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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: Call us now with your home improvement project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Or log onto MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie.

    We’ve got a very busy show planned for you. First of all, we want lots of calls and questions about your home improvement projects; especially those that maybe you’re tackling this summer. Maybe you’re working outside and taking a bit of a break to call us. We’d love to hear your questions about the things that you are working on.

    We’re also going to talk about leaks. You know, most of the time we can sort of figure out where a house is prone to leak but there are actually several areas where houses are common to leak that don’t necessarily show themselves until it’s too late. So we’re going to identify the top leak danger zones this hour; including those where a leak could be happening and you’d have no idea until it’s really too late; you know, after the mold has started to grow.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and at that point you really need to do some major work.

    Also ahead, if you love baths but you hate the acrobatic act that they require to get in and out of your tub, we’ve got some great tips on accessible bathroom design that’s going to make your bath the relaxing oasis it should be.

    TOM: And one caller today is going to win a really cool prize that will keep mosquitoes from bugging you while you tackle those outside home improvement projects. It’s a bug repelling hat and bandana from Buzz Off.

    LESLIE: Ooh, how cool.

    TOM: It’s clothing that actually is resistant to mosquitoes. That’s kind of a cool thing for a home improver like us. Going to have to pick some of that up. But you don’t if you call us right at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re going to give away this prize package worth 48 bucks.

    So Leslie, who’s first? Let’s get to the phones.

    LESLIE: Calling in from New York we’ve got Tammy. You’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    TAMMY: We’re building a home in the Poconos and we’ve been hit with a utility pole bill. And we were just wondering – because it’s pretty high – we were wondering if there’s any way we can recoup it from the community where we live; if we can get money back from the lighting company; or this is just something we have to pay and deal with it.

    TOM: Was this utility pole necessary to bring the electricity into your house? In other words, are you the only one that’s benefiting from the pole or is it …?

    TAMMY: Oh, all three of them were necessary and not only will be benefit from them but the five or six lots behind us that will eventually build will benefit from it.

    TOM: Well, I would imagine, to get the wiring back to those five or six lots, you’re probably going to need additional poles, wouldn’t you think?

    TAMMY: No, actually we were told that we would – since we’re the first ones building in that particular area …

    TOM: Uh-huh.

    TAMMY: … we would have to pay for it and then everyone else can hook up their electricity to those three poles.

    TOM: That’s very neighborly of you, Tammy. (Leslie chuckles)

    TAMMY: Isn’t it? I hate my neighbors and they haven’t even moved in yet.

    TOM: Is this an association that – where you bought this lot? Is it …?

    TAMMY: No, it’s in a private – it’s a private community in the Pocono region.

    TOM: And you say all the lots are individual?

    TAMMY: Yeah.

    TOM: Well – and are they owned by the same person?

    TAMMY: No.

    TOM: They’re owned by different people.

    TAMMY: Developers, yeah.

    TOM: By different developers?

    TAMMY: Yeah.

    TOM: Well, it seems to me like this is something that should have been negotiated into the purchase price for the lot.

    TAMMY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: The cost of the utilities. I don’t know if there’s a way that you’re going to be able to recoup that. (chuckling) You know, the next – when the people move in behind you, you can always go by and say, ‘Hi, I’m Tammy and here’s your bill for the utility pole you’re hooked up to.’ (Tammy laughs) Probably not the best way to meet people.

    LESLIE: No, but what about putting together, you know, a document and perhaps have it written up by an attorney just to be like, ‘Hey, I’m serious about this’; you know, showing your costs for the utility poles and the fact that they do share the service for the new homes that will be built and then approaching those builders who own those lots and saying, ‘Listen, you know, we’ve got this’? And you know, I wonder if there’s any way you can block them using it.

    TOM: Yeah, the real question is where is the line of demarcation between what’s the utility company’s property and what’s yours. You know, it may be that you’re paying a cost for not really physically buying the pole but just for part of the work to get the pole in. I don’t know. It’s probably a good question for a land use attorney.

