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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, where we make homes better. Let us help you help us with your house, your home, your castle, your money pit. You want to make some improvements to that? You want to do some fix-ups? What do you want to do? Call us right now. Let’s talk about it. We will talk you through it. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. All are welcome. Hey, have you ever nailed your work glove to a project? (laughing) You need this show. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well you know, it’s been just over a year since Hurricane Katrina absolutely devastated the gulf coast. There are still people out there living in trailers and temporary housing. But what’s interesting is that hurricane actually sparked a real cottage industry and they’re called Katrina Cottages. These are permanent homes that cost about as much as a FEMA trailer but they’re a little bigger and they’re gorgeous. They’re really, really nice.

    LESLIE: They’re so cute. They have so many beautiful characteristics. They really seem like a beautiful, independent freestanding home. They even have a little white picket fence. They’re so cute.

    TOM: Yeah, you can check them out online. It’s CusatoCottages.com; C-u-s-a-t-o-Cottages.com. And what I really liked about the way these things were designed is they have a plan there so that you can actually, if you need one of these for – and it couldn’t just be maybe you’re a hurricane victim; maybe you had a fire. People live in these temporary houses all the time when they have tornadoes and fires and other sorts of disasters.

    LESLIE: Even when people are doing major renovations in the home. Like I’ve seen people completely demolish houses and live in a trailer on the lot, you know, while all the new construction’s going on.

    TOM: What I thought was pretty cool about is that they actually have it designed so that it can become part of the new structure or it could become sort of a guest house. It really is a very, very useful and a very cool design. And thank goodness somebody finally came up with something that looks better than a regular trailer for all these poor folks that were displaced.

    LESLIE: They really are adorable and I think they’re reasonably affordable. So it really makes sense. If you need something like this, go for something that’s cute and stylish and will really make you feel happy about your temporary living condition.

    Well folks, I hate to say it but hurricane season is still going on and right now is actually the peak; but only a couple more months to go. But whether your concern is a hurricane or a tornado or even any other natural calamity, Tom and I have got the tips and advice to help you make sure your home won’t get hurt. So call in now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: And one caller this hour is going to win the Weather Channel Storm Tracker Radio. It’s a very cool prize. It’s worth 40 bucks. We’re going to give it away to one caller we talk to this hour. So call in now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Here at The Money Pit, we’ll take your calls wherever you’re calling from; like Jim, who’s calling from work. Don’t get in trouble. He’s in Texas. Are you his boss? Jim, quick, so you don’t get in trouble. What can we do?

    JIM: Let’s see. I’ve got a hole in my roof and I was kind of – well not in my roof but in my ceiling.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: And I was kind of wondering how I would go about that to patch that?

    TOM: How big is the hole?

    JIM: Um, let’s see. Probably two by – two by four.

    TOM: Two feet by four feet?

    JIM: Uh-huh.

    TOM: OK. Well, when – was this hole cut out or did it occur like around where there are ceiling joists above it?

    JIM: Yeah. Well, my roommate fell through the roof when we were trying to …

    LESLIE: Oh!

    TOM: Oh, no! (laughing)

    JIM: He was kind of hanging there and his feet were hanging down. I’m like, ‘Oh, no.’

    TOM: Oh, man. Alright, well here’s what you want to do.

    LESLIE: Now, that’s the real story.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. (chuckling) Here’s what you want to do. First thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to sort of square off this hole so you can patch it properly. So, you want to locate where the ceiling joists are …

    LESLIE: Yeah, because cutting a patch in the shape of your roommate’s feet – not easy to do. (laughing)

    TOM: Yeah, it would have the oddest like spackle trunk (ph) you’ve ever seen in your life. (laughter)

    JIM: Right. (chuckling)

    TOM: Yeah, there’s two size 12s up there, you know? (laughter) You want to square it off and you want to make sure, if you can help it, that wherever you cut the drywall, that you’re like halfway on, halfway off the ceiling joist. Because this gives you like a lip to nail to. Alright, so you square this off, then you cut a piece of drywall to fix exactly that space.

    JIM: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Nail it up and then take fiberglass spackle tape – it’s the kind that’s perforated. It’s very – it’s really the easiest one you can use. You apply the tape – it’s sticky – nice and neat over the seams and then you follow up with spackle. Now, when it comes to spackling, more coats the better. Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: That’s true. If you were working with a paper tape it would be mud, tape, mud, tape, mud, tape. But if you’re working with the fiberglass one – which we love – you know, put a good layer on, let it dry, sand it down, put another layer on, let it dry, sand it down until you’re happy with its consistency and it looks smooth and it’s hiding that seam.

