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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. Hey, it’s summer.

    LESLIE: Yay!

    TOM: There’s lots of stuff to do. Hooray! Get outside. Get the job done. Maybe you’re too hot because your air conditioning’s not working. We can fix that. Maybe you want to work on a deck. Maybe you want to build a patio. Great summer projects. We can help you do that.

    Hey, do you sometimes smell a musty odor in certain rooms of your home? You might think it’s from not using the room that often or maybe it’s just the age of the house. Well, that’s actually not true and this hour we’re going to teach you what causes musty smells in your house – which is a summertime issue – and exactly what to do about it.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And just because it’s over your head, that doesn’t mean you should overlook it. Later this hour, we’re going to tell you why your roof is working overtime to protect you and what you can do to protect it.

    TOM: But right now we want you to go to the phones and call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Two things will happen. Number one, we will give you the answer to your home improvement question; and we will toss your name in the Money Pit hardhat because this hour we’re giving away a Stanley Fix It gift pack worth 50 bucks. Basically 50 bucks in tools to help you get jobs done around your house. It includes a pocket knife, a magnetic level, a multi-bit screwdriver; lots of cool stuff.

    LESLIE: Hey, you can tackle any project with that, basically.

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

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Going out to Colorado with Nancy. How can we help you today?

    NANCY: Yes, I have a townhome that I’ve lived in for about eight years. (inaudible) new replacement windows. I have a very inexpensive metal frame window that is not at all energy efficient.

    TOM: OK.

    NANCY: And I’m wondering what I should replace it with. I’m the association president so I would like the information because people are going to be turning to me and we need to have something identical in all of the buildings.

    TOM: Oh, good for you. Mm-hmm.

    NANCY: So I’m looking for efficiency in what’s out there right now and what’s a good product to consider investing in.

    TOM: Well, first of all, you want to look for a window that’s Energy Star rated.

    NANCY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And that would be like the first thing that I would check.

    NANCY: OK.

    TOM: Because an Energy Star rated window is going to be efficient. Secondly, you want to buy from a named manufacturer rather than one that’s not heard of. I would buy something from a good manufacturer like Andersen or Pella …

    NANCY: OK.

    TOM: … or Weather Shield. I would stay with a good brand. You might want to consider the NFRC rating, which is the National Fenestration Rating Council, which has a set of standards by which energy efficiency is measured and clarity of glass is measured in windows.

    LESLIE: And Nancy, both the Energy Star and the NFRC rating are going to be on stickers right on those windows as well. So you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.

    TOM: And you have a lot of buying power because you’re going to be specing this out for the entire development. So you’re definitely doing it the right way. But those are a couple of things to check for: Energy Star rating and also the NFRC rating which will give you the information you’ll be able to use to compare apples to apples. And I would definitely stick with a name brand manufacturer rather than a replacement window company that you don’t know who’s making them.

    NANCY: OK. And then are the metal framed windows now much more efficient than they were, let’s say, 14 years ago when my (inaudible) were built?

    TOM: (overlapping voices) No, you hardly ever see metal frame windows anymore. I know exactly what you have. And especially in an area like Colorado. Those are going to be really super drafty windows.

    NANCY: Yep.

    TOM: The springs tend to break down very quickly. And so this is a situation where you’re probably going to be taking them out and putting in a new construction window because you can’t do a replacement window inside of a metal frame.

    NANCY: OK.

    LESLIE: And then you can also look for options that have vinyl on the exterior and wood on the interior so that you’re giving the folks who live within the association the opportunity to either paint or have a stained trim on the inside to go with whatever their decorating style is.

    TOM: And Nancy, because this is such a big project, I would do the research and then I would suggest you have an association meeting and present the research to the owners. Because this is going to be an expensive and an inconvenient project and they should feel very comfortable that you have done the research and have made the best choice for their situation.

    NANCY: OK, thanks so much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to help Scott in Illinois remove some paint. How can we help you?

    SCOTT: Yeah, I’m trying to find out the easiest and quickest way to remove paint from wood trim and wood doors.

    TOM: Hmm.

    LESLIE: Interior or exterior?

    SCOTT: Interior.

    TOM: And Scott, how old are these doors and the trim that you’re trying to strip?

    SCOTT: Oh, they’re probably since the 60s.

