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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, making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. If you have an old house just so you have something to do on the weekends, call us. We’ll help you tackle those jobs. If you’ve got a new house and maybe it didn’t work out quite the way you expected – you know, new homes don’t have the same new car appeal. You know, they still smell pretty (Leslie chuckles) but they do break down. They can break down right from the get go. Call us right now.

    LESLIE: On the shows – on both Trading Spaces and While You Were Out –

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: – we’ve seen so many new home constructions. But if you ever try to do a built-in corner cabinet or something needs to be square to a corner, they never are.

    TOM: You know, it’s interesting. In all the years I spent as a home inspector, people often ask me, ‘What is the optimum age, like for a house? If you had your choice, like what age would you want to buy a house?’ I think I would probably want to buy a house that’s at least five years old because it has all the kinks out, including like the nail pops and things like that.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) It’s already settled.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. And if I couldn’t get that, I’d probably go for a house that was built – I love the homes that were built in the 50s. You know? Because they have hardwood floors; it was standard. They usually have – especially the earlier 50s – have plaster lath walls which are super, super hard.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And they have copper plumbing. Everything in between needs work.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Especially between the 50s an on.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    LESLIE: Earlier, great.

    TOM: So call us right now with your home improvement question. Regardless of the age of your house we will help you out. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, guys, have you ever been accused of making a big, fat mess when you’re trying to clean up? (Leslie chuckles) Well, that might not be a bad thing. We’re going to prove it because this hour we’re going to be talking to the editor of Men’s Health magazine about clearing out the garage. His first tip, it’s OK to make a mess. Find out why in just a moment.

    LESLIE: It’s already making me crazy. Big messes never equal goodness.

    Alright Tom, quick. What are a dormer, valley and a shed?

    TOM: Well, that sounds like a leak waiting to happen. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: Ding, ding, ding! You are correct, sir. Well, you and I know that those are parts of a roof. But I bet not all of you know that. We’re going to tell you why it’s important to know your basic roof terminology; especially if a new roof is on your horizon.

    TOM: And we’re giving away a $25 tripod flashlight from Stanley. It sheds hands-free light on your home improvement project. If you want to win it, you’ve got to call 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Listening in on WABC, we’ve got Fran in New Jersey who’s doing some work. How can we help?

    FRAN: I’m doing some major renovations and additions on a 1950s three-year-old home.


    FRAN: Specifically, changing a kitchen into a mudroom and converting a dining room into my kitchen. And I was just wondering if you might be able to offer me any advice to avoid any particular problems I might have; something that typically people might run into that I’m not aware of.

    LESLIE: Well, where are you in the process right now? Has work already begun or are you in the planning phase?

    FRAN: I’m in the planning phase. I have met with my architect. I have a builder already selected. And we are going to – I’ve given him my dreams as far as my house and we’re going to be sitting down and fine-tuning them.

    TOM: Well, I tell you, it sounds like you’re doing things in the right order. Having the architect developing the specifications and then having the builder work off of those specifications is clearly the way to go here. So the first piece of advice I would have is for you to put the pizza delivery service on speed dial …

    LESLIE: Yeah, because you’re going to need it for a while.

    TOM: Yeah, you’re taking the kitchen out of commission you need to plan for the interruptions to your life that this is going to occur.

    FRAN: OK, I’m just one person with two cats. (chuckling) So …

    TOM: OK.

    FRAN: … there won’t be too much interruption. I’m pretty adjustable is basically what I’m saying.

    LESLIE: Well Fran, you mentioned that you have some pets. You want to make sure that during the renovation process – because your cats are going to get kind of nervous and they’re going to want to poke into things or they’re going to hide – you want to make sure that you can contain them to one room of the home that the workers are not going to be anywhere near. Because you never know. The cats could get into something, could eat something. So monitor them for any odd behavior during the construction process just to make sure that they’re in good health.

    TOM: Now, is the architect also going to supervise the contractor?

    FRAN: Yes. They both work together. I actually asked my builder who – what architect he worked with and I went with him.

    TOM: OK. And you’re comfortable with your builder, in terms of his references and experience?

    FRAN: Very comfortable with him, yes.

