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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

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


    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Why would you want to call that number, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Because you want to talk home improvement with somebody who cares?

    TOM: And we do. So go to the phones right now and call us with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Because we will give you the answer to your question and perhaps a chance at winning some tools to get the job done.

    We have a great hour planned for you. Up first, spring. It’s the prime time for replacing your roof. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. I call it the Goldilocks time of the year for roof jobs.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) It’s just right.

    TOM: It’s just right. You know, if you’ve decided your roof is in need of replacement, the next step is choosing a pro for the job. That can be a bit of a challenge. How do you choose the right guy, how do you make sure you don’t get ripped off? We’ll give you some tips in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also, it’s a scenario that more and more of you are facing everyday. You might be bringing an aging parent into your home to live. Well, you might be ready for this big transition but is your house ready for it? Find out what you need to do to keep your loved ones safe now and keep them secure as they age.

    TOM: And this hour we’re going to give away a new pocket screwdriver from Loggerhead Tools. It’s call the Bit Dr. It’s worth 25 bucks. It’s going to go to one caller we talk to on the air this hour. So call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Going into the basement with Dave in New Jersey. What can we do for you?

    DAVE: Hi. I’m calling about some main steam pipes in a 100-year-old house.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVE: They still have some asbestos on them.

    TOM: Alright.

    DAVE: And the question is, is there a way to safely seal that asbestos in plastic and make that a safe environment? Or do I have to go through a costly waste – hazardous waste type of removal?

    TOM: Well, there’s really two ways to deal with asbestos insulation on steam heating pipes. One is removal and one is encapsulation. But neither are a do-it-yourself job, Dave, and I am an advocate of removal because once you remove it you never have to deal with it again. It doesn’t have to be, ‘Well, we have asbestos but it’s been covered.’ I think removing it is really the best thing to do and I would have it done by someone who is experienced at removing it because if it’s done wrong you can literally contaminate the entire house.

    Having said that though, if the basement insulation on the pipes or the asbestos insulation is not going to be disturbed, the chances of it being released to the air are very, very small. So it’s OK as long as you don’t disturb it. But if the insulation is in an area where the kids are playing; the balls can hit the pipes; you know, it’s in a traffic zone; that kind of thing, then it’s even more important to have it removed. So not a do-it-yourself job. Something for a professional to be done. It can be encapsulated but I would prefer to see it removed.

    And there’s one final step to that, Dave, and that is after you remove it remember the insulation was there for a reason. It has – you have to have new insulation put back on. Otherwise, it’s going to be very, very hot in the basement; the steam’s going to take a lot longer to get upstairs; and it’s going to be more expensive to heat your house.

    DAVE: Outstanding. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Joining us from the Discovery Radio network, we’ve got Laura in Louisiana. What’s happening at your house?

    LAURA: Oh, well my husband burnt a hole on my new table.

    TOM: Oh, no.

    LAURA: It’s a Chinawood. And anyway, I was wondering how you patch it. I got one of those pencils, you know, you buy at Home Depot and patched it.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, wax stick.

    LAURA: And it won’t – that don’t work. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: It doesn’t work, huh?

    LAURA: No.

    TOM: Well first of all, is it a black spot or is it a hole? What’s the – what’s it look like?

    LAURA: Well, it’s a dark table and then when he burned it the stain came off and it’s like a white – the wood – the white wood shows …

    TOM: I see.

    LAURA: … and the grain. But I – you know, I don’t know (inaudible) on it. You know …

    TOM: Probably going to have to try to restain that spot. So get all the …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … carbon out of that. And then what I would do is I would get a small paint brush – like a child’s paint brush – I would get a very small can of stain that’s as close in color as you can to that spot.

    LAURA: OK.

    TOM: And I would dab it – dab it in there so that you kind of darken it as close as you possibly can to the finish that’s there. This is kind …

    LESLIE: Yeah, and you might have to mix one or two colors to get the exact shade or stain that your existing table is.

    LAURA: OK.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s kind of like when you repair a chip on the finish of your car. You’re sort of filling in the area that chipped out.

    LAURA: Yeah.

    TOM: Well, you’re going to be sort of – with a small paint brush, like an artist’s paint brush –

    LAURA: Yes.

    TOM: – dab in that area; fill it in so it’s the same color and then do the same thing with a urethane finish on top.

    LAURA: Oh, OK.

