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How To Use Concrete Confidently, Tips on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Your Home, Advice on Reducing Humidity in Your Home 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 because we are here to help you achieve your home improvement project. Whatever you’re working on, let’s move it from your to-do list to our to-do list by you picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-666-3974. We know, as you look around your money pit, there’s a project that you want to tackle. So let us help.

    Coming up this hour on the program, have you thought about using concrete for a project around your house but perhaps you worry you might end up with a quick-setting, solid mess? Well, we get it. There’s no reason to fear, though, if you use the right product and follow a few basic steps. We’re going to have some tips on how you can use concrete with confidence, coming up.

    LESLIE: Plus, did you know that excess humidity in your home can cause mold, mildew and even prevent your windows and doors from working properly? Well, a dry home is a healthy home and we’ve got the lowdown on a natural product that will absorb moisture from the air.

    TOM: And here’s a startling fact: your house actually emits more greenhouse gases than your car. It is true but you can change that. We’ll have tips on how you can beat the heat and save energy for the last, few dog days of summer.

    LESLIE: And one caller that we talk to on the air today is going to win the Chamberlain MyQ Belt-Drive Garage-Door Opener with Battery Backup worth $249.

    TOM: And the MyQ technology allows you to operate your garage door from your smartphone, which is very cool. And the battery backup means you can raise and lower your door even without power.

    So, you want to win it? You’ve got to be in it. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    RUTH: I have – it’s on the inside of my house. I have redwood stain and I have a white film. I’ve used furniture polish and got it off, thinking that took care of it, but it’s back again.

    LESLIE: Where is this stain? Is it trim work? Is it …?

    RUTH: It’s the banister and the doors.

    TOM: And you have a redwood stain on these areas?

    RUTH: Yes. It’s a redwood stain on it.

    TOM: Well, if it’s trimwork and banisters, doesn’t it have a finish coat on it, like a polyurethane?

    RUTH: No, it does not.

    TOM: Typically, for banisters and trim, you would use the stain first, then you would have a clear coat on top of that.

    RUTH: No, it does not have that.

    TOM: So, is it fairly rough to the touch then?

    RUTH: Yes, it is.

    TOM: So, what I would do then – because the stain is not designed to be the finish coat. Stain is designed to be covered with a urethane. So I would do this and I would do this in an experimental way to start with. I would clean it again, make sure it’s nice and dry and then I would seal it or urethane it.

    And I think on the trim, you could use water-based urethane; get a quart of it. And it goes on real thin, it dries very quick and it will seal in that stain. And see if that protects it in the way you expect it to behave. Because stain is really just designed to color the wood and make the grain come out. It’s the urethane that gives you the wear-and-tear protection.

    RUTH: I appreciate your help. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Ruth. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jeff in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a ventilation situation. What can we do for you today?

    JEFF: Yeah, I should vent a little bit, because I had to insulate that attic up there.

    TOM: OK.

    JEFF: Yeah. So, you know, it’s an old addition and when they built it, they covered the old gable up. And so, when I went up there to insulate this spring, I had to kind of cut a hole through the old gable end to get into the addition. And so my question is: do I need to – should I keep cutting away at that or do I – how do I properly vent that? I don’t want to cut the whole thing out because I suppose there’s some support there.

    TOM: OK. So they – basically, when you added the addition, they added it onto the gable end of the old roof. So when you go up in the attic, you kind of see the old roof structure and the old gable end where the vent used to be, correct?

    JEFF: Right. In fact – and I couldn’t get through there. I mean there was – the vent was too small for me to get through to get into the addition to insulate.

    TOM: Oh, so there wasn’t even any access in there to insulate. They didn’t insulate when they built the addition?

    JEFF: They did. They did insulate but how they actually got it in there, I don’t know. But I couldn’t get to it, I know that.

    TOM: The answer to your question is that you want to basically treat each space separately in terms of ventilation. And the best type of ventilation is – actually no longer do we consider gable vents to be the best type of ventilation. The best type of ventilation – a continuous ridge vent that goes down the peak of the roof, matched with soffit vents at the overhang. So this way, we take air in down low, we run it up under the roof sheathing and exit it at the ridge. And that cycle will repeat 24-7, 365.

    JEFF: Yeah. The only problem is there’s no soffits in this house.

