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Maintain Your Air Conditioner Now for Summer Cooling, Jump Start Your Spring Gardening, Protect Yourself from Chemicals Found in New Carpeting, 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: Thank you so much for joining us today. What are you working on on this fine spring day? Well, at least we hope it’s a fine spring day in your part of the country. If it’s not, well, you could work inside. There’s always a home improvement project to do outside, inside, because this is the home improvement season. And we are here to help you as your home improvement coaches. So pick up the phone, first, and help yourself. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’d love to talk to you about what you have planned for improvements this spring home improvement season.

    You know, if it’s inside the house, maybe it’s a décor project. If it’s outside the house, maybe it’s a decking project. Whatever is on your to-do list, let’s put it on our to-do list. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Well, it’s barely spring but believe it or not, now is the time to think about your home cooling costs. We’re going to have some tips this hour to help you get started on projects that can lower those cooling bills when the mercury starts to climb.

    LESLIE: And if you’ve been looking forward to showing off your green thumb all winter, then your time has come. We’re going to get some tips on jump-starting your spring gardening season from one of our most popular green guests: gardening pro Melinda Myers.

    TOM: And new carpet can instantly transform any room but some carpets have one very unpleasant side effect. It’s called “off-gassing” and that’s that new-carpet smell that sometimes emanates from those new rugs. We’re going to tell you how to protect your family from those chemically treated fabrics, a little later.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, we’re giving away a prize package of awesome spring-cleaning tools from Casabella, worth 50 bucks.

    TOM: So pick up the phone and give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Delaware to chat with Ruth, who’s having an issue with water heating. Tell us what’s going on.

    RUTH: Our water heater is – I’m guessing it’s around 12 years old. And whenever I use the hot water, it doesn’t seem to last very long. And so a couple months ago, maybe 6 months ago, my husband and his friend – and his friend, I guess that’s what he does for a living. They emptied the water heater, they put two new elements in. But in my opinion, it’s still doing the same thing, like it didn’t – to me, it didn’t change the length how long the hot water lasted.

    TOM: And this is an electric water heater?

    RUTH: It’s not gas; it’s electric, yes.

    TOM: And so, when they replaced the elements, they tested both elements to make sure they actually work?

    RUTH: I’m not sure if they did that. I don’t know. He said they put new elements in. I’m assuming they – I mean I guess I could ask them later if they did that.

    TOM: Because here’s the thing. When you have a water heater that’s electric and it runs out of hot water quickly, it’s usually because one or the other of the two elements burn out or the control circuit breaks down so they don’t actually come on. So, what you do, as a technician, is you run a continuity tester on these coils. And it’s a way of determining whether or not they’re working or not.

    Electric coils for a water heater is just like a light bulb: either works, doesn’t work; there’s no in between. And so, the first thing I would do is check the continuity on both of these coils to make sure they’re both physically working. Because what you’re describing, to me, sounds like one is not and that could be the whole source of the problem, OK?

    RUTH: Alright.

    TOM: Ruth, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Larry in Missouri is having a plumbing issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    LARRY: Yes, I have a well on my property here that meets the water for our house. And in the last couple of months, we’ve had what I think is an unusual thing happening. The couplings on the 1-inch pipe – the PVC pipes that are coming from the well – so far, 3 of them have broken. And they’d be split – and the couplings that split almost right in half. And so I’ve had to dig out this PVC pipe from in the ground, because it’s all underground.

    TOM: Right.

    LARRY: And just wondering, what would be causing those couplings to be splitting like that?

    TOM: OK. The couplings that you’re using – what’s the size of the PVC pipe? Is it an inch-and-a-half or what is it?

    LARRY: One-inch PVC pipe.

    TOM: And so, basically, the coupling is where you have two sections that join together. Is that correct?

    LARRY: Correct.

    TOM: So what you might want to think about doing is replacing these glued – they’re glued-on couplings. Is that right?

    LARRY: Yes, they are.

