How to Get an Energy Audit, Try Out Power Tools Before Buying, Keep Pets Safe During Home Improvements 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: Standing by to answer your home improvement questions, to help you solve those do-it-yourself dilemmas. This is where work and fun meet. But you’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, here’s one word that usually strikes fear in the hearts of most Americans – Leslie, wouldn’t you agree – audit.
LESLIE: Ugh. My heart just dropped. (chuckles)
TOM: I mean audit is not a good word. That’s a very unfriendly word. But there’s actually one kind of audit that actually helps you save lots and lots of money and that is, in fact, an energy audit. Energy audits can actually help you figure out exactly where your home uses the most energy and pinpoint the places to seal up and save. We’ll have tips on how you can get an energy audit done at your house, coming up.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, we love our pets here at The Money Pit and we know you love your pets, too. But you know what? Pets and home improvement projects, they don’t always mix and some home improvement products can actually be very, very dangerous to your furry friends. So we’re going to have tips to keep those four-legged members of your family safe during those do-it-yourself projects, in just a bit.
TOM: And this hour, if you pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, not only will you get the answer to your home improvement question; you’ll also get a chance of winning the Ladder’s Little Helper, which is a great little gadget that gives your ladder a sturdy base to lean against. It’s perfect for those fall fix-ups, the gutter-cleaning projects and the like. So give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Trish in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
TOM: Well, I’m hoping that you can help me with my counters in my bathroom.
TRISH: They’re Formica and I hate them.
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.
TRISH: I want to paint them a different color, so I’d like to know what to do for prep work and what kind of paint to use.
LESLIE: OK. Well, there are a couple of options. If you’re looking to do just a very simple, solid-color paint, Rust-Oleum has a kit – I believe they call it their counter paint – and it comes in a quart and they have, I don’t know, 10, 12, 15 different colors: really great neutrals, some interesting taupes, some blues, some yellows; a lot of great choices there. And the kit tells you everything: how to prep it – it even includes the prep materials. So that’s sort of like a one-step wonder.
The only downside is you’ve got to let this stuff cure for like three days before you put anything on it, before you get it wet, so that’s probably going to be a similar situation with whatever products you’re going to use. So if this is your only bathroom, you’re going to be putting it out of service for a little while.
There’s also another company called Modern Masters and they have a really, really authentic, beautiful-looking granite kit for Formica so you can make it look like granite. There’s another company called GIANI that has a granite paint; a little bit more sort of homespun in the look of the granite. It really depends on your technique with both the GIANI and the Modern Masters, so you kind of have to practice your technique. Both are available in several different granite styles.
Of course the other option is that you can relaminate the countertop with new Formica and that’s a fairly simple project that a handy man can do in a couple of hours. So there’s a lot of good options there that you don’t need to be afraid of. But again, the cure time for the paint is 24, 48, 72 hours; depending on which one you go to.
TOM: Yeah, and the more humid the day, the longer the cure time, too.
TRISH: Oh, of course. (chuckles) Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Trish. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kevin in Texas is calling in with an insulation question. What can we do for you today?
KEVIN: Hi. I’ve got an older house that a guy built and he put 2x4s for the ceiling joists and when I look up in the house, the ceiling is underneath and I’ve got 10 on top and there’s not enough room for really insulation too much in there. And these 100-degree Texas days are really killing us and I was just curious what I could do to try to get some more insulation in there.
TOM: See, in a house like that, where you’ve got a cathedral roof and you’ve got exposed beams …
TOM: … the best way to insulate that is from the outside, believe it or not. You use sort of a sandwich roof.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Like foam sheathing.
TOM: Yeah, use like a foam sheathing; very thick, like about four inches of foam. Then you have a second layer of sheathing.
KEVIN: And put that – like take the tin roof off and put that down?
TOM: Yeah, then you have a second layer of sheathing and then on top of that you have your roofing material.
TOM: So that’s how that type of a house has an insulated roof or an insulated ceiling. So it’s insulated from the outside, not from the inside, so to speak.
LESLIE: And then is there any sort of coating that would be beneficial to the roof surface on the exterior at all?
