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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

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


    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now with your home improvement question. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. From plumbing to paneling, landscaping to new laundry rooms, this is the place to get your questions answered at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    And it’s also the place that can help cool you off because if you’re feeling the heat, you might be tempted to blast that AC just as soon as you walk in the door. You’re much better off using a programmable thermostat. We’re going to tell you how to cool down without paying up, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and one way that you can cool down is open up those windows and let that breeze come on in and cool you down naturally. But those screens on your window, they’re actually only meant to keep the bugs out. And if you’ve got children, we’re going to tell you about an extra safety measure that you should be taking. We’ll tell you all about it, this hour.

    TOM: And we’re giving away a FatMax Xtreme gift package from Stanley to one lucky caller this hour. It includes a demo driver, a chalk reel …

    LESLIE: That’s right.

    TOM: … and a measuring tape. It’s worth 60 bucks. Call us right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Ronnie in Florida’s got windows on the mind and it’s a great time to address a window situation. What’s going on?

    RONNIE: Well, we just moved into a new house and they say all the windows are up to code and they say that the windows, no matter what the color of the tint on it is – even though these are clear – it has a 99 percent UV protection.

    TOM: OK.

    RONNIE: So first off, A – how do I know it has it on there? And B – what does that mean, 99 percent? Does that mean the one percent will fade (Tom and Leslie laugh) my stuff that much less and I’m – do I have to put a piece of construction paper up there with a leaf on it to see what kind of fading we’re talking about?

    LESLIE: To see if they’re serious about it. It sounds like they’re talking about low-e glass. Did they mention that to you?

    TOM: Either that or they’re talking about tinting; that the windows have been tinted; they’ve had a material added to them. Because I don’t think low-e glass by itself is going to keep the UV out. It’ll reflect a lot of the heat.

    RONNIE: (overlapping voices) Well, they said that this has some kind of tinting on it …

    TOM: Right.

    RONNIE: … but you just don’t notice it unless you put another glass in front of it.

    TOM: Yeah.

    RONNIE: And you do. It’s got like sliding doors so when you put one in front of the other you can see that there is tinting. It’s just not obvious.

    TOM: Alright. Ronnie, are these fairly new windows or is this an older home?

    RONNIE: Yes. No, brand new house.

    TOM: OK. Oh, it’s a brand new house. Well …

    LESLIE: And there’s no documentation as to who the window manufacturer is?

    RONNIE: Correct.

    LESLIE: Hmm.

    RONNIE: I guess how do you know it’s – well, I see that it’s tinted in some areas. In some areas you can’t slide the window. You know, it’s like a permanently closed window over the door. So you can’t slide another window over it to see if it has tinting. So how do you know it has tinting. And then, what does 99 percent mean? Is that like one percent fat-free milk? (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    RONNIE: And you know, because the difference between one and two is tremendous.

    TOM: Well, Ronnie, what you’re trying to really understand here is you’re trying to get to the facts on something that you really can’t see that I guess a builder has put in for you. And the way to determine what the window construction really means is by something called the NFRC label. That stands for the National Fenestration Rating Council. And it’s a standardized label that was probably on your window at one point that perhaps since has been removed. But if you can find this label on the windows or if you can get in touch with the builder or the manufacturer and find out what the NFRC label stats are, you’re going to learn a lot about the glass. They talk about things like the U factor which measures how well the window prevents heat from escaping. It has something called the solar heat gain coefficient which measures how well the product blocks heat caused by sunlight. It has a number that determines how much air leakage can get through and also something called the visible transmittance which basically measures how much light or UV gets through. And the NFRC label is good because it’s a standard by which all windows can be compared.

    I think, at this stage, not having access to that information it’s going to be virtually impossible for you to know what that window can do for you because …

    LESLIE: Well because it could have also been a film that was applied after the window was installed itself because they do make tinted window films which say to do the same thing. They say that they reduce solar heat gain. So it could be that as well.

    TOM: Now here’s what you need – here’s what you need to do. You need to contact the builder or the window manufacturer and find out – get a copy of the NFRC label for those windows. That’s what’s going to tell you what that window was tested to and what that window can actually do for you. You can’t talk to the NFRC. You have to find the label and then use their – that information to determine what you want.

    If you want more information on how windows are rated, you can go to their website which is NFRC.org. That’s NFRC – for the National Fenestration Rating Council – .org.

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

    LESLIE: Calling in from Rhode Island and listening in on WPRO we’ve got David. What’s happening at your money pit?

    DAVID: I just bought this house off my mother in November.

