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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by to help you tackle your home improvement project. Help yourself, first, by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour on The Money Pit, more and more homeowners are turning to their garage as a source of extra space. Whether it’s for a workshop, a hobby room or even a game room, you can make it much more comfortable by adding heat. But how do you do that? We’re going to tell you, coming up.

    LESLIE: And speaking of year-round use, some appliances in your home rarely get a break. And using them over and over without giving them any maintenance, well, that’s just a recipe for disaster. So plumbing-and-HVAC contractor Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House is going to be here to tell you why your washing machine and clothes dryer need extra TLC so they don’t cause damage or even go up in flames. Hmm. This sounds like something that just recently went down at the Segrete home.

    TOM: And here’s an idea that we can get behind: better toilet seats. From comfier to cleaner, there are plenty of affordable upgrades out there for your home. We’ll highlight some of the latest innovations.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a TCP Smart LED Light Bulb Starter Kit. Now, it lets you control the lights in your home from any computer, tablet, smartphone or a connected remote control no matter where you are, whether it’s up the street or across the globe.

    TOM: It’s worth $80 but free to one caller whose home improvement question we answer this hour. So call us with yours. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Kirk in North Dakota is on the line with a lighting question. What’s going on?

    KIRK: So I’ve got a quick question on fluorescent lights. A lot of your lights are, of course, rated 60 watts, et cetera. So, my question kind of came in the fact on the fluorescent bulb, it says, “This is equal to a 60-watt bulb.” But sometimes, that’s just not enough light. So what happens – are you allowed to put a bigger bulb wattage because – since fluorescents are supposed to be taking less electricity, can a guy put a bigger bulb in there – on a fluorescent that says, “Equal to 100 watts”? Because it’s still drawing less electricity.

    TOM: So, I think what you’re talking about here is compact fluorescents, Kirk?

    KIRK: Right.

    TOM: So, the wattage limitations on fixtures is based on a calculation that involves incandescent bulbs and it – because it equates to heat. A 100-watt bulb is going to emit a certain amount of heat and the fixture is rated to take that heat. That’s what it’s rated for and you can’t put more than that.

    When it comes to fluorescents, you’re only using a quarter of the energy. So a 15-watt bulb will deliver you – deliver the same equivalent of 60 watts of light. You can have a bulb that delivers the equivalent of a bigger watt bulb but you’re still not actually putting that amount of electricity into it. Does that make sense?

    KIRK: Right. So you could actually – like you say, if it’s a third, if it’s rated for a 60-watt incandescent bulb, you could virtually – say, if there’s a 150-watt bulb in a fluorescent, you should be able to put that in there and not cause an overload and get more light out of that same fixture.

    TOM: Yeah, I probably wouldn’t double it. But I might – if it calls for a 60, I might go up to 100 because then you’re moving from saying 15 watts to 25. But I have a better suggestion. Forget the compact fluorescents. They are an outdated technology. The LED bulbs are where it’s at today. They deliver a much better-quality light with just the same, if not more, savings.

    KIRK: But that was – the whole issue is sometimes you just don’t get enough light out of some of those fixtures.

    TOM: Right. And I think that if – right. And also, they’re very temperature-sensitive. If it’s a cold area, like …

    LESLIE: And then they’re color-sensitive, as well. When you get a CFL, you have to pick what color temperature you want that bulb to feel. And they can all feel extremely different. So you might pick something that gives a cold, harsh light and you want something warmer. So there’s a lot of experimenting with what type of fluorescent bulb you’re going to get.

    KIRK: We’ll have to try to some different things but I was just worried about the wattage and making sure I didn’t overheat the original fixture.

    TOM: Nope. You’re smart to be concerned but I’d take a look at the LEDs. And I think once you start trying them, you’ll be disposing of those CFLs.

    KIRK: Well, thank you very much for taking my call. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Jody in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    JODY: I actually have a problem with my foundation. It’s an exposed foundation; about 3 feet high around the whole footprint of the house is exposed. The cement-block foundation that had parging on it originally – and the parging was cracking, so it was recommended by a masonary (ph) contractor to put DRYLOK over it.

    So, this is what I did. I put on – it’s a – they add color to the DRYLOK. So I put it over the whole foundation and it started to crack and peel and bubble.

