Hot Tips for Cooler Summers
TRANSCRIPT FOR JULY 13, 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: Pick up the phone; give us a call with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma because this is where home solutions live. Coming up this hour, we’re going to talk about your air conditioning system. You know, if it doesn’t seem to be cooling right, you always question whether or not it’s working properly or not. Well, we’re going to teach you a quick and easy and free way to check it out and learn whether it’s running up to speed before you pick up the phone and call a service contractor. That’s going to save you some bucks and keep you cool at the same time.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, if you’re planning on doing your part to help the home improvement economy out there, maybe you’ve got a project at your money pit that involves hiring a pro. Well, if you do, we’re going to tell you the steps you need to take to make sure that the project you’re planning comes out exactly as you planned it.
TOM: And not only will we give you the answer to your home improvement question; we’re going to help you pay for it because this hour we’re giving away a $50 Lowe’s gift card to one caller that gets on the air with us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to the phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Ron in Alabama needs some help with a noisy situation. What’s going on?
RON: Yeah, well, I’ve got a generator and I live on a lake and so the sound travels pretty well. But my neighbor – you know, when the generator activates, we don’t hear it inside our house; it’s well-insulated. But the deflection off of my house takes what sound there is over to my neighbor’s and I’m just wondering if there’s some – I’m being a courteous neighbor – is there some way I can deflect that sound either straight up or up the hill, away from his house?
TOM: Yeah, well, it’s always nice to be nice to the neighbors because you never know when you need to have that favor returned. (chuckles)
Ron, what I would do is I would install – I wouldn’t install – I would plant some bushes around that. It’s not going to affect the function of the generator but it might serve as a noise barrier. You know, the other thing that you could do is fence it in but I think probably bushes would be a good way to sort of break up the sound waves.
LESLIE: And the most attractive.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: Otherwise, you’re looking at like a wood box.
RON: Yeah, it’ll look good on that utility side of my house.
TOM: (overlapping voices) It’s a good buffer.
RON: That’s probably a good solution.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, Ron.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, look at Leyland cypress. They’re gorgeous and they’re affordable.
RON: I’ll get a few of them.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Good, enjoy.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, Ron. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, we expect to hear from Ron’s neighbor with the same question.
LESLIE: You know, let me tell you (Tom chuckles) – when we first moved into our house, there was a chain-link fence between us and the neighbor and I was like, “You know, no offense. You’re lovely people but I don’t want to look at you.” So we put these three-foot Leyland cypress in and we’ve been in the house five years and the tallest one is the same height as my house.
TOM: And now it’s completely invisible, right?
LESLIE: It’s amazing and they were inexpensive and if you get them put in by, you know, a landscaping pro, they’ll guarantee them for the first year should they die, should there be a problem and then you’ll get a new one.
TOM: Good point. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Donna in Rhode Island has a roofing question. What’s going on there?
DONNA: My husband and I had put an addition on our home and we have a brand new roof. It’s only about two-and-a-half, three years old.
DONNA: And then there’s the existing side of the house where we’ve got a farmer’s porch where there’s been a considerable amount of mildew and mold buildup.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yep.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) So you’ve got a new roof and an old roof and they don’t look the same.
DONNA: Well, and they both have varying degrees of mold and mildew and we removed it once with Simple Green and lightly used a power washer but my husband was explaining if we continue to use the power washer, he’s afraid we’ll damage the architectural shingles.
TOM: Well, you could because you are driving some of the granules off but if you’re very careful about it and if you’re just using, say, the wide, gentle spray – the same one that you use, say, to wash your car – you’re probably OK.
But the secret here, Donna, is that you want to apply the mildicide and you want to let it sit. So I would use a product like Jomax, for example, that you put on the roof. Let it sit for a little while and then rinse it off because sometimes if you just try to blast off that mildew – that moss growth – that’s not really getting to sort of the root of the matter. You want to put the mildicide on; it’s bleach-based. Let it really do its job and then rinse it off. Don’t blast it off; just rinse it off and then you’re more likely to have a situation where it’s going to stay clean for a while.
