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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: And we make good homes better. Call us right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We have a terrific show planned for you. This hour we’re going to talk about, well, let’s call it caulk talk (Leslie chuckles) because we’re going to talk about caulking your tub. Have you ever caulked your bathtub only to have the caulk fall out? Well, there is a trick of the trade for caulking your tub that is absolutely ingenious. And I’m not saying that because I thought of it. No.

    LESLIE: No. And let me tell you, you thought of it and told it to me and I pass it off as my own.

    TOM: Well, good. (Leslie giggles) That’s why we’re great partners. We think credit for each other. We’re going to tell it to you in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also, are you tired of jumping in and out of your car every time you need to open that garage door? Well, automatic openers are the way to go and if you don’t have one yet, we’re going to tell you what to look for when you go shopping for one.

    TOM: Plus, this hour we have a fabulous prize to give away to one …

    LESLIE: This really is a good prize.

    TOM: It is. It’s really good. Ready? It’s a 10-inch compound laser mitre saw from Ryobi. It’s worth 145 bucks. If you want to win it you’ve got to call us right now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Your do-it-yourself dilemma. Does your roof leak? Does your toilet squeak? (Leslie chuckles) Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because this hour will not only give you the answer to your home improvement question but the tools to get the job done with this Ryobi mitre saw worth 145 bucks. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Calling from New York and listening in on WABC we’ve got Catherine. What’s going on at your money pit?

    CATHERINE: I had received from my son-in-law a child’s desk; a school desk that he had when he was a young boy that they sold to the – you know, they gave away.

    TOM: Oh, how cool.

    CATHERINE: And now I want to refinish it for my granddaughter and I want to know the best thing to use to strip it.

    LESLIE: OK, is it one of those solid wood ye-olde ones where you slide in from the side?

    CATHERINE: (overlapping voices) Yes, yes. Solid wood but it has a Formica top.

    TOM: OK. Well, the first thing you’re going to probably want to do is take the top off, wouldn’t you think, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah, if you can get the top off it’ll make it a lot easier for you to work with the wood. But the seat is wood; the legs are wood; everything else is wood but the desk top?

    CATHERINE: Yeah, looks like it’s maple probably.

    TOM: OK, well that’s great.

    CATHERINE: It’s a nice, solid wood.

    TOM: Yeah.


    CATHERINE: And the Formica top is really on quite well so what I did was I taped around the top.

    LESLIE: OK, perfect.

    CATHERINE: Because I don’t think I can take it off.

    LESLIE: Do you want to stain it or do you want to paint it?

    CATHERINE: I haven’t quite decided but I was leaning towards staining it. Her bedroom is very blonde but she also has some white things. So it’ll be either keeping it sort of very light – maybe even natural – or white.

    TOM: And it’s natural right now?

    CATHERINE: Well, yes. It was light. It was light. You know, I started trying to remove the stain with something I got from the hardware store but …

    TOM: OK.

    CATHERINE: … it’s not working as well as I like. So …

    TOM: Well, here’s a couple of things that you can do. Leslie, what would you recommend here? Rock Miracle, probably?

    LESLIE: Yeah, I like working with Rock Miracle only because it’s kind of thicker and consistency almost like a rubber cement so you have control in putting it on. It’s not so liquidy. And you can put it on into some tricky spots and then you really let the chemicals sit there and do it’s job and then go ahead and, you know, use a stiff bristle brush and, you know, try to get rid of whatever is already peeling off. Then in areas where you end up with some problems you can go in with sandpaper -you know, medium grit to fine grit – and work those areas. And you just want to get down as close to raw wood as you can; especially since you’re going with a lighter color finish. And once you get down to raw wood you want to make sure you give it a good sanding. Then you take – what is it? – tack cloth.

    TOM: Mm-hmm, yes.

    LESLIE: And really make sure that you wipe away all of that sawdust. Because even though it might look like there’s nothing sitting on it, that tack cloth is so sticky it’s really going to get rid of all of that residue that’s sitting on there. And then you can go ahead and finish it any way you like.

    CATHERINE: How do you spell that?

    TOM: T-a-c-k.

    LESLIE: It’s usually in the paint aisle.

