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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.)


    (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: Call us right now with your home improvement question. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We’ve got a great show planned for you starting with some tips on how to keep your kids safe this summer from the number one cause of death of young children. Know what it is? It’s drowning. That’s right. Backyard pools are fabulous but it means an extra level of responsibility for the owner. Doesn’t have to be particularly difficult. We’re going to give you some tricks of the trade to help keep your entire family safe when it comes to swimming.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, while you’re safely enjoying that pool you’re more than likely going to be cooking outdoors. Everybody loves grilling in the summertime. So we’re going to tell you how fire up that gas grill safely after it’s been in a long winter’s hibernation in your garage or shed.

    TOM: And if you’re looking for a home with a great backyard it probably means you’re getting ready to put yours on the market. We’ve got some key information that’s going to help you sell your home and that’s coming up in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And if you’re getting ready to sell your home, don’t forget to take a look at your front entry. It’s the first impression of your home that those potential buyers are going to get and if that first impression is just not cutting it, have we got a contest for you because starting today we are launching the fourth annual Ugliest Door in America contest and it’s sponsored by Therma-Tru Doors and if you think your door is the ugliest door in this gorgeous country you could win a brand new one worth up to $5,000.

    TOM: That’s right and all you’re going to need to do is show us a photo or video of your ugly door with a brief explanation of why you think it’s the ugliest door in America and you could win that brand new front door makeover from Therma-Tru Doors worth up to $5,000. Now, all the details are on a special website we helped set up just for this contest. It’s MyUglyDoor.com. Go there now; check it out at MyUglyDoor.com and you could win a brand new entryway worth 5,000 bucks.

    But first, let’s get to the phones. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We are standing by to help you with your home improvement questions.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Heading out west to Utah with the number one question asked here at The Money Pit – flooring. David, how can we help you?

    DAVID: Yeah, I have a hardwood floor that has an area that’s worn near the dining room table …

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: … and it’s all connected. It’s the entry, the kitchen, the hallway; it’s all about 1,000 square feet of hardwood.

    TOM: So David, is the finish just slightly worn or is it actually down to raw wood?

    DAVID: It’s smooth everywhere but you can see raw wood underneath the chairs.

    TOM: OK. So here’s what I think you should do. This is a project you can do yourself and I’m going to tell you how to do it so it’s not so terrible. What I want you to do is to rent a floor buffer with a sanding screen. Now, the floor buffer is the kind of big buffing machine like they use like at the mall and other commercial places to kind of buff the floors, but instead of the buffing pads you can get a sanding screen which kind of looks like window screen material; it’s abrasive on both sides. By using the floor buffer you’ll just be sort of taking off the top surface of the finish and preparing it for the next coat of urethane. The areas where it’s actually worn down, where you’re starting to see some raw wood, just do some handwork in there with a hand sander so that you get those smooth. This way you’re not totally sanding down the entire floor surface, which is more than you need to do; it’d shorten the life of the floor and, frankly, it’s too much work for you. And then put a new coat of polyurethane down; use oil-based polyurethane. You’ll probably need about three coats. You can apply it with something called a lamb’s wool applicator, which is a way of just sort of mopping it on. And plan when you can be out of that house for quite a while; let yourself get some good drying time there and I think you definitely could accomplish it.

    DAVID: Great. Alright, I think I’ll take that on and get that done.

    TOM: Alright, David. Go to it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania is dealing with some mold and mildew. What can we do for you today?

    JIM: I have the black streaks. It’s not only on my house. It’s quite a few of the others that it’s running down on one side.

    TOM: OK. Those black streaks are probably moss and the way to get rid of them is with a mildicide. You’re going to want to pick up a mildicide or you can mix up your own using bleach and water and probably a one-third bleach/two-thirds water solution. I would put it in a garden sprayer. Now this is a little dangerous for you to do because you’ve got to be up on the roof ..

    JIM: Right.

    TOM: … but essentially what you’re going to do is spray the roof down and then take like a broom, like a push broom, and sort of rub it in a little bit there and then rinse it off.

    JIM: OK.

    TOM: And that’ll get rid of those streaks. And then if you want to stop it from that point going forward, what I would recommend is that you pick up a section of nickel or copper ridge vent, or at least just some nickel or copper flashing material …

    JIM: OK.