TOM: Yeah. There’s a low-e coating you can put on that. It’s basically a high-tech paint that helps reflect some of the heat out.
KEVIN: OK. Yeah, I have that on there already but still.
TOM: Yeah, that’s a good last step.
KEVIN: Yeah. OK. What about the spray-in foam insulation? That wouldn’t be a …?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well, you’re probably maxed out in there.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You just don’t have enough inches of space there to get much r value.
KEVIN: OK. That’s one of my big concerns; my question was about the spray-in.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, that’s the issue. OK?
KEVIN: I didn’t know what the r factor was on four inches. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Probably not much.
KEVIN: Not much. OK, well that kind of gives me idea what I need to do then.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Well, it is hard to believe that summer is kind of over already. I know the date hasn’t officially come but once Labor Day is gone, summer is done. So we want to help you get ready. Fall is upon us; winter is right around the corner. What does your money pit need? Pick up the phone and give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, power tools are a weekend warrior’s best friend. But did you ever wish you could try out the tools up close and personal before you buy them? Well, now you can. We’re going to tell you about a brand new store concept that delivers a one-of-a-kind tool-buying experience, 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.
TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to get your home improvement question answered and to win the Ladder’s Little Helper. We’re giving away this tool this hour. It’s a handy tool that wraps around the lip of your gutter and prevents your ladder from slipping. Imagine how it will reduce your medical costs from that ladder fall (Leslie chuckles), just by making sure your ladder is nice and secure when you clean your gutters.
Gutter cleaning is a good project …
LESLIE: It’s messy.
TOM: … but only if you can handle the ladder and the height and not fall off. And it actually is pretty easy to do. Don’t ask me how I know. (both chuckle) Get up there high and the ladder gets a little soft on one side where it’s sitting in the ground, it can easily start to tilt. So it’s nice to have a tool like this to keep it where you want. It’s worth 39 bucks; going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to hear what you’re working on.
Well, if you’ve got a project and you need to buy a new power tool, wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually try out that tool before you buy it? Well, coming up next month, we are hitting the road to introduce a new store that can help you do just that as The Money Pit is going to broadcast live from the Craftsman Experience in Chicago.
Now this is the ultimate do-it-yourself playground. It’s a really cool store with lots of hands-on activities, home improvement clinics and even project stations.
TOM: And we’d love to see you live and in person at the Craftsman Experience on Saturday, October 2nd as we broadcast from downtown Chicago. We’re going to be leading some special project demonstrations all day. We’re going to be signing some books. And if you don’t live near Chicago, you can also follow along at Facebook.com/Craftsman. So if you’re in the area, please stop by; if not, follow along online. We would love to see you there. For more information on the store and the complete event, visit Craftsman.com.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Vicky in North Carolina has a wood floor that’s gone awry, if you will. Tell us what’s going on.
VICKY: Well, I started the floor and everything was lining up really well and I just got tired of doing it myself so I hired a handy man. He came in and did a lot of the work but there are a lot of gaps between the tiles now and they’re just not square anymore. And he’s not finishing the floor but I’m wondering how to finish it and make it look right.
TOM: So the gaps are between the wood tiles that he put down or are they between the tiles and the wall?
VICKY: No, between the wood tiles; the wood parquet tiles.
TOM: Hmm. That doesn’t sound right.
VICKY: Yeah. No, it’s definitely not right. I didn’t know if I had to actually rip the floor up and start over or if there was some filler material you could use.
TOM: No, you can’t fill in wood tiles that were not put together properly. I mean occasionally we’ll get a call and somebody has a gap that’s developed in a strip floor and you could use a jute rope in between that but that’s just a one-off kind of thing. If you have a newish parquet floor and the tiles are shrinking or loose, that’s just going to get worse over time and they’re going to start coming up in pieces.
VICKY: Yeah, well they’re definitely not loose; they’re just not really tight together.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Square.
LESLIE: Is the floor fully finished? I mean can you – and is it a kind that is sort of snapped together or have they been nailed together?
VICKY: No, they snap together and they’re glued down.
LESLIE: (groaning) Oh.
VICKY: Yeah, they have like a tongue-and-groove …
TOM: Yeah, at this point, your two options are to either take it out or learn to love it.