    TOM: What you might want to think about doing is replacing these glued-on, hard, plastic pipelings (ph) with something called a Fernco. Are you familiar with that?

    LARRY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: It’s more of like a rubber boot and they have different types for different pipes. But it attaches to both sides of the pipe and it has a little bit of flexibility in between it. And this way, if you’re getting expansion and contraction in the pipe, it’s going to move with it and put less stress on the joint.

    LARRY: Mm-hmm. Now, the ones that I have totally replaced – I have replaced three of them so far and I would guess there’s probably another five probably to the well. What I’ve done – there is this one – it’s got a rubber seal on it but then they screw together. I don’t know exactly what they’re called but …

    TOM: It’s called a Fernco – F-e-r-n-c-o. Their website is Fernco.com. And they’re sold at plumbing supply houses; I know they sell them at The Home Depot. You should have no problem finding this.

    This might be what you’re using, based on how you describe it; I’m not quite sure. But this is a good solution when you’re having this problem with the couplings that you’re using breaking down because, as you’ll see, this will give you a lot of flexibility. I’ve been using these in the ground for pipes for many years and I’ve never had one fail on me yet.

    LARRY: OK. Well, very good. I will look into that and see if I can find them around here. And if another one breaks, I will try it out.

    TOM: Give it a shot. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. 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.

    Up next, you may not have turned off the heat just yet for the season but it’s not too early to talk about your air conditioner. We’re going to have tips on A/C tune-ups to make sure it keeps cooling all summer long, just ahead.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Arrow Sheds, the leader in steel storage sheds and buildings. Steel sheds are durable, secure and a great value. Arrow Storage Products, available at national home centers, hardware stores and online. See a complete line of products at Sheds.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    One caller this hour is going to have a cleaner and more organized home, thanks to a giveaway package from our friends at Casabella. The package has five products, including some cool blinds gloves made of microfiber. You just put them on and wipe away the dirt and the grime. You can check out Casabella products at Casabella.com or pick up the phone and call us. The prize package is worth 50 bucks. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    RON: Yeah, I have a home with a crawlspace and I have had some moisture under there. And the builder, when he built it, he ran the runoff from the roof down into the French drains. I diverted that and it’s helped a lot but it’s still moist. And I’m asking if these encapsulated systems, where they trench the perimeter of the inside of the crawlspace and seal off the systems with a dehumidifier and a sump pump – how they work and if that’s a solution to these kinds of problems.

    TOM: Alright. So first of all, the roof drains were going where before you capped them off?

    RON: Down in the French drain.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s not too smart, huh?

    RON: No, it wasn’t. I diverted that and it helped a lot but it’s still moist under there.

    TOM: Alright. So, now that you’ve got the roof drains disconnected from the French drain, are those drains extending out away from the foundation perimeter?

    RON: For sure.

    TOM: How far out do they go?

    RON: Oh, 20 feet?

    TOM: Oh, OK. Well, that’s a good thing.

    Alright. So the second thing that you could do, easily, is make sure that the soil that surrounds the foundation perimeter is sloped away. Most of the time, that soil settles after the house is built and becomes flatter or even inverted. So you want to make sure you have a pitch where the soil is running away from the foundation, dropping about 6 inches over 4 feet. You can plant something on that grass or mulch or stone after but make sure you have good, solid drainage.

    Now, let’s talk about the vents in the crawlspace. You need to have enough vents, so probably one or two on each wall. You need to make sure that the crawlspace floor has a vapor barrier on it.

    What’s the crawlspace floor now?

    RON: It’s vapor barrier only.

    TOM: It’s vapor barrier? So it’s completely covered in plastic?

    RON: Right.

    TOM: OK. And then, the other thing that you could do is you could add vent fans to the walls and have them wired onto a humidistat.

    RON: OK.

    TOM: So that when the moisture builds up inside the crawlspace because the humidity is high, the fans will come on and draw the drier air in from the outside.

    RON: Yeah.

    TOM: So those are things that you could do now, without spending a whole lot of money, to try to dry that space out.