    TOM: … and then tack that to the roof right at the ridge. You won’t really see it from the street but what’ll happen is as the rain hits it, some of that metal will get released and that acts as a mildicide as it washes down your roof and keeps it nice and clean.

    LESLIE: And Jim, if there’s any way you can get more sunlight to this area; if there’s any trees or foliage or shrubbery, anything that you can sort of cut back to help more sunlight get to the area, you’ll also see far less.

    JIM: Oh, OK.

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. And if you pick up the phone and call us right now, you’ll get a chance at winning a pair of cedar window boxes we’re giving away this hour from Vixen Hill. They’re worth 120 bucks but you’ve got to call us and have a question to qualify. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Up next, drowning; it’s the number one cause of death for small children. We’re going to teach you how to protect your kids, right after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer and add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information visit ThermaTru.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: And if you have ever bought or sold a home you know that there are always those little surprises that like to come up at the last minute that can really wreck the deal. That’s why online now at MoneyPit.AOL.com I’ve got a new column up called Deal Breakers, which outlines those pitfalls and teaches you how to avoid them right now, online at MoneyPit.AOL.com.

    LESLIE: Well, if I was looking a house and they had a backyard pool, that would be a deal maker for me because it’s always been a dream of mine to have a home with a pool. And if it’s yours, too, or if you’ve got one already, you know that having a backyard pool, it’s a great asset. It’s super fun; it keeps the family cool; it gives everybody a great place to socialize together. But you know, the flip side to that, it’s also a huge responsibility because you need to remember, and it’s time to get serious, that drowning is a leading cause of death in young children. I mean, quite frankly, in a lot of people. So you really have to be careful, especially with small kids, around a pool. Properly designed pool fencing; it’s the most effective way to keep small children from danger.

    First of all, let’s explain it. Fence height should be at least 48 inches and you want the spacing between chain links, they should only be about one-and-a-quarter inches because this is going to prevent any kids who want to be climbers from getting a good toehold on that fence. And most importantly, you want to make sure that all of your fences that surround your property and surround that pool have self-closing hinges so that if someone comes in or out they don’t accidentally leave that gate open and then let somebody in who shouldn’t be there.

    TOM: And that’s so important. I think a lot of people don’t realize that the chain link that’s used for your typical garden or backyard fence is different than the chain link than you’d put in for a pool fence because of that spacing issue. The spacing has to be a lot tighter so kids can’t climb it when it’s a pool fence.

    Well, a fence is not the only type of protection pool owners should rely on; that’s why coming up in the next edition of our Money Pit e-newsletter we’re going to give you the keys of keeping kids safe when you have a backyard pool, known as layers of protection; the step-by-step areas that you need to protect to make sure the kids are safe all summer long. If you’d like to read about that, sign up right now for the Money Pit e-newsletter at MoneyPit.com. It is totally free; comes to you every, single Friday morning.

    Leslie, let’s get back to the phones. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Gonna talk to one of our bayou buddies. We’ve got June in Louisiana who’s doing a painting project. What can we help you with?

    JUNE: I have a two-car garage and we’ve been in our house about 23 years. I have always wanted to keep it looking as nice as I could – it’s a concrete floor – and I have been so unfortunate not to be able to keep the pretty look whenever I paint it with a porch paint. Do you have any suggestions?

    TOM: Yeah, porch paint is probably not the state-of-the-art material for painting concrete. We would recommend epoxy paint.

    JUNE: OK.

    TOM: The problem is that you’ve got a lot of layers of porch paint on there. You’re going to have to strip those off first or at least get as much of it off as you can because you can’t put good paint over bad paint. It’s still going to strip off.

    JUNE: Right.

    TOM: But when you get it down to a good surface you can use an epoxy paint. It’s a two-part material; consists of a hardener and a base and when you mix them together you get about one to two hours to work with it. And it flows really nice; it adheres very well; it’s very, very durable; you don’t have to wait nearly as long to use it; you won’t get as much hot tire pickup, which happens with the porch paint when you put your car in there and the tires are hot …

    JUNE: Yes.

    TOM: … and then you back it out and the paint sticks to the tires.

    JUNE: Yes.

    TOM: That doesn’t happen. And with a lot of the epoxy garage products, you can usually have some sort of an additive in there that’s like a speckle finish or something of that nature to give it a little texture and it helps hide the dirt.

    JUNE: Yes.

