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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

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


    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Take a look around your house. What do you want to tackle? What do you want to get done? What do you want to improve? What do you want to get rid of? Call us. Let’s talk about it. 888-MONEY-PIT or log onto our website at MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie.

    On today’s program, if your walls could talk, what would yours be saying? They’d probably be saying, ‘Please make the grease, food and wine stains go away.’ (laughing) You know, I …

    LESLIE: Or maybe they’re saying that the pasta was really good last night.

    TOM: You know, I once had an incident in my kitchen that caused wine to spray over the ceiling. (laughing) It wasn’t pretty. It was …

    LESLIE: (laughing) What happened?

    TOM: It wasn’t … it wasn’t a drinking incident. It was cooking wine. But let me tell you …

    LESLIE: Yeah, but how does it get on the ceiling?

    TOM: Oh, man, we just knocked a bottle over and it had wine in it and it just flew. (laughing) It was a very spirited meal.

    LESLIE: You know, I gave my sister one of those wine openers, where you sort of …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: … sort of … it’s a standing unit on the counter …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: … and it uses pressure to suck the cork out of it. And somehow, something happened. And hers created a volcano, which also sprayed wine all over the ceiling.

    TOM: (laughing) Well, maybe you have a story (laughing) about a food incident in your kitchen. If that’s the case, we have got a solution for you today.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And later this hour, we’re going to tell you about a new technology in paint called nano particle technology. That’s right …

    TOM: Ooh, sounds very space age.

    LESLIE: … paint is sci-fi; it’s futuristic. And not only can this paint stand up to the toughest stains your family can dish out. It’s very friendly to the environment, as well. So tune in later.

    TOM: Also this hour, we’re giving away a prize package to help you sprout a green thumb and a green lawn. We’ve got some great Vigoro products including self-repairing grass seed. Self-repairing grass seed. Let me think about this. So when my dog like digs a hole in the backyard …

    LESLIE: It grows back. (laughing)

    TOM: … the grass will magically … grass will grow back in. That’s great. Well, it’s worth 50 bucks and it goes to one caller we choose this hour. So let’s get to your calls. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Earl in West Virginia, who finds The Money Pit on WSVA. And you want to match your switch plates to your walls. That’s fantastic. How can we help?

    EARL: I am tired of looking at beige and gray plates. (laughing) And outlet switches and everything. And we’ve got some exotic colors and I’ve tried everything; painting them with the paint we use on the walls and that’s too fragile. It scrapes off. And the only thing I can find in hardware stores are ceramics or brass or … you know, and it just stands out. I want them to disappear.

    TOM: Well, I have a solution, Earl. Lutron has a series of designer colors and I believe there’s about 40 different colors. And you can get the outlets, the lights, the switches, the ground faults … everything in these wild colors like candy apple red and, you know, seafoam green and everything in between. And they’re basically trying to attract this very market; the people that are tired of the beige and the white choice that you find in most hardware stores and home centers.

    LESLIE: Well, there’s also an option where there’s a sort of clear Plexiglas piece – well, switchplate cover – that you can put wallpaper behind or fabric. So if you have any sort of wall covering, you can actually insert the exact wallcovering you’re using and make it disappear that way. Or you can pick something fun that really coordinates and makes it look special.

    EARL: Or I could paint the paper with the paints I used on the walls and put it behind them?

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    EARL: That’s great. Lutron … would I find that in a hardware store?

    TOM: Lutron.com. Go to their website – L-u-t-r-o-n.com – and look up the designer series there.

    EARL: Fantastic.

    TOM: Alright?

    EARL: Fantastic. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Earl. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and happy home improvement.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’re going to talk to Lisa in Ohio who’s doing some landscaping. What’s going on in your yard?

    LISA: Well, we don’t have one, for starters. (laughing) We just built a new home.

    TOM: That would be a problem.

    LISA: We have about a half of an acre that we need to put grass in and just were wondering what your recommendations are for an Ohio yard.

    TOM: Well …

    LISA: How do you put in a good yard?

    TOM: Do you have a sprinkler system?

    LISA: No.

    TOM: No matter what you do …

    LISA: And we won’t put one in either.

    TOM: Yeah, no matter what you do, when you’re starting a yard, watering it is absolutely critical.

    LISA: OK.

    TOM: So you better get used to dragging out the hoses.

    LISA: (chuckling) OK.