    TOM: Yeah, it didn’t adhere properly.

    First of all, isn’t DRYLOK usually an interior masonry paint, not an exterior masonry paint?

    JODY: Well, this particular masonary (ph) guy told me that he’s actually used it on the bottom of swimming pools, so he thought that it would work. And when he saw it later, he said, “Wow. I’ve never seen it do that.”

    TOM: Yeah. How about that? He just experimented with your house.

    JODY: I did call the DRYLOK people, too, and talked to them.

    TOM: Yeah?

    JODY: And they told me to try to power-wash it, try scraping it. But it’s just become a huge mess, you know? I mean it peels in some places. Some places, it adhered.

    TOM: Yeah, the problem is that now that you’ve got that on there, you’ve got to get it off because you can’t put any – you can’t put new stuff over the bad old stuff. It just will continue to peel.

    JODY: Yeah. The problem is is that we are on filled-in marshland – is where the – and so, we’re on clay and sand. And the cement block, it sort of leaches up through there, so it’s always sort of damp coming up from the ground anyway.

    TOM: Yeah. That’s what I was going to – that’s what I was kind of thinking. I was thinking that the block wall might have been wet when you applied it. It might not have been visibly wet but see, those block walls are hydroscopic. They absorb water really, really well. And so, if it’s on a moist situation, that water is going to draw up, get behind that paint. And nothing causes paint to peel faster than water.

    So, unfortunately, at this stage, you’re going to have to strip that off.

    JODY: Oh, my gosh. And we’re right on the water, you know what I mean? We’re on the bay. So I’m always worried about things that are not environmentally friendly.

    TOM: The other thing that I think you probably could do – and this is a big job in and of itself, though – is you could have a mason attach a woven-wire mesh to that foundation and re-stucco it. And in that case, it could go right on top of the old, junky paint because you’re not really sticking to the foundation; you’re sticking to the mesh. So that’s another possibility.

    JODY: I gotcha, yeah. Yeah. Because, I guess, in some places that was used before, underneath the parging.

    TOM: Well, the parging is simply a stucco coat that goes on top of the block wall and it’s typical for the parging to crack. And usually, it cracks along the lines of the masonry block.

    JODY: Yep. That’s what it did.

    TOM: And that’s not necessarily a defect. That’s pretty much just the way it goes with that stuff, especially if they don’t put it on thick enough.

    So, I would consider, if you really want to have it to look like a traditional masonry foundation, I would consider having mesh put up there and then properly re-stuccoed. If not, you’re just going to have to peel that paint off any way you can. You would – I would – might take a look at some of the citrus-based paint strippers if you have some that’s really hard to get off.

    JODY: Alright. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright. Sorry I don’t have better news. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Well, we are quickly getting towards spring. I know: mid-February is not exactly quickly getting towards spring but all the power of positive thinking. So, if you need some help getting your money pit ready, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you hate having to bundle up before heading into your garage? Why not add a heat source and get countless new uses for all that extra space, all year long? Learn how, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we talk to you on the air this hour, you could win a TCP Smart LED Light Bulb Starter Kit.

    LESLIE: Yeah. No more outrageous electricity bills because TCP bulbs use 85 percent less energy than your standard incandescent bulb.

    TOM: Learn more at HomeDepot.com. The TCP Smart LED Light Bulb Starter Kit is worth 80 bucks but going out to one caller drawn at random to those that reach us for today’s show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Tim in New Mexico is on the line with a question about windows. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    TIM: Well, I am considering – my wife and I are considering putting in some energy-efficient windows, so we’ve been shopping that a little bit. And it seems that there’s quite a myriad of available products in that market. And one thing that I was looking at was just the air-void-type windows versus the gas-filled windows. And one salesperson told us that he recommended that just get the air void because the gas-filled – that gas, after a year or two will dissipate out of the window, which I had never heard that before. But in essence, you’re just left with an air void.

    So, anyway, I’m just looking for some guidance in that subject.

    TOM: Alright. So, when you say “air void,” what exactly do you mean? Because I’m not at all familiar with that term.

    TIM: Well, basically, the double-paned window with just dead space in it and there’s – it’s not gas-filled, per …

    TOM: So instead of argon, it’s just got air?