    TOM: I hope you gave her a good price. (Tom and Leslie laugh)

    DAVID: Yeah. No, I did. I did. You know, she was good to me, too. I get the hometown discount.

    TOM: Alright.

    DAVID: But the bathtub is, I guess, fiberglass. And what happened was it cracked in the middle. So it’s like kind of a two-part thing. First of all, is there any kind of epoxy that I could just do like a temporary fix on that? But the biggest thing is I want to do – I want to take the tub right out and I want to put in like a shower; no tub at all.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: And I was talking to somebody and I got a price of like $5,000. It’s kind of they do it in one day; in and out type of thing.

    TOM: Right.

    DAVID: And then I was talking – I work on a movie set and I was talking to one of the carpenters. And he says I should be looking at Corian would be better.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yep.

    DAVID: That it might be the same amount.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    DAVID: But is that – I’m just trying to get – is that like the going rate for doing something like that?

    TOM: Well, it’s probably a going rate for doing a bathroom remodel. Some of these bathroom retrofit companies do have sort of a one-day approach where there’s a lot of action and gets the job done fairly quickly. You know, $5,000 to remodel a bathroom is probably an average price. I don’t know what type of remodeling you’re talking about doing here and I can’t really tell you if it’s a good price or not such a good price.

    As to your earlier question about a way to repair a fiberglass tub, you can repair it. It’s not pretty. But what you do is you can go to an auto body store, like a Pep Boys or something like that, and you can buy fiberglass material and the fiberglass resin and actually repair it …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    DAVID: Ah.

    LESLIE: And do the patch yourself.

    DAVID: Right.

    TOM: Yeah, repair it the same way you would repair a car body or a boat body. I actually have had to do that to a shower basin once that cracked on me that I wasn’t ready to replace yet. And it works great. I mean it really is a smelly job but it does work very, very well. So that will certainly get you through it.

    DAVID: Right.

    TOM: But in terms of the replacement beyond that, you know, Corian is a gorgeous material …

    LESLIE: Yeah, and you know what’s interesting? Corian is one of those solid surface materials and there’s another company that does something similar called Silestone. And they actually, at the Builders Show this past January, introduced a Silestone shower pan and shower walls …

    DAVID: Wow.

    LESLIE: … which come, I forget in which sizes but pretty much standard sizes or can be customized to whatever size you might need. And their really beautiful. They’re very, very durable. They’re scratch resistant. They’re stain resistant. And it works out really well for the prices. It’s not going to be terribly inexpensive but it’s not going to be overly expensive either and it will be a gorgeous bathroom addition.

    DAVID: And that’s the thing. Because I looked at some of the model pictures and it seemed like a one size fit all type of – I’m not even sure what the material was and the (inaudible).

    TOM: Right.

    DAVID: You know? And that’s the thing. I don’t want to do it fast. I want to do it right and I want it – the stone you’re talking about, that’s really what I wanted. A different kind of look like that with like the full body shower coming down.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it looks very similar. You can get the Corian or the Silestone in a variety of colorations where it almost looks like a terrazzo where there’s like speckling into it or there’s even some that look like there’s a mirror speckle into it; almost like a granite. It’s really up to you to find something that works. I think they offer something like 40 different choices from Silestone and Corian has something similar to that. So there’s a lot of options.

    DAVID: Yeah, I know. I’ve got to actually find the time to get somebody in and – because I don’t want to do it in a hurry. But my main thing is this is the first time I’ve ever owned a house. So, I don’t know. I – you know, it’s all new to me and I didn’t really know – I’m trying to get, you know, like that’s the going rate, you’re saying. Right in that range. Like an average thing. I’m sure I could spend a lot more and a lot less.

    TOM: Yeah, you certainly could. David, why don’t you do this? Why don’t you go to a kitchen and bath showroom and see if you can work with a certified kitchen and bath designer. These folks are certified by the kitchen and bath industry association and can take a look at your bathroom and give you some ideas as to what’s practical, what kinds of price range you’re talking about, how long it would take to get the job done and really you in a position where you can have a good overview of all of the materials and options that are available. Because as you say, you’re not in a hurry. You just want to do it once, do it right and not have to do it again; just be able to enjoy it.

