How to Clean Up After a Spring Storm, Low VOC Paint, Organizing Tips to Help De-Clutter Your Home and More
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboard to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help you with your spring home improvement projects. ‘Tis the season to get out there and get to work. What’s on your to-do list? Is it a painting project? Is it a cleaning project? Is it an improvement project? Is it something, well, you’re thinking, “I need a project but I don’t know where to start”? Well, pick up the phone because we’re very good at giving you projects. We do that quite successfully.
LESLIE: We can find one for you.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Now, here’s a project, Leslie, that you don’t think about but it can happen and that is when the spring storms kind of rip through and damage your house? That’s a project.
And if that happens to you, the first step is to make sure that you do a good inspection to identify any damage that was caused, for two reasons: number one, you want to fix it before a leak happens or something like that and number two, if it’s storm damage, you could file a claim under your homeowner’s insurance policy.
So, we’re going to have some tips on how you can check out your house after a storm: the kinds of things that you need to look for to make sure that it’s good to go. Those will all be coming up, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, if you’ve got painting on your spring to-do list but maybe you’re not that excited about breathing in all those stinky paint fumes, well, good news. There are so many paint companies out there right now that are making low- or even no-VOC paints. So we’re going to share with you some tips about a safer and less-stinky way to paint, coming up.
TOM: And is spring cleaning really a spring organizing project at your house? I know it is at ours. We’re going to have some tips on how you can declutter those very crowded spaces so that all of your stuff can find its proper home, once and for all.
LESLIE: And we’re giving away a prize this hour that’s going to help you pare down some items around your house. We’ve got up for grabs the Duracell myGrid USB Charger plus Duracell Charger Pad, which means anything that’s got a rechargeable battery on it, you just sort of lay it down on this one pad, so you can get rid of all of those extra cords and tidy up that one drawer in your house. It’s a great prize and it’s up for grabs.
TOM: And it’s worth 115 bucks. Going to go to one caller that reaches us on today’s program. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Pick up the phone, give us a call. We want to hear your home improvement question. Let’s get right to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Terry in Oregon has a water-heater question. How can we help you today?
TERRY: Well, I was wondering what you put in a water heater to dissolve the calcium buildup, to clean it with. And I don’t know if you can use vinegar or do you need something special?
TOM: Well, I mean typically, you would not put anything inside of a water heater to clean it because that’s your domestic water that’s running through it 24-7. Now, why do you feel that the water heater needs cleaning, Terry?
TERRY: Well, because I haven’t flushed the water heater for a little while and you’re supposed to flush it every year and …
TOM: Well, you know, the only reason to really flush it is because the mineral salts can build up along the bottom and reduce its efficiency. But other than that – and I don’t think it’s a tremendous difference in efficiency. But other than that, I don’t really feel the need to it. Now, why don’t you just flush it? Why do you feel like you have to do something more than flush it?
TERRY: I wanted – I just want to make sure I get that – those calcium deposits out of there because I’ve had it ruin water heaters. I’ve got electric water heater so I know that it builds up on the elements.
TOM: Well and you can simply take those elements out if you’re concerned about that. But I don’t think the kind of maintenance you’re talking about is going to be all that necessary. You’re welcome to do it. You could turn off the water heater, turn off the power. You could drain the whole thing out; you could pull out the elements and check them if you want. But frankly, I don’t think it’s all that necessary and I don’t think it’s going to give you a big increase in efficiency by doing that.
TERRY: Okie-dokie. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Terry. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
He really, really, really, really wanted to flush that water heater.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Trudy from Colorado Springs, Colorado on the line with a bathroom-refinishing question. How can we help you today?
TRUDY: I have a bathtub that’s kind of an old bathtub and it’s got some chips and dings in it, so not a pretty color and things like that.
TOM: OK. OK.
TRUDY: So I’ve been sent a lot of flyers on something called Miracle Method and they say that you can make it look like new. But my question is, does it look like new for a week and then it looks as chipped and nasty as before?