    TIM: Right.

    TOM: That’s not going to insulate. The reason to use those gases is because the gases are insulating gases. And I don’t buy at all the fact that the gases leak out; that’s just not true.

    LESLIE: The only way the gas will leak out is if you have a seal that fails.

    TOM: Yeah. These good-quality windows, these seals will last a long time. Twenty years is not unusual for these glass seals to last that long. So this sounds to me like you’re getting advice from a salesman that wants to move his product over another one. It’s not a given that this gas leaks out in a year. That’s ridiculous.

    I would buy a good-quality window from a name manufacturer, you know? Buy a Marvin, buy an Andersen, buy a Pella. Stick with a good name brand and you’re going to get a good-quality glass panel there that’s going to last a long, long time.

    TIM: OK. OK. I believe these were – Henredon, I think, was the brand of these?

    TOM: Yeah. I mean there’s a lot of really small brands out there that are basically made for the remodeling industry and for the replacement-window industry.

    TIM: OK.

    LESLIE: And they’re just manufacturing a replacement window in their own brand. They’re just putting the whole thing together but there’s not a super-manufacturer behind it that, should you have a problem down the road, would have your back.

    TOM: Yeah, I would look at the name brand and I would look at, also, at ENERGY STAR-certified windows.

    TIM: OK. I appreciate it.

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

    Learning something new every day, Leslie.

    LESLIE: An air void? I’ve never heard that term.

    TOM: That’s a new one. They turn uninsulated glass into something that sounds good.

    LESLIE: Right. “It’s an air void.”

    TOM: “Oh, no. That’s an air void.”

    LESLIE: You’re going to end up with an air void, anyway, at some point.

    TOM: Yes. And this window is insulation-free, so you’re not going to have to worry about any of that pesky insulation getting in the way of your view.

    Well, they’re designed for cars but most garages are used for a whole lot more. Yours might even double as a laundry room, a workshop, a play room or even a haven for your pets.

    LESLIE: Yeah. The possibilities would be endless except for one minor problem: temperature. Garages, they’re pretty drafty and they can be downright cold in the winter, which really stops most of us from spending any time out there.

    TOM: And that’s why it’s a good idea to think about adding a garage heater. Now, there are actually several different types to choose from. You have forced-air garage heaters that give you pretty much instant heat like a conventional furnace. They also have infrared garage heaters, which radiate heat rather than using a conventional blower fan and of course, portable heaters that require very little maintenance themselves.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And to get the most of that added heat, you might want to consider insulating your garage walls, as well. Because adding inexpensive fiberglass batts to just those exterior walls will reduce the amount of heat that you’re going to need. And before you know it, you’ll be working or just even hanging out in your garage more than you ever even thought of before.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s a good idea to insulate your garage and I never understood why builders always stop short insulating that space. Because let’s face it: people do want to live there. And yes, I know it’s an exterior wall and there’s no heat in the garage, so why do you insulate? You insulate it because people are going to eventually want to add heat. And it doesn’t cost much when the home is being built but they still don’t do it.

    So if your exterior garage walls are not insulated, add it. You’ll be happy that you did.

    LESLIE: Joan in California needs some help with a kitchen remodel. How’s it going?

    JOAN: Yes, well, we haven’t started yet and I just need some advice on how to get started. Do you start with an architect or what do you do?

    TOM: That’s a good question. So, planning makes perfect. You want to start with a plan.

    Now, are you essentially going to replace the kitchen in sort of the same layout that you have right now, Joan? Or are you thinking about really changing things up a lot?

    JOAN: Well, it’s a very small kitchen and I just want to know how to maximize everything.

    TOM: Alright. So if it’s a small kitchen, you can probably do this inexpensively by perhaps starting with a home center. A lot of the home centers have designers that work on the – work on designing kitchens for the cabinetry that they sell. And for a very small fee, they can help you lay that out and take advantage of all of the latest options.

    If you want to do more than that, what you’re going to do is hire a certified kitchen-and-bath designer. But this is sort of like hiring an interior decorator that works just on kitchens and baths. And that’s going to cost you a few bucks.