    CATHERINE: Oh, OK. Tack. OK, I’ve got you. And what was the name of this product?

    LESLIE: I like Rock Miracle.

    CATHERINE: Rock Miracle?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.


    LESLIE: Also in the paint section.

    TOM: Sounds like a fun project. Catherine, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Nice when you can find your desk that you had as a child, huh?

    LESLIE: You know, we had my dad’s from when he was a kid and I used it at my house to do my homework. Of course where it is now, I have no idea. (Tom chuckles)

    Going to Nebraska where you can find The Money Pit on KCNI and we’ve got June. How can we help?

    JUNE: I have a question about Formica flooring. It looks like a wood floor but I set a sack of garbage on it and guess what? It leaked and I have a bump. I have two bumps where it leaked into a crack. And will this go down or what do I need to do?

    TOM: It’s a laminate floor?

    JUNE: Yes.

    TOM: And it’s a Formica laminate floor?

    JUNE: Yes.

    TOM: That’s very unusual because I actually have a Formica laminate floor and I’ve actually …

    LESLIE: And they’re like indestructible.

    TOM: I immersed it in water and haven’t been able to get it to swell.

    JUNE: Really?

    TOM: So what I’m thinking is that what’s swelling is the subfloor underneath; not the actual laminate itself.

    JUNE: OK.

    TOM: And is this one of the older Formica floors that you had to glue together? How long …

    JUNE: No, it snapped together.

    TOM: It snapped together. OK. Because I’m wondering if you can get enough tiles out and disassemble enough tiles to be able to address the floor underneath. Because I suspect it’s not the laminate but it’s the subfloor and so you need to get the …

    JUNE: OK. I have a couple of pieces left over so that would work, wouldn’t it?

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: If you can get – right, if you can sort of disassemble the floor. That’s the advantage of the snap together floor. If you can disassemble it to the point where you can get to the subfloor, you can correct the subfloor and then reassemble it, you may not, in fact, need any tiles if you can get them apart correctly. What I would suggest that you do, June, before you start taking things apart is to take a dry erase marker – the kind you use on the wipe off boards – and number the actual floor pieces, you know, one, two, three, four and so on so that when you take them apart you’ll be putting them back together exactly how they came apart.

    JUNE: It’s just two pieces, so …

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s great.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, then it’s easy. You only need two numbers that way. (chuckling) OK.

    JUNE: Yeah, one, two. OK. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, June. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Well, it is officially summer and we can help you sort out all of your home improvement dilemma if you call in your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT any time of the day, 24 hours, seven days a week.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Here to celebrate independence from your home improvement projects. (Leslie chuckles) Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, up next, does your bathtub caulk fall out right after you replace it? We’re going to give you my trick of the trade to make sure it stays in for good.

    LESLIE: I think our trick of the trade.

    TOM: Oh, sorry. Our trick of the trade. (Leslie snickers) Next. (Tom chuckles)

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This segment of The Money Pit is sponsored by Angie’s List. Need work done around your house and don’t know who to call? You don’t have to guess who’s good and who’s not. Angie’s List has thousands of unbiased reports on local service companies with details from real member experience. Call 888-944-5478. Or visit AngiesList.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

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

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. And if you dial 888-MONEY-PIT not only you’re going to ask your home improvement question, we’re going to give you that answer, but one caller that we talk to today is going to win – and this really is a great prize. You will be doing so many, many projects with this. We’re giving away the Ryobi 10-inch laser compound mitre saw. It’s worth $145. The saw has an electric brake to stop that blade in seconds. It’s great for crown moulding, baseboards, any other jobs that require mitering of any degree. And that number again – because you know you want this prize – is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, if you don’t happen to win, you can still get in on a great deal right now at your nearest Home Depot. If you buy any Ryobi mitre saw and a Ryobi mitre saw QuickSTAND you are going to get 50 bucks off of your purchase. So hey, call in or go to the store or both.

    TOM: That’s right. You’ll get the saw and you’ll save 50 bucks to put toward your materials. What a deal. Call in. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    OK, time to crack the code and deliver Leslie’s caulking tip. (Leslie snickers) Does that work for you? OK? You want to take credit for this one?

    LESLIE: No, it’s Tom’s tip. I just pass it off.

