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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

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    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.)

    BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:

    Hi, this is Tom Kraeutler and thanks for listening to the show. Hey, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about a cool contest we’re running right now with our friends at Therma-Tru. It’s called the Ugliest Door in America contest and two of our listeners could win a brand new, completely installed entry door worth up to $5,000. Entering is super easy, too, at MyUglyDoor.com. So if your front door, back door or patio door is looking a little worse for wear, log onto MyUglyDoor.com and you can enter to win a beautiful new entry door from Therma-Tru. That’s MyUglyDoor.com.

    (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 right now with your home improvement question. Call us right now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Reach out and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We’re here to help you get the job done.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you this hour. Coming up first, surge protection. You know, we have so many electrical appliances in our house and we have such an unreliable power system sometimes. We’re always getting surges, brownouts, blackouts; you name it. How does that impact your electrical appliances? Well, it can make them go kaput; especially the computers, the cell phones that are plugged in, the flatscreen TVs. If you don’t have proper surge protection they’re at risk of damage. We’re going to tell you how to make sure they are safe.

    LESLIE: And speaking of electrical appliances, also ahead this hour we’re going to talk to you about satellite dishes. If you’ve got them you might not realize they take a little bit of maintenance. Number one, you want to make sure they’re properly aligned but you also want to make sure that they’re properly installed so during these summer storms they don’t become airborne and then dip through a window. We’ve got that coming up.

    TOM: Satellite dishes make lousy Frisbees.

    LESLIE: Yeah. (chuckling) And large ones. (laughing)

    TOM: Plus, a kitchen or a bath makeover is still the best project for your home improvement buck but with a bad economy many homeowners are shifting to home improvements that are more practical; like replacing windows.

    LESLIE: That’s why we’re going to tell you why windows are a great investment and what kind of new windows are out there a little bit later on the program.

    TOM: And we’re giving away the Sync-It outdoor water station with hose from Ames True Temper. It’s worth 50 bucks. So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Heading out to California to talk to Carol. What’s going on at your money pit?

    CAROL: I have a brick hearth fireplace and it has – just on the hearth itself it has a fine layer of what looks like dust but it isn’t dust. When I tried to wash it off, as it dried the white reappeared. I’m not sure what product to use and I thought I’d talk to somebody like yourself who might guide me in that way.

    LESLIE: Well, have you tried white vinegar and water?

    CAROL: No I haven’t.

    LESLIE: Because that …

    CAROL: You think that would do it?

    LESLIE: It works amazingly well on any sort of mineral deposit that you would see on a concrete wall, around a faucet and it makes it go away lickety-split.

    CAROL: And it won’t damage the brick?

    LESLIE: No.

    CAROL: OK. Alright, I definitely will give that a try. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Bill in Wisconsin needs some help repairing stucco. How can we help you today?

    BILL: Hi. Yes, I have a stucco problem in my house. Matter of fact it’s breaking off in certain places; at least the topcoat is.

    TOM: Is it concrete stucco, Bill, or is it a drivet product?

    BILL: No, it’s concrete.

    TOM: OK.

    BILL: This is an old house. This house was probably built in the early 1900s …

    TOM: Wow.

    BILL: … and it’s been on there since then …

    TOM: OK.

    BILL: … and it’s sort of the last project that I’m – I’ve remodeled the house completely and this is kind of the last project and it’s a rather difficult one because I’m not sure exactly how to fix this. I know there are some new products out there but I’m not familiar with them and I can’t really find a lot of information.

    TOM: Alright, what’s exactly happening to the stucco? Are you seeing the metal screening below? What does it look like now?

    BILL: No, actually I’m only seeing the – I know that stucco goes on in like three coats -a scratch coat and a main body and then a topcoat – and this topcoat is what is breaking off in several places.

    TOM: OK. Bill, I would use an epoxy patching compound. If it’s only coming off in several places like that I would use an epoxy compound that’s designed for stucco and then I would repaint the surface and you’ll get good adhesion in those spaces.

    BILL: OK, so do I have to put anything special on there to make it stick to that?

    TOM: No, that’s the advantage of using the epoxies. It’s not concrete. It’s a much stickier application.

    LESLIE: And there’s no prep; no pulling away anything that’s loose or any sort of sanding or scuffing up of a region to make it more prone to adhesion?

    TOM: In the old days you’d have to do all that but in this case, as long as it’s clean and dry it should adhere right to it just fine. You know, QUIKRETE makes great products that will do just that. Check out their website at QUIKRETE.com.

    BILL: OK, I’ll do that. And one other question concerning that same project. Once I get that repair is there a special paint that I can use to spray on it?

    TOM: Well, you could have it sprayed or you could, you know, brush paint it or roll paint it. That’s really just an application question. But any exterior grade paint is going to work for that that’s rated for stucco.

    BILL: Alright, thanks for your help. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome. 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 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: We never sleep around here. Here to take your question whenever it’s on your mind and if I’m not in just ask for Leslie. (Leslie chuckles)

    Up next, satellite dishes provide a wide range of programming but maintaining them requires a bit of fine-tuning. We’re going to tell you exactly what to do, after this.

    (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: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, pick up the phone and dial that magic number, 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because one caller who asks their question on the air this hour is going to automatically get entered into our random prize drawing. Up for grabs this hour is the Sync-It outdoor water station plus a hose from Ames True Temper. It’s a unique product that can turn any outdoor spigot into a sink so you can clean up your garden tools, your shoes, whatever; even give the dog a bath, if you’ve got a little dog, maybe. It’s a package worth 50 bucks so pick up the phone and give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Let’s talk a bit now about satellite dishes. You know, a lot of us have these. It’s a great addition to a home theatre system or even just the family tube-watching station; wherever that is in your house. But if you’ve got a satellite dish there are a few channels of maintenance, so to speak, you need to watch out for.

    First, remember that strong winds may move a dish out of alignment over time. The lines can also become damaged or waterlogged. You need to pay attention to those details to make sure that you have clear reception.