TOM: Yeah, well, a lot of the refinishing/reglazing products that – certainly the ones that you can do yourself don’t last very long. They look sort of like a glorified paint project when you’re all done. I think what you’re talking about is a franchise system and I think their website is MiracleMethod.com. And with all of these franchisees, it really just comes down to who’s behind it and the workmanship behind it.
So I would tell you that what you should ask them is for – is a comprehensive list of references, of folks that they’ve had this done – this work done for. I would ask for references that go back not a week, not two weeks but six months, a year, two years even. And then I would call those folks and ask them what their experience has been. And if they cannot provide that list, for whatever reason they give you, or you call them and get bad information then, of course, you have your answer right there.
TRUDY: Oh, well, perfect. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, I’m so excited because we are so close to Memorial Day. I know it’s a month away but in my mind, this is the kickoff to summer.
LESLIE: I can’t wait to get out-of-doors. I know we are all tired of this winter, so if you need some help getting your yard or your home, whatever, in tip-top shape for the official kickoff to summer, you’ve got a couple weeks so give us a call. We’ll give you a hand with those projects 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Part of that getting ready might be to finally finish the spring-cleaning projects around your house and that very well may be all about purging your stuff. We’re going to have some tips on how to declutter and get you there to that clean, pristine space that you know that you are dreaming about, that you want to have, that you can have with a little help. We’ll share that with you, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide four times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we would love for you to give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. This hour, we are giving away a Duracell myGrid USB Charger and the myGrid Charger Pad. And it’s a prize package worth $115.
Now, it’s really cool because the USB Charger is a portable device and it can be used to recharge dozens of gadgets with a USB port. So anything from phones to eReaders to iPods, you can charge it right there along with any other rechargeable, battery-powered device. And there’s something really cool because it’s got the Duracell myGrid Charging Pad, so anything with a rechargeable battery, you just lay it right on top of that pad and magically, it absorbs the juice and keeps on working.
So you can get rid of all of those cords in your drawer that get all mixed up and you’re like, “Is this my phone? Is this your phone?” Chuck them. I’ve got this awesome prize up for grabs, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Time now for some tips on purging and organizing your home this spring, presented by Stanley Tools, makers of the new Bostitch Tape Rule. And when spring hits around my house, I know that I am ready to clean up and clear out and start fresh. Every year, I tackle a new closet, a new nook, a new cranny that we need to declutter and organize around the house. But with three kids, we’ve got a lot of those nooks; they seem to pile up.
But the best place to start, no matter what your situation is, is to try to get rid of stuff that you no longer use. And that’s usually the stuff that’s the deepest in the closet, that you probably put back there last year when you cleaned it out, thinking that I’m sure I’m going to use this again. If you haven’t, toss it. Toss it, toss it. That’s going to give you so much more space to start anew again.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And really, once you start organizing, whatever storage system you try to use or set up to use, that’s really the key factor there, because you want to make the most of your usable space.
Now, most people don’t think of a very obvious solution and that’s looking up. Look at your available space above you because shelving units, they’re super-easy to install and you can put them in a garage or an attic or even your closet. And they can go in at different heights. You could have them at eye-level for things that you use more regularly and higher or lower, depending on how often you use the stuff or even the height of the family members who use those items the most.
TOM: Yeah, good point. And speaking of shelving, that is just one of the many home improvement projects that you may need a tape measure for. And this new Bostitch Tape Rule is a great choice because it’s got an extra-large hook; now that’s the part on the end of the tape measure. In fact, this one is 150-percent larger and that kind of acts like a grappling hook.
When you extend that tape, you can really take hold of whatever hits on the end, whatever you’re measuring. You can grab it from the top, you can grab it from the bottom or even in the sides, which makes it very, very flexible and very useful to have. It’s got 13 feet of tape, with a shock-resistant design. You can check it out at Bostitch.com. Again, that website is Bostitch – B-o-s-t-i-t-c-h.com.
Or pick up the phone right now and let’s talk about your home organizational project. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kay in North Carolina who is dealing with a cracking, concrete porch. Tell us what happened.
