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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 question. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It’s a great hour. It’s a great idea.

    LESLIE: It’s a very special edition of The Money Pit.

    TOM: Oh, yes. It is a very special – every weekend is a special edition of The Money Pit.

    LESLIE: No, this one’s extra special …

    TOM: And why would that be?

    LESLIE: Because it’s Tom’s birthday week and …

    TOM: Ah, yes. It is my birthday. Thank you very much for mentioning that, Leslie, and reminding me that I’ve crossed yet another milestone.

    LESLIE: And you don’t even look 35. (Tom laughs) Was I close?

    TOM: You’re just happy I’m older than you are.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) I am; even if it’s only by a year or a decade or who knows.

    TOM: Let us help you celebrate some successful home improvement projects this hour. Pick up the phone and call us. Tell us about your project. We’ll help you out. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up, do you recall a very, very warm, hot and humid summer to which your air conditioner didn’t really do the job last year? Are you afraid that’s going to happen again? Is it happening again? Are you asking yourself that question: should I repair or replace my air conditioner? We’re going to give you some tips to help you sort it out in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, do you have some 1980s super-duper, shiny, lacquered furniture stored away from there? You know …

    TOM: Yeah, I have some stored in my dining room. (laughs)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Oh, no. Yours is on display. Oh God, you are living in the time warp and it could be right in your own bedroom as it is in Tom’s living room. Well we can help you bring that dated look back into modern styling with just a little bit of paint and some elbow grease. We’re going to give you the step-by-step this hour.

    TOM: I don’t actually – I don’t have the real thick like laminate, like Formica kinds of furniture. I have sort of …

    LESLIE: If you tell me you’ve got the rounded corners I’m going to come over there.

    TOM: I’ve got like the rounded-corner like IKEA-style lacquer. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: Alright, but we’re not just round the corner.

    TOM: Well, if you want a unique look for your tile floor or backsplash, think about doing a tile inlay. We’re also going to talk about that and we’re going to teach you how this sort of old-world technique is getting a 21st century makeover; plus, how this technique could also be the solution for repair of broken tiles that you just can’t seem to find anymore.

    LESLIE: And this hour we’re giving away a great prize. It’s the Sync-It water station prize. It’s from our friends over at Ames True Temper and it can transform any outdoor spigot into a sink before cleaning all your gardening tools or your muddy shoe those or washing your pet. It’s worth 50 bucks but it could be yours for free.

    TOM: So what’s going on. Pick up the phone and call Us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to the phones and solve some of those home improvement problems.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Joe in Connecticut is looking to go green with his energy consumption. What can we do for you?

    JOE: Yes, I’m going to need to reroof of my garage here and it’s a two-car garage…

    TOM: OK.

    JOE: And I had heard one of my friends who lived in Alaska had said that he had solo powers installed in a windmill and ended up making more power than he used and I was just wondering if you could give me any information on that or vendors or that kind of stuff.

    TOM: Well certainly, considering solar energy and wind energy are two good technologies; but you’ve got to have the right home before it. I mean you’ve got to have…

    LESLIE: And I don’t think you can just put up a turbine in your backyard.

    TOM: Well, India more crowded areas in the northeast that the local zoning officials get whether emotional about that. (chuckling) so you have to have the proper permits. That being said, if you did have clearance certainly putting up a wind generator or adding solar panels to your rules are too good ways to reduce your reliance on the traditional electrical system.

    LESLIE: And there or solar panels that look like a roofing shingles so you could, instead of those big giant solar panels that you’ve seen sort of sit off on the roof itself, the sort of far the same as an asphalt shingle and they sort of get made in intermittently across the rules and they generate power as well. I would check with your local power provider that you use currently to find out what their solar capacity is, what you would have to generate to get off the grade and star to sort of feeding their power source and getting some money back.

    TOM: Also Joe, there are a lot of rebates that are available right now for alternative energy sources, so you might want to look into that and find out if you in your area, particularly in your state, whether or not they are rebate programs you can take advantage of. I know there are many of them in New Jersey and I think Connecticut as well so you might want to find out about that.

