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    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: Happy New Year, everybody. Hope that you had a terrific holiday season and are now resetting for the year ahead. If those plans include some remodeling projects, some repair products, some perhaps even – dare I say an addition, now that the economy is getting just a little bit better? We are here to help you 24-7, 365 at 888-MONEY-PIT. Help yourself first by picking up the phone and giving us a call.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you this hour. Coming up, you know all the predictions you’ve been probably hearing about for 2012? We’re hearing about them for every topic on the sun. Here’s one that may have escaped your attention: the color of the year has just been announced.

    LESLIE: Who knew?

    TOM: I don’t know how I missed this, Leslie, but the color of the year has been announced and here’s a hint: it’s bright, it’s bold, it’s warm and it’s apparently going to show up on everything from shoes to kitchen appliances.

    So we will tell you what that is, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Man, I sense some redecorating going on at the Segrete household.

    Alright. Also ahead, as a homeowner, clogged sinks, they’re very typical and they always happen at the least opportune moment. But you don’t have to live with them. We are going to share some tips on an easy way to unclog a drain the right way, a little later.

    TOM: And as we head into the chilliest part of winter, we’ve got some ideas to give your fireplace a custom look with easy-to-build surrounds that can add some vintage charm.

    LESLIE: Brrr.

    TOM: And check this out: these surrounds are so cool, you can even install them in a home that doesn’t have a fireplace and create the illusion of one.

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    And this hour, we’ve got a super-handy prize to give away. It’s the Kobalt Double-Drive Screwdriver and it’s a ratcheting screwdriver with a twist: it actually drives the screw in with both forward and backward turns of the handle. I mean it’s fantastic and it literally flew off the shelves at Lowe’s this holiday season. But we’ve managed to score one for a caller to today’s program.

    TOM: So pick up the phone right now, give us a call. We want to hear your home improvement project, we want to help solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We will toss your name into The Money Pit hard hat and you might just win that Kobalt Double-Drive if you call us today. Let’s get to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Dina in Iowa is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you?

    DINA: My husband and I – about, oh, probably three or four years ago – did some remodeling in our kitchen. And we decided on getting some of the laminate, fake-travertine floor.

    TOM: OK.

    DINA: And we went to our local Habitat for Humanity store and got – they’re like planks; they’re planks of the floor. And we installed them and they looked beautiful. But over the course of the last couple years, things have fallen and chunks have come out. Like some places it’s just a scratch here or there but in other places there are some chunks. And luckily, the floor has kind of a brown rock appearance, so some of them aren’t noticeable. But there is one that’s fairly large and once you start looking, you can see just how many there are.

    So, we can’t go back to the store and get more because it’s a ReStore; they only have limited quantities. And really, replacing all that is going to be really tough. I didn’t know if you had a way to fix this or any suggestions?

    TOM: Well, there’s a lot of difference in the quality of laminate floors and some are going to be more durable than others. For those that are not aware, laminate floors are similar to laminate countertops except, for the most part, they’re about 20 times more durable.

    Now, if you know the manufacturer of the floor – I don’t know if that’s possible. Most manufacturers actually have a sort of touch-up compound. It comes typically in a tube – it looks like a toothpaste tube – where you can actually squeeze some of the stuff out and patch the floor and come up with a color that’s reasonably close. If you don’t have that, you may be able to find one from another manufacturer that’s close to this.

    DINA: OK. I do remember we looked at the flooring. I don’t remember the name but I do remember it was a major name brand, because we looked it up online to read about it.

    TOM: OK.

    DINA: So, I think we may have one or two squares somewhere; maybe I can look on the back and give them a call. That’s great information.

    TOM: Yeah. If you can do that, I bet you you’ll find that they do have a repair product for the floor. Because you’re not the first one that’s dropped something on the floor and had a chip.

    LESLIE: And you’re not going to be the last one.

    DINA: Right. OK. Well, thank you. That’s good information. I didn’t even think to look back at the company. So I will do that.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that project.

    DINA: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Gary in Maryland needs some help working on a driveway project. What do you want to do with it?

