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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. It’s a great hour. It’s a great idea. We’re going to talk about some great home improvement projects.

    LESLIE: That’s right. This hour, tackling storm cleanup can be easier with a chainsaw. But avoid your own massacre and keep in mind that this is one tool that you need to operate with caution. We’re going to tell you what you need to know this hour.

    TOM: And also this hour we kick off a new segment here on The Money Pit; the Green Scene. We’re going to have a special segment that tells you about the products and services for your home that are environmentally friendly. Good for you, good for your house, good for the environment. Everybody wins.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, we have a fantastic prize to give away. It is an 18-volt One+ right angle grinder from Ryobi. It’s worth 100 bucks and it comes with a battery and charger that can be interchanged with any other Ryobi One+ tool. It’s a great prize.

    TOM: You know, including – do you know they even have a One+ chainsaw?

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Ooh. Chainsaws freak me out. But they’re super fun.

    TOM: That’s a tool for a storm. You know, you got no power? Just use your battery-powered chainsaw.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Fear not. Rrrrrrrr!

    TOM: No problem. So, you want to win it? Well, you’ve got to call 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question.

    So Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Louie in Port Huron, Michigan, you are on The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    LOUIE: Yes, hi there. I have – we just bought a new house here last July.

    LESLIE: Well, congratulations.

    LOUIE: Thank you. And we are looking to finish the basement and I’m looking at putting insulation in between the basement and the first floor. I’d like to find out which way the face of the insulation should be directed to. And also, I guess, what’s the best way if I should put a vapor barrier over top of that?

    TOM: Well, the vapor barrier goes towards the heated space. So that goes – if you’re doing from the basement up to the first floor, the paper would be up against the floor. It would not be – it’s kind of the opposite of the way that you would think. But I would recommend not using a paper-face at all. I would recommend just using raw bats; unfaced fiberglass bat insulation. You hold them up in place with – they have these wire supporters that sort of spring in between the floor joists.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And the bats are about six feet long and they’re easy to handle. They can go up in between the floor joists and you support them with these wire springs.

    LESLIE: What’s the benefit of the non-vapor barrier?

    TOM: Well, if you have a vapor barrier and it has any holes in it, it’s just as good as nothing. So I think that in a floor situation, you’re probably better off not putting a vapor barrier on it. Vapor barriers work really well when you can put them on and then put the drywall over it. For example, if you’re doing your walls and you put the vapor barrier against the edge of the studs and then you cover it with drywall so everything is in the right order.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: But when you have the floors and the walls already completed, it’s much harder to get that kind of a seal. So what I would suggest you do is go ahead and put unfaced fiberglass bats into the floor. And you will find that it makes a nice different. It will be much, much warmer on the first floor as a result.

    LOUIE: OK. Now, should that insulation be as thick as the floor joist is?

    TOM: Yeah, there’s no reason to save any room there. So if you have eight-inch floor joists, use eight inches of insulation.

    LOUIE: OK.

    TOM: By the way, do you have any plans to ever finish this basement?

    LOUIE: Yes, I do. That’s why I wanted to know this …

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to finish the basement, remember, once you insulate that floor that none of the heat is going to leak back through it. So that means you’re going to have to have separate heat for the basement. So you’ll need to have, you know, electrical baseboard radiators are fine for a basement rec room because you don’t need to run them all that often. Or you could have your HVAC system modified to put in, for example, an additional duct down there. But once you insulate it, you are insulating – you are separating it, thermally, from the rest of the house. So you’re going to have to have a heat source for that basement once you do that.

    LOUIE: Excellent. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Thank you for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Tim in Indiana, you are on The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    TIM: Hi, I’m trying to figure out what the difference between a furnace and a heat pump is and which one’s better to replace a furnace with.

    TOM: Well, what do you have now? Do you have gas heat?

    TIM: I have gas heat and I had some – it’s a – the house was built in the 60s and it’s an existing furnace.

    TOM: If you have gas heat then there’s no reason to put in a heat pump. If you have electric heat, then putting in a heat pump is a viable option. What a heat pump is – just for those that are not familiar with it – is basically an air conditioner that runs backwards. It has a reversing valve as part of the refrigeration cycle. Think of a wall …

    LESLIE: But they can’t do both. It’s strictly a heat pump if it’s a heat pump.

