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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

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


    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call now with your home improvement question. Call now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is easy to remember. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Or log onto our website at MoneyPit.com.

    Coming up this hour, we’re going to teach you the one critical component that can mean the difference between a dry house and a very leaky roof.

    LESLIE: We’re also going to tell you how to cook up a design plan for your kitchen that eliminates bending down to reach an oven or even reaching across the front burners to reach those back ones. And also this hour, one lucky caller we talk to is going to win a Ryobi One+ Right Angle Grinder. It’s worth 100 bucks.

    TOM: So call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Listening in on WABC we’ve got Karen from Teaneck, New Jersey. How can we help you here at the Money Pit?

    KAREN: Well, I am curious about something. We just had a roof replaced and I was wondering, they took off at least 30 feet of copper. What did they use in place of copper? I couldn’t get a definitive answer from the contractor.

    TOM: So this is the copper flashing around the chimney and places like that?

    KAREN: Yeah, but there were two huge sections.

    TOM: Well probably that would have been either around the chimneys or other protrusions and in those cases there are other materials that could be used. For example, there’s a roofing material that’s called Roof Detail Membrane that’s made by Grace that’s like a high-tech synthetic flashing material. The other place that they would probably not use copper any longer would be in the valleys. These are the intersections between two different planes of the roof.

    LESLIE: Do you have a lot of those, Karen? Intersecting places on the roof.

    KAREN: We have a few, yes.

    TOM: That’s probably where most of this came out of. And there are different ways to do valleys. You can do valleys with metal flashing. Or you can do valleys where you weave the shingles; sort of overlap them from side to side.

    LESLIE: Is one better than the other?

    TOM: Yeah, actually the weave is probably going to be more durable.

    LESLIE: Oh, really?

    TOM: Yeah, than the – because you have more material there. The flashing can last a long time. I mean the copper flashing can last a long time. But I find very often that there are critical mistakes made because, first of all, most of the roofers are not using copper anymore for whatever reason. Those that are sometimes make errors. Like for example, they’ll put in too long of a piece. When you put metal flashing in a valley you have to be very careful to only attach it on one side and you can only use pieces that are like maybe no longer than eight to ten feet and have them overlap. And the reason for that is because there’s a lot of expansion and contraction and it actually sort of bends the metal as you keep expanding, contracting and expanding and contracting and you’ll actually put like sort of a stress crack in the – yeah, it opens right up.

    So, I think the weave is probably just fine and that’s most likely that plus the fact that they may have used like a synthetic roofing flashing material around the protrusions.

    LESLIE: Tom, do you think it’s important that Karen sort of pursue this with the roofing installer to find out what was used or just sort of let it go?

    TOM: Well, I certainly think that you deserve to know and it should not be (chuckling) that difficult of a question to answer as I just speculated on what might be the answers. But you know, ask them where the flashing came out of and what it was replaced with and this way you know. But those are probably the areas.

    LESLIE: Janet in Michigan, what can we do for you today?

    JANET: Well, I have cracks that have formed. I had some outside work done on my 15-year-old house last year. And first I thought it might be from settling but then I realized, no, these have formed after the house was long settled.

    LESLIE: Well, tell me where you see them.

    JANET: Well, do you know where two walls come together and form a point into the room?


    JANET: OK. It’s about an inch-and-a-half from that pointed area.

    TOM: OK, what that is, is that’s the drywall tape loosening up because – this is an inside corner, correct?

    JANET: The corner is pointing at me not away from me.

    TOM: Alright, so it’s an outside corner. So what you’re looking at is the metal corner bead.

    JANET: That’s what I thought. But I don’t know how to fix it.

    TOM: Well, it’s very easy. What you want to do is re-nail that corner bead. You would use some drywall nails which have big heads and so secure it because it’s going to be loose. You want to nail it in a bunch of places. And the trick of corner beads is that you want to sink the nail into it so it’s below the surface of the outside corner. That assures that you can cover it with spackle. You’re just going to have to put a few more nails in that and then re-spackle it and you’ll be fine. Nothing to worry about there. That’s pretty much normal expansion and contraction. It happens all the time.

    JANET: Terrific.

    TOM: Janet, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Linda in Mississippi, how can we help you today?

    LINDA: I’m interested in – I’ve got a pink bathroom and I wanted to update it to sell the house. And I wanted to know if there was something I could do to the tile floor without having to take the tile up.

    TOM: Well, you could cover it. (chuckling) You have – do you have pink floor tiles now, Linda?