    But if you want to just do this an easy way, I would start with a home center, in the kitchen department, and see if they’ll lay out some options for you using the type of cabinets that they sell. Those cabinets are usually pretty affordable at that level and they’ll be able to give you some ideas on things, perhaps, you haven’t thought about.

    LESLIE: You know what, Joan? I think it’s really smart to keep a notepad in the kitchen. And everybody and anybody, yourself and your family, who use the space, as you walk through and notice little areas where you’re tripping over one another or things that just don’t make sense or you wish that X was here and not there, sort of jot all of those down. So when you do go sit down with – whether it’s a certified kitchen-and-bath designer or someone in the home center, you sort of have all of these issues that could be addressed or might be able to be addressed.

    JOAN: One thing I really want is more electrical outlets, so that’ll have to definitely be in the plan.

    TOM: Well, it’s definitely in the plan and you’ll do these things in order. The first thing you’ll do is rip out the old cabinets and the next thing you’ll do would be to rough-in new wiring and new plumbing to have it exactly where you want it. And then, of course, you’ll start the installation of the new cabinetry as almost the last step.

    It’s also a good time to think about universal design in the kitchen, maybe having countertops of different height. So as you get older, you could sit down and work at the kitchen counter as opposed to just standing up. So think of the sort of accessibility issues when you design this kitchen, as well.

    JOAN: How much time should I allow for something like this?

    TOM: Well, it depends on whether you have sort of all your ducks in a row. Sometimes it takes a while to get all the cabinets delivered. But if everything is accessible and on site, you can tear out this kitchen and rebuild it inside of a week.

    JOAN: Oh, wow.

    TOM: If you have everybody lined up and everybody is there when they need to be there and the plumber shows up on time, the electrician shows up on time and so on, sure, I don’t see any reason you can’t get it done in a week.

    JOAN: Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to North Carolina where Chris has a question on flooring. What can we help you with today?

    CHRIS: I had a leaking toilet that rotted my wood subfloor. I ripped it all up and I put the new pieces of wood back down.

    TOM: OK.

    CHRIS: Well, my cuts weren’t exactly perfect and there’s some spacing in between, like maybe 3/16.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s pretty good.

    CHRIS: OK. It’s just in some sections. And I’m going to put down the ¼-inch cement board to put tile down here.

    TOM: OK.

    CHRIS: And I just wanted to know: what type of mortar do I use to put the cement board down onto this wood subfloor? And then once the cement board is down and it’s screwed in, do I have to put some type of mesh tape to put the boards together and then mortar the tape?

    TOM: No. So, first of all, if you’re going to put down DUROCK, which is sort of that cement board that you’re describing, generally, that’s screwed down. So you would screw that down to the floor. And then on top of that, you would apply the adhesive for the tile. And you’d glue the tile right to the board.

    CHRIS: OK.

    TOM: Having those gaps in the plywood repair is no big deal because that’s all going to be covered over. Just make sure that when you put the cement board down that you don’t align the seams of the board with any of the old seams of the plywood below it.

    CHRIS: Right.

    TOM: Everything should overlap.

    CHRIS: Do I still have to put the mesh tape, though, for the boards – the cement boards – or no?

    TOM: Yeah, I don’t think so.

    CHRIS: OK.

    TOM: I think you can go right on top of that. As long as you have good adhesion of those boards down, they’re secured well in place, they shouldn’t move.

    CHRIS: OK, great.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, coming up, don’t let the smell of clean laundry turn into the smell of smoke. It’s a scary thought but it happens more often than you think. In fact, it happened to me, so we’re going to be talking washer/dryer safety tips when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues.

    KEVIN: I’m Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. When I’m not working on old houses, I’m making sure my house doesn’t turn into a money pit, with help from 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.

    TOM: Hey, are you wondering what to do with your old phone now that you’ve upgraded to a new one? Here is a green idea that we recently spotted at the Consumer Electronics Show. You now can head to what is known as an ecoATM test station. You plug in your device, the ecoATM kiosk prices it out and if the price sounds right, all you do is trade in your electronic device, right on the spot, for cash. Now, these kiosks will take mp3 players, too. Some devices fetch up to 400 bucks.

    You can learn more at ecoATM.com and find a test station near you.

