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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: And you should pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma, because we are here to help you take care of your house, your home, your castle. There’s a project on your mind; something you want to get done. You want to cut those utility costs? You want to improve a space in your house? Want to redo the basement? Want to replace the windows? You want to fix the leaking roof? Pick up the phone, give us a call; we are here to help you out.

    How would you like to prevent the arcing and sparking that could go on in your electrical panel? Now those are a couple of words you really don’t want to here: (Leslie chuckles) arcing and sparking.

    LESLIE: Because those usually mean some pretty bad things.

    TOM: Yeah. Things you don’t want to hear, like your airplane pilot saying, ‘Brace for impact.’ (Leslie laughs) Really bad. Arcing and sparking – that’s pretty bad as well.

    Well, we’re going to give you some tips on today’s show to teach you how to take care of the electrical panel and make sure it takes care of you.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour – you know, there is no way that you want big expenses to crop up unexpectedly. So, this hour we’ve got some tips to help you take care of what you’ve got, like ways to keep your carpets looking newer longer and how to get rid of common stains that are occurring all over the house. That’s coming up.

    TOM: Also ahead, this time of year we get all kinds of flyers and offers for cleaning our duct work. I know you do.

    Leslie, I’m sure you do, even though you don’t have ducts in your house.

    LESLIE: Even though I do not have ducts, let me tell you, if I got one of those flyers and had ducts, I would be petrified because those pictures …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: … are disgusting.

    TOM: That’s right. I mean, do the ducts really look as disgusting as they do in those images that we see in the advertisements from the duct-cleaning company? Is that what your ducts look like? Do you really need to get your ducts cleaned or are your ducts-in-a-row just fine by themselves? (Leslie chuckles) We’re going to talk about that topic and what you really need to know to make sure that you have healthy air inside your house, coming up.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’ve got a great prize that we’re giving away. We are giving you a closet-organizing system from ClosetMaid that will double your usable closet space. It’s a great prize going to one listener this hour.

    TOM: It’s worth 100 bucks; going to go out to one caller that we talk to this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to ask us. Let’s get right to those calls.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Joan in New York has a question about tiling. How can we help you?

    JOAN: Hi. My husband and I are going to give our bathroom a facelift.

    LESLIE: Okie-dokes.

    JOAN: We’re changing vanity, toilet and floor tiles. And someone told us we can put tile on top of tile. Is that true?

    TOM: Tile on top of tile? Yes, absolutely. In fact, in many houses that were built in the heavy development years of like the ’80s, they usually have sort of that plain white tile on the bathroom floor that …

    JOAN: Right.

    TOM: … the [builder was put down] (ph). But even though it didn’t look that good, it turned out that it was adhered really well (Leslie chuckles) and it didn’t …

    LESLIE: It’s an excellent base.

    TOM: Yeah and it didn’t really make any sense to take it up. So you can put new tile on top of old tile.

    JOAN: But then what happens to the toilet? Won’t the toilet be too high?

    TOM: Yes. You have to adjust the flange and a plumber can do that …

    JOAN: Right.

    TOM: … to sit up a little bit higher.

    JOAN: OK. I think you’ve answered my question.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Alright.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, there you go. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Mike in North Dakota is doing some work in the basement. How can we help?

    MIKE: I’ve insulated my basement with foam and now I’m putting up sheetrock.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And I bought both normal sheetrock and moisture-resistant sheetrock and I want to put the moisture-resistant on the bottom. But my question is – I have to cut the long edge of the sheetrock to make it fit on the bottom. Does that hurt the moisture-resistance factor if that’s on the bottom of the sheetrock at – down at the basement level – at the floor level?

    LESLIE: Well, Mike, why do you want to use a combination of the two? I mean, the moisture-resistant is really meant to be used in the entire installation in the basement because, you know, even if you’re just putting it at the bottom where moisture tends to be, moisture still gets into the air, especially in a basement situation. So you kind of – if you’re going for the moisture-resistancy, you might want to just use it through the whole space.

    MIKE: Ooh, because I’ve already bought it. So should I change that? I just thought maybe – I’ve never had water in the basement. Just for fear if it should I happen, I thought that maybe would prevent it from any mold or a mold problem or something but I don’t know.

    LESLIE: If you were working in the basement and say mold spores were to find their way into the air – which is very common – and if you’re dealing with the regular paper-faced drywall in the upper half of the wall surface, these mold spores in the air are going to find that food source – which is paper – now on your traditional drywall and start, sort of, breeding and living there.

