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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 projects. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemmas. What are you doing? What are you working on? We want to talk about you and your home improvement projects. If you took a look in your bathroom and you notice that your toilet repair is also going to include a floor repair, well, you’re in the right place because we can help you fix that, too. Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because home improvement projects always grow.

    LESLIE: That is true; although I can’t imagine a toilet project springboarding into replacing my floor, unless that’s a pretty big mess. (laughs)

    TOM: No, it absolutely could. See, now – see, now this is perfect because you don’t expect it, right?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: But why do toilets leak? Well, the wax seals fail below and …

    LESLIE: Yar.

    TOM: … where does that water go? Goes into the floor and it rots away the floor.

    LESLIE: You’re so funny. You’re making it seem like, ‘Hey, gotta replace that flush valve? Let’s do the floor, too!’ (laughs)

    TOM: (chuckling) Hey, it’s a good reason for a home improvement project; a good reason for a bathroom makeover. Now, you want …

    LESLIE: It’s so funny. Why not?

    TOM: Listen, let me – I’ll tell the truth. When I was in all those years as a home inspector, we had a technique for checking the toilet to see if it was secure to the floor or the floor was rotted.


    TOM: Course, you didn’t want to touch it, right? So you would sort of stand – like sort of straddle it. But you would sort of use your shins to sort of like rock the bowl back and forth to see if it was going to like move. And then you sort of press your foot along the side of the toilet. Because you didn’t want to touch it, right? Because that would be gross.

    LESLIE: Yeah, well of course. I mean not to think that in three minutes you’re going to put your hand in the bowl. (chuckling)

    TOM: Oh yeah, exactly.

    LESLIE: It’s like, ‘Why the outside?’ (laughing)

    TOM: But then you would find out that the toilet was loose and the floor was rotted. So that’s how a toilet repair can lead to a floor repair, OK?

    LESLIE: Ah, I see.

    TOM: It always – it grows. See, home improvement has like a viral quality to it. (chuckling) You know …

    LESLIE: So it’s not just the ‘While you’re at it.’ It’s, ‘OK, there’s something legitimate.’ (chuckling)

    TOM: Absolutely. So call us now if you’ve ever found yourself in that situation. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Got a great show in store for you today.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Is your cooktop working for you or is it hard to clean, hard to use or even just plain annoying? We’re going to tell you what features to look for when you’re shopping for a new cooktop.

    TOM: And let’s talk garage. Is there a strange odor coming from your garage? (Leslie chuckles) If you’re like most families, you just might have that. Because most of us create dozens of pounds of garbage a week and store it in the garage. Pew! Well, this hour we’re going to teach you how to keep all of those garbage cans smelling fresh as daisies.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Good to know because those things do get really, really stinky.

    And we’re also giving away a No-Crank hose reel. It’s worth $65 and you are never going to have to worry about winding up your garden hose again. Because let me tell you, that is a hard task. You get all messy, it loads to much to one side. Well, no more. The No-Crank hose reel is going to do it for you with just a push of a lever.

    TOM: So call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, let’s get right to the phones. Who’s first?

    LESLIE: Judy in Nebraska listens on KFOR. And what can we help you with?

    JUDY: Well, we had done – or had some shingling done and had a roll-off on our driveway. And when they took the roll-off away it left a great big rust area. And we wondered how we can get that rust spot off our driveway.

    LESLIE: Well, good news is it’s a newer stain so it hasn’t had really a lot of time to sort of saturate into that concrete and really permeate and stick well. One, really, thing that we like to recommend is something called TSP, which is trisodium phosphate. And you get it in the painting aisle at the home center. Sometimes it’s in the cleaning aisle. And basically it’s like a soapy solution that you mix up. And you want to mix it to almost like a paste-like consistency. And then put it down on the stain on the concrete and let it sit for a little while. Let it do it’s job. And then lightly pressure wash it away. And if you’ve got some stubborn areas, you can use a – you know, softly use a wire brush. That should get rid of it.

    JUDY: And is it a liquid itself or you mix it with water?

    TOM: It’s a powder. And you can sort of add a little liquid and convert it to a paste and then just sort of trowel it on or put it on real thick. You’re going to want to wear gloves because it’s going to really be annoying to your hands.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s a chemical.

    TOM: Yeah. Put it on there and let it sit and you’ll see that it’ll kind of lift the rust off.

    LESLIE: I mean it really works so effectively with rust stains.

    TOM: Yeah, it really does.

    JUDY: Thanks. Alright, well thanks. I’ll try that.