    GARY: I have a carport that I was thinking about wanting to put some coloring in it on the – painting it.

    TOM: OK.

    GARY: Then I was wondering, what would be the preparation that I would have to do for that that would help the paint stay on? And also, that it wouldn’t be slippery if it got wet.

    LESLIE: Now this is a concrete surface under your carport that you’re talking about?

    GARY: Yes.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, the type of concrete that you’re going to want to use is an epoxy paint. It’s an air-cure epoxy and the formulations are such now that they have very good adhesion to the concrete. Even if you’ve had – the concrete has been dirty before, it’s been damp. As long as you clean it well – and they have an etching material that usually is sold with the paint that preps the surface.

    LESLIE: That’s like the first step.

    GARY: Yes.

    TOM: Right. So that’s what you want to do: clean it first, use the epoxy. Make sure you wait for two or three really good, dry days because you’re going to make – you want to make sure it cures very well before you put the car back on. And you can also add some traction supplements to it where you have like sand mixes and things.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s usually sold separately but it’s right next to it.

    TOM: Right, exactly.

    GARY: A sand mix. OK.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s like an anti-skid additive. It’ll have like a fancy wording but it’s really so you don’t slip and fall.

    TOM: Exactly.

    GARY: Right, yes. Oh, it’s great. Well, thank you very much. Appreciate that.

    TOM: You’re welcome. 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. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So if you’ve got your New Year’s home resolution all set up on a list, we can help you tackle everything and get your home in tip-top shape for this new year. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, is your home missing some vintage charm? We’re going to tell you one way to add it without a complete remodel, next.

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

    (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 tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    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: And here’s what we want you to do: go to the phone right now, pick it up and dial 888-666-3974. If you call us at 888-MONEY-PIT and ask your home improvement question, we’ll toss your name into The Money Pit hard hat and may send you a Kobalt Double-Drive Screwdriver.

    This is a very cool product. It was 27 different bits and drivers all in one. But what’s really neat about it is it’s kind of like a ratcheting screwdriver with a twist. And I say that because, as you turn the screwdriver forward, it drives the screw in. But as you turn it backwards, it doesn’t just ratchet, it continues to drive the screw in. So it basically drives the screw in at half the time at twice the speed. Very cool product. Going to go out to one caller to today’s show at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you that prize and help you with your home improvement project.

    Well, vintage charm really can add value to your home. But if you’re living in a fairly new house, you probably don’t have a lot of those special touches, which really are what we grow to love about a house.

    Now, one way to capture that vintage feel without giving up your modern conveniences is to simply add a salvaged, antique, fireplace mantel, even if you don’t have a real fireplace. You can put it in just about any room and the decorative fireplace will quickly become a focal point. And they can also spruce up an existing fireplace that has zero pizazz.

    TOM: Yes and when older homes are renovated or torn down, it’s becoming more popular to save those architectural pieces and to actually sell them to salvage dealers. You can find beautiful mantels, clawfoot bathtubs, stained-glass windows and even antique doorknobs. And if you don’t have a salvage dealer close to you, you can find this stuff online, as well.

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. There are just a plethora of sites where you can do shopping like this on the web.

    And you can also check for individual pieces that have been redone, on sites like Etsy.com or even Craigslist. And even though the mantel won’t actually be a working fireplace, it’s definitely going to add some warmth to your home.

    You can see pictures of a salvaged Victorian mantel and even get some other decorating ideas on our website. Just got to MoneyPit.com and search “fireplace mantels” and I am sure you will be inspired.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the telephone number. We want to talk to you about your next home improvement project. Pick up the phone, call us right now.

    LESLIE: Christopher in Pennsylvania is on the line with a plumbing question. What can we do for you today?

    CHRISTOPHER: I have a shallow-well pump and it is giving me trouble in the sense that it’s very noisy. Every time somebody flushes a toilet or gets a drink of water, it churns up. The pressure is at 40 pounds. Any ideas?

    TOM: Do you have a pressure tank?


    TOM: Because it shouldn’t be kicking on every time somebody runs water; that’s the purpose for the pressure tank. It should be basically feeding off the pressure tank and then coming on after the fact. So, one issue might be with the pressure tank being too small or not holding pressure correctly.