    TOM: That’s going to be the best way to do it. A little trick of the trade: you could use, also – as the last upper surface – you could use clear nail polish, too.

    LAURA: OK.

    TOM: If you want something that’s high gloss you could try it with that.

    LAURA: Alright. That sounds great. I know those pencils don’t work so …

    TOM: Well, the pencils work well but it may not be the kind of damage that a pencil fills in. If you have a nail hole or a scratch or something like that …

    LAURA: Yeah?

    TOM: … they work really well. And a little trick for using them is to take a lighter and heat the tip so the wax gets really soft. And almost drip it into the area and then rub it with your finger, kind of really fast, and it sort of blends in on top of it. That works …

    LAURA: (inaudible)

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It almost like varnishes it.

    TOM: Yeah, it works really good with hardwood floors that way.

    LAURA: Alright, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: John in Arizona, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    TOM: Now John, your money pit has wheels, huh?

    JOHN: Yes, it does. (Tom laughs) Six wheels. It’s a 34-foot motor home …

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: … and I have carpeting in the living room and kind of a dining area.

    TOM: Alright.

    JOHN: And I’d like to get rid of the carpet and find something that’s strong but lightweight that I could put down and make it easier to care for. And I don’t have any idea what to do.

    TOM: Oh, you know what would be two solutions for you? The first one would be laminate floor because laminate floor is a little bit thicker than a quarter of an inch. It locks together and it’s a floating floor so the pieces don’t have to be sort of nailed to the subfloor.

    JOHN: Oh. Yeah.

    TOM: It just sits on top. Sometimes there’s an underlayment that goes underneath it but it sits on top. You’ll just have to figure out a way to trim the edges.

    JOHN: Would I leave the carpeting on and (inaudible) …

    TOM: No, I wouldn’t – I wouldn’t leave the carpeting on. I would take the carpeting off. You don’t really need that underneath it. I’d strip that down.

    JOHN: OK.

    TOM: But no, it can go right on top of whatever’s under the carpet.

    And then the other option, if you want something that’s like really luxurious looking, is you could put down hardwood flooring but not regular hardwood flooring; something called engineered hardwood flooring. And specifically, Armstrong has one that is called locking hardwood floor. In other words, you don’t need to use glue to put the pieces down.

    JOHN: Oh.

    TOM: They sort of snap together like a puzzle piece. And they can have a really durable finish on there. So you could actually have a wood – hardwood – floor.

    LESLIE: But there are some other options. And since you mentioned Armstrong, while you’re at their website, if you’re shopping around anyway, they have these new 16×16 tiles that are laminate but they’re made to look like cork; they’re made to look like fun colors or patterns.

    JOHN: Oh.

    LESLIE: And you can mix and match and create your own sort of styling. And those sort of interlock together or just adhere down on a mapping system, depending on which one you choose. But there’s also – if you’re thinking about – I know you don’t want carpet …

    JOHN: Yes?

    LESLIE: … but something – those floor carpet tiles, which come in, I don’t know, 150 different styles, colors, patterns …

    JOHN: Oh.

    LESLIE: … and those are …

    JOHN: My brother used those in his office.

    LESLIE: You know, they’re inexpensive; they’re durable.

    JOHN: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And the best part is if you mess up one or have a spill or a stain that you can’t get out you can just pop out those carpet tiles and replace them with fresh ones. So you’re not stuck with if you damage something in the middle. And those are some other good options.

    JOHN: Sure, good idea. Where would – this Armstrong’s – the interlocking floor, where would I look for that?

    TOM: Well, you can go to the website for Armstrong Floors at Armstrong.com. And it’s a product called locking hardwood. It was introduced this year at the International Builders Show. That’s why we know about it. It’s pretty cool stuff.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, and it’s so beautiful.

    JOHN: Well, I don’t have a website but could like – could I mention a name like Home Depot or Lowe’s (inaudible) …

    TOM: Yeah, certainly you could.

    JOHN: (inaudible)

    TOM: John, the next time you pull the motor home into a town head over to the library. They have internet connections there, OK? (chuckling)

    JOHN: Oh, OK. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) OK.

    TOM: John, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. As John rolls the motor home down the highway now with a brand new floor. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: I like that he was looking for something more lightweight. I’m like, ‘What? Do you want to make tracks?’

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, it’s a motor home!

    LESLIE: ‘Do you need to go faster? What’s going on?’