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

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

    MIKE: Hi, I was wondering, is there anything that I can do to increase my water pressure in my bathroom sink.

    TOM: Do you have good water pressure in other places in the house?

    MIKE: I have excellent water pressure in the shower and the rest of the house is fine.

    TOM: Yeah, it you have water pressure in the shower that’s great and water pressure in the bathroom sink that’s lousy, then there can be one thing and one thing only that’s causing this and that’s an obstruction of the sink faucet. Have you tried to take off the aerator off the sink faucet? That’s the tip of the end of the faucet. Have you taken that off?

    MIKE: No, I haven’t taken that off. But I can do that.

    TOM: This is going to be a miracle.

    LESLIE: Wait until you see, Mike. (Tom chuckles) When you unscrew that tip of the faucet, make sure you very carefully, number one, watch out for falling debris because there’s going to be a ton of it. But also, when you take apart the pieces of the aerator, put them in order that you’re removing them because it can get a little confusing. And make sure you really clean things. You’re going to see there’s a lot of debris and particles and rocks and stones, even. You’d be surprised what comes through the faucet.

    TOM: Yeah, when you pull that aerator off then turn the faucet on, stand back because the flow is going to be massive. You can’t have a water pressure problem in one faucet and have it be perfect everywhere else if there’s something wrong with your piping. It’s the problem with the faucet and it’s very common to have an aerator get blocked. You’d be amazed that you only have to block it a tiny bit to do a dramatic reduction in water pressure. So take the aerator off, clean it, put it back together. You could even soak it in a little bit of vinegar and water. That will loosen up any mineral salts that are blocking it as well. Put it back together and you’ll be good to go.

    MIKE: Very good. Thank you very much.

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

    That’s one of those home improvement miracles; when you realize how little of an obstruction it takes to totally mess up your water flow.

    LESLIE: Melissa in Virginia listens on WJFK and you’re thinking about doing some remodeling. How can we help?

    MELISSA: Yes, we were looking to add on some additional rooms on our house and we were just wondering – we live in the Northern Virginia area; in Stafford, Virginia. What is a good price in a square footage – I guess square-footage rate? We got quoted $125 per square foot. I don’t know if that’s high, low, what average is for this area or …

    TOM: Well, Melissa, it really depends on what you’re putting into that addition. You know, anywhere from $100 to $200 a square foot is not unusual but it depends on what you’re putting in that’s going to add up to those costs. What we would recommend is that you don’t simply deal directly with a contractor but that you get an architect involved to actually spec out the addition. This way …

    LESLIE: Yeah, have you come up with a design plan for what this area is going to look like, where the windows are, how the heating is situated?

    MELISSA: We do – actually the guy that’s overseeing is an architect and he’s working on getting all the contractors for us and orchestrating all that.

    TOM: OK but Melissa, let’s talk about the order of events. You’re getting the architects to do the plans; that’s good. Those plans will also include a set of specifications in terms of what exactly is going in there. Once those are done, then you can go out and get contractors to bid on that set of plans. So, I’m glad that your architect is helping with this but I hope that the way he’s helping is getting several contractors to bid on this; not just working with one person.

    LESLIE: Well, and I mean Melissa, you’ve hired the architect so, essentially, you own those plans and the schematics. So if you’re not happy with this contractor that he likes to work with, you know, you should clearly go and seek out others based on recommendations. And follow up with their references. Really call them up and ask did they finish on time, were they neat, how was the work; you know, [were there] (ph) weather conditions. Find out because you really need to do your research.

    TOM: Yeah. And this way you can bid apples to apples because they’ll be bidding on the same set of plans. You follow us, Melissa?

    MELISSA: Right.

    TOM: No, there’s no reason that you can’t those plans and go out and get some bids on your own besides what your architect is getting and sort of cross check against them.

    LESLIE: And you should.

    TOM: And you absolutely should.

    LESLIE: Lindell (sp) in Texas, what can we do for you here at The Money Pit?

    LINDELL (sp): We have a – probably about a 26-foot vaulted ceiling in our new home. It’s about a couple of years old now. And seems like every seam of the sheetrock has a crack in it now. And I didn’t – I don’t know if it – is that a common problem or is there something that we can do to stop it from, you know, continuing to crack?

    LESLIE: And the cracks are only where you have seaming, correct?

    LINDELL (sp): Not completely. That’s the majority of them but there are some at the corners of some of the windows that are cracking.

    LESLIE: But anyplace where you’ve got pieces that are joined together. You’re not seeing cracks like straight across a piece of drywall.

    LINDELL (sp): Not very many. One or two.