    LINDA: Yeah. Actually, pink and white. (chuckling)

    TOM: Well, why don’t you put a – oh, you have pink and white tiles. Yeah, I’ve been there, done that, seen that. Is there a way that you can redecorate around that, Leslie, and make it acceptable to retain the pink and white?

    LESLIE: Yeah, but it seems like that Miss Linda is over the pink and white. Why not install a laminate floor right on top of the tile? That’s an option.

    TOM: Yeah, that wouldn’t be too expensive and you could do that yourself. It’s pretty easy to install.

    LESLIE: Talking cleaning with Sandra in Texas. How can we help you?

    SANDRA: My husband and I have recently moved into a house that we purchased. And the owner had refinished the hardwood floors. And then somebody did some plaster work and has dropped either plaster or cement or both in various places on the floor and I’d like to know how to get it off.

    TOM: Very carefully. If the floors were refinished, I think with a plastic trowel you might have a shot at scraping some of that away. And then what you’re going to want to use is a very fine abrasive pad like a Scotch pad.

    SANDRA: Uh-huh.

    TOM: And try to rub it very carefully using small sort of circular motions, like you’re buffing your car, to try to get the rest of it out. You could also try some rubbing compound if you get down to having just a little bit left. And then, once you’re done, you may find that the floor in that area is a little duller than the surrounding areas and you could combat that with some paste wax. But it has to be floor paste wax because it’s not slippery.

    SANDRA: Oh, OK. Alright, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Ruth in Brooklyn, New York – forget about it! – she listens on WABC. What can we do for you?

    RUTH: I have had wallpaper in my bathroom for at least 20 years.


    RUTH: And all the seams have opened and I have tried to seal them back with various kinds of glues and they just don’t stay that way.

    TOM: Well Ruth, have you thought about replacing the wallpaper after 20 years? It might be time. (chuckling)

    RUTH: Yes, I have thought about it but I’m concerned to see what’s underneath.

    TOM: Oh, you know, it’s an adventure, Ruth. (Leslie chuckles) I’ll tell you what. If you’re looking for a product that can help repair loose seams in wallpaper, Zinsser – Z-i-n-s-s-e-r – makes a product called Sure Grip Seam and Repair Adhesive. It sells for about four bucks a tube. Comes in like two-ounce tubes. And it’s designed specifically to repair those places where the wallpaper is loosening up; especially at the seams.

    LESLIE: You know what else, Ruth, you could try, especially since it’s fabric-coated wallpaper? Is it predominantly fabric or is it like a paper on the front and then a fabric on the back?

    RUTH: Yes. You can try – because you can temporarily apply fabric to your wall as wallpaper if you put it up with starch. So if you find that nothing is working, it’s not sticking, take some starch – you know, make the starch mixture so that it’s in the liquid form – and then just roll it over the seam. That could work, too. Try the real product first but always know that starch will help.

    TOM: Ruth, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Linda in Clearwater, Florida, you are up. What can we do for you?

    LINDA: Yes, hi. Well, I’m curious about when I flush my commode. Sometimes it takes 30 seconds, maybe even 45 seconds, for it to actually do the flushing part. You may push down on the handle, walk out of the bathroom and then all of a sudden hear it, you know, flushing. (chuckles) And …

    TOM: Huh. And if you’re watching the bowl, does it still like – is it like, you know, a watched pot never boils?

    LINDA: I have to – I have to hold down on the handle. I count to two-and-a-half and then I’ll walk out of the bathroom and …

    LESLIE: It waits – it’s motion sensored. It waits for you to leave.

    TOM: How old is your toilet? Do you know?

    LINDA: I don’t know. We just bought the house a year ago and the house is about 22 years old.

    TOM: You know what? It’s probably the original toilet. If you open up the lid and flip it upside down you’ll find a date stamp on a toilet. Sometimes it’s preceded by a letter. But I’m suspecting it’s just an older toilet with a standard flush and fill valve. I would just replace the flush and fill valves, Linda. They’re very inexpensive. I’d go out and get a set of Fluidmaster replacement valves. Probably cost you about 15 bucks. Pretty easy to install yourself.

    LESLIE: Well, even – you know, you mentioned Fluidmaster. Their website – which I believe is just Fluidmaster.com – has detailed instructions. And even if you scroll over there’s like …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s pretty easy.

    LESLIE: There’s like an architectural detail of a toilet tank. And if you scroll over the areas it’ll be like, ‘This is what’s wrong and this is how you fix it.’ So, if you want to do it yourself, it’s super empowering because it’s a simple plumbing project and it really makes you feel very good about it.

