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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now with your home improvement project. What are you doing? What are you working on? It’s a great hour. It’s a great idea. It’s a great time to tackle just about any home improvement project your imagination can muster up. We are here to help you get the job done.

    Got a great show in store for you. First up, pressure treated wood. We’re going to talk about. You know, it’s used for building a very long lasting deck. But only if that deck stays standing is it going to do you any good. Pressure treated wood can cause your decks fasteners to corrode and that’s what could cause it to fall down. We’re going to talk about what causes that and what you can do to make it not happen to your deck.

    LESLIE: Plus, we want to make sure that you don’t get yourself or anyone in your family into hot water because it takes only 130 degree tap water to cause a pretty nasty burn. And yours is probably set right around there; perhaps even 10 degrees more. We’re going to tell you how to make sure your family is safe.

    TOM: And if you’re looking to do your part to help save the environment, we have a great idea for you; recycled furniture. We’ll learn some tricks of the trade from a craftsman who uses 100 percent salvaged wood and you can do the same.

    LESLIE: And as usual, if you call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, we’re giving away a great prize this hour. It’s a four-in-one utility bar from Stanley. It’s going to work like a crowbar, a nail puller, a demolition device; you name it. It’s a pretty cool tool.

    TOM: It’s worth 40 bucks so get on the phone right now. If you want to qualify for that great prize, call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Well, if you listen by podcast, like Fred does in Massachusetts, we could answer your question as well. How can we help you, Fred?

    FRED: Hi, I’m a real estate broker. I have clients who just bought an eight year old home. And most of the floors are cherry. There’s probably about 3,000 square feet. And they would like to change the color; either lighten or darker.


    FRED: And their first choice is to lighten it. However, they’ve heard that it always leak a pink cast. So I thought I’d check …

    LESLIE: It does.

    FRED: … and see if you have any suggestions.

    LESLIE: It does leave a pinkish hue. However, I mean that’s only because of the nature of cherry itself and also with red oak. But it does happen to have a very charming look to it as well. If you decide to do it, choose a stain that will enhance that reddish hue. Don’t go for, you know, a white tone where it’s pickled because that really does show a very pink tint. Basically – is the top sealed? It’s totally with urethane or sealant on it of some sort?

    FRED: Doesn’t appear to be. They – you know, they’re willing to remove whatever’s on there and there thinking, you know, and then they would stain it darker if that was their only option.

    LESLIE: Well, you can go lighter. Just make sure – if you can, take a piece – or if there’s an extra piece of planking laying around the house somewhere – and experiment with it. You know, remove the stain; strip it down; sand it as best you can; get to a raw wood surface and then just experiment with stain colors that you like just to see before you commit to the enormity of the floor.

    FRED: What’s your suggestion on how to lighten it? Do you bleach it?

    TOM: Well, you can bleach it but you may have an unpredictable result. That you’re going to have to do to bleach it is first of all you’re going to have to sand the whole thing. And considering it’s only eight years old it’s kind of a shame because you’re going to lose a lot of wear and tear there.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And then, you know the bleaching process may or may not come out like you wish it to even if you get it all sanded off.

    LESLIE: That’s why you’ve got to practice.

    TOM: And then if it turns out that you don’t like the bleaching look, then what’s your other option? Well, you can go back to the original cherry look or you could try to add a darker stain and darken it up and even it up a little bit. But your options are pretty limited at that point.

    If it’s already finished and it just needs a buffing up, Fred, there’s a way that you can do that without stripping off the old finish. And that is you rent a floor buffer and a sanding screen. And it’s very easy to do. It’s really idiot proof. I’ve done it many times myself on a lot of the hardwood floors in my house because what that does it that just sort of takes off and roughs up the upper surface of the finish. And then you vacuum that up and you can go ahead and mop down a new coat of polyurethane without having very much mess at all.

    FRED: Sounds great.

    LESLIE: Alright. John in Maryland’s next. What’s on your mind?

    JOHN: Hi. Yes, I have a grout problem. I have a kitchen floor; it’s high traffic. I put in the tile myself; I put in the grout myself; and I put a Teflon seal over it. And it never seemed to work. It stains up and it takes forever to get it clean and when I get it clean it gets dirty in a couple of days.

    TOM: It sounds to me like what you probably need is a grout stripper. And this is probably the most heavy-duty way to clean up those grout lines. There’s grout cleaners and there’s grout strippers and grout strippers are a lot more caustic and do a lot better job of pulling out those stains.

