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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

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    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.)

    BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:

    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Time to pick up the power tools and get to work with your home improvement projects.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And Tom, more and more people are actually getting mobile with their tools. They’re getting tools without cords attached to them and it seems that the cordless power tool craze is here to stay. According to a new report, the power tool market is projected to surpass sales of $11 billion – that’s billion, with a ‘b’ – by 2010. Billion. You know like Austin Powers. (laughing) And trends include improved dust collection, laser products, ergonomic tools, lithium ion batteries and several tools that share the same battery source so there’s no more confusion as to what goes with what.

    TOM: And they’re also getting a lot cheaper for the average person to buy. So if you’re wondering which cordless tools are best, give us a call right now; we’ll talk you through that tool question. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: And as an extra bonus, when you call in to that number you get entered into the Money Pit hardhat if you ask your question on air. And if you want to keep all of those wonderful cordless tools safe, you want to keep them under lock and key. But you want to make sure that your nosy neighbors keep their mitts off the tools, too. So check out the cool new prize we’re giving away this hour. It’s a Knock N’Lock security system from E-lock. No key and no visible outside lock. It’s worth about 300 bucks. So give us a call now.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s go right to the phones.

    LESLIE: You dirty rat. Well, that’s what Turner in Montana is thinking. Turner, what’s going on? (chuckling) You’ve got a porch issue?

    TURNER: (laughing)

    LESLIE: Hey, even a snorter. Awesome.

    TOM: (laughing) It’s a dirty rotten deck. What’s going on?

    TURNER: Hey, listen. We just bought a place in Thompson Falls, northwestern Montana. Hundred-year-old place in gorgeous shape except for the deck.

    TOM: Okay.

    TURNER: And we’ve got this wraparound gorgeous porch. But the deck itself is falling apart. And I’ve got about 10 colonnades supporting the overhanging roof. And somehow, I’ve got to get the decking up – the old rotten decking up –

    TOM: Right.

    TURNER: – without having …

    TOM: The roof come down. Yeah.

    TURNER: … the roof collapse. And I just have no clue how to go about it.

    TOM: Well, the way you have to do it is you have to temporarily support the roof.

    TURNER: That’s what I was afraid you were going to say.

    TOM: (laughing) It’s not really that terrible.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but that’s not that hard.

    TOM: No, it’s not that hard to do. Basically, what you do is you build braces – usually out of like …

    LESLIE: Two-by-fours, I’ve seen.

    TOM: Yeah, a couple of 2x4s nailed together. And they go up under … kind of right around where the columns are.

    TURNER: You bet.

    TOM: And they’re usually at an …

    LESLIE: And would you run them back to the house?

    TOM: Well, you … no, you run them right to the ground. And you put a couple of boards flat on the ground and you make them longer.

    TURNER: To support them so they don’t slip out.

    TOM: Well, you make them longer than you need to and then you use a sledgehammer and you gently tap them in so they sort of pry up the roof a little bit …

    TURNER: Cool.

    TOM: And then you stake them up …

    TURNER: So how … how do you know how much to pry them up. I mean …

    TOM: Only enough to make the column loose.

    TURNER: Okay.

    TOM: Just the minimal amount.

    TURNER: So the column is not attached to the roof itself.

    TOM: No. Well, it’s probably tacked in place. But it’s not connected in such a way where you can’t loosen it up. And it’s definitely not going to be attached to the decking boards.

    TURNER: Okay.

    TOM: But once you get that column where it’s moving a little bit – perhaps with a saws awl (ph) you can … you can saw out the rest of the …

    TURNER: I have that.

    TOM: … the nails. And what I would suggest you do is – I mean you want to do it to all the columns – but as you complete one repair area, then drop the column back down again; remove the brace. Remember, you’re only picking up the roof just enough to take the pressure off. And you’ll be surprised how easily the roof picks up; it actually … will actually scare you. (chuckling) But you see … you see all these homes that … where the roofs are lifted off.

    TURNER: Right.

    TOM: You know, the wind … the wind is pretty strong when it does that but it doesn’t have to be terribly strong because they … they are not tied down in the sense that they would be, say, in an earthquake zone.

    TURNER: Well, I guarantee you I’m going to get some 2x4s and do it. And I had no clue how to proceed and I really, really appreciate your advice and I’m a little … I’m going to go do it.

    TOM: Slow and careful, that’s the name of the game. Alright, thanks Turner. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Chris in Ohio is up next. And you’ve got a stinky problem. Your basement is smelly. Tell us a little bit about it.