Now, a couple of other things that you can do – first of all, is this a very shady side of the house? Because, typically, that’s what causes a lot of moss growth.
DONNA: Yes, and that is what’s happening. It’s a, you know, developed neighborhood; beautiful trees but it’s in – we have a couple of very large trees …
TOM: OK, so if you can thin out the tree a little bit so that you let a little more light in – you don’t have to get rid of it; just thin it out – that will make a difference. And the other thing that you could do is you could take a strip of copper or nickel flashing material – the metal – and put it up near the top of the roof. And what’ll happen is as the rain strikes that and washes over the copper or the nickel, it will release some metal which acts as a mildicide and actually cleans the roof every time it rains.
DONNA: Oh, wow. That’s a great idea. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: There you go, Donna. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We are so glad you joined us. Now pick up the phone and be part of The Money Pit because we want to help you get your projects done right the first time. So give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, your AC is on but it just doesn’t seem to be cooling down your house? Well, learn how to tell if your air conditioning is working – without calling a service contractor – right 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.
TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 Lowe’s gift card. You can use it for a great investment in energy efficiency and curb appeal. That’s a Benchmark door by Therma-Tru. Benchmark doors are made for easy installation. They’ve got the look of wood with all the benefits of fiberglass: no rotting, warping, swelling or cracking; super-energy efficient. Available at Lowe’s right now. We’ll give you a start with a $50 Lowe’s gift card if you pick up the phone right now and call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, pick up the phone and give us a call. Whatever you’re working on, we will have a solution to help you get that job done right, you know, whatever it is; whether it’s air conditioning, decorating, even upholstery. Tom and I can come up with answers to make your money pit super-cool and exactly the home of your dreams.
Now, if you’re thinking about that good door – Tom sort of got your brain working and you’re thinking, “Hmm. A good door. Sure, that’s going to help keep my nice, cool air in during the super-hot, sweaty summer that I’m experiencing.” But are you dealing with an air conditioning that seems to be on the blink right now? Not working so great?
Well, if that’s you and you’re wondering whether your AC is performing up to snuff, there’s a quick way to test it without picking up the phone and calling a pro and then spending those service dollars. Here’s what you do.
You want to take a thermometer and you want to measure the temperature of the air flow at the supply and then at the return duct nearest to the blower. Now, the temperature difference between the two should be somewhere between 12 and 20 degrees. If it’s not, your system is not running efficiently and probably needs refrigerant, which can easily be added by your local HVAC pro.
TOM: That’s all you need to do; check that temperature differential. If it’s between 12 and 20 degrees, you are good to go.
888-666-3974. You’ll be good to go with the answer to your home improvement question if you give us a call right now.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Dan in Texas is calling to rub it in that he’s got a pool. What can we do for you? (Tom laughs)
DAN: Yeah. I’ve got a pool that’s like 20 years old and back when it was built I guess it was fashionable to put AstroTurf around it.
TOM: I see. (laughs)
DAN: And now there are patches of AstroTurf which look like it was laid in concrete that I just can’t get up.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, man. Wow. So the AstroTurf is what, like embedded into the concrete?
DAN: Yeah, it looks like they just – they put down a thin layer of some kind of crete or plaster or something and then laid the AstroTurf on it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Wow, hmm.
LESLIE: How 1970s.
TOM: Yeah, I’m thinking a jackhammer is in your future, dude. (Tom and Dan chuckle)
DAN: Well, it may be and I thought about just replacing the whole pool deck but I didn’t know if there was something out there that could get this stuff up. It’s not a conventional adhesive. I’ve tried adhesive dissolvers on it and it doesn’t do any good.
TOM: Well, let me ask you a question. Is it just like more of the glue that’s there or is there actual sort of like fabric from the old …?
DAN: There’s still some AstroTurf there; I mean, what – the remnants of AstroTurf, anyway.
TOM: Hmm. Because if it was smooth and it was just a glue, I was thinking that you may be able to coat the whole thing with an epoxy patching compound like an epoxy trowel surface.