    Also make sure that the dish is securely fastened to the roof and that it’s done so in a way that does not cause water to leak through that space. Many times these dishes aren’t fastened and aren’t sealed; those fasteners are not sealed. What’ll happen is you’ll get some rot in the roof structure right around it and you won’t know it until the dish actually flies off the roof. So a good thing to do is to have a handyman — if you’re not handy enough to go up on the roof yourself – to check the plywood around – the roof sheathing, I should say, around where the satellite dish attaches to make sure it’s not getting soft and delaminated. Now you can also do this from the underside if you look at the attic and look up. Look for any signs of water intrusion. Make sure it stays nice and tight and rot-free and your dish will be good to go for a long, long time.

    Hey, do you have a home improvement question? Is your roof leaking? Is your floor squeaking? Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Heading up to the attic with Richard in Texas. What can we do for you?

    RICHARD: Yes, I’m looking at building a new home and I’ve been reading quite a bit about unventilated attics and just wondering what are the benefits; what is the drawback. Because the attic temperature is what I used to fight up in Minnesota with cold; it’s now heat in Texas.

    LESLIE: Don’t you need the circulation of air through the attic to sort of help control the air throughout – you know, the conditioning throughout the rest of the space?

    RICHARD: Well, they’re saying that where you like totally seal off the attic your home and your attic never gets more than a five to ten-degree temperature difference.

    TOM: The answer to your question, Richard, depends on where the insulation is. Now if the insulation is above the attic, so to speak, which basically makes the attic really conditioned space as opposed to unconditioned space, which is the way it normally is done; if that, in fact, is conditioned space, then the temperature up there is going to be fairly consistent with what the interior temperature of the home is.

    RICHARD: Correct.

    TOM: Now, that’s one way to do it. The other way to do it is to use a traditional vented attic. Where I see most contractors go wrong is that they don’t put enough venting in the attic. They put small vents; just soffit vents; maybe a couple of roof vents. What we have found is that if you use a continuous ridge and soffit vent that goes all the way down through the soffits on the both sides of the home and all the way down through the ridge then what you, in effect, create is a 24/7/365 venting system where the air gets sucked out of the ridge and pushed into the soffits and always keeps that attic very comfortable.

    So those are two different ways to go. Which one you choose is going to depend a lot on your builder and which way they’re accustomed to working but I think that they’ll both work.

    LESLIE: There’s actually a great resource online; it’s BuildingScience.com and if you go to their website and go through the resources you can find an article on roofing and roofs and there’s a full scientific study on vented and unvented attic spaces.

    RICHARD: OK. Very good. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Heading out to Oregon to talk with Sheree about rust stains. What happened?

    SHEREE: Hi. Yeah, I have a concrete slab patio in my backyard and I think the fertilizer has caused some staining on the patio that looks rust-colored and I’m wondering if there’s a product or a process that will remove those stains for me.

    TOM: Do you have a sprinkler system?

    SHEREE: I do.

    TOM: I doubt it’s the fertilizer that’s causing the rust. It’s probably just the rust that’s coming up through the sprinkler system. Do you have well water?

    SHEREE: Oh. No, uh-uh. Runs through the city water.

    TOM: Well regardless, I think that you can clean it with a solution of TSP; trisodium phosphate.

    SHEREE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: Available at hardware stores, home centers. Mix up a fairly strong solution. Use a brush, like a bristle brush on a stick.

    SHEREE: OK.

    TOM: Scrub it in a little bit; rinse it off. That ought to brighten it up. And make sure you direct those sprinkler heads so that the water does not reach the patio because I think you’re going to find that you’re pulling up some iron from the ground and that’s probably what’s causing this rust stain.

    SHEREE: Yeah, it does seem to be around the edge of the patio, too; so that could be. OK, well thanks. I really appreciate.

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

    LESLIE: Steve in Louisiana has a question about a patio situation gone wrong. What happened?

    STEVE: Hey, Tom, Leslie. I broke my patio.

    LESLIE: How?!

    TOM: Yeah, and the note here says you broke the patio while cutting down a tree. That must have been some event there, Steve.

    STEVE: I had a large pine tree just to the south of the patio …

    TOM: Right.

    STEVE: … and we hired a contractor to come in and drop the tree, which he did; and he dropped it over the corner.

    TOM: Oh, I see.

    STEVE: And we didn’t notice it at the time and it cracked it and the patio is 24×20 and it was on the outside corner and it runs about, oh, four-and-a-half feet up one side; about four feet up the other side [so a triangle piece] (ph).

    TOM: OK.

    STEVE: And at the time it was a little more than a hairline crack.

    TOM: Right.

    STEVE: We didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. He put a planter on it. We didn’t notice it. (Leslie chuckles) Well, we put half of a whiskey barrel on there …

    TOM: Right.

    STEVE: … full of dirt and stuff and I guess over time …

    TOM: Kind of weighted it.

    LESLIE: And that got really heavy.

    TOM: Yeah.

    STEVE: The weight had pushed it down. Now keep in mind too, off of the patio the backyard slopes away at, I don’t know, a 20, 25-degree angle, I guess.

    TOM: Right.

    STEVE: And over time it has sunken down to where I’ve probably got an inch gap in it and the pitch on it now probably drops two or three inches.

    TOM: Wow.

    STEVE: Yeah.

    TOM: OK.

    STEVE: Now the surface of the patio is a rock surface; you know, where they put the heavy aggregate in there and then spray it down …

    TOM: Right.

    STEVE: … after you lay it, so it’s got the rock surface. We thought about – way after the fact – thought about like a QUIKRETE kind of [a feel; the little cement] (ph) but that wouldn’t work other than just to fill with cement.

    TOM: Well, what you need here is an epoxy patching compound.

    LESLIE: Can you go that deep with it?

    TOM: Yeah, and it will solidify and – you know, the patching compounds actually have a little bit of substance to – a little density to them. so you can very carefully trowel it in there. Coloring could be an issue. It may look like a seam repair. The way you can get around that is to use a dye; perhaps a grout dye or a concrete dye to try to bring it in close to the color that it is right now, Steve.

    STEVE: OK. We appreciate it. You guys have a great day.

