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How to Pick the Perfect Portable Generator, Cut Down on Water Use at Home, Steam Clean Carpeting to Extend Its Life and more

  • Transcript

    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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. We want to talk about your home improvement project. It is the fall season and that means it’s the right time to tackle just about anything inside or outside your house. So what’s on your fall to-do list? Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we will tackle that project together.

    And being fall, it’s also storm season, which means we get a lot of power failures. And that’s why having a portable generator is a great tool to have on hand. But if you’re going to buy one, you need to know how to size it because if you don’t get it right, it’s not going to do the job that you need it to do when you need it to do it which, of course, is pretty critical because you’re in the middle of a blackout and you can’t even see.
    So, how do you do that? Well …
    LESLIE: So don’t think about it then.
    TOM: A bad time. We’re going to tell you how to pick the perfect portable generator for your exact needs, in just a bit.
    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, are your water bills drowning you? Well, there are some very easy and inexpensive ways that you can cut down on the water use at your home. We’re going to get advice from This Old House plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey, in just a few minutes.
    TOM: And the kids are back in school. All together now, hooray! (Leslie chuckles)
    LESLIE: I’m not there yet; I’m almost there.
    TOM: And after a summer of play dates, parties and extra foot traffic in your home, you may want to think about steam-cleaning your carpeting. It’s a good weekend project that can extend the life of your rugs. We’ll have tips on how to do it right, a little later this hour.
    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a throw from Crypton Super Fabrics. It has the beauty of a blanket but the durability of a tarp, which makes it great for the backseat of a car or the inside of a tent or, as all of my friends who have soccer-playing children will tell you, drape it over the back of the passenger seat or any seat where those little, muddy feet will start kicking. (chuckles)
    TOM: It’s a prize worth 150 bucks. Going to go to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We toss all Money Pit callers into the Money Pit hardhat. It’s a very, very small hardhat, (Leslie chuckles) so your chances of winning are pretty good if you pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Phyllis in New York needs some help with a pedestal sink. Tell us about the project.
    PHYLLIS: Well, we have a pedestal sink that we had installed and I want to change the hardware.
    TOM:  OK.
    PHYLLIS: We have copper faucets and I want to change it to chrome.
    TOM: OK.
    PHYLLIS: And there’s two brackets that support the sink that’s onto the wall. There’s not much room to get behind to take out the old hardware and put in a new chrome hardware. Is there any way that we could do it without taking the sink off the wall?
    TOM: Well, you can but, again, it’s a really tight space, as you’ve discovered. There are some different types of wrenches that plumbers have that allow you to kind of get into tight spaces like that and they sort of add special extensions and lengths to be able to get in around the piping and remove those bolts; the nuts that hold the faucets on. But that’s why you hire a plumber, because they’ve got, you know – they charge enough to buy all those tools. You doing it yourself, you may find it’s a bit more frustrating.
    PHYLLIS: Oh. Well, I would just want to say I listen to you every Saturday on my radio station, WGVA 1240, and there’s a lot of people that call in with something that I say, “Oh, I need to know about that.” (Tom and Leslie chuckle) And I really listen very closely then, so it’s good to have your show on.
    TOM: Alright.
    LESLIE:  Thanks.
    TOM: Well, thank you very much. Very kind of you to say and good luck with that project.
    LESLIE: Ronnie in Maryland, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
    RONNIE: Oh, hi. I have a marble table that – we had some oil from Subway; we had some extra oil when we ordered sandwiches. And it made a ring around there; want to know how to get that out.
    LESLIE: Oh. Hmm.
    TOM: Marble is a pretty porous material, so it does that quite easily, doesn’t it?
    LESLIE: Yeah, the oil is like enemy.
    TOM: Yep.
    LESLIE: Hmm. You’ve got to try to do something that’s going to draw the oil up out of the marble itself, because it’s probably already pretty much sucked down into that surface. What you might want to try is a mixture of peroxide and baking soda or peroxide, baking soda and corn starch. And I’d kind of do equal parts of everything and mix this up so it’s almost like a paste.
    TOM: Like a paste. Mm-hmm.
    LESLIE: Yeah. And you want to put it on top of that stain and let it sit there and see if it’ll absorb that oil up. And then once it kind of dries off, make sure you clean it really well with soapy water just to get everything away and see if you’ve done any damage; you know, taking the stain away I mean.
    If traditional peroxide doesn’t work, I’ve heard of peroxide that you can get from the pharmacist that’s like 40 percent hydrogen peroxide rather than like the 3 to 4 percent that we get at the over-the-counter area. And that might help you kind of get the stain out a little bit more. Other than that, it’s worth a shot.
    RONNIE: Alright. Hey, thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Ronnie.
    LESLIE: And good luck.
    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, it is autumn, everyone. It is my favorite season and the perfect time of year to tackle lots of home improvement projects around your money pit. So pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair, home improvement, design, décor, autumn decoration.
    Whatever you want to work on, we’re going to lend you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Up next, portable generators are great for camping and tailgating but if you think your little generator will protect you in the case of a blackout, well, it might not. Find out which portable generator will do the job, next.

