How to Finish Your Basement, Drill and Drill Bit Basics and More
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
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: Give us a call right now because we are here to answer your home improvement questions; to solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas; to help you become a successful home improver; to prevent you from becoming a do-it-to yourselfer by tackling a project that’s too big, too bold, too whatever to come out right with your skill set. We can help you get around all that but you’ve got to help yourself first with a phone call to 1-888-MONEY-PIT where the advice is worth far more than what you pay for it. (Leslie chuckles) From drains to décor, give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one of your problems might be, “I’ve run out of space in my house.” I know …
LESLIE: We can’t fix that. Well, we can help you make a bigger space.
TOM: We can. That’s true. If you are running out of space, you might want to look down and think about upgrading your space below grade. You know, a finished basement can add a lot of value as well as square footage to your home. So coming up this hour, we’ve got some tips on a finishing system that makes this very simple, very safe and very easy and very quick.
LESLIE: And also ahead, a good drill is a must-have for any do-it-yourselfer; whether you’re a novice or even an expert weekend warrior. But you also need to know what drill bits are key to doing just about any repair or improvement job. So in just a few minutes, we’re going to get a drill and drill bit primer from This Old House’s general contractor, Tom Silva.
TOM: Also ahead, heat and humidity have plagued a lot of the country this summer. It’s been a scorcher and you may be wanting to retreat indoors for comfort, but you need to make sure your home’s air quality is up to snuff because the air inside your house, according to the EPA, is actually more polluted than the air outside of your house. Isn’t that a pleasant thought?
LESLIE: That’s so nice.
TOM: Good news is that there is a new system out that can actually make that all go away. We’re going to tell you about that in just a bit.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour we’re giving away everything that you need to get started on your new floor installation courtesy of Lumber Liquidators. We’ve got a do-it-yourself flooring kit that includes a hammer, spacers, measuring tape. You name it, it’s got it.
TOM: It’s worth almost 60 bucks; going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it.
LESLIE: Dan in Florida, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
DAN: I want to put a cupola – a roof on a cupola on my shed and I want to put a weather vane in the center of it.
DAN: And I want to know how to set that up so that the weather vane will be adequately supported and not create a vibration through the building.
TOM: Well, how big is the shed?
DAN: Ten by sixteen.
TOM: Ten by – that should be plenty stable enough. You know, I put a cupola on our kitchen roof and it was a pretty easy project. We used one that was premade. You can order these online; you can buy one from a craftsman. And it was already pre-notched-out. We had to adjust the angle of the notch for the angle of the pitch of the roof. What we opted to do was, basically, put it on top of the solid roof and we left some space under it so water that got into the cupola could basically run through and out under the bottom of it. So it really wasn’t sort of part of the structure of the roof. It really was mounted on top of that. And then over above that, we mounted the weather vane. It never added any type of significant weight or wind pressure; has never been an issue. There’s never been any vibration. So I think with a 10×16 building, you ought to have plenty of stability to install that.
DAN: How did you mount the weather vane on the top?
TOM: There were brackets that mounted it right to the top of the cupola itself. It actually went down through the middle of the cupola roof and then there were a couple of brackets that supported it right in place. It was all sort of one kind of kit unit.
LESLIE: You know what, Dan? If you are going to build it yourself, there’s actually a website that sells all sorts of mounting hardware for weather vanes and it’s GIDesigns.Net. They’ve got everything for all situations.
DAN: Alright, that’s what I was looking for. I thought that I was on the right track and just wanted to back it up a little bit.
TOM: Alright, Dan. We were happy to do that for you. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to North Carolina where Linda has a log cabin. What can we do for you?
LINDA: Yes. We had built a log cabin about two years ago here in North Carolina – and it’s not up in the mountains area. But the 4×6 posts that are used to make the stairway going up to the second floor have begun to have big cracks in them and I wondered what we should do to correct that or stop it from cracking or fill it in or what.
TOM: Well, you know Linda, there’s a technical term for those cracks. It’s called charm.
LINDA: Oh, yes. Well, it has charm, alright.
TOM: (overlapping voices) When it comes to log cabins, those logs are designed to check, they’re designed to crack and that should not affect, significantly, the strength that they provide you as support posts.