    LESLIE: Well, two of the hardest working appliances in your home also have the ability to cause significant damage if they’re not properly maintained.

    TOM: That’s right. Your washer and dryer may clean your clothes but they can also be the source of major leaks and even fires if they’re not operating safely. Here with tips to keep them humming happily along is This Old House plumbing-and-heating contractor Richard Trethewey.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Nice to be here again, guys.

    TOM: So, we’re not talking about the kind of washing-machine disasters that occur when you, say, shrink a sweater or add bleach to your colors.

    RICHARD: No, that’s true. Really, it’s about leaks and fires and that’s a lot more serious.

    According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost 17,000 washer-and-dryer fires occur every single year. And that causes about $200 million worth of damage. It’s not a small item.

    TOM: And most of that happens because of dryer fires on that side. I mean washing-machine motors can burn up but, I guess, the dryer fires are really an issue, mostly because of venting?

    RICHARD: Absolutely. The dryer fires occur mostly because the dryer exhaust duct is dirty. Cleaning your dryer’s lint trap is not nearly enough to protect against a fire. The lint has to be removed from the dryer’s exhaust line and the vent that goes to the outside of the house, as well.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But I can’t understand. I’m constantly cleaning the dryer vent: the little basket in there, if you will. How does the lint get underneath that, behind it and then into the main vent itself when you, essentially, have that catcher there?

    TOM: You’re just cleaning the lint trap.

    RICHARD: Right, right.

    LESLIE: Correct. I’m cleaning the trap. But it’s still getting underneath it.

    RICHARD: But the lint is airborne. The lint is airborne and that exhaust has to leave, so not all of it’s going to be picked up by the trap. And so now – in the old days, when you always had the dryer just on the outside wall, there was a relatively short run. That lint that got through might stay airborne and just go right outside.

    But now, as we’ve moved the washer and dryer inside the building a little more, now you’ve got longer runs. Now you go out, you turn to an elbow, you turn up, you turn over – each one of these places act like a separator.

    LESLIE: Right.

    RICHARD: And now the lint is going to settle down onto any horizontal duct and it starts to build up. And finally, it’s enough to cause an issue and it can cause a very bad fire.

    TOM: Now, when …

    LESLIE: So you’ve got to clean that whole run.

    RICHARD: Right. Well, if the run is short, I’m not really worried about it. It’s just when you get into longer runs.

    Now, you can also help yourself with the type of ductwork that you use.

    TOM: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about that. Because, for many years, you bought a dryer, you got one of those vinyl exhaust ducts, which seems like it’d be impossible to clean.

    RICHARD: That’s right. The best ducts are made out of metal because it doesn’t want to stick as readily as it does to the vinyl.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: The vinyl is not a slippery surface. It sort of wants to absorb it and keep that lint there. So I always opt for metal. Even for the safety aspect of it, I like metal for a flexible dryer vent.

    TOM: And probably a good idea, if you’ve got an older dryer, is to peek behind it and make sure you do have a metal dryer exhaust duct.

    RICHARD: Right. And the place where it’s going to be most prone to stopping is right at that discharge at the back of the dryer. You look behind it, you tip the dryer out, you’ll see this one big band that holds that metal or vinyl flex on there. You loosen it, pull it off, you’re going to often find a big mound of lint. You’ve got to get that out of there and then bring it back.

    What you don’t realize is that just inside of the discharge is a gas flame.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    RICHARD: And if you ever saw it, it’s a long, gas flame that if that tail continues to go out through the back, you can light up that lint on the backside.

    TOM: Now, in terms of cleaning the rest of the duct, I know that there’s different brushes that are available. I bought one some years ago that was like a brush on a flexible fiberglass rod, where you added sections to it over time. And I’ve got to tell you, Richard, I was amazed with how much lint came out of what I thought was a relatively clean exhaust duct.

    RICHARD: That’s right. It also cakes on, hardens in there. And so it’s building up like plaque inside of a vein. There will be a time that you will look at that duct and say, “It’s much more prudent for me to replace it with brand-new metal than to try and clean it.” By the time you try and clean it, sometimes it’s just simpler unless it’s built into a wall.

