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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)


    (promo/theme song)

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You got a home improvement question? Something that you’re just dying to get to? A project you’ve been putting off and putting off and putting off? Well, tackle it with us. Is it a project you started? You got lost in the middle? You got discouraged? We don’t judge. We’re here to help you. Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We are here to help you get those jobs done.

    LESLIE: That’s right, Tom. So what are you working on, this summer, in your house?

    TOM: Oh, gosh. We finished a patio and the patio looks good. Used some …

    LESLIE: Just in time.

    TOM: Used some brick pavers for that. I love brick pavers because they’re modular. They’re like puzzle pieces and they’re easy to put down. But one of the most common mistakes people make is not spending enough time working on the base of the pavers.

    LESLIE: Oh, gosh. That’s so important. And then, to keep in mind that it’s going to settle over time.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: So you’ve got to make sure that it’s really compacted.

    TOM: Exactly. So we actually finished it about a month ago and now I’m ready to take away that little extra concrete lip I put around the outside to hold the bricks in place while it did settle. We’ve had a couple of solid rainstorms. We’re going to take that away and then really get out there and enjoy it.

    Do you know the difference between a paver brick and a regular brick? I think it’s interesting.

    LESLIE: No, what … are they made differently?

    TOM: Yeah, they’re actually sized differently. A paver brick is exactly twice as wide as it is long. But a regular building brick is less than that because it leaves room for the mortar joint. So you have to have paver bricks when you’re doing patios or they don’t line up right.

    LESLIE: And they’re fun because you can create so many different patterns when you’re building a patio with paver bricks. And they really do a wonderful job and last and last. So it’s a nice addition to your house.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a good summer project.

    So what are you working on? Call us right now. Let’s talk about it; especially if you’re having trouble getting it done. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    And if you’re working on some inside home improvements, we’ve got a great prize this hour that can help you get that done.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got a good prize. It’s a tricky DIY project suddenly made easy. That’s right. It’s installing crown moulding which, if you’ve ever done it, you know what a nightmare it could be. Upside down, facing you. You know how to do it. It’s kind of crazy. But this takes out all the guesswork. It’s the Quick Clips Kit by Focal Point and it’s all the crown moulding to make a 16×16 room really stand out. So call in now for your chance to win this great prize.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Kendra in Maryland has a kitchen question. How can we help?

    KENDRA: My husband and I are renovating our kitchen. And we bought a microwave that goes over the stove so it has a ventilation hood built in.

    LESLIE: Yeah, except it ventilates it right back into the kitchen, doesn’t it?

    KENDRA: Well, there’s an option that you can ventilate it to the outside, which my husband feels strongly about using because we have a gas stove.

    TOM: Okay.

    KENDRA: But we have plaster and lath walls. It’s sort of an old house.

    TOM: Right.

    KENDRA: And so, other than having exposed duct work, we were trying to think of other options that we could use to ventilate it to the outside. And I was also wondering how important is it to ventilate it outside.

    TOM: Well, your real question is, here, is whether your husband is right or not?

    KENDRA: Yeah. (laughing)

    TOM: Well, Kendra, I would say that it probably is a good idea to ventilate to the outside because the recirculating types of kitchen exhaust fans, frankly, don’t do that much. They don’t do a very good job of taking odor, taking steam …

    LESLIE: No, it takes the odor and sends it to the rest of the house …

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: … because it’s forcefully, now sending it back into the kitchen.

    KENDRA: (overlapping voices) Right. (laughing) Right.

    TOM: That’s right. As if there wasn’t enough air pressure behind it …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It’s like and wait until you cook seafood. It’s like excellent.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, yeah.

    KENDRA: (overlapping voices) Right.

    LESLIE: Great.

    TOM: No, I do think it’s a good idea to vent it to the outside. And I don’t … I’m not sure what your hesitation is for cutting the hole in the wall. It’s not that bad. Houses are designed to have holes cut in them all the time. If it’s done properly, it shouldn’t be an issue. Even though you have plaster walls …

    KENDRA: Okay.

    TOM: … those walls can be successfully cut through. It can be framed out properly. It can be ducted properly to get that passageway right through to the outside.

    KENDRA: Okay.

    TOM: The fans, today, have dampers on them so when the dampers close, it shouldn’t even have drafts that come back into the house.

    KENDRA: Oh, great. Okay. So you’re saying that it’s okay for us to just cut through the plaster and lath the three inches or whatever to put the ducts in there.

    TOM: Yeah. It absolutely is.

    KENDRA: Okay.

    TOM: Now, the only thing you have to watch out for is whatever happens to be in that wall.

    KENDRA: Right.

