How to Finance Home Improvements, Is Your Contractor Insured?, Lead Safe Window Replacement and More
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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas and to settle bets between spouses. So, if you’ve got any of those, please call us right now and we’ll do our best to help you out.
LESLIE: And don’t blame us if you are not on the winning side of that wager.
TOM: That’s right. That’s right, that’s right. And please, please keep the bets to home improvement topics, will you?
We’ve got a great show planned for you this hour. Coming up, are you thinking about some higher-end home improvements but having trouble coming up with the higher-end budget to match? Well, we can help with some home improvement financing hints that you just might not have thought of. We’ll tell you all about those, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, once you actually figure out how you’re going to pay for the job, now you can start thinking about hiring a contractor. But have you ever considered what might happen if your contractor is hurt while working on your home? I know most people don’t even ever think about that.
So we’re going to walk you through contractor insurance and what it covers, in just a few minutes.
TOM: Plus, a great project to invest in in this time of year is window replacement. Not only do you start saving money and energy immediately, you may also have a healthier home, especially if your house was built before 1978 and it has original windows. Because those may have been painted with lead-based paint. We’re going to tell you how to deal with that issue, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a $50 Lowe’s gift card. It’s courtesy of our friends over at Therma-Tru Doors. You could do a lot with that.
TOM: And to get that, all you need to do is pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. We will toss all names into The Money Pit hard hat and if we draw yours out at the end of the show, you’ll be getting that $50 gift card from Lowe’s, courtesy of our friends at Therma-Tru.
So, let’s get going right now with a little jumpstart on your spring projects. Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Joyce in Florida is on the line with a toilet that’s exceptionally noisy. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
JOYCE: My toilet, when I flush it, it will keep running after I flush it. It keeps running and the water keeps moving in the toilet bowl.
JOYCE: And then if I jiggle the handle, it’ll quit.
JOYCE: So how do I fix this to keep it from doing that and keeping the water from continuously running?
TOM: Very simple. Your toilet has two valves in it: one is called a “fill valve” and one is called a “flush valve.” The flush valve is at the bottom of the toilet and the fill valve is the vertical part with the float.
TOM: You should replace both of those valves. It’s a do-it-yourself project and that will stop the problem. The fill valve is worn out and that’s why it’s continuing to run.
JOYCE: OK. What’s the name of that valve?
TOM: A fill valve; f-i-l-l. Fill valve. It’s the valve that fills the toilet.
JOYCE: (inaudible at 0:03:09). OK.
TOM: Very inexpensive. You can pick them up at any home center or hardware store and they’re easy to install.
JOYCE: OK. Wow, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Joyce. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sean in New Mexico is on the line with a flooring question. What can we do for you?
SEAN: Yes. I’ve got a flooring project I’m working on and I’ve been looking at some of the laminate floorings and several different types on the internet. And I’m just kind of wondering, once people get these down, what are they most satisfied with?
TOM: Well, Sean, where are you putting the flooring in?
SEAN: In my living room.
TOM: OK. And what kind of floor do you have there now? Is it over concrete or what’s it over?
SEAN: No, it’s going to be over plywood floor.
TOM: OK. So a standard wood floor. Alright. So, either are excellent choices. Engineered wood is called engineered because it’s made up of layers of hardwood that are glued together, with the top layer sort of being the finished layer.
TOM: The tongue and grooves on both flooring – both engineered and laminate – lock together or have some sort of a click system, typically.
TOM: They’re both floating floors, which means you put them in but leave a gap around the outside edge, all the way around, and then cover that with trim.
SEAN: Correct, yeah.
TOM: They’re both very durable. You have to pay attention to the warranty on them, because that’s usually determined by a test called a Taber abrasion test, where they basically take – it’s kind of like a grinding wheel or a sanding disc and they spin it through the finish and they count how many revolutions it can take before it goes through the wear layer. So both of them are very durable.
I think it really comes down to what colors and patterns are available; whether or not you feel that sort of emotional connection to real wood or maybe you want something that’s a little more durable but looks like real wood.
SEAN: Right. Yeah, I’ve been looking at quite a few of the products on Pergo’s website. They have some pretty nice-looking stuff but even on their website, they have several different types of flooring.