KAY: Well, back in the wintertime, of course, we had it and last summer, we had it repoured. And during this wintertime, of course, it snowed and we had ice put down on it and the ice had salt put down on it, to melt it and not knowing that it would crack it. Now, I know it does that with the highways but I wasn’t thinking about my front porch at the time.
And so when the snow all thawed off, I saw the damage. And I didn’t think much about it but here it is springtime and I was out sweeping the leaves off of it the other week and the more I swept, the more the crumbles came off.
TOM: Right. Right, right.
KAY: And I just wondered, what could I do? Do I need to repour the whole thing again or what do I need to do?
TOM: No. The deterioration on the surface of the concrete or the cracks can be repaired with something called an epoxy patching compound. Now, this is a product that’s designed specifically to stick to a deteriorated concrete surface.
Essentially, you get rid of all the loose stuff, you trowel this patching compound on, let it dry and it really does adhere quite well. You will have, perhaps, some color issues where it, you know, doesn’t match exactly what was there before. But you could fix the cracks and then you could use an epoxy paint over the rest of the surface and make it all look even again.
KAY: OK. OK. Well, good, because I didn’t know. It was so nice and smooth at first and then I – all the damage came about and it made me sick to my stomach.
TOM: Yeah. Well, it was a rough winter, so these things happen.
KAY: Oh but thank you so much. I appreciate all your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kay. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: William in Illinois is on the line, calling in from Chicago with some squeaky floors. Tell us what’s going on.
WILLIAM: How are you doing, Tom and Leslie? I have a floor and I have – they’re very squeaky in certain spots. When I walk, it’s very squeaky.
WILLIAM: I have wall-to-wall carpeting and in the basement I have a drop ceiling with a lot of conduit running. And I was wondering, is there a way to rid that squeak without tearing up that carpet? Because I don’t know how to get to it.
TOM: Well, the best way to eliminate the squeak is to pull up the carpet and to screw the subfloor down to the floor joist, because it’s most likely that the noise is in the subfloor.
How old is your house, William?
WILLIAM: At least 25 years. And my aunt, they – my aunt and my uncle, they’ve been there forever to me.
TOM: Alright. So if it’s 25/30 years old, it’s probably got plywood as a subfloor. And typically, that plywood squeaks for two reasons: number one, it rubs against the joist and number two, the nails that are used to hold it in get loose and they draw in and out of the floor joist and it makes a squeaky noise. Both of those can be eliminated by securing the plywood better down to the joist.
I’m going to give you a trick of the trade now and it’s not something that you can do the entire house but you could probably tackle the most annoying section of squeak first with this. And here it is. What you can do is you can – first of all, you get a stud finder and you identify underneath the carpet, with the stud finder, where the floor joists are. So you need to know kind of exactly where the joist is to do this.
LESLIE: Tom, do you need a deep scan or can you use any kind to go through the carpet?
TOM: You’re not going to be able to use a cheap one; you’re going to need a good-quality one. And yeah, if it has a deep-scan functionality, like a Zircon or a Stanley – with a good-quality stud finder, you’re going to find that floor joist.
Then what you’re going to do is you’re going to take a galvanized finish nail, like a number 10 or a number 12 or even a number 16 – so it’s a real thick, heavy finish nail – and you’re going to nail right through the carpet, into the subfloor. And keep nailing until you kind of nail the carpet down, so to speak.
And what you’ll see when you look at it is the carpet will have a dimple in it where it sort of pulls in around the nail head. Then you can grab the carpet and you can pull it up through the nail head, so the nail head now drops below the surface of the carpet. Brush the nap and it’ll be invisible.
So this is a way to fix a squeak through carpet without tearing it up. But like I said, you can’t do this all over the house. This is something that I might do three or four nails in an area, where I know it’s particularly bad.
And put those nails at just a slight angle because they’ll hold better that way.
WILLIAM: OK. Slight angle.