LESLIE: Or cover with a rug. (Vicky chuckles)
TOM: (chuckling) That’s right.
LESLIE: That’s your third option.
TOM: That’s your third option.
VICKY: Yeah, the cover with a rug option is kind of what I would have been doing in the meantime.
VICKY: OK. And any ideas on how to – because I still have about 100 square feet that need to be laid to be finished.
VICKY: Should I just put those together the best I can and, like I said, cover it with a rug; the bad part? (chuckles)
LESLIE: Well, because they’re tongue-and-groove, I mean I would say, oh, start at the wall edge. This way you’re sort of square on the edges that would be exposed from a rug. But then you’re getting to a point where you’re going to have two edges that need to snap into one another.
LESLIE: You know it’s like at that point do you just cut off one edge and sort of thin it out from the backside so it becomes like an overlay? You’re gluing it down anyway. At least then you know whatever would be exposed around the perimeter of the room is square.
VICKY: Right. Yeah, that sounds like a very good idea. Sounds like a very good idea. OK, well thanks for your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Roy in Illinois is calling in with possibly a mold problem. Tell us what’s going on. Hopefully we can help.
ROY: What I was basically after is I have a house, a small house, but I walk in and I don’t really smell anything but I’ve got friends who show up and they say, “Your house smells of mold.” And I would kind of agree with them to some point where my clothes, if they’ve been in the closet for a while, they kind of pick up a certain odor. So I was wondering if there’s a cost-effective, best practice kind of thing to track down the source.
TOM: Well, if you have mold, it usually sources with moisture and so anything that you can do to reduce the moisture and the humidity in your house is going to reduce the chance of mold. But you may have a ventilation problem and you may not be moving enough air through the house. You may not be pulling in enough fresh air, which is the cleanest air that you can breathe.
There is a system out on the market now called E-Z Breathe, which is a ventilation system which is very, very effective at dealing with situations like this. There are a lot of people that have said good things about it; a lot of testimonials about the effectiveness of E-Z Breathe in reducing odors from moisture, reducing pet odors and the like. And it’s a relatively inexpensive system to install.
LESLIE: And even to operate.
TOM: You should take a look at their website. Yeah, it costs like $2 to $4 a month to run.
ROY: Oh, that’s good.
TOM: It’s at EZBreathe.com. Leslie actually met with them in her house; she was very impressed.
LESLIE: Yeah, you know it’s a rather small unit but it’s super-effective. It goes either in an area in your basement or somewhere in your crawlspace where it can do a really good job of sort of pulling air from the upper portions of your home, recirculating it through the basement and taking that stale air out of doors. All they have to do is sort of vent it through your basement wall above grade so you do get a small duct on the wall but it’s really effective. It turns the air over several times throughout the day in your home and really does the job of bringing in fresh air to get that moisture out.
Now you should also look at what’s going on outside of your house around the foundation wall and do the best that you can to keep moisture away from there by maintaining your gutters, looking at your grading and making sure that the downspouts don’t deposit the water right next to the foundation wall. And a combination of all of these things should really do a good job of getting rid of that moisture situation.
Do you have bathroom vent fans, kitchen vents?
ROY: Yes, that’s one thing. I have a bathroom vent and right now it is venting into the attic and not going out through the roof and I’m scheduled to have work done to put it through the roof.
LESLIE: Or the side of the house.
ROY: That’s a good idea, too; about possibly venting it to the outside wall.
TOM: Roy, you have to remember that your house is a system and you really need to manage the moisture throughout the house. So start outside with the improvements of grading and drainage. Make sure those vent fans are venting outside and take a look at the E-Z Breathe unit at EZBreathe.com. I think you’ll find that that will make a huge difference in the odor issue that your friends are complaining with and then they’re going to want to come over more frequently.
ROY: Yeah, I know. I want them to come over. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Well, you may not get rid of them that quick. (Roy and Tom chuckle) Roy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, now I’ve got Jay on the line with a skylight question. What’s going on?
JAY: Oh, we’ve got a 20-year-old house and I have two skylights; one on the east exposure and one on the west. And I was wondering if it was the smart thing to be a little proactive and replace those skylights before I have trouble with them or do they normally deteriorate with age?
