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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)


    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement question. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. We can’t come to your house and do the project for you but we will help you; we’ll talk you through it. We’ll coach you through the project and make sure it gets done right the first time. Whether you’re going to do it yourself or direct it yourself by hiring somebody to help you, we’ll help make sure the job gets done right.

    Got a great show planned for you. First up, the countdown is on. In just a few days, broadcast television is totally going digital and if you don’t have a converter box or a newer television, that means no more TV for you. I’m also happy to announce that radio will remain the same. (Leslie chuckles) You’ll still be able to get this program but …

    LESLIE: Don’t need to buy anything different; it’s still going to work.

    TOM: … if buying a new TV is just not in your budget, no problem. We’ve got some great info on a trend that is growing these days: refurbished electronics. We’re going to tell you how to get a new TV on the cheap, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And while we’re on the subject of saving you money, how about saving some water as well? Because replacing an out-of-date toilet can do that and save up to $2,000 for you and your home. We’re going to tell you how, in just a little bit.

    TOM: And speaking of plumbing, have you ever run a load of laundry and had to start all over again because the stains didn’t budge? It is a waste of time, it’s a waste of water, it’s a waste of your energy dollars. We’ve got a free and easy solution to help get those stains out the first time you try.

    LESLIE: And speaking of ways to save you money, we are giving away a great prize this hour from our friends over at Trane.

    TOM: It’s a programmable thermostat that will help keep those heating bills in check. Worth 250 bucks; going to go to one caller that reaches us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with their home improvement question. 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Joanne in California has a question about a water heater. What can we do for you, Joanne?

    JOANNE: Well, I’d like to know if you’re supposed to drain your water heaters?

    TOM: Not necessarily, unless you have particularly hard water. Sometimes if you get mineral deposits that build up in the bottom of the water heater, they can actually act as an insulator and it will cost you a little bit more in your energy dollars to actually heat the water, Joanne. But unless you sense that that’s the kind of water that you have in the house …

    JOANNE: We do. We have hard water.

    TOM: Oh, you do? OK. Well, in that case, you know, draining a bit of water out once in a while is not a bad idea but you also might want to think about installing a water softener. We have, actually, a sponsor that makes one called EasyWater that works very well because you don’t need to be a plumber to install it. It basically will take the charge out of the hard water so that it doesn’t stick to each other anymore; doesn’t clog up your systems. So you might want to take a look at EasyWater.com.

    LESLIE: Tom in North Carolina needs some help updating a bathroom and getting rid of some, I guess, pretty hideous, pink tiles. Tell us about it, Tom.

    TOM IN NORTH CAROLINA: Yes. I recently purchased an older home and most of it was updated but it still has the pink tile in the main bathroom and I …

    TOM: You just can’t stand that pink, huh, Tom?

    TOM IN NORTH CAROLINA: No, I’m afraid not. (Tom chuckles) Is there anything I can do to update it, short of ripping the walls out and starting all over?

    LESLIE: Would you recommend, Tom, putting tile over the existing tile or do you think that’s just not a good …

    TOM: No, you could. You can tile on top of the old tile if you don’t want to do the tear-out but it’s a big job. But listen – and I know that we’re probably not going to be able to convince you of this, Tom, but sometimes – when was this tile installed? Is it a really old house?


    TOM: The tile is probably well installed. It may even be mud walls. Are they – is it a fairly thick tile coating?

    TOM IN NORTH CAROLINA: Yes, it is.

    TOM: You know, I’ve got to tell you – and you’re going to hate to hear this – but I would really think about some inventive ways to decorate around that color. You know, you could just change the – you could do something on the floor; you could put laminate flooring down on top of whatever tile floor is there.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you can go with like a wood-look laminate or even a bamboo-look laminate, just to warm up the space and sort of …

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: … you know, contrast to that pink and make it actually work.

