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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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. So, are you thinking about buying a house? Are you thinking about fixing up a house? You own a house? You’ve got a floor that squeaks. You’ve got a window that leaks. You’ve got a toilet that goes flush in the night? Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We are here to help you with your home improvement questions.

    So, Leslie, you know the old saying: Caveat emptor. Buyer beware.

    LESLIE: Ah-ha.

    TOM: Well, we have a warning for you. If you are a house flipper – now that’s different than being sort of a pancake flipper. (laughing) It’s a house flipper; you buy ’em and you sell ’em.

    LESLIE: Doesn’t require a flip of a pan. Little something different.

    TOM: That’s true. No griddles involved. But with interest rates at record lows over much of the last decade, investors were gobbling up real estate, renovating dilapidated homes and then reselling them at huge profits. But it could change.

    LESLIE: Ah, but experts now say house flipping may be less attractive because short-term interest rates are higher than long-term rates. So if you’re thinking about buying a second home as an investment, make sure you do the research first. And if it’s a fixer-upper, call us first at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. And if we talk to you on the air, you’re going to be automatically entered for a great prize. Leslie, what are we giving away this hour?

    LESLIE: Alright, Tom. This is a great prize anyone can use. It’s an extra hand to help tackle those solo projects. The Ryobi multiTASKit is a versatile tool that acts as a helping hand for people tackling common home improvement jobs alone. It will hold your nails and screws for you, help hang level shelving and pictures, it even sheds light on your project and that cute little yellow attachment acts as a hand; it can hold those long boards for you. So call in; it could be yours.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. The website is moneypit.com. You can also email us to helpme@moneypit.com. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Dick tunes into The Money Pit in Montana on KBLL. And how can we help you, Dick?

    DICK: Well, I’ve got an older home; 1973 is when it was built. And the downstairs basement was only completed with 2x4s glued to the wall with no insulation and paneling put over the top of that. So I want to insulate the basement plus the floor. And I was wondering if I should put some kind of a sealer coat of something inside the walls of the basement before I insulate and put on a finish coat. And plus, what do I do to the floor, also? That’s my basic question.

    LESLIE: On the floor, right now, is just cement?

    DICK: Yes, it’s all cement.

    TOM: Yeah, and the way they did those walls is not really the best way. You don’t want to attach the studs right to the block wall. In the best case scenario you –

    LESLIE: Well, they need to float away a little bit –

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: – just so you get the air circulating and they don’t get all moist.

    TOM: Yeah, if you have a moisture problem, it’s going to really be a problem for you. Because that moisture will wick right through the studs that are attached to the wall into the paneling or drywall and it can become a mold issue as well. So the way that’s done is not really the best way.

    If you’re looking for the way to do the floor, the proper way would be to put down a vapor barrier – plastic vapor barrier – then on top of that, you would put some pressure-treated studs. You would attach those to the floor, probably with Tapcons or masonry nails –

    LESLIE: So you’re going to lose some height to this basement.

    TOM: Yeah, a little bit.

    DICK: Yes, yes. I understand that.

    TOM: And then, in between those 2x4s that are flat on the floor – we call those sleepers – you could put in some of those foam insulating panels. And then, that continuous surface would be covered with plywood. Now you’ll have a warm wood, dry floor. But it really concerns me the way those … the way those walls were made. Because I’ve seen homes that were constructed in that very fashion that became a major mold problem; really major mold problem. Because the wetness of the walls attached right to the studs.

    DICK: Well, I … I’m not sure there is a moisture problem because … but I honestly don’t know, I guess. But none of the studs look like they’ve had any moisture on them over the years.

    TOM: Okay.

    DICK: They’ve been there for many years.

    TOM: Well, work on the floor. And you know, if you see an issue, remember what we told you; you may have to do some more work on those … on the walls. The work that you do to the floor, though, won’t impact what’s happening with the walls. And that’s the best way to give you a very nice wood warm floor. Can you afford to lose about two-and-a-half inches in height in that basement?

    DICK: Yes, I think I can do that.

    TOM: Yeah. Then I think you’re going to be good to go. Because you’ll have an inch-and-a-half with the 2×4 on the flat and then, maybe, three-quarters to five-eights of an inch with the subfloor. And then another three-eights to half-inch with the carpet. So you’ll be looking at about two-and-a-half inches or so by the time you’re all done.

    DICK: Yeah, well I can live with that. I guess I … what you’re saying is just forget about the walls and –

    TOM: Well, yeah.

    DICK: – (inaudible) dry.

    TOM: Unless you really want to work on them. In that case, take them apart and frame them in a little bit. Now, Leslie, besides the carpet – because that’s probably not the best choice for a basement – what other options might he want to consider.

