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  • Transcript

    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
    (promo/theme song)

    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 – the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT – because we want to hear your home improvement question. There are no dumb questions on this show; just the occasional dumb answer from the host (Leslie chuckles) but we try to keep those few and far between. So give us a shot. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    You know, in most of the country, it’s still pretty cold and dreary …
    LESLIE: Yeah.
    TOM: … which – could I be dreaming of an island getaway?
    LESLIE: Oh, sorry; I was dreaming of one right now. (both laugh)
    TOM: Well, I don’t think we can help you with that …
    LESLIE: Argh.
    TOM: … but would you settle for a kitchen island?
    LESLIE: Can I sunbathe on it?
    TOM: I wouldn’t recommend it.
    LESLIE: Dang.
    TOM: It might get the neighbors talking (Leslie laughs); especially if you don’t have drapes in those kitchen windows. We’re going to have some great ideas, though, on how you can create your own kitchen island on a budget, this hour; especially if you don’t have a lot of room for one. We’ve got some really creative tips on how you can make it really easy and effective and a fun project to do.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? When it comes to your kitchen, one of the most important parts of the kitchen – that you might not even think is important but it is – is actually the plumbing. So, if your kitchen’s plumbing seems a bit sluggish at times, well it could be due to a venting situation. So we’re going to get tips to help speed up the flow, later this hour, when we welcome our expert plumber friend, Richard Trethewey, from TV’s This Old House.
    TOM: Plus, storage is always a big issue this time of year and if you’re feeling a bit cramped, we’re going to have some fantastic ideas to help you organize and customize your closet in just a few minutes.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And this hour, we’re going to help one caller get a mini-bathroom-makeover with our bath accessory prize pack from Top Knobs.
    TOM: That’s a great, great prize.
    LESLIE: Yeah, this is a great prize and can actually make a huge difference. Because, listen, it includes cabinet pulls; a double towel bar; a tissue holder; a hook and so much more which will really spruce up your bath.
    TOM: And it’s worth 335 bucks …
    LESLIE: Phew.
    TOM: … so if you’ve got a bath question or a kitchen question or, really, any question, pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we draw your name out of the Money Pit hardhat, we’ll be sending that supply of bath décor items to your house. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to it.
    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Dan in Iowa is calling in with a window question. What can we do for you?
    DAN: I’m buying an older home built in 1910 and it just got inspected and it said all the sash cords in the home are broken.
    TOM: OK.
    DAN: My question to you is: is there an easy, efficient way to replace those or should I be asking for more money from the seller?
    TOM: Well, the windows certainly need to be operable and …
    LESLIE: And if the cords are broken, you can’t open or close them; correct?
    DAN: Correct.
    TOM: Well, or you need a lot of sticks to hold them up when they’re open. (chuckles)
    LESLIE: Yeah.
    DAN: Yes. And the inspector said it’s dangerous for pets. If they hit the stack (ph), it could come down on their head and hurt them.
    TOM: Yep, that’s true, that’s true. Yeah.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well, and kids; everybody.
    TOM: You know, it sounds to me like new windows are in your future, Dan.
    DAN: OK.
    TOM: If I were you, I would try to negotiate the best possible price and then I would replace those windows before the end of 2010 because, if you do that, you can qualify for up to a 30-percent tax credit toward the cost of those windows, which will come off your taxes in 2011 due to the federal tax rebate program that’s going on right now.
    DAN: (overlapping voices) Oh.
    TOM: It’s a real good time to install replacement windows.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
    DAN: Excellent, excellent. Well, thank you. I greatly appreciate it. You answered the question and no one else has been able to give me any information on them.
    TOM: Yeah, that’s the answer. You know, replacing the broken sash cords and all that, it’s a big hassle because you have to take the trim apart from the inside and then you’ve got to find the parts and …
    LESLIE: Well, and then you need to worry about the efficiency of the window. If they still have sash cords, they’re probably a very old window.
    TOM: Yeah.
    LESLIE: You know, are they single-pane; what’s the thermal efficiency – if there’s any?
    TOM: Right.
    LESLIE: So, you know what? Head on over to EnergyStar.gov. You can do some research there about windows that qualify for the federal tax credit. This way, you kind of have an idea about what the cost would be per window; so when you approach the realtor and the seller, you can say, “You know what? I want X amount of dollars.”