    TOM: So I would stop using the porch paint – not designed for that – and start using the epoxy paints.

    JUNE: Well, I will certainly try that. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Ed in New Jersey is looking for a way to test the water hardness. Did you just move into a new place?

    ED: I’m there about a year-and-a-half now …

    TOM: OK.

    ED: … and I tested the water with a retail water tester kit …

    TOM: OK.

    ED: … and it turns out that my water is actually soft. So I’m a little confused now because my region is supposedly a hard water region.

    TOM: OK. Well, I would certainly believe the test results rather than what the rumors are about the region. Let me ask you this. When you use soap, say to wash your hands or something like that, does it seem to have any problem lathering up?

    ED: No.

    TOM: Well, then your water is probably soft.

    ED: So is soft water OK?

    TOM: Yes. So I would not get too worked up about the quality of your water. Most municipal systems are just fine.

    ED: OK, that sounds great. Thank you so much for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Now I’ve heard of a dog eating my homework but John in Colorado is claiming that the dog ate the carpet. (Tom chuckles) What happened?

    JOHN: She’s a Labrador and if you don’t watch her she’ll lick and lick at the carpet for some reason and then she’ll start to chew and she chewed about – oh, I’d say about a quarter or half-dollar sized hole …

    TOM: Ah, boy.

    JOHN: … in the carpet right by the couch.

    LESLIE: Can you move the couch? (chuckling) No, I’m kidding.

    TOM: Yeah, really.

    JOHN: (chuckling) Right.

    TOM: Well, first of all, do you have any extra carpet?

    JOHN: Yes, we’ve got some out in the garage.

    TOM: Well, you could patch it. You may see the seam. So you’re going to have to decide what’s going to be less obvious; the little hole in the carpet where maybe, as Leslie said, you could strategically move some furniture, or a patch.

    LESLIE: If you did want to patch it what you would do is you would get a utility knife – a good, sharp one – and you’d cut a square shape around that hole. And you want to make sure that you don’t cut all the way through to the pad but you do want to make like one nice, clean cut on each side so that you do get out a nice, smooth area. And then that piece that you cut out, you want to use that as your template to cut a piece out of the new carpeting. And you need to pay attention to the pile.

    JOHN: Oh, yeah.

    LESLIE: As wood has a grain, carpet also has a grain; if you will. So you want to make sure that you’re not putting it in in the opposite direction where all of a sudden you’re going to see a different sheen or a different color tonation.

    JOHN: Right.

    TOM: Because then it’s super obvious.

    LESLIE: Yeah, then it’ll like stare right out at you. And what you want to do is you want to get some carpet adhesive and you want to put that on the backside of the patch and on the pad – it’s almost like a contact cement – and then you want to take carpet glue and you want to – or the same adhesive, whatever you find, and put it on the edges of that pile and then shove it in there and really press it down into that hole and then fluff up the pile with your fingers and really let it dry and then vacuum your patch area.

    TOM: Yeah, there’s another way to do it, too; with carpet tape that is heat activated. But for that you need some special tools and it sort of goes underneath the open sides of the hole and then it glues down to the carpet and holds the whole thing in place.

    JOHN: Sounds good.

    TOM: Alright, John, and listen; keep an eye on that dog, will you? Get a pen. (Leslie chuckles)

    JOHN: Yeah, she’s a menace.

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

    LESLIE: Thomas is looking to gain some energy efficiency by insulating the attic. How can we help you with this project?

    THOMAS: I want to put insulation on the roof in the attic …

    TOM: OK.

    THOMAS: … and I was wondering can you just put the insulation right up or do you get condensation between the roof and the insulation.

    TOM: Yeah, you don’t want to put the insulation right on the underside of the roof itself. You want to put it at the ceiling level; in other words, the second floor ceiling between the …

    LESLIE: Conditioned spaces and unconditioned spaces, correct?

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. If you’re talking about putting it up on the roof rafters, that would be a bad idea.

    THOMAS: I thought so.

    TOM: Yep, bad idea. Because it holds too much heat against the roof it will wear out the shingles very, very quickly; it will trap moisture in there and cause condensation and delamination and mold. The only time that you insulate in that particular space is if you have a cathedral ceiling where, say, you have like a 2×10 roof rafter; then you put in about eight inches of insulation and leave a gap between the insulation and the underside of the roof sheathing, Tom, but in this particular situation I would put it down on the attic floor or the second floor ceiling level. You’re going to want about 15 to 18 inches of insulation there.

