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How to Choose Water-Proof Basement Flooring, Mini-Duct Air Conditioners Can Cut Down Cooling Costs, Transform Your Porch into a Screened-in Area to Avoid Bugs, 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 hope you are enjoying your summer. It’s hot, it’s sticky but there’s still opportunities for you to dig into some home improvement projects. If you want to make yourself less hot, less sticky, we could help you with some cooling tips or we could just tell you to take a shower.

    LESLIE: Go to a pool.

    TOM: Jump in the pool. Yeah, right. Exactly.

    If you would like to take on an outdoor project – maybe painting, maybe roofing, maybe building a deck – great topics to talk about this time of year. Maybe you’ve got a plan for inside because you want to avoid that heat. Let us help you get organized, redecorate, install a new kitchen, build a new bathroom. Whatever is on your mind, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Well, we’ve had our share of rain this summer. And when you get water, water everywhere, wet-basement problems always seem to top the list of homeowner headaches. Could be a wet basement, could be a wet crawlspace. But even if your basement doesn’t flood, it might be damp.

    LESLIE: Which is never pleasant.

    TOM: Which is never pleasant. That’s why you need to be very careful about your choices of materials for the basement.

    Right, Leslie? You just learned this? You have a – not a damp basement but you had a slight leak in your basement. And thankfully, you’ve got laminate floor, which is fairly resistant, right?

    LESLIE: True. Fairly resistant. Definitely a great choice. Better than the rug that was here five years ago with our other leak. But I mean man, who hides a bleeder valve between a finished ceiling and a finished floor? Who does that?

    TOM: Well, it just goes to show that no matter what the age of the house and whether it’s owned by a home improvement expert or anyone else, they’ve all got their personality conflicts and they’re going to pop up.

    So, we’re going to talk about, this hour, about how to choose materials for a basement you might be finishing and in particular, what are the best flooring options to choose.

    LESLIE: Alright. And do you have a room in your house – because it is summer and we are all just roasting away across this country – that you need to keep cool?

    Now, you can cool down that room without actually redoing your entire HVAC system. And This Old House‘s Richard Trethewey is going to tell us how mini-duct air conditioners really could be your answer. They’re totally awesome.

    Today’s This Old House segment is sponsored, in part, by Philips. Philips makes products that can save money in all your lighting fixtures. See what light can do, at Philips.com.

    TOM: And there’s nothing like enjoying a day or an evening on the porch in the summer. And now there’s a way to make it even better by keeping out both harsh sun and those pesky mosquitoes. We’re going to tell you about a retractable screen product that you can custom-fit to big spaces and keep those pests out, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, July is prime pool season. And one lucky caller this hour is going to get a wireless way to a smarter, healthier pool. It’s an ePool Smart System that’s going to send your pool stats right to your phone or your computer. How cool is that? It just – you know, it’s practically taking a swim for you, too.

    TOM: And it’s worth $229. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question this hour. So go to the phone right now, pick it up, dial this number: 888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Johanna from Michigan who wants to get out and enjoy the deck. How can we help you with that project?

    JOHANNA: Hey. We’re getting ready to put a deck on the back of our house. It’s going to be about 20×20. And we’re looking at the composite products and in doing some research, I have come across some hair-raising images of black mold, chipping, cracking, crumbling and so on. And I would just like to get your opinion on the composite decking and if it truly holds up the way it says it does or if there are things we need to look out for.

    TOM: I think it absolutely does hold up. Originally, the very first composite products that were out there had wood fiber in them, as well as the plastics. And the wood fiber would tend to grow sometimes algae and things like that and people didn’t like that.

    I think it’s a perception issue. If you think that there is zero maintenance – “I’m never going to have to do anything at all” – you’re not going to find any product like that. Because even though it’s composite, it’s going to get dirty, it may grow a bit of algae and need to be cleaned once in a while. But realistically, I think it’s going to stand up a lot better than pressure-treated.