    DAN: Alright, excellent. I truly appreciate it.
    TOM: Alright, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Pat in Delaware needs some help fixing a ceiling. Tell us about the problem.
    PAT: Yes, I have a 60-year-old two-story colonial and I’ve maintained it over the years but the cracks in the ceiling have me concerned. And I was wondering do I have to get a plasterer and pay the exorbitant fees or can do it at home; fix it myself?
    TOM: Well, you can fix it yourself.
    LESLIE: Yeah, are the cracks that you’re seeing, are they where the molding meets the ceiling or are they smack in the middle? Does it seem like it’s on a seam?
    PAT: They’re in the middle.
    TOM: That’s pretty much normal expansion and contraction. I think those cracks can be fixed. I would use the perforated drywall tape on that, Leslie.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. What you need to do is you need to cover it up with the perforated drywall tape, like Tom mentioned; and that’s the kind that looks almost like a gauze but it’s sticky all around.
    PAT: Right.
    LESLIE: And then you would put that …
    PAT: I’ve used that before but I find it gets sticky and cakey. Then am I supposed to hand-sand it before I paint it?
    LESLIE: Absolutely.
    TOM: Yep.
    LESLIE: What you’re supposed to do is apply the joint compound in several different layers.
    TOM: Thin layers.
    LESLIE: You know, thin layers; so put a layer over it, let it dry really well, then sand it. Then you want to put another layer over it, let it dry really well and sand it. And you want to keep getting wider and wider and wider and sand it out so that it really almost feathers away and you don’t even notice it.
    TOM: Pat, 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. Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whatever is broken – even if you broke it (Tom chuckles) – we will not judge. We will help you solve that problem, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Maybe the problem you want to solve is a space problem and a kitchen island can help you do that. It can be a very functional work area. But it doesn’t have to be just a big, fat rectangle in the middle of the room. We’ve got some very creative, space-saving solutions for building your own kitchen island, after this.

    (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 Therma-Tru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    Hey, give us a call here at The Money Pit because it’s a new year. We know we’re all still paying off our holiday bills and we’re really thinking about some cost-saving techniques in the house that can really make a big difference. Well, our prize this hour can help you do just that and it’s a good inspirational idea for you as well.
    We are giving away the Stratton bath hardware collection from Top Knobs. Now listen to this. It comes with a double towel bar, a double hook, a toilet tissue holder and six cabinet pulls. And Top Knobs products, they’ve got a sealed finish so the knobs and the bars that you most frequently use won’t wear faster than the ones that you don’t. Everything is going to look the same through the lifetime of the products. And the package is worth 335 bucks, so that can really make a huge difference to any size bath. So give us a call for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Now, another home improvement that can really deliver some return on investment is any one that you make to your kitchen. And if you’re thinking about installing, say, a kitchen island, it is a great way to add workspace and storage to that area of the house. But here’s the thing: an island does not have to be square or rectangular. You can custom design one with angles and features that best fit your particular kitchen and your needs.
    Now, the first step is planning. You want to think about the storage and how you’re going to use it. Is it going to be a home work area or maybe a cooking prep area?
    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, also, if you don’t have the room to actually build a gigantic island, you might want to consider using salvaged furniture, which is a great idea and totally inexpensive – you know, like an old table or a desk – and that can be your island. All you might need to do is build it up to counter height and you can do that with materials. It’s not difficult, it’s not expensive and it can actually add a very homey and a custom look to your kitchen that’s not going to break the bank.
    And if you think about it, if you’ve got a small desk and you want to go with a natural top like granite or marble, it’s not going to be that expensive to get a piece of that size. So it really is a great way to change your kitchen around and give you some more work space.
    If you’re looking for some more kitchen ideas on a budget, why not visit MoneyPit.com and look under “Home Spaces” to find kitchens?
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Pick up the phone right now and give us a call with your home improvement, your home décor or your home maintenance question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Tom who’s dealing with a stain on the bathroom floor. What can we do for you?
    CALLER TOM: I bought a new town home and the color was a light beige, light gray kind of a stone façade or tile façade.