    LINDA: That sounds like a great idea.

    TOM: As long as you can turn the water valve off, you’re in good shape.

    LESLIE: Hey, home improvement enthusiasts. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call that magic number, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    It’s one of the top 10 questions we get on this program every single week: ‘How do I stop my roof from leaking?!’ Coming up, we’re going to give you the one critical component that could mean the difference between a leaky roof and a very dry, comfortable house in even the worst weather. That’s next.

    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we make good homes better. Do you have a good home that needs, perhaps, a bit of home improvement advice? Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller we talk to this hour is going to win a great prize that can help with those home improvement projects. It’s a right angle grinder from Ryobi. Part of their popular One+
    line. All the power tools in this line can run off the same battery and charger and we’re going to give it away to one caller to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: OK, Tom. So before the break we were talking about roofs …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: … and the layers of the roof and the things that are really important to keep your roof dry and your home dry. Leak-free is the key. So what is the key question? What is a roofing underlayment? Alex, for 1,000. What is a roofing … (chuckling)

    Well, a roofing underlayment – and hopefully, everybody knows and you’re learning more with us everyday – it’s typically those sheets of material that are installed under any roof coverings; for example, your shingles or your tiles. Because this is going to be the added protection from water infiltration. You know, shingles or other roofing coverings are not enough to prevent water from penetrating a roof and creating an extensive bit of damage to your home. You really do need that extra layer of protection.

    TOM: Absolutely. That’s why you need to have a premium roofing underlayment; not just basic tarpaper. You know, there’s a brand new product by Grace that we saw at the International Builders Show. It’s called Tri-Flex Extreme. It’s a synthetic material that is slip resistant wet or dry.

    LESLIE: Which is great for the worker.

    TOM: Exactly because it’s much safer to work on the surface. You know, they had a very steep slope of this stuff set up at the builders show and you were able to walk straight up it. In fact, I saw a photo of a roofer standing on a 12×12-pitch roof – that’s a 45-degree pitched roof – with the stuff underfoot and he wasn’t, obviously, slipping. Now we don’t recommend that for everyone …

    LESLIE: Yeah, totally.

    TOM: … but it proves the point that slip resistance is key.

    LESLIE: And it’s also very, very strong. It’s not going to tear away from nails or any other fasteners even in the highest wind. So this is great regardless what part of the country that you’re in. If you want some more information about the Tri-Flex Extreme or even any of Grace’s family of weather barriers for roofs, windows, doors and decks – everything is going to keep you leak free – check out their website. It’s very, very helpful. Www.GraceatHome.com. Check it out.

    TOM: Or call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. What are you doing? What are you working on? We know you’ve got a question. Pick up the phone right now.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Jean listening in on WPRO from Cranston, Rhode Island, what can we do for you?

    JEAN: I need some house with a bump-out. We have a 12 foot-long bump-out in the back of our house – we have a colonial. It goes out about 25 inches off the house. And we had our builder insulate it but the – we have hardwood floors in our kitchen and it’s just very, very cold. We have a dishwasher in our kitchen sink. It’s basically the length of our kitchen counter. And it just is very cold. It seems like the cold air is coming in. And I need help because the dishwasher in the sink is there. There’s one little heating vent below the sink which kind of keeps those pipes OK but I’m just worried about the cold air with the dishwasher.

    TOM: So when you say bump-out, do you mean like a cantilever of the floor system that overhangs the foundation in that area?

    JEAN: It overhangs the foundation.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a cantilever design with a floor joist overhang. Now, when you say your builder insulated it, did he insulate the floor joist area underneath that kitchen countertop area; in other words, the section that’s extended? I’m sure he insulated the walls but did they insulate the floor joist area?

    JEAN: They had come back to insulate it but I don’t think that it’s good enough and I was wondering if there was a better insulation product or something else that we could do for that area.

    TOM: Well, I mean you need to make sure that those – every one of those bays is filled up to the brim with insulation. Now, you can’t compress it. You don’t want to overstuff it because that could be an issue. But you definitely want to make sure it’s all filled up.

    The second thing is you’re going to have a lot of drafts in there so you have to do a really good carpentry job of putting some sort of a soffit material over that and even so far as to caulk all of the seams so that no air gets around it.