    CHRIS: Well, we just moved into this house and it’s got a musty basement. It’s actually a half basement. It’s got cinder block walls. And I guess in the spring we have quite a high water table because there’s a sump pump in the basement. And I was just wondering if there was a way – other than running a dehumidifier down there 24/7 – that we could have a more long-term solution for a musty smelling basement.

    LESLIE: Well, the reason why you’re finding that smell in your basement is because you do have a bit of a moisture problem down there. And it doesn’t always have to be contained within the house; there are a couple of things that you can do outside. Because what’s happening is you’re probably getting a large deposit of water around your foundation, which is then being wicked in through the concrete block walls and causing that musty smell. So what you can look at is look at your grading around your property. And make sure that the dirt all slopes away from the house. You want to make sure it goes down about six inches over four feet going away from your foundation. And that’ll do nicely to direct the water away.

    You also want to look at your gutters and your downspouts. You want to make sure that the gutters on the house are as clean as often as you can; otherwise, the water, when it gets in there, will just spill up and over and end up going right back into your foundation. And also, make sure that your downspouts are directed at least three feet away from the house. You don’t want anything being deposited right where it can get back in.

    TOM: Yeah. And Chris, besides the drainage issues on the outside, addressing the humidity on the inside could be something that you could do, not with a portable dehumidifier – which is, I think, what you’re afraid of; one that’s just down there and has to be dumped of water all the time. But if you have a hot air heating system, if you could incorporate the basement space into the duct system, perhaps by having a professional add a supply or a return duct down there, then you could use a whole home dehumidifier mounted, again, into the HVAC system. And what that will do is really dehumidify that space as well as the …

    LESLIE: And the rest of the house.

    TOM: Yeah, as well as the house. So …

    LESLIE: And you’ll be amazed at how much water it pulls out of your house on a day-to-day basis.

    CHRIS: That would actually be really easy because it’s a gas furnace that’s actually in the basement.

    TOM: Right. Just make sure have it professionally installed. Aprilaire makes a good whole home dehumidifier. You have it professionally installed and then extending those … the duct system into the basement is, again, something that has to be done by a pro because there could be some common mistakes that you might make if you do it yourself. For example, you don’t want to put a return duct too close to the furnace because it cause the gases from the furnace to be sucked into your house air and that would be a bad thing. So these are improvements that should be done by a professional but if they’re done right, I think you’re going to find that that basement becomes a much more usable space. It’s not going to smell and it’s going to be so dry, you’re going to be calling us back to ask about ways to finish that area off.

    CHRIS: Yeah, that’s definitely something that we want to do. But I think the first thing I need to do is gutters because there are not gutters on the house.

    TOM: Ah.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s the problem.

    TOM: That could be the entire problem, right there.

    CHRIS: That could be.

    TOM: Yeah, gutters are so important and they’re so inexpensive. Make sure, when you have them installed, that they extend those downspouts out like Leslie said. Because the installers typically like to go out all of like a foot or two and do a splash block. And if you’ve got a moisture issue …

    LESLIE: (overlapping) If that. Sometimes they just drop them right against the house.

    CHRIS: Right.

    TOM: Yeah, you’ve got to get them extended out. And you know what? If you could also look for ways to take those downspouts and drop them into, say, solid PVC pipe and route the water like around the property somewhere where you could …

    LESLIE: To your neighbor’s yard.

    TOM: Yeah, to your neighbor’s yard. That’s it. (laughing) Dump on your neighbor. (laughing) Okay?

    CHRIS: Alright. Great. Thank you.

    TOM: Just get it away from your house. Thanks so much for calling us 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, do you have a wet basement? Are you wondering exactly how much paint you’ll need to paint a room? Well, whatever your home repair or home improvement question, the answer is at your fingertips 24/7 at www.moneypit.com. Now you can search everything we’ve ever written about fixing up your money pit. And you can sign up for our free home improvement e-newsletter. It’s all at www.moneypit.com. So don’t forget that web address.

    TOM: Lots of trend stories, too, on moneypit.com. And speaking of trends, you know the newest trend in home ownership? It’s a second home. Last year, nearly half a million people became owners of a second home. Can be a great investment if you do it right. We’ll tell you what you need to know, next.

    (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: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You know, it’s so cold right now, you might be thinking it might be nice to escape to a warmer location; perhaps a place …

    LESLIE: Oh, I’ve got a beach on the mind.