    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.
    CALLER TOM: And I put in that bathroom a rubber-backed rug …
    TOM: OK.
    CALLER TOM: … and the rubber-backed rug was an older rug and it got wet and a stain occurred on that same spot where the rubber-backed backing was.
    TOM: What kind of flooring do you have? Is it like a …
    CALLER TOM: It’s a vinyl or a …
    TOM: Yeah. Well, I knew you were going to say that. (Caller Tom chuckles) Because what’s happened here is – and I’m not so sure the water had anything to do with this; you may have discovered it when you – when it got wet and you picked it up.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It’s just the rug itself.
    TOM: But when you put a rubber-backed carpet on top of a vinyl floor, you get a chemical reaction which is called oxidation and it usually creates a stain that tends to look kind of brownish or yellowish.
    CALLER TOM: Yeah, it’s a horrible-looking, orange-brown.
    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, really nasty.
    CALLER TOM: Yes.
    TOM: Bad news: that’s not something you can clean.
    CALLER TOM: Uh-oh.
    TOM: What’s happened is you’ve actually physically changed the makeup of the vinyl and that’s a permanent situation. So you have two options.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) The only solution is a larger rug. (Leslie laughs)
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, larger rug or replace the floor.
    CALLER TOM: (overlapping voices, chuckles) That’s what we’ve been using and I’ve been debating whether or not to just put in another section of vinyl.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, yeah; you can do that.
    TOM: Yeah, well you know what? Why don’t you think about putting in some laminate floor, Tom? That’s an easy product to install yourself, it works really well in bathrooms and you go right on top of the vinyl.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Can put it right over the existing floor.
    CALLER TOM: Oh, that’s an idea. Thanks for your help.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Joanne in California has a question about a water heater. What can we do for you, Joanne?
    JOANNE: Well, I’d like to know if you’re supposed to drain your water heaters.
    TOM: Not necessarily, unless you have particularly hard water. Sometimes if you get mineral deposits that build up in the bottom of the water heater, they can actually act as an insulator and it will cost you a little bit more in your energy dollars to actually heat the water, Joanne. But unless you sense that that’s the kind of water that you have in the house …
    JOANNE: We do. We have hard water.
    TOM: Oh, you do? OK. Well, in that case, you know, draining a bit of water out once in a while is not a bad idea but you also might want to think about installing a water softener. We have, actually, a sponsor that makes one called EasyWater that works very well because you don’t need to be a plumber to install it. It basically will take the charge out of the hard water so that it doesn’t stick to each other anymore; doesn’t clog up your systems. So you might want to take a look at EasyWater.com.
    LESLIE: Mary needs some help with a vanity. What’s going on? How can we help you?
    MARY: Question. We’ve got a house that’s about 25 years old. It has the original vanity in the bathroom and unfortunately, over the years, people have put cigarettes on the edge of the vanity. Now, I call it hard plastic; I don’t know what the technical term for the material is but is there any way to restore that so we don’t have to replace the whole sink?
    TOM: Well, not really. If you had a chip or a ding or something like that or a very sort of contained, burned-out area, it’s possible that you could use a laminate patching material and try to get something that’s close in color and fix it that way. But generally, from a burn like that, it typically sort of gets yellowish and deforms it.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
    TOM: It’s very hard to repair that. What you could do, however, is instead of replacing it you could re-laminate it; so essentially you could purchase new Formica or new laminate and you could basically put the new stuff over the old stuff without removing the old material. You can rough it up a little bit and contact cement it right on.
    LESLIE: You would have to pop out the sink, though.
    TOM: Yeah. You’d have to pop out the sink for sure but you wouldn’t have to replace the top. So I actually did that to an entire countertop at a house that I owned once and it came out great.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And relaminating, Mary, it’s not a very difficult project. What you would do is you would remove the sink and then use contact cement on both sides; on the back side of the new laminate and on the top of the old laminate. Sort of let it become tacky and then you want to lay it on top of the existing vanity. And then, what you can do is once that’s dried and secure, you can take a router and plunge-cut the area where your sink will go and cut the edges and then you can trim up the sides.