    TOM: When you open it up, it would be bad if there was a stud in the middle because that makes it a little more complicated and you’d have to frame around that.

    KENDRA: Okay. Okay.

    TOM: If there was electrical wiring running through there, you know. All of the normal cautions apply that you would have if you cut into a wall for any reason.

    KENDRA: Okay.

    TOM: So, presuming you can get all that stuff out of the way …

    KENDRA: Okay.

    TOM: … I would also tell you to make sure that you’re ducting through that. So you don’t want to leave like a wood hole through there. You want to make sure that there’s a metal duct that goes through that section and the reason for that is because you don’t want grease to get into the wall cavity. That could be a fire hazard.

    LESLIE: Well, also, then the walls would absorb all of the odor.

    KENDRA: Right.

    LESLIE: At least in metal, it contains everything.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Marie in Florida finds The Money Pit on WWBA. And you’ve got a question about a big porch.

    MARIE: I have this big porch and it’s like the whole … almost the whole length of the back of the house. And it’s kind of getting old and it’s kind of like I don’t use it because either it’s too hot or it’s too cold. And I’m thinking what should I do. Maybe you can give me some advice. The screens are kind of getting a little deteriorating and I thought, well … I just thought maybe you could …

    TOM: So you want some redecorating advice for your porch. Is that what you’re saying, Marie?

    MARIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Alright. Well, Leslie, what do you think? First of all, a big porch is a rarity so I would encourage you to preserve it.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, a big porch sounds wonderful.

    MARIE: Doesn’t it? And you know, it goes off the living room and it goes off the kitchen and then even the bedroom.

    LESLIE: Well, Marie, I think there’s a couple of things you can do. You might want to, in the area where you have screens – and you say the screens are coming out a little bit – maybe you want to get somebody to rebuild those frames for the screens, so that they put nice fresh screening on there. And then, make it so that that panel with the screens on it is able to be removed. So maybe there’s just sort of nailers or supports that go on the inside or the outside that are removable so you can take that screen away. And maybe even have a framed piece of glass so if the weather turns and you want to make it more of an indoor room, you can pop those pieces of glass in there as well. Or just keep it strictly screened in.

    And then, Tom and I always recommend something that’s really interesting and it’s a heated fan; which is a ceiling fan that heats and cools. And it’s great for exactly this type of application, like a covered porch, because you can turn it on and control the heating thermostat and make it as warm under there as you like or even use it as a straight cooling fan. So that will extend your usage of that area a lot.

    MARIE: Okay. And it’s a heating fan? I never heard of it.

    TOM: It’s basically a ceiling fan that also has heating coils in it so it can cool you in the summer and then the heating coils can be flipped on and it’ll blow warm air down in the winter or in the cooler months. So, it’s a nice way to get a little extra space, a little extra comfortable time out of that porch when it just starts to cool off a bit.

    LESLIE: Billy in Pennsylvania has a question about how to fix a concrete floor. So Billy, my question is what’s wrong with it?

    BILLY: I have an old farmhouse and the basement floor ended up being not concrete but it’s like a limestone covering.


    BILLY: It’s real thin. We had a big flooding problem so we had one of those basement systems put in. That’s how I found out about what kind of floor we had. So I had to put some sort of vapor barrier down and then I want to cover the floor. I was wondering what to cover it with. I was going to do concrete but everybody’s saying that you need like four inch … four inches of concrete. And then, that would take away a lot of head room.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, right now you don’t have … you no longer have a water problem down there?

    BILLY: No, it … when we … when we get flooded, it … that pumps going 24/7 almost.

    TOM: Right. Did you get the flood or do you get the flood consistent with heavy rainfall; like when it rains a lot around your house?

    BILLY: Yeah, the water table comes up into the basement.

    TOM: That’s not water table. That’s a drainage problem outside. Because water tables don’t move that quickly. I just want to encourage you to look at the grading and drainage issues outside your house because your pumps are probably running more than they have to. When you get moisture consistent with precipitation – be it snow melt or heavy rainfall … so look outside your house at the grading, the angle of the soil around the house and the gutter system to make sure it’s clean, free-flowing, that all that water’s being diverted well away from the house. And I do mean like four to six feet away from the house. That’s going to reduce the volume of moisture because even though you’ve got these pumps, what happens is you get a lot of water that forms outside the foundation wall. Then in the winter time, Billy, what happens is that freezes and it pushes on the wall. And over years, it has a ratcheting effect and can actually cause those walls to crack.