    TOM: No, it goes – well, a heat pump also supplies cold air or hot air. It basically reverses the refrigeration system.

    LESLIE: OK.

    TOM: In the summer the refrigeration runs one way. In the winter it runs a different way. But it uses the principles of refrigeration to basically either cool or heat your air.

    LESLIE: OK.

    TOM: Think of a window air unit; a portable. You know how it blows hot air out of the back side?

    LESLIE: Turning it inside out.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s like turning it inside out is all a heat pump is. And the way a heat pump works is it maintains the temperature in your home as long as the difference between what you set it at and what it is, is two degrees. So if you set the thermostat at 74 but it falls to 73, the heat pump comes on. If it falls to 72 the heat pump stays on. If it falls to 71, the heat pump says, ‘I can no longer keep up with your demand for heat’ and brings on another part of the heat pump which is called the backup heat. And that’s straight electric resistance heat. Now it gets warm quick when that happens but it makes your electrical cost about triple.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but imagine just trying to maintain the standard heat if it’s kicking on all the time. It’s expensive.

    TOM: Yeah, it can be. You know, I was down in Florida not too long ago and I had to actually adjust the thermostat for my mom and dad. They have an electric heat pump in their house. And I instructed them to not move the thermostat up and down quickly. Because if you have a heat pump, you have to have a special heat pump thermostat that moves it up and down slowly because it doesn’t trigger that backup resistance heat from coming on.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: But you know what? Hands down, if you’ve got gas I would never replace a good gas system with an electric heat pump because it’s going to be much more expensive to run.

    TIM: OK, thank you.

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

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Ray in Delaware, what’s going on at your house?

    RAY: I bought a granite countertop that’s medium brown to dark brown. And there’s one seam and part of the seam, it’s darkened on either side of it about six inches long and it’s just slightly darker.

    TOM: OK. Ray, that’s not just dirt, is it, that’s in that seam? Like a grout joint that gets dark?

    RAY: No, no. It’s into the granite.

    LESLIE: Ooh.

    TOM: Has it always been that way, Ray, or did it happen …

    RAY: Well, they just – it got installed like July.

    TOM: And was it like that from the get-go or did you guys put something on it …

    RAY: No, no. It was – no, never put anything on it. It happened like a month or five weeks later we noticed it.

    TOM: Well something must have happened. Granite is very old – it’s millions of years old – and it’s not just going to turn that color all by itself. So something must have gotten in there or perhaps it was like that and you just didn’t notice it. But it’s not – it’s pretty much an inorganic product so it’s not going to change on its own.

    LESLIE: Well, it could be, Ray, that you guys perhaps cleaned the countertop with an inappropriate cleaning material. Because sometimes if you use the wrong thing it could cause discoloration.

    RAY: We really weren’t even here because I have another home we stay at. So, the countertops I mean basically didn’t even get used.

    TOM: Well, there’s a company called Stone Care that makes a whole line of granite cleaners. You might want to try to clean that top with some good professional cleaner and see if takes any of that color out. But if it’s a stain that’s embedded down into it, then it’s going to be very, very difficult for you to pull it back up.

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

    LESLIE: Harold in Lake North Hills, Illinois, what’s going on at your money pit?

    HAROLD: Oh, that valve you guys were talking about, about the shower; you know, where it keeps the shower normal when you flush the toilet it turns cold.

    TOM: Yes.

    LESLIE: Right.

    HAROLD: I need to know where you could get that or whatever.

    TOM: Oh, you can get it anywhere. And it’s called a pressure balance valve. Now what a pressure balance valve does is it maintains the flow mix between hot and cold in your shower even when the pressure goes down. Now, the force of the water – the pressure – will reduce but the mix won’t change.

    LESLIE: So you’re not going to get a temperature difference. But if somebody turns on a sink or flushes a toilet – whatever causes the water to react in your shower – it’s just going to lose pressure. So you’re not going to burn yourself or freeze. It’s the end of practical jokes. But you’ll still get a good mix but it’s just going to be less intense.

    TOM: Yeah, and all the manufacturers make one. In fact, we saw one recently that Moen makes …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … that was cool because it has a memory function that, if you happen to like your …

    LESLIE: Which was so interesting.