    TOM: Well, the cracks are fairly normal. You mentioned around corners of windows. That’s like the weakest part of the wall.

    LESLIE: Even around door frames, as well, you would see it.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s where the walls have the most movement. Also at, you know, corners where you have 90-degree corners that are opposing to each other; you get cracks there.

    LESLIE: Even where the wall meets the ceiling.

    TOM: Exactly. I would say that minor cracks like that are fairly common because homes are always expanding and contracting. Unless you’re seeing anything more than that, I think it’s probably cosmetic and normal wear and tear. If you wanted to repair them, what you’re going to have to do is tape them; not just spackle them. If you spackle them it will open up again. But if you tape them, I would say, Leslie, probably with a fiberglass tape it would work best.

    LESLIE: Yeah, the fiberglass tape is going to be so much easier to work with, Lindell (sp). Because the fiberglass is so open and meshy that when you put the spackle on top of it it really adheres well and it gets into all the nooks and crannies, whereas with the paper tape, you’re going to be spackle, tape, spackle, tape; you know, all these different layers to sort of make sure that it does its job. And you know the fiberglass really just is user friendly, I think.

    LINDELL (sp): Real good. Well I appreciate your help.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Lindell (sp). Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Daylight savings is in full effect so put that extra hour to good use and call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, if your cooking surface is not working, well, it might be time for a new one. We’ll tell you what to look for in new cooktop ranges, after this.

    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question because one caller we talk to this hour wins the No-Crank hose reel. It’s water powered and makes rewinding and storing your garden hose effortless. Worth 65 bucks. Call us right now to qualify at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask it of us.

    LESLIE: Alright. So before your mentioning of the fantastic prize – which really is great because you don’t end up getting messy when you use these water-powered hose reels. It just does it for you and evenly places it because I’m always winding it too heavy to one side and then trying to wheel mine away and it’s a big mess. But before that fun, we were talking about cooktops and ovens and ranges and placement (ph) and how best to make them work for you. Well, if you’re in the market for a new one, here are some tips that are going to help you narrow down your search.

    You want to look for cooktop burners that sit below a smooth, glass top. They’re going to look better than an electric coil and they’re going to be easier to clean, which is a huge bonus. You also want to choose a cooktop with controls either at the front or the side because it’s going to help you reach things more easily without burning yourself. And you’re also going to look for burners that are slightly offset from one another. This way, if you have to reach across something you’re not reaching across a hot burner to either turn up the heat or stir one of the pots on the back burner. And also, consider push button controls. They’re a lot easier to use, a lot easier to clean and much easier to see.

    TOM: Also, look for a cooktop with a heat indicator. This reminds you when the burner is still hot. And the light goes out when the burner cools down. And look for displays that use big numbers so that you can see them clearly across the room. And check the instruction book …

    LESLIE: That’s for the men out there. Read the instruction book.

    TOM: Yeah, read the instructions. Large type and simple sentences can help you find answers quickly.

    One more thing to look for is a child lockout feature. Some of the electric cooktops today have child lockouts so that you really need to know how to turn the cooktop on. And if there’s kids in the house you can simply engage the lockout and then they can’t possibly turn it on …

    LESLIE: Accidentally.

    TOM: … accidentally.

    For more great shopping tips when you are looking for a new cooktop, visit AARP.org/HomeDesign. That’s AARP.org/HomeDesign.

    LESLIE: Lauren in Florida finds The Money Pit on WCOA. What can we help you with?

    LAUREN: Well, I might have inadvertently combined bleach and another cleaner in my toilet …

    LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.

    LAUREN: … not remembering that I had put the lemon-scented bleach and I think I might have added something else. And then I may have left that in there for a couple of days. And – this is a spare bathroom so I’m not in there everyday. And when I went back in, I noticed that – right away – that from the water line down, it had turned a grayish color. And I flushed it, flushed it, flushed it out with water and then …

    LESLIE: And that grayish color just sort of stayed?

    LAUREN: Well, the gray disappeared but the glazing now feels very rough from the water line down.

    TOM: Have you tried a product, Lauren, like CLR? CLR stands for calcium, lime, rust. It’s a really good cleaner for pulling out whatever ails you in that toilet.

    LESLIE: But that could be if it’s just a buildup that she’s now feeling.

    TOM: Well, it could still be. There could be some residual there. I mean I would do that before I did anything else. Because glazing rarely wears out that quickly. I mean you would have to have really put a nasty mix in there to have impacted it.

    LESLIE: Yeah but if bleach is so sort of detrimental to your plumbing piping itself, what could it do to the bowl?