    Now, in terms of the floor – yeah, if you’re going to put concrete down, you do need to put a good four inches in there. If you’re not going to do that or if you’re concerned about head room, you’re going to have to dig out what’s there to make room for the concrete. The surface that you have right now, being very, very thin, is just not structurally sound enough to be able to support any kind of finished surface. So if it’s going to have a utility purpose for you, you might have to take that out, go down, you know, two or three inches to get enough of a surface to put down some woven wire mesh and some concrete to be able to give you net the same head room that you have. But I wouldn’t put anything on top of that because, if you do, it’s just … you’re just going to have a deteriorated base underneath.

    Well, you know, even a simple toilet leak or a leaky faucet can waste thousands of gallons of water every single year.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Next, we’re going to have tips on keeping your water bill from washing your cash right down the drain.

    (promo/theme song)

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

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Remember, measure twice, cut once and always keep a fire extinguisher handy (laughing) because we want you to be safe in your home improvement projects.

    Well, we were talking about saving water. And this time of year, we’re very conscious of it because we are wasting tons and tons of water.

    LESLIE: You mean a 45-minute shower is out of the question?

    TOM: You know, not only the 45-minute showers but, you know, my kids have been dragging out the old sprinkler everyday and they seem to let it go for a lot longer than they spend playing in it. (laughing)

    LESLIE: We’re watching it. It’s pretty.

    TOM: Exactly. But here’s some tips that you can use to fix some of those annoying things that happen in your house; like drippy faucets. You know, often, this is simply a matter of replacing the worn washers. It’s not hard to do. You need only a couple of tools. You want to check those washers on all the faucets in your house and replace them all at the same time. And a little trick of the trade – make sure you use the original manufacturer’s recommended parts. I have found, time and time again, if you try to use generic replacement parts, they just don’t fit nearly as well.

    You can also install faucet aerators to slow down the flow of water. If you have an old faucet, you can change the tip on it to a water-saving faucet so you only get about a gallon and a half a minute of water out of that tip. And that’s another good way to save money on the water bill.

    LESLIE: Alright. Here’s a couple of more tips. Make sure that that flush valve – you know, the flapper in the bottom of the toilet tank that sort of controls all the water coming in and out of the tank – make sure that that’s clean and it’s resting firmly on that little hole it’s covering up. Otherwise, it’s going to cause water to leak and that’s a huge waste of water. You can just flush the toilet and once it’s empty just clean it off or just replace the whole thing. It’s a simple repair.

    And also, don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket or an ashtray. You might think it’s going to flush down there and be fine, but they can cause more problems than you think. So use it smartly and use it for what it’s intended for.

    TOM: More money-saving water tips? Our next newsletter will give you some simple ways to reuse the water you use everyday. Sign up for our free e-newsletter. It comes once a week and available at MoneyPit.com.

    So call right now if you’ve got a question about maybe your plumbing. Maybe this … all this talk of water usage has reminded you of a few leaks that you have in your house. Let’s talk about how to get those under control. Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And if you’re thinking of making some interior improvements this summer, we’d like to give you our great prize this hour. We’ve got the Quick Clips Crown Moulding Installation System from Focal Point. It’s worth 250 bucks. Helps you add crown moulding to any room. It can handle up to a 16×16 foot room. And Quick Clips means no searching for studs, mitering or patching the moulding. It’s all a kit, folks. It goes in really super easy and it’s going to look great and it’ll make all of your friends and neighbors very jealous. So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Officer Shawn in Virginia, who listens to The Money Pit on WFHG, has a tiling question. However, it says you’re on duty. So what are you doing calling us?

    SHAWN: I called you, probably, three weeks ago when I was not on duty. (laughing) I just received a return phone call.

    TOM: Well, it must be an emergency now. (laughing) So, lights and sirens are on. We’re going to race to a solution. Tell us what’s going on with the tile.

    SHAWN: I bought the house and it was built in 2000 and I purchased it in about 2003.

    TOM: Okay.

    SHAWN: They had intended to stay there and they were willing to live with the corners that they cut. They put the tiles down in a large area to cover a dining room and a kitchen area and did not use any concrete board. A lot of the tiles are breaking and, in addition to that, he had his wife put the grout down and she left the spacers in place when she did so and …

    TOM: Oh, no.

    SHAWN: … covered (inaudible) grout.

    LESLIE: Oh. That’s just a huge mess.

    SHAWN: (overlapping voices) But now the grout is falling out in a lot of places.

    TOM: Shawn, this is a big, stinking mess. You can’t fix it.

    SHAWN: I don’t think so.

    TOM: No. You’ve got to start again, man. First of all, let’s address the many problems that you have recited in this short 20 seconds. First of all, the reason the tile’s breaking up and is cracking and loose is because the floor underneath it is not stable enough. When …

    LESLIE: And when there’s movement, it’s causing everything to crack and move around it. So the tile’s cracking, the grout is crowding because it’s not sturdy underneath.

