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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. Call us now with your home improvement question. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Call us now. Before you pick up the hammer; before you pick up the saw, call us first. We’ll help you get that job done once, done right so perhaps you won’t have to do it again and you can move on to another project in your money pit. (Leslie chuckles) One by one, we will tackle them and get them all done.

    Hey, coming up this hour, warm weather is just about over for most of the country but that doesn’t mean that you have to turn your ceiling fans to the off position. We’re going to give you a trick of the trade today that will help you actually warm your house using the ceiling fan all winter long.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and another way to keep warm is to make sure that your home is sealed up from all of winter’s drafts that are trying to get into your house. And one way is with a good-quality fiberglass door because those fiberglass doors, they actually can offer five times more insulation than a wood door. Well, we’re going to tell you how to find out which is the right door for you and your money pit, in just a bit.

    TOM: And speaking of fiberglass, insulation can also keep warm air inside your house this winter and it’s not just for your attic. An unheated crawlspace is a perfect place to add some extra insulation. We’re going to give you the step-by-step guide to do just that and have those floors nice and toasty warm for the chilliest winter days ahead.

    LESLIE: And have we got a prize for you this hour. You know, we get a lot of calls from pet owners and if you are a happy pet owner – and even if you’re not – this is a great prize for you. We’re giving away the new Eureka Capture Plus Pet Lover Vacuum. It’s worth about $170 and it is made to truly pick up all of that pesky pet hair that just does not come off of your upholstery. It is a great vacuum and you will love it and it can be yours for free.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Remember, you must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask us, to qualify for that great prize.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to head over to Arizona where Leda has a question about a sliding door. What can we do for you?

    LEDA: Yes, I have a couple of sliding glass doors; vinyl frames with the – double-paned with the argon gas.

    TOM: OK.

    LEDA: And it appears that two of the sliding portions of the door have lost their seal, so I’m getting some condensation inside.

    LESLIE: On the inside, yeah.

    LEDA: Yeah, and I was wondering if they can be resealed, you know, with the gas or do I just need to go out and buy some new ones.

    TOM: Unfortunately, no. Once that seal fails, the moisture starts to get in; that has to come right from the factory. It’s not something that we can fix onsite. The good news is that it’s mostly a cosmetic defect. It typically doesn’t impact the energy efficiency of the door all that much. So you should think about perhaps living with it for a while but if it gets really nasty looking over time, then you can think about replacing the doors, Leda.

    LEDA: OK, yeah. Because yeah, a couple of them are getting to that point …

    TOM: Alright.

    LEDA: … where it just bothers me; where it’s, you know, impeding the view and you know.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, if you’ve got a beautiful house and a beautiful view, then it’s worth changing out those doors. You might want to take a look at the Therma-Tru sliding glass doors. They’re made out of fiberglass and they’re real energy efficient and they can really take a punishment. I’ve known these folks for a long, long time. I’ve been to their factory. They make great products.

    LEDA: OK, great. Well, I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Jeff in Iowa has got a question about the bath. What’s going on?

    JEFF: Yeah, I have some tile that is cracking; like right around the toilet. And the grout around the tile is like flaking and there’s caulk around the bathtub to keep it from expanding (inaudible at 0:04:09.6). So I don’t know how it could be cracking.

    TOM: Well, underneath the toilet there is a wax seal and that makes the seal between the toilet and the drain. And if the wax seal is starting to break down, which happens from moving and shifting of the toilet over the years, you could be leaking some water out there and if you leak the water out, the floor is going to start to decay and it’s going to get softer and that could cause shifting and the tile to crack. So the first thing I would do is I would very carefully place my foot against the side bowl of the toilet and press very gingerly around there to see if there’s any sponginess in the floor.

    JEFF: Yeah, there definitely is.

    TOM: Ah, OK. Well now you have a bigger problem because now what you’re going to have to do is pull that toilet up and you’re going to have to pull the tile out and you’re probably going to have some floor decay in there; and that’s, unfortunately, fairly common.

    JEFF: OK.

    TOM: You’re going to have to repair the floor, put the tile back, replace the wax seal and set it back in place. It sounds like that’s a pretty common wear-and-tear pattern that you’re experiencing there, Jeff, around the toilet and if you don’t fix it, it’s going to get worse a lot quicker.

    JEFF: Well, that would explain, probably, why there’s water leaking through the ceiling downstairs then.