LINDA: Right. I don’t think that.
TOM: You’re not going to stop them from splitting. You’re not going to be able to glue them back together. That’s a natural process of the drying out of the log.
LINDA: I see.
TOM: So I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
LINDA: OK. And don’t worry about it?
LESLIE: Uh-uh, it’s not structural.
TOM: That’s right.
LINDA: OK, yes. Oh, I thought maybe it’d be better – it just doesn’t look very pretty but I thought maybe I could fill it with something.
TOM: Well, but some people – you know, when you’re going to have a wood house, Linda, you want to look at some of those natural features in the wood and the cracks and the checks and the knots and all of that, that’s all part of the process.
LESLIE: And anything that you could add in, Linda, would just dry out and split.
LINDA: Yeah, right. OK, well thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, I love people that want to have wood houses and wood furniture and wood tables and wood paneling – all natural raw wood – but then they complain about the knots, the cracks.
TOM: You know, if you’re going to have that kind of natural material, you’re going to have those types of imperfection. That’s the way Mother Nature made it; that’s the way it’s going to be presented.
LESLIE: And I wouldn’t call them imperfections. I feel like a lot of that adds to the beauty and the depth of the piece.
TOM: And the charm.
LESLIE: So enjoy it. Seek it out. It’s what makes it an unusual and truly unique, individual piece.
TOM: Good point.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Well, it’s official: the summer is almost over. So with a few, short weekends left, let us help you make the most of whatever projects you want to work on. So we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, are you running out of space in your house? If so, look down. We’re talking about your basement. We’ll have tips to help you tackle a basement makeover, 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 up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit Therma-Tru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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. And you should be part of The Money Pit, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only will we do our very best to answer your home improvement or your repair question right here on the fly, no prep work, but you will automatically be entered into our random prize drawing. And this hour we’re giving away a do-it-yourself installation starter kit courtesy of Lumber Liquidators. Now flooring, it’s a top question on our show so we know this is a project that many of you are about to take on.
TOM: You can get a little help with this kit. It includes a hammer, spacers, measuring tape, dust mask, hobby knife, chalk line and a reel. You name it, if you need it to put in a floor, it’s in there. It’s got $60 worth of tools and products all together but if you get on the air with us this hour, it could be yours for free, so pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, maybe you guys are thinking about taking on an expansion project or maybe you want to finish up a space in your house, because you’re probably running out of room. I know a lot of us just are staying put, so we’re accumulating things and just really running out of space to store things and spaces to live. So if that sounds like you, you might want to consider looking below your first floor.
You know, finished basements are a great way to create a home office, a home theatre, a playroom, a guest room; pretty much any room that you can think of. And right now, they even qualify for a tax credit.
Now, the main thing to remember when you’re finishing your below-grade space is that you have to keep it dry. So it’s a good idea to make sure that all of your gutters are clear and you might even want to look into gutter guards or some other way that you can permanently install something on top of the gutter to keep them clear or hiring a service or making sure you put it on your calendar and you do it yourself. But you want to keep your gutters clear and you also want to have your downspouts deposit the water away from your foundation and also make sure that the soil is graded away from your foundation.
TOM: Once you’ve got that covered, you can think about finishing your basement and Owens Corning actually has a basement finishing system that I really like because it delivers some definite advantages over sort of the standard wood and drywall construction. It’s even designed to reduce dampness, mold and mildew and it’s got very good thermal and acoustic insulation; so you’ll have comfort and quiet all together. The best part of the system, though, is that it goes together very, very quickly. It can give you a finished room in as little as about two weeks.
If you want to see the Owens Corning basement and finishing system, check out their website at OwensCorning.com. And you can also get information about the $1,500 tax credit that’s available right now if you finish your basement.
The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you call us right now about a basement finishing project or just about anything else, we would be happy to help.
LESLIE: Debbie in Rhode Island needs some help keeping unwanted visitors out of a rental property – and we’re not talking people here; we’re talking ants. Welcome, Debbie.