    TOM: Exactly. Perhaps a place that you have a vacation home. You know, there are half a million Americans that bought a second home, last year. Most say that they purchased their home as a true vacation home; not a future place to retire. And it can be a smart investment. But it has to fit your lifestyle, too. If you’re going to be renting it out a lot, know all the maintenance details. There’s nothing worse than getting a call about the fact that the water heater is leaking when you’re like a thousand miles away. Kind of hard to shoot over there and take care of that (inaudible).

    LESLIE: And fix it yourself.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Now, in most areas of the country, you’ll need to keep it rented for approximately 17 weeks during the peak season to stay in the black. So consider how long the peak season is and how much of that’s going to be eaten up by that 17 weeks and whether or not you can actually keep it rented. Otherwise, it’s going to be costing you money. Now if it’s a vacation home for yourself, congratulations; invite Leslie and I to join you please.

    LESLIE: (laughing) We’ll fix something; we promise.

    TOM: We will. We will. We earn … we work for our …

    LESLIE: We’ll even paint; everyone’s most hated chore. We’ll do it.

    TOM: (laughing) Exactly. So if it’s a vacation home for yourself, spend time in the area. It’s a good idea to go there, rent first; you know, get to know the area keeping in mind that you might want to live there one day. This way, you won’t be giving your second home any second thoughts.

    LESLIE: Well, speaking of vacation homes – coming up in next week’s e-newsletter, vacation home hotspots. We’ll tell you the top three locations to get the biggest return on your investment when purchasing a home away from home. So to sign up for our free e-newsletter, go to moneypit.com; you can do that there.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, and you’re going to be surprised where these hotspots actually are; they’re not the places that you might think.

    LESLIE: Ooh, I’m all curious and excited.

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to go away on vacation, it’s also a good idea to secure your house. And this hour we’re giving away the Knock N’Lock from E-lock. It’s worth 290 bucks. It’s a total security system for your house. Enables you to lock your door without having any handle on the outside. Worth 290 bucks. Going to give it away to one caller, this hour, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Jean in California listens to The Money Pit on KVML and you’ve got some water issues. What’s going on?

    JEAN: Well, I’ve got a closet – a cedar floored closet – that seems to be oozing water.

    TOM: Okay.

    JEAN: And what we’ve checked, so far, is we’ve kind of … in fact, today, we were able to pull up … there’s a trap door in that floor. We haven’t been able to get it out until today. Today, we finally got the thing out and my husband looked underneath. And it looks like the joists are wet but the ground is not. There’s a crawl space underneath there.

    TOM: Hmm.

    LESLIE: What is that crawl space like?

    JEAN: Crawl space is just dirt and it’s dry. It’s down about … oh, I’d say, 18 inches from the floor.

    TOM: The water that’s on this floor of this closet … if the crawl space is dry, I’m thinking it’s sounding like it’s not condensation. That water is probably coming from somewhere above and just leaking down the wall and then maybe exiting out onto the floor. Water can travel quite a distance without showing it’s ugly head, sometimes. So you may need to be … start at the top and look down; as opposed to start at the bottom and look up. Is it a steady stream of water?

    JEAN: The outside … there’s an eave portion. Again, my husband got up there and took a look at that. Instead of putting the facing or the fascia (ph) – whatever they call that –

    TOM: Right.

    JEAN: – underneath the shingles …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: The flashing.

    JEAN: The flashing? Okay, they put it on top of the shingles.

    TOM: Oh, that’s odd.

    JEAN: Yes, that’s very … this house has a lot of odd things. But anyway, he went up there and beaded (ph) that off to kind of seal it. But we still have the problem with the water inside. So what we’re wondering is if, maybe, the water’s already gotten in there and maybe it’s something in the wall and what do we do about it if that’s the case.

    TOM: Well, if you’ve stopped the leak – if, perhaps, it was originating from the flashing problem and you’ve stopped that – that’s going to dry out. I mean it’s not going to continue. And the fact that the wall was wet once – even if it was soaked once and dries out – is not likely to give you any kind of ongoing problems.

    JEAN: Okay, question. If there is insulation in it that got all wet …

    TOM: Right.

    JEAN: … is that going to dry out also?

    TOM: Yes, it will eventually all dry out. And insulation is not organic so I’m not so concerned about moisture being trapped in there. Hey, look, it’s not great and in a perfect world, we’d open the wall up and replace it. But I’m not going to get too worked up about one wall that got wet and then dried out again. It’s probably going to be just fine for you.