    And the other issue is with this racket. Has it always been this loud or does it seem to have gotten louder over time?

    CHRISTOPHER: Gotten louder and the tank is fairly new.

    TOM: It is. OK. If the well pump is getting louder over time, it may be the bearings are starting to wear on it. And if that happens, you may end up having to replace the pump.

    So, I would just be advised that a pump might be getting towards the end of a life cycle. It may be possible for a company that’s in the well-repair business to replace the bearings. The one final thing I would check is how well the pump is secured.

    Now, is this a pump that is secured to the floor? To the wall? How do you have it positioned?

    CHRISTOPHER: On top of a rock on top of a cinder block.

    TOM: Oh, well, see, now that may have something to do with it. Because if it’s not secured well, it’s going to vibrate like crazy. Why don’t you try bolting that puppy down?

    CHRISTOPHER: Yeah, well, it’s been that way. I’ve been in the house 25 years.

    TOM: Yeah, well …

    CHRISTOPHER: And if it ain’t broke, why fix it? (inaudible at 0:12:58).

    TOM: You know what? It may not – it may have been actually quite quiet while the bearings were in good shape. But now that things may be loosening up a bit, that might be why it sounds so much louder. I’m sure you could figure out a way to jury-rig a couple of straps on that thing and secure it.


    TOM: That would probably make a difference to take some of the vibration. And the thing about plumbing systems, whenever you get a little vibration in the line, it just telegraphs through the entire house, so it sounds a lot worse than it actually is. But if you can try to still that pump, Chris, I think it’ll be a lot quieter in your house, OK?

    CHRISTOPHER: Mm-hmm. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project, Chris. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Andrea in Pennsylvania is on the line with a bathroom-flooring question. How can we help you?

    ANDREA: I have a half-bath. It is about 3×3 and to the back of the wall, where the toilet and the sink are, there is a gap that starts about an 1/8-of-an-inch and it goes to about an inch-and-a-quarter. And below it, in the basement, there is a hole that – a cinder-block hole – that you can see. I crawled in there, then – yeah and it was disgusting, let me just tell you.

    TOM: I bet.

    LESLIE: I’m sure.

    ANDREA: But there was some sort of water damage.

    TOM: Hmm. So …

    ANDREA: But when you go to the bathroom in the wintertime, it’s a little chilly.

    TOM: Yeah. So, do you think that the floor dropped?

    ANDREA: I don’t know if the floor dropped or if it’s from some sort of – connected to it used to be a refrigerator that had an ice maker.

    TOM: That’s a big gap.

    ANDREA: And it was connected to the toilet tank.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Wow.

    ANDREA: Yeah.

    TOM: A refrigerator/ice maker connected to the toilet tank.

    ANDREA: Yes.

    TOM: That’s some house you’ve got there, Andrea.

    LESLIE: That sounds weird.

    ANDREA: Oh, my house was built in the 1930s.

    TOM: They probably just tapped into the water line near the toilet tank and that’s how they fed the ice maker. Let’s hope that’s how they did it.

    ANDREA: Yeah.

    TOM: Let’s hope they weren’t making ice out of the toilet water. That would be pretty gross.

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness.

    ANDREA: I hope not. That would have been pretty bad.

    TOM: Now, in terms of this sloping floor – sagging floor – the crack that you see, when you say it’s a crack, you’re talking about between the wall and the floor, correct?

    ANDREA: Correct, correct.

    TOM: Alright. So it clearly looks like the – either the wall levitated or the floor dropped.


    TOM: And the floor dropped – when the floor dropped, it dropped with the toilet in it, so it must have been slow over time. Otherwise, you’d have leaks all over the place. I suspect that something’s going on with the floor here.

    So the question is, first, do we have a structural problem?


    TOM: My answer is I don’t know, because I didn’t see that crawlspace. But if you go down there and take a bunch of photographs and post them in the Community section on MoneyPit.com, I will take a look at it for you.

    ANDREA: OK. Oh, I’d appreciate that.