    DAVID: That’s a great tip because I didn’t even know those people existed. (Leslie chuckles)

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

    LESLIE: Hey, do you wish we were talking about that home improvement project that you’re working on right now? Well then, pick up the phone and ask us your question. It can be home repair, home improvement. Whatever you want that’s going on in your home, we can help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call that magic number. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, leaving windows open on a warm day can let some air in and keep the bugs out, but here’s something that many people don’t know. The screens will not protect kids from a potentially dangerous fall. The screens today are not like the screens of yesteryear. When we grew up they were tough. Now they’re not so tough.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and I remember having to patch up the screens with these little pieces of screen and then wrapping the wire around. Now you can like poke your finger right through them practically.

    TOM: Yeah, and if you’re do any repairs at all it involves a needle and thread. They won’t hold the kids in. So we’re going to tell you how to make sure that you can have a little bit of air come through your house and have windows that are safe for children, after this.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Our number, 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us with your home improvement question. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. We know that you’re hustling to get some work done around your house so that you can have a long and enjoyable summer. Whatever you’re working on, let us help you get it done easier, faster, safer so that you can do it once, do it right and not do it again. And if you call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT, not only will we give you the answer to your home improvement question but we’ll give you some tools to help get those jobs done because we’ve got a FatMax Xtreme gift pack from Stanley to give away. It’s worth more than 60 bucks, comes with a 30-foot measuring tape, a chalk reel and a demolition driver. Any tool with the word demolition in its title is a good thing. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) It sounds like a good time. (chuckling)

    Alright. Well before the break Tom and I were reminiscing about screens of yesteryear which were actually really tough metal and were really durable. But we’ve got a quick summer tip here about window screens. Today’s window screens are not as tough as the aluminum ones of years ago that we loved so much. They’re a much weaker vinyl material and they’re not going to protect your kids from a dangerous fall. Even your pets, too. If somebody’s sitting up on that windowsill and is poking out at that screen, it is going to give. Believe me.

    It’s really important that you use childproof window guards. These are bars that can keep those kids away from high windows but they’re easily openable by an adult in the event of a fire. You really want to make sure that you never put locks on those windows because you’ll be fumbling for a key in an emergency situation. You want to make sure that whatever resistance that you put there is easy to operate if you’re flustered in an emergency. Really, it can save your life; it can save your kid’s life. So be safe with your windows this summer and let that cool breeze in.

    TOM: Good advice. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us right now with your home improvement question.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Carol in Missouri has some remodeling woes with her bathroom. How can we help you?

    CAROL: I had my bathroom remodeled and had the walls all painted. It looked real nice. Then the roof started leaking. So it made water drip down into the bathroom behind the fresh paint …

    TOM: Ah.

    CAROL: … and on top of the drywall.

    TOM: OK.

    CAROL: Well, it bubbled up.

    TOM: Right.

    CAROL: So I poked holes in it, because it bubbled up and there was water behind there, so it would dry out.

    TOM: Yeah, that was actually a smart thing to do …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … Carol, because when you let the water out it doesn’t rot the plasterboard; the drywall.

    CAROL: Yeah, and no mold.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: OK. So now, is the roof leak fixed?

    CAROL: Yes.

    TOM: OK, so you want to know what to do about the paint?

    CAROL: Yes. Since I pulled all that paint off, it was bubbled out, I peeled it all off.

    TOM: Yeah.

    CAROL: Now, how do I repair it? Do I mud it and then do it? Or sand it or what?

    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK, so – well, if it’s just the paint that came off you shouldn’t have to put any spackle on it. But I would do is I would sand off the rest of it. Make sure all of the loose stuff is off and then you want to prime it. And I would prime that whole surface with an oil-based primer like KILZ, for example.

    CAROL: Go ahead and do that?

    TOM: Yeah. Prime it and then put a top coat over it. You don’t want to spot prime it like that because you’re going to notice that even after you paint it, if you use a flat paint, there’ll be a slightly different sheen.

    LESLIE: You’ll see the difference in the …

    CAROL: Right.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    CAROL: That’s why I wondered if you had to – because somebody here at work said, ‘Go ahead and mud over it.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, God.’

    LESLIE: Oh, no, no, no.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) No. No need for that. Just prime it. Priming makes perfect. OK, Carol?

    CAROL: OK, so I need to sand it.

    TOM: Sand it, then prime it and then paint it and you’re done.

    CAROL: Oh, thank you so much. You’re a godsend.

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

    LESLIE: Fred in Florida is dealing with a high moisture situation.

