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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: And coming up this hour, would you like to incorporate a sleek, modern look into your kitchen? That is one of the hottest new trends making its way to this side of the Atlantic, all the way from Europe. We’re going to have details, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And while we’re talking about kitchens, you want more space, more work surface and a gathering spot in your kitchen? How about building an island? We’ve got great ideas on how you can do that, coming up.

    TOM: Plus, purchasing your first home can be intimidating but not if you follow just five resolutions for first-time homebuyers. We’ve got tips from the experts at the National Association of Realtors on just that.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away the Five-Minute Fan from Hunter Fans. It’s a great way to cool off quick. The Five-Minute Fan is 90-percent preassembled right out of the box.

    TOM: And it’s worth $129. It’s going to go out to one caller who calls us with their home improvement question, drawn at random at the end of today’s program. So, give us a call. What are you thinking about? What are you working on? We want to talk to you about it, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Erica in Illinois is dealing with a paint situation. Tell us what’s going on. You’ve got peeling and bubbling?

    ERICA: Yes. I had my paint – my ceiling painted by someone probably about three years ago. And just recently, the ceiling has started peeling and the walls have started, oh, crackling almost. Like it looks like underneath, there’s a crackle to it that if I pressed it hard, it would flake off.

    TOM: OK. So, I suspect that when it was painted last time, the walls may not have been prepped properly. They clearly were not primed. I think now is an opportunity, Erica, where you’re going to have to get rid of all of that old, loose paint. Sand the ceiling down, sand the walls down and apply a primer. The primer is going to be key here because whatever that unknown surface is underneath that layer, we want to make sure we have something that can attach to it. And primer you should think of as sort of the glue that makes the paint stick.

    So, prep what you have, prime it thoroughly, then put a second topcoat on. And that last coat, make sure you use a really good-quality paint and make sure it’s flat for the ceiling. And that will hide any imperfections that might be left behind. Does that make sense?

    ERICA: Yes. Now, as far as my wall, do I need to try to scrape it off so I don’t have any of this crackle looking – on my wall?

    TOM: Yeah, I definitely would. I would definitely try to get rid of as much of that loose paint as possible and the same thing goes: prime them and then do a topcoat after that.

    ERICA: OK. Alright. Sounds like a job but I’ll take it on.

    TOM: And I know you can do it, Erica. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Daniel in California on the line who needs some help with a travertine floor.

    When did you put it down, Daniel?

    DANIEL: Oh, I guess it’s been about a week now.

    LESLIE: OK. And there’s nothing on it?

    DANIEL: Well, no.

    LESLIE: Are you sure?

    DANIEL: Well, OK. There was nothing on it but yeah, actually, I put a sealer on it just like Sunday, after it’d been installed four days.

    TOM: OK. And did your installer give you a sealer to use or suggest a sealer to use?

    DANIEL: No, my installer didn’t.

    TOM: He didn’t. So where did you – what sealer did you select? How did you find it?

    DANIEL: I got it at the home improvement store.

    TOM: OK. And so it sounds like you did the right things. It’s a beautiful floor. It’s a little bit absorbent, so you are going to need to seal it from time to time. But what’s your question?

    DANIEL: Well, my question is, well, one, after I put the sealer on, then I did some reading and I found out that there’s some that are better. This one’s probably the third and I’d like the best.

    TOM: OK.

    DANIEL: Is there a problem with buying the better one and putting it on top of it or …?

    TOM: Potentially. I would save that for the next trip. See, this has already soaked into your floor and so …

    LESLIE: And travertine is so porous.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: With the first thing you put on it, that’s in there.

    TOM: Just drinks it right up. So I would wait until the next time it’s – until it’s time to apply this again and choose a different product that time. But I would definitely not put a second coat on top of this with a different product because you’re – you don’t know what kind of chemical reaction you’re going to create there.

    LESLIE: How are they going to react to one another?

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: It could be bad news.

    TOM: Not worth it. I’d just enjoy the floor.

    DANIEL: OK, great. Could I ask you a little follow-up question?