LESLIE: Right. And I mean that really is going to run the spectrum for every manufacturer that you look at. You’re going to see a variety of price points and you’re going to see – as the price point goes up, you’re going to see a lot more options available as far as the type of wood, the finish that’s on it. Is it scraped? Is it a wider plank? Because you can get all of those options in a laminate floor.
A good website to check out is LumberLiquidators.com. They offer a ton …
SEAN: Yeah, I’ve been on theirs.
LESLIE: And they really do have a ton of choices at great prices. It’s very affordable. It’s a great do-it-yourself project.
LESLIE: There’s one brand that they carry. I believe it’s called Bellawood and what’s cool about the Bellawood line is that they offer a 50-year warranty on the flooring, which is unheard of in this field. So, really, a lot of great options if you head over to LumberLiquidators.com.
SEAN: Right. Alright. I’ve looked a bit on their website some. I’ll do a little bit more research. What I liked about Pergo’s website is you could pick a product and click on it and it would show you a room that had been done in that particular floor. It gives you a better idea of what you might be purchasing, you know?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And when you’re looking at the laminate, some of the options to also consider are some of the planks will actually have the underlayment attached to the back side of the plank.
LESLIE: Other companies require a separate sort of roll-out foam underlayment. All sort of six of one, half a dozen of the other but really, up to you how you feel like installing.
SEAN: Right. A couple of my friends have done some floors and they’re recommending that – with the all-attached underlayment. That it’s quite a bit easier.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you’re going over plywood, so you don’t have to worry about moisture.
SEAN: You bet. I appreciate you guys.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair, home improvement, design, décor, outdoor question. Whatever you are working on, we’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Up next, before hiring a pro, you need to double-check your contractor’s insurance status. Why? Well, if you don’t, you could be facing major financial headaches. We’ll tell you why, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And you can give us a call right now with your home improvement question. And if you get on the air, you might just be our lucky winner who’s going to get a $50 gift card from Lowe’s. And that comes courtesy of our friends over at Therma-Tru Doors.
Now, Therma-Tru, they make a door called Benchmark, which is sold exclusively at Lowe’s. They’re super-durable and gorgeous and they’re going to add to your home’s curb appeal and even your home’s resale value.
One lucky caller that we talk to on the air is going to win this prize, so give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, as the spring weather finally arrives, you might be thinking about some improvements that you’ll be making. And if you’re going to be hiring contractors to help, you need to make sure they are properly insured. If not, you could end up footing the bill in the event of an accident or a renovation that has gone awry.
In many areas of the country, sole proprietors who – that’s probably the most popular form of business for contractors; it’s basically the contractors that are totally self-employed – may not be required by law to have liability insurance or even workman’s comp, which is why it’s important for you to get the proof of insurance before you start any home improvement project.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re thinking, “Well, I’m already covered. My homeowner’s insurance probably does the trick,” think again. Because homeowner’s insurance policies generally do not cover incidents involving uninsured or unlicensed contractors.
Now, uninsured contractors also tend to be unfamiliar with building codes and are usually unable to apply for permits, which we all know you really need. So, when a project lacks the proper permitting, a homeowner can be ordered to remove or repair that work that has already been completed and paid for. And you’re not going to get that money back; you’re going to have to pay for that work again and all of those permit fees.
So this spring, make a note to check your contractor’s insurance before you allow any work done on your property.
TOM: That’s right. And also, when you get that insurance, make sure it’s issued in your name as you being the certificate holder. Because you want to avoid a contractor that gets insurance at the beginning of the year or the season and then just cancels it, gets a refund of his premium and then really is not covered by insurance. So make sure his insurance agent issues a certificate of insurance to you, so that you know if anybody gets hurt on that job, that you are totally covered.
And we will cover your home improvement questions if you pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dolly in Virginia has a question about a porch. How can we help you?
DOLLY: Yes. I have a back porch and it’s been down for maybe eight years and I never sealed it. I washed it maybe once or twice but I like to know if I can turn the wood upside down, wash it again and then seal it. Does that sound OK? Because wood costs so much.
TOM: Dolly, why do you want to turn the wood upside down?
DOLLY: I don’t know. I just thought I would.
LESLIE: Is it that it’s splintering or blistered?
LESLIE: Is there wear and tear?
DOLLY: It just looks ugly, so I figured if I turn it upside down and wash it and then seal it, that would be OK.
TOM: OK. Well, what about sanding it?