    TOM: Or you could have a carpenter or an engineer, home inspector take a look at that.

    If the floor has just settled that way because it’s an older house and it’s just kind of worked its way into that position but doesn’t seem to be structurally damaged, then we have to deal with just the cosmetics of it. And the way to do that might simply be to install baseboard molding or adjust the baseboard molding that’s there. Is there molding there at all now? Is there a baseboard?

    ANDREA: No. Not at all.

    TOM: Yeah, so …

    ANDREA: Right now I have it stuffed with some Styrofoam.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, I would certainly fill the gap. I would insulate under that crawlspace floor, too, so that it’s warmer in there for you in the wintertime. But then I would just put a piece of baseboard molding. I’d let the molding ride down on the floor so the molding will be crooked with the floor.


    TOM: And I think that that’s OK. And if you paint it the same color as the wall, it would not be noticeable.

    ANDREA: Oh, that would be excellent. That seems simple enough for me.

    TOM: Alright, Andrea. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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

    COREY: Yeah, I had a question about the house that I was looking at buying.

    TOM: OK.

    COREY: And it’s got a major problem with the second floor. It sags probably about 6 to 8 inches; it looks literally like a bowl on the second floor.

    TOM: Wow. OK.

    COREY: And yeah, it’s pretty bad; it’s really noticeable. The house was built during the Civil War, so it’s an extremely old house. And it’s an old farmhouse.

    TOM: Hmm. OK.

    COREY: And just wondering how extensive a repair would that be. The structural engineer said it’s fine but …

    TOM: Yeah. It’s somewhere between nothing and tearing the house down. Does that sum it up for you? It’s really hard to tell …

    LESLIE: Does that make you feel better?

    TOM: Yeah, until you really get into it.

    COREY: Yeah.

    TOM: A couple of things that you could do. First of all, Corey, have you had a professional home inspector or an engineer look at the house?

    COREY: Yeah. I’m actually in the military and I had a – the Veterans Affairs actually had an inspector go out and look at it. And the structural engineer that inspected it said that it’s structurally sound because it was built with green wood but it shrank.

    TOM: OK.

    COREY: And he said it’s sound but if I ever wanted to resell the house, I’d have to make it better in order to be able to get what I paid for out of it, because …

    TOM: With all due respect to the military and the Veterans Affairs and the guy they sent out, I sincerely doubt he was a structural engineer. You may have – you may be calling him that but it would be unlikely that they would send out such a professional. They probably sent out a housing inspector who inspects everything from homes that people are buying and need loans on to rentals.

    I would strongly – underline strongly – recommend that you at least have a professional home inspector look at this. These are guys that look at homes every day and they really know how to sort the wheat from the chaff and figure out whether it’s a major problem or a minor problem. And if you’re really seriously interested about this place, the step above that is to consult with a structural engineer.

    Now, with a problem like this, if you’re going to fix it and it sounds like you are, it’s very important that you do it the right way and that is that you work with an architect or an engineer to inspect the property, actually spec out the exact repair that needs to be done and then reinspect it after it’s completed and give you a letter to that effect so that now you sort of have a pedigree or proof that the problem was identified, evaluated and correctly repaired and you have the word of a professional – a licensed professional – that’s certifying that.

    This takes you out of the responsibility loop. You understand what I mean? If you just had a slopy floor and you say, “Well, I fixed it,” that doesn’t really mean as much as whether or not you had pros look at it, explain exactly how it should be fixed and then certify that it was done correctly. So, if you’re real serious about this, I would get another expert to look at it and look at the specific problem. It’ll be well worth the investment.

    COREY: OK. Yeah because the house is pretty cheap and I could definitely resell it for a higher value. So I was really looking into – it’s five acres of land and everything like that, so I was really wanting to get the house but I didn’t know if it was going to cost me way more to fix the house than it was to buy the house.

    TOM: Yeah. And it’s definitely a cost-benefit analysis that has to be done. I would definitely recommend that you spend $350 or whatever it costs to get an inspection done.