    And a little trick of the trade, Keith (ph), is to start with a small spackle knife and work out. So apply it with, say, a four-inch knife; then use a six-inch knife; and then an eight-inch knife. And by the way, you can buy very cheap disposable plastic spackle knives in any home center. So you don’t have to spend a lot of money on tools that you …

    LESLIE: Or you can just hit your spackle knife with your orbital sander and it’ll be good like new again. But hold on tight.

    TOM: Jim, next time, keep your roommate off the roof, will you?

    JIM: (chuckling) Not a problem.

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

    LESLIE: Out in Colorado, Paul’s cracking up. Not Paul; the mortar. How can we help you?

    PAUL: Hi. I’ve got a problem with the veneer on the outside exterior of my house.

    TOM: OK.

    PAUL: What’s happening – it’s the fake rock concrete. It’s the form concrete that looks like rocks; like natural rocks.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Were they actual pieces that went on individually to create the stone look or was it like a …

    PAUL: Yes, yes.

    LESLIE: … pressed concrete?

    PAUL: No, it’s not the poured …

    TOM: Oh, OK. So it’s like a stone veneer. And what’s going on?

    PAUL: OK, what’s happening is I’ve noticed there’s a lot of fractures starting to appear in the mortar joints and the actual bottom row of the veneer – of the veneer surface – has actually separated and dropped off.

    TOM: Uh-oh.

    PAUL: So I’m afraid, you know, it’s going to be one row at a time and they’re all going to come down.

    TOM: (chuckling) Yeah. Yeah, it sounds like you’re having an adhesion problem. If the mortar or the glue that’s used to attach the veneer to the foundation base is separating and – then that’s not good. You’re probably going to have to tackle this in stages. If it’s a serious enough problem that it continues to happen, then the answer’s not good. You’re going to end up having to redo this.

    LESLIE: How long ago was this done?

    PAUL: It’s about nine years old now.

    TOM: Alright, what I would suggest is a couple of things. First of all, as you see cracks start to form in this mortar, you’re going to want to caulk those with silicone. Because the more water you can keep out of that, the better. As water gets in – especially in your part of the country – when it freezes and expands it can loosen that veneer up and pop it off. Secondly, repair all of the pieces that are falling off now to make sure that you prevent water from entering in, in that particular area. And just maintain this. There’s not going to be an easy way to slow it down. If it’s going to fall off, it’s going to fall off. But by caulking it, it’s going to last as long as it possibly can.

    LESLIE: Hopefully, we’ll keep Robin in Nevada from having a hair-raising situation with electricity. What’s going on? How can we help?

    ROBIN: My house that I live in was built in 1961.


    ROBIN: And with the exception of the major appliances – the washer, dryer, the refrigerator, etc. – we don’t have any three-prong plugs. And they’re getting old and we wanted to replace the two-hole prongs with three hole ones and I didn’t know – is that something that an individual can do on a fairly easy basis or (audio gap) get a contractor in electricity or something?

    TOM: Well, I think you’re going to need an electrician for this, Robin, because adding that third prong to the outlet doesn’t mean that it’s safe. That third prong is for a ground. Unless there’s a ground wire installed, it’s not going to work properly.

    LESLIE: It won’t actually do anything.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, an electrician could, in an area where you’re trying to create a ground situation where it’s going to be safer, what they can do is they can replace the two-prong outlets with a three-prong ground fault outlet. And if it’s wired correctly, it won’t be grounded but it’ll be ground fault protected and what that means is if you plug in, say, a bad light or a bad appliance or something that’s going to short, rather than you get that shock, it’ll actually turn off at the outlet itself. The outlet has a built-in breaker. An electrician would know how to wire that to make that work. But if you truly wanted a grounded system, you’re going to have to have a three-wire system.

    Right now, you probably have a two-wire system where the wiring that goes through the house only has a hot and a neutral and you need a hot, a neutral and a ground. With only a two-wire system, it’s grounded through the neutral but you can’t hook up a three-prong outlet to that and have it work properly.

    ROBIN: OK, so – and is that – would you think – we’re like 1,600 square feet. Is this like a huge monetary thing that I’m going to be doing to …?

    TOM: Let me ask you this question. Is – you have a ranch, a colonial? What’s the structure of the house like?

    ROBIN: It’s a one-story probably ranch, I guess. We’re not …

    TOM: Finished basement?

    ROBIN: No basement.

    TOM: No basement? So it’s a – is there a crawl space?

    ROBIN: Yes.

    TOM: OK, so if you can get access under the floor, that makes it a lot easier to run new wires. So I would suggest that you meet with an electrician and talk about what rooms it makes sense to update and what rooms it may not make sense. Some areas of the house are going to be easier to get to than others. And by the way, a two-prong outlet, as long as it’s used properly, is not necessarily unsafe.