    TOM: Sure. Go ahead.

    DANIEL: Yeah. Also, I was reading – they were saying that mats with rubber bottoms are bad for it. Is that true?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. For travertine …

    TOM: Well, it’s not bad for marble; it’s bad for vinyl.

    LESLIE: Yeah, if you have a vinyl floor and you put down a kitchen mat or a bath mat and it doesn’t move and it stays in its spot, the backing on the mat has some sort of weird chemical reaction with the floor and causes a discoloration. We get calls a lot for people being like, “I’ve got this weird stain that’s the same as my bath mat. How can I get it out?”

    TOM: And it won’t come up. Yeah, right. Because it oxidizes the rubber against the vinyl. But I don’t know that there’s a problem putting that against marble; I’ve never heard that.

    LESLIE: Yeah. No, I’ve never heard that.

    DANIEL: OK. Great, then. Thanks a lot, guys.

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

    I tell you what, he’s treating it at the right time. There’s never a better time to treat it than when it’s brand new.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, what are you working on at your money pit this summer? We are here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’d love to hear how we can help you. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still to come, a hot, new trend in kitchen cabinets is making its way here, all the way from Europe. Learn about the popularity of this sleek, modern look, after this.

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    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: And the number to call right here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We would love to talk to you about your home improvement project. We’d love to help solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. Or if it’s not a project that you’re going to do yourself, we’d love to help you take that all-important first step in terms of finding a good contractor to do the work for you.

    And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Five-Minute Fan from the Hunter Fan Company. This is a cool product. It’s called the Five-Minute Fan because it’s 90-percent preassembled out of the box. All you need to do is attach a mounting bracket and connect some wires. You quickly attach the blades with Hunter’s patented Easy Lock system. There’s no screws even needed to get this job done.

    LESLIE: Hunter offers the Five-Minute Fan in standard and ENERGY STAR models with assorted finishes. It’s a prize worth $129, so pick up the phone for your chance to win. And visit HunterFan.com for the details.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mike in Wisconsin on the line with an interesting mix of materials on a foundation. Tell us what’s going on.

    MIKE: Well, we bought this old farmhouse and – well, we’ve been in it for 20 years now. But whoever – the person before us covered this nice, stone foundation with ½-inch plywood that was not treated.

    TOM: Wow.

    MIKE: And then they made strips out of the same plywood as batts to go over the seams. Needless to say, it’s all rotting out. I mean it did have ½-inch-depth, foil-covered, ½-inch foam board behind it but I need something that’s going to be – hold up to the weather and …

    TOM: Wow. I’d pull that wood off and evaluate the foundation. If it’s deteriorated, you might need to clean it and re-stucco the whole thing. That’s all I would do there. I wouldn’t put any kind of siding back on it.

    They probably just thought that it looked good or something of that nature and decided that they were going to dress it up with that.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s interesting.

    TOM: Yeah, they were going to dress it up with that T1-11 siding but obviously, that was a disaster waiting to happen. And now it’s happened and it’s in your house.

    MIKE: Yeah. Well, it wasn’t even the T1-11; it was just ½-inch plywood and they painted it.

    TOM: Oh, well, of course.

    MIKE: But it’s the round-type fieldstone; it’s not the flagstone.

    TOM: Well, that can be very attractive.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I’m like, “That’s beautiful.”

    MIKE: Well, that’s what I was thinking but I need to evaluate it.

    TOM: Yeah.

    MIKE: But I thought – I was listening to you last week and I figured, well, let me get some ideas (inaudible at 0:09:25).

    TOM: Yeah, take a look at it. If it’s the fieldstone, the fieldstone looks good, you may need to repoint the joints with some additional cement.

    LESLIE: But that’s gorgeous.

    TOM: But that could be a very, very attractive foundation.

    MIKE: Thanks for the help.

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

    LESLIE: Shirley in Oregon is on the line with a solar-panel question. How can we help you?