    TOM: Tiles don’t bend and that’s the good thing because they’re really strong. But they won’t bend. If there’s any flex in that floor, they’re going to loosen up and they’re going to crack. So you are going to have to remove this tile. You possibly could go over it, but I would recommend removing it and putting down a mud floor and starting again. Of course, when you do put the new tile down, if you’re going to use spacers (laughing), never, ever leave the spacers in place …

    SHAWN: I know.

    TOM: … and grout over them. Well, you know, do-it-yourself …

    LESLIE: But they made a pretty cross pattern …

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: … where everything met.

    TOM: And every time she took them out, the tiles moved. (chuckling) So she didn’t know that she wasn’t supposed to glue those spacers in place. But that’s what’s happening here. You know, there’s a couple of things that might make this a little bit easier, Shawn. If you want … do you want to replace it with tile? I mean, do you like the tile?

    SHAWN: We’re probably going to do hardwood throughout.

    TOM: Well, there are, actually, easy ways to do hardwood today. First of all, there’s engineered hardwood, which stands up really well to dampness or moisture, if you’re going to have that as a concern. Engineered hardwood is basically like a fancy plywood, but with a solid hardwood surface. And what’s cool about is that they lock together and they kind of float on the surface. And actually … you know, frankly, it’s possible that you could lay an engineered hardwood even on top of the tile even though the tile’s a bit messed up. As long as it’s fairly flat.

    LESLIE: As long as you don’t mind losing that thickness in your …

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, that height.

    LESLIE: … height of the room.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: You know, make sure you’re not going to …

    SHAWN: But we would probably … it’s an … it’s a Cape Cod style house and it’s very open, from the front door all the way to the back. It incorporates the kitchen, the living room, the dining room. It’s a large square footage area. And what we’ll probably do is hardwood the entire area and then put in a different, more ornate staircase

    LESLIE: Yeah, but you know what? By doing that, you’re improving the resale value of your house. Because it makes it more beautiful and if you put in an engineered hardwood it’s very durable. And if you go with a flooring product by, say, somebody like Armstrong, it comes with a 30-year residential warranty. So it stands up and it makes great pedigree for if you ever go to sell the house.

    TOM: Alright, Shawn. I think that what you should do is investigate the original tile installer and arrest them, okay?

    SHAWN: (chuckling) He was a good man. They were just cutting corners. (laughing) I’ll give them a break on this one.

    TOM: Alright, Shawn.

    LESLIE: Gonna let him off with a warning.

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

    LESLIE: Debbie in Michigan has a problem. How to hang a heavy clock. How can we help you? What’s going on?

    DEBBIE: I got a clock as a gift. It’s one of the pendulum clocks. It’s like a wall clock; like a grandfather clock. And I haven’t hung it yet and I just want to know the best way to hang it so I … it won’t fall off the wall.

    TOM: (laughing) Okay. Well, the best way to hang that, Debbie …

    LESLIE: Wait. What’s your wall surface? What’s your walls made out of?

    DEBBIE: It’s just drywall. Uh-huh.

    LESLIE: Drywall. Easy-peasy.

    TOM: Alright. The best thing to do is to see if you can get into a stud.

    DEBBIE: Alright.

    TOM: Now, you can easily find a stud with …

    LESLIE: So grab your husband. (laughing)

    TOM: You can find a stud with an electronic stud finder.

    DEBBIE: Stud finder.

    TOM: Or you can use the trusty knuckle method and tap on the wall.

    DEBBIE: (inaudible) (laughing)

    LESLIE: Yeah, but sometimes they all … it all sounds the same, sometimes.

    TOM: I don’t think so.

    LESLIE: So trust a stud finder.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I mean, you and I know it, but some … when I didn’t know what I was listening for I was like, oh, knock knock knock knockety-knock knock.

    DEBBIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Yeah, then you put a lot of holes in your wall. (laughing) But really, if you can find the stud or if that happens to work out, that is absolutely the best way to hang it. Because drywall is just not that strong; it’s plaster and paper. And there are different types of fasteners that you can use to affix to drywall but drywall is drywall is drywall. And you know, it’s still not going to be as strong. If you had to use drywall, then I probably would suggest a toggle bolt with, basically, a hook on the end of it. So you’re attaching a piece of hardware to the wall, on top of which you hang the clock. But the best thing to do is simply to go right into the stud. I would use a two-and-a-half to three inch drywall screw that was (inaudible) …

    LESLIE: Make sure the head fits into that key slot before you go and attach it to the wall.

    DEBBIE: Okay.

    TOM: Just screw it right in there and hang it right up.