    TOM: Hmm, OK. So you probably have multiple layers of paint on there. Well, there’s a couple of things that you can do. First of all, if you use paint strippers, most paint strippers are very, very toxic. But there’s maybe one or two nontoxic paint strippers that I like. One is made by a company called Back to Nature Products. It’s called Ready-Strip. Their website is Ready-Strip.com. And it works pretty good because it’s not stinky and it goes on; it turns color when it’s time to remove it and you can pull up, you know, probably one to two layers of paint with every application. You are going to have to probably do multiple applications because with trim that hasn’t been refinished since the 60s, you’re going to find lots of layers of paint that have to come off.

    SCOTT: Oh, OK. That’s Ready-Strip?

    TOM: Ready-Strip. It’s called Ready-Strip. Ready-Strip.com.

    LESLIE: It’s probably the best to work with on the interior just because from a caustic standpoint.

    TOM: And the other issue to consider is whether or not you want to refinish the trim or replace the trim. With trim that is from the 1960s, you know, it’s not an antique. So you may want to think about maybe just doing the doors but actually physically replacing the trim because it actually might end up being a lot less labor. And probably will be a little more expensive but it’ll come out looking great.

    SCOTT: OK, well I appreciate that.

    LESLIE: Alright. Mary in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on with your squeaky floors?

    MARY: Alright, I live in a condo complex and the unit above me has very, very, very loud, squeaky floors.

    LESLIE: Oh, so they’re not even your squeaky floors. (Tom laughs)

    MARY: No, they’re not mine. They’re in the unit above mine.

    TOM: Do you get along with your neighbor otherwise?

    MARY: Well, I really don’t know the owner.

    TOM: Oh, OK. This is a problem.

    MARY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Because all of the repair advice that we can give you, Mary, requires entry into the unit above …

    MARY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … and work on those floors. Do you happen to know what kind of floors they have? Are they carpeted floors?

    MARY: Hardwood floors, yes.

    TOM: Hardwood floors. OK. Well, you know, when you have hardwood floors and they’re squeaky, the way you repair them is by making them a little tighter; because, typically, they get loose.

    MARY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And so, with a hardwood floor, if I could identify the squeak area …

    MARY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … there’s two ways to fix it. Number one is you could take a hot dipped, galvanized finish nail. And the reason I say hot dipped is because it’s a fairly rough surface.

    MARY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: You first have to pilot drill out a hole in the floor. And then you drive that nail through and you have to make sure you’re directly on top of a floor joist.

    MARY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: That tightens that up. A better way to do it, if you’re a little more handy when it comes to woodworking is to drill a hole in the floor, countersunk for a wood plug, and you simply screw the floor down and then plug it and then refinish that little spot.

    But those are the type of invasive procedures that you really have to own the house to do. In your case, it’s really going to require access. So, what you might want to do is talk to the condo association and see if between you, the condo association and the neighbor upstairs you can kind of have a bit of a truce and let’s one of the condo maintenance people get in there and do a bit of work on the floors and perhaps quiet it down for you.

    I will tell you that it’s kind of difficult because you’re always sort of chasing that squeak around the floor a bit, especially with hardwood. It’s actually easier to get rid of the squeaks if it’s simply carpet over a subfloor.

    MARY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: But that’s probably the best situation. So this is a little home repair and a lot of negotiation in this case, Mary. OK?

    MARY: Alright. Well, I just wanted to ask you one more question. I understand there are three different levels, from the engineer’s report that was taken here. One was that it could be above my ceiling, which I would be responsible for if it’s above my ceiling. The other would be the level above that and then there would be the level of the unit owner above me. (inaudible)

    TOM: OK, well listen. What you’re talking about here is the property line. And when you own a condominium, there’s a line that defines what’s your responsibility and what’s not your responsibility to fix.

    LESLIE: But I can’t imagine something above your ceiling – meaning subfloor and flooring of the above apartment – would be Mary’s responsibility.