    So if I were doing some work in a basement, I would go with the moisture-resistance throughout the space. Now that said, when you’re working with a moisture-resistant drywall – I know Georgia Pacific has one called DensArmor, which is great – you can absolutely cut that. The moisture-resistancy is the coating on the outside – which is fiberglass and of course the inside, which is the gypsum product – everything has been treated in the moisture-resistant product so you can cut it and then go ahead and finish it with the fiberglass tape, as you would any other drywall.

    MIKE: Well, thank you very much.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Our pleasure.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We love to hear what you guys are working on in your money pit, so pick up the phone and give us a call. We can help you get the job done right the first time, sort out your honey-do list and help you figure out the best way to tackle that project. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, would you like to extend the life of your carpet? We can help you with a few maintenance tips and stain-removal techniques that will have it looking great for a long time to come.

    (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 you could be part of The Money Pit by picking up the phone and giving us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Share your home improvement question with us. We will impart the knowledge and the skills to you, to get the job done.

    Ah but one lucky caller is going to win a great prize. We’re giving away the ClosetMaid Selectives, which is a custom closet organizer. It’s worth 100 bucks and you can actually double the usable space in your closet with this starter kit that includes a 25-inch-wide shelf tower. All you have to do is call us up with your home improvement question. And I bet a lot of people are thinking about all of the things that they do not have to get rid of come spring cleaning because suddenly, you’re going to have a ton more space. Pick up the phone; 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. If you are one of the millions of folks in this country that enjoy wall-to-wall carpeting, do you need a facelift underfoot to help make that carpeting look good and last a long time? You know, you can add new life to your carpeting with a few tips. First off, loose or wrinkled carpet can be remedied with re-stretching, which simply tightens the material and removes the wrinkles and the dangerous areas that are bunched up that you could trip on. This technique also prolongs a carpet’s life because those loose areas will speed up the wear and the tear.

    And I know you’ve seen this before – we’ve seen it in our house – wherever the carpet gets loose, it wears out right down in that …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … really, really quickly. So, a tight carpet is going to last a lot longer than one that’s got a few wrinkles in it.

    LESLIE: Now, if you’re dealing with a carpet that’s got a lot of stains – and me being the idiot who put white carpet in the baby’s room – I’m dealing with a bunch of stains.

    TOM: (chuckling) What were you thinking?

    LESLIE: I guess I wasn’t. You know, it was that like, ‘Ooh, we’re having a baby. Let’s make it all white and pretty.’

    TOM: You had the preggo-brain (ph).

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Probably. (Tom chuckles) But now that I have the clear sight of, you know, no longer being pregnant, I look at this …

    TOM: Now that you have the mommy I-have-to-clean-up-all-the-time brain.

    LESLIE: Exactly. (Tom chuckles) Who knew that these kids spit up? So if you’re dealing with a lot of stains – like we tend to be at our money pit – the first thing you want to think about with carpeting is what caused the stain. Now the worst stains are usually the oil-based spills.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: And to clean those up, you need to sprinkle on corn starch or baking soda and then vacuum it all up before you clean the area, with a solution of one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and one tablespoon of white vinegar to two cups of warm water. Now, if you end up with candle wax on the carpet – you know, you blow too hard to put the candle out, you got the splatter, accidentally knock it over – what you want to do is you want to freeze that wax that’s on the carpet with an ice cube wrapped in a plastic baggie and that’ll cause that wax to freeze and become really easy to pick off. Then, you can scrape it off of the carpet.

    Now, you can also sponge the whole area with a dry cleaning solvent, then cover the area with a clean white cloth and iron it and the wax should transfer from your carpet to the cloth. I’ve done this with also a brown paper bag, on fabric or on carpeting as well. You put a brown paper bag onto the wax and then your iron on a non-steam setting; it’ll transfer as well. Those really do the trick.

    TOM: Well, if you’re like Leslie and I and have a house full of stain-producing children, (Leslie chuckles) you should sign up for the Money Pit free e-newsletter because in the next edition, we’re going to have some more great stain-removal tips. Go online …

    LESLIE: Hey, some people have stain-producing spouses; it’s not just the kids.

    TOM: Well, that’s true. And stain-producing selves as well. (Leslie chuckles) We’re going to tell you how to get rid of the top 10 kid-staining stuff, like grape juice, crayon and my favorite: gum.