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

    LESLIE: We’re going to have a chimney chat with John in Iowa. What can we do for you?

    JOHN: I had a roofing company come and they reseated and they threw the old shingles off; reseated the roof. But I’m having problems around my chimney. We’ve been getting a lot of weather here lately and I’ve noticed some leakage, so I got up there and I kind of looked at their work and there appears to be – you know, when they built the house – it’s a cinder-block chimney, it’s square and the flashing as embedded right in the mortar joint.

    TOM: Right.

    JOHN: Well, they put their – I guess I – their step flashing, you know, on the shingles. And their kind of coming away from the top and I think water is – I think that’s where the water is getting in.

    TOM: Did they try to reuse the old flashing.

    JOHN: Yes.

    TOM: That’s what I suspected. Yeah, you know, they just went lazy on you, John, and really what you have to do here is tear out the old flashing and then reflash it and you can probably use the same groove in the chimney to insert the edge of the flashing. But what you need is base flashing and counter flashing. Base flashing goes between the shingles and up against the side of the chimney and counter flashing is notched into the chimney and then it covers the base flashing. And that system works together and expands and contracts and keeps it very water tight. But if they did not do that and they tried to sort of jam the shingles into the old stuff, that was a real lazy, sloppy thing to do and I’m not the least bit surprised you have leaks. You need somebody to go up there and redo that flashing properly and that will stop it from happening.

    JOHN: So there’s no quick fix. You know, I thought there might be a …

    TOM: There’s no quick fix. You can go up there and slap on some roof cement and you’ll be right back at it in another year; absolutely guaranteed. It just won’t work.

    JOHN: OK.

    TOM: The key here, John, is to do it once, do it right and not do it again and these guys didn’t do the job.

    JOHN: Well, that explains it.

    TOM: Alright, John. Sorry we can’t give you better news but you’ve got to get it done right and then it’ll be good for the long haul. OK?

    JOHN: OK, very good.

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

    Sometimes we give you good news and sometimes we don’t.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and there’s nothing you can do there because it’s sort of, you know, a system that’s laid on top of one another.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, that’s why if you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on a home repair like that it’s not a bad idea to make sure it’s inspected by the town or inspected by an independent professional home inspector before you cut the check; because now I’m sure this roofer is long gone and John’s going to have to pay somebody else to redo all that flashing on his chimney.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit.

    Hey, you know we love to give stuff away. Well this time we are getting you in on a potentially huge windfall for your house. If you enter into the Ugliest Door in America contest – it’s sponsored by Therma-Tru Doors – you could win a brand, spanking new door for your back, your side, your patio, your front. Whatever gets you in and out of the house, they will replace it for free.

    TOM: And you’ve got to do it right now because this is the last weekend of the Ugliest Door in America contest. Details at MyUglyDoor.com and, by the way, you don’t just get the door and we say, ‘See ya.’ We actually install the door for you.

    LESLIE: Oh, well how convenient. (chuckles)

    TOM: Exactly. So if you have a front door, a side door, a back door, a patio door; maybe your Mom’s door or your Dad’s door …

    LESLIE: A doggy door. (chuckles)

    TOM: … maybe your neighbor’s door, but not your cat door – that you’re on your own with – go to MyUglyDoor.com and send us a couple of photos. The entry details are right there. You can send a couple of photos of the door, short essay about why you may have the ugliest door in America and do it today because it’s the last weekend for this contest. You could win a brand new entryway from Therma-Tru worth up to 5,000 bucks.

    Hey, while you’re on that site – MyUglyDoor.com – check out the before and after of the winners from some of the past years. The transformation is absolutely dramatic and that could be you if you’re the winner of the Ugliest Door in America contest. Details at MyUglyDoor.com. Do it today.

    LESLIE: Alright, well hurry up because when you get back from putting in your entry we are going to have the ins and outs of replacement windows. Talk to you in a bit.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic; the all-natural, super-strong air freshener available in spray and solid form. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement question. Call us right now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    You know, we all love to do home makeovers. New kitchens, baths; all still very popular improvements. But with a sluggish economy we need to be more careful about the home improvements that we select and make sure they give us a great return on investments. Replacing your windows is a project that certainly would.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and not only are they a great return on your investment but they also make your homes more energy efficient, so we love to take this on as a home improvement project. In the end you’re going to see new windows saving you a ton of money on your energy bills and replacement windows usually return at least 80 percent of the investment cost when it comes time to sell your home. So that’s not bad. In fact, joining us with some more info about new windows is Kathy Krafka Harkema from Pella.

    Welcome, Kathy.

    KATHY: Glad to be hear and it’s a great time to talk about new windows to take a bite out of your utility bills.

    TOM: Well, it certainly is and Kathy, I want to start by asking you about how you actually do comparison window shopping because we hear so many claims by not only major manufacturers such as yourselves but, you know, the replacement window folks that are out there; you know, ‘you’ll save X percent on energy efficiency.’ If a consumer is faced with all of these competing messaging out there, how do you kind of break it down and make that apples-to-apples comparison when you want to make a smart window decision?

    KATHY: Well, there are a number of factors that you can look for because replacing windows can be a scary fact. You want to look for the best quality for the best value and ways you do that are start by a brand that you can trust and people that you can trust. For example, the people that you buy your windows from today you’d like to be there 10 years from now should you want to add a new option to those windows.

    TOM: And that’s such an important point because how many times do we get a call from someone who has purchased, say, from a local window company that’s no longer in business and now they seals are bad on their Thermal Pane windows.

    LESLIE: And that’s been happening a year or two after they’ve purchased the new windows.

    KATHY: That’s why it’s important to do business with someone that’s been in business and has a good warranty and also offers installation service so that you can get the full package of value. When you’re shopping and comparing labels, the best thing to look for in terms of energy efficiency is the Energy Star and that symbolizes the most energy-efficient products and then you can go beyond that and compare the National Fenestration Rating Council or NFRC labels. But that could be a lot of information. That’s why you want to do business with somebody that’s a dedicated representative that knows windows; that knows your needs; can help you sort through the various options. You’ll also want to look for low-e glass as a great way to help protect those furnishings inside your home from fading and it’s helpful to have a dedicated representative, like a Pella representative, that can help you; either come into your home and view your existing windows and take measurements and then travel to the Pella showroom and see the various options that you have. And Pella even provides in-home consultations – evening appointments – to make it as easy for you as possible.

