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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

    (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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Give us a call with your home improvement project. Give us a call with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Plumbing to paneling, landscaping to laundry rooms. Call us now. 888-MONEY-PIT. It is the home improvement season. It’s spring. It’s the time when everybody wants to get out. It’s like the Goldilocks time. It’s not too hot, not too cold. Get to it.

    LESLIE: And it’s not just about doing repairs on your home. It’s about beautifying the outdoors of your home as well; getting those gardens in shape, bringing in spring colors, freshening up everything around the property. It’s all home improvement.

    TOM: So call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We have a great show in store for you. Coming up, if you’re like constantly working to get your home like exactly the way you want, well, you’re not alone. And once you get it that way, you’re going to want to stay in it as long as possible. So we’re going to give you top five home maintenance tips you need to know to take care of your house for the long haul.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, are you worried that April showers will bring more than just May flowers at your house? And are you concerned that all that rain that might be coming down will bring nothing but leaks to your house? Well, we’re going to tell you where your home is most vulnerable and how to prevent those leaks in just a little bit.

    TOM: And if you love to take care of your own landscaping but don’t have all the tools, we can help. Because this hour one caller is going to win the Ryobi 18-volt hedge trimmer. It’s part of their One+ line where they have a whole bunch of tools running off the same battery. We’ve got an 18-volt hedge trimmer to give away. It’s worth 100 bucks; comes with a battery and a charger that can be interchanged with any other One+ tool. Call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Listening in on WJFK, we’ve got Bob in Virginia. What can we do for you?

    BOB: Yes, hi. I was wondering if you could help me with crown moulding that cracks whenever the heat comes on.

    LESLIE: Cracks how so?

    BOB: It’s actually, I guess, the caulk or the paint between the ceiling and crown moulding.

    TOM: It’s probably the paint and the solution is the caulk. Because what happens is the walls expand and contract and if it’s just painted there’s going to be a seam that forms there. What you want to do is the next time that happens, hit it with some latex caulk …

    LESLIE: Paintable caulk.

    TOM: Yeah, paintable acrylic latex caulk. That will expand and contract with the wall and the moulding and you won’t see the gap anymore.

    BOB: OK, I’ll give that a try.

    TOM: Little trick of the trade, you know? Caulk goes – is good for many, many things …

    LESLIE: Caulk and wood filler. They are a carpenter’s best friend.

    TOM: Sealing drafts out is only small use for caulk. You know, if the people in this country only used caulk for like weatherstripping things, weatherproofing things, they would sell like a quarter of the caulk that they sell today. It’s so forgiving for all sorts of painting projects inside and out. So, that’s all you need.

    BOB: OK, well thank you and I’ll cover up some carpenter’s mistakes. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: (chuckling) Alright, Bob. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jeri in New Jersey is looking to sell their home. What’s happening? How can we help?

    JERI: Hi, my husband and I are in our mid-70s. We own our home outright. And the kitchen was done about 10 or 11 years ago but I actually dislike it very much. And I was wondering if it was wise, at our age, to redo and remodel the kitchen. We do not plan to leave the house anywhere – you know, within the next five to 10 years if our health holds out.

    TOM: By all means, Jeri. It’s a good home improvement project to do and certainly it’s going to give you good return on investment and it’s also going to be something that you can enjoy for the next five to 10 years that you’re in the house. Now you don’t have to do a – you know, a really super expensive kitchen remodel. But you could do something as simple as changing your hardware on the cabinets; perhaps replacing your countertop; adding some new flooring. You could do sort of a minor kitchen remodel that way. Or you could actually get into some cabinet replacement using a stock grade cabinet that’s available, for example, at a home center or you can really step it up and do something custom. But kitchen improvements are always ones that give you a great return on investment.

    LESLIE: And Jeri, if you really don’t like it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense – especially if you’re staying in the home – to live with a kitchen that you just don’t enjoy anymore.

    JERI: Well, I truly like your answer and I feel now that it’s, you know, OK to go ahead and do that. I don’t like my old cabinets and I was wondering about having them painted. Would you advise me regarding that?

    LESLIE: Well, are they solid oak?

    JERI: I really – I think so. I think the doors are, yes.

    LESLIE: OK, well actually it’s quite easy. Even if you wanted to keep a stained finish – something in just a different family of brown or natural tones – you can strip down the existing stain and have them refinished with a new sort of clear coat or color coated stain. Or you can have someone come on in and prime them with a good, durable oil-based primer that’s really going to stick and adhere well to the cabinets and then repaint the surface. It’s not a difficult project and it really changes the look of the kitchen.