    TOM: Yeah, happen to like your shower mix at just a certain place, like a certain type temperature, once you set it you just kind of hit a button and it sort of goes right back to where it was. So, but it’s called a pressure balance valve. All the manufacturers have them and that will be the solution to your situation with the cold and hot showers.

    HAROLD: OK, thank you very much. And you guys stay really warm wherever you’re at.

    LESLIE: And you, too.

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit and spring is almost here. And we’re going to help you get your money pit ready because you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: Up next, each year there are more than 30,000 chainsaw related injuries.

    LESLIE: (inaudible) that’s huge!

    TOM: Thirty thousand miniature chainsaw massacres going on all around the country.

    LESLIE: That’s horrible.

    TOM: We’re going to teach you the critical things you need to know so that you can use a chainsaw safely, after this.

    (promo/theme song)

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and if you give us a call now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, one caller we’re going to talk to this hour is going to win a great prize from Ryobi. It’s a right angle grinder from their very popular One+ line. All of the One+ power tools run off the same battery and charger so it’s all interchangeable.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Before the break we were talking about chainsaws. You know, they can make storm cleanup easier and faster but like any powerful machine, they are dangerous if not used correctly. Here’s some tips.

    First, obviously, read the safety manual that came …

    LESLIE: So many people don’t read the manuals.

    TOM: You know, I’ve always forced myself to read those manuals and, surprisingly enough, I learn something once in a while. So, not a bad idea to check the book.

    Also, it’s important to wear safety gear. You know, a hardhat is probably – it’s probably one of the only home improvement projects that I will regularly wear hardhats for is I’m using a chainsaw. Because you’re cutting stuff off over your head and your head is pretty soft. (Leslie chuckles) So wear a hardhat. Wear head and face protection; hearing protection also very important; and cotton or leather gloves. With powerful tools an ounce of prevention could save you a visit to the emergency room.

    1-888-MONEY-PIT could also save you the cost of a home improvement emergency so call us with your home improvement question. Call us with your home improvement project. Call us with your home improvement problem. There’s no problems. There’s only solutions waiting to be used, implemented, given out, tried out. Call us. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Craig in Kansas City, Kansas. What can we do for you?

    CRAIG: Yeah. Hey, I’ve got a question for you. I’ve got a kind of dilemma here. Our new house warranty expired and so what – we bought a home warranty and it’s about $400 a year. And we don’t have that much, you know, deficiencies but it covers pretty much everything; you know, except for my son’s iPod. (Tom and Leslie chuckles) But one year my air conditioner went down and that would have been like $1,000 and, you know, with the $35 deductible, you know, they paid everything else. But since then, it’s like I don’t know, should I keep that? Is that a good – is that a good idea or not?

    LESLIE: Yeah but Craig, you know the second you cancel it everything’s going to break down.

    TOM: Yeah, how old is your house?

    CRAIG: Yes, it’s about 12 years old.

    TOM: Twelve years old. I think now is a great time to have a warranty because at this age, you’re going to start – like you already went through the compressor. Other things that could go wrong: dishwashers fail at this time, washer/dryers, water heaters will start to leak. Twelve years is an age when you start getting to a lot of mechanical breakdowns. So if you’re not a lucky kind of a guy – which you may not be – it might be OK. But remember, warranty companies are in the business to make money. So they’re betting that over the long haul …

    LESLIE: Something’s going to go wrong.

    CRAIG: Yeah.

    TOM: No, they’re actually betting that nothing’s going to wrong.

    LESLIE: Oh, true.

    TOM: They’re betting that not enough’s going to go wrong to make it unprofitable for them to be in the warranty business. So it really depends on, you know, how financially sort of secure you are in the fact that, ‘Well, if I don’t get the warranty and all of a sudden I get, you know, $1,000 repair is it going to kill me?’ I think over your lifetime …

    LESLIE: Yeah, but compound it if you have four $1,000 repairs all at once.

    TOM: Right. But all other factors being equal, compounded over your lifetime, you’re usually better off not buying warranties. Because, on average, you’re going to end up spending more money on warranties than you would on all of the repairs together. You know, when you start getting to, you know, one year versus another year, harder to make that decision. So if you’re more comfortable with not having those surprises, then go ahead and buy the warranty. If you are comfortable that you can handle an occasional repair cost, then take the money you were going to put in the warranty and put it in a home improvement savings account or home repair savings account. Bank it yourself. Self-insure, so to speak, against the unknown of home improvement repair.