    SHIRLEY: Hi. Yes. I had heard that with solar panels or solar shakes on the roof, that if you had a fire, that the Fire Department would not be able to start fighting that fire until the sun went down because you’re actually creating electricity? And I just was considering putting solar and I just wanted to make sure if that is correct that they didn’t want to get the water on anything that was actively creating electricity.

    TOM: So let’s just think about this, Shirley. Your house is on fire, the Fire Department pulls up, they spot the solar panels and say, “Ah, you know what? We’ll be back, say, what, 6:30, 7:00? Sun should be down by then. Then we’ll take care of it.”

    SHIRLEY: That’s what I thought was ridiculous.

    TOM: Yeah.

    SHIRLEY: That’s why I’m thinking, “Why is anybody doing solar if that’s the case, is there?”

    TOM: No. Look, there’s electricity all throughout your house. Why would electricity on the roof have – be any different? If electricity is a concern, the Fire Department is going to go over and turn the power off; they’ll pull the meter.

    SHIRLEY: Well, they said that solar creates its own electricity so even if the meter was turned off or pulled, that it still would be creating. Is that not correct with the solar?

    TOM: Let’s think about what you’re saying. You can fight a fire in a power plant if you had to.


    TOM: So, this is not an issue. Somebody is pulling your leg, Shirley, OK?

    SHIRLEY: I think it was just somebody that was kind of ignorant and I said I couldn’t hardly believe it. But I was going to ask before I – thank you.

    TOM: Well, sleek, clean cabinets that have been popular in Europe for years are now making their way to American kitchens. And if you love this look and you’re wondering how to incorporate it into your home, we’ve got a few tips, from the experts at Cabinets To Go.

    First up, for an upscale, modern look, you want to think about dark, wood cabinet doors. They’re a beautiful contrast to lighter countertops and to the walls and to the floors. In fact, Cabinets To Go even has a finish called Noce that is perfect for that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And add stainless-steel hardware and you’ve got a sleek look that blends with the rest of your modern kitchen.

    Now, what makes these cabinets ultra-modern is that they are frameless. And they’ve got European doors and hardware, which adds a very modern look to your space.

    TOM: And if you like a modern kitchen design, the distinction is really in the style of the cabinet door.

    Now, a slab cabinet-door style is preferred, which is smooth with no panels, accents or embellishment. And that gives it a really sleek look. And another option is a flat-paneled cabinet-door style that will work well with a modern kitchen design.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I also feel that the more shiny the finish is, like if it almost looks lacquered or like a color-backed glass, that’s super-modern, as well.

    Now, if you’re interested in a really affordable option out there, take a look at the new frameless cabinets. For example, the Cabinets To Go Roberto Fiore line has full overlay doors and is available in five colors. And the kitchens average less than $2,500, so that’s really affordable.

    TOM: They’re really well-made. Cabinets To Go, where you get premium-quality cabinets for less. You dream it, they design it and always 40 percent less than the big-box stores. Visit them online at CabinetsToGo.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Dwayne in Arkansas on the line who’s got a chimney issue. How can we help you?

    DWAYNE: I have a rock chimney, probably about 30 years old. It’s about 6 foot by 4 foot on the outside. The inside flue is about 16 inches by 18 inches and the top part is capped off with mortar.

    And over the years, that mortar has cracked and somebody has come in and put a – that sealer on top of it, like comes in a gallon or 5-gallon bucket: the black roof sealer? The sealer that often – it’s done a good job but I’m afraid if I have a chimney fire, that stuff might melt and catch on fire and run down and catch the house on fire.

    TOM: Well, if you have a chimney fire, Dwayne, you’re going to have a bigger problem than this. Because a chimney fire is super-hot and can burn your whole house down.

    DWAYNE: Right.

    TOM: So I wouldn’t worry about it melting. But it wasn’t the best thing to do to the mortar. The right thing to do when you have cracking and chipping of that chimney area is you want to replace the mortar between the liner and the outside of the chimney.

    DWAYNE: Right.