    JERI: That sounds like a good idea because they also put a – I don’t know what it’s called but I think it might be called a glaze finish.

    LESLIE: Do you want them to look like they’re antiqued; almost like a white with like a brownish edge in the corners?

    JERI: Yes, yes.

    LESLIE: You would want to find somebody who does faux finishing. Because you might be able to find a professional painter who does that in addition to straight up painting, but you want to research somebody who does faux finishing specifically for cabinetry because that’s fairly easy to do.

    What you would want to do is once you’ve primed the cabinets, then you choose the color that’s going to be the overall base – maybe like a vanilla-y white or something that’s warm and almost almond-y. Choose the tone that you like. And then what happens is you take an aging glaze and you mix a brown paint into it to get the same color and consistency that you want and then you brush that on into the areas that would have the most aging; pieces that are recessed, places that are sticking out for you in areas of detailing, moulding. And those are the places that would show the wear and tear first. So those are the places you really want to concentrate on the aging. It’s not difficult and it looks gorgeous.

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

    LESLIE: Terry in Kansas, you are live on The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    TERRY: I built a house in 1975 and when I built it an old contractor told me the best heat was hydronic heat.

    TOM: OK. He was right.

    TERRY: I put in the hydronic heat but the last few years, the more I think about it, how do I keep or test or get rid of calcium that might be inside of the pipes or my heat pipes? Is there a product I can run through it?

    TOM: You know, not that I’m aware of but I don’t think that – I’ve never read that that’s much of a problem. When you have – the water inside the pipe, it’s fairly stagnant. You know, it doesn’t get refreshed very frequently. Only, you know, once in a blue moon do you have to add water to that. Because it doesn’t have a lot of oxygen [it flows] (ph) almost no rust inside of those pipes. And so, you know, mineral deposits are really not a concern because they’re only going to have the minerals that’s in, basically, the water at any one time. It’s not like it’s building up like in a water heater where it can build up because you’re always running new water through it over and over and over again. I don’t really think that’s much of a concern.

    TERRY: Alright, sounds great. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Debbie in New Jersey listens to The Money Pit on WABC. And what can team Money Pit do for you today?

    DEBBIE: Hi. Yes, we had a corner shower installed. The installer installed the shower and we started to use the shower and the stall shower started to separate from the tile floor and started cracking (inaudible) the tile floor. And it also started to drip behind – underneath; I guess it was underneath the tile out of the shower area. But the question was mostly about the floor cracking away from the bottom of the stall shower.

    LESLIE: Have you stopped the leaking or no?

    DEBBIE: No, it was – no, it’s still leaking. We don’t use it.

    TOM: What kind of stall shower did you put in, Debbie? Did you start with a shower pan then assemble the walls on top of it?

    DEBBIE: No, it was a free – it was a …

    TOM: Like a one piece?

    DEBBIE: They tore everything out and I guess they didn’t know what they were doing and installed a free – I guess one of those plastic fiberglass things.

    TOM: And so the cracking is between the shower and whatever surrounds it?

    DEBBIE: Correct.

    TOM: Well, that’s actually not unusual. And what you need to do is you need to caulk that area. And we would recommend a kitchen and bath caulk because it has a mildicide in it. You want to clean out all of the space. Sometimes they try to grout these in and grout does not expand and contract; it cracks. And you’re always going to have some movement in something that’s as flexible as that. So you’re going to want to caulk it with a kitchen and bath caulk …

    LESLIE: First, before you caulk it, you want to spray some bleach and water solution in there in case any mold or mildew has started to grow. And it might because if you’ve got some leaking back there it could be really like latching onto things. So spray some bleach and water in there and then let it dry really well and that’ll kill any mold spores that are growing.

    TOM: And then use a kitchen and bath caulk or a silicone caulk and caulk the area. Don’t regrout it because it’s not going to last.

    DEBBIE: OK, yeah. The grout – you’re right. The grout did crack and pull away.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s unfortunate but it’s so easy when they’re doing all of this work just to continue with the grouting.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: But it never works well in the corners because you’re always going to have differential expansion and contraction in there. So those cracks are not the least bit unusual. They’re just not designed to be filled with grout. You have to fill them with caulk.