    TOM: Here’s the tip. And it’s pretty smart. (Leslie laughs) If you – If I do say so myself. If you’re trying to caulk your bathtub and you – if you’re like most people you’ll notice that when you caulk the tub the caulk usually comes apart. It will sort of peel off the walls or the ledge of the tub. And the reason it’s doing that is because the water is extremely heavy and when you fill the tub up with water it tends to pull it down.

    LESLIE: And a person.

    TOM: That’s right. And you stand in it. So what you do is this. When you want to caulk your bathtub the first thing you do is remove all the old caulk. And if you have trouble getting it out you can buy something called a caulk softener which is like a paint stripper but it’s for caulk and it makes it soft and easy to come out. And then what you want to do is fill the tub up with water. That’s the trick of the trade. Fill it all the way up with water and, next, caulk the tub. Caulk the ledge to the wall and let the caulk dry. Now, after it dries you let the water out of the tub. What will happen is the tub will come up; it will compress the caulk and it will not pull out again the next time you step in it to take a shower or a bath.

    LESLIE: Wow, Tom. You are so smart. (Leslie snickers)

    TOM: Well, thank you very much, Leslie.

    LESLIE: (giggling) It really is a good idea.

    TOM: And now we have – now we have shared that with everyone. So call us right now if you’ve got a caulking question or you just want to talk about home improvement. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well our next caller is Janet from Indiana but, you know, we called her back; she’s not there. So Don, her main man in her life – her husband – he’s going to ask us the question.

    Welcome, Don.

    DON: Hi there.

    LESLIE: Hey, so your wife ran out? What, is she shopping?

    DON: She is actually at the ball practice with my grandson.

    TOM: Ah, that’s great.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, how fun! Well, alright. How can we help you get this job done?

    TOM: And what position does Janet play? (laughing)

    DON: I think she’s keeping water to them.

    TOM: Alright. (chuckling) How can we help you with your home improvement question, Don?

    DON: I guess my question was we’ve got baseboard heat.

    TOM: OK.

    DON: How is the simplest way or the best way to go to – for air conditioning if you want to go a central air unit?

    TOM: Well, you’ll need a standalone ducted system. There’s two ways you can do this: conventionally with full-size ducts and those would be low-flow, high-volume ducts – your standard air conditioning duct; or you can use a high-velocity system. The high velocity systems use very, very small tubes that look sort of like dryer exhaust ducts. They’re about three or four inches in diameter …

    LESLIE: And they fit in between the studs in your wall.

    TOM: Yeah, or in between the floor joists and when they come out of the wall it looks sort of like a little white, plastic doughnut coming through the wall as opposed to the big 8×12 grill that you see. And those systems are a little more convenient to install because you need to do less destruction to the house to get the ducts where you need to go. But, on the flip side, they’re more expensive to install. Even though they’re a little more convenient, the price of the materials and the parts is actually higher. And that’s called a SpacePak system; S-p-a-c-e-P-a-k. And they’ve recently seemed to be – have sort of resurged. There’s a lot more interest in them right now. They were fairly unavailable for a long time but now we’re starting to see more and more of them. And I’ve actually, in the years I spent as a home inspector, inspected many houses that had these systems. And people love them for the convenience. They do occasionally – we do occasionally hear complaints about them being a little louder because of the high velocity; say, just a bit of a whistling sound. But I think …

    LESLIE: But the convenience from an architectural standpoint …

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: … about not having to make a lot of changes or have unsightly ductwork because there’s no place to put it.

    TOM: Yeah, and I think when properly installed the whistling can be reduced, if not totally eliminated by a trained installer.

    LESLIE: Hey, when you’re cool you don’t hear that whistling.

    TOM: That’s right.

    DON: OK. Now, I’ve got a four-foot crawl space underneath the house.

    TOM: Well, you know – and this is a single-story house?

    DON: Yes.

    TOM: Well, if you’ve got a four-foot crawl space I would use a conventional duct system then. There’s no reason – because you have total access. What you’re going to have to do is you’ll pull all the units down there; you’ll bring the supply registers up the walls. So there will be some wall destruction but not a whole lot.

    DON: OK.

    TOM: It can be – certainly can be minimized. OK, Don?