    RON: Yeah.

    TOM: Now, the idea of encapsulating the crawlspace is not a bad approach and many homes are starting to be built that way today. But that literally means sealing everything off 110 percent.

    RON: Right.

    TOM: So since you’re kind of closer to being able to improve the grading, improve the drainage, double-check that vapor barrier to make sure it’s really solid and it’s thick and covering every aspect of that crawlspace floor. Make sure if it overlaps, it overlaps about 10 feet. Make sure it’s up against the foundation walls and then get good ventilation – cross-ventilation – in there using some vent fans wired to humidistats. You may find that that gives you the rest of the moisture reduction that you – that was left over after you rerouted those drains.

    RON: OK.

    TOM: OK?

    RON: Alright. Sounds good. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re just getting to the point when you’re turning off your heater, you’re probably not quite thinking about your air conditioner just yet. But truth is, efficient air conditioning is the result of a year-round effort.

    TOM: That’s right. Annual maintenance of your air conditioner is a must. You know, as soon as the outdoor temperatures reach about 60 degrees, you’re good to book your HVAC contractor for that preseason call. And that is the right time to do that; you don’t want to wait until July when it’s really screaming hot out and you’re waiting in a long line to get some service done or worse yet, fix a broken system because it wasn’t properly maintained.

    Now, you want to make sure that the adjustments include cleaning the evaporator, cleaning the condenser coils, addressing the refrigerant levels, cleaning and adjusting the blower compartments, as well.

    LESLIE: Also, while it’s important to keep the compressor shaded so it doesn’t have to work as hard, you also want to make sure that the area around it doesn’t get overgrown. Now is a great time to prune. You want to keep shrubs and other plantings at least a foot’s distance from all sides of your unit.

    And you can get more tips on year-round air-conditioning maintenance if you head on over to MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: That’s MoneyPit.com.

    And all year long, remember this: it’s important to make sure you have a good-quality air cleaner in your HVAC system and here’s why. Because as the air blows through your heating and your cooling system, it always blows through the evaporator coil which is inside, right above the furnace.

    So even when you’re running it in heat, if that air is dirty, it’s going to clog that coil and then next summer when the air conditioning comes on, if that coil is clogged, the system has to work that much harder to cool your house, costs a lot more money to cool your house and in the worst-case scenario, it can actually fail the compressor, cause the compressor to completely break down. So, those regular filter changes are super-important if you want to make sure your A/C system works when you need it.


    LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Ruth in Michigan on the line. How can we help you today?

    RUTH: I have an older house that’s in need of some pizzazz and wanted to put shutters over my vinyl siding. Is that possible? And how would I attach them?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s done all the time. And there are special fasteners that are used in that situation so that you pierce the siding without causing a leak to happen. And most of the shutter companies will sell those as part of the shutter, too, so you certainly can do that.

    You do want to be careful not to squish the siding because, remember, the siding is somewhat soft. And so as long as you’re careful about the way they attach, you certainly can have shutters on top of vinyl. OK, Ruth?

    RUTH: Alright. Well, good. I was wondering if it could be a do-it-yourself project.

    TOM: Absolutely. Ruth, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Tom in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a driveway cleaning project. What’s going on?

    TOM IN TEXAS: Well, I have a couple of old, large oil stains on my driveway and wanted to know what you thought about getting it removed.

    TOM: What kind of driveway do you have? What’s it made out of?

    TOM IN TEXAS: Just concrete.

    TOM: It’s a concrete driveway, OK. And they’re really old oil stains?

    TOM IN TEXAS: Yes. About a year, maybe.

    TOM: One thing you can try to do is you can mix up a paste of trisodium phosphate – TSP. You can pick that up in a home center or a hardware store. It’s usually in the paint department.

    And mix it up into a paste, so not a whole lot of water. Just a real sort of soppy paste, kind of like wet concrete. And then spread it onto that stained area and let it sit, let it dry in place. You may find that that draws out some of that stain and lightens it up enough where it’s not quite as obvious as the rest of the surface.