    FRED: Well, I’ve got a home that was built in ’87 and on the back of this house – this was added on a couple of years after it was built – it’s a Florida room. It’s got an insulated roof. It’s got side sliding, I guess you’d call them horizontal sliding windows. They’re single pane and they have a track they slide in on the bottom. And underneath that about a two-foot panel to the floor. It’s a concrete floor. And what – I’ve got a dehumidifier in this room here and it fills up every couple days. And my – well, my biggest complaint is, I mean, the filling up is one thing but the – I’ve continued, even after having the dehumidifier, I’ve always had this – a musty smell in here.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, the thing is, Fred, that this may be more than that room dehumidifier can handle. One of the ways that we can deal with humidity in a bigger, more effective way is by replacing portable dehumidifiers with a whole-home dehumidifier that really reaches into the entire space of the house and pulls moisture out. A whole-home dehumidifier can take out up to like 90 pints of water a day from the house. And it fits into your HVAC system so you don’t have to have a portable unit that you have to work with. Once the HVAC system is on this whole-home dehumidifier will just work 24/7/365 to pull out the moisture. Because you’re trying to pull it out of one room but there’s probably a lot of moisture wicking from different parts of the house and that’s why you’re getting overwhelmed.

    FRED: Well, what I was going to say is we pretty much keep this room closed. Like I said, it’s a Florida room. It has an insulated roof; you know, the panel roof that’s – I guess is about three or four inches thick. And I do have an air conditioner in this – it’s a window unit that I’ve got installed into one of the panels at the bottom here. And we keep it air conditioned. And I will say that the dehumidifier has helped and it’s a 50-pint dehumidifier. So I guess a pretty big one. But I still – I continue – to me, that’s a lot of moisture. Maybe that’s not – I live in Pensacola, Florida.

    TOM: Do you have to drain this humidifier all the time?

    FRED: I do. It actually has a hose adapter that you can put on it and I’m going to do that soon and just have it drain continuously.

    TOM: I think the best thing to do is – is this connected in any way to the HVAC system in the rest of the house?

    FRED: No, it isn’t.

    TOM: Alright. So, you would have to extend the HVAC system into this room to be able to take advantage of a whole-home dehumidifier. That is the most effective and efficient way of pulling moisture out of the room. There’s a good manufacturer online called Aprilaire – Aprilaire.com – where you can get information on whole-home dehumidifiers.

    The second thing is to try to take a look at the sources of moisture getting into that room. Take a look at the grading and the drainage around the Florida room. If you can keep the rainwater, in particular, from collecting near the foundation perimeter – you’re probably pulling a lot of the humidity up through the slab and through the base.

    FRED: Well, that’s what I was wondering. I don’t know if they put a vapor barrier underneath this concrete or not, I mean …

    TOM: Well, whether they did or they didn’t there’s nothing you can do about it at this point. So if you reduce the amount of humidity that’s – amount of moisture that’s getting close to the foundation perimeter, that will stop that much of it from getting back into the house.

    So, first choice, whole home dehumidifier. Modify the HVAC system to be able to take advantage of that. Second choice, improve the grading and the drainage at the foundation perimeter to reduce the volume of water that’s around this building.

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

    LESLIE: Are you running out of room in your garage or basement? Well, reclaim your space and take it outside. We’re going to tell you how to find a shed that suits your storage needs, next.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Making good homes better. Call us right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Perhaps you’re having an organizational issue. We can help you with that, too.

    You know, as more and more of you convert basements and garage spaces into sort of pseudo living areas, all the stuff that used to be there needs a place to go.

    LESLIE: Yeah, in fact, I even remember those good old days when the garage was the home for the car. If anybody else can relate to that. But how …

    TOM: (inaudible) building’s for. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Exactly. It’s not the place for you to just shove everything. It’s really meant to be organized, a workshop, car storage, whatever. And if you’re looking for a great way to store seasonal items and dangerous tools and even chemicals that you want to keep away from the kids, you should consider a shed. And here to tell us how to find a shed that suits your needs is Darren Gunnell from Lifetime Shed.

    Welcome, Darren.

    DARREN: Hey, thanks for having me.

    TOM: So Darren, we seem to be running out of space constantly for …

    LESLIE: Always running out of space.

    TOM: … for stuff. And what I like about the new sheds today is that they’re very modular and they’re very expandable. Tell us about the technology today. It’s no longer just a wood building or sort of a tinny aluminum building. They’re a lot stronger and they’re better made today.

    DARREN: And they’re not ugly anymore. They’re better made. They’re more aesthetically pleasing as more and more Americans use their outdoors as their – as the new indoors. They want something that complements their surroundings, that looks good, that they’re not embarrassed, you know, by having in the yard. So that’s where sheds are going.

    The Lifetime Shed is neutral colored. It matches pretty much d

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