    TOM: And if you don’t care what it looks like, give some thought to how you can decorate it in the meanwhile. What you might want to do is, you know, pick up some different colors of paint; go ahead and experiment with some paint colors. You know, if you don’t care the way it looks like while this process is going on, pick up some laminate flooring boards, lay those down to the base – you know, use your imagination. I really think that there’s a way to make this work.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if your bathroom is well-ventilated, you can go with a vinyl wallpaper, like a wall covering and you can pick out something in like the beige/brown/gold tones; something neutral – something even in like a woven look that could work really nicely with the pink, because pink really warms up and looks super-friendly and attractive when you go with the browns and the golds.

    TOM IN NORTH CAROLINA: OK. We’ll try some wallpaper and laminate flooring.

    TOM: That’s right. It’ll match your bellbottom jeans too. (Leslie and Tom in North Carolina chuckle) Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, pick up the phone; let us know what you are working on. We’d love to give you a hand with that project; maybe help you make your to-do list and get all your supplies listed correctly, so when you head to the store you’re getting the things you need and not just those sparkly, shiny things which we know can be distracting, especially when in the form of power tools. (Tom chuckles)

    So pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re here for you.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Hey, have you been thinking about buying a brand new TV because everything is going digital now and your system is just not going to work anymore? Well …

    LESLIE: Speaking of sparkly, shiny things. (chuckles)

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Well, you can still treat yourself without breaking the bank. Up next, how to get a great deal on a refurbished television.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and we want you to be part of The Money Pit, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only are you going to get the answer to your home improvement situation – whatever it might be, we’re going to help you through it – but you also have a chance to win a great prize. In this hour, we are giving away a truly valuable one. We’ve got up for grabs the Trane XL800 programmable thermostat.

    Now, the thermostat is worth 250 bucks and with many programmable thermostats that are out on the market, they’re so difficult to program that people like you and myself – we just walk over to them and put them on hold, which totally defeats the purpose of a programmable thermostat.

    So, what’s great about this Trane one is that it’s super-easy to use and it puts your family’s comfort at your control. So we want you to win this great prize; it’s super-valuable, especially when you want to save some energy dollars.

    The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question and we’ll toss your name into The Money Pit hard hat and perhaps you’ll win the Trane XL800 programmable thermostat worth 250 bucks, which is going to save you money on your heating and cooling bills all year long.

    Well, speaking of saving money, bargain hunters take note. We’ve got some inside information on a growing trend: that is buying a refurbished gadget. You know, refurbished electronics – we’re talking about televisions, we’re taking about DVD players – they are not necessarily used. More likely, they are simply previously owned; usually, a return that’s been sent back to the factory for testing and repackaging.

    LESLIE: Now you can get a refurbished electronic item for up to 25 percent off and still get the full factory warranty to come with it. You know, websites like TigerDirect.com are reporting big chunks of their sales are actually from refurbished gadgets. So you want to check out your favorite retailer, too; especially those electronic superstores that are all over the place. You know, they’ve got a ton of inventory that they want to get out there, so ask them about those refurbished items and see if you can save a buck while getting a quality item.

    TOM: Want to save a buck on a home improvement project? Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll help you out.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Virginia in Texas is looking to get cozy by an electric fireplace. How can we help?

    VIRGINIA: Well, I just wondered if I needed special wiring or do they have to tear out a wall or do they just sit in here?

    TOM: Well, generally, the electric fireplaces are essentially an appliance that just gets plugged into your existing outlet structure. I will say, though, that some of the larger electric fireplaces have bigger burners on them. Some of them, you know, can deliver sort of like a space heater; you know, maybe 5,000 BTUs or something in that nature.

    VIRGINIA: Yeah.

    TOM: And in those cases – just like any large appliance, be it a space heater or a big vacuum cleaner – you may, in fact, plug it into an outlet that’s pulling from other areas of the house and end up tripping circuit breakers or blowing fuses. But short of that, you should just be able to plug it in.

    VIRGINIA: Oh, that sounds real good. (clears throat) Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Mark in Hawaii needs some help with a roofing project. What’s the matter, Mark? You don’t want to look up at the beautiful sunshine?

    MARK: (chuckles) Well, I just don’t want that liquid sunshine to come through my roof. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)

    LESLIE: Well, tell us what’s going on.