    LESLIE: There’s a whole bunch of different options. You can look at something called engineered hardwood which is, basically, something that’s assembled in the same way a sheet of plywood would be; except the top layer is actually a wood veneer. So you get the look of a beautiful hardwood floor but it’s stable so it can go in a moist situation like the basement.

    You can also look at a laminate flooring, which is available in finishes such as wood flooring. It looks like planks. You can get planks that are wide and aged in a variety of stains so that they can look just about any type of wood flooring that you’d like. You can also get a laminate flooring that looks like a ceramic tile. And those are really great because they’ll stand up to sort of any sort of moisture situation you get in the basement. And they’re just really durable and easy to clean.

    If you like vinyl or the price of vinyl, Armstrong has a new sheet vinyl product that looks fantastic. It doesn’t look like a vinyl product; it looks like real mosaic tiles or slate. And that’s something in like the $2.50 per square foot range. So you’ve got a lot of options out there when it comes to flooring for the basement.

    Carpet, Tom doesn’t always think is the best idea. We have it in our basement. I love it. So, it’s up to you.

    DICK: Well –

    TOM: Okay, Dick?

    DICK: Yes.

    TOM: Alright. Well, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And good luck finishing that basement.

    LESLIE: Lydia in Minnesota finds The Money Pit on KNUJ. And you’ve got some sort of a stain on your hardwood floors. Tell us about it.

    LYDIA: They’re little black spots and I think they’re caused from the metal lifts under chairs.

    TOM: Oh, a little rust there, huh?

    LYDIA: Yes.

    TOM: Little rust transfer.

    LYDIA: Right.

    TOM: Yeah. Okay.

    LYDIA: And I have tried bleach; that doesn’t take anything out. What else can I try?

    TOM: You’re probably going to have to sand them out. I think you’re going to have to lightly sand them out and then you can either put floor wax down or refinish them. You know, how … what condition of your … are your hardwood floors in right now, Lydia? Are they ready to be redone?

    LYDIA: No, not really. (laughing)

    TOM: Not really. Hoping to avoid that, Tom.

    LESLIE: I didn’t want to take on such a big project.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LYDIA: No. And is a big kitchen.

    TOM: Alright, well, let me give you a suggestion, then.

    LYDIA: Okay.

    TOM: With the chairs away, what I want you to do is get some steel wool –

    LYDIA: Okay.

    TOM: – and some simonized paste wax. And try to use the steel wool to apply the wax. That will slightly abrade the surface; hopefully, removing the rust and applying the wax at the same time. See if that will be sufficient as to remove that rust. Try it on one spot. If not, what you may have to do is to lightly sand it with like an emery cloth and a very fine, abrasive sand paper. Because I have a feeling that rust is now sort of embedded into the finish and you have to remove it.

    LESLIE: Well, how could it permeate into the finish so much?

    TOM: Well, it just gets in there and it sticks in there and you’re going to have to lift it out. And the only way she’s going to be able to do that is to probably abrade it out with some sandpaper.

    LESLIE: What about with a sanding sponge?

    TOM: Sanding sponge, too. That might work as well. I mean anything that’s going to give it a little of an abrasive quality to lift it away.

    LYDIA: I shall try something else. Right.

    TOM: Okay?

    LYDIA: Yes. I will try that.

    TOM: Alright, good. I think that will work. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Disclaimer here: no offense to any water heaters listening. But water heaters, by their very nature, are kind of dumb.

    TOM: (laughing) We don’t want to hurt the feeling of the water heaters?

    LESLIE: Yeah, I didn’t want to upset anybody.

    TOM: Well, I always say they’re dumb because they’re basically designed to maintain your water at the proper hot temperature whether you need it or not. And that means a lot of wasted energy. I mean there’s so many hours of the day when you really don’t need your water heated up to the 120 or so degrees that you normally keep it. A better way to do it is with an instant hot water heater. You want to find out how to do that? You can look it up at moneypit.com. There’s also step-by-step instructions for how to install a water heater blanket right there, online, on our website at moneypit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, renovating your bathroom is a great way to add value to your home both for your family’s daily living and for eventual resale. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. We’ll tell you one way to inexpensively renovate a shower, next.

    (promo/theme song)

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: So, upgrading your kitchen is a great investment, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah, it is.

    TOM: Remodeling your bathroom is equally a great investment because –

    LESLIE: I think a better one.

    TOM: You think a better one?

    LESLIE: Well –

    TOM: Well, they both give you a good return on investment. And the nice thing about a bathroom is it’s a lot less expensive an upgrade than a kitchen. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

    LESLIE: Well, because it doesn’t need giant appliances.