LESLIE: Like to level it?
TOM: Yeah, to level it out and cover it over.
LESLIE: Is there any way to build a – not a deck where you’re thinking of something high around it but wood up around it to create sort of like a wood or a composite decking.
DAN: It’s an inground pool and the coping stone is level with the concrete decking around it so …
TOM: I know what you’re thinking, Leslie. If you use like Fiberon or something like that on the flat?
LESLIE: Yeah, you can use that on the flat and – I mean I’m assuming it’s an inground pool, which is – I’m glad for you; I’m jealous. (Tom chuckles)
DAN: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Not that I have pool envy. OK, I do. But yeah, I’ve seen where you can put wood, you know, right up onto maybe a brick edger that’s coved so it sort of creates a new stepper into the pool, so it goes brick up to this wood decking; which actually looks really pretty and you can put it on the diamond, you can do an interesting herringbone pattern with this and it creates a new surface and that could be something that could go right on top of that mish-mosh.
TOM: Except that …
LESLIE: And of course you don’t have to worry about weeds growing up through it.
TOM: Except that I wouldn’t use wood; I would use composite.
LESLIE: Yeah, composite, definitely.
DAN: Yeah. That spot …
TOM: Yeah, it’ll stand up really nicely.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, that’s an option. A jackhammer is the option and if you can get rid of the AstroTurf itself, you could coat the whole thing with an epoxy coating.
DAN: Yeah, and that’s just what I really wanted to do if I could get rid of the AstroTurf.
LESLIE: You know what? If you want some inspiration for the decking idea, go to FiberonDecking.com. I think there are a couple of photos of an instance where they’ve done just that.
DAN: OK. FiberonDecking.com. OK, I’ll check it out.
TOM: Dan, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to head over to Tennessee where Patricia is dealing with some – I guess they’re cracking up bathroom sinks. What’s happening?
PATRICIA: Hi. I’ve got these ugly cracks in my – I guess they’re like a resin sink; the counter and the sink is one piece.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yes.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK, gotcha. It’s like molded.
PATRICIA: Yeah, it’s molded. And even if I clean them, they quickly fill back up with mildew.
PATRICIA: And they’re very ugly.
TOM: Yeah, that’s like a composite kind of molded sink and they – the glaze on them does crack and it’s really not something that you can fix. It’s just kind of, Patricia, the way they wear, unfortunately.
LESLIE: There’s no like patching compound?
TOM: No, no. I’ll tell you what works good as a cleaning – to clean it is Bar Keepers Friend.
TOM: Alright? It’s like a scouring powder but it does a really good job of getting that mildew out of the cracks in places like that.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Also good for solid surfacing materials like Corian sinks and that sort of thing; makes it really white and bright.
PATRICIA: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Patricia. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steve in Maryland is working on a bathroom project and needs a helping hand. What can we do for you?
STEVE: I’ve been working with a shower – a corner shower.
STEVE: And it’s – we used it for about a year and then it developed a crack in the base. And in examining the shower, it seems that the material that the shower is made of – it’s not like a hard base, fiberglass with metal construction; it’s just kind of fiberglass so …
TOM: Right. It’s a fiberglass pan. OK.
STEVE: It moves a lot; the base moves. It’s not as sturdy as something that’s built on a metal base.
TOM: Well, actually, if it was installed properly, it would not move because when you set a fiberglass pan, you’re supposed to set it in mortar. You basically mix up some QUIKRETE or something like that, put it on the floor when it’s kind of loose and wet and you sort of press the pan down into it and that gives it structural support. If you don’t have that and you have a lot of flexibility in it, it’s more likely to crack.
STEVE: Well, this one did crack and …
STEVE: … really, the only thing I can see is to replace it but I was looking what to put under it and you mentioned mortar which I don’t believe is under it right now. When the original installer put it there, he just put the shower and …
TOM: Well, I’ll give you one other option if you don’t want to pull it out and replace it. You can repair the cracked fiberglass pan and basically you’re going to re-fiberglass that. If you get a fiberglass repair kit like – and the place to get this is at an auto supply shop because it’s the same stuff you’d use to fix a fiberglass, you know, car door, body or something like that.