    LESLIE: Yay!

    TOM: Unbelievable to get out but it – there is a way to do it. We’re going to have those tips in the next edition of the free, weekly e-newsletter. Sign up right now at MoneyPit.com. 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Kathleen in Georgia needs help with a stain-removal project. What’s going on?

    KATHLEEN: Yes. I have a rough color, leather sofa and I have an oil stain that – like a bath oil stain – that’s in it and I was wondering: how can I get it out? It just seems to keep spreading and spreading.

    LESLIE: Is it a recent stain or has it been there a little while?

    KATHLEEN: It’s been there about a week.

    LESLIE: OK. I think you might still be in the window where this trick could work. You’re probably going to have to do the whole process many, many, many times so go to the store and buy a big box of corn starch.

    KATHLEEN: Uh-huh.

    LESLIE: And then what you want to do is you want to sprinkle the corn starch – you know, a good amount of it – onto where the oil stain is on the leather. Then, you need to use your fingers to rub the corn starch really, really briskly into the stain – on the leather – until you can feel the heat from your finger – you know, friction against the leather.

    KATHLEEN: Uh-huh.

    LESLIE: And that heat is going to loosen the oil that’s into the leather and sort of allow that corn starch that you’ve applied to the stain to absorb the oil out of the leather. And then once you’ve sort of worked that first batch, you want to vacuum the area or brush all that powder off and sort of see your success measure and then just keep doing the process. That should do the trick. If it’s really in there and you’re just working and working and it isn’t happening, you’re going to have to bring it to a pro to sort of work on that stain a little bit more.

    KATHLEEN: OK. Because when it first happened, I put some talcum powder, like the baby power on there …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    KATHLEEN: … and let it sit for a little while but I didn’t rub it in like you …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    KATHLEEN: … were saying, doing the corn starch.

    LESLIE: Yeah, the corn starch is going to be the most absorbative (ph).

    KATHLEEN: OK. Alright then. I will try that and I certainly appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Gosh, good luck.

    KATHLEEN: Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Larry in Arizona needs some help getting some scratches out of a fiberglass sink. What happened?

    LARRY: Oh, I installed this sink about two years ago in the kitchen in the bottom of both basins. They’re exhibiting some scratches and some like spider web cracking, I guess, that …

    TOM: OK.

    LARRY: … the best way – not very deep but I didn’t know if I should just pull this out and put a cast iron in or if there’s something I could do to rejuvenate it.

    TOM: Well, there are different products that are designed for repair to the gel coat, which is basically the visible surface of the fiberglass. There’s a website called Surface-Repair.com. It’s Surface-Repair.com and they actually have a do-it-yourself fiberglass repair kit that has different factory-color repair pastes for bathtubs and showers. Unusual to have a sink that’s made out of fiberglass; typically, we see a lot of tubs and shower stalls made out of them.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: But I imagine it would work on the sink as well.

    LARRY: (overlapping voices) Yeah.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well, you do see fiberglass sinks when you have a countertop that has a sink molded into it.

    LARRY: Right. No, this is a – this sets on top of the opening.

    TOM: OK.

    LARRY: Manufactured by Peachtree, I believe, so – yeah, it could be acrylic but …

    TOM: Alright. Well, the repair kit works for acrylic or for gel coats, so why don’t …

    LARRY: OK, good.

    TOM: … you take a look at that website. Pretty inexpensive. Surface-Repair.com.

    LARRY: (overlapping voices) OK.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, Peachtree Forge is acrylic sinks.

    LARRY: OK. That’s good to know. Thanks, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Oh, you’re welcome.

    LARRY: I’ll give them a try.

    TOM: Alright. Give it a shot; let us know how you make out. Larry, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Robert in New Jersey is dealing with a leaky faucet. So, you want to stop wasting water? What’s going on?

    ROBERT: Yes. I have a leaky, bathroom faucet and I’d like to know how to fix it.

    TOM: OK. Well, probably what’s happening is the valve is not seating properly and you need to replace the O-ring. Do you know who made the faucet?

    ROBERT: No, I don’t.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s hard to get replacement parts sometimes if you don’t know the manufacturer. Even though you can go to the hardware store and buy one that looks a lot alike, if it’s not exactly the right size, it probably will continue to leak. Now, the good news is that replacing a faucet is a pretty inexpensive thing to do and if the faucet is in any way worn besides the leak, it might be just easier, Robert, just to replace it.