    TOM: Well, that’s true. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Well, a good place to start, when working on your bathroom, is the shower. And fiberglass and ceramic tiles have been traditional choices but new, solid surfacing materials like Corian are now available as tub and shower enclosures. And they look darn nice. Corian is durable and easy to maintain and you can install it at a fraction of the cost of ripping out and replacing more traditional ceramic tile walls.

    TOM: Well, when you’re tackling those home improvement projects, you can always use a helping hand. We’ve got one that we’re giving away, this hour, on The Money Pit. It’s called the multiTASKit. It features patented AIRgrip vacuum technology which allows it to adhere to walls and other surfaces without marring or marking. So if you want to, say, hang a handrail or need help with a shelf or you need to stick a laser level on the wall; all those things are possible with the multiTASKit by Ryobi. You want to win it? Call right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Mark in Florida finds The Money Pit on WCCF. And you want to turn a garage into a room. Well, Mark, I was just filming While You Were Out in Fort Lauderdale for two weeks; and we turned about three garages into rooms. So why didn’t you apply?

    MARK: I didn’t know that you were doing it? (laughing)

    LESLIE: It seems like that’s what …

    MARK: Plus I’m on the west coast, not in Fort Lauderdale.

    LESLIE: Ah. We travel, man. What can we do for you?

    MARK: Well, we have a standard two-car garage with a single-door remote control. And I have a side regular door to go out of.

    LESLIE: Okay.

    MARK: And the air conditioning is mounted in the … at the ceiling level. So I’ve got everything on the ground is all open. And I’d like to seal it off and turn it into another room and be able to have it air conditioned, too. And from my air conditioning, I know I could probably bring a vent right off of that. But I was just curious about what you suggest in putting up in front of the door? Because the rest of the room would be more concrete; but the door, obviously, is not.

    LESLIE: (overlapping) The garage door.

    MARK: And approximately how much you think something like that would cost to do.

    TOM: You mean the garage door.

    MARK: Yes, sir.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, I’ve seen that done well and I’ve seen that done very badly. Some –

    LESLIE: Well, is the garage door going to stay functional or are you just going to pretend it doesn’t exist and keep it down?

    MARK: Exactly. Keep it down.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s the way I’ve seen it done badly. (laughing)

    MARK: Oh, okay. Then let’s think about being able to use it. (laughing)

    TOM: Well, actually, if you’re going to convert that into living space, I’d like to see you convert it into living space; including the garage door. I’d like to see the door taken out. I’d like to see the foundation built up so that it matches the height of the rest of the foundation. A wood wall framed. Siding installed. New windows installed there in that space. So that when you look at the house from the street, it looks like it was always designed that way.

    I really think the homes that have the fake garage doors look kind of bad. Not to mention the fact that those doors aren’t really designed to be water-proof that way. And you tend to get them to the point where they leak a lot. I’ve also seen people leave sort of like half-garages behind them to be like storage sheds; and that’s not really very nice either.

    I think if you’re going to use that as living space, then what you want to do is really remove that door, frame it in, put a window in there, whatever else you want to do to make it look like the front of your house. Put some shutters up and make it look like it was always part of the house. I think that’s the best way to maintain the value and the structural integrity of the house.

    LESLIE: But, then, you’re getting rid of a garage entirely.

    TOM: Well, but you’re getting rid of it, anyway, if you’re going to make it living space.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but it’s only temporarily living space for you. You can still have an air conditioned and finished garage. You know, maybe somebody wants their car in air conditioning.

    TOM: Well, then that’s … that’s the decision you have to make. I mean if you want to be able to flip it back, then your remodel is not going to go the whole way.

    MARK: Right. And I wasn’t really thinking of flipping it back. I was thinking more adding to the house without having a garage.

    TOM: So –

    LESLIE: Then I say get rid of the door, too.

    TOM: Yeah. I think that’s the best shot. Just get rid –

    MARK: Would you have any idea what something like that – not going anything extravagant; just moderately – what something like that would cost?

    TOM: Well, to pay a contractor to do it, you’re going to have to have a mason build up the foundation first. So you’re probably looking at least a grand there. You’re going to have to buy a couple of windows. So I think, probably, by the time you’re done just refinishing that front wall of the house –

    LESLIE: I always say 10,000. (chuckling)

    TOM: Yeah, I was thinking less.

    LESLIE: It’s always … you know how it is. You start off at five and somehow you creep to 10.

    TOM: Yeah. I was thinking you could probably do a minimum job for about five grand. It’s not that big of a job.

    MARK: Well, I appreciate it. That gives me a good idea. I was thinking closer to 10,000 also.