    You know, you have an additional exposed surface there. You have the exterior walls which are exposed, but now you have the floor where the cold gets underneath. And the two of those together is what’s causing these issues. I will tell you that it’s never going to be as warm as an area of your house that’s not bumped out, but you probably can make it warmer if you do a really good job insulating. If you’re going to take the soffit material off that’s there now and pull the insulation out, you can also seal up any gaps in the framing with Great Stuff; the expandable foam spray insulation.

    JEAN: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Spray that in there first, seal up the gaps and then put the insulation in and then re-soffit it and caulk all of the seams. And that’s going to be the best you can do.

    JEAN: Perfect. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Art in Indiana’s doing some work in the bath. How can we help?

    ART: Yes, I am going – tearing out some old ceramic tile over an old lath and plaster wall in a shower. And I’m wondering what the right way to prepare the wall for putting the ceramic tile back. In particular, is there any type of waterproofing I should put over any drywall that I use to repair the old lath and plaster wall that was underneath the ceramic tile?

    TOM: Alright, are you taking the old wall out completely, Art?

    ART: Yes, I’m going down to the bare studs and then going back with waterproof drywall.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Don’t use drywall.

    ART: But I had read somewhere where I should put some sort of waterproofing …

    TOM: Don’t use drywall.

    ART: OK.

    TOM: That would be a big mistake. You want to use a tile backer and it’s called Dens Armor.

    ART: OK.

    TOM: There’s a version of Dens Armor, Leslie, I think it’s designed specifically for tiles.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s – I think it’s simply called the Dens Armor Tile Backer.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: And it’s the same principle that they use for their Dens Armor drywall which has a fiberglass facing except this is really made to really take a lot of moisture, which is what you’re going to get. Because even though you’re putting tile on top of a moisture-proof product, the grout lines are still going to, you know, suck in a lot of water and put it to that bottom surface. So you want to make sure it’s really something that can get wet.

    ART: Yes. Yeah, like cement board or something of that effect.

    TOM: Yeah, and it’s like that. That’s right. It’s a replacement product for that but it’s better. And you know, Art, you’re going to through all the work of pulling off this old tile and the old plaster lath, you certainly want to put something on that’s just as durable as what you had to start with.

    ART: Most definitely. It’s a major …

    TOM: It’s a big job.

    ART: It’s a major demolition …

    TOM: Exactly.

    ART: … and I want it to last when we go back with something new.

    TOM: Well, if you use the Dens product it will last.

    ART: Alright. Well, I certainly appreciate. Listen to your show and you have quite a bit of good information.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Art.

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

    LESLIE: Sheila’s fridge has issues in Florida. Hopefully we can straighten them out. What’s going on?

    SHEILA: I have my refrigerator, the freezer part is like – it won’t even freeze my ice trays. So I don’t know what’s wrong with it. It’s like – I don’t know. Anything I put up there it doesn’t freeze.

    LESLIE: How old is this refrigerator freezer?

    SHEILA: It’s not that old. It’s probably like two years.

    TOM: And so, it just won’t freeze the ice or it won’t freeze anything?

    SHEILA: It won’t freeze anything.

    TOM: Hmm, OK.

    LESLIE: And how is the fridge side?

    SHEILA: I would put bacon up there and within two days it’s still not frozen. Nothing’s freezing.

    TOM: OK. And you’ve checked the thermostat?

    SHEILA: Yes.

    TOM: It sounds like it may have a leak in the refrigerant line. If it’s not cooling enough, you may be losing a refrigerant and that could be either a repair or replacement issue …

    LESLIE: Did it ever freeze or did it just …

    SHEILA: Oh yeah, it did when I – like when I first bought it I mean it froze.

    TOM: You probably have a leak in the refrigerant. You’re going to have to have a refrigerator repairman check it and check the refrigerant level and make sure that it is pressurized. Because if you get a small leak it could take some time and that refrigerant could leak out. And if that’s the case, it’s just not going to get cold enough.

    The other thing that could wrong is the compressor but if you’ve got some temperature it’s probably not it. It’s probably more in the cycle of the refrigerant.

    LESLIE: Well, even if you wanted to sort of self-diagnose, there’s a great website called RepairClinic.com. You can put in the type of refrigerator that you have and it’ll give you a cue of sort of questions to, say, that’ll lead you to like what’s going wrong with this. And you say, ‘Freezer does not work’ and it can kind of recommend you perhaps parts that might be done, that need to be replaced or certain items. It’ll help you, you know, sort of establish what might be going on and see if you can’t fix it on your own.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Now you can have a little Tom and Leslie to go. No, we’re not pint-sized but you can download our popular podcast. All you have to do is go to MoneyPit.com and check out the Listen section. Our podcasts are free and you can even search them by topic.