    DEBBIE: We’ll give it a try. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, we are just weeks away from Memorial Day; you know, the official kickoff weekend to summer.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: I know. I’m so excited. And did you know, out there, that we can help you get your money pit in tip-top shape because now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call that magic number. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you want to stay in your current home as long as you possibly can? Well, if so, you’d better learn how to maintain it so you can do just that. We’re going to give you a few tips to help you take care of your home so it can take care of you.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: You know, Leslie. I’ve thought about this and decided that home improvement is like going to the dentist.

    LESLIE: How so?

    TOM: Well, odds are it’s not going to hurt but there is always a chance you could hit a nerve.

    LESLIE: I thought you were going to say it’s that, you know, initial fear but then it turns out to be OK.

    TOM: Well, that too. And if you feel that way about the dentist, we can’t help you. (Leslie chuckles) If you feel that way about your home improvement projects, call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because we’ll give you something that’ll make it all better and that’s a chance at winning a One+ Ryobi hedge trimmer worth 100 bucks.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s a lightweight but powerful tool and it’s going to take the work out of your spring yard care. It actually makes it fun. It’s worth 100 bucks. It’s brand, spanking new. It comes with a battery and a charger and this battery can be interchanged with any of the other One+ tools that Ryobi’s got. So call us now to be in it to win it. That number, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    OK, let’s talk about taking care of your house. You know, when you’ve spent so much time, energy and money getting your house exactly the way you’ve always wanted it, you’re going to probably want to stay there like forever. I know I’ll be in this house forever. They’ll have to wheel me out.

    LESLIE: Well that’s because everyone in your family’s lived in that house forever.

    TOM: That’s true. It’s one of those kinds of houses. And taking care of your home now will not only keep you safer and more comfortable; it’ll keep up it’s value over time. The AARP says there are several things you can do each year to help make sure your home is running right.

    LESLIE: Alright, and here’s a couple of those things.

    First, you want to make sure that your toilets are securely anchored and that they are not leaking. You know, we get tons of calls on this very subject; about toilets leaking and tightening those bolts too tight and cracking the porcelain. So you want to make sure you maintain that toilet and all of those repairs are really easy to do.

    Next, you want to get a pro to inspect for termites, ants and any other pests including rodents. You know, you keep a clean house but you never know what’s hiding in there so you really have to look around.

    TOM: Unless you keep termites as pets.

    LESLIE: Well, then …

    TOM: Then it’s OK. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Then you might have them in some sort of ant farm. But you don’t want to get rid of those. If they’re eating the walls in your house, definitely get rid of them.

    TOM: Bad thing.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Termites equal bad. Also, you want to grab a set of binoculars and you want to check your roof, your gutters, your downspouts and the flashing. Look for any signs of damage; anything that’s lifted up, broken. And you don’t have to get up on the ladder to assess those repairs. That’s what those binoculars are for.

    Also, you want to have a professional inspect and service your HVAC system and spring is a great time to have your chimney inspected and to clean the flues of the wood-burning fireplace you might have in your house.

    And finally, make sure that all interior and exterior handrails are safe and secure.

    If you want some more ideas or some other options, you can go to AARP.org/HomeDesign. That website again is AARP.org/HomeDesign.

    TOM: Or you can call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Talking floors with Nicole in Alabama. How can we help you?

    NICOLE: Yes, ma’am. I live in an older home; approximately built in 1950. It is a concrete block for the four original rooms. And it’s been built on. It’s a fenced-in. But I cannot keep floor paint on one of the wooden floors. And I was wondering if the humidity and the moisture caused – from maybe the ground had something to do with it because it’s probably like five inches between the wood floor and the actual dirt underneath the house.

    TOM: Well, absolutely. If you have a dirt floor underneath that, you’re going to have a lot of humidity that’s constantly sort of bombarding the wood. The wood gets moist and moisture and paint just don’t work well together.

    LESLIE: It’s causing that paint to flake right off of it.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. The only thing that you could do is try to remove as much of the loose paint as you can and then prime the floors this time before you put another coat of paint on it. And prime them with an oil-based primer like a KILZ. And then you’ll have half a chance at getting that paint to stick. But I think the moisture is …

    LESLIE: What about – can you access that area below the floor to sort of put down …

    TOM: If it’s five inches?

    LESLIE: … a vapor barrier? Is there any way from the side? Nothing?

    NICOLE: No, there’s no way to get down to it. And we had actually sanded it down to the bare wood surface and primed it with the Behr primer for floors. And then we used the floor and porch paint from Behr on top of it.

    TOM: Mm.