    And if you look at companies like Formica or Lamin-Art or Wilsonart, go to their websites and you can see that the options today, I mean, are truly gorgeous. I saw at Builders Show last year – we saw some beautiful Formica options that looked like bamboo, that looked like butcher block; I mean, things that sort of were very clean and very Zen; gorgeous colors. So you’d be quite surprised at the changes that the laminate countertops have really come.
    MARY: Well, I think that’s worth trying and I appreciate your help.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Mary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Tobin (sp) who’s got a question about cleaning air ducts. Ah, this time of year, people knocking on your doors want to clean your air ducts, Tobin (sp)?
    TOBIN (sp): Yeah. Actually, my question involves the routine maintenance of them.
    TOM: OK.
    TOBIN (sp): I clean – you know, I replace the filters at the intakes and everything.
    TOM: Yep.
    TOBIN (sp): But we get these inserts in the mailers every week saying, you know, “We’ll clean the air ducts with our high steam” and all that kind of stuff.
    TOM: Yeah.
    TOBIN (sp): Is that a necessary thing to do for the …?
    TOM: Panic-peddlers. Panic-peddlers. Don’t buy it.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. And the pictures, Tobin (sp), are alarming.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) No, you don’t need to clean the ducts. Yeah, they’re very alarmist contractors. You don’t need to clean your ducts; only if you’ve maybe done some construction or something of that nature. There’s a lot of misinformation in the duct-cleaning business. In fact, the EPA has got a great website that talks about this problem and, in fact, a lot of the claims that are made about treating the ducts with different types of mildicides and things like that, they say, generally, that the products that they apply are not label-approved for this type of use.
    And so, not a good idea, I think, in your situation. I would ignore those flyers. Just make sure that you are religious about changing your filters on that system. Do it regularly, whenever it’s recommended; if it’s a pleated filter, you know, once a month.
    You might want to invest in something. I would get a whole-house air cleaner – one that’s installed into the HVAC system – because those are so efficient, they can take out virus-sized particles.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They’ll truly scrub every bit of air as it circulates through the entire system.

    TOBIN (sp): It sounds great. Well, I appreciate the information.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Tobin (sp). Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Don in Pennsylvania has got a question about his heating system. What can we help you with?
    DON: Yes, I was wondering about a cold air return; the fresh air return from bringing air in from outside in the duct work.
    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm. You mean from the exterior; not talking about the return inside the house. You’re talking about venting some fresh air into the house, correct?
    DON: Yes, into the cold air return; ventilation.
    TOM: OK, so I think what you’re talking about is called an air-to-air heat exchanger.
    DON: OK.
    TOM: And basically, it takes fresh air into the house but allows some of the heated air, as it’s being exhausted – sort of the stale air – to transfer some of its heat to the chilly air coming in and dramatically improves the efficiency of that operation. That’s added, typically, in a home – a residential home – that’s really, really well-insulated; that does not have a lot of air changes per hour because it maintains the healthy environment. It’s also a fairly standard thing, Don, in a commercial installation where you have to make sure that you’re always introducing fresh air into the building. So it’s a good idea if the home is very, very tight. If it’s not really tight, then you don’t need to worry about it.
    DON: OK. It is a little bit tight.
    TOM: Well, how do you know how tight it is? Have you ever tested it?
    DON: Well, up in the attic up there, we have the insulation running through the rafters across.
    TOM: Well, you know, that may seem like it’s an energy-efficient house but we’re talking about how well-sealed the house is. There’s one way for you to tell. It’s called a blower door test. It’s done by an energy auditor and they can actually measure how tight your house is and I’ve got to tell you, of all the times I’ve seen these tests done – and basically what they do is they stick a big fan in the front door and they blow the house up with air just like you’re inflating a balloon and then they measure how much of it is leaking out. And they can actually do it in reverse, too; they can depressurize the house and measure how much air is leaking in.
    Generally, you will find that it’s very, very inefficient and far more inefficient than what you thought it was. So unless you’ve done that type of test, Don, I wouldn’t recommend that you install the air-to-air heat exchanger; just speculating that you may need it. I would get the data first. And frankly, if the house is leaky, you may be better off putting your money into trying to figure out how to make it tighter and that’s something that will also be identified by that blower door test because it will show you exactly what’s leaking – whether it’s the windows, the doors, the walls, the outlets – and you’ll know exactly how to attack it and make that house nice and energy efficient.
