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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete


    (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. It’s a great hour, it’s a great idea, it’s home improvement. We’re going to help you get it done so call us with your home improvement questions. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Call us as you look around the house. It’s spring. You’re thinking about what am I going to do to spruce this place up. Let’s come up with some ideas together.

    LESLIE: Well, you know what? They say spring is the season for romance. It makes you sort of fall in love. We want to make you fall in love with your house – again. So we’re trying to help you do that. So give us the questions and we’ll give you the answers.

    TOM: And nothing says romance more than his and her saws awls. (Leslie chuckles) So go out and treat yourselves to matching power tools or matching tool belts and tackle the jobs together. We’ll help you with those, too. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, are you thinking about installing a new floor in your kitchen? Well, there is one mistake – it’s a very common mistake that many people make – that actually traps your appliances in place so you can never, ever repair them. We’re going to teach you what it is and how to work around it in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also, is your house healthy and green? Well, one is not necessarily the same as the other. We’re going to tell you how to make sure your home is good for you and the environment.

    TOM: And are you on the quest for a quiet room? I know, with three kids banging around my house, I certainly am …

    LESLIE: And a large dog. (chuckling)

    TOM: And a large dog. That’s right. I need a quiet room just for Dad. Well, our pal Kevin Ireton, the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine is going to stop by with the steps you need to get a place that provides peace and quiet in your home. He’ll have the scoop on the quiet rooms in today’s program.

    LESLIE: And if you’re looking for something to inspire you to sing, we have got a shower that’s going to make you feel like singing in the rain. That’s right. We’re giving away a great prize this hour. It is a Moen showerhead with InvigoRain. It’s a pressurized spray. You are going to love it. It is enormous. It’s worth $65 but it could be yours for free if we talk to you today.

    TOM: So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Mary in Florida, what can we do for you today?

    MARY: My question is in reference to a daybed that I dismantled. I had the [flat boards] (ph), the mattress inside and I left the frame outside. It’s been out there for a couple of months and it has rusted really bad. I need to know what can I do to remove the rust.

    TOM: Well, a couple of things. First of all …

    LESLIE: Lots of elbow grease. (chuckling)

    TOM: Lots of elbow grease, yeah. You want to start with a wire brush and try to get as much of that rust off as possible. You could also use some sandpaper.

    LESLIE: Well, even if you have – I don’t know if you have a Dremel tool or a rotary tool. There are little bits that are – they look like little wheels with metal hairs …

    TOM: Wire work attachments? Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah, wire. And that will help save some of the elbow grease so it might even be worth it to borrow a friend’s for the day.

    MARY: OK.

    TOM: You’ve got to get as much rust off as you can. And then we want you to use a rustproof primer on that. Like a Rust-Oleum would be perfect for that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And if it’s a daybed it’s probably hard to paint. You might just want to buy some spray paint. You can buy the primer and a spray paint. And that will seal in any rust that’s left behind. And then once you’re done with that, then you have a neutral surface and you could put any top color that you want over that. But I would recommend you clean off as much as you can and then spray it down with a rust resistant primer.

    LESLIE: And when you’re cleaning off the rust, you want to make sure that you get it down so that surfaces are smooth and even to one another. You don’t want any areas where you go like over rusty divets or dips, you know. You want to try to get it down so it’s a smooth surface. Especially because when you’re going to paint the metal, you’re probably going to go for something glossy and that will really show all the imperfections. So make sure you get it as smooth as you can.

    MARY: OK. Now, do I need to spray the springs with any lubricant or oil once I’ve done all that?

    TOM: No, because there’s really no joint there. The springs themselves do not need to be lubricated. They just need to be painted so they don’t rust any further.

    LESLIE: Laura in Florida’s got a floor situation going on. Tell us about it.

    LAURA: Yes. I have terrazzo floors and the house is older and they have carpet laying over it now but there’s terrazzos underneath there. And I would like to know how to make them brand new again.

    LESLIE: So you want to take the carpet away and see the condition of the terrazzo floor?

    LAURA: Yes, ma’am.

    LESLIE: Have you seen it? Can you tell us what it looks like or are you just guessing?

