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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. You are tuned 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. 888-666-3974. What do you want to do to your house? Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. We want to talk you about your home improvement projects. We want to help solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. You want to make your house more energy efficient? Getting ready to sell the house? Want to make sure you get the maximum bang for your home improvement buck? Call us right now at 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Boy, Tom, I don’t know about you but I have a ton of home improvement tasks on my Leslie-do list.

    TOM: Well, you’ve been traveling all around the country doing your While You Were Out shoots.

    LESLIE: Been all over the darn place. And you know …

    TOM: And you know what? The shoemaker’s kids do go barefoot. (laughing)

    LESLIE: It is true. And we’ve had – we have some outdoor issues which I think you would be quite angry with me. During some severe rain we’ve had the past few months, some of the gutter systems on the back of the house … the joins at the corner have just completely like bulged open and I’ve just yet to get up on a ladder and see what’s going on there. But it’s making a terrible mess on our side steps going up to the back of the house. So that’s one.

    And then, we have this beautiful little screened in porch which, when we built it, I so carefully said, ‘I will screw in this trim here so that if I ever need to take it out and repair the screen, it’ll be really easy.’ And during some wind storm, during one of my travels, almost all of the screens on one side of the porch have come out. (laughing) So now we look like the low-rent neighbors with like the screens dangling off the back.

    And so it’s just a matter of trying to find the time. What’s on your list?

    TOM: So I’ve got a new idea for a news television show.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I want to hear it.

    TOM: Sort of like a 48 Hours. Undercover Investigation of Home Improvement Experts’ Homes.

    LESLIE: (laughing) Don’t come to my house.

    TOM: They talk home improvement on TV but do they really live the (laughing) …

    LESLIE: Well, let’s just … let’s change the subject, folks. Hey, Money Pit listeners. We’ve got a great prize for you and all you have to do is call in and ask a question and get your question answered on the air and you’ll be eligible for it. We’ve got a great prize. It’s a whole bunch of quality tools from IRWIN; it’s about two dozen tools. And it’s a prize package with all kinds of goodies including a saw, a level, a laser guide, pliers. It’s worth 250 bucks and that was a great way to get the subject off of my falling-apart house.

    TOM: (laughing) You could use some of those tools to fix up your house. We all could.

    LESLIE: I really could.

    TOM: If you want to have your name entered into the Money Pit hardhat, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must come on the air and ask your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: And the winner comes to my house and repairs my things.

    TOM: Yeah, that would work.

    LESLIE: That could work. Hey, any takers?

    TOM: Alright. Let’s get right to those phones. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Free FM WJFK in Virginia is where Muhammad listens to The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    MUHAMMAD: Ah, yeah. I have a question that my hot water when I turn the faucet on and switch it to hot water, that the pressure goes down (inaudible).

    LESLIE: Is this only happening at one sink or all the sinks in the house?

    MUHAMMAD: All the sinks.

    LESLIE: Even in the showers and everything.

    MUHAMMAD: Yeah, bathroom, sink; everywhere.

    TOM: So whenever you turn the hot water on, you lose pressure.

    MUHAMMAD: Yes, sir.

    TOM: Well, how old is your house, Muhammad?

    MUHAMMAD: My age – 50. (laughing)

    TOM: It’s 50?

    MUHAMMAD: Yes.

    TOM: Is it … well, I’m thinking if it’s a 50, 60-year-old house, it might have steel pipes. Do you happen to know if you have steel plumbing?

    MUHAMMAD: I believe so. Yes.

    TOM: Yeah, it sounds like you do because what you’re describing …

    LESLIE: Could be a rust buildup.

    TOM: Yeah, what you’re describing is consistent with the deterioration process of steel pipes. What happens is the rust forms on the inside of the pipe and it eventually clogs the pipe. The pipe expands and kind of shuts down; it’s almost like a clogged artery, if you can envision that. And the best thing to do if you have steel pipes is, obviously, to replace them.

    Now there’s a way to do this where it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You do it in stages. The first thing that you do is you replace all of the horizontal pipes; the ones that are easiest to get to because they tend to rust first. So that would be the crawl space for the basement. Second to that would be the main water line coming from the street; if that is still steel, that’s a ticking time bomb right there. You want to, definitely, replace that before it bursts at the least opportune time, leaving you guys without any water. And third to that is to replace the pipes that go up through the wall into the bathroom. That’s the most expensive and that’s why we leave that until the end. It’s also less likely to be the main issue.