    TOM: We’re talking to Kathy Krafka Harkema. She’s a spokesperson for Pella Windows and Doors.

    And Kathy, I noticed that Pella was the Energy Star Partner of the Year for windows for the last two years. So that’s quite a compliment, getting that from the folks at Energy Star.

    When it comes time to actually make that window decision, how do you decide between whether you should use a replacement window or a new construction window? Are there advantages to using a new construction-style window even though it’s a little more complicated to install?

    KATHY: Sure. Part of it is going to depend on the type of renovation. For example, if you’re removing the existing siding or adding a completely new addition onto your home, a new construction window might be your best option. But if, say, you’ve got beautiful woodwork or trim inside your home. You may want to go for what’s called a Pella Pocket replacement window and if your existing window frame is in good condition – and by that we mean no rotting or leaking or, you know, moisture coming in around that window cavity – you may be able to go with a pocket replacement that is a new window that fits in the existing opening but allows you to keep that interior woodwork and trim and wallpaper intact.

    LESLIE: You know, Kathy, how do you know that it’s time? Does your window give you some sort of symptoms or signs that it does need to be replaced?

    KATHY: Sure. Things to look for to know when it’s time a window could go are peeling paint on the exterior of the window or you might see signs of moisture leaking in or around the window either from the interior or the exterior. That’s a sign to look at that window possibly needing to go and being replaced.

    LESLIE: And so the current energy failure that you might be feeling around the window itself or through the panes of glass, does that sort of also dictate, rather than the construction situation, which type of replacement or new construction window might be best for you?

    KATHY: That’s where you need to get a Pella expert to come in and take a look because it may be a case that air is getting in within the sashes or movable parts of the window or it may be around the window itself. Or a simple trick that a homeowner can also try is light a candle around a window and watch where that candle flame flickers to see where air is coming in around it or a lot of times the air infiltration is so bad you can feel it with your hand and feel is it coming in around the parts of the window or around the exterior itself. And either way you’re losing energy and when you’re losing energy you’re losing money.

    TOM: And you’re just not comfortable. Kathy Krafka Harkema, spokesperson for Pella – and Pella is the Energy Star Partner of the Year for windows for the last two years. So good advice from some real experts. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KATHY: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright, well another thing windows are good for; storm protection and speaking of which, each year lightning strikes cost millions of dollars of damage to electrical systems inside your home. Find out how to protect yours, right after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters, you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And is your front door a disaster? What about your back door; your side door; your patio door? Is it ugly? Yes, you say? Well you’re in luck because this is the final weekend for our Ugliest Door in America contest sponsored by Therma-Tru and if you send in a couple of photos of your ugly door to the MyUglyDoor.com website you might just find yourself the winner of a $5,000 entryway makeover, which is super nice, from Therma-Tru Doors. You’ve got to go to this website, Leslie, and see the before and after to really appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Oh, they’re amazing. And guys, you know, the doors really don’t have to be in like the worst shape. They can be nonfunctioning. They can just be ugly to you. Every door has its own story and you can enter by video or by photo with a small essay. Be creative. This is the last weekend. Get in on this contest because it could be you; you never know. Why can’t you win?

    TOM: The website is MyUglyDoor.com. Do it today. MyUglyDoor.com.

    And speaking of great prizes, we’re giving one away today on the radio show. It’s the Sync-It outdoor water station from Ames True Temper. Going to go to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Jane in South Carolina has a roofing question. What’s going on?

    JANE: Well, the situation is we have a leak in our roof. It comes down behind our front door and it’s in a corner behind the front door and every time we talk to a roofer, bring a roofer over, they want to replace the whole roof …

    TOM: Yeah, let me guess.

    JANE: … for something that’s obviously in the well between the garage and the porch.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    JANE: So what can I do or not do?

    TOM: Well, first of all you’re not talking to the right roofers. What you have here is a flashing problem. You have some element of the intersection of the garage and the porch where it’s leaking. Replacing the roof is ridiculous when all you have is a leak in a flashing area so you need to find somebody that’s a good technician that can diagnose it this and is willing to fix that. The kinds of products that you need here are flashing products. What I would suggest is the website for the Grace folks. Those guys make Ice & Water Shield and different types of stretch flashing materials. It’s GraceAtHome.com. I think what you’re going to need is one of their flexible flashing products to seal in that space underneath the roof shingles and that will stop it once and for all. But keep in mind, Jane, to do this you’re going to have to pull off the shingles and then install the flashing product and then reshingle that area.

    JANE: OK. Alright. Thank you so much.

    TOM: But you definitely don’t need a new roof.

    JANE: Thank you. That’s what we figured.

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

    LESLIE: Stewart in Texas has a counter question for us. What can we do for you?

    STEWART: Hi, I have a house that’s about four years old and it has granite countertops in the kitchen. The granite though, it’s not as smooth as what I would really like it to be. When I run my hand across it I can feel small voids in it. It’s not like it’s been worn. It’s like it was that way even when they first put it in and just never did anything more with it. Is there something that can be done like to either grind that down more to get rid of the voids?

    LESLIE: Well you feel like a space; almost as if like a piece has been chipped out. Correct?

    STEWART: Correct.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you have to – this is sort of like the myth about granite countertops that no one tells you. They need to be resealed every year. Because when they cut the granite it ends up having these like chips and gouges all through it and then they put like a clear resin sort of heavy coating over it that fills in all these spaces and gives you that nice, smooth, super-glossy surface and that wears down, you know, annually with cleaning; with improper cleaning products. And so once a year you do need to reseal it.

    STEWART: OK, and that’ll fill back in those voids then?

    LESLIE: It absolutely will.

    STEWART: OK, and you don’t have to worry about the product getting up into food things that you’re chopping up on the counter or anything like that?

