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How to Fix a Cold Radiator, How to Choose Luxury Bedding, Bargain Hunting Tips for Presidents Day Sales, and more

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by to take your home improvement question. Let us help solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. Before you pick up the tools, pick up the phone and call us with your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s program, getting out of bed on a cold February morning is hard enough. Getting out of bed to find your radiator is about as cold as the outside, well, that is just an awful experience for those that have had that. But we’re going to get the solution this hour, with some helpful tips from our friend. This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey will be by with the answer.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, if you’re finding a good night’s sleep hard to come by, you might want to take a look at your bedding. We’re going to tell you the pros and cons of some luxury bedding options that might give you the ZZZs that you need.

    TOM: And if you’re still feeling the pain of those holiday bills, you might not be thinking about hitting the stores right now. But it’s turning out that February is actually a great month for bargain hunters and we’ll tell you why, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win some help by getting rid of the chilly white stuff. We’re giving away a package, including Snow Broom, from Snow Joe. And that’s a great way to get snow off of your car with very little effort. You’ve got to love that.

    TOM: It’s worth 119 bucks, so call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    MARY: My husband and I are trying to install central air in our home. It’s a ranch-style and we bought the central-air unit and the ductwork from a building that had been torn down. And I wondered if we could simply attach the ductwork – and when we’ve cut the holes in the wall and the ceiling for the vents, I wondered if we could just go ahead and attach the ductwork that was there from the previous building or if we had to redo all the ductwork – I mean all the vent piping.

    TOM: I guess the answer is maybe. And the reason is because the duct design is going to be dependent on the building. And it depends on the size of the building and the distance that the air has to travel. And if it’s not done right, what will happen is you’ll either create a situation where you have either too much or too little heating or cooling. And most likely, you’ll have too little. And if that happens, you end up wasting, actually, a lot of energy, because the system has to run a lot more to try to make the building comfortable.

    So, I would suggest to you that in so far as the duct design is concerned, you really need to have somebody that is experienced in designing these systems lay it out for you. It’s definitely not a do-it-yourself project; it’s not the kind of thing that you can tackle, even if you’re very industrious first time out, because you might get it wrong.

    It depends a lot on the size of your building, how many windows are in your building, where the building faces. There’s a heat-loss calculation that’s done and then based on that, you determine how much warm or cold air you have to get to each room. So you can’t necessarily sort of just completely copy what was done in an older house unless it happens to be an identical house.

    So this is a point where it’s good that you got the equipment inexpensively, you got the ductwork inexpensively. You do need to spend a little bit of money on getting it laid out properly, Mary, or you just won’t be comfortable. Does that make sense?

    MARY: Yeah, that was what I wanted to check, because we’re pretty self-sufficient but I had a feeling this might be more than we could tackle.

    TOM: I think that’s a good idea. Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: How do you know it’s winter? Well, Ken in Wisconsin is dealing with ice and snow in the gutters.

    Ken, sorry you are dealing with this weather. How can we help you today?

    KEN: Well, what I’ve got is I’ve got a ranch-style home. I put an addition on and since I put the addition on, now, when I get snow – we had this snow – I got about 8 inches on the roof but now I’ve got an ice buildup in the gutters and it’s now backed up a little bit. And I’ve got icicles probably 4 or 5 foot long and I’m afraid it’s going to back up into the house. How do I stop that or is there a way to get it melted and get rid of it?

    TOM: OK. So, this is an addition and it’s only happening on the addition and it’s not happening on the main house?

    KEN: No, it’s happening on the main house and the addition.

    TOM: Both. OK. So, this is what is known as ice damming. And the reason ice dams happen is because warm air gets up into your attic space around sort of the middle of your house, because you don’t have enough insulation. And then it heats the roof right above the heated space of the house and that lets the snow melt. And then the snow washes down the roof edge until it gets to that line of about – right above the exterior wall. That’s when it starts to get a lot colder and starts to form ice. And then more snow melts, more ice forms, more snow melts, more ice forms. So, that’s what’s happening; that’s the reason this is happening.