    But if you’re having a water pressure issue and you have steel pipes, it’s invariably going to have something to do with the deterioration of those pipes. And, unfortunately, that’s one of those expensive home improvements that has to be done to all older homes.

    MUHAMMAD: The only problem is that it goes … actually goes down only when we turn the hot water on. When the cold water’s there, we don’t have any problem.

    TOM: Well, when you turn the hot water on, you’re basically splitting the pressure between the two lines and you’re basically causing more water to have to go through the same pipe. So it could be that maybe one pipe is more deteriorated than the other but, regardless, it sounds to me like the pipes – if they’re steel – they really need to be replaced. Especially since it seems to happen in the entire house.

    I mean it’s also possible that you could have a restricted valve somewhere but that’s not likely. It sounds to me it’s more likely that your steel pipes are starting to constrict.

    MUHAMMAD: Oh, okay.

    TOM: Alright, Muhammad?

    MUHAMMAD: Thanks for … thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, listening in there on Free FM WJFK.

    LESLIE: Well, he handled that sort of bad news rather well. (laughing)

    TOM: Yes, he did. (laughing)

    LESLIE: He’s like, ‘Oh, I have to redo my entire house.’

    TOM: ‘Plumb my entire house.’ (laughing)

    LESLIE: ‘Thanks!’ (laughing)

    TOM: Oh, well. Let’s get right back to the next caller; maybe we’ll give that person more happy advice.

    LESLIE: Bob in Utah finds The Money Pit on KTKK and you’ve got a question about electric water heaters. What can we do for you?

    BOB: Yes. I have an all-electric home with a 40-gallon electric water heater and it needs to be replaced. I’d heard on the program that … he’d mentioned about putting a timer on. I’m thinking of that. But I also would like to know about these on-demand water heaters and where you can purchase the most energy-efficient water heater.

    TOM: Well, the bad news is that you have an all-electric home (laughing). The good news is that it’s time to replace that water heater; you have some options. What you’re referring to is a tankless heater. And the difference between a tankless heater and a water heater that has a tank is, basically, that with a tankless water heater it’s not storing any hot water so, therefore, you’re not paying to keep that water warm all the time that you don’t need it. It heats water as you need it. So, basically, as you turn on …

    LESLIE: And it heats it quite quickly.

    TOM: Oh, instantly, yeah. As you turn on the hot water faucet, the water heater instantly comes on, heats the water and then delivers it to the spigot. Now …

    BOB: Can I ask one question, right there?

    TOM: Sure.

    BOB: Will that be a … I have a 40-gallon electric water heater now. Will that do a bathtub; that tankless one?

    TOM: Oh, absolutely. It’ll do one bathroom, two bathrooms, five bathrooms. You …

    LESLIE: Well, the tankless ones are also available in size depending on what your need is, correct?

    TOM: Exactly. Yeah, you simply buy it based on the size of your house. Now, if you want to go with a conventional water heater, you can put a timer on it, as you were talking about earlier. And, basically, the way you do that is it’s a 240-volt timer – much like a clock setback thermostat that you would use for your heating system. What this does you simply set it to come on an hour before you get up in the morning to heat the water for the morning showers and the cooking and such and then, go off during the day when you’re off to work and then, come on again for a few hours at night for all the meals and the cleanup that’s associated with that and the bathing and then, go out again.

    So, basically, you’d be running that water heater maybe eight to 12 hours a day instead of 24 hours a day. It’s going to be less expensive for you to put in the electric water heater than the tankless water heater; but then again, by the time you add on the cost of the timer and the electrician, it could end up costing about the same amount of money. If I had a choice and I was in your shoes – where the electric water heater was worn out – I would definitely put in a tankless unit.

    BOB: Okay. Where do I go find the most energy-efficient water heaters?

    TOM: Well, there are a lot of great manufacturers out there. There is a website by the folks at Rinnai, called foreverhotwater.com; they’ve got a lot of good information on there. Why don’t you start there and see how you make out?

    BOB: Foreverhotwater.com?

    TOM: Foreverhotwater.com.