    TOM: No, not once it dries.

    STEWART: OK. OK, well thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: You’ve got The Money Pit and if you can hear us that means your power is on. (Tom laughs) Good for you.

    TOM: Here’s a clue.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Exactly. But power surges – seriously, these things can knock off all kinds of computer equipment; cable boxes, everything offline. And what’s worse, a surge could ruin expensive equipment for good. You need to protect yourself. You want to consider installing in your home a surge arrestor. It offers whole-house protection because it safeguards hard-wired equipment like your air conditioning systems or even appliances that can’t be protected by those plug-in surge devices that you get at, you know, the home centers or the office supply shops. You know, an electrician can install an arrestor for between $100 and $200 but when you think about all of the major appliances in your home that could potentially be damaged, destroyed, ruined you are looking at saving thousands of dollars. Invest that little bit of money and be really happy when something does not go wrong.

    TOM: And by the way, this is something that you could purchase and have professionally installed. It’s not something, on the other hand, that you have to rent from the utility company. I’ve noticed now, Leslie, that a lot of utility companies are offering sort of rental of these surge arrestors where they’ll charge you, I don’t know, five, ten bucks a month to put one on your house. It’s not something that you rent. It’s something that you buy and have professionally installed and you’re done with it. They really don’t wear out and it’s an easy thing and an inexpensive thing for a professional electrician to do.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    Up next, tips on how to cure water stains. Had a leaky roof? We’ll tell you how to get rid of the stains that follow, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and if you love surfing the web I’ve got a great website for you. It’s MoneyPit.com. I bet you knew I was going to say that. (Tom chuckles) But I’m sure you have been there several times; snooping around, looking for projects, getting ideas. Well maybe at that exact moment when you’re online a question pops into your head. If that happens you are in luck, my friends. Click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and then e-mail us your question and we will answer them like we do every hour of the program at this time and I’ve got one here from Susan in Mars Hill, North Carolina who writes: ‘We have black stains on our ceiling. We want to remove them. I tried to clean them; I painted over them and then the stains seeped right back through the new paint. What can I do to make them gone for good?’

    TOM: First, fix the roof leak, Susan.

    LESLIE: Yeah, seriously.

    TOM: Assuming that that’s been done, it’s not unusual for the leak stains or the water stains to come through regular paint. What you have to do is you have to prime over those stains. Now, if it’s a small area you can do what’s called spot priming which is just painting over that one tight little area. But if it’s a fairly wide stain, then I would recommend priming the entire ceiling and here’s why. When you prime just that one big, wide spot, it makes the ceiling so impervious in that area that you get a slightly different sheen after you put the topcoat on it and it’ll be noticeable even after the topcoat is on it. So in that situation I would prime the entire ceiling. Use a good-quality primer. Oil-based primer is probably best. We’d recommend KILZ or a product similar to that.

    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got one here from Jason in Charlotte, North Carolina who writes: ‘I had to replace some damaged vinyl siding. The existing siding is 10 years old. The new panels are glossy whereas the old ones are dull and chalky. What can I do to make the old ones shine like the new?’

    TOM: Well, I suspect that all the siding was the same sheen, so to speak, when it first went on but what you’ve got here is exposure to the elements that caused the original stuff to dull. What I would suggest is this: I would pick the least visible area of your house. I would take some panels off of that and use it in the most visible areas of your house and put the newer panels in that area that’s not quite as visible so at least it’s somewhat hidden as it wears and tears and sort of comes into the same sheen as everything else.

    LESLIE: You know what, Jason? If you can also get your hands on any composite deck cleaning products, give that a try on the vinyl siding. It tends to bring it back to new life as well.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show broadcasting to friends, Romans and countrymen. (Leslie chuckles) Hey, speaking of Romans, Leslie has got some window treatment tips with today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and I’m not talking about Italian people here. (Tom laughs) I’m talking about window shades. If you are looking for a simple yet elegant window treatment that’s totally your own, head to any home center; major store; crafting center. I want to say the names of the stores but you know I’m not allowed. (Tom chuckles) Go to Target; they’ve got good ones. Pier One. Look online. You can find inexpensive Roman shades; I’m talking, you know, maybe $20 for a window. And then head to the crafting store. You know, look at super-wide grosgrain ribbon or even decorative trimmings or that fun rickrack or any sort of piping. Look for all these trimmings that really just appeal to you and anything that’s going to be easy to attach with those iron-on sort of fusible bondings and then go ahead and dress up that inexpensive Roman shade that you’ve just picked up. Put them on the bottom; put it on the sides; make it as a decorative trim that sort of dangles off the bottom. It really will look beautiful. It takes something that’s super simple and makes it really work with your space. It looks as if you’ve hired an interior designer who has made you spend a ton of money on something really fancy but in the end you did it yourself, it looks great and it was inexpensive.

    TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, picnic season is here but along with great food comes hard-to-remove stains. We’re going to give you some tips on how to get rid of grease, ketchup, barbecue sauce from furniture and clothes on the next edition of this program.

    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)

    TRANSCRIPT FOR JUNE 23, 2008, HOUR 1

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

    BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:

    Hi, this is Tom Kraeutler and thanks for listening to the show. Hey, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about a cool contest we’re running right now with our friends at Therma-Tru. It’s called the Ugliest Door in America contest and two of our listeners could win a brand new, completely installed entry door worth up to $5,000. Entering is super easy, too, at MyUglyDoor.com. So if your front door, back door or patio door is looking a little worse for wear, log onto MyUglyDoor.com and you can enter to win a beautiful new entry door from Therma-Tru. That’s MyUglyDoor.com.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And your home improvement projects just got a little bit easier because we’re here to help. Pick up the phone and let us help you out at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Hey, coming up this hour, summer time means an extra demand on the local power grid. Is your home ready in case of a blackout? Well, we’re going to get you blackout-ready in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And if you’re hopping all over your sidewalk to avoid stepping on a crack that’s going to break your mama’s back we’ll tell you how to fix those unsightly and potentially dangerous cracks once and for all.