    LAURA: Well, in the two bathrooms part of the floor is visible where you can see it right now and in the storage room. And they look sort of dull. I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried every single cleaner I could possibly imagine on them to try to get them to look right but (chuckling) still haven’t …

    TOM: No, they need to be rebuffed.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: You know, terrazzo’s just gorgeous. I’ve actually seen terrazzo made. And it’s a lot of work to make that and there’s a lot of steps involved. And if the finishes are getting worn and grimy and dirty, it has to be abraded and then it has to be rebuffed. So, this is something that you might not want to do yourself because you’ve already seen how frustrating it can be. But if it’s done right it’s going to come up and it’s going to look gorgeous. And you basically need to have the right tools and the right equipment to sort of grind down or abrade down or sand down the surface until you can get to some new material then kind of bring it back up again. But if it’s structurally in good shape, then I see no reason to do that.

    LESLIE: Oh and it would be such an addition to the price of your home because …

    TOM: Oh, yeah.

    LESLIE: … terrazzo floors are gorgeous.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: And if you’ve got them protected underneath that carpet pad and under that rug, it really should just be the buffing to restore it.

    TOM: So Laura, it’s not cleaning; it’s buffing and it’s bringing it back up that way. OK?

    LAURA: Sounds great.

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

    LESLIE: Darlene in Alexandria, Missouri, what can we do for you?

    DARLENE: Yeah, hi. My mother-in-law had bought these replacement vinyl windows. And lots of people say they’re really good but for her they have sweated terribly and run down her wall. Is this a usual thing with replacement windows?

    LESLIE: Are you seeing the sweat on the glass itself or on the vinyl framing?

    DARLENE: Both. But there’s lot of it on the glass.

    TOM: And this never happened before?

    DARLENE: No.

    LESLIE: And it’s the same type of window? Double-pane, same energy efficiency, same type?

    DARLENE: The other was just an old window that was built in the house 30 years ago.

    TOM: Yeah, well now you have – now you have tightened up the house so you’re getting less infiltration of drier air from the outside.

    LESLIE: Circulating air.

    TOM: Yeah. So I think this could be a sign of, really, the efficiency of the new windows in some ways. Let’s talk about all of the sources of humidity inside the house …

    LESLIE: And moisture.

    TOM: … and moisture. Because you may need to do some managing of moisture here. This is a problem that happens predominantly in the summer?

    DARLENE: Winter.

    TOM: And what kind of heating system do you have?

    DARLENE: Natural gas.

    TOM: Forced air or hot water?

    DARLENE: Forced air.

    TOM: I wonder if there’s anything that’s venting into the house improperly. Have you had your HVAC system serviced?

    DARLENE: The furnace is only about four years old.

    TOM: It doesn’t matter how old it is. You see, there’s a lot of humidity in your house and I’m playing out the scenarios in my mind. One, from a safety perspective, is if you have any type of a blocked gas vent, you could be discharging too much humidity into the house air and that would be – that could also be dangerous from a carbon monoxide perspective. The other issue is your dryer vent. You know, is that putting any moisture into the air. Do you have a drainage problem on the outside of the house that’s allowing humidity …

    LESLIE: Well, even if you have a bathroom vent that’s perhaps vented into the attic or vented somewhere not directly outside, you’re just depositing all that moist air right back in the house.

    TOM: Or something as simple as a drainage issue at the foundation perimeter could be raising humidity inside the house. All these things could be creating excessive humidity. I – there’s nothing wrong with your windows that would cause this. This is a moisture management issue. And then also, in your attic space, if you don’t have enough roof ventilation what happens is you get a lot of vapor pressure inside the house. You get a lot of water pressure that builds up inside the air of your house. It works its way up through the building materials and ends up in the attic. And if you don’t let it escape, then it will, again, build up in the house and cause condensation issues.

    How old is this house again?

    DARLENE: Thirty-five years old.

    TOM: Alright. So it was built in the late 60’s, early 70s.

    DARLENE: Yes.

    TOM: When you go up into the attic space, one of the other things that you might want to take a look at is the underside of a plywood and see if it looks discolored or wavy. Look at the bottom of the nail tips. See if they look rusty. These are all signs of excessive humidity and excessive moisture in the house. And you might need to do a couple of things.

    I would first tell you to make sure your heating system is serviced and working properly so we can eliminate any dangerous carbon monoxide as a source of additional moisture.

    LESLIE: And you should always do that anyway; the service with your heating provider, you know, either at the start or at the close of the season to make sure that it’s ready to go for the following.