STEVE: Right. Like Bondo or something like that?
TOM: Well, it’s kind of like that, yeah. And basically, you clean the surface really well; you apply the resin; you press the fiberglass into the resin, then you put a couple of coats on top of it. And I actually have fixed a fiberglass pan this way in a shower and actually bought myself a couple of more years by doing it this way before we were ready to replace the whole thing.
STEVE: Good enough. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Steve. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kathleen in Arizona wants to change a wood fireplace to a gas fireplace. Welcome aboard. What can we do for you?
KATHLEEN: Thank you, yes. So I’m here in Phoenix and we have fires because they look good; not so much for the heat, of course.
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
KATHLEEN: I have gas that comes in at one end of my house and about 50 feet away is my fireplace. So I’ve had estimates for running gas line but the length of it and the bends involved is really costly, it seems; so I’m thinking that I could use one of those barbecue gas cylinders maybe as a gas source. My fireplace is on an outside wall.
TOM: On an outside wall? Hmm.
TOM: Maybe, maybe, maybe. Not sure about that. I will tell you that if you think the expense of running the gas line is costly, wait until you see how much it costs to run that fireplace. Usually, when you add a gas burner to an existing fireplace, they use a huge amount of BTUs so they’re very expensive to run.
If you can start from scratch and install what’s called a condensing gas fireplace, they have very high-efficiency fireplaces that are …
LESLIE: But isn’t that essentially – couldn’t you do that as an insert to the existing fireplace, Tom?
TOM: I don’t know about that. I’ve never seen one that – no, I’ve never seen one that’s that efficient to be used as an insert. So, this is a pretty expensive improvement that you’re thinking about doing, Kathleen. If you’re not going to use it all the time, why don’t you just go back – go with a standard Duraflame log and save yourself a lot of headache?
KATHLEEN: Oh, OK. Alrighty.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Pretty costly.
KATHLEEN: And when you were mentioning inserts, are you talking about the ones that re-burn their own smoke because we have no-burn days here in Phoenix?
TOM: Yeah, they have inserts that burn wood, sure. And they’re more efficient than regular masonry fireplaces. But I will tell you that adding a gas burner to a masonry fireplace is just a very inefficient thing to do.
KATHLEEN: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mike in Rhode Island is dealing with a leaky pressure valve. What’s going on? Tell us about the problem.
MIKE: Well, on the hot water tank …
MIKE: … there’s a pressure release valve with the long pipe. I guess that’s (inaudible at 0:16:32.3).
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Mm-hmm. That’s right.
MIKE: And they – the oil guy did replace it twice.
MIKE: But it still leaks; mostly when we take like a shower – after the shower.
TOM: OK. Did anybody check the pressure of the water tank? Because remember that the pressure relief valve, it’s technically known as a pressure and temperature valve. It’s supposed to go off when the pressure in the tank goes over 150 pounds. Now, if it’s leaking because it’s a defective valve, that’s one thing; but if it’s leaking because it’s relieving the pressure because the tank is now forming an excess amount of pressure, then in fact it’s doing its job. So I would first check the pressure in the tank to make sure the pressure relief valve is, in fact, relieving pressure so that you don’t have a tank that ruptures on you.
MIKE: OK. So I would tell him to check that?
TOM: Yeah, well, he certainly should be doing that. I wouldn’t just replace it without checking it. Now, it’s not unusual for those to leak and, in fact, you know, there’s like a test valve on the side of those things. But we always say never touch it because once you let a little water out, sometimes the valve seat never goes back quite the same and it leaks like from that point on.
But if you’ve replaced this a couple of times and it’s still leaking, my question would be why is it leaking? I doubt it’s a bad valve; it’s more likely you have an excess amount of pressure and something is not right with the system. So I would have him check that next, OK, Mike?