TOM: Alright? And that’ll quiet it down. But really, if it gets bad or you ever get ready to change the carpet, what you want to do is pull that carpet up and then use a drywall screw and screw the floor down all over the place. And then it’ll never loosen again.
WILLIAM: Alright. You know what? I really appreciate you guys. I heard you guys when I was driving to New Mexico and now I’m back in Chicago and you guys are wonderful.
WILLIAM: Please keep up the good work. We really appreciate you.
TOM: Thanks, William. Good luck with that project. Appreciate you calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: P.J. in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
P.J.: I use a product that I hang inside my tank and of course, when you flush, the bowl is nice and blue of water. But inside the tank, I want to say I think I have hard water and no matter how you try to scrub all four sides of your tank, it’s like it’s stained and you can’t get it cleaned. And I wondered if there was a product I might be able to use.
TOM: Well, you’re talking about inside the toilet tank?
P.J.: Inside the tank. Yes, sir.
TOM: So you really want your house clean? You even clean all the – yeah, most people clean the outside; you want to clean the inside.
TOM: Well, it’s a little more of a porous surface and that’s why – it’s not really designed to be as pristinely clean as the outside. But what you could try is CLR. Do you know what that is?
TOM: Yeah, CLR is pretty good at taking out any kind of hard-water stains and stains of that nature.
P.J.: Just pour it right into the tank?
TOM: Yeah. But the thing is, you don’t want to do anything that’s too caustic because all of those valves that are in there …
LESLIE: Are super-delicate. More than you think.
TOM: Yeah. The seals could start to leak and then you’re going to have runny toilets and you’re going to have to end up having to replace the flush valve and the fill valve.
LESLIE: Maybe you want to start with white vinegar, because that does a really good job of getting rid of mineral deposits which happen from hard water. So you might want to start there, since it’s super-gentle.
P.J.: How much should I pour in? Like a cup? Half a cup?
LESLIE: You know what?
TOM: I think you’d pour in quite a bit.
LESLIE: I’m like – I’ve never cleaned my toilet tank. I suddenly feel very embarrassed.
TOM: I know. We don’t – we’re not really qualified to give you that answer. But we’re …
P.J.: Well, now, you guys should know better.
TOM: We’re not …
P.J.: I listen to you every Saturday on my radio station and I’ll do an awful lot.
TOM: We don’t consider ourselves dirty people but that’s just one space in the house we’ve never cleaned: inside the toilet tank.
LESLIE: I have never even thought about it.
P.J.: Well, I think I have hard water in my area.
TOM: I don’t know. I’m going to – next time I’m over at your house, Leslie, I’m going to check the inside of your toilet tank and see if you cleaned it.
LESLIE: I’m going to go and clean it right now. Are you kidding? As soon as we’re done, I’m going home and cleaning the toilet tank.
P.J.: Take the top off and look inside. See what you see.
P.J.: Keep up the good work, guys, because I listen to you all the time.
TOM: P.J., thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
I think P.J. is onto something there, Leslie. There could be a new market for clean toilet tanks, both outside and inside.
LESLIE: You know, I really consider myself a very neat and organized person and suddenly, to be made aware that I should be cleaning the inside of my toilet tank? I’m frazzled.
TOM: Who knew?
LESLIE: I’m frazzled.
TOM: Alright. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got James in Florida on the line who has got a question about insulation. How can we help you?
JAMES: OK. I have a house with a 4-inch layer of installation: the fiberglass installation. And I’m wondering if I can put down a layer of the sheeting that’s called radiant barrier?
TOM: Yeah. I don’t think that it’s a good idea for you to use a radiant barrier. I think the jury is still out on whether or not it’s going to work. I think if you’ve only got 4 inches of insulation, the single most effective thing that you could do is to add more insulation there.
JAMES: I see.
TOM: It depends on how much room you have there. Most homes need 19 to 22 inches. If you’ve got a low attic space and you can only get in 12, then you take what you can get. But if you can get more insulation in there, that’s going to make a big difference to you. And make sure you also add additional ventilation to the roof space, because that’s going to let any moist air out that collects in there in the cooler seasons.