    TOM: Alright, well I – really, you know, I’d love to tell you that you made a major mistake but you haven’t. It sounds like you’ve done everything right here, Fran. So I think that you’re in good hands because, again, you used a contractor and you used an architect and you’re going to develop those specifications and then work towards that. The only other thing I would tell you is to make sure your builder stays up on top of the inspections so that all the inspections are done on time. And you should also tie payments in – in the builder’s contract – to successful passing of those inspections.

    LESLIE: To – and also to phases of the work, I think.

    TOM: Yeah, so that as the projects are completed and the inspections are passed, then and only then does the builder get paid.

    FRAN: That’s very good advice. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Fran. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    You know, Leslie, I think at least in New Jersey, when you get a building permit there’s a law that’s printed on the back of it that says by law the contractor can’t get paid or should not be paid until the inspection is passed.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but how many people are looking at that.

    TOM: Yeah, probably not.

    LESLIE: You know, most people don’t think to turn it over and check it out but that’s why, you know, you’ve got to say something like that so folks can really be aware. Because so many times the contractor does not live up to their end of the bargain, somebody’s paid and then you’re out that money.

    TOM: And you know, there are good contractors out there. And they usually are perfectly fine with that because they have a relationship with the building inspectors and they know they’re going to do the job once, do it right. And this way, you will not have to deal with it again.

    So that’s the way to do it, Fran. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Mike in Florida who’s working on some tiles. Tell us about your project.

    MIKE: Yes, I’ve got a lot of tile work in the house that we’ve just had put in. And I’m wondering about the best way to seal the grout so that dirt doesn’t get caked down in it. Because you can’t ever get it out.

    TOM: Yeah, and you’ve got to seal it now before you get any dirt in there.

    MIKE: Yes, that’s what I’d like to do.

    LESLIE: So you haven’t done anything at this point at all to seal it.

    MIKE: No.

    LESLIE: There’s a couple of great applicators. There’s one that looks like it has a nail polish brush on the end. It’s like a squeezable bottle with a very tiny brush on top. And there’s another one that’s a squeezable bottle with a sponge on a roller. Both are excellent applicators because they get that sealant exactly where you want it; right on the grout line.

    TOM: Yeah, and the best sealants are the silicone sealants, Mike. Those are the ones that I’ve had the best results with. So I think you’re definitely on the right track. With the right tools and the right sealant you will not be having to clean that grout very soon.

    MIKE: OK, good. So that’s silicone-based sealant.

    TOM: Silicone-based sealant.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to give out some cleaning advice for Jeff in Texas. Tell us what’s going on at your house.

    JEFF: Well, my mother – her roof has composition shingles on it with black stains on it. I’m trying to find a way to safely remove the black stains without harming the shingle or the vegetation down underneath with any kind of a …

    TOM: Well, probably what you’re going to need to do – now is this a pitched roof? Is it very steep? Can you walk on the roof?

    MIKE: You can walk (INAUDIBLE) …

    TOM: Here’s what I suggest you do. The first thing you want to do is wet the roof down and you want to apply a solution of Jomax to it. It’s a cleaner that works very well to clean moss off of roofs.

    LESLIE: What about for the vegetation; the plant around? Should he cover them up?

    TOM: You have to cover it with tarps. You’re going to have to cover it with tarps. Unless, of course, you have a gutter system and that you can collect any runoff from this. But if you cover them then they’ll be protected good enough for this application. And once you put the solution of Jomax down, you want to wait 15 or 20 minutes for it to really do its work. Then you want to follow up with a stiff bristle brush. You can use like a floor brush.

    LESLIE: And be really, really careful, Jeff, because this stuff makes the whole surface really slick. So you want to make sure because it really – it’s a cleanser. It’s going to be sudsy, so be careful.

    TOM: Yeah, like start from the bottom and work up. Don’t start from the top and work down where all the soap is running under your feet. Now once you get it clean, there may be some things that you can do to avoid this moss growing back the next time.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you can actually install a nickel or a copper ridge vent. And when this sits on the ridge of your roof, as it rains it’s going to actually let some of the minerals within the nickel or the copper and that’s going to run down your roof and you’ll see clean spots. If you ever see copper flashing around a chimney or somewhere on a roof, you’ll see that there’s streaks of cleanliness coming down from it and that’s some sort of natural reaction from the rain water and the nickel or the copper. So that’ll be a natural defense and something you don’t ever have to think about going back up there and fixing.