    ROBERT: OK. It sounds very good. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: And that’s always the problem when you’re dealing with faucets. You know, even if you just go to replace the aerator at the ends …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: … or if something is worn out, faucets are never labeled by who makes them.

    TOM: And they’re never the same either. I’ve taken faucets apart and tried to replace O-rings inside of them and it looks exactly like it should be the right one and it doesn’t work. I’ll go down to the manufacturer and order the right part and it works perfectly.

    LESLIE: It’s so crazy; they should put their names on them.

    TOM: Well, the good news is that the valves are getting a lot better. Most of the good ones are ceramic valve right now.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Another thing about ceramic valves is the more you use them, the better the valves get because they sort of rub against each other and they never, ever wear out.

    LESLIE: Well, that’s good to know. Hey, spend the money; get a nice, new faucet and hope it lasts forever.

    TOM: Any time we can give you an excuse to buy something new for your house, just take it. (Leslie chuckles) 888-666-3974.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Taking a call from Joyce in North Carolina. What’s going on at your Money Pit?

    JOYCE: Well, we put in some porcelain tile and we put the pre-made grout that was in a bucket in for the grout instead of the kind with the sand and when we cleaned it off we thought we got it all off but we didn’t. There is still – you can see shades of it …

    TOM: Hmm.

    JOYCE: … in different spots on top of the grout – I mean, on top of the tile. And I was trying to figure out – can you help me know what to put on there to get that off?

    TOM: Is it a glazed tile?

    JOYCE: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s going to come off but I’ve got to tell you, it’s just very difficult to get it off. If you rubbed and rubbed and rubbed and tried to get that off, it’s just going to take some time but it’ll come off the glazed surface eventually.

    JOYCE: Oh, OK. I tried different kinds of chemicals …

    TOM: Yeah.

    JOYCE: … and they didn’t do anything.

    TOM: No, you’ve got to be careful with that because you’ll start changing the color of the other grout and then you’ll really be unhappy, Joyce.

    JOYCE: Oh, Lord.

    TOM: Alright?

    JOYCE: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: That’s why with grouting it’s like a constant project that you have to babysit for 24 hours.

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: It’s like it’s going to cloud over and you better clean it. Is it going to cloud over? And then you’ve got to clean it.

    TOM: And just about when you’re ready to leave, you look at it one last time.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And it clouds over one more time. (Tom chuckles)

    TOM: Exactly.

    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we’re going to have some tips on how to take care of your electrical system. Did you know that every one out of four homes needs an electrical upgrade? Are you wired for safety? Is there a shock in your future? We’ll have the details, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. You can count on Therma-Tru for beautiful, reliable and easy-to-install entry doors. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re talking to lots of callers today with all sorts of home improvement situations going on and maybe you’ve got a question about the electrical system of your home. Do you have enough amperage to operate that brand-spanking new appliance you’ve been dreaming about? These are lots of things you need to consider, especially if you live in an older home, because one out of four homes in this country is due for an electrical upgrade.

    Now, if you’ve got an older electrical system, you need to keep in mind that fuses are just as safe as more modern circuit breakers, provided that they’re properly matched to the wire size used within that circuit. Now, to make sure that your system is safe, here’s what you need to know: okie-dokes, a number 14 wire gets a 15-amp fuse, a number 12 wire gets a 20-amp fuse and a number 10 wire gets a 30-amp fuse.

    So, to make sure that your fuses match, you need to have an electrician write the proper fuse size for each spot on your fuse panel. This way there is absolutely no confusion as to what can go where.

    TOM: Good tip. And also, never install a fuse that’s bigger than what is noted. If that fuse blows, it’s basically doing its job by protecting your home’s wiring from overheating and causing a fire, potentially. The solution is not to install a bigger fuse but to simply decrease the load by turning off whatever it was that blew the circuit in the first place.

    Now, if it happens constantly and you’re getting tired of taking your flashlight out and heading down to the basement and finding the blown fuse, then you need to have an electrician do a little re-wiring so that you transfer some of the demand onto a different circuit or perhaps even add some additional circuits. And those tips will help make sure that your electrical system runs safely.

    LESLIE: And I’ve got to tell you, that tip is super-helpful, especially if you’ve got an older home. It makes a lot of sense to sort out what you’ve got electrically in your house. Now, if you like that tip and you need a lot more, well we’ve got them for you. We’ve got a ton in our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure. It is available right now at Amazon.com. You should check it out and you might even recognize those two adorable, smart folks on the cover.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Dominic in Pennsylvania is dealing with some water issues. Tell us what’s going on.