    TOM: There’s really three options. You can seed it; you could hydro seed it; or you could sod it. Seeding, of course, is standalone. There’s a lot of good technology in grass seed, today, that’s going to make it germinate as quickly as possible. Hydro seed is where you have the seed that’s mixed in with sort of a fertilizer solution that’s usually green. It’s professionally installed and it sticks a little bit better and grows a little quicker. Builders often use it to start new yards. Or, of course, you could sod it, which is the fastest way to go.

    But whatever those solutions are that you choose, you have to make sure that the yard has good drainage so it doesn’t pond, because that’s what’s going to really kill that seed. And that, after you put it down, you keep it watered. I mean a lot; until it really knits. The best time to do this is the fall; not the summer. Because if you do it in the summer, the sun is just too intense for those young, very fragile roots. If you start seeding in, say, September or October, you’re much better off because you get a few months for that to really take root and then, you know, another couple of months before it gets really hot in the spring the next time around.

    LESLIE: There’s a great website, Lisa, called Grassing.com. Grassing.com. And it leads you to several sites that will help you to purchase lawn seeds … a variety of seeds for your area. But that’s a main website that’s devoted to when to seed, how to seed, how to fertilize, how to water. So it might really help you to narrow down, regionally, what it is that you need to do that would work best for your type of environment in Ohio.

    Kevin in California downloads The Money Pit to his iPod. How cool are you, Kevin?

    KEVIN: Well, thank you.

    LESLIE: That’s pretty exciting, you know. It’s such new technology that everybody’s jumping on board with and we’re happy for you to do it.

    KEVIN: Yeah, it’s a great way to listen to your show. I can listen any time I want to.

    LESLIE: And go back over and over and over our fabulous advice.

    KEVIN: Yeah, it’s very helpful.

    TOM: Well, how can we help you?

    KEVIN: Well, I recently had a limestone countertop installed in the bathroom.

    TOM: OK.

    KEVIN: And the edges against the walls have a dark stain. And it showed up like very shortly or … after they installed it.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    KEVIN: And I’ve tried sanding … you know, like re-sanding it down to re-hone the countertop myself. And I tried a couple of different like applications of the liquid poultice that you put on it to try to take out the stain and I haven’t been successful.

    TOM: I’m wondering if you have some …

    LESLIE: Mildew.

    TOM: … mildew or mold or moss growing in there. Have you tried anything to try … in terms of a mildicide, have you tried bleach or anything of that nature?

    KEVIN: I haven’t tried anything – well, I tried a little bit of bleach on the counter itself in one spot. Just some dabs that … because I didn’t want to overdo it in case it went too far one way or the other. It shouldn’t … I don’t anticipate there should be any moss because we redid the whole bathroom and so … or mold or anything. So it was pretty well … they retiled the whole backsplash there.

    TOM: Well, what happens is if you get any sort of dirt in that area … I mean, it could be any organic matter whatsoever – could be dust; it could be skin particles – and you get moisture in there, the mold will feed on that. So even though it’s an inorganic surface, you can still get a mold that will grow there. And that’s why we say that the cleaning part of this is very important.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and also, if there’s any sort of silicone or anything that’s sealing the joint between the countertop and the backsplash and it wasn’t dry when the grout went in or whatever, it could grow more mold there because that background is dry. So it’s coming through in the caulk.

    KEVIN: Yeah, they put a … they actually put grout right up against that instead of using a caulk, which I heard is probably what you should have done is put a caulk there instead of grout right at the …

    TOM: Yeah, especially in a place that expands and contracts. There’s a good website out there called StoneCare.com that has cleaners and polishes that are specifically designed for this. So you might want to take a look at that site.

    LESLIE: And there’s also something that’s very good for limestone countertops and it’s called a poultice, which is a white agent and it’s something made with like a hydrogen peroxide or it’s a chemical reducing agent. And you wet it with distilled water and apply it to the stain. And it dries on the countertop on the stain and it absorbs the stain out of the limestone. And it could be that the countertop wasn’t sealed properly, which would make it super porous.

    So that’s a couple of good ideas to get you on the way.

    KEVIN: Yeah, I think they might not have sealed it when they installed it …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. If that’s the case …

    KEVIN: … and it probably picked up something from the grout, possibly, when they put the grout in.