    LESLIE: Well, it breaks down all of those stains and it almost even gets rid of a little layer of the grout that’s there. But it gets rid of the stains.

    JOHN: I’ve never heard of that.

    LESLIE: And they’re available at home centers and hardware stores. It’s called a grout stripper.

    LESLIE: And then reseal the grout when you’re done.

    JOHN: Should I use some kind of a silicone or a – or like a Teflon?

    TOM: I think that the silicone is probably a better choice than the Teflon. I seem to get better results with that but make sure you get it cleaned first. Otherwise, you are sealing in whatever dirt that’s remaining.

    FRED: Well, thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: We’re taking a call from Barbara in Alabama. What can we do for you today?

    BARBARA: I have a small house. It’s a 10,500-square-foot. (Leslie chuckles) And approximately three months ago I had a new heat pump put in. And it’s a split system and it is a York Energy Star 14 SEER and it’s two-and-a-half tons.

    TOM: OK. So far so good.

    BARBARA: And the question I have is – the man first put the air handler – it’s up in the attic – on medium and it blew way too hard in the vent. So he put it on low and it still blows way too hard. Well, the vents are faced the same way it was with my old system but I want to know what is causing this and what I can do.

    TOM: Did you have a heat pump system before?

    BARBARA: Yes, I did and it was a split system.

    TOM: A couple of things. First of all, you may have a more powerful blower in this new system. And do you feel, Barbara, that the air that’s coming out of the ducts is cold or cool?

    BARBARA: Yes.

    TOM: That’s very common. If you’ve got the blower turned down to the lowest setting, then I don’t think that there’s much else that can be done about this short of replacing the blower. But those blowers are designed to work with the particular unit so it’s all one system. So, I think it sounds to me like it’s operating normally.

    In terms of the temperature, the difference between a heat pump and a fossil fueled system like gas or oil is that that warm air comes out at, say, 130 or 140 degrees. But with a heat pump, the temperature comes out at around 100 degrees. So, if you put your arm in front of that, it feels much, much cooler and, in fact, you know add some moisture evaporating off your skin you get that evaporative cooling effect and that’s why you feel the chill. And then you might be feeling that more now because you’ve got a more powerful blower. But it sounds to me like it’s working correctly.

    You know, Barbara, one of the things that I could suggest to you, which will save you money, is a special type of thermostat called a clock setback thermostat designed specifically for heat pumps. You have to buy the one that’s designed for heat pumps. It must be designed for heat pumps. Because if not, what’s going to happen – you know a heat pump works by primarily working on a refrigerant system and that is inexpensive to use. And then it has an electric backup system. So if you pull too much – too much of a temperature swing because of the wrong kind of clock setback thermostat, you’re going to run the backup system more frequently than you should and that’s going to cost about two to two-and-a-half times more than just the heat pump. So that’s why it has to be rated for a clock setback thermostat for a heat pump.

    LESLIE: Doreen in Delaware’s got a leaky ceiling. What’s happening?

    DOREEN: Well I had a leaky ceiling. What happened was I had a – my washing machine had overflowed. It’s upstairs; my washer.


    DOREEN: And it had overflowed. And it came down through the floor and into the ceiling of the – in the living room downstairs. I did fix it. I got some of that tape – that joint tape – and I got it fixed. But what I forgot to do was sand it. And now it’s like really uneven. It’s like …

    TOM: Yeah.

    DOREEN: Is there a clean, neat way to get that done without all the powder going everywhere?

    TOM: There is a machine that you could rent that basically sands drywall and has a vacuum attachment to it.

    DOREEN: Oh.

    TOM: But if you don’t have that, you may be able to do this as a two-hand – what I would do is I would take a block of wood and wrap sandpaper around it so you have a flat surface to work with. And then with a vacuum hose in one hand and the sander in the other, you can try to minimize the dust that way.

    LESLIE: Just make sure you wear a dust mask because you – and safety goggles and a hair net, for that matter –

    DOREEN: Right.

    LESLIE: – because you don’t want this dust getting everywhere.

    TOM: And by the way, while we’re talking about it, I think it’s USG just came out with a reduced dust spackle. And it was pretty cool because I saw the demo of it and it was not nearly as flaky as the traditional spackle mix. So I think the manufacturers are getting smart on that and if you’re doing a big project, then that’s something you could look into.

    DOREEN: That’s a little late for me now but …

    TOM: (chuckling) Yes, it is. But for those that are just tackling those jobs now …

    DOREEN: At the rental – the equipment rental place and see if they’ve got that sander with the vacuum attached.