    CRAIG: That’s great insight. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Roger in North Carolina, tell us how we can help you.

    ROGER: Yeah, I’m calling about a leak in my brother’s basement. We – he just moved into it up in Tennessee and right where the blocks meet the pad – the cement pad down in the basement –

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: – it, when it rains real hard, it will just come in in a couple places. And I can see where somebody’s tried to mortar along; like make a seam along there.

    TOM: Yes.

    ROGER: But it doesn’t seem to be working very well.

    LESLIE: Well, that’s because even the mortar is hydroscopic so everything – you know, when the water builds up in the dirt surrounding the foundation, it just sucks it right in.

    TOM: Yeah, the reason that it’s leaking in that area, Roger, is because – I’m speculating that this is a hollow block foundation wall. And typically, they build a footing and then they put the first couple of rows of concrete block on top of that and those are packed solid with mortar. And then the rows that are on top of that are hollow so the water gets into the hollow block, falls down until it hits the solid block and then starts to leak out. The secret here is to stop the water from getting there in the first place and to do that you need to address the grading and the drainage at the outside of the house.

    ROGER: Ah. So you don’t actually have to dig down alongside those blocks and …

    LESLIE: Oh, no, no, no.

    TOM: Absolutely not.

    LESLIE: No. Tell your brother, tell him out in Tennessee, tell him to make sure that there’s gutters on the house. Make sure there’s a sufficient amount of gutters for the size of house and make sure that there’s enough downspouts also for the size of house. And if there are already gutters, make sure they’re clean and operating smoothly and everything’s flowing nice out of them. And you want to maintain that. Keep them clean all year long. If you’re tired of cleaning them up, go ahead and put some sort of gutter cover on top of them so you don’t have to do it as often.

    Make sure that your downspouts are away from the house. You don’t want any water deposited right against the foundation. And make sure that all of the dirt, the grading, slopes away from the house. You don’t need to dig up anything.

    ROGER: OK, so just channel the water that’s hitting the ground, try to channel it around and away from the house.

    TOM: That’s right. Manage the water. That’s right.

    Roger, go to our website at MoneyPit.com and search on wet basements. You’ll find detailed articles there on how to deal with this.

    ROGER: I sure will.

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

    LESLIE: John in Illinois, what’s on your mind? How can we help you?

    JOHN: Listen, I have some six-panel pine doors.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And my dog, when he was a pup, he thought that the way to get out of the house was to scratch the doors. (Leslie and Tom chuckle) How can I go ahead and repair that?

    LESLIE: Are they painted? Are they stained?

    JOHN: They’re not stained. They’re just polyurethane coated.

    TOM: But they’re clear coated?

    JOHN: Yes.

    TOM: So that – you want to keep it so that you can see the grain?

    JOHN: Correct.

    TOM: OK. Well, how deep are those scratches?

    JOHN: I don’t know how to answer that. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Eighth inch. Sixteenth of an inch. I mean gouged.

    JOHN: Oh, gosh. No, not an eighth inch. Probably – oh, maybe somewhere between 25, 50-thousandths.

    TOM: Ah, you must be – you must be a technical guy. You must be like a machinist or something.

    JOHN: Correct. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Alright, how did I guess that? Alright, John, what you’re going to need to do is this. First of all, you have to take the door off the hinges, get it up on a couple of sawhorses and you’re going to have to sand it down.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Sand it down. Because if you try to fill that with anything, even those waxy crayons that are used for getting out those scratches …

    TOM: Naw, it’s not going to look right.

    LESLIE: … it’s going to not be clear.

    TOM: What I would do is I would start with about an 80-grit sandpaper and try to get as much of it out as possible. If you get down to the point where there’s just a tiny bit left, I’ll give you a little trick of the trade. You can take a wet washcloth, lay it on top, take a very hot iron and steam it. That will help the grain swell and perhaps close some of those scratches. And then, once you get it to the point where you want a little bit of a 120-grit sandpaper or 150-grit sandpaper would be the last thing that you want to put on there. Then I want you to use a sanding sealer on top of it. And then the last thing is your topcoat of finish, which could be a polyurethane.