    TOM: So that crown has to be broken off and then replaced. And it’s not that big of a deal. I mean you can go up there with a mason’s hammer and break it off in chunks; it’ll come off pretty easily. And then lay in a new crown around it and just make that slope go from the liner out.

    If it’s got a couple of cracks in it, you can always caulk it to kind of buy you some time. But replacing that chimney crown is really the easiest thing to do. That plus adding a cap to it – a chimney cap – can help try to keep that water out, as well.

    DWAYNE: Yeah. I didn’t know. I have about a ½-inch of the flue still sticking up. I didn’t know if they made some kind of a mortar-type substance that I could put over the top of what’s there.

    TOM: I would not put it on top of that asphalt. I would – at this point, I would take all the asphalt out.

    See, here’s what’s wrong with the asphalt patch is that the water is going to get under that. And it can still deteriorate the mortar and it can freeze and break and really wreak havoc on that chimney. So I would pull that old stuff out and just replace that chimney crown. It’s not a difficult job to do.

    DWAYNE: Alright. I thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Pat in Hawaii on the line with a roofing question. Calling to make us jealous, I am sure.

    Welcome, Pat.

    PAT: So what we have is a house where the interior temperature is – during the day is maybe 83 to 85.

    TOM: OK.

    PAT: And so it has a roof that has the rolled asphalt. And we’d like to put on this application and they’re available at places like Home Depot. There’s two different price points. You can apply it three different ways and so forth but people have told us, that live in that same area as this house, that they have reduced the heat in their house by 20-plus percent by doing this reflective thing on the roof.

    And now, our question is: how do we prep the roof? Do we sweep off any rocks with asphalt? What is the prep?

    TOM: It’s pretty forgiving. You want to get rid of the loose stuff and of course, any moss or anything like that that’s growing on it. But what you’re talking about is fibrous aluminum paint and it’s a UV-reflectant paint. And it does make the roof a lot cooler and that can actually make your house cooler. It’s a very common application, not only in tropics like Hawaii but even places on the East Coast. I’ve seen it on roofs in Washington, D.C. Definitely a good thing to do.

    PAT: OK. And so if – also, my husband’s question was – and so does your roof last longer with that on there?

    TOM: Yeah, theoretically it will because if you reflect the UV, you’ll have less deterioration of the oils in the asphalt, less evaporation of that. And that can make the roof last longer. Another good reason to do it.

    PAT: OK. And any specific on application? Whichever one works out best for you? Is that what they’re saying?

    TOM: Well, I don’t have any specific recommendations on a product but on the concept, I think it’s solid.

    PAT: That’s wonderful. That’s a great idea. I think you answered my question. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jed in New York on the line who’s doing a tiling project and needs help with the process. How can we help you?

    JED: I’m building a house in Upstate New York and I just had a question about how or what you guys would suggest a way to adhere tile, like for a shower surround or in back of a tub. I’ve been to a couple of different stores and have gotten a couple of different answers. They have, basically, the cement backer board and then they have a composite material. And I didn’t know if you guys were familiar with either one of them or had a preference or a suggestion for me.

    LESLIE: You’re dealing with open bays? This is brand-new construction? Nothing is on that wall as of yet?

    JED: No. I haven’t got that far yet. Just starting to look at everything and I know that I want to put in tile in the bathroom and I’m just starting to piece everything together.

    LESLIE: When you do a tiling project, your tiles, yes, are water-resistant but the grout lines will suck water in and through. So you want to make sure that whatever is behind there will do its best to withstand from mold growth and any other issues that might happen as the water does seep through the grout lines.

    JED: OK. Do you guys have a suggestion of what you would recommend doing? Is there a certain barrier that I can put behind the tile or anything like that?

    TOM: So I would stick with a standard tile backer. When you’re doing – dealing with new construction, that’s the best way to do it. I mean in the old days, we used to put wire mesh and a mud wall and that’d last for a hundred or more years. But today, the tile backers do a pretty good job.

    So especially if you’re starting with studs, I would definitely build it up with a tile backer. I would not use a composite drywall, because it just doesn’t last that long. It’s very popular with builders because it gives them an inexpensive way to be able to deliver a tiled shower. But invariably, after about 10 years, it starts to soften and rot and you end up having to tear it all out anyway.