    LESLIE: John in Florida is wondering whether or not he should remove stucco. Why do you want to remove the stucco, John? What’s going on?

    JOHN: Well, I’m not all that hot on the idea of actually removing the stucco. I was just wondering if that’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m adding an addition on to the house and there is … you know, of course the wall is stucco. And I’m wondering can I put something on the stucco to hang the drywall on it or do I need to remove it?

    LESLIE: I think you can fir out right on top of it, can’t you?

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. I don’t … I don’t see why not.

    JOHN: So what does that mean? Fir out.

    TOM: Oh, fir out. (laughing)

    JOHN: I did that with my dog.

    LESLIE: Sorry, we forget. (chuckling)

    TOM: Yeah, sorry. We must digress. You can attach wood sticks to the stuccoed wall.

    LESLIE: Those are called firring strips.

    TOM: And you can do that using masonry nails or something known as a Tapcon screw, which is kind of cool. It allows you to shoot a screw right into a masonry wall. And then those wood firring strips is what you attach the drywall to.

    JOHN: Oh, I got you. That’s sound much easier.

    TOM: Oh, yeah. Yeah. You don’t want to take down …

    LESLIE: Yeah, this way, you’re going over it, you’re getting a nice, clean surface and you don’t have to worry about taking that stucco off.

    JOHN: Oh, yeah. That … that (inaudible) …

    LESLIE: You’re just going to need a good hammer drill, ear protectors and a lot of energy. (laughing)

    JOHN: (laughing) OK. We can handle that. I appreciate that.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re replacing your kitchen floor, don’t let your refrigerator stand in the way of a successful job. Find out how to avoid a huge inconvenience down the road, right after this.

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. If you like to fix stuff that’s not broken, you are in the right place. So call us right now (chuckling) at 888-666-3974.

    Now, one of those home improvement projects that you’re thinking about tackling – and maybe it’s not broken but you want to do it anyway – is some new flooring. There are some things you need to keep in mind; especially if that flooring is going to be installed in the kitchen where you have very heavy and some permanently installed appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers. And the key is don’t box yourself in. If you have a dishwasher, especially, and it’s built in and you put new ceramic tile flooring or new laminate flooring up against the front of that dishwasher, you may not be able to get that out when it fails. And eventually it will fail.

    So what do you do? You take it out first and you floor all the way under that dishwasher. Most of the dishwashers have little legs that can be adjusted up and down. And it’s a lot easier to do it then than after it’s floored in place and you have to cut the thing apart. Believe me, folks, you don’t want to do that. So consider those kinds of areas before you tackle those flooring projects.

    888-666-3974 is our telephone number. If you have a question about a home improvement project, call us right now. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Sharon calling from New York has got a question. What can we do for you?

    SHARON: Hi. I have a home and it faces east and west and I have a problem with air and snow; like wind infiltration in through my windows. And it’s a brand new home and I have double pane vinyl windows in my house. And the snow comes in the windows.

    TOM: Huh. So these are brand new windows and the snow’s getting in?

    SHARON: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: That doesn’t sound too good.

    SHARON: No.

    LESLIE: Is it getting in around the windows? Is it like really snowing in or are you just feeling a draft and coldness?

    SHARON: No, there’s draft and coldness and then, right in that – I’m not really sure what it’s called. You know that little groove that the window slides up and down in – right in through there, the snow actually will blow in.

    TOM: Hmm. Now, how old is the house? You said it’s new. I mean is it brand spanking?

    SHARON: Three years old.

    TOM: Three years old? Did you buy it from the builder? Are you the first owner?

    SHARON: Yes.

    TOM: Have you dealt with this with the builder before or is this something that just happened …

    SHARON: Yes.

    TOM: … this year?

    SHARON: No, I have … they actually replaced the windows on the west side of my home and …

    TOM: Hmm.

    SHARON: … and it did a little bit of good but not much.

    TOM: Huh. Well, it sounds to me like your windows are just not that good, Sharon. And there may not be an easy way to fix this. You could consider putting a storm window on top of them. Generally, you don’t put storm windows on when you have thermal pane windows but it’s going to be a question here as to what the easiest way it is to make these weather tight. And it might be that that’s the best way to do it. Because there’s not a lot of things that you can do to existing windows. If they’re not sealed properly, they’re just not sealed properly. It’s very hard for you to fix them in any way and make them tighter than which they are.

    LESLIE: I mean in the meantime, she could caulk around the windows with that removable caulking.

    TOM: Well, that’s true too but it’s a brand new house and you’d hate to have to stoop to that.

    LESLIE: I know, but at least it’s a temporary solution.

    TOM: Yeah. OK, Sharon.