    TOM: Coming up next, tips to keep termites and other wood destroyers out of your home. We want to keep it off the menu. Find out how, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Alright, let’s talk termites. You know, they can cause thousands of dollars of damage in your home.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and a lot of times without you even knowing it.

    TOM: Now, have you ever had a termite swarm?

    LESLIE: I’ve not seen it but I’ve seen remnants by those little glassy wings.

    TOM: It’s ugly. It’s ugly. When they attack your house they are everywhere at the same time. So here’s some advice to keep your house off the menu.

    First, avoid wood-to-soil contact; especially with your firewood. Don’t stack it up against the house on the ground. You’re basically giving the termites a ladder to kind of climb through the firewood.

    LESLIE: And then you’ll nicely bring them right into the house. (chuckling)

    TOM: Right in. You’re laying out the red carpet for them.

    You know, second, get yearly pest inspections. I can tell you. I was a home inspector for almost 20 years and I have seen my share of termite infestations. And guess what? They’re hard to spot. You’ve got to look for them all the time to know how to spot them because they do their work in invisible areas. So, get a pro to inspect your house once a year. Doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It’s really well worth it.

    And if you do get termites, have your home treated with an undetectable termidicide. What does that mean? Well, that means the stuff that they spray around the soil cannot be detected by termites. This is good because it means that they go through it and they come out of it and they carry it back to their nests and spread it to the rest of the termites and that takes care of them, they’re gone no questions asked.

    So, those are some tips for controlling termites around your house. ‘But what about all the rest of the wood destroyers, Tom? What about the powder post beetles? What about the dreaded carpenter bees?’

    LESLIE: It’s like you read my mind, Tom. I was thinking that exactly.

    TOM: And the carpenter ants. You know, they eat a lot of houses, too. Coming up in the next edition of the Money Pit free e-newsletter, we’ll have tips on how to control all sorts of wood destroyers around your house; especially the dreaded powder post beetle. Boy, they can really turn a house to dust, literally. That’s coming up in the next edition. Not a subscriber? Well, go online and get it right now. It’s at MoneyPit.Com.

    And our phone number – 1-888-MONEY-PIT – is open right now. So let’s get back to the phones. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Alright, Danny in Virginia, what’s going on at your money pit? How can we help?

    DANNY: Oh, it’s not bad. Lot of money going in it, though. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Alright, well that’s what we’re here for. What’s going on?

    DANNY: Oh, I was just curious. It is actually worth having the duct system cleaned? Because I don’t think it’s ever been done.

    TOM: I don’t necessarily think it’s worth having it cleaned unless there’s been somewhat of a major event like there’s been a big addition put on or something else that stirred up a big stinking mess inside the ducts. More importantly, I would take that money and put it into the right kind of air cleaner. You want to make sure that you have something more than the fiberglass filter that’s sort of the basic component of most HVAC systems. What I would recommend is a whole-house air cleaner; one that’s permanently installed into the return duct; one that’s going to take out dust and mold and virus-size particles.

    LESLIE: Even allergens.

    TOM: Yeah, even – Aprilaire makes a really good one that was ranked tops by Consumer Reports for the last three years. It’s Aprilaire Model 5000. So you might want to look for an air cleaner like that. That’s where I’d put the money. I wouldn’t spend it cleaning the ducts unless you’ve had some major remodeling project go on that really caused them to get very, very dirty.

    DANNY: And it doesn’t really matter how old the house is?

    TOM: Not really. I just – I don’t necessarily think it’s a good idea. I don’t really see a reason for it. I would rather see you …

    LESLIE: Do you think it can be disruptive to the whole ducting system?

    TOM: I don’t know that it would be disruptive. It probably would stir up a lot – (chuckling) probably a bunch of dust that’s caked on there right now. But I just don’t see a reason for it. I’d rather make sure that you have good air-cleaning technology in the system right now so it really filters everything that you’re putting in there. I’ll tell you what. I put one of these Aprilaire units in my house and all of a sudden we weren’t dusting nearly as much, so I know the thing works very well.

    DANNY: OK. Alright. Because I mean I can dust and then, you know, a day later it doesn’t even look like I’ve dusted. (chuckling)

    TOM: Yeah, what kind of filter do you have right now on the HVAC system?

    DANNY: Well, there was an electronic cleaner – an old one – in there and it’s not even in it anymore. So I’m just using like the – you know, the $15, $18 filter that’s supposed to be better than just your $1 filter.