TOM: Well, if they’re 20-year-old skylights, yes, they are going to deteriorate over age. I will say that if you replace them right now, Jay, you could actually qualify for a tax credit between now and the end of the year if you put a skylight in that is energy efficient.
What type of skylight is this? Is it one that sits over the roof or is it like a plastic bubble that sort of …?
JAY: It has the plastic bubble on it. It’s mounted through the roof.
JAY: But it wasn’t a high-grade skylight when we bought it.
TOM: Yeah. Well, it’s not a bad idea. What’s the roofing condition now? Are you ready for a new roof yet?
JAY: Well, no. It was about five years ago we replaced it.
TOM: Ah, so you have a new roof on old skylights, huh?
JAY: So we just – yeah, we went around them.
TOM: Yeah. Not a bad idea but I mean there’s never a good time to do it. If you feel like you have the cash right now and it’s something that you want to tackle, go ahead.
There are a couple of different brands of skylight that I like because of their design. The Andersens and also the VELUX have a good flashing system where you basically put sort of a wood box on the roof – that’s the skylight itself – and then you lay flashing up against that. And it has a kit that covers the whole top edge from the glass right down to the step flashing; including a head piece that takes all the water that runs down and basically runs it around the unit. So I think that that’s a nice flashing system. There probably are some other manufacturers with similar ones. I’ve just personally put those two brands in and found them to be very effective.
I don’t like the curbed skylights that rely on mastics to seal them to the roof because that’s just a leak waiting to happen.
JAY: Right. OK, thank you.
TOM: Alright, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if there’s one word that truly strikes fear into the hearts of Americans, that word is audit. (Tom laughs) I don’t even want to say it. I put the jinx on us. But have no fear. There’s actually an audit that can be done for your home, not your taxes, that’s going to help you save money and energy.
TOM: That’s right. Up next, This Old House host Kevin O’Connor joins us with tips on how to get an energy audit done. And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Trewax all-natural hardwood floor cleaner and since 1935, Trewax products have set the standard for quality floor care with a line of waxes, sealers and cleaning products. That’s all coming up, next.
TOM: Well, today more than ever there are lots of reasons to try and reduce your energy use at home. You’ll save money on those utility bills every month and you’ll help the environment by reducing your carbon footprint. An energy auditor can help you target specific areas for improvement. With tips on how to get one done in your house is our pal Kevin O’Connor from This Old House.
KEVIN: Hi, Tom. Great to be here.
TOM: Now this is a fantastic service, if you know what to do.
KEVIN: Yeah, there are a lot of good reasons to do an energy audit these days and here’s how it works. An energy audit will often start with a blower door test that’s going to pressurize or depressurize your house and then the auditor will take some special tools, including a nanometer, an infrared thermal camera or something as simple as a smoke pencil to identify problems with air sealing and gaps in your insulation. A comprehensive audit is also going to include a combustion analysis for your mechanical systems and then will give you a report which will identify specific areas to improve so you know exactly what to do.
TOM: Makes a lot of sense. This way you know exactly where to spend your efforts.
Now, what does an energy audit cost? Is it expensive?
KEVIN: Well, it depends and the first place you should start is with the utilities because they may actually offer some of the services for free. If you do end up hiring an independent energy auditor, it could cost you about $500. But again, you may qualify for some rebates from the utilities or even a tax credit from the government. So if you want to see a video on a comprehensive energy audit, you can go to ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: Great tip. Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: My pleasure. Always good to be here.
LESLIE: And what a great way that is to know exactly for sure where you’ve got drafts or gaps in your home because, Tom, I think far too often people just guess and then they’re getting it wrong.
TOM: Well, I think they do and they end up wasting a lot of money that could be placed a little more strategically and more accurately and really achieve those lower energy bills.
LESLIE: And you can catch more of Kevin and the entire team at This Old House when you watch episodes of the current project on your local PBS station.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.