    SHARON: I could do that. (inaudible) that peel off stuff.

    TOM: That’s right; the peel off stuff. Yeah.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, make sure it’s that peel off caulk.

    SHARON: Right. Yeah, I did do that last year.

    TOM: And you might …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Did it help at all?

    SHARON: Yeah, it did help. It stopped the air from coming in.

    TOM: Sharon, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alex in California listens to The Money Pit on KSRO. And you’ve got a painting question. What can we do for you?

    ALEX: I’ve been painting again (laughing) and I’m messing up again. And I’ve tried the blue tape, I have tried the guides, I’ve tried the little brushes. And so, painting around trim and crown molding … how do you get that nice, fine line?

    LESLIE: Well, here’s a trick of the trade. What you do is, once you lay the tape – and sometimes I use a putty knife to run over the tape just to make sure it’s really flat and down and exactly as sticky as I need it. And then, I take the same color paint that I’ve either used as my base coat or if I’m using it to cover some trim work, molding, I’ll use that same color paint and run a bead of that paint over that edge of that tape. And the reason I do that is because it seals the paint to the tape so there’ll be no bleeding. And if there’s any bleeding, it’s the same color that you’ve already used so you won’t even notice it. Takes a little bit of extra work but you’ll be so much happier.

    ALEX: What if you’re … you have wood trim and you want to cover the wood trim so you don’t have any bleeding from the wall onto the wood trim?

    LESLIE: Then definitely make sure you put the tape on and use a putty knife to make sure that it’s really, really secure on there.

    TOM: Good luck with that. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, alright, Money Pit listeners. It’s not just for getting your clothes clean anymore. We’ll give you an outdoor use for your laundry detergent, after this.

    (promo/theme song)

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

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Well, Leslie, I thought that laundry detergent was only for your clothes and you could … only needed to use one temperature and one detergent (laughing); at least, that’s how I got through college. But apparently, you’re …

    LESLIE: You probably ended up with a lot of pink clothes, I imagine, Tom. (laughing)

    TOM: Yeah, it looked quite nice, I might … I might add. But apparently there are other uses for laundry detergent that can help keep clean things outside the house.

    LESLIE: That’s right. If you use powdered laundry detergent and hot water, it’s an excellent mixture for cleaning your deck. That’s right; swabbing the deck, folks. If you use a 10 percent bleach solution, you can help get rid of any mold or mildew you’ve got growing out there. And when you’re doing any of this work outside, remember that a hard bristle brush is going to help get rid of any sort of challenging areas of dirt or mildew out there. You can also use a power washer for some extra impact, but make sure to keep those PSIs pretty low to avoid damaging the wood or your toes.

    TOM: Well, if you’re thinking about tackling an indoor project this summer, we’ve got a great prize we’re giving away to one caller this hour. It’s called the Quick Clips Kit by Focal Point. It will cut your crown moulding project time in half. Why? Because there’s no cuts, there’s no miters, there’s no having to find the studs. It all goes up with a clip system. It’s a pretty ingenious system. It’s worth 250 bucks. If you’d like to win it – be able to deck out that dining room or that living room or that kitchen with some nifty new crown moulding – call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Tom in Alabama’s doing some tiling work. Tell us about it.

    TOM IN ALABAMA: Yes. I’m laying some floor tile and I’m using those peel and sticks. And I was … they’re not sticking real good and I was wondering what kind of glue I could use to make them stick better.

    LESLIE: So they’re just not sticking at all or once you get them down they’re just popping back up after a couple days?

    TOM IN ALABAMA: They’re just popping back up after a couple of days. I went ahead and sanded the floor real good where we were putting them and everything but they’re just … they’re just not wanting to hold.

    LESLIE: Well.

    TOM: Yeah, peel and stick doesn’t work too well.

    LESLIE: Probably a good fix would be contact cement. Wouldn’t you think?

    TOM: You think so? I was thinking more … because contact cement, once he puts it down, you know, it’s a one shot wonder.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It’s down. (chuckling)

    TOM: There actually is vinyl tile adhesive. You know, because vinyl tiles, for years, were sold without being peel and stick. And there are special adhesives that are … that are designed for those and special trowels that you put them down – usually, a very, very thin notched trowel you put it down with. But I don’t think you can do it individually. If you’re going to do it, you have to do the whole floor that way.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You’d have to do the whole floor.

    TOM: Yeah. Why don’t you pick up some vinyl tile adhesive, Tom, and glue the loose ones down and see how that works for you. And if that works, though, I imagine what’s going to happen is you’re going to be doing a lot of patching. It would have been better if you did the whole floor that way, frankly. If you had a chance – a choice – next time you buy tile, don’t buy self-stick. Buy the regular tiles and put them down with a vinyl tile adhesive. It works a lot quicker and it lasts a lot longer.