    TOM: And here’s an appliance that’s probably working overtime right about now; your air conditioner. We’re going to have a quick tip to help it from working too hard. It’s going to save you some money on those cooling bills.

    LESLIE: And we’re giving away a Ryobi circular saw. It’s worth about 40 bucks and you can tackle a lot of projects with it.

    TOM: So let’s get cracking. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Hey, you must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask us to quality for that giveaway of the Ryobi circular saw going out to one caller who reaches us this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get going.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: John in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JOHN: Yeah, I’ve had my septic system – it’s a 30-year old house. It’s been inspected twice and everything’s fine, they tell me. But sometimes in extremely cold weather I can smell an odor and I told the septic people that and they said it’s from the vent stack. I don’t know if you ever heard of anything like that.

    TOM: Well, depending on the design of your roof, I’ve heard of winds in certain conditions sort of taking that sewage gas smell and pushing it down close to the ground where you can actually smell it.

    JOHN: OK.

    TOM: And if that’s what’s happening and it’s seasonal; it happens in odd weather conditions, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    JOHN: Yeah, because what happens is like if there’s snow – like up here where I live in, in the Albany, New York area, there’s a lot of snow and if there’s any snow on the roof, all around the vent stack it’s completely melted; you know, during the winter.

    TOM: Right.

    JOHN: So I guess it’s – I guess it’s the gas that’s being pushed out.

    TOM: That’s probably what’s happening and it doesn’t indicate that you need to make any repairs.

    JOHN: OK.

    TOM: Just don’t invite your friends over on those cold days, OK? (Leslie chuckles)

    JOHN: I know, tell me about it. (Tom chuckles) OK, I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Susan in Tennessee has a situation in the basement. What happened?

    SUSAN: Yes, my mother lives in Tennessee and I’m calling for her and she lives close to the Mississippi River and she has a basement which is – it’s a partial basement, I guess you’d say. She has windows that are above the ground. And while she was gone we had so much rain and her sump pump got stopped up and water has seeped into the basement. We’ve gotten the water out but we want to know what to do about that damp, musty smell. How can we get rid of that and do we know if there’s any mold or mildew down there? How can we treat that?

    TOM: Well, you’re not going to know until you actually inspect it but in terms of the smell, that’s going to stem from humidity and moisture reacting with dirt and other things that are down there. You’re probably going to need to add some sort of dehumidification. Now do you have a forced air heating system in that house, do you know?

    SUSAN: Yes.

    TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what a good thing would be for you to add and that’s called a whole-house dehumidifier. Now these are made by different companies. Aprilaire makes a really good one and I actually work with that product and it takes out like – isn’t it like 90 pints of …

    LESLIE: Ninety pints.

    TOM: Yeah, 90 pints of water a day.

    LESLIE: And it’s not something that you have to continually empty. It dumps itself, essentially. So it takes the work out of it and it constantly kicks on and comes on in the areas where it needs the most dehumidification in your home, so it’ll constantly work in that basement until it takes that moisture to a proper level.

    TOM: And the other thing to do is – and I know she lives near the Mississippi, but when you have a lot of rain you also get surface water that drains in there. So make sure that your gutter system is clean, that the downspouts are extended away from the foundation and that the soil around the outside of that wall slopes away from the house.

    SUSAN: OK.

    TOM: Because you also get humidity and moisture that comes down from rainwater in addition to any water that’s going to come up.

    SUSAN: OK, well thanks so much. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned in to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, pick up the phone; let us know what you’re working on and we can help you get that job done right. Give us a call with your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week whenever that home improvement light bulb goes ding up over your head at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Hey, it’s summer time which means the electricity is probably working overtime with all the air conditioning going on around the neighborhood. We also have summer storms to deal with and that can add up to a blackout. Is your home ready when the lights go out? Well, you can generate a solution. We’ll tell you how to do just that, next.

    (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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only are you going to get the answer to your burning home improvement question but you will get a chance to win a pretty great prize that you will put to a lot of use this summer. We’re giving away a circular saw from Ryobi. It’s worth 40 bucks and it’s got a built-in laser that’s going to help you make clean, straight cuts and a carbide blade to even make those cuts cleaner than they would have been before.

    TOM: And that reminds me of a story, Leslie. One time I was working on a project inside a house and I had a circular saw in my hand …

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOM: … and the power went out.

    LESLIE: Did you cut the cord with the circular (chuckles).

    TOM: But because the saw was battery-powered it kept going. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: OK. (chuckles)

    TOM: So it’s like this is a bad situation. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: Because I can remember in college building flats for a theatrical set and I was doing something with a circular saw and then there was a spark and my circular saw didn’t work anymore and it was because I had cut the cord with the saw. (Tom and Leslie laugh)

    TOM: Well, it’s always a good idea to have plenty of light when you pick up those power tools and to avoid cutting those electrical cords, but if your power goes out sometimes you don’t always have a chance to immediately do that and in fact, 75 percent of Americans have experienced a power outage in the last 12 months. What can you do? Well, you can install an automatic standby generator. It stands by and if the electricity goes out at your home it will repower the entire house. Now we have a Guardian standby generator here at The Money Pit world headquarters and it totally protects our studios from any problems and I also have a Guardian at my house and it’s so cool, Leslie, if the power does go out in my neighborhood, to be able to drive home at night and you’re the only house that has lights on.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but then you’re purposely turning the lights off so your neighbors don’t come harassing. (chuckling)

    TOM: Well, yeah. You can always tell my house by two reasons: you can see that the lights are on and then you can see the line of the neighbors asking me to like keep their milk. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: ‘Can you hold my milk? Can you hold this ice cream for me? Don’t eat it.’

    TOM: But it’s great to have a standby generator and they’re inexpensive. The prices have come down. The installation has gotten a lot easier.

    Hey, if you want more information on standby generators you can go to the website for Generac. There are two new residential product lines you might want to check out and their website is GuardianGenerators.com; GuardianGenerators.com. And again, that’s the generator that we use right here at The Money Pit and it works fantastically. Keeps us on the air 24/7.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Slater in Texas is looking to boost the value of their home. What can we do for you?