    ROBIN: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    Well, you probably coughed up a lot of cold cash for your watering bill this summer. You know, if you’re sprinkling your lawn using municipal water, it can really run up the water bills.

    LESLIE: Yeah, we’ve got a few basic techniques to help you cut down on wasted water and keep your water bills down, next.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    So, have you coughed out a lot of cash, this summer, for your water bills? Well, there are ways to use water – even if it’s municipal water that you have to pay for, as opposed to well water which only costs the amount of electricity that …

    LESLIE: Yeah, but you could run out.

    TOM: Well, you still could run out, too.

    Well, here’s what you need to do, folks. First, you can use low-water sprinklers. They don’t use less water but they distribute the water by bigger droplets. Mist and fine spray type sprinklers lose lots of water due to evaporation. So, if you use a low-water sprinkler, you’re not going to lose water to evaporation because that’s just a big waste.

    Secondly, you can use mulch under plants and shrubs. Mulching prevents weed growth and it also keeps that soil moist by preventing evaporation.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and the mulch actually makes your beautiful little garden look really pretty. So it’s not just helping you. It actually is aesthetically pleasing as well. And also, make sure you use soil conditioners. If you’re planting trees and shrubs, prepare soil so it holds the moisture really well. Use organic matter like peat moss or compost. Number one, everything’s going to grow amazing but it will keep that moisture in there at the roots where it needs to be. And there’s a new product out. It’s a polymer soil conditioner and it looks like ground up plastic but it swells to a gel-like consistency when it’s wet. So then the water will slowly release itself to the soil when the soil says, ‘Hey, I need it. I’m thirsty.’ Great product.

    TOM: I actually had some of that and I used it as a demo on TV once. And you’re right. You take a glass of water and put this stuff in – it looks like plastic pellets – and in about 60 seconds, the whole thing is like solid gelatin.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s pretty cool looking.

    TOM: It’s amazing. Yeah, and it holds all the water right where the roots need it.

    Well, coming up in our next Money Pit e-newsletter, we’re going to help you take that water savings inside. We’ve got three great tricks of the trade to help you cut back on the water usage inside your house. Now we got it down outside, let’s go inside. That’s on the next edition of The Money Pit free e-newsletter, available right now at MoneyPit.com. Go there right now; click on Newsletter; you can read some of the past editions and sign up for the new one at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And team Money Pit just loves free, free, free, free, free. We give you free advice. You call us, we give you free advice. The newsletter’s free advice. And if we pick your name out of the hard hat, you get a free prize. And this hour, we’ve got the weather alert radio and it’s the Weather Channel Storm Tracker by Vector. It’s a radio; it’s a flashlight; it charges cell phones; you can run a small light on it; it’s got a cell phone charger; it’s got a built-in hand crank in case anything breaks down, your batteries die, you can still listen to weather alerts. And it’s going to tell you everything about any hazardous weather in your area; no matter where you are. It’s $40 but it could be priceless. And it’s yours if we pick your name out of the hardhat, next.

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

    LESLIE: WGUF in Florida is where Douglas listens to The Money Pit. And you’ve got a crown moulding question. Well, how can we help?

    DOUGLAS: Well, I had a question. I have an older home and a very low ceiling; an eight-foot ceiling. And I wanted to do something to dress the place up a little bit.

    TOM: OK.

    DOUGLAS: And I went to my local home improvement center and I saw 20 different kinds of crown moulding but they were all four inch wide and just looked like – I thought maybe that was too much to put up. And I wondered if there were different widths and then if you – also, I had heard about some prefab plastic crown mouldings and I wondered …

    LESLIE: Well, the home center’s sometimes only have a limited supply of profiles of the crown mouldings. And yes, they do come in a variety of different sizes. They come even way bigger than that. A great resource is Dyke’s Lumber – D-y-k-e – and they pretty much sell just about every type of profile of moulding available in oak and poplar and composites. I mean really you name it, they’ve got it. So if there’s something specialized that you’re looking for, that would be a good place to start.

    Crown moulding does so many wonderful things for a space. It gives it a design and an architectural aspect to really focus your eye upon. It covers any seams that you might see from the house shifting from where the ceiling meets the wall. It does a great job at covering up that flaw. But you can also do something creative and put the crown moulding actually on your ceiling and it sort of creates a vaulted look to it as well; which is a good idea – especially if you want to go with something a little bit more creative.

    So, I say keep an open mind and if it’s something you like, go for it.

    TOM: Leslie, Doug said he had an eight-foot ceiling. If he was to use sort of a different color crown moulding than his ceiling and walls, then that may tend to box it in. But if he had the walls be darker and then the ceiling and the crown moulding were both, say, a light color …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Be the same.