DOLLY: Well, maybe that’s what I have to do, too.
TOM: Yeah. Well, you could do that probably with the surface you have right now. I mean, typically, we recommend – on decks, if you have cracked boards, you could turn them upside down and – because the underside is usually in perfectly good condition. On a porch, it’s certainly a lot more complicated, so I would encourage you to really spend some time sanding down that surface and then resealing it or repainting it. I don’t necessarily think you have to take your porch apart.
DOLLY: OK. That’s what I’ve got to (audio gap) then. Thank you for giving me the good answer. And less work. Thanks.
TOM: Alright, Dolly. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Moses is working on a water feature, complete with fish. How can we help?
MOSES: Well, I’m – I built a koi fish pond in my backyard and that’s about a 2,300-gallon fish – koi fish pond. Got fish introduced and everything. Only thing is I have an extension cord going from my kitchen, through my back door, to my koi fish pond and I need to put plug outlets at the pond.
MOSES: And had a question about running it from my breaker box, so that it was an independent breaker.
TOM: OK. A completely separate circuit, yeah.
MOSES: Just had a question as to how to get that done.
TOM: Well, if you’re asking the question on how to wire your new electrical circuit, my advice is to hire an electrician because it’s not something that you should be doing. I will tell you, in general terms, that the type of circuit that you want to install is something called a ground-fault circuit. It is a special circuit that has a breaker in it that will trigger – it will turn off if someone is unfortunate enough to be receiving a shock.
Now, a traditional circuit breaker is designed to prevent the wire from overheating. A ground-fault breaker is designed to not only prevent the wire from overheating but also to prevent you from overheating if you get an electrical shock. So installing a circuit is not a complicated project; it’s a fairly straightforward job and a relatively simple job for an electrician but not one that I would want to be your very first electrical project.
MOSES: OK. And as far as putting the ground-fault, could that be done with an actual AC plug in line by …?
TOM: Yeah, there’s two ways you can do it: you can do it at the breaker or you can do it at the actual receptacle itself.
TOM: But if you do it at the breaker, it covers the entire circuit and that’s probably – if you’re starting from scratch, that’s where I would do it.
MOSES: OK. Great.
TOM: I would make the entire circuit ground-fault protected. This way, if you decide to tie in another outlet later, it’s all covered.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Run an exterior lighting for the garden.
MOSES: OK. Great. Hey, thank you guys very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Moses. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Marilyn in Missouri, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?
MARILYN: We bought an old house and the people had dogs in the house and a bunch of old wood in there. Anyway, we cleaned it all out, we tore the carpet out. The house is aired-out since last March – which is just about a year now – and there still is a smell. Not bad as it was but it’s still there and we want to know what to do to get rid of it.
TOM: OK. What kinds of materials are we talking about here? Is there carpet down that was there from the old folks?
MARILYN: There was but we tore it all out and it’s just plain, wood floors; old, wood floors are all there is now.
LESLIE: So you left – was it a hardwood that was under the carpet? You left that there? Are you dealing with the subfloor or you put something else on top?
MARILYN: No. It’s just the wood floor that was there.
LESLIE: That could be the major issue.
TOM: Is the wood floor like a finished wood floor or is it like a subfloor, like a plywood floor?
MARILYN: No. It’s just plain, wood floor; there’s no finish on it. There’s no subfloor or anything else, I don’t think.
TOM: Oh, OK. So what is it, like a stripped floor? Like a hard …
MARILYN: Oh, there is a subfloor but this is the wood on top of it.
TOM: So this is like a hardwood floor?
MARILYN: Hardwood floor? Yes.
TOM: Have you been thinking about finishing it?
MARILYN: Yeah. But we want to make sure we can get the smell out first or ….
TOM: Well, I have a feeling that that’s part of the problem, because the floor is unfinished.
LESLIE: Yeah. Is the finish.
TOM: If you sand this floor down and finish it, any odor that’s in it is going to be sealed.
LESLIE: Sealed in with it.
TOM: You really need to – you cleaned up as much as you can here.
TOM: The only thing you can do is finish the floor, paint all the walls and ceilings but make sure you prime them with an oil-based primer.
LESLIE: Because you want to seal in whatever odor is stuck to that wallboard.