    JOE: Thank you.

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

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

    MARY: I have a sun room which is 25 years old. It sits on concrete block…

    TOM: OK.

    MARY: Which is six courses from the footing. The outside was sealed and insulated. There are two courses above ground and the outside has cedar siding and the inside is painted.

    TOM: OK.

    Mary: about three or four years ago I start noticing a white powder and a sometimes moisture…

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: OK.

    MARY: … and it’s gotten worse over time.

    TOM: Alright, the problem is called efflorescence and what’s …

    LESLIE: And it’s easily fixed.

    TOM: Easily fixed. What you have is moisture that’s getting into the block area and then that water is evaporating into the interior house space but it’s leaving its mineral salt deposit behind. So this is really a two-step process.

    First of all, inside this comes off with a vinegar solution. It’ll just melt it right away.

    LESLIE: White vinegar and water.

    MARY: OK.

    TOM: Exactly. Get yourself a gallon white vinegar and mix it up with some water; spray it and it’ll come right off.

    MARY: Mm-hmm, and you may need to rinse it a little bit with water just to get the scent away but the white vinegar makes it go away lickety-split.

    TOM: Otherwise it’ll smell like a salad.

    And then outside the house you want to take a look at your drainage conditions, Mary, because I suspect that something is not quite right with the drainage; so you’re …

    LESLIE: Well I imagine there’s a lot of snow that sits against the house. (chuckles)

    TOM: Yeah, I mean snow that’s melting near that foundation or gutters that are clogged or downspouts that are directed right near that corner; all of those things could add an excessive amount of water to that particular space.

    MARY: OK. It is the area where the snow comes off the roof.

    TOM: Yeah, well that could do it.

    MARY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Make sure the soil slopes away too because even if you have snow melt you want the water to run away from that wall. It’s definitely a drainage problem, that source, and it doesn’t sound too serious. So get those two things under control. The efflorescence is basically a clean-up job but outside try to work on those sources of moisture and keep it as far away from the house as possible.

    MARY: I can do that.

    TOM: You can.

    MARY: (chuckling) Yes, thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whenever that pipe bursts we are there for you at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, tips on choosing and installing the right air conditioning system to keep you cool all summer long.

    (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: making good homes better welcome back to The Money Pit home improvement radio show. Call us right now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call. Let us know what you’re working on; we can help you solve any home improvement dilemma. And one of you lucky listeners out there who gets their question answered on the air is going to win the Sync-It outdoor water station. It also comes with a coil of hose. It’s from our friends over at Ames True Temper. It’s a great product that turns any outdoor faucet into a sink. You can clean your garden tools, rinse off your muddy shoes, wash off your muddy hands. You can hang your hose – your brand, spanking new one, I might add – right on it. It’s worth 50 bucks so give us a call now for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask us.

    Well if the summer has been a fairly sticky situation for you and you’re thinking it’s time to replace your air conditioning system or to purchase a new one, here are some things to remember. For your installation go with a pro. You may be a seasoned do-it-yourselfer but believe me; it’s not a DIY project. We’d tell you if it was. If it involves more than installing a window don’t do it. May seem simple even if you have an easy home; even if you have ducts in place already, it’s not our DIY job best left in the hands of a pro.

    Also make sure you get the right fit for your home. Proper sizing of your air conditioning system is absolutely critical. If it’s too small obviously it won’t call, but the most common mistake is to put in a system that’s too big. And you’d think to yourself, ‘Well, that can’t be a bad thing. It will keep me cooler and more comfortable. Actually not. It will keep you damp and freezing all the time. It’ll lose a ton of energy. It’ll waste a lot of electricity and you won’t be a happy puppy. So don’t oversize your air conditioning system. Make sure it fits your house perfectly.

