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How to Avoid Holiday Plumbing Emergencies, Step-by-Step Upholstery Tips, Save Money on Lighting Bills, Be Ready for an Evacuation and more

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement project. Do you have a do-it-yourself dilemma? Do you have a project that you don’t want to do yourself? We can help you be a smarter direct-it-yourselfer and teach you how to hire the right kind of contractor and make sure the job comes out exactly as you envisioned. But if it is a do-it-yourself project, we can give you some tips, some ideas on the products, the tools, the techniques that you need to get the job done. But you’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour on the program, how many times have you found lights left on when nobody’s home? If you’ve got kids, probably quite frequently. The good news is there is an easy solution and it takes only 15 minutes to do. We’re going to tell you about it, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And it’s important to remember, guys, that we are still in storm season and it is always possible that you could get the order to evacuate. I mean it happened to us last year so you never know what’s going to happen. We’ve got some advice on how you can prepare now so that you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice.

    TOM: One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $100 Home Depot gift card, courtesy of our friends at Owens Corning. You can use it to get started on your next insulation project, so call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That $100 gift card is going out to one caller drawn at random from those featured on today’s program. So give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Daniel in Illinois is on the line dealing with a dipping bathroom floor. What’s going on?

    DANIEL: I’ve got an older house that I’m doing some work on. And the bathroom floor seems to dip from the bathtub on one side, down, and from the sink and the toilet on the other side, down towards the middle.

    TOM: OK.

    DANIEL: And I’m wondering what would be the easiest way to – for a homeowner to be able to fix something like that.

    TOM: Bathroom floors typically get weak in two places. One is at the edge of the bathtub and that happens from just years and years of water splashing over the side of the tub or as you get in and out of the tub, just water dripping down there getting the floor wet and it started to decay. And the other area is right around the base of the toilet.

    Based on that, do you think that any of this could be decay or do you sense it’s more of a structural defect?

    DANIEL: I’m thinking it probably is more of the decay because it’s more prominent towards the toilet side of the floor.

    TOM: OK. So what you’re going to need to do in that situation is basically replace the floor. So you have to take out the toilet and you would have to tear up the floor and get to the – whatever is below the tile. I presume you have tile. There’s probably going to be plywood there.

    And you want to get down to something that’s reasonably flat. It doesn’t have to be completely rot-free because if it has some structural integrity, you can put a new layer of plywood on top of that. And that will transfer the support to that upper layer and it will work quite well.

    The other thing to keep in mind is the toilet flange may have to be adjusted by your plumber up a bit so that it ends up being flush with whatever the new floor level is going to be. But when the floor decays like that, there’s no way it can be patched. It really is a structural issue and it has to be properly repaired. It’s kind of a pain-in-the-neck job because you’ve got to work in such a small place and you’ve got to take the toilet out to do it. But it really is the best way to do it.

    DANIEL: OK. Alright. Sounds great. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Alright, Daniel. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Pam in Florida has a porch question. How can we help you today?

    PAM: We live on the water and in Florida, there’s a lot of wind on the water. We’re close to the Gulf of Mexico. And we have a screened porch with aluminum railings and the wind keeps blowing the screen sections out. We’ve tried all different types of screens and double-screening them and all different types of splines. And I wondered if you had any better ideas for us.

    TOM: Are we talking about on doors or windows?

    PAM: We’re talking about screen sections on a screened porch.

    TOM: Screened porch. OK. And so, how big are these sections?

    PAM: Probably 4×6.

    TOM: Pretty big. Are you using vinyl screening or are you using metal screening?

    PAM: Vinyl.

    TOM: Yeah, I think that’s the issue. The vinyl screening is pretty soft and pretty flexible. Not very sturdy. I think you’re going to need to use a heavier-gauge screening in order to make this more permanent. And you’re also going to need to consider not only the attachment points – I’m not quite sure how you’re doing that – but it’s got to be super-secure. And you might want to add grilles to divide that up into a bit smaller space. It could be a thin grille but it could – but a grille would give it some additional strength.

    So I think you’re going to need to use much heavier screening and not vinyl screening, OK? Because I think putting on a double layer of the vinyl is going to really not get you where you need to be. It really should be heavy metal screening when it’s that – when it’s a 4×6-foot area.

    PAM: Right. Do you know if metal screening comes in a fine enough mesh to keep no-see-ums out?

    TOM: Oh, yeah. It comes in different mesh densities and different gauge metals. You’ve just got to find a good source or supply down there for it.