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. We hope that advice helps you keep cool all summer long.

    LESLIE: Taking a call from Alice in Florida who listens in to The Money Pit on WCOA. What can we help you with?

    ALICE: Hi. I’ve got a – two water heaters in our home. They’re both 40 gallons. And one of them, which is on the master bath side of the house, does not fill up our master bath tub. And it has Jacuzzi jets but it fills the water up to, say, the level right below the jets and then it runs out of hot water.

    TOM: Hmm. Is it a gas water heater or electric, Alice?

    ALICE: It’s electric.

    TOM: Alright. And is it a 40 or 50-gallon electric water heater?

    ALICE: Yes, 40.

    TOM: Did it ever fill up the whole tub or is this a new problem?

    ALICE: No, well we just bought the house, so …

    TOM: OK.

    ALICE: … ever since we’ve moved in …

    TOM: Alright.

    ALICE: And we turned up the – we turned it up to 140 degrees.

    TOM: That’s way too hot.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Here’s what I want you to check. Is this one of the tall water heaters?

    ALICE: No, it’s a short.

    TOM: Short, squatty one?

    ALICE: Yeah.

    TOM: Does it have – do you know if it has one coil or two coils?

    ALICE: It has two, which we checked.

    TOM: So do you know that both coils are working?

    ALICE: Yeah, they both work.

    TOM: How do you know that?

    ALICE: Our neighbor had a little instrument and he tested it.

    TOM: He did a continuity test? That’s what has to be done. Because what you’re describing is a typical failure of one coil or the other. You’re only getting half of the hot water that the unit is designed to put out. And so you need to make sure that both coils are truly functioning. That doesn’t just mean they’re getting power. It means that the coils have not broken down. And the way to test that is with a continuity tester and, frankly …

    LESLIE: Do you hire a plumber to do that or is it something you can do on your own?

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, I was going to say it’s not really a do-it-yourself project because you have to be comfortable working amongst 240-volt electricity to do this. If your neighbor knows how to do that you can confidently turn off the circuit to the water heater and disconnect one of the leads and test it; then that’s fine. But if you don’t have that level of expertise then don’t do it because it’s dangerous.

    But that’s what this sounds like to me. It sounds like one of the coils is not working and therefore you’re only getting half of the hot water. And once you get it fixed you’re going to be in good shape. Because I seriously doubt that they put in a water heater that was undersized from the get-go because there would have been a lot of complaints by now. So it sounds like one coil is burned out. And that’s actually an easy thing to fix.

    ALICE: So it’s called a continuity tester?

    TOM: Yes. You have to check the coil with a continuity tester. It basically tells you if the coil is working. There’s two heating coils in a water heater; usually one higher, one lower. And if one gives out then it’s just not doing the job. OK?

    ALICE: OK.

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

    LESLIE: Talking windows with John in New York who listens on WABC. How can we help?

    JOHN: I have a 4×4 picture window which is insulated and I bought two years ago. At the bottom corner, especially, it leaks water, I would say, during the warmer months of the year. During the winter it hasn’t leaked.

    LESLIE: And it’s always – you’ve seen this leaky condition the entire life of the window or this is a new situation?

    JOHN: It began, I’d say, almost immediately; you know, maybe three or four months.

    LESLIE: Was it installed in the season where you have the problem or was in installed in the winter and then you saw the problem in the summer?

    JOHN: It was installed in September of that year.

    TOM: John, what kind of siding do you have?

    JOHN: I have asbestos shingles.

    TOM: Because obviously there’s a problem with the flashing here. And what we’re going to recommend is that you remove those asbestos shingles. And it doesn’t sound like it’s as terrible a job as you might think. There are – there’s a trick of the trade to removing asbestos shingles and that is to not try to pry them off as you would if it was wood clapboard or any of the other type of siding. Basically, you take a nailset and you drive the nail that’s holding the shingle actually through it to the other side and sort of pull the shingle off and use a slightly larger nail to put back in. But once you pull the shingles off you’re going to have to redo the flashing around the windows. And there are new high-tech flashing materials that can help you with that.

    LESLIE: Because it sounds like it’s a movement issue. As things are expanding and contracting seasonally the flashing just doesn’t cover the gap that it needs to. So there are more flexible membranes that are going to move and adapt to situations depending on the climate, as the building shifts, that’ll really help alleviate this problem.