    TOM: Yeah. And listen, when you … when you go ahead and extend those ducts in there, make sure that you also have return ducts. Don’t just supply air. You have to return it or it’s not going to work right.

    MARK: Right.

    TOM: Okay?

    MARK: Yeah, I would have a licensed contractor do that.

    TOM: Good. Good. Yeah, because you want to make sure the system’s big enough for it and you have good flow. There’s nothing worse than doing all that to a room and not having any heat.

    LESLIE: And especially you want to make sure that by adding this room to the existing system, that your unit itself is powerful enough to do that room as well.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Okay?

    MARK: And that I’ll have to check into, also.

    LESLIE: (laughing) Sorry, Mark. We’ve added a long list of things.

    MARK: No, that’s why I called to ask; because I don’t know.

    TOM: Alright.

    MARK: I appreciate it. It gives me two more things I have to think about.

    TOM: That’s right. Well, sometimes when you call us, we do add to your to-do list.

    MARK: Well, that’s alright.

    TOM: That’s the risk.

    MARK: (laughing) Thank you very much for your time.

    TOM: Mark, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Yeah, if you think you had nothing to do with your house, just call us; we’ll think of something for you. (laughing) We’re good at that.

    Okay, Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: William in Ohio is looking for some cleaning tips; particularly involving brick. How can we help, William?

    WILLIAM: Yes, I have a brick house. And I was wondering how –

    LESLIE: (inaudible)

    WILLIAM: – how to get it cleaned. I don’t think you’re supposed to power wash it but I’m not really sure. I was just wondering if somebody could give me some help on how to clean it.

    TOM: Well, you certainly can power wash it. But the key, here, is to not use an excessive amount of pressure. What you want to do is use a mildicide solution, first, to make sure that any mildew that’s attached to that brick – which is tends to make it what … what is what tends to make it look sort of dull and dirty and green and that sort of thing (inaudible) –

    LESLIE: Tom, would you recommend making up your own homemade mixture of like bleach and water? Or would you say use something more like a Gelmax (ph)?

    TOM: You know, it’s funny. I have a painter friend of mine that does this all the time and he absolutely swears by straight Clorox; just loves it, loves it, loves it.

    LESLIE: Straight Clorox on the brick directly? Not even watering it down?

    TOM: Yeah, except that all your plants die (chuckling) when you do it that way. I, personally, like to use Gelmax (ph) which is a cleaning solution that you mix with water and bleach together that gives you a little bit longer life. But the secret here, William, is to put it on and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes; keep it wet.

    LESLIE: And if you do it on a sunny day, the sun activates the bleach and actually helps it to clean better.

    TOM: Yeah. And then you can rinse it off with a pressure washer but you don’t want to use one like on the needle-like setting; you want to use one with sort of a fairly wide spray. And you’ll be amazed how much brighter your house will look when you do that. Don’t just blast it first without a cleaning solution because it won’t last.

    WILLIAM: I also have a vinyl siding garage. Is this … can I use the same thing on that or -?

    TOM: Yeah, you absolutely can. But you have to use a lot less pressure with the vinyl siding. You have to be careful.

    LESLIE: Oh, because that will ding and dent and –

    TOM: Ding and dent? It’ll blast a hole right through it. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Right through it.

    TOM: It’ll turn that puppy into Swiss cheese, William.

    WILLIAM: Uh-huh.

    TOM: Yeah, pressure washers are a great tool but you have to use them cautiously. Okay?

    WILLIAM: Yes, sir.

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

    LESLIE: So anyone who’s been through new home construction, knows it’s a lot of work. Cost overruns, schedule snafus and other problems are just common run of the mill. It’s bound to happen.

    TOM: Yes, but there is a new type of new home construction that can save you lots of gray hair. Or just lots of hair if you look like me. More on that –

    LESLIE: (overlapping) (laughing) And fights; you know, spousal fights.

    TOM: That’s right. More on that, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. Study after study shows that as homes become tighter and more energy efficient, more contaminants become trapped inside. Aprilaire’s technologically-advanced electronic and media air cleaners are the best choice for maintaining healthy indoor air. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com.

    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: So talking about new construction – you know, when you think modular home you might be thinking of a half of a house on a trailer that you might see rolling down the highway.

    LESLIE: (laughing) With a sign that says, ‘Wide load.’

    TOM: (laughing) Exactly. And the little pick up truck following it with the yellow flashing lights on, right?

    LESLIE: (laughing) Beep beep beep. (laughing)

    TOM: Well, you might be surprised to learn that factory-built modular homes are not only cost effective but their quality is top notch; really good stuff.