    How can we stop this? Well, a few things. First of all, it’s a good idea to take a look at your level of insulation and in your part of the country, you really should have 15 to 20 inches of insulation if not a bit more. Adding insulation will stop the ice dams from forming, because you won’t have as much water running down your roof all at once and freezing at the roof edge.

    The second thing that you can do is take a look at the ventilation. If you have good ventilation that goes in the soffit, up under the roof sheathing and out like, for example, at a ridge vent, again, that ventilation stops the difference in temperature across that particular area.

    Remember, we’re holding the heat at the ceiling of the house. Above the insulation, in a perfect world, we want that to actually be the same temperature as the outside. Because if it is, you’re not going to have this disproportional melting of snow up higher on the roof and that water running down and freezing at the roof edge.

    KEN: I’m guessing we have – nothing was a problem until I put the addition on. I wonder if they didn’t put enough insulation in the addition and that’s where I’m having an issue.

    TOM: It may very well have been – that’s why I was trying to figure out if it happens all the way around or just the addition, because I was kind of thinking the same thing myself.

    Now, the other thing that you can do is – and of course, you can’t do it now when your roof is full of ice. But there are heating coils that are designed to go at a roof edge but it’s not the solution. It’s a temporary solution, if anything. And of course, it’s expensive to run and it’s expensive to buy and install. But sometimes in commercial buildings or restaurants, hotels where they want to be sure that none of the ice is going to fall and hurt somebody, you’ll see these electric coils right above those areas for this purpose: to kind of melt the ice and turn it back to water and be done with it. So, that’s an opportunity for you.

    But again, I would rather see you put the insulation in because besides stopping the ice from forming, you’re going to lower your heating costs, which are going to be astronomical if you don’t have enough insulation. So take a look at the insulation, take a look at the ventilation. I think your solution lies right there.

    KEN: I will do that. I appreciate the advice.

    TOM: Good luck, Ken. 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. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question. Whatever you’re working on, we’re happy to lend a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, are you looking for some new bedding? You might be surprised at the prices. So before you drop a boatload of bucks on expensive sheets, you want to make sure you know which sheets are worth the extra money for those extra ZZZs. Find out, after this.

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

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.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: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a snow-removal package from Snow Joe. It includes a snow broom with a foam head so you can push the snow off your car without the risk of damage. And you’re going to get the Snow Joe Plus Snow Thrower for your walkways.

    It’s worth, together, $119. You can visit SnowJoe.com to learn more but call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Gayla in California is having an issue with a countertop. Tell us what’s going on.

    GAYLA: I am. About four-and-a-half years ago, I remodeled my kitchen and installed Corian countertops. And I used the pattern called Savannah; it’s one of the light ones. So I’m getting ready now to sell my home and looking at the countertops, they’re really – there’s tons, like thousands of hairline scratches. And I’m wondering, how can I bring back their luster? They never were shiny but they were lustrous.

    LESLIE: Yeah, they do have a satin finish that looks very rich and nice but obviously, over time, just from normal wear and tear, they are going to dull and not look so great.

    There’s a good website that generally specializes in granite and marble care – it’s called StoneCare.com – but they do have some products for Corian. And there’s actually a spray. It’s made to reduce a residue on the surface. I’m not sure it’s going to help you with the scratches but it could be a good starting point. It’s called their Deep Cleaner for Corian. And that might be a good place to start, at least.

    GAYLA: OK. Yeah, I don’t know that they’re that dirty. I do keep them quite clean but it’s just a question – it’s just those hairline scratches. And when the sun comes through the window, you really see them.

    TOM: What that product does is it will also pull out any residue from all the cleaning that you have been doing so religiously, which is a good thing. The other nice thing, though, about Corian is the scratches can be repaired. And if you – the Corian can be repolished, basically lightly sanded, so to speak, and …

    GAYLA: Oh, I was wondering about that.