    TOM: You know, Grace makes a lot of really good, flexible flashings. Their website is GraceAtHome.com. And these are premium, high-tech flashings that can kind of go around unusually shaped areas, like around windows and doors, and seal out the water. But obviously this is a flashing problem. It probably gets worse when you get rain from a certain direction. It’s not that unusual. But the best way to fix it is just to stop caulking and things like that, John, and just take the siding off and reflash it and then replace the siding.

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

    LESLIE: Well, we love it when you call us here at The Money Pit. But what happens if you are just too shy to pick up your phone?

    TOM: Hmm.

    LESLIE: Hey, you, Mr. Shy Guy or Miss Shy Girl out there, you can e-mail us your question. Just visit us at MoneyPit.com right now – or whenever you feel like – and we are going to answer all of your e-mails; some of them personally and some of them we even choose to answer on the air. So whatever you choose, phone or e-mail, we will be back with you in just a moment.

    (theme song)

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

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, have you ever wondered, perhaps, how many cans of paint that you might need to purchase for your painting projects? Or maybe how many square feet of carpet to order. Well, if those are the kinds of home improvement questions you have, we’ve got some tools on our website at MoneyPit.com that can help you out. We’ve got a collection of the best calculators and estimators on the web for everything from paint to parquet floors and that is on MoneyPit.com.

    Leslie, let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Barbara in Alabama, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    BARBARA: Well, hey. I just love your show. I listen to it all the time. But what I want to know is how do you install a lightning rod.

    TOM: Ah, a lightning rod.

    BARBARA: And if you do install it, how high up should it be and how far away from the house and how far down in the ground should it go? And (Leslie chuckles) does it draw lightning.

    TOM: OK. So, the first – let’s do the last question first. Does it cause lightning to draw to your house. The answer would be no. What it does do is if lightning is going to strike your house it will direct it towards the metal rod. But I don’t think it increases your risk.

    Secondly, how do you install it? Well, typically, it’s installed at the highest point on the roof. There is a heavy cable that goes from the lightning rod down the side of the house. And you have to, by the way, be very careful where the cable runs. Because you would not to run the cable, for example, down the wall where there was electrical wiring or where there were plumbing pipes because that lightning strike could sort of rush over into the other metal parts that are in the wall, including the wiring and the plumbing, and cause someone to be shocked somewhere else down the line. So there is a science to where it’s installed. And then once it gets down, the ground wire is connected to a ground stake which goes into the soil, usually anywhere from three to six feet into the soil and that’s where it dissipates. And that would be located within a few feet of the foundation. And that’s all there is to it.

    You know, the lightning rods can actually be quite beautiful. Some of them are very, very ornate. I’ve seen them with different color glass bulbs that surround them. They really can look pretty neat on the top of a house. And they do a good job to keep lightning from damaging the home as well.

    BARBARA: How many feet did you say away from the house?

    TOM: Usually within a few feet of the foundation.

    BARBARA: How many is a few?

    TOM: Five.

    BARBARA: Five feet?

    TOM: Yep.

    BARBARA: Oh, my goodness. OK.

    TOM: Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Tim in Texas is looking to seal a door. How can we help?

    TIM: Yes, I was just trying to find out what’s a good product to use to seal a front door; the main door into the house.

    LESLIE: Seal around the trim work; seal under the door? Where are you feeling the draft?

    TIM: This is actually when you close the door. You know, they usually have that little metal flashing or something there.

    TOM: When you close the door, do you see an even gap all the way around it? Can you identify specifically where the drafts are coming through, Tim?

    TIM: I can feel the draft at the bottom of the door and on one side.

    TOM: OK. So on the bottom of the door, what you’re going to probably want to do is replace the door sill or you can add something called a door sweep, which is usually or sometimes a brush-like looking piece.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it looks brushy like a broom handle or something.

    TOM: Yeah, like a broom handle that goes along the bottom of the door. And that will seal that in. The other thing to look at – how old is your house, Tim?

    TIM: Thirty years.

    TOM: Well, is the door 30 years old?

    TIM: Yes.