    LESLIE: Carol from Florida. How can we help?

    CAROL: I have a problem in my garage which is … I live in Florida, close to the … very close to a sea wall on the intercoastal. But I don’t know if that has anything to do with my problem. My garage is on the same level as the street. There’s no like elevation to my house in that area. However, the rest of my home is about a foot-and-a-half higher than the garage level. The problem I’m having is that, especially in the winter, I notice there are areas of moisture. It’s a concrete floor. It was in the garage floor. And I was thinking of … considering cleaning it up and having it painted. But I look at those areas of moisture and it seems like it’s more noticeable in the winter months.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Well, that’s clear because what you’re having is condensation because the air is cooler than the ground temperature from being warmed in sunny Florida all through the summer months.

    TOM: Well, what you want to do is definitely clean that up and then paint it. That’s not going to help your condensation issue but there’s no reason you can’t. And if you use the right kind of paint, it will stick and it’s going to make it look a lot nicer.

    CAROL: Do you have any recommendations? Do I need to prime it?

    TOM: Absolutely. What I would recommend is a product called EPOXYShield. It’s an …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, this is fun.

    TOM: It’s an epoxy-based garage floor paint that comes in a two-part mix. So you get a gallon of this epoxy product and you get a quart of the hardener. And actually, the gallon is short-filled; there’s like three-quarters of a gallon of material in there. So you open it up and you mix the two together, stir her up and that has a chemical and an air-based cure. And they also include, in that box, this cleaning detergent that’s designed to really kind of neutralize and sort of etch the surface so you get good adhesion. But I think if you do that, it’s a real thick, durable surface.

    We actually put it down in – believe it or not – the Boy Scout house here in my hometown. The guys put it down in the kitchen because it takes a ton of traffic from all of those scouts. So they went out and picked up some EPOXYShield and put it right down and it looks great.

    You can also put like this chipped surface in it so it kind of has this sort of nice, speckly look to it which hides the dirt, too.

    CAROL: Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: So, Ron in Rhode Island, you call us about a problem but you’re doing a home improvement project right now?

    RON: Yes, I am.

    LESLIE: Yeah? What are you working on?

    RON: We’re painting the bathroom.

    TOM: Okay.

    RON: And I … this is the third time I painted it with … we have like a peach colored shower stall and fixtures – toilet and sink – and not a hell of a lot will go with it. It was … it was like a peach color on the walls and we wanted to change it. We painted it a light gray, then we went to a light green and now we’re going to white and I don’t know.

    TOM: Okay. And the problem is this paint continues to grow mold?

    RON: No, no, no, no, no. That’s another problem.

    LESLIE: No, he’s just painting. He’s doing home improvement projects.

    TOM: Oh, okay.

    LESLIE: And asking home improvement questions.

    RON: (overlapping voices) And also we have a white house with wooden shingles. And I’m getting this black mold … you know, little round spots in different areas. And I was wondering what would be good to get rid of it.

    TOM: Bleach.

    RON: Bleach?

    TOM: Bleach. Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah, a bleach and water mixture.

    TOM: Yeah. What you want to do is mix … do a bleach and water mixture; probably – I would say – probably at least one part bleach – maybe two parts – to five parts water. And then you spray that down and you let it sit for a while so it kills the mold. And then you could clean it off. Now, with wood siding, you don’t want to use a lot of pressure but you can use a pressure washer; that’s an option. Now, you mentioned that it was spotting. That might be something called artillery fungus. And that’s, traditionally, very, very difficult to get off. Have you put fresh mold – excuse me – fresh mulch around the house?

    RON: No.

    TOM: Okay.

    LESLIE: Because that would be (inaudible) …

    RON: As a matter of fact, you know, last spring I did it with, I guess, the pressure washer and I did it with bleach and also I put hydrogen peroxide in there. And my wife says maybe TSP.

    TOM: Well, better be careful, this chemical cocktail that you’re mixing up there. (chuckling)

    RON: Oh, it’s outside, though.

    TOM: No, all you need is really bleach. Bleach is a great mildicide. There’s one other product that I could suggest and that’s called Jomax – J-o-m-a-x. It’s really a house-wash material. And you mix it up with bleach and it helps the bleach actually last a little bit longer. It’s made by the Zinsser company. So you could give that a try, as well, the next time.

    RON: Where could I get that?

    TOM: Oh, any hardware store or home center has that. It’s a very, very commonly available product.

    RON: Okay.

    TOM: Also good for taking moss off of roofs. Okay, Ron?