    THOMAS: Oh, OK. Alright.

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

    LESLIE: Jean is calling from Long Island, New York. What can we do for you today?

    JEAN: You can help me get the dents out of my carpet from where my furniture had been.

    TOM: Did you get new furniture, Jean?

    JEAN: No, I just rearranged my living room.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    JEAN: Bad mistake. I should have left things where they were.

    TOM: And how many years did the old furniture stay in that one place?

    JEAN: Oh, about 20. (Tom laughs)

    LESLIE: Oh, gosh. So you’re dealing with really hefty, hefty, hefty depressions here. What kind of carpet is it? Does it have a long pile? Is it short? What is it like?

    JEAN: No, it’s not long, but – I don’t know what to call it.

    LESLIE: Alright. We have a short carpet in our living room and I tend to move the furniture around a lot. Now, the furniture has maybe only sat there five years or so but still dented. I usually take a fork, a comb and my vacuum with the hose attachment and maybe that like fine attachment that you use to get behind the radiator or something.

    JEAN: Yes, I know what you mean.

    LESLIE: And I’ve taken the fork to sort of puff up the pile a little bit; to sort of scratch through it and sort of make it stand up again and then I’ve taken the vacuum attachment and just really worked that area and then the fork and the comb again. And you know, after about an hour or so (Jean and Tom chuckle), it does do the trick. But I mean it …

    JEAN: Only an hour, huh?

    LESLIE: It does take time but it really does work.

    JEAN: Well, I had gone online and they said to dampen the spots; to wet it, actually.

    TOM: You know what my concern is …

    LESLIE: You can do that …

    TOM: You know what my concern is, Leslie; if she’s had the furniture on the carpet it’s not so much the carpet that’s showing the dent as it is the foam below, which may be …

    JEAN: Ah, yeah.

    LESLIE: The padding.

    TOM: Yeah, the padding may be completely destroyed in that spot.

    JEAN: Probably.

    TOM: Yeah.

    JEAN: Well, I either live with it or buy new carpeting. I think my decision has been made. (Tom chuckles)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) I say try my trick. It could work. It could do it.

    JEAN: I’ll give that a try; yes, I will. Thanks so much.

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

    LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We are here to help you and we want you to know that it’s entirely possible to make sure that your barbecue is safe for the whole season of sizzling steaks. We’re going to tell you how to do that. We’ve got some hot tips to get you grill ready in just a little bit.

    TOM: Plus, May is National Home Remodeling Month and the perfect time to launch or newest contest which we call The Ugliest Door in America. Details on how you can win a brand spanking new $5,000 front door makeover from Therma-Tru, next.

    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: Well, if you just ripped out the sink in your bathroom and you’re wondering know where the main water shutoff valve is (Leslie chuckles), you should go to the phone and call us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and if you’re asking yourself that question, well it’s perfect timing May is National Home Remodeling Month, which means you’re doing your job in the month you’re supposed to be doing it and it’s enough of a reason, the single naming of the month being Remodeling Month, to go ahead and take a closer look at that first impression that people are having of your home. I mean it’s your front door; you’re staying put or maybe you’re putting your home on the market; taking advantage of the opportunity that there are a lot of buyers wanting to get good deals and maybe you’re looking to make a change. So your front door can really entice a lot of people to come and look at your house and it also adds great value that’s five times the actual cost of the project and it’s a great investment for your home. It’s going to look fantastic. And it’s a project that’s not drastic or major in scale but it yields huge results.

    TOM: Ah yes, but you say to yourself, ‘I’d love to do that, Tom and Leslie, but I’m short of cash this spring and I really do have an ugly door. I just don’t know what to do.’ Well, you’re in luck because with help from our friends at Therma-Tru, we are launching the fourth annual search for the ugliest door in America. There are going to be two grand prize winners. Each will receive a Therma-Tru entry door makeover with a retail value of up to $5,000. To enter, just go to MyUglyDoor.com.

    LESLIE: Now there are two ways to enter. You can either write a short essay about why you think you’ve got the ugliest door in America and then send it in with two pictures of your door; or if you’re super creative and artsy and maybe you’ve got a camcorder at home you can go ahead and produce a one-minute video. All of the details about what you’ve got to do to get in on this contest are at MyUglyDoor.com.