    DOMINIC: Where the water main in the – in my basement comes in through the foundation …

    TOM: OK.

    DOMINIC: Whenever I have a heavy rain, what happens is the water seems to squeeze its way between the pipe and the cement.

    TOM: Yeah, very common problem, Dominic. And basically the water is finding the weakest link where it can force its way in but the solution is the same and that is that you’ve got a drainage issue going on outside of your house.

    You need to take a look at the grading and the drainage. The grading is the angle of the soil around the foundation perimeter and the drainage is mostly stemming from the roof. If you don’t have soil that slopes away from the walls – if you don’t have gutters that are clean with downspouts that are extending four to six feet away from the house – you’re going to get a lot of water that will collect right in that backfill zone that’s dug out when the foundation was originally built. And that will fill up and then it will look for a weak point in the wall, which is probably where your main water pipe is coming through.

    So I would take a look at the drainage issues – get that straightened out – and I think that the problem is going to go away very quickly.

    DOMINIC: Well, I have looked at the drainage issues. I have graded the – up against my foundation, all around the house and as for the downspouts, I’m not sure exactly where it leads to but I have a pipe coming in out from the ground and that’s where my downspout goes into. I don’t know if it’s maybe a dry well or something.

    TOM: Well, that could be the problem right there. You don’t know where it’s going …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … and here’s an easy way that you can test it. Let’s abandon that underground pipe momentarily; let’s take the leader. Go out and pick up some additional leader material; you know, it’s pretty expensive.

    DOMINIC: Right.

    TOM: For a few bucks, let’s run it right out away from the house where we can see that we’re sure that the water is dumping well away from the foundation. That, I suspect, is going to fix this problem. It’s also going to tell you that wherever it’s going underground has got to be corrected.

    So I don’t know why it’s doing that; it could be a leak in the underground pipe, it could be an old well that was – that’s backfilled now and it’s all clogged and the water is backing up. Who knows? But if you run the water away from the house and the problem goes away, then you know what the source is.

    DOMINIC: Alright. I’m going to give it a try.

    TOM: Well, you give it a shot.

    DOMINIC: Alright.

    TOM: Be confident. It’ll work. (Leslie and Dominic chuckle)

    DOMINIC: Alright.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Another non-believer walks out into the home improvement project world.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. And we are so glad you are joining us because we want to help you sort out the necessity of the junk mail. This is the time of year when your mail slot is being stuffed to the brim with all of those fliers that tell you about duct-cleaning services. And they show you the inside of these ducts; you know, these pictures of like the dirtiest, most disgusting, thick, dirty dust you have ever seen in your life. Well, do your ducts really look like that?

    TOM: And even if they do, do you really need to lay out all that cash to have your ductwork professionally cleaned? We’re going to have the answer, 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.

    TOM: Pick up the phone. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Pick up the phone, especially if you’ve got a closet organization question, because you could win a ClosetMaid closet organizer worth 100 bucks. We’re giving it away to one caller we talk to this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It’s got something they call the T4 Selectives Custom Closet Organizer, which means it’ll probably work even in my house (Leslie chuckles) although I doubt it.

    But the kit includes a shelving tower and three expandable closet rods. The number again is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You know, that’s a great prize. It helps you get organized and I know as we sort of lean towards spring, I always start thinking about cleaning and getting organized within my own money pit. And especially, you know, we’ve been cooped up in our houses all winter long with the windows shut tight, the doors shut tight.

    Even if you live in warmer climates, you’ve got those doors and windows closed because of air conditioning and with all that air that’s around your house and you’re re-breathing it in, you know that air sort of circulates back through your home heating and cooling ducts. And then eventually, your ducts are going to end up holding onto some of that dust and debris that ends up in the air in your house.

    But now, this doesn’t mean that you should put the system through rigorous and frequent cleanings. Instead, you want to make sure that you change your filters frequently and that you save expensive duct cleanings, which I am sure you are seeing tons of flyers in your mail right now, sort of scaring the bejesus out of you with dirty ducts. You want to save that big cleaning job for every five years or so or following up a major home renovation that maybe produced a lot of dust.

