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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: And it’s time to start your home improvement adventure. We’re your tour guides, so pack your bags. We’re going to go on a trip and we’re going to fix up your house. And you know, home improvement is like an adventure because it doesn’t always work out the way you planned the trip when you started it. But we think we can eliminate some of the unknown and make those projects come out just the way you’ve always envisioned that they can be. So whether you’re working on a squeaky floor, putting on a room addition, want to replace your toilet, want to spiff up your kitchen or bath, maybe you want to know the best way to get your house ready to sell, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up, you’ve shopped ’til you’ve dropped and are finally ready to tackle a home decorating project. But before you do, it’s a good idea to know the most common interior design dos and don’ts. We’re going to tell you what some of those are in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And we’re also going to be talking about things like crown moulding and decorative trim. You know, they really add a nice finishing touch and some architectural detail to a pretty plain room. But wood mouldings, they can get pretty expensive. We’ve got a cheaper option that we’re going to tell you about in just a little bit.

    TOM: And is your home a dust magnet? I know my kids are dust magnets. (Leslie chuckles) I’m not so sure about my home.

    LESLIE: I know under my bed is a dust magnet.

    TOM: (chuckling) Well, if those dust bunnies are building up in your house, we’ve got a great tip to cut down on the dust, coming up, that’s going to really save you a lot of time and a lot of hassles.

    LESLIE: Plus we’re giving away a great prize this hour. We’ve got a set of blades from our friends over at Rapid Tools. It’s the Shark and the Rapid edge prize pack. It’s worth 60 bucks.

    TOM: So give us a call. Let’s get right to the phones. 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Heading over to New Jersey to chat with Carol. What can we do for you today?

    CAROL: Hi, I love the show. Your website is terrific.

    LESLIE: Thanks.

    TOM: Thank you.

    CAROL: I am calling because I have a problem, a dilemma. I have a small bathroom with a vanilla-colored tile. I don’t have an issue with the grout but I have an issue with the tile itself discoloring. There is a light purple hue that’s appearing on some of the tiles, randomly, throughout the shower; almost the color of a light bruise. And my husband says I’m causing it by using harsh cleaning chemicals. (Tom chuckles) I say I think the tiles were poorly glazed.

    TOM: Yeah, well I don’t think that there are very many chemicals, short of an acid, that could take the glaze off of a tile. I mean wear and tear over the years can but I can’t imagine there’s anything that you’re personally doing to this that’s causing the problem.

    LESLIE: Is it just a basic ceramic tile …

    CAROL: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: … not like a porous travertine-looking, fun, tumbled something?

    CAROL: No, it is your run-of-the-mill basic tile.

    TOM: It sounds to me like it’s wear and tear of the glaze surface that’s now getting dirt and soap scum and things like that embedded into it that’s causing it to discolor.

    CAROL: Do you think it can be cleaned or do I have to replace it?

    TOM: Well, have you tried CLR?

    CAROL: No, I haven’t.

    TOM: That’s pretty effective at removing a lot of that calcium, lime and rust. Why don’t you give it a washdown with some CLR and see if that does the trick.

    CAROL: And you don’t think that I’m causing the problem by using (inaudible at 0:03:47.8)?

    TOM: No, you tell your husband that we let you off the hook on this, OK. (Carol and Leslie chuckle)

    CAROL: I love it. (chuckling) Super.

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

    LESLIE: Dan in Texas is calling to rub it in that he’s got a pool. What can we do for you? (Tom laughs)

    DAN: Yeah. I’ve got a pool that’s like 20 years old and back when it was built I guess it was fashionable to put AstroTurf around it.

    TOM: I see. (laughing)


    DAN: And now there are patches of AstroTurf which look like it was laid in concrete …

    TOM: Oh, man.

    DAN: … that I just can’t get up.

    TOM: Wow. So the AstroTurf is what? Like embedded into the concrete?

    DAN: Yeah, it looks like they just – they put down a thin layer of some kind of crete or plaster or something and then laid the AstroTurf on it.

    TOM: Wow, hmm.

    DAN: How 1970s.