MIKE: OK. I’ll do that, great.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Yes, if your pressure relief valve is leaking, it may just be doing its job – relieving pressure and stopping an explosion.
LESLIE: John in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JOHN: Yes, I was looking to purchase a new home and their heating was propane gas and I asked them if – I’d rather go with some heat pumps because I think that the propane gas would be very expensive in the long run. And I would like your opinions on – economically and the advantages of a heat pump.
TOM: The problem with the heat pump is that in this area it’s real expensive to run and very often it has to run on its electric backup zone. See, the way a traditional heat pump works is it maintains the temperature differentiation between what you set the thermostat at and about two degrees. So if you set it at 70 and it falls to 68 in the house, the heat pump runs but if it falls to 67 or below, then the electric resistance backup heat comes on and that’s real expensive to run.
So if I had a choice of an electric heat pump or propane, I probably would use a high-efficiency propane system. If a ground source heat pump was available, then I might go with a heat pump because that’s going to be more efficient in the long run.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we are going to share with you a great idea on how to cover up an ugly, outdated kitchen backsplash. We’re going to fill you in, right 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: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 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 WORX. Don’t want to burn through a bunch of cash on an expensive vacation? Well, 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: Hey, maybe you’re going to take a staycation at your money pit and redo an outdated kitchen, like our Liquid Nail story winner this week. Now, we’ve been asking you guys – our Money Pit listeners – to share your stories and Liquid Nails – you guys know; you work with it all the time. Tom and I use it; it’s a fantastic, adhesive product. It’s the choice of pros and do-it-yourselfers alike.
So this week, we chose Janine in Fairfield, Connecticut. Now, get this: Janine moved into a home and she loved her house and she moved in and the kitchen was so beautiful until she got a closer look at that backsplash and found out that it was a faux-tile backsplash that was actually made up of a single, plastic sheet. (Tom chuckles) Those things are so terrible.
TOM: (chuckling) I had an awful apartment with that stuff on the bathroom walls once. It really looks bad.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, and it’s like the easiest, cheapest thing that you can do in a bathroom.
LESLIE: It’s so terrible. I believe my first apartment had the entire bathroom molded out of that and like the tub – what tub? What am I saying? It looked like a tub turned on its side; it was like the stall shower that was all out of this molded plastic nonsense.
So, Janine hated it and she started thinking, “How can I get it out of here?” But ripping it down totally would have damaged the wall, so Janine used a Liquid Nails to adhere a beadboard backsplash instead, right on top of that old, hideous backsplash. Now, Janine tells us that the look was so great and the application could not have been simpler.
That’s a great project.
TOM: That’s a great idea too. You know, using Liquid Nails means you don’t have any fasteners; you get a very clean, very finished look. So if you’ve got Liquid Nails stories, send it in and if we use your story on the air, we’re going to send you a Liquid Nails gift pack worth about 65 bucks. Maybe we can all share in your success.
If you want some more tips, you can go to MoneyPit.com/MyStory.
Leslie, let’s get back to the phones. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Lloyd in Kansas is dealing with some concrete walls that are cracking up. Tell us about the problem.
LLOYD: I have a – it’s actually cinderblock.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
LLOYD: And I’m getting a hairline crack between not all of them but several of them and it goes all the way through so …
TOM: Is it a vertical crack, Lloyd, or is it a horizontal crack?
LLOYD: No, it’s a horizontal.
TOM: And where is it located, say, from …?
LLOYD: It’s right in the mud area, where they …
TOM: Does it seem to be opening though or is it just sort of – like more like expansion and contraction?
LLOYD: Yeah, that’s probably it right there. It’s a little bigger than a hairline crack; some of them are. It’s got several in it and some of them are and some of them are a little wider than others but they’re not real wide.
TOM: Well, look, you might have some movement in that wall that could be causing this and, typically, if you get movement in a concrete block wall, it’s because of a drainage issue outside. You know, if you have a lot of water that collects around the bottom of the wall, that can contribute to the movement of the wall. And a simple explanation for that is if you walk across your lawn after a rain storm, you kind of sink because wet dirt doesn’t hold as much weight as dry dirt.