    MARK: Well, I bought the house maybe 10 years ago and I don’t know when the last time the composite shingles were replaced. They look like they’re about maybe three layers thick already and I’m wondering – is there any telltale signs of when you should change the shingles and how many times can you overlay them before you have to strip them all the way down to bare wood?

    TOM: Sure. Now, as a roofing shingle starts to wear, it dries up and the asphalt that’s in the shingle evaporates; the oils evaporate. What happens then, Mark, is the shingles start to curl and crack or they may just crack, depending on how old the shingles – the newer ones tend to just sort of fracture.

    So, an easier way to do this is with a pair of binoculars. If you look carefully at the roof surface and you see some curling and deterioration or if you want to put a ladder up against the roof edge, that sometimes help because you can look straight down on it. When you see that sort of alligatoring and that cracking and that curling in the shingle, then it’s time to start thinking about replacing the roof.

    Now, in terms of the layers, if you in fact do have three layers, I would not put a fourth one on. I would strip it all the way down to the original roof and just have a single layer. If you happen to have just one layer, you could put a second layer on but keep in mind that when you have multiple layers of roof, the newest layer doesn’t tend to last as long as if it was just a single layer. And the reason for that, Mark, is because the first layer holds a lot of heat and that will accelerate the deterioration of the new layer.

    So, that’s what you want to do. Look for curling, look for cracking and if you’ve got to replace it and you’ve got three roofs, pull it off and start from scratch.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, if you’ve got a question about a tankless water heater, you might be like our friend Gene in Texas, who’s dealing with an issue. What can we help you with?

    GENE: Hey. I just bought a house and there’s a Bosch tankless water heater. It was installed about two years ago and I get in the shower and turn the water on all the way on hot, it’ll determine the shower. It’ll go from hot to cold, hot to cold; sometimes stays on there for a minute, sometimes it doesn’t. Just curious. What could be the problem with that?

    TOM: Very unusual situation. I will tell you that there – the most common defect with tankless water heaters is improper installation. If the gas line is undersized that the burners can’t get enough gas to actually do what they’re supposed to do, that condition can happen. I would suggest that you reach back out to the manufacturer, that you carefully examine the installation – especially the size of the gas line – because while a standard tank water heater typically uses a three-quarter-inch gas line, a tankless water heater usually uses a bigger one than that and sometimes the plumbers don’t install the right line. As a result, you don’t get enough gas to the burners; can’t do its job.

    You see, tankless water heaters use less gas but they require a bigger volume of it for a shorter period of time, Gene.

    GENE: Ah, OK. OK. Well, that’s something to check on then. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright, give it a shot. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to help Jackie tackle a mysterious odor in the bathroom and I promise you, it’s not coming from where you think. (Tom chuckles) Jackie, welcome.

    JACKIE: Hi. Hey, this is really a mystery and I’m glad you’re answering our call because my daughter – who’s not on the line with me – but she has had this same problem at her house.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    JACKIE: It started at my house, originally, where I have this strange odor coming from the sink. I’ve finally identified it was from the sink and it smells kind of moldy and I put a HEPA filter in the room – big, you know, clean room-type HEPA filter – my husband is into surplus – and that didn’t help. I put a little Clorox down the drain and I think it must have helped because I haven’t noticed it since but then she had the same thing in her bathroom. Hers is a little more complicated.

    TOM: Actually, it’s called bio-film and what happens is …

    JACKIE: Oh, I see.

    TOM: … you get a growth on the inside of the pipes; it has an odor associated with it.

    JACKIE: Yep.

    TOM: And what you need to do is use a mildicide and you need to actually sort of remove the drain or pull out the stopper – and maybe with something that’s like a bottle brush, you’ve got to sort of scrub the inside of the trap because the bio-film pretty much grows on the inside of the pipes and this will happen with showers and sinks. And it does make it stink really bad.

    JACKIE: Oh, it’s horrible.

    TOM: Yeah, (Leslie chuckles) well that will straighten it up.

    JACKIE: Oh, great.

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

    LESLIE: Patrick in California has a heating question. What can we help you with?