    (theme song)
    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 ThermaTru.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 we want you to be part of The Money Pit, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Ask us your home improvement question on the air and one lucky caller that we talk to this hour is going to win the Crypton Super Fabrics throw. It’s a throw and a cover all in one; they call it the Throver, which is so crazy. I thought it was a misprint on my paper but I’m like, “Wow, a Throver.”
    TOM: A Throver from Crypton.
    LESLIE: I like that word. Now, you can use your Crypton Throver to drape over an antique sofa or the backseat of a car. You know, if you’re traveling with your pets and they’ve got those little, muddy feet, it’s great for that. The fabric is treated in an eco-friendly process that makes it resistant to stains; you’ve got to love that. It’s worth $150 and you can check them out at CryptonFabric.com or call us right now for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Well, a portable generator is a fantastic piece of power equipment to have on hand but trying to choose the right one for your needs isn’t always straightforward. That’s why we’ve partnered with the experts at ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com to create a series we call “How to Pick a Perfect.” And in today’s episode, we’re going to cover tips on choosing the perfect, portable generator.
    LESLIE: Alright. Now, I always like to start with advice by going over what not to buy. So, for a portable generator, you need to select the style first and then look at wattage. Now, the first possibility is to select a recreational generator, which is one that you might use for tailgating or camping, which are equally important as powering your house but that’s what that would be for.
    And small models like these will only power an appliance or two and you’re going to need to refill the gas tank every few hours. And that’s really not a picnic, especially if you’re trying to do something in the home and there’s a big storm and it’s windy and crazy. You don’t really want to be dealing with that.
    TOM: That’s correct. But on the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got these professional-grade portable generators. But these have features that are designed for contractors who might use them every day and would probably be more than you may likely need. I mean what’s the point in purchasing a top-of-the-line portable generator with all the bells and whistles that’s only used a few times a year?
    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, the experts at ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com, they recommend buying a portable generator that’s specifically designed for emergency power. They’ve got medium wattage, which is going to power your most-important appliances. A large size is going to power a few rooms and an extra-large size can power almost your entire house and maybe even your air conditioning or your furnace.
    If you want some more great tips that can help you pick out the perfect generator, go to ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com.
    TOM: That’s a great site and that’s actually the site where I bought my standby generator.
    LESLIE: You’re always rubbing it in, Tom.
    TOM: That’s because we had yet another power failure this week and it saved me once again, so I’m constantly reminded of the convenience of having electric power whenever I need it.
    LESLIE: Man. Get that guestroom ready because the next time the power goes out, I’m coming over.
    TOM: And bringing your milk and your ice cream, I bet.
    LESLIE: Exactly.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Sam in Florida who’s looking to use a laminate flooring in a project. Tell us what you’re working on.
    SAM: Our house is tiled and the tiles in some of the rooms – like we’ll have four in a row that pop up or we’ll have four that meet and they’ll tent up. And so we’ve put them back down at times over the years but it still keeps happening and I’m wondering if we could put laminate flooring over the tile.
    TOM: Yeah. What kind of tile is it? Is it vinyl tile?
    SAM: I would say ceramic tile and – you know, with grout and everything.
    TOM:  Oh, it’s ceramic tile. Oh, I see. OK.
    Well, the answer is yes, you can; there’s no reason you can’t. Just keep in mind that, you know, you’re going to add another three-eighths of an inch to the thickness of the floor. So, if you have any issues about the height of that in terms of doorways and archways and thresholds between rooms, you need to adjust for that.
    But there’s no reason you can’t do that. A laminate floor is, in fact, a floating floor, which means it’s not attached to the floor underneath; it just lays on top of it. Gravity holds it in place quite nicely, all the tiles lock together and the only trimming you have to do is at the edge of the room.
    SAM: So even if some more tiles would tent up in another area, since the floor is floating we would be OK?
    TOM: Well, you say, “Tent up.” I mean if they tent up and push up, you’re going to see a lump in the floor. If they just loosen, no problem.
    SAM: OK. Alright. Thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Jim in Illinois is dealing with some low water pressure. Tell us about the problem.
    JIM: Well, I have a rental and we’re in the middle of the city – it’s about 100,000 people – and we got low water pressure. And so what we’re thinking of doing – some people dig up the whole line out to the street and replace the line. But what we’d like to do is put in a pressure tank and a pump and use that to increase the pressure.
    TOM:  Yep. Yeah, no reason you can’t do that. That’s a perfectly fine and normal response. We very often see that in folks that are building big houses and the street pressure is not enough to serve the water that you need for all the fixtures and faucets. So putting in your own pump and a pressure tank is a perfectly acceptable way of solving this.
    JIM: OK. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
    TOM:  You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Melvin in Minnesota is calling in with a mold issue. Tell us what’s going on.
    MELVIN: Well, my daughter has a lake home and she’s got a crawlspace underneath and there’s mold under there. So she can tell it when she goes there because she got – she gets all stuffed up. So I was wondering what we should do. Should we take out the dirt and put new dirt in or what?
    TOM: Because she has mold in the crawlspace, you want to take out the dirt? Now, this is an environmental problem. You know, that mold has been there as long as the dirt has been there and you can’t replace the dirt; that’s not where it’s growing. In fact, mold only grows on organic matter so the mold is probably in the framing of the lumber itself and there are a couple of ways that you can deal with this.