    LESLIE: And how often are you changing it?

    DANNY: About every month or two?

    TOM: Yeah, it doesn’t sound like it’s doing the job. You know, very often you get air that escapes around that; especially if you have the opening from an old electronic air cleaner. I would have one properly fit and go back to that. That’s clearly the most effective way. Because what happens is, with an electronic air cleaner, the dust particles are charged positive; the filter is negative. So it really sticks to it. It’s very, very effective at scrubbing the air clean.

    LESLIE: And the filter that they use, their media is 72 linear feet of filter all stacked up into one. So it really is a ton of filtration. And you only change it once a year.

    TOM: Yeah, Leslie and I got a chance to see these things made and they’re very impressive.

    DANNY: OK. Alright, great. I appreciate it. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Mackie in Jamestown, California, what’s going on at your Money Pit?

    MACKIE: Well, too much that I don’t like. (chuckling) Like the mice and rats.

    TOM: Mice and rats. Not good.

    MACKIE: Not good at all. Fortunately, a handyman was here when I turned the dishwasher on. He was in the bathroom doing – fixing – working on my fixtures and I had the dishwasher going. And the dishwasher flooded all over the floor. And I screamed. He came and pulled it out and the mice had chewed the back of it where …

    LESLIE: Oh!

    MACKIE: … the water – that rubber thing in the back of the dishwasher.

    TOM: Oh, man. Hmm. That could actually be dangerous. They can chew electrical wiring and cause shorts.

    Alright, here’s what you need to do. First of all, you need to eliminate any areas around the outside of your house that could be considered a nesting area for mice or rats.

    LESLIE: Piles of wood for a fireplace.

    TOM: Garbage cans.

    LESLIE: Get the garbage cans away. Make sure they are lined and covered at all times. Don’t leave piles of foliage or branches; anything that they want to burrow in.

    TOM: Secondly, inside the house make sure all of your food storage is in secure like metal cans; especially things, like for example, dog food.

    LESLIE: Canisters that close up.

    TOM: We find mice and rats will chew through, you know, animal food bags all the time. So make sure that’s all sealed up.

    LESLIE: And even at night. Don’t leave your pet’s food out overnight. Pick it up, dump it out, put it back; whatever you want to do with it but don’t leave it sitting there overnight. And wash the dishes.

    TOM: The next thing you want to do is get a rodenticide and put it in the areas where the mice are. Now the rodenticides are poisons that the mice will eat and then have a heart attack and die. And they’re very effective. They’re very efficient. If you have pets, you need to make sure that you put the rodenticides inside a pet-proof container. They have special like bait stations where the mice can get in and the rats can get in but the pets cannot get in. They’re lockable. So that’s one thing you want to be careful of if you have pets.

    The other thing that you could do is set traps, but many people don’t like to see the mice when they get caught in the trap. And so, that’s why the rodenticide is very effective. We’ve had mice here at my house from time to time over the years and when they start to come back I just head down to the crawl space in the basement and the areas behind the kitchen counters and places like that and throw some bait packets in there and then they just disappear. I never see them again.

    LESLIE: You’ve really got to look for places where they’re getting in. So pull out everything under the sink. Look back there. Even the tiniest opening around a pipe they can fit through. So fill them up with steel wool. Can they chew through Great Stuff or no?

    TOM: Yes. Definitely. Foam? Sure.

    LESLIE: So …

    TOM: But if you put some steel wool in with the Great Stuff it’d be OK. And that’s the expandable foam insulation.

    LESLIE: So really fill up everything. If it’s an opening that – even if it seems too small, fill it anyway. It’s better safe than sorry. Look at cracks where the floor meets the wall. Any sort of unusual space – whether it’s flat, round, small, big – they’re coming in through it. So just fill them up.

    TOM: You know, Mackie, a mouse only needs the size of like the circumference of a dime is all the size that a mouse needs to get into your house. So look for those really, really tiny holes and fill them up.

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

    Well, in your mom’s day the stove and oven basically came in one design and that was bad. But now you don’t have to settle for bending and reaching when you’re prepping your culinary masterpiece.