    Just give you an example. My son recently completed his Eagle Scout project about a year ago. And his project was to build a 30-foot bridge across a stream. And we chose, for that project, composite decking. This is going to be in a park, it’s going to get lots and lots of foot traffic. That’s been up now for a year and it still looks as good as the day we put it down.

    So, I think composite is a good choice. Stick with a name brand; stick with Trex, for example. Good product, good history. And I think it’s going to cut down on the maintenance overall and it’s going to look terrific at the same time. And you won’t have to paint it and stain it and all that.

    Now, you realize that you do – the framing of this is all done through standard pressure-treated, right?

    JOHANNA: Right, right. And we will have benches and stuff built in and we’re going to use, I think, cedar for that.

    TOM: OK. Well, I mean you can use composite for the built-in benches, too. Anything that’s going to be exposed like that, there’s no reason not to use the composite.

    JOHANNA: And it’s a very sunny area, so …

    TOM: Yeah, if you have a lot of sun, you really won’t have a lot of problems with mildew and algae growth, because the sun is a very natural mildicide. It’s usually the real shady decks that have the issues.

    JOHANNA: Yeah. The images I saw were from ’07, ’08. So it made me think, too, maybe there was a bad run at that time?

    TOM: And you know what? Composite has changed in the last five years, too.

    JOHANNA: OK. Well, good. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Alright, Johanna. Good luck with that project and let us know when the party is, OK?

    JOHANNA: Hey, it’s next Friday.

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

    JOHANNA: Thanks.

    LESLIE: Alright. Gene in Tennessee is up with a roofing problem. Tell us what’s going on.

    GENE: About 12 years ago, I built me a screened-in porch on my house. I’ve got a ranch-type house.

    TOM: OK.

    GENE: And I used the metal clips – the little hangers – to hang my rafters. And I went in beside of my rafters coming off an existing house and it only gives me a 1-inch drop per foot. And I had a little trouble with it leaking and so I had (inaudible at 0:06:54) asphalt shingles put on and it leaks.

    So, when I had my new roof put on about two years ago, I – seven years ago, I roofed the house and they recommended I put a rubber roof on a 10×30 addition to my house, so the water would run off regular. And here, recently, about two years ago, I had one of the new shingles put on my roof. And I noticed that while I was up there, that the rubber seems to be kindly breaking down a little.

    TOM: OK. So, a couple of things. First of all, you have a low-slope roof. You originally had asphalt shingles on that, which was a mistake because asphalt shingles, you really need at least like a 3:12 pitch to put those on. If you’ve got a 1:12 pitch, that’s not enough.

    So now you replaced that with a rubber roof, which was the right thing to do. But now you’re seeing the rubber roof start to crack. So your question is: “How do I stop that? How do I protect it? How do I preserve it?” Correct?

    GENE: Yeah, well, I want to add a few more. It was guaranteed 10 years but it’s about 7 years old now and I want to make it last a little longer, yes. Some kind of coating?

    TOM: So what you want is simply roof paint. Now, roof paint is a very specialized type of paint. It’s usually aluminum in color and sometimes they call it “fibrous aluminum.” And what it does, it has a high degree of UV reflectivity, so it reflects the UV from the sun back out again. And that keeps the roof cooler and makes it last longer.

    So, I would definitely give it a coat of roof paint. And if you go to a home center or a roofing-supply center and look for roof paint, you shouldn’t have any problem finding it. It’s very, very specialized. And we’re not talking about the kind of paint you put on your walls; it’s a roofing product. OK?

    GENE: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We hope mid-July is treating you guys all well and you’re working on projects and you’re getting a good tan and barbecuing is going well. But put together your home improvement list. We are here to give you a hand. We want to make sure you do that job right the first time, so give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, basements are damp places, which is why you need to make sure your flooring choice can stand up to that moisture. We’re going to teach you how to choose the best flooring for below-grade rooms, after this.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to 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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Let us help solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    And if you do pick up the phone, you might just win the latest technology to take care of your above-ground or in-ground swimming pool. It’s called the ePool Smart System. We’re giving one away this hour. It’s a floating sensor that sends pool updates to your computer or your smartphone. It’ll even tell you the pH level, the sanitizer level, the temperature, all that kind of information. And this way, you know if you need to get up off the easy chair and walk out and treat your pool. It’s worth 229 bucks. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Amanda in Connecticut is on the line with an A/C system that’s not doing the C part of the cooling. What’s going on, Amanda?