    TOM: Yeah, good point. And along the lines of changing those filters, it’s also a really good idea – if you want to upgrade something on your heating system – to put in a very good-quality electronic air cleaner because they just do a much, much better job than the standard fiberglass filters. You know the ones that cost about 50 cents or $1.00 a piece; we call those pebble-stops because if it’s …

    LESLIE: Mm.

    TOM: … smaller than a pebble, it probably won’t stop it. A good-quality electronic air cleaner will do a far, far better job at even stopping virus-size particles. So, if you want to invest in something, I wouldn’t put the money necessarily in regular duct cleanings; I would definitely get a really good-quality electronic air cleaner because that’s going to cut down on the things that force you to have allergic reactions to – like dust, dust mites, viruses – things like that. So, good idea to make sure you have good-quality air cleaning in your house.

    888-666-3974 is the number you need to call with your how-to question, your do-it-yourself dilemma; maybe it’s a project that you’d like to do but you’re not going to do it yourself. Need some advice on how to get it done, how to hire somebody and not get ripped off? All great topics for us right here, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Carrie in Indiana has got a project in the kitchen. What can we help you with?

    CARRIE: Hi, I had a question. I live in a manufactured home and my counter – or my kitchen cabinets, the bottom ones, are all open. There’s nothing dividing them, so when I put everything in it’s just flying everywhere; there’s no organization. And I wondered if you have an idea of what I could use to separate that or what I should do.

    LESLIE: So when you open the doors to the bottom cabinet there’s – it’s just like one open, long shelf?

    CARRIE: Right.

    LESLIE: Have you thought – I mean, there’s tons of different things available at The Container Store online – ContainerStore.com – and even BedBathAndBeyond.com. They’ve got a lot of great kitchen organizers from metal racks that sort of stack upon one another that are perfect for glass heights or a stack of plates. You can also think about little metal drawers that sort of slide out on rollers that can suspend from just underneath the cabinet or maybe below the bottom shelf.


    LESLIE: Little baskets that you can put labels on. There are spice racks that are sort of made to go into drawers but you can get ones that are freestanding. If you’re looking to sort of give yourself some more storage on the backsplash, there’s great magnetic strips that you can put knives, spices, little storage bins on. There’s lots of smart stuff if you search the web; you can really find some cute things and organizational stuff is really fun to shop for.

    CARRIE: Alright, thank you.

    LESLIE: Aaron in Florida has a tiling question. How can we help you with this project?

    AARON: Hey, I’ve done a remodel in my kitchen and I’ve got some ceramic tile and we’ve removed some of the cabinets and then reset some of the tile around. But I’ve noticed on some of the other tile that we haven’t removed, that when I knock on it, it has a hollow sound to it.

    TOM: Right.

    AARON: And I was wondering if I needed to, you know, pull that tile up and then re-cement and then place the tile again.

    TOM: Well, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if it’s obviously loose. This is the time to make that repair. Is it your sense that it’ll come up fairly easily?

    AARON: No, it seems like it’s really secure down. It’s just that I notice the knocking sound. I mean – or like a …

    TOM: So it’s only the sound? It’s only the sound?

    AARON: Yeah, it – right.

    TOM: Well, if you don’t see any movement and it sounds hollow it may very well be because a lot of tiles have ridges underneath and don’t completely, solidly connect to the subfloor. So it could sound hollow but still be adhered. If it’s adhered well, I wouldn’t mess with it.

    AARON: OK. Alright, great. And any suggestions for matching existing tile or doing something if you can’t find a tile that’s going to match exactly?

    TOM: A couple of things. This is floor tile, correct?

    AARON: That’s correct.

    TOM: Well, if you can’t find the exact matching tile, is it possible you could use a tile that has a pattern in it and make it look like it was supposed to be there?

    AARON: Yeah, I could do that.

    TOM: A lot of times in – for example, in bathrooms – when you have to, you know, replace a bathtub and you have a tiled wall and you end up tearing up like the bottom couple of layers of tile, we very often will recommend that people put a complimentary color there or one that’s slightly wider and make it look like it was a feature.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) To make it look like it’s designed on purpose that way.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    AARON: OK. Alright.

    TOM: Yeah.

    AARON: Alright, that’s great. I appreciate it.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) If you’re going to mess it up, you want the repair to look so good that people thought it was always supposed to be that way. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) That it was all planned.

    AARON: Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s the trick, isn’t it?