Up next, keeping your furry friend safe when tackling your DIY list. We’re going to tell you why some home improvement projects can be danger zones for dogs or cats and how to keep them safe. That’s coming up, 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: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
So you’ve probably been out on your ladder a couple of times already over the summer and now that fall is upon us, you’re going to be out there a lot more taking on some projects. And you know, a ladder can actually be pretty dangerous if you don’t use it correctly. So this hour, we’re giving away a prize that can give you a helping hand. It’s called the Ladder’s Little Helper. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win. It’s a handy tool which is going to wrap around the lip of your gutter and it gives your ladder a lot more stability. It’s worth 39 bucks but it gives you that ultimate piece of mind when you’re up on that ladder doing your chores. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Now before you get started with your next home improvement project, you want to think about ways to keep your pets safely out of the danger zone. It might be worth it, during a bigger project, to actually board your cat or dog or have it stay with friends and here’s why. There are certain home improvement products that can be downright dangerous for dogs or cats if they get into it. For example, paints and solvents can cause anything from minor stomach upset to, actually, chemical burns. And if your dog or cat mistakes a nail or screw for a snack, it actually could damage their intestines or even cause a blockage. Even fresh cement is very bad for pets because it can irritate or be very corrosive to their skin if they walk through it.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. You just have to be careful. So just in case, you want to keep the phone numbers for your vet, an emergency vet and even the ASPCA poison control center. Just have it handy. Put it on a piece of paper; stick it to your fridge. And be ready to tell the vet or the hotline what type of pet you have – dog, cat; how much it weighs; what type of poison that you think it may have ingested or what you think it rubbed against; and explain any symptoms that your pet is having and they should really be able to give you a helping hand.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now because we’ve got a helping hand for you on your next home improvement project.
LESLIE: Alright, Deanna in Texas has a question about an older home with a gaslight out front. How charming.
DEANNA: Well, I have this older home; it was built in ’72 and I just purchased it. And I noticed that it has a gaslight out front but it doesn’t work.
DEANNA: And we determined that the gas line to it has been cut.
DEANNA: So I was just wondering if there’s any alternative; is there a solar light fixture that would work there or if you had any suggestions.
TOM: Well, do you want to restore it to its original gaslight status?
DEANNA: Well, what would that take?
TOM: Well, it would take, first of all, reinstalling the gas line at both ends. We should – it’d be nice if we knew why it was cut. It might be that they just decided they wanted nothing to do with a gaslight because while gaslights are really, really pretty, they’re also pretty expensive to run. The other option might be to use the existing fixture – and again, assuming that the gas is completely disconnected, you could run electrical line up there and replace it with an electric light fixture. And then the third option would be to replace it with a solar fixture but I will say that the solar fixtures are not going to be nearly as bright; they’re more decorative than a light that can really give you some good coverage in terms of adding some safety to the outside of the house.
DEANNA: Actually, I want it for decorative. It’s not in a location, actually, in my yard that would be providing any light.
TOM: Any light, right.
DEANNA: It’s across the driveway and we determined that if we were to connect the gas lines back up they would have to be run into the neighbor’s yard because of the driveway and some shrubs and all that that have been placed there since. So there are solar lights that can be put in there?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yes, absolutely.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. There are so many different solar options. There’s a company called Malibu.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and they have just a ton of solar options in a variety of light levels from path lighting to even flood lights for security reasons. So I would start with their website just to see. And they install lickety-split. Some of them have the photovoltaic cell, which is what would power the light fixture, right on the fixture itself; and some would have one main sort of photovoltaic cell that a whole bunch of lights feed off of. Depends on how you want to install but it’s very simple to do and it’s a great project.
DEANNA: (overlapping voices) Well, that sounds great.
TOM: (overlapping voices) There’s another website called SolarIlluminations.com and they actually have a solar lamppost that is either six or seven-feet high and that’s the type of solar light that could, basically, replace exactly what you have right there.
DEANNA: Excellent. Well, y’all have been very helpful. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Deanna. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Isaac in New Jersey is calling in about mold on the house. What’s going on?
ISAAC: Actually, I don’t know if it’s mold. The last couple of years with my house, every year I would get like a green touch all over the siding of the house and I would have to powerwash it. First ten years of me owning the house, I didn’t have this problem.