DEBBIE: Hi, we’re just curious. We’re big, huge fans of While You Were Out …
DEBBIE: … and we have – we’re renting a basement apartment and we’re getting some huge black ants in our house. We’ve had a lot of rain lately and we are spraying the foundation [around side] (ph) but we’re not sure what else we could be doing to get rid of the ants.
TOM: There’s a product called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r – that works really well for ants.
DEBBIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
TOM: It’s something that has to be professionally applied. It’s definitely not a do-it-yourself product. But the way it works is it’s an undetectable bait, so the ants don’t actually know that they’re going through this stuff. They get it on their bodies, they take it back to the nest and they pass it from insect to insect and it completely wipes out the nest. It’s a much more effective way of controlling both ants and termites – there’s an application for termites as well – than any of the over-counter products which, typically, people end up over-spraying, over-applying and that could be very unsafe. So I would call a pest control operator, a pest control company and have them apply Termidor to take care of that carpenter ant problem once and for all because they can do quite a bit of wood damage and they could cause structural problems in the future.
DEBBIE: OK, thank you.
TOM: Debbie, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dan in Oregon is dealing with some squeaky floors. Tell us what’s going on.
DAN: Well, I’ve got this hallway and the house is about 35 years old. And the only place in the house where you walk where its squeaks all the time is this particular hallway down to the bedrooms. The bedroom rooms themselves don’t squeak when you walk on them. The bathroom floor, it doesn’t squeak; it’s just this particular hallway. And I’m thinking about tearing up the carpet and putting new carpet in but I need to find out what I should do. It’s subflooring; 2×6 with pressed plywood on top of it.
TOM: Alright, well two options. Are you thinking about putting new carpet in now?
TOM: OK, good. So here’s what I want you to do. When you pull up the old carpet, you’re going to find that that subfloor was nailed down to the floor joist. What I want you to do is to screw it down to the floor joist. You’re going to use long, case hardened drywall screws. You can drive those in with a drill driver or a screwdriver. And that’s going to pull that floor in tight to the floor joist and make those squeaks go away.
The noise that you’re hearing is either the tongue and grooves of the boards rubbing together, if you have tongue-and-groove plywood subfloor or a particleboard subfloor or even if you’re waferboard; or you’re hearing the nails as they pull in and out of the floor joist. So if you put screws in and pull that floor down really tight, that makes it absolutely silent.
Now there’s a way to drive a nail through carpet and do this and it works pretty good but it’s not nearly as good as screwing the whole floor down. So because you’re in the middle of a carpet replacement project, once that carpet is up – in all of the rooms because you know as soon as you put the carpet down, even in those rooms that were fine, they’re going to start squeaking (Leslie chuckles) – screw the entire floor down. It’ll take you a couple of hours and it’s well worth it. Just again, do it with a drill driver; real easy to do and the best way to stop your squeaks.
DAN: Is there a particular type of screw?
TOM: Well, it depends on the thickness but I would probably use a 2.5-inch drywall screw.
DAN: A drywall; not – OK.
TOM: Yeah, a drywall screw.
LESLIE: They work for everything.
TOM: You put it in. You put a drill driver bit in your power drill and you drive it in. No work involved.
DAN: I’ll give it a shot.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
It will work.
LESLIE: I’ll tell you, though, those types of projects are like the worst on your back. (chuckling) If you’ve ever done that in a big room, it makes you want to get …
LESLIE: I’ve seen – or maybe I’ve dreamt this. I swear I’ve seen a drill driver that’s sort of on a stick. (chuckles)
TOM: Yeah, yeah, you have. You have. There’s an attachment to a drill driver where it autofeeds the screws and, you’re right, it’s like a long sort of snout that goes off it.
LESLIE: Yeah, so you can do it standing up.
TOM: Yeah, so you can do it standing up. Mm-hmm, that’s exactly correct.
LESLIE: Because I’ve installed planking or decking on a deck, many decks …
LESLIE: … and halfway through those projects you’re like, “Oh, man, my aching back.” (chuckles)
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: Well, good. I’m glad I didn’t dream it up. (chuckles)
TOM: You got it.
LESLIE: Susan in Tennessee needs help with a stucco project. What can we do for you?
SUSAN: Yes, Leslie.
SUSAN: I have a 1920s Tudor cottage, brick and stucco. And we are (chuckling) scraping and trying to figure out what to use to patch and paint this stucco.