    TOM: Yeah, I’m thinking a jackhammer is in your future, dude. (chuckles)

    DAN: (chuckling) Well, it may be and I thought about just replacing the whole pool deck. But I didn’t know if there was something out there that could get this stuff up. It’s not a conventional adhesive. I’ve tried adhesive dissolvers on it and it doesn’t do any good.

    TOM: Well, let me ask you a question. Is it just like more of the glue that’s there or is there actual sort of like fabric from the old …?

    DAN: There’s still some AstroTurf there; I mean the remnants of AstroTurf, anyway.

    TOM: Hmm. Because if it was smooth and it was just a glue, I was thinking that you may be able to coat the whole thing with an epoxy patching compound; like an epoxy trowel surface.

    LESLIE: Like to level it?

    TOM: Yeah, to level it out and cover it over.

    LESLIE: Is there any way to build a – not a deck where you’re thinking of something high around it but, you know, wood up around it to create sort of like a wood or a composite decking.

    DAN: It’s an inground pool and the coping stone is level with the concrete decking around it, so …

    LESLIE: Hmm.

    TOM: I know what you’re thinking, Leslie. If you use like fiberon or something like that on the flat …

    LESLIE: Yeah, you can use that on the flat and – I mean I’m assuming it’s an inground pool, which I’m glad for you; I’m jealous. (Tom chuckles)

    DAN: Yeah.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Not that I have pool envy. OK, I do. But yeah, I’ve seen where you can put wood right up onto maybe a brick edger that’s coved so it sort of creates a new stepper into the pool. So it goes brick up to this wood decking, which actually looks really pretty and you can put it on the diamond, you can do an interesting herringbone pattern with this and it creates a new surface and that could be something that could go right on top of that mish-mosh.

    TOM: Except that …

    LESLIE: And of course you don’t have to worry about weeds growing up through it.

    TOM: Except that I wouldn’t use wood; I would use composite.

    LESLIE: Yeah, composite; definitely.

    DAN: Yeah. That spot …

    TOM: Yeah, it’ll stand up really nicely.

    DAN: Alright.

    TOM: Well, that’s an option. A jackhammer is the option and if you can get rid of the AstroTurf itself, you could coat the whole thing with an epoxy coating.

    DAN: Yeah, and that’s just what I really wanted to do if I could get rid of the AstroTurf.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: You know what? If you want some inspiration for the decking idea, go to FiberonDecking.com. I think there’s a couple of photos of an instance where they’ve done just that.

    DAN: OK. FiberonDecking.com. OK, I’ll check it out.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement or your home repair question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, decorative trim can add a nice finishing touch to a room and there are many moulding products to choose from. Find out which materials can fit your budget, are easy to install and look great, next.

    (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: Do you have a brand new pair of work boots? Are you dressed up with no place to go? Well, you are in the right place because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and we’re here to help you with your housework of the home improvement nature. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and I always think that work boots are a fashion do. In fact, they are my favorite, favorite things to wear (Tom chuckles), even on non-job-site days. And if you agree with that and if you’ve got some questions about what’s going on at your money pit, then pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who asks their home improvement question on the air this hour is going to win a great prize. We’re giving away a $60 prize package from Rapid Tools and it includes the Shark combination utility blade and wire stripper. It also has edge-serrated utility blades and even a utility knife with an LED light built right in so you can see exactly that line that you want to cut on. Pick up the phone for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Now let’s talk a little about mouldings. You know, they are the perfect way to add a nice, finished look around windows, doors, walls, furniture, you name it. And there are a lot of options to choose from starting with hardwood mouldings. They’re pretty expensive but, on the flip side, you can use paint-grade pine or fir mouldings which are a lot less expensive and basically they’re less expensive because they’re made from pieces of wood that have been joined together.

    Now, for the best of both worlds, consider the new high-tech, ready-to-paint mouldings that are made from high-density polymers. They’re attractive, they’re available at a fraction of the cost and they’re really easy to install because they come sort of in kits with special joints that allow you to join them at the corners or midstream, if it’s a real long piece, without having to know any fancy carpentry work; you don’t have to use a miter box.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You don’t have to miter anything.

    TOM: Nope, you don’t have to know what a coping saw is; don’t have to know how to do a coped joint. If you know how to do all that stuff that’s great because …

    LESLIE: Then go for it.