    BOB: Dot com. Well, you’ve been … you’ve been a big help.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, (inaudible) moneypit.com for estimators and calculators on everything from project budgets to exactly how much paint you’re going to need to cover that room uniformly. It’s in the Estimator and Calculator section of moneypit.com and you can do a whole lot of math there without a paper and pencil.

    TOM: Hey, here’s a quick tip for those of you that perhaps don’t have enough phone lines in the house; maybe for your fax machine or your computer. You don’t need to call the phone company. This is one project that you can handle yourself. We’ll hook you up with the info you need, right after this.

    ((promo/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. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. So, if you want to add a second phone line to your home – maybe you need it for a modem; maybe you need it for a fax machine – you don’t need to call the phone company. You probably already have all the wiring you need and you can do this job yourself. You see, most telephone wiring can handle more than one phone line because it contains multiple conductors; typically, up to four lines can be wired through a single cable. So you may have cable in your home that actually is set up for additional lines to be added. You can adapt these lines yourself with a little bit of guidance and the proper tools and you can get more information on that at moneypit.com.

    LESLIE: Yeah, so don’t waste that money calling the phone company. Do it yourself and make sure, when you’re at moneypit.com, you sign up for your free e-newsletter now at moneypit.com. And that’s delivered, every week, to you right in your email inbox. And it’s chock full of information and it’s free, which is very exciting.

    And also free, to one of our lucky callers who gets their question answered on the air by Tom and myself, you could be eligible for the IRWIN and Strait-Line arsenal of tool kit. It’s amazing; there are so many things in it. It has two dozen tools including Vise-Grip groove lock pliers, fast release pliers, a MARATHON carpenter saw, Pro Touch utility knife with spare blades, work site gloves, Strait-Line Grip-Light, a torpedo level and an entire set of Vise-Grip pliers and a giganto soft-sided bag to keep everything in so you will never lose not even one of those items – unless your neighbor borrows it, conveniently. It’s worth about 250 bucks but it could be yours free. So call in now.

    TOM: Is that what it’s called – The Giganto Soft-Sided Bag? (laughing)

    LESLIE: Yes, it’s the technical term from the company – Giganto. It’s in quotation marks. (laughing)

    TOM: Alright. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You could win that giganto prize from IRWIN if you come on the air and ask your home improvement question like our next caller.

    LESLIE: Eleanor in Arizona has an interesting question. As I read it, it says, ‘Water is leaving a white powdery substance on walls.’ Well, Eleanor, my question to you is why is there water on your walls?

    TOM: This can’t be good.

    ELEANOR: No, the … well, we have a block wall between the neighbor’s house and ours; just a concrete – regular concrete block wall.

    LESLIE: Okay.

    TOM: Okay.

    ELEANOR: And his water … his sprinklers, when he’s watering his lawn, hits his side of the fence. But on my side of the fence, it comes through and it’s just like a white residue. And I … someone told me that there’s a lot of salt here in the water here in Arizona. So I don’t know if that’s what’s coming through. But it just is powdery and it even looks like a mildew-y thing; a growth – you know, fuzzy.

    TOM: Yeah, well that’s a …

    ELEANOR: Like mold or something.

    TOM: It’s not mold. You had it right the first time. It’s mineral salts. And what happens is this. When those sprinklers hit the concrete block wall, it gets it very, very wet. And even the …

    LESLIE: And then that concrete is hydroscopic so it pulls it into the inside.

    TOM: Exactly. And so, even if the soil is wet below it, it kind of sucks right up. And then what happens is the water comes to the surface and it evaporates but it leaves behind it’s mineral salts. So that like whitish-gray …

    LESLIE: It’s your own science experiment.

    TOM: Exactly. That whitish-gray stuff is simply mineral salts that’s on there. So it’s not hurting the wall and it’s not a mold that’s going to hurt you. It’s really just a cosmetic issue. You can wipe it off. You can also use like a vinegar and water solution to wipe it off because that will, basically, melt the salt away.

    ELEANOR: Oh, just vinegar? Plain vinegar, huh?

    TOM: Well, white vinegar.

    ELEANOR: White vinegar.

    TOM: Don’t do red vinegar; it’ll really smell. (laughing) Your whole house will smell like a salad bowl if you do that.

    ELEANOR: (laughing) Right.

    TOM: Okay?

    ELEANOR: Okay, I’ll try that. Thank you.