    SLATER: Well, I’ve got a really nice home. It would remind you of an (inaudible at 0:09:15.5) home in Dallas. It was built in ’56 and it’s real clean and it’s been updated and painted inside and out and all that stuff. But my question is I’m planning on selling it in about a year and I want to know maybe four or five things that I can do that cost the least yet bring the greatest reward when it comes to visual impact and to resale value.

    LESLIE: When you’re saying it’s real clean are you talking about the interior has been painted and sort of tidied up or that’s the exterior?

    SLATER: Mostly exterior. My interior is really squared away. But on the exterior I’ve got real good curb appeal and it’s real clean and all that but I was thinking of like an eight-foot privacy fence around the back.

    TOM: Well, creating outdoor living spaces today is a very popular project and some of the cost-versus-value surveys that are out there show, for example, that installing something like a deck or a patio gives you a really good return on investment. So in terms of your privacy fence, if that’s part of an overall strategy to create an outdoor room space that’s probably a good idea. I would start at the curb. You say you have good curb appeal right now so let’s just review what that means. I hope that your landscaping is in good shape. I hope you’ve got some color in that landscaping. I hope that the outside of your house is well-painted and well-maintained without any rotted areas or distressed areas. I hope that you have good lighting both on the house and on the walkways because that makes a big difference, too.

    There was another survey that was done by Therma-Tru that showed that replacing your front door can drive up the home value as much as $24,000. They did an interesting study where they showed photographs of homes with and without front door makeovers – new entryways in them – and they asked focus groups to estimate what the homes were worth and every, single time the homes that had the improved front door were judged to be worth a whole lot more money than the homes without it. So you know, those are the kinds of things that you could do that could really drive up home value and make the house easier to sell.

    SLATER: Wow.

    TOM: And Slater, we’re running a contest right now on MoneyPit.com. It’s called the Ugliest Door in America contest. So if you’re thinking about changing your front door enter that contest and the folks at Therma-Tru could replace it for free.

    SLATER: OK.

    TOM: And Slater if you want to enter that contest you’ve got to do it before July 1st and again that’s at MoneyPit.com.

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

    LESLIE: Argentina in New York is dealing with some inefficient windows. Tell us about what’s going on.

    ARGENTINA: I have 18 windows in my house and they’re aluminum windows. What happened is I did have storm windows but I took them out and it’s like the air is coming in. Even if I put plastic paper inside it doesn’t help. So I don’t know what to do. Do you think storm windows will help?

    TOM: Well, storm windows will help but I can tell you what, Argentina. It’s like throwing good money after bad. The aluminum windows are so antiquated today; they’re so drafty; it’s so almost impossible to make them energy efficient. I would rather see you take the money and concentrate on replacing the windows; maybe not doing the whole house, starting on the north side then the east side. Work from the coldest sides to the warmest sides and start replacing those windows with vinyl-clad, thermal-pane, Energy Star-rated replacement windows. It’ll make a huge difference and rather than see you take that money and put it into storm windows I’d like to see you put it into good-quality replacements.

    ARGENTINA: OK, thanks very much.

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

    LESLIE: If you’re thinking about finishing your basement you might be Matt in Georgia who’s joining us next. What can we do for you?

    MATT: Hello, this is Matt and I love your show. Thank you so much for presenting the information you do and in so great a format. I love it.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Matt.

    TOM: Our pleasure, Matt. So what are you working on?

    MATT: Well, we have a storage room which is part of our basement and it’s got cement block on two walls and on one wall it has a pipe that extends out that goes vertically up and down the wall and it sticks out about four or five inches from the wall.

    TOM: OK, like a plumbing pipe or something? A vent pipe or something?

    MATT: Exactly.

    TOM: Ok.

    MATT: Exactly, a vent or a drain pipe. I’m not sure. But I need to be able to put some drywall on that cement block and finish out that room. The ceiling is finished. I just need to finish that.

    TOM: First of all, what we want you to do is to frame a wall away from the cement block. I know you’re giving up a little bit of square footage in doing that but you’re better off not attaching the wood and then the drywall right to the concrete block because …

    LESLIE: You’re just going to have a whole moisture situation.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah. It’s really damp and it’s just not a good thing to do. So we would recommend that you frame a wall out in front and that will deal with the pipe issue.

    LESLIE: But only like six inches or so, right?

    TOM: Or less. I mean you could just leave a little bit of a space between, say, the bottom sill plate and the concrete block but bring it out in front of it.

    Secondly, don’t use regular drywall. Use a product called Dens Armor which is a fiberglass-faced drywall. You don’t want to put a paper …

    LESLIE: It’s from Georgia-Pacific.

    TOM: Yeah, you don’t want to put a paper-faced product down there because it becomes mold food in that damp space. So if you use the Dens Armor product, which you can get at Depot or at Lowe’s and lots of other home centers, you can put a drywall surface there that’s not going to grow any mold.

    LESLIE: And it finishes exactly the same way as traditional drywall, so you don’t have to worry about doing anything extra special. (Tom and Matt chuckle)

    MATT: Sounds good.

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

    LESLIE: Carolyn in New York, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    CAROLYN: Hi, yes. I have a question about an illegal extension on my house. My husband and I purchased a home two months ago. Our contractor, when he was doing some work on our house, is actually the one that poked around and found that our extension – originally we wanted the house for the extension – was built on wood, so it doesn’t have a permit. So now the extension has to come down.

    TOM: It was built on wood?

    CAROLYN: It is built on wood that is basically rotting.

    TOM: Oh, boy. Hey, Carolyn, did you get a home inspection done when you bought this house?

    CAROLYN: Yes, let me tell you. I had two real estate people. I had an engineer. I had a new survey done. I had a lawyer and I had a title company and not one person found it.

    TOM: That’s unbelievable.

    CAROLYN: It is unbelievable.

    TOM: I’ll tell you what. That home inspector’s got some explaining to do.

    CAROLYN: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And the home inspector wasn’t recommended to you by the realtor, by any chance?

    CAROLYN: No, he was recommended through a family friend’s lawyer.

    TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you. The one professional involved in the transaction that sounds like probably should have found it, assuming it was accessible, was the home inspector. The home inspector may have errors and omissions insurance that you may be able to claim against. I think that your lawyer should probably bring in an outside expert to have that thought confirmed and if you want to understand what home inspectors are required to report on go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org. And also in New York home inspectors are licensed, so your state department is going to have – or your licensing bureau is going to have some standards as well that are probably very similar to the ASHI standards, but the question is what was the condition of the foundation at the time of inspection; was it accessible; is it, in fact, a defect and if the answer to those questions is yes then the inspector should have pointed it out to you.

    CAROLYN: OK, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Charles in North Carolina’s got a leak. Let’s see if we can help.

    CHARLES: I’ve had several leaks around the plumbing vent pipes poking through my roof and I was wondering if I can reduce the number of vent pipes by using (inaudible at 0:17:07.4).

    TOM: Is your roof older?

    CHARLES: It’s about 15 years old and I’ve used some stop-leak product from the home center and it seems to do the job but it only lasts maybe a couple of years and I just thought maybe when I get the new roof done maybe that would be possibly a good time to reduce the number of penetrations through the roof but I haven’t checked the local plumbing code either.

    TOM: Charles, well if you’re going to reroof that’s the time to correct this. What you’re doing now is by putting like a roofing sealant, an asphalt sealant on there, that’s only going to last you a short period of time. There’s some new technology in flashing products that you really ought to look at. I would go to the website for the Grace Company; GraceatHome.com. Those guys are the experts at keeping a roof leak-free and there’s a product I want you to look at called Grace Vycor which is a self-adhered flashing. It’s designed to cover those areas of the roof that are odd shaped or that are prone to leakage and if you put that …

    LESLIE: Because it’s super flexible.

    TOM: It’s very flexible. You can stretch it around all those places. If you use a product like that with proper underlayment, I don’t think that that plumbing vent’s going to leak anytime soon.

    Up next, fixing cracks in concrete is easy to do when you know what material to use, but what if you don’t want something that dries hard; something that can move and expand and contract with that sort of moving sidewalk that you have outside your house. We’ll tell you what material works well for that, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    So if you find yourself walking around your property, especially on the sidewalk or the areas of concrete, and you’re hopping over the cracks more than just walking a straight line because you’re so superstitious and you’ve heard that song one too many times – ‘Step on a crack, break your mama’s back.’ (Tom chuckles) Well, I know that was like the worst Devo impersonation but whatever; I’m kind of congested, allergies.

    Alright folks, you can easily fix those cracks in concrete with a flowable urethane. It’s a sealer. You get it at any home center or hardware store. And this material is actually going to fill that void that’s left by the cracks but it stays flexible so it’s never going to become brittle and it’s not going to fall out or crack out or crumble out as your concrete expands and contracts. It’s an easy do-it-yourself job and it can actually prevent even worse damage and also eliminate any tripping hazards: you know, neighbors walking by; kids playing in front of the house. It’s always better to be safe than sorry; plus your sidewalk is going to look amazing.

    TOM: Amazing is good. I love when people walk up to my house and say, ‘Tom, your sidewalks look amazing.’

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Is that a compliment you get on a daily basis?

    TOM: I think so. (Leslie chuckles)

    888-666-3974. If you want some help turning your home improvement projects into something that amazes your neighbors, amaze your friends, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Mike in Oklahoma is dealing with a water heater problem. What happened? What’s going on?

    MIKE: Well, I don’t have a problem but I am unable to have one of these tankless water heaters because I do not have gas or propane.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And what I have kind of thought through on my own was kind of cycling my electric one on and off by using my circuit breaker when I’m gone. I’m gone quite a bit, so the circuit breaker is by the back door and I just flip it when I leave.

    TOM: OK, are you gone for, you know, like more than a day at a time, Mike?

    MIKE: Yes.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And my main question is am I maybe doing more harm to the electronics or anything in there by flipping it?

    TOM: Absolutely not. You’re doing exactly the right thing. If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, turning off the 240-volt circuit breaker to the water heater is the right thing to do. If you were gone only like a day or two here and there what we would be telling you to do is to put a 240-volt timer on the water heater. But your job takes you away for several days at a time. The right thing to do is to turn it off at the circuit breaker panel.

    MIKE: OK, well thank you so very much. I appreciate that.

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

    LESLIE: Suzanne in Florida has a septic tank with a crack in it. This doesn’t sound good. Tell us about the problem.

    SUZANNE: Yes, I’ve had a problem here. I’ve owned this home. It’s built in 1984. I believe that the septic tank was never pumped out before I owned it. Had it pumped out. Everything was good to go but – and I could see to the bottom of it with the service contractor that I had here and he pumped everything out but there was a crack in the side and it looked just like a hose of groundwater leaking in. It looked clear; everything looked good and he said, ‘Oh, my goodness. You’re going to need a whole new septic tank and drain field.’

    TOM: Well, why do you need a new drain field if your septic tank is cracked? I don’t understand that.

    SUZANNE: Well, I don’t know but – well, apparently – I don’t know; if that’s just what they want to sell me. But …

    TOM: Yeah, that’s what it sounds like.

    LESLIE: So the drain field, Tom, never becomes compromised if there had been a leak in the septic tank.

    TOM: No, there are two – we’re talking about two different geographic areas here.

    SUZANNE: Oh, we are?

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: The septic tank is the tank itself and it’s usually a precast concrete tank. The drain field is a series of pipes that goes underground and it’s perforated and it distributes the effluent that comes up and over the tank. So we’re talking about two separate things here. So if that contractor said you need to replace both without a reason for replacing the drain field I would lean towards thinking he’s trying just to sell you something that perhaps you don’t need.

    You know what would be a good thing to do here, Suzanne …

    SUZANNE: Please tell me.

    TOM: … would be to get an independent evaluation. I would call a local professional home inspector. Find one that’s certified by ASHI – the American Society of Home Inspectors. Talk with them on the phone. Make sure that they are experts in septic tank evaluation and have them take a look at it and get them to

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