    LESLIE: And by building the home in an enclosed factory setting, weather has little effect on the construction process and quality can be meticulously maintained. And with hundreds of designs to choose from, you’ll be sure to find one that meets your needs and your budget. So consider this excellent option if you’re going to be building a home from scratch.

    TOM: You know, Leslie. Of the many jobs I had growing up to become a home improvement expert as I am now –

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Okay.

    TOM: – one of them was actually building a form of modular home. It was called a panelized home. So instead of like half a house being constructed, they would build the entire wall like in one piece. And one side would have the siding on it and the other side would have the drywall on it. And so the masons would build the foundation. Then we would order the house and it would come all flat; so with the walls like flat-packed.

    LESLIE: Yeah?

    TOM: And the truck would like … cab would like open up and turn into a crane. And they’d basically drop all these walls and lock them together in place. So we’d have that thing like inside, totally enclosed, and ready for like –

    LESLIE: (overlapping) I think you’re thinking of that monster truck rally you went to last week.

    TOM: No, no. Really. It used to work … it used to work this way. And like within, say, a day to two days, you’d be like plumbing out the inside. It was the most amazing thing. And the quality was really good. So manufactured homes are a good thing.

    LESLIE: And these new modular homes, they can really be environmentally sound and be made with so many green materials and they’re beautiful. So it’s really a great option; especially if you’re looking into something a little bit different.

    TOM: Absolutely. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Whether your home is modular or whether it’s mobile or whether it’s new or whether it’s really old – call us right now.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Dick in Rhode Island tunes into The Money Pit on WPRO. And you’ve got some twisted doors, Dick. What happened?

    DICK: Oh, I don’t know. They … they’re new … they were new French doors; you know, with the glass lights, okay?

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: How many lights?

    DICK: And … well, there’s a pair of them in one … in one entryway, if you will. And they … they’re probably seven years old but they were never finished, I guess. So never sealed or anything. It’s just the natural wood. And unfortunately, one of them is displaced at the bottom, approximately an inch from the other door, so that it doesn’t go across in a straight line. And yet, the … where the hinges are is fine and across the top they’re both fine. The problem is that one is displaced. Is there any way that that can be -?

    TOM: Okay, so the bottoms of the doors don’t quite meet at the right place. One’s sort of twisted in, correct?

    DICK: That’s correct. Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah, okay. Well, the way to straighten this out is by adjusting the jambs of the door. And hangling … hanging – hangling. (chuckling) Hanging a pair of French doors is a pretty tricky operation. Because, typically, if you have a door that’s not lined up at the bottom, the jamb – where the bottom hinge is – has to either move forward or backward – forward toward the outside of the house or backward toward the inside of the house – to get that to line up. And, sometimes, if it’s a lot of room, you may have to move it sort of halfway on one jamb and halfway on the other jamb. Because the goal, here, is not as much to have the doors be perfectly plumb and level but to have them line up and look that way.

    DICK: Right, okay. Straight line at the bottom.

    TOM: You follow me? Yeah, exactly.

    DICK: Where the problem is. Right.

    TOM: Yeah, and if it’s a wood door, they could be in constant movement. So, really, what has to happen is it has to move at the jamb. Now, how do you do that? Well, if it was me, I’d probably be taking the molding off on the inside of the door. If the jamb was really, really secure so you couldn’t move it at all, I’d probably use a saws awl to cut the nails out from back of the door jamb so I could have room to move it. Then I would very carefully pull it one way or the other until I got it the position I wanted. And then, I would re-secure it in place.

    DICK: Okay. Actually, there’s really no jamb. It’s … let me see … yeah, there is on one. But jamb; is that some … like a stop against which the door should -?

    TOM: No, that’s what the hinges are attached to. That’s the frame of the door. It’s the jamb; the door jamb. Okay? And that’s going to be nailed to the frame of the house. And so you need to break that connection to be able to move the door one way or the other.

    DICK: Really?

    TOM: Yep.

    DICK: You can do it by adjusting (inaudible) –

    TOM: (overlapping) By adjusting the jamb; that’s right. Yeah, think of it as moving the entire plane of the door. If you move the door one way or the other at the jamb, the inside’s going to adjust.

    DICK: Yeah.

    LESLIE: But it only needs to be adjusted on that bottom where the door is not meeting up?

    TOM: Correct. (inaudible)

    LESLIE: And then, think about finishing that wood. Really think about taking care of it; putting some sort of a urethane finish on it so it’s sealed up so it will resist warping and twisting a little bit.

    TOM: That’s right. And how many sides does a door have, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Six. Please.

    TOM: That’s right, six sides.

    DICK: Okay.

    LESLIE: Six sides.