    NICOLE: So we went through all the steps but neither of those are oil-based. So the oil-based may really …

    TOM: The oil base makes a difference. Yeah, if you have a real adhesion issue or an unpredictable surface, the oil-based primers are a lot more effective. I would use the Bin from Zinsser or the KILZ made by Masterchem. Either of those two will work very well with this.

    NICOLE: OK. Well, great. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Michael in Illinois has got a water pressure situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    MICHAEL: Like something – when I’ve got it on cold water or medium water in the tub, it comes out real good. But when I put it on hot, it comes out very slow.

    TOM: OK. How old are the pipes, Mike?

    MICHAEL: The pipes have to be about – since the house was built – about 40 years old.

    TOM: Hmm. Do you – do you know if the – you said – is the house about 40? So do you know if they’re copper pipes or are they steel?

    MICHAEL: I believe they’re copper pipes.

    TOM: Well, I suspect what’s happening is you have a partially closed valve somewhere and that it’s not letting all the water out. Does the hot water slow on the bath faucet over the sink as well …

    LESLIE: Over the sinks?

    TOM: … or is it just on the tub?

    MICHAEL: It’s the tub only.

    TOM: And is it the shower and the tub faucet or is it just the tub faucet?

    MICHAEL: No, the shower/tub combined.

    TOM: Together? Hmm. OK. Well, I think that you’ve got a problem with the valve there. And it should be a fairly easy thing to fix. You may just need to replace the valve that’s supplying the hot water to that tub area because you shouldn’t be getting any restriction there.

    MICHAEL: OK, so that’s all behind the wall so I guess I have to really have a plumber come in.

    TOM: Yes.

    LESLIE: Well, is there no access panel? Sometimes there’s a closet behind the bath wall where the plumbing is and ..

    MICHAEL: It is. I’m looking at it now.

    TOM: Alright.

    LESLIE: There could be an access panel hiding somewhere.

    TOM: Yeah and that means you won’t have to do any major surgery to fix that. But if you’ve – if you’ve got a good hot water – a good cold water flow and you’ve got a good hot water flow at the bathroom sink just not at the tub, then there’s a problem with the valve. It might just mean that you need a new valve for that bathtub.

    MICHAEL: OK, well I’m going to try that.

    LESLIE: And if, for some reason, Michael, there’s no access panel and you do have to break through some drywall, make sure that when you’re repairing it that you put in an access panel just in case something happens in the future.

    MICHAEL: Yes, that’s a good idea.

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

    LESLIE: We’ve got Sean from Wisconsin who listens online at MoneyPit.com and you want to know about how to determine what type of insulation to use. What can we help you with?

    SEAN: Well, actually I need help to find out what kind we have. We purchased a home that was built in the 40s and moved to the current location in 2001.

    TOM: OK.

    SEAN: When they moved it they put a bunch of new drywall and things inside but as we had a major window replaced we noticed that it only had r-9 in one of walls.

    TOM: Hmm.

    SEAN: And I’d like to know if there is a convenient or an inexpensive way to find out what the remaining walls have in it without completely tearing down all the drywall.

    TOM: Well, what you could do is you could have an infrared survey done. There are energy professionals out there that use infrared tools that basically can take a picture of the – it’s like sort of a thermal imaging picture of your walls. And the cold spots in the walls show up and so it’s very clear, when you see one of these thermal cameras, what walls are insulated, what walls are not insulated. And even walls that are insulated, sometimes you can actually see where the gaps in the insulation are.

    LESLIE: Well, it lets you know about areas of deficit and where you might need to, you know, beef up your insulation.

    SEAN: Well I understood those thermal cameras would show you where you have a leak but I wasn’t aware that they could actually tell you what kind of insulation you have in. That would probably be the place to start?

    TOM: Well, that would tell you where you have the leaks. In terms of the actual type of insulation, I mean it’s most likely that you have fiberglass or rock wool for a house that was built in the 40s. When you said it had r-9, how did you determine that? Was that because you had – you know, that’s not very much insulation, by the way.

    SEAN: No.

    TOM: That’s only about – that’s less than three inches.

    SEAN: It was – some of it we had to remove out of the wall to put the bigger window in and it actually had r-9 on it.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s not very much. And I think you’re going to have to evaluate where your money is best spent. If you find areas that don’t have any insulation in it, you might want to consider doing blown-in insulation. Because that could really warm up those walls that have the big voids in them.

    LESLIE: Alrighty. Good news, everyone. You can now have Tom and I in your pocket. No, it’s not honey we shrunk the radio hosts. (Tom laughs) It’s our free Money Pit podcast.