    TOM: Alright. So if you did want to improve the ventilation, you could use a type of vent called a drip-edge vent, which would require a little bit of carpentry. You’d have to extend or actually re-shingle the bottom layer of shingles at the edge. But the drip-edge vent actually extends that roof line by about 2 inches and creates a continuous soffit.

    And if you go to AirVent.com – that’s the website for the CertainTeed air-vent companies – I know they’ve got a good diagram of one right there. So that’s the way to improve that.

    Now, if you can’t do that or you don’t want to do that, for all the obvious reasons, and maybe you’re not seeing that you have a big ventilation problem right now, then I guess what I would suggest to you is to put in the ridge vents, since that’s something that you can always do, and then couple that with as many other roof vents as you can.

    Jeff, thanks so much for calling 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 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Coming up, does the thought of using fast-setting concrete on a project make you fear you’ll have a fast-setting mess on your hands? We’ll have tips to use fast-setting concrete successfully for dozens of DIY projects, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are taking your calls at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    And one caller we help on the air this hour is going to win a MyQ Belt-Drive Garage-Door Opener with Battery Backup from Chamberlain. It’s worth 250 bucks. And the battery backup and smartphone connectivity will give you complete peace of mind.

    LESLIE: That’s right. The MyQ will send you an alert when you forget to close your garage door and it lets you close it from anywhere at any time. You’ve got to love that, because I always realize that I’ve left the garage door open when I’m on my way to the airport.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: So, really, super-helpful. And you know what? With battery backup, that means even if you lose power, you can still operate your garage door. Because for some people, that’s the only way in and out of the house.

    Now, it features a 1¼-horsepower, steel-reinforced belt drive; two three-button remote controls; a wireless keypad; and the MyQ Internet Gateway.

    If you visit Chamberlain.com, you can check it out there or give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Ray in North Carolina who’s dealing with a roofing problem. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    RAY: Make a long story short, I’m getting a new roof put on tomorrow, so I wanted to find out what questions to ask. I’ve already asked a lot, as you can imagine. But what is occurring right now is that I have very rotten fascia boards, if I’m pronouncing it correctly. And the gutters seem to leak a little bit, so I’m concerned. It seems to be two separate entities but when they put the roof on, what do I need to ask and what should I be looking for? This is – just so you know, it’s a – I believe it’s called a “dimensional roof.” You know, it’s kind of the upgraded dimensional shingles.

    TOM: It’s a dimensional shingle. OK. Well, first of all, the first thing I’d check is the weather report; let’s make sure we’re not running into a lot of rain.

    RAY: Yeah. Luckily, we’re in good shape on that end.

    TOM: Alright, good. Good. Check. That’s good.

    Now, next, are they taking off the old layer or are they putting a second layer?

    RAY: Correct.

    TOM: They’re taking it off. Good. That’s good.

    So, what do you need to ask? Well, first of all, you want to ask them how they plan to dispose of the old shingles. I mean the right thing to do here is to put tarps around your house so that when they throw the shingles off the roof, you don’t end up with a million little pieces of this. So get their sort of plan and their cleanup plan for this.

    In terms of that fascia, now that’s not uncommon. And typically, what happens is the gutters back up a little bit over the years and the water gets up there and it saturates against that fascia and it rots it out. Now is the time, however, to replace that. To do that, though, you need to take the gutters down, obviously.

    RAY: Exactly. And my biggest question is is that I’ve heard various things. Basically, the roofer is saying it’s a separate situation. “We’ll do the roof first” – because it’s stupid to mess with the gutters, as far as he’s concerned – “because if you put new gutters up or whatever you do, it’s going to create a mess. So let’s do the roof first and then address the fascia and the gutters second.” Is that – does that sound proper?

    TOM: It’s fine. You could do it all at once or you could do it separately.

    RAY: Gotcha.

    TOM: It just – one doesn’t affect the other. You can put the roof on with the old gutters or the new gutters. But one more thing I’m going to suggest to you and that is instead of putting wood back up as a fascia, take a look at a product called AZEK – A-Z-E-K.

    RAY: A-Z-E-K?

    TOM: A-Z-E-K, right.

    RAY: OK.