    TOM: So cover every one of those sides with the proper finish because that’s going to stop it from warping in the future. Okay, Dick?

    DICK: Yeah, okay. So the idea is to move the bottom jamb forward, I guess.

    TOM: Correct. To close down the gap.

    DICK: Yeah. Okay, we’ll give it a shot. Thank you. Enjoy the show.

    TOM: Well, thank you very much and thanks for calling in from WPRO in Providence, Rhode Island.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT is the telephone number.

    LESLIE: Well, as President Bush recently said, ‘Americans are addicted to oil.’ And that includes home heating oil. So you want to do everything you can to keep your heating dollars from going up the chimney or leaking out your doors and windows.

    TOM: One important step is a properly finished exterior. We’ll tell you which kind of door insulates best, right after this.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Peerless. If you’re putting in a new bathroom or kitchen faucet, Peerless can help you with every step including the hardest one – getting that old faucet out. For a complete undo-it-yourself guide, visit the Peerless faucet coach at faucetcoach.com.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    So, good doors are a must to keep the warm air in and the elements out. But wooden doors take lots of punishment from changes in temperature and humidity. To keep them stable and fitting properly, make sure to paint all six sides of a door. Yes, a door has six sides. (chuckling) Not only the front and the back but the bottom, the top and the two edges.

    LESLIE: Even the edge that gets the hinges. Pay attention to it.

    TOM: Exactly. Because if you don’t seal them, including all of those areas of the grain, they’re going to warp, they’re going to twist, and they’re going to get out of whack. And that means they’re going to get very, very leaky.

    Or if you want to have the best of both worlds, a door that looks like a beautiful wood door but is actually five to eight times more efficient, change it out with a fiberglass door. The technology, today, is amazing in fiberglass doors. They really look good and it will fit perfectly every single time.

    LESLIE: And for great fiberglass door options that have the look of wood without the price tag, read our next e-newsletter. The Money Pit e-newsletter comes right to your inbox every Friday and it’s free, folks. To subscribe, hit moneypit.com, today, and learn how fiberglass doors will keep your home warm and cozy in winter and cool and comfortable in the summer. Mmm, I like the sound of that.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us right now. You know, everybody can use a helping hand when it comes to a home improvement or repair. And Ryobi has got that extra hand in the form of the new multiTASKit kit. We’re giving one away, this hour, to a lucky caller. It features patented AIRgrip vacuum technology which lets it adhere to walls and hold stuff for you including a tray, a laser level or just a helping hand without –

    LESLIE: Even a work light.

    TOM: A work light, too, without marring your walls. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Eve in Virginia listens to The Money Pit on WJFK – Free FM. And you’re selling a condo. How can we help?

    EVE: I am so excited to be on The Money Pit.

    LESLIE: Whee! (laughing)

    TOM: (laughing) Hi, Eve.

    EVE: Hi. How you could help. Yes, we’re selling a condo. We have about $15,000, more or less, to do some sprucing up. And I wanted to know how best to use the money. We’ve already put in a new carpet, hardwood floor in the foyer. And now I’m telling my husband, ‘Okay, let’s buy a nice fridge with the ice crusher and the water and all that stuff in the front of it.’ And he’s like, ‘No, let’s put it in the bathroom.’

    LESLIE: Well, you’re on the right track, here. Kitchens and baths are the best place to start.

    TOM: Yeah, but Eve, I would say, in this case, less is more. If you’re going to sell your place, you don’t necessarily want to put in top of the line everything. You’re doing the right thing by getting the place painted and putting in, hopefully, a neutral carpet. You know, some hardwood floor; that’s a nicety. But you don’t want to go overboard here. You don’t want to spend all that money decorating what’s going to be somebody else’s house. You just want to make it clean and neutral. And the fact that you have a new refrigerator that’s just okay versus a new refrigerator that’s like the best one you could buy, is not going to make a hill of beans of difference when it comes time to sell that place. I mean –

    LESLIE: I’m sorry. What kind of difference was that?

    TOM: Not a hill of beans.

    LESLIE: A hill of beans.

    TOM: You never heard that saying?
    LESLIE: No, Tom.

    TOM: Well, you’re too young. (laughing) Eve knows what I’m talking about. Not going to make a big difference.

    EVE: But you know the –

    TOM: Because –

    EVE: – the market has changed so much within the last four months.

    TOM: Right.

    EVE: Before you had five, six people putting a contract on a house. Now you can barely get one.

    TOM: Yeah. I think … the things that you’re doing are correct. But I don’t think you need to spend a lot more money than that. The other thing I would tell you to do is to give it the once over mechanically. In other words, make sure if you have any leaks that they’re fixed. If the toilets have leaked or the flush valves are bad, that your heating system or air conditioning system is serviced. And that you can show that all of that stuff is done.