    TOM: Right. To actually pull those scratches right out. So that’s not something that I would recommend that you do the first time out.

    GAYLA: No, I don’t think so.

    TOM: But if you contact a kitchen-cabinet company, for example, they might have an installer and for a reasonably small fee, they might come out and repolish those tops for you. They’re going to have all the tools and the equipment, as well. And probably they can pull many of those scratches right out.

    GAYLA: Well, thank you. That sounds like the way to go for me.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project and good luck selling your house.

    GAYLA: Well, thank you and best to you both.

    LESLIE: Shironnie (sp) in Colorado is on the line and has a question about mold. What can we do for you today?

    SHIRONNIE (sp): The pipes have broken inside the walls and we fixed the pipes and everything. Now we’ve got this problem with mildew and the mold, so we have – we want to know what’s the best way to treat it.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, first of all, when that happened, did you file a claim with your homeowners insurance company?

    SHIRONNIE (sp): No, we just got the house. We got it as is, so we’re fixing it before we move in.

    TOM: Oh, oh. OK. Got it, got it, got it. OK. Well, is it a lot of mold or is it a little bit of mold?

    SHIRONNIE (sp): A lot. We’re ripping out drywall and as we rip it out, we’re finding more.

    TOM: Oh, boy. Yeah. Yeah, this is generally not a do-it-yourself project because when you have a lot of mold, you can contaminate parts of the house with this. I really think this is the kind of thing that you want to stop and get some professional help with, Shironnie (sp). Because if you release all those mold spores into the air, you potentially could be causing a bigger problem.

    Generally, when you have that much mold – you say a lot of mold – you have to be careful about how you take that apart. What you generally do is you depressurize the house, you put fans in the house so that it pulls the air out as you’re breaking out that – the drywall and so on and flushes all of those mold spores to the outside. And then all of the framing gets sprayed down so that you kill anything that’s left behind. You get it good and dry and then you reinsulate and re-drywall.

    But it’s a pretty big job and when you have a lot of mold like that, you can be exposing yourself to that mold and that could make you sick. So I would say to proceed very cautiously when you’re trying to rebuild a house that’s got heavy mold damage. It’s not an easy problem to resolve.

    SHIRONNIE (sp): Oh, OK.

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

    Well, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the key foundations of health and well-being. And one way to get better rest is to invest in high-quality bedding. But with so many options, how do you know which type of luxury sheets will suit you best? There are pros and cons of several types for you to consider.

    LESLIE: Alright. Let’s start with the organic, Egyptian cotton sheets. Now, they’re soft and comfortable, machine-washable and they have little to no shrinkage. But they can wrinkle, so if you hate ironing, you might want to avoid these.

    TOM: Now, bamboo sheets are another option and some people compare these to the feel of cashmere, which is really shocking if you think about it because bamboo, when you look at it, doesn’t look very comfortable. But it’s kind of cool because they’re also machine-washable and they resist pilling. But they can shrink and the processing of bamboo, well, that does require some chemicals.

    LESLIE: Now, for those of you who want the best of the best for your money pit, cultivated-silk sheets are legendary for their softness and luxury. They absorb perspiration and resist mildew. Plus, they’re naturally hypoallergenic and fire-retardant. But they’re really expensive and since silk does trap heat, they can be kind of warm in the summer. And also, you’ve got to take care of them really specially with special care and cleaning.

    TOM: So, before you’re next to the sheet-shopping store, head on over to MoneyPit.com and search on luxury sheets. We’ll fill you in on all the details on the pros and cons of all the bedding that you might want to choose from.

    888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. We are standing by to help you with your next home improvement project.

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

    JAMES: Bought a house about a year ago and I don’t know how old the water heater is, because it was a foreclosure. And I had gone downstairs and took the cover off and turned up a little bit to try to get a little more hot water out of it temperature-wise. And I noticed on the inside that it seems wet, like the fiberglass insulation on the tank? So, I was wondering if that means the tank is going bad or do I need to start saving money to buy a new water heater?