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, because he already gets like four miles to the gallon. He doesn’t want to get three miles to the gallon with that thing. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)

    LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Are you tackling a big list of projects around your home? Well, we can help you check everything off. 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.

    Well, are your folks getting a bit older? You know, few things matter more to an aging parent than maintaining their lifestyle, their safety and their independence. Up next, we’re going to give you some advice on bringing a parent into your home. Learn what you need to do, after this.

    (promo/theme song)

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We will do our best to give you the answer to your do-it-yourself dilemma. We’ll even share some of our own personal wisdom. You know, Leslie, I learned something this weekend.

    LESLIE: And what is that?

    TOM: Really bad idea to give a child a paint sprayer. (Leslie laughs) Doesn’t work out well at all. I think I started my home improvement education with my kids way too young. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Was there actually painting involved or was it just like, ‘Hey, try this cool tool out?’

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, let’s just say there was – let’s just say there was a bit of overspray I didn’t anticipate. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Oh, was it on the family car?

    TOM: No, it just required an additional coat of paint to cover. (laughing)

    LESLIE: (laughing) That’s what you get for cheap labor, Tom.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) If you have a question – that’s right. Try to save money and it’ll get you every time. Well, if you have a question about a painting project or maybe you’re working with a squeaky floor or fixing a leaky roof, call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to this hour is going to win a great tool from Loggerhead Tools. It’s called the Bit Dr. It’s a new kind of screwdriver that cleverly packs the function of a 21-piece screwdriver set into the weight of one standard screwdriver. It’s worth 25 bucks. To win it you’ve got to call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Well, it’s a trend we are seeing all over the country; the return of multigenerational families. Are you thinking about having Mom or Dad move in with you? You know, maybe they want to help you with the kids. Maybe they need some help themselves. Well, whether you’re inviting an elderly parent to live with you or you’re helping an older relative adjust to their living space, the AARP has practical ideas to help make any living space more senior friendly. You know, you really want to think about easing the strain on older eyes with plenty of lighting options. It can even be as simple as adding lights underneath cabinets or installing dimmers for even more options to the lights that you’re adding. And give special attention to areas used for detail work like reading and hobbies. And provide easily accessible storage that doesn’t require a lot of reaching or bending or straining.

    TOM: Good points. Now, in the kitchen what you want to do is create a seated work area for food prep tasks. For example, a small table and a chair with access to the utensils is a good solution. You should also consider investing in dining chairs that provide good back support and have strong, sturdy arms. Remember that the goal here is basically to redesign the living space for senior use so that the senior can maintain freedom and comfort within the living environment. Work together to make that happen and everybody wins.

    For more tips, log onto AARP.org/HomeDesign. That’s AARP.org/HomeDesign. Or call us with your home modification right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Leah in California’s up next from Santa Rosa. And you’re looking for a vacuum recommendation. What are you trying to clean?

    LEAH: What am I trying to clean?

    LESLIE: Yeah. Everything.

    LEAH: (laughing) Yeah, my floors; my upholstery. And I went to my – the guy that fixes my vacuum – which has broken twice now (Leslie chuckles) – and he – I asked him what to look for so I could get a good vacuum. And he said it didn’t really matter. (chuckling)

    TOM: It doesn’t matter?

    LEAH: Yeah, he said, ‘It doesn’t really matter.’ I said, ‘Well, what about the horsepower or should I get one with a bag or without a bag’ and you know, all this stuff. And he said – you know, I said, ‘What’s the best suction’ and he said, ‘Well, it doesn’t really matter. Horsepower just means it’s going to have a little more power.’

    TOM: He’s just upset because you’re going to buy a better vacuum and you won’t need him anymore. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And not bring him in.

    LEAH: (chuckling) I won’t need him. Yeah.

    TOM: There’s a new vacuum that we’re using in the studio now which we really like. It’s called Vax – V-a-x. And it’s nice because it has a retractable cord; it’s got an integrated hand, wand – like a wand handle so you don’t have to have an extra part around; and it’s got a dirt cup so it’s very easy to empty. And it’s a lot stronger than some of the comparable vacuums. So that’s just one that’s brand new that we’ve had some good luck with. Their website is VaxUSA.com – V-a-x-USA.com.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and I prefer the bagless ones only because it’s really easy to empty quite quickly. Also, sometimes you have a really hard time finding the replacement bags. And if you don’t have the exact right one it’s not going to work.