    TOM: No, it’s not going to do anything to the bowl. It would be very corrosive for the metal parts and the rubber gaskets and the seals and stuff like that but it shouldn’t affect the bowl at all. So that’s why I feel this is probably some sort of a mineral deposit or other deposit and I would use CLR on it as a start.

    LAUREN: OK. And then if that doesn’t work, if there’s still like that rust feel from the water line down …

    TOM: Well, if you can’t get that out then that’s what you’ve got and you’re probably not going to be able to get it any more clean than that, Lauren.

    LESLIE: If the glazing is gone, Tom, is there any sort of detriment to the bowl itself? Like is the toilet going to break down because the glaze is gone and then the – it’s porous?

    TOM: Nah. Toilets don’t wear out. You know, the mechanical wears out; the toilet doesn’t. You know what? Lauren, I would clean it up and I would just put a little sign on it and tell no one to reach into the bowl.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah.

    LAUREN: Ah.

    TOM: Never feel the bowl.

    LESLIE: Keep your hands out.

    TOM: Alright?

    LAUREN: No feeling below the water line. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: That’s right, yeah. Put some of that blue stuff in there. It’ll all look great. (chuckling) OK?

    LAUREN: OK, well thanks very much.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: No, wait. If she puts that blue stuff in there it’s going to dye that porcelain. (Tom laughs) Don’t do it.

    TOM: Yeah, but you won’t see it.

    LESLIE: Don’t do it. (Tom chuckles) But then if she ever chooses not to use the blue stuff there’s going to be this weird, blue, Smurf zone.

    TOM: Yeah, I think it’s important to keep your toilet bowl clean but polishing the inside, that may be just a bit excessive.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Charles in Florida, what can we help you in your Money Pit?

    CHARLES: I’ve got a vinyl siding on my home and I’ve hit it with mowing – with a lawnmower. A rock – picked up a rock and hit it and put a hole in it. What do you do about that?

    TOM: Not much. You have to replace the piece of vinyl siding. Do you have happen to have any extra?

    CHARLES: No, uh-uh. No, actually it’s a mobile home.

    TOM: Oh. Well, I’ll tell you what you’re – I would suggest that you think about taking a piece off the least visible side of the house and moving it over there; perhaps putting the damaged piece over to that side. You can move pieces around or you can probably search out …

    CHARLES: That was a good idea.

    TOM: You can search out for a replacement piece. But siding is not very forgiving in terms of any repair.

    LESLIE: Yeah, do you need to remove everything from above it and sort of replace that one piece and then retack on or can you patch over it?

    TOM: No, there’s a little siding tool that helps you sort of unzip that piece out of it and you can kind of take it apart in place.

    CHARLES: OK, great. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Collin in Florida’s got some decorative ideas. What can we do for you?

    COLLIN: Hi. Yeah, I had a question about installing crown moulding.


    COLLIN: I have a living room that has tall ceilings and multiple inside and outside corners. You know, I’ve looked on the internet and there’s all kinds of guides on how to do this, as well as cutting jigs – I guess you’d call them – that you could attach to your mitre saw to help you cut better corners. And I just was wondering if you had any expert advice, so to speak, because I’m not sure on the internet who to trust and who not.

    LESLIE: Are you following the ceiling line exactly or are you coming down a bit from it?

    COLLIN: In the – in the corner. We’re not – yeah, they’re not going to be dropped (inaudible).


    TOM: Collin, what size crown moulding are you hoping to put in here?

    COLLIN: Probably four to six inch. It’s a big room with tall ceilings.

    TOM: Well, I will tell you that cutting crown moulding is a very tricky job. And one way to do it with your power mitre box is basically to use the fence and the base of the mitre box and treat that as if that was the ceiling corner that you’re working with. You’re kind of cutting it upside down and backwards.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you want to make sure that the crown moulding is upside down and facing towards you. Right? Upside down and towards you.


    TOM: Yeah. And then, using the mitre box, you can draw a line on the fence and also on the base so that you know it’s the same angle as what it would be on the wall. And when you cut it, you’ll end up with a compound mitre cut that’s the same every time.

    The other thing to know here is that you don’t – you don’t put a mitre on both inside corners. You only put a mitre on one corner and then you back cut it to do something called coping; which basically means you cut out all of the extra wood and it’ll give the illusion of a mitre but it actually is easier to do.