    Hey, Money Pit listeners, can’t decide between redoing that kitchen or the bathroom? Well, we can help? Call in your home repair or your home improvement 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    OK, Leslie. Time for a pop quiz.

    LESLIE: OK, I’m ready. Got my pencil.

    TOM: What do the following words have in common? Hip, dormer, flashing, valley, shed.

    LESLIE: Hmm, they all describe parts of my body. No, no, no. (chuckling) Those are roof terms, of course. And while you and I, Tom, might know the lingo, chances are many of our listeners – you guys, out there – you might not know. And that can lead to costly mistakes when planning a roof repair or replacement. We’re going to give you the ABCs of roofs, next.

    (promo/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. If your home has green shag and pink walls you’re in the right place. (Leslie chuckles) Call us now with your home improvement question or your decorating dilemma. 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re giving away a $25 MaxLife tripod flashlight from Stanley – it’s work 25 bucks – to one caller this hour that comes on the air and asks their home improvement question. So call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    OK, we were talking about roofing terms. Why is this important? Well, from design to installation knowing roofing terms is one of the best ways to make sure your home’s reproofing project will be done with the style you want and the outcome you expect combined with premium weather protection that you need. Here’s some terminology.

    First of all, the roof covering. Well, obviously, that’s the easy one. That’s what you see. That’s the shingles, the tile or the metal.

    Then there’s the underlayment. Now this is the one piece of roofing system that’s expressly designed to be waterproof. It’s the underlayment; the underside of the roof shingles.

    Next, there’s the roof dormer. Now that’s the opening in a sloping roof. It could project out to a vertical wall for a window or any other kind of opening and that’s a very common place for leaks.

    And finally, there is roof valley and that is simply the area where two roof sections joint at an angle. And these are the areas where leaks are most common to form.

    LESLIE: And we’ve got one other very important term and it’s something that you really need to understand and learn about the different types of. And what we’re talking about is roof flashing. Now the flashing is used to prevent seepage of water into your building, your home, your apartment, whatever it is around any intersection or projection in a roof. That could be vent pipes, chimneys, adjoining walls, dormers, valleys. Now that you know your terms we’re testing you on them. And usually you’re going to see people manually fastening galvanized metal to create this flashing. However, there are some new options because there’s always advancements in the field.

    There’s a great flashing that we like. It’s called Grace Roof Detail Membrane. Its going to be self-adhering. It’s rubberized. And when it’s properly installed, it totally seals out leaks. You want to make sure that you’re going to get the best return for your reroofing investment. So, do your research. Go to GraceAtHome.com. You can find out everything you need and learn all those terms so you get what you’re asking for.

    TOM: Or call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who’s next?

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

    MICHAEL: Well, hello. I’ve got this house that’s got a new roof on it. It’s about three years old. And the vents that are at the peaks of the roof – there’s like two of them, I think –

    TOM: OK.

    MICHAEL: – the snow blows in during like high winds through those vents. And I’ve noticed it all allover the stairs as you walk up to the attic.

    TOM: You know, that’s a common condition and there are special types of vents that have, actually, filters in them to stop that exact condition from happening. Because you want to let the air get out but you don’t want the snow to get in.

    Now are these square roof vents? Are they ridge vents? What do they look like?

    MICHAEL: They look like mini houses. They’re circular at the bottom where they punch up through the roof and they kind of hang over the top of the roof.

    TOM: Well, if you were to get some very perforated foam so that you could still get air to sort of move in and out and place it right above that, that would probably be sufficient to stop the blowing snow from getting in there.

    MICHAEL: Do you think that’s going to cause a moisture problem? I’ve noticed we’ve got plaster going up the stairs that’s kind of crumbling onto the stairs there.

    TOM: Probably not connected. If, you know, you get a lot of moisture inside your attic space it can saturate the insulation and make it ineffective. But a little bit of blowing snow is actually not that unusual. I’ve seen it many times in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector. I used to see that on occasion in attics when it happened to be very cold out.

    MICHAEL: OK, well thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Anna in New Jersey finds The Money Pit on WABC. You are on. How can we help?

    ANNA: Hi, I have foundation poles in my basement.