    TOM: Go for it. But if not, go with the easy stuff. Go with the …

    LESLIE: Yeah, and the kits are interesting because even where they meet up in the corners and where they sort of butt in a long, straight run, it gives it even more sort of architectural detail; there’s more depth and interest to it. So it doesn’t look like that’s something that’s sort of just shoved together. It really does look well planned.

    TOM: Good point.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Connie in Virginia needs some help in the kitchen. What can we do for you?

    CONNIE: I have white melamine cabinets in my kitchen …

    TOM: OK.

    CONNIE: … and they’ve been fine so far. They’re laminated over a particleboard, I believe.

    TOM: Right.

    CONNIE: But a screw has pulled out of a hinge …

    TOM: OK.

    CONNIE: … in one of my kitchen doors and makes them very heavy, as you know, and I believe they’re European-style hinges.

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    CONNIE: And they’re held on by two screws on the door. One screw is still in there but the other has pulled out, of course.

    TOM: Is it stripped?

    CONNIE: Yeah, it’s stripped …

    TOM: OK.

    CONNIE: … and I want to know what can I put in that whole that would allow me to reinstall another screw in the same spot.

    TOM: Oh, very simple. Very simple trick of the trade, Connie. All you do is you take a flat toothpick, a couple of them; add a little bit of Elmer’s glue to the end of them; stick them in there; let them dry and snap them right off in place.

    CONNIE: A toothpick?!

    TOM: A toothpick. Yep. It’s just basically …

    CONNIE: Gosh, I was expecting some high-tech thing. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: No, a toothpick works great. Little wood shin (ph).

    LESLIE: And then, Tom, would you want to find a screw that’s the same diameter, if you will, that was there before? Do you want to go with something that’s a little bit more beefy?

    TOM: No, I’d put the same one right back in.

    CONNIE: Good, I still saved it.

    TOM: And frankly, you know, if you stick the toothpicks in there with a little bit of glue and snap them off you could put the screw in like immediately. It’ll act as a clamp and make it nice and tight and dry right in place.

    CONNIE: How about that.

    TOM: Easy to do.

    CONNIE: Thank you very much … (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: You’re welcome, Connie.

    CONNIE: … for something very easy. (chuckles)

    TOM: See, you call it a big problem; we make it super simple. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Bill in Michigan’s dealing with a hard water situation. How can we help?

    BILL: Hi. We’ve got well water at our house and it tastes pretty good but we get this buildup and it kind of looks like sand but it’s kind of white and grainy. I mean you’ve got to clean the aerators out of the faucets all the time.

    TOM: Bill, you have what is known in the industry as hard water and it can happen with well water and it can happen with city water.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It can happen with city water, too.

    TOM: Yeah, and it has to do with what the source supply of the water is. If there’s a lot of rock where the water pulls from, you’re going to end up getting a lot of mineral deposits inside that water and it does tend to clog up faucets and showerheads and sometimes it can build up as sediment in the bottom of water heaters and cause the early failure of water heaters.

    So two ways that you can tackle this. You can use a salt-based water softening system; effective but pretty expensive and costly to install. Or you can use another product that’s fairly new to the market but is getting a lot of really great reviews. It’s called EasyWater and basically what EasyWater does it works electronically to stop the water from building up. You purchase an EasyWater unit; you wrap a signal wire around the main water pipe and basically this unit charges those mineral particles so that they will no longer stick to the faucets …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Together.

    TOM: … and no longer stick together – right – and no longer build up as sediment. And that’s a lot less expensive way to go that is very, very successful. In fact, some of the – this company actually started in the industrial business of serving clients like Frito-Lay and other big manufacturers that have a lot of tools and a lot of water that is used in the manufacture of their food products and used to get all kinds of mineral buildup and these are the kinds of products that would solve that. So check out that product …

    BILL: Do I need a plumber?

    TOM: No, you don’t because it’s just a signal wire that’s wrapped around the water and it changes the composition of the minerals in the water so they no longer stick.

    TOM: Sounds easy.

    TOM: It is. EasyWater.com is their website.

    BILL: Thanks, guys. Love the show.

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

    LESLIE: Earl in Texas needs some help in the attic. What can we do for you?

    EARL: I need to know the source and effectiveness of radiant paint for the attic.