TOM: Exactly. And in fact, I think it’s – I think – and there’s a topcoat that you can use and I think it’s – Dutch Boy has an odor-eliminating paint that contains Arm & Hammer; like a baking soda component to it.
TOM: Where once the paint dries, it acts – it has a certain capability of odor absorbency sort of power to it.
MARILYN: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Keith in New Hampshire has some drywall that’s cracking up. Tell us about it.
KEITH: Yes, well right at the seams, at the corners of the walls, the drywall is cracking and in some places, there’s actually pieces of the drywall that are falling off and exposing the underneath.
KEITH: So really, what I’m looking for is some sort of product or simple method to take care of that problem.
LESLIE: Now, when you say you can see the drywall underneath, is it just in that corner or are you seeing chunks of the surface falling off mid-wall, as well?
KEITH: Oh, no. It’s just right at the corners. It’s right along the seam.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Where the two walls meet or where a wall and a window meet?
KEITH: Right. But mostly at the corners of the wall, where the two walls meet.
LESLIE: Well, generally, what’s happening there is you’re getting normal movement in the house and things are just moving as they should, normally, in your home. So what’s happening is the spackle or the joint compound that’s on top of the tape is drying out and then the tape is cracking and that’s why you’re seeing this sort of opening at the space where the two pieces of drywall are meeting. And there’s a really simple solution.
If you do have some sort of bumps there where you get ridges, I would try to sand that down just a smidgeon, just to make it so that it’s not jutting up so much. And then I would get fiberglass drywall tape, which is that meshy kind that’s kind of sticky. And go over the corner, surround the corner, split the tape in half and run the center right down the corner and then meet on both sides.
KEITH: Oh, sure.
LESLIE: And then you want to cover that with spackle and what you want to do is start out thin, cover the tape. Be thick on your application but stay the same width of the tape.
LESLIE: Cover that up, let it dry, sand it down. Then you want to add more and you want to go wider and wider and wider. It’s going to be a little bit more difficult because you’re dealing with a corner but you want to go wider and wider and wider, sanding in between each coat so that you get a smooth transition and you don’t see that lump from the fiberglass tape.
KEITH: Sure, sure. And what – will that give you a nice, sharp edge, as well?
LESLIE: It can. It can give you a nice, clean corner, depending on how well you are at applying the spackle, but that’ll do a really good job of covering that up. And because you’re going with that mesh tape, it’ll allow for movement within that wall itself and not crack out of that corner.
KEITH: I see. OK. That’s very good. That’s very helpful.
LESLIE: Good. And good luck with the project.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, old, drafty windows not only drain energy and money from your home, they also have the potential of having lead paint built into them. And it could be that they release lead dust in the air, every time they are opened and closed. We’ll tell you what to do about that, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. Want hardwood floors but are on a budget? The affordable and feature-filled Skil Flooring Saw is just what you need for your installation project.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, if your home was built before 1978 and you have the original windows, chances are those windows could pose lead dangers for your family. Every time you open or close those windows, friction can cause lead dust to be released into the air and that’s not good.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And replacing those windows also takes special consideration, to make sure that the installer is compliant with all of those new, lead-safety laws that have gone into effect.
So, here to talk about replacement windows that are lead-free and installed lead-safe is Gary Pember from Simonton Windows.
GARY: Thank you. Good to be here.
LESLIE: You know, this is a very scary issue and it’s actually close to home for me and my family. When we had central air conditioning put in a couple of years ago – our home is early-1920s. There was dust and debris around the house and my son, who at that time was a year-and-a-half, ended up with elevated lead levels. So, you never know what is lurking in your home and you have to be so careful.
So tell us what Simonton has done to really ensure that the installation and the procedures follow these new EPA standings.
GARY: Sure. First of all, I mean a lot of the windows that are out there for the pre-’78 homes are painted windows.
GARY: And a lot of the paint had – or let’s say, a portion of the paint – had lead in them. And every time I hear people talking about – “Well, lead in windows is not a problem because my kids are not going to be chewing on the window.” It’s really not an issue of chewing on the window. It’s any time you operate that window. So if it’s a window that opens up, goes up and down or opens out, you’re creating friction which, in a sense, creates or releases dust that could contain lead.