    You can probably get it done, by the way, by your local utility company. They very often offer those services.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, and sometimes they even do it for free.
    TOM: That’s true. Sometimes they do do it for free.
    Don, I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Now Tom, when you go and get the energy audit done in your home, is the blower door test the standard test or are there a series of other things that they do?
    TOM: There’s probably a series that they’re going to do; it depends on how thorough the energy audit is. But if you have the opportunity to get that blower door test, it’s really going to be enlightening what you find out about the house.
    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
    Well, when home improvement projects don’t always go as planned, it does help to vent a little bit and your plumbing system feels exactly the same way. You know, sluggish drains could be a sign that a little fresh air is needed. We’re going to help you figure out a fast fix to that problem, after this.

    (theme song)
    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: You know, if you ever find yourself short on cash around the house, one place you might want to look is your attic. You might just find that, say, Grandma’s old dresser is really worth something or you could discover the next big find for the antiques road show. But there are a few telltale things that you can look for to help you determine exactly what you have and we cover those in a new article on MoneyPit.com called “How to Date Furniture.” So, simply head on over to MoneyPit.com and enter into the search box “how to date furniture.” You’ll find out how exactly to figure out how old your piece is and whether it’s really worth anything that could put some money in your pocket.
    888-666-3974.   Let’s get back to the phones.
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Dan in Washington is doing some work on the outside of the house. What can we do for you today?
    DAN: Hi, yeah. So, I live in a split-level home and the entryway, when we bought the house, they had placed a railing and guard rail that goes both upstairs and downstairs and it’s metal and painted black.
    TOM: Right, mm-hmm. Pretty standard.
    DAN: Our decoration – our interior decoration of the living room within that area, as you immediately go upstairs, is kind of a rustic type, I guess, decorative pattern.
    TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.
    DAN: So we were curious as to what color we could essentially paint the railing or if we should just pull that and put in like a wood railing and that sort of thing.
    TOM: You know, those cast-iron metal railings, Leslie, don’t have a lot of personality to them.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Character. Well …
    TOM: Any options short of replacing it?
    LESLIE: Yeah. How comfortable are you with faux painting if it came in like a kit? Because I mean you could do something pretty rustic maybe – now when you say “rustic,” are you thinking like country or lodge-y? I mean there are so many ways to define rustic. But you could …
    DAN: Yeah, it’s a more lodge type.
    LESLIE: You could go with something that almost has like an antiqued patina; maybe like, you know, a patinaed copper so you get that copper sort of teal-y mix. There’s a good company called Modern Masters and if you search them out online, their website might even just be ModernMasters.com. And they have wonderful kits that create these beautiful looks of metals and finishes that you might find something there that works with the tone and the feel of rustic-ness that you’re trying to get in the space. And the kits aren’t that expensive and they’re really easy to do yourself if you have a little bit of confidence with it. Plus, at that point, if you hate it, you’re leaning toward replacing it anyway; you might as well give it a go.
    DAN: Yeah, yeah. No, that’s a good point. Thank you very much.
    LESLIE: Oh, it’s our pleasure.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Well, when it comes to the plumbing in your house, how much do you really know about it and do you have to know about it? I mean other than the fact that it makes weird noises and hopefully it works when you need it to and want it to …
    TOM: That’s all that’s really important. (chuckles)
    LESLIE: Yeah, seriously. If things go where they’re supposed to go and water comes out of where it’s supposed to, then hooray; we all win.
    TOM: Life is good.
    LESLIE: But what happens when it doesn’t work properly and what about this mysterious venting that I hear so much about?
    TOM: Well, you know, if your system is sluggish, the cause could be the venting and here with some tips on how to straighten that all out is Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House, and plumbing expert Richard Trethewey.
    And Kevin, there’s a little bit of mysterious alphabet soup to this whole process because we’re really talking about something called the DWV.
    KEVIN: That’s right. Residential drainage systems are often abbreviated DWV for drain, waste and vent. Most people understand the drain and waste part but they may not understand why a plumbing system has to be vented.