    How are there two winners? Are we doing for each category for the Scorsese and the writer?

    TOM: That’s right. For the Martin Scorsese award (chuckles), you get – and front door makeover, if you get the video award – or for those that are just the photographers; for those that are just going to send a picture and a nice little essay, you get a front door makeover, too.

    LESLIE: I like that. So that’s really fantastic. Go ahead; get busy; get creative; take those pictures and videos of your ugly doors because you could use a new one. Make sure you enter today.

    TOM: MyUglyDoor.com. 888-666-3974 is the number you need to call for the answer to your home improvement question. Callers standing by. Let’s get back to them.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Paula in Oklahoma has a roofing question. What’s going on? Is there a leak; you got water; new roof? What’s happening?

    PAULA: Well, we’re getting ready to reroof our home …


    PAULA: … and we just happened to turn on and heard him say that black tarpaper wasn’t the best thing to put on underneath the shingles …

    TOM: Right.

    PAULA: … and that we want – but I didn’t catch what you said to put in its place.

    TOM: There’s a material called Tri-Flex 30 which is a synthetic underlayment. It’s made by the Grace Roofing Company; Grace Construction Products Company. Their website is GraceAtHome.com. It’s a much better alternative to tarpaper because …

    LESLIE: It’s super-durable; it’s flexible.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: As they’re actually working on the roof any sort of penetration from nails or staples isn’t going to, you know, damage the underlayment as it would with a tarpaper and now, all of a sudden, you’ve got a propensity for leaks. And even if the weather turns while they’re installing it’s going to be super-durable; not moisture-absorbing; and if you lose some shingles in a storm it’s not going to leak.

    TOM: Yeah, tarpaper, if it gets wet, is actually supposed to be torn off the roof and done again. Now how many times have you even seen a roofer do that?

    LESLIE: Never.

    PAULA: Never.

    TOM: So these synthetic underlayments are much better. So it’s called Tri-Flex 30 and it’s made by Grace.

    PAULA: OK, thank you very much.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    Earlier we were talking about what you need to know to get your grill ready for a summer of sizzling steaks. Well, here it is. You know, even though the grill worked fine last year and you expect that you can turn it on and it’ll work fine this year, it doesn’t always happen. In fact, sometimes it starts with a real bang. Why?

    LESLIE: Like an explosion bang or like yay, exciting bang?

    TOM: No, no, no. Like bang – a bad kind of bang; like explosion bang. Because very often you get spiders that build nests inside the gas tubes and when you turn on the propane – this is just one of a number of things that can happen –

    LESLIE: Possible scenarios?

    TOM: Possible scenarios; that’s right. Too much gas builds up and not enough flame gets to it quick enough and boom. So you really need to make sure that you get it ready. Here’s a couple of things.

    First of all, take off the cooking grids; remove the lava rock; pull out the burner; check the burner for rust and cracks. You know, propane is very corrosive as it burns and it’s very frequent that you get rust or cracks; so check it very carefully. Make sure you clean out the venturi under the burner. There’s such thing as called a spider brush, which is a very small – like a tiny bottle brush that you sort of work all the way into this burner and pull it out. That blocks any spider webs that get caught up in there.

    LESLIE: Should you disconnect the propane tank while you’re doing all this?

    TOM: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. This is before you even hook up the propane.


    TOM: And then make sure you check all those hoses for leaks or cracks and when you put the whole thing together get some soapy water; get some water, mix a little dish soap in there and brush that soapy water on all the connections when you open the gas up. You’re looking for bubbles. If it bubbles up you’ve got a leak and then you’ve got to fix it.

    So, follow those steps and you will make sure that your grill is ready to go for the whole summer. If you haven’t been able to remember those or write it down, just search gas grill at MoneyPit.com. It’s all there waiting for you.

    LESLIE: And while you’re at MoneyPit.com you might want to do some research about selling your home because if you’re thinking of selling your home we’ve got some great tips there and we’ve also got some great tips coming up, including why your asking price might be the most important decision to make when you put your home on the market. So stick around.

    (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: If your basement doubles as your swimming pool, you are tuned to exactly the right place because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you joke about basement pools but when I was growing up that was always my dream.

    TOM: A basement pool?

    LESLIE: I always had this bizarre fantasy to flood the basement and keep a dolphin down there because I wanted a pool so bad.