    TOM: It’s an extruded PVC material. It’s air-entrained so it kind of looks like it has sort of a wood structure to it but it’s made of PVC. So it doesn’t rot, bugs won’t eat it and you’ll never have to deal with this again. And you can paint it.

    RAY: And if they put it up properly, it should last, so to speak, forever?

    TOM: Forever, exactly.

    RAY: Very good. Well, that’s a good idea.

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

    Well, concrete is a durable building material that’s useful for many do-it-yourself projects. But using concrete also scares a lot of homeowners off. Well, don’t let it. Fast-setting concrete is not that difficult to use and you’ll be amazed at the kinds of projects you’ll no longer have to rely on a pro to get done. In fact, QUIKRETE, a proud sponsor of The Money Pit, makes a fast-setting concrete that needs only 20 to 40 minutes to set completely.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And it’s perfect for one do-it-yourself task that can be the basis for many projects. I’m talking about setting a post.

    Now, if you can dig a hole, you can most likely set a post. You just have to make sure that the hole is the right size. So to figure that out, the diameter of the hole should be three times the diameter of the post you’re using. And it should be half as deep as the post is above the ground.

    TOM: Now, set and plumb your post, then pour the QUIKRETE Fast-Setting Concrete into the hole until it’s about 3 to 4 inches from the top. Then you add water until it’s saturated and you stir. It’s that simple. And you need about a gallon of water for every 50-pound bag of concrete. In fact, we did this not too long ago for a Boy Scout project and even the kids have mastered it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But Boy Scouts, they’ve got above-average intelligence, I’m told.

    TOM: That’s true.

    LESLIE: No, it really is a super-easy project, you guys. And the projects that you’ll be able to do are endless. You can set basketball poles, fence posts, deck posts, mailboxes, bird feeders, playsets. I mean it goes on and on.

    TOM: For details and more project ideas, visit QUIKRETE.com.

    LESLIE: Della in Iowa is on the line with an attic-fan question. How can we help you?

    DELLA: My husband and I – our attic fan went out.

    TOM: OK.

    DELLA: And we don’t know the first thing about attic fans.

    TOM: OK. Do you have central air conditioning, Della?

    DELLA: Yes, we do.

    TOM: OK. How old is your house?

    DELLA: It’s like 35 years old, 40 maybe.

    TOM: And what kinds of roof vents do you have?

    DELLA: We have a slanted – all one roof. It goes straight down. We just have a little portion of the home that’s attic. We have the – it doesn’t have any attic above the living room and the dining room area.

    TOM: Alright. Because generally, we don’t recommend attic fans for homes that have central air conditioning and here’s why: because when the attic fan operates, it depressurizes the attic and then it draws air from inside the house and up into the attic and exhausts it. So what that does is kind of robs some of your air conditioning, because most attic fans are overpowered for the attic spaces that they’re in.

    A better approach is just to use passive vents where you have, say, ridge vents that go down the peak of the roof and soffit vents that …

    DELLA: We have that.

    TOM: You have that.

    DELLA: We have huge overhang with the little vents all the way around.

    TOM: Then I wouldn’t worry about the attic fan.

    DELLA: A guy – one of the guys says that make sure – see, we have three story – it’s not a real story; it’s like 12, 14 to the upper level. Then we have the basement, first floor and then all of our bedrooms and guest rooms are up on the third level. But we thought it would be cooler to get that hot air out of the attic.

    TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t worry about it. I don’t think you need another attic fan. It sounds like you’ve got exactly what you need to have right now.

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Howard from North Carolina on the line with a water-softening question. What can we do for you today?

    HOWARD: Well, my question, really, has to do with the EasyWater Water Conditioner. And I’m making a distinction here between water softening and conditioning, because I understand that products that don’t use salt really are not softeners but they are conditioners. And I think that’s really what my need is.

    I have no problem with the relative softness of the water, if you will, for cleaning purposes. However, it is a lime- and scale-producing water. It’s municipal water but it comes from an artesian-well system.

    So my question, really, is: is this the product on the market? Are there other ones that do much the same thing? How proven is it? Is it something that I can reliably install or is it still relatively an unproven item? It seems to be a name that’s in the market but I’m not – I’m just looking for some endorsement of it, I guess.