    PAM: Thank you very much. Appreciate the help.

    TOM: You’re very welcome.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I mean there’s got to be something that you’re working on because it’s almost the holidays and holidays mean guests. So, you’re probably going to be super-busy. And we can give you a hand keeping your house in tip-top shape. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, as the days get shorter and the lights are left on longer, you might be seeing a spike in your electric bill. That’s why we’ve got tips on a way you can save money by making sure unnecessary lights are not left on. That’s all coming up when The Money Pit continues, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic Air Fresheners, the perfect fresh-air solution that eliminates bad odors naturally and replaces them with fresh scents. There’s magic in the air. Available as a solid air freshener or non-aerosol spray, online or at Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Kroger or your favorite local hardware store.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one of you lucky callers that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $100 gift card to The Home Depot, from our friends over at Owens Corning. Now, you can use it to add insulation to your attic, which we all know is a quick and easy way that you can save some dollars on heating and cooling and really help you maintain a warm, comfortable house this winter.

    TOM: And if that’s a project on your to-do list, Owens Corning makes a very environmentally-friendly insulation called EcoTouch. It’s 99-percent natural and more than half is made of recycled materials.

    Learn more at 888-GET-PINK or give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Nancy in Pennsylvania needs some help with a heating question. What can we do for you today?

    NANCY: Well, I live in an all-electric house that was built in the 60s and it has electric baseboard heat. And those things are ugly. Is there anything that I can replace them with that’s more modern-looking? Because these have the old grillwork and they get dust and dirt. And every time you turn the heat on, you have to burn the dust off and it’s just – and it’s hard to put furniture around it because it takes up the whole length of the wall. Is there anything that they can be replaced with or anything that would look more modern?

    LESLIE: So now you’re looking for a way to get rid of the baseboard heating in total with a different heating system, correct? Not changing the electricity source but just changing the heat unit itself.

    NANCY: Yeah. Just getting rid of that baseboard and replacing it with something that looks better, that looks more modern than this old, metal grillwork.

    LESLIE: Well, they make covers for them. If you look online, there’s one company called RadiantWraps.com. And they’re covers for baseboard heaters, regardless of the fuel source: electricity, gas, steam. And that can look like a variety of things, so you can get something that’s a little more traditional, something that’s more rustic, something that’s more modern that will cover up that basic slant/fin model that you associate with a baseboard heater. There’s perforated models that are just – cover over the fin look and make that one look disappear.

    So it’s up to you. If you’re looking for something different, then go for a radiant source that’s wall-mounted. But if you want to just cover up what you’ve got, look online. One company to check out is Radiant Wraps.

    NANCY: OK. Yeah, I just want something that looks nicer and more modern.

    TOM: Yeah, well, I think that will do it for you. Radiant Wraps. Take a look.

    NANCY: OK, I will. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Rich in Illinois is on the line and working on a concrete project. How can we help you today?

    RICH: Well, I’ll tell you what, we’ve had a new house built for us and because it was in a flood zone, we decided to have the house built on 9-foot poured concrete walls. Now, originally what we thought was going to happen is they were going to be concrete-slab walls and we were going to wrap a nice façade river rock around the whole bottom.

    TOM: OK.

    RICH: This is out in the country, in a forest setting on a lake and it’s got nice cedar siding. And when they poured the concrete, they poured it in forms, rather than being a slab, that looked like bricks.

    TOM: OK.

    RICH: And we ended up looking at it and thinking, “You know, we kind of like the look of this – these forms left.” Instead of spending a lot of money to wrap it in river rock, we were thinking about leaving it. And then somebody came by and said there’s a technique that you can use to paint this brick-like concrete so it actually looks a lot like brick. And I’d never heard of that. And they said they had seen it but they didn’t know how it was done. I was wondering if you guys knew anything about that.

    TOM: So, Rich, this is a poured concrete wall that has a brick pattern but of course, it looks like gray concrete, so we’re not fooling anybody into thinking it’s real brick, correct?

    RICH: Right.

    TOM: So, there is a way to add color.

    I would suggest acid staining, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And there’s several manufacturers that do make an acid-staining product. And it’s – it really is a chemical reaction done onto the surface of the concrete that causes the concrete to truly change its color; it’s not something that’s applied to it. There’s an etching process and then the coloration process.