JAMES: Sure. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, if painting is in the plans, choose products that are safe for you and your family. We’re going to tell you how new advances in paint have made it easier and safer to tackle this very popular home improvement project, next.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We have got advice on all of your home improvement projects. If there’s something on your to-do list, let’s put it on the done list. Give us a call; we will help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And I want to remind you that you can also post your question online in the community at MoneyPit.com. Wide variety of questions that are posted there.
Leslie, I got one today that I thought was a little unusual and that is a woman that wants to know if you can seal a laminate floor. Apparently, her parents had just got a new laminate floor to replace their carpet but they’ve got large dogs who she says drool a lot. Great visual right there.
So she wants to know if she should seal the floors to protect it from the dog drool. And I did explain to her, online at MoneyPit.com, that there was, in fact, no drool protection required because laminate floors can take a bit of moisture. The occasional dog drool should not affect the floors and even the occasional spilling of the glass of water or juice or milk or whatever it is.
LESLIE: Even if it’s Turner-and-Hooch-style dog drool.
TOM: That’s right. That’s right.
LESLIE: You’re covered.
TOM: Exactly. So no need to seal the laminate floors. Just one of many questions we get online at MoneyPit.com.
What’s your question? We would love to hear from you
LESLIE: Brian in North Dakota is taking on a roofing project. How can we help you with that?
BRIAN: I was wondering, I’ve got a – it’s time to reshingle my roof and the original shingles have lasted for 27 years. But I’m kind of liking the looks of a metal roof, from what I’ve been seeing.
BRIAN: What’s the pros/cons of going metal against asphalt shingles?
TOM: Well, I mean the pro of a metal roof is that it’s a lifetime roof; they last a long time. Depending on the type of roof you put on, you could go 50 to 100 years.
TOM: The cons are they’re really expensive.
TOM: So this better be a house that you’re going to be in for the duration, Brian, because it’s just a very costly roof to install.
The other advantage of a metal roof is that they have low-E coatings on them today. And I don’t know that a low-E coating is going to last you 50 to 100 years but at least for the first 10 or 20 years of it, this low-E coating works to reflect the sunlight as it hits it and it keeps the home cooler in the summer.
TOM: So it acts just like low-E would in, say, a replacement window.
BRIAN: OK. How about now in the winter, snow build and ice, I guess, with the asphalt? They use a snow rake when you get a lot of snow in the winter up here?
TOM: Yeah, you have to have a snow guard on the edge of it, especially in your neck of the woods, because the snow will slide off it and of course, you don’t want to get hit with those chunks of snow when it comes down off your roof.
TOM: It definitely doesn’t have the friction that an asphalt-shingled roof has, so you definitely will have more snow sliding off it.
By the way, if you do decide to put one on, I would recommend that you take off the asphalt shingles as part of that process.
BRIAN: Oh, OK. Strip it right down to the plywood?
TOM: Yeah, put it right on the plywood. If you’re going to spend this kind of money, let’s not trap the old roof underneath it.
BRIAN: OK. I guess that was my question. I sure like the looks of the metal roofs I’ve been seeing. They’re kind of few and far between in my area.
TOM: Yeah, they’re beautiful, aren’t they? Mm-hmm. Yeah, they’re gorgeous. Yeah and I’m sure it’ll contribute to your home value, too, but get some prices and then you can make a better-informed decision.
BRIAN: Alright. Thank you, sir.
TOM: You’re welcome, Brian. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if painting is on your to-do list, it’s a good idea to make sure that the project is healthy for you and your family.
TOM: And fortunately, that has become a lot easier these days, thanks to a wide range of paints that feature low or even zero VOCs. With us to talk about that is a guy who has clocked quite a few hours, I’m sure, with a paintbrush in his hand: Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.
KEVIN: It’s great to be here. It may be too many hours sniffing those VOCs, as well. I don’t know.
TOM: Well, let’s start with the basics for those that are not familiar. What is a VOC?