    TOM: Alright, well it’s probably not adjustable. I was going to tell you if it was a newer door there may be plugs in the sill that you could remove and actually adjust the door sill up and down. But if not, you’re going to have to use conventional weatherstripping. And then, on the other side of the door where you feel the draft, you’re simply going to want to replace the weatherstripping there or add additional weatherstripping. And any home center or hardware store can sell that to you. It’s very easy to install. Some of it you have to nail on. Some of it has sort of sticky back tape that you peel it off.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: But a fairly simple home improvement project to tackle.

    TIM: OK. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Tim. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    LESLIE: Norma from Rhode Island, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    NORMA: My hardwood floor has a space that developed after a period of time; after it had been installed a period of time. The space is probably a quarter of an inch.

    TOM: Now, where’s this space, Norma? Is it between the slats of the hardwood floor or is between the floor and the wall or the floor and the baseboard? Where is it?

    NORMA: The hardwoods go one direction and where it joins the hardwood goes in the other direction. It’s a design in the floor.

    TOM: OK. This is very, very typical and it’s caused by the normal expansion and contraction of the floor. It’s not something that you can really fill, so to speak, because it’s really designed to have that gap there. It may be a bit unsightly but there’s absolutely nothing you can put in there that’s going to close it unless you start replacing hardwood floor boards with wider ones and that’s probably not the best idea.

    LESLIE: Well, if it really bothers you, Norma, there are things that you can do. I would never use wood filler on it because it’s just going to chip out and it’s going to fly out and it’s going to look horrible. I have seen done – you can take a natural fiber rope, like a jute or something along that same – like a hemp texture – and you would dip it in – you would make sure, number one, that it’s the same thickness of that space or that gap that you’ve got in the floor. And if the rope’s a little too big you can unravel one of the larger pieces of threading. Then you would dip that into a stain that’s similar in color to your floor and then you would shove that into that gap. Now, you might not notice it directly if you’re walking by it or, you know, quickly glancing at it. But if you look it at it you’re going to see it.

    NORMA: Oh, that’s interesting. The one thing that bothers me is that there – one board is higher than the other. That’s what bothers me. And every now and then people will stump their toe on it.

    TOM: Well, is it swollen? Is it sort of twisted and warped? Is that why it’s higher? Or is it just physically thicker?

    NORMA: It’s because it was in – one room was an addition and I think that room settled a little bit.

    TOM: Alright, well here’s something else you could do. You could put a piece of moulding in the transitions from the high floorboard to the low floorboard and that could serve two purposes. First of all, it can cover the gap that’s in between the boards.

    LESLIE: What, like a threshold?

    TOM: Yeah, like a small threshold or a piece of like shoe moulding or something like that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Maybe [it could even be] (ph) something that you have to sort of custom cut. But that could cover the gap and also create an even slope between the two different heights of floors.

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

    LESLIE: Do you love your garage door opener? Do you love not having to get out of your car in bad weather just to get into that garage? They are so much easier on your aching back. Well, if you don’t have one and you’re thinking of getting one or you need to upgrade your current garage door opener, we’ve got the advice on what best models are out there for you to choose. That’s next.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Plus Ultra exterior paint and primer in one with advanced NanoGuard technology to help save time and money while preserving your home’s exterior finish. For more information visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And surveys show that listening to this program results in 30 percent fewer trips to the emergency room.

    LESLIE: Oh, really?

    TOM: Yeah. New data; just in. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: And perhaps the home improvement center because we’re getting you fully prepared.

    TOM: We advocate home improvement safety here.

    LESLIE: Yes, indeed, we do. And you know what else we advocate? We advocate you picking up your phone and dialing 1-888-MONEY-PIT right now because, as always, one caller to this show is going to win a super fantastic prize. It’s a Ryobi 10-inch laser compound mitre saw. It’s worth 145 bucks. And this saw features the exact line laser alignment system. It’s really going to take that guesswork out of where exactly that cut is going to go. So it really saves you a lot of money when you’re cutting expensive hardwood, moulding, even baseboard. Those things add up when you make mistakes.