    TOM: Yeah, that might be the way to go.

    DOREEN: Alright. Well, thank you guys very much. And I just started listening to your show and I’m really learning a lot of stuff. So thank you for that, too.

    TOM: Well, thank you so much. Good luck with that home improvement project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are always here for you and with you at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: Up next, you usually see pressure-treated wood when you’re looking for lumber to build a new deck or perhaps even to repair one that you already have.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but did you know that the chemicals used in the pressure treatment process can sometimes cause corrosion to the deck’s fasteners. We’re going to tell you what to do about that, next.

    (promo/theme song)

    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.

    Alright. Deck owners beware. We’re talking about pressure treated lumber. And we want you to know that there are special chemicals and they’re used to pressure treat the type of wood that’s often used for decking, for outdoor stairs; pretty much anything that’s going to be outside and standing up to weather conditions that’s a wood product. Plus, these chemicals, they’re corrosive and they can actually begin to eat away at a deck’s galvanized metal connectors, which are going to be the fasteners, the joist hangers. And sometimes you start to notice this corrosion even within weeks. And once that breakdown starts, the deck’s structural integrity, it can be compromised and it can actually turn a beautiful outdoor leisure area into an unsightly hazard.

    TOM: And you know, if you remember, just a few years ago, the chemical formulation of pressure treated lumber changed from the copper chromated arsenic base …

    LESLIE: With arsenic, yeah.

    TOM: … that used to be used. And now, the chemicals are actually safer for people but they’re not so good for the fasteners. So, you know, you can either have a safer deck or you can have one that won’t rot away your fasteners. (Leslie chuckles)

    But what it basically means is you have to be careful the way you construct it. There’s an extra step that will help and that is to use a product like Vycor Deck Protector. It’s made by Grace. It’s basically a self-adhering flashing. You wrap it around the ends of the deck joists. These are the deck joists; these are the floor joists that support the deck.

    LESLIE: So the pieces that go in the hanger.

    TOM: Right. So it’s sort of a buffer between the galvanized metal hanger and the pressure treated wood. And that’s going to dramatically decrease …

    LESLIE: Do you ever want to run a piece along the top edge of the joist where you put nails in?

    TOM: You know I do. I like to run it along the top and actually up under like where the siding’s going to be as well. Because why not stop a little bit more water from dripping down around that fastener?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Because every time I’ve taken apart a deck, those fasteners – those joist hangers – are always rotted out in that area. So by putting a product like Vycor around the ends of the deck joists and then also a piece across the top, you’re pretty much totally protected. And look, the cost of this is nominal. And if you’re going to spend all that money building a deck, you want to make sure it’s not going to rot.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you want to make sure you don’t have to do it again.

    TOM: Well plus it can be dangerous; especially if it’s a second-story deck. So you have to be real careful. Good workmanship makes the difference.

    If you want more information on how to reduce the risk of corrosion, you can log onto this website. It’s GraceAtHome.com. Lots of information there on how to build a deck that’s not going to rot away.

    LESLIE: Alright. So when you’re listening to The Money Pit, did that light bulb ever go off on the top of your head saying, ‘Oh, that’s exactly what I wanted to know’ but maybe you didn’t write it down because you were driving or you just forgot it a minute later ? Because I’m the absentminded professor. But folks, if you hear something and you want to hear it again, you can listen to everything we’ve ever done at MoneyPit.com. You can play all of our recent shows. They’re available online. You can listen on your desktop. You can even read our transcripts and then search the transcripts for the exact information you wanted. And best of all, it’s all free.

    TOM: Just like our phone number. Call us right now, toll free, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    This hour, if you ask your home improvement question on the air, you could win a $40 utility bar from Stanley. It’s part of the FatMax Series. It’s called Xtreme and it’s a 4-in-1 tool for prying, splitting, board bending and striking jobs. And it’s worth 40 bucks. So call us right now -1-888-MONEY-PIT – to get in on this great prize.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Christine in Florida’s working on a relatively new home. How can we help?

    CHRISTINE: Yes, hi. We had – I’m here in Florida and we already have gas service to the house, but it’s time to be replacing the water tank pretty soon. And there’s a lot being said about the tankless water heater. But knowing that this is instant heating of the water and there’s no tank, I’m wondering is – you know, what you can tell me about these units; how efficient they really are. And what happens if the electric power goes off? Does it affect us getting hot water?

    TOM: Well, that’s a good question. Now, first of all, I have to ask you do you have natural gas in your house, Christine.

