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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: This show is about your and your home improvement projects. So pick up the phone. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. What are you doing? What are you working on? If there’s any job you’re trying to tackle in your house, we can probably help you get it done quicker, get it done better and make sure it comes out exactly like you expect it. I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector and I’ve got to tell you, I like the microphone better than being in the crawl spaces.

    LESLIE: Yeah, less dirt and less bugs, by the way.

    TOM: That’s right. That’s right. And you, my dear, you’ve spent at least that much time learning your craft.

    LESLIE: Oh, my gosh.

    TOM: Starting with the – sort of the mechanical pencil born in your mouth.

    LESLIE: I was always at my dad’s architectural firm. Ever since I was a little kid I loved the design reference library. Nothing is more fun than carpet samples. Believe me. And also TLC, While You Were Out and Trading Spaces. Been having a fun time with them for five years.

    TOM: So we’ve been there. We’ve done. We’ve probably screwed it up. (Leslie chuckles) We can help you from doing the same mistakes that we’ve made.

    LESLIE: Most likely.

    TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on this program, are you thinking about installing a roof? How about a metal roof? You know, it’s a great choice. Metal roofs look great and they’re super energy efficient and they can last a lifetime if you take one extra step during the installation. We’ll tell you exactly what that is in just a moment.

    LESLIE: Alright. Do you have a teeny, tiny bathroom that’s overflowing with all of our stuff? Has your bathtub become the toy chest for all your kids’ items? I can’t tell you how many of my friends are doing that right now. And there’s really hidden potential, even in the smallest of bathrooms, for a lot of hidden storage space. We’re going to show you how to find those, next.

    TOM: And one caller this hour – speaking of bathrooms – gets a chance to win a Moen filter faucet. It’s worth 120 bucks. To qualify, you must call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Listening on WABC in Hamlin, Pennsylvania we’ve got Mike. How can we help?

    MIKE: Well, I’m doing a little roof job but my call is about the flashing around the chimney. Most old flashing was done – sealed with tar or some resemblance of tar. And I’ve wondering should I do it with tar or should I use a new, you know, 30-year-old silicone.

    TOM: Neither, actually. The original flashing that was sort of tarred in place, that’s probably on top of metal flashing. Now the proper way …

    LESLIE: Do you think that tar is a repair?

    TOM: Probably is. The proper way to flash a chimney is with a two-piece flashing system. You have base flashing and counter flashing. And Mike, the base flashing goes under the roofing shingles and up against the side of the chimney. And then the counter flashing is notched (ph) into the mortar joint and then it covers the base flashing. So the two of them work together as sort of a slip joint so if the roof expands and contracts, if the chimney sways with the wind it doesn’t break the joint. You follow me? And that’s what …

    MIKE: I understand but what do I seal them together with?

    TOM: Well, once they’re actually assembled, you don’t have to seal them with anything. They basically layer each other and the counter flashing protects the base flashing. So the water hits the chimney and then it runs down to the counter flashing that runs down to the base flashing that runs off the roof. And that’s the way a system works. And that is the correct, proper way to flash a chimney that’s been done for many, many years. What probably happened in the history of this chimney, at some point the flashing got loose, flashing broke. Whatever happened, a roofer came in there and tarred over the whole thing …

    LESLIE: As a repair.

    TOM: Yeah, sort of a stop gap measure. But you don’t have to do that. If it’s flashed correctly, you shouldn’t have to tar it.

    Mike, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

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

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: Hi. We’re going to building a house this summer. [We’re starting this (inaudible] (ph). And one of the things that we’ve talked about is a wind generator for our power. I can’t find information on, I guess, one small enough for a house. And is that a good idea, do you think?

    LESLIE: Well, in the Oklahoma area you’ve got – what? – is it Oklahoma Gas and Electric? Are they your service provider currently?

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: No, we live out in Onakoa (ph).

    LESLIE: OK. Because Oklahoma Gas and Electric, they have a very comprehensive website which is OGE.com. And they actually harvest wind power through wind farms. And they provide a great deal of their power through wind energy and they might be a great place to start.