    QUIKRETE makes them. If you look up online, you’ll find a ton of different manufacturers that do also make them. And if you get a little creative, you can mix and match and give it the depth and texture of an aged brick. I would recommend working on an area behind a bush or somewhere on the back side of the house until you get comfortable with your technique and the coloration, so you know what you’re going to get.

    RICH: Right. OK. Fantastic. Thank you.

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

    Well, it’s time now for today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron, makers of the Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch.

    LESLIE: The Lutron Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch is a great way that you can save energy. It automatically turns your lights on when you enter a room and off when you leave the room, which is great for both hands-free convenience and energy-saving benefits. It’s perfect for those rooms where lights tend to get left on, like your kid’s room or the powder room in my kitchen where my five-year-old can never, ever, ever, ever seem to grasp that you turn the light off when you leave the bathroom. Do I sound a little bitter about this? Every single day. How did I turn into my mom? Good God.

    Now, it’s also really great for those rooms that you tend to walk into with your hands full, like the laundry room or the pantry or maybe those basement steps. Really smart applications here.

    TOM: It has a very innovative sensor. The sensing technology keeps the lights on when the room is occupied. Plus, it has a patented detector that actually senses the natural light in a room, so it won’t come on during the day. And that’s a big energy-saver right there.

    It also works with all types of light bulbs – the CFLs, the LEDs, incandescent, you name it – without any special wiring. And it has a sleek design that blends with any home décor.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And I love that it works with all different types of light bulbs because I have to say that that’s been the biggest confusing point when you get to a dimmer and all this modern technology with light bulbs. So the Lutron Maestro Occupancy Sensor really is a smart buy, for so many reasons. And it’s available in small-room and large-room models and they all include a manual option.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

    LESLIE: Vicky in Louisiana is on the line with a shower-pressure issue, I would say. Tell us what’s going on, Vicky.

    VICKY: I have a shower and when I turn the handle all the way to the left, on hot, the pressure is fine. As I turn it to the right to get to the cold, it’s diminished. And when I get to the cold completely, it’s probably about 25 percent of what the hot is.

    LESLIE: Is it only on this fixture or does it happen at other showers or other sinks?

    VICKY: No, it’s just on that shower. Just that one shower.

    TOM: OK. Alright. And how old is the house, Vicky?

    VICKY: Ten years old.

    TOM: Oh, so it’s a fairly new house. Well, it sounds to me like there’s a problem with this – that shower diverter. Right. If it’s just happening on that one fixture, that rules out a problem – a bigger problem – with the plumbing pipes.

    VICKY: Mm-hmm. Fine.

    TOM: So, for whatever reason, that diverter is not working properly. It could be clogged or obstructed in some way and it probably has to be – and it would have to be repaired or replaced.

    VICKY: OK. So, is it something we can do at home or is the plumber going to have to go inside that wall to do that? The shower wall.

    TOM: You can replace the guts of it from the shower side without tearing it out. If you have to replace the whole thing, then you have to go into the wall. And if you have to go into the wall, the way it’s usually done is by accessing that shower wall from the back side, depending on how your house is built, if that happens to be against …

    VICKY: It’s in the bedroom.

    TOM: Yeah, if it happens to be against a closet or a bedroom or something like that, generally that’s a lot easier than having to go through tile or whatever the surface is of your shower stall.

    VICKY: Yeah, this is the acrylic – the one-piece shower.

    TOM: Yeah. So if it had to be replaced, you’d go – you’d do it from the back. But a plumber should be able to repair that.

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

    LESLIE: Brent in Texas is on the line with a venting question. Tell us what’s going on.

    BRENT: My question is about ridge venting. I’ve seen a couple of different places where people said, “Well, you can’t use the gable venting in conjunction with the ridge vent. It’d change the draw.” Of course, in the old balloon construction, the draw really comes up the balloon framing and vents into the attic, which goes out the gable vent. Would those need to be closed off? Would it work well in conjunction with each other or can I just stick with what’s there?

    TOM: Well, the most important part of a ventilation system you didn’t mention and that’s at the soffits. Are you going to have soffit venting on this house?

    BRENT: Well, since it is vented though the balloon framing now, I wasn’t sure if I really needed to add soffit venting, as well.

    TOM: The best ventilation system that you could have – and I wouldn’t count much on the ventilation through the balloon framing because that’s presuming that the home is going to be pretty drafty. But remember, the purpose of that ventilation is to dry out the insulation that’s in the attic space. The best way to do that is with a combination of ridge and soffit vents because they work together.