    The HVAC pros will do something called a heat-loss calculation and that determines exactly how many BTUs you need that system to be. And remember, make sure you choose the most energy-efficient equipment possible. Especially look for the Energy Star rating on all equipment you purchase. That’s going to be your assurance of getting the maximum energy efficiencies. You’ll be cool, comfortable and you won’t waste a lot of cash.

    LESLIE: We’re here to help you enjoy this hot, sticky summer. If you want some more information on buying and installing a brand, spanking new central air conditioning system check out our next issue of The Money Pit e-newsletter. You can sign up now at MoneyPit.com. It is absolutely free and you get a new one each week every Friday in your inbox. In it you’ll find all sorts of great advice, information, tips that you have come to expect from Tom and I every week when you listen to our radio show.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call that number right now for the answer to your home improvement question. Lots of folks standing by. Let’s get back to it.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Time to talk paint with Melissa in Connecticut. What can we do for you?

    MELISSA: Well, I have a new old house – my house was built in about 1915 – and it’s got aluminum siding on it and I’m wondering if I can paint this siding because I really can’t afford to do an overall makeover right now.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Yeah, you absolutely can paint it and the key is going to be that the aluminum siding right now has paint on it that’s deteriorated. It usually chalks. If you rubbed your hand over, for example …

    MELISSA: Yes.

    TOM: … it comes off in your hand. So what you need to do is to get as much of that old paint off as possible. You could try to pressure wash it a bit and see if that takes off the loose stuff.

    LESLIE: But you need to be cautious with the pressure washer because you could ding the siding.

    MELISSA: Oh.

    TOM: Yeah, you want to use a wide sort of a fan spray.


    TOM: And then you could actually brush – like wire brush – or sand lightly the siding and I would practice kind of on like the least visible side of your house because the key here is to make sure any loose material is removed. Then you need to prime it – I would use an oil-based primer – and then you need to put a topcoat on it and the topcoat could be latex.

    LESLIE: What is that new Behr paint that just came out that adheres really well and also makes a good sealant? Is it that pure …?

    TOM: Yeah, the Behr folks have a paint out now that’s actually primer and paint in one coat.

    LESLIE: It’s the Premium Plus Ultra paint from Behr and they can mix it into any of their colors and it’s fantastic.

    TOM: And the best way, Melissa, to apply the paint, if you can, is by spraying it and you can rent a paint sprayer …

    MELISSA: Yeah. (chuckles)

    TOM: … if you want to do it yourself. You know why? Because it’s hard to brush into all those nooks and crannies.

    MELISSA: Right, right. There are a lot of nooks and crannies; that’s for sure.

    TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

    MELISSA: Now do I have to bring the paint all the way down to the metal?

    TOM: No, no, no. Just need to get rid of the loose stuff.

    MELISSA: Excellent. Excellent. Well thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Heading to the great outdoors with Scott in California with a decking project. What can we do for you?

    SCOTT: Yeah, I was thinking about taking up my redwood planks on my deck and replacing it with tile, which would entail putting plywood and some cement board down. I was wondering should I put some kind of moisture barrier down between the cement board and the plywood.

    TOM: Well if you don’t it’s going to rot away. Boy, that’s an awfully big job. Why are considering doing that?

    SCOTT: Well, this is California so you’ve got to basically strip it and restain it every two years and it’s pretty labor intensive.

    TOM: What’s the framing made out of?

    LESLIE: Yeah, can it support the weight of all of that concrete board and the tile and the mortar and the grout?

    SCOTT: Yeah, it’s redwood decking.

    TOM: But is the framing redwood or is the framing pressure treated, Scott?

    SCOTT: It’s redwood.

    TOM: (Groaning) I’ll tell you what; I don’t like the idea of doing the tile. I think it’s going to be very heavy. I think it’s going to be very expensive. If you want a better alternative I would suggest composite.

    Leslie, you just did some composites. What’d you use? The fiber …

    LESLIE: I used the fiberon …

    TOM: The fiberon was good.