    TOM: And then, beyond that, I would look at exterior grading and drainage. Make sure your gutter system is clean and diverting away from the house and that your soil is sloping away. And I’d also look at the attic space. In a house that was built in the late 60s and the early 70s I can tell you absolutely you probably do not have enough attic vents. The best type of attic vents for you to add to your house would be a continuous ridge vent and a continuous soffit vent. Those two vents will work together to flush moisture out of that space.

    So those are some places that you could start, Darlene. And I think if you get that humidity under control you’re going to be a lot happier.

    Oh, you know, there’s one other mechanical thing that you could do as well and that’s called a whole-house dehumidifier.

    LESLIE: Well, which would work great because you’ve already got the forced air system so it goes right into that whole system.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s part of it. And again, you could go to the same manufacturer’s website for information on that. That’s Aprilaire.com.

    LESLIE: Do you need some help springing into home improvement action? Well, now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, if you’re thinking about replacing your kitchen floor, don’t let your refrigerator stand in the way of a successful job. We’re going to teach you how to avoid a huge inconvenience down the road; one simple correction that you can make that will allow your kitchen floor to go in without trapping your appliances, after this.

    (promo/theme song)

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

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. What’s on your mind? We want to hear about it at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, if it has something to do with home improvement, that is. (Leslie chuckles) If you’re having otherwise a bad day, well, just keep it to yourself. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Aw! No, that’s not true. Because your bad day could be derived from that overflowing toilet.

    TOM: If you’re having a bad home improvement day, we will take your call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And we might make your day a bit brighter because one caller we talk to this hour is going to win a Rainshower showerhead from Moen with InvigoRain. It’s worth 65 bucks and you can install it in minutes. It’s available in chrome and brushed nickel. So if you want it you’ve got to call us and have a home improvement question to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright, listeners. Well, before the break we were talking about your kitchen flooring and how, sometimes, putting in the floor could cause other problems that you didn’t really think about. Because most flooring products – even ones like ceramic tiles, hardwoods, laminates – they can actually raise the current level of your existing floor, which is a problem if you’ve got built-in appliances, like refrigerators or dishwashers, that have to fit in predetermined confined spaces like under a countertop.

    So what you want to do, be sure that you have those contained appliances removed before you install the floor. Pull them out, install the new flooring underneath, adjust the legs. This way, if anything ever goes wrong with the appliances you haven’t trapped it in there behind that new flooring and then, guess what, you’re hosed and you can’t get it out. So think first before you lay that new floor.

    TOM: Hosed. That’s a home improvement technical term.

    LESLIE: That’s correct.

    TOM: (chuckling) 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who’s next?

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

    STEVEN: Yeah, I’ve got a circuit – the main circuit breaker to my house keeps blowing. And I thought the whole idea of circuit breakers was to – you know, if I had a problem with one appliance that breaker would go. But it’s the big one that seems to give power to all the other ones. And I’ve just been kind of scratching my head on this one.

    TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what. There’s – it’s absolutely impossible for you to pull enough power inside your house …

    LESLIE: To blow the entire breaker.

    TOM: … to blow the entire breaker. I mean it’s virtually impossible.

    STEVEN: Shouldn’t other ones break first?

    TOM: Well yeah, they should. That’s correct. And usually when this happens there’s one of two things that are happening. Number one is a major problem with the utility company line into the house. There’s a problem with a transformer and it’s putting in too much power. The second thing that often happens and is probably the most common problem is that the breaker deteriorates. Now I have seen, for example, in the years I spent as a home inspector, that aluminum cabling is very often used as main service entry cable. And there’s a paste that’s supposed to be put on that cable when it attaches to the main breaker. It’s called antioxidant compound. It looks like black grease. And if that paste was not put on, then you get this oxidation which causes resistance to electrical transfer, which equates to heat, and that main breaker …

    LESLIE: And then it causes the breaker to pop.

    TOM: Well, it causes it to break down.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: But the thing is, you don’t see it until it’s all taken apart.

    LESLIE: Weird.

    TOM: So if you’re tripping a main breaker, you have to get an electrician in there to turn the power off to the house and …

    STEVEN: Because it’s really hot. The panel’s really hot.

    TOM: That’s a major problem, man. You’ve got to get this fixed right away. You should not have overheating like that. I bet you that breaker’s deteriorating and it needs to be fixed immediately because you have a major fire hazard on your hands.

    LESLIE: That’s a fire hazard.