    TOM: … it would sort of like really raise that ceiling, wouldn’t it?

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah. And I am all for – I’ve seen a lot of people, on my makeover shows that I work on, paint the ceiling a color because they think …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: … it’s interesting. But just did a classroom, on Trading Spaces, where the ceiling was painted a peach and the walls were painted orange. And all that did was make that room seem so small. So if you keep the ceiling a light color, you really give the illusion of height to a space.

    DOUGLAS: Is there any reason I should match the baseboard coloring with the crown moulding or just go on my own?

    LESLIE: I usually do base and crown the same color as well as any trim and door work in the room.

    TOM: Just don’t go dark, OK, Doug?

    DOUGLAS: So to keep the place salable, go white, huh?

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Or a form of.

    DOUGLAS: (overlapping voices) Alrighty.

    TOM: Or, you know, or an off-white or one of the many zillion forms of off-white. (laughing)

    Doug, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and for listening to us down in Florida on WGUF.

    LESLIE: Free FM, WJFK is where Mike in Virginia listens to The Money Pit. And you’ve got some algae on your roof. Tell us about where it is on the roof; what side of the house it’s on.

    MIKE: Sure. It’s up on the section of the roof that’s covered – a portion of it’s covered by some trees that are overhanging.


    MIKE: So it’s a shaded area. And I was up there doing some repairs and I noticed that algae was growing up close to the peak of the roof.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And just wanted to know what’s the best way to treat that.

    TOM: Well, first of all, understand that algae’s not going to hurt your roof. If it gets thick enough it can sometime push up shingles maybe sometimes and it potentially could cause a leak that way. But for the most part, it – not a problem.

    The way you get rid of it – well, I would recommend a product called Jomax – J-o-m-a-x – available at most home centers. You mix it up; you spray it down; you let it sit for a good 15 minutes. It will kill the algae. And then you can scrub it off and it won’t come back. For a longer term solution, you can actually change the type of flashing up there, right Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah, you can actually add a nickel ridge vent or a copper ridge vent. And what happens is, as it rains, the water interacts with the mineral makeup of the nickel or the copper and it causes this component to run down your roof and you’ll actually see it start to get rid of that moss, mildew, algae, whatever you want to call it; but it’ll do the work for you. And if you don’t feel like investing in the Jomax, you can also create a little mixture of your own mildicide of bleach and water; as long as you can scrub it. And try to do it on a day when there’s the most amount of sun getting to that area. And it should do the trick.

    MIKE: OK, great. Thank you very much.

    TOM: And Mike, one more thing. If you – you did mention that it was a shady area and that’s very, very typical. So the other thing that you could look to do is cut back some of those overhanging trees; enough to just, perhaps, to let a little more light in there and that will make it a lot less likely it’ll grow back.

    MIKE: Absolutely. That’s a great idea. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Keith in Illinois has got a bone to pick with team Money Pit. We suggested something and you didn’t like it. What can we do for you?

    KEITH: Well, I – you’ve told me I should put the roof flashing – you know, put a new roof flashing up on the chimney …

    TOM: OK.

    KEITH: … to be able to stop the water. Well, I’ve done it twice. Twice now I’ve had – I’ve done it once myself and I’m pretty good at roofing. But I thought, ‘Well, maybe you could get a professional,’ which I had one brought in and he put a whole new roof flashing. And it still leaks down the chimney.

    TOM: OK, so we think it’s a flashing leak around the chimney. Where’s the water showing up? Is it showing up inside the chimney?

    KEITH: No, it’s on the – it’s on the outside, coming straight down the middle on the bricks. [The bricks – it’s all the way to the top; you know, to the ceiling.] (ph)

    TOM: So you flashed it and it’s still leaking?

    KEITH: Yes.

    TOM: Man, that’s really unusual because the water’s got to be penetrating it somewhere. I wonder if it’s coming in the brick joints and kind of working its way around the flashing.

    Now, when you say that you had a professional flash it, did they install both base flashing and counter flashing?

    KEITH: Yes.

    TOM: Did they grind out the mortar joint so that the counter flashing was actually inserted sort of into the mortar joint and then folded down on top of the base flashing?

    KEITH: Yes, into the – into the mortar.

    TOM: Into the mortar? Wow, it sounds like he did a good job. And the water is showing up where the chimney goes through the roof and underneath that area, right? Where do you see it from? The attic?

    KEITH: No, actually you don’t. You only see it from – when you’re standing in the living room and it comes through there. I get up in the attic and I try to watch it when it rains and I don’t see it.

    TOM: Well, maybe it’s not leaking around the flashing at all. Maybe it’s leaking in somewhere else and then working it’s way down. You know, water leaks can be pretty tricky.