    If you go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors, it’s ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org. There’s a zip-code locator. You will find ASHI-certified members in your area. I would use that as the first list to call. And then work through that list and have a conversation with the inspectors until you find one that you really feel knows what he or she is doing and you’re comfortable. And then hire that person to evaluate the house.

    COREY: OK. That sounds great.

    TOM: Alright, Corey. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    COREY: Alright. Thank you.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, it’s a nasty, soggy problem that every homeowner faces at some point: clogged drains. We are going to tell you how to unclog them without calling a plumber, which is surprising since we’re going to have a real plumber explain exactly how to do that.

    TOM: That’s right. Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House joins us with that tip, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Icynene. If you’re building, remodeling or reinsulating, demand Icynene spray-foam insulation. Icynene fills the spaces other insulations miss, for up to 50-percent energy savings. Learn more and find a dealer at Icynene.com. I-c-y-n-e-n-e.com.

    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: Hey, are you looking at your Christmas tree and wondering just how long you can put off taking it down before somebody says something to you about it? Yeah, you can’t just call it a houseplant and leave it for the year. The truth is that you really shouldn’t leave it up long, because it can become a fire hazard.

    If you want tips on how to get rid of your Christmas tree safely and actually recycle it, we’ve got a great story on how to do just that, online at MoneyPit.com. Just search “Christmas tree disposal.”

    LESLIE: Katherine in Wisconsin is on the line with a soundproofing issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    KATHERINE: I live in a condo with a basement and there’s an I-beam that runs through the basement. And when I’m in the basement, I can hear my neighbors from two houses down talking in their living room, because their voices travel down the I-beam.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: Crazy.

    KATHERINE: So I was interested in covering the I-beam somehow to reduce the noise but I wasn’t sure what the best way to do that would be.

    TOM: Well, there’s a couple things you can do. First of all, can you frame in the I-beam so that it’s – like has something that we can attach a drywall to?

    KATHERINE: Yeah, yeah. I could. I just wasn’t sure what to do that with or if that would help.

    TOM: OK. So once you – yeah, once you frame it in, there’s a product called QuietRock.


    TOM: And it’s a soundproofing drywall. It’s sold at Lowe’s. It’s pretty expensive. Regular drywall is 5 bucks a sheet; QuietRock is about 40 bucks a sheet. So it’s pretty expensive but you don’t need a lot.

    LESLIE: Yeah but if she can hear them, they can hear her.

    TOM: Yeah but you don’t need a lot. You know, you don’t need a lot. So, if you can frame in that beam and you’re sure that’s where it’s coming from, you may want to think about using QuietRocks to actually cover the I-beam and that should do the trick.

    KATHERINE: Oh, really? So I wouldn’t need to put additional insulation between the …

    TOM: No. Insulation is – insulation doesn’t really work as a soundproofing material.


    TOM: It’s kind of a misnomer to think that insulation works on a wall. It’s cheap but it really doesn’t do much. The QuietRock absorbs the vibration of the sound and I think that’s what you need to do.

    KATHERINE: OK, great. And the QuietRock is just spelled like it sounds?

    TOM: Yep. Q-u-i-e-t – Rock. If you go to Lowes.com, you can find it right there. And I was able to find it; I needed it for a project. I was able to find it right in my local Lowe’s.

    KATHERINE: Thank you. Bye.

    LESLIE: Well, clogged sinks are a part of life and in my house, it’s the kitchen sink that tends to clog the most often.

    TOM: And that’s not all that unusual. With all that food prep and scraps, even a sink with a disposer can get clogged. But if that happens to you, learning the right way to clear it will make the job go easier and prevent damage to the pipes and the plumbing equipment. Here to give us the proper steps to clear that clog is Richard Trethewey, the plumbing and heating contractor from TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hi, guys.

    TOM: You’ve probably cleared more drains than you can possibly ever hope to count, too.

    RICHARD: Yeah, I’m always big right after Thanksgiving.

    TOM: Now, why would a kitchen sink, even one that’s equipped with a garbage disposer, still have a clogged-drain problem?