    TOM: The water heater is in your basement?

    JAMES: Yeah, it’s in my basement. Correct.

    TOM: You know, sometimes you get a little condensation inside of that. Does your water stay hot or do you – does it seem to run out quickly?

    JAMES: No, it stays hot for a while. It’s just not as hot as I’d like it, so I – it’s cold here now this time of year, so I just went down to dial it up a little and I saw it was wet inside. And I don’t see anything leaking from the bottom.

    TOM: OK. Well, generally, when water heaters leak, everybody knows it, OK? It’s not subtle.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    JAMES: Yeah, OK. Good.

    TOM: Alright. So I doubt it’s leaking badly right now. You may have a bit of condensation in there. However, what you want to keep in mind with electric water heaters, first of all, they’re very expensive to run. And so it’s a good idea to have a timer on them. Secondly, with an electric water heater, there’s two coils, not just one. So, on the outside of your water heater, you should see two panels: one up high and one down low. And each one of those has its own thermostat. And so in order to adjust the temperature, you have to open both of them up and with a screwdriver – an insulated screwdriver – you turn it very carefully until it’s about 110 degrees on both of them.

    JAMES: OK.

    TOM: And with a 40- or 50-gallon water heater – how many bedrooms – I mean how many bathrooms do you have in the house?

    JAMES: Two.

    TOM: So, a 40-gallon would be smallish, maybe adequate; a 50-gallon would definitely be good.

    JAMES: That’s what it is.

    TOM: If you’re wondering the age of it, on the label on the water heater, there’s generally a date that’s either written plainly on that or it’s coded into the serial number. So, if you look at the serial number, you look at the date, you may see a date on there and you can figure out how old this is.

    JAMES: Oh, OK. Great. Thanks so much (inaudible at 0:16:41).

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

    LESLIE: Ann in Missouri is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you?

    ANN: Hi. I don’t have very wide walls in my home. And so the – there’s not much insulation between the outdoors and the indoors. And what I was wondering – I want to add to it and so I was wanting to extend the walls out a little bit. I didn’t know whether I should just leave the covering up and put a line of 2x4s on it or if I should take the wall covering off for the insulation.

    TOM: The walls do have some insulation in it now and you’re wanting to know how you can actually …?

    ANN: Yeah, I want to add to it but I didn’t know whether I should just take the wall covering off …

    TOM: Ann, what kind of walls do you have right now? They 2×4 walls and are those 2×4 wall cavities filled with insulation? When you say they have a little bit, how do you know how much they have and how much they don’t have?

    ANN: I’ve looked in between them. I’ve looked in the outlets and it’s just cold in there.

    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm, OK. Well, look, I don’t think adding more insulation to the walls is going to be the solution to why it’s cold. There’s probably another reason it’s cold.

    Now, the places to add insulation are in ceilings or floors – those are easy to access to – but most importantly ceilings. And if it’s just plain cold there, you may not have enough BTUs of heat getting to that space. How is that area of your house heated?

    ANN: It’s just a furnace, gas.

    TOM: Ducts? What, like …?

    ANN: Ducts.

    TOM: Ducts, OK. And is this an addition?

    ANN: Nope. It’s just my regular domain. So probably underneath more than any – and up above would help tremendously.

    TOM: That’s where you would add insulation: in the floor structure underneath and in the ceiling above but not the walls. The walls you can seal, you can caulk. You can replace windows or doors that are drafty. But that’s a difficult place to add insulation. The easy place to add it is in the ceiling or the floor below, OK?

    ANN: OK.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, have you ever had one radiator in your home go completely cold? That’s not what you want to happen in February. Get a fast fix, 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: Do you have one room in your home that can’t seem to shake the chill? If you’re not ready for a completely new heating system, a space heater might be the answer. We can help, though, make sure you use them safely. For those tips, search “space heater safety” at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Elaine in Florida is on the line and is looking for some help with a flooring project. How can we help you?