    LESLIE: Do you think Jean should put a fan in the room to sort of help things circulate and just dry out a little bit faster?

    TOM: I wouldn’t … I wouldn’t …. I wouldn’t mind you leaving the door open and making sure there’s a lot of air … sometimes closets tend to get very stale.

    JEAN: Well, I’ve pulled everything out of there and right now I’ve got a ceiling fan in the room that I tend to have on. And I also put a small space heater fan on the floor because the floor was getting that wet that it was beginning … the wood was beginning to warp and I didn’t …

    TOM: Well, let’s make sure we’ve dealt with the leak. The first thing you need to do is nail that leak down. And has it been repaired long enough where you can rule out any kind of roof leak above and it’s still wet?

    JEAN: He did the roof, probably, about a week or so ago.

    TOM: Okay, not enough time.

    LESLIE: And it doesn’t seem like it’s dried out at all?

    JEAN: I, finally – with the fan and the heater in the closet – got the water to dry up. But then, within a day or two, it’s moist again.

    TOM: Hmm.

    JEAN: So it seems like if there is water in the wall, it hasn’t gone away; it’s still there.

    TOM: Is there any plumbing above or to the side of the closet?

    JEAN: No, there’s no plumbing in that area at all.

    TOM: Well, it’s got to be coming in somewhere. It’s got to be coming into the roof …

    LESLIE: I mean, maybe, with the shingles – the way they’re layered over each other and then with the flashing on top of it – maybe there’s still an area where moisture is running down those shingles and slipping right underneath the flashing.

    TOM: Well, have you had a lot of rains this week?

    JEAN: Not that much. We’ve had rains before but since he’s actually put that beading (ph) up there, we haven’t. But we had a lot of moisture in the last couple of years.

    TOM: Well, it might still be drying out. I’ll tell you what. I’d give it another week or two and see what happens. Because it’s … it sounds, to me, like it’s probably coming from above. And the fact that it’s on the floor is just gravity doing it’s work. I can’t imagine it’s coming anywhere else if you’re not … if you have no plumbing that’s around it, no pipes that could be leaking, and the only source could really be a roof penetration … you spotted some bad flashing up there, you’re trying to address that. That’s probably the issue. And I would give it another week or two to dry out and then keep an eye out and see what happens.

    JEAN: Okay. If it doesn’t dry out within a week or two, what would be my next recourse?

    TOM: Well, then you might have to start opening things up and looking more carefully at where the water’s coming from. But I’d like to see if you can avoid that, if at possible.

    JEAN: That’s what I would like to avoid, too. That’s why (laughing) …

    TOM: Okay. Sometimes it takes a little patience to really nail these things down.

    JEAN: Okay. Is it a good idea to keep that heater going in that room now?

    TOM: Not … not all the time. I think, at this point, just leave the door open. Yeah. Okay?

    JEAN: Okay.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You know, sometimes Leslie, tracking down the source of a leak like that is a little tricky operation.

    LESLIE: Well, and it seems like it doesn’t come from exactly where you think it might be coming from.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: So it’s a little Sherlock Holmes mystery for them.

    TOM: Can zigzag it’s way over and deposit in the most unlikely of places. So you’ve got to be persistent and you’ve got to be patient; but, hopefully, we have helped Jean get to the bottom of that do-it-yourself dilemma.

    LESLIE: Bob in West Virginia has a question about pressure treated lumber. Can you use them to burn in a wood stove? Bob, that’s a good question. What are you thinking about?

    BOB: Well, I’ll tell you what. In working on the deck, I’ve got a lot of salt-treated lumber left over. And I have a wood stove in my garage. But I’m concerned about the pollutant in the air and, also, I know it’s not good for your skin. And I’m just wondering if breathing the smoke from pressure treated lumber can harm your lungs or whatever.

    TOM: It absolutely can; it’s very toxic and you never, ever want to burn pressure treated lumber. Not only if that smoke wafts down and gets into the breathing space can it be injurious to you or to your family or anyone else that’s around it; the other thing is that when you burn that salt-treated lumber, guess how corrosive those gases are to your wood stove itself. Can really cause a lot of rust inside the appliance.

    So for all those reasons, it’s a really bad idea to burn pressure treated lumber. It’s something you never, ever want to do. You’re always best to burn hardwood when possible. And I know, having a wood shop myself, that a lot of times we burn soft wood. But I never, ever burn pressure treated lumber; it always goes right in the trash.

    BOB: Okay. Well, thank you. I … that’s what I needed to know.