    TOM: Alright. So, several years ago, EasyWater was a sponsor of the show. They haven’t been for many years. And when that happened, they sent me one of their units and we don’t have well water but I had a friend of mine that did have it. And he installed the EasyWater system on his main water line, as directed, and had really miraculous results. And it really got me interested in the technology.

    And the way it essentially works is if you can think of a way a magnet works, where positive sides repel each other, that’s kind of the way EasyWater works. It forces the particles that go through – the hard-water particles – to not stick. That leads to less scale and other types of buildups that stick to pipes and stick to faucets and so on. So that’s basically the way it works.

    I will say that I do know they have a really good warranty on it and I think it’s like a 90-day, money-back guarantee. It’s pretty long, from what I recall. So I see no reason to tell you not to try it. I’ve had good experiences with it through the test unit – the dummy – that they sent us. They have a pretty good warranty on it. I’d give it a shot.

    HOWARD: Alright. Thank you, Tom.

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

    LESLIE: Now I’ve got Rosie in Iowa who’s got a window question.

    Hey, Rosie. What’s going on? How can we help you?

    ROSIE: We have Andersen Windows, which we just love the low-E glass on the first level. We want to put some – keep the hot sun and the cold out in the – we want to put new windows on the third level, in the bedroom, the guest rooms.

    TOM: Right. Mm-hmm. Yep.

    ROSIE: Can you suggest what type of window? We’d have to do a replacement window.

    TOM: Yeah. Andersen has a replacement window called the 400 Series. It’s a tilt-wash window, so like a double-hung that tilts down for cleaning. And it’s specifically a replacement window.

    So, you order the window to fit the size of your existing windows there that you’re going to replace. And you can order it at The Home Depot. And I think the average cost is about $300 across the country, more or less, depending on size and features. But that’s a good window. It’s got high-performance glass in it; it’s got low-E4 glass in it.

    ROSIE: Oh, we just love the ones we put in the basement. You can leave it – the window – open. You know, I’ve got plants down there and it doesn’t even feel warm, the sun.

    TOM: Yeah. Take a look at the Andersen 400 Series Window at The Home Depot, OK?

    ROSIE: Well, we were thinking about a cheaper one, like Window World or somewhere like that.

    TOM: Why do that? You’ve had great experience with Andersen and the price is pretty fair. The average price is about 300 bucks.

    ROSIE: Thank you so much. And that was Series 400?

    TOM: Series 400. 400 Series. That’s correct.

    ROSIE: 400. Well, now you want to come and put them in for me? You’re so good at it and I know you love extra money.

    TOM: I can’t do that, Della, but I’m sure the pros at The Home Depot could help. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still to come, is excess humidity making your basement or your crawlspace just feel damp and smell all musty and yucky? Well, one natural product you can hold in the palm of your hand just might help. We’ll tell you how, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUKIRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    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 we all have damp, musty spaces in our homes, whether it’s the basement or crawlspace or even the bathroom. Excess moisture and humidity have to be controlled.

    LESLIE: Well, now there’s a product that can help you do just that, that is all natural. And here to tell us more about it are Hank and Cheryl Pickens, the CEOs of Beaumont Products, makers of Citrus Magic air-care products.

    Welcome, guys.

    CHERYL: Why, thank you.

    TOM: Now, we have been big fans of Citrus Magic for many years now. And we were excited to hear that you guys have a new product on the market that’s called Citrus Magic Triple Action. That sounds like it does a lot of what Citrus Magic has done for us in the past, which is making our air cleaner and fresher. How does it work?

    HANK: Well, it’s really a combination of several different products and several different benefits. For the first time ever, we’ve been able to combine both the odor-absorbency properties of Citrus Magic with the moisture-absorbing properties of the Triple-Action product. So, in this one product by itself, we’re – thus, the name Triple – we’re not only freshening the air but we’re absorbing both nasty odors, as well as unwanted moisture.

    LESLIE: That’s really fantastic, because I think a lot of people don’t realize how detrimental moisture can be. And I guess you don’t really even realize you have a problem until you start to notice an odor. And that’s kind of what makes people spring into action to sort of investigate and then figure out where everything’s coming from, right?

    HANK: Right. Well, that odor is that musty kind of sour odor that you get. And if you don’t do anything about it, it leads to mold and that’s got its own set of problems, too. So, it’s really great to be able to control moisture, as well as bad odors.