    LESLIE: And also, if you find places where your ceiling starts to slope up and you’re going to mimic that slope, you’re going to need a tool called a T bevel. And what does is it’s sort of a sliding bevel marker and you would open it out and put it so that it mocks that exact angle. And then you take that, lock it in place, take it to your mitre saw and then you match your blade up to it. Because you’re going to use both your compound cut and your angle cut as well and you’re going to need both of them.

    Remember that outside corners have the exterior part of the moulding extend from them and inside corners have more of the, you know, cut edge extending. It just takes practice. It’s not difficult. It just takes a lot of patience and practice.

    TOM: Yeah, practice with the small stuff and work up to the big stuff.

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    Well, how many pounds of garbage do you think an average family generates each week? I know I’m only a family of two at my house and we’re constantly throwing stuff out. And I don’t even weight it so I have no idea to estimate.

    Well, we’re going to weigh in on that answer with a tip to keep odors away. Because lots of trash equals lots of stink. So stick around.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/UniversalHome to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home improvement is not just an adventure. It’s a chance to run power tools unsupervised. So pick up your tools (Leslie chuckles), let’s get to work, let’s tackle those home improvement projects and get the job done. Call us, we’ll help. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, we were talking about gar-bage before the break.

    LESLIE: And you loved my math equation: lots of trash equal lots of stink.

    TOM: Leslie Segrete math.

    LESLIE: I think it makes sense.

    TOM: Well, there is a lot of trash. The average family of three generates 40 pounds of garbage a week. Forty pounds!

    LESLIE: That’s a lot!

    TOM: So, what do you do? Well, to keep your garbage cans looking and smelling clean, rinse them weekly with a solution of borax and warm water. Borax works great at keeping germs at bay. And then you can also spray the inside of the can with a 10 percent bleach solution, sort of as a final touch. And that will both clean it and disinfect it and keep it smelling nice.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I don’t want that chore.

    TOM: Yeah, we don’t want it to take over the neighborhood. (Leslie chuckles) Be polite. Don’t be a polluter. Clean your garbage cans.

    1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Bennie in Delaware, you have got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    BENNIE: We have a bathtub and we want to replace it. I thought the bath is being held by screws to the drywall. But later I found out that there are no screws and I don’t know what is holding it and I don’t know how to take it out. Is there any way you can help?

    TOM: Bennie, how old is the house with the bathtub?

    BENNIE: Fourteen. 1-4.

    TOM: Hmm, 14. Do you know if it’s a cast iron bathtub? Is it a metal tub?

    BENNIE: No, it looks like a fiberglass.

    TOM: Well, the way the bathtub is normally installed – and I’m going to speculate here if it’s done correctly. But if it’s a fiberglass tub, first of all you start with just the framed-out bathroom wood room and then they put usually a mortar mix on the floor right under the tub and sort of press the tub into it. Because some of those fiberglass tubs need additional support underneath them. And that’s not going to adhere it but it gives you additional support. And then they drywall all around that and then the drywall plus the plumbing connectors and usually a couple of nails or screws in the lip is all that’s really holding that in place. For the most part, it’s just the weight of the tub that’s doing that. But trying to get it out is, you know, very difficult because it is so big and so heavy. Now, if it is fiberglass it could also be cut out with a saws awl. And you could actually cut it out in pieces.

    But why is it that you need to take it out? Are you going to be replacing it with a different tub?

    BENNIE: Yeah, we want to replace it.

    TOM: Well, then you’re going to need to plan this out very carefully so you’re not inconvenienced. And you want to do this yourself, Bennie?

    BENNIE: Yes, I want to.

    TOM: Alright. Well, it’s going to be a big job. I would tell you to cut the drywall out from all the way around the lip of the tub so you have full access to it. I would tell you to disconnect all of the plumbing to it and make sure the water is off. And then I would try to loosen the tub up from there. And if it doesn’t loosen up, you could also cut it out using a saws awl.

    BENNIE: Thank you very much for your advice.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Bennie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Dan in Illinois on the line and you’ve got an unwanted visitor in the house; possibly mold. How can we help you source it out?

    DAN: How do you know if you have mold in the house?

    TOM: Well, if it’s in the refrigerator it’s generally easy.

    DAN: Yep, I know that one. (chuckling)

    TOM: Well, why do you suspect that you have mold? Is there anything going on, Dan?

    DAN: No, not really.

    TOM: Well …

    DAN: Just that it’s an old house.

    LESLIE: Just precautionary?

    DAN: Yeah, it’s an older house and we just wanted to know if it had mold. My daughter has asthma.

    TOM: OK. Well, first of all, I can absolutely, positively guarantee you that you have mold in your house.

    DAN: OK.