And so, if you try to stabilize the soil a little bit, that can cut some of that down. But that said, expansion and contraction is not unusual in a block wall and it’s going to exhibit itself by hairline cracks in the joints and it doesn’t always indicate a structural problem.
LLOYD: OK. Alright. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jenny in North Carolina is dealing with something old being new again but not so much having that brand-spanking new smell. What’s going on in your old townhouse?
JENNY: Well, I bought a townhouse about two years ago and it was a rental so it was – and it was trashed.
JENNY: So we basically redid all the surfaces. I mean, I took out all the carpet, put hardwood floors in the living areas, new carpet. It’s just on a slab so we scrubbed the slab; put new carpet in the bedrooms; painted all the walls, all the closets, all the woodwork. The only thing that didn’t get painted was the ceilings because they’re popcorn and it’d need to come down.
So I thought after two years of just living there and being clean and – that it would smell better but it still – a lot of times when you come home, it greets you with the smell of an old, musty hotel room.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Because it’s haunted.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Hmm. You don’t have any old, musty people living there, right? (chuckles)
JENNY: No. You know, we’re very un-musty people. (Tom chuckles)
LESLIE: Jenny, what are you guys doing about dehumidification?
JENNY: Well, we have an air conditioner. I mean we live in the south so …
TOM: Right. And air conditioners are not good dehumidifiers. You have a central air conditioner?
TOM: What you might want to consider is something called a whole-home dehumidifier because if you have high humidity, you can have odors.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And high humidity could be pulling that odor out of that popcorn ceiling, out of the subfloor. I mean any time that there’s moisture, suddenly you smell something that you spilled on that carpet a year ago.
TOM: Yeah. What you want to do is install a whole-home dehumidifier and that will automatically lower the moisture in the house. That will make a big difference.
Now, this popcorn ceiling is another issue. You can, in fact, paint it. You want to use a very, very thick roller and we would recommend that you prime it first. You can use a water-based primer but you want to prime the ceiling first with a very thick roller. In fact, they have rollers that are sort of slit that …
TOM: Yeah, spiral-cut or slit and they work really well with popcorn. You’ll get some popcorn that will come out and get stuck on it and …
LESLIE: You might even get sections of it off but …
TOM: But all in all, it will – when you’re done, it’ll look good and it’ll definitely seal in any odors that are associated with that.
JENNY: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and sharing all of your home improvement dilemmas with us. So, what are you working on? Are you thinking about tackling a big home improvement project like, say, maybe replacing the windows at your house? Well, make sure you do your end of the prep work before the installers show up. We’re going to run down the to-do list, next.
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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 and you should pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only are we going to give you the answer to your home improvement situation that’s going on at your money pit but we’re going to give you a chance to win a great prize that’s going to help you get that project done. We’re giving away this hour a $50 Lowe’s gift card.
Now, you can use it to increase the curb appeal at your money pit by investing in a Benchmark door by Therma-Tru. Now these Benchmark doors by Therma-Tru, they really specialize in pre-hung entry doors so it’s a really easy, do-it-yourself project. And if you go with a fiberglass door – which is Therma-Tru’s specialty – they can actually insulate up to five times better than traditional wood doors and get this: now, you guys – homeowners out there – can take advantage of a tax credit of up to 1,500 bucks. So why not do something that improves your energy efficiency at home and boosts the resale value of your house at the same time? Pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. You know, another tax credit to take advantage of – one of the big ones being offered – is for replacement windows. But before those installers show up, you want to make sure you’ve done the prep work on your end. Here’s what you need to do.
First of all, you need to take down all the window treatments, including shades and blinds; you want to move furniture away from the windows and take all breakables off the wall shelves. If the new or used windows need to be stored at your house for a few days, make sure you have a safe place picked out for that to happen.
Leslie, this reminds me of the stories that you used to tell me.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Do you have a story?