    LESLIE: If that’s the case, go to your home center, ask for a poultice, mix it with distilled water, put it on the stain let it sit. Once you see, after about 48 hours – don’t use that bathroom while this is working on it – let it sit there. You’ll see the stain absorb into it and then you can rinse it away with water. And then, make sure you seal it properly.

    KEVIN: OK. Yeah, I’ve tried that. So you just … I’ve read that you might have to do it several times. Is that possible that you might just have to just clean it out, take up the old grout, make sure it’s dry in there?

    TOM: Well, absolutely. And if you’re going to put in new grout, you … in that particular corner, I would not use grout. I would use caulk. And you want to use …

    LESLIE: With a mildicide.

    TOM: Yeah, there’s caulks out that have mildicide in them. DAP has a product that has something called Microban in it, which is a mildicide that absolutely will not grow any mold or mildew once the caulk is installed.

    KEVIN: OK. I will give that a shot.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, Kevin? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: So, Money Pit listeners, would you like to add space and subtract clutter from your busy rooms?

    TOM: We bet you will. Now there’s a way to take advantage of every inch of space in a room; even where it doesn’t seem usable.

    We’ll be back with the answer to you storage problems, next.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number, again, 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us now with your home improvement questions.

    LESLIE: Alright, everybody out there getting ready to do some home improvement projects. Well, here’s a great one to maximize every inch of space in your home. And I mean it. Every inch. And you know what the trick is? Built-ins. Built-ins are the way to go. They add so much customized space and they fit in odd spaces and corners. And you can use built-in desks, which are an especially efficient way to make use of otherwise dead spaces in high-traffic areas like your kitchen. And in designing your desk, you want to include plenty of shelves and drawers. And don’t forget to include specific spaces for your PCs, your phones, your fax machine. Make them really work for the item that you’re going to put there.

    And this is a project that you can do yourself if you’ve got some basic DIY skills. Or you can go online, before you even head to the home center, to find some great resources to help you design your desk and to help you get started.

    TOM: If you’re motivated right now, call us. We will help you start your bookcase project. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    And to help you get started off on the right foot or thumb (laughing) with your summer lawn care, we’ve got a great prize package from Vigoro to give away this hour. It includes Vigoro Weed and Feed All Purpose Plant Food – which is great for the garden or indoor plants – and Vigoro’s self-repairing grass seed. It’s worth 50 bucks. We’re going to give it to one caller, this hour, on the program. So call now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Next up is April from Michigan who finds The Money Pit on WKZO. And you’ve got a bathroom situation – mold. What’s going on?

    APRIL: The bathroom has an exhaust fan. However, Lord only knows where it goes. (laughing) The house was built in 1963.

    TOM: OK.

    APRIL: The bathroom is the only room in the whole house that gets this. It’s on the ceiling. And no matter what I use to clean it – used KILZ to paint over it – it still gets these little squiggly black lines that just mass produce.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s probably cladosporium, which is a type of mold that is very typical in bathrooms. It generally is not harmful to people. But it certainly is annoying. And the things that you need to do to get this under control, April, is first of all, you mentioned that you have an exhaust fan but you don’t know where it goes. What you need …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It could just be venting into the room above it, which would be causing moisture from the upstairs right down through it.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

    APRIL: (overlapping voices) It’s going right into the attic.

    TOM: And so, that condensation’s forming and soaking right through the wall … the ceiling, I should say. So, you need to get that under control. You need to figure out where that’s going and it needs to be vented outside; not just … especially not up into the attic. I mean, all the way outside to control that moisture.

    And then, once you get the moisture under control, if you start using the fan all the time, you’re going to have less reoccurrence of that. And then you use a mildew proof paint. I mean, Behr makes a good one that will work effectively. But it has to have a mildicide in it. OK?

    APRIL: Alrighty.

    TOM: And that’ll solve the problem. Alright, April? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Tom in Texas has some unwanted scents in the home. What happened? Tell us about it.

    TOM IN TEXAS: Well, I have a urine smell in my bedroom.

    LESLIE: Do you have carpeting in there? Is there a pet?

    TOM IN TEXAS: No, I don’t think … actually, I don’t think it’s from that.

    TOM: We need to know no further information, OK, Tom? (laughing)

    LESLIE: Well, there’s actually a great product that’s made specifically for pet problems related to the same situation. And it’s called 1-2-3 Odor Free. And it’s a series of different products that you use in a proper order and the instructions will tell you how to do it. But it attacks the bacteria that causes the odor and forces those odors away. And if you go to JustRite – R-i-t-e – JustRite.com, you can order the kit there. It’s about 40 bucks and it really does work.