    LESLIE: … and they have a line that they do called Tropical and we chose the mahogany and it’s sort of – I mean it has a beautiful graining pattern to it. It’s not like the traditional first round of composites that came out a few years ago that was all gray. This has a lot of depth, a lot of movement, a beautiful color and it’s never going to change.

    TOM: Plus, the thing is eventually you may need to do some repair to that structure and there’s just no way to access it if you put all the tile on it.

    SCOTT: Well, that’s why I’m looking at it because it’s almost 20 years old.

    TOM: Yeah, I think that this is a good opportunity for a deck makeover where essentially you remove the decking and the railing; you keep the structure, assuming that it’s good structural shape – if it’s not you can do repairs then; and then do a makeover with composites. The composites today are really indestructible. They need very little maintenance. They can be installed even without showing any nails.

    SCOTT: OK, well thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Perry in New Jersey needs some help with the basement. What can we do for you?

    PERRY: I had French drains installed a while back and at the bottom they install what they call a drain board and my question is if I stud it out and put up sheetrock and insulation is there a possibility of a mold problem down the road?

    TOM: Yeah, but not so much because of the insulation; because of the sheetrock if you use drywall. If you use standard paper-faced drywall you definitely would face the risk of a mold problem.

    First of all, you want to improve the drainage conditions outside the wall so that the soil is sloping away; the gutters are clean, free-flowing, downspouts extended. That will do a good job of reducing the amount of moisture that you get in the basement space to begin with.

    Secondly, you mentioned studding out the wall. That’s a good idea. Keep it off of that drain slot. And thirdly, don’t use drywall. You want to use a product called Dens Armor, which is by Georgia-Pacific. It’s a fiberglass-faced drywall, so to speak.

    PERRY: Right, it’s a new kind of sheetrock.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s like a sheetrock fiberglass face, no paper face, so it can’t feed mold.

    PERRY: OK, I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Heading over to Texas to chat with Nancy. What can we do for you today?

    NANCY: I have a utility apartment, so it’s not very big nor am I. I’m five feet tall.

    TOM: (chuckling) OK.


    NANCY: About two-thirds of my apartment is wasted space since I can’t reach it (Tom and Leslie chuckle) …

    LESLIE: OK. And stilts are out of the question.

    NANCY: (chuckling) I’m debating on whether to put in shelving because it’s cinder block –

    TOM: OK.

    NANCY: – it’s like brick walls – or hang things from the ceiling or both and how to do that.

    TOM: Well you certainly can put in shelving and there’s a neat little piece of hardware called a Tapcon which is essentially a screw that’s designed to go right into a concrete block wall and, in fact, when you buy them they come with the drill bit that you need to predrill them.

    LESLIE: Yeah, make sure you buy the one that comes with the attachments.

    NANCY: OK.

    TOM: And you can drill it right into the concrete block wall and attach right to that. So no need to hang things from the ceiling, which would probably be more dangerous. Plus, you can’t reach the ceiling anyway, as you mentioned.

    LESLIE: Yeah, how were you going to do that anyway?

    NANCY: (chuckling) Ladders. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)

    TOM: Oh, yeah. (chuckles)

    NANCY: Being from California, I don’t like things hanging over my head. (chuckles)

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: No, I think you’re in a non-earthquake zone though; so relax about that.

    NANCY: Yes.

    LESLIE: But Tom and I have also seen some interesting upper cabinet inserts and there’s one from a company called Rev-A-Shelf, is it Tom?

    TOM: Yes.

    LESLIE: And it’s something that goes inside your upper cabinet so when you open the cabinet door, if you can reach that bottom there would be sort of like a handle or a grabbing thing there that you would pull down and now everything that’s in that upper cabinet sort of bends down to meet you.

    NANCY: Oh, how cool!

    TOM: Yeah, kind of takes the whole guts of the cabinet and drops it right there on your lap.

    NANCY: It’s like a kneeling cabinet.

    TOM: Sort of.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    LESLIE: It’s like public transportation. (Tom chuckles)

    NANCY: (chuckling) Awesome. Oh, that’d be great.