    ELAINE: Yes, hi. I’m in the process of – I purchased some Home Legend wood laminate.

    TOM: OK.

    ELAINE: Seven millimeters, I believe it is.

    TOM: OK.

    ELAINE: And my question is – I’ve got conflicting views on what type of underlayment to use and how to lay it over tile – over ceramic tile.

    TOM: Elaine, the Home Legend’s people on their website recommend an underlayment with a combination of a 6-mil vapor barrier and a cushioning foam. But that’s only on concrete subfloors. I think because you’re putting this over tile, the best thing to use is just the cushioning foam.

    ELAINE: OK, yeah.

    TOM: It’ll make the floor lay nicer; it will make it a little bit more comfortable for you to walk on, as well.

    ELAINE: Alright. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Well, steam and hot-water radiators can be nice and comfy in cold months but occasionally, that radiator might be colder than your toes on a winter morning. And I have cold feet. (inaudible at 0:20:47).

    TOM: Well, we can solve that problem with the help of Richard Trethewey, the plumbing and heating expert for TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hey, guys.

    TOM: Why don’t we start by talking about the difference between a hot-water radiator and a steam radiator. Because for most people, they look exactly the same.

    RICHARD: Alright. When you look at a radiator, if it’s a steam radiator, it generally will have one pipe coming into it. If you look at hot-water, it’ll have two; the water actually comes in from one side and circulates through the radiator and out the other.

    With steam, it comes in through the single pipe in the form of a gas steam and fills that radiator. And when it comes up, it has to move all the air out of the radiator through that little air vent that’s on the far side, away from where the pipe is coming through the floor. And you’ll hear it hiss and it’ll hiss until the radiator – until the steam hits that vent and then you’ve got steam.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: Now, that steam will stay in the radiator, give off its heat to the room. And when it does, it will turn back to water and go back down through the very same pipe that steam used to come up through. So, with that, you’ll always hear some noises. It’ll always be on and then off.

    With hot water, you won’t hear any noises, generally, right? It’s going to have a circulator pump somewhere in the system that moves heated water through the radiator. And it should be comfortable.

    Now, if you don’t have heat in either radiator, air is the culprit one way or another. In the case of the steam radiator, it’s that you’ve got air in the radiator that you can’t get out because the vent doesn’t – isn’t letting the air out. And in the case of a hot-water radiator, you’ve got so much air in the radiator that the water can’t circulate it, much like when you lose the prime on an aquarium pump, you know? You’re just not going to get it to flow through that filter. So, in both cases, we need to get the air out and so you really need a good vent that works beautifully on a steam radiator. And they’ll hiss like crazy and do the job.

    And then with a regular hot-water radiator, oftentimes you may have to come with a screwdriver or a little radiator key, if anybody still knows what they look like.

    TOM: Yep.

    RICHARD: And you go to the far side. And you just have to bleed a little bit of air out of the top but you shouldn’t get a lot of air back into a radiator – a hot-water radiator. Once you’ve got the air out, it should stay out if the system is done well.

    TOM: Yep. And I have a hot-water radiator key and we do have to do that occasionally, because we do get some air in the system.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: And you’ve got to be careful, because the water is very hot.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: But you don’t get a lot of air but that little bit of air really has a big blockage effect on not letting that radiator get up to full temperature.

    RICHARD: It can, yes. Yeah, that’s right.

    TOM: Now, in terms of the steam radiator, you said you have to change the vent to make that happen.

    RICHARD: Sometimes. Another tip that I want to share about a steamer is some people don’t want heat into a steam radiator. They might live in an apartment building where the steam is coming up too much and they’ll reach down and try to turn off the valve down at the floor, where the pipe comes into the radiator.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: And that valve rarely, if ever, holds, because it’s been exposed to 212-degree steam its whole life. If you actually wanted to stop the radiator from heating, go to where the vent is and turn it 180 degrees so that the vent that used to stick straight up now sticks straight down. Be careful. And if you do that, it’ll no longer vent.