    TOM: Very simple: third-party testing. Before you choose a radiant barrier, you want to see the research done by the manufacturer. Don’t just take the claims that are on the website. Ask to see the reports from third-party testing organizations. The best radiant barrier manufacturers out there are going to have those very handy and be very quick to turn them over to you and, this way, you can make an intelligent decision without all of the selling and the hyperbole that comes across.

    EARL: The coverages are different but all of this stuff is like $55 a gallon.

    TOM: Radiant barriers are fairly expensive, but they are effective and they do work very well; especially in your area of the country, out in Texas and Arizona and areas like that because it really does cut back on the temperature of the attic space and make it a lot less expensive for you to have to cool your house.

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

    LESLIE: Marie in Vermont, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    MARIE: I called you because I really enjoy your show and I think perhaps you might be able to advise me on my problem here.

    TOM: Alright, what can we do?

    MARIE: We have lived here since 1955, which equals about 53 years. I’m a senior citizen.

    TOM: OK, is the house – the house was built in 1955, then?

    MARIE: A little at a time.

    TOM: OK.

    MARIE: We started off with a trailer and then we had a lean-to and then we took and we …

    TOM: Worked your way up to a single family, did you?

    MARIE: Yes.

    TOM: (chuckling) OK.

    MARIE: We had four children.

    TOM: Alright.

    MARIE: Well now the problem is and has been all these years, we have a split-level house here. Now, we have a furnace down cellar and the duct work goes under the crawl space. And through the years, we’ve been told, ‘Well, that duct work is old and it has lost a lot of heat and that is why you spend so much money on fuel, because the furnace runs a lot.’ Now, the fuel, it cost almost $3,000 for the oil last year.

    TOM: In 1955 we didn’t care so much about what it costs to heat our homes and although you’ve made improvements since then, I doubt that your home is as weather-tight as it probably should be, starting in the attic. I would not be looking at the furnace and the duct work first. I’d be looking at the level of insulation in the house, starting in the attic space because that’s where most of your heat loss is. Now, the ducts don’t wear out; so the ducts are the same as they’ve been since the day they put in. And while they may not be the most efficient, typically, in split levels, we don’t get so many questions about losing heat; more we get questions about people that have trouble air conditioning split levels because they’re darned hard to move the ducts through because of the configuration of the building.

    But if you’re trying to save money and cut down your heating costs, I would start with the basics. I would look at the insulation in the attic; I’d look at the windows, the doors, the weatherstripping, the outlets, the lights, the switches on the outside walls and save (ph) drafts. What I would do is I would contact your utility company or your oil company and find out if you can hire an energy auditor to walk through that home and figure out where you’re losing all this heat. I suspect it’s going to be in the basics and probably replacing your ducts is the last thing that you’re going to want to do. Those ducts are probably just fine, Marie.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, want a surefire dust buster for your furniture? We’re going to teach you how to filter out that dust, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters, you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.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: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because we never sleep here at The Money Pit. Our screen team is awake and alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to take your phone call. If you need an answer right away, you can also try finding it online at MoneyPit.com because there you’ll see everything we’ve ever written about home improvement. Our personal library of over 1,000 home improvement articles is online right now at MoneyPit.com. We’ve even got it broken down by project and by topic. The answers are at the tips of your fingers at MoneyPit.com as you flip through the pages of our website.

    LESLIE: Alright, and maybe you’re searching there right now thinking, ‘How come I’ve got all these darn dust bunnies around my house, especially under the bed, and I swear I’ve just cleaned.’ Well, if you find that your house is a dust magnet, there might actually be a good reason and it could be a home maintenance project that you just kind of left off the honey-do list for a couple of weeks. You know, have you checked the filters lately? Because you can easily reduce dust by cleaning the filter of your forced-air heating and cooling system. A clean filter is going to prevent airborne dirt from circulating around your house and turning into dust bunnies and, you know, dust tumbleweed eventually. And if you’ve got a filter that’s reusable, you want to remove it and give it a good washing. If it’s disposable, just replace it.

    If you want the best air cleaning option, go ahead and install a whole-house air cleaner like those from Aprilaire. They work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to keep your house clean and they also cut way back on the allergens that can cause a whole host of breathing and respiratory problems. And you’ll find that after like a week or so of using it, even a month, the dust just gets less and less and less then maybe you can skip that one cleaning session.