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

    LESLIE: Replacement windows are one of the smartest home improvements you can make. Now the federal government is even offering some tax breaks on energy efficient replacement windows. How do you know if they’re efficient? We’ll tell you what to look for, right after this.

    (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: Leaks, squeaks. No matter what your home improvement question, call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: So we could actually get some money back on our taxes with the right windows?

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s crazy. Not only do they want you to save money on your energy bills; they’ll give you money to do it. The federal government is now offering a $200 tax credit on energy efficient replacement windows. So to …

    TOM: It’s kind of like a bribe.

    LESLIE: I know, really. They’re like, ‘Come on. Improve your house. We’ll give you the dough.’

    TOM: ‘We’ll give you some money.’

    LESLIE: But it’s smart; it’s a good incentive. So to make sure that your replacement windows fit the bill, be sure you get the optional low-e glass. It’s a special coating that reflects UV rays away. And this prevents sun damage to rugs and window treatments and it will also increase the window’s energy efficiency. So smart move to put some cash back in your pocket.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Don in Indiana has a question about a sagging floor. What can we do for you?

    DON: Well, I’ve got a kitchen floor that’s sagging in the middle.

    TOM: Okay.

    DON: And …

    LESLIE: What is your flooring, already?

    DON: Well, it’s got just stick on tile. And I’ve got a basement under it.

    TOM: So it’s a wood floor.

    DON: Right.

    TOM: And is the basement ceiling finished, or not?

    DON: Yes, it’s all finished.

    TOM: Ah. Okay. Well, that makes it complicated.

    DON: Is there something that you can put on there to level that floor up before I put some kind of subfloor on there or something? Because I’d like to put some regular tile on there.

    TOM: Some ceramic tile?

    LESLIE: Well, if it’s sagging, does that mean that perhaps that there’s a joist issue and the subfloor is being … is being forced to sag because the joist isn’t supporting it? Or do you think there’s something with the integrity of just the subfloor?

    TOM: Well, if the …

    DON: Well, the house is about 35 years old, 40 years old. And it’s not sagging in the basement – that you can see.

    TOM: Right.

    DON: You know. So …

    TOM: I’ll tell you what it probably is. It’s probably a sag or a reverse crowned floor joist. The first thing you need to determine is whether or not the floor is really sagging like in a big way or, perhaps, the floor joist next to that is higher than the one that seems to be sagging. Because you could also have a crowned floor. Sometimes, when you have one floor joist that’s high, one floor joist that’s crowned the other way – no, it’s curved; every beam is slightly curved and it’s called crowned. And in a perfect world …

    LESLIE: Right. But, generally, you’re supposed to make them all crown the same way.

    TOM: Exactly. The framer’s are supposed to crown each board and put it pointed up but they don’t often do that. However, I think the solution, here, is going to be in the kind of floor you want to put in. You said you want to put a tile floor in. Well, I don’t know what you think, Leslie, but I think if he put a mud floor in he could straighten out all these problems.

    LESLIE: Well, yeah, the mud floor will provide a …

    TOM: Structure.

    LESLIE: … level and stable structure as your subfloor.

    TOM: Yeah, and you just use a little bit more mud in the areas that are … that are … seem to be sagging. And it’ll give you additional structure and it’ll look great. The only tricky part about this, Don, is … you mentioned it’s in the kitchen. You have to really watch the appliances – especially the dishwasher – because a mud floor is pretty thick. You’re going to probably need at least three-quarters of an inch to an inch of floor there. And so, what you might need to do is pull the dishwasher out while this is being done …

    LESLIE: Any appliances that are sort of built in or trapped into a space – like the dishwasher – where it could become wedged in if you do raise that floor up.

    TOM: Otherwise, you’ll not be able to get it out. You follow us?

    DON: Right. Is this mud floor … what kind of mud are you talking?

    TOM: Well, it’s a lightweight concrete floor. It’s a standard way … it’s the way they always used to put tile down before we started putting it on top of plywood. It’s basically a cement floor.

    LESLIE: Would you use like a Quikrete? Like one of those?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a … well, it’s a special … it’s a special mud that the tile … tiles guys use it. It has a nice viscosity to it so it can be leveled and troweled in place. And you put that down first – becomes a perfectly flat surface – and then you tile right on top of it.