TOM: What kind of condition is the stucco in right now? Is it structurally intact, Susan?
SUSAN: Most of it is. It actually was built in 1920 …
TOM: That’s a great year.
SUSAN: … so we have some bits out. But it’s in pretty good shape. It’s just that the old paint is kind of chipped up.
SUSAN: And I thought there must be something better.
TOM: Well, if the stucco is in structural shape – and 1920, I would imagine it still is because that was a great year for this type of construction – what I would do is I would try to abrade off as much of the old paint as possible; wire brush. You’re doing it the right way. There’s no easy way to do this. It’s a lot of hard work. But you don’t want to leave any loose paint on because you can’t put good paint over bad paint. It’s just going to peel.
What I would do is after I got it as clean as possible, I would assess the condition of the structure. If there are any fine cracks, you want to caulk those with a paintable caulk. And then I would prime the entire surface. I would take the time to prime it because whatever you have in terms of old paint, it’s going to neutralize that; it’s going to give you good adhesion of the top color coats. I would prime it and then I would use a good house paint over that.
Now if you do this right – and because it’s stucco and it’s not as organic as wood – your paint job can last you a good ten years.
SUSAN: Well, it only looks to have about three different colors under it. (chuckles) So it’s lasted a pretty good while.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, now you’re going to have a very consistent look. Yeah, right? Mm-hmm.
SUSAN: So we will approach it that way. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Alright, Susan. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to New York to chat with Dan about a boiler. What can we do for you today?
DAN: Hi. How are you?
LESLIE: Good, and you?
DAN: Well, not too good. I need a new boiler.
DAN: And right now I have oil heat but I have a propane hot water heater.
DAN: I was thinking that since I’m going to change over anyhow, should I go totally to propane? And I was wondering what your opinion might be, you know, with the cost of oil; whether I should go completely to propane or is there some site I can go to, to compare prices with …
TOM: Is natural gas not an option for you, Dan?
DAN: No, it’s not in the area. No.
TOM: You’re sure about that? Nothing’s changed?
DAN: Yeah, I called the local gas company and they said there are no lines in that area.
TOM: OK. Alright. Well, you know, I think that oil and propane are going to be comparatively priced. The good news about the fact that you need a boiler is that they’ve never been more efficient and you’ll be able to purchase one now that’s like super-efficient and use a lot less oil. But I’m not sure that it would be a good idea to put all of your apples in the propane basket, if you have an option.
DAN: OK. Alright. Well, I appreciate your opinion.
TOM: Alright, Dan. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, one of my favorite tools is my drill. It gets a lot of use and I bet yours does, too. Now the cool thing is that this popular tool gets better all the time; so from drills to drivers, we’re going to have the latest innovations, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac automatic standby generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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.
TOM: And we love our tools around The Money Pit and one of the most popular ones to have in your tool chest is a power drill. It’s definitely one of the handiest tools to have on hand but it’s the working end of that drill that really counts.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, a lot of people forget but it’s the drill bit that actually does all the work. So with us to review the best assortment to have on hand for your house is a guy who knows an awful lot about that topic and so many more. We’ve got Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House.
TOM SILVA: Well, thank you. It’s nice to be here.
TOM: Hey, it’s our pleasure to have you back, Tommy. And you know, you’ve got a lot of tools and …
TOM SILVA: Yeah, I have a few. (all chuckle)
TOM: And I’m sure there are a lot of folks that watch the show that get tool envy by seeing everything that you get to play with everyday on the program. Let’s talk a bit about power drills. If you don’t have one and you want to buy one, what’s your advice for how to find the best one for your particular situation?
TOM SILVA: Well, it depends on, really, what you’re going to do. I mean if you’re going to be drilling a lot of holes, sometimes an electric drill really works out well. If you’re going to drill big holes and you’re in tight spaces, right-angle drills make a huge difference. They’ve got a lot of power and they won’t knock you off your ladder if you’re up in high spots.
But cordless drills today, with the lithium batteries, they really work great; they pack a punch, as long as you’re not drilling holes that are too, too big.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and they’re so lightweight so it really does help if you’re working for a long period of time.