    JED: OK. Well, that’s great. That helps me out so much. I can’t even tell you guys. So at least I’ve got my step; now I’ve just got to pick out all the colors and all that wonderful stuff.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Well, still to come, do you want to create more storage, a usable work surface and a gathering spot right in your kitchen? Well, why not build an island? Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House is next with tips on how you can do just that.

    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by the Stanley Click ‘n’ Connect Storage System, the customizable solution for easy access to your hand and power tools.

    RICHARD: Hi. I’m Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor from TV’s This Old House. If you want to keep your home from freezing, frying or going on the fritz, keep listening to Tom and Leslie on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.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.

    Well, did you hear something on our show that you may have missed or you wanted to write it down and you forgot super-fast? Well, you can listen to or even download any of our shows online or you can search the transcripts and confirm whatever that detail is that you might have missed, all at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: And while you’re online, you can also post your question to The Money Pit’s Community section.

    LESLIE: Tanya in North Carolina is on the line with a door question. Tell us what’s going on. You’ve got some rot in the framework?

    TANYA: The threshold, at the bottom, is coming up; I guess it’s rotten under there. It’s got to be taken out. And then about a foot up, on each side of that frame, it’s rotted out. So do I have to take out the whole frame and put a new one in or can I just cut that off and replace that at the bottom?

    TOM: OK. So, Tanya, I think you’re talking about – when you say “frame,” I think you’re talking about the door sill and the door jamb. Is that correct?

    TANYA: Right.

    TOM: Not the frame of the wall?

    TANYA: Yeah, whatever the door fits in, yeah.

    TOM: OK. So that’s the door sill and the door jambs. And the best way to replace the door is to cut the entire door out, including the sill and the jambs all the way around, and then install a prehung exterior door.

    So down in North Carolina, for example, you can go to a Lowe’s and buy a Benchmark Door by Therma-Tru. Good quality, fiberglass door, all prehung. Pretty easy and straightforward to install that. And you won’t have to worry about it rotting out because it’s fiberglass.

    TANYA: Oh, OK.

    TOM: You don’t try to repair the jamb or the sill that are heavily rotted like that; you just tear them out. The easy way to do that, by the way, is to remove the trim off of all sides. And a contractor would use a reciprocating saw to basically cut the nails between the trim and the frame of the house. And that door will pop out in like five minutes.

    TANYA: OK.

    TOM: I mean it’s really easy to get it out just with the right tools.

    TANYA: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got the room, kitchen islands can add a very functional workspace to your kitchen design. It doesn’t have to be a difficult project, depending on what type of island you install.

    TOM: And with expert advice from This Old House plumbing-and-heating contractor Richard Trethewey, you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to take this project on.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hi, guys.

    TOM: Hey. So, islands are a very popular project for very good reason, right?

    RICHARD: Well, every man wants his own island. No, every – you know, they’re a great central work and gathering space. Everybody wants to hang around the island.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: But it’s not just for cooking and eating anymore. You’re going to bring the kids in to do their homework, their projects, really give this center stage in the kitchen where you can hang out and play board games. They all want to hang around the kitchen anyways. Why not give them a space to hang out? And that’s really around the island.

    TOM: Whenever you have a party, folks always congregate in the kitchen. We just feel really …

    RICHARD: Why do you even have a living room? Why do you even have one?

    TOM: Exactly. Just have a really big kitchen with a beautiful kitchen island.

    RICHARD: Yep.

    TOM: Now, when you’re figuring out how to build your kitchen island, it can get complicated, especially if you’re going to have mechanicals there. By mechanicals, I mean sinks, stoves, venting and so on.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    TOM: So how do we plan for that?

    RICHARD: Well, if you’re just going to do an island with nothing in it, just as a central workspace, then it – end of story; there’s no mechanical issues at all.