    TOM: That’s right. Hit MoneyPit.com to download any of our past shows over the year and you can even search for exactly what you want to know. All of our transcripts are there. All of our tips, all of our advice; all available for free at MoneyPit.com. We’ll be back with more, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/HomeDesign to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And this is the only place where you can admit to having squirrels in the attic and not be admitting that you’re crazy at the same time. (Leslie chuckles) We will diagnose your squirrel troubles and prescribe a solution. Call us right now with your home improvement problem, your do-it-yourself dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if you are, in fact, a proud Money Pit fan, you can wear it proudly on your new Money Pit t-shirt or hat. Fan gear available right now at MoneyPit.com. Just click on our brand new store. Got some pretty funny shirts up there.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I love my Money Pit tote bag. It says ‘I ♥ the Money Pit’ and it’s a giant tote. I use it for the beach, I use it for my work books; everything.

    TOM: And my daughter loves her tote bag which says, ‘A cut above.’ (Leslie chuckles) Ba-dump-bump.

    LESLIE: That’s excellent.

    TOM: Call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Harry in New York, you have called us just in time because your son saw flames coming out of his chimney?

    HARRY: Yes. My son and my little nephew were outside and they were looking up on the top of the house and they saw – came running in and told my wife that they saw flames coming out of the chimney. And she asked him, ‘Well, do you mean the chimney?’ and they said, ‘No, the pipe in the center of the house.’

    TOM: Huh.

    HARRY: And that was actually the chimney for the furnace and I was wondering if that was possible or not.

    TOM: Well, it absolutely is possible and you immediately need to get that inspected by a qualified HVAC contractor and/or a chimney sweep. But I would prefer an HVAC contractor because it sounds like it’s the vent pipe coming off your furnace.

    LESLIE: Well, and you should have your heating and cooling service provider – they do maintenance and they do service calls. You should call them because they’re familiar with your service, who provides it, how it’s done. And they already have a deal with you so they’re not going to try to upgrade you on something. They are already in business with you.

    TOM: Harry, this is not something to mess around with. You want to get this checked out. It’s entirely possible – and who knows what combination of malfunction could lead to this – but if your son and your little nephew saw that, you know, don’t think twice. Just call and get it checked out. The least that’s going to happen is you’re going to get that furnace serviced at the same time.

    HARRY: OK, thank you. I was just curious because it’s like three stories tall.

    TOM: Get right on it, Harry, OK?

    HARRY: OK. Thank you much.

    TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Little home improvement 911 call there from Harry in New York.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s major. Chimney fires are responsible for houses burning down in like seconds.

    TOM: They can kind of come out like – they look like Roman candles when they really ignite.

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: Now he was talking about a furnace vent pipe …

    LESLIE: The furnace pipe.

    TOM: … which would be unusual to have a chimney fire there but I’m thinking there could be some combustion gas build up, some explosive emissions …

    LESLIE: Trapped in there. Something’s not right.

    TOM: … something not quite right that’s causing that. Definitely worth getting checked out.

    Harry, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Marlo in New Jersey listens in on WABC. What can we do for you today?

    MARLO: Hi. I just got a bathroom installed a few months ago and there’s cracks already in the grout in the corners. So I was wondering if I could do anything or – I don’t think I’m going to have the people come back, so …

    TOM: No actually, that’s very common. The grout is not really designed to be in the corners but the tile installers always put it in the corners. What happens is as the walls expand and contract they do so at different rates, Marlo. So that’s why you get the cracks that will form.

    What you want to do is try to scratch or scrape out the grout in that area and simply caulk it. Use a kitchen and bath caulk that has a mildicide in it. DAP makes one that has an additive called Microban that won’t grow mildew. And caulk that joint and then you don’t have to worry about it. It’s not going to grow mildew and it won’t crack again.

    MARLO: OK, great.

    LESLIE: Sherry, you’re on The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    SHERRY: I was calling – I’m having trouble with my hot water heater or hot water in my home.


    SHERRY: When I get in the shower – and I don’t take long showers at all – by the time I’m ready to wash the conditioner out of my hair, I’m running out of hot water.

    TOM: What kind of a water heater do you have right now?

    SHERRY: You mean brand name or …

    TOM: Is it gas? Is it …

    SHERRY: Yes. Uh-huh. It’s …

    TOM: It’s gas? And how old is it?

    SHERRY: I don’t know.

    TOM: Really old? Like 10 years plus?

    SHERRY: Probably so, yes.