TOM SILVA: Exactly. Always have a spare battery, though.
LESLIE: Yeah, charged and ready to go; not just blank in your case. (chuckles)
TOM SILVA: (chuckles) Many times I’ve gone halfway through a hole and ran out of a charge, so I ended up having to get the electric one.
TOM: See, it even happens to the experts.
TOM SILVA: Yep.
TOM: Alright, let’s talk about the working end of the drill – the drill bit. Now there are a lot of drill bits out there. I think people don’t realize the very wide variety of bits there are available and the choice really comes down to the particular job you want to tackle, doesn’t it?
TOM SILVA: Oh, sure. There are twist drills, there are brad point twist drills, there are spade bits, Forstner bits. There’s a twist drill with a screw shank on the tip that will help pull the drill in through the hole. Really depends on what you’re doing and how fast you want to drill that hole.
LESLIE: Is there a basic set that you should sort of keep on hand – you know, a go-to bit – or do you really need to be specific to the project?
TOM SILVA: Well, basically you can have a nice set of twist drills. I would recommend a good-quality because there are some cheap ones and there are some good ones. The twist drill can be used in steel or wood. A good one will hold up better. A cheap set can break pretty easily; they’re kind of brittle. And then if you’re dealing with wood and you like twist drills, they actually have a little cutting edge around the perimeter of the nose with a little tip on it that helps guide it through. They call it a brad point drill.
TOM: Now what about spade bits? These are flat bits that work very well with very wide holes. What I like about spade bits is that I find them very easy to sharpen with a small file.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. You can definitely resharpen a spade bit. They’ve come out with the newer spade bits today where they actually have the hex head that you can snap into a quick-release – a screwdriver attachment on your drill. They’re great for extending and getting into hard-to-get places; really long ones, short ones, wide ones.
I mean I used three different sizes today when we were setting some sills. I drilled my big hole first for the washers and then a small hole for the anchor bolts on the sills and they drill fast and they’re quick.
LESLIE: And some people might call those paddle bits as well, right?
TOM SILVA: Exactly.
LESLIE: Now what about a hole saw? I mean they’re pretty cool-looking tools and, if used correctly, you can really make some amazing-sized holes in whatever you’re working on.
TOM SILVA: Oh, absolutely. You can put recessed lights in with a six or a seven-inch hole saw. You can drill holes in cabinets for plumbing. And you can get different types for wood, metal or even stone. They’re fantastic. But again, you want to make sure you hold onto yourself if you’re using a big one (Tom chuckles) because they can throw you around.
LESLIE: They do. (chuckles)
TOM: The idea is for the bit to spin, not you.
TOM SILVA: Exactly.
TOM: Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: My pleasure.
LESLIE: To catch more of Tom and the entire This Old House team including information on their current project, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.
888-666-3974. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement project.
LESLIE: Dee in South Carolina has a problem with the sidewalk. What’s going on?
DEE: We have a holly tree, about 18 years old; probably around 10-inch in diameter. And it sits between the corner of the garage and the sidewalk and it’s pushing up our sidewalk about an inch where they’ve cut it; you know, when they pour the concrete and there’s a cut.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yep.
DEE: And we’ve got to do something because somebody’s going to trip.
TOM: Well, the only thing that you can do in a situation like this is you’re going to have to break out the concrete, dig down and cut out some of the roots and then repour that piece of the sidewalk. Now, if the sidewalk is in sections – say, it’s got three-foot sections or something like that –
DEE: It is in sections.
TOM: – well, you may actually be able to pull them up one section at a time and not have to actually break them up permanently; may be able to break them out into the three-foot by three-foot sections. Get a couple of the sections out, dig down and go to work on those roots.
But I will warn you, Dee, that you’re only really buying yourself some time here. Those roots are going to continue to fill in; they’ll continue to push it up. If you take the sidewalk apart and you cut it down and you do a real good job, you know you might be able to buy yourself, say, three or four years but eventually you’re going to have to do it again.
DEE: So what’s – it’s such a pretty tree.
LESLIE: Yeah, I mean I wouldn’t get rid of the tree. It’s just something that’s going to need some upkeep.