    TOM: Many people don’t have to have that fantasy because every time it rains the basement floods on its own …

    LESLIE: Argh.

    TOM: … and if that is your situation we can help. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Yeah, if you give us a call today at 1-888-MONEY-PIT everybody who gets on the air today is automatically entered into our random prize drawing and we’ve actually got a nice, spring-y prize for you this hour. We’re giving away a pair of window boxes from our friends over at Vixen Hill. They’re heavy-duty, cedar window boxes. They’ve got forged mounting brackets and adjustable support so they’ll work for a whole bunch of different sized windows. You can install them in minutes and then you can enjoy the beauty of a window box for decades. They’re worth 120 bucks. Give us a call now because if we pick you from the Money Pit hardhat you could get them for free.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number you need to call for the answer to your home improvement question which might be, ‘How the heck do we sell our home in this market?’ Well, part of solution has to do with how you price it; so I got a few tips from the folks at Century 21 who say that if the home is priced too low it’s going to cost you money – well, duh; obviously – but if it’s priced too high, potential buyers could be scared away. So what you need to do to determine the right price for your house is to compare it to other homes on the market. How do you do that? Well, realtors can do that for you or you could do your own research yourself. It’s called comparable sales and is the key to pricing your home where it should be. We all tend to think that our homes are worth more than they probably are and the way to sort of gut check and get the right price is to check comparable sales in your market. You can do that by researching those online or check with the folks at Century 21. They’ve got a great website that can help you do just that as well.

    888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Alright, we’re going to talk water heaters with Mark in Pennsylvania. What can we sort out for you?

    MARK: ((inaudible)) have a hot water tank. It’s operated by electric. The house is 20 years old; it’s the original water heat. So it’s about that time, probably, to change it …

    LESLIE: It’s over that time. (chuckling)

    MARK: Yes, way over that time. You’re absolutely right. That and with noticing my current electric bill, you know, trying to save electric anywhere I can, I was actually thinking about going with the tankless water heater and water on demand, if that’s what it’s called.

    TOM: Do you have gas in the house at all?

    MARK: No gas at all, no.

    TOM: No propane?

    MARK: No propane, no.

    TOM: Alright, then you cannot install a tankless electric water heater. They don’t work nearly as well as the gas water heater. You don’t have the efficiency that you would with a gas tankless water heater. Your best bet, Mark, is to put in another electric water heater but with a couple of things differently. First of all, I’d buy a high-efficiency electric water heater; they have more insulation on the jacket. Secondly, I would put in a timer because you don’t need to run the electric water heater 24/7. You can run it about 12 hours a day, strategically. You run it for a few hours in the morning and a few hours at night; it’ll stay hot during the day and that’ll save you a lot of money as well. So unfortunately, you can’t go tankless but you can do a more efficient job with the next electric water heater.

    MARK: OK, perfect.

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

    LESLIE: Taking a how-to question from Brian in North Carolina. What can we help you with?

    BRIAN: Yeah, I’ve got a home built in 1942. It’s got the old, plaster walls in it …

    TOM: OK.

    BRIAN: … and no insulation in the exterior walls. And I’ve checked a couple of websites and there’s the slow rise expandable foam.

    TOM: OK.

    BRIAN: I’m thinking that’s my best option. I’m wondering if there’s anything I need to worry about or …

    TOM: Well, it’s not the kind of process that you’re going to want to do yourself.

    BRIAN: OK.

    LESLIE: Because it needs to be really balanced as far as the pressure goes, right?

    TOM: It does and if it’s done wrong and it expands too much it could damage walls …

    BRIAN: Blow the walls out, right?

    TOM: Right, exactly. So this is the kind of thing that I would have done by a pro because you want to make sure that you get continuous coverage. That being said, I would say that your priorities in insulation should be the ceiling first. Is your attic well-insulated?

    BRIAN: It is. That’s my project in the next few months here. I know I can do that myself. I was just going to buy some roll-out bats and kind of double up what’s up there. I’ve probably got about eight inches.

    TOM: Yeah, and you really ought to have at least twice that much so I would do the attic first. That’s going to give you the best return on investment.

    Now what about the floor? You’re in North Carolina. Are you over a crawlspace?

    BRIAN: I am over – yes, it’s over a crawlspace and that’s fine. I mean I think I’ve got – it’s the old rough-cut 2x6s.