    CHRISTINE: Yes, we do.

    TOM: OK. So a tankless water heater works just as you describe. It basically heats water on demand. So the efficiency comes from only heating water and only running the gas to heat the water as you consume it.

    LESLIE: So you’re going to see a financial savings because, otherwise, a traditional water heater is going to just keep that water hot all the time.

    TOM: Yeah, we like to say that traditional water heaters are dumb (Leslie chuckles) because they don’t know any better than just to heat it all the time whether you need it or not. A tankless water heater gets around all that by heating on demand.

    Now the other advantage of a tankless water heater is you have a very easy way to adjust water temperature. In fact, many of the more modern ones have digital control panels so you can literally dial the temperature up or down. You know, in case of a house, perhaps, that has children, you can dial it down to a very, very safe, lukewarm level and not worry about sending them off to take their bath or shower. And then if you want it a little bit hotter, when they’re done you can easily dial it back up again.

    The installation – fairly straightforward. A couple of things that are different from a normal gas water heater, usually the piping has to be bigger because tankless water heaters use very big gas pipes. They don’t use more gas. They just need a larger pipe to get the volume of gas that it needs there to give you that instant heating capability. So the installation tends to be a little bit more expensive. And of course the water heaters are more expensive. But over the life of the units, you are going to save money and they are pretty darn convenient. And they’re very tiny.

    LESLIE: And what about the power outage issue?

    TOM: Well, if you lose power, you’re going to lose water. But you would lose water even if it was a gas water heater with an electric ignition. If you had just a regular gas water heater you wouldn’t lose hot water but with a tankless you probably will because there’s circuitry involved there.

    CHRISTINE: Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Gary, you’re next on The Money Pit. How can we help?

    GARY: Yes, ma’am. I was calling – I had had a roof leak and what had happened – I’ve got an older home that’s, say – it was built in 1954. And it’s got the plaster walls. And it did some, well, stain damage to the wall.

    TOM: Well, those are great walls. That’s the good news.

    GARY: And I was wondering which would be the best way to get rid of the stain and repair that wall to smooth it out to where I could put a fresh coat of paint on it.

    TOM: Well, first of all, Gary, the fact that you’ve got plaster walls is great. Because in a 1950s house, you probably have what we call plaster lath which is basically a drywall covered by plaster. They’re very hard, very durable walls. If you had leak damage there, what you need to do is you need to paint over that with an oil-based primer; a product like KILZ. Because what that does is that seals in the leak stain …

    LESLIE: And you’re not going to see it permeate through the new top coat.

    TOM: Exactly. And it gives you a neutral surface on which to put your topcoat.

    GARY: Great. So I mean I wouldn’t have to do any sanding then to put smooth that or anything?

    TOM: As long as it’s clean what you might want to do is wash it down with some TSP first – trisodium phosphate – just to make sure the surface is clean before you prime it. But once you put that primer on, you’re going to see when you put a topcoat over that it’s going to flow really nice and even and it’ll look great.

    GARY: Great, great. OK. I was worried. I didn’t know how to go about fixing it but that sounds pretty simple.

    TOM: Very simple.

    GARY: Thank you and I appreciate the information.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Roofing is on Russell’s mind in Illinois. How can we sort things out for you?

    RUSSELL: I’ve got a friend that was building a house in Florida several years ago and was going to go with a metal roof instead of shingles. And their insurance like was 300 percent higher. Do you know why the insurance would be up so much higher for a metal roof instead of shingles?

    TOM: I have absolutely no idea because that’s counter-intuitive. A metal roof is going to be far, far, far more durable than a shingle roof which can be easily stripped right off. I mean those shingles will fly off roofs in Florida just like dominos that get knocked over that are in a line. A metal roof is going to be a much more durable option. And so I can’t imagine why the insurance would have been higher for that. I mean of course it’s a more expensive roof to replace and maybe the place appraised a little bit higher but, really, I can’t think of why you would want to pay more insurance because their risk is lower, frankly.

    RUSSELL: Yeah, I thought so. It was going from like $700 a year to $2,100 almost a year.

    LESLIE: Whoo.

    TOM: Yeah, that doesn’t make any sense. You know, metal roofs are really high-tech right now, too. The finishes are gorgeous …

    LESLIE: And they are good looking.

    TOM: And in fact, the finishes are designed to even reflect the sun’s energy, which is perfect for an area like Florida. There are pretty high-tech finishes today. So …

    LESLIE: And because they’re so lightweight, depending on what the original existing roof tile shingle is, you might be able to go right on top of it.