    PATRICK: The question that I have is – I live in Huntington Beach, California and – down by the beach – and I’m getting ready to put in a new bathroom and pull all the flooring out and I want to put in a heating system that’s sub-tile.

    TOM: OK.

    PATRICK: And once all the tile is out, I just have a wood surface and my understanding is that the actual heating pad is somehow tacked onto the floor and then it’s floated with like a thinset to keep it in place. Is that true?

    TOM: Are you going to use the electric, radiant heat panels?

    PATRICK: Yes, sir, the electric radiant.

    TOM: Or do you want to use the hot water system?

    PATRICK: No, it just – number one, we don’t have basements in Southern California, as you know …

    TOM: Right.

    PATRICK: … and I just wouldn’t have a space for it and it’s just this one small area; it’s going to end up being about 4 foot by 6 foot total; so 24 square feet.

    TOM: Alright. Well, then, you can apply the radiant floor panels right to the sub-floor and then …


    TOM: … you could put a mortar bed on top of that. That’s the best way to do that.

    PATRICK: OK. One last question – when I ordered it, they had suggested I get a secondary alarm to tell if there are any breaks or any cuts or any kind of defects in the system. Would you recommend installing that or is that just a waste of time, having a secondary …?

    TOM: Well, that sounds to me like a continuity tester and you would test it …

    PATRICK: Correct.

    TOM: You would test that before you put the mortar down. So, after the mortar is down, if you have a break in the system, how does that help you?

    LESLIE: It’s going to be hard to repair it.

    TOM: Yeah. How does that help you? You’d end up tearing up the floor anyway.

    PATRICK: Yeah. I guess you’ve got a point there. So it’s really – it’s overdoing it then, putting that in there.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Sounds like it’s a bit overkill. If you put it down before you put the mortar down, you test the continuity so you know there’s no …

    PATRICK: Right.

    TOM: … breaks in that and everything is working fine …

    PATRICK: Right.

    TOM: Then, I think you just go with it from there.

    PATRICK: OK. That’s excellent. I’m glad I learned what I needed to know and I’m ready to go do it now.

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

    LESLIE: Enjoy those warm feet.

    Well, every home has got at least one of them. I’m talking about a bathroom with a toilet, folks. Well, if you want to save some money and if you want to save some water, you might want to think about getting a new toilet; especially if yours is more than ten years old. If it is, it’s probably using way more water than you actually need to. Up next, we’re going to tell you how to save almost 100 bucks a year by just replacing your toilet, so stick around.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer and add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information, visit ThermaTru.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, you want to save some money? Certainly you do and that’s the goal of a website where you can find my blog, WalletPop.com. Check out some ideas for saving money on everything from plumbing products to buying houses. Just go to WalletPop.com and search on my name, if you can spell it. (Leslie chuckles) And if not, just poke around. There’s a lot of great money-saving info there on WalletPop.com.

    LESLIE: Just remember sauerkraut. Kraut. (Tom and Leslie laugh) I’m like – wait, does that even remotely be spelled like the way …

    TOM: Oh, wait. I’m having a flashback to high school now, alright? (Leslie laughs) All the names I was called. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: Well, let’s quickly change the topic before Tom gives me a hard time with Segrete spaghetti.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Spaghetti. (Leslie and Tom chuckle)

    LESLIE: Alright, folks. If you’re thinking about saving money – and I know everybody truly wants to save money – there could be an item in your house that will allow you to not only save money but help save the environment by cutting down your water use in your entire home. Now, when you’re looking at your house, there’s one major plumbing component that can truly help you save money and we’re talking about your toilet.

    Now, they don’t wear out and they’re constructed with super-tough materials and all of the moving parts in the toilet itself – they’re pretty easy to fix. But it might be a good idea to replace your toilet if the one you’ve got in your bath at home right now was installed before 1994, because there have been super-huge advancements in high-efficiency toilets in very recent years. And these high-efficiency toilets, they work better than the first generation of low-flow toilets that a lot of you – as soon as you hear high-efficiency, you think, ‘Low-flow. Don’t want it.’