    TOM IN TEXAS: Well, now, tell me. Does that work on the wall also?

    LESLIE: Well, I’ve used it for wood flooring and I’ve used it for carpeting. So I imagine anywhere where it has an opportunity to attack the bacteria, it should work.

    TOM IN TEXAS: Well, because I’m convinced it’s not in the carpeting. It’s not in the carpeting. It’s kind of osmosed into the wall or something. I just don’t quite understand. But …

    LESLIE: It’s worth a shot. It does work. Because we had a puppy who would get herself stuck upstairs and you know, she couldn’t use the steps yet; she was too tiny. And she had a lot of accidents on the upper landing. And we have made that smell go completely away.

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

    LESLIE: Russell in Ohio’s putting in a new floor. How can we help?

    RUSSELL: I’ve got a question. I am putting in an engineered type laminate flooring …

    TOM: Good choice.

    RUSSELL: … over narrow plank flooring in my daughter’s bedroom. And I’m wondering if there’s anything in particular I need to do to prepare that surface for that floor.

    TOM: Well, some of the engineered floors have underlayments – don’t they, Leslie? – that they sell that matches the system.

    LESLIE: Well, it depends on the system. Some have a separate foam underlayment, which is a very thin sort of rollout foam product. And some of them have actually attached this underlayment to the back of the planking. So it depends on which one you’re working with. You just want to make sure that you have a level, stable subfloor as a great start. And then you can go right ahead and install that.

    RUSSELL: OK, thanks.

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

    LESLIE: John in Maryland finds The Money Pit on WJFK and you’re thinking about replacing those windows. A great time for a great question. What’s on your mind?

    JOHN: Hi. Well, let me first say I enjoy listening to your show out here in DC and appreciate all the help that you give us.

    TOM: Thank you, John.

    JOHN: And … OK, here’s my deal. I’ve got a 35-year-old house and, most likely, I’ve got the original windows. OK? I’ve got about 17 windows total; one bay window. And I’m wanting to replace them. I had a couple of companies come out to give me some estimates. They’re running between $20 and $26,000 and I thought, ‘OK, that’s not going to happen.’

    TOM: Mmm.

    JOHN: My question is with a house this old, if I go to one of the home improvement centers, purchase one window at a time, how much … you know, how much am I looking at kind of things that could wrong when I’m replacing these windows? I kind of think I know what I’m doing but I’m not exactly sure.

    TOM: Well, actually, it’s not very hard, John, to install replacement windows. And a lot of the home centers, today, will make windows for you that are specifically exactly to the size that you need.

    LESLIE: They’ll even come out and measure for you.

    TOM: Yeah. And you know, the difference between a replacement window and a new construction window is that with a replacement window, you basically just remove the sashes – the parts that slide up and down – and that the replacement window fits inside the old wood window frame. So you keep the trim on the inside, you keep the trim on the outside, but all of the operable parts of the window are usually now, you know, nice and clean super-modern vinyl that work well and tilt in for cleaning and things like that.

    LESLIE: And John, if you make sure you replace your windows with Energy Star-rated products, there’s a federal tax cut right now that’s giving up to $500 per household if you replace things like your windows with something that saves energy. And you can even call your utility company and see if they offer a refund like that as well.

    TOM: Now, the other thing, John, is that you mentioned also doing a new bay window. That would be the only part of this that’s fairly complicated. Because that’s a … there’s no such thing as a replacement bay window.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that would be specialized.

    TOM: That’s a special one. That’s a big job. You know, you have to do it quickly because you have to take the whole window out of the house and you know, it’s got to be a nice day and that sort of thing, so …

    LESLIE: Yeah, but even taking John’s median estimate of $23,000, that puts it at almost $1,300, $1,400 per window …

    TOM: Yeah, that sounds very high.

    LESLIE: … and to think a replacement window is $2 to $500 …

    TOM: Yeah, that sounds very high. We realize that you’re in an expensive area of the country. But 1,300 bucks per window is pretty expensive. I would have … I wouldn’t be surprised if it were $6 to $800 installed. But 13 sounds a little bit high. So you may want to do some of that work yourself.

    JOHN: OK, so the best thing, then, would be to knock out as many windows as I can but the bay window you would recommend having a professional do it and just not even worrying about it.