    LESLIE: Yeah, maybe it’s best to bring in an inspector to do a run-of-the-mill check over on the entire house and give you a list of what’s good and what needs to be fixed. And then you can address those accordingly. This way, you’ve got everything in a pedigree to say, ‘This was wrong. I fixed this.’ And the new buyer can say, ‘Hey, I feel good about this.’

    TOM: So … so save that money and tell your husband to buy you something nice for the new house, based on that.

    EVE: (laughing) Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Or diamonds.

    TOM: (laughing) Diamonds always work.

    EVE: Oh (inaudible), I like that. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Ooh.

    EVE: Take care.

    TOM: (laughing) Eve, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, Chris in Virginia has a crumbling problem. What’s going on? The brick on the outside of your house is falling apart?

    CHRIS: Yes, I … I have a house that was built in about 1964 and for some reason a lot of the bricks, especially on the chimney, just appear to be crumbling apart. And I thought it was kind of odd since most of the brick houses I’ve seen last a long time.

    LESLIE: And that’s the only area that you’re seeing this problem.

    CHRIS: More so on the chimney. And occasionally, around the foundation. And I’m wondering if it’s a cosmetic issue I should not worry about. If it’s something that’s serious; needs to be replaced.

    LESLIE: How are the bricks crumbling? Is it at the corners? Is it in the center? Is it a line?

    TOM: And is it the bricks themselves? Or is it the mortar that’s crumbling?

    CHRIS: No, it’s definitely the bricks.

    TOM: Okay.

    CHRIS: Mortar’s fine. But the actual integrity of the brick – the front, it comes off in sheets almost.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Is it mostly near where the ground connects?

    CHRIS: There’s some that are down near the ground and then the rest are on the chimney.

    TOM: Right. Well, that’s called spalling. And it happens when the bricks get wet and then they freeze and then they sort of break apart.

    LESLIE: Ooh, it’s almost like an ice damming for your bricks.

    TOM: Mmm, sort of. Sort of. It sort of just splits off. It’s … structurally, you could probably lose a half-inch of the brick surface and it’s not going to have any impact on it. Typically, it happens where the mortar joints are recessed. The water soaks in there and then cracks off. I mean can you patch it? Can you replace the brick? Sure. But unless it gets really bad, it’s probably not worth it. More common condition is where the mortar dries out and falls out and that’s called repointing. So if it’s … it’s mostly on the chimney that you’re concerned about this, Chris?

    CHRIS: That’s correct.

    TOM: Yeah. I would not worry too much about it unless you really lose a lot of brick and if that’s the case, you’re going to have to rebuild it and replace those bricks.

    CHRIS: Okay.

    TOM: Alright?

    CHRIS: Alright, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. And you know, Leslie, a good way to slow that process down is to make sure that there’s no water getting in the top of the chimney.

    LESLIE: Oh.

    TOM: Between the (inaudible).

    LESLIE: So would that be like a chimney cap?

    TOM: Yeah, a chimney cap is good. And also, if you have a clay flue liner that goes up through the middle of the chimney. Then you have like a concrete lip that goes between the flue liner and the edge of the brick. Make sure that concrete cap doesn’t have any cracks, any holes in it or is missing. Because if you can keep the water from getting sort of behind the brick, that will actually help protect the integrity of the brick as well.

    LESLIE: Now, what about the ones in the foundation for him? Do you think that’s a moisture problem and he should look at his grading?

    TOM: Yeah, you know what happens? What happens there is the rain splashes up. And that’s a matter of controlling the drainage the same way you control it for any other kind of drainage issue; trying to keep the water away from that. But that’s just the way that old brick wears. It’s going to … it’s going to get wet and it’s going to freeze and it’s going to spall and break off.

    LESLIE: Oh, but it looks so pretty.

    TOM: It does look pretty. You could seal it but if you’re going to use a brick sealer on it, you want to use one that is vapor permeable so that the moisture can evaporate out. That will slow some of the water –

    LESLIE: (overlapping) And doesn’t get trapped in.

    TOM: Yeah, that will slow some of the water from soaking in and slow down the process a little bit. But make sure you use a sealer that’s vapor permeable. If you try to seal the water in, it doesn’t seal in; the water still gets in there and then the cracking gets even worse.

    LESLIE: Well, windows let the light in but some of them also let the heat out. Bad. Up next, hot tips to make window replacement affordable.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Metal Roofing Alliance. We call metal roofing investment-grade roofing. Because in your lifetime, a metal roof will save you money and add value to your home. To find a Metal Roofing Alliance contractor or to learn more about investment-grade roofing, visit www.metalroofing.com.