    RUSSELL: How about up around Ohio? Would that be a good area for that type of roof, too?

    TOM: They’re good no matter where you are in the country …


    TOM: … and it’s an investment roof. I mean it’s going to last an entire lifetime. So I think …

    LESLIE: And it’s going to last 50 years or more, not – you know, not nearly as short of a life span as, say, a dimensional asphalt shingle.

    RUSSELL: OK. Well, I sure do appreciate it.

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

    What’s your home improvement question?

    Up next, in just a few minutes we’re going to meet a man who’s helping save the environment one tree at a time. He’s making handcrafted furniture from salvage wood. You can learn to do the same. That’s coming up, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    You know, so many things in our world are disposable. They’re made to be thrown away as soon as we think they’re no longer usable. But there are craftsmen out there who’s trade is based completely on the concept of using salvage materials.

    LESLIE: And Stephen Staples is part of a growing industry that gives you more alternatives about the furniture that you can buy. In fact, his green furniture is part of a growing trend to be more environmentally responsible. And we’re so glad that you are and we’re glad that you’re joining us.

    Welcome, Stephen.

    STEPHEN: Well, thank you. It’s fun to be here.

    TOM: So Steve, when you talk about green furniture I mean you would think that everything in furniture is green today. But where do manufacturers become very ungreen? Where do they start using materials that are very processed and harmful for the environment? Isn’t everything made of wood OK to use?

    STEPHEN: No, not at all. In fact, you know, the United States has a $79 billion furniture industry alone. Lately, within the last eight years, China has consumed one-third of the world’s furniture market. And you want to be sure that the wood is sustainable – that it’ll come back and grow – and that you’re not depleting the rainforest, which is like disappearing at – what, an acre a second now? It’s just a horrible situation that we’re finally waking up to.

    LESLIE: Well, the idea of reclaimed lumber, you know, how do you know that you’re getting clean pieces of lumber and lumber that doesn’t have any rot or insect issues? You know, where do you even go to start thinking about reclaiming wood for furniture usage?

    STEPHEN: There are a lot of different groups that are coming forth and forming that actually certify whether is antique or reclaimed on furnishings that you wouldn’t know it by looking at it. You know, sometimes they take big beams and cut them up and it looks brand new but it’s old. It’s 100 years old but once you cut it, it’s beautiful inside and clean and you wouldn’t know it as reclaimed. A lot of the times we take stuff – we’ll take a floor out of an attic, clean it down, wash it. And then I have a 16-foot oven that we put it into. We bring it up to 135 degrees for 30 minutes and that kills every bug in the piece of wood; all the powderpost beetles, every egg that’s in it. Eggs last up to two years.

    TOM: Huh.

    STEPHEN: So it’s something I’ve wanted for a long time and we built – and we built it all by hand; just like everything else we do. And it’s quite a thing. I don’t know of too many other people in this industry that do it; that have an oven.

    LESLIE: But that preservation processing, if you will, does that affect the integrity of the lumber in any way? Does it make it weaker, stronger?

    STEPHEN: No, it doesn’t hurt it at all. It really doesn’t. I can’t think of anything it would do. You know, they kiln dry lumber also, which is a system where they add moisture, take away moisture and they try to do it evenly to dry the wood so it won’t check. If you do that wrong, you can do what they call case harden the wood where the wood gets very hard on the outside. And we’ve had that in our shop from other places; where you couldn’t even push a hand plane on it …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    STEPHEN: … unless you wet it …

    TOM: Hmm.

    STEPHEN: … to give it some lubrication.

    TOM: We’re talking to Stephen Staples. He’s a cabinet maker; one of the best in the country.

    And you’ve got a new joint venture going with a group called Timeless Timber that actually works to recover lumber. Where do you guys get the lumber mostly? Now, I mentioned – we talked about barns and places like that. But are there other sources for recovered lumber?

    STEPHEN: Yes, I love where they’re getting it. They’re getting it from the rivers; the bottom of the rivers.

    TOM: And you would think that lumber that’s in the bottom of the rivers is going to be soft and decayed.

    STEPHEN: Well, these are rivers that are cold and just cold and running and just doesn’t decay. I don’t know why.

    LESLIE: Oh, so this is like full logs from like the timbering logging business.

    STEPHEN: Yes. They call them sinkers. And when they had the big logging runs down the rivers, some logs would get – have others on top of it and they’d eventually sink. I mean they’re wet.

    TOM: Hmm.