TOM: No, about when you would show up to do a While You Were Out makeover and not a single thing would have been done to get ready for you.
LESLIE: Well, I mean, they couldn’t in that situation because they didn’t know we were coming. But I have seen situations where somebody knows the projects are happening and you’ve got a super-expensive building material – like windows – and what do they do? They stack them against, you know, the hallway right by the front door where there’s high traffic or something. And somebody is bound to bump into something or back into something and break something, which is, you know, going to be something that you’re going to have to pay for out-of-pocket. So really be prepared.
You know, there are more things that you need to know when you’re going through the process of replacing old windows and you can learn all about them when you download the free chapter of our book, My Home, My Money Pit, all about windows. Now, we put it together with the help from our friends over at Simonton Windows and it’s available right now, for free, at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your big or little home improvement question. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to chat with Janie in Wyoming who’s got a question about flooring and heating. What can we do for you?
JANIE: Yeah, we’re thinking about buying a new house or building a new house and so we’re debating what kind of flooring to put in it and we would like to put in the in-floor heating.
JANIE: But even with in-floor heating, there’s using Gyp-Crete or there’s putting the tubes right underneath the flooring or there’s suspending the tubes underneath the flooring. Which one is best?
TOM: OK. Well, first of all, are we talking about a hot-water heating system? Because that’s what we’d recommend.
TOM: Because electric heat is going to be pretty expensive out there in Wyoming. What I would think you need to do is you want to put the flooring embedded into the floor so you want to use a lightweight …
LESLIE: The heating embedded in the floor.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. You don’t want it under the flooring. I mean, that’s great as an aftermarket solution if the flooring was already down but in new construction I would try to embed it right in the flooring; so the Gyp-Crete solution is good. And the type of plumbing pipe you want to use for this is called PEX – P-E-X. That stands, Janie, for crosslink polyethylene. It’s a fantastic product. It’s easy to use; it’s very flexible, very durable stuff and I would be totally comfortable putting that underneath my floor and not having to worry about leaks with it.
JANIE: OK. And then what kind of flooring should go over it? We’re thinking about engineered wood on part of it.
JANIE: Carpeting with the rubber padding instead of the normal padding. Is that OK or are we shooting ourselves in the foot doing that?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Absolutely. No, absolutely. A nice thing about this type of a flooring system is any type of surface floor is going to work – hard surface or carpeting. And those are all great choices. You know, the engineered hardwood is great stuff today; the finishes are really, really tough and it’s beautiful and it looks just like full-thickness hardwood but it’s a lot easier and less expensive to put down.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, they’re absolutely gorgeous.
TOM: So, those are all great choices, Janie. It sounds like a really exciting project.
JANIE: OK. That’s what I needed. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tiling trouble; that’s what Art in Texas has got. What can we do for you?
ART: Yeah, I have a little divot in a ceramic tile. It’s about a quarter-inch around and maybe about a quarter-inch deep. I had a glass fall on the tile. It didn’t crack it but just like knocked out this little hole in there and I tried Googling, you know, to find out about how to repair tile – if you can just do a spot repair – and the only thing I’ve been able to find is how to replace the whole tile and I was just wondering if there’s any kind of like – you know, like a little concrete kind of thing you can pour in there or something to fill it in?
LESLIE: Is this in a spot where if you did some sort of patching repair job it would see a lot of action? Like is it in a big counter space that you use quite often?
ART: Yeah, it’s right there by a counter in the kitchen.
LESLIE: Because I feel like whatever you use to patch it, it’s not going to adhere as well as you hope that it will and with cleaning and everyday use, it’s just going to keep popping out.
ART: Oh, OK. So really the only thing you can do for that is either live with it or replace the tile.
TOM: Or replace it with a tile that’s complementary if you can’t find one that happens to be an exact match.
ART: Right, yeah, I’ve got tile left over from when they built the house.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, good deal. You know that’s not that big of a deal to replace it then if you’ve got that tile. I would just do that if it bothers you that much.