    AMANDA: Hi. I don’t really know. It’s a brand-new system.

    LESLIE: Brand new as in the entire central air-conditioning system is new to the house or just a new condensing unit outside?

    AMANDA: The new condensing unit. The house already had the venting in it but it didn’t have the unit.

    TOM: OK. So they added the compressor outside, correct?

    AMANDA: Right.

    TOM: And who did this work? Was it a contractor?

    AMANDA: Uh-huh, yeah.

    TOM: Did they not test it to make sure it was working?

    AMANDA: They said they would come back when it was hot. And so I called them and – the hot day. And they came back and it just didn’t cool after four hours. And he told me it’s because the house is an older house and that the returns are on the outside walls and makes it, you know, harder for it to cool down – longer for it to cool down?

    TOM: Well, look. You hired these guys to complete your cooling system. So, any good contractor is going to look at the house and they’re going to identify any problems with the size of the ducts or where the ducts are run. They’re going to make sure that they’re sized properly.

    Do we know that the compressor is actually working outside?

    AMANDA: Yeah. They did – they came back again after that and made sure that it had the Freon in it and checked to make sure that it was working properly.

    TOM: Well, obviously, something is not working properly, OK? And it’s either the compressor or there could be something with the way the ducts are installed. I can’t begin to diagnose it for you except to tell you that it’s not right. The contractor should know better than this. I don’t think you’re getting the best advice or service from this contractor, because it shouldn’t be that difficult for an HVAC contractor to figure out why a house is not getting cool. This is their business.

    So, if you’re not getting anywhere with these guys, you might want to think about bringing in another contractor to get a second opinion, maybe not even share with them that you had this unit installed recently and see if they can figure out why it’s not cooling. See what kind of advice you get.

    But it seems to me that this first contractor had a responsibility to do what it takes or at least to complete the job or advise you if there was something that was going to prevent the compressor from cooling the house. Then why were they willing to sell you the compressor in the first place? You see what I mean? They’re the experts here.

    AMANDA: He’s saying to me that four hours is not a long time.

    TOM: That’s not true at all. That’s ridiculous.

    AMANDA: I pretty much said I had to go outside to cool off.

    TOM: Listen, I would get another contractor or an expert in there to find out why exactly it’s not working, take a look at all the things that impact cooling. And then at least you’ll know what was done or not done and you can take it from there. But it doesn’t sound to me like you’re getting the best advice here.

    AMANDA: Thank you and I love listening to your show.

    TOM: Oh, thank you very much. And I hope we’ve helped you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, there’s nothing as refreshing as a nice summer rain, that is until the rain flows right into your basement. Now, even the best drainage system can fail in a heavy storm and that’s why you’ve got to be really careful when you make choices for floor covering in that basement space.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And the number-one question that you should be asking yourself when you’re planning your basement flooring is: “Does this flooring that I like dry out?”

    Now, with carpet, we all know that answer is no. I mean eventually it will but it’s going to be super-disgusting. It really can warm up a basement and it’s nice on the toes but it does hold in that moisture and it can become a breeding ground for mold. And some homeowners believe that carpet squares will work but you might not even realize that those are wet until it’s too late.

    TOM: Now, good old concrete is a great way to go. It’s inexpensive, it’s durable and it can be really attractive when it’s stained or it’s stamped. Now, tile is also a great choice when it’s properly installed but don’t forget about something like cork flooring. It’s softer than the concrete or the tile and it doesn’t rot. And then there’s always linoleum. It’s coming back in very rich, bold colors. And it’s also a sustainable product because it’s made of linseed oil, so it does not emit any toxins.