    TOM: OK.

    ANNA: And they have some kind of liquid that they sweat. And somebody’s painted them and the paint bubbles up with the liquid underneath.

    LESLIE: Is it a finished basement?

    ANNA: Yes.

    TOM: Well what’s happening is those are lolly columns. Those are the posts that are holding up the main beams of your house.

    ANNA: Right.

    TOM: And they may be filled with concrete. And those posts are in contact with the slab below and perhaps even part of the earth, depending on how they’re installed. And what happens is if you get a lot of moisture in the earth, it draws up through the concrete into the column and then actually sometimes rusts through that pole and forms a sort of condensation-like look. Now, the key here is going to be to take all of the steps possible to reduce humidity and moisture in that basement. Because if you cut down the volume of water around your house, that problem is going to go away.

    LESLIE: First of all, are you using a dehumidifier in the basement?

    ANNA: Yes.

    LESLIE: OK. Is it constantly running? Are you emptying that bucket all the time?

    ANNA: Well, it’s worse in the summertime so I run the dehumidifier in the summer. In the wintertime it’s kind of dry in the house so I don’t run it during the winter but …

    LESLIE: Generally, you want to run that dehumidifier all year long. It’s not going to kick on if it doesn’t need to be. Set it at 30, 40 percent. It’ll come on when you need it. Then you want to look at the areas outside of your home where you could be getting a lot of moisture buildup getting that water into the foundation and into the house. Do you have gutters on the house?

    ANNA: Yes.

    LESLIE: You want to make sure that your gutters are clean and that the downspouts are free flowing. You want to make sure that there’s not a lot of debris in there so that the water is just flipping up and out and getting right on to the foundation area. So keep those well maintained.

    Then look at your downspouts. Are they depositing the water right against the foundation? If they are, extend them as far as you can; three to six feet. If not, bury them; do it more. You don’t want to deposit that water along the foundation because it’s just going to find its way back into those poles in your basement.

    TOM: Anna, do you have a forced air heating system?

    ANNA: Yes.

    TOM: Well, one of the things you might want to consider is something called a whole home dehumidifier. It’s actually installed into the forced air system and dehumidifies automatically not only the basement but the entire house. It can really create that balanced condition where you don’t have excessive moisture anywhere.

    You know, improving the grading and the drainage on the outside, like Leslie suggested, and then reducing the volume of moisture on the inside is all going to work together to stop this condition from happening.

    Now, after you get the humidity under control, what you’re going to need to do is to scrape, sand all of that rust off of those posts and then prime them. I would recommend an oil-based primer.

    LESLIE: And make sure it’s something that’s made specifically for concrete adhesion, if that’s what they’re filled with or made of.

    TOM: And then put a topcoat of paint on it and I don’t think it’s going to happen again.

    ANNA: OK.

    TOM: But you have to treat the symptoms; otherwise, it will continue to occur.

    LESLIE: Suhas (sp) in New York finds The Money Pit on WABC. What can we do for you today?

    SUHAS (sp): Yeah, hi Leslie. Hi, Tom.

    LESLIE: Hi.

    TOM: Hi, Suhas (sp).

    SUHAS (sp): I was trying to work on my kitchen floor …

    TOM: OK.

    SUHAS (sp): … and I have vinyl tiles. And while I was removing the top layer I discovered that it has a second layer underneath. And they’re stuck real good. It’s going to be a hassle removing both the layers.

    TOM: OK.

    SUHAS (sp): So I was wondering if I could just stick a third layer on top of it.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. You say this is in your kitchen?

    SUHAS (sp): Yes.

    TOM: OK. Do you have a built-in dishwasher?

    SUHAS (sp): I do have a built-in dishwasher.

    TOM: OK, just be cautious, Suhas (sp), that you don’t put so much floor there that you have no room left to get the dishwasher between the floor and the underside of the kitchen countertop.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And the countertop. You want to make sure that you pull out that dishwasher and adjust the legs accordingly. Make sure you do have that clearance. Because you want to make sure if you pull it out then you floor underneath it. You don’t want to floor up to the dishwasher because if anything happens – it needs to be repaired, needs to be replaced – you don’t want to trap it in there. As long as your existing tile surface is in good shape, it’s level, it’s steady, nothing’s broken, nothing’s sticking up, you can absolutely put that on top.