    TOM: Simple problem, simple solution. Eleanor, thank you so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Our next caller is Dorothy from California who listens to The Money Pit on KVML. And Dorothy has an allergy problem, to some paneling. What is your paneling made out of?

    DOROTHY: Well, I’m not sure. It’s … it is a wood … it’s … this is an older home and this paneling must be about …

    LESLIE: Probably built in the 70s?

    TOM: I had some older … I had an older home with some paneling, that was built in the 70s and I know exactly how Dorothy feels. I used to get sick every time I looked at that stuff. (laughing) It’s awful.

    LESLIE: That’s a visual allergy. I think it’s making her feel sick.

    DOROTHY: (laughing) I think I have that, too.

    TOM: Yeah. (laughing) Stuck in the 70s. We had mustard yellow paneling and orange shag carpet.

    LESLIE: Oh.

    TOM: It was … it was horrible. (laughing)

    LESLIE: It was a choice.

    TOM: But it went well together, you know? (laughing) So how can we help you with your paneling?

    DOROTHY: Well, I was wondering if there’s something that I could cover it up with.

    TOM: Oh, sure.

    DOROTHY: And maybe …

    LESLIE: Well, the paneling … you might have an allergy to pine. Because is … is paneling normally made from pine?

    TOM: Well, not always. It’s made from synthetic materials.

    LESLIE: Oh, really?

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I was going to say, I wonder if you have the same sort of reaction to other pieces in your home that might be made of the same product. But you have a couple of options. You can remove the paneling. If you’re lucky enough and the paneling is just attached to the studs in the wall, you can pull that off and then put drywall up and actually have a beautiful surface to start from there. You could put the drywall right over the paneling. Or you can just paint it and prime it; prime it and paint it and really sort of seal it in there. That might help you, as well.

    DOROTHY: Okay. What kind of a sealer would I use?

    LESLIE: Well, for your primer, Tom, would you recommend just using some sort of like a Kilz Primer?

    TOM: Yeah, I would use KILZ. That’s going to do a good job. You can use KILZ. They have a water-based product and they have an oil-based product; both will work very well for that situation. And that really is going to give you a good surface to put the paint on to make sure the paint covers the old paneling. And, really, more and more people are just painting over paneling these days. It really can look pretty nice if you use good quality paint and you put a nice semi-gloss finish on there. It looks very, very smooth and very slick.

    DOROTHY: Well, that sounds like a good idea. Be the easiest way.

    LESLIE: Absolutely.

    TOM: Very easy, Dorothy.

    DOROTHY: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: And it makes a huge change.

    DOROTHY: Well, that sounds really good.

    TOM: Okay, Dorothy. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and listening there in California on KVML.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to Maryland where Greg has a sticky situation. Greg, what’s going on with that door?

    GREG: Oh, my front door. What happens is with … like depending what time of the day or the year, I guess with humidity the wood expands.

    TOM: Yeah, and it also is impacted by your horoscope. (laughing)

    GREG: Anyway, sometimes I would have to … have to lock my deadbolts to keep … you know, I have a deadbolt on the top and regular door lock on the bottom …

    TOM: Right.

    GREG: Sometimes, you just want to shut the door and go and do something outside. But, sometimes, if you shut the door, you can’t get it to shut. You come back and the door’s wide open because it never catches.

    LESLIE: Well, that’s just the wood swelling and expanding and contracting …

    TOM: Yeah, and …

    LESLIE: … depending on what the weather is.

    GREG: The house is probably – what? – two, three years old.

    LESLIE: Oh.

    TOM: That’s all? Wow.

    GREG: Yes. It’s about two, three years old and the guy said, ‘Yeah, it might be the wood expanding’ and I just …

    TOM: Well, what it is is if it’s only a two or three-year-old house, what it is is an improperly installed door. You know, the door is either twisted; it is installed crooked; there’s not enough room; there’s too much room. Something is wrong about that door. Now the fact that it’s wood, obviously, could be a contributing factor to it because wood is going to expand and contract a lot more. The best option for a door, today, is a fiberglass door because a fiberglass door looks exactly like wood with the new finishes.

    Thermatrue Doors, for example, has this new technology; it’s called AccuGrain. And the exterior of that door, I’m telling you, is absolutely a dead ringer for wood; you just can’t tell the difference. I … even my trained eye couldn’t pick it up. But it’s dimensionally stable.