    TOM: Correct. Yep. Yep, spend the money on the bay window, OK? That’s the trickiest part.

    Alright, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    You know, it’s tough finding a paint that will stand up to the wear and tear in a high traffic area like your kitchen or your bathroom. But now there’s a new technology in paint that can help.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Up next, how a new high-tech paint uses nano technology – mm hmm. Paint of the future – to make it more durable, long-lasting and easy to clean.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    So Leslie, if your walls could talk, what would the ones in your kitchen say?

    LESLIE: I’m greasy!

    TOM: I’m stinky! (laughing) I’ve got food all over it. I need to be painted. That’s what mine would say.

    LESLIE: And what do you think the walls in your bathroom would say?

    TOM: Oh, let’s not even go there. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Hmm, I have hairspray all over me and the soap. You know, it’s interesting, you never think about what’s sticking to your walls and what’s getting into the painted surface. And it’s actually hard to get a paint that can stand up to all of that tough wear and tear that, particularly, the kitchen and the bathroom get.

    Well, the folks at Behr found a way and joining us to talk about that is Scott Richards, the VP of Marketing for Behr.

    Welcome, Scott.

    SCOTT: Hi, Leslie. Hi, Tom.

    LESLIE: Hi there.

    TOM: Hey, Scott, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit. It seems to me that the kitchen and the bath must be the biggest challenge for a paint manufacturer to come up with a product that’s really going to stand up. Because we seem to really abuse those spaces in our house. Wouldn’t you agree?

    SCOTT: They certainly are.

    LESLIE: So what can you do? I mean, traditionally, when you think about a paint for either of those rooms, you need something that’s a high gloss, maybe an oil base; something that’s going to have a stand up surface. But more and more people from design wise are thinking about flat paints or eggshells. So where are we going in the technology for bathroom and kitchen paint?

    SCOTT: Well, the first thing that people want is a paint that’s going to withstand the wear and tear of both the kitchen and the bathroom; areas that have high moisture, that are prone to stains. With regards to sheen, though, people are actually shying away from the higher gloss sheens on the walls and would actually prefer to have a duller sheen. And therefore, they can actually use brighter colors, if they dull down the sheen a little bit.

    LESLIE: Well, and also, homes are homes, you know. They age; things change. And if your wall has any sort of indentations or imperfections, if you use a high gloss, they stand out like spotlights.

    SCOTT: That’s correct. Anything with the high gloss sheen just magnifies imperfections on the wall.

    TOM: Well, Scott, you guys have come up with some new technology that’s helping that paint actually be better adhered to the wall. And you call it NanoGuard. Talk to us about this technology.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Ooh, science.

    SCOTT: Well, NanoGuard is a trademark name by Behr and it really refers to the technology that’s in the product. And it’s nano technology. And nano technology has to do with the size of particles that are in the paint. And probably a best example to emphasize how small nano is, is if a nano meter was the size of a penny, a regular meter would be the size of the earth. So we can establish that relationship that nano particles are extremely small.

    And what they basically do is the smaller particles are able to form a much, much tighter paint film. Another example is that if you were to take a glass and fill it with marbles and pour liquid in it, the liquid would go around the marbles. But if you had a nano product, it would be more like pouring water into a glass full of sand. So the film is much, much denser on … using nano particles than standard paint technology.

    TOM: Well, that’s got to give you a lot more durability in those critical areas.

    SCOTT: Absolutely. Because, really, the film is not going to allow anything to penetrate it. And so everything will sit on top of the film and, as a result, stains and grease and other things will wipe off much easier; along with the fact that water will not be able to penetrate the film.

    LESLIE: So it actually helps you to be able to clean the surface. You can actually scrub it a little bit if you have to.

    SCOTT: Yes. It actually works two-fold and one is that it’s … think of it as preventative maintenance because you know, the stains are going to reside on the top. So you’ll be able to wipe them off. If you get into any of these tough stains, though, the paint does have good scrubs to it.

    LESLIE: Now, what’s so excellent about Behr is, I think you guys have such a wide variety of color choices. And you really encourage people at The Home Depot and shoppers everywhere to try new colors and new combinations. What are some of the ways you’re encouraging folks to be a little bit adventurous in their choices?