    SUHAS (sp): Great. OK. And secondly, it’s pretty cold right now. Is there a certain temperature it should be before I start putting this on?

    TOM: What kind of tiles are you putting down?

    SUHAS (sp): Just vinyl tiles.

    TOM: Vinyl tiles? No, just room temperature should be find. You will find that the warmer they are the easier they lay flat.

    SUHAS (sp): Oh, good. OK.

    LESLIE: Yeah, bring them into the house. Let them acclimate to the temperature. You don’t normally have to do that but especially if they’ve been in the car or they’ve been somewhere really cold. Let them warm up.

    SUHAS (sp): OK, great. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Suhas (sp). Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    So, is your garage a cluttered, dark and dangerous place? I know it’s pretty scary out there. Well, it’s time to take back that messy space. We’re going to have the editor of Men’s Health magazine to tell us about tips on your garage makeover.

    (theme song)

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

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: This is where work and fun meet, guys, so call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 if you have a home improvement question. Whether it’s a do-it-yourself job or a direct-it-yourself job, call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT. Maybe you’re thinking about doing some cleaning this weekend. We’ve got a great guest standing by.

    LESLIE: Alright, Tom.

    So, I know your garage is amazing and mine needs a little bit of work. But many of you out there, do you dread going into your garage? You know, are there things in there that you haven’t seen since the last century? Well then it’s time to clean it up, clear it out and take back that garage space.

    TOM: If you don’t know where to start, well, go rent a dumpster. (chuckling) Only kidding. We’ve got help for you. The editor of Men’s Health magazine, Peter Moore, is here with his first tip – make a mess!

    LESLIE: Oh, I don’t like it already.

    TOM: Peter, is this aimed at guys? Do you think we are best suited to start these projects so we can make a mess first?

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Make a mess?

    PETER: Well you know, let’s be honest here. There’s only one room in the house that a guy actually controls and it’s not even in the house. It’s the garage. (Tom and Leslie laugh) So I think the first realization we all have to come to is that, you know what, it may only be the garage but it’s all we’ve got so we should take care of it. OK?

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Oh, that’s not necessarily true.

    TOM: Yeah, because you never know when you might end up out there, you know? You might. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: What about the bathroom?

    PETER: No, the bathroom is totally a chick zone. The only other exception, as far as I’m concerned, is maybe the attic is something that a guy can call his own, too. But the rest of it is …

    TOM: In other words – I’m hearing a theme here. The unfinished spaces belong to the men.

    PETER: (chuckling) Or the exterior ones. But anyway, I didn’t mean to fight about that. (Leslie chuckles) You know, the idea behind our first tip is that if you go out there and do something irrevocable – meaning, you know, you’ve always hated that shelving unit, you pull it down and all the paint cans are now situated on the floor, you know, you can’t pull your car into the space that’s allotted for it – if you make a mess that definitely has to be dealt with, come next weekend, that’s when you’re going to do it. We want to get started in the right way and making a mess sometimes is that way.

    LESLIE: Peter, if you were to do that at my house, I would be out there immediately afterward cleaning it up. I cannot let a mess sit for more than a minute.

    TOM: Yeah, if we let messes sit for a whole week, our spouses get really ticked off.

    PETER: (chuckling) Well you know what, that tick-offedness is exactly what I’m counting on here because …

    LESLIE: It’s called motivation.

    TOM: It’s the motivation, right? (laughing)

    PETER: Yeah, if we make enough of a mess it means that you’re going to motivate yourself and your spouse is going to motivate you, too. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Alright, tip two. Grab a drink and a pencil. Then where do we go from there?

    PETER: Exactly. This is a great part of the thing because you’re just visualizing and beer and visualization go together very well, I think. (Leslie laughs) What you have to do is to, you know, take an inventory out there. What kind of stuff is ending up in your garage? You know, the kid stuff; the car stuff; the sport stuff; the tools; the lawn and garden stuff ….

    LESLIE: Everything.

    PETER: … and that all important category – stuff that’s broken that will never be used again.

    TOM: You know, the garage is one of the only places in our home where toys and toxins are placed side by side (laughter) on a regular basis.