    STEPHEN: It takes – normally it’ll take, in a kiln, about a week to dry lumber. These take 40 to 50 days …

    LESLIE: Ooh.

    STEPHEN: … to dry the same lumber. They have to do it so slowly. It’s the beginning of petrified wood, if you will. Give it another 50 millions years old – years – it would be petrified wood. Because it’s starting to absorb minerals from the water. It’s starting to color. It’s been under there for 125 years and it was 250 years old when it was cut down.

    TOM: Steve, consumers are concerned about whether or not the lumber that is being used in their furniture is recycled or is it coming from a green source. Are there things, specifically, they can check? I mean if you’re walking into a furniture store, for example, is there a way that you can know whether or not your lumber is coming from an environmentally responsible organization?

    STEPHEN: I think at this point, where this is fairly new and people are very excited about, they’re tooting the horn. And it’ll be written on any tag that’s on there. If it doesn’t say it, it’s not.

    LESLIE: And if you have to put it together, chances are it’s not.

    TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, that’s a good point.

    STEPHEN: (chuckling) True, true. If it comes in a box, yes. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: You ever find, in the recovered – in the recycled lumber that you use, do you ever find any surprises?

    STEPHEN: (chuckling) Yeah.

    TOM: You ever cut into something and find something you didn’t expect?

    STEPHEN: (overlapping voices) Well, we find bullets. We found a bullet yesterday.

    TOM: Oh, interesting.

    STEPHEN: You know, luckily they’re lead. But we find civil war – civil war bullets …

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    STEPHEN: We find shot guns that have been shot against walls.

    TOM: Huh.

    STEPHEN: We find – graffiti is fun sometimes that you’ll find on walls. We take wallpaper off a wall and the impression of, say, a snowflake wallpaper is still in the wood.

    LESLIE: Do you ever utilize any of those details or any of those almost defects but they’re interesting? Do you ever showcase them in furnishings?

    STEPHEN: We try to just bring forth the defect; like the snowflakes, which we just made a gorgeous table out of it. If a stairway is running up into an attic, you can actually see it on the side of the boards that were there and we run them right across the table and you can see a stairway. And of course it’s nothing like today’s stairway. They’re steep, short and people love it. You can actually make almost a Navajo design if you bring one down each side. You can really make all kinds of designs out of the stairways that were once running up the boards.

    If we have cracks in the top of something, rather than just fill it in, we’ll fill it in with another reclaim material like black walnut that’ll be a very dark line. So I won’t try to hide it. I try to make …

    TOM: So you make a feature of it.

    STEPHEN: Yeah, I feature it. I bring it forth.

    LESLIE: It’s …

    TOM: Yeah, you know in the years I was – I was in construction. I used to build stairs and railings with, you know, very expensive curved wood and things like that. And we always used to say if we made a mistake we made it look so good that the people thought it was supposed to be that way.

    STEPHEN: There you go. (Tom chuckles) That’s – my favorite quote is, ‘The problem with doing good work is nobody ever sees it.’ (Tom chuckles)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Really, that sounds wonderful. You know, it’s almost as if, you know, we’ve lost the artistry of inlaid workmanship and carved and turned pieces of wood by hand. And this is sort of – you know, the next generation of that master artistry. So well done.

    STEPHEN: We’re trying to keep it alive. In fact, I turn every leg – on any piece of furniture we do, I turn by hand myself; all without calipers. I do it all by eye. So that it will be off enough so it looks like it was done 200 years ago.

    TOM: Well, you’re just about as rare as the lumber you work with, Steve.

    STEPHEN: Yeah, I know. I feel that way sometimes, too but … (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: (chuckling) Stephen Stapes, thanks for joining us.

    calipers. I do it all by eye. So that it will be off enough so it looks like it was done 200 years ago.

    TOM: Well, you’re just about as rare as the lumber you work with, Steve.

    STEPHEN: Yeah, I know. I feel that way sometimes, too but … (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: (chuckling) Stephen Staples, thanks for joining us.

    You can learn more about Steve’s work and how to find recycled lumber that can be used for your own home improvement projects at Steve’s website; that’s www.StaplesCabinetMakers.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, from beautiful furniture to a pretty scary statistic. Did you know that more than 5,000 children and older adults are burned each year from tap water that’s just too darn hot. And most likely your water is set too high right now. Well, find out the correct temperature and other ways to keep your family safe, next.

    (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: More handy than having a plunger in every room of your house. (Leslie chuckles) This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    What do you do with a plunger in the living room?