    SCOTT: Well, the first thing we do is we try to make it easier for people to pick colors and color combinations. And the way we do that is with our Behr ColorSmart system, which you can find at Behr.com. And on there, we have software that allows the person to choose their primary colors and then we put together coordinating pallets for the consumer.

    LESLIE: Do you get to put in a picture of your own room or do you work within a picture that’s already on the computer?

    SCOTT: You work with a picture that’s already on the computer.

    LESLIE: So it’s really easy.

    SCOTT: Absolutely.

    TOM: We’re talking to Scott Richards. He’s the Vice President of Marketing for Behr. And Scott, you guys recently launched a new system … a new service called Behr from Home. And if I understand this correctly, consumers now can actually order small samples of various paint colors and actually take those home, apply them to the wall and see if they really like the color before they invest in the total project.

    SCOTT: That’s correct. We have eight ounce samples that are available, that the consumer can order online at Behr.com. And also color collateral. And the samples are sent directly to the person’s home and it allows them to paint out about a two foot by two foot area to make sure that they’re happy with the color before they run down to The Home Depot and buy their full gallons.

    TOM: That is huge because I … you know, I, like most people, have gone through the racks of the small color cards and looked at the one-inch square sample and tried to imagine in that harsh store light, you know, what it might look like in the master bedroom. And that’s just a really, really hard thing to do because, hey listen, you can’t take your house to the store with you. And this is a way that you really can bring that paint into your home, sample it and make sure it’s really what you want and look at it under various color situations. You know, look at it all day long. Because I know that the way the wall …

    LESLIE: Well, lighting changes throughout the day …

    TOM: Right, exactly.

    LESLIE: … so the color appears different throughout whatever time it is.

    SCOTT: You know, you’re so right. And the … our records basically show that the consumer actually orders three or four different color samples, typically, at the same time. They just don’t pick one. And they pick three or four so that they’re able to put them side by side on the wall and take a look at that of a various different lighting.

    TOM: That’s a very cool idea. Scott, before I let you go, I wanted to ask you, also, about the work that we’re seeing people do this time of year. And more and more folks are getting outside and working in the outside spaces. And you actually have a product now that’s called Wet-Look Sealer that helps really spiff up those spaces. Talk to me about how that works.

    SCOTT: Well, Wet-Look Sealer is actually a clear coat that goes over any type of concrete or masonry product. What it’ll do is it’ll actually protect the concrete from automotive, chemical, stains, moisture along with providing a high-gloss sheens … a high-gloss sheen to the concrete. With all the concrete pavers, flagstone, slate and different types of things that are going into driveways, outdoor living spaces and so forth, the customer was really looking for a way to both beautify and protect those types of finishes. And really, Wet-Look is the answer.

    TOM: Scott Richards from Behr. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on nano particle technology. Very, very space age. For more information, go to their website at Behr – B-e-h-r.com.

    Hey, have you ever wondered how old your house really is? Well, you know, I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector figuring stuff out like that. And people would really be amazed at how I knew exactly when there house was born. Well, there is a trick of the trade. It involves a plumbing appliance. I’ll share that trick with you, next.

    (promo/theme song)

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

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Have you started a project? Is it not going so well? (laughing) Well, anything worth starting is worth starting over with us. Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. Log on to our website at MoneyPit.com or sign up for our free Money Pit e-newsletter to get great tips all week long.

    Well, if you’re not sure exactly how old your house is, here is a home inspector’s trick of the trade that will help you figure that out. Toilets – commodes, as we more politely call them (laughing) – are stamped inside with their birthday. Did you know that a toilet has a birthday, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Well, I’ve only known this because you’ve enlightened me. But my question is what if someone’s actually changed the commode?

    TOM: Aha!

    LESLIE: That throws a wrench in your whole plans, my friend.

    TOM: It does. It does. That makes it … well, what that could tell you is what day the bathroom was modeled, but it would not tell you when the house was born. However, I will tell you if you have the original toilet, there’s usually a date inside. Now, sometimes it’s not as easy as like January 12, 1962. (laughing) Sometimes, it might say M62 and that means 1962. And sometimes it might have the number all run together. So you have to be a little bit of a detective when you look for those numbers. But they’re usually stamped inside either the lid of the toilet or the tank of the toilet. And if it’s a little skuzzy, it’s only water, folks; you can just sort of rub it away and you will find that date.

    And it … this also holds true for very old sinks; the kind that were made out of cast iron. Those usually have dates that were attached to the very bottom of it. So you have to kind of like look under the sink for that.