    TOM: Well, you certainly shouldn’t be running out of hot water that quickly so that sounds to me like the gas valve has malfunctioned and it’s not really doing the job it should be doing. You know, normally, if you have like a minimum size gas water heater it’s going to be 40 gallons. It could supply 30 to 40 gallons of hot water per hour and certainly you’re not using that much in the shower. So it sounds to me like your water heater’s not functioning correctly.

    You might want to check the valve and make sure it’s set correctly. You want to have the water coming out at about 110 degrees; not any hotter because you could get scalded. If the valve is set correctly and it’s still not – you’re still running out of hot water that quickly, then you’re probably going to need to replace the valve or replace the water heater.

    LESLIE: What’s the general lifespan on a water heater?

    TOM: Ten to 15 years, for the most part. And if you’re going to replace it, take a look at the new tankless water heaters. They’re a lot more efficient. Little more expensive to put in but a lot more efficient for the long haul.

    LESLIE: Joanne in Illinois wants to talk insulation. How can we help?

    JOANNE: I have purchased this brick home and it’s a two-story home. And up in the attic is some insulation. Now, I think it’s very old insulation. They said the name of it and I do not know what kind it is but I was just wondering would it better to have some insulation blown in or just to put those rolls like …

    LESLIE: The batting?

    TOM: Well, if the insulation that’s in your attic right now is compressed …

    JOANNE: No, it’s kind of like rolled (ph).

    TOM: Mineral wool?

    JOANNE: Could be.

    TOM: If it’s mineral wool, it’s really super thin.

    JOANNE: Yeah.

    TOM: And – or rock wool is another type. It’s really super thin stuff. And you probably – in a best case scenario I would tell you to take it out except that I happen to know that rock wool insulation sometimes contains asbestos. And as a result, you don’t want to disturb it. So …

    LESLIE: Is it safe to apply just a pink rolled batting on top of it?

    TOM: You could put an unfaced insulation over it. And typically, with the age of your house, you’re going to want to put two layers of insulation. So you’re going to want to fill up that ceiling joist with unfaced insulation at the top, then you’re going to want to put a second layer perpendicular to that.

    LESLIE: Covering the joist.

    TOM: And that’s going to be a very cost effective home improvement project that will really impact your heating costs.

    JOANNE: Mm-hmm. Bye. I enjoy your program. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Joanne.

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

    LESLIE: Raul in Illinois listening on WYLL. What’s happening with your floor?

    RAUL: Oh, it’s got a bulge in it. It’s an even bulge. It’s not buckling. It’s a wood floor and it’s in the basement.

    TOM: Uh-huh.

    LESLIE: Ooh.

    RAUL: I don’t know what type of wood it is. It’s got a smooth bulge in the middle.

    TOM: Yeah, say no more. You got hardwood floor in a basement and no wonder you’re getting bulges. Because moisture and hardwood floors – basement moisture – don’t go together too well.

    RAUL: OK. So, is there any way to fix that problem without tearing the whole floor out?

    TOM: Probably not. Is it a solid hardwood floor?

    RAUL: Yes, it is.

    TOM: Yeah. You’re not supposed to put hardwood floor in a basement. There’s too – it’s too damp down there. There’s only one kind of hardwood floor that you can use in a basement, Raul, and that’s called engineered hardwood and it’s built a little bit different, isn’t it, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Well, it’s built more like plywood at opposing grains and many, many layers with then the top being actual hardwood; almost in a veneer. So this way it’s structurally stable. The problem is you’ve got the solid hardwood and it’s probably just over an underlayment directly on to your concrete subfloor, which is just wicking moisture and putting that moisture into the hardwood, which is sucking it up. Now it’s buckling. The only solution is to pull that hardwood up and put something else down there.

    TOM: Yeah, if you have the area that’s buckled the worst, you can possibly cut out the buckled pieces and replace them and it might last for a little while. But really, if you have a – if you have any kind of humidity down there, the hardwood’s just not going to be – it’s not the right place for it.

    Sorry we don’t have better news for you. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: OK. You are listening to The Money Pit.

    Are you worried about April showers? Up next, we’re going to have solutions to some of your home’s often overlooked, leak-prone areas. So stick around.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    If you give us a call now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, someone we talk to this hour – this very hour – is going to win a brand new addition to the Ryobi One+ tool line. It’s brand new, folks. It just came out on the market. It’s a hedge trimmer. It’s worth 100 bucks. It’s powerful. It’s got 18 volts of action. It can trim branches up to 3/8 of an inch thick. It’s perfect for boxwoods, forsythia, even Japanese maples. Everything you need to repair and tidy up in the yard on your spring chores you can do with this. And it comes with a battery and a charger that can be interchanged with any of the other Ryobi One+ tool lines.