    TOM: Well, it’s interesting, Leslie, because it really depends. In some cases – like I had a condo once where my owned property was like inside sheetrock to inside sheetrock. Basically, I owned the space inside the walls. The frame of the building was owned by the condominium association. And then the guy above would obviously own from inside sheetrock like to his floor. And with that type of ownership, the association was kind of insuring for all the structure …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … instead of a normal homeowner’s policy. And you were essentially insuring for contents as well as appliances and kitchen cabinets and things like that. But all of these associations have different levels of ownership and that line and understanding where that line is, in terms of where the – where your ownership stops and the association starts for the next owner, starts after that. That’s what makes the difference. And when it comes to this very practical problem, a squeaky floor, you know, it can become pretty super complicated. That’s why I say this is a little bit home repair and a lot of it – a lot of negotiation. And fortunately it’s not a hard thing to fix. You’re just going to have to try to get all of the parties together and see if you can get them to cooperate on getting it fixed.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, are you planning a second home; perhaps for that ultimate vacation retreat? Well, we can help you create that dream destination. 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, that musty smell in your home isn’t from age. It could be caused by living, breathing microorganisms. That’s the problem.

    LESLIE: Ooh.

    TOM: We’re going to teach you how to get rid of them, next.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer. And add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information, visit ThermaTru.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.

    Hey, if you give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, we have a super prize that is going to help you tackle just about any home improvement project from basic to super difficult. It’s the Stanley Fix It gift pack. It’s worth $50 and it includes a diecast pocket knife, a 10-bit ratchet screwdriver and a two-foot magnetic level. And one caller that we talk to is going to win this prize pack and, hey, why can’t it be you?

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

    OK, before the break we were talking about musty smells. Perhaps your basement smells musty. Well, it’s not just an order but it’s a sort of condition. What happens is you get microorganisms that emit gases that can create a very musty smell indoors. They make themselves …

    LESLIE: Oh, that just sounds terrible.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s pretty stinky stuff. When you think it’s not just like damp air, which is what most people think of it. It’s actually, you know, something that’s breathing or offgassing …

    LESLIE: Ooh.

    TOM: … in your house. They make themselves pretty much at home wherever there is an organic food source, little air movement and light, wet, humid conditions; which, of course, are all …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Ah, that’s pretty much everywhere in the summer.

    TOM: Yeah, especially in the basement. So, to prevent these problems, you need to treat moist and damp areas with an antimicrobial treatment. Something simple that you could make yourself that will do it is a 10-percent bleach solution. So, if you’re cleaning up a damp area, always put a dab of bleach in it because that will kill those microorganisms and stop the musty smell in its tracks.

    Hey, do you have a question about a stinky problem in your house? (Leslie chuckles) Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Maybe you want to tackle a project together. You know, nothing says romance better than his and her saws awls. (Leslie chuckles) So call us. We’ll help you get started at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Rose in Jamaica, Queens listens to The Money Pit on WABC. How can we help you in your money pit?

    ROSE: About three years ago I installed a new gutter and leader system.

    TOM: OK.

    ROSE: It’s called Lifeguard.

    TOM: OK.

    ROSE: And there’s supposed to be a lifetime warranty and it never worked from day one. I’ve had the installer come several times. He’s very nice. But the system does not absorb rainwater. And my basement is completely ruined. I want to know what does lifetime warranty mean.

    TOM: Well, you would think that it means that you’re never going to have to replace those gutters again but clearly what you have there is not working for you and it sounds to me like this company needs to make good on it. If I had my druthers, I would want it removed and replaced with a good old-fashioned standard gutter system, which is going to work fine. I’m sure you probably installed this so you wouldn’t have to clean the gutters.

    ROSE: I had a beauty and I was coerced into taking this new thing (inaudible). It’s my fault.

    TOM: Well, you know, listen. You make the best decisions based on the available information. You know, I’m sure that you wanted a system that wasn’t going to require maintenance. But clearly, you’re getting a lot of ancillary damage from having the system that you have now. So our recommendation would be to remove and to replace it because the most important thing here is to get this water under control. Your problem’s going to get a lot more expensive than the cost of replacing the gutter system if you allow – continue to allow the basement to be saturated. You have hit the nail on the head. That water landing right around the foundation has nowhere to go but into the basement and a standard four-inch K-style gutter system – a standard extruded gutter system that will cost you all of probably, I don’t know, $2 or $3 a linear foot to have installed – is going to collect that water and run it away. You want to make sure the downspouts are extended four to six feet away from the foundation.