    TOM: Absolutely. (clears throat) That breaker’s probably deteriorating from the inside out and when you disconnect the power and turn – and pull that breaker off, you might find that it’s totally gutted and overheated and melted. I’ve seen it happen before and if it’s hot like that, you’ve got to do it right away. Don’t wait.

    Get to it, Steven. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk plumbing with Jeff in Missouri. What’s going on at your Money Pit?

    JEFF: Hi. I’ve got a mystery for you. I’ve got sulfur smell coming out of my cold water side in my master bath faucet. And it’s – you know, it’s not all the time. It’s just every once in a while. And I don’t know what’s causing that.

    LESLIE: Does it happen after, say, you’ve been on vacation and not used the bath for a couple of days or just, you know, intermittently even as you’re using it a lot?

    JEFF: Now, [I’m a driver] (ph) so I’m only home like a couple of days a week but it’s not – it’s not every time I’m home; just every now and then.

    TOM: Do you have well water or city water?

    JEFF: I’ve got well water.

    TOM: Yeah, well that’s probably it. If you don’t run it a lot, then you’re going to get that sulfur smell that comes out of it. You say it’s not happening all the time? Perhaps you may not notice it all the time. But if you have well water and you’re not running it, you know, frequently, that’s very, very common. You could add a charcoal filtration system to the water and that would eliminate that but so would just running the water a bit when you turn it on.

    JEFF: But it only happens in that one – like in the master bath. It doesn’t happen in the kitchen, the other bathroom or anything else. That’s what the mystery part is.

    TOM: Well, is that the farthest fixture away from the main?

    JEFF: No, actually that’s the closest.

    TOM: Well, I wonder if it’s not the faucet at all. Have you checked the drain?

    JEFF: Yeah, I’ve plugged the drains off and thinking it was in the drain, you know? And if I plugged them off and ran the water it’s still coming out of the cold side. I know if it’s the hot side you take the [magnesium rod] (ph) out …

    TOM: Right.

    JEFF: … it helps.

    TOM: Right.

    JEFF: But the cold side is what throws me for a loop.

    LESLIE: There’s a product from Roto-Rooter and it is a sort of liquid enzyme that you mix with warm water and you run it down your drains. And it’s made to sort of degunk and degrease and get rid of any buildup from soap and hair and what not. But it’s also sort of an odor neutralizer. It might be worth a shot. You put it down the drains once a month and it sort of keeps things running efficiently.

    JEFF: Well, alright. We’ll give that a shot. Because our house is only five years old so I didn’t think it would really be that. But we can give that a try and see what happens.

    TOM: I’ve also heard that when you assemble the drains, if you use an excessive amount of plumber’s putty, that tends to react with a lot of the stuff that goes down a drain. It can get very – a very ranky kind of a smell to it. So it could be something like that as well. It still could be in the drain that’s causing this issue because the water supply is reasonably pure. If you leave it sit for a long time and you run it, it might smell. But it shouldn’t be happening on an inconsistent basis. It’s generally going to happen when you first turn it on and then – everywhere. And then it’s going to slow down after you run it for a minute or two.

    JEFF: That’s what the mystery part was. It was just, you know, that master bath …

    TOM: Well, let’s start looking more at the drains, Jeff. I think that you’re more likely to find the problem there.

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

    LESLIE: Bill in Michigan, what’s going on in your kitchen?

    BILL: I’ve got a Formica counter with a Formica splash – drywall. The counter fits into the exterior wall of the house and in the winter time the backsplash separates from the drywall by about a quarter of an inch. So the caulking is all pulled away from the drywall. And it was one of those projects that I kept putting off and putting off and then this late spring I went to recaulk it and it had sealed back up.

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    TOM: (laughing) The mysteriously moving countertop. Well you know, what’s happening here is, you know, in the winter things dry out and you get a lot of expansion. And so it’s just pulled away. So I think timing here is key. (chuckling) But …

    LESLIE: Do it in the winter when it’s got the space.

    TOM: Yeah, and then it’ll compress in the summer and you won’t have to worry about it. When you do this caulking, one thing to keep in mind is because this is in a kitchen area, you want to use a caulk that has a mildicide in it. DAP makes a caulk, for example, that has Microban, an antimicrobial additive. It’s sort of like the Intel Inside in the caulk. And it’s smart in that it doesn’t grow any mold. Because once that area gets wet it’ll turn nasty looking.