TOM: Yep, exactly. And I think you’ll find that you can take out a fair amount of those roots without affecting the tree.
DEE: OK. I guess that’s what we’ll try and do, then, because …
TOM: That’s the solution, Dee. Alright? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, no one has been able to escape it except maybe our listeners in Alaska. (Tom chuckles) You know, the summer heat wave has scorched much of the country and no doubt you are feeling it.
TOM: And if you think the air is easy to breathe indoors, that might not necessarily be true. Up next, we’ll have some tips on how to improve indoor air quality so you can stay cool, comfortable and breathe easy inside your house.
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: Pick up the phone, give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only will be do our best to answer your home improvement or your home repair question right here on the fly, you will automatically be entered into our prize drawing because this hour we are giving away a DIY installation starter kit, courtesy of Lumber Liquidators. Flooring is one of the most popular questions on our show, so we know it’s a project that many of you are doing and this kit can definitely help.
LESLIE: That’s right. You’re going to get a little help with this kit that includes a hammer, spacers, measuring tape, dust masks, hobby knife, chalk line reel. You name it; if it’s got anything to do with installing a floor, chances are it’s in this kit. It’s got $60 worth of tools and products but you can get yours for free if you get on the air with us this hour, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rich in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RICH: Well, we’ve acquired some property that is a lakefront property and …
RICH: Yeah, we’re excited about it. It has not been maintained well over the last eight or ten years and there’s quite a bit of soil erosion on the shore.
RICH: And what we’re looking for is we’re going to build some kind of a sea wall. We’re thinking of doing it ourselves but I’m not sure what the best kind of wood is. I’ve done a little bit of research and I know there’s the treated woods and then there’s the woods that are – the plastic, reconstructive plastics and they’ve got covered woods and cedar and I just – economically, we need to go fairly cheap but we also want something that’s going to last.
TOM: Well, pressure-treated wood would sort of be the wood of choice for this type of retaining wall. There are different types of pressure-treated lumber that are used in this sort of assembly. What you’re talking about is making what’s called a bulkhead and there’s actually sort of a very special mill for this that’s – let me think – it’s about 2×8 or 3×8. It’s a very thick, heavy board and it’s tongue-and-groove so that after the structure is assembled, these go side by side. They lock together and that’s what actually serves as the retaining wall that separates the soil from the water. So I think pressure-treated would be the way to go because there’s an awful lot of labor associated with this project and you want to choose a good-quality material so you don’t have to repeat it any time in the near future.
And speaking of the labor, I will also warn you, Rich, that there’s a lot of specialized equipment that is typically used in constructing these walls in order to get the pilings and the structural parts of this down as deep as they possibly can be so that the wall does not move. So I’m not sure that this is a do-it-yourself project and you may want to think about talking to a pro before you dig right in if you want it to last.
RICH: OK, well I do have a brother-in-law with an excavating company; so that could come in handy.
TOM: Well, you know, brothers-in-law are always good for something like that, right?
LESLIE: (chuckles) And you know what, Rich? You might want to also just check with your town and the Department of Environmental Protection because even though there is an existing wall, bulkhead there, because you have to change it and change the materials, there might be some forms or some changes that have happened and you don’t want to get in trouble on the backside without doing your homework before you jump into the project. So just make sure you check with all of the proper authorities to make sure that you don’t need any sort of paperwork to get this work done.
RICH: Great. Thank you much.
LESLIE: Marie in Rhode Island needs some help in the kitchen. What can we do for you today?
MARIE: Listen, I was wondering – I can’t find anything that will clean all the grease and gunk off my walls and my cabinets.
MARIE: And I was wondering maybe if you know of something real good that you know I could use.
TOM: Are you familiar with a product called Simple Green?
TOM: It works very well. Widely distributed; environmentally friendly; works on cabinets, works on glass, works on mirrors, works on walls. That’s probably a good first step. If you find that the grease or the dirt is so thick that you need something heavier, then I would tell you to use TSP. This is something that you use, for example, if you have smoke on the walls and that sort of thing. TSP stands for trisodium phosphate.
TOM: It’s available at hardware stores and home centers and you can mix it up.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s like a paint prepping product.
TOM: Yeah, it really …
MARIE: Oh, TSP?