And so what happens with that lead dust, that then blows into the home, goes onto the furniture, goes onto the floors. Obviously, little kids crawling on the carpet, crawling on the floor, touching, even, the window and then putting their mouth – their hands to their mouth. That could create a situation where it creates elevated lead levels. And so it’s not – a lot of people discount that, saying, “Well, it’s not going to bite the windows.” But it’s really a situation where it scatters the dust inside your home.
And so, for Simonton Windows, we have vinyl windows and so there’s no need for painting. There’s a lead-free environment and so it creates a very healthy living environment for the home and a very good, high-quality, energy-efficient window that also improves the efficiency of the home, energy-wise.
TOM: We have to get past removing the old windows, so that must present some challenges for the window installers today. What special precautions or training do they have to have to make sure that the old windows can be successfully extracted, so that we can get to the point where we have new, energy-efficient and lead-free, vinyl windows?
GARY: In fact, as of April of this year, EPA has put out a new ruling that the professional contractors have to be trained and certified. And so they have to be trained to how to remove the windows but there’s also a lot of precautions that they put up. And there’s barriers that they put up that eliminate the dust from coming into the home and also barriers outside, so it really creates a clean environment if the installation is done correctly.
So, it’s – you have to make sure that your professional contractor has the required training certification, make sure that they’ve also – as a homeowner, also educate themselves on what the possibilities of lead exposure – and do the homework, finding a professional to do the install.
TOM: And you guys actually have set up a special website to help with that process, which is at Simonton.com/LeadSafe. Simonton.com/LeadSafe. And also, a phone number: 800-746-6686.
So we appreciate your leadership in this industry, Gary. It’s great to know that you are there to help consumers get rid of those old, lead-encrusted windows and replace them with state-of-the art, vinyl, energy-efficient windows from Simonton.
GARY: Sounds good. Thank you, Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, are you thinking about starting a home improvement project? Well, we all are but not exactly sure how you’re going to pay for it? Well, you’re not alone on that. We’re going to share some tips on how to find money for those home improvement projects that you’re dreaming of, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trewax, trusted for more than 75 years. Trewax is the brand you can depend on for premium floor care. Visit them on the web at Trewax.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: Call us right now with your home improvement question. You might just win a $50 gift card from Lowe’s, courtesy of our friends at Therma-Tru Doors. Therma-Tru makes the door called Benchmark, which is sold exclusively at Lowe’s. They are durable, they are attractive and they’ll add to your curb appeal and even to your home’s value.
One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win, so why not let that be you? Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. And that $50 is going to help you with a little jumpstart for your spring home improvement projects. But when you really need a big chunk of change for your home renovations, where do you turn?
Well, there are actually a lot of ways to pay for your projects and the first thing you should do, however, is figure out that potential return on your investment and its impact on your home’s resale value.
An over-the-top redo, it’s not really a great way to spend your money, no matter how much financing you’re getting on a project.
TOM: Now, once you’ve decided on a project that fits your home’s style, your home’s scale and the neighborhood, one option to finance that project is a store credit card.
Now, you can use this to finance smaller-ticket items like appliances and materials. And what you need to watch out for are the new offers, because they very often involve a delayed payment schedule and sometimes they involve additional discounts if you use the credit card or if you open it, certainly, at the store when you make the purchase. The catch, however, is you need to be very careful to pay off the balance within the deal’s deadlines or you will be socked with very steep interest rates.
If you follow the rules, though, it can be a great way to get some no-cost financing on a small home improvement project.
LESLIE: Now, another option is to look into a store’s financing programs. Some of them are going to cover the project’s materials; others are going to cover the retailer-contracted labor for your bigger home improvements like, say, new flooring or even kitchen updates. These unsecured loans usually require a minimum purchase of about $1,000 and the terms often specify no payments or interest on the loan for the first 6 months, so that’s pretty good.
Now, the store financing programs, they’re a great choice for those of you who haven’t been in your homes long enough to build up the equity that you’re going to need if you go for a bank loan.
TOM: Finally, you want to consider a home equity line-of-credit if don’t have one. The total amount of money available is based on the equity that you have in your home. The bonus of this type of a loan is that you can secure it well before the project begins. But don’t be tempted to use the money for other expenses, like paying off credit cards.
If you want more tips on how to finance your home renovation, you can Google “money pit way to pay.” That’s “money pit way to pay.” You will land on MoneyPit.com and there you will find our article about home improvement financing; the many ways to pay for it.