    And if you want to use any type of gutter guard system at all, you can use that kind that’s removable so that it can be cleaned. We have one on our house in New Jersey that – I think it was called the Gutter Guard WaterFall System. And basically, it’s a louver that snaps into the top of the gutter and it lets most of the water wash over. Except I will tell you, with those louvered systems, with a really, really heavy water – rainfall – you get so much centrifugal force from the water that it does fall over the edge. We haven’t had any basement issues but I’ll tell you, having no guard is probably more important than making sure the gutters are functional in the first place. So I wouldn’t concentrate too much on the guard. I would concentrate on getting the gutters working, Rose, so that you get that basement dry. Because that’s the only way you’re going to avoid a continuing moisture and potentially a dangerous mold problem in the basement.

    LESLIE: You know, that’s really sad that that happened to her because a lot of times, especially in Queens in New York, a lot of the homes are sort of set up on a small hill and then that sort of goes down out to the street. So when the downspouts come down they might bury them into that hill system to then come directly out to the street or to the concrete sidewalk. And perhaps what’s happened is something’s not even connected properly or that buried pipe is so clogged and was ignored when the new downspout was hooked up to it that there could be a leak in there, you know, in addition to the gutters not working at all.

    TOM: Well, the gutter is really, truly a system and it really has to work from the roof edge right out to the discharge. So certainly if you’re ever running your downspouts into a pipe that runs underground you need to make sure it’s free flowing. If it’s not you could have it snaked out and if you really don’t know what’s there – you know, these drain cleaning companies have cameras that can run down there and I’ve seen those cameras really identify major cracks in those pipes as well. So all of those things plug into the possibility of a gutter system not working right and causing your basement to leak and it all has to be addressed.

    So, sorry that happened to you, Rose. But, really, at this point, I would give up on the so-called Lifetime system that’s not working for you and just get a standard set of gutters and get that water away from the house.

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

    LESLIE: Going to Florida to talk paint with Jeff. How can we help you?

    JEFF: Yes, I’m having a little bit of trouble getting paint to stick to wood frames around the windows.

    TOM: OK.

    JEFF: And also on some of the steel doors on the outside. The sun’s really harsh on our house.

    TOM: OK. If you’re having an adhesion issue, it normally starts with surface preparation. And so, what you’re going to have to do is get off all of the old paint and you’re also going to have to prime. When it comes to a metal door, it’s best to use an oil-based primer; something specialized, like Rust-Oleum, I would recommend for a metal door. For the wood inside you can use KILZ or a product similar to that. And for the best results on the inside I’d also use the oil-based KILZ versus the latex KILZ. Both of them work well but if you have a really difficult surface you’re always better using the oil-based product.

    LESLIE: And there are actually additives, Jeff. If you’re looking to get rid of any brush strokes or roller marks that you might see from as you’re applying the paint or especially on trim work, there are additives called Floetrol or Penetrol – one is for interiors; one is for exteriors – which helps to sort of extend to the wet edge on the brush or roller so you don’t get those markations.

    JEFF: OK. Sounds great. Thank you.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit.

    Hey, did you know that you can have a little Tom and Leslie to go …

    TOM: You can?

    LESLIE: … when you download. Yes, indeed.

    TOM: Can we come in one of those little Chinese food containers? (Tom laughs)

    LESLIE: (laughing) No! You can actually download our super, duper, popular podcast. How many did we have last month, Tom?

    TOM: A hundred-and-twenty-thousand downloads a month now.

    LESLIE: That’s amazing to me.

    TOM: Number one home improvement podcast on iTunes, if I may pat ourselves on the back just for a moment. And …

    LESLIE: I think that’s awesome.

    TOM: It’s cool because, you know, this way you can listen whenever it’s convenient to you.

    LESLIE: And you know what? You can also go to MoneyPit.com. You can check out our listen section. The podcasts are free. You can search them by topic. It is just a ton of information at your fingertips when you are working on that project. So, get that info right where you need it and we’ll be right back.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, are you working on some projects outdoors; maybe decking, maybe some yard work? Or has the air conditioning kept you inside and got you thinking about some home indoor renovations? And maybe you’ve got wall-to-wall carpeting and maybe you’ve even been thinking about replacing it but you might be avoiding it because even though it looks so great when it gets first installed, sometimes it’s kind of hard to keep it that way.

    TOM: You know, I learned that the hard way as I just put carpeting in the second floor of my house and …

    LESLIE: Oh, God. What happened already?