    TOM: Alright, Nancy.

    NANCY: Thank you so much.

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

    You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We so appreciate that you are.

    Coming up next, are you living with some stained or lacquered furniture that’s lost its cool? Its decorating cool, that is. Well, we’re going to give you the tips that you need for a total decorating makeover of that stuff, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCEMENT: The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Plus Ultra Exterior paint and primer in one with advanced NanoGuard technology to help you save time and money while preserving your home’s exterior finish. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. And who are we? Well, I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and Tom is the birthday boy.

    TOM: Yes, I am. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: I like to share info.

    TOM: Yeah, I know. (Leslie giggles) Too much information. What are you going to give me?

    LESLIE: Uh, you didn’t get it? (Tom chuckles)

    TOM: I got a card with a pile of sawdust in it.

    LESLIE: (chuckles) Surprise. (Tom chuckles) It’s my special confetti. (laughing)

    TOM: Leslie confetti; always appreciated around here at The Money Pit HQ.

    Well, before you toss that old furniture and shell out some big bucks for some new stuff, here are some tips to help you makeover the furniture that you already have.

    First of all, painting, of course, is a way to go but preparation is the key to getting a good paint job on previously stained or lacquered furniture. First, you have to wash the surfaces with a cleaning solution. Next, give them a good sanding with 320-grit sandpaper and then wipe the surfaces down with a tack cloth. Now your furniture is ready for that fresh coat of paint and a whole new look. You can paint lacquered furniture; you just have to do it in the right steps.

    888-666-3974. Before you pick up the paint brush though pick up the phone and give us a call.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Dennis in Illinois has a question about basement drainage. What can we do for you today?

    DENNIS: I bought some waterproof paint for the wall but just in case it’s coming up from the crack between the floor and the wall …

    TOM: OK.

    DENNIS: … I’m thinking about cutting like a one-inch-wide or less groove around the base of the wall so it will drain to another drain in the basement and I was wondering if there was something I could use to do that.

    TOM: Well Dennis, let’s back up for a minute. Does your basement seem to flood after heavy rainfalls?

    DENNIS: Yes, sir.

    TOM: OK. Well, the solution here is not putting holes in your floor.

    LESLIE: Not a moat in the basement.

    TOM: No, the moat idea is out. Here’s the order of events. First of all, we want to make sure that the gutter system is absolutely guaranteed to be clean. It would be good if you flushed each downspout and confirmed that there’s no leakage and that the water is extended out away from the house. Secondly, I’d like to see you improve the drainage so there’s no flat soil against the walls. Thirdly, you’re going to want to add a dehumidifier to the basement to accept (ph) moisture that evaporates from those walls. Putting the paint on the walls, the damp-proofing paint, is a good thing and it does cut down on some of the evaporation.

    If those three things together are not working and you’re still having water, I would recommend, before you do any demolition of the floor, that you hire a professional home inspector to do an inspection of that house and see if they can spot something else that’s leading to water infiltration. Because many times there is some element of that outside drainage that’s just not working right and is allowing that water to get into the basement. And after that, we’re talking about pretty expensive repair work here. So I’d like to make absolutely sure that we’re doing all the basic things right.

    I can tell you in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector, Dennis, 9 out of 10 times we can solve wet basement problems just by fixing the drainage outside. So I want to make sure that yours is absolutely letter perfect before we recommend anything more dramatic than fixing your gutters. OK?

    DENNIS: Very good.

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

    LESLIE: Going to North Carolina to help Joe with his garage floor. What can we do for you?

    JOE: Yes, I am redoing my garage. I painted the walls and put in kitchen cabinets for storage and now I’m looking at redoing the floor. I’m just wondering if you’ve ever had any experience with epoxy coating or laying in the tile floor which could be plastic or a polymer-type material.

    TOM: Yeah, actually both.

    LESLIE: Well, actually both are great options.

    JOE: My concern is if I go with the epoxy, prep seems to be a big issue on prepping the floor. How difficult is that for the average homeowner?