    LESLIE: OK. Now, with your washing machines, obviously, your big danger there is leaking.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I feel like so much can go wrong, so quickly, with a washer.

    RICHARD: Well, the prime culprit there are those two supply hoses. You know, every washing machine has flexible supplies. They’re about 6 foot long. The ones that always were the standard were rubber.

    Now, rubber can degrade over time and start to become brittle. And you just don’t know when it’s going to leak and so I always like to see these stainless-steel, braided washing-machine hoses. If you’re going to stay with the rubber ones, you should really inspect them. I don’t want to be crazy about it but every year, you should look at it and just see if it’s cracked or crazed. Because if it’s starting to crack or craze, it can just pop like an aneurysm. And all of a sudden, now you have full city-water pressure and you’re going to fill up your basement.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    RICHARD: In my own family’s house, I remember my dad really wanted to have the washer upstairs for my mother. So, we moved it up there and then we had the worst thing happen: the hose lets go. That water came down through the house. It literally – we had water damage in that building that showed up, probably, over the course of two more years by the time …

    LESLIE: Oh, wow.

    RICHARD: And so water is an insidious thing now if you get it in the wrong place.

    LESLIE: Well, to that point, should you have a shut-off valve from the wall to those braided hoses? On/off every time?

    RICHARD: There is some – yes, there are some really, really cool devices now. And once people know the sort of potential disaster that this water damage can cause, they fall in love with this device.

    One is electric. And so you put it right where the shut-offs are that are coming out of the wall, before the hoses. And now, you plug your washing machine into this device and then you plug the device into the wall. Now what happens is when the washing machine is not calling, it stops the pressure on the hoses. So during that long period you’re not doing the wash, you don’t have to worry about that city-water pressure. Brilliant.

    TOM: Oh, what a great idea.

    RICHARD: Yeah. And there’s another one that is more manual where you come up to it and there’s a little striker and you just push the striker from left to right. And it’s a timer – a countdown timer – that goes tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. And that will keep water pressure on for a fixed interval – 45 minutes or an hour-and-a-half, depending which one …

    LESLIE: Whatever your cycle is.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. So it – both of those are terrific, because many people have a washing-machine valve that has a lever that it could turn it from on to off.

    LESLIE: Right.

    RICHARD: No one does that.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: No one does.

    LESLIE: See, I always do.

    RICHARD: No. No one.

    TOM: They forget to.

    RICHARD: You are incredibly unique, Leslie, as you know.

    LESLIE: Bah. Thank you.

    TOM: As we know.

    LESLIE: No. But I always do.

    RICHARD: Right.

    LESLIE: I mean so much so that I’ve even – think I’ve turned it on when I go to run a load of the wash.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah.

    LESLIE: And I’ll press the button to start the fill and it’s like click, click, click, click, so I know I have it.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. You had to have had a water leak in your past to figure …

    LESLIE: I just have always had one.

    TOM: Well, that’s right.

    RICHARD: Right, yeah. Yeah.

    TOM: Those are the people that always remember to turn off their – use the shut-off valve.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: Somebody’s had that hose-bust happen.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely.

    TOM: Yeah. Now what about high-efficiency washers or dryers? Anything unique about them? They operate a lot more quickly than standard washers.

    RICHARD: Well, I’ll tell you, this came from the European market where energy is more expensive. So all of those units that many of the Americans here have copied have this incredibly high-speed turbo rotation on the dryer spin cycle, so you really wring out much more water out of the load. And so those are terrific. But the one thing you’ve got to be sure to do is to level that unit perfectly. If it’s out of level, it becomes a bad wheel on a car.

    TOM: Yeah. Wobbles along.

    RICHARD: So you’ve got to do it. And then you might need rubber feet. But the key is to get it level because it – when it starts spinning, it – the whole house will shake if you don’t get it level.

    LESLIE: They go.

    TOM: Good advice. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. I’m sure you’ve saved a disaster or two out there with that advice.

    RICHARD: I hope so.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Lumber Liquidators. Hardwood floors for less.

    Still ahead, for being one of the most important seats in the house, your toilet can be pretty uninviting. But that’s all about to change. We’ve got tips on toilet-seat upgrades flush with comfort, when The Money Pit continues.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, are you sick and tired of turning off the lights around your house? Well, one of you lucky callers who hates turning off the lights can put that aggravation behind for good, because we’re giving away a TCP Smart LED Light Bulb Starter Kit worth $80.