    First thing you need to do is reduce moisture as much as possible. You can do that by improving the grading and the drainage at the foundation perimeter and also getting the gutter system cleaned and extend the downspouts away from the house. The next thing I would do is I would add a vapor barrier to the crawlspace floor – a piece of viscuine plastic sheeting – and run it all the way across that crawlspace floor with as few seams as possible.

    Then, what you could also think about doing is having all of the, well, wood – the framing in the crawlspace treated. There is different products that they can use – pesticide control companies can use teborg (ph) and other products like that to treat the lumber, which will kill any mold spores that are attached to it. So it’s really a matter of managing the moisture and then kind of zapping what you have right there. Removing the soil will do absolutely nothing to solve the problem.
    LESLIE: And I mean the other thing to think about is keeping the home slightly conditioned when nobody’s using it because, you know, you’re getting the mold in the crawlspace. And if you’re not maintaining the moisture levels or the humidity, I should say, in the home when no one’s there, you’re going to end up just dealing with this issue inside the house over and over again.
    MELVIN: So, OK, well, I’ll have to tell her that then. So I thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Marie in California needs some help cleaning. What’s going on?
    MARIE: I have a couple of questions; not major home improvement projects but I have – in my hallway and master bathroom, we have travertine.
    TOM: Yes.
    MARIE: It’s a natural stone, I guess? 
    TOM: Yep. 
    MARIE: And couple of questions. I’m starting to get little pits in it; you know, like little nicks. And I’m wondering what’s causing that and how can we repair that? I know we can go back to the installer but is there anything I can do?
    LESLIE: Well, travertine – probably the reason you’re seeing all these little nicks and dings and things happen to it is that, over time, it does need to be resealed and if it’s not resealed, it sort of – whatever sealant’s been on there from the beginning is wearing away and now you’re sort of leaving everything that’s vulnerable in the flooring itself, you know, open to damage if you drop something or if you wear high heels. It’s just natural wear and tear because natural stone, even though it’s very strong, when that sealant is gone, it really does have a hard time standing up to it.
    There’s a great website called Stonecare International and their website is Stonecare.com. And there’s a whole section on that site for travertine; specifically for flooring. And there’s a product that they have called Bathroom Stone Floor Kit and it’s got a spray-and-seal, it’s got a disinfectant, it’s got a cleanser. So it comes with everything that you need to clean, maintain and then seal that floor.
    MARIE: OK, great. Yeah, it’s only been a year, so it’s not a long time. And this would be from …
    TOM: Yeah but you’ve got to stay on top of it and if you don’t, it definitely can pit and be something that – you know, it’s a natural surface so it really does need some maintenance.
    LESLIE: And even with granite countertops, which we have in our kitchen, every year we have to reseal it and if I skip a year just because I think, “Aw, I did it already,” sure enough I drop a pot or pan on it or something happens and I get a little ding right in one of those places where the granite was sort of shallow and they filled it with epoxy to sort of make everything even. You’ve really got to stay on top of natural stone.
    MARIE: OK, great. And the other thing is tile. Do you recommend – you know, just for regular ceramic tile, what kind of cleaner do you recommend? 
    TOM: Well, with ceramic tile, usually the issue is the grout. And what we like to suggest is something called a grout stripper. It’s basically a heavy-duty cleaner; usually comes in a concentrate available at hardware stores and home centers. Typically, you have to mix it about one part grout stripper to about seven parts water. Then you scrub it with a stiff brush; you let it sit for up to about 45 minutes, keeping it wet. 
    And then the trick of the trade on really getting it super-clean, Marie, is to try not to wipe it off. If you have a wet/dry vacuum, you can actually suck off the dirty water and that avoids it from going back into the grout lines. And then once you have it really, really clean and dry, then you want to apply a grout sealer to keep it that way.
    MARIE: OK. OK, well, great. Thank you so much.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up, you know, conserving water has become just as important as saving energy and there are some simple ways to do that. We’re going to get those tips next from Richard Trethewey, the plumbing guru on This Old House.
    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Trewax All-Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner. Since 1935, Trewax products have set the standard for floor care with a line of waxes, sealers and cleaning products.