    TOM: That’s right. We’re going to help you cook up a design plan that’s easy and fun to use, after this.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to this hour is going to win a right angle grinder. It features a four-and-a-half inch wheel that’s ideal for removing paint, rust, grinding steel or polishing metals. And it’s part of their popular 18-volt One+ system, which means the battery and the charger are interchangeable with any of the other One+ tools. It’s worth 100 bucks so what are you waiting for? Call right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must be willing to come online and ask us your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Well, before the break we were talking about kitchen design and what makes smart design and why traditional stoves that we used to see, say in your mom and your grandma’s day, had the stove and the oven pretty much basically attached. And it’s a lot of what you see still today. But you don’t have to settle for your mom’s kitchen; the kitchen of the past. Your oven doesn’t have to be right near your cooktop. Instead, think about mounting your oven in the wall. That’s going to get rid of any need to bend or stretch.

    And a lot of people don’t know this. You can also get your oven to have a door that opens not from the top but from the side; sort of swinging out like a microwave. If you have a door like that, it’s going to help you get closer to the oven so when you take foods in and out you’re not going to be reaching over something hot; that hot door on the floor that’s even a trip hazard. And it’s really going to help you to test a cake, baste a turkey, just get that dangerous door out of the trip zone. So it’s a good idea to think about.

    TOM: Now let’s also talk about your cooktop. For that, you want to install it on a counter that’s only 32 inches off the floor; slightly lower than the typical 36-inch counter. Would you like to sit down while you cook? Leave some knee space below the counter so you can pull a chair in close. That space should be 30 inches wide and about 27 inches tall. You can also put your cooktop on an island, then you’ll be able to reach it from both sides.

    You know, a few design changes will help you cook up comfort and fun along with those meals. If you need some more great tips on these types of design ideas, visit AARP.com/UniversalHome. That’s AARP.com/UniversalHome.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Listening in on WLBK from DeKalb, Illinois we have Eileen. Welcome. How can we help?

    EILEEN: My son has moved into a brand new apartment and he decided to decorate his kitchen with these gel clings. He put them on his cabinet.

    LESLIE: Oh, but they’re made for glass, right?

    EILEEN: Yes.

    TOM: Oh, no.

    EILEEN: So, when he took them off, there is the stain and the outline of the cling.

    TOM: OK, do you think it’s an actual dye transfer of this – of this gel thing to the cabinet surface or is it just like the glue and adhesive that’s sort of stuck behind?

    EILEEN: It’s the dye because there’s different colors; there’s red, blue, purple, green.

    TOM: Then you’re going to have to abrade it off. You’re probably going to need …

    LESLIE: What are the cabinets made out of?

    EILEEN: It’s maple.

    LESLIE: So – but it’s real maple. It’s not like a laminate or …

    TOM: And it’s light colored?

    EILEEN: It’s light colored. Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, I think that she may need to use like liquid sandpaper or something like that. You know, one thing you could try and I would try in the least conspicuous area and that is a rubbing compound; the kind that you use on a car. It has a very, very fine pumice abrasive quality to it and you may be able to rub it into that surface and see if you can abrade enough of the colorant off; enough of the dye off to leave the door behind unscathed. That would sort of be a first step. You’re sort of going to start with the most gentle thing and work down to it.

    LESLIE: Have you tried – I know this sounds like simple and stupid but the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser? I don’t know what it is but it gets the strangest things off of things. It’s basically just some sort of white, sponge-like thing but you have to buy the Magic Eraser and then you just wet it a little bit. I’ve seen it get Sharpie, like solid marker off of drywall. I’ve seen it get dried up, you know, pasta sauce off of a wall. Not that I’ve spilled things like that, but maybe I have. But seriously, try that. Because for two bucks at the supermarket, you could be saving yourself a whole bunch of headache.


    LESLIE: Just give it a shot. You know, it’s the least – the lesser of the evils.

    TOM: Unless you can get this off, you’re going to end up refinishing the cabinets anyway. So we just don’t want you to go to far too fast.


    TOM: Alright? Give it a shot.

    1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Fred in Connecticut, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    FRED: Yes, my question was is it necessary to drain the boiler down in order to change the release valve?

    TOM: Yes. It is, actually. Because there is no valve between the boiler and the release valve for a very good reason. Because if there was a valve and you over-pressured the boiler, it – you’d have no way of getting to the release valve. So yeah, you’re going to have to drain the boiler down below that point to replace the boiler pressure relief valve. Make sure when you replace the valve, Fred, that you put in the right size valve because boilers have much smaller valves. They’re usually 30-pound valves compared to water heaters which have 150-pound valves. So make sure you put the right one in so you stay safe.

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

    LESLIE: Thanks for listening to The Money Pit. Up next, the best way to find replacement ceiling tiles. We’ll be right back.