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: OK. But what my thought was if I could have my own generator then I could stop paying the electric company. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Well yeah, you want to be very green here and certainly you could install your own wind generator. You’re going to need a tower and, of course, the generator. And it’s going to be a pretty big investment so I’m not quite sure how long you’re going to have to have that before you get the payoff. And also, there’s been a long history of accidents from home installed generators. So you need to make sure that it’s installed correctly. Because it has to be properly attached. And just imagine the stresses that are going to be placed on that in a high wind storm. And that’s why it has to be so carefully installed.

    So if you want to do something that’s very green – in other words, very good for the environment – you can buy your energy from an environmentally sensitive provider; like the work that’s being done by OG&E. Or you could also consider solar as a option. Certainly you could pick up a lot of energy that way and set up your system so that it feeds back into the power grid excess energy.

    LESLIE: Oh yeah, and then they pay you back.

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: Well and another thought that one of the things – we’re going to have a very green house and one of the things that we wanted was the tankless water heaters. We’re building a five bedroom house with five bathrooms and I’ve been led to believe that the electric models are not efficient to run more than one bathroom at a time.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s absolutely true. The best tankless water heaters are gas powered and the gas piping has to be the right size, too. Because while they don’t use a lot of gas, they need a lot of volume for a very short period of time so it has to be sized correctly.

    So are you going to have access to gas?

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: Well, we weren’t going to. That’s why I wanted the generator. But I’m kind of – I’m mixing both directions. I mean I like gas heat and I like gas cooking but if I could stop using, you know, fossil fuel that would be a good thing.

    TOM: Yeah, but I think that it’s going to be the least expensive way for you to heat your house and to cook is going to be gas. So you know, you could have a good chance of using very little gas if you have a very energy efficient home. And what I would recommend, if I had my options, is I would always have gas first then I would have electric for everything else.

    TOM IN OKLAHOMA: Well, thank you for all your help. I love your show. You guys sure give out a lot of good information for people.

    TOM: Thanks, Tom.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Tom.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alex in Bradley, New Jersey listens on WABC. What happened to the fireplace and why is there paint on it?

    ALEX: The house that I just recently bought is about 80 years old. And a lot of folks had done a lot of work in the house. And one of the things, unfortunately, that they did is they – there was a brick fireplace. There still is a brick fireplace there. And it’s been painted at least three times. And I’ve tried a lot of different things; whether it be some stripper – paint stripper – and I’ve tried a lot of different products. But I just can’t seem to get the paint off and get it down to the natural brick.

    LESLIE: Well the problem, Alex, is because the brick and the mortar are so porous that once that paint goes on there it gets sucked in. I’ve only seen the paint come off when it’s professionally sandblasted. And that is a mess.

    TOM: It’s a big, stinking mess. (Alex laughs) Yeah, it really is.

    LESLIE: But it’s worth it. Because I hate – I hate painted brick. It makes me so mad. And we had an apartment in Queens that had painted brick and our landlord lived upstairs and she tried so many chemicals and different combinations and it was caustic and messy. And in the end it was white speckled brick.

    ALEX: So your recommendation, at this point, would be simply – it’s not simply but it’s comes to sandblast it at that point, right? Have a professional come in and …

    TOM: Exactly. Unless, you know – shudder the thought – you might just get as much of that old stuff off as you can and, presuming the surface is all even and is not flaky, that perhaps that you choose, say, an eggshell sheen paint. And then perhaps you could paint the brick one more time in the brick color and at least not have it be as objectionable as it used to be (Leslie chuckles) and have [it consistently of color] (ph).

    ALEX: Well …

    TOM: But unless you do something like that, you’re not going to be able to get it consistent. And the other thing is, if you do decide to sandblast it, you better be darn sure you know what that brick looks like underneath because there’s no turning back and it would be such a shame if you got it all cleaned off and decided you didn’t like the brick anyway.

    ALEX: I appreciate it very much. Even tried heat but, again, I’m sure you well realize that the brick absorbs the heat so it can’t even get that hot. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    ALEX: Thank you so much. I appreciate your show and thanks very much for your input.

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, can’t decide exactly what to do with that outdated kitchen? We are here to help. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement, even your home design questions, 24 hours day/seven days a week. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, metal roofing, once the most popular type of roofing around, is making a comeback in a very big way. We’re going to tell you why it’s such a great choice for re-roofing your home and how to make sure the job gets done once, gets done right and never has to be replaced again.