    RICHARD: Well, I mean the disposer is doing its job: it’s taking foodstuffs and grinding it up. And so, if it grinds it up well enough, it should go down the drain but it’s also a function of the condition of that drain pipe on the discharge side. We see kitchen sinks that have – the pipes have sagged and so it’s going to clog in that horizontal pipe that should be pitched.

    TOM: So part of the solution here is making sure that the plumbing drain system itself does not have any of the built-in obstructions that sometimes we see: the angular connections, for example.

    RICHARD: Yep. Underneath your kitchen sink, the type of drain pipes that are under there are usually called tubular. And they come together with a compression knot that you tighten up and there’s a gasket in there.

    But there’s all sorts of little baffles that are in the tees and they’re designed to keep the water from splashing up into the double sink. But that also becomes a choke point so oftentimes, it’s simplest to just take apart that stuff, clean it all out and then bring it back together again.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Is there a better material over the plastic fittings that are the tubular parts, that you should be using to sort of help things move more efficiently, like brass?

    RICHARD: It’s funny. As a licensed plumber, I’ve always used brass but – and more and more now as we do Ask This Old House, I’m finding that the plastic is easier to work with, it’s smooth on the inside, it lasts, it’s pretty inert. So, I’m being won over to the plastic world.

    TOM: Now, if you do have a clog in that drain system, is there – the first thing that most people do is reach for a plunger. Are there things like that that work or are you better off just going right under the sink and starting to take things apart where you can physically see what’s going on?

    RICHARD: Well, if you put a plunger on top of a kitchen sink that has a disposer, you run some risk of trying to drive that food through a very small aperture, which is that grinding wheel inside of a disposer. So, we’ve heard stories about people pushing so hard that the disposer just sort of explodes off the bottom of the sink.

    TOM: Wow.

    RICHARD: Most kitchen sinks have a trap that has a clean-out on it. And so the best way, really, in my opinion, is to get under there with a shallow pan, open up that little nut that’s on the trap – that’s a U-shaped fitting that’s under the sink. And that’s designed to trap sewer gases so they don’t come up and make a smell and that’s usually the place where it clogs and …

    LESLIE: Are we turning off the water before we tackle the …

    RICHARD: We don’t really have to as long as you don’t run the water.


    RICHARD: You know, this is on the drain line only.

    TOM: Now, what about drain cleaners? I cringe when I hear people talk about these but that’s usually a really bad way to clear a clog, isn’t it?

    RICHARD: Drain cleaners only seem to clear the hair off of the plumber’s hands. I’m no fan there, so I hope I don’t start a lobby against me. But nothing beats a mechanical cleaning of a drain pipe with a snake or some sort of mechanical device. So often, those drain cleaners go down there and they crystallize in there or they sit there and they become a place where you’re going to soften and eat up the pipes.

    You could use drain cleaners almost as a maintenance item to sort of keep organic stuff clear in the pipe but I would never do it in a standing clog that was – had a whole sink filled with water.

    TOM: Now, Richard, so many people are accustomed to just grabbing a plunger when a sink clogs. Is that still an effective thing to do?

    RICHARD: Yeah, it’s the first line of defense. Every house should have one. And that is used to try and drive and push pressure down to clear the stoppage. After that, the next thing you go for is a snake: a mechanical device that can drive a cable down through the drain pipe, down through that U-shaped pipe called the trap and mechanically clear that drain.

    TOM: Now, is your advice always then, whenever possible, to try to attack this clog right at its source? In other words, get under the cabinets and try to take things apart, identify the clog. If there’s any obstructions, put it back together that way?

    RICHARD: Yeah, most kitchen sinks, if you look there you can see that the tubular connections can come apart easily. There’s also generally a little clean-out plug at the bottom of that U-shaped bend called the trap. And then you can put a shallow pan under it, open it up and most of the foodstuffs can come out and then you can run a snake through it, either downstream or upstream.