    So, think about your basement-flooring choice carefully. If you plan ahead, you’re going to save some money and headaches if the basement ever decides to flood or at least get damp.

    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. Do you need to make part of your house cooler without breaking the bank? Mini-duct air conditioners really are your answer. Richard Trethewey from This Old House is going to be here to explain. And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you, in part, by new Trex Enhance Decking, now in stock at The Home Depot.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by LIQUID NAILS. For tough jobs, demand the extraordinary strength of LIQUID NAILS Brand Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive. It bonds a wide range of materials, indoors and out, for a job done once, done right. Learn more about LIQUID NAILS Brand Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive at LIQUIDNAILS.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: Hey, have you joined us on Facebook yet? Well, we’re going to bribe you this week. Because if you do go to Facebook and “like” The Money Pit, you could win one of six, very cool Black & Decker power-painting tools. We’ve got a couple of the two-speed paint sprayers, we’ve got a couple of the airless HVLP sprayers and we’ve got even some of the RapidRoller systems, all given away this week on our Facebook page.

    Just go to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and click on the Weekend Warrior Giveaway.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Sandy calling from Ohio who’s working on a painting project. How can we help you today?

    SANDY: Yeah, I was looking for a product that you can take the varnish off your old kitchen cabinets without having to sand them. I was told there might be some new products out.

    TOM: Well, there’s actually a product that’s been around since 1936 that works and that’s called Rock Miracle. So not exactly new but does a great job. They’ve got a couple of different versions of it but it’s designed specifically to take off varnish. There is a liquid, no-wash remover that basically removes paint, finishes and varnish that you can use. You can check out their website at RockMiracle.com.

    But if you want to avoid most of the sanding, that’s a good place to go. And they have some environmentally-friendly versions of the product, too.

    SANDY: OK. Sounds good. Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, one of the biggest projects that we undertook at my old house was installing central air-conditioning. Believe me, it was well worth it but it took quite a bit of construction to get all of the ducts to fit.

    TOM: And that’s pretty typical when you need to retrofit a home that was built before air conditioning was common. There is, however, a way to install A/C into an existing, older home or really any home where you’d like to minimize the construction necessary to get those ducts where they have to go. These systems are known as “mini-ducts” and they can actually be run through the wall with very little disturbance.

    With us to talk about how they work is Richard Trethewey. He’s the plumbing and heating contractor from TV’s This Old House.

    Hi, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hi there.

    TOM: Now, when Leslie’s system was installed, the mess actually released enough lead paint into the air, which put her family at risk. Minimal disturbance is really a hallmark of these mini-duct systems, though, isn’t it?

    RICHARD: Right. In a typical, conventional, ducted system, you need to have large ducts. You need a separate supply to every room and a return from every room. With a high-velocity system, it has one 2-inch flexible supply for every 8×10 or 10×10 area. So most rooms would have just two of them. And you’d have one common return, so it’s minimally invasive to put into the building.

    TOM: Now, you just mentioned high velocity. I think that’s an important point to make. Existing systems are bigger in volume but they’re low-velocity; these are smaller in volume but they’re high-velocity, so you can move enough air to actually do the job.

    RICHARD: Right. It actually works to your advantage. If you go conventional, low-velocity system, wherever the register is is where you’re going to have heating and cooling. Then the air becomes a prisoner of the temperature that’s leaving the register. If it’s in heating mode, most of the air wants to stay at the ceiling. If it’s in cooling mode, it wants to drop right below that register and it’s going to be pulled over to wherever the return area is in the room, if it’s there.

    With high-velocity, it’s a stream of air and it makes the air in the room blend together, so you have no more than 2-degree temperature difference side to side or top to bottom.

    LESLIE: And then it’s sort of sucked back in through the return duct and then cooled again through the air handler, which is maybe in your attic.