    JOHN: Because the house is over 10 years old, there has to be some discoloration in the doors from the time that it was originally …

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. You’re going to have oxidation. So the door, when you sand it, you’re going to have to sand the entire door. Because if you just try to sand those spots, they will come up lighter than the rest of the door. Now eventually that will fade in so it’s the same …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … but it will be pretty obvious. So I would recommend sanding the whole door. You won’t have to do nearly as much. And I hope you have a – do you have a sander? Do you have a vibrating sander?

    JOHN: Yes, I do.

    TOM: Yeah, well that’s the thing to use. You don’t want to do it by hand.

    LESLIE: And you know what? John, I’ve even seen stranger things happen. Before you go and start sanding everything, take a little bit of Murphy’s oil soap. Because sometimes if the scratches aren’t too deep and they’re not terribly discolored, you can actually make it go away with Murphy’s oil soap. You’re not physically getting rid of the divot or the scratch but it makes the appearance go away. Give it a try before you start sanding everything.

    JOHN: Well, I want to thank you folks so much.

    LESLIE: OK, up next, well you’ve heard of Energy Star ratings for appliances, right? Well, there is a brand new rating system and it’s for plumbing fixtures. And this is going to help you decide which ones save the most water.

    TOM: We’ll tell you all about it, after this.

    (theme song)

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Making good homes better at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. What are you working on? Give us a call. Let’s do that job together.

    LESLIE: OK Tom, I don’t know if you’re aware of this but 2007 is a big year for product advances that are going to make it easy to upgrade your bathroom for water savings. Very exciting. And that’s actually not a small feat considering that you use nearly two-thirds of all the water in your home in the bathroom.

    TOM: And here to tell us about the new products to help save water in the bathroom is Aimee Oscamou. She’s our new green scene reporter for The Money Pit.

    Yes, Aimee, you’re the official Money Pit green trend watcher, certified tree hugger (Leslie chuckles), keeping an eye on developments from your perch in the environmentally oriented, heavy forested wilds of northern California.

    AIMEE: Yes, that’s me.

    TOM: So welcome to the program.

    AIMEE: Thank you very much.

    TOM: So let’s talk about saving water in 2007. You tell us that there’s a new labeling program that’s coming out now called Water Sense. What’s that all about?

    AIMEE: Yes, there is. It’s actually a lot like the Energy Star labeling that consumers would be familiar with. That’s been on appliances for several years now. So what we’ve got now is something exclusively for the plumbing part of your home improvement and furnishings here.

    Water Sense is debuting this year and it’s a result of a public and private effort by the EPA to designate products and services that’ll help everybody conserve water.

    LESLIE: Well, what are the guidelines that make it Water Sense appropriate?

    AIMEE: The labeling is a result of some pretty specific testing they do. And I won’t give you all the ins and outs of that because there are pages and pages of specifications. That independent testing is done on all toilets and soon to be faucets and other items that will earn the labeling. And they have to meet pretty stringent specifications that are determined with help from water utilities, manufacturers, test labs and other folks who have an interest in that.

    TOM: These tests are pretty interesting. In particular, I note the flush test.

    AIMEE: Yes, OK.

    TOM: It has to effectively flush a minimum (Leslie chuckles) of 350 grams of soybean paste.

    AIMEE: Yes. And (Tom laughs) – yes, it’s a good idea of how it works and helps. So yeah, the flush test is a pretty important one.

    LESLIE: Aimee, are they going to be testing items that are currently on the market or is this strictly, Water Sense labeling, going to be on new product?

    AIMEE: This is going to be for new products so you’ll see these coming into the market place really in the next few months here.

    TOM: So what kinds of appliances will we see this on besides toilets?

    AIMEE: Toilets are the main thing right now but what they’re working on in testing are bathroom faucets – that’s next up for the bathroom, specifically – and then also will be components for your outdoor system for irrigation for your lawn and yard.

    TOM: That makes a lot of sense. And I’m so glad to see that performance is part of this because all kidding aside, 1.6 gallon toilets have been out for a long time but most of them didn’t work very well, which means you had to flush twice. And if you add 1.6 and 1.6, well, you’re almost using as much water as you had to before.