    When you talk to the tile contractor, Don, just tell him that you’re interested in a mud job. They typically call that a mud job. And they’ll respect you as a man of quality (chuckling) because that’s the best way to do it, anyway.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s a top 10 Money Pit topic. Floors. And not only which floors are cool and pretty; but how to care for them. So if you like hardwood flooring, what do you do? And I know a lot of you, out there, love the look of hardwood flooring. And it’s really … it’s a good option if you want to add beauty and style to an outdated room. But caring for a hardwood floor is key to its appearance and it’s longevity. Coming up, we’ll tell you what not to do when you clean your hardwoods.

    (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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone. Go right now. We know there’s something in your house that needs fixing and we’re standing by to help you. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Yes, Leslie, you’re correct. It is a top 10 topic. One of the most popular topics we are asked about on this program is floors. Because floors are huge and floors take a lot of abuse and they need a lot of cleaning.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s true. And hardwood floors not only add beauty and value to your home but you have to know how to properly clean them so they’ll last the lifetime of your home. So you need to remember that wood and plain water just do not mix.

    When cleaning your hardwood floors, you want to use a warm water and five percent white vinegar solution. You’re going to make sure you wring the sponge or mop twice to avoid puddling of the solution so there’s no seepage of this water into the cracks. And for prefinished hardwood floors, clean and wax with products offered or recommended by the manufacturer so you don’t void any warranties. So make sure you read that warranty carefully, just in case something does happen. Either way, never slosh or over-saturate any hardwood surface and you’ll be happy with how it looks.

    TOM: Yes, sloshing is bad behavior. (laughing) You’ll be punished for sloshing.

    LESLIE: And it’s fun to say.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us right now if you have a question about your home improvement project. Not only will you get the answer but you’ll get a chance to win a pretty cool prize. It’s worth 290 bucks. It’s called the Knock N’Lock from E-lock. It’s basically a security system that’s mounted inside your door; so you really don’t need a lock on your door with this – it’s all internal and enables you to secure your door in a way that will absolutely baffle almost any burglar that tries to get in.

    LESLIE: Yeah, so I guess the clue is if you see some strange man knocking on your neighbor’s lockless door and they’re, you know (knocking). (laughing) If they’re trying to figure it out, you’ll be like, ‘I think something’s going on over there.’

    TOM: Exactly. So call us right now; we’ll throw your name in the Money Pit hardhat. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Lou enjoys Free FM out in Maryland, listening on WJFK. And you’ve got a question about a car garage. What can we do for you?

    LOU: Hi, guys. The question I have was I’ve got a second garage; it’s a detached garage.

    TOM: A second?

    LESLIE: A second garage?

    LOU: I’m sorry?

    LESLIE: You have two garages?

    LOU: Yeah, we got lucky. (laughing)

    TOM: Cool.

    LOU: Yeah. So I’ve got one that’s my shop.

    TOM: Alright.

    LESLIE: Excellent.

    TOM: We love shops. I have a second garage that’s a shop, too. That’s a great thing to have.

    LOU: I’ll tell you what. So I … the guy that we bought it from used to use it to do car maintenance and stuff; but I’m a woodworker so I – and a home improvement kind of guy – so I … I’m just trying to … I spend a lot of time out there. But obviously, in the winter time, outside of Maryland … outside of Baltimore, it gets chilly.

    LESLIE: It’s pretty cold.

    LOU: So what my question really is – I’m working on insulating it and I’d, ultimately, like to drywall the walls and dress it up real nice. But do I need to put a moisture barrier in between the insulation and the drywall?

    TOM: Well, first … my first question is what kind of heating system are you going to put in there?

    LOU: Probably one of those propane blower deals you hang on the ceiling?

    TOM: Well, is it going to be vented, I hope?

    LOU: Yeah.

    TOM: Okay, so …

    LESLIE: Okay, because you can’t operate those propane ones …

    TOM: Yeah. (laughing)

    LESLIE: … in not a ventilated area.

    TOM: Yeah. Let’s tell you how to seal … let’s show you how to seal yourself in that garage and then you can put in the propane system (inaudible), you know?

    LESLIE: (laughing) Terrible.

    TOM: That would be bad. Yes. What you should do is, first of all, insulate the walls. Then you can put a vapor barrier over the studs and then you could put drywall up. But we have a better suggestion, for you, than drywall for this situation.

    LOU: Shoot.

    LESLIE: Oh, you’re thinking about pegboard or slab board, aren’t you?

    TOM: No, actually I was thinking about Dens board.

    LESLIE: Oh! So you’re still on the drywall front. Yeah, especially in a moisture situation …

    TOM: Right, exactly.