    TOM: And if you don’t win, there’s still a great reason to head over to your local Home Depot and pick up this tool because if you buy …

    LESLIE: Because you forgot something? (chuckling)

    TOM: Yeah. If you buy any Ryobi mitre saw and a Ryobi mitre saw QuickSTAND, you’re going to get 50 bucks off your purchase. Fifty bucks. Great reason. So go there today.

    LESLIE: Hey, and you know what you can do with that extra 50 bucks. You can think about that garage door opener. Because you know, jumping in and out of your car to open that garage door really can be a nuisance. It’s hard on your back and if you really just have had it up to here with all of that physical activity, it might be time to look into an electric garage door opener. Or maybe you just want to upgrade your current model. Well here’s what you need to know.

    There are three basic types. First, it’s the chain drive. They’re a little noisy; especially if your garage is connected to your house. But they’re very powerful for heavier doors. Then there’s also the screw drive. These are good for one-piece doors that tilt open. And finally, the belt drive. It’s the quietest but it’s also the most expensive.

    TOM: And let’s also talk about security. You should consider an opener with what’s called rolling code technology. That means that it cannot be opened by somebody else’s remote. When you push the button on your remote, a coded signal is sent to the receiver in your garage. Rolling codes actually change the signal every time you use it so burglars cannot figure it out.

    Now, if you want more tips on how to choose a garage door opener, you can log onto the website for our friends at AARP. It’s AARP.org/HomeDesign. That’s AARP.org/HomeDesign.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Charlie in Alabama’s got some problems with some French doors. Tell us what happened.

    CHARLIE: Well, I’ve got French doors on my lake house and evidently some portion of it has settled and – to the point now where the one door that’s operable won’t unlock.

    TOM: So now you can’t even get into the lake house, huh Charlie? (laughing)

    CHARLIE: Really. Won’t have to worry about burglars coming in.

    TOM: Yeah. Double doors like that – French – double doors or any type of double door is really double the trouble when it comes to door adjustments because, you know, without having a solid center jamb, any movement in the hinge jambs …

    LESLIE: Can really throw things off square.

    TOM: … throws everything totally out of whack. So really what has to happen here is you’ve got to get this door open one way or the other.

    LESLIE: Well, can’t you just take the pin out of the hinges and pull them off that way?

    TOM: Yeah, certainly. And then what you’re going to have to do is basically rehang or readjust each door. You do this one door at a time. You close the door with sort of the jamb side on it; you know, where you have sort of the overlap, the astrical moulding. Close that first. Make sure that closes properly. Then bring the other door into it.

    Now, if the other door, for example, is touching at the top, that might mean that the top hinge on that door has to move closer to the jamb – sort of closer away – which would pull the door away. When you move a hinge one way or the other it has a direct impact on how the door operates. So you need to look at the door as it’s closing and make those hinge adjustments. Sometimes it pays to pull the trim off and put some shims behind the whole jamb and pull it out. Other times it pays to take the hinge off and reset it deeper into the jamb to move the door that you – the way you want.

    LESLIE: Now Tom, should any of those materials be changed out; especially because it’s in such a high moisture area of the lake house?

    TOM: Only if you have decay. Only if you find that you have a rotted area of the jamb or something like that. But this type of swelling and moving of a door, Charlie, is not really unusual. It’s just that it needs a lot of tender loving care to keep it really functioning for you. And if you do it right and you get a nice, even closure of this door, it will also be more energy efficient by keeping the drafts off. But I’m afraid there’s no easy way to fix this. You’re just going to have to play it by ear; get the door freed up; close the fixed side first and bring the other door up to it and make adjustments as it’s needed.

    CHARLIE: OK. Well, that’s what I was afraid you were going to say. (Leslie chuckles) (laughing)

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a Saturday project. You know what? And it’s – it is not – it doesn’t have to be terrible. But go ahead and get it open; work on it one side at a time; take your time. You know, doors aren’t really that hard to understand. Just think that when you move the hinge one way, whether it’s in or out, it has the impact on the door. And the door will tell you which way it wants to go. You know, if you see the door is too close to the upper jamb, move the bottom hinge away. That will drop it down. Those types of slight adjustments will make a big difference.

    CHARLIE: Alright. Well I certainly appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned into The Money Pit.