KEVIN: Well, VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. And that sounds kind of nefarious but basically, they’re the solvents in paint that allow you to brush it onto the wall and then have the paint dry. Paint starts as a solid and you have to add these solvents to make it a liquid.
And they really can cause some problems. People have been around paint cans that might have had the experience where they’ve gotten a headache because they’ve been exposed to the fumes too long or felt dizzy. They are suspected carcinogens and generally speaking, you don’t want to be exposed to these things for too long.
TOM: Now, for many years, paints actually needed these solvents to kind of do their job but the technology’s changing, isn’t it?
KEVIN: Well, the technology’s changing for sure. There are a lot of major manufacturers out there right now that will offer you a low-VOC paint. And some of them are even providing a no-VOC paint. So that’s good news in and of itself but it’s also good news that these paints actually perform as well as their predecessors that did have VOCs.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I know there’s been a ton of testing as far as scrubbability, durability, wearability across the board with manufacturers, that show that these products are performing well.
KEVIN: Yeah. And I think we’ve had good experience with them. On many projects, we’ve gone to low-VOC. Almost all of our projects now, low VOC-paints. And they go up well and they’re durable.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well and I think that’s the direction that the EPA is sort of mandating, when it comes to paint manufacturing now and going forward, that the maximum amount of VOCs is getting lower and lower and lower as the years go on.
KEVIN: Yeah. My experience is is that these things typically start in places like California or New York and then they sort of come into the country.
TOM: Work their way east. In California, for sure.
KEVIN: Yeah. No, absolutely. Right. And so, California has really pushed the envelope in terms of low-VOCs and no-VOCs. But I think it’s the future; I think the rest of the country is going to adopt it wholesale and probably the best part is I think that customers are going to demand it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, with the product having a low-VOC, does that change what we have to do as far as prep is concerned, when it comes to a painting project?
KEVIN: Well, it’s interesting because for many years, people – professionals, I think – sort of pooh-poohed low-VOC paints. And it was the sort of the same arguments that you heard when we went from oil-based paints to water-based paints. “Ah, the oil is nasty but it’s great stuff. It can’t be beat.” Well, latex paints perform really well. And then we heard that – “Well, without the VOCs, without these solvents, you can’t have a great paint.” I think that’s been pretty much dismissed; these paints can perform well.
It does not, however, change the prep process. A good paint job really depends on really good prep work and you still need to do that before you paint with any can of paint.
TOM: Now, Kevin, the labeling is really an important thing here because, as you said, some are no-VOCs, some are low-VOCs, some have odor, some don’t have odor. You know, if you’re trying to sort it out and kind of make an intelligent decision as to which product that you want to go with, can you rely on what’s on the can in the store or is there a better way to figure it out?
KEVIN: There’s some good information on the can. I don’t think it’s completely comprehensive and for that, you probably have to go to the internet. The manufacturers actually publish something called an MSDS and that stands for the Material Safety Data Sheet. And that will tell you exactly what’s inside that can of paint and all of its technical specifications.
And as I say, you can get it from the manufacturer’s website and it’ll have some good information. Maybe more than you need but it’ll have some good information.
TOM: Good advice. Kevin O’Connor, host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for dropping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: It’s great to be here, guys.
TOM: For more tips, look for the Interior Paint Buying Guide at ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And of course, you can always watch Kevin and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.
Still to come, does spring training mean the annual baseball that the kids are tossing around outside ends up flying through the window at your house? Well, whether it’s that or perhaps a less-traumatic glass-break situation, we’ve got some cool cleanup tips for you coming up, after this.
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TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And if you give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, you just might win the Duracell myGrid USB Charger and the myGrid Charging Pad, a prize combo worth 115 bucks. Pretty cool. The USB Charger is a portable device. You can use it, once it’s charged up, to kind of deliver important battery power to, say, a cell phone or something like that when you can’t get to an outlet.