    TOM: Joe, has the floor had any finish on it to this point?

    JOE: No, but we’ve have cars in it and there are some oil stains.

    TOM: It shouldn’t be a problem. Here’s what you want to do. Two different products that work really well – QUIKRETE and EPOXYShield; very similar products.

    LESLIE: And QUIKRETE has the first-step cleanser in the kit, doesn’t it?

    TOM: Exactly, and these come in kits; they’ve got cleansers in them; they’re designed to deal with dirty floors and clean them and get them ready to take the epoxy. The epoxies come in two separate cans; you know one is the base, one is the hardener. You mix them up; you apply them like you would any paint product. There’s usually a color chip that you kind of sprinkle on; looks like a big, fat like spice can. Sprinkle these color chips in there; it helps hide the dirt when it dries. It looks really good and I just don’t think it’s that hard to do. If you’re comfortable painting and using a paint brush and using a roller you should be fine with this.

    LESLIE: Now if you’re thinking about a flooring system and you sort of have your mind set on, you know, a tile for the garage, there’s a great website if you happen to be online. Check out RaceDeck.com. RaceDeck. And it’s a garage flooring system that snaps together. It comes in a ton of different colors, patterns, sizes. It’s really easy to install. It looks great. I have no idea what the pricing is like but in comparison I imagine the epoxy is going to be far less expensive.

    JOE: OK, I will do research on both of those. I thank you very kindly. You’ve been a great help.

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

    LESLIE: We’ve got great home improvement advice coming up on The Money Pit, including information if you are thinking about installing tile flooring. You know, inlays, they are a way to add a very unique touch to your flooring project. We’re going to lay it all down for you, right after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: Stay-Green lawn care products and gardening supplies provide practical solutions for seasonal lawn and garden needs at value prices. Stay-Green products are available exclusively at Lowe’s and come with a written guarantee printed on every package and label. The complete line of Stay-Green fertilizers, growing media, weed controls and grass seed help keep lawns looking beautiful year-round and are the perfect blend of science and technology at an affordable price.

    TOM: Welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Let us help solve that do-it-yourself dilemma and you could just win the Sync-It outdoor water station from Ames True Temper. It’s great for gardening or for outdoor project, cleanup and it easily installs over an existing outdoor spigot and turns it into a total work sink. The winner also gets a coil hose to go with it. It’s a prize pack worth 50 bucks but you’ve got to be in it to win it, so pick up the phone right now and ask us your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Carol in Tennessee needs some help with the driveway. What happened to it?

    CAROL: We had a driveway put in last August and I’ve noticed, walking down my driveway, that where they would stop and like fill the big thing that spreads the blacktop it was never smooth; it’s kind of rocky and stuff. Well, some of those places there’s loose gravel or loose …

    TOM: OK.

    CAROL: … or loose blacktop and then when I was walking last night there was a hole about the size of a half dollar that I could put my hand, my fingers down …

    TOM: OK.

    CAROL: … and I think that’s where – and I think those machines are 10 feet wide and my driveway is 12 [and I think that’s where] (ph) they spread it on the side. And I’m not sure – you know, is it something that can be fixed? He said he’d come back and you know [what if] (ph) we had a problem or something I wanted to talk to him but I just wanted to find out from you what I should be asking him.

    TOM: So basically you had an asphalt driveway put in and you’ve gotten some loose gravel and you’ve got some spots where they may be some holes or some cracks and the answer is absolutely yes; they can be fixed and there are compounds that are designed specifically for that – asphalt patching compounds, for example – and if your driveway installer offered to come back I’d have them do just that. That’s a real easy job for them to do. It’s the kind of thing that they carry on the trucks all the time and it’s best to have them do it.

    CAROL: OK. Thank you. I love your program.

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

    LESLIE: For Don in Oregon the sky is falling, literally. (Tom chuckles) Your bathroom ceiling is falling apart?

    DON: Yep.

    LESLIE: What happened?