    RICHARD: That’s right. And the cycle repeats. It just puts the right amount of air in every room, comes back through one central return that has a filter on it. The air goes back and gets either reheated or recooled.

    LESLIE: Which system tends to be more efficient?

    RICHARD: A high-velocity system will dehumidify. In areas of high humidity, the small-duct system will outperform on efficiency standpoint, because it takes out 30 percent more humidity because you have less air across a very, very cold air-conditioning coil.

    TOM: Now, is there anything different about the return-duct setup with a high-velocity system?

    RICHARD: No, only that there’s only one. I mean the properly-done conventional system should have a return in every room and it should actually have two returns: one for installation of a cooling system and one for a heating system.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: You should close one off in the appropriate season.

    TOM: But you almost never see that anymore.

    RICHARD: No. No one does it and so that’s why you have so many complaints from conventional systems of being dirty, drafty, dusty, unbalanced, some cool – cold 70. “The thermostat just has shut off and I feel uncomfortable.” So, it’s mostly because of improper installation.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, in the high-velocity systems, because they’re moving so much air so much more quickly, is there any noise associated with that? I would imagine you’d get a whistle.

    RICHARD: Well, properly installed, it’ll be as quiet as any system. So just like anything, if it’s not done properly – and the other thing that was introduced in the past year is a thing called an ECM motor. This is really like cruise control for a blower fan, so it feels how much resistance and just brings on the fan at the right speed. And that’s really made a big difference, because it tries to overcome the realities of poor installation.

    TOM: Now, that’s got to have an efficiency benefit, as well, because you’re only really moving as much air as you absolutely need to.

    RICHARD: Yes. That blower will be about 10 to 15 percent more efficient than the conventional blower.

    TOM: How about the cost of a high-velocity system compared to a standard? You have less construction disturbance.

    RICHARD: Right.

    TOM: Is the equipment cost a little bit higher? Does it all balance out?

    RICHARD: Absolutely. The material is higher, the installation is almost always lower. What happens is people – installing contractors will say, “I’ll try one of these,” but they only usually try it on the hard job where they couldn’t do conventional.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: And then they become hooked. They say, “Boy, I could do this a lot of different places.”

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

    RICHARD: Glad to be here.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and a step-by-step video on installing a mini-duct system and even other projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by State Farm Insurance. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Up next, would you like to enjoy a cool breeze on your porch, without the bugs? You can if you have retractable screens. They can give you the air flow without the unwanted side effects. We’ll teach you all about that topic, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Exterior Weatherproofing Wood Stains and Finishes. Formulated to restore, beautify and protect decks, fences and siding year-round. Behr is available exclusively at The Home Depot, where you can visit the new Exterior Wood Care Center, built to help you find the right products and colors for your project. For more information, visit B-e-h-r.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    We are giving away a great prize this hour. We’ve got the latest technology that makes taking care of your backyard pool a whole heck of a lot easier. It’s called an ePool System and it’s actually a sensor that floats in your pool and then sends wireless updates about your pool to your computer or your smartphone.

    So you could be at work wishing you were at home in your pool and you can actually see what the pH level is, what’s going on, what do you need to do for the maintenance. It really does take the guesswork out, because a pool is like a science project to me; I just cannot figure them out. So this is really awesome.

    TOM: It’s chemistry.

    LESLIE: It really is. And it’s – you have to do it very well, so this is going to make that a lot easier.

    It’s worth $229, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Chris in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a ventilation issue. Welcome, Chris.

    CHRIS: Well, on a previous show, I heard that – this one lady asking about how to keep her third floor from being so hot.

    TOM: Right.

    CHRIS: And you had said make sure they have proper ventilation and gable vents and ridge vent.

    TOM: Soffit vents and ridge vents.

    CHRIS: Soffit vents and ridge vent, of course.

    TOM: OK. Right.

    CHRIS: And what about installing a thermostatically-controlled power vent to help that in the summer months keep that heat out?