And you can charge that and lots of other things by laying it on this Duracell myGrid Charging Pad, which is pretty cool. You just drop your Blackberry or something on top of the pad and it charges directly, so you can get rid of a lot of the cords that you have hanging out around the house.
One caller we talk to is going to win both this hour. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And there’s always an excess of cords for chargers. I was so excited; I thought I found an extra charger for my Blackberry the other day. Turned out it was from a cell phone I had three years ago.
TOM: Oh, I know.
LESLIE: I was like, “Why am I still holding on to this stuff?” So I should probably start practicing my own spring-cleaning advice.
Alright, folks. Well, while you’re busy doing your spring cleaning, you might be experiencing some spring storms, which are very popular this time of year. But as they say, spring showers – April showers, is that what they say bring May flowers?
TOM: Yeah, April showers bring May flowers.
LESLIE: Yes. I guess I’m just trying to get to the warm weather, in my mind.
TOM: Move it along.
LESLIE: I just want it to be summer, please.
Well, while we are stuck in spring – and we’re dealing with in all parts of the country, spring storms. And some of those storms can have some pretty high winds. And if that happens, you might get some damage to your home. Maybe there’s a branch or, say, another thing like an airborne object like a baseball breaks a window. I mean it happens.
LESLIE: We live right by a high school. There are errant baseballs, tennis balls flying all the time at the house. So far, we’ve been lucky, knock wood. So, it’s really important, should you have a window break in your home, that you clean it up safely.
First of all, you don’t want to try to knock out the remaining glass in the frame. You really need to be careful. You want to use safety gloves to remove the loose and fallen pieces of glass. And then to help you clean up those smaller particles of glass, you want to take several thicknesses of wet paper towels and sort of damp them right on top. Just place them on top of the broken glass so it picks up all those really small particles. And then throw them right away.
And you want to make sure that you never use cloth towels or sponges or mops because once you clean up all those tiny, little pieces of glass, they’re going to stay in that cloth or those fibers or those sponges. And then when you go to use them on something else, either you’re going to get hurt or you’re going to scratch something up horribly. So just chuck them; use paper towels and just think smart when you’re cleaning up glass.
TOM: Absolutely. And don’t try to replace the glass yourself. Some windows have insulating glass units that contain a gas. Now, typically, it’s argon and that’s harmless but it’s designed to help with the window energy-efficiency and you’re just not going to be able to replace that yourself. A replacement unit will need to be ordered and installed by a pro so that it perfectly matches the original window and then retains, of course, the window’s energy-efficiency.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And when you’re in the market for a replacement window, we suggest you consider Simonton windows, because Simonton produces Energy Star-qualified replacement and new-construction windows and doors, including a line of impact-resistant products, which are great for certain areas of the country that are more prone to weather situations. Or if you’re like me, you live right by a high school and kids have really bad aim with the baseball.
So go on over to their website. It’s Simonton.com and you’ll get some more information there.
TOM: And by the way, we’ve got a great replacement-window guide that we wrote with help from the team at Simonton. That’s online at MoneyPit.com right now. It’s on the home page, so just download it; it’s totally free.
LESLIE: Lisa in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LISA: I bought an old, two-story, 100-year-old storefront building – two-story, balloon-frame construction – and I’ve had it completely gutted. Now I’m wondering, after the electrician, what kind of insulation do you recommend? I’m considering wet cellulose or spider fiberglass?
LISA: And I wondered if those are what you recommend. I know foam is a really great insulator but I can’t afford to do the whole structure in foam.
TOM: Mm-hmm. So the walls are off right now?
LISA: Yeah, it’s completely gutted.
TOM: Right. Yeah, a product like Icynene would be really cool because you could blow it in and seal up all those old gaps.
TOM: But if you can’t go that way, I guess I would probably just use a standard fiberglass. I would just make sure I did a really good job with choosing the right thickness so that we get it through the entire wall cavity. I would make sure you use a vapor barrier on the inside surface. And I think that you’ll find a very well-insulated, comfortable building if you do that.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks for calling into The Money Pit.