    (theme song)

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, did you hear a question today that made you say, ‘That’s exactly what I wanted to know?’ Would you like to hear the answer again? Well, you can. If you missed it just go to MoneyPit.com and play it again. All of our recent shows are available online. They’re all free. You can even search the transcript at MoneyPit.com.

    Now, something else at MoneyPit.com is the box to send us an e-mail question. So let’s jump into the e-mail bag.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got one here from Cathy in Concord, New Hampshire who writes: ‘I need to replace some ceiling tiles in a 40-something-year-old house. How do I go about finding replacement tiles?’

    TOM: A fine question. Any ideas?

    LESLIE: Well, yeah. You know, in snooping around the Armstrong site – I do a lot of work with them, I love their products, I love their flooring options – they have a whole ceiling line. And ceiling tiles aren’t just those traditional weird, foamy, plain ones that you see at the home center. There’s actually a lot of decorative options and things that are beautifully detailed that really make you feel like, ‘Gosh, that’s not a suspended ceiling.’ So check out Armstrong.com. You might find something there that works exactly for the size of the grid that you have and you need. You never know what’s there. So check it out, Cathy, or go to your home center. They have standard ones there as well.

    TOM: And typically, the ceiling tile sizes have not changed, pretty much, in the last 50 years or so. You know, the basic 12×12 tile is still available.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: The 2’x2′ and 2’x4′ drop ceiling tile is still available. And you know, speaking of drop ceilings, if you can’t find the tile you can always put a new ceiling on top of it. The drop ceilings today are just drop-dead gorgeous. I mean I cannot believe that they’re …

    LESLIE: Well, and the tracks are so easy to install.

    TOM: I know.

    LESLIE: I mean really all you need is a laser level and, you know, an ability to follow that line and you’re doing it yourself. So it’s an easy project to tackle if you can’t find the ones exactly that you love.

    TOM: Alright, here’s an e-mail from Frank in West Warwick, Rhode Island, listening to The Money Pit on WPRO. He says: ‘I’m experiencing a problem with an efflorescence buildup on my foundation walls. What do you recommend I do to resolve the problem?’

    LESLIE: Well Frank, you are correct, sir. That white buildup that you’re seeing is a mineral deposit and it’s also known as efflorescence. Luckily for you, Frank, it is very easy to clean. All you have to do to remove it is you can fill a little spray bottle with some white vinegar – it’s probably the easiest way to apply it – spray the stain, let it sit. You’re going to notice that stain dissolve. It really does a great job of getting rid of that sort of salt, mineral-y deposit. Once it’s gone, rinse it with some clean water just to help get rid of that vinegar-y scent and it’s gone. But you might have to keep maintaining it.
    Think about your drainage issues, though, and that’ll keep that water from getting in.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Don’t just deal with the symptom. Deal with the cause. And that is poor drainage. Because that efflorescence is basically forming when the water leaks through your walls, Frank, and then evaporates into your basement space and leaves its mineral salt deposits behind. That’s what the efflorescence is. It’s a salt.

    So, what you should do, take a look at your grading, the angle of the soil around the foundation perimeter. Make sure it’s sloping away from the walls. We like to see a slope of around six inches over four feet. Also, look at the soil. Make sure it’s not topsoil. Make sure it’s clean fill dirt. And also take a look at those downspouts.

    LESLIE: Yeah, a lot of times it’s amazing to me, number one, that people don’t have gutters on their home and then wonder why there’s water in the basement or just don’t pay any attention to the gutters. Maintain them. Give them some tender loving care. Clean them out when you can. Not saying do it everyday but maintain them seasonally. And make sure those downspouts are depositing that water three to six feet away from your foundation.

    TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and before we say goodbye, Leslie, I think it’s time for a take-home assignment.

    LESLIE: Oh, really? I love homework. Go on.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yes. Do you have a wet basement? Are you wondering …

    LESLIE: Not anymore.

    TOM: That’s right, we fixed yours, didn’t we? (laughter) Are you wondering how much paint you might need? Whatever your home repair or home improvement question is the answer is at your fingertips 24/7 at MoneyPit.com where you’ll find just about everything we’ve ever written about home improvement. You can even search by topic. It’s all available and free at MoneyPit.com. Sign up for our free e-newsletter. We will even deliver it to your doorstep every single Friday morning.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but watch out. Tom’s got a bad throw. He breaks windows all the time.

    TOM: (laughing) Only my newspaper kid does. (Leslie chuckles) I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    (theme song)


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

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