    TOM: (laughing) Hey, that would be for a really bad spill. (laughing) Call us right now if you’re dealing with a plumbing nightmare or any other type of do-it-yourself disaster. Maybe you started something; didn’t go so well. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Speaking of disasters, you need to be really careful about that water heater.

    LESLIE: When we’re talking about hot water, it only takes about 130 degrees to give you a burn that you’re really not going to forget any time soon. And most water heaters are set at 140 degrees because everybody wants a hot shower.

    Well, you want to make sure – test your water today. If that temperature is more than 140 degrees, you need to act fast. First thing, turn your water heater down to about 120 degrees. Believe me, it is plenty hot. Secondly, think about buying an anti-scald device for your sink.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Anti-scald devices basically make sure your water stays only as hot as you want it. Some devices shut off your water if the water temperature gets too hot. Others mix the hot and the cold water coming from your tap. And there’s a type of valve for your shower called a pressure balance valve. We have one here and actually …

    LESLIE: We have one, too.

    TOM: … ours recently broke down and created the weirdest thing, Leslie. I got hot water out of the cold water faucet on the sink that was next to the shower.

    LESLIE: Really, was that sort of the system to let you know that it’s broken?

    TOM: No, I didn’t – I had never seen it before; with all the plumbing problems I’d seen. But when I called the faucet manufacturer for advice on the replacement part, they were like, ‘Yeah, you’ve got a bad diverter.’ So – it lasted like 10 years, though, so I can’t complain. But the pressure balance valve, in my case, just needed a new cartridge. If you don’t have one, definitely worth having. Stops that shower shock; you know, when somebody flushes the toilet or runs the sink and you get either icy cold or …

    LESLIE: I mean it’s great. We definitely feel a differential in pressure …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: … but nothing happens with the temperature.

    TOM: Isn’t it great?

    LESLIE: Which is what you want.

    TOM: Now this is your new bathroom, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah, this is – we jazzed it up a little bit. We added that. It’s great because it used to be terrible. With only, you know, a bath and a half in the house, sometimes one’s in the shower, one’s in the bathroom downstairs. And if you flush the toilet, just forgetting, you know you really can burn yourself up there.

    TOM: Yeah, so ask for a pressure balance valve.

    If you want more tips on what to ask your plumber and how to build a bathroom that’s great for kids and adults you can log onto the AARP website, who provide that tip. It’s AARP.org/UniversalHome. That’s AARP.org/UniversalHome.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now there are some cases when you do want scalding hot water to come out of the faucet and that would be an instant hot water heater for your beverages. You know, you can have a steaming hot cup of tea or cocoa or coffee or even that instant soup straight from the tap right at the special dispenser at your sink. You can learn all about instant hot water dispensers in our next Money Pit e-newsletter. If you’re not already a subscriber, I don’t know why not. It’s free. Do so now at MoneyPit.com. Come on, folks.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where if you pick up the phone and call us at 888-666-3974, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a chance at winning this hour’s prize. It’s the FatMax Xtreme. It’s a 4-in-1 tool for prying, splitting, board bending and striking jobs. By Stanley. It’s going to be yours if you call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. We will toss all names into the Money Pit hardhat. And you must be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: If you’re in Washington like Margaret, you can find The Money Pit on KSBN. What can we do for you today?

    MARGARET: What I need to know is what kind of a process do I need to go through to take vines off a friend of a house? And they’re around quite an area. [And the front’s stone.] (ph)

    TOM: Well, there’s a couple of things that you need to do. First of all, if it’s very thick, it’s probably a good idea to spray it with a product like Roundup first. Because that’s going to kill it and make it wither around and sort of release …

    LESLIE: Well, it’ll also dry up it’s grip that it’s got on it.

    TOM: Yeah, because those grips are really, really strong. And then once you – then when you spray that on you’re going to have to wait a couple of weeks and then you pull it down. It comes down quite easily. Then once you have it down, then you could really start to dig out the root area around the bottom of the foundation where it’s starting to really get it’s water. And if you hit those two areas, I think that you’ll clean it up quite nicely.

    You don’t want to use anything like a pressure washer or something like that strong because you’re apt to damage it. I think if you spray it with Roundup, pull it off, if there’s any vines that are still sort of stuck on there – just like the little fingers of the vine – you could brush that off with a wire brush.

    Margaret, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Up next, the key to a good paint job. You know what it is? Prep, prep and then more prep. (Leslie chuckles) We’re going to spell it out for an e-mailer who wants to know exactly how to get her textured walls ready to paint.