    TOM: Right. Only if you do not have central air conditioning is that a good idea and here’s why, Chris. If you use an attic fan – that’s what you’re talking about. If you use an attic fan and it’s on a thermostat so it only comes on when it gets, say, over 100 degrees up there, if you have central air conditioning, it will pull so much air out of that attic that it depressurizes and then reaches down through all the little cracks and crevices in the walls, around pipes and around molding and where wires come through. And it’s actually been shown to steal air-conditioned air from the interior space.

    So using the attic fan in the summertime, when you have central air, causes you to run more air conditioning, not less, because it’ll actually pull some of that air-conditioned air up into the attic. So if you don’t have air conditioning, I think – and a power ventilator – an attic fan is a fine thing to do. If you do have air conditioning – central air – I would not use it; I would stick strictly with passive ventilation. Ridge and soffit vents are best.

    CHRIS: Alright. Well, great. That answers everything.

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

    LESLIE: Well, do the cooler evening temperatures draw you to the front or your back porch? Or would you even just like to be able to open up your doors so that that breeze can come in and you can enjoy it whenever you can?

    Well, to enjoy those summer breezes and lower cooling costs without sun or bugs, you might want to consider adding Phantom Screens. And they’re a proud sponsor of The Money Pit.

    TOM: Yeah, Phantom makes retractable screens that can roll out when you need them and then fit neatly back into their sort of hidden casing when not in use. And these screens can be customized to any size, so you can have them from a size as small as a window or door to even a very large space, like that back porch you love. It can be easily transformed into a very shady, screened-in porch when those bugs are on the hunt and then back into a complete, open-air porch when you’re ready for full sun.

    Now, screens are also available to cover large doors that swing in or out.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? The screens come in, really, a ton of different styles. And the mesh can be customized by color or even the tightness of the weave. You really have to check out all of the styles and the sizes available at PhantomScreens.com. You will be impressed.

    TOM: That’s PhantomScreens.com.

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

    RAY: I was calling to see if you can give me information. I’m going to put siding on at least a hundred-year-old building and it’s got wood siding on it.

    TOM: OK.

    RAY: But it’s – the paint is bad already.

    TOM: OK.

    RAY: I’m going to think about putting – blowing in insulation and I don’t know if it’s worth it or not.

    TOM: Right. Well, if you’re going to insulate a house to make it more energy-efficient, there’s an order of events that you want to follow. The first and most important thing is to look at the attic and make sure that you’ve got 15 to 22 inches of insulation in that attic space. I would do that as my very first insulation project because that’s what gives you the best return on investment.

    RAY: I did that last year.

    TOM: Alright, good. So the second thing is – is this on a slab or is it over a floor? Is there an opportunity for floor insulation?

    RAY: No, no.

    TOM: Why not? Is it a slab or is it over a basement?

    RAY: It’s over a basement, yes.

    TOM: Alright. So if it’s over a basement, then you want to make sure the box beams around the outside are insulated, as well.

    And then, lastly, we can talk about the walls. And yes, if you’ve got no insulation in there, I do think that blown-in is a good thing to do. But you mentioned that the siding is a mess. Are you considering taking the siding off the walls from the outside?

    RAY: No. It has the old wood that looks like siding, so …

    TOM: Siding on there? Alright. Then what you can do is – you’re going to put siding on top of that then, right?

    RAY: Yes. Yes.

    TOM: So what you can do is you can blow in insulation from the outside and you don’t have to worry about the holes that you’re putting in the old siding, because you’re going to cover it with new siding.

    RAY: Yes.

    TOM: So I do think that that’s a good idea.

    RAY: Oh, OK. That was about it then. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.

    RAY: Thank you.