    TAMMY: Oh, great. I was wondering if I could leave them – you know, the poles to my kids in my will.

    TOM: (laughing) That’s right. It’s become part of your property.

    TAMMY: Or you know, like when I move can I take them with me?

    TOM: Can you take your pole with you. (Laughing)

    TAMMY: I just get laughed at by the energy company. They think I’m laughing and I’m like, ‘I’m not joking.’ That’s a lot of money we’re being charged.

    TOM: Yeah, how much were they charging you?

    TAMMY: $11,412.76.

    TOM: Wow!

    LESLIE: Whoa!

    TOM: Man. And here’s a question. As the pole ages, does it appreciate?

    TAMMY: I don’t – (laughing). Pink is my favorite color. I mean, you know, can we put sparkles on it and – my daughter wants to like decorate it.

    TOM: I would contact a land use attorney and get that question answered. I think it’s a great question.

    LESLIE: Hey, because every house owns $23.52 according to your numbers. So …

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: … get it back.

    TAMMY: Yeah, that’s exactly – (laughing).

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

    TAMMY: Have a great day.

    LESLIE: Cami (sp) in Iowa, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with?

    CAMI (sp): We live out in the country and we have well water. And like in my kitchen sink and what not I get these odors. I’ve used drain odor deodorizers and we have changed the pipes. Is there any solution to get rid of that smell?

    TOM: And that’s coming from the pipes where?

    CAMI (sp): In the kitchen.

    TOM: In the kitchen.

    LESLIE: Only the kitchen? Not your bathroom sinks? Nothing else?

    CAMI (sp): No. Just in the kitchen.

    TOM: And have you replaced the kitchen pipes recently? Have you done any plumbing work there?

    CAMI (sp): Yes. Yeah, we just did new countertops and sinks and plumbing.

    TOM: Sometimes the plumber’s putty, if there’s too much of it and it sort of sticks into the inside of the drain pipe a bit, it can react with some foods and other things that you flush down there and it can really stink. And so …

    CAMI (sp): Yeah. (chuckling)

    TOM: … if the plumber comes back and then rebuilds those connections and is very careful not to have an excessive amount of plumber’s putty come into the drain line itself …

    CAMI (sp): Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … that actually might solve the problem. I’ve actually seen that happen a number of times and it’s kind of a very odd situation. That’s why I asked you …

    LESLIE: And there’s no solvent or anything you can put down the drain to work it from the inside?

    TOM: No, I wouldn’t put that down there. But that’s why I asked you if you had done some work on it recently because this is a very common condition.

    CAMI (sp): Mm-hmm, yeah. Yeah, I just thought maybe it was because of the well water. But you know, we didn’t have it and then – oh, we’ve dealt with it for about eight months now. And I guess you would say it was kind of right after we had the kitchen redone.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s not – it’s not unusual, Cami (sp), and I think if you have the plumber come back and rebuild the drain line underneath …

    CAMI (sp): Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … then that’s going to solve it.

    CAMI (sp): OK. Alright, I’ll let my husband know and …

    TOM: (chuckling) You do that.

    CAMI (sp): … we’ll give that a try and hopefully that’ll take care of it.

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit. And hey, are you planning a DIY vacation this summer? You know, one where you take a few days off and you’re really working on a project and not going on a vacation at all? Well, we can help you get organized and ready to tackle any project. Just call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, now Leslie, here’s a lesson many of us have learned the hard way.

    LESLIE: Alright.

    TOM: When it comes to weatherproofing your house, rain does not always fall straight down.

    LESLIE: No, it doesn’t.

    TOM: And leaks don’t always come from overhead spaces. Up next, we’re going to talk about solutions to some of your home’s most often overlooked leak prone areas, 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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and if you call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT, you can have a chance to win a Buzz Off insect shield hat and bandana. It’s worth 48 bucks. And the coolest thing – I mean this really is a great idea – the repellent is actually on the clothes.

    TOM: Hmm.