    If that doesn’t work, then I think you’re going to have to chalk it up to charm, because it’s pretty difficult to get oil out of something that’s as absorbent as concrete.

    TOM IN TEXAS: OK. TSP then.

    TOM: TSP.

    TOM IN TEXAS: Alright.

    TOM: Now, here’s a more important question: have you fixed the oil leak in the car?

    TOM IN TEXAS: Yeah. I finally got that done, yes.

    TOM: Alright, good. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mary in Virginia is dealing with some tricky wood flooring. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARY: Well, in our bedroom, there’s a hump in the floor – I mean in the flooring. The house has all wood floors – no carpet or anything – and we don’t know what’s wrong with it. When we bought the house, a structural engineer looked at it and supposedly fixed it but he didn’t fix it. Supposedly, he put a crossbeam.

    And then when you go downstairs and look up at the basement ceiling – which is the floor of the upper bedroom, right? – you can see the cross piece but the hump is still there. So, we’ve had a couple people look at it. One flooring company told us they thought the floor had warped or something and we’d need new floors but we don’t know what it is.

    TOM: So, the question is, is the deflection or the warping, is that in the floor joists or is that in the flooring material itself? What kind of flooring material do you have now? Let’s start with that.

    MARY: It’s wood flooring.

    TOM: Is it carpet? Hardwood? What is it?

    MARY: No, no. It’s hardwood floors. No carpet.

    TOM: It’s hardwood floor, OK. The work that the – the work that this engineer did, that was addressing the floor joists, I imagine, correct?

    MARY: Well, I don’t know. Supposedly, supposedly. I’m not sure what happened. This was when we bought the house and supposedly, this fixed it.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Alright.

    MARY: But to me, it doesn’t look like it’s been fixed, because there’s still the hump there.

    TOM: The hump is still there, yeah.

    Well, we’ve got to figure out what’s causing that hump and it’s not unusual for a floor beam, for example, to warp or twist and press up and cause a floor to deform. But unfortunately, I have no way of diagnosing this from this view, over the radio.

    LESLIE: But you can actually take some pictures and post them on our website.

    TOM: Yeah, that’d be a great idea. If you could take some photos and post it in the Community section of MoneyPit.com – now, I’d ask you to take some photos from the top down and also from the basement up so we can have a look at it. We might be able to give you some further advice.

    But if it is a floor joist that happened to buckle, there’s a way to lower that down and it’s a repair that we used to do all the time when – and new construction was really when that happens most. How old is this house, by the way?

    MARY: I think it was built in ’68.

    TOM: Sixty-eight? OK. Well, it’s a little old for this particular scenario to happen. But if it is a joist that’s twisted, typically what you do is you actually cut the joist and you can put pressure on from above and get it to sort of lay down a bit. And then you reinforce it by putting two new joists on either side of it and create a new beam.

    MARY: So you don’t need to replace the whole floor, like this flooring company is telling us?

    TOM: If the floor structure is not the – is the problem, replacing the floor is not going to change that, OK? But I mean if – listen, if it’s not really, really bad, I wouldn’t be too concerned about it with a house that’s built in 1968. Why don’t you just chalk it up to charm?

    MARY: Yeah. But we’re trying to sell it in the spring and these days, everything has to be pretty much turnkey-perfect, you know?

    TOM: OK, look. Here’s what you should do. Listen, if you’re getting ready to put the house on the market, go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org. Using their zip-code locator, find an ASHI-certified home inspector in your area. Because of the market and because of the issues that you’re concerned about, have your home inspected by a professional home inspector.

    You’re doing this for a couple of reasons. First of all, the inspector is an independent expert that should be able to diagnose this floor problem for you and tell you whether it’s something to be concerned about or not. Secondly, the inspector will be able to identify other potential issues that could come up in the house sale and give you the opportunity to fix them or not without a buyer looking over your shoulder.