    Have you tried this? Have you tried to use a hose to identify the leak area? One of the ways you can do this is you start with a hose, on a dry day, low on the roof. And then you gradually bring it up, you know, maybe in 10-foot sections – up higher and higher and higher – until you actually make the leak happen. Then once you make the leak happen …

    LESLIE: You know exactly where it’s coming from.

    TOM: Yeah, or at least where to look. How old is the roof that’s on the house now?

    KEITH: The roof is four years old.

    LESLIE: So it’s a young roof. It should be doing it’s job.

    KEITH: Yeah, well I’m getting a new roof because of hail damage just happened about a couple months ago. So, I was thinking even if it is – it still is a new roof – this might help, too.

    TOM: Well, it might go away in the process, if you’re replacing the roofing shingles. But try the hose test and see if you can get closer to identifying exactly where it’s leaking. But remember that water could actually run down quite a distance and show up in different places. So, the good news is your chimney will probably never leak again.

    KEITH: (chuckling) Yeah, I hope not. Alright.

    TOM: We’ve just got to find the place that is leaking.

    KEITH: Alright. I appreciate that. I thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Well, the last of barbecue season is underway. I know it’s sad. But you can still use the grill if you just weather the freezing-ness.

    Well, coming up, we’re going to tell you how to clean and how to store your gas grill for the winter to keep you and your family safe.

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being 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 prices. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    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.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    OK, dropping temperatures means that outdoor grilling time might soon come to an end for many of you; except if you’re like my family. We grill all winter long. We’re absolutely crazies.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It’s just so fun. It doesn’t matter. Put on your parka and get out there.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) I know. Get out there with your parka and your gloves and your little hat and just grill.

    But, if you’re going to put your grill away right now, as many people do, it’s important to store it properly. Here’s what you need to do.

    First of all, clean the briquettes and the cooking grids. A good way to do this is to flip the briquettes over, then close the lid and turn it on high for 15 minutes. Sort of the self-cleaning oven way to, you know, clean your briquettes.

    LESLIE: And it really does do the trick.

    TOM: It does do the trick, exactly. And when it’s cool, you want to remove the grids and use a brass …

    LESLIE: When it’s cool. When it’s cool.

    TOM: When it’s cool, of course. Don’t do it when it’s hot. And then use a brass bristle brush – ooh, I’ve got to say that again. A brass …

    LESLIE: Yeah, say that twice.

    TOM: … bristle brush and warm, soapy water to scrub grids and rinse them very, very thoroughly. Then towel dry and set the briquettes and the grids aside. First step done.

    LESLIE: Next, you want to make sure that you clean the burner and the tubes. And the tubes are sometimes called venturi tubes in your owner’s manual.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Ooh, that’s your second SAT word for today.

    LESLIE: I am just learning words, folks, and so are you. (laughter) Then you want to make sure that you clean the grill housing. Then check the fuel supply system. If the tank is dented or really, really rusted, replace it immediately. It does not do you any justice to keep a damaged tank.

    TOM: Yeah and speaking of the fuel supply system.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: The way to check that – any fuel connections – is with soapy water and a brush.

    LESLIE: Yeah, if it bubbles up …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: … that lets you know there’s a leak somewhere.

    TOM: Right. Checking with a match – bad idea.

    LESLIE: Yeah. (laughing)

    TOM: Checking with soap – good idea.

    LESLIE: Then you want to think about where you want to store the grill and the tank for the winter. If you’re leaving it outside, the tank can remain connected and you can cover up the whole grill. If you’re going to store it inside, disconnect the tank and make sure you store it upright. Never, ever store the tank in the garage, in your house, in your basement or any other enclosed space because God forbid something happens; KA-BOOM! Big explosion.

    TOM: And if you do it all right, it will be good to go next Memorial Day when you want to fire it up one more time.

    1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here to fire up your home improvement question. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. Let us help make your good home better. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: We’re on our way to Nevada where Rod listens to The Money Pit on KBZZ and you’ve got a swamp cooler. I didn’t know there were swamps in Nevada.

    ROD: (chuckling) Thank you.

    TOM: (chuckling) How can we help?

    ROD: Actually, I do have air conditioning but I was thinking to lower my utility bill, I might put in a evaporator cooler …

    TOM: OK.

    ROD: … and duct to the bedrooms. My question for you today is what about if I also duct it to the attic? Would that help to keep the house cooler if I get the attic cooler?

    TOM: Oh, you want to air condition the attic?

    ROD: Well, I want to get it cooler. If that would help keep the house cooler.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s going to cost you a ton to do that, too. No, that’s kind of a silly way to do it. I was stretching – I was trying not to offend you but Rod, not a good idea. Here’s what you want to do.