    RICHARD: Well, venting is absolutely critical to any drain system. It has to breathe. You know, when water goes down that drain, the air that’s inside that piping, before the water went down, has to go somewhere. Think about it. Imagine putting your finger on the top of a straw full of water. That water will not drain out of the bottom unless you let the air into the top.
    So, when a system is not vented fully or properly, you can have gurgling and slow draining of sinks, tubs, toilets. You also might get the smell of sewer gas if the poor venting causes a trap to lose its seal.
    KEVIN: So a lot of times we see the vent pipe going through the roof. But do you always have to penetrate the roof?
    RICHARD: Well, usually the venting of a new fixture can tie into the existing stack then exit the roof but not always. In some circumstances, you may be able to use a special one-way vent called an air admittance valve. It allows you to vent a system from inside the house; perhaps in a vanity, kitchen island or even a basement. These valves satisfy most plumbing codes but not all.
    KEVIN: Alright. If you want to learn more about the science of venting, visit us at ThisOldHouse.com.
    TOM: Or if you just want to vent, you can go to ThisOldHouse.com and tell us your plumbing story.
    KEVIN: (overlapping voices) That’s right. (chuckles)
    TOM: Richard Trethewey, Kevin O’Connor, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
    RICHARD: Thanks, Tom.
    KEVIN: Good to be here.
    LESLIE: Yeah, and you know sometimes I find that the bathroom is actually the best place for me to vent. (Tom laughs) I just shut the door; I let it all out; I go screaming, complaining about everything that’s going on at the house. And you know what? I actually feel much better.
    TOM: I’m glad that works for you. (both chuckle)
    Well, for more tips on plumbing systems and so much more, be sure to watch Kevin and Richard on This Old House and This Old House is brought to you by GMC. GMC – we are professional grade.
    Well, up next, are you ready to take on that bottomless pit you call your closet? “What?” you say? Your closet is not bottomless? In fact, it’s totally overflowing? Not to worry. We’re going to have some closet storage solutions to help you out, after this.

    (theme song)
    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. And a new look in your bathroom could be just a dial tone away because this hour we’re giving an instant makeover of handcrafted, quality hardware from Top Knobs to one caller. You could win a set of hardware that includes a double towel bar, a double hook, toilet tissue holder and cabinet pulls worth 335 bucks. It’s a great selection of quality hardware products from Top Knobs. Going to go to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Yeah, pick up the phone and give us a call; especially if you have a project on your to-do list that just seems like something that has no end in sight. And you know what a project that is pretty much endless, if you will?
    TOM: What would that be?
    LESLIE: Organizing closets. I mean it really is a just overwhelming task that you tackle in your house. I tend to do mine seasonally just because I’m a folding and organizing nutter, if you will.
    TOM: Now what exactly is, Leslie, the closet organizing season? Just wondering because perhaps there is a Hallmark card in our future.
    LESLIE: (chuckles) I do it in like the clothing-wearing season.
    TOM: OK.
    LESLIE: Like I’ll do it in the fall into winter and then I’ll do it into spring into summer. And it’s generally I take everything out, I fold it up but I put it back in and I just sort of tidy it up and get rid of things I haven’t worn or don’t like or don’t fit anymore and, you know, donate those to Goodwill.
    TOM: That’ll work.
    LESLIE: But it’s really something that you have to tackle in stages. If you’re sort of a person that lets things build up, then do it in small steps: tackle one area of your closet; only do one set of dresser drawers; you know, do one section of folded items. Really take the time. My rule is if I haven’t worn it in six months or a year, get rid of it. If it’s not something that’s seasonal and, OK, I haven’t worn my ski jacket because it’s summer, then obviously I’m holding onto it. But if it’s something where, you know, the piece is dated and I just haven’t worn it, then donate it. It can really make a huge difference to somebody else and if you’re not wearing it, obviously you don’t need it.
    So take the time. Start in small steps and, really, it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of these things. Organize things, wear stuff you haven’t seen in ages. It becomes fresh and new as if you’ve just been shopping.
    Now, if you’re doing shopping closets that have, say, holiday decorations or sporting equipment, keep things toward the front that you use in that season. You know, if it’s the middle of the summer, you don’t need your skis right there and vice versa; you don’t need your lawnmower if there’s a foot of snow outside. So take advantage of that. Think about the season, put things in the front that you’re going to use the most at that exact time and stick with it.