    TOM: Now, also, when you have moisture, the odor tends to get worse because a lot of those odors are based on bacteria, which feeds on the moisture. It needs that moisture to survive. So once you dry it out, you also take a step towards reducing the odors, as well.

    HANK: That’s right. It’s breaking that cycle.

    TOM: Now, how does the Citrus Magic Triple Action work? I know that you’ve got kind of a unique packaging that was designed for this. It really has three chambers. So how do they work together to kind of accomplish the task?

    HANK: What it has is – by the way, it’s a patented configuration. But there’s a compartment in there for the air freshener and odor absorber. And then there’s another compartment that holds the moisture absorbers. And the third compartment there is to collect the moisture as it is absorbed by the crystals that are in there to take care of the moisture.

    CHERYL: The Citrus Magic solid will last up to three to six weeks in a normal-sized room. And in that period of time, you would be gradually adding moisture to the bottom of that little, patented design package. And every so often, you would go in and basically twist off the top, pour out the moisture, put it back together and it’s ready to go and continue destroying odors and absorbing moisture.

    TOM: That’s really ingenious. You guys have really thought of it all with this.

    Now, what about some of the other products that you guys have on the market? Let’s talk a bit about the basic Citrus Magic Non-Aerosol Spray for odor elimination. That can last about four times longer than the average ran (ph), right?

    HANK: Well, that’s where it all started. Citrus Magic has been on the market since the early 90s. And what we do with the Citrus Magic spray is suggest that is used when there is a “odor event” to take care of. And then the solid air freshener -which uses a lot of the natural citrus properties that came along with the spray, in a solid format – allows that to be on duty, 24-7, so that you can have a constant odor-control, air-freshening product, as I say, on duty, 24-7. And then along came the Triple Action, which gives us the additional benefit of eliminating or reducing moisture in the air.

    LESLIE: I’ve got to say, Hank and Cheryl, that I think what’s so amazing about the Citrus Magic line is that you’re not just sort of masking odors or covering them up.

    So it’s not – I always find that Citrus Magic, the non-aerosol spray, works best for me the day after Thanksgiving. It’s like I cook a big meal for so many family members and you can’t get rid of that turkey smell. But if I use the Citrus Magic Non-Aerosol Spray, I mean suddenly, that heaviness in the air is gone and everything just smells fresh. So, kudos to you guys for really developing something that will actually get rid of the odor.

    CHERYL: Well, thank you. Mother Nature had a lot to do with it, as well, in that the Citrus Magic is 100-percent natural. It’s 100-percent peel oil of real citrus fruit. And one of those kind of miraculous properties of citrus is that it doesn’t just mask an odor; it actually destroys that airborne odor.

    So, like you say, the day after Thanksgiving, you probably don’t want to smell onions or …

    TOM: Right. Or all the fish that we’ve been cooking this summer. It’s nice when you have it but the day after, not so much. And it’s just amazing that – how far a little spray of Citrus Magic really takes it and completely wipes it out and leaves the house truly smelling clean and fresh.

    So, Hank and Cheryl, congratulations on another terrific product. Now, Citrus Magic’s Triple Action has wide distribution. I understand you can find it – and tell me if this is correct – at Walmart, Safeway, Target, Publix, Walgreens, Kroger and a bunch of other fine retailers everywhere. That’s quite a distribution chain you’ve got set up there.

    HANK: Right. Well, that’s all true for everything except Triple Action. Triple Action is so new that we are just beginning distribution. So, it’s a little more difficult to find Triple Action at retail today than it is to find the solid and spray. But anyone who has a problem finding the product can always contact us at CitrusMagic.com or check with their favorite retailer. It’s on its way to the shelf but it’s not as easy to find as the other two products are.

    TOM: Nothing better than having your customers ask your retailer – ask the retailers – for the product and then they have to go find it, right?

    HANK: Absolutely, absolutely.

    TOM: Gets them ordering it from you guys. Well, Hank and Cheryl, thank you so much for spending some time with us today. Sounds like a terrific product. And we look forward to seeing it on the market and wish you the most success possible with this.

    CHERYL: Thank you so much.

    HANK: We appreciate it. Have a good one.