    But according to the EPA, a family of four that replaces an older toilet with a modern, high-efficiency model stands to save an average of 90 bucks a year and that’s two grand over the lifetime of the toilet.

    TOM: You know, even better, many local utilities have incentive programs right now that are like rebates or vouchers that will help you make this money-saving investment even more valuable. There’s a great website run by the EPA; the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Program. It’s the WaterSense website at EPA.gov/WaterSense; because saving water does actually make sense.

    And so does calling The Money Pit at 888-666-3974 where we help you make your good home better. Let’s get back to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Joyce in Hawaii has a question about windows. What’s going on?

    JOYCE: Well, we have two picture windows here that are thermal pane and we’ve had moisture seep in between them. And we’ve been told we have to replace the entire window, so I want to get a second opinion.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, that’s true. There’s no – there is no way, Joyce, to repair a failed, thermal pane seal. However, having said that, understand that the only thing that’s really bad about this is cosmetic because it’ll look foggy depending on the difference in temperature between the outside and the inside. So if you don’t mind that, you don’t have to run out and replace this right away.

    JOYCE: Oh, I do. It looks like my window is dirty.

    TOM: It looks – aw and that’s – and you’re just not going to put up with that living in paradise now are you, Joyce? (Tom chuckles)

    JOYCE: No, I’m not. I know people walk in and they say, ‘What?’ (chuckling)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) (overlapping voices) It’s messing up the view.

    JOYCE: Right.

    TOM: Well, you’re getting the right scoop, Joyce. When a thermal pane window fails, there’s a seal around it; it’s called swiggle.

    JOYCE: OK.

    TOM: It’s usually a black seal in between two panes of glass and that’s installed at the time of manufacture. It’s done under suction and there are usually different types of gases inside thermal pane windows …

    JOYCE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: … either argon or krypton gas that add an insulation quality to it. And when that seal goes, there’s no way to repair it. That panel does have to be replaced.

    JOYCE: Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Mike in Minnesota is dealing with a foundation problem with a very old home. Tell us about it.

    MIKE: Well, I go down in the basement and I can see it, oh, probably on a multi-basis (ph). It’s starting to fall apart; just deteriorate.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: I have to take my fingers and scratch at it and it falls apart. Now, the house is 96 years old.

    TOM: Hey, are we talking about a brick foundation here, Mike? I know you’re – are you talking about the mortar?

    MIKE: It’s the – no, it’s actually concrete and rock.

    TOM: OK. And are we talking about the mortar between it that’s sort of deteriorating?

    MIKE: Well, the whole thing is just deteriorating.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: Not just the mortar itself. I mean it’s a concrete foundation but chunks of rock; you know, I’m talking baseball-size rock.

    LESLIE: Is it like a deep chunk or is it just like a surface – sort of like a fascia peeling off?

    MIKE: Well, it’s – the surface is starting out to come off and I mean I can just dig at it and it’ll fall off and I’ve tried (Leslie chuckles) to kind of dig at it and I’m trying to find a way to patch it. Is there a product – well, just to patch it, yeah.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Mike, stop picking your foundation apart, OK? (Leslie and Tom chuckle)

    LESLIE: First step. Stop picking at it.

    MIKE: (chuckling) Yeah. I’m trying to get to the dirt, darn it. (Leslie laughs)

    TOM: Well, I – if you keep doing that, you will. (Tom laughs)

    MIKE: Yeah. But I’m also having a problem with moisture coming through.

    TOM: Alright. Well, listen, Mike, the reason you’re having this problem is because of the moisture.

    LESLIE: Is the moisture.

    MIKE: Right.

    TOM: You may be deteriorating the foundation; you might be actually witnessing mineral salt deposits, which will be …

    LESLIE: Well, there are two reasons. The moisture and your fingers.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. (Leslie and Mike chuckle) But you may be seeing mineral salt deposits that are left over when the water evaporates; and so, let’s address the moisture issue first. We want to make sure that you have a gutter system; that it’s clean and free-flowing and extending the water well away from the foundation – four to six feet is recommended.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you don’t want your downspouts to just deposit the water right by the foundation. Second, you want to look at the grading around the entire perimeter of the foundation. You want to make sure that the soil isn’t sloping towards the foundation; you want it to slope away. And you need it to sort of go down about six inches over four feet; so it’s not drastic but it’s enough to move that water away from the foundation.