    TOM: Well, we never had, you know, carpeting with the three kids before.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And man, I’ll tell you what.

    LESLIE: And white was probably a bad idea.

    TOM: The thing is the floors were probably just as dirty but we didn’t see it. With carpeting you see everything. So …

    LESLIE: You see everything.

    TOM: … maintaining that carpet is really important if you want it to last. And we have got that topic covered in the next edition of the free Money Pit e-newsletter available online at MoneyPit.com. It goes out every single Friday morning, free to your Money Pit e-mail inbox. So sign up today at MoneyPit.com. You got a carpet cleaning question, we can help you, too, right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

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

    DAN: I have black soot coming out of my heater through the vent, through the wall. It’s a wall mount heater. And it’s all over the outside of my building.

    TOM: Huh. That’s not good. So, this is coming – you say, it’s – is it coming out of the vent for the – through the wall heater?

    DAN: It’s coming out of the vent. I pulled the cover off where the burner is.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    DAN: Down at the bottom.

    TOM: Right.

    DAN: And there’s black soot all over the – I guess you call it a heat exchanger.

    TOM: Dan, you’re talking about this soot being on the outside of the building, correct?

    DAN: Outside of the building and on the – all over the inside of the combustion chamber of the heater.

    TOM: OK, but it’s on the combustion side. It’s not on the house air side, correct?

    DAN: Well, there’s a little bit of black soot even coming into the house.

    TOM: Alright, this isn’t right. It sounds to me like the cause of this problem is an improperly adjusted gas flame; which is why you’re getting so much carbon. But the fact that you’re getting this inside could mean that you have a cracked heat exchanger and that can be very dangerous. So you need to have this system inspected by an experienced person; maybe a person – someone working for the gas company or an HVAC contractor to look at the heat exchanger. Because the life of the furnace is really determined by the life of the heat exchanger.

    And for those that are not familiar with what a heat exchanger is, it basically is what keeps the combustion gas separate from the house air. Imagine a hot water radiator where water circulates inside and air blows over the outside. That’s kind of what happens inside of a gas furnace. But what’s circulating inside of the heat exchanger is combustion gas. That could be …

    LESLIE: So we need to be concerned about carbon monoxide in the house.

    TOM: Correct. Could have carbon monoxide. If the heat exchanger is cracked [or voided] (ph) or rusted out then that could be leaking out and getting into the house air side.

    LESLIE: Do you have a CO detector, Dan?

    TOM: Well, it’s always a good idea to have a CO detector but sometimes CO detectors – you know, it takes an awful lot of gas to make them go off. I would say that you definitely need to get this inspected right away.

    How old is the furnace, Dan?

    DAN: Oh, I’d say four or five years old.

    TOM: It’s not that old. So you probably may just need to be able to get it cleaned. But you’re not going to know until you get all that soot off there and try to figure out what’s going on. It’s definitely not set up right. Dan, get to that right away because it could be dangerous.

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

    LESLIE: Talking to Laura in Indiana. What’s going on at your Money Pit?

    LAURA: Well, I have a small bathroom that when we – my son is the only one that takes a shower in there. And I used the correct wall – the drywall when we built it; the green wall – the wall board.

    LESLIE: The greenboard.

    LAURA: But it still has slight mildew at the top; at the top of the ceiling and the top of the wall. I used some bleach water. I wiped it. I rinsed it. And it still forms. And he does not always use his exhaust fan in there.

    LESLIE: That’s the problem.

    LAURA: (inaudible)

    TOM: I was going to say is he a teenager?

    LAURA: Yes.

    TOM: (laughing) Yeah, sure thing. Well, as Leslie said, that is the problem. Couple of things you could do to control humidity. First of all, you really do need to use the exhaust fan. What you might want to think about doing here, Laura …

    LESLIE: Is it too late to wire the light and the exhaust fan together? (chuckling)

    TOM: That’s exactly what I was thinking. Yep, that’s exactly what I was thinking.

    LESLIE: This way you’re forcing him to use it. (chuckling)

    TOM: Yep, when it – wire – have – and a lot of fans and lights can be set up this way very easily so that whenever you turn the light on the fan comes on. The other thing that you can do is put in what’s called an Ox sensor, which is basically an automatic switch so that whenever there’s movement inside the bathroom the fan comes on. You’ve got the right tools. You just need to get him to do it.