    LESLIE: So it’s going to keep away all of the mosquitoes and the ticks and the ants and anything and everything that annoys you while you’re working in the garden or outside tackling a home improvement project without any of the sprays or lotions which we’re learning more and more are not really the best thing for you. So you’ve got to be in it to win it. One caller we’re going to talk to this hour is going to win this great prize. Call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    We were talking a bit about protecting your home’s roof from rain. Well, it’s obviously essential but when the rain is forecast you can bet that wind gusts are, too. And wind-driven rain can really pound against the side of your house and it can leak into those very small, vulnerable cracks around the frames of your windows and your doors.

    You know, when you think about it, the way we build a house is a little bit crazy because we start with sort of Swiss cheese; this frame that has all these holes in it. Then everything else that we put in there is designed to seal up one of those holes. But when it comes to windows and doors, we end up with a lot of cracks and a lot of spaces around them that wind-driven rain can really sort of blow right through and they can spread very quickly. And they can cause as much damage as any leak that happens in your roof.

    Now, to protect this you need to make sure, of course, that they are flashed properly and not just any flashing. I would use one of the high-tech synthetic flashings like the stuff from Grace called Vycor Plus. Love that stuff because it stretches around the windows and the doors and gets all those odd-shaped places sealed up.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and what’s interesting is that they’re not a rigid material like traditional flashing is. Because they’re so flexible you can work with interesting shapes and they’re not going to fall victim to all of the nails and staples that will come through it like traditional flashing would. And also, the corners of your windows and doors are especially vulnerable for this water intrusion. So there’s also a product out there that we’ve found to be really, really great at protecting those specific areas and that’s called Grace VYCORners. And when you use the two together, flashing installation – it’s much easier; it’s much faster; and it’s really way more effective at keeping all of that rain, the water and even that warm or cold air – depending on the time of the year – out of the house.

    If you want some more information on Grace’s weather barriers, you can visit their website at GraceAtHome.com.

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

    Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Calling in from Utah we’ve got Fred who wants to talk insulation. What can we do for you?

    FRED: Yes, I’m interested in what type of attic insulation would be the best: fiberglass; blown-in insulation; or foam – (INAUDIBLE) foam.

    LESLIE: Alright. Do you have anything in there now?

    FRED: I’ve got some blown-in insulation on the – and when they did it they got it down into the soffits …

    TOM: OK.

    FRED: … and kind of plugged them up.

    TOM: Yeah. That’s a problem (chuckling) because, as you know, the soffits need to be free-flowing so that you get proper ventilation to the attic space. If you already have blown-in insulation right now, I would tell you to probably add additional blown-in insulation; making sure to keep the soffits free-flowing. Because the way attic ventilation – if it’s working properly – the way it should flow is air should be pushed into the soffits, go up under the roof sheathing and exit at a ridge vent. Do you have a ridge vent here too, Fred?

    FRED: I don’t …

    TOM: Down the peak?

    FRED: I’ve got some of those turbo fans.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s not the best kind of ventilation system to have. Those are not very effective; those turbo fans. So I would recommend that if you want to improve your ventilation, which is one step closer to having good insulation because if you ventilate properly that means your insulation stays dry. If it’s not ventilated properly the insulation gets damp and if it’s damp …

    LESLIE: And then it doesn’t work.

    TOM: … it doesn’t work properly. That’s right. Two percent dampness loses one third of the r value of the insulation. So what we suggest you do is first get the soffits cleaned out. Do that from the inside. Do that from the outside. Do it any way you can. Add additional insulation so you end up with a good 12 to 15 inches and then add a ridge vent. And when you do that your house is going to be properly ventilated and properly insulated and that’s going to save you money in the winter and in the summer.

    FRED: Appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Dale, you are live on The Money Pit. How can we help you?

    DALE: Hi, my home has a well and septic system and the water pressure on the second floor showers is not very good. And I was wondering if you might be able to help me by figuring out what I could do to increase the water pressure in my second floor showers.

    TOM: Sure. Now you said that you have a well. Have you checked the well pressure at the point of entry?