    TOM: Well, you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Or if you can’t pick up that phone, you can email us your question to helpme@moneypit.com. Now it’s time to jump in to the Money Pit email bag. Leslie.

    LESLIE: Alright, here we go. TC from Pensacola, Florida writes: ‘We need to replace all of our windows and are willing to do the work ourselves.’

    TOM: Yay!

    LESLIE: Alright. Bravo. ‘Do you have any suggestions on where to purchase the windows and how to put them in? We’ve got a brick home built in the early 60’s.’

    TOM: You know, replacement windows, I think, is a pretty easy do-it-yourself job if you are reasonably skilled. Because let’s talk about the steps. I mean first of all, we call the –

    LESLIE: Got to remove the trim work.

    TOM: Yeah, well, actually no; you don’t have to remove the trim work.

    LESLIE: No?

    TOM: No, you have to pull the stop out.

    LESLIE: Okay.

    TOM: The stops that hold the sash in. You don’t have to actually pull the frame of the window out.

    LESLIE: So it’s even easier.

    TOM: Correct. You were thinking of new windows where you do remove the trim work and basically put them in and flash over it. A replacement window fits inside the existing frame of the old window. So all you can do –

    LESLIE: So if you have a window problem and it extends to the framework itself, a replacement window really isn’t what you’re looking for.

    TOM: That’s correct.

    LESLIE: Okay.

    TOM: If that’s the case, you’re going to have to go new construction. But if it’s a replacement window, you simply remove the sash – that’s the operable part of the window and let’s assume, for the purposes of this discussion, we’re talking about a double-hung window – you remove the sash and the new window fits right inside.

    Now, the skill part of this comes in, really, two areas. Number one – proper measurement because there’s nothing worse than getting that window home and figuring out that it’s either too small or, worse yet, too big.

    LESLIE: Well, because they can’t really change that.

    TOM: That’s right. It’s custom made. I mean every window today – every replacement window – is pretty much custom made. So measurement is key. If you are not totally comfortable with the measurement, have the guy at the replacement window factory, at the store – whatever – do the measurement for you. If it doesn’t fit, you can blame them. Okay?

    Secondly, when you put the window in, the way you trim it is very important. If you don’t trim it properly on the outside, if you don’t caulk it and steel (ph) it, if you don’t rewrap the molding there with aluminum or replace it with a nice new, say, an extruded plastic molding or something that’s going to be very weather-resistant and nice it’s not going to look right. So if you kind of blow the carpentry on the install, it’s not going to look good. And if you don’t do it right, you get a lot of wind that sort of blows through there.

    So those are the two areas that you need to worry about.

    LESLIE: Well, does all of that trim work come with the … with the replacement window?

    TOM: No, it doesn’t. Generally, what happens is the professional installers will use your existing wood brick work – the brick work is the wood trim; it’s called brick face.

    LESLIE: Okay.

    TOM: And they’ll wrap it with aluminum. Now, you could replace that wood trim with the extruded PVC version of it, which is fine. Or you could wrap it if you’re able to do that kind of work. But finishing that off is really the most difficult part of putting that replacement window in.

    The good news is that they’re inexpensive. I mean you can buy replacement windows, today, from anywhere from, say, 200 to 500 bucks. If you can’t afford to do your whole house, I would recommend that you do – let’s you say you’re in the south and worry about air conditioning bills – do the south side first followed by the west. Right.

    LESLIE: (overlapping) Because that’s where the most sun comes in.

    TOM: If you’re in the north, you do the north side first followed by the east, then the west and the south. So, this way, you can kind of move it around and do one side a year. You’ll get new windows and save money at the same time.

    LESLIE: And I know a lot of these companies that put out replacement windows are including an installation video to instill confidence to actually do it yourself.

    TOM: Well, Leslie, before we wrap up this hour, it’s time that we spring into a little home improvement cleaning tip with today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: And here’s a great cleaning tip for our listeners. If you find that your toilet has a ring at the water line or stains that are just plain hard to get rid of, there’s a quick and natural remedy for you. Try coating the bowl with lemon juice and borax and then letting that solution soak a while. You want to wait a little bit of time and then scrub it really well. You’ll flush away all those stains and those expensive commercial cleaners.

    TOM: Well, that’s about all the time we have on this hour of the program. But coming up, next week, on The Money Pit Fine Homebuilding Editor, Kevin Ireton, joins our show with the biggest construction developments in the last quarter century. Those guys are celebrating their 25th anniversary. We’re going to hear about all of those changes and what you can learn from them to make your house more beautiful and more efficient moving forward.

    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 2006 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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