    First of all, your attic needs to be as ventilated as possible. So, in your house, you want to make sure you have a continuous ridge vent that goes all the way down the peak of the roof and then a continuous soffit vent so that all of the soffits are open and the ridge is open so that the attic is continually flushed with ambient air. Once you have the attic as cool as possible, you’re done in the attic. The attic is an unconditioned space. Air conditioning is for conditioned space, which basically means it has to be …

    LESLIE: Insulated, drywalled; you know, finished.

    TOM: I would not recommend adding an air conditioning duct in the attic. That’s not going to help you. I would recommend ventilating the attic and then make sure you have adequate insulation to keep the hot side hot and the cold side cold. Does that make sense?

    ROD: Oh yeah, it does. If I put an attic fan in there, does it blow air in or blow air out?

    LESLIE: It sucks air out.

    TOM: And it won’t stop there. It’ll reach down into your house that you’re paying to air condition and it will suck cool air out of that, too. That’s why we don’t recommend attic fans; just passive ventilation.

    ROD: OK, I appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright, Rod. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You know, I think it’s so funny, Tom, that we took a call from Rod in Nevada about an attic fan. Because normally we refer to your attic as the Las Vegas of your house. (laughing)

    So, has the price of home heating oil got you wondering what you can do to save some money? What if you switched from oil to gas or vice versa?

    TOM: Up next, find out how to compare energy savings if you want to switch from one fuel to another.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Where we make good homes better. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you’ve got a question about your home improvement project, need some help solving that do-it-yourself dilemma, you know, talking to us could be the difference between a grounded outlet and an embarrassing trip to the hospital. (chuckling) So let us help you with those home improvement chores and let us help you get them done safely and successfully every single time.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever wondered if switching from gas to oil would make a difference in the cost of heating your home, well it’s a good thing to think about. How would you even figure out such a thing anyway?

    Well, there’s a great website and it’s got an excellent selection of energy conservation calculators. By answering a few simple questions, you can compare cost savings by converting gas to oil or oil to gas. And there are also calculators for estimating insulation savings as well as to determine how much money you can save by adding a setback thermostat. So good things to know and good things to plan. And that website is WarmAir.net. WarmAir.net; not dot-com. WarmAir.net. Good site; good calculators.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. One caller that gets on the air this hour is going to win the Weather Channel’s Storm Tracker Radio by Vector. Call us right now if you’d like to qualify. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question. The weather alert radio is worth $39.99; has a flashlight; it’s got an automatic alert signal for the – all the different hazard warnings that come across the weather bands. It’s got an AM/FM and a weather alert radio function. It’s got a five-LED flashlight and it even has a cell phone charger, which could be very, very helpful if you are not near a place where you can charge your cell phone. You can charge it right off this radio. Worth 40 bucks. Call us right now if you’d like to win. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Well, some ETs phone home but this ET phoned The Money Pit from Tennessee. And what can we do for you?

    ET: My daughter has got some mold under her house. They had a outside faucet that actually, I think, exploded in the winter and then they didn’t realize it. So it eventually soaked under the house pretty good and it’s just a crawl space so it’s dirt, you know?

    TOM: OK.

    E.T.: And I was wondering what the best way … I was thinking about crawling under there with bleach, you know, with like a … I’ve got a yard sprayer where you can set so many teaspoons per gallon and that kind of thing.

    TOM: Right.

    E.T.: And I just wondered if that would be a solution to that problem.

    TOM: Well, a pest (ph) management professional can spray something down there called Tibor – T-i-b-o-r – that’s often used to combat mold growths that have attached themselves to the wood framing in crawlspaces. Or you could use a bleach solution. But you have to be very careful because, you know, you’re going to have a lot of mold spores in the air and you start blowing that stuff around, E.T., you might find yourself breathing some of it; which couldn’t be … wouldn’t be very pleasant.

    The good news about any type of moisture or mold growth or decay or rot – which is what you’re really guarding against, here, with all that lumber – is that when you take the moisture source away, it stops growing. You’re only going to get decay when the moisture source in the lumber gets above 25 percent. So as long as that broken hose bib has been fixed, then you’re probably OK; as long as you keep that moisture down.

    Do you know that there’s a decay problem down there right now? Do you see something?

    E.T.: No. No, I don’t think there’s a decay problem. I was concerned with the mold and it’s strictly conjecture at this point because I haven’t really crawled up in there and looked. But …

    TOM: Alright, well then I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Just get it fixed. Take all of the normal steps to control moisture in a crawlspace: make sure you have a vapor barrier down, make sure your drainage is set right at the foundation perimeter, make sure that the downspouts are clean and extended out away from the wall. I wouldn’t go down there and start messing with bleach or any type of chemicals unless I knew I had a problem.