    (theme song)
    TOM: 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: And did you know that in the average home, the toilet accounts for nearly one-third of your family’s water usage? Wouldn’t you like to cut that down? That could save you some big bucks.
    LESLIE: I’m like, “Yeah, if I could just get my son to stop flushing the toilet unnecessarily , that would help a lot.”
    Well, new water-saving toilets truly mean less water but it doesn’t mean less power when you flush, which is what’s important. So here to tell us more about that is Richard Trethewey, the plumbing expert for This Old House.
    Welcome, Richard.
    RICHARD: Hey, guys. How are you?
    TOM: We are excellent. We’re flush with excitement (Richard chuckles) to talk with you today about this topic.
    RICHARD: Let’s see how many more corny clichés we can throw in there. (all chuckle)
    TOM: Well, Richard, we’re talking about low-flow toilets and this is an interesting subject because the plumbing industry and the toilet industry took a real, real black eye over this when the low-flow toilets first came out. You know, we all used to call them the “flush-twice” model because they just didn’t work.
    RICHARD:  Yep.
    TOM: How has that changed?
    RICHARD: Well, the history lesson is where back in the 50s, the toilet used seven gallons every time it flushed. And then by the time the 60s came along, they got to five-and-a-half and then in the 80s, we got to three-and-a-half gallons per flush. And then, in 1995, they passed a mandate that said that you had to cut that in half to 1.6. And the fact is the mandate was ahead of the technology that could figure out how to make solids go down through less water and down into the pipe.
    So there was a terrible, terrible stretch there – probably three to five years – where, as you say, you had to flush twice. But I think the manufacturers are pretty much caught up, though, thankfully.
    TOM: So how are the new designs different than what they started out being?
    RICHARD: Well, I think it’s – not to get too graphic – but it’s the passageways  meaning the – a toilet bowl is molded, you know, out of china and it has to have a integral trap and it has to be such that it’s the right size so that this smaller amount of water can actually create what’s called a siphon so that water can go down and create a siphon. And then thereby once you have a siphon, you can actually pull the solids up and through the trap and down the train.

    And so, in the early days, the passageways were too big with less water, so the water just went down and nothing happened; you had to do it. So engineering has caught up to it. I think the fact that the world mandate was such, you know, I think this – manufacturers from all over the planet – there’s an Australian company, Caromo (ph) and TOTO from Japan and some others. And they, I think, led the way and then Kohler and America Standard and all the other American players caught on, I think, pretty good.
    LESLIE: Well, being that they’re more efficient, do you have to do anything, you know, more specialized as far as maintenance or pieces that you have to change out over time to keep them working effectively?
    RICHARD: No. They’re brutally simple now. I think the trick was – when they first did it, they would say, “Let’s – in the toilet tank, let’s just put a series of bricks or put a couple of dikes on the side,” – these little dams that keep the water from not going down the toilet – and it just didn’t work.