    LESLIE: And make sure when you’re going to put that caulk in there that you clean that area in the space with a bleach and water solution just to get rid of any mold or mildew that might be growing in there. And then let it dry really, really well before you go ahead and put that caulk in there. Because you don’t want any mold to grow behind it. This way it’ll get a nice, clean seal.

    TOM: And Bill, if you have any areas that have large gaps in it, you want to stuff those gaps first. If you can get some of the flexible foam rod, you can shove it in there or just take newspaper and roll it in there. Because you don’t want to have a really, really thick wad of caulk. You just want to have about – caulk that’s about a quarter of an inch thick; not any thicker than that or it’s not going to dry properly.

    You know, for years I worked in new construction while I was growing up and I put a lot of kitchens in. Of course, the last thing you do is caulk that countertop. And man, we had to caulk some pretty wide gaps. I think that I dare say I used (Leslie chuckles) a spackling knife and a caulk gun together more than once.

    LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Do you want some peace and quiet in your own home? I know it is getting harder and harder to find a quiet space with everybody’s growing families and growing love of technology. Well, we’re going to have some soundproofing tips, 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: 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. You got a question about your home improvement project? Need some help solving that do-it-yourself dilemma, call us right now. We are here to help you.

    LESLIE: Hey, Tom?

    TOM: Yes?

    LESLIE: Are you always on a quest for a quiet room?

    TOM: Oh, my God.

    LESLIE: Some peace and quiet?

    TOM: You kidding me? With three kids, I am always on the quest for a quiet room and I have it; from like 9:00 to 2:00 when they’re at school. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) If only school could go all year long.

    TOM: I was so glad when summer was over. Not that I don’t enjoy the summer, but I can have sort of the house back to myself. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Well, I don’t know …

    TOM: For a good six hours a day. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: I don’t know if I can help you with your own quiet issues but you can actually do something to your home which is called an acoustic plan, when you’re designing your home that, that can get rid of typical noisemakers that are behind your walls; not your kids unless they’re getting back there. (laughing)

    TOM: Not the kids that are in front of the walls. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: But you know, something maybe behind your walls that make some noise, like a water line or ductwork. Well, we’ve got our favorite guest, Kevin Ireton, who’s the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine. And he’s got some details on how to hush your house.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, Leslie. Hi, Tom.

    TOM: Welcome.

    So let’s talk about the quest for a quiet room. You know, I think there’s a lot of …

    LESLIE: Besides gagging Tom’s kids.

    TOM: Yeah, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about what it takes to have a quiet room. We may know a little bit more about this than most folks because we’re constantly working in recording studios. But with a recording studio, you have the advantage of being able to do multiple walls so that you can separate the sound from different parts of the building. Is there a way to make a quiet room within the confines of your average residential home structure, Kevin?

    KEVIN: Well the truth is, Tom, there are a lot of things that you can do but the most important thing to understand is to think about sound control early in the design process. What happens in a lot of cases is that a sound control expert is brought into a home and the HVAC system’s already in place, all the plumbing and electrical is in place and suddenly – you know, there are a lot of things that might have been done a little bit differently to improve on sound issues but you can’t do them because you’ve got all these other things in place. So the first advice I would give is bring in somebody who knows about sound early in the design process so they can make suggestions.

    LESLIE: But this seems like it’s specifically before you build or if you’re designing from scratch. What if you just live in a noisy, old home? How do you fix that?

    TOM: Yeah, or even a noisy new home? I can’t tell you how many homes I’ve seen that are newer where the builders run the main waste pipe for the upstairs bathrooms through the dining room, which …

    LESLIE: Through the dining room. Oh, my God.

    TOM: … doesn’t make for a very pleasant dinner experience.

    KEVIN: The trouble is if you’ve got existing conditions like that, it’s going to be more expensive to fix them. That’s a case where you’re probably going to have to open up a wall in order to do some things to that pipe to make it quieter. You know, there are some things – like adding drapes, adding carpeting – that will help absorb some of the noise in a room but a lot of the fixes, you know, are a little more involved.

    TOM: Well, let’s talk about some of those fixes. How about water lines? Let’s start with water lines and drain pipes. What are some ways to quiet them?