TOM: TSP, yes. Mm-hmm.
MARIE: Oh, OK.
TOM: But I would start with the easy stuff first. Simple Green works really well.
MARIE: Oh, well that’s good. I’m going to try that then, if it works that good.
MARIE: OK? And listen, thank you very much and I listen to your show every weekend.
TOM: Well, thank you very much.
MARIE: I enjoy listening to both of you.
TOM: Alright, Marie.
LESLIE: Thank you.
TOM: Have a great day.
MARIE: OK, bye.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, if you are putting off window replacement because of budget restrictions – we all have a few of those – we’ve got some tips that may help you change your mind. This is the home improvement project that will bring you an immediate return on your investment. We’ll have that info, after this.
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: On air and online at MoneyPit.com and also online at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Send us your question via Facebook. Send us your question via MoneyPit.com. Just send us your question, like Jeanine did.
LESLIE: Alright, and Jeanine writes: “Do you have to replace the entire window to include the frame in order to qualify for the federal energy efficiency tax credit? We have wood window frames and there’s nothing wrong with the frames but a number of the window panes need to be replaced because the seals have broken.” Well no, that would be a replacement window, right?
TOM: Well, I think she’s just thinking that she can extract just the panes itself and I’m sorry – and I know it’s going to be a pain – but it won’t be covered by the tax credit and here’s why. The tax credits are – the requirement of the tax credit is that the entire window has to meet certain performance guidelines which include the glass, which includes the infiltration, it includes a whole bunch of criteria. And just simply replacing the panes themselves – or even if they’re thermal panes – will not qualify you for the tax credit. So you may have to think about doing the whole thing.
LESLIE: Yeah, because I think when she says “frame” she means the operable part, which would be a replacement window. Correct?
TOM: Well, no. I mean you really have to take the whole thing out.
LESLIE: Alright, I hope that helps, Jeanine.
Alright, next we’ve got one from Richard in Nebraska who writes: “My 1953 ranch has only six inches of blown-in insulation. What pitfalls do I need to watch out for when adding insulation up to the current standards?”
TOM: Well, it’s a hot place to work; it’s a small place to work. And remember the age-old rule: walk on wood. (chuckles) That means be very careful when you operate up there. But I mean seriously, if you’ve got a 1953 house with only six inches of insulation, I bet you it started out to be like eight inches of insulation and sagged down. What I would do is I would actually remove all that old compressed insulation because it’s really not doing you any good.
The only way insulation works, Richard, is if it traps air; so it’s got to be kind of fluffy and light. If it’s not like that, it’s just not going to do the job. So I would recommend that you pull out the existing insulation. And then what you’re going to need is about 19 inches of batt insulation or, if you go back with blown-in, you need about 22 inches. Now the blown-in can be easier to install but of course it’s harder to work up in that space. If you need to say, do some storage work or any of that sort of thing, you can’t really get around when you have that much blown-in insulation.
And the other thing to do is to make sure that you couple the additional insulation with additional ventilation because if you don’t vent the attic, the insulation is not going to work properly. If insulation gets two percent damp, it loses about one-third of its r value, which is resistance to heat loss, and that means it’s just not going to work. So you want to make sure you add ventilation and insulation to make sure that the house is warm, it’s safe, it’s dry and it’s ready to really save you some energy both in the summer and in the winter. And that’s why now is a good time to start thinking about this because as soon as it gets cooler, well that’s the time to get up there and do the job.
LESLIE: Now does adding insulation in any way qualify for the federal tax credit? Because you’re making the home, in essence, energy efficient.
TOM: Excellent point and, in fact, yes it does; so you could also get some of that expense paid for. Remember though, you have to get it done before the end of the year. If you don’t do it before the end of the year, it won’t be covered.
For more tips on how to insulate your house, head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com. There’s an entire section there devoted to saving energy.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And definitely keep all the documentation, all of your receipts, how much you purchase. Maybe even include a before-and-after picture just so you have all of the process of the projects that when you’re trying to apply for the tax credit you’ve got all those questions answered and there won’t be any problems.
TOM: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. You can pick up the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. If we are not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are. We promise.
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 2010 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.)