    (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. It’s home repair because we care about you, about your home improvement projects. Call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or jump onto MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom & Leslie, just like Cher did from Sibley, Iowa.

    LESLIE: Alright. And Cher writes: ‘We have just finished drywalling and texturing with a hopper gun on a low setting. I’m ready to paint my walls but do we need to prime or seal before we paint?’

    TOM: It never hurts to prime.

    LESLIE: Oh gosh, you should always prime.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Otherwise everything sucks itself right up and then you’re wasting your color.

    TOM: Yeah, especially if you’re putting a new textured ceiling on. And by the way, Cher, may I mention that this is the first time in probably a year that somebody’s asked us advice about how to texture a ceiling (Leslie chuckles) as opposed to how to remove texture from a ceiling, which we get like every week.

    LESLIE: It’s amazing. People are either in love with or hate textured ceilings.

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: And clearly, Cher likes it.

    TOM: Well, you do need to prime it. And then you can use a large roller. There’s a special kind of roller that has like slits in it that helps you paint a textured ceiling. And it sort of is very spongy; very thick.

    LESLIE: It looks like a spiral ham.

    TOM: Yeah. And it helps you get into all those nooks and crannies. So prime it first – and you can use a water-based primer – and then use a flat ceiling paint, using that big, spongy, like a – what’d you call it? (chuckling)

    LESLIE: It looks like a spiral ham. And the reason why it works so well is that …

    TOM: (overlapping voices) A spiral ham. I think that’s the technical term. The spiral ham.

    LESLIE: Well, because it has a spiral cut to it. (Tom chuckles) It’s not the ham roller. Although we can call it that.

    TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, I can see it in the home center. You’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

    LESLIE: You’ll know it. It’s usually yellow. And the reason why it’s sliced like that is because each groove sort of opens up and then the spongy roller surrounds all the texture so you’re not worrying about any holidays – you know, where the paint takes a vacation. (chuckling)

    TOM: Alright. Jim in Mechanicsville, Virginia writes: ‘I just had a three car garage built and the slab is beginning to crack already. It’s separated from the block wall at the base. Inspections were done and passed. There’s no expansion joints and the concrete was fiberfill with no rebar. Should I anticipate problems? What should I look for if there will be a problem?’

    Well, Jim, from your description, when you say that it’s cracked already, if it is simply separated from the wall, I wouldn’t consider that a crack. That’s probably just some …

    LESLIE: That’s just initial settling, right?

    TOM: Well, it’s normal shrinkage. The slab is going to shrink a bit. And fiberfill is actually a pretty good reinforcement material for a garage floor. Now if it does begin to crack, I would tell you just to let it go because unless garage floor cracks become a tripping hazard where the slabs actually break and separate and one’s up higher than the next, really it’s not a structural part of the foundation in any way. It’s really just there to keep your car off the dirt and I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    LESLIE: Alright. And get to enjoying that garage because you know you want to build projects out there.

    TOM: Well, OK. If you are planning a home improvement project this year, a local home show might be the best place to start. Learn more in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Alright, home shows. I’m at a ton of them a year. They’re …

    TOM: You’re like the home show queen.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Sometimes, yes. It’s very crazy. And it’s amazing how many are scheduled on the same weekend all across this country and how many times I’m at a lot of them. But it’s crazy. And the home shows are a great place to see, pretty much, most of the new products that you might like to choose from before you start any major home improvement. But to avoid being overwhelmed – because they are kind of big and there are a lot of vendors hawking the same thing – you want to make sure you check the list of exhibitors in your local paper. And plan out your route before you go. Think about who you want to see, what you’re looking for. This way, you can sort of focus on what you’re looking at because otherwise you’ll be like, ‘Ooh, a hot tub. A swimming pool.’ It’s crazy. They’re overwhelming. By being selective, you’re going to have more time to see exactly what you need and you’re going to be able to make the best choices for your product.

    In fact, if you’re in the Lansing, Michigan area in the first weekend of February, I’m going to be at the Capital Library talking about my favorite subject – home improvement. Plus I’m friendly and I like to meet you. So hopefully I’ll see you there.

    TOM: See, I told you she was the home show queen. (Leslie chuckles)

    Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Well, this show is all about empowering you to improve your home. Up next week on the program, we’re going to take a review of websites out there that can help you improve your home; including some devoted to women that have formed an online site, an online community where there are women helping women tackle home improvement projects. That’s coming up next week on the 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)


    (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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