    But very often, these plumbing fixtures are dated. And if you think about it, that’s usually one of the last things that you buy when you’re building a house. So it’s pretty accurately close to when you … this house was actually built. In fact, in the years I did spend as a home inspector, Leslie, sometimes I would find, you know, a toilet dated, say January ’62 and then maybe an inspection sticker that was signed off in say, June of ’62 or something like that. Showing, you know, how really close these dates can be.

    So that’s a good way to tell how old your house is.

    LESLIE: Well, we were just doing some work. We were redoing the stairs to the basement because we had some termite damage. And as we were taking apart the layers of the subfloor that were under the carpet, we got down to the original flooring and in between the two were newspapers from 1927.

    TOM: Wow. That’s kind of cool, too.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) So it was really exciting and it was interesting that they were using that as an underlayment.

    TOM: You know what’s neat, too, when you find the old newspaper? Look for the ads and see how much things cost. (laughing)

    LESLIE: I know. Everything was like a penny.

    TOM: Was like a nickel.

    TOM: Pantyhose were a penny. (laughing)

    Alright. Well, coming up in this week’s Money Pit e-newsletter, we’ll tell you how to use the age of your home – which you’ve just figured out and now you know some tricks of the trade to find that – to troubleshoot for some common construction problems. Every era had its dud and the same is true for all aspects of home building. And home improvement by the numbers, which is in the next issue of our free e-newsletter, will tell you exactly what to look for.

    And you’re thinking, what’s The Money Pit e-newsletter. I’m not a subscriber. How do I get that? Well, you need to sign up at MoneyPit.com and it’s free. And it will be delivered to you every Friday in your inbox without even asking for it. So just sign up now.

    TOM: Well, call us right now with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You might have a chance of winning our great prize package this hour from Vigoro. We’re giving away the all-purpose Weed and Feed, the plant food and the self-repairing grass seed.

    LESLIE: It’s a great prize kit.

    TOM: It’s a total prize kit. It will actually have you looking green. (laughing)

    1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Let’s go back to the phones.

    LESLIE: James in California listens to The Money Pit on Discovery Radio. How can we help you?

    JAMES: Well, OK, I do have a problem with my roof because the add-on part is a two-story and the … somewhere, when it rains, the water is coming down the wall on the inside. It isn’t coming down on the outside. The shingling looks really well. I mean it is fairly old but … I’d say, probably, oh, 20 years old maybe is the shingling on it right now. It’s composition shingles. And somehow, the water is getting in and running down the inside wall.

    TOM: OK. Well, let’s talk about the areas of the roof that are typically most vulnerable. That would be, first of all, where anything comes through the roof. So, if you have a plumbing vent pipe, if you have a chimney, if you have the vent for your furnace or for your dryer. Whatever is going through the roof, areas around there are really the first thing to check.

    The second thing is you mentioned that your composition shingles are 20 years old. Well, that’s about as old as those shingles are going to last. And the way they deteriorate these days may not be that easy to see. It used to be, in the old days, you would look at the shingle and it would sort of curl up and get very, very brittle. But shingles today don’t curl up anymore. What they do is they fissure and they crack but sometimes you can’t see it until you’re right on top of it. And as they do crack, they will let water get in.

    And thirdly, what you want to do is look for any areas where there are roof intersections; where two sections of the roof come together, such as a valley or a place where a low roof and upper roof come together. Those are the areas that generally leak.

    Now, the next thing that you could do to try to limit this and identify where it is, is simply do a hose test. See if you can get some water running down the roof in the area of the leak and see if you can actually make it leak without having water go, you know, through all sides of the house. Once you identify where that leak is coming in, you’ll have a better idea of what it’s going to take to fix it.

    JAMES: Oh, that’s a good idea. I didn’t think about doing that. Yeah, it’s an open beam ceiling and it just seems to be strictly coming down the inside wall. I just cannot figure out how to … but I’ll give that a try.

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

    Well, ceramic tile is certainly a popular floor choice for good reason. It’s pretty easy to care for. But there are some quirks to this flooring choice that have a couple of our listeners pretty baffled.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Up next, how to keep those ceramic tiles clean and how to care for the grout between those tiles. We’ll give you all those tricks to read between the lines, up next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Plus Interior Sateen Kitchen and Bath Enamel with advanced NanoGuard technology to help consumers protect these areas, keeping them looking new longer. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. But perhaps you can’t call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Either you can’t get to a phone, you’re driving. We don’t want to cause an accident. So, think about this. You can go home and log on to MoneyPit.com and shoot us an email. Every week, we get hundreds of emails. We do our best to get back to those that we can. And we also get a chance to answer many of those questions here on the program.