    TOM: Because we all do. Mold is very prevalent in homes. But the thing is you want to take steps to reduce the chance that it could grow into something that’s very unhealthy. There’s a couple of strains of mold that are getting, you know, fairly famous for the respiratory issues they cause. One is stachybotrys; another is penicillium; another is aspergillus. Those are really kind of the top three that impact our health in the home. And generally they’re detectable at some stage in their – in their sort of metamorphosis. And if you see, for example with drywall, and you see that it has like sort of dark greenish growth on it, that’s probably stachybotrys.

    But if you’re not seeing any evidence of mold, I wouldn’t tell you to go on a witch hunt for it. There are some things that you can do to avoid mold in the house. If you log onto MoneyPit.com, click on the AOL button. There’s a link there to my blog on AOL and one of the stories that’s getting a lot of traffic this month is ten tips for a mold-free house. You can check it out there and go to that by logging onto MoneyPit.com.

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

    LESLIE: He’s got nothing to do so now he wants to look for the mold.

    TOM: Yeah, he’s on a mold witch hunt. ‘I know it’s here somewhere. I’m going to find it.’

    LESLIE: ‘I’m going to find it.’ You know, I think his daughter, if her asthma started getting worse, that’s a good sign.

    TOM: If it got worse, that would be a good mold test?

    LESLIE: Well, because generally the mold is going to trigger …

    TOM: That would be sort of like a human mold test, don’t you think?

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re noticing that her symptoms are worse in certain areas of the house, it could be a sign that there’s mold present. If you sense something musty, that’s also a symbol; a sign.

    TOM: Or if you go away and all of the symptoms go away.

    LESLIE: That’s true. Hmm.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: All things to check out.

    TOM: And thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Roofing’s on the mind of Arthur in Florida. What can we do for you?

    ARTHUR: Well, my wife and I are in the process of purchasing a 1973 home that has a wood shingle roof. It’s gone through the recent hurricanes we’ve had here in 2004 and 2005 with only minor repair. But we were wondering what we should be aware of; in effect, the pros and cons of the roof as it ages.

    LESLIE: How old is the roof now?

    ARTHUR: It was in 1973 so it’d be about 34 years old

    LESLIE: Oh, it’s original to the house?

    ARTHUR: Yes.

    LESLIE: So Tom, do you think that there’s any sort of wear and tear that’s already occurred; especially since the wood is so old? We’re probably dealing with some rot.

    TOM: Well, it’s possible. I mean some of the wood roofs can last a long time if they’re put on properly, Arthur. Generally it has to do with how ventilation they get. If they’re put on and they vent well so that they can dry out, then they can last a long time. My feeling, though, is once a wood roof fails, it’s probably not worth replacing. Because I think you’re going to get …

    LESLIE: Worth repairing.

    TOM: Well, I – I mean, maybe minor repairs but when it’s completely failed, it’s not worth putting a second wood roof on; in other words, taking that off and …

    ARTHUR: Right.

    TOM: … replacing it with a wood roof. I would suggest to you that in the last 30 years the technology with asphalt shingles has gotten so much better that you can realistically put in an asphalt shingle roof that gives the appearance of being a dimensional roof. It can look like wood shakes or shingles or even a tile roof if it’s installed correctly.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well and even with being in Florida, Arthur, you should be looking for something that can withstand high winds. And is it Owens Corning that makes a high-wind roof shingle?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point because it needs to be able to stand up to high winds and the high wind shingles take winds of, I think, up to 100 miles an hour.

    ARTHUR: Well, the architectural shingles did do as well down here as the metal roofs did, so …

    TOM: Well, the metal roofs are always going to do well.

    ARTHUR: But this one took very little repair on the – and it was inspected by a company before we offered to purchase the house and they said it was in great shape. So, they had about 50 fewer shingles that had – they were a little bit warped. But the rest of the roof was absolutely just intact.

    TOM: Well, if it’s minor maintenance like that, I’d tell you to continue to do that. But if the roof ever gets to the point where it was severely damaged or it really is wearing out and starting to add into a lot of maintenance costs on a year by year basis, I wouldn’t recommend replacing it with a wood roof. At that point I would go with an asphalt shingle roof.

    ARTHUR: OK. Do you have any guesses on how long a wood shingle roof like that would last if it’s put on well?

    TOM: If it’s put on well, I’d say 15 years. Maybe 20.

    LESLIE: So you’re well beyond that.

    TOM: Yeah.

    ARTHUR: We are.

    TOM: So that roof doesn’t owe you a dime, Art. (Leslie and Arthur laugh) Alright?