ART: Great. Thank you very much.
TOM: Ah, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we’re going to answer your e-mails, including a great décor du jour tip – a décor tip of the day – that you can use to create a home bar that’ll look just like it came out of a very fancy restaurant. That’s coming up, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, 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: Pick up the phone, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie and send us your e-mail question, just like Rick did in New Jersey.
LESLIE: Alright. Rick writes: “We have a bar in the basement that we want to decorate with old paper money and then pour a clear resin on top. The idea is that it will look something like you’d see in a real bar. Will the epoxy dry clear enough so that we can actually see the money clearly and is this something a reasonably talented person can do?”
Well, you know, Rick, we actually did something like this in an episode of While You Were Out in – I want to say in like season two in Albuquerque? And we did a bar that was like – well, we did a room that was like a ’50s kind of diner with old cars and it was a very cute, tiled floor, checkered pattern.
And so the bar we built – you’re going to have to build sort of a box that you’re going to pour into so you want like a platform. You can do MDF because you’re going to seal it up and it’s not going to be wet enough where it’s going to turn to sponge. You can do plywood. If you do the MDF, I would paint it first and that’s not a bad idea in case you don’t cover everything with your paper money; you want to make sure that you see something other than the brown background.
So we built the frame for our bar base and then we just framed it out on three sides once it was attached to the wall so that it had a place where the resin wouldn’t pour out and over and then that outer frame is going to be ripped off at the end. Now, keep in mind – once you pull it off, there are going to be some pieces that get stuck to the resin so you’re probably going to need to put something decorative around just to finish it off.
But what you want to use is the product is – there’s a product called Envirotex Lite. You can get it at craft stores; you can buy it online. It is kind of pricey; I have to say for the episode of While You Were Out, I think I used $300 worth of the product and I kept being like, “I need more, I need more. I need another bucket. I need more of it.” Because you want it to fill everything. It’s self-leveling and it dries totally clear. It’s well worth it; it looks awesome and what we put into the bar top was little Matchbox racecars and a place setting. So there was a plate with forks and knives and everything so we really had to make it deep to cover the tines of the fork. But with paper money, you don’t need that much room.
TOM: Yeah. Good point. It sounds like a great project. Now, do you have to be worried about the humidity down there, Leslie? I would think it’s pretty damp in a basement.
LESLIE: Yeah, you want to make sure that you have good ventilation because the product is super-duper stinky. But you want to make sure that air is moving just to allow it to dry and it does take a good 48 hours plus to cure. So don’t put anything down on it but it’s going to be a good project.
TOM: Alright. We’ve got an e-mail here from Jennifer in Illinois. She says: “My husband and I are getting ready to finish our basement in the fall. We want to understand the pros and cons of pulling permits, assuming all the work will be done up to village codes. Specifically, if we don’t pull permits, what might happen (Leslie chuckles) if we decide to sell our house down the road?”
Not good, Jennifer. You want to pull permits for two reasons: first of all, you want to make sure that the work is done right and the code enforcement officers will be overlooking – looking over the shoulder of the pros that you hire to make sure they’re doing the work correctly; and secondly, as you say, what’s going to happen when you sell your house? Well, listen, if I was the home inspector – I always used to tell my clients to go pull the building permit file on the house themselves.
Now, if they do that and they pull the file and it is public record – remember, it’s open season for anybody that wants to look at your building permit file – and they see that you’ve got a brand new deck and no building permit for it or a brand new kitchen or a bathroom and no permit, that is a big problem.
Now, some people worry about the fact that maybe they’re going to be reassessed but look, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. You just cannot take a chance.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. They’ll find you eventually.
TOM: You cannot take a chance that the work is going to be done incorrectly or it’s going to come back and haunt you when you try to sell that house.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Do it once; do it right, Jennifer. Otherwise, you guys are going to be in such a sorry situation or at least a really expensive one.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Pick up the phone any time of the day or night that you have a home improvement question and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And remember, the show continues online, all the time, at MoneyPit.com.
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.)