    Now, if you’re not going to replace your door, what you really have to do here, Greg, is re-hang the door; and, really, start from scratch. And a good carpenter can do this.

    GREG: It depends on like if there’s a lot of humidity in there? Or like a certain time of day?

    TOM: Yeah, the more moisture, the more expansion.

    GREG: It definitely needs to be re-hung?

    TOM: It definitely needs to be re-hung. It shouldn’t be doing this and only be a couple of years old.

    GREG: Okay. I’m glad I called because I was about to go buy a new lock system, thinking it was probably …

    TOM: No, it sounds like it’s just out of whack. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, laying down new flooring – whether it’s wood, tile or vinyl – is definitely a DIY project most homeowners can tackle on their own. But there’s one major mistake that most people make when doing this project. We’ll tell you what that is, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed smart humidifiers. Aprilaire’s computer-equipped, completely automated, no-touch humidifiers never need manual adjustments. Advanced computer technology measures the outdoor temperature and indoor humidity over 86,000 times a day and continually adjusts your home’s indoor humidity for maximum comfort. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Well, laying down a new floor – whether it’s wood, tile or vinyl – is truly a basic DIY project that many homeowners do feel comfortable tackling. But keep one very important thing in mind: some flooring products – like ceramic tiles or hardwood – can raise the level of an existing floor. And that’s a problem when laying the floor around built-in appliances like refrigerators or dishwashers.

    TOM: That’s right. Because if you have to take those appliances out for repairs or replacement …

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Trap them in there.

    TOM: … you could have kind of framed yourself in and that would really stink because it really makes it a very, very complicated project. So plan for that. If you’re going to, for example, put ceramic tile in a kitchen and sort of trap in the refrigerator or the dishwasher, what you need to do is to raise those first. The dishwasher – you simply have adjustable feet that could be raised up and, this way, you’ll have room to get the ceramic tile under it and not in front of it so you’re not blocking it. But think about those little things before you put the floor down. We know you want to get right to the flooring installation; but if you don’t do it carefully, you’ll actually trap those appliances in and that will cause a more expensive repair to have to be done later on.

    Alright. So, Leslie, let’s see who’s next on The Money Pit.

    LESLIE: Casey in Louisiana listens to The Money Pit on KEEL and you’ve got a foundation question. What can we do for you?

    CASEY: Well, I have a 43-year-old house and it’s got a foundation across … it’s got a crack across the entire foundation.

    LESLIE: What direction does the crack run in?

    CASEY: What direction? It runs from east-to-west. (chuckling) It runs across the body of the house.

    TOM: It’s a horizontal crack?

    CASEY: Yes.

    TOM: Okay.

    CASEY: And it varies a little bit; it’s not exactly in a straight line but fairly close.

    LESLIE: And how big is this crack? Is it fairly wide? Fairly deep? Describe it a little bit.

    CASEY: Well, where we can see it – because there’s linoleum that’s on the floor; sheet linoleum – it’s separating some of the linoleum. It’s not, probably, but about four or five inches deep, at the most, that I can tell. And it’s not very wide. But it’s gotten a little wider in the eight years that we’ve been in the house.

    TOM: Okay. So the crack is in the floor and it kind of goes in and out from under the linoleum? Is that the situation?

    CASEY: Yes.

    TOM: Alright.

    CASEY: And we can feel it under the linoleum. There’s some difference in … the height difference from one side to the other, but nothing significant.

    TOM: And this is a basement or the first floor?

    CASEY: We only have a one-floor home.

    TOM: Okay, so it’s a slab on grade home.

    CASEY: Yes.

    TOM: Alright. Well, concrete slabs crack.

    CASEY: Right.

    TOM: Sometimes … some would say that’s what their designed to do. Usually it happens because of shrinkage. Really two reasons; either shrinkage when the initial pour …

    LESLIE: Well, it could be ground settling, couldn’t it?

    TOM: Or it could be some movement of the soil.

    CASEY: We have very clay soil here.

    TOM: Well …

    CASEY: It moves horribly.

    TOM: Yeah. I was going to say the best advice we can give you is to try to keep that soil as stable as possible and that comes back to moisture management; making sure that the water around your house is draining away from the house and the gutter system’s extended out so you keep the soil as dry as you can.

    Do you have any evidence that this crack is active? Or is it something that’s sort of always been there?