Still ahead, bathroom cleaning, it’s not a project that anybody looks forward to doing but it’s made even more complicated when you’ve got to deal with hard-water stains, which you know are very difficult to remove. So we’re going to have tips on how to handle that, next.
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 if you just cannot get enough of The Money Pit, why not download The Money Pit iPhone app? It’s super-cool, it’s got our awesome logo and when you sign in, it’s got a great picture of me and Tom right there, saying, “Hey.”
And you can listen to us on the go. You can learn everything at MoneyPit.com. We’ve got a ton of information there, lots of great shows you can search by topic, question. Whatever you want, it’s there and we can help you with all your projects.
And while you’re at MoneyPit.com, you can post a question to the Community section. And I’ve got one here that Sandra from New York put up that says, “The first two rows of Italian ceramic tile above our tub have a gray stain that looks like mildew. However, the stain is not on the surface but appears to be coming through the tile from the back. Is there anything that can be used to clear up or hide the stains?”
TOM: You know, I think what she’s talk about here, Leslie, is a mineral deposit – a mineral-salt deposit from hard water. And it does appear to sort of grow, because that’s what minerals do; they sort of cake up and they form layers one on top of another and seem to sort of reach out into the room that way. In fact, in some cases, especially on like, for example, damp basement walls, they can look like sort of stalactites hanging off the wall.
LESLIE: Exactly, yeah.
TOM: So they do have the appearance of growing. What you have to do is get rid of that hard water and I would use a cleaner like CLR, which is a calcium – sort of calcium, lime and rust. It’s a good remover that pulls off a lot of that sort of debris. And if you’ve got hard water, it’s something that you’re going to have to repeat from time to time. But it’s not coming from the back; it’s definitely depositing on the surface and a product like CLR should clean that up just fine.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope it helps you with that.
Now we’ve got here from Jim in South Carolina who posted: “I had a sprinkler system installed a couple of years ago and every time it changes zones, the pipes under my house knock. How do I keep the pipes from knocking every single time my sprinkler system changes zones?”
TOM: That is called water hammer, Jim. And it happens when the water is running through the pipes and I’ll bet you have copper pipes, because it’s always much louder when you have copper pipes. When the water is running through those pipes and then a valve closes and you have all that centrifugal force of all that water. Because remember, water is quite heavy; it weighs 8 pounds per gallon.
So there’s actually quite a lot of weight of water running through those pipes. And then the valve closes and bang, that water sort of – all that force wants to move forward and it can’t really do that because now there’s no place for it to go. It sort of stops short and it’s like a water skid; it’s got no place to go. So what does it do? Well, it shakes the pipe and that’s the knocking that you hear.
LESLIE: And it can be pretty loud.
TOM: It definitely can be loud and what you can do to straighten that out is two things. First of all, if it’s happening a lot, you can go downstairs and tighten up those pipes; get additional pipe hangers and strap them more tightly to the floor joist. But secondly, there’s actually a plumbing component called a water hammer arrestor and it’s sort of like a shock absorber and it gives that force of the water somewhere to kind of go and be …
LESLIE: Now, where does that get installed?
TOM: Well, it’ll be installed right off of the main line so that the – when the water stops flowing, it will have a place to kind of flow into, like a bypass with a shock absorber that sort of takes that and stops the banging-out so much. I mean the good news is it really doesn’t cause any problem with the plumbing system; it’s more of an annoyance than anything else.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Alright, now we’ve got one from Thomas in Delaware who posted: “Painted our basement floor over existing; now it’s chipping.”
It just sounds like, perhaps, you should have primed or perhaps you have a bad adhesion there. So I would say scrape up anything that’s sort of loose. Then give it a good cleaning, prime it really well, let that dry, put a good paint on top of it and it should do the trick.
TOM: You are tuned to 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, some spring motivation to get out there and tackle a home improvement project while the weather is still pleasant in your part of the country.
If you have a question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, remember you can post it online at MoneyPit.com or pick up the phone and call us anytime at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2011 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.)