    RON: Very good.

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

    LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Well, the number one question you all ask us is about flooring. Up next, we’re going to give you some tips and we’re going to answer an email question about how to keep your floors in tip-top shape.

    (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.

    LESLIE: Alright. This is from Rick in Providence, Rhode Island, who listens to The Money Pit on WPRO – News Talk 630. And Rick writes: ‘My prefinished three-quarter inch hardware floor has developed spaces.’

    TOM: Uh-oh.

    LESLIE: ‘When I installed them, I made sure they were tight but now there are spaces. And then, in my living room, off the ceramic-tiled foyer, the three-quarter hardwood which I also installed, sanded and stained has waffled and developed spaces. What is the cause and possible remedy. I just found your radio show and now I’m a constant listener.’

    Alright, Rick.

    TOM: Hmm. Well then, we may have to give you some bad news. I don’t know, Leslie. This sounds like a moisture issue.

    LESLIE: Well, it sounds like a moisture issue. It also sounds like shrinkage.

    TOM: Yeah, it may have been swollen when it was put in and it dried and shrunk. Or that area in front of the front door could have gotten some water on it from some rain that blew in the door or something and then it’s gotten swollen. The bad thing about hardwood floor is it’s not very kind to water.

    LESLIE: You know, I wonder if he didn’t give the wood time to acclimate to its surroundings. Because generally, when you install any type of flooring – hardwood or laminate – you’ve got to put it in that room for about 48 hours before you actually install it so it can acclimate to the climate.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. You know, another thing that you really should think about if you have any concerns, folks, about putting hardwood floors down in a damp area, is to not use solid hardwood. Use engineered hardwood. When it’s done, you cannot tell the difference between this and solid hardwood. But the difference is an engineered hardwood is made like plywood; there’s different layers that are laminated together. So once you put it down, it actually doesn’t move. And it’s great stuff. It can be incredibly durable. It can lock together. In some of these installations, you need even no glue to put it in. And it really does a super job.

    And check the durability factors out on it to make sure that you’re buying one that has the proper grade. If you buy a commercial grade, it’s going to last a lot longer than if you buy a residential grade. So depending on the area of your house, it’s going to take a lot of abuse – like, for example, at the front door – buy a commercial grade product and that’s actually going to last a lot longer and be able to take the sand and the … and the grit and all that kind of stuff that comes into the house.

    LESLIE: Alright. Here’s another one from a Rhode Islander named Alan who writes: ‘We’re considering getting central air for our 2,800-square-foot, two-story home.’ He’s never done anything like this before and wants to know what pitfalls should he avoid and what are some of the questions he should know before some of the sales folks come for their appointments?

    TOM: Well, the first thing that you should make sure those sales folks do, Alan, is do a heat loss calculation on the house. That’s critical because that’s going to make sure that they know how much air conditioning you need. You put in too little, it’s not going to cool. You put in too much, it’ll cool but it’ll be very clammy and damp. So make sure they do a heat loss calculation.

    Beyond that, I would recommend you get the best air conditioning compressor you can afford – the one that is the most efficient – because that’s going to save you money in the long run. And now’s a really good time to invest in a good quality air conditioning compressor. You get one that’s Energy Star rated, you’re going to be eligible for an energy tax credit and that’s going to save you some money; not only on your cooling bills but now it will save you some money on your taxes as well. So get a heat loss calculation and get the best compressor you can afford.

    Well, Leslie, all eyes are on the Caribbean for this year’s hurricane season. On today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word, you’ve got some tips on how to make sure we stay safe.

    LESLIE: That’s right. It’s always very important to keep an emergency kit in your home for any sort of disaster; whether it’s weather-related or otherwise. And here’s some things you should keep in that kit always: flashlights; blankets; extra clothing; sturdy shoes, just in case you’re not wearing the right footwear when the disaster occurs; paper towels; toilet paper; diapers if you need them in the family; matches that are in a water-tight container; tools; cash or traveler’s checks; a spare set of keys for both your house and your car; a first-aid kit; battery-operated radio; we also keep a regular phone that’s corded in our emergency kit because when your power goes out, those cordless phones don’t work so it’s always good to have in there; and anything else that you all might need – whether it’s prescription medicines or what-not.

    And then, also keep in there some things that you’re going to want to replace about every six months: one gallon of water per person per day – thinking about how much you might need; food such as canned foods, protein bars, baby food (don’t forget your pets; put some pet food in there); and batteries. And think about replacing those every six months so they’re fresh when you need them.

    TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, it’s summer vacation season again and guess what? It’s also the busiest season of the year for burglars. Find out what you need to know to make sure a thief passes on your home.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    (theme song)


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

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