    So if the goal here is to get the house ready for sale, let’s not speculate on what’s going on; let’s get a trained set of eyes in there that is – and somebody who’s not working for a contractor trying to sell you flooring or God-knows-what-else. And let them look at the house and figure out what’s going on. And this way, you’ll know and you’ll have the time to do the job right, OK?

    So, again, the website is ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.o-r-g.

    MARY: OK. Thank you.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, have you told yourself every year that this is the spring you’re going to have a spectacular garden? But maybe that promise always seems to fall a little short. Well, now is the time to make good. We’re going to have spring gardening tips, just ahead.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trex, the world’s number-one, wood-alternative decking brand. Just in time to give your outdoor living space a summer upgrade, Trex Enhance Decking is available, in stock, at your local Home Depot. To learn more about the long-lasting beauty, hassle-free maintenance and industry-leading warranty of Trex Enhance, visit HomeDepot.Trex.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, it still might be a little chilly for getting outside but don’t let that delay the start of your gardening season.

    LESLIE: Our guest gardening expert and author, Melinda Myers, says right now is the perfect time to jump-start the spring gardening season.

    Thanks so much for joining us again, Melinda.

    MELINDA: It’s always a pleasure. I love talking gardening with you and all your listeners.

    LESLIE: Well, right now, I’m looking at a garden that’s under 2½ feet of snow, so …

    MELINDA: Well, me, too, if that makes you feel any better. But it’s sunny, so I’m not complaining today.

    TOM: So when is it too soon to get started with your gardening project? I mean if the frost is just melting away, is that the time to jump in or can you start inside by getting the plants ready first?

    MELINDA: You definitely can start inside. And one of the things I like to recommend is a little time planning. So if you’re planning to grow vegetables or change your landscape, do a little research ahead of time. It’s always easier to put ideas down on paper, move them around, change them. Talk to those people you’re going to be gardening with, especially if you’re growing vegetables. Because if people help plan it and plant it, they may be more likely to eat it and that’s not just kids we’re talking about.

    And then for landscapes, you want to think about how you’re all going to use that landscape, as well. And then once you have an idea in mind, then you’re absolutely right: you can start some plants from seeds.

    TOM: You might be onto something there. If you want to get your kids to eat spinach, you should have them plant spinach from the get-go, huh?

    LESLIE: Yes. However, my son likes to buy the packages but will not plant them.

    MELINDA: OK. Hmm.

    LESLIE: Loves to look at the picture of the broccoli and I’m like, “We can put this in the ground and grow broccoli.” Oh, no, no, no.

    MELINDA: Maybe we need to start with maybe a plot of grass, if he’s young enough and still playing with action figures, so he can have a lawn for his action figures.

    LESLIE: Well, that’s pretty smart.

    TOM: And living in New York, you can buy lawns of grass, you know? They sell them in the garden center: little chunks of sod.

    MELINDA: Exactly. So you could roll out the lawn, bring out the action figures. Plant the broccoli nearby and then maybe he’ll wonder what’s going on.

    TOM: Maybe.

    MELINDA: I worked with a group of kids and we were doing some thinning and that’s not a fun job, no matter how old or young you are. And a few kids stuck with me and we’re thinning out the radishes and eating the thinnings, because they’re kind of nice and spicy. All of a sudden, all the other children came over to see what we were eating. And I got a lot more help thinning out those radishes, so getting them involved may just help. We’ll keep working on your son, though.

    But you definitely can look for seeds. Visit catalogs, look online. One of the nice things is they’ll give you that guideline. So no matter where you live, the seed packets will tell you on the back to start your seeds at this time indoors before the last spring frost. So it’s a good way to really fine-tune it for your area.

    So you kind of know when you generally get through the worst of winter, the last spring frost passes and then you’ll just back it up. They’ll say, “Start your seeds indoors six or eight weeks ahead of time.” Some plants, like onions, take a while. So many gardeners have already started growing those in flats, under lights or in a sunny window.