    TOM: And go to the beach.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Kevin in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    KEVIN: Hi. I have a house for sale through a realtor and I was wondering how long an appraisal would be valid for if I were to go ahead to do that myself. Now here in Texas, the buyer usually has to pay for the appraisal but as the seller, if I go ahead and do that will it be good for 30 days or 90 days or how long?

    TOM: Well, I mean I certainly would expect it to be good for three to six months. It really depends on the market. Now, the reason that you’re doing this is just for your own edification so you can help price the home appropriately?

    KEVIN: Yes, I just want to make sure the realtor and I are (AUDIO GAP) appropriately.

    TOM: Yeah, I mean I think that that’s – it’s reasonable to expect it to be – and it’s an estimate; it’s an educated estimate based on home sales in your area. That’s what an appraisal is. And I would expect it, in most markets, to hold for three to six months. But you know, things can change quickly, in which case it may no longer be valid and have to be adjusted and if that was the situation, I would speak with the appraiser about the original appraisal and say, ‘Hey, has anything changed dramatically?’ Maybe you can do some quick rechecking of the specs of the comparable homes that are used to create the appraisal and make adjustments accordingly.

    KEVIN: OK.

    LESLIE: You know, Kevin, there’s a great website. It’s AppraisalFoundation.org. And it’s authorized by Congress and it goes over all the guidelines and what makes an appraiser; what are the standards of appraisal; how long will it last. It’s a great, very user-friendly website that could probably point you in the right direction there as well.

    KEVIN: OK, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Jerry in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JERRY: Well, I burn fuel oil and I have hot water baseboard heat and my water is heated through the oil furnace. Well, the last time I got oil …

    TOM: Yeah.

    JERRY: … it was about a month ago. It was 3.90 a gallon, so – which is pretty scary. And so I’m looking at some other types – a way to save fuel. You know I thought about a fireplace insert, a hot water heater, and I’m just not sure if any of those things are good ways to save money or if I’m throwing good money after bad.

    TOM: Well, instead of looking at your mechanical system, which is pretty expensive to change, have you thought about doing a home energy audit of your house as it is now to see if we can make your home more efficient?

    JERRY: No, I never did think of that.

    TOM: Yeah, you might want to think about doing that. You know, there are some sites online that can walk you through the do-it-yourself version. There are energy auditors out there that can do it professionally. And I would concentrate on trying to figure out how I could make my home more energy efficient so you burn less fuel. You know, having a hot water baseboard system is fantastic. I mean it’s the best kind of heating system that you can have because it’s warm and it’s moist. You know, the oil is expensive right now but other fuels are not going to make that big of a difference to you because you’d end up having to replace your system, your mechanical system, which would ruin the cost efficiency. So I would think about improving insulation. I’d think about cutting back on drafts. In terms of a fireplace, well, do you have a fireplace right now?

    JERRY: Yeah, I do.

    TOM: And you talked about putting an insert into that? Well, you know, the damper on the fireplace, if it’s closed, that’s going to be about as efficient as you can make that with or without an insert, so that you’re not leaving it open all day long so the heat isn’t rushing out the chimney. But little things like this can make a difference on how much energy you use. So I think, in your situation, I would concentrate on making the home as efficient as possible and I’d get an energy auditor to help me do just that.

    JERRY: OK. I’ll give that a whirl.

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

    Well, you’ve surfed the net; you’ve pored over catalogs; you’ve picked just the right drapes and side tables. Now it’s time to get to work with your decorating project. But before you do, make sure you learn about the top decorating don’ts. We’ll cover that, 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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller we talk to this hour is going to win a $60 prize package from Rapid Tools. It includes the Shark knife, which is the world’s first and only tool to combine a utility knife with a wire stripper. Pretty handy to have around for all sorts of projects around your house. So pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement question. Soup to nuts, floorboards to shingles; we are here to help you get the jobs done.

    LESLIE: Yeah, even on design and decorating questions. You know, maybe you’re revamping things for the season, maybe you’re completely overhauling a room in your house or maybe you’ve just moved into a new house. Well, whatever the reason is, if you’re tackling a decorating project, you know that it can be exciting and just ridiculously scary all at the same time. Because there are so many things to consider and we want you to be armed with a few design don’ts so that you really can be prepared to create the room of your dreams.