    TOM: Now, once you’ve achieved those two things, I’d like you to monitor this foundation and see if it still appears to leak. If you can remove any of the loose mortar that’s on the surface, you could probably apply an epoxy patching compound to the inside surface here and give yourself a clean place to start. But I wouldn’t apply anything to the inside unless we know we have the moisture under control.

    LESLIE: Alright, well, being a new mom, you guys, I find that I am constantly doing laundry; mostly because Henry just generates a lot of dirty clothing but also because some of the things that he makes those stains with, you know, doesn’t always come out the first time. So if you find yourself doing a load of wash just because you can’t get those stains out the first time, when we come back we’re going to share with you some inexpensive, even free tips, to help you get the wash done right the first time.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and ask your home improvement or repair question on the air. It’s all about saving money these days; there’s so little of it to go around with this economy. Hey, one way to do that is with a programmable thermostat. It’ll keep your home warm or cool only when you need it and we’re giving one away this hour on the program. We’ve got the Trane XL800 deluxe programmable thermostat, which I love because it is super-easy to use and it’s going to save you a ton of cold, hard cash.

    It’s worth 250 bucks but if you want to win it, pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now, while we’re on the topic of saving you cash, I want to talk about laundry and not having to do it over and over and over again because when you pull it out of the wash, the stain is still somehow miraculously there. You can tell I’ve been dealing with this a lot lately. I used to be the laundry pro; now, for some reason, every time I pull out the laundry, those little onesies are still stained.

    So when it comes to doing your wash, we want to make sure that you attack those stains first, so you don’t have to rewash the clothes. We’re going to tell you how to get it right the first time.

    Now, the best solution is to presoak those clothes with the stubborn stains. Now, many of your washing machines are going to have a presoak option. If yours doesn’t, just keep the lid open for 15 to 30 minutes after the water fills up and I swear to you, presoaking – it is definitely going to give you a head start on that stain removal; it truly does the trick. And I always used to wonder why sometimes when I would set up the washer and I accidentally stepped away with the top still open, the clothes always came out nicer; well, there you have it. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) It was a happy accident.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Much like my third child. (Leslie laughs) This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Call us right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now, we’re going to chat with Beverly in South Carolina who has a question about the bathtub. What can we do for you?

    BEVERLY: Well, thank you for taking my call. It’s a pleasure to talk to you and I really enjoy your show.

    TOM: Thank you, Beverly. How can we help?

    BEVERLY: I would like to know how you – what is the best way to remove old caulking without scratching the chrome on the outside of it.

    TOM: Well, if it’s real old caulk, what you might want to use is something that’s called a caulk softener. Think of it sort of like a paint remover but not quite as caustic. It’s available at hardware stores and home centers and it essentially – it makes the old, crusty caulk very easy to remove.

    BEVERLY: OK. And it has leaked at the corner and I have damage to the sheetrock, like a finger hole in it where I touched it.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    BEVERLY: And I understand there is a way to fix that?

    LESLIE: In the area where the drywall has sort of – has this damaged area, is it affected by water? Do you find that when you’re showering or bathing, the water gets onto that drywall?

    BEVERLY: Well, it has and I had caulked over it but I want to do some recaulking.

    TOM: Alright, what you want to do is – once you get all the old caulk out of there and you’re sure that that drywall area is real nice and dry, probably the easiest thing to do is to use some perforated drywall tape. It kind of looks like a bit like – sort of like a netting and it’s sticky. And if it’s just a small hole, you can cover it with that; if it’s a larger one, you can get a piece of drywall patch material that kind of looks more like a flat piece of metal with holes in it and that can actually be applied with spackle right over that hole.