    TOM: Makes a lot of sense. Now, what kind of plants should we start earliest, so to speak? What are the first plants we want to get in the ground?

    MELINDA: When you think about plants, the cool season plants: things like pansies, and snapdragons and sweet alyssums, in terms of flowers. And then from a vegetable standpoint – that’s spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage – those are things that will take the cooler not only air but soil temperatures. And some of them, once established and hardened off, used to the outdoors, will even take a light frost. I’ve seen pansies totally covered with ice. The ice melted and they continued to grow, looking great for the rest of the season.

    LESLIE: Now, Melinda, I’ve heard you have a really special tip about tomatoes. And I personally don’t grow tomatoes but I have four neighbors who surround us, up the block, who grow tomatoes. My son likes to pick them. We’re always talking about who’s going to have the best harvest this year, so are there any tips I could share?

    MELINDA: You bet and here’s a couple things. If you want to have the first red, ripe tomato on the block – I think that’s always a goal, not only because – you can’t wait for the great flavor. But if there’s competition in the neighborhood, here’s some tips that might help you. Plant it in a container, because you can get started as soon as you can find a transplant to purchase. Or even plant a month or more earlier. If you do it in a container, that’s one option. Or in a garden where you’ve used clear plastic to warm the soil. And then pop your tomato in and cover it with a floating row cover. Those let air, light and water through but protect your plants down to 24 degrees.

    Now, the key with the tomato is if you want it early, you’ll put it in a pot or in the ground and train it on a stake. So you’re going to pick out all those suckers. Those are the stems that come between the main stem and the leaves. So you’re only going to have one or two stems. You’ll have fewer fruit but earlier fruit. So at least one of your tomatoes – by a Fourth of July, an early girl – something that sets fruit early, stake it and you’ll have the first red, ripe tomato. Add a row cover, you can plant even earlier and you’ll be, for sure, the first one to harvest that red, ripe tomato.

    TOM: Great tip, as always. Melinda Myers, gardening expert and author, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    If you’d like to learn more about Melinda, you can visit her website at MelindaMyers.com. That’s Myers – M-y-e-r-s – .com.

    Thanks, Melinda.

    MELINDA: Thank you. You guys have a great day. Thanks for including me.

    LESLIE: Alright. Are you thinking of adding a lush, new carpet as a spring pick-me-up? Well, we’re going to tell you how to make sure that your new carpet smell doesn’t pose a health risk to your family, after this.

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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. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller, chosen at random, is going to get a helping hand with spring cleaning. We’re giving away storage and cleaning products from Casabella.

    Now, the prize package includes a microfiber window washer that squirts out just enough water to get your glass squeaky clean. The package is worth $50 and you can see all the Casabella products online at Casabella.com. And pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your projects and a chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. That package going out to one caller drawn at random.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joseph in Kentucky on the line who’s got a question about stainless steel. How can we help you?

    JOSEPH: Three-and-a-half years ago, I was using these rubber PZV water-supply lines in the bathroom, under the commode and the sink.

    TOM: OK.

    JOSEPH: And one of them had busted at the time and it flooded the floor in the bathroom and the hallway with water. So I went over to the hardware store and I got these braided stainless steel and put on there.

    TOM: Right. Uh-huh.

    JOSEPH: I was told at the time that these here were not supposed to break or leak. But the – one of them under the sink has started leaking up under the sleeve, next to the coupling nut.

    TOM: OK.

    JOSEPH: And I tried tightening it down a little bit but that didn’t do any good, so I finally went back over to the store and got two new ones and put on the sink. Is there some kind of a time-replacement period on these things or just did I get a bad hose?

    TOM: I think you did, because it’s very unusual for those flexible lines to leak – to break down and leak. They are clearly the most convenient way, when you’re replacing a faucet in a situation like that, because you don’t have to get the length just right. You know, if you’re a plumber, you cut everything to fit nice and neat and tight. But for a consumer, they’re the way to go.