    Nowadays, they’ve got it engineered so the tank and bowl work together. And if you look inside, it looks almost as conventional as it always did.
    LESLIE: Are they more expensive to buy?
    RICHARD: They are. This is a slight premium but that’s the nature of – you know, you pay more for Diet Coke than Coke, I think. You know, by leaving something out –
    LESLIE: I’m like, “Because it tastes better.”
    TOM: We’re talking to Richard Trethewey. He is the plumbing expert; the heating expert. He’s the guy that makes the mechanical systems work on This Old House.
    So I guess, Richard, in a lot of your productions, you end up taking out a lot of those very, very historic but large and wasteful toilets in lieu of the more modern and efficient ones. Do you get some pushback from the owners?
    RICHARD: Well, on these – on the This Old House projects, we’re generally doing a pretty full renovation so I don’t think that they shed a tear for – to get a new bathroom and stuff like that. I think the place where we’ve actually explored some new technology is on Ask This Old House, the other show that we do, where a couple of times we’ve gone in and looked at these new kits that can retrofit into an older toilet; both a flush valve and a fill valve that could sort of retrofit. And that’s pretty intriguing stuff. It’s not perfect but it does allow you for a $25 part – maybe $50 total parts you could get a fully-rebuilt toilet tank that can use 1.6 where it used to use 3.5.
    TOM: And it works a lot better than sticking the brick in it, huh?
    RICHARD: That’s right.
    TOM: Richard Trethewey from This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
    You can watch Richard and the entire team on This Old House. Check PBS for local listings or head on over to ThisOldHouse.com. And This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.
    Up next, we’ve got tips to freshen your entire house by steam-cleaning your carpet. Standby for the step-by-step; that’s next.

    (theme song)
    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 toolbox, 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: And you should give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Why, you say? Well, because we will answer your home improvement question plus toss your name in the Money Pit hardhat, because one caller we talk to this hour is going to win the Crypton Super Fabrics Throver.
    And it’s called a Throver because it’s both a throw and a cover in one. It works like a tarp but feels like a blanket. Use it to drape over an antique sofa or the backseat of the car to protect from pets.
    The fabric is actually eco-friendly; it’s treated and that makes it resistant to stains, liquids, odor, mildew, even bacteria and I’m sure small children. (Leslie chuckles) You can check them out at CryptonFabric.com or call us for your chance to win with your home improvement question, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Well, speaking of small child-proof, one thing that I know in my house that is definitely not kid-proof – heck, it’s not even husband-proof – is my carpeting.