    CASEY: It’s been here since we moved in. And I couldn’t … it was my … my husband’s grandfather built the house …

    TOM: Okay.

    CASEY … himself and it was here when we got here and there’s no evidence that it’s like getting wider all the time.

    TOM: Alright, well that’s good news. Then, I would tell you not to worry about it. If you ever decide to replace that floor and you have it up, I would fill the crack with a flowable urethane, which is a flexible caulk kind of material that will seal it in really good and stop any soil gases from coming through there. And you can build it up a little bit and not feel it, now, when you walk over the new floor.

    CASEY: Okay.

    TOM: But in terms of structure, if it’s been there all this time and you see no evidence of it moving, then I wouldn’t worry about it.

    CASEY: Okay. Well, here’s my question; my bottom line question. Because we would want to … we would want to fill it and replace the flooring. We’ll eventually move from this house; we know we will. And how do you sell a house with a crack in the foundation? Because, obviously, it’s done. But people have said, ‘Oh, no, you’re going to have to get the foundation fixed.’

    TOM: Well, if it’s … if it’s the floor, it may not be the foundation. You may be confusing the two parts of your house. It depends on how the floor was poured. Now, sometimes you build a house with, say, a footing and then a concrete block wall that comes up and then the wall is on top of that. And then the floor is, basically, floating and it goes in between those walls. In any event, most of the floor surface is not load-bearing; it’s only load-bearing under the walls itself. So it’s not, technically, the foundation that’s cracked; it’s really just the concrete floor that’s cracked.

    There are two ways to handle it. You know, if you want to be incredibly honest with the people that are buying your house, you can tell them that there was a crack under the floor and that it’s been there since your grandfather – your husband’s grandfather – built the house and it’s never moved, you’ve sealed it properly and you refloored over it. If it’s something that they’re concerned about, they could have a professional home inspector or an engineer evaluate that.

    The other thing that you could do is, if you really just want to put your fears to rest, is have that done right now. Have an engineer look at it and provide a report for you identifying the condition, recommending any repairs. And then get those repairs done, have them reinspect it. And that kind of creates what Leslie and I like to call a pedigree on the repairs so that we know that it was done correctly. Then you pass that along to any future owner and …

    LESLIE: Yeah, and it’s a level of reassurance, to that future owner, that you’ve done something properly and you’ve got all the paperwork to back it up.

    CASEY: I really don’t know – because this is our first home that we’ve ever owned. And I would want to sell it so that they would know and that it was … that it was fixed properly. What kind of – and this is another thing I don’t know – what kind of cost does that run into? Or do you know?

    TOM: Well, it really depends on what’s wrong. You want to start with the inspection itself. And the inspection’s probably going to cost you two or three hundred bucks for an inspection and report. And then, from there, you can decide what your best option is. I mean it may be that the engineer comes out and says, ‘I don’t see any reason to repair this other than just sealing it,’ like we’ve suggested; and you’re done. But if there is a repair that’s suggested, then you could evaluate your options.

    In any event, if you want to put your mind at ease, have a design professional – like an engineer or an architect – review that crack and determine whether or not it’s of structural concern. And then, move on from there. Okay?

    CASEY: Excellent. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Outgrowing your current house? Well, should you move to a bigger place or renovate the one you already have? Well, when debating whether to move or improve, there are important financial factors to consider. We’ll break it down for you, right after the break.

    (promo/theme song)

    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: So you’re trying to decide whether you should move or improve. Are you outgrowing your current house? Trying to decide whether you want to do the renovation or just buy a new house. Couple of things to consider. Actually, improving your house can improve its value if you stay consistent with what’s going on in the neighborhood; you can’t over improve. You want to concentrate on areas like kitchens and baths; areas that have the best return on investment.

    Now, if moving is what you’re really planning on doing, remember the hidden charges. Not only do you have to buy the house, but when you buy the house you’re going to spend a lot of money painting and decorating that house and moving to that house. In fact, you may want to budget an additional 10 percent over the cost of the new house for all of those unexpected expenses. They really can add up to quite a lot of money.

    So if you ultimately decide to move or improve, make sure you’re not overdoing it for your neighborhood or counting on all of those hidden costs coming in.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re leaning toward the moving choice, want to find out where the real estate market is hottest and where it’s cooling down? Well, you need look no further than our next Money Pit e-newsletter. What? You don’t get the Money Pit e-newsletter? Well, what are you doing? Go to moneypit.com and sign up for our free e-newsletter there. It’s free for you. It comes in every week. You don’t even have to go outside to get it; just go right to your computer and you’ll be, oh, the more wiser just for having it.