    I’ve put on dozens of those over the years for sinks and toilets and other fixtures and I’ve never had a problem with them. So I suspect that you got a bad one or perhaps when you attached it, maybe you cross-threaded it, maybe there was a bit of debris in it that caused the leak. And now that you’ve replaced it the second time, does it seem to be holding?

    JOSEPH: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah, I suspect that there was either a problem with the installation or the product the first time around. You just got a bad one.

    JOSEPH: Is there any kind of a time-replacement period on that thing? Say, 10 years or 15 years or …?

    TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what, all those products have their own warranty. And I’ll give you a little aside story. I told this on the show several months ago but my mom, we had bought a sink for her 17 years ago from Home Depot, through American Standard.

    JOSEPH: Yeah?

    TOM: And it chipped. And I was getting ready to replace it and I mentioned it to one of the guys in the store. He said, “I think there’s a warranty on that.” And he was right. They no longer carried them in the store but I contacted American Standard. They sent me a new sink 17 years later and only because I had the warranty and I had the receipt, because my mom is great about saving stuff like that. She saves everything.

    So, if you happen to have the receipt and there is a warranty, maybe you can get a few dollars back that you spent on that. But otherwise, I would just chalk it up to bad luck and move on.

    JOSEPH: Well, OK then. Thank you.

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

    Well, carpeting is great for bedrooms, for a really warm, cozy feeling under your feet. But keep in mind that new carpets can also contain preservatives, formaldehyde and other VOCs. Those are the volatile organic compounds. They’ve been linked to cancer and developmental problems. So, you need to be careful to avoid breathing that stuff.

    LESLIE: To avoid exposure, you want to make sure that any new rug meets the indoor air-quality standards, which are being set by the Carpet and Rug Institute. Now, it’s called the Green Label Program and it’s designed to test carpet, cushions and adhesives to identify products that have very low emissions of VOCs, which are the volatile organic compounds, which you do not want to be breathing in.

    TOM: Yeah. And as one extra precaution, I always think it’s a good idea to air out the house for 48 hours when you install new carpeting or just air out the carpeting. You can roll it out in a garage, for example, the day before the installers come and just let it breathe a bit. A lot of those chemicals will evaporate way before they get inside your house. And it makes the process that much more pleasant after the carpet is actually installed.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Leslie in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with an oversized oak door. What happened? Did it grow?

    LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: What I did was – I live in a 100-year-old, German bungalow-style house.

    TOM: Nice.

    LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: And I changed the doors. It had been remodeled and it just had the flat, hollow-core doors in it. I changed them out for solid – for oak doors. And in one room, the door now – the hinges are in the very corner, as it were. But at the bottom, it meets and at the top, there’s about a ½-inch gap where we put wedges. So I’m wondering how to trim that out appropriately.

    The original doors had 1-by trim with the flat board on top so they butt against the board on the top. And I’m wondering what I can do to make this work.

    TOM: So, if I understand this correctly, you purchased a prehung door, you installed it into the old opening. In order to make it fit, you had to shim it in quite a bit. And as a result, now you have large gaps between the prehung and the old door opening. Is that correct?


    TOM: Alright. So, you need a wider trim, obviously; that’s where you’re going to have to start with this.

    Now, the most traditional trim is clamshell – which is, I think, quite boring – 2½-inch or 2¼-inch wide, surrounds the door. A more interesting way to do this might be to trim it off with a two-piece trim. So what you could use is you could use a piece of baseboard molding as the first layer of trim. So this would give you a wide molding all around the door.

    And you could make this as wide as you have to. Baseboard molding is usually either 2½ inches or 3½ inches wide. So you treat – use that as casing, if that makes sense. And then on top of the outside edge of the baseboard, you can put corner molding. And so it becomes sort of – it’s outside corner mold, so it becomes stepped. So, the fluted part of the baseboard is against the hinge and then it steps up at the end with the outside corner molding. And this gives you sort of a two-tiered casement arrangement all around the entire door.