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

    And a good time to do that right now. Your insulation bills this winter are going to be much lower.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, older homes need a lot of TLC but the charm that they deliver is totally worth it, even when you end up with water in your basement, again. We’re going to have tips to help you maintain your older home, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by LIQUID NAILS. For tough jobs, demand the extraordinary strength of LIQUID NAILS Brand Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive. It bonds a wide range of materials, indoors and out, for a job done once, done right. Learn more about LIQUID NAILS Brand Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive at LIQUIDNAILS.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: Hey, why not join The Money Pit community for great project ideas, info and advice from your fellow do-it-yourselfers and Leslie and me, as well? You can write your own blog post, you can post pictures, you can share them on Facebook. It’s all in the Community section of MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, Joe from New York is working on some projects and posted a question in the Community section. And Joe wrote: “My hardwood floors are starting to sag from age. They’re pulling away from the walls in some areas, leaving gaps. Is this something that I can patch or do I have to do something more involved?”

    TOM: Well, the shrinkage is fairly normal, Joe. And here’s the thing: the gap between the hardwood and the baseboard molding can be easily covered by using shoe molding or quarter round molding, depending on how much of a distance. So that’s what we’d recommend for that.

    And if you have gaps in between the boards, then those can be filled with jute – j-u-t-e. It’s like the rope – sort of like the burlap-y kind of looking rope – that they sell at hardwood stores, like a woven rope. You can stuff it in between the floor boards and then you can finish right on top of that. And it’ll kind of expand and contract with that board and not look quite as unsightly as that big, old gap.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Joe? Because that jute rope unravels to a variety of thicknesses as you need it, you can sort of customize it to every type of gap that you might have. And if you’re not refinishing the floor, you can just sort of dip it in the stain color that’s the color of your floor and let it dry and then tuck it in with a paint scraper. And that really does do the trick. But you don’t want to put anything else in there, because it’ll just come right out.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Marilyn who wrote: “I have a beautiful, antique china cabinet that’s looking a little dull. I once saw my grandmother dip a rag in varnish and kind of dust some old furniture. Can I do that or do I need to strip the stain off and all that mess?”

    TOM: That sounds like a real old, old trick of the trade that – what Grandma did. I can’t recommend that in good conscience, because we don’t know what kind of a result she’s going to get there.

    What I would say is that you’ve got one that’s looking a little dull. You might want to turn to an old product that’s still on the shelves now, that has delivered a solution to that dull-furniture problem for many, many years. It’s called Old English. It’s a combination of stain and sort of furniture polish together. And it really does a good job of filling in all the scratches and putting …

    LESLIE: Does it only come in the one color? I have it in super-dark.

    TOM: No, no. No, I’ve seen it in a couple of different colors. Good stuff. Old English. I think that’s your solution, Marilyn.

    LESLIE: And it’s not the malt liquor, so don’t go to the refrigerated section. Go to a home improvement store.

    And really, we just put it on with an old t-shirt right on our dining table and sort of buff it in. It works amazingly well, so it’s well worth the five or seven bucks it costs.

    Alright. Now we’ve got one from Chris in Delaware who writes: “I want to put new crown molding up in my 1927 home. The problem: none of my corners are 90-degree angles and I’m a novice. Would you recommend I buy a power miter saw or will a handheld saw and miter box be enough? I’m going to use that new foam molding.”

    TOM: I am shocked that a 1927 home has corners that are not 90 degrees.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: Who would have thought that?

    Listen, this is not a start-up, do-it-yourself project, Chris. Crown molding is one of the more difficult moldings to install, because you not only have to cut a miter, you have to cut a compound miter. So I have a better solution for you: use the prefabricated, foam crown molding. There’s a product called SoSimpleCrown and it really is easy to put in.

    LESLIE: It’s really easy.

    TOM: It’s foam molding. It gets caulked to the wall. It has plinth blocks that fit in the corners. It really is an easy installation and it looks just like wood after it’s painted.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you practically adhere it with caulk, so it’s very, very user-friendly. I’ve used it before in a home makeover show. I totally recommend it. Have a great time with it and then just finish it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you a few tips, a few ideas to get a project or two done around your money pit. If you have a question, you can reach out to us 24-7 at 888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to the Money Pit website at MoneyPit.com and post your question online.

    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 2012 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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