    And we’ve got a great prize coming at you, this hour. It’s from IRWIN and Strait-Line. And remember that the prizes are available to one lucky caller who calls in and gets their call answered on the air; and if we draw your name out of the Money Pit hardhat, it could be you. And this is a chock-a-block bag full of about two dozen tools from Vise-Grip and Strait-Line and IRWIN. It’s amazing. It’s worth 250 bucks. Some of those things are a MARATHON carpenter saw, Vise-Grip groove lock pliers, Vise-Grip pliers, a huge bag to keep it all in. It’s worth about 250 bucks. So call in; don’t be shy. It could be yours.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Cindy in Minnesota finds The Money Pit on KBRF and you’ve got a question about radiant heating or floor heating. What can we do for you?

    CINDY: Well, we just added on to our house – a 40×40 foot slab – this past summer. And it seems about two feet all the way around the new addition, the snow is melted and the ground is not even frozen. We’re wondering if … what we should do about this problem. If we should … is it normal? Should we go back to the contractor? Should we (inaudible)?

    TOM: Do you have … do you have heating in the floor system?

    CINDY: Yes.

    TOM: Okay. And so you’re noticing that with the heat in the floor, that that seems to be causing the snow to melt around the foundation perimeter?

    CINDY: Right. And …

    TOM: Hmm.

    CINDY: … we’re looking at filling our 500 gallon propane tank for the third time since August. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Wow. So this is really …

    TOM: Man.

    LESLIE: Do you have it on a timer system? Is it constantly heating the floor? How often are using this?

    CINDY: It’s on a thermostat. We’re in Minnesota so it’s … it seems like it’s running constantly. We’ve gotten a couple different suggestions from some people. One thing is the thermostat is on the wall. We had one suggestion say that we should put the thermostat on the floor because why are you regulating the air when you should be regulating the floor.

    TOM: (laughing) No, you should be regulating the air. That’s a silly suggestion. Because that’s where you live; in the air, right?

    CINDY: Right.

    TOM: When they put the floor in, did you watch this happen? Did you happen to notice whether or not they added insulation between the ground and the foundation? Because they should have.

    CINDY: On the outside perimeter?

    TOM: Yeah. When the foundation was put in; when the floor was poured. It should be isolated from the soil with insulation. It would have been like a foam insulation.

    CINDY: Yep. It’s like two inch foam?

    TOM: Right.

    CINDY: My husband did … he dug down. But it looks like it only goes as far down as the cement.

    TOM: Well, it’s a good … what does it go down? Like a foot or two?

    CINDY: (inaudible) cement slab (inaudible). So right.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, that should be okay. It sounds like it was done correctly.

    CINDY: Okay.

    TOM: I mean it’s going to be warmer than it will be farther out away from your house.

    CINDY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: The fact that you’re using so much heat could have other implications, though. There could be other energy deficiencies in your house. Have you ever had an energy audit done?

    CINDY: No.

    TOM: Well, that might be a good place to start. You know, a lot of local utility companies and other service providers will do energy audits on your house and they can identify …

    LESLIE: And free of charge.

    CINDY: Oh, really?

    TOM: Mm-hmm. And they identify all of the different places where your home is losing energy. And that would probably be a really smart thing to do. Because that would give you some impartial expert advice on how to save on some of those energy bills that you’re facing.

    CINDY: Okay.

    TOM: But it sounds like they’ve done it correctly. I mean, obviously, the foundation is going to be a little bit warmer if there’s heating pipes in the slab. Is this a hot water heating system?

    CINDY: Right.

    TOM: Yeah, where it was put in the slab. Well, the good news is that that’s a really comfortable system. I mean it’s nice to walk on that warm floor, isn’t it?

    CINDY: Oh, yeah.

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

    LESLIE: Do you have mysterious noises coming from your pipes? Waaaa.

    TOM: Perhaps it’s a haunted house. Woooo!