    DALE: No.

    TOM: Alright, well that’s the first place for you to go. If – the well should be maintaining like 60 to 80 pounds of pressure when it’s off and about 40 to 50 when it’s running. So you want to run about three faucets and take a look at the pressure gauge where it comes into the house. And make sure you’re staying in that 40 to 50 pounds per square inch range.

    DALE: OK.

    TOM: If that’s the case, the next thing you need to do is take a look at the piping. How old is your house?

    DALE: About six years.

    TOM: Six years. OK, well good news is that the piping is going to be copper and that means it’s not going to suffer from anything like internal rusting or something like that. And I would suspect that if you’re still having a problem and the water pressure is OK then it’s got to be traced down to a valve and you’re going to need to start backing up from the second floor and testing each of the valves to see where the problem is.

    How many plumbing faucets do you have on the second floor that are affected by the water pressure? Is it just the sink, by the way?

    DALE: Well it’s really most noticeable in the showers. I really don’t notice it in the toilets or the sink.

    TOM: Have you – for a six-year-old shower, have you ever checked to see if you had a pressure reducing valve on the shower? Because I bet you you do.

    DALE: Hmm.

    TOM: ‘No’ would be the answer, Tom.

    DALE: Well, I …

    TOM: So here’s what I want you to do. I want you to try to take the showerhead off.

    DALE: Yes, I did replace it once.

    TOM: Alright, well take it off. Don’t replace it at the moment. Just take it off.

    LESLIE: And then look into it.

    TOM: Well no, actually turn the shower on and see what kind of water flow comes out of that pipe. If it’s like soaring out of that pipe then it’s probably water restricted and if you take the showerhead off now and look on the inside of it – like the part that screws on – you’re probably going to see a rubber washer or a rubber plug. That is the water restrictor and if you want more pressure, pull that out.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Take it out.

    TOM: Screw it back on and you’ll be amazed at the difference.

    DALE: Great.

    LESLIE: Dale, is this a new problem? This is a new problem. This has always been happening?

    DALE: It’s been this way ever since I bought the house and I …

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, well I bet you that’s the case.

    DALE: … purchased one of those fancy showerheads that, you know, does all these great things and I screwed it up, turned it on and it wouldn’t do anything but just dribble water out. It never got to use any of the cool features because the pressure wasn’t that great.

    LESLIE: Like Tom said, check for that pressure valve on the backside and if, for some reason, your showerhead doesn’t have one of those, you could have an aerator installed into your showerhead like you do at your faucets at your sink. And what that does is it puts more air into the water so it makes it feel like there’s more pressure even though it doesn’t actually change the pressure. It’s similar to what happens at your sink. So it would be called a shower aerator. So if you find that it’s not that pressure valve go ahead and put in an aerator. You’ll really notice a difference.

    DALE: Thank you so much for all your options and ideas. I really appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Sal calling in from New York listening in on WABC has a plumbing question. How can we help?

    SAL: OK. I’ve got a house; a Dutch colonial that was built in 1927.

    TOM: OK.

    SAL: It has the original black iron potable water pipes.

    TOM: OK.

    SAL: OK? Fresh water coming in …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    SAL: Is the old black is the old black iron. I talked to a plumbing contractor and he’s given me two outs to replace because my water pressure is way low. And he’s given me two outs: replacing everything with copper pipe using a – or replacing with a system he calls PEX.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    SAL: Now I – P-E-X; P-E. I’m not quite sure how it’s spelled.

    TOM: Yeah.

    SAL: But what is the difference between the two; cost wise and safety wise? Like I know with copper pipes you sweat the fitting. If the fitting corrodes – ba da boom – you know, you got a big problem.

    TOM: Right.

    SAL: The PEX, I hear, is like tubing.