    TOM: Yep. No more dimmers, timers and confusing wiring. Just plug it in and go. You can check out the Smart LED Starter Kit from TCP at HomeDepot.com.

    Well, your furniture is comfortable. Perhaps your desk chair is, as well. But what about that other place you spend a good amount of time sitting? Yes, we’re talking about your home’s throne: your toilet seat. It can be very cold and uninviting sometimes but that’s all about to change with a whole bunch of upgrades that are hitting the market right now and picking up steam. And they’re all available for less than a couple hundred bucks.

    LESLIE: You know, it’s funny. A few years back – I think it was at Builders’ Show – we found a toilet seat that was the cover, then a child’s toilet seat and then a larger person’s toilet seat. And they sort of all fold down into one another. And I can’t tell you how many times, in the middle of the night, I’ve gone in there in the dark and sat down on the tiny toilet seat? And I’ve been like, “Am I a giant? Did I get really fat? What happened?”

    So there are sort of really cool things out there, from just even hating it when the toilet seat slams closed. I really jump out of my skin a little bit every time that happens. And I’ve got two small kids, so when that happens in the first-floor powder room, I get nervous that they’re going to snap their little fingers.

    So you can stop all of that insanity, because a lot of seats today have quiet-close toilet seats. All it really takes is a gentle touch and that lid’s going to drop down super-slowly and softly. No loud bang. Less touching means fewer germs, as well. Got to love that.

    TOM: And if you shiver when you sit down, you don’t have to worry about that anymore, because many toilet seats today will actually sense activity and warm up when you sit down. Some models even have adjustable settings so you can control the temperature.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And if you’ve been dreaming of a bidet, just like the one you saw in the bathrooms in Europe, then listen up. Because Bio Bidet’s Premium Bidet Toilet Seat comes with a bidet built in. So no need to replace the toilet altogether. Even better, you can control the water’s temperature so you don’t get any shocking surprises that might have you leaping off the bowl. And that’s all for less than 150 bucks.

    TOM: And the award, in my book, for the best new toilet seat of the decade has to go to KOHLER, who just introduced the Purefresh Scented and Lighted Toilet Seat.

    This seat not only has a nightlight, Leslie, which will prevent that occasional near-miss, it actually has a built-in fan that takes the odors out of the bowl before it hits the air.

    LESLIE: Right. What?

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: Now, speaking of odors, Tom, have you heard of this product? It’s called Poo-Pourri.

    TOM: No.

    LESLIE: So it’s a spray that you spray and it has really – it’s a fancy label with some adorable poetry and you’re supposed to spray the water before you go and then it locks the odors into the bowl? Just going to say it works. We’ve all tried it out in the house and we’re all thrilled with it.

    TOM: Good to know.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Dot, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    DOT: A couple of years ago, we had a driveway put in. We have a house with an attached garage. And they had, oh, graded the driveway, they said, properly so the water would drain away from the house and into the lawn. And we get standing water in our driveway still. And I was just wondering the steps to – the proper steps to put a trench in our driveway and possibly a drain.

    TOM: OK. So, it would seem to me that if – you’re talking about water that’s collecting on the driveway itself or on the side of the driveway? There’s a distinction.

    DOT: In the driveway and also close to the house and where the driveway meet. And then there’s an attached garage there, also.

    TOM: If we were to stop the water from collecting on the side of the driveway, would the top of the driveway still be flooded?

    DOT: I think so. Apparently, they graded it …

    TOM: Alright. Because it’s easier to put in a curtain drain along the side of the driveway than it is to slice the driveway and insert a drain. Because if you want to try to drain what’s on the driveway, essentially you have to cut a slice into the driveway. It’s not something that you could do; it requires specialized tools. And then a drain is inserted and it’s kind of like a very narrow grate, almost like a box, that’s dropped into the driveway. The driveway is graded to the top of it so that the water can sort of roll in and then fill up the drain and then run out.