    So, have you ever wondered how do you let light into a home when you just can’t install windows? If that’s your burning question, we’re going to answer that next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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: It’s where work and fun meet. It’s the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we make good homes better. Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. Hey, are you getting ready to take a summer getaway? Whoo-hoo!

    LESLIE: Oh, I wish.

    TOM: Well, read our next e-newsletter before you lock up your house because we’re going to tell you how to think like a thief. Why would you want to do that? Because you’re going to be smarter than the thieves and you’re going to learn how to case your home and fix all of the weak spots. If you are not a newsletter subscriber, I don’t see why not because it’s free and it’s available right now at MoneyPit.com. That’s MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And you know what else? While you’re over there visiting MoneyPit.com, if you don’t feel like picking up the phone you can click on Ask Tom and Leslie and all of a sudden your e-mail question will be answered just like this.

    Nicole from Detroit, Michigan writes: ‘I’m house hunting and I really like a home that was practically built on top of the house next door,’ which is happening a lot all over the country. ‘There are windows along the entire southern side of the house but they face the neighboring building that’s about 12 inches away. I’m sure many urban homes face this problem also. What can be done to introduce light into these rooms?’

    TOM: Hmm. So you don’t want to like see your neighbor’s face like (chuckling) 12 inches away from the house. I can kind of get that.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) That’s really close.

    TOM: Well, let’s see. First of all, you know what might be a good idea? A skylight.

    LESLIE: Yeah, skylights are a great idea. I mean if you’re able to put them into your home and you do it right, you can really let in a ton of light.

    TOM: And there’s also another type of a skylight called a Sun Tunnel, which is kind of cool.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, is that that small tube?

    TOM: Yeah. There’s a couple of different brands. I think Sun Tunnel is one of them. And basically the way it works is you cut a round hole in the roof and you put in what looks like sort of a small, round dome. And then there’s a silver lined tube that goes from that hole in the roof down your ceiling.

    LESLIE: Oh, highly reflective. I get it.

    TOM: Highly reflective on the inside. A mirror-like finish on the inside. And it really throws a ton of light in a room. And then the skylights themselves, you know, are really the best thing to do if you can’t – if you can get up to the attic space; if you have the access; if you have the physical structural room. There’s a couple of different types of skylights. The ones you want to avoid are the flat, plastic bubbles that are not curved.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: In other words, they’re almost flush with the roof. Those leak like sieves. Can’t tell you how many leaking skylights like that I’ve seen.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but you know what? Any skylight project that you’re going to work on involves, you know, cutting a major hole into your roof. What do you do to make sure it doesn’t leak?

    TOM: Well, a good thing to do is to use proper flashing. And a good flashing is the Grace Construction Roof Detail Membrane. That stuff fits all around odd-shaped spaces and it seals it in really, really tight. Their website is GraceAtHome.com. And that is really critical if you want to put a skylight in and make sure it doesn’t leak.

    LESLIE: Yeah, do it once; do it right; and keep it water-tight.

    TOM: Do you love to entertain? Well, I do. But do you know what can really throw a wrench in the works; especially when you have the game on and all the guys are coming over? (Leslie chuckles) And that is a breakdown in the home entertainment system. Do you want to save some time, money and potential embarrassment before you call a service pro? Well Leslie’s got the tips on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And the key here is take the time to troubleshoot. You know, it turns out that men don’t always have the patience for this. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Hmm.

    LESLIE: Often a glitch in your home entertainment equipment, it’s really got a simple answer. Before you pick up that phone and call that repair person or cart anything to a service center, check the basics. You want to look to make sure that the wires are connected properly and securely. Then you want to test more than one game or CD. And last but not least, check the batteries and check the plug. You never know. Some simple fixes could have you back online in no time.

    TOM: And if all else fails, guys – I know you hate to do this – read the directions. (Leslie chuckles) Perhaps you could, you know, take the(Leslie snickers) for the solution to your home improvement entertainment problem.

    Hey, we’ve just about run out of time on this hour of The Money Pit. Thank you so much for stopping by.

    If you are hungry for more home improvement tips you can log onto our website at MoneyPit.com. Every time you go there you’ll find a new tip on the home page. And you can even have our tip of the day show up on your website. All the details are right there and it’s all free at MoneyPit.com.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    (theme song)


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

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