    LESLIE: … like the garage, where you’re so close to the exterior walls and you’re sort of exposed. Georgia-Pacific has a great product called Dens Armor Plus. And it’s a drywall but instead of it being a paper-faced board, it’s faced with like a fiberglass board. So you’re getting rid of all sorts of a food source and a natural source for mold growth. So it really withstands to moisture and will keep you safe and healthy. And the cost really is only about less than one cent more from a new construction builder when you’re putting up drywall.

    TOM: I think …

    LESLIE: So it makes sense.

    TOM: Yeah, and I think there’s another added benefit to this, being a woodworker myself. It’s a lot tougher.

    LOU: Yes. You don’t bang into it.

    TOM: Yeah, you don’t bang into it. Yeah, it’s cool stuff. And it’s really not that much more expensive.

    LOU: What … what is it called again?

    TOM: Dens Armor Plus. It’s made by Georgia-Pacific. You can get it at lumber yards and home improvement retailers.

    LOU: Okay, I’ll look for that.

    LESLIE: Yeah, they’re carrying it now.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s pretty tough stuff.

    LESLIE: And it finishes the same way. If you wanted to paint it, you could paint it. If you wanted to put a wall covering on it – if it was an interior installation – you could do that. So it really … it looks great; it finishes the same way. It’s just better … it’s a better product.

    LOU: And you’re using the same kind of tape and joint compound, spackle, that sort of thing?

    TOM: (overlapping) Exactly. Exactly.

    LOU: Oh, okay. And it comes in the various sizes like drywall does?

    TOM: Yes, it does.

    LOU: Four by tens and so forth (audio gap)?

    TOM: Uh-huh.

    LOU: Alright, cool. I’ll check it out.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re in Virginia, you find The Money Pit on WJFK Free FM like Steven does. And what can we do for you?

    STEVEN: I have a question about putting in a vapor barrier between … in the … in the ceiling between the living space and the attic area?

    TOM: Okay.

    STEVEN: I’ve seen conflicting information about where the barrier should go to prevent condensation from causing problems.

    TOM: The barrier goes, Steve, against the living space. So if you’re looking down from the attic at the back side of the drywall ceiling, the vapor barrier should be there and then the insulation’s on top. You follow me?

    LESLIE: And if the insulation has paper backing, the paper goes toward the heated space. Correct?

    TOM: Yes, exactly. The paper or the foil goes toward the heated space.

    STEVEN: Okay. And then there’s … there would not be a problem with condensation in the drywall in the ceiling?

    TOM: No. No, because the insulation is part of the unconditioned space in the attic. And so what happens … that’s where attic ventilation takes over. If the attic is properly ventilated, the moisture’s going to move in and move out of the attic space and it will keep the insulation dry. But if you had a vapor barrier on top of that, the moisture from your house would get into the insulation and condense and get it wet; and that’s what you’re trying to avoid. So vapor barriers always go toward the heated space. That’s the best way to remember it.

    STEVEN: Okay, great.

    TOM: Alright, Steve?

    STEVEN: Alright. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Okay. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Dan in Michigan has a question about a ducting system. What can we do for you?

    DAN: Yeah, how you doing? I’ve got a second basement with a garage in it – it’s like above-ground basement – and I have … the heat duct’s in the ceiling. And I just wondered is it all right to put cold duct returns in the wall toward … lower to the floor. Keep a little more air in there.

    TOM: Well, yeah. I mean if you’re going to heat a space with a forced-air system, you can’t just put supply ducts in; you have to put return ducts in, too. I presume that the heated space is separated, by a wall, from the rest of the garage. Is that correct?

    DAN: Yep, yep.

    TOM: Yeah.

    DAN: It’s one of those poly-steel (ph) basements.

    TOM: What’s that?

    DAN: A poly-steel (ph) basement; where it’s all concrete styrofoam walls.

    TOM: Okay. Oh, it’s insulated concrete forms.

    DAN: Yep, yep, yep.

    TOM: Oh, that’s a great house. Yeah, that’s a great wall structure.

    DAN: It maintains 60 degrees. I just want to put – if I have to – put cold ducts in there because it stays right at 60 degrees.

    TOM: Yeah. What you should do is … you need both supply and return ducts. Most people don’t realize that, when you’re heating a house, it’s not just a matter of blowing the hot air out once. That air has to go into the space and it has to return back to the heating system to be heated again.

    LESLIE: Well, it needs to circulate to keep it warm.