    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Alright. So we’re talking metal roofs. You know they’re making a huge comeback even in today’s new homes and a big reason is their super energy efficiency. Because the coatings on metal roofs today are going to reflect the sun and help to lower your heating and your cooling costs. Plus, metal roofs can be made to simulate any roofing style from wood shakes to clay tiles. So there’s a good chance your neighbor’s got one and you can’t even tell. Metal roofs are also durable, they’re fire retardant and they’re pretty much almost maintenance free. And some are even made with mostly recyclable materials so you can feel good about your choice and know that you’re helping Mother Earth. And because they’re lightweight, metal roofs can be pretty much installed over any existing roofing material. And metal roofs can cost a little more but it could be very well the last roof you ever put on your home.

    TOM: And that’s a great concept. You put on one roof and you never have to replace it again.

    Now, there is one step in the installation you have to be very careful about and that is the underlayment. Because some metal roofs can absorb extra heat, you need to use a very good quality underlayment under that roof if you want it to last. One of the best weatherproofing materials out there, specifically for metal roofs and lots of other purposes, is Grace Ultra. It’s a great quality underlayment that performs extremely well at high temperatures. And that’s the key because it needs to protect sloped roofs from the effects of wind-driven rain, ice dam regardless of temperature. Whether it’s hot or whether it’s cold, you need a product like Grace Ultra to make sure that it stays dry.

    If you need more information on that product, you can go to GraceAtHome.com.

    LESLIE: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And now is a great time to call us with your home improvement question because one person we’re going to talk to this hour is going to win a great filtering faucet from Moen. It’s called the Choice Flow. And you’re going to get a filtered or tap water right from the same faucet with just a twist of the wrist.

    TOM: It’s worth 120 bucks. If you want to qualify, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Podcasting the Money Pit, we’ve got Lynn in West Virginia. How can we help you?

    LYNN: Hi, there. Well, we have a problem with our roof. It has a high pitch. And one side of it faces the north and it’s developed some bad streaks. We tried treating it with a product called Jomax With Bleach …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: OK.

    LYNN: … and used a power washer to rinse it off; followed the directions. And we actually have treated it twice.

    LESLIE: Did it go away and come back or did it just never go away?

    LYNN: No, nothing has happened at all. It looks just – it may have faded slightly but it’s still very, very ugly. And our house is for sale and I think it’s preventing us from selling.

    TOM: Well, first of all, the stains on the roof that are caused by moss do not structurally affect the shingle. It’s not going to make the roof leak. It’s really just a cosmetic issue.

    LESLIE: Right, but it has a visual impact and she’s got the house on the market.

    TOM: I understand. You’ve tried to use Jomax, which is a very good product. It’s not worked for you. The only other suggestion that we might make for you – and it’s not really a quick fix – that is to take the ridge vent and replace it with a copper or a nickel ridge vent. Because what happens is as the rain hits that metal vent, the vent tends to lose some of its metal and that acts as a roof cleaner; as sort of a mildicide …

    LYNN: Oh.

    TOM: … as it runs down the roof and it keeps the roof brighter. Other things that you do – and again, these are not short term fixes but …

    LESLIE: What about – do you have – is it very, very shady? Do you have any access to trimming back any of the tree or the branches that might help that mold grow? If you can get the sun on it that’s really going to make a difference.

    LYNN: Well, I think you’re very right. The sun is what we need. (inaudible) position of the house. It’s not the trees; it’s the way – that side of the house is the north and the pitch of it is so high …

    LESLIE: It creates its own shadow.

    LYNN: It just creates a shadow. And the sun comes up on the east end of the house, sets on the west and never touches the front of the house.

    TOM: How old is your roof?

    LYNN: It’s 11 years old.

    TOM: Yeah, so it doesn’t really need to be replaced then. You know what, Lynn? I think you might just find the right buyer for that house. They’ll consider that part of the charm. (Lynn laughs)

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

    LESLIE: In Connecticut, listening on WXLM, we have Jackie. What can we help you with?

    JACKIE: I have a mobile home and last summer I put an air conditioner in my kitchen window. And I think my daughter and I didn’t have it tipped out all the way. I had water running down. Now I have a mold problem running from my kitchen window all the way – I mean a good three feet. And I can’t – I’ve tried hot bleach and water; everything. I can’t rid of it. It keeps coming back. What do I have to do? (chuckling)

    TOM: Well, you’re not using the air conditioner now, I would expect. So are you sure the mold is regrowing or are you just looking at a stain?