    And also you want to think about HEPA filters. And that makes sure that as you’re vacuuming up the dust the air that’s coming back out of the vacuum is not recirculating any of that dust back into the air. But it’s really important. On my vacuum I didn’t realize every six months I’m supposed to pop that filter out and clean it out. And I probably had the vacuum about a year and one day it just wasn’t working anymore. So I started fussing with it and taking it apart and as soon as I rinsed out that filter and let it dry – and that’s as easy; you just wash it out in the sink and dry it out and it works fantastic again. So always look for a HEPA filter. It’s very helpful.

    LEAH: Oh, OK. Because you can use it over and over.

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, same one. It’s like a sponge.

    LEAH: Yeah, because that’s one of the things that I was told; that, you know, not to get a bagless because the filters break and then it’s you – it’s really expensive to replace.

    LESLIE: It’s just about making sure they’re clean.

    TOM: But Leah, don’t forget to send your poor vacuum cleaner repairman, who’ll now be lonely, a card maybe at the holidays, OK? (Leah chuckles)

    Leah, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Ray in Rhode Island finds The Money Pit on WPRO. And you’ve got something going on with your concrete stairs. Tell us about it.

    RAY: Yes, well I’ve got a poured concrete front step. It’s about four steps going up. And I’ve got a crack right down the middle. It’s probably – you know, over the last few years I’ve been kind of procrastinating on fixing it.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.

    RAY: It’s getting pretty wide. And I was wondering what’s probably the best way to alleviate that problem. Or is it going to keep cracking or should I just blow it up and try and get the whole thing done again? (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Well, don’t do anything quite that drastic, Ray. The best way to repair that crack is with a silicone caulk. But I can give you a trick of the trade to help you hide the appearance of the crack. And that is – what you could do is if you had a masonry drill bit and you found an inconspicuous place, like say on the side of that stair or someplace where you’re not going to see this, if you were to drill a couple of holes into the side of the stair and collect the concrete dust that comes out as you do that, what you do is then you put the caulk into the crack and then you take some of that dust and you cover the top of the caulk, while it’s wet, with the concrete dust.

    RAY: Ah.

    TOM: And it’ll blend in perfectly with the step around it.

    RAY: Very good.

    TOM: You understand?

    RAY: I do.

    TOM: Alright, there you go, Ray. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Another satisfied customer.

    TOM: Absolutely. You get more than you pay for (Leslie chuckles) when you call 888-MONEY-PIT. (chuckling)

    OK, Leslie. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Irma in New York is thinking about replacing the front door. How can we help?

    IRMA: Where is the best kind of a door to get?

    TOM: Well, the best kind of door to probably get today is a fiberglass door. And the reason I say that is because wood doors can crack and warp and metal doors …

    LESLIE: And they need a lot of maintenance.

    TOM: Yeah, they do. And metal doors can ding and dent. But a fiberglass door doesn’t need any of that. There are a lot of options in fiberglass doors. You can have a smooth one with no grain on it. You can get one that looks exactly like wood; I mean to the point where it’s like stained like wood. And the grain is almost indistinguishable from real wood.

    LESLIE: And they come in a variety of styles with raised panels and multiple lights and a big glass sort of oval in the center. It’s – truly it’s up to your design choice. There’s a fiberglass door that matches that. They’re durable in storm situations. And they really do stand up well to environmental and weather conditions.

    TOM: You know, Irma, a really good brand to look at is Therma-Tru; T-h-e-r-m-a-T-r-u. That’s their website as well – Thermatru.com. They’re also sold at Lowe’s.

    IRMA: Oh (inaudible).

    TOM: And they really make a nice fiberglass door. You can buy one for, you know, anywhere from a few hundred dollars and up.

    IRMA: Mm-hmm. How about a storm door too, besides?

    TOM: Well see, now that’s the other thing. If you put in a fiberglass door you don’t need a storm door anymore.

    IRMA: Oh.

    TOM: The doors are so insulated. In fact, the fiberglass doors are eight times better insulated than a wood door. So you no longer need a storm door. The only reason you might want to have another door on top of that is if you wanted a screen door. But you definitely do not need a storm door if you put up a fiberglass door.

    LESLIE: Well and Irma, let me tell you, as a New Yorker who has a new door on the front of their home, I opted to go without storm door.