LESLIE: Mickie in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MICKIE: I have two outside bedrooms and a den area.
MICKIE: And it seems like the carpeting near the wall, on the outside, has black on it.
TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.
MICKIE: And in a few areas, it has come into the room a little bit further.
TOM: Yeah, you know why that is?
TOM: Here’s why. What happens is you get warm, moist air inside your house, it hits the cold, exterior wall and it falls. As it does that, it picks up the dirt that’s in the air and it brushes it against the carpet.
And carpet, of course, is a great filter material, so that’s why you get this black staining sometimes on walls or on carpets near the room edge, because of the normal, convective loop of hot air rising, striking cold windows and walls and cold air falling. It sort of washes the dirt, so to speak, against the carpet. Sometimes it sticks and it looks kind of nasty, so this is really just a cleaning problem. It’s not indicative of anything more than that.
MICKIE: OK. So I have a lot of allergies and I want to make sure that it wasn’t something that was kind of …
TOM: Well, if you’ve got a lot of allergies, Mickie, carpet’s not the best choice for you because it really does harbor just about everything that is bad for you: dust, dirt, dust mites; things like that. If you’re going to have carpet, though – you have a forced-air heating system, right?
MICKIE: We have gas heat.
TOM: Yeah. But you have ducts, right? You have hot-air ducts?
MICKIE: Ducts, yes. Mm-hmm.
TOM: OK. So, what you want to do is you want to get a good-quality, electronic air cleaner. There’s a product by Trane called CleanEffects and it’s excellent at filtering out all of the dirt, all of the dust, even down to virus-sized particles of dirt. You want to – you really want to invest in a good-quality, electronic air cleaner when you have allergies. And if at all possible, try to minimize carpet in your house, because it just is a big, fat filter for all kinds of dirt and dust and mold and dust mites.
LESLIE: Sandra in Connecticut needs some help cleaning a stovetop. Tell us about it.
SANDRA: Hi. I have an electric range with a ceramic cooktop.
SANDRA: About three months or so before my warranty was up, I saw these little, black dots. I didn’t give it much thought. They were about the size of a pin head.
SANDRA: And as time went on, three months after my warranty was up, these dots started combining and getting larger. And then I called Frigidaire, because now I had no idea – it wasn’t on the glass itself because when you’re wiping it and cleaning it, it has nothing to do with that. It was obviously something from underneath.
And I called Frigidaire and they were very surprising to me; they were no help whatsoever. And I have no idea where to go with it or what to do.
TOM: Yeah. It sounds to me like a manufacturing defect and it’s unfortunate that the manufacturer wasn’t helpful with this. I’m going to recommend you contact a website called RepairClinic.com. These guys are real experts in diagnosing unusual appliance problems. I’ll give you their phone number: it’s 800-269-2609. 800-269-2609.
We’ve had them on the show before and tell them you were listening to The Money Pit and that we suggested that you call. And give them the model number and we’ll see if we can get to the bottom of this for you, OK?
SANDRA: That would be excellent. Oh, my gosh. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Unfortunate. It does sound like a manufacturing defect.
LESLIE: Yeah, it does. And there’s no way to get underneath there; just average homeowner.
TOM: Well, I don’t think you’re supposed to get underneath there.
LESLIE: Yeah. No, that’s why.
TOM: If the thing is breaking down, it’s breaking down.
LESLIE: Karen in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KAREN: Hi. We have a house with a daylight basement that has an apartment in it. And we were wondering if you could give any tips on soundproofing, short of taking the ceiling down and – I don’t know. What do you suggest?
TOM: Well, you could add a second layer of drywall and you could use a soundproofing glue in between, which is called Green Glue. And if you put a second layer of drywall in there, isolated by the Green Glue, that does a pretty good job of quieting down that space.
KAREN: OK. So, you don’t think any acoustic tiles like they use in theater rooms or anything?
TOM: I mean you could.
LESLIE: Yeah but those are all going to be suspended ceilings, right, Tom?
TOM: Right, exactly.
LESLIE: So you’re going to lose quite a bit of space in the basement.
LESLIE: It could be as little as 6 inches but it could be more.
LESLIE: With the additional layer of drywall and the Green Glue, you’re really only dealing with ¾ of an inch additional space there. Yes, you have to deal with moving some lighting fixtures and electrical components just down but it really does a great job.