    Now, in terms of what you can do to the existing surface, you are doing the right thing by cleaning it. I would recommend that you use a product called Simple Green, which is very effective at removing mildew and removing mold first. And then, you really want to prime that surface. Use a good quality primer, like a KILZ oil-based primer. And then on top of that, use a kitchen and bath paint. And Behr makes one with NanoGuard technology that’s very, very effective at reducing mold and mildew growth.

    LAURA: OK. So instead of using bleach water use Simple Green?

    TOM: Simple Green, yep.

    LAURA: OK.

    TOM: Works good. And it’s much safer, too.

    LAURA: OK. I will definitely do that.

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

    LESLIE: What is always overhead yet we most often take it for granted?

    TOM: Ah, a Leslie riddle. I love these. I’m going to guess the roof.

    LESLIE: That is correct. And did you know that even though if it’s not raining or snowing your roof is being attacked on a daily basis? Well, we are going to uncover your roof’s biggest enemies and teach you how to protect against them right after this.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is 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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Call us now with your home improvement project. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. It’s free. Just call us. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, and one other thing that’s free. We’re giving away a great prize today to one caller that we talk to. We’ve got to talk to you, so don’t be shy. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT right now because you could win a Stanley Fix It prize package. It’s worth 50 bucks and it comes with three great tools including a 10-bit screwdriver. It is a perfect start for your next DIY adventure.

    TOM: Hey, speaking of DIY adventures, because I think many home improvement projects are an adventure. You know, you never know …

    LESLIE: Even if they don’t start off as one they certainly become one quite easily.

    TOM: (chuckling) That’s right. You know, think about it. It always has sort of an unexpected quality to it. You never know what you’re getting into. (Leslie chuckles)

    One home improvement project that’s probably not as much a DIY project is a roof project. Because it can be dangerous to get up there and work on your roof, so you don’t want to have to do that unless you absolutely have to. You know, your roof is your home’s first line of defense; from all of the weathering elements out there and it’s constantly being attacked day and night, rain or shine; UV radiation; you know, sun, sand, dirt. It all deteriorates the roof. And without proper care your roof is very vulnerable to damage and leaks, which could really cause some big problems.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. And you mentioned heat and UV rays. You know, they really cause roofing materials to deteriorate over time. And this can actually occur faster on the sides facing west or south. And when water gets underneath roof coverings it can really work its way to the roof deck and cause that structure to mildew and then rot out. And high winds, they can lift the edges of your roof’s coverings and force all of that water underneath them getting right into your home.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. When shingles get old and worn they basically curl, split. They lose their waterproofing qualities because the oil that’s in the shingle dries out. And when the shingles get weak like that they are very easily blown off. They can be torn. They can be lifted by wind gusts. And while a lot of these threats can’t be prevented, some can. We recommend that you always use a premium self-adhered waterproof underlayment; something like Grace Ice and Water Shield. It’s an underlayment that goes under the entire roof and it really seals the roof’s surface and keeps the moisture out.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and even though it has a name like Ice and Water Shield, it’s really meant for all parts of the country and all weather conditions, right?

    TOM: Actually, it stopped a lot of leaks in Florida caused by hurricanes basically by putting it in under the roof shingles across the whole surface. Because when the shingles get blown off the roof still stays watertight because it really is self-adhering. It sticks down to the roof. And even if you drive a nail through it, it still stays waterproof. So it’s pretty cool stuff.

    If you want more information on how to waterproof your house with Ice and Water Shield, you can visit the website for the Grace Company which is GraceAtHome.com. They have great tips right there. Or you can call us right now if you have a roof leak question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to John in Utah about a swamp cooler. And you know, Tom, in Utah it’s the only place I’ve ever seen swamp coolers.

    TOM: (chuckling) Is that right?

    LESLIE: And they are pretty darn cool. So John …

    TOM: Yeah, you don’t see them too often anymore.

    LESLIE: John, what’s going on at your house? How can we help?

    JOHN: Well, I got an old swamp cooler that’s rusting out in the pan and so it looks like I have to replace it …

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And there’s a couple different kinds of swamp coolers and I’m trying to decide which one is the best for the top of my house.

    TOM: Alright, what’s your options?