    And how they work together is that the wind blows and it presses up into the soffit vent, rides up under the roof sheathing and then exits at the ridge. The ridge is always in a depressurized area of the house because the wind hits that and sort of bounces off the roof and goes in a circular motion, which causes a draw at the ridge. And then, so, the positive pressure at the soffit goes under the sheathing, goes out at the ridge.

    Now, your question is: what about the gable vent? And the answer is you should block it off because it does interrupt that flow of air from the soffit, under the sheathing and out the ridge. By having the gable vent, you get some sort of turbulence up there that interrupts that flow. So if you can have a soffit vent and a ridge vent, that’s the best situation. If you’re not going to have a soffit vent, frankly, it really doesn’t matter because you’re not going to have the pattern that we would like you to have and you just have another hole in the space to let air out.

    But if you want to make it really efficient, put in soffit vents, put in ridge vents. And then if the gable vent comes through the wall in an old Queen Anne and you want to leave it for appearances, that’s fine. Just put something across the back of it so it doesn’t actually let air in.

    BRENT: Alright. Well, that does help out. I appreciate your help.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lawrence in Wisconsin on the line who’s dealing with a porch post that’s rotting. Tell us what’s going on.

    LAWRENCE: It’s an outdoor porch on the front of the house. And where that post and the floor come together there, the corners of the post – about an inch in on each corner – are rotting away. And I was wondering if there was a way I can fix that or does that entire post have to come out?

    TOM: So, is it just the base of the post because the moisture collects there?

    LAWRENCE: Yes.

    TOM: Can you sort of dig out the rotted area? Because if it’s just a small area like that, you can dig it out and fill it back in with a product like an Elmer’s Wood Filler, which will take shape and you can kind of work it like wood after it dries. So you don’t necessarily have to tear it out.

    Now, the other little trick of the trade for dealing with those porch-column bottoms – is it a square column?

    LAWRENCE: Yes.

    TOM: So, what you could do is you could add another piece of trim on the outside of that on all four sides and put a skirting on the bottom of the column. And that’ll – if you do it well, it looks like it was always designed to be that way. Does that make sense?

    LAWRENCE: Yeah, the – when the builders built, they put a little piece of wood all the way around it.

    TOM: Yeah, like a piece of trim? So you put a bigger piece of wood – like a taller piece of wood – all the way around it. If it’s just a small quarter round or something like that, you could put a 3-inch or even a 6-inch skirting around the bottom of that on all four sides and you’ll completely cover up the rotted area.

    LAWRENCE: OK. I’ll give that a try.

    TOM: A lot easier than replacing the post, right?

    LAWRENCE: Yes, it is.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still to come, if a severe storm is headed your way this storm season, you might have to evacuate. But if you plan now, you can actually have everything ready so that you can go at a moment’s notice. We’re going to tell you how, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    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: Well, when a severe storm is forecast for your area, it can definitely be a frightening and chaotic experience, especially if local officials tell you to evacuate.

    LESLIE: Yes. But early planning and preparation can make even an evacuation easier to handle. So here to tell us how is Ed Del Grande, Master Plumber and Home Improvement Expert from KOHLER Generators.

    Welcome, Ed.

    ED: Oh, it’s a pleasure to be back. I always have a lot of fun talking to you guys and I always learn a thing or two, to boot.

    TOM: Well, you know, Ed, it always strikes us that whenever a storm is forecast, there’s always those people that want to stay behind, even when public officials tell them to leave. That’s never a good idea. So what advice do you have to help make that evacuation process easier?

    ED: Well, I like to stress that over and this is serious. I know we were talking about having fun a little earlier but when you hear that you have to leave, don’t even argue. Just make sure you’ve got a good plan. Get in touch with some relatives, get your belongings that you need and get out. Don’t try to ride out the storm. I know you guys could back this up. In your area, I’m sure there’s not one person who maybe stayed behind who would do it a second time.

    TOM: That’s right. In fact, we know somebody that stayed behind in Sandy and had to kayak out. And I can guarantee you he would never do it again. And if he did, I’m sure his wife would divorce him.

    ED: And you know what? It’s always good to have a plan. Sit down, talk with your family before you even have a forecast of a storm so you’re ready to go. And I always tell people to keep some extra freezer bags on hand, in a special drawer. Because if you have to take some important documents with you, like insurance documents, putting them in a freezer bag will protect them from water. It makes moving out and evacuating a lot easier.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But should that be done in sort of a last-minute situation? I mean is there a checklist of things that I should be having on standby in a Ziploc bag throughout storm season?