    TOM: Yep. Thanks, guys.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, did you know that your house actually gives off more greenhouse gases than your car? What? Well, we’re going to have some tips to make your house more energy-efficient and help you save some money, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door, it alerts your smartphone, so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And one caller that we talk to on the air today is going to win a MyQ Belt-Drive Garage-Door Opener with Battery Backup from Chamberlain. It’s worth 250 bucks. And the battery backup and smartphone connectivity is going to give you complete peace of mind.

    TOM: And the MyQ sends you alerts when you forget to close your garage door. And it lets you close it from anywhere at any time. Plus, the battery backup means even without power, you can still operate your garage door.

    Now, it features a 1¼-horsepower, steel-reinforced belt drive; two three-button remote controls; a wireless keypad; and the MyQ Internet Gateway.

    For details, visit Chamberlain.com or pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jamie in South Dakota is on the line with a vaulted ceiling with a crack in it. Tell us what’s going on.

    JAMIE: We’ve been living in this house. It’s (audio gap) built in 2000 and I believe it was a modular that was moved onto a basement foundation. And a few years back, we noticed it started to crack. And my husband tried to fix it but apparently, whatever he did didn’t work.

    TOM: OK. Well, let’s give him a little break on that. He can probably try it again but maybe he didn’t take some of the right steps.

    Now, first of all, cracks in vaulted ceilings are very, very common. There’s a tremendous amount of expansion and contraction that goes up there, not to mention the fact that it’s one of the warmest places in the house, especially in the summer.

    So what you want to do to try to fix this is to sand over the area where the crack is so that you remove any loose paint, dirt, debris, that sort of thing. Next, you want to cover that with a piece of perforated drywall tape. It looks a bit like netting; it’s a little sticky and it comes on a roll. And on top of that perforated tape, you want to add three layers of spackle. You start very narrow at about 4 inches and you work out to maybe 6 or 8 or 10 inches, in terms of the width of the spackle blade.

    That netting actually bridges the crack and makes sure it doesn’t come through again. If you were simply to go up there and spackle it, the crack really isn’t fixed. So the next time the ceiling expands and contracts, it’s going to show up again. Does that make sense?

    JAMIE: OK. Alright. Well, thank you.

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

    Well, we call them the “dog days of summer.” The last couple of weeks of August always seem to be the hottest. So, if you feel like your A/C is running overtime and your house, perhaps, is just not getting as cool as it should, you might be right. Besides the higher energy bills, there’s also a lot of wasted energy this time of year. So much so, in fact, that it could shock you.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Did you know that the average house gives off more greenhouse gases than a car? Two times more, in fact. How about this one? The average homeowner spends about $2,000 a year on utilities. And heating-and-cooling bills account for nearly half of that.

    TOM: And there are a few things that you can do to not only cool off more quickly but also cut those costs, as well. For example, to keep the heat out, increase attic insulation, use drapes and blinds and consider upgrading your roofing and your windows.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you can keep the cool in. You want to seal and insulate cooling ducts in the attic and seal gaps, cracks and leaks all around your house. Also, keep your cooling system efficient by properly maintaining it every year. Close off vents in any unused rooms. And finally, use some fans. They’ll actually help cool you and bring those costs down.

    TOM: And if those tips make sense, they should. They come straight from Energy.gov and that is a great place to start looking for energy-saving ideas, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.

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

    CARL: We’re leasing a house and we’ve been in the house now for almost three years and getting to the point of trying to decide should this be the house we buy or should we be looking elsewhere. And the owner has indicated that he’d be interested in selling. But one of the nice things about leasing a house is you find out about all of its good things and all of its not-so-good things.

    TOM: Yeah, you get to kick the tires.

    CARL: Yeah. And the house was built in the mid-90s and so, you know, it’s got a few of the things that a house that age would have. But one of the things that concerned us is that we noticed that in the master bath, it’s got tile on the floor. And when you start walking on the floor, you can almost hear the tile crunching underneath your feet.

    TOM: Right.

    CARL: The tile doesn’t actually move but you also feel a rise, sort of, at certain spots.

    TOM: Yeah. Sounds loose? Well, look, I don’t think that’s unusual with vinyl tile. It’s vinyl tile. Is that what you said?