    But as soon as you introduce any plumbing or a stove that needs to be vented, then you’ve got some challenges. Because if you put a sink in that island, any plumbing fixture has to have both a drain for the water to leave and go down and away but also, it has to have a vent. Now, normally, that vent pipe is inside the wall and nobody ever sees it. But if you have an island, you no longer have a wall to hide that pipe. And so now you’ve got to find some ways to get around it.

    We’ve done it – shown on the show – a thing called a “bow vent,” which is a technique using PVC pipe and fittings. You can create this vent which goes up to just underneath the kitchen countertop height and works its way down under the floor. And that takes both a little bit of work to do it and you’ve got to get approval from the local plumbing inspector. You have to get special papal dispensation, so to speak, to do it.

    And then there’s another thing that’s on the market now, which is an air-admittance valve which – it sits tucked way up under the countertop. And it only lets air in; it never lets air out. So, now, as the water is trying to go down the drain, it needs a place for that air to be relieved, the vacuum that it’s creating. And this is an air-admittance valve. Not allowed in every jurisdiction.

    We actually – we wanted to show it, so we went to Canada to show it on our show. We had to escape the country.

    TOM:  internationally to make that work.

    RICHARD: But they work great. Yep.

    The other thing about islands, I’ve got to caution you, is they’re great but you’ve got to make sure that you have enough space. If you put an island in – this is not a mechanical issue; this is just lifestyle issue. That you have enough room around it for the free flow of traffic all around it, between the stove, the sink and the fridge and all the work-triangle places. We find people putting in this oversized island and all of a sudden, the whole kitchen just clogs down terribly.

    LESLIE: Now, I’ve always seen these interesting, little projects in different blogs or different magazines where you find a great, perhaps, old chest of drawers or an interesting, vintage furnishing piece. And that’s sort of repurposed into an island. Does that make sense to do?

    RICHARD: Yeah. We’ve seen where you might get a conventional kitchen base cabinet on the back side, on the kitchen-sink side. But then on the front side, you’ve got a beautiful, old piece of furniture that you sort of detail in. So if you’re out in the abutting room, in the living room or family room looking back, you’ve got a beautiful, historic piece of recycled furniture that really adds some visual element to it. Yeah.

    TOM: We’re talking to Richard Trethewey. He’s the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Richard, aside from the islands that are sort of hard-built in place, there are also portable options, right?

    RICHARD: Yeah. You know, they’re so functional. For somebody in a small apartment or in a tight, little kitchen, having this rolling workstation – you either put some butcher block on it or stainless steel and you sort of move it into place, use it as you need to. It also has a shelf underneath, sometimes, so you can put your – some of your additional kitchen appliances on it.

    And then when you’re done, move it right away. And it works out great. It has both form and function, which is great.

    TOM: Just like you. You have form and function.

    RICHARD: Yes. Always, always. At least I pretend to.

    TOM: Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RICHARD: Glad to be with you.

    LESLIE: 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 Ask This Old House is proudly brought to you by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating. Mitsubishi, live better.

    Up next, are you dreaming of becoming a homeowner? Well, the National Association of Realtors offers five resolutions you need to make and keep to help make your dreams come true. Those are all coming up, next.

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

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

    Now, one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Five-Minute Fan from the Hunter Fan Company. And the Five-Minute Fan, this is super-awesome. It’s 90-percent preassembled right out of the box.

    TOM: And all you have to do is attach the mounting bracket and connect the wires. You can also quickly attach the blades with Hunter’s patented Easy Lock system. There’s no screws even needed. Then you attach a light kit, if applicable. Hunter offers the Five-Minute Fan in standard and ENERGY STAR models with assorted finishes.

    It’s a prize worth $129, so call us, right now, for your chance to win. And for more details on that product, you can visit HunterFan.com.

    LESLIE: Jenny in North Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    JENNY: Hi. I’m calling to see how we can permanently remove some lilac bushes.

    TOM: You’re not a fan of lilacs, I guess, huh?

    LESLIE: Wow.

    JENNY: Well, it’s not the idea of not being a fan; it’s just that they were planted too close to the house.