    TOM: So call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Call us now also because it is April shower time and not only do those …

    LESLIE: Yeah, hopefully there’s May flowers.

    TOM: We will hope to have those May flowers but also it’s a really good time to think about areas of your house that leak – like basements and roofs – and protecting these areas from rain is really, really, really essential; especially your roof. Because you can bet when rain’s forecast you’re going to get wind gusts, too, and you’re going to get wind-driven rain that’s going to pound against the side of your house and leak into those little tiny, very vulnerable cracks around the frames of your windows, the frames of your doors. You know, those leaks are pretty bad because they can spread very quickly. They’re going to stay inside the walls and that’s where they start to moisten the wood and that causes decay and rot and it gets to be a real big mess.

    LESLIE: Well, if you want to prevent those kinds of leaks, you really need to make sure that areas around your roof and the sides of your house are properly flashed. Corners of windows and doors are especially vulnerable so there are a few products out there that we found to be very good at protecting these specific areas. One is called VYCORners and for flashing the other areas of the roof you want to look at something called Grace Vycor Plus. And when you use these two together, flashing – the installation is going to be easier, it’s going to be faster and it’s going to be way more effective; meaning it’s going to stop those leaks before they even happen.

    If you want some more information on Grace’s weather barriers, you can visit their website at www.GraceAtHome.com.

    TOM: That’s www.GraceAtHome.com. Or call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Rusty in Wyoming, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    RUSTY: Hey, I’ve got a question about water heaters today.

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    RUSTY: With the power vent water heater – as opposed to a regular water heater –

    TOM: Right.

    RUSTY: – what dictates my having to use a power vent water heater, since they’re so much more expensive? I do have a horizontal run in my exhaust of my water heater of about 15 feet.

    TOM: That’s why. Because usually if you have a higher-efficiency water heater, you have to use a – one that has a power draft. And basically …

    RUSTY: OK.

    TOM: … you know, what this is is a fan that sucks the gases out of the water heater; sends it down the horizontal pipe and out the side. It’s a forced draft water heater is what it is. And unless you have a water heater that can gravity draft into a regular chimney, then you need to have a forced draft water heater and that’s why it’s more expensive. There’s also more circuitry so that if the power goes off, the water heater goes off and so on. But that’s what it’s all about.

    RUSTY: OK. And what about a direct vent?

    TOM: Well, it is a sort of a direct vent. When this thing goes across the 15 feet does it go outside?

    RUSTY: Yes, it does.

    TOM: That is a direct vent water heater. Yeah, you need to get the exhaust gas from the water heater outside and that’s why it has to have a powered vent like that.

    RUSTY: Alright. Well, that answers that question. I was wondering why that was so much more expensive and now I know.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s why. More moving parts, Rusty. (Rusty chuckles) Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: John in Connecticut, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    JOHN: Long time listener; first time caller.

    LESLIE: Yay!

    JOHN: My question today is when installing a hollow core door – replacement door – is there a rule of thumb for how much I can cut off the height and the width?

    LESLIE: Before you get to the hollow section?

    TOM: John, if you’re going to replace your doors, you probably want to buy a prehung door. You probably don’t want to get involved with trying to set your own hinges because it gets a lot more complicated. If you replace the jambs at the same time, that part of it’s already done.

    Now, when it comes to adjusting the height of the door, you typically only cut off the bottom of the door. You don’t touch the top because that’s already fit in with the prehung jamb. How much can you cut off the bottom? I’d say probably two to three inches. If it happens that you have a door that’s unusually low and you have to cut more than that, there is a carpenter’s trick of the trade and that is to simply repack that area of the door. If you end up cutting more off than you have solid bottom of that door, you can take some of the material that you cut off and then trim it to fit the – sort of the guts of that and slip it back inside. Glue it top and bottom, clamp it, sand it, paint it and you’ve repacked the bottom of that door and you’ll be good to go.

    JOHN: Oh, very interesting.

    TOM: OK? But I would definitely go prehung because you’re going to find it a lot easier to install a prehung door than to try to take a slab and make it fit the old opening. It’s probably not worth it.

    JOHN: OK. Well you know, there’s very few problems I can’t overcome as long as I’ve got The Money Pit Radio Show.