    TOM: And then the air will naturally form and it’ll block the radiator. Wow.

    RICHARD: It’ll block it. And so that’s the only way it can – now, they have a fabulous, little thermostatic vent that’s available that you could put on the air vent, that would feel the temperature in the room and stop the air from venting. They’re not – I don’t see them widely used in this country but they’re – it’s a great – it’s a non-electric valve that would sit right near the radiator. We’ve shown it on Ask This Old House a couple times.

    TOM: And that, essentially, really manages how much air you get in there now.

    RICHARD: That’s right. It makes a steam radiator be properly zoned by – according to temperature.

    TOM: And an easy way to do that. Because you always think of steam as not being something that you can zone.

    RICHARD: Right. Yeah, yeah.

    LESLIE: No. And if you’ve ever lived in a Manhattan apartment, you know it’s either freezing or 8 million-zillion degrees.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Someone could go from apartment to apartment in Manhattan and sell these things like crazy, because they work. They work great.

    TOM: Yeah. But people wouldn’t buy them, because they’re not paying for the heat; the landlord is.

    LESLIE: Right. But I mean …

    RICHARD: That’s right, that’s right, that’s right. Exactly. That’s right, that’s right.

    TOM: That’s why you go down the street and you see every window open in January.

    RICHARD: We call those “double-hung thermostats.”

    LESLIE: Right. But from a comfort level – yeah. From a comfort level, it gets really hot in those apartments.

    RICHARD: Yes. And uncomfortable, yes.

    LESLIE: Uncomfortably hot. You’ll spend the entire winter in shorts and a tank top.

    RICHARD: I can’t imagine that can continue with the cost of fuel going where it is, though, that we can live in a society that could have all the windows open all winter. We have to find a way to put the right amount of heat into the right units and not just have it bleed and drip out of the windows.

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

    Richard, we’ve been talking about predominantly cast-iron radiators. What about the baseboard radiators? Do those, also, get cold sections – hydronic radiators – and how do we address that?

    RICHARD: Those, a little bit of air will affect their ability to heat even worse than a radiator, because there’s no place to lose air in it. If you have air on a loop, a baseboard that’s big enough, you’re not going to get any heat out of it, so you’ll know right then.

    And with that, there’s not going to be any place to bleed those pieces of baseboard, generally; you have to do that down in the basement. And it’s generally done by a professional where it would purge what we would call – is purge out the entire loop.

    LESLIE: Purge the whole system.

    RICHARD: Yeah. So push – so burp – sort of burping the entire hydronic loop of which that zone was made up, just to burp that air out of the system and get water so – fill in the pipes.

    TOM: And that leads us to our last question: when do you know that you need to call the pro in to do this? It seems like using a simple radiator key is pretty easy but where do you draw the line and get somebody in that really knows what they’re doing?

    RICHARD: Show me when the water is going from the second floor down to the first floor through the ceiling.

    TOM: That’s a bad sign.

    RICHARD: Yeah. You know it’s time.

    TOM: Alright. We’ll leave it at that. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing and heating expert on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RICHARD: Great to see you guys.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. More savings, more doing. That’s the power of The Home Depot.

    Up next, what started as a slow month for retailers has turned into a bargain month for you. We’ve got tips on how you can get deals on President’s Day sales, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.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. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win a prize package from Snow Joe, including the Snow Broom, which lets you push snow off of your car with a foam head that’s not going to freeze and it’s not going to scratch your car and it’s not going to dump the snow all over you and down your sleeve. So it really is something great this time of year. You’re also going to get a Snow Joe Plus Electric Snow Thrower. The total value of this prize is 119 bucks.

    TOM: You can check out both products at SnowJoe.com and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win. We will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and might be sending that prize out to you at the end of today’s show.