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

    Well, it’s only going to be a matter of weeks now before you’re going to want to get those windows open and enjoy some fresh, spring air but what if your windows are stuck? Is there a way – is there a trick of the trade to free them up? Well, of course there is. We’re going to tell you what it is, 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 hey, we are all feeling this economic crunch; everybody is struggling and saving and looking to pinch pennies where we all can out there. And you know, while the economy is not so great, one thing that does endure is home improvement. And we want to make our homes more comfortable and customized because frankly, we can’t afford to go anywhere else.

    TOM: Well, that’s where MoneyPit.com comes in; whatever your project or chore, chances are we’ve probably already written about it. You can find everything you need by project. It’s all free; it’s at your fingertips at MoneyPit.com. While you’re there, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question.

    LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got one here from Jan in Casper, Wyoming who writes: ‘My double-hung window is sticking and I’m afraid that I’m going to break it while I’m trying to open it. Please help. Signed, The Hulk.’ No, I’m kidding. (Tom and Leslie laugh)

    TOM: You know, freeing up stuck windows is a little bit of an art more than a science but I’ll give you a couple of tricks of the trade. First of all, most people try to free up a stuck window by forcing it open – you know, getting your hands like under the upper sash …

    LESLIE: And like pushing up.

    TOM: … and pushing it up. That can actually pull apart the window and if you’re not really careful, you could …

    LESLIE: Really?

    TOM: Yeah. It’ll pull apart the wood joints at the bottom sash.

    LESLIE: Do you have to be a bodybuilder or anybody can break it that way?

    TOM: No. I’m going to tell you – I’m going to tell you to do something that you’re going to feel is so contrary to what you should be doing but it works. Take a wood block, put it on top of that window – the bottom sash, like where the lock is …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: The bottom part of the window. Then, take a hammer and whack the wood block. You’re not hitting the window; you’re hitting the wood block to physically drive that double-hung window down into the sill.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Now, why are you doing that? Because the reason it’s stuck is because it’s stuck because the paint acts like glue. If you give it a couple of quick raps with the hammer – you drive it down, you break that paint bead – and the window will pop right open.

    LESLIE: Ah!

    TOM: So don’t push it up; push it down and that will free it up.

    LESLIE: Alright.

    TOM: And there you go.

    LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got one here from Tonya in Pennsylvania who writes: ‘My husband and I have modest do-it-yourself skills. We are good at reading and following instructions, though. Is installing a few circuits for our basement remodel ourselves a good idea or better left to the pros?’

    TOM: Step one: turn off the main electrical breaker. (chuckles) Not a good idea, Tonya. If you don’t know how to do electrical wiring, it’s not a place to start your d-i-y projects. (Leslie chuckles) Always better to leave that one to the pros. If you make a mistake, it could not only be dangerous to you, it could eventually burn your house down so really not a good idea to tackle electrical work unless you are very experienced. Always important to have a permit as well because this way …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … the electrical inspector will double-check your work. But really, if you’re not totally familiar with it, I would recommend you do everything else but when it comes to electricity, just hire the pro.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And don’t be afraid about that, Tonya. You know what? It’s like I’ve been building for ages and ages and I never touch electrical stuff, so just …

    TOM: That’s right. Leslie makes me wire.

    LESLIE: I call Tom and make him do it.

    TOM: New circuits and new switches. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: So, don’t do it. Alright, Cindy in Hawaii writes: ‘I have cork tiles put up on a painted wall with those double-sided foam sticky pads. The cork tiles fell off and now I have those pads on my wall and no idea how to get them off without destroying the wall. Any ideas?’

    TOM: Cindy, what I like to use is a product called Goof Off. I’ve had it forever; it’s something that’s sort of always on my shelf. When I run out, I go buy more. It’s a very good product because it takes off all that sticker residue that really can be on the cork tiles. There could be stickers on labels; it could be any kind of adhesive. And it does it without harming what’s underneath. It works very, very well and you can find it pretty much at any hardware store. Again, it’s called Goof Off.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Just make sure you saturate that foam so that it becomes really easy for you to peel off and you’ll see it comes off in no time.

    TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Man, we covered a lot of ground. Hope we gave you some good tips, some good ideas, some good inspiration for projects that you’d like to tackle around your house.

    Remember, we’re available 24/7, 365 at MoneyPit.com. Lots of articles there to help you with your home improvement projects and our Money Pit podcast is available there for download too. If you missed anything, you can download the podcast; you can read the transcript. It is all there for your benefit, to make your home improvement projects successful.

    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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