    TOM: Yeah, to keep it warm. And, also, just to gradually bring the temperature to where you want it. It doesn’t happen in like one blast.

    DAN: Uh-huh.

    TOM: So, yes, you need supply and return ducts and should have those professionally installed so it’s done right. Okay?

    DAN: Okay. Alright, thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    LESLIE: Is your home making you sick? Well, we have a question from an e-mailer who thinks his is. We’ll tell you how to find out for sure, next.

    (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: 888-666-3974 is the telephone number; helpme@moneypit.com is the email address. If you have a home improvement question, you’re welcome to email it to us at helpme@moneypit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Chuck from South Carolina writes: ‘There’s something in the air in my house that is causing an allergic reaction to my wife. It’s not the dog because she travels with us and after we are gone for about 24 hours, my wife’s cough disappears only to return shortly after we arrive back home.’

    TOM: Hmm.

    LESLIE: ‘The house is 40 years old. We see some condensation on the windows on the inside. The house is built above a damp crawl space which did not have adequate ventilation until about five years ago when I opened up the dead air area and retro-fitted a gable mount attic fan to force air through the affected space. My wife thinks her problem is mold spores but we have no way of knowing for sure and I hate to spend a bunch of money without knowing what we are fighting. Can you give some advice regarding how to proceed?’ Gosh, this sounds terrible.

    TOM: Hmm. Yeah, this is complicated. Well, let’s see. Let’s deal with the moisture issue first; because I think if you get the moisture under control, Chuck, some of these respiratory issues may go away on their own.

    LESLIE: But I think the condensation and the crawl space are all connected.

    TOM: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. You know, the fact that he had a damp crawl space … you tried to vent it, which is good; you forced some air through there. I … my first question is how, exactly, did you force air through there? You say it’s a gable mount attic fan sort of arrangement. If you have to force ventilate a crawl space, the way to do it is not with an attic fan. The way to do it is with a fan …

    LESLIE: Would that be a humidistat?

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. You’ve got to wire it to a humidistat. Why? Because you want it to come on when the humidity is high. But, moreover, what I would tell you, Chuck, is two things. First of all, address the moisture issue in the crawl space by looking to the grading on the outside of your house to make sure the soil is running away – slipping away. And look at the gutter systems …

    LESLIE: The gutters and downspouts.

    TOM: The gutters and downspouts. Let’s manage the moisture from the outside. Put down a vapor barrier to stop that soil from evaporating the moisture up into the house. And the other thing is, think about installing a whole home dehumidifier. It can be professionally installed into your HVAC system. And Aprilaire makes a great one; it takes out like 90 pints of water a day. Get the moisture out of your house. You may find that those respiratory issues go away and pretty quickly.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and while you’re at it, think about a whole house air cleaner. If you’ve already got the forced air system, you’ll do great to get the allergens and molds and bacterias out of the air through that filtration system.

    TOM: Well, Leslie, letting the light in is a good idea, when it’s planned, in terms of putting a skylight in your roof structure. But if you choose the wrong skylight, you’ve got a future of leaks ahead. That is the topic of today’s Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. If your old bubble-type skylight is cracked or leaking, you’re not alone. But good news. Things could be looking up for you. Older skylights weren’t particularly good at weather resistance or energy efficiency. But the good news is that they can easily be replaced with virtually leak-free units. That’s right – leak-free units. Look …

    TOM: Leak-free’s good.

    LESLIE: Yeah, especially in a skylight. Look for skylights that offer a curved design which raises them from the roof’s surface. And be sure to buy the skylight’s built-in flashing kits. These are especially designed to deliver a leak-free installation, which will keep you happy all the time.

    TOM: You know, I put one of the Anderson skylights in my roof about – got to be 15, maybe 20, years ago. The thing has never …

    LESLIE: And how is it holding up?

    TOM: … never leaked, ever. And it’s got one of those … those flashing kits that basically requires …

    LESLIE: That’s because you made sure you put your flashing underneath your shingles. You did it right.

    TOM: Well, actually, what it does is it doesn’t … a lot of these skylights rely on adhesives to remain leak-free. This one requires – relies on just mechanical flashing; so it works really good. I think Pella makes one the same way. Those skylights with the flashing kits are definitely the way to go.

    Well, we are out of time on this hour of the program. Thank you so much for stopping by and spending it with us. If you have an additional home improvement question, remember, you can call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and a live representative of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show – yes, they are alive – they will pick up the phone and help to take your home improvement question.

    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)

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (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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