    TOM: That’s right. PEX is a tubing. PEX – P-E-X – is an acronym for cross-linked polyethylene. And it’s a new type of plumbing pipe. It’s been getting a lot of great press and great write-ups from some really trusted experts. We did an interview with the folks at Fine Homebuilding magazine, for example, some months ago about PEX. They tested it. And it’s real impressive stuff. In fact, I saw a demonstration with this where it was heated; stretched; twisted, almost practically in a knot, and it has what’s known as a memory. In other words, after it was all stretched out of shape it kind of pulled itself right back into its original position. So I was real impressed with the durability of the stuff.

    Is this plumber charging you more or less for PEX?

    SAL: He hasn’t really given me a price for either one yet? He was saying – you know, he was like, ‘This is – these are your two options, which …’ – you know, ‘I’m leaving it up to you which way to go.’ We’re not quite in the phase yet where we’re going to be budgeting it.

    TOM: So the responsibility is on our shoulders, Leslie.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Cool.

    TOM: I’ve got to tell you I’m pretty happy with PEX and especially in an older house you’re going to have less destruction because you can literally snake these lines in place without having to open every …

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s the beauty of it.

    TOM: Yeah, without having to open every wall up.

    LESLIE: And copper, I think, is going to be way more expensive than you’ll see your estimate for PEX.

    SAL: Right.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking, too. Because I was going to suspect that the plumber is going to charge you more for PEX. He really should be charging you less for it because it’s actually less work.

    SAL: OK. So you don’t have to open up the walls.

    TOM: Well, you do but I mean not as much because it’s flexible and it’s easier to get it into places that you need it to be.

    SAL: Right. OK, great. Thank you very much for the information.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, do you want to know how spending $1.00 a month can avoid a $1,500 home repair hassle? We’re going to tell you how to do just that, next.

    (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. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And Leslie and I can be the voices in your head (Leslie chuckles) making sure that you’re making the right home improvement decisions all …

    LESLIE: Don’t hammer your thumb.

    TOM: (chuckling) That’s right. That’s right. Don’t step on the top step of the ladder. (Leslie chuckles) We’re those little voices helping to keep you safe as you tackle those projects. And we can do that if you download our very popular podcast, available at MoneyPit.com. Just go to the Listen section. Our podcasts are free and you can even read the transcripts if you need to look up something very specific and they are free as well; all available right now at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Hey, and you know what? Our website is also a super great deal because it’s free also. And we’ve got a tip here that’s almost free. You know, changing the filter in your air conditioner can cost as little as $1.00. But it can save you the cost of a broken-down compressor that can cost you up to $1,500 for the repair. So change your filters monthly to avoid that excessive repair cost. And if you do it on the first of the month you’ll never forget.

    TOM: And if you don’t want to have to remember to change that filter every month there’s another option. It’s called a whole-house electronic air cleaner. This is an appliance that’s installed into your HVAC system. It works with your air conditioning. It works with your forced air heat. And it basically scrubs all of the air in the house 24/7/365 and the filters don’t have to be changed nearly as frequently. So it both protects your equipment and it protects your lungs. In fact, I put one in my house. I put in the Aprilaire Model 5000 that was ranked tops by Consumer Reports. And I’ve got to tell you; breathing is a lot easier around here. And I also recently learned that our engineer, Jim, put one in his house. His baby daughter was susceptible to asthma and ever since they put it in they’ve had no more asthma attacks inside the house. So …

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s great.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a really good thing. If you want to protect your lungs, put in an electronic air cleaner. It does a great job.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and the other bonus there is that those filters on the electronic systems, I think you change those only once a year.

    TOM: That’s right. Just once a year. So you don’t have to think about it every month.

    So, you’ve got a home improvement question that we can help with? All you’ve got to do is pick up the phone. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Shari in Mississippi who’s got some noisy upstairs neighbors. How can we help?

    SHARI: Well, I live in a condominium that was newly refurbished from a school that was built in 1912. And apparently the subfloors are original but they’re – they sprayed something on top right underneath the rugs for soundproofing.

    TOM: OK.

    SHARI: I don’t know if you might know what that is.

    TOM: It’s probably Gyp-Crete …

    SHARI: Yeah.

    TOM: Maybe because of soundproofing or from fireproofing.