    TOM: Now that’s a clue. You see that? (all laugh)

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

    JEFF: (overlapping voices) OK. Thank you.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call because you can call us with 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, are you using your ceiling fan in the winter months? Well, you should be. We’re going to put a spin on how that can actually help lower your heating bills, next.

    (theme song)

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

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re giving away a great prize this hour. We’ve got the Eureka Capture Plus Pet Lover Vacuum as our prize this hour. It’s worth 170 bucks and it’s designed to tackle the two biggest problems that pet owners face and it really is so helpful. It’s going to fight pet hair and pet odors. It’s got a pet power paw – that’s a lot of Ps; try to say that very fast. (Tom chuckles) It’s got this pet power paw attachment and it gets up all of that hair that sits on your upholstery and it even has a built-in charcoal filter which is going to help reduce all of those pet odors. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win that prize, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Alright, if you have a ceiling fan in your house, you probably use it all summer long to keep cool. But it can actually help you keep warm in the winter. In the winter months, what you need to do is set the ceiling fan to turn clockwise to move the warm air that rises down into your room. When the weather heats up, then you can set the fan to turn counterclockwise to get the cooling breeze.

    Now, how do you make the fan do just that? Well, if you look carefully, on the side of the motor there is a reversing switch that will reverse the direction of blade travel. It’s as simple as that and it can push that warm air right back down to keep you comfortable all winter long.

    888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Ken’s looking for some ways to save some energy dollars by installing a pellet stove. How can we help?

    KEN: My question is I have a 17 – I’m sorry – 1,800-square-foot home but I’m thinking of adding a pellet stove. It’s a split-level and I would put the pellet stove in the bottom level. Is this going to help me really, in terms of heating fuel cost, because the house is currently being heated by oil?

    TOM: You know, oil heat is going to be the most expensive this year. The Energy Information Administration has got oil costs upwards of about 23 percent higher.

    LESLIE: Ooh, that’s big.

    TOM: And so it’s never been a better time to think about ways to cut back on that. Pellet stoves are very clean today; they burn super clean. There are stoves that are Energy Star-rated that are available. The best installation on those is in a fairly open area so that you have good circulation of air. But I think it’s a great opportunity to consider putting in a pellet stove or even a high-efficiency wood stove; now, sort of more than ever, because of the cost of energy. So I’d say give it a shot.

    LESLIE: I think it’s really important also, Ken, depending on the type of pellet stove that you choose; really pay attention to the installation directions that come along with it. You know, if you’ve got a freestanding one, you want those in a large, open area; a fireplace insert, obviously, into your fireplace. There are also models that go in a corner of a room or on a blank wall. So pay attention to how your manufacturer recommends it. It’s a great addition and it’s really going to cut your costs.

    KEN: Are there restrictions as to where they can be placed?

    TOM: Yes. Because of the heat that it gives out, there has to be a certain distance of clearance to combustibles; so many inches between the stove and anything that can burn. But there are ways around that. For example, there’s a way to put a heat shield behind it that will allow you to have it closer to the wall than having it farther away without the heat shield. I know, for example, with a wood stove, the heat shield can get that wood stove as close as about 12 inches to the wall; but if you didn’t have the heat shield, it’d have to be about three feet from the wall. So there are ways to work around it. The installation is really where most of the mistakes are made; that’s why it’s really a good idea to work with a pro on getting this purchased and installed properly in your house.

    KEN: Well, thank you, guys. I love your show and keep up the good work.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Ken. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Dolly in Florida has a leaky bathroom vent. What can we do for you? Tell us what’s going on.

    DOLLY: Yep, sometimes it leaks and sometimes it doesn’t when it rains.

    TOM: OK.

    DOLLY: Like today we had really a downpour and wind blowing and everything and it didn’t leak today. So I don’t know what’s going on. It’s like a round vent with a cap over the top.

    TOM: Dolly, is this an asphalt shingle roof or a metal roof?

    DOLLY: It’s a metal roof.

    TOM: OK, what I think is happening is I think that you probably don’t have the right type of flashing around where this comes through the metal roof and, as a result, whoever put this in probably just tried to use some caulk or some other type of roof cement or something of that to seal that space and that’s going to be just destined for trouble; because of the expansion and contraction, it’s going to crack.