    JACKIE: No, it’s – and actually the bottom moulding is kind of popped out.

    TOM: Alright. Well here’s what I want you to do and it sounds like you’ve done some of this but let’s just go from the beginning. First of all, you need to mix up a bleach and water solution of about one-third bleach and two-thirds water. You need to spray this wall area down that’s affected. And then you wash it. The next thing you do is you prime that wall with an oil-based primer like a KILZ or something of that nature.

    LESLIE: Because that’s going to seal in that stain and keep it from penetrating back through.

    TOM: Because very often what happens is a stain will leach back out through the wall even if it’s been eliminated once. So once you seal the entire wall with a primer, then you could put a topcoat of paint on it and you might even want to consider using a paint with mildicide in it. Usually if you buy a paint that’s designed for the bathroom or the kitchen, it has a mildicide in it. And those things, as long as you’re not continuing to saturate that water, should cover this up and have it looking very nice.

    JACKIE: OK. Thanks a lot.

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

    LESLIE: John in Waterbury, Connecticut finds The Money Pit on WABC. Let’s talk drywall.

    JOHN: OK. I have, in a couple spots (audio gap) the house, some what I call stress cracks.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: You know, probably from – not where the joints and the sheets of drywall are but just odd places. One happens to be in the living room underneath the big picture window. Anyway, what I’ve tried so far is to cut a V along the crack; like cutting it out and then retape (audio gap) taping compound and painting over it. The cracks come back. I’m wondering if you have any advice on what might be done to solve those stress crack problems.

    TOM: Now when you cut these out and then retape them, are you using paper tape? Paper drywall tape?

    JOHN: I think one time I used the sticky tape.

    LESLIE: The fiberglass one that’s like netty?

    JOHN: Yes.

    TOM: Because that’s the repair that I have had the absolute best success with. And it’s really a multi-step process. Usually you have to sand down the area to make sure you’re getting something that you could really adhere to. Use the fiberglass drywall tape and then build up your spackle on top of that by starting with a four-inch spackle knife going to a six or an eight and finishing up with a 10 or a 12-inch blade so you’re really feathering that out.

    The place that you identified – under a big window in a corner like that – that’s actually not an unusual space because that’s where you get most of the movement in the wall. Those types of stress cracks frequently show up above the corners of doors or windows where you have not as much as wall framing and a lot of movement. So what you’re seeing is not that unusual.

    But I would repair it again with the drywall tape made out of fiberglass. That is definitely the best material to use for that particular situation.

    JOHN: That sounds good. I’ll give it a shot.

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

    LESLIE: Heather from New York finds The Money Pit on WABC. And you’re thinking about renovating an existing piece of furniture for your kids. Tell us about it.

    HEATHER: Yes. I have a laminated bookcase and I’m just wondering if it can be painted. I’ve never done anything like that before and I was just wondering if there are any options that might be durable with – that would, you know, hold up to kids.

    TOM: Well basically you’re talking about painting plastic here. And there’s one paint that came out several years ago. It’s made by Krylon. It’s called Fusion and it’s specifically designed to stick to plastic. You may want to give that a try but I will say that regardless of the paint that you use, it’s not going to be as durable as the laminate that you started with. So if this is something that’s going to take a lot of wear and tear you may not be happy. But then again, it’s pretty easy to spray paint it so you could always repeat the process.

    LESLIE: Well and also, Heather, you might want to think about a different installation or a process for the inside of the bookcase. Because even though you want that paint to stick, with all the movement of toys and books from the shelving, you’re going to see things chipping off because it’s the plastic and you’re having an adhesion problem. So maybe think about putting some, you know, cork tiles or fabric or something different just to add texture. Wallpaper, shelf liners; just to do something different on the interior. But go ahead and paint that outside.

    HEATHER: OK. That’s a good idea.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, standing by for your call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Up next, small baths don’t provide very much room for storage. But hidden storage is everywhere if you know where to look. We’re going to give you those tips, after this.

    (theme song)

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Alright. Well, no doubt you have had a small bath at one time in your life or you might even be dealing with one or more than one small bath in your house right now. And a great place to think about reclaiming some space is above the toilet. You’ve got enough space there, usually, to fit a full 12×30-inch storage cabinet. Mount it up to the wall. Even get one of those freestanding

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