    PETER: (chuckling) Exactly. And the toxins are there because that’s a guy space and toxins like fall under the guy category of, you know, things to deal with. So, you know, that, I guess, maybe should be also another category that we put on our list; the toxins. But you know, once you have these lists, then you can start sorting out what needs to go where; what will be handy in what place; how high on the wall the toxins should go so that your four-year-old doesn’t get into them. And just start grouping things, you know, mentally – you know, maybe if you’re super-organized – on a piece of graph paper so that you can start plotting out where everything’s going to go in the garage when you actually dive in and do the work on the weekend.

    LESLIE: Alright, so the beer is going to lead to a plan. That seems to make sense.

    Now, you’re saying think like Martha Stewart? I think like her everyday, so (laughter) how does a guy think like her?

    PETER: (chuckling) Well, you know, this is a – Men’s Health does go out mostly to men so it’s a bit more of a leap for most guys to think about aesthetics and especially about lighting. You know, Martha is crazy about lighting. And I think that if guys would take more of a serious approach to the lighting that there is in their garage rather than going with the single light bulb dangling down from a wire that shoots sparks, if we have better lighting in there we’re going to think of it more as a living space. And it’s also if you can see better in there, you’re going to have more impetus to keep it organized and keep it looking decent.

    TOM: And you also say to think like Bob Vila. You point out that you never see …

    LESLIE: Both sides of the coin.

    TOM: Yeah, you never see Bob looking for missing tools on his show. But that’s called editing, Peter. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Yeah, and it’s also called there’s a producer standing right next to him like, ‘Screwdriver, sir.’

    TOM: Yeah. ‘Mr. Vila, here’s your screwdriver.’ (chuckling)

    PETER: (chuckling) Well, you know, there are ways that you can do it even without a professional staff taking care of your tools. And you know, that’s why pegboards are a great idea. There’s like a whole section of any big hardware store will have the garage organization products. And you know, you can really dip in and indulge there as far as things that will get it up off the floor, will make it organized. There are those great snap-together shelving units; you know, clear, plastic boxes that you can put all the hammers here, all the spare screws and nails here. And you know, if you can see these things and they’re on shelves where you, you know, have them out of the way, then you’re really mastering them. Then you’re conquering your garage space and all the clutter that can be in there.

    TOM: And even big things, like ladders, you can hang up off of the ground, against the wall. But I’m always mindful that anything that you put on top of a ladder will end up on your head at some point in time. (Leslie chuckles)

    PETER: (chuckling) Well, that’s a very good safety tip and I appreciate your bringing that up. But it does underscore the other notion here which is that there’s a lot of space in your garage that a lot of guys just don’t think to utilize because it’s from shoulder level on up. But you know, that’s where half of the space in the garage is. And you can really utilize the ceiling and wall space up high there; especially when you have those toxins that you want to keep out of harm’s way.

    TOM: Peter Moore, editor of Men’s Health magazine. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    If you want more information, Men’s Health magazine is on newsstands now.

    LESLIE: Alright. So his tip was make lists; you know, get your dirty clothes on; get all organized. Well, maybe you want to wear some cool Money Pit gear while you’re working on your garage organization project. Or maybe you just want to support the Money Pit team and wear an I ♥ Money Pit t-shirt. I’ve got one. We’ve got an online store and you too can be a proud fan. We’ve got t-shirts, hats, mugs, you name it; even mousepads. We’ve got it. It’s all at MoneyPit.com and we’ll be right back.

    (promo/theme song)

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

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show standing by for your calls at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you could log onto our website at MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie.

    LESLIE: Alright, folks. It is your last chance to get in on our prize giveaway. One caller that we talk to today is going to win a $25 MaxLife tripod flashlight from Stanley.

    TOM: It’s a handheld flashlight and a hands-free work light. So call us now. If you want a shot to win you’ve got to be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Listening on KNTK, we’ve got Terry in California. How can we help?

    TERRY: I have a question about my water heater. My pressure relief valve keeps leaking so I had it replaced. And the new one’s doing it also. It periodically just drips. So I’m wondering if there’s something else that would cause that to happen and the relief valve isn’t the actual problem.

    TOM: So, you had it replaced once. It started to leak and you had it replaced and now it’s leaking again?