    But by the way, when you get down there – when you do get down there – give you a home inspector’s trick of the trade. Take a screwdriver – a pretty long screwdriver; straight screwdriver – and poke and prod the floor joists right above the damp area and check them for decay. Because they could look perfect from the outside. But I’ve had situations where I’ve stuck a screwdriver right through them and almost lost my balance.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You could go right through it.

    TOM: Yeah, and if that’s the case, then you have to repair them; usually by sistering them with a good floor joist right next to the bad one. OK?

    E.T.: OK. Well, listen, I appreciate it so much. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, E.T. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Do you think he grew up with a lot of jokes about E.T. phone home?

    LESLIE: (laughing) Probably.

    TOM: Poor guy. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Or his kids gave it to him real bad.

    TOM: Alright. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Do you have a home improvement question? Pick up the phone and dial in right now. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’re going to talk to Lisa in Ohio who’s doing some landscaping. What’s going on in your yard?

    LISA: Well, we don’t have one, for starters. (laughing) We just built a new home.

    TOM: That would be a problem.

    LISA: We have about a half of an acre that we need to put grass in and just were wondering what your recommendations are for an Ohio yard.

    TOM: Well …

    LISA: How do you put in a good yard?

    TOM: Do you have a sprinkler system?

    LISA: No.

    TOM: No matter what you do …

    LISA: And we won’t put one in either.

    TOM: Yeah, no matter what you do, when you’re starting a yard, watering it is absolutely critical.

    LISA: OK.

    TOM: So you better get used to dragging out the hoses.

    LISA: (chuckling) OK.

    TOM: There’s really three options. You can seed it; you could hydro seed it; or you could sod it. Seeding, of course, is standalone. There’s a lot of good technology in grass seed, today, that’s going to make it germinate as quickly as possible. Hydro seed is where you have the seed that’s mixed in with sort of a fertilizer solution that’s usually green. It’s professionally installed and it sticks a little bit better and grows a little quicker. Builders often use it to start new yards. Or, of course, you could sod it, which is the fastest way to go.

    But whatever those solutions are that you choose, you have to make sure that the yard has good drainage so it doesn’t pond, because that’s what’s going to really kill that seed. And that, after you put it down, you keep it watered. I mean a lot; until it really knits. The best time to do this is the fall; not the summer. Because if you do it in the summer, the sun is just too intense for those young, very fragile roots. If you start seeding in, say, September or October, you’re much better off because you get a few months for that to really take root and then, you know, another couple of months before it gets really hot in the spring the next time around.

    LESLIE: There’s a great website, Lisa, called Grassing.com. Grassing.com. And it leads you to several sites that will help you to purchase lawn seeds … a variety of seeds for your area. But that’s a main website that’s devoted to when to seed, how to seed, how to fertilize, how to water. So it might really help you to narrow down, regionally, what it is that you need to do that would work best for your type of environment in Ohio.

    LESLIE: Dale in Virginia’s next who finds The Money Pit on WJFK, Free FM. And you’ve got a question about geothermal heat pumps. What can we do for you?

    DALE: Well, I’m in the process of building a house. Just kind of started and we’re at a point where we need to select a regular heat pump or geothermal. And I’ve, you know, heard all the claims and kind of curious what your thoughts are on the efficiency and if they’re really worth it, you know, to put one in.

    TOM: Do you have the option to put oil or gas in?

    DALE: I can put gas. Oil is really kind of a … and I’m not real fond of the thought of oil and I’ve had gas in the past.

    TOM: Alright, so what you’re really comparing here, Dale, is gas heat – natural gas heat – to geothermal heat pumps?

    DALE: Either that or just a regular heat pump.

    TOM: Right, regular electric heat pump. Well, I would suggest that, if you have the ability to put natural gas in, that you definitely put natural gas in over any electrical system for heating your home; whether it’s geothermal or a straight resistance heat pump. Because I think that natural gas is going to be less expensive; even though it’s perhaps a little more pricey this past year, in the long run …

    LESLIE: Electric is always going to be pricey.

    TOM: Yeah. And the other thing about geothermal is that you’ve got this big loop of pipe that has to go through the soil. And while the piping materials themselves are warranteed for a long time, generally it’s only the material, not the labor; which, of course, is the biggest part of the repair. And so, for those reasons, I think that my choices would be … if I had all the fuel choices lined up, I would put in a gas system first, followed by oil, followed by propane, followed by geothermal, followed by regular heat pump.

    DALE: Wow.

    TOM: (INAUDIBLE) put them in that order.

    DALE: (laughing) OK.