    Well, it is the season for sales, all themed around President’s Day, which is a concept that was actually first started by a car salesman named Alvan T. Fuller. And he is credited with coming up with the very first Washington’s Birthday sale. I think this is interesting, because he was also actually the 50th governor of Massachusetts. And he started the idea when he worked in a bicycle shop in 1897 and later continued it when he started to sell cars. And let me just say, what are the chances that a car salesman ended up being governor?

    The idea actually morphed into the national phenomenon we know as the President’s Day Sale and besides the bargains you can get on cars, it’s also a good time to look for deals on furniture, appliances, mattresses, electronics and rugs.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re ready to hit the roads to the stores, here are a few shopping tips to help you get the most out of this annual bargain-hunter’s tradition.

    First, rise and shine. Many President’s Day sales are early-bird and door-buster specials. So getting up and out early is key. Next, make a list. Once you get to the mall or the store, it’s really easy to get distracted and overwhelmed. So know exactly what you’re looking for before you get there and stay focused. Keep your eyes on that list, guys.

    Finally, search the internet. There’s tons of coupons and discount codes that are available. And they might multiply your savings at checkout.

    TOM: Also, it’s a good idea to do online price research before you get to the store. Now, this is especially true if the purchase is a commodity. You’re basically looking for one specific product, one specific model number. In that situation, price rules, because it really doesn’t matter where you make the actual purchase.

    And if you need to do research on your next home improvement project, well, that’s super-easy, as well. Just call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Nadine in Iowa has an interesting question. Your countertop has gotten noisy? Tell s what’s going on.

    NADINE: Yes, it does. We had it installed, I would say, between three and five years ago. And right after we had this Corian counter installed, we started getting very sharp, loud bangs occasionally. And I mean like somebody-just-shot-up-the-house bangs. And it has been going on since we had it installed, to varying degrees. Louder sometimes than others.

    But they’ve been out to check and can’t figure it out and I don’t – the only unusual thing that happened when they put it in was that one corner didn’t want to go down, so the guy had to put his full weight on it to push it down and finally make it go down. And my feeling is – or something must be bound in there that every once in a while builds up enough energy to really snap.

    TOM: Well, that’s certainly an unusual situation, because countertops aren’t known for their noise.


    TOM: We get squeaky-floor questions, we get banging-pipe questions.

    I don’t think we’ve ever gotten any loud-countertop questions, huh, Leslie?

    NADINE: Well, I doubt that it’s the countertop. My feeling is something might be bound in there, having been caused by having the countertop put on.

    TOM: Well, you might be correct and what could be happening is that you could have expansion and contraction going on, either with the walls or even with the plumbing. Especially with the water being right there, when a pipe heats up, it tends to expand. And if it’s attached to the framing very, very tightly, it will rub across that framing and it can make a creaking sound or a banging sound.


    TOM: And I’ve heard that before in bathrooms and also in kitchens.


    TOM: The other thought is that if the countertop is bound, as you say, against part of the frame of the house and you’re getting expansion and contraction, that could be the source of the sound. Although, I tend to think that, even though it’s annoying, it probably isn’t really very damaging if it’s one of the other of those things.

    NADINE: No, I don’t think it is damaging at all. It’s just that when you have guests and their eyes get wide and they start to go for the floor, you think maybe – I mean it is quite loud when it does it. So you think it could possibly be plumbing?

    TOM: It could very well be, because plumbing really carries the sound. And especially if you’re running a dishwasher and the hot water comes on, that could cause a noise.

    NADINE: However, we’ve kind of checked that out – what’s on, what’s running and all of that – and that doesn’t seem to come into play. What would your suggestion be as to sleuthing this problem out?

    TOM: Well, I guess I would have to be sitting there staring at it, thinking about it for a long time. But reinstalling the countertop would probably be the best solution, although it’s a boatload of work and you can potentially damage the countertop in the process. If they had to really squeeze it in, I suspect that something is a little bit too tight in its intention and it’s really not designed to be pulled out.