    JOHN: Well, I’ve got, right now, one that’s just got the four sides; the kind you usually see on houses around here and – but there’s another kind called a single-inlet swamp cooler, which I’ve seen them, now, at The Home Depot and so on but I really – I don’t know which one’s better. You know? I’ve heard that the one is better. I know it’s a little more expensive.

    TOM: Well John, first up, let’s kind of define what a swamp cooler is for people that are not familiar with it. A typical refrigeration system uses a refrigerant; Freon or another refrigerant to basically change the temperature in the plumbing system, in the piping system. And they blow air across coils and that’s the way it cools. A swamp cooler is your basic evaporative cooler, where water pours over an evaporative pad; air blows over it and that’s how the cooling process happens.

    Now, the difference between a standard swamp cooler and a single-inlet one is a single-inlet cooler is basically a very, very high-tech version of the old-fashioned swamp cooler. It’s more efficient. The evaporative pads are much, much thicker. It usually has a microprocessor-based thermostat and a timer that controls things like speed, water, run time and the dump functions of the water. And so, basically by buying a single-inlet unit you’re going to have a much more efficient cooling system in your house.

    JOHN: I’ve got you. So it probably is worth the expense then.

    TOM: So I think it probably is worth the expense and that really is going to be the upgrade that’s going to be the appropriate thing for replacement of the old swamp cooler.

    JOHN: Yeah, short of an air conditioner. But we like the humidity. I know my wife sure likes it. (inaudible)

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And they really are so efficient and they do cool quite nicely. You know, we filmed a bunch of episodes of While You Were Out out in Utah in the middle of August and it was hot and those houses were surprisingly cool.

    JOHN: Yeah. Yeah, it really does work most of the time. I mean our old swamp cooler that gets up in the mid-90s is a little bit – you know, it doesn’t – it kind of stops working at that point but I’m hoping this one will handle those 90-degree temperature days, you know?

    TOM: Yeah, and it’s going to handle it a lot more efficiently.

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

    LESLIE: Going to Iowa to talk door repair with Steve. What happened? How can we help?

    STEVE: Hi, I’ve got some hollow-core doors that had holes broken in them before I got the house.

    TOM: OK.

    STEVE: And they’re stained, not painted. And I was wondering if there is a good way to fix them without using like water putty or wood putty; something that wouldn’t match the color.

    TOM: Boy, it’s really hard to repair those. So the door’s actually physically broken in?

    STEVE: Yeah, they’ve got – you know, like somebody’s punched them or something and it’s got holes in it.

    TOM: Yeah.

    STEVE: Are there any – can you put like a veneer over that? Like …

    TOM: Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking about telling you. You could take the door off and put a very thin layer of veneer luan on top of it. I think you can buy it as thin as an eighth-inch.

    STEVE: Great.

    TOM: And then you’re going to want to probably contact cement that on and then refinish that surface.

    LESLIE: Going even thinner than – well, from a luan standpoint, if you go to a specialty lumber shop you can get any kind of wood veneer that is already backed, ready to go. You just use the same thing; contact adhesive. And you can even go with something that has an exotic look. I mean you’re really updating, then, an inexpensive hollow door but, obviously, you want something that’s stained and has that beautiful wood texture to it. And you’ve got a lot of opportunities to really make it special.

    STEVE: So you recommend just veneering it with a thin sheet of veneer?

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Now, the one thing that you’re also going to have to do with this, Steve, is when you rehang the door you’re going to have to adjust the door stops.

    STEVE: Yeah.

    TOM: Because remember, the door’s now going to be a little thicker than what it was before. So you’re going to have to move them to compensate for the thickness of the veneer. But it’s not a terribly hard project to do and it’s going to come out great.

    STEVE: Cool. Well, I appreciate it.

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

    Leslie, some words of wisdom. Sometimes your home can be like an onion.

    LESLIE: Because of all the layers?

    TOM: Yeah, you start peeling away at the layers and sometimes it just makes you want to cry. (laughing)

    LESLIE: (laughing) They always make me cry, as do many home improvement projects.