    AIMEE: Right.

    LESLIE: Now Aimee, I know that you care specifically because of the green issue on our Mother Earth. What about folks who need this translated to dollars and cents? What would doing or using a product that’s Water Sense labeled help them; specifically with a toilet?

    AIMEE: Well, this has some nice savings for folks. Say you’ve got a family who has a toilet in their home right now, it was made between maybe 1980 and 1994. That would be the 3.5 gallons per flush or GPF toilet. With that toilet alone, you’re using around 26,000 gallons of water per year. So replacing that with one of these high-efficiency toilets, it could reduce usage by more than 50 percent and it could save you at least $55 annually in the water bill department. So at that rate, the high-efficiency toilets that are coming out, they can pay for themselves within a few years.

    TOM: Aimee Oscamou, the green scene reporter. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great information. Looking forward to your next report.

    LESLIE: Up next, checking your house for problems before a storm might seem like a nuisance. But actually, spending a little time now to make sure that your home is ready for snow, ice, frozen rain, driving rain, it is worth the time, the money and the headaches. We’re going to tell you what to look for, so stick around.

    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Why don’t you give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT right now or anytime this hour or anytime at all for that matter? One caller we talk to this hour is going to win a Ryobi right angle grinder. It features a four-and-a-half inch wheel that’s ideal for removing paint, rust, grinding steel, even polishing metals. And it’s part of the popular 18-volt One+ system, which means that the battery and the charger are interchangeable with any other One+ tool. It’s worth 100 bucks so call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    OK. To make sure your home is ready for the ice, snow and frozen rains of the winter season, you need to create an inspection check list that’s customized for your home’s specific needs. If you got through the winter this year with no damage, congratulations. Let’s make sure it happens that way every single season. Here’s what you need to know.

    First of all, some of the basics include draining and shutting off sprinkler systems and other exterior water lines to avoid frozen and broken pipes. If you don’t have shut off valves for, for example, your outside hose bib faucets, have them installed this spring because now is the perfect time to do it. You know, spring is like the Goldilocks season. (Leslie chuckles) Not too hot, not too cold, perfect for getting lots of projects done.

    LESLIE: It’s just right.

    TOM: It’s just right. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: That’s right. And speaking of just right, you also want to make sure that your flashings around your dormers, vent pipes, chimneys and pretty much any other projections that are popping out of your roof, the side of your house, whatever, are water tight. You can use a product like Grace Roof Detail membrane. This is going to seal off all of those critical roof detail areas. Also clean your gutters. If you can, do it seasonally. It really is helpful. Because a clog could result in an ice dam, which is going to push moisture up through your shingles and get water right into your house. Also, trim trees, remove dead branches. Ice, snow and wind – when it gets whipping out there, it could cause those weak trees and branches to fall on your house.

    TOM: So now is the time to basically get your house ready for next winter season. Clear away the obstructions. Get your house in tip top shape and you will go through the season unscathed. Don’t wait for the big storm. It’s too late then.

    If you want more information on Grace’s family of weather barriers for roofs, windows, doors and decks, you can visit their website. It’s a great one for consumers. It’s GraceAtHome.com.

    Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Craig in North Carolina, you are on The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    CRAIG: I have Masonite siding on my house and it’s deteriorating in several spots. And from what I understand, there’s a process which I can go through to retrieve some money from the manufacturer for replacement of the Masonite siding. And I hear there’s an 800 number or a web page or something like that that might give me information on what I can do. Thought maybe you might have some insight on that.

    TOM: There are several class action suits going on across the country. Some of them the claim dates have passed on and some of them are still active. So it depends on what type you have. There is a good website called ClaimSourceOne.com. It has a lot of information on ….

    LESLIE: Tom, is it the number one or are you spelling out one?

    TOM: O-n-e. No, o-n-e.

    LESLIE: OK.

    TOM: They’re based out of Atlanta. They have a lot of information about the various sorts of claims that are available to be filed. And I think that they’re a service that sort of does this as a business so they try to get the money back for you and probably get a percentage. I may be wrong about that. But I will tell you that of all the sites out there, they seem to spell it out the best. So you can take a look.