    ED: Well, yeah. That’s very important, Leslie. What you’re saying – it’s the planning is the preparation. Now, you don’t have to go through all your files and get your insurance papers right away and put them in before any storms come and put them in those freezer bags. But just having the freezer bags in the same filing cabinet as those documents? Come on. How easy does that make the job if you have to pack up in a hurry?

    TOM: We’re talking to Ed Del Grande. He’s a master plumber and home improvement expert for KOHLER Generators.

    Ed, it’s always crazy when an evacuation is called. Can we do some planning in advance? Is there sort of a to-do list that we ought to maybe create to follow, that lists out all these things so we won’t forget anything?

    ED: Yeah, like we were talking about, the first to-do thing is to make a to-do list well ahead of time. And sit down with your family and talk about the things that are very important to you. If you have to get out in a hurry, you want to make sure that you have the car already filled with gas. And that to-do list could remind you of that with everything else going on. Other things, make sure you have all your propane tanks filled up, prescription drugs. You can evacuate but if you don’t have any medications that you may need daily, that could get you into a little bit of a bind.

    And also, well ahead of time, pick a bank that has branches located maybe throughout the state and throughout the area so wherever you go to evacuate, you could get to your local branch.

    TOM: Probably a good idea to bring some cash, changes of clothes. And we talked about the important documents.

    Now, Ed, finally, one thing. Let’s talk about standby generators. I know KOHLER makes some great standby generators. What should we look for if we want to pick up a standby generator to keep our home powered, even if we have to evacuate?

    ED: Yeah, the good thing about a standby generator – this is totally different than a portable generator – standby generators will work automatically. So even if you leave your home, the generator is there to protect your home. It’ll come on automatically and keep your big systems up and running.

    Now, another thing – especially living by seaside communities, like you guys do down there in New Jersey – you want to get something with a non-corrosive enclosure, so get a composite enclosure. And KOHLER standby generators have no metal for their enclosure on the outside. It really stands up to any salt here and also being that it’s a composite material, it’ll protect better against impact than a metal cabinet.

    TOM: Now, the installation on that has got to be done by a pro, right? It’s not a do-it-yourself project?

    ED: Yes. A standby generator is not a do-it-yourself project. You could go to KOHLER’s website at KOHLERGenerators.com and they’ll get you a local dealer. And the dealers will be happy to go out there and they’ll size everything up, see where you could locate the generator, according to your codes. And more importantly, they’ll give you a good price and then a timely manner when they can install this generator for you.

    So, if you call your dealer, they’ll do all the legwork for you and you know it’s safe. There’s no reason to try to do a project like a standby generator or even hooking up a portable generator yourself. Because you could do more harm than good in a power emergency.

    TOM: Great advice. The website is KOHLERGenerators.com. KOHLER is spelled K-O-H-L-E-R-Generators.com.

    Ed Del Grande, Master Plumber and Home Improvement Expert for KOHLER Generators, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ED: Thanks, Tom. I just want to point out one thing: these things do run on natural gas or propane, so you don’t even have to be there to fill them because those are both self-feeding gases.

    TOM: Good advice.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, the upcoming entertaining season might put some unwanted pressure on your pipes. We’re going to tell you how to avoid a plumbing-emergency house call on Thanksgiving night, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain MyQ Garage. When you forget, it alerts your smartphone so you can close your door from anywhere, on most garage-door openers. Available now. For more information, go to Chamberlain.com.

    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: The number to call is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $100 Home Depot gift card, courtesy of Owens Corning.

    LESLIE: You can use it to get started on your insulation project. Perfect for this time of year. You know, adding attic insulation is one of the cheapest and easiest ways that you can cut energy costs this winter. And most of you listening right now probably do not have enough attic insulation to begin with.

    TOM: Get started with EcoTouch Insulation by Owens Corning. It’s made with 99-percent natural content and it’s formaldehyde-free. You can visit HomeDepot.com/Insulation for how-to videos and Owens Corning product tips.

    Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and an opportunity to win that $100 gift card, from our friends at Owens Corning, to The Home Depot.

    LESLIE: Kim in Nebraska is working on a bathroom-flooring project. How can we help you?

    KIM: We had a leaky stool and so we are needing to replace our stool. But as we lifted it up, we could see that there was rotted subfloor and we replaced that.