    This can be very, very attractive. I once did an entire house like this and it looked really good. Gives you a lot of dimension and it kind of brings you back to the day when all the moldings around doors were done in a really fancy way like this and gives that particular door a lot of personality.

    LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: Thank you so much for your help.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. So do you love the look of wood wainscoting but not the expense or the trouble? Well, we’re going to tell you a trick to get that look, just ahead.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trex, the world’s number-one, wood-alternative decking brand. Just in time to give your outdoor living space a summer upgrade, Trex Enhance Decking is available, in stock, at your local Home Depot. To learn more about the long-lasting beauty, hassle-free maintenance and industry-leading warranty of Trex Enhance, visit HomeDepot.Trex.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, do you know the best way to fix a plumbing problem? Well, prevent it from happening in the first place. We’ve got tips on how to do just that, on MoneyPit.com. Just search “preventing plumbing problems.”

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can e-mail us a question, just like Ollie from California did. Now, Ollie wrote: “I was thinking of putting in gutter guards. They seem pretty expensive. Can you please give me your opinion on whether they’re worth it?”

    TOM: Well, first of all, let me just say, Ollie, that clean gutters are really critical. Most of us think that, well, that’s just going to keep the water from dripping over the top and maybe washing out my plants or falling on my head as I walk through the front door. But the truth is, that clean gutter is really critical for your home’s structure. Because if you let that water rush around the foundation perimeter, it makes the foundation weaker and that could lead to wet basements and all sorts of things. So, gutter guards are important.

    There are many, many types of gutter guards out there. The question is: which are going to do the best long-term job of keeping the leaves from clogging it up? So, what I would suggest is that you take a look at the ones that work on the principal of surface tension, where the water hugs the guard and falls into the gutter but the leaves wash over the top. Those are the ones that I think have worked the best. The ones that are just basically screens, they tend to hold the leaves on top of the guard and then it clogs up; it sort of rots in place, clogs up. And then when it falls into the gutter, it ends up like sort of dried-out oatmeal in the bottom of the gutter. It’s really hard to get out.

    So take a look at the ones that are working on the principal of surface tension, where the water hugs it and the leaves wash off the top.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And once you get your gutter guards in place, you really want to make sure that you keep those downspouts really clean. Because if a downspout gets backed up, water is just going to sort of build up in there and trickle out right next to the foundation wall.

    So keep those downspouts clear, free-flowing. You want to make sure that the water that comes out of the downspout goes a good 3 feet away from the foundation wall. Because a wet foundation means a wet basement. So, keep those clean and you’ll be nice and dry.

    TOM: Well, if you love the look of wood-paneled wainscoting but you really hate all of the work and the expense you need to do to get there, you can really have that same, very richly paneled look by visiting a salvage company first. Leslie explains how, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, this is one of those great projects that can actually cost less than $50. Now, you can create an awesome-looking wainscoting wall by using paneled doors, either made of wood or composite. So, flea markets and salvage companies, they’re usually full of old doors. So it really is a great way for you to find something that you can use to create the paneling.

    Now, to do it, you just want to turn the door sideways and then attach it to the lower portion of your wall. And it’s going to create instant wood wainscoting or wood paneling, whatever you want to call it.

    Now, the tricky part is that you’re going to have to extend any outlets or connections, just because of the thickness of the door. So you’re going to have to sort of bump that out. And you’re also going to have to work with the baseboard. You can use LIQUID NAILS to attach the baseboard to the bottom.

    You also want to put a little ledge or a leaner ledge on the top, just to sort of hide that door’s edge and any openings for hinges or lock sets. And it’ll give you a nice, little finish to that. And you can go as deep as you want but usually like a 2-incher or depending on the thickness of the door, just to give you a slight overhang. And it’s a great place to lean family artwork or nothing or candles. But it’s a great project, doesn’t require a lot of work and it really looks fantastic.

    TOM: Yeah, it really, really does.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, a lush lawn is not only beautiful, it definitely adds value to your home. So we’re going to tell you how to green your lawn without spending much money, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2013 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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