    TOM: You know, my wife has been trying to get me to take the lawnmower out of the bedroom closet but it is just so darn convenient there.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah. (chuckles)
    TOM: Well, once you’ve gotten an inventory of what will be stored, you want to choose an organizational system that could work for you. There are so many options to consider. Head on over to MoneyPit.com. Search on organizing your closet. We’ve got lots of tips and advice and a great article right there online at MoneyPit.com. Or pick up the phone right now and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Nicki in Indiana is dealing with some moisture in the basement. Tell us what’s going on.
    NICKI: Well, our house is 21 years old. We have a concrete block wall basement. When we built, we did all the draining and all the things we were supposed to do on the outside. We sealed the concrete block on the inside, painted the walls. And after 20 years, we started having mildew and mold.
    TOM: OK.
    NICKI: We do run a dehumidifier down here. What do you suggest we do?
    TOM: Well, when you say you have mildew and mold, are these walls still concrete block or do you have – are they covered with wood or anything of that nature?
    NICKI: No, we did not, we did not.
    TOM: Alright, so what you’re seeing is like – are you seeing like white-gray, crusty stuff come through the wall?
    NICKI: Yes.
    TOM: Yeah, it’s not mildew. It’s not mildew and it’s not mold. What you’re seeing are mineral salt deposits.
    NICKI: Well now, it does turn black, dark, and then I was finding mildew on some of the furniture; some of the cabinets.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. OK, well that’s a different issue. But you’re not going to get mold on those walls because they’re not – there’s no organic material there for the mold to eat. Typically, what you’re having there is mineral salt deposits and you can prove this to yourself. If you take white vinegar and spray it on there, you’ll find that it usually disappears.
    NICKI: OK.
    TOM: But the reason this is happening is because you have a moisture problem outside and I think you should address the drainage. And the fact that, you know, it’s fine except for now after 20 years means something broke down; so let’s go through the basics. Make sure your gutters are clean and free-flowing, make sure the downspouts are extended four to six feet away from the house and make sure the soil slopes away from the house a drop of six inches over four feet.
    NICKI: (overlapping voices) OK.
    TOM: Those three things will stop almost all wet basement problems.
    LESLIE: Doug in North Carolina has a tiling question. How can we help you with the project?
    DOUG: I want to apply some ceramic tile directly to the drywall that’s been painted; underneath my kitchen backsplash wall.
    LESLIE: Gotcha.
    DOUG: I want to know if I can just do that without much prep.
    LESLIE: Well, I don’t see why not. What is the condition of the drywall? Is it in good shape from being in contact with the water or it seems alright?
    DOUG: Yes, it’s in great shape. It’s only like four years old.
    LESLIE: Yeah, I don’t see why not. You know, depending on how comfortable you are with a tiling project, you know, you can go with traditional thinset mastic to use that as your adhesive. Or Tom and I have actually worked with a new product that really makes installing tile ridiculously easy; it’s called Bondera TileMatSet.
    TOM: Yeah, especially on a backsplash.
    LESLIE: Seriously. On a vertical surface where you might be dealing with tiles sliding down and patterns and making sure things are level, this stuff – I mean the Bondera works amazing because it’s essentially like the stickiest, sticky paper you’ve ever seen in your life. It’s thick and it’s gray and it’s sticky and it’s got lines on it so you can’t mess up the tile being in the proper direction. And you peel off one side and stick it to the backsplash; then you peel off the other side and stick your tile to it.
    Now, we used it for a counter; we used it for a backsplash; we used it for a counter edge. And on the vertical surfaces, I would say when choosing your tile, make sure that the backside of the tile has sufficient four flat sides that would go in contact with it because it sticks super-duper well and once you adhere the tile to the Bondera, you can grout immediately and then all you’re waiting for is the grout to dry.
    TOM: Yep, exactly.
    DOUG: That sounds great. That sounds like a nice shortcut.
    LESLIE: It really is.
    DOUG: Is that available in local home centers or …?
    TOM: It’s available at Lowe’s and also available online.