    There is a product that’s called Dektite and this is a design for a pipe flashing. It works for plumbing, for heating and for exhaust vents. And it basically goes around that round pipe where it comes through the roof and it seals to the roof and it seals to the pipe and absolutely prevents any water from getting in there. You might want to take a look at a building supply website like ITW Buildex; it is one that has this sort of industrial commercial supply. But that’s the kind of product. And I hate to put you in charge of this but this is something that a roofer should know to do. You need to have a flashing boot around this and they didn’t put one in and that’s why it’s leaking.

    DOLLY: OK, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Alexandra in New York is having some issues heating a room with a cathedral ceiling and needs help with insulation. What can we do for you?

    ALEXANDRA: Yes, I have a ranch house that I built about four years ago and it has an open-air architect, you know; and with a cathedral ceiling. And no matter how high I set the setting on the thermostat, the house always gets cold in the winter.

    TOM: You have a ceiling fan in that cathedral ceiling room?

    ALEXANDRA: Yes, I do.

    TOM: OK, and do you have it set so that it reverses in the winter time and pushes the warm air back down again?


    TOM: OK.

    ALEXANDRA: But it still is not warm enough. This is an open setting. It has – with a living room, dining room and kitchen all one and it’s one big, large room. Now, they put insulation in the attic floor. How can I put more insulation there?

    TOM: If you have an actual cavity …


    TOM: … above that drywall, that you can get to, then you can add more insulation. Now the insulation standards have changed in the last four years and you said you have blown-in. Today you want to have about 22 inches of blown-in fiberglass insulation in that space.

    ALEXANDRA: Twenty-two inches.

    TOM: If you don’t have that much, you perhaps could add some more but I would also caution you to make sure that you add some additional ventilation; perhaps a ridge vent or a soffit vent or both to make sure that you’re flushing moisture out of that attic because you don’t want it to be trapped inside that space either.

    LESLIE: Mike in Wisconsin is looking to finish up his basement. How can we help?

    MIKE: Hi, guys. I love your show.

    LESLIE: Hey, thanks.

    MIKE: I’ve got a hundred-year-old house that the basement walls are made of limestone and they’re crumbling. So my wife and I have decided to have the house lifted and new walls – the old walls excavated out and new walls put in. And the question I have is what would you think would be a better material to use – poured concrete or cinder block, as far as cost effectiveness either way; that type of thing. I wonder if you could help me out.

    TOM: Well, my top choice would be poured concrete if you have the accessibility and can do it. But when you’re doing a house lift like that, you know sometimes site access is the issue and it may be easier to do this with concrete block than poured concrete. I would say if you have room to get the forms in there, Mike, I would go with the poured concrete. But you know, that being said, if you don’t have the room, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using a concrete block foundation if it’s properly assembled. I hope that you have a good engineer on this project because this is not a project that should be done by anyone less than that.

    MIKE: Right. OK. OK.

    TOM: Because it’s a tricky, tricky operation to get the weight off that wall and dig out the old one and then rebuild a new one and then gently get the weight back on it.

    MIKE: Right. Right, I understand. Yeah, I’ve already got an engineer lined up to at least start looking at the site for me.

    TOM: Yeah, you want an engineer to supervise this project. Not only do you want to make sure that it’s going to go successfully – your house is not going to come tumbling down – but when it comes time to sell the house, some questions might come up about the work that was done on the foundation and if you have an engineer’s certification that it was done up to their specifications and their design, that’s as good as a pedigree on the structure of your house.

    MIKE: Well, super, super. I really appreciate it. You guys gave me a lot of great information. Thank you very much.

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

    You know, painting your house, do it yourself; replacing your foundation, not so much.

    LESLIE: And it’s a really interesting process. Around where I live there were several homes around the town that happened to just be repouring their foundations around the same time and it was interesting to watch these homes completely moved and lifted. I mean what a nightmare. If you’re that homeowner, you’re just watching in disbelief as your house is completely …

    TOM: It is pretty fascinating. You know, one of the techniques that they use is called needle beaming and imagine taking a girder and threading it through the old foundation as if it was a needle; you know, a thread through a needle.

    LESLIE: That is insane.

    TOM: And then they lift the beam up and of course that lifts the house and now there’s no weight on the foundation; they can under there and replace it. It’s a pretty challenging process but if you’ve got to do it, that’s the way to go.

    LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got Jos

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