    You basically need to get that hole covered and then go ahead and put a couple of coats of spackle over that, sand it very nicely, prime and paint the area and then – and only then, after you’re all done – put your final coat of caulk back on there and you’ll be good to go.

    Well, with the cost of energy pretty much down this winter, there’s never been a better time to keep up that trend and insulate your house to save even more money. The question is: how do you do that? What kind of insulation do you need? Where do you place it? How do you get the most for that home improvement advancement? We’re going to tell you, next.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we know you listen very intently to The Money Pit for every vital piece of information that we give you, to give you a hand with your home improvement projects but what …

    TOM: At least we delude ourselves into thinking we do.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) That’s what we tell ourselves, anyway. But what happens when you are so glued to the radio that you just miss something running for your pen and paper? So if you’ve ever missed something that you wish you caught or you need the name of that product we recommended again, no problem; just head over to our great website, MoneyPit.com. You can search over a year’s worth of transcripts by date and by topic. All the information is free; it will save you a ton of time and a ton of money. We will get you the right information, instantly, at your fingertips. Go to MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: And while you’re there, head over to Ask Tom and Leslie and send us an e-mail question, just like Kevin did in New Jersey who says: ‘I’m trying to find out the easiest way to insulate between the floor joists and how I can best reduce moisture in that space.’

    So, in terms of the insulation, certainly the easiest way to do that in the floor joist is with unfaced fiberglass batts. I would use fiberglass that is as thick as the floor joists are deep and support those with the insulation hangers, which sort of look like pieces of wire that you stretch in between …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … the floor joists and it holds it up quite nicely. Don’t forget the boxed joist area either, Kevin. That’s that outside band that goes all the way around the perimeter. In terms of moisture, go back to basics on that. Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. You want to work from the outside in. You want to look at the gutter situation on your house. You want to make sure – number one – that you’ve got gutters; that they’re all in proper working order.

    Make sure your downspouts are free-flowing; get them snaked if they’re clogged and then look at where your downspouts deposit water. You don’t want them dumping all that water from the roof right onto your foundation. You want to sort of scoot it away from the house – you know, three feet, six feet – bury it and get it all the way out in the yard; whatever you can do, just move it away from your foundation.

    And look at the grading; you want to make sure that the soil around your foundation slopes away from your house. You’re looking at about six inches over four feet so it’s not drastic; you just want to make sure that water moves away. And if you do those things, you will keep that area nice and dry.

    Alright …

    TOM: Speaking of insulation, Manny in New Mexico says: ‘My home has very low attic space; about 30 inches at the highest point down to about 8 inches at the lowest. The soffits don’t have vents in them. Can I blow insulation all the way to the edge of the space where it’s the lowest height?’

    Only if you want to rot your roof out, Manny. You must have ventilation and if your soffits don’t, you can install something called a drip-edge vent, which essentially installs like a soffit at the outside edge of the roof. And after you do that, you could insulate but you can never block those soffit vents because if you do you’re going to trap moisture in the attic that will cause decay to the roof sheathing and it’ll saturate the attic insulation, which will make it very ineffective.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got one from Charles in West Virginia who writes: ‘I’ve built a gable roof over my front porch and would like to trim the lower portion with unvented, vinyl soffit material installed vertically. Now, this is a major job for an old electrician and I really want to do it right the first time. The question is: is windblown rain likely to get behind the vertical soffit material and, if so, how do I prevent it?’

    TOM: Siding guys out there are saying, ‘I wouldn’t try to wire an outlet. Don’t you try to install siding.’

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: I tell you what, Charles. You definitely do face a risk without putting something behind it but I would simply recommend that you use Tyvek or …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. House wrap.

    TOM: … another type of a vapor barrier or house wrap because that will seal out moisture, it will seal out air infiltration and allow you to put those panels right up on top and it’ll look great. And the good news is when you’re all done, there’ll be no maintenance to that.

    LESLIE: And Charles, no worries. If you’re a good electrician, I’m sure you’ll be great with siding; so enjoy the project.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that you’ve learned a couple of things to help take care of your money pit in the coming year. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Helping you build big dreams.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2009 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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