    LESLIE: So why don’t you transplant them?

    JENNY: Is that possible?

    LESLIE: Absolutely. I mean, Jenny, if I could tell you the countless times, as a child, that my mom would – and even to this day, my mom, if seeing a beautiful, blooming lilac bush or tree in the cover of night would make one of myself or my sisters or herself hop out of a car and pick other people’s flowers. I’m like, “Tell me where you live. I’ll take it to give it to my mom.”

    JENNY: Yeah. Don’t get me wrong. I love the aroma, I love the trees. They’re just right in – and they’re obscuring the sunlight that’s coming through the picture window and …

    LESLIE: And that’s why they’re doing so well, because they love the sunlight. But you can absolutely transplant them. You just need to dig a diameter around the root ball and then dig under, just scoop it up and stick it somewhere else.

    JENNY: Oh, OK. Yeah, I guess that would help.

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

    Well, it’s time now for today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. And today, we’re going to look at five resolutions for first-time homebuyers.

    LESLIE: That’s right. If you’ve promised yourself that you’ll finally become a homeowner this year, Resolution Number One has got to be for you to boost your credit score. You need to order your credit reports, for free, from AnnualCreditReport.com, review them. If you find any errors, dispute them and then pay off your debts.

    In the meantime, avoid purchasing big-ticket items and do not apply for new credit cards.

    TOM: Second, save up for that down payment because you’re going to need 20 to 30 percent to qualify for the best mortgage rates. And Step Three is to start looking for the right real estate agent. The agent can make all the difference for your first-time home-buying experience. So ask friends, ask family for referrals or search Realtor.com’s Find a Realtor database.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Resolution Number Four: get preapproved for financing because you need to know what you can afford, what you’ll qualify for and what kind of loan you want.

    Now, finally, Resolution Number Five is to start researching as much as you can, as soon as you can. This way, you’ll be prepared once you’re ready to shop for that home.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Considering selling your home? Today’s market conditions might mean it’s a good time. Every market’s different, so call a realtor today and visit Realtor.com.

    LESLIE: Cindy is on the line from Nebraska with an air-conditioning question. How can we help you?

    CINDY: Yes, I have central air but our upstairs does not cool very well. So we put in a window air and I’ve tried to seal it with some of those foam strips and tape and things like that. But now I’ve got some issues. Like when it rains, for some reason we’re getting water soaking through the tape and coming inside and dripping. What other thing can I use to seal that that would be more waterproof but still I’d be able to take it out?

    TOM: Wow. So typically, when you install a window air conditioner, you have the window – the upper part of the double-hung window sits on top of the box and then it has sort of like wings that slide out the side of the air conditioner to kind of seal out the space between the air conditioner and the opening of the window, correct?

    CINDY: Correct.

    TOM: Alright. And so you’ve sealed those areas with tape? Is that what you said?

    CINDY: We used some strips of foam that you put around it to fill in the gaps. So we’ve got – the wings are all stretched out and then we’ve sealed, where we have spaces, with the foam strips.

    TOM: Here’s what I do. There’s a product that is a temporary weatherstripping that looks like caulk; it comes in a caulking tube. Now, typically, you use this inside your house for really, really drafty windows and you almost caulk them shut with this product. But you can use it in a scenario like this. I think for the summer it would probably last fine. When it dries, it kind of looks like a silicone caulk; it’s clear. But the cool thing is that when you’re ready to pull out that air conditioner, you can peel this temporary caulk off.

    Now, it’s made by a number of manufacturers. I think DAP makes – Seal ‘N Peel is the brand name that they came up with. Seal – S-e-a-l – ‘N Peel. And so take a look for that temporary weatherstripping caulk, search it out online. You may have to order it at a hardware store or a home center. And that will be much more effective than the tape, because you’ll be able to get it into those tight places and it will really stick there and keep that water out, OK?

    CINDY: That sounds perfect. Thank you very much.

    TOM: There you go. Sometimes, you’ve got to come up with a creative solution to an unusual problem.