    TOM: (laughing) Absolutely. Up next, we’re going to tackle a question from an e-mailer about how to handle multiple layers of flooring and hopefully we will not be shedding any tears, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Basement and Masonry Waterproofing Paint with advanced NanoGuard Technology. Combined with simple grading and with draining improvements, it helps prevent water penetration and moisture buildup. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You got a question? We have a solution. And if you can’t reach us on the telephone you can always e-mail us your home improvement question by going to MoneyPit.com and clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie just like Richard did from Rockville Centre, New York.

    LESLIE: Alright. Richard writes: ‘I have three layers of vinyl tiles on my kitchen floor. What is the best way to remove them and then install a ceramic tile floor?’

    TOM: Well, first of all, Richard, I don’t know that you have to remove them.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I don’t think he has to remove all of them.

    TOM: Unless, you know, there’s an issue of like the thickness of it you can go right on top of it. Another reason that you might want to remove them is if they are not adhered very well because then you …

    LESLIE: And there’s a lot of unevenness or unsteadiness.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. If you do want to remove them, there’s only one way to do it; the hard way. (chuckling) And that is basically by breaking them up and getting in under like sort of one edge of it. And you’re really going to have to peel them off one layer at a time. There’s no quick solution for removing vinyl tile. There’s a lot of glue and stuff.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and then once you get down to even just like your glue layer over there …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: … you might want to then put some sort of level of luan or a quarter-inch ply …

    TOM: Right, exactly.

    LESLIE: … or something to even it out. Because if you’re going with ceramic tile, any sort of unsteadiness below that tile, you’re going to get that grout cracking and possibly even the tile to crack.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. So you really – you might even want to think, if it’s a bit uneven now, you can put an additional layer of luan plywood – thin, quarter-inch plywood – on top of the existing shingles to kind of give you a neutral surface and go up from there.

    And also, before you let your tile contractor start, make sure that the floor is strong enough to support the size tile that you’re going to put on it. If you’re going to put a really wide tile, like a 12-inch wide or an 18-inch wide tile, you really need to have good support because if not, that tile will crack. Even though it might seem solid right now …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … if you don’t have proper support it’s going to crack. So I think the best thing to do is to go on top of it if you possibly can and make sure you have proper support.

    LESLIE: Alright. Kate in Rochester, New Hampshire writes: ‘I have a home with textured ceilings. It’s not as bad as the old popcorn type but it does have some sand in it. I’m redoing a room and would love to have a nice, flat ceiling. Is it possible to remove the sand without damaging the sheetrock it’s attached to?’

    TOM: Probably, Kate, what you’re going to need to do is spray down the ceiling with some water. I would do this with sort of like a pump-up garden sprayer. Work in a small section at a time. Spray it, get it wet and then use a …

    LESLIE: Cover up everything in that room.

    TOM: Oh, absolutely. It’s a big, stinking, messy job; I will tell you that. And then go ahead and scrape it away with like a spackle knife. And after you’re all done you really, really, really need to prime it. Because if not, you’re not going to have a neutral surface for the next layer of paint to go on top of.

    LESLIE: And also, if you notice any unevenness, make sure you use a very flat paint because that’ll do the best job at masking any of those messy, uneven surfaces.

    TOM: Well, if there’s one thing that summer is famous for it’s garden work. But before you run out and replace those rusty garden tools, take a minute to give them a second look. It could be that they just need a little TLC and that is the topic of today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. Save your money. Buy more plants and buy perennials, folks. They come back every year. Annuals, gorgeous; perennials, last and last forever. And you can save those garden tools by doing just a little bit of elbow grease and working a little bit hard to keep your garden tools and shovels clean and sharp.

    First off, remove any rust with some steel wool or some sandpaper. Then you want to file the edges of your tools to keep them nice and sharp because a good, sharp edge is going to do wonderful work for you in the yard. Then make sure you coat those metal surfaces with a lubricating oil to prevent the rust from returning. Also, while you’re at it, sand those wooden handles so you get a nice, smooth grip. And you can coat them with a linseed oil to help keep that wood conditioned. Or, if you’re like me and you tend to lose small tools around the yard, go ahead and paint those handles a vibrant color so that they really stand out during your yard work. And believe me, a little bit of TLC on those tools will keep them working hard all season long, year after year. It’s worth it, folks.

    TOM: And we are here to support you with a little TLC in terms of home improvement advice. Remember you can call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Our phones are always open. Remember, you can also visit MoneyPit.com 24/7 for home improvement tips as well.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    (theme song)


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

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