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit.

    Well, it’s always overhead yet we often take our roofs for granted. But your roof is actually being attacked on a daily basis and not just when it’s raining or snowing. We’re going to uncover your roof’s biggest enemies and teach you how to protect against them, right after this.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by 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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are a pressure washer for your home improvement to-do list. We’re going to blast through it one step at a time. (Leslie chuckles) We’re going to help. You’re going to hold the tool, we’re going to instruct you and together we’re going to get the job done.

    LESLIE: You know, Tom, I always like to write my to-do list on like a piece of scrap wood. So that makes perfect sense that I’d be marking things away with a pressure washer.

    Alright folks, you’re listening and we love it. If you give us a call today at 1-888-MONEY-PIT – you know the magic number – one caller we talk to today is going to win a hose reel from No-Crank. It’s worth $65 and what it is is a patented water powered engine. So don’t plug it in. No batteries. Nothing. It’s going to rewind your hose with an easy, single push of a lever. So your yard work is going to be not only gorgeous and fantastic, no more mud all over your pants after doing that work. So call now to win.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    You know, I also like to write my to-do list on little scraps of 2x4s.

    LESLIE: I love it. But you can’t really fit it in your pocket.

    TOM: I was going to say it doesn’t fit in the wallet too well. (laughing)

    LESLIE: No. (chuckling)

    TOM: But then you can’t ignore it and you have to get the job done.


    OK, your roof. It’s your home’s first line of defense from the elements and it is being constantly attacked; day and night, rain or shine. And without proper care, your roof is vulnerable to potential damaging leaks.

    Now, your roof’s biggest enemies include the sun. Heat and UV rays can cause roofing materials to deteriorate over time. Rain’s another big one. When that water gets underneath roof coverings, it can work its way to the roof deck – that’s the structural part – and it will cause it to rot away. High winds can also lift the edges of roof coverings and force water underneath them. And melting snow, well it often refreezes at the roof’s overhang. This can be in the form of an ice dam and it can actually leak back in and under your roof and end up in your living room or your bedroom or wherever you have an overhang of a roof. So if you want to get it in shape, you have to take a few steps.

    LESLIE: Alright. And the other thing you want to look for is that roof shingles. When they get old and when they get worn out they’re going to curl, they’re going to split, they’re going to lose their waterproofing effectiveness. You can usually see this by your eye, so grab some binoculars and check it out and look at the conditions. Because not only are they going to really get to that roof underlayment and all that roof surface and cause some damage, they can also easily be blown off, torn or lifted if you get even the slightest wind gust.

    And many roof leaks are actually really flashing leaks. Without good, tight flashings around any detail areas like a chimney or a vent or a skylight, you can find that water can sneak into your house. And while many of the threats we mentioned can’t be prevented, some can. We recommend using a premium self-adhered waterproof underlayment. We like the one from Grace. It’s called Ice & Water Shield. And this type of underlayment is installed under your roof shingles and directly to the roof’s deck so it gets right where you need it to be. And this means that any moisture that gets under the shingles due to weather or maintenance issues is not going to find its way into your home’s interior. And that’s the real important part here. So no leaks. Let’s stop ’em, folks.

    If you want some more information on your roof’s enemies and how to combat them, go to a great website: www.GraceAtHome.com.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT is the telephone number and the answer to your home improvement question is only a phone call away. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Thomas in Washington listens on KZXR. What’s going on with your water heater?

    THOMAS: I’m looking at replacing. I have an electric – an older electric hot water tank. And I’m looking at replacing it with either the instant hot water heaters or go with the propane-fired hot water heater. My question is what is the most economical benefit? You going with an instant hot water heater or with a natural gas propane type?

    LESLIE: Well, if you go with an on-demand hot water heater – which is what you’re talking about with the instant – would you still continue to use electric?

    THOMAS: Most likely, yes.

    TOM: Well, then I would no because tankless electric water heaters are available but the efficiency just doesn’t work out because it requires so much electricity to be able to supply that instant hot water that they’re probably not cost effective.

    What I think you want to do – as a combination of the technologies here – is that you would use a tankless water heater but you would use one that’s propane fired. Not electric. Because the electric won’t be efficient but the propane would be. So your choices are either to go with a standard electric water heater which – the best way to make that efficient is to put it on a timer so that it only runs a few hours a day. You could put it on a 240-volt timer. That would be the least expensive.

    Or if you’re going to be in your house for a long time and you want to make a good energy saving improvement, you can go with the tankless heater but it has to be fired by propane, not electric because it just wouldn’t be efficient as an electric water heater.