    First of all, don’t even think about doing it all at once. I know I’m guilty of it on those home makeover shows I work on. We swoop in, we change everything around. It seems to take place in an instant. But if you’re working on a room in your house, if you try to do everything at the same time – go from a blank canvas to the completely finished interior – you’re never going to be happy and you’re going to end up buying more stuff, changing something. So take your time.

    They’re created in layers, the most beautiful, interesting interiors. So do it over time and mostly make sure you have a plan. You want to survey your resources, your current furnishings, your work schedule, your budget and then make a list of the things that you need, the ones that you want, the things that you’d love to have and put all of those things into a priority so you know what you can work with now, what you need to get down the road and, eventually, you will end up with the room of your dreams.

    TOM: Also keep in mind that there are times when it’s better to shop quality than to try to economize. If you go for a bargain sofa, it can lose it’s charm pretty quickly when the legs start to split and the cushions fall apart. So it’s always a good idea to buy fewer pieces but those of a better quality than to kind of just buy the cheapest stuff out there because it just doesn’t last that long.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you can always mix and match. Know that spending a lot of money on a couch and little money on accessories or a side table, it works. As long as things work to scale in a room, you are going to end up with a room that really plays nicely with all of your design choices. And you know what? We’ve got loads and loads more interior design tips in our very next e-newsletter, including why you should never make due when you’re decorating your space. We want you to sign up for free for our e-newsletter. It comes every Friday into your inbox at MoneyPit.com and we will never give away your e-mail address.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number you need to dial right now for the answer to your home improvement question. Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Rosetta in Illinois needs some help with a cabin. What’s going on at your money pit?

    ROSETTA: Well, we are building this cabin and we had a contractor come in and pour the concrete slab. And we didn’t realize that he did not put plastic underneath it. So now the floor is sweating. We’ve already got the frame on it and how – is there anything we can do to prevent this from getting worse?

    TOM: Yeah, a couple of things. First of all, since the home is still under construction, once it’s done you want to be very, very careful to have good outside drainage because that’s going to reduce the amount of water that sort of hangs out at the edge of the concrete slab. So we’re talking about making sure you have a good gutter system and good grading that slopes away from the walls. And then the other thing to do is after it gets sort of as dry as you think it’s going to get, I would add a couple of coats of masonry sealer. That will stop some of the water from evaporating into the home and raising the humidity, which I think is what you’re experiencing right now.

    ROSETTA: It’s called a masonry sealer?

    TOM: Yeah, a masonry sealer. Yes, a concrete sealer.

    ROSETTA: And I can pick that up at any home improvement …

    TOM: Any home center, yeah. You know, do it before – you know certainly before you get any floor coverings down. Maybe when the frame is done you could start putting a couple of coats of that down right at that point.

    ROSETTA: OK. Great. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Jim in North Carolina has a question about his driveway that’s cracking up. What’s going on?

    JIM: Yeah, we lived in this house about seven years. When we moved in, had a large expanse of driveway without any expansion joints. And I complained about that when they first built the house and they came in and they cut a couple of lines in there, of course.

    TOM: They said, ‘Oh, we forgot. Sorry.’ We’ll saw a couple in for you just to make you feel better.

    JIM: Yeah, right. But they weren’t very deep and the driveway cracked in a number of places.

    TOM: Lo and behold, you were right.

    JIM: Right, I was absolutely correct.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: And so I rented a concrete cutter and I cut right through the concrete in about six places.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: But the cracks were still there, of course.

    TOM: Right, of course.

    JIM: Now I guess I’m looking for a way to address the cracks because the settling …

    TOM: Let me suggest a line of products that are made by a company called Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n. This is some of the toughest stuff that I’ve ever run across for dealing with all sorts of concrete issues. Very industrial-looking website but you can order the product and it does a really good job. The website is Abatron.com. They have patching compounds, they have joint fillers and you’re going to get a supply of this stuff and keep chasing these cracks; try to get them to slow down. At this point, it’s a maintenance issue. It sounds to me like this driveway was never installed correctly in the first place. They obviously didn’t put the expansion joints in. They probably didn’t pitch it right. And so, once it started to crack it’s just going to continue and lord knows, they may not have even compacted the soil underneath. So at this point, all you’re doing is maintaining what you have. You’re not going to be able to improve it. But I would use some of those products from Abatron to try to do just that.