    So right now, why don’t we jump into the email bag and tackle a ceramic tile dilemma from Jeff in Illinois.

    LESLIE: Okey-dokes. Jeff writes: ‘How do I bring the shine back to our ceramic tile? We were using bleach and water to mop with, which I now know this is a bad thing. Can you help?’

    TOM: Yes, Jeff, bleach and water is a bad thing. But do you know why it’s a bad thing? Because when you put bleach on your ceramic tile, it can leave an alkali deposit. And what that does is leads to the formation of white efflorescent salts; sort of a hazy, white, crystally, dull powder surface that covers the ceramic tile. And that’s going to make it worse, not better. So there are two things you need to do, starting with cleaning and then shining.

    LESLIE: Yeah, there’s one thing you need to do. First, clean it. And the only thing that’s going to get rid of that buildup and really help you get back to the beauty that the tile had originally, is a vinegar and water solution. And here’s a good mix to keep in mind. You want to use about three cups of white vinegar – don’t use red or you’ll have a salad dressing. So, three cups of white vinegar and about a half a gallon of warm water. And use that to mop the floor. And that vinegar should really attack at the bleach buildup and get rid of it and bring it back to its original look.

    But if you’re still finding it’s dull, here’s a fun trick. If you take a piece of wax paper and cut them all to the size of your tiles – whatever they may be; 12×12, 16, 18, whatever – cut them to that size and put the waxy side down onto the tile. And then you can use a dry mop and just press over that wax. And you’re sort of just transferring that wax onto the tile. And that should help bring back the shiniest to the tile. But be careful because once you put it on there, it might be a little bit slippery. So use caution for those first couple of days. OK?

    TOM: You know, the other thing that you could use is floor wax, if you put it on very, very carefully. There’s a difference between surface wax or furniture wax and floor wax and the reason is that floor wax is not slippery. It’s not going to make you, you know, break your neck.

    LESLIE: Have you ever accidentally, while cleaning or waxing a piece of wood furniture, oversprayed onto the floor and then walked by that spot?

    TOM: Oh, yeah.

    LESLIE: You’ve gone like sliding across the room.

    TOM: It’s like ice. It’s like totally like ice. And you know, on that vinegar and water trick, anytime you have a salt deposit – for example, another place you may have a salt deposit that builds up …

    LESLIE: Basement walls.

    TOM: Basement walls or even your humidifier gets kind of crusty from the evaporation of the water; it leaves those mineral salts behind. That vinegar and water is like the magic solution to melt any kind of salt deposit no matter where it is. And it’s totally free and totally cheap and totally easy to do.

    LESLIE: See, 10 tips for the price of one, Jeff. How do you like that?

    TOM: Well, OK. It’s time now, once again, for Leslie’s Last Word. And why do women always get the last word, Leslie? (laughing)

    LESLIE: It’s our job, Tom. How many times do I have to tell you? (laughing)

    TOM: Anyway, this week, we have advice for those of you who have older gutters made of wood.

    LESLIE: I know they seem rare, but they are out there, folks. And if your home has them, they’re going to require a little bit of extra attention. Not much, but everything that’s handmade and beautiful does need some care. So here’s what you do.

    Wood gutters, they need to be resealed every two years. And make sure you do it during the dry season. Otherwise, it’s not going to work. And the first step is a good sanding, followed by an application of a wood preservative. Then finish with two coats of asphalt aluminum roof paint and you are good to go.

    So keep those historical elements on your house and doing their job.

    TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, we now know that you can get sick in your own home just by breathing contaminated air with mold in it. Now, as a homeowner, you can educate yourself to do something about this. But what if it is your office or your school that’s causing your chronic cold symptoms?

    We’re going to welcome, next week, Jeff May. He is the author of ‘My House is Killing Me.’ Got a new book out called ‘My Office is Killing Me,’ and he’s going to give us some tips on how to survive that dirty air that could be lurking in your home or your office. That’s coming up next week on the program.

    For now, that’s all the time we have. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    (theme song)


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

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