    TERRY: Yes. And it’s about a year old. It’s a brand new house.

    TOM: Well, the pressure release valve on a water heater is set at 150 psi. And I cannot imagine that your water pressure in your house is at 150 psi or in your water heater. You know, unless there’s something dreadfully wrong with it. So, my suggestion would be for you to replace it a third time. Because I think that you may just be getting some debris in there and that’s what’s causing it to leak.

    Does the water heater seem to behave normally otherwise? I mean you set the temperature, it comes on; it reaches temperature, it goes off and so on?

    TERRY: Yes.

    TOM: I think it’s probably just a run of bad luck, Terry. Because I can’t imagine that you would be running that level of pressure if the water heater seems to be otherwise operating normally.

    TERRY: OK. Well that’s good to know.

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

    LESLIE: Talking to Amy in Alaska who listens to The Money Pit on KENI. What’s happening at your house? Something with a washing machine?

    AMY: Yes. (laughs) Kind of gross.

    LESLIE: OK, we’re ready for it.

    TOM: OK, we’re ready.

    AMY: (chuckling) We bought this home about – oh, probably four or five months ago. And they left the washer and dryer. And …

    LESLIE: And they left their smelly with them.

    AMY: It’s kind of smelly. It smells like rotten eggs. Not all the time; just every once in a while. And (INAUDIBLE) …

    TOM: And you’ve not been washing your eggs in the dryer, is that correct? (chuckling)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Do you notice the smell when it’s on or in between usage? When are you finding that it’s stinky?

    AMY: It’s stinky when I put a load in the washer and it starts. The water is – the cycle actually starts.

    TOM: Well, here’s a suggestion. What you might want to do is run the washing machine without any clothes on hot water with a gallon of bleach dumped into the whole thing.

    LESLIE: That much bleach, really?

    TOM: That will sanitize every piece of the plumbing system associated with the washing machine and it will not hurt the washing machine?

    AMY: OK.

    TOM: And there’s going to be nothing left that smells after that. I would run it once with the high bleach solution and then I would run it again just plain. And that’s going to clean out anything in that washing machine that’s giving you an odor.

    AMY: OK, would it have anything to do with the hot water heater?

    TOM: It could. Sometimes water heaters develop sulfur smells. And how old is the water heater?

    AMY: It’s fairly new, actually. I think it’s between three and four years old.

    TOM: Probably not.

    AMY: OK.

    TOM: Probably not. I’d run the bleach through the washing machine, Amy. I think that’s going to probably clean it up.

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

    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 (INAUDIBLE) 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 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 really …

    TOM: Finished basement?

    ROBIN: No basement.

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

    ROBIN: Yes.

    TOM: OK. So if you can get access under the floor it 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, that 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.

    LESLIE: Charlie in Virginia’s got a water heater question. And what can we help you with?

    CHARLIE: Yes, ma’am. I was draining my water heater and all the lime sediment at the bottom of the water heater, as I was draining it, the drain plugged up; clogged up due to all the lime. And I was wondering how can I get all the lime out of my water heater?

    TOM: Well, that’s interesting. Hmm.

    LESLIE: You can – is the – does the drain pipe sort of extend out? If you were to fill, say, a Tupperware bucket or a plastic thing with CLR, could you then submerse that drainpipe into that bucket?

    TOM: You know what? I bet you there’s chunks of it on the drain side of this that’s probably washing up in there. Have you tried to let in sort of a blast of cold water and then, you know, turn the water heater back off again and open up the drain to see if you can flush it out that way?

    CHARLIE: No, I haven’t done that, sir.

    TOM: That’s one thing you might want to try. I would let in some more water and then, you know, close the drain, let in some water, try to open it up again. See if you can free it loose that way. If that doesn’t work, you might want to go from the outside with the drain open and use a pipe cleaner to stick it up in there and see if you can knock those chips loose. Because I know exactly what you’re saying. Some lime has broken off and washed over down to the drain and probably clogged it. Problem is that you can’t get to the inside of a water heater to use something like a CLR product on that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: So you have to try to sort of force it out of there.

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

    Up next, house flipping. It’s become almost a hobby for some people. That’s when you buy a house for the sole purpose of remodeling it and selling it. Is flipping a house the right thing for you to do? Is it right for this economic time? We’ll tell you, after this.