    TOM: And is it well-insulated?

    BRIAN: Yes, it’s completely to the bottom of the floor joist; so …

    TOM: OK, good.

    BRIAN: … I don’t think there’s anything else I can do there.

    TOM: Alright, well I think you’re attacking this in the right order then. I would definitely do the attic first. That’s going to make the biggest difference. The walls are important but surprisingly not as important as those other two areas.

    BRIAN: Very helpful. OK. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to the Money Pit and we’ve got lots of great more home improvement advice coming up including some information about basements. If you live in the northeast you probably have got one because they are a huge commodity here where Tom and I live. If you live in the south or the southwest you don’t really have a basement. They really aren’t built there. But do you need a basement? Do you want one? Is it going to help your home to function better? We’ll tell you the ins and outs of basements, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators, America’s choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are available online at MoneyPit.com where you can subscribe to our podcast. If you’ve missed any part of the show it’s all there, subscribable, for free at MoneyPit.com. You can also search our transcripts if you’d like to look up something that perhaps you missed on the show; all available at MoneyPit.com. While you’re there, click on Ask Tom and Leslie in the Listen section, just like Dave did from Syracuse, New York.

    LESLIE: Alright, Dave writes: ‘I’m moving from Syracuse to southeast Arizona where the houses have no basements and many houses we’re looking at online have cathedral or arched ceilings …’ – that sounds lovely – ‘… or a Santa Fe flat, built-up roof.’ The lack of a basement concerns me as a basement regulates the interior temperature of the home and provides easy access under the living spaces for repairs and modifications; not to mention utility and storage space. Having a cathedral or arched ceiling or a flat roof means you get the insulation that the house came with; no possibility of increased insulation; no storage; and you’ll be heating and cooling that extra square feet of air. Am I unnecessarily concerned and why are there no basements in this region?’

    TOM: Yes, Dave. You’re trying to build a home like we do in New York out in Arizona and things are just different out there. You don’t need to have a basement to feel comfortable or know that the home is built correctly. True, having a basement and having a full attic makes it pretty darn easy to make any kind of change that you want to make in your house because you can always run wires underneath or above. In the type of construction that you’re talking about, you’re going to have less access; which means you have to be much more careful about making sure the home is exactly what you want before you buy it or if you build it, just plan for all of those possibilities.

    I don’t necessarily agree with your comment that the basement regulates the interior temperature of the home because your HVAC system, properly designed and installed, can do a fine job for that whether your home is in Arizona, California, Texas or New York/New Jersey. It works the same no matter where you are. A well-designed HVAC system will keep your home very, very comfortable.

    So I hope that assuages your concerns. Just relax and enjoy that beautiful weather.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, enjoy that move. It’s going to be lovely over there. Just remember to check your shoes for scorpions before you put them on. Ooh! (Tom chuckles)

    I’ve got another here from Carol in Mebane, North Carolina who writes: ‘We had granite countertops; a new stainless steel sink; new faucet with spray installed in December. We have city water and when I use the spray the water smells terrible for the first 10 to 15 seconds and then it’s fine. We have no water odor problems anywhere else. What’s going on?’

    TOM: Probably you have a sulfur odor, which is not unusual in certain parts of the country. I would recommend for your kitchen sink, where you do all of this work, to have a charcoal filter added and that will solve that. But when you don’t …

    LESLIE: I know sometimes, Tom, you say that when there’s a new plumbing fixture installed perhaps there’s been a buildup of adhesive or something that could cause an odor as well. Is that possible; especially since all this is new?

    TOM: Well, that would be in the drain but it sounds to me that this happens once you spray the water and that generally means that you haven’t run the water for a bit of time and the first time you do it everyday you’ll get that heavy sulfur odor. That can, again, be corrected with simply the addition of a charcoal filter right at the sink.

    LESLIE: Alright, Carol. I hope that helps and you’ve done a wonderful thing. Fixing your kitchen, especially with granite countertops, is fantastic for resale value.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We’re available 24/7/365 where the show continues at MoneyPit.com and while you’re there, read all about the brand new contest launched today; the Ugliest Door in America contest sponsored by Therma-Tru. We’re providing you an opportunity to win an entire front door makeover worth up to 5,000 bucks. For more info go to MyUglyDoor.com or click on the button on our homepage at 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 2008 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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