    TOM: Well, thank you very much, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    OK, coming up next – is it possible to clean your wood floors too much? Absolutely. You want to learn the right way? We’ll tell you, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. What are you doing? What are you working on? Let’s get to it. You can also e-mail your home improvement question to us at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. And that’s what Chris did. He’s in Rumson, New Jersey and he’s got this question: ‘Except for our basement, our entire home is hardwood planking. They were last sanded and refinished about 10 years ago. I love my wife dearly (Tom laughs) but she disregarded advice to use water and vinegar and instead uses a very strong pine-scented cleanser. Needless to say, the finish is completely ruined and they are now way overdue for a complete sanding, repair and refinishing throughout the entire house.’ Oh, my gosh. ‘I’m reluctant to hire out for this job again as I know if we use the same quality of finish and allow my wife to open up that cleaning bottle again …’

    TOM: Oh, come on. She’s just trying to keep the house clean. (laughing)

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) ‘ … we are just wasting our time and money. Are there any improvements in the strength and durability in finish products to use on the hardwood floors once they are sanded and repaired?’

    TOM: Apparently nothing as strong as his wife’s cleaner. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Exactly. ‘What type or brand of super-strong finish? How many coats would you recommend? And also, what would you recommend to keep the super-strong finish clean that would satisfy my wife’s compulsion to equate clean with strong-smelling, hospital-grade cleaning agents?’ (Tom laughs) I read it verbatim. Alright, Chris.

    TOM: Oh, my God.

    Well, let’s start at the beginning here. First of all, if you want to refinish your floor, let it dry out. I guess that could take months (chuckling), by the sound – by the sounds of this.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) With all that cleanser on it.

    TOM: And don’t light a match either, right? (chuckling)

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Now, once it’s dried out, if you really think that you have to go down to raw wood, there’s a couple of ways to do this. For light sanding, you can rent a buffer and use a sanding screen. (inaudible) a medium grade sander, you can rent a machine called a U-Sand which is like …

    LESLIE: You love the U-Sand.

    TOM: It’s great. It works very well. Four circular discs. Four like six-inch rotating discs inside of one sort of head that has a vacuum attached to it. Does a good job with sort of medium-grit sanding.

    LESLIE: And it levels everything really uniformly. You don’t have to worry about oversanding a certain spot.

    TOM: Yeah, you can’t like dig it out; unlike the belt sander which is sort of the big gun. (Leslie chuckles) If you’re going to go with a belt sander – you know, if you don’t do it everyday I wouldn’t because you will ruin your floors. Have that hired out.

    Now, in terms of the finish that you’re going to use, if you hire a professional they may use a chemical cure polyurethane that’s going to be a lot stronger than what you could buy over the counter, so to speak. But it really has to be done by a pro.

    If you’re going to do it yourself, I would recommend oil-based polyurethane. A little trick of the trade for putting that on, Chris, is to not brush it on; not roll it on. But use something called a lamb’s wool applicator.

    LESLIE: It’s like almost a mop, isn’t it?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s like mopping it. It’s like mopping it on. It really works well. Actually goes on very, very quickly with this thing. You do use like a standard roller pan and the lamb’s wool applicator is about the same size as your average roller; about nine inches wide.

    LESLIE: And you can’t pick up a commercial grade polyurethane or finish at the store yourself? That’s something that pros can only get their hands on?

    TOM: There are better finishes, believe it or not, that the pros do use. I mean think about like, say, your average gym floor; like at your high school gym [or something like that} (ph). I mean that’s a really tough, tough floor.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Oh, yeah.

    TOM: Those are very, very strong cleaners. And you know, one of the reasons that the pros have to do these is because the house has to be exceptionally well ventilated while it’s being done. And things like that that are just sort of beyond the realm of the skill set of the average consumer. But if you use a good quality polyurethane, you’ll probably be fine with that.

    You’re going to need multiple coats. I would say at least three, if not four. Having done that, you should be in good shape.

    LESLIE: And tell your wife the vinegar and water really is the best trick for wood floors. Don’t oversaturate. Too much water is bad for wood.

    TOM: And it smells good, too.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit. We’ve had a great hour with you today.

    Hey, do you have a wet basement? Are you wondering exactly how much paint you’re going to need to get that job done? Well, whatever your home repair or your home improvement question might be, the answer is at your fingertips 24/seven at our fantastic website, MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: You can search everything we’ve ever written about fixing up your money pit, listen to past shows and even e-mail us your home improvement question. Check it out. MoneyPit.com.

    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.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2007 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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