    TOM: Hey, Kim, you said that you had a leaky what?

    KIM: The stool. The toilet?

    TOM: Oh, the stool. Oh, is that what you call a toilet? A stool? Yeah, that must be a Nebraska thing. I’d never heard that before.

    KIM: I know. It sounds a little bit nicer than “toilet.”

    TOM: Alright. So, we’ve established that your toilet is leaking and it apparently has rotted out your bathroom floor.

    KIM: And so we replaced the subflooring that was rotted. But websites were suggesting that if I’m going to replace the floor, just go ahead and take the rest of that one – the old vinyl linoleum off. And it’s original to the house, so it’s 27 years old.

    And so, I’ve been slowly doing that. I’ve just been scoring it and using a 4-inch scraping blade to get it off. But I’m really gouging that particle board underneath.

    TOM: What are you going to use for underlayment?

    KIM: It suggested the underlayment – wood?

    TOM: So, what I would suggest you do is get all the rest of that linoleum off. And if the floor is really gouged up and you want to put something that’s got a little bit of strength to it, I would use 3/8-inch plywood. Just make sure it’s like AC plywood so you have one really smooth side, like A-grade on one side, maybe C on the other. Or ½-inch.

    But 3/8- or ½-inch should be fine for the underlayment. And that will take up any depressions in the floor caused by the scratches or the gouging, OK? And then, on top of that, you can add the tile and go from there.

    KIM: OK. That sounds great.

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

    LESLIE: Well, we are heading right into the holiday entertaining season and that usually means more visitors to your house. And that means an increased strain on your plumbing system.

    TOM: That’s right. Backed-up drains, clogged pipes, stuffed disposers. They all add up to making this the busiest time of the year for plumbers. But there are ways to avoid those very expensive emergency calls on Thanksgiving night and Christmas Day and times like that.

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. What a disaster.

    Now, in your kitchen, you don’t want to pour fats or oils down the drain. Don’t put any stringy, fibrous foods, like pumpkin pulp or potato peels or shrimp shells or celery into your disposer. They’re just going to clog it. And you want to make sure that you run your dishwasher and your washing machine at night, which will help you to conserve hot water.

    TOM: And keep that water-heater temperature set at 125 degrees or below to avoid scalding. For more tips, just search “how to avoid plumbing emergencies” at MoneyPit.com.

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

    PETER: We built our house in ’06, so it’s a brand-new house; we had it built. My wife was in a wheelchair, so we made the doors wider, like instead of 28, 30.

    TOM: OK.

    PETER: And we’re still bumping up against the door frames, you know? And they’re not too bad but they’re – when we’re backing up and stuff, we’re hitting the walls and the door frames. And we were just wondering if there was anything that you might be able to – maybe to cover up the dents in the wood.

    TOM: So do you want to repair the wood or do you want to – like do you want some advice on how you can put a guard on those door frames?

    PETER: I think maybe just to try and repair them or cover up the dents.

    TOM: Well, that becomes a pretty easy repair. I mean basically, what you want to do is sand out the paint there and sand out any rough spot around that. And then you want to fill it. There’s a wide variety of products you could choose from. Elmer’s has got a great line of wood fillers that are easy to sand. And then you touch up with some primer and then you paint it again and that will cover it up.

    And you also might want to think about taking a look at some of the clear corner guards that are available that can protect that. They kind of blend into the material so you don’t really see them. But it’ll help you protect from gouging it any further.

    LESLIE: Oddly enough, at the home centers, Peter, they are found in the painting aisle. And I know this because the steps going down to our basement, my four-year-old likes to run down and grab onto that corner and he peels off the wallpaper every time he goes down and it’s been driving me nuts.

    PETER: OK, great. Hey, thank you very much for your help. Yeah, we love listening to your show. We have a new house, so we don’t have all the problems like people have with dirt cellars and all that, so …

    TOM: Well, that’s alright. We’re glad we can help you out with the small repairs, as well as the big one. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Orv in South Dakota is on the line with a log-cabin question. Tell us what you’re working on.

    ORV: This is a cedar log cabin. Actually, it’s 4x6s with the edges eased. And four or five years ago, we stained it and it got – we stained it too dark. And I’d like to know if we can – or what needs to be done to bring it back to its original color?