    DON: Well, we get a lot of rain out here in the winter time.

    TOM: I’ve heard that.

    DON: Right.

    LESLIE: That’s why it’s so green in the summer.

    TOM: That’s right.

    DON: Right, you got it. But my vent leaks in the bathroom.

    TOM: OK.

    DON: OK. It’s got the original ceiling in it. Now it’s falling down and I want to go back and of course put the ceiling back in.

    TOM: Well the first thing you need to do is to fix the leaking vent.

    DON: I’ve done that.

    TOM: Alright.

    DON: And anyhow, I want to put the ceiling back but I’m not sure we can get the original product to go back with it.

    TOM: Right. It’s a small bathroom. Why don’t you just replace the ceiling.

    DON: OK. What can we replace it with.

    TOM: You have lots of options. You could use a fiber tile, which would be an easy thing to do; very light; easy to install; can be glued to the surface or you could put firring strips in and attach it that way.

    DON: OK.

    TOM: What else? Drop ceiling?

    DON: OK.

    TOM: The drop ceilings are very attractive these days. How big is the room? Five by eight?

    DON: Well, probably.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, I think the fiber tiles would be a good choice and, in fact, I’ve seen some really good-looking fiber tiles from companies like Armstrong and others that when they’re painted they can look really attractive. Some of them look like tin ceilings and other sorts of effects.

    DON: Fiber tiles. Okey-dokey, that’s what I’ll do then. Appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Debbie in North Carolina needs some help with furniture refinishing. What can we do for you?

    DEBBIE: Well, I have got a piece of furniture that I got out of a – well, I got it out of an old hotel suite. It’s one of those real heavy pieces of furniture. I had looked at it. It looks like it possibly could be particleboard but if it is it is really, really heavy.

    TOM: OK.

    DEBBIE: And I want to refinish this thing but the exterior coating on it is such that I can’t sand it; I can’t paint over it because the paint won’t adhere to it; and I don’t know how to refinish it or to take the varnish off of it. Can you all tell me any ways that I can change the color or paint this thing?

    LESLIE: Hmm.

    TOM: It sounds like you need to apply like liquid sandpaper, which will rough it up …

    DEBBIE: Liquid sandpaper?

    TOM: Yeah, rough up the exterior surface just a little bit. And then, if it’s got a varnish on it I would definitely prime it because you’re going to have an adhesion issue. But if you prime it with a good-quality oil-based primer that should solve that.

    LESLIE: Then it should stick.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I mean because it sounds even like it’s got like a heavy-duty resin coating. A lot of times these commercial furnishings will be so heavily varnished that it’s almost as if it’s like a thick coat of resin, which could be part of the weight issue that you’re feeling, and if you suspect that it is particleboard you can’t chemically strip it and you can’t sand it down because if you get below whatever this finish is or if it’s a laminate, you’re not going to have anything to paint.

    DEBBIE: Alright, I appreciate it. Thank you.

    TOM: Well, you’re welcome, Debbie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alrighty, well here at The Money Pit your number one asked question is flooring and we’ve got a fun idea for you guys. You know, creative tile inlay can add a very special look to your floor and thanks to today’s technology professionals can produce very intricate designs and details. After you select a design and the colors, they use computer guidance systems and then they cut individual pieces with high-pressure water jets. It’s really super cool. It takes an old-world craft into the 21st century. It’s quite excellent and it produces wonderful results.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number for you to call if you’ve got a tile question or a floor question or a roof question. Whatever’s going on in your money pit we’re here to help you out. Give us a call right now.

    Up next, can mold grow into your air conditioning ducts where it can be blown throughout the entire house? What a scary thought? That’s what one of our e-mailers wants to know and we’re going to answer that question, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators, America’s choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And summer is usually a very sticky and humid time of the year; perfect conditions for mold growth. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about mold, including how to get rid of it, at MoneyPit.com. Just go to the ideas and tips section and look for our mold resource guide.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and while you’re snooping around online, click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and e-mail us your question and I think this e-mailer actually could fit in with our mold resource guide. This person writes: ‘A friend pointed out to me that a white powder present on the exterior of sheet metal ductwork in a basement was mold. He said, in fact, that he had spent $5,000 to clean the exterior of the ducts in his own basement. I always thought that mold and mildew can’t exist without a food source, which doesn’t appear to be the case on the exterior of a sheet metal duct.’