    SHARI: Yes, that’s what they called it. Gyp-Crete.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    SHARI: So anyway, the builders – because it’s under warranty – tried to come and fix it because I was hearing this noise. It sort of sounded like a golf ball being bounced on the floor [behind me] (ph).

    TOM: OK.

    SHARI: And they tried to open my ceiling and go through the soffiting there and glue something and then drill some nails to kind of, I guess, keep the two floorboards from …

    LESLIE: Rubbing against one another.


    TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

    SHARI: And that actually didn’t work. So then they went upstairs and they pulled back half of the rug of my neighbor and they nailed a few nails down and they thought that they got it. And then last night I heard the same noise. So I’m a little bit exasperated. (chuckling)

    TOM: Yeah, you know, floor squeaks are really, really frustrating. And they’re difficult to track down. Generally they happen because of movement between the subfloor and the floor joist or movement between the actual sheets of flooring. What they try to do is attack it from below by seeing if they can identify those loose, squeaky areas. Is it possible for somebody to go up into your neighbor’s apartment and actually replicate it by sort of stepping in a certain area and making the noise happen?

    SHARI: Right, and that’s what they did originally. And like I said, they thought they got it. Is it possible that by fixing one area they created a new problem somewhere else?

    TOM: It’s possible. But you also mentioned that they nailed it down, which was probably not the best thing to do. What I would have suggested, if they went through the trouble of pulling back the carpet, is identifying the position of every floor/ceiling joist under that area …

    SHARI: Uh-huh.

    TOM: … and then screwing through the Gyp-Crete with long, like 3+-inch case hardened steel screws; screwing down the subfloor right into the floor joist by going through the Gyp-Crete.

    SHARI: Ah.

    TOM: And that’s going to be much more effective than nails because nails are simply going to pull out; especially if they’re using – let’s say they used a 10-penny common nail and you’ve got an inch of Gyp-Crete there plus the subfloor. The Gyp-Crete doesn’t have any ability to hold the nails. So, you know, it’s going to be a very, very weak connection at best; even if you get a little bit of a nail into the floor joist itself. So that’s why think a screw is probably the better solution here. So if you can get them to pull the carpet back and then screw through the Gyp-Crete, through the subfloor into the floor joist below and then, of course, patch the Gyp-Crete so that there’s no impact on the fire rating of that surface, that’s probably the best thing you’re going to be able to do at this point.

    SHARI: OK. And do you think they should take all the furniture out and just look at the whole floor?

    TOM: Well, you know, the thing is you’re not necessarily going to be able to see it. But if you’re going to pull carpet back you want to do the whole thing.

    SHARI: OK.

    TOM: I mean that’s the smart thing to do.

    LESLIE: How friendly are you with these neighbors?

    TOM: (chuckling) Yeah.

    SHARI: Well, I’m friendly with the neighbor but unfortunately the neighbor is not so friendly with the builder.

    TOM: Ah.

    SHARI: And I think that’s why they tried to go through the ceiling first (INAUDIBLE)

    TOM: You got into the middle of this, huh?

    SHARI: Yeah. Yeah.

    LESLIE: Bake cookies or a pie. They work wonders.

    TOM: Yeah. Is this a condominium?

    SHARI: (chuckling) It is.

    TOM: Yeah, so unfortunately this is part of the structure and you’ve got to deal with it. but the best time to deal with it is right now while the builder is still there. Because if it’s like most condominiums, you know, after a certain number of units gets sold then the builder exits and it’s up to the association to sort it out.

    SHARI: Right.

    TOM: And then it gets even more complicated. So I would stick with it right now, even though it might be a bit unpleasant …

    SHARI: Right.

    TOM: … and see if you can get that floor quieted down.

    SHARI: OK. Thanks so much.

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

    You know, when you have a condo it gets really sticky when you have a common element problem, which is exactly what that is. That’s part of what’s known as the common element. In other words, Shari doesn’t own that floor or ceiling above her and her neighbor doesn’t. That’s part of what the association owns.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Part of the building.