    THOMAS: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, it’s a home improvement problem I saw many, many times in the many years I spent as a professional home inspector: cracks in foundations. Are they deal breakers if you’re selling your house? We’ll tell you, next.

    (theme song)

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

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT is the telephone number for The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: You can call us 24/7/365. We never sleep. We’re awful to work for. We never let the screeners go home. (Leslie chuckles) They are always there waiting for your phone call …

    LESLIE: But keep in mind, folks, that Tom is the big boss. I’m the nice one. (laughing)

    TOM: (laughing) Well, you know, we play that good-cop, bad-cop thing pretty well, don’t we? (laughing)

    1-888-MONEY-PIT. Seriously, you can call us any time of the day or night. We will take your call. If we’re not in the studio we’ll call you back the next time we are. But there is another way you can get in touch with us and that’s through our website at MoneyPit.com where you can click on Ask Tom and Leslie. Casey did, from Shreveport, Louisiana. Let’s start with the foundation crack.

    LESLIE: Alright. Casey writes: ‘My house was built in 1962 and there is a crack in the foundation that runs across the entire foundation. How much might it cost to have the foundation repaired and what is involved in doing so? Is there anything that the crack can be filled with that would allow you to do a home repair yourself? And how sellable is a house with a crack in the foundation?’ Ooh, I’m wondering how big …

    TOM: Hmm, lots and lots of questions.

    LESLIE: … how wide, how deep. What’s happening?

    TOM: Well, first of all let’s talk about the age of the house. 1962 – lots of concrete block and cinder block houses built right then. Concrete blocks are very good in compression when they are loaded from the top with weight but they’re not so good in tensile strength and they will break easily if there’s a lot of side pressure because the joints basically open up.

    LESLIE: Yeah but would the side pressure come from, say, movement in the ground or what sort of puts side pressure on it?

    TOM: Usually happens from too much moisture around the foundation.

    LESLIE: And things just sort of seep down to it.

    TOM: Yeah, well if you have too much water around the foundation perimeter, the soil becomes very unstable and you can get sort of a side load or a lateral load. And in the northern climates, that’s going to also freeze and put frost heave on it. But what happens is those walls crack and they buckle inwards. Now, if it’s just a small crack – like say maybe an eighth inch or so – that you could probably simply caulk with a silicone adhesive and you’ll be fine.

    LESLIE: Even QUIKRETE has a wonderful sort of gray concrete repair. It’s in a tube very easy to use as well.

    TOM: But that doesn’t address the structural issue. If you have a badly buckled wall, then you have a structural problem. And that definitely can have an impact on selling your house. But here’s the right thing to do and here’s the right order of events.

    If you have a severely cracked foundation wall, Casey, you’re going to need to hire a structural engineer. The structural engineer is going to assess that crack and design a repair to fix it.

    LESLIE: Is there a lifting of the house with a crane?

    TOM: Probably not. There are different ways to reinforce the walls. They can be filled with different types of cement that are reinforced or you could build other types of structural reinforcement against it. But the specific design of that is going to be up to the structural engineer.

    Now, after the design is done, then you hire the contractor to basically make the repair consistent with that structural engineer’s design. And what you’re doing is creating sort of a pedigree – for lack of a better term –

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: – of the right way to do this repair. And then, if it comes time to sell your house and a home inspector walks in the door and sees all of this repair work or sees a crack, you can say, ‘Hey yeah, we noticed that and that’s why we hired a structural engineer to design a repair, we hired a contractor to do that repair and actually we had the structural engineer come back and certify that it was done correctly.’ And if you do all of those steps in that order, there’s no question that it was done right and it poses no further threat to the house.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And then as far as resell value it only boosts and enhances because you have all that information there and then the new homeowner knows exactly what’s gone on and knows how to go forward from there.

    TOM: Absolutely. So much better than just having a guy come over and throw some cement over it. It’s just – yeah, this is a pedigree and this means it was done once, done right and it won’t have to be done any further.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. And if we said anything that you might actually want to look into a bit further, well …

    LESLIE: (chuckling) I hope everything we said you want to look further.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s all online at MoneyPit.com. In fact, the shows are all there. They’re indexed, there are transcripts, you can listen again.

    LESLIE: Because it’s not really easy to write things down while you’re driving.

    TOM: Well, exactly. We don’t want to encourage any dangerous behavior on the part of our audience. So you can go to MoneyPit.com and check out all the past shows right there. And you can also search just about everything we’ve ever written about home improvement. And we hope that we can be your source for helpful home improvement tips.

    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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