    IRMA: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: And when you open the door people feel compelled to walk right in. (Irma chuckles) Pizza delivery guys, strangers, neighbors. You open that door, they see a blank space and they’re right on in. (Tom chuckles) So, you might want to even think about having one anyway just for that extra layer in between you.

    TOM: Irma, good luck with that home improvement project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, Money Pit listeners. Show off your team colors. That’s your Money Pit colors with Money Pit fanwear. It’s available now at MoneyPit.com. We’ve got some pretty cool shirts, some hats. Do you consider yourself a cut above? You can order a shirt with that on it at MoneyPit.com. There’s lots of fun stuff there and it’s there just in time for Father’s Day – hint hint. (Leslie chuckles) If any of my children are listening. You can pick up some pretty cool stuff available at MoneyPit.com. We’ll be back with more, after this.

    (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.

    So, do you ever wish that Tom and I could talk you through your project while you’re working on it? Well, we can be with you every step of the way when you download our popular podcast. Just go to MoneyPit.com and check out the listen section. When you’re there you can download our podcasts. They are free. You can search by topic. You can download the whole show. You can download a section. Make it work for you because that’s what we’re here for.

    TOM: And speaking of search by topic, I want to mention that we have a new feature on MoneyPit.com called Find Your Project; a nice drop-down list of all the topics that we are asked about most commonly. If you click on any one of them you will have instant access to everything we’ve ever written about the topics. Maybe you have a question about caulking; about chimneys; about decks and porches; about driveways, paths and sidewalks. It’s all there, it’s all free and it’s available right now at MoneyPit.com.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Jake in Santa Rosa, California is thinking about working on the siding of his house. What’s going on? Tell us about it.

    JAKE: I’ve got a home I built about 13 years ago and I used, due to budget constraints, masonite bevel; about an eight-inch beveled siding.

    TOM: Oh, that was a mistake, huh?

    JAKE: Oh, boy; you telling me. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) And so now I’m in that situation where I’ve got to decide what to replace it with. To give you a little background it’s a colonial.

    TOM: Are you part of that class action suit that was over hardboard siding?

    JAKE: Wasn’t even aware of it. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Yeah, they’re actually – a lot of that hardboard siding was involved in a class action suit because it was – the problem with the stuff – it wasn’t – not terribly bad stuff; it’s just hard to install. And typically, if it got overnailed you would break through the surface of it and then it would swell up and sort of rot out on you.

    JAKE: Yeah, that and the ends. The ends are real susceptible to …

    TOM: And so is that what’s happening to you?

    JAKE: Yeah, and actually what’s funny is it was put on right but the wind sometimes, in certain locations, seems like it can get underneath it and get water underneath it.

    TOM: Right.

    JAKE: Because it’s kind of stained. You’ll see like a drip from the back where it’s actually staining the painted board from the backside. So, it’s time.

    TOM: So how can we help you?

    JAKE: I wanted to get your best recommendation on what to use. It’s a two-story colonial and so I wanted to go with a [lap type] (ph) siding.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    JAKE: And I know they’ve got the hardy plank out there and I guess there’s some other composite type boards that are available on (inaudible).

    TOM: Yeah, actually I’m residing a building right now and using hardy plank and I really like that stuff. And they have a version of it that’s painted at the factory that’s got like a 10-year warranty on it. So I like hardy plank because it’s nonorganic, it’s not going to rot and it’s also very durable and very tough. I mean it’s basically concrete siding is what it is. And now, with it being prefinished, you know you don’t have to worry about painting it.

    JAKE: Is that difficult for an amateur to apply?

    TOM: No, it’s not terribly difficult if you can do basic carpentry work. It’s installed like any other type of carpentry and you’ll have to decide whether or not you want to pull off the old siding. I generally recommend that you pull off old clapboard because you have a better, flatter surface to work from.

    LESLIE: Well, and especially since this one is so deteriorated underneath.

    JAKE: Yeah.

    LESLIE: You wouldn’t want it to compromise the integrity of the new siding.

    TOM: Yeah, this way you can reflash everything as well.

    JAKE: The cuts, I guess, are a little more difficult on the ends and that kind of thing with the hardy plank. I didn’t know if there’s a specific tool for that or …

    TOM: Well, there are – there is a specific tool for cutting the cementicious material that the shingle is made out of. There’s a special blade for a circular saw or a table saw. And when you have this special blade it cuts through it like butter.