    KEVIN: In terms of drain lines, the first thing to know is that cast iron is quieter than plastic. If you use plastic, there are special insulating materials that also have heavy, what’s called mass loaded vinyl. It’s this sort of heavy sheet that you drape around the pipe that insulates them but it’s insulation specifically designed to keep noise down. So you can add these materials.

    There are also rubber grommets that you can use that isolate supply lines where they’re going through the studs. Because one of the ways that sound is transmitted through a house is physically through the structure. So if a pipe is vibrating against the stud …

    LESLIE: Against the wood.

    KEVIN: … then that vibration transfers to the sheetrock.

    TOM: We very commonly hear complaints from homeowners who have pipe creaking that sounds almost like dripping in a bathroom because the hot water pipe is too tight to the studs without the proper types of insulation in there and then it rubs across the studs and does make a creaking sound. And one thing about plumbing; it carries sound an awful long way.

    KEVIN: Oh, it sure does. The expanding foam that comes in a can is a …

    TOM: Yeah, the Great Stuff?

    KEVIN: … is a – exactly – is a great thing to use for isolating pipes and even wires. The other thing that people don’t understand is that just the holes from one room to the next allow the transmittal (ph) of sound. So sometimes when two electrical outlet boxes are essentially back to back in a wall, that becomes like a sound hole from one room to the next.

    LESLIE: Kevin, is it worth it if you can reach into certain parts of the walls or certain areas where you can access your pipes or your water lines, is it worth it to do these treatments on the spaces you can reach or is that really not going to make a huge impact?

    KEVIN: I think it really depends on the situation. In some cases, I think, sure. I think plugging up holes with acoustical caulk are going to help. It depends, really, on where the sound’s coming from.

    TOM: So it sounds like, really, every element of the house, as you put it together, if you want your home to be quiet you need to take that element into consideration. If it’s a plumbing system …

    LESLIE: We can call it the system of silence.

    TOM: Yeah, the plumbing system we’re talking about types of insulation and types of installation that isolates that from the rest. I guess the same thing applies to HVAC ductwork and electrical boxes to make sure that everyone is isolated from the parts around it. But when it comes to the ducts, Kevin, doesn’t the duct just transmit the sound once it enters the register? Is there a way to quiet that down?

    KEVIN: The actual transfer of sound through the duct is harder to get away from, especially if you’ve got a short line that’s essentially connecting two rooms; though, again, insulating the ductwork with special sound deadening insulation is the best way to go.

    LESLIE: And what about when you’re putting on the sheathing or the drywall or the sheetrock; whatever it is that you’re putting in the room? Is there anything you can do in addition to just putting up that finishing product to help silence that a bit? To sort of keep that noise inside?

    KEVIN: There are a couple of things that you can do. One – you can buy a product called sound control drywall. And frequently what this is is actually two thin layers of drywall with a sound deadening material between them.

    TOM: Interesting. Is this readily available?

    KEVIN: It would probably be a special order.

    TOM: Hmm.

    KEVIN: You know, unless you’re in a really big – you’re in a big city.

    TOM: So that gives you – you know, we’re kind of where I started this conversation. That is the room within a room if you can add those two layers where they’re not connected.

    KEVIN: You can also add a second layer of drywall. You can buy – there’s a product called Green Glue from a company called the Green Glue Company. And basically you would squirt that on the drywall and put a second layer of drywall on top. And it’s that separation that this special green glue gives that defeats the transmission of sound. So there are some retrofit things you could try.

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    TOM: Kevin Ireton, editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Always a pleasure.

    If you want more information on quiet rooms, you can learn more at Fine Homebuilding’s website at FineHomebuilding.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. So, is your house healthy and green? You know, these terms are not interchangeable. Both may help you with your energy bills but a home that is only healthy might not be doing much for the environment. We’re going to tell you why, next.

    (promo/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. If you call right now you might just win yourself a great prize because we’re giving away a Moen Rainshower showerhead. It’s worth 65 bucks. It’s a very cool prize because it’s one of these big seven inch-wide showerheads that’s got InvigoRain. So it’s got a lot of spray heads and …

    LESLIE: Yeah, no wussy rain water there.

    TOM: … nice pressure and it will get you clean after the hard day of home improvement. So call us now if you want to win. You’ve got to have a home improvement question and come on the air and ask it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, here in the home improvement business – and if you pick up a magazine if you’re out on the streets – you’re bound to come upon all of this chatter about green building. And with all that information out there, you know, there’s bound to be some confusion. So we’re going to try to clear it up a little bit for you.