    TOM: Good advice. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing and heating contractor from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RICHARD: Great to be here.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and a step-by-step video on how you can unclog a drain and even others, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Hey, do you feel like a fresh, new color for your décor this year but you can’t decide on one? Well, good news. The color of the year for 2012 has been announced, I guess by the people that announce such things. And we’ll announce that, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    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 why don’t you give us a shout at 888-MONEY-PIT, because we’ve got a really great prize up for grabs. One caller this hour is going to add the latest technology in screwdrivers to their tool chest. It’s a Kobalt Double-Drive Screwdriver and it’s a ratcheting screwdriver that’s going to cut your work time in half by continuing to drive those screws in while you’re moving your hand both forward and in reverse.

    So call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re going to help you with your project and really give you a chance to win a super prize.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, just like the fashion industry, the home industry does follow color trends. Colors come in style and they go out of style but the Pantone Color Institute – which is the world-renowned authority on color, at least according to them – has made its announcement about the color for the year. Drum roll, please. It’s tangerine tango.

    Now, for us guys, I think that means orange. I mean right?

    LESLIE: Yeah it does, it does. And it’s, let me tell you, a pretty, vibrant orange.

    Now, the Pantone Color Institute’s predictions are watched closely by all sorts of consumer-product manufacturers. So expect to see tangerine tango showing up on everything from appliances and furniture to paint color.

    If you want to stay trendy without redoing your entire décor every year, you should consider adding the color in small doses, like pillows or throw blankets or decorative accessories like a ceramic or a picture frame. There are really great ways that you can bring these punchy colors in that will make a huge impact without spending a ton of money and without completely changing your space.

    Now, believe it or not, a lot of psychology actually goes into picking the hottest color of the year. And this year, we can feel good that it’s a hopeful and optimistic color. So hopefully, we will all have a colorful new year.

    TOM: Tangerine tango. I can’t imagine tangerine-tango kitchen appliances, dishwashers, refrigerators.

    LESLIE: It seems pretty happy.

    TOM: What kind of cabinets do you put against that, you know?

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness.

    TOM: What countertop matches that? I can’t imagine. 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Steve on the line who’s dealing with a vinyl-siding issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    STEVE: I bought a house last summer and was further looking at it closely. I noticed that the siding is severely oxidized and I was – I tried a little baby oil on a section of it and it looked good for about a month but I just was …

    TOM: Baby oil?

    STEVE: Yeah.

    TOM: Baby oil?

    STEVE: Yeah.

    TOM: Well, is your house your baby?

    STEVE: Yeah.

    TOM: And a house is certainly as expensive as children, that’s for sure.

    STEVE: Like I say, it looked good for about a month. It brought all the color back to it.

    TOM: When those oils dry out, of course, that’s going to be the end of it. Vinyl siding is not really designed for oil but I will tell you this: there are paints that you can put on top of vinyl siding. So it is possible to paint a vinyl-sided house.

    That said, you know what comes after paint, don’t you? Repaint. So once you start this process, you’re going to end up having to paint it again, Steve. But you can paint vinyl siding. You just need to make sure – I would go to a Sherwin Williams or a good-quality paint supplier like that and make sure that you pick up a paint that is rated for vinyl siding.

    STEVE: Does it peel pretty easy?

    TOM: No. It’s designed to adhere. That’s why it has to be special for vinyl.

    STEVE: Oh, I see.

    TOM: OK?

    STEVE: OK. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Becky in Texas needs some help changing out a bath fixture. What can we do for you?

    BECKY: Yes. I need to find out – I’ve got a marble Jacuzzi and my sinks are marble and I was trying to find out how to remove the brass. I wanted to update it but someone told me that you couldn’t remove it. I was just wondering about how to do it and if it could be done.

    TOM: I don’t see why you couldn’t remove the brass faucet. Why do you think it’s going to be a problem?

    BECKY: Oh, not the brass faucet, you know, the stuff that’s in the marble, like in the bottom of the tub and stuff.

    LESLIE: Oh, like the drain and the stopper fixture?

    BECKY: Yeah, the drain and …

    TOM: Oh, the rest of the plumbing?

    BECKY: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah. I don’t see why you can’t remove those either. They went in; they have to come out.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean as long as you can access every part like maybe in your tub, if you don’t have an access panel. But you can definitely change out all of the drain stopper and the fixture itself. If you’re changing from brass, you’re going to have to change out everything from the faucet to the stopping fixture in your sink, so it’s not like you’re going to get one piece instead of another; you’re going to do the whole thing.