    JAKE: OK.

    TOM: It’s a little dusty. You have to wear a respirator but …

    LESLIE: Yeah, make sure you wear the respirator.

    TOM: Right. But otherwise it’s great stuff.

    JAKE: OK, good.

    TOM: Alright, Jake?

    JAKE: That’s just what I need. I really appreciate it.

    LESLIE: And you know, Tom, if you go to Remodeling.hw.net you can find a cost versus value report which’ll tell you how much you put into a project what you will get as your return on investment at the time of sale. And if you do an upscale siding replacement it actually has a 103.6 percent return on investment.

    TOM: So you can actually …

    LESLIE: So that’s a great thing to do.

    TOM: You can actually make money on your siding job. Yeah, I love the cost versus value survey that Remodeling.net has on every year because it really gives you the idea, in different parts of the country, what the best home improvements are in siding …

    LESLIE: And that’s the national average.

    TOM: Yeah, siding clearly is a great home improvement investment to make. So Jake, thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: In Florida Steve finds The Money Pit on WCOA. How can we help you?

    STEVE: Hey, I just redid my bathroom in the basement. It’s a half basement; maybe four feet deep.

    TOM: OK.

    STEVE: There’s a block wall and the paneling was right up against it. If I added canned (ph) insulation foam inside the block, would that add an r factor or would it be worth my trouble?

    TOM: Well, if it’s below grade you probably don’t need to put that much insulation in there. It’s better to use a bat insulation along those walls. That’s what they do in the new homes that are constructed to the current model energy code. It’s sort of a silver-faced bat insulation that covers the entire wall. You want to be careful with anything directly against the foundation like that because you could be asking for troubles with mold and moisture and things like that.

    LESLIE: Well, because moisture’s going to wick right through that concrete whether the foam is in it or not. And then that’s going to go right to your paneling.

    STEVE: That’s why I want to know – I’m going to keep the water out from the outside and I wanted to know if that’s a good idea. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Svetlana in Illinois – in Chicago, actually – listens to The Money Pit on WYLL. And you’ve got a painting question. What can we do for you?

    SVETLANA: Yes, I do. Thank you for taking my call. I have a wrought iron fence that’s about 15 years old and it has never been painted. Couple of questions. I need to understand, before I paint it, do I need to sand it, number one; number two, if I need to sand it do I need to prime it after that and, if so, with what; and what kind of paint to use.

    TOM: Good questions. Well first of all, you do need to prep the surface.

    LESLIE: She’s got all the steps right.

    TOM: Yeah, and in the right order, too. You need to prep the surface. You need to get rid of any loose paint that’s on there or any rust or flakes. And you can do that with a stiff wire brush; is an easy way to do that.


    TOM: Secondly, you should prime it and the reason you’re priming it is because primer has different qualities than top surface of paint. Primer is really designed to stick and have good adhesive qualities. So you put the primer on first and that assures that you have a good, even bond to all of the areas of the metal. And so you want to use a good quality primer and then you want to follow that up with a good quality – probably I would recommend an enamel top paint. So, in this particular case, for the durability aspects …

    LESLIE: And something that’s a rush prohibitor.

    TOM: Yeah, the rust inhibitors. You’re probably going to better off with a rust-inhibiting primer and then an enamel topcoat.

    SVETLANA: OK. Now, when you – if you were to paint it would you use a roller or a brush or what would you recommend?

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, it depends. It depends on how hard it is. You’re probably going to need to do it with a brush; although you could save some time by doing large, flat surfaces with a roller. Or you could buy one of those very small rollers and can kind of go around the nooks and the crannies.


    TOM: So sometimes, with a fence like that, you do a little bit of everything; you roll where you roll and then you kind of finish it all off with a brush.

    SVETLANA: Right. And I don’t have to seal it at the end with anything.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Nope, that’s it.

    SVETLANA: If I use like Rust-Oleum or something like that (inaudible).

    TOM: (overlapping voices) That’s all you have to do.

    SVETLANA: OK. Alright, well thank you very much.

    TOM: Thanks, Svetlana.

    SVETLANA: I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    LESLIE: And Svetlana, if you’ve got some tricky spaces or if you’re finding you’re getting brush marks that you don’t like or the roller’s giving you a hard time, try one of those big sponges that you might use for washing your car or removing excess grout. You can buy it in the home improvement store. It’s like $1.00. Use that. Dip it in the – dip it in the paint; squeeze it out; lay it right against the fence and it’ll do a great job.