    JIM: OK. That sounds good. I will give that a try.

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

    LESLIE: This is The Money Pit. When we come back, we’re going to jump into our e-mail bag and tackle a listener’s question about mold. There’s a lot of confusion about where it can grow, what it can’t grow on and what you need to do about it if you’ve got it or even just suspect you’ve got it. So stick around.

    (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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and in addition to making good homes better, we can make your wallet a lot thicker because we want you to know how spending a dollar can help you save $1,500 in repairs. Or how about even just a few degrees can shave hundreds off your cooling bills. We’ve got a ton of insider tips and tricks all available to you absolutely for free at MoneyPit.com and you can check out our tip of the day and you can even put our tip on your website for absolutely no money. See how thick your wallet is already? Just go to MoneyPit.com to learn how.

    TOM: And while you’re there, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question just like John did from California, who says: ‘I heard mold will not grow on paperless drywall. Will mold grow on plaster walls? Isn’t plaster a masonry product and nonorganic?’ Well, yes John; actually, you are correct. There are very few mold problems on purely plaster walls, but keep in mind that plaster often was put, for one period of time, right on top of drywall.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now you’ve got moisture right on top of the drywall.

    TOM: Right. It’s called plaster lath and sometimes the mold will get into the paper surface of the plaster lath. If it’s pure plaster, which is real thick – like the real old houses on top of wood lath – not much of a problem. But then again, a lot of those homes had – what was on top of it? Wallpaper. Right?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: So the wallpaper got moldy. So if you don’t have an organic surface you don’t have to worry as much about it, but listen: mold needs three things to grow. It needs air – well, we can’t do much about that. (Leslie chuckles) It needs a food source, which is …

    LESLIE: Any organic material.

    TOM: Any organic matter, right. And it needs moisture. So for those last two things, if you can keep the space dry and you can cut back on the amount of organic matter, then you’re not going to have a problem. When it comes to drywall, yes, there is such a thing as paperless drywall. It actually has a fiberglass instead of a paper face and …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and the fiberglass facing is on both sides.

    TOM: Right, so there really is no paper for the mold to grow on. Hope that clears it up for you, John.

    LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got another here from DC in Lakewood, California who says: ‘I have a rodent in my ventilation system for my plumbing. What can I do about that?’

    TOM: Ah, well, you need to get rid of that rodent in your plumbing system. Now I’m going to presume that the rodent is not alive. (chuckling) I hope. And if that’s the case, you need to figure out where he is and clean that out. A good way to figure this out is to run a camera down the drain line. A sewer-cleaning company can do a camera inspection and figure out where the obstruction is and they’ve got the right tools to get rid of that clog, whatever it is.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and then know exactly what your plan of attack is so you’re just not digging up walls everywhere.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Alright, Bob in New York writes: ‘I sometimes get foul smells from my sink drains. I’ll add baking soda, which cures the problem for a short time, but is there a long-term solution?’

    TOM: I suspect, Bob, that you have a problem with your plumbing trap. Now, that is the u-shaped part underneath the sinks, generally, and if that trap is not deep enough, it’s not properly installed or if it doesn’t exist – and in the years I spent as a home inspector I can’t tell you how many times I saw those pipes …

    LESLIE: You just didn’t see one there?

    TOM: They went right into the wall with no traps and people wonder why they smell all the time. The trap is there to do just that. It traps water and the water seals out the sewage gas.

    LESLIE: Alright, so take a look under your sink and see what you see there and if you’re missing that u-shaped pipe, call a plumber.

    TOM: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.

    Hey, Leslie, we’ve got a big contest we’re launching next week.

    LESLIE: Yes, indeed we do.

    TOM: The My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes.

    LESLIE: It’s very exciting.

    TOM: In partnership with our publisher and our friends at AOL, we’re launching a brand new home improvement online game to help promote our new book, with tons and tons of prizes for you including the tools that you need to get those projects done around the house. Those details coming up next week on the show.

    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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