    TOM: You know, when some people think about green homes, they instantly think of healthy homes. But did you realize that these terms can mean, actually, very different things? In fact, according to a group called Sustainable Architecture Building and Culture, green and healthy homes, they do share some similarities including being made or remodeled with generally nontoxic building materials. But for your home to be truly green, it must have at least a few special features; one of which is the use of building materials that are made from renewable resources or even recycled items.

    TOM: Good point. And another is to ensure that you’re home is energy efficient. Now, this can be done by installing appliances that are powered by renewable resources; you know, like solar heating for air or water. You can also make sure that your appliances are Energy Star rated. And you can have a green home if you make sure to prevent air leaks around windows and door frames by sealing gaps with a good quality premium self-adhered flashing, like Grace Vycor Plus. We use that a lot. It works really well to prevent water from getting in around windows and doors.

    If you want more information about how to incorporate this into building your green home, you can visit Grace’s website at GraceatHome.com. Or you can call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Stanley in Connecticut, welcome to The Money Pit. What’s going on at your house?

    STANLEY: Well, I’m having a problem that I’ve been battling for years.

    TOM: OK.


    STANLEY: Inside windows get so wet that sometimes the whole towel gets wet by the time we get through …

    TOM: Do they get wet when it rains?

    STANLEY: No, only when the weather is extremely cold weather.

    LESLIE: So you’re seeing condensation on the glass on the inside, correct?

    STANLEY: On the inside, yes.

    TOM: OK. So what’s happening here is this. Your windows are not energy efficient so the glass is cold. The air inside the house is warm and moist. So as the warm, moist air strikes the cold glass, the air is chilled. And air – as the air is chilled it releases its moisture. And that’s what’s condensing on the windows. It’s the same thing that happens when you take a glass of iced tea outside in the humidity outside in the humidity in the summer; you get the moisture on the outside because the air chills and gives up its moisture.

    So the solution here is twofold. Number one – you could replace the windows with better quality insulated windows that would not be cold. Number two – you could take some steps to reduce moisture in the house. And there’s a number of ways you could do that, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Yeah, first you – I know it sounds silly but you want to go outside first to control the moisture on the inside and especially in the winter when things get icy in the gutters and the gutters tend to get clogged up. There could be a lot of moisture coming into the house. So you want to make sure that your gutter system stays as clear as it; you know, whether you do it yourself or you hire somebody to service the gutters a couple times of year. Makes a lot of sense.

    Make sure that the downspouts are depositing the water as far away from the foundation. Because if the water gets into the foundation it’s getting back into the house causing moist air.

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

    LESLIE: Kingsburg, California, you’ve got The Money Pit. Hey Tom, what can we do for you?

    TOM IN CALIFORNIA: Well, I recently got a new roof and I guess according to new code they put in a roof vent system.

    TOM: OK.


    TOM IN CALIFORNIA: I had the – I guess what was called an eave vent; the vents underneath the eave. I’d like to blow in new insulation in the attic. I’m wondering with the new roof vent system, can I blow insulation over the top of the old vent and eave.

    TOM: No.

    LESLIE: Because you still need the eave vent.

    TOM: When you say eave vent, do you mean the overhang of the roof; so the underside of that?


    LESLIE: Like the soffit vent.

    TOM IN CALIFORNIA: That’s called the soffit. And you cannot block the soffit vents. If you block the soffit vents you’re not going to get air into the soffit area; it will not be able to ride up under the underside of the roof and exit at the upper roof vents. So you absolutely have to keep the soffit vent clear. If you block it, then you’re going to force moisture to collect in the attic and no matter how much more insulation you put in there, if it’s damp and humid, it’s not going to work right.

    TOM IN CALIFORNIA: OK, I thought the new roof vent system would eliminate the other.

    LESLIE: No, you need them together to keep everything perfectly balanced.

    TOM: Now, the other roof vents that you have up higher on the roof, are those separate vents or is there a ridge vent that goes down the peak?

    TOM IN CALIFORNIA: No, there are 15 separate vents.

    TOM: OK. Well, that’s a bit sloppy but it’ll still work. I would have recommended a ridge vent down the peak which would have been nicer than the 15 separate vents. But regardless, you’ve got to keep those vents free flowing. If you want to put more insulation in, fine. But there’s a device called a baffle and it fits in between the roof rafters and allows the air to sort of pour over the soffits and get into the ridge space without actually getting blocked by the insulation. So you may have to add those baffles. They’re very inexpensive. Usually made of cardboard or styrofoam. OK?