    TOM: Well, it’s the most important part of your home structure. It’s your roof. And the maintenance and repair of a roof should be handled by an experienced and qualified pro. But finding one is easier said than done. We’ll have some tips to help you sort out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to picking the right roofer, after this.

    (promo/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: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, if you give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT one caller that we’re going to talk to this hour is going to win a pocket screwdriver from Loggerhead Tools. It’s got a great name. It’s called the Bit Dr. You can be like, ‘Help me, Bit Dr. How do I repair this?’

    TOM: (laughing) That’s right. It’s got 21 driver heads, six driving positions and three length adjustments. It folds …

    LESLIE: See, it should do the repair itself it’s so powerful.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) It pretty much – pretty much does everything. It folds down to four inches, which is small enough to keep in your pocket so you can take it anywhere. The Bit Dr.’s worth 25 bucks and it can be yours right now if you call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, some of you brave souls – and those souls that are not afraid of heights and have some good carpentry skills – feel that they could tackle their own roof repair and replacement. Well, while you think you can do it well, it’s probably best to hire a pro; especially if your roof’s got a steep pitch or you’re super afraid of heights. But how do you know who to hire?

    First – you guys got to take care of this stuff – you need to verify your potential roofer’s permanent place of business, telephone number, tax identification number and business license. And you want to ask the roofer for proof of insurance. Then you need to make sure that that roofer is properly licensed and bonded and financially stable. You’ve got to check up on all this stuff.

    TOM: And the next thing you should do is ask for a list of references. Now, most contractors have references and sometimes those references aren’t truthful.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Are their cousins?

    TOM: Yeah. Because they don’t believe that you’re ever going to call them. Most people are shy about calling references.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You have too, though.

    TOM: Don’t be shy about calling references. You want to make sure you verify them. And don’t just call and say, ‘Are you satisfied?’ Try to find out what the guy actually did; what kind of work was required. You might want to think about asking about the products that the roofer installed. You want to make sure the roofers are really trained …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, how the job site was handled.

    TOM: That’s right. Are they trained to handle the products that they’re installing. Because you know, roofing is not just slapping shingles up anymore. There’s a lot to know and if you don’t have it done right the leak may not show up right away but it could show up six months from now. And you need to make sure it’s done correctly so you get the best job.

    Finally, remember that the best roofing contractor is only as good as the workers who install the roof. So make sure to ask what type of safety training and educational programs have been provided for the workers.

    If you want more tips you can go to the website for our friends at Grace Construction. That’s GraceAtHome.com. GraceAtHome.com. They have great advice on products for roofing, including advice on weatherproofing when installing a new roof.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Richard in Delaware’s got some mold on the roof. It might actually be moss but why don’t you tell us about it, Richard?

    RICHARD: Hi. Yeah, I have a white shingled asphalt roof. And I have these black streaks and they’re maybe about 12, 14 inches wide and they’re – it’s only on one side of my house, though. But I was …

    LESLIE: Is it the north side?

    RICHARD: The north side. Exactly. And I went into a local store and they told me – I thought there was something that I could spray on it to get it off and there’s nothing I can spray on it. They told me it’s mold and I was surprised to even know that.

    TOM: It’s probably not mold, Richard. As Leslie said, it’s probably moss. And moss will adhere – you know, the plant growth, the little seedlings that are out there, basically stick to the roof and they start to grow and that’s what forms those – the staining on the shingles. There are cleaning solutions that you can use for that. It’s a bit of a tricky job only because the roof is, you know, up high and it’s pitched. So you have to be careful about what you use to …

    LESLIE: Yeah, have to make sure you really feel comfortable up there.

    TOM: Yeah, what you wash it down with.

    RICHARD: (inaudible)

    TOM: One thing that you could use is a product by Zinsser called Jomax – J-o-m-a-x – which is a solution that you mix with bleach and does a good job cleaning. And once you get the roof cleaned – and you can do it, you know, by hand with a scrub brush if you can reach it or with a pressure washer set very gently so you don’t like blast the shingles off.

    RICHARD: Right. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: But here’s a little trick of the trade. After you get it clean, what you might want to do is take a strip of copper flashing and put it across the entire ridge, the entire cap of the roof. What that does is it causes – once the water, the rainwater, hits it, it releases some of that copper and that becomes sort of a natural mildicide that goes down the roof and keeps it clean. A little bit of a …

    LESLIE: Tom, is nickel also another option?