    You know, kids, your pets, even just daily family traffic can lead to some pretty dingy-looking carpets kind of quickly. Fortunately, it’s not hard to steam-clean them yourself. Now, this is something you can do at least once a year to keep your carpets looking new and then it, of course, keeps them smelling fresh and it’s actually going to help them last longer, as well.
    And you can rent a steam-cleaner at our local home center or even at your supermarket. Come on, we all see them at the end of the checkout aisles; it’s standing right there and you’re like, “Who rents these?” Well, you should.
    TOM: And you want to make sure that you get the right amount and type of detergent to go with the machine. There are even ones that are specific for pets. Read and follow the directions carefully because, remember, this is a little bit of a chemistry project; you want to get it right so you get the stains out but don’t cause any damage.
    You also should consider getting the upholstery attachment for your hard-to-reach areas like furniture and stairs. And you might want to go over extremely dirty areas more than once. So again, make sure you follow directions to get it right. A little hard work in this area will actually go a long way to keeping your home feeling and looking fresher. And remember, clean carpets last longer because it’s the dirt that gets grinded in that completely wears them out.
    LESLIE: Sherry in North Dakota is about to take on a painting project. Tell us what you’re working on.
    SHERRY: Well, I have a basement that my kids have kind of defaced with permanent markers.
    SHERRY: It’s cinderblock walls and just a flat, concrete, basement floor. And I would like to get them painted and I’m not really sure exactly what to do so that marker doesn’t bleed through.
    LESLIE: OK. And the paint is on the floor and the walls?
    SHERRY: Well, the marker is on the walls. They’ve never been painted; they’re just cinderblock walls and …
    LESLIE: OK. So it’s raw.
    SHERRY: I’m kind of turning it into a game room or a foosball table and pool table will be down there.
    LESLIE: And the floor is currently just concrete, correct?
    SHERRY: Right, yeah.
    LESLIE: Well, you’ve got a couple of options. I mean with the walls, that’s no problem; what you need to get is masonry paint and primer because that’s really what’s meant to stick to those cinderblock walls. And if you go with anything else, it’s just going to peel off just due to the inherent nature of the moisture in those walls. So if you go with a masonry primer and a masonry paint, you shouldn’t have any problem with the bleed-through. As long as you get good coverage with the primer and then your top coat, no problem.
    Now with the floor, I mean you’ve got some opportunities here. You can either do some sort of epoxy coating on the floor where you get a painted flooring that might even have like a speckle of sort of color sparkles in there. And that’ll do a nice job of sealing up the floor. You can do a laminate floor, which will give it a little bit more of a warmer, cozy feel to it because you can get laminate that looks like wood. Or you can do tile I mean, which would be one step above. You can even do engineered hardwood. But for a game room – and it sounds like your kids are kind of destructive (chuckles) – you know …
    SHERRY: Yes. But well, it was kind of when they were younger but yeah, I – hopefully I never have to worry about this again.
    LESLIE:  Now they’ve simmered down.
    SHERRY: But I remember Dad painting the floor and it always wore off so I thought maybe there was something I could do to make it stay on longer.
    LESLIE:  Oh, totally. Well, the epoxy coatings are great. They come in a kit; Rust-Oleum makes one, Behr makes one, QUIKRETE makes one. You’ll find them at your home center. There’s usually like two or three steps involved. The first step is usually a prepper and a cleaner for the floor and then there’s the color and the top coat are usually mixed in one and you can add the color speckles in if you want.
    Most of them come in a ton of different colors. They’re easily applicable as long as you do not paint yourself in a corner. But it really does a great job of sealing the floor up and giving it a finished look.
    SHERRY: Oh, great. Well, thank you very much. I just caught your show on XM. I’ll be watching for it from now on. I really enjoyed it. Thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Heading over to Rhode Island to chat with Scott about roofing. What can we do for you today?
    SCOTT: Well, I tell you what; we’ve had some nasty thunder storms here in the northeast this summer and – as luck would have it – a big, old maple tree fell on the roof of my house. Most of the damage that was done, fortunately for me, was done to the shed roof, which is attached to the back of my garage but …
    TOM: I hope you weren’t home when it fell down, Matt.
    SCOTT: I was. As a matter of fact, I was getting dressed and I heard this big thud. I thought the trash cans had gotten blown over by the heavy winds but it wasn’t. It was the tree that fell on the roof. But fortunately, nobody was hurt and the damage was relatively minor.
    TOM:  Alright.
    SCOTT: I mean it ripped the satellite dish off the corner of the roof and bent the gutter but all stuff that I could fix.
    LESLIE:  You’re lucky.
    SCOTT: It actually broke the fascia board, you know, in front of the soffit on the overhang. But my one question that I have – and I’ve even repaired the bent drip edge, as well – I’ve got some damaged shingles. Now, this roof is relatively newly shingled. They’re architectural shingles and I have extra shingles from when I did it myself. And my question is now, with some of these shingles damaged and needing to be replaced – not the whole roof – how do you replace shingles in the middle of the roof?
    TOM: Ah. There’s a trick of the trade for that and what you need is a flat bar. It’s like a flat pry bar where it’s sort of like curved on one end and flat on the other and used to pull out nails. And you take the flat bar and you work it under the shingle and you actually go up to right where that nail is going through the shingle, bend it down and pop the nail out; then go above it and pull the nail out. If you do that carefully across one row, you will have loosened up those shingles and, as you know, once you get the …
    LESLIE: So you can get underneath it.
    TOM: Once you get the first one out, then it’s a piece of cake. What you need is a flat bar to do that.
    SCOTT: I think I may have what you’re talking about. Is that – I call it a cat’s paw. Is that the same type of bar?
    TOM: No. No, no, no, no. It’s not a cat’s paw. No, a cat’s paw is round and that’s designed to kind of go down from the top. A flat bar is essentially that: it’s a tool that’s about two inches wide, you know, an eighth-of-an-inch thick and about twelve inches long. And it has a groove at the end that slides under the shingle with a little V-groove in it and you can wiggle it …
    LESLIE: Not called a pry bar?
    TOM: Well, it’s a little bit like a pry bar but it’s not like a crowbar. It’s not round like that; it’s flat.
    SCOTT: Thank you.
    TOM: Alright, Scott. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Does he need to be worried about working with it on a cooler day; possibly snapping the tile?
    TOM: No, only if it’s really, really cold would you have to worry about that.
    LESLIE:  OK.
    TOM: But you know, that adhesive will chill as quickly as it will heat. So as long as you’re doing it in the morning and not like in the middle of a 90-degree day, he’ll be fine.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. Thanks so much for stopping by with us this hour.
    You know, insulating a garage – it is a very popular project but does it really save you any money? The answer is: it depends. How do you like that? And we’re going to tell you what it depends on, next.