    TOM IN CALIFORNIA: Very good. Thank you.

    TOM: That’s all there is to it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit and we here always tell you to fix nail pops by using drywall screws. Well, what if the screws are popping out? One of you emailed us this very problem. We have the solution, next.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Let’s talk termites. They can cause thousands of dollars of damage in your home but we have the best advice to keep your house off the menu. It is just a click away at MoneyPit.com. And while you’re there, you can also click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an email question, just like Penny did from Framington, Massachusetts.

    LESLIE: And Penny writes: ‘I have some add-on questions to the ever-popularity popcorn ceiling question that seems to come up often. How about the removal after the ceiling has been painted? Does the same technique apply? I have a textured, swirled ceiling. Is the removal for this the same as popcorn type and what if that’s been painted?’ That doesn’t sound like a popcorn ceiling. That sounds like some sort of a stucco.

    TOM: That sounds like a stucco like – I know there is – a lot of contractors would use, actually, spackle …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … and they would use textured rollers and things to create a spackled, swirled ceiling. That’s not a popcorn ceiling. That’s a different type of texture.

    LESLIE: Right, the popcorn, it’s like poppy and foamy; almost like little bubbles. And you can scratch it off.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s like chunks of it. Right. It’s very, very hard to get off the other type of ceiling so I think we would recommend, in this case, to actually paint it and use a very thick, textured roller so you can get into every little nook and cranny; like those big, thick half-inch ones.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, but you know what? If she really – you know, exactly. With rollers, the longer the nap, it’s the more for it is for texture, correct?

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: So if it’s a smoother roller, you want that for a very smooth-as-glass. Get the big, hairy ones for something that’s a little bit more textury to a lot more textury. But I think for Penny, if you want that textured ceiling to go away, it sounds like you’re going to have to just resheath it with some more drywall.

    TOM: Yeah, that would probably be the easiest way because trying to strip that off would be nearly impossible.

    LESLIE: A mess.

    TOM: Just a big, stinking mess. So if you really want to get rid of it, we would put more drywall on top of that. Start with a smooth ceiling and just kind of go from there.

    Alright, we’ve got another here from Larry in Geneva, Alabama.

    LESLIE: Alright. Larry writes: ‘I have a house that has some screws in the drywall that are either backing out or the drywall was not pushed up tight against the studs when first installed. What’s the correct way to fix this?’

    TOM: Hmm. Well, I’ve got to say, Larry, I’ve never really seen screws back out. They really don’t do that.

    LESLIE: Unless there’s some weird magnetic, swirly force that’s pulling them out of the wall. Do-do-doo! (chuckling)

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Naw, that would be kind of odd. No, I think probably what happened here is the drywall was not actually compressed all the way against the stud and then, subsequently, it was – somebody pushed on it and of course the screw sort of popped through. So this is a situation where it actually, if it is screws, it’s just simply got to be tightened up to the wall. I would suggest taking a couple of new drywall nails or drywall screws and trying to reattach the drywall in this area. If you find that the screw is in place and pops out through the little piece of spackle, then, you know, go ahead and tighten it up and drive it in a bit further. But right now, I doubt that it’s actually physically backing up.

    The nails, on the other hand, they will back up. They will actually sort of spit out of the wall because the expansion and the contraction of the wood studs forces them out.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s why it looks like that little circle that’s sort of pushing through the paint.

    TOM: That’s because it’s the nail head plus the piece of spackle that’s on top of it.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: And it looks worse than it is because it’s a big chunk of plaster that sort of comes out with it. If that’s the case, put another nail on top of it or put a screw next to it and you’ll never have to worry about it again.

    LESLIE: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit. Thanks so much for joining us this hour.

    Hey, don’t forget that this show or any of our shows from the past year are available for you to download at MoneyPit.com, which means The Money Pit is now portable. So log on today. Remember, our podcast is free.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Our telephone number is also available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So you can call us anytime you have a home improvement question.

    Hey, coming up next week on the program, did you know that hurricane force wind can literally blow down your door? It’s actually one of the most vulnerable parts of your house. But coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’re going to teach you how to protect your front entry and make it more attractive all at the same time.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    (theme song)


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

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