    CINDY: I figured there had to be something. I just didn’t know what it was.

    TOM: Alright, Cindy. Glad to help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re building a new home or remodeling the one that you’ve got, it’s easy to get lost in the myriad of materials available for pretty much every particular spot of your project. We’re going to give you some advice to help sort out the alphabet soup of choices you’ll be facing, and one listener is facing, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Cabinets To Go, where you get premium-quality cabinets for less. You dream it, they design it and always 40 percent less than the big-box stores. Visit them online at CabinetsToGo.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.

    How would you like to win a brand-new grill, just in time for your end-of-summer celebrations? Well, like us on Facebook and you’re going to get a chance to win a beautiful, new Blue Rhino grill and enough propane to host a huge backyard blowout, in our Dog Days of Summer Sweepstakes. And if you share the sweeps with your friends, you’ll even get more chances to win. It’s all right there on our Facebook page: Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    And don’t forget: post your question online, just like Kim in Urbana, Ohio did. And she writes: “Our builder is giving us a choice between OSB and blue board. Which is better?”

    That’s kind of a weird question for a builder to ask a homeowner.

    TOM: It is a strange question because you builders, you’re the experts. And unless you’re trying to maybe upsell them by adding blue board – which I think they’re talking about the Styrofoam blue board: the additional insulated sheathing.

    And I’ve got to tell you, first of all, they’re not comparable because OSB – oriented strand board or waferboard, as it sometimes is commonly referred to – is really part of the structure, OK? Because you have to have what’s called “racking protection.” You frame a wall and the wall is strong from top to bottom but it can move from side to side until you put the plywood on or the OSB on, which gives you that sort of protection against racking: that side-to-side movement. So you’ve got to have that protection.

    Now, if he’s leaving that off in lieu of the blue board, then he must be putting in some sort of a bracing – some other type of bracing – under that wall. Now, I’ve seen builders do this with metal straps which, frankly, don’t really feel, to me, like they’re as strong as basic plywood sheathing or even OSB sheathing. So, I think if it was me, I would absolutely want to have a sheet product like OSB or plywood as my sheathing.

    Now, let’s talk about the insulation as a second topic. So if he’s trying to upsell you on just adding an inch of blue board to the outside of that, you know, that’s going to give you a tiny, tiny bit more insulation, not a lot more insulation for probably the cost. I doubt you’ll get a return on investment.

    If there is a place to upgrade your insulation, I would recommend that you do what I did, which is to spray Icynene spray-foam insulation in at the time of construction. The cool thing about Icynene is it both seals and it expands and insulates at the same time. So you’re not going to get any drafts.

    In fact, I have to tell you, when we did this to our house – and we have a very old house. And when we did this to our house – the house always used to be somewhat drafty. I actually noticed that, now, if I want it to be drafty, I actually have to open a window. How about that? If it gets a little stuffy in the house, you have to open a window, because the drafts aren’t getting in anymore. So, it really is quite effective as an insulator and as a draft-proofer.

    So I don’t think it’s a real fair question, for that reason. I definitely would recommend a sheet product like plywood or OSB over just going with the Styrofoam.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Nick in West Virginia who writes: “My house was built in ’91 and it doesn’t have any copper piping; everything is PVC plumbing. Is this going to be a problem in the future?”

    TOM: Well, the first thing you need to do is to confirm if it is, in fact, PVC. Because in the 90s, there was a product called “polybutylene” that was used that was subject to many, many lawsuits and some class-action lawsuits because it would fail. So I would Google “polybutylene pipes,” “polybutylene class action.” You’ll see lots of photos of what this stuff looks like. If that’s what you have, you have a concern and you need to dig into it. I would get an expert to evaluate it and to make your decision based on that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I hope that helps, Nick. Don’t start freaking out. Just do your research and then we can help you correct everything.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this beautiful summer weekend with us.

    If you’ve got questions, you can reach us, 24-7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And you can also post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page or our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. It’s a great place to go and you can share your ideas with the rest of the community.

    That’s all the time we have. Thanks so much for listening. 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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