    CARL: It’s ceramic tile.

    TOM: Oh, it’s ceramic tile. Well, OK, first of all, I don’t feel it’s all that unusual with ceramic tile. It may not have been put down properly. I don’t think it necessarily means that the house is moving; it probably points more accurately to a defect in the installation itself.

    But what you should absolutely do, before you consider going further on this house, is have a professional home inspector look at it. Because a home inspection, that’s done consistent with the standards of practice at the American Society of Home Inspectors, is going to look at those structural issues, look at the mechanical issues and trust me, find things that, even living in that house, that you are completely unaware of.

    CARL: OK.

    TOM: And that’s the best way to kind of know what you’re getting into and be able to negotiate from a position of strength and knowledge.

    CARL: Sure. Alright.

    LESLIE: Say, is a cracked, ceramic floor tile making your whole room look crummy? Well, you can fix it if you can find the matching tile. We’ve got solutions, after this.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by to help you with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT. You can also post that online at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    No one is looking forward to the end of summer but it’s a sad fact that you can’t ignore. So why not embrace it and get ready for next year? On MoneyPit.com, we’ve got tips on how you can clean your outdoor furniture, store it for the winter so it will be good to go next spring.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can post a question in the Community section, just like Faith did who writes: “The toilet in our main bathroom lets out a shrieking or high-pitched tone whenever water is run anywhere else in the house. The only way to get the noise to stop is either stop running that water or go into the bathroom and flush the toilet. What is causing this? And more important, for our sanity, how do I fix it?”

    TOM: Well, look, if flushing the toilet stops it, it sounds to me like she’s got a leaking fill valve or a fill valve that’s operating very slowly, based on when the water leaks out of the toilet. So the flush valve could be letting some water out, fill valve is refilling. And the fact that you flush it and it stops, I would start right there. I would replace both flush and fill valve in that toilet and see if that does it.

    Now, those are easy valves to replace. It’s totally a do-it-yourself project. On Fluidmaster.com, which is the main manufacturer of those parts, they’ve got some great how-to videos to show you exactly how to do it. But really, it’s like a 10-, 15-minute project. If you can turn the water off to the toilet, you can replace both flush and fill valves and I think that’s going to quiet this up, Faith.

    LESLIE: And then maybe your sanity will return, although it might be short-lived. After all, money pits need constant attention.

    TOM: Well, ceramic floors are durable and easy to take care of. But from time to time, you might need to make repairs to your tile floor. That’s not the hard part. The difficulty comes in trying to match that broken tile.

    Now, there are solutions and Leslie has got those ideas in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, being unable to find that matching tile is something that happens a lot as you set out to do a remodel. And it’s not always just with an old house, either. Even a 10-year-old tile can sometimes be hard to find, as well.

    So here are some tips. When you’re replacing any tile, it’s always best to use one left over from your original installation. This way, you can be sure that the replacement tile will perfectly match the existing ones you’ve got. Of course, you might not have any squirreled away. So, if you’ve got, say, a broken piece of one as you started doing work, bring it with you to a well-stocked tile store where you might be able to find a new one that’s a close substitute.

    Now, you can also consider stealing one from an area that’s not visible, like maybe you’ve got an area inside of a closet or underneath your refrigerator or dishwasher. If you’re able to remove that old tile – which can be tricky but you can definitely do it; you just have to be careful in doing so – then you can repurpose it in an area where you’ll see it.

    Another option – and this can get pricey, though – is to have tiles made to order. There are tile works across the United States that might be able to match your broken shards. But again, it’s going to be a pricey solution.

    So, now what if, despite your best efforts, you can’t find a replacement? Well, you could forget about trying to match the tile altogether and fill that spot with an accent tile of a different color or texture or sheen. If that’s the case, you might want to randomly replace a handful of tiles around the floor or maybe make a row or a border. It really depends on where it is. This way, that fix suddenly becomes blended in with the rest of the field or becomes a standout design. You can totally make it work.

    TOM: In other words, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

    Coming up next time on The Money Pit, are the sounds of a busy street or loud neighbors making your backyard life a bit hard to enjoy? Well, you can have a quiet oasis, with a little help from This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook. Next on The Money Pit, Roger Cook will teach us how to create a quiet backyard.

    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 2014 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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