    TOM: And Becky, it’s not an easy project to do so it’s probably something you’re going to need a plumber’s help with, because you’re going to find that the new parts don’t fit as well and they’re going to need to be sealed in place. Because you want to make sure you do it right so you don’t get leaks.

    BECKY: OK. Alright. OK. Thank you.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, it’s not just basements that are plagued by unwanted water; you may have water in your attic and not even know it. We’re going to tell you how to spot and solve that possibility, after this.

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    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: Say, how do you get the first crack at asking your question on the air? Well, you can learn what we’re giving away on the program each week and get instant access to the latest info and a chance to ask your question on the air by heading over to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Go there today, “like” the page. We would like you if you did and we promise to be posting lots of opportunities there for you to get your questions answered and especially some prizes won.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? While you’re online, you can head on over to MoneyPit.com and you can post your questions in our Community section. And we answer those at this point in the show and I’ve got one from L. in New York who wrote: “I have moisture in my attic. I have rusted nails through my sheathing and it looks like a little mold, also. What can I do?”

    TOM: Well, it’s interesting that you have observed the moisture stains on the attic sheathing and the rust on the nails, because those are two signs of moisture that most people miss. The reason the rust forms on the nails is because you get humidity that forms in the attic, the surface of the roof structure itself is colder than the rest of it. So as the moisture rises and the warmth – it strikes those nail heads, it condenses and then drips down and of course, that’s what causes the rust on the heads.

    So, what do you need to do? A couple of things. First of all, we need to eliminate any man-made sources of moisture or humidity getting up into that attic space. That means check all the venting for your bath fans, kitchen exhaust fans, any kind of exhaust fans that are going up into the attic space. They must, must, must go all the way outside; you can’t just drop them in the attic, folks.

    And the second thing is to improve the attic ventilation. Most homes, when they’re constructed, have gable vents at the edge of the gables of the roof structure itself, those sort of triangular vents in the corners of the sides of the house. That’s just not enough. What you really need is a ridge vent down the peak and fully-open soffit vents at the overhangs. Those will work together, letting air in at the soffit and exiting at the ridge 24-7 and that will take the moisture out in the wintertime.

    And by the way, there’s another really important reason to make sure your attic is well-ventilated in the winter. And that is because that moisture gets into the insulation itself and reduces its R-value. So it actually costs more to heat your house when you have damp insulation, so make sure the attic is well-ventilated. A drafty attic is a very good thing.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good detective work, L.

    Now I’ve got one from E. Everybody’s going by initials today. I’ve got one from E. in South Carolina who writes: “We have hardwood floors in our living room. One load-bearing wall has sloped and caused uneven floor problems. The house was built in the 80s. We’ve had it looked at by engineers. They say it’s a little more than 2 inches out of level but we should jack it up. We’re concerned if we sell the house in the future and we have to explain. Do we fix it or what?”

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a very good question. I can see why you’re concerned but you did do the right thing in hiring the engineer. But I don’t think you went far enough.

    Here’s how you create a pedigree for a repair like that. Have the structural engineer specify exactly what needs to be done. In other words, create a plan for the repair and he will sign that plan. Then you have that plan executed. So you have the company come in that does the jacking or whatever has to be done.

    But now you have to do one final step and this is the most important step. And that is to have the structural engineer come back in and give you a certification that it was done correctly. If you present that certification to a potential buyer, you should have no worries about them being concerned about whether that repair worked or not.

    LESLIE: Yeah because they’ll have all the answers really spelled out for them, so you’ll know that you’ve done the right thing.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour, our first hour of the new year on The Money Pit, with us. We have certainly enjoyed having you. We hope that we have shared a few tips and advice that are going to make your new year more successful for you and your family in your home.

    Remember, you can reach out 24-7, 365 to us with your home improvement questions by picking up the phone and dialing 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can also log on to MoneyPit.com and post your question in The Money Pit community. Happy New Year, once again.

    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 2012 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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