TOM: Right. Because you know why, Isaac? I bet you that the trees have grown up around that house in that last ten years and the more shade that you have around the house, the more pollen and moss and other organic materials that will attach themselves to the siding and grow in that space. So you’re doing the right thing by powerwashing it but let me give you a couple of important steps.
First of all, before you powerwash it, you want to treat it with an oxygenated bleach. Now you can mix up Clorox and water or you could use a siding wash material; there are a number of different brands out there usually in the painting section of home improvement stores. And you apply and you let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes because that kills all of the organic material. And then you powerwash it to rinse it off.
But take a look around your yard and if there’s anything that you can do to trim back some trees and let a little more light get in there, sunlight is the best natural mildicide out there. And typically, when you get those mossy kinds of problems on roofs and on siding, it’s because of overgrowth.
ISAAC: Hey, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Isaac. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rosemary who needs some help refinishing floors. What can we do for you?
ROSEMARY: Do you know anything about this Enhance or Mr. Sandless floor refinishing?
TOM: No. Mr. Sandless. It sounds pretty cool. (chuckles) It might …
ROSEMARY: Supposedly, they come in and they put a chemical on your floor.
TOM: Oh, it might be like a liquid sandpaper situation.
ROSEMARY: And it eliminates all of the sealing off of the room and the dust and all of that. And I’m wondering – it sounds too good to be true and I’m wondering if you know of anything about it.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It probably is.
TOM: Yeah, haven’t heard of it. There are different types of sanding processes that really keep the dust down. There’s a machine out there called a U-Sand that I like a lot.
LESLIE: Which like vacuums it all away.
TOM: Yeah, it kind of abrades it and vacuums …
ROSEMARY: What is it called?
TOM: U-Sand. U-S-a-n-d. I think that’s their website, too; U-Sand.com.
TOM: And you can rent these things and it’s a great tool because it does a good job of sanding the floor but it also sucks up most of the dust and you can’t screw it up. Like if you stand in one place …
LESLIE: And Tom, that’s the one with like the five different sanders sort of put together.
TOM: Yeah, it’s got four heads underneath sort of one housing.
ROSEMARY: OK. Well, these are floors that are probably 40 years old that I covered with carpet when I moved in just because it was less expensive to do that.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. Well, how deteriorated are they, Rosemary?
ROSEMARY: Not terribly. They’re just old.
TOM: Well, let me give you another option. You can also rent a floor buffer like they use at the mall and that kind of place.
TOM: Except instead of a buffing screen, you use a sanding screen. It kind of looks like window screen material. And using that, you abrade the surface of the floor; just taking off sort of the upper surface, cleaning off some of the dirt and abrading it. Then you would vacuum and damp mop the whole surface and then you can put another layer of urethane right over that. That’s a way to just clean up the floor enough to get it ready for another coat of urethane without taking it all the way down and sanding it down to raw wood. A lot of times you don’t have to sand it down to raw wood.
ROSEMARY: Oh, I see. Alright, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, next up we’ve got George who’s dealing with an issue with some toilet tanks. What’s going on?
GEORGE: Yes, again, we have two Kohler toilets purchased at the same time, installed at the same time – about 10 years ago – and they’re the Pressure Clean type models. One of the tanks doesn’t have any water after flushing and remains that way. The other tank, it can go two-thirds or three-quarters up and my wife has to siphon out some water. Just need to know which should it be. They both are operational.
TOM: Well, and are they both identical in terms of the flushing mechanism; it’s just that one seems to have water in it and one doesn’t?
GEORGE: They’re the same models.
TOM: Hmm. Do you know what the model is? Because Kohler has a whole bunch of pressure-assisted, high-efficiency flushing systems. The old one was called Pressure Lite. Does it have like sort of a black box inside of it?
GEORGE: It seems to be. There’s like a cylinder.
TOM: Yeah. Well, I think that that’s what’s called the pressure-assisted Pressure Lite model and I do not believe that you should be seeing water with that.
TOM: But I have to tell you that it’s probably an antiquated system, at this point in time.
TOM: So it might be time for you to think about a new toilet.