    DOUG: (overlapping voices) OK. Very good. Well, listen; I appreciate that very much.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
    Hey, you know, selling your home these days, it really takes a solid, well-thought-out strategy. So, how do you find the right pro to help you with that? We’re going to have some tips when we come back.

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    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.
    Hey, you know Tom and I think of all of you as our friends. So, why don’t you make us your friends? Friend us on Facebook. We’ve got a fan site there and it’s super-easy to join. All you need to do is text “Fan the Money Pit” to FBOOK at 32665. That’s right. We’re all tech-savvy and getting into the future because you can do this right from your cell phone. It goes lickety-split. You just have to remember that standard text messaging charges apply but you will instantly be a fan of The Money Pit. You’re going to get great articles, fun stories, good home improvement advice. It’s all there and it’s updated constantly, as Facebook always is.
    And while you’re online, and even while you’re on the Facebook site, you could e-mail us a question and we’ll answer them like we do here at the show. And we’ve got one here from Rick who writes: “We are in the early stages of searching for a home. Choosing a realtor to represent us will be important. What are some questions to ask since they are trained to be friendly, helpful and are boastful of their experience?” (Tom chuckles) “In this market, I feel I need someone that can negotiate well for us.”
    TOM: Is there a boasting class that the realtors have to take?
    LESLIE: I feel like they’re always selling themselves because they sell houses; they’ve got to.
    TOM: And you know what? If they can’t sell themselves, they certainly can’t sell your house, so that’s a good place to start.
    LESLIE: Exactly.
    TOM: Well, I mean obviously referrals is really the first question. If you’re new to the neighborhood, I would take a drive around and see who seems to be moving the most property. Because you’re going to find that realtors do specialize in a neighborhood and that’s a good thing because they have all of the answers; as opposed to somebody that’s coming in from totally on the outside and may not have all of the information that a buyer might need to move into that particular place.
    Once you’ve narrowed down the list, you want to make an appointment to meet with the agent in their office and before you start talking about the house, you might want to find out as much as you can about the agent. For example, how long have they been working as an agent? You know, an inexperienced agent might be fine for an uncomplicated purchase but, for the most part, you really want to look for somebody who has at least five years of experience. Getting licensed is relatively easy. Be warned. Just because you’re a licensed agent doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an expert, so I think experience definitely counts.
    LESLIE: Now, is there a difference between a real estate agent and a realtor? I mean I hear both terms in the media; you see different terms on signage. Or are they pretty much the same?
    TOM: Well, a real estate agent that is a member of the National Association of Realtors is a realtor. So they’re used somewhat interchangeably but a realtor is a professional designation and your assurance that you’re getting a good-quality person to represent you in that transaction; speaking of which, you may also want to look for awards that they’ve won and find out how accessible they are. You know, buying a house is not a nine-to-five job.
    LESLIE: No.
    TOM: I mean you’re going to have calls all hours of the day and night and you want to be able to reach out to the agent if you need them; especially if you’ve got an offer on the table.
    And finally – I think this is very, very important – take note if the agent is a good listener. Because if they’re not a good listener, that’s really going to be very, very frustrating. It’s a very emotional process. It’s a real rollercoaster ride that you are embarking on here, Rick, and you want to make sure that you’re working with somebody that really listens to what your needs are and addresses them in an appropriate way.
    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got one from Joe in Virginia who writes: “How do you feel about whole-house tankless water heaters? We have a 2,100-square-foot home with two baths and with only two adults living there.”
    TOM: I feel pretty good about them. I mean, basically, if I was going to install a new water heater today, I would always get a tankless.
    LESLIE: Right.
    TOM: If I have gas, I’m going to use a tankless water heater because it’s going to be an unlimited supply and it doesn’t matter if you have two people or ten people living in the house. If you buy the unit to fit the number of bedrooms, you will always have hot water. A little bit more expensive to purchase but well worth it in the long run.
    LESLIE: Well, and you know what they say: real estate costs money. And think about the amount of space you’re gaining back by having a tankless water heater. (both chuckle)
    TOM: Good point.
    LESLIE: Good luck with that, Joe.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Hope you got lots of tips and ideas for taking care of your money pit; making it a little safer, more comfortable, more energy efficient for the days to come.
    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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