have all that, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Villa Deco crown molding; the easy-to-install, lightweight crown molding that costs only a fraction of wood and includes precut corners. Go to DIYCrown.com for a special Money Pit listener offer.
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: And you can visit MoneyPit.com right now for your staycation solutions and while you’re there just click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question, just like Boyd did from Lubbock, Texas.
LESLIE: Alright, Boyd writes: “I had to remove the carpet in my basement due to some recent water damage.” I know that story. And then he continues: “The underlying basement floor is a mix of unprepped concrete, asbestos tiles and areas where some of the tile came loose. I’d like to seal the whole mess rather than take the risk of dislodging more asbestos tile. I was thinking of using a concrete patch to smooth the edges, followed by a garage floor product like QUIKRETE’s epoxy garage floor coating kit. Do you think this will coat and seal everything sufficiently? Will the epoxy garage floor coating stick to the asbestos tiles or is it going to flake off?”
TOM: I don’t think it’s such a good idea …
LESLIE: To keep that mishmosh of everything.
TOM: Yeah. Well, the thing is, I don’t think you can paint over it; that’s not helping matters. What I would do in this situation is I would leave everything in its place and I would put another floor on top of it. And the floor I would put in is one of two types of floor: I would put either, Boyd, a laminate floor or an engineered hardwood floor. Both are suitable for a basement location and the nice thing is that neither floor has to attach to whatever is underneath. So as long as it’s reasonably flat, there is a very thin, soft underlayment that goes in between the basement floor and the underside of the laminate or the hardwood or the engineered hardwood. And when it’s done, you’re never going to have to look at that stuff again and it’s going to look great; it’s going to wear really well; and it’s just going to be so much more attractive than painting it.
LESLIE: You know and Boyd, especially if you use the basement. I mean since you had carpeting down there initially, I imagine that you used the basement as a family room or a play area. Going with the painted floor is not really going to be inviting or homey in any way, so if you go with a laminate or even the engineered hardwood, you know, throw some area rugs down; you really have a great opportunity to create a lovely space.
Alright and Cathy in Phoenix writes: “The thin, brick liner in my prefabricated fireplace is cracked and I want to know how to replace it.”
TOM: Well, if it’s a prefabricated fireplace, those liners that are inside the hearth themselves are generally designed to actually work safely with a few cracks. I would consult the manufacturer first because you may find that you don’t need to replace it; that having a couple of cracks is OK. But if you do, that part has to come right from the manufacturer. You can’t patch it in any way yourself.
LESLIE: Alright, Cathy, I hope that helps.
TOM: Well, furnishing your home certainly is a lot of fun but doing that doesn’t have to break the bank. Leslie has got an inexpensive idea for a green solution for side tables on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, that’s right. This is all about recycling and repurposing and you might even have some of these, you know, pretty regular items already at your money pit that you can turn into a fantastic table to day. Now this is a trick of the trade and you take these unusual items and then they become magical, functional side tables, coffee tables; depending on what you find. For example, you know those glazed, ceramic garden stools? You see them at every home store, you see them online, you see them in magazines all the time and they range from like $30 to hundreds of dollars. Well, you can pick an inexpensive one up and then you can turn that into a beautiful side table or a bath stool and they come in every color and pattern as well.
Also, rain drums or vintage wire baskets or old trunks or suitcases stacked up nicely or even musical instruments like a regular drum work fantastically well at creating side tables. All you need is a custom-cut piece of glass and then you can completely transform that item into a fully functional table. And it’s a great way to salvage vintage pieces or display your favorite items and it saves all of your stuff from clogging up that local landfill or heading over to the local salvation army.
So really, find something gorgeous in your garage and turn it into something fantastic in your house today.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
Coming up next week on the show, it’s picnic season and along with all those great picnic foods come picnic stains. We’re going to have tips on how to get rid of grease, ketchup and even candle wax on the next edition of the program.
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.
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(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.)