    TOM: Yes. Yes. And in fact, you can buy nickel ridge vents and copper ridge vents, too. Or you can just buy the metal itself and just tack it up there along the peak of the roof so that the water, the rainwater, hits it and just washes right down. And you know, if you’re wondering how this works, next time you’re by one of these copper-flashed chimneys, take a look at the shingles underneath that copper flashing. You’ll notice they’re the cleanest shingles on the roof. Because the water hits the copper, it releases some of the copper, runs down the roof and it cleans it.

    So Richard, we hope that helps you out and leaves your roof sparkly clean. Thanks again for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: So does your home improvement project involve replacing doors in your home? Well, how do you make sure that the new ones line up in the same exact spot that the old ones did? That’s a question from one of our listeners and we’ll jump right into the e-mail bag when we get back.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Plus Ultra exterior paint and primer in one with advanced NanoGuard technology to help save time and money while preserving your home’s exterior finish. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Need some information 24/7? Hit MoneyPit.com and check out the new project finder. Anything that you might be working on right now is probably there in the project finder. It will give you some tips and some tricks of the trade to get the job done simply, efficiently, economically; save you some money; save you some time. It’s all been set up for you for free at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And while you’re on our great website – MoneyPit.com – you can also click on Ask Tom and Leslie and be entered into our e-mail question bag.

    Alright, we’ve got one here from John in Queens, New York – my neck of the woods – and he writes: ‘I want to change the doors in my home. Where can I find a jig for copying, transferring and routing the old hinge locations from the old door to the new door?’

    TOM: Well, there are jigs that are available and usually in home centers. Better quality home centers are going to have router jigs. You can also make your own. Basically, by measuring the width of the hinge and adding the space from the router bit to the edge of the router you can make your own jig for the router. Router jigs are very effective. They usually involve a special router bit and an inset for the router itself. It helps it ride on the inside edge of the jig itself.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Have you used those, Leslie?

    LESLIE: I actually have. And I’ve even made my own sorts of jigs …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: … when I’m using a router to, say, cut circles through plywood or MDF. You know, it really does make a lot of sense. And there’s even magazines completely dedicated to the art of jig crafting and what they do.

    TOM: So it’s definitely available, John, and it’s going to be available at any home center.

    Alright, let’s take one from Angela in Pasadena, California.

    LESLIE: Alright, Angela writes: ‘We’re experiencing an extremely loud noise, almost like a ship’s horn, when we turn on the hot water faucet in our kitchen. It happens when the faucet handle reaches a certain point in its rotation and it stops if you turn the handle beyond that point. We just bought our home. It was built in 1956 and we moved in last weekend. Of course, it wasn’t happening before we moved in. It’s maddening. How do we fix it?’

    TOM: You have a bad washer in your faucet and if it’s a 1956 faucet just replace it. If it’s a newer one you may be able to get a replacement part. But what’s happening – and it probably happens in either cold or hot or somewhere in between because what happens is the faucet expands or contracts against that one spot where you have sort of a vibration as the water passes over the valve and that’s what’s causing that chattering, vibrating sort of loud horn sound that you’re hearing. And replacing it is really the easiest way to solve that. You can replace just the packing for the faucet itself or you can replace the entire faucet.

    Not that expensive to replace a faucet today. Frankly, pretty easy home improvement project to do. As long as you can turn off the valves under the sink it’s pretty simple to get that done.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and there are so many choices so you can really pick a faucet that works with your budget and your taste. So get out there and pick a new one.

    TOM: Well, now that the weather is finally warming up it’s time to think about letting the inside of your home reflect the change in season outside. And that is the topic of today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that is so true. The weather is warmer. The days are longer. So why not make those changes indoors to lighten up everything and really feel seasonally appropriate. Think about changing out your heavy and your dark-toned winter linens, your beddings and your towels for ones that are more lightweight and softer in color. Your draperies can even be more seasonally appropriate. You can choose ones that have a gauzy feeling to encourage those nice, cool breezes coming in. Or swap a fabric shade for one in bamboo or reed to bring that beautiful nature’s blooming feeling inside. Even your throw pillows and area rugs can be swapped out for more summery colors and textures to really inspire that beachy frame of mind. You know, changing your home’s d

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