    But conceptually, that composite siding has been having a lot of issues. And you know, generally what happens is the surface of the siding breaks down either from nails that go through it and then water gets in there then it swells up. So, you know, I used to tell my clients, when I was in the home inspection business, that it’d be fine as long as you painted it everyday before you went to work. (Leslie chuckles) You know? But it really is not very durable stuff and by the time it starts to get past the eight to ten-year-old range it really starts to break down pretty rapidly. So you know you’ve got a siding replacement job in your future one way or the other.

    CRAIG: Is there a way that I can find the manufacturer without actually tearing the Masonite off the side and looking on the back?

    TOM: I think that you could probably identify it through photographs. And I’m sure that there are ways to do that because, you know, every one of these has been very well documented at this point in time. And frankly, even if you tore it off you may not find it on the back anyway. So, check out that website. I think that’ll be a good place for you to start. ClaimSourceOne.com.

    CRAIG: Great. Thank you very much for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Marilyn in New Jersey, it seems like you’ve got a wet basement. What’s going on over there?

    MARILYN: Yes, I have a basement that has cinder block walls and a little work room. And I see a little water coming through and a little bit of dust is in there. And I wanted to know if I could use some kind of special paint or something to seal the cinder block.

    TOM: Well, you can. The white dust that you’re seeing …

    LESLIE: Is that efflorescence?

    TOM: Yes, it’s efflorescence. It’s mineral salt deposits that are left over from water that gets into the block and then evaporates and leaves its mineral salts behind.

    There’s a multi-step process here, Marilyn. First of all, we want you to address the drainage conditions at the outside of your house so that we cut back on the amount of water that’s getting there.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you want to make sure that your house has gutters, number one. If the house doesn’t have gutters, put some up. If it does, make sure they’re clean and make sure that those downspouts deposit that water far enough away from the house. And make sure you have enough gutters just to really cover the house and do a good job of keeping that water away.

    And you want to look at the grading of the property as well. You want to make sure that any soil that’s leaning up to the foundation flows away from the house so it’s sloping away. And you want to get down about six inches over four feet. Not too drastic. Just enough to get that water moving away. And doing that will keep that water just from saturating that soil right next to the foundation.

    TOM: Exactly. Now as far as those stains are concerned, I want you to mix up a solution of white vinegar and water. That’s going to help melt those salts away. They’ll make them evaporate away. And then in terms of painting the walls, that is your very last step and you can use a basement wall paint and that will certainly help seal in those walls and prevent any normal soil dampness from coming through.

    So, you see, Marilyn, this is really a multi-step process. It’s really involving water management more than anything else. If you keep the water away from the walls, you’ll keep the basement dry and you won’t be seeing those stains any time soon.

    MARILYN: Thank you very much. That helps tremendously.

    LESLIE: Flooring’s a big topic with our callers here at The Money Pit and Debbie from New Mexico’s got a question about that. What can we do for you?

    DEBBIE: Yes, my husband and I are considering laying laminate in our dining room and down the hallway.

    TOM: OK.

    DEBBIE: And I have a large dining room table. Our children are grown but our children and grandchildren often come home to visit. Is it really scratchable?

    TOM: Oh listen, it’s …

    LESLIE: Oh, the opposite of scratchable.

    TOM: It is tough stuff. Debbie, I’ve got laminate floor that’s been in my house since just after I had my first child. And so, we’ve brought up three kids on the same laminate floor and it looks as good today as the day we put it down. It is incredibly durable stuff. It doesn’t …

    DEBBIE: Great.

    TOM: … scratch. You know, if you drop something heavy on it, like a hammer, you’ll get a little chip. Don’t ask me why I know that. (laughter) But it’s – really, it’s not so bad. You can touch it up, actually, with touchup paint that kind of looks like auto touchup paint. But it really is tough stuff. So I think it’s – if you’re concerned about durability, that’s fine.

    You know, another thing that you could think about is engineered wood floor.

    LESLIE: Yeah, engineered hardwood, though, the prices are a little bit different than it would be for laminate. But the beauty of engineered hardwood is that it’s much less than the actual solid hardwood. And what it is it’s layers, almost like a plywood, and then the topmost layer is the actual veneer of the hardwood that you would select. But also very durable, great in any sort of environment whether it’s a below-grade room or a kitchen or a bath.