    TOM: Ugh, your friend got so ripped off, man. Just so ripped off.

    LESLIE: But it’s not a situation where the mold is growing on dust?

    TOM: It’s not mold. You know what that was?

    LESLIE: It’s efflorescence.

    TOM: It’s efflorescence. It’s condensation because the ducts are uninsulated and the basement was very damp.

    LESLIE: Are you kidding? So he spent $5,000 for somebody to spray vinegar?

    TOM: He got so ripped off. Absolutely. Could have cleaned it off with vinegar. Yep, absolutely.

    LESLIE: So $2.00 or 5K?

    TOM: Yeah. Now it’s possible to get mold inside of ducts but only if it grows on the dust that gets in the ducts but it’s a very, very rare situation. That white stuff on the outside of the ducts though is basically the moisture in the air condensing on the ducts, releasing some mineral salt deposit and that’s what the white stuff is that’s staying behind because, really, mold needs three things to grow. It needs moisture; of course we had that. It needs the air; we had that. It needs a food source, which we did not have. The food source would be drywall; it would be wood. It has to be organic.

    LESLIE: Paper.

    TOM: Not metal. Metal is not a food source for mold. So this guy got ripped off. You’ve got nothing to worry about. You spray it on with some vinegar and water and that’ll make it go away but, by the way, I suggest you don’t mention that to your friend.

    LESLIE: Yeah, tell your friend you spent $8,000. (chuckles)

    TOM: That’s right. He got a good deal. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Alright, Matt in Virginia writes: ‘My friend was having a backup problem coming from his washing machine; a new, energy-efficient model. His home warranty plan had a plumber come out and look at his plumbing and say that the pipe was too narrow for this new appliance. He was told that this is not covered by the warranty. Then my friend got an auger or snake and cleaned the line. No problem since then. We’re both wondering how true the plumber’s comments were.’

    TOM: Well, it sounds to me like you proved that the plumber wasn’t right because there was obviously a backup. Now typically you’re going to have about a two-inch drain pipe coming off a washing machine and the fact that you had an obstruction in there and once you cleaned it it worked fine proves the point that the plumber was wrong.

    LESLIE: Alright, lastly we’ve got one from Roxanne in Arkansas who writes: ‘Our new home has just been bricked and it looks hazy and gray but we were told it would be washed and look better after the process and that the colors would really pop out. Well, it’s been washed and it still looks hazy and gray; not as bad as before but not the beautiful brick I picked out. Can anything be done now to bring out the color and give this dry, dull brick a wet look?’

    TOM: Sometimes they charge more for hazy and gray. (Leslie chuckles) You know that’s that …

    LESLIE: It’s hazy.

    TOM: … sort of dusty, old-brick look. That’s the mineral deposits inside the brick and yes, it will continue to leach out for some period of time but it could be years before it actually doesn’t show up anymore.

    LESLIE: So it’s not like a grout?

    TOM: No, not at all. It’s a mineral inside the brick and when it gets wet and then dries you get that mineral salt deposit and I’m not actually half kidding. I mean sometimes people like that; especially if you like an older-looking brick.

    LESLIE: Alright, Roxanne. I hope it turns out the way you like it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We’ve shared some good ideas; put out some good information. Hope we’ve helped you out. If there’s something that comes to mind though anytime of the day or night you can pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. It’s my birthday. I’m taking the week off but Leslie will be happy to answer your call. Call her at 3:00 in the morning. (Leslie chuckles) She loves those calls.

    LESLIE: Whatever, but next weekend call Tom at 3:00 in the morning.

    TOM: 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 2008 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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