    NADINE: Yeah. Alright. Thanks so much.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Well, sometimes before you start a home improvement project, you need to get rid of the last homeowner’s attempts at doing the same thing. Up next, we’re going to help a listener get rid of a glued-down carpet.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, one topic that’s always trending on MoneyPit.com is flooring. We can help you choose which type of flooring is going to suit your needs the best, whether you are looking at a hardwood, a laminate, ceramic, even carpeting. You just want to search “best flooring” at MoneyPit.com. You’ll find all the pros and cons to really the type of flooring you’re looking at, the most popular types, what’s really going to work well for you. So check it out today.

    And while you’re online, you can head on over to the Community section of MoneyPit.com and post your question there, like Claire in New Jersey did. And she wrote: “The previous owner of my money pit glued indoor/outdoor carpeting to my concrete back porch.”

    TOM: I’m sure it was lovely.

    LESLIE: I’m sure it’s great and I bet it’s bright blue. “Please tell me there’s a way to get rid of it and I don’t have to live with that ugliness.”

    TOM: I’m always amazed when we hear stories like this, Leslie, because you have to imagine some homeowner in a past life was thinking, “Oh, my God. That concrete would look so great with green indoor/outdoor carpeting or turquoise indoor/outdoor carpeting.” And then years go by and you get stuck with it.

    It’s a tough project, you know. We can’t put it any other way; we can’t sugarcoat it. It’s a difficult project to do. But here’s what I would suggest. First of all, try cutting it into strips with a carbide utility knife. Cut it into strips about 1 foot wide and see if it happens to lift off the concrete. Now, it might do that, because concrete gets so wet that sometimes the adhesives don’t work all that well. And you may find that it does come off without a lot of aggravation or you might not.

    And if you find that you might not, the good news is that there is actually a machine you can rent that will grind it off. And yes, I did say “grind,” because it’s not possible with something as porous as concrete to kind of come up with any kind of chemical that’s going to sort of weaken the glue and get it to a point where you could refinish it. But there’s a machine that’s called a Terrco machine – T-e-r-r-c-o. It’s a floor grinder? And it’s designed to grind concrete and it’ll grind that indoor/outdoor carpet right away. Then it’ll smooth out the concrete and then you could epoxy-paint it or epoxy-patch it and go from there.

    It’s not an easy job but it can be done with the right tools.

    LESLIE: Hmm. Alright. That’s really helpful, because we’ve always been trying to figure out the right sort of component or the right material to start melting that glue, so a machine is going to be really awesome.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got from Bobby in Oregon who wrote: “I have a great, sturdy tool shed but it needs a new roof. We have a lot of rain here in Oregon and all the mold that comes with it. I know a metal roof would resist the mold but I’ve heard they’re expensive. Any advice?”

    TOM: Well, metal roofs certainly are expensive roofs but the manufacturers kind of turn that into a positive and call them lifetime roofs. And I think it’s a fair assessment because realistically, if they’re put on correctly, they do last a lifetime. They really don’t wear out.

    So, I guess – would I do that just for a shed if it was me? If I didn’t have it on my house, I probably wouldn’t do it just on the shed. That might be the second place I’d put a metal roof. So I don’t know if it’s going to be worth it for a shed building because, frankly, the roof could last more than the shed. But there’s nothing wrong with that and either one is going to be very, very durable.

    LESLIE: Alright. Doug in Maryland wrote: “I installed an extra radiator in a hot-water heating system and I just discovered there’s a hole in it. Can I patch it?”

    TOM: Yeah, actually, you can. There are epoxies that work for metal. You should take a look at the PC products. That’s PC as in initials PC. Just Google them. I’ve used PC Epoxy on radiators before and I’ve got to tell you, I’m amazed. One of the patches I’ve put on has probably been on there 10 years and it just doesn’t come off.

    It’s a putty epoxy: two parts of putty that mix together, become solid and they harden. They become just as strong as the metal.

    LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps and good luck with your fixing up your new project.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some ideas, some tips, some inspiration to help with your next home improvement project.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2013 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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