    TOM: But of course, every person that lives in the units is impacted by it. So this is a situation where you really have to get along to try to do the right thing which is just get the repair done.

    LESLIE: You are tuned in to The Money Pit. Well, it’s probably been years since you’ve been on an obstacle course where you jumped and climbed over barriers just for the fun of it. But if you like to take baths you might be undertaking an obstacle course in your own home every day. Coming up, we’ve got tips on making your bathtub safer. So stick around.

    (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 with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, are you sick and tired of those mosquitoes making a meal out of you in your backyard; perhaps at the barbecue or while you’re tackling one of those home improvement projects?

    LESLIE: Yes and yes.

    TOM: We’ve got a great prize that we’re giving away this hour on the program that can prevent some of those mosquitoes or, as we like to call them, the New Jersey state bird (Leslie chuckles) from attacking you while you’re outside. I’m sure I’m going to get the bird people upset with me now but that’s what we …

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Are they really that big in New Jersey?

    TOM: They’re big. Oh, yeah. They’re big.

    LESLIE: Or do you just get bitten a lot?

    TOM: Oh, no. They’re big. They ..

    LESLIE: Oh, my.

    TOM: They attack. Yeah. They gather together; they sight you and they just go after you. (Leslie chuckles) You know, if you go to the right – the wrong time outside, like early in the morning or late at night – when I was a home inspector, I used to do inspections at 7:00 a.m. in the morning. And there were many mornings I had to run from my car into the house (Leslie chuckles) to kind of like survive that first half hour when the mosquitoes were feeding. You know? Work inside of the house then and then go outside and work on that.

    LESLIE: And let me tell you. We’ve been filming our new show that I’m working on. It’s called The Ugliest House on the Block and it’s in Florida. And we will get torrential rain downs …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: … in the middle of the afternoon. And then we go back to work outside right after the rainstorm.

    TOM: And of course the mosquitoes come out?

    LESLIE: The rain has brought out so many mosquitoes and they love me. So anything to help. This is a cool prize.

    TOM: Alright, we’re going to deck you out with some clothing from Buzz Off. We’ve got a package of Buzz Off clothing. This is clothing that’s actually treated to resist mosquitoes so you can avoid the lotions and the sprays and not put that stuff on your skin. It’s worth 50 bucks. If you want to win it – we’ve got a hat and a bandana to give away this hour – call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We promise not to bug you. We will give you the answer (Leslie chuckles) to your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Alright, well we all know that baths can be very, very relaxing; that is, once you get into that tub. But sometimes that’s the hardest part. You know, to get in you’ve got to step over the tub wall and then you lower yourself in. And if you don’t have a lot of upper body strength that can be really difficult. But a good solution to think about if you do have a hard time getting into the tub is a transfer bench. And if that’s not an option for you, you should consider an accessible bathtub. And these are the tubs that let you walk in through a door in the tub wall and then when it closes it seals that opening so tight so that you can fill the tub with water. And it’s easy entry. It really is a nice tub. And they’re deep.

    TOM: Yeah, good tip. You also want to make sure that your new bathtub comes with a nonslip surface. And you might want to go one step further and get a tub with a soft surface. Now these are special surfaces that are foam lined and then covered in polyurethane. The foam is really easy on your muscles when you soak in the tub. And it kind of cushions you if you happen to fall.

    Also, look for tubs that have water controls on the outside tub wall. This way you won’t need to bend over to reach the controls at the far end of the tub.

    If you need more tips on accessible bathroom design you can log onto the website for our friends at AARP. And that is simply AARP.org/HomeDesign.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Kitchens are a huge return on investment renovation at all. And calling us with a question about that is Jesse in New Jersey. How can we help?

    JESSE: Well, I tell you. I have a kitchen – I live in a three-story townhouse and I’ve been here 20 years and it’s time to do the kitchen.