    TOM: OK. So, if you stained it and it’s too dark and you want to lighten it up again, it’s not practical to sand down the logs to try to get to the natural wood, nor do I think you have to. What you could do is you could apply a solid-color stain, which is essentially going to be – the color that comes out of the can is the color you’re going to get. It’s kind of like paint except that the grain of the wood shows through. So if you were to put a solid-color stain on those logs, you could definitely lighten it up.

    And frankly, when we are asked about staining homes, wood siding and the like, we almost always recommend solid-color stain because it lasts the longest. It has more pigment in it than semi-transparent stains and so I think that’s the way to go, Orv. Just pick up some solid-color stain, any color you want. Apply it to the logs and you could definitely lighten up the look.

    ORV: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Coming up, we’ve got an easy way to bring a brand-new look to an old dining set, just in time for your Thanksgiving dinner, so stick around.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    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: Hey, do you know the most popular remodeling project? It’s still painting. And if you’re looking to step up your game and add some faux finishes to your paint job, just go to our website, MoneyPit.com, and search “how to apply faux finishes.” You’ll get tips on everything you need, from sponging to ragging wet blends.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can post your question, just like Ellie in Alabama did. She writes: “I had a contractor skim-coat a wall to remove a texture I didn’t like. To save money, I primed and painted it myself. The stuff he used on the wall – drywall compound – is now coming off on the roller as I prime. Did I mess up or was it the contractor?”

    TOM: It kind of depends on what you hired him to do. The thing is, it sounds like – if just the drywall compound itself is coming off, then I think you could kind of blame him for not using the right material to skim-coat the wall. But if what is on the wall was coming off, then maybe he didn’t prep the wall properly. The thing is, that texture can only stay on so long and if it starts to release like that, there’s nothing you could do but taking it off completely, which is exactly what you have to do right now. You’ve got to strip it down to the bare walls and start again.

    So, I would certainly contact the contractor, have a chat about what’s happening with the product that he applied and see if he’ll help you out.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s good advice. And remember, keep it calm when you’re talking to the contractor, having just had a ton of work on my house. I know how easily you can lose your temper, so let’s keep it even-keeled and we’ll see where that goes.

    TOM: Well, seating always seems to be an issue this time of year, especially if your dining-room chairs are looking a little worse for wear. You can update the look, though, by just changing the fabric out on the seat cushions. Leslie has the step-by-step advice on that project, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. This project is super-easy, especially if you’ve got the right tools, and also very inexpensive.

    Now, you might even be able to get three of your old cushions looking brand new with as little as 1 yard of fabric. The only other tools that you are going to need are a pair of scissors – and I mean a good pair of scissors, not the ones that your kids use, not the ones that you cut paper; if you sew or upholster, you should have a dedicated pair of scissors but that’s another story for another day – a screwdriver, a good staple gun and a pair of pliers to help you remove those old staples.

    So, to begin, you want to turn your chair upside down and remove the four screws that are holding the cushion onto the chair. You then need to remove the fabric by prying out the original staples. There might be many layers there. You’re best to get off as many as you feel like but down to the original cushion would be the best. Then you take your new fabric and you lay it on your work surface with the right side facing down and you place the cushion onto the area of the fabric that you want to display on the chair seat.

    Now, you trace the cushion using chalk and you want to add the thickness of your cushion, any extra batting that you might be adding, plus about 1 inch all the way around before you cut. Because that’s going to give you space you need to fold the fabric over, give yourself a clean edge. That’s why you sort of add that in there visually.

    Now, before you staple the new fabric in place, you want to fold about a ½-inch of the raw edge under. I like to do this. Nobody is looking under your chair. You don’t have to but if you want a nice, finished look, go for it. You fold it under because that’s going to give you a clean edge that you’re stapling into.

    And when you start stapling, you want to put your first staple in sort of the top center of the cushion – you know, that far side from you, in the center – and work your way around a little bit on either side. Then do the side closest to you. You want to work in opposing sides so you keep everything nice and tight. Leave the corners for last. You can do little wrapping-paper folds, you can pull the center in. There’s a couple of different ways to do it. I know we’ve got instructions on MoneyPit.com.

    It’s a really easy project. Feel confident, do it and you’ll have a brand-new looking dining set just in time for the holidays.

    TOM: Coming up next time on The Money Pit, our exclusive, behind-the-scenes coverage of This Old House: Jersey Shore Rebuilds will continue, with an update on the reconstruction and raising of two homes that had extensive water damage. And we’re going to tell you how homeowners are making sure it will never happen again.

    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 2013 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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