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    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com and submit an e-mail question. That is exactly what Jean did and Jean is asking about insulating a garage.
    LESLIE: That’s right. Jean writes: “I am curious if insulating the attic over my garage will result in any saving to my monthly energy bill.”
    TOM: Well, I mean the basic idea of insulation is to separate conditioned areas from unconditioned areas. Now, a conditioned area is an area that you heat; an unconditioned area is a area that you don’t heat, which typically garages are, except if you’re trying to create, say, a workshop or for some reason want to extend your living space into your garage. That’s the only reason you would insulate that ceiling above the garage.
    Now, I’m going to assume for the purpose of this answer, Jean, that you’re talking about an attached garage – say it’s one story and your house is two stories; so in other words, there’s no living space on top of the garage whatsoever.
    Now, if that’s the case, I really don’t see any reason to insulate that ceiling. It’s most important in that scenario to insulate the wall between the garage and the house and I’ll presume that’s done. Now, if you want to work in that space, by all means feel free; you can add additional insulation in the ceiling and also to any other exterior walls that are not separated from the rest of the house; that are, basically, completely outside.
    LESLIE: And you know what, Jean? If you are going to do all of that work, you might want to think about replacing your garage door with one that’s insulated, to give you, you know, even an extra bang for your buck there and start to even save some more money.
    Alright. Next up, we’ve got an e-mail from Steve who writes: “I’m looking to add a second floor to our ranch home. I wanted to get your opinion on using a modular home company as opposed to a builder or contractor.”

    Can you do that, Tom? Can you sort of mix styles of construction?
    TOM: Well, I mean we’re talking about the type of construction for this addition or this second floor. Now, I think what he’s talking about is prefabricated versus stick-built. You have companies that specialize in prefabricated structures.

    Now, I’m not aware that you can get a prefabricated sort of preordered second-story addition to your house. Maybe you can but I will tell you that, in general, a manufactured home like that is just as good as a stick-built home; in some cases, it’s even better because they’re built in factories where the buying power is excellent, so they get good-quality loads of lumber. The cutting of the lumber is more accurate because it’s all done, you know, inside of a factory as opposed to in the winter or in the rainstorm where so many houses are made in uncomfortable situations like that.
    So building a modular house and buying a modular house, I have no qualms about it whatsoever. In fact, years and years and years ago, I actually built some that were panelized houses where we put the foundation up and the truck would come and drop the prefinished walls one at a time. We kind of bolt them all together and the frame went up like in a single day that way. And the job actually was pretty good quality.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean it really does – it makes a home that looks as terrific as any stick-built home. And you’re right; keeping it in a conditioned space is just hugely helpful.
    Alright. Now we’ve got one from Susan in New Jersey who writes: “I have a 100-year-old upright piano that was in storage for 30 years. I just had the piano refurbished. However, over the years it developed mildew. I washed the wood with one part bleach and water and that was fine but I can’t do that with the felt areas. Can you recommend something to get rid of that odor from the felt?”
    I wonder if baking soda – is it baking soda or powder that would work here?
    TOM: Baking soda like, you know, putting a box inside the piano, like you do with your refrigerator?
    LESLIE:  Mm-hmm. Yeah, they sell that – I think it’s Arm & Hammer makes one box, Susan, that’s made specifically for the refrigerator and you peel off the front. So you’re never opening it; you’re not releasing any of the loose powder into the piano. It just sort of sucks in all the odor. It really does a great job in the fridge and it can’t hurt.
    TOM: But I wonder who makes the piano-playing sound better?
    LESLIE: Well, no. But it bakes cakes.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that we have given you a few ideas to get your fall home improvement projects on the – well, we should say moving them from the to-do list to the to-done list.
    LESLIE:  To-done.
    TOM: So, thanks again for being with us.
    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.)

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