TOM: Yeah. You probably still can get parts for it. I’ll tell you what, if you go to the Kohler website at Kohler.com and simply search on high-efficiency flushing systems, you will find a page that lays out all of the different types of high-efficiency flushing systems that they offer, including the older ones.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Up next, when severe weather strikes, your windows are an integral part of what keeps that outside out and keeps it nice and dry in the inside. We’re going to tell you how to make sure that your windows are good to go for whatever Mother Nature has to hand out, 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: And it’s a perfect time of year to take on some of those home maintenance projects that need to be done annually. For example, now is a good time to think about changing your furnace filter before you get ready to turn the furnace on for the season. Take a look at that filter. If it’s not been changed throughout the summer, you really ought to replace it. If you’ve got an electric air cleaner, that filter can actually last about a year. So, depending on what kind you have, it’s a good time to think about replacing it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And while you are snooping around online to get some information on how to take care of your house this fall season, you can shoot us an e-mail question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and I’ve got one here from Jim who writes: “I am having a new home built in a coastal area of Florida. I’m looking for a strong, weather-resistant window that will stand up to coastal storms. Would it be safe to get tilt-in windows that I can clean them without having to go up a two-story ladder?”
TOM: Well, a tilt-in window is fine; in fact, most of the double-hungs today do have that feature. But what you want to look at is the DP rating and for a severe weather area, what you would look for is something called a DP-50 and that is a measure of how well those windows can stand up to the water and the wind and the air that are going to be blowing around and through them. So if you get the right DP rating in your windows, it really doesn’t matter what style window it is; it just matters what the rating in. So that’s what you use to compare and contrast window to window is the DP rating.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you know what? If you’re looking for some more great information on windows and how to select the right one for you, while you’re at MoneyPit.com, you can download a free chapter of our book, My Home, My Money Pit, and it’s called “The Window Guide” and we wrote it with the folks at Simonton Windows so there’s a lot of great information there for you as you’re doing your research.
Alright, now I’ve got one from Cliff in New York who writes: “My kitchen has a hung ceiling and it’s old and dirty. How do I paint old acoustic ceiling tiles and the grid and do a good job? Can I avoid taking them down and painting each one individually? Will they crack and break up? They’re at least 20 years old.”
TOM: You could probably spray-paint it. I mean this would probably be a good application for something like one of those Wagner power sprayers.
TOM: If you mask everything else off. I know what you mean about the hassles of taking it down. They do get kind of brittle.
LESLIE: Over time, yeah.
TOM: You also might want to try one or two and see how it goes. If you get sort of the hang of it and you can take them down easily enough, you may even think about going two-tone.
TOM: In other words, one color for the tiles and one color for the framing.
LESLIE: And it can be tonal; you can stick in the same family and just go like a deeper tone for the grid and a lighter tone for the tiles themselves. Definitely a roller, I think, is going to be a pain in the rear because every time you sort of roll against it they’re going to pop up and shift around. And Tom’s right; a sprayer is going to be great. But if you do buy a traditional aerosol spray can, do not spray it in the house; although that’s probably going to end up being the best thing for the grid. So just be cautious in how you work with things.
TOM: Alright, let’s go to an e-mail from Carrie in San Francisco, California. “Would it be a big homeowner project to refinish an ugly, blue bathtub and surround and how do you do it? Can a tub be painted?”
TOM: Well, I mean it can be painted. There are refinishing kits for ceramic tubs. It looks a little bit better than your average paint job when you’re done. And I’d say if you do a really, really good job, you might get, what, two or three years out of it maybe?
LESLIE: Maybe. I mean you really just have such a difficult time getting adhesion. Now if you got it reglazed by a pro, it’s more expensive but lasts for ages and ages. And definitely, if you’re dealing with a tile surround on your tub, I would not paint it. I mean why not tile over it, if you feel ambitious?
TOM: Plus there are also different types of surrounds besides tile. I mean there are Corian surrounds and some of those can look very, very nice and they’re somewhat easier to install than retiling.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you can really select from a ton of different options. They look like granite; they can be solid-color; they can be kind of modern. So there are a lot of good choices that really don’t require a tremendous amount of work; just a little bit of do-it-yourself know-how.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com and we are always available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 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.)