    If, in fact, that this water is collecting along the side of the driveway, it would be easier, from a do-it-yourself perspective, to add in a curtain drain. The way that works is you would dig a trench that was maybe a foot wide, maybe a foot deep. You’d put some stone in the bottom of that and then you’d put a perforated PVC pipe. You continue to fill that up with stone all around it. You’d add some filter cloth over that and then you would regrade and you would be – it would be completely invisible when it’s done. And of course, it has to be pitched properly and discharged properly, as well.

    So, the curtain drain on the side of the driveway is easier than sort of the trench drain where you have to cut the driveway. I would tend to say do the curtain drain first and see how it goes.

    Dot, I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, do you want to get your yard in tip-top shape for spring? Because it’s not that far away, so start now. We’re going to share some tips, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    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: Do you ever feel like you can have a clean house or you can have a green house? Well, there is a way that you can have both. We’ve got just the thing: it’s the Shaklee Get Clean Kit. The concentrated Shaklee products are proven to work better than the name-brand cleaners that you probably have been using right now. And with an added bonus, they are safe for you and better for the environment. And they come as concentrates, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.

    You can start shopping today at GreenMyMoneyPit.com. That’s GreenMyMoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And if you want some cleaning tips or if you’ve got a question about any other project at your money pit, you can post a question, just like Marie did from Boston who writes: “A neighbor’s kid wrote on my fence with permanent marker. I want to get rid of the mess before nicer weather hits. Any ideas for removing it?”

    TOM: If it’s a wood fence, it’s really hard to get that out of it, because I’m sure it’s totally soaked in.

    LESLIE: It really sucks it up.

    TOM: Yeah. So what I would do is just prime it and paint over it.

    Now, if it’s a non-porous surface like vinyl, one trick of the trade is you can pull off markers with WD-40. It’s really good for removing ink and also adhesives. So if you spray it on there, it should eat through that ink and take it right away without harming the fence.

    LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps. And tell that tagging neighbor of yours to cut it out.

    Next up, we’ve got one here from Bob in New Jersey who writes: “We have pressure-treated wood on our new deck. The boards still have the stamps from the lumberyard. How can we remove those stamps so that they don’t show through when we stain our deck?”

    TOM: Well, first of all, understand that those stamps are a good thing. They help you make sure that the quality of the wood is what is represented by the seller. And removing them isn’t an option. You could cause more problems by sort of trying to abrade them away.

    So I would simply sand the area lightly and then stain the wood using a solid-color, opaque stain. Solid-color stains work much better than semi-transparents in terms of their longevity. They just last a lot longer because there’s more titanium dioxide inside solid-color stains. And that’s the material that really makes that color stick around for a long time.

    So I wouldn’t try to remove it. It’s not going to be possible to do that, really, for the same reasons that we just covered with that fence question: it soaks in, so you can’t really get it off. You have to really stain over it and that’s the way to handle it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And I think people might get a little afraid when they hear “solid-color stain.” You don’t have to pick an outrageous color. While there are many colors to choose from, you can really pick a shade of a natural tone of wood or a variety of weathered effect of that wood, based on any sort of thing you can find. And some will even tint to your specified color. So, I mean you really can choose something that’s quite natural and get that same look.

    TOM: Yeah. And you’ll find that the stain does show the grain through it, so it’s not like paint. It is going to show the grain right through it.

    Alright. Jenny from Chicago is asking about attic insulation. She says, “I have cellulose that is R-19, in the attic, from 1985. Can I just add more without removing the old? Or do I have to completely remove and replace it?”

    So, as long as that existing insulation is not compressed, it’s not sunken down into that space, there’s no reason you can’t add additional insulation. You could add additional cellulose or you could add additional unfaced fiberglass batts. I would simply lay them perpendicular to the ceiling joists. You really want to have about R-30 to 40 in that space, not R-19, which is really only about 6 inches of insulation. So it’s always an option to add more on top.

    Now, the one time you can’t do that is if the insulation was put in upside-down and you’re looking at, say, the foil face of the top of fiberglass insulation. In that case, you’d have to cut the – cut that foil face about every 12 inches so that it would be properly vented. And then you can add more insulation on top of that at that point.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, you really cannot go wrong with too much insulation. It really will only help you save money in the long run.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air, online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. That’s all the time we have.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2015 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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