KAREN: OK. How much would it help if we took down the existing ceiling and put up insulation?
TOM: It will a little bit but I think that’s so much work that I would much rather see you simply add a second layer of drywall rather than take everything down there.
KAREN: Alright. Thanks so much for your help.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, does your house have lots of squeaks, creaks, moans and groans? Well, we’re going to explain how to deal with those mysterious plumbing noises, next.
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. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT or log on to MoneyPit.com and post your question in our Community section, just like Jim did who says, “Our guest bathroom commode makes a loud, foghorn sound when I flush.”
Well, Jim, at least everyone knows you’re done. “Starting to startle the guests and embarrassing us. What’s causing it? What can we do to fix it?”
You know, what happens is the valves that start to wear on the toilets, as they wear a little bit, they can make really funny sounds. They can make sounds when they’re refilling, when that water is shooting back in and sort of trickles across this weak valve flap and it vibrates and it makes a terrible sound.
So, changing the flush valve and the fill valve in the toilet will make a huge difference and it will quiet things down, Jim, and you’ll be able to do your business in peace.
LESLIE: Without everybody knowing. And you know what? The kit to replace both parts is not that expensive – about 15 bucks – and it’s a job you can do yourself.
TOM: Well, it’s taken us quite a while to get used to those funny, curly-Q-looking light bulbs but Americans are finally realizing that CFLs are more cost-effective and more people are using them than ever before. Leslie has got some tips on CFLs in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Well, I think more people are getting used to them because we kind of sort of have to.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: We’re running out of time. In fact, it actually …
TOM: It’s kind of the same way we had to get used to low-flow toilets.
TOM: It kind of stunk for a while.
LESLIE: Yeah. You don’t really have a choice.
TOM: But they eventually figured it out.
LESLIE: Well, the same thing’s going on with the light bulbs and it actually turns out that most Americans support the law that starts to phase out incandescent light bulbs next year. I know, it’s only a year away. We seem to have talked about it years ago. “Ah, it’s so far away.” But now it’s really only a year away.
And we may have heard some grumbling from you guys at first but about 71 percent of those polled, in a recent USA TODAY/Gallup poll, say that they’ve replaced standard light bulbs in their home over the past few years with new CFLs or even the LEDs.
Now, 84 percent of them are saying that they are very satisfied or satisfied. And the main reasons that some aren’t liking the CFLs is that they’re dimmer than traditional bulbs and more expensive. There’s also some concern about the mercury in the compact fluorescent light bulbs.
You just need to be careful when you’re disposing of a broken bulb and you need to be careful that you vacuum up the dust and the glass really cautiously, because it can spread the mercury particles around the house. The best thing to do is use disposable gloves to get rid of everything and let the dust dissipate for several minutes before you do that.
The only other caution I would give you is to buy your CFLs from reputable companies that are known for lighting, like GE, Sylvania or even Philips, because there have been some reports of cheaply-made bulbs overheating.
Now, we don’t exactly have some confirmation on that but I did see an article online where somebody had a bulb; they say it was made in China. Most of the bulbs are but if you go with a no-name brand, you’re going to run into more problems than going with a well-known brand, for folks who actually make light bulbs for a long, long time.
And what happens is when you put the light bulb into the socket, there’s some sort of overheating. We’ve heard reports of flames shooting out of the fixtures, so you have to be really careful. In this instance, in the article I saw online, the woman tuned on the light, it started smoking and then flames shot out of the fixture. Thank goodness she was in the room and was able to sort of stop the whole thing before it got really bad.
But think about it, those of us with kids, kids turn on the lights all the time. If something like that should happen and you’re not there or you go out or the light’s turned on and you step out of the room, you really just want to be safe. So buy a well-known brand of CFLs.
And it’s really great. These light bulbs are going to last years and years, so the good thing is you pay a little more up-front but you’re going to change that light bulb way less frequently. And you better get used to it because as of next year, it’s your only choice.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this time with us. We appreciate the choice you make to listen to our show.
Coming up next week on The Money Pit, spring has sprung and that means it’s time to pick up where you left off with your home-maintenance projects. You know, as a homeowner, it’s one job that’s never finished but it is very important. We’re going to make it a little easier, with home-maintenance tips and tricks, on the next edition of The 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.)