    TOM: Alright, Dale? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Up next, we’re going to answer an email from Sharon in North Carolina who’s a bit concerned after a roof leak has caused some drywall to bubble out. ‘Is there mold? Should I replace it?’ We’re going to help her, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Peerless. If you’re putting in a new bathroom or kitchen faucet, Peerless can help you with every step including the hardest one – getting that old faucet out. For a complete undo-it-yourself guide, visit the Peerless faucet coach at faucetcoach.com.

    TOM: Welcome back to 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. Let us help make your good home better by calling us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT or logging onto our website at MoneyPit.com where you can click on Ask Tom and Leslie.

    LESLIE: Alright. And Sharon from North Carolina did just that and she writes: ‘We had a leak from our roof – we live on the bottom of three stories – into our kitchen. The drywall has been damaged, the paint has bubbled out, but we’re not sure if we need to get the drywall replaced due to mold. What’s the best way to tell? When I press upon the paint bubble, the drywall feels mostly firm.’ Hmm. Mostly firm; interesting.

    TOM: Hmm. Well, Sharon, I’m assuming because you say you had a leak that the leak has actually been corrected; because, of course, that would be the first thing to do.

    Now, in terms of mold growth on drywall, it certainly can happen. In the case of a roof leak, where the drywall gets wet and then dries out reasonably quickly, it’s usually not an issue. Mold tends to grow more on drywall that’s in lower damp spaces like, for example, your basement. If you’re using drywall down there, bad idea. But in terms of drywall that’s up in the kitchen area, where perhaps it just dried out pretty quickly – probably not an issue so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    Now, by the way, if you ever have an active leak into drywall, do you know what the first thing is that you should do as you start to see the water sort of drip out through the seams?

    LESLIE: Um, stop the leak?

    TOM: Poke a hole in the drywall. I know it sounds counterproductive, but that’s exactly what you want to do; because if you don’t do it, the water will saturate the drywall to cause it to swell and that can’t be fixed. If you poke a hole in it, the water drips out very, very quickly and after the leak is done – of course you have to fix the leak – it’s a simple matter of patching a small hole as opposed to cutting out this huge sheet of swollen, deformed drywall; which is what will happen if you leave it alone. So if you get a bad leak and it’s coming through drywall, quick, grab a screwdriver or whatever you can and poke a hole in it; let the water leak out.

    LESLIE: Hey, Tom, that’s a great tip and if I didn’t know it, I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of people out there who didn’t know it either. But now you do.

    TOM: Alright, all you Money Pit listeners that have built-in pools, I’m jealous.

    LESLIE: Me, too.

    TOM: We don’t have built-in pools. Well …

    LESLIE: But I would like one.

    TOM: Well, you know what? I’d like one, too, but my wife thinks they’re way too much work for the three months of the year we would use it up in my part of the country.

    LESLIE: But you would be in it everyday.

    TOM: I would be and it would be worth it. Those 90 days would be the best 90 days of my summer …

    LESLIE: You’d be happier than you ever knew you could be.

    TOM: … but, alas, I don’t have them. However, if I did have one, I would want to pay attention right now to this edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Here are some things you need to keep in check before you close that pool up for the winter so you’ll be really happy with what you find next spring.

    OK, first – balance the pH. Then you want to brush and vacuum that pool really well and then shock the water. This is getting everything ready so it’ll store up really nicely and not do anything crazy over the winter months. Then you want to slowly start to reduce the amount of time you’re going to run your filter. And you want to clean and store all removable ladders and ropes; put them away in a nice, dry place. Clean and store all your pool furniture. Clean them well before you do; cover them up; get them in the garage or shed. Then you want to inspect and clean the cover of the pool, if necessary, before you put that cover on. This way, if there are any holes, tears, rips, mold, get rid of it and make it really nice.

    And remember, lock your pool gate for the winter. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean somebody’s not going to try to run across it.

    If you live in a warm climate but it’s cool enough to keep you out of the pool for the season, follow the same steps and reduce your maintenance schedule. And remember, it’s not a bad idea for you to cover your pool, either; because it’s going to help to inhibit algae and bacteria growth.

    If you do all of those things, you will have so little to do when the summer comes around and you’ll get right back in there. You’re going to love it and we will still be jealous of you.

    TOM: Then you can join us; you can invite us to join you for a pool party.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, we’ll barbecue. We’ll clean your grill.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) We’ll come over. (chuckling)

    1-888-MONEY-PIT. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. It’s just about up but before we go, coming up next week, you know, every economic bubble sparks a scam. Think about it. The 80s had insider trading; the 90s had dot-com bombs. It is no different now for real estate. In fact, there is a real estate market scam going on right now that over-inflates the prices of homes and it could really hurt you. Next week on the program, we’re going to have a special report to help you understand the scam and teach you how to avoid it.

    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 2006 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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