    JESSE: The kitchen – the rooms are – some of the rooms are very large but the kitchen happens to be quite small. It’s about 14 feet by 12 foot across. Now, I had to get all new appliances and I now have a stove – well, I happen to dislike stoves immensely (Leslie chuckles) and I’ve been struggling with this one for the last 20 years.

    TOM: Do you prefer take-out?

    JESSE: (chuckling) Yeah, right. But anyhow, I want to put in a wall oven; a countertop space. I want to move my dishwasher from one side to the other of the sink and place the refrigerator where the dishwasher and stuff is now. I don’t know whether you can get that picture in your mind but anyhow …

    TOM: Yeah, you want to pull out the dishwasher and you want to put the refrigerator in its place now. So you’re going to have some cabinetry to work around here.

    JESSE: Oh, yeah. I’m going to have to have all new cabinetry done.
    TOM: OK.

    JESSE: Now, I’ve talked to several, you know, people that do this type of thing and I’ve had various – what do you call them? – quotes.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, estimates.

    JESSE: Estimates. Some say 25,000. Some say 35,000. I had one that said 45,000.

    TOM: OK.

    JESSE: And I don’t – I’m 80 years old now and I don’t know where to start.

    TOM: Alright. Well, you’re making a critical mistake and that is that you’re relying on the contractor to also be the designer. You’re going to spend 25 or 35 or $40,000 on a kitchen, I think the first thing you should do is hire an independent certified kitchen and bath designer.

    LESLIE: Absolutely.

    TOM: These are like architects for kitchens and all they do is design kitchens. And once you have that kitchen speced out by a certified kitchen and bath designer, then you can present that set of plans to all of these contractors and you know that they’re all going to be bidding apples to apples as opposed to apples to oranges. Do you follow us?

    JESSE: I understand. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s what you need to do. If you’re just going to go to contractors and get prices, you’re not in a position to be able to compare them because they’re all going to be slightly different.

    JESSE: Well, that’s my problem.

    TOM: Yeah, well …

    JESSE: I knew that from the beginning.

    TOM: And that’s going to work against you. OK? That’s going to work against you, Jesse. But we can even the score here if you spend just a little bit of money hiring a certified kitchen and bath designer. If you go to the website for the National Kitchen and Bath Association – which is NKBA.org – you can find one online there; perhaps one in your area. And that would be a great place to start. And once you have that plan done, then you’ll be in a great position to shop that around …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … to different contractors and get your best price and get the kitchen you really want.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and the best part about that, Jesse, is that you can then – with your designer – get better prices for the countertops; the cabinetry. They’ll know all the resources and help you get the best price and then specify all of that to your contractor who just does the installing of everything.

    JESSE: I know. But here’s the problem. I am not computer literate. I don’t have a computer.

    LESLIE: You know what? You can even just start by going to The Home Depot. They have wonderful kitchen designing teams that are in there and they’re mostly certified designers in there as well. So if you just head over to the local home center or even any local kitchen design source, they’ll be able to do the same for you.

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

    Up next, there were generations of Americans that covered their basement walls with this stuff and now it’s the bane of millions of homeowners everywhere. What are we talking about, Leslie?

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Paneling, of course. (Tom laughs) We’re going to tell you how to get rid of that paneling once and for all, so stick around.

    (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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, available 24/7/365 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And hey, folks, did you know that the Money Pit e-newsletter is a gold mine of info? And guess what? It comes right to your inbox every single week. And if you’re not already a subscriber, why the heck not? It’s free. So sign up right now at MoneyPit.com and your first issue is going to include tips of refinishing hardwood floors, which a lot of people have across this country and they want them to look great. We’ve also got great ideas for under your feet in that very next issue of the Money Pit e-newsletter.

    TOM: And you also have the opportunity to send us an e-mail like this one from Larry. He says: ‘We want to tear off the paneling in a couple of rooms.’ (Leslie chuckles) ‘Having removed a piece of paneling I found several coats of paint peeling off the walls. Not all the paint is loose. Some is still on and hard to scrape off. I want a smooth finish on the wall. Should I drywall over the painted surfaces with

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