    LESLIE: (laughing) Well, it’s actually very common to have noisy plumbing. Coming up, we’ll tell you how to diagnosis and either fix or live with or drown out all those strange sounds.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by the amazing Telesteps Telescoping Ladder which extends from 30 inches to 12-and-a-half feet in a matter of seconds. Available online at rewci.com or by calling, toll-free, 888-845-6597. Take advantage of free shipping now. And don’t forget to mention coupon code ‘Money Pit’ and receive five percent off your purchase today.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Available 24/7 at moneypit.com, where you can learn everything you need to know about taking care of your money pit including how to make more money when it comes time to sell that house.

    Now, if you can’t call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, you can always email us to helpme@moneypit.com. Let’s jump right into the email bag.

    LESLIE: Okay. Well, Angie from Columbus, California writes: ‘When I run hot water to the washer, the pipe hammers badly. Only to the washer; not the kitchen or bathroom.’

    TOM: Hmm. The reason that happens, Angie …

    LESLIE: Like clanging? Like bang, bang, bang, bang! Is that what she’s hearing?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s sounds like ka-junk, ka-junk, ka-junk, ka-junk, ka-junk. And it like really rattles the pipes. It’s a condition called water hammer. And, basically, what happens is this: you have all that water running through the pipes at full speed as your washer tries to fill. Then, all of a sudden, the fill valve shuts off really quick and the centrifugal force of all of that water just keeps pushing that pipe forward. And since it can’t go anywhere, it bangs the pipes.

    LESLIE: So is water still being called to that pipe but it’s force with nowhere to go? So it’s building up in there?

    TOM: It’s not the pressure; it’s the centrifugal force. Think of like a wave action. It’s sort of the pressure of the water just wants to move forward and it sort of carries part of the pipe with it. But you know, copper is so resonant a material that you can hear it …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … all over the place? Well, what happens is it just keeps moving and it bangs the pipes. Now, there’s a solution. It’s called a water hammer arrester. And, basically, it’s like a shock absorber and it gets installed into the plumbing line. And it gives sort of like a cushion for that water to sort of bounce against.

    LESLIE: Is that a do-it-yourself project or not so much?

    TOM: No. It probably isn’t a do-it-yourself project, Leslie, because you really have to drain the pipe and you have to solder on the new water hammer arrester. It really is a job for a plumber. Generally, water hammer’s more of an annoyance; it rarely causes a plumbing problem. But if it’s something that’s really bothering you and you’re sensitive to the sound, then you definitely should put in the water hammer arrester.

    LESLIE: Now, what if you have some other sort of situation with your pipes? Like I have a friend – and the friend shall remain nameless – who, when they turn off their shower, it sounds like they hear like a marble rolling across the floor. What’s that big mystery?

    TOM: Oh, I know what that is. If you run hot water and then you turn the hot water off, what happens is the pipe expands and, sometimes, if the pipes are really tight to the wood – you know, you have those little clamps that hold the pipes on the wood?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: If they’re too tight, that pipe is actually dragging across the wood and making odd sounds. Now, sometimes they could sound like a drip. Sometimes it can sound like a marble running across the floor. But, basically, it’s the sound of the compressing, now, metal pipe that once was hot and now it’s shrinking, being drawn across the framing itself. Now, typically … it actually expands, as well, when you turn it on but your water’s running so you don’t hear it; you usually hear it when you turn the water off. It’s quiet and then the pipe is shrinking back into shape.

    So that’s another thing where it doesn’t really hurt the pipe at all; but it’s kind of an annoyance. But it’s not something that really is going to cause a leak or anything of that nature. It’s just one of those mysteries of the plumbing system in your house.

    LESLIE: Well, at least now we know where they’re coming from and we don’t have to be scared.

    TOM: And you don’t have to call the ghostbusters, either.

    LESLIE: (laughing) Or the plumber busters.

    TOM: Well, speaking of plumbing home improvements – do you know that your bathtub …?

    LESLIE: Well, in addition to making you clean to best present your newly decorated room, it can also be – your bathtub – thought of as a tool. And it might exactly be the first thing you need when deciding to tackle a wallpapering project. You want to wet pre-pasted wallpaper in a warm bath and this will actually help soften the glue. And another trick is to double the paper over and rub the adhesive sides together before hanging the paper, to maximize the glue’s effectiveness. Because, for once in your life, this is exactly where you do want to be in a sticky situation.

    TOM: Well, thank you so much for sticking around this hour of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, available 24/7 at moneypit.com. And you can always call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 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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