    But laminate’s a great choice. You can really put it in any room of the house. It’s a good project to do on your own. And of course, it can look from anything like a hardwood floor to tile to brick to whatever you choose.

    DEBBIE: And is it easy to maintain? I mean is it hard to clean?

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Oh gosh, it’s so easy to clean.

    TOM: Yep. It’s even easy to install. Debbie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Up next, the best way to maintain a butcher block surface. That’s right. They need some help. They’re just not going to stick with you all the time so give them the love they deserve.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we make good homes better; available 24/7 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We talk about lots of things on the program, including mold. Are you concerned about it? Well, figure out everything you need to know because we’ve got a mold resource guide available for you free at MoneyPit.com. We’ve also got the opportunity there for you to send us an e-mail. So let’s jump into the e-mail bag.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Okey-dokes.

    This is from Sue in Sycamore, Illinois who writes: ‘One of the countertops’ – [I guess she’s assuming in her room] (ph) – ‘is about two feet of butcher block. We put in new countertops and sanded down the existing butcher block to fresh wood. Should I apply anything to that? Someone suggested mineral oil.’

    Well, that someone, Sue, is absolutely correct. And this doesn’t just go for butcher block countertops. This also goes for butcher block cutting boards. If you’ve got them, they need maintenance; not just regular washing. So for any surface that you have that’s a butcher block surface, you want to make sure that you sand them down and refinish them every year. You want to keep that surface fresh. And anytime you sand them down you want to recoat them. Even if you’re not sanding them, coat them once in a while. And be sure you use a good quality mineral oil; not olive, not vegetable oil because those are actually – you know, they can go bad, whereas mineral oil doesn’t. And if they turn rancid, it’s going to just lead to a bunch more problems. When you apply the mineral oil, you want to make sure you use a clean cloth, wipe with the grain, allow that oil to soak into the wood for about four to six hours. After that, the excess, you can wipe it away with a soft, clean cloth and it’ll give you love that the butcher block gives to you. So really use it, clean it, enjoy it.

    TOM: And remember, clean it is the key because butcher block, of all the countertop surfaces, has the potential to become contaminated the easiest. So it’s very, very important that if you’re going to use butcher block – especially if you’re cutting raw meat, raw fish – that you clean it with hot, soapy water after you’re done to make sure you kill, especially, any of that nasty E. coli that could get left behind.

    LESLIE: Alright. Got another here from James in Naples, Florida who writes: ‘I would really like to install a wood floor in my living room. I have two large German Shepherds. Is there any kind of wood that would stand up to this kind of use without scratching badly?’

    TOM: Well, absolutely. Hardwoods are probably not going to be the best choice with large dogs. They’re going to look great but sooner or later they’re going to need to be refinished. So, if you’re up for it, go ahead and give it a shot. If not, probably a better option is laminate flooring. There are lots of great choices at Armstrong.com by the way. And in fact, Armstrong has lock-together laminate and even lock-together hardwood. And I think, Leslie, even hardwood may be a possibility but it would probably be engineered hardwood with the super-hard finishes, don’t you think?

    LESLIE: Well, even if you’re going for a solid hardwood, you know, if that’s what you love and that’s really what you’ve got your heart set on, go for it. But get a commercial grade finish. Give yourself every advantage to sort of combat those dogs’ scratchy claws because they’re going to be running; the doorbell rings, they want to get the mailman. You know how it is. And they’re going to dig into that surface. Even though it’s hardwood, it does still have a very soft side to it. And the good thing about hardwood and, really, an interesting thing about engineered hardwood is that they’re both refinishable. With hardwoods, you can do it over and over again. With engineered hardwoods, maybe twice.

    TOM: And the engineered hardwoods are also cool because they’re dimensionally stable, which means you can put them in areas you can’t put solids, like basements where it gets damp or perhaps even a bathroom. Love a hardwood floor in a bathroom.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And hardwood floors in a bathroom – not necessarily solid hardwoods – are hugely popular. So give it a thought.

    TOM: Making good homes better. That’s what we do right here every single week on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    Hey, coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’re going to give you the lowdown on the newest cooktops and ovens that make them safer and easier to use and easier to clean and even more comfortable to cook with. That’s coming up next week on this program.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    (theme song)

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (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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