    (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.

    So, do you want a little Tom and Leslie to go? We’re just like that coffee cup you can bring in the car. You can download our hugely popular podcast at MoneyPit.com. You can even search our shows by topic or by date and you can download as many as you want for free. And all of this is at MoneyPit.com. And while you’re there you can click on Ask Tom and Leslie like Philip did in San Angelo, Texas.

    TOM: That’s right. Philip from San Angelo says, ‘My son and nephew – both college students with residential construction experience – are interested in purchasing fixer upper homes.’ And let me guess, Philip. They want you to finance them, right?

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: (chuckling) ‘They want to know what to look for and what to stay away from and if a real estate agent is needed in this operation?’

    Well, that’s a very good question. Let’s talk about – I think we should start by talking about the bones, Leslie, right? All the core, structural elements that have to be in good condition.

    LESLIE: Well, I guess it depends on how much work you want to do.

    TOM: Yeah, generally you’re looking for the worse house in the best neighborhood. I mean that’s the bottom line. And then from there, you want to look at the structure. What’s real important are the things that are very expensive to replace like major foundation problems, major termite damage – not a little bit of termite damage as that’s almost normal, but major termite damage. Also look at the age of the house. And on our website at MoneyPit.com there’s actually a guide to what goes wrong with homes throughout the ages. So if your house, for example, was built in the 30s, you would know to look for knob-and-tube wiring because that’s a very expensive thing to fix. And perhaps, if it was built a little bit later you might be interested to find out if it has steel plumbing that has rusted shut. You need to look at the core structure then the core mechanical systems. And a really good way to assess the whole thing in just about three hours is to hire a professional home inspector because …

    LESLIE: Yeah, because they’ll really talk you through it and tell you, ‘You know, this could be fixed. This can’t be fixed. I wouldn’t even bother.’

    TOM: Exactly. You know, in two to three hours and for maybe, you know, $300 to $400, you’re really going to find out what’s going on with that house. And this way you can kind of come up with a plan and decide whether or not it makes economic sense.

    LESLIE: Well, and also you’re given a tick list of everything that’s wrong with the house so you know, essentially, what you have to tackle if you decide to go with it.

    TOM: Now, you also asked about real estate agents. You’re wondering if you need one or not. Well that depends. You can do a home improvement purchase on your own if you’re familiar with buying homes. But you know what? A realtor could be worth their weight in gold because they can prevent you from making a very costly legal mistake.

    LESLIE: Well, and also if you’re not familiar with the neighborhood, you might be buying a fixer-upper in a neighborhood that’s not so great. And if you invest all that money you’re not really going to see a return on your investment. You might not even be able to sell it for quite some time. So they’re going to direct you to some good choices.

    TOM: And the realtor can also help you evaluate the potential future value of the home by looking at comparable sales in the area. So you put all that together and that’s how you make the decision.

    LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got one here from Harry in McFarland, Wisconsin. ‘We had a new home built and noticed water forming at the base of the cement floor in our garage whenever it rains; also, where the drywall meets where the area is wet in just one spot. We asked our builder and he said it was condensation. Took a garden hose; ran water up the roof for about 10 minutes but no water formed. He said he didn’t know where it was coming from. Now, four years later, the drywall tape is peeling and the drywall is dark. What do we do?’

    TOM: You know, I don’t think that’s a leak. Typically, in a garage, they only put one layer of spackle and drywall tape on it. And just from the normal expansion and contraction and the moisture, the tape will loosen up and peel off. I would simply tell you to peel off the loose tape, retape it, use the perforated tape – the fiberglass tape; looks sort of like a netting, respackle it and you should be good to go.

    LESLIE: And control that water around the garage. Put up gutters. Keep that water away. Grading. You’ll keep a dry garage.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. It’s a good hour, it’s a good idea and we’re just about out of time. But we want to tell you that coming up next week on the program, you’ve heard of Energy Star, right? Well, it’s one of the ways that Uncle Sam makes sure you’re getting the most energy efficient appliances possible. But did you know that there will soon be a similar rating system for plumbing fixtures? That’s right. It’s called Water Sense. It’s a new program from the EPA and we’re going to tell you all about it next week on the program.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2007 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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