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  • Transcript

    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: We know you’ve got some holiday home improvement projects on your to-do list. We are here to help you get that job done. So pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Well, it’s getting chilly out; so you might be thinking that colder weather means you get to slack off on your yard work. Not true. There are actually some things you should be doing right now that, if you tackle them, it’s going to save you a lot of aggravation when it comes to the spring pruning and trimming that ultimately will need to be done and will make sure that those plants survive the cold winter temperature. We’re going to tell you exactly what you need to do, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Plus, here is something that I know has got to drive you crazy because it drives Tom crazy and it drives me crazy. Do you hate when you’re asked – every, single time you buy something – “Hey, do you want to buy an extended warranty?” And …

    TOM: Oh, please. I bought a garbage disposer the other day …

    LESLIE: Yeah?

    TOM: … and somebody offered me an extended warranty on it. I was like, “Look, the last one lasted 15 years. Why do I need an extended warranty?”

    LESLIE: (chuckling) And I got offered one on a paper shredder.

    TOM: I’d forget I had it 15 years from now.

    LESLIE: I know. I’d throw away the paper for it. (Tom chuckles) Well, we know they ask you this question and they hound you for it and also make you feel bad if you say no. So, how do you know if you really need that extended warranty when, say, you’re buying electronics? Well, the answer is – you know, I hate to say it – but maybe; so we’re going to tell you how to sort it all out, in just a bit.

    TOM: Plus, if you pick up the phone right now and call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, you might just win a great prize that can keep you safe all winter long. It’s the First Alert combo smoke detector and CO alarm worth 55 bucks. Going to go to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. So let’s get to it. Pick up the phone and call us right now at 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Dominic in New York has a wallpaper question. What can we do for you today?

    DOMINIC: Well, I have an older farmhouse and I’m doing some remodeling. And one of the rooms has like a raised texture wallpaper.

    TOM: OK.

    DOMINIC: And I just want to know how is the best way to remove it without, you know, really ripping the walls up.

    LESLIE: Now, Dominic, prior to having just done this project, the way that I had always done it is score the paper, use a steamer and then gradually loosen up the adhesive behind it with the steamer. But I just recently, while filming an episode of my new show for A&E, did wallpaper removal – same thing: score it lightly with a blade; don’t cut through so you’re going all the way to the drywall behind it but, you know, just score it so that you can get underneath it; fabric softener; and water.

    DOMINIC: (overlapping voices) OK. Ah. Liquid fabric softener?

    LESLIE: Yes, liquid fabric softener and water. Way more fabric softener than water. You’re going to kind of want to experiment with the mix here. But slather it on there – use even a paint roller to get it on there and get it underneath – and you’ll see it softens everything. I mean you’re still going to have to sand once everything is dry underneath, like leftover adhesive, and then prime. But it worked; I was shocked.

    TOM: Plus, when you’re done, your walls smell lemony-fresh. (Dominic chuckles)

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    DOMINIC: OK, fabric softener and water.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, Dominic. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Ann in Missouri has a situation with a crawlspace. What’s going on?

    ANN: Oh, well we built a house and – but it didn’t get the cover space on before we got a deluge with rain and it was about eight inches of water under there. I sump-pumped it out but there’s still some puddles around and we’re going to close it off and I’m just wondering if there are some ways to dry that out.

    TOM: Yeah. What you’re going to need to do is to get a fan in there. And you’re going to want to take the fan and actually have it pull air out of the crawlspace; even though you don’t have any other vents – which, by the way, is a mistake. But even though you don’t have any other vents, you’re going to find that air will pull – if you depressurize that space, air will be replenished through all the nooks and the crannies in the construction. So it’ll pull air from upstairs, it’ll find a way to pull air from the outside and that will draw some air across that space and help to vent it.

    But I would recommend a couple other things. You mentioned you had a sump pump in there. I would also make sure that I look at the grading and the drainage situation at the foundation perimeter. Make sure that your gutters are clean, they’re free-flowing, they’re extended well away from the foundation and that the soil slopes away from the foundation because those two things will help you prevent this from happening again in the future.

    ANN: OK. So that’ll – the fan will clean out the puddles that are kind of remaining around.

    TOM: Yeah, eventually. Yes, eventually that will do it. And after it gets dried out, I would also put a vapor barrier down across the crawlspace floor. If it’s possible to get in there, I’d lay down some large sheets of plastic.

    ANN: It has plastic.

    TOM: Oh, it does? OK.

    ANN: It has plastic and gravel. Yeah, we just didn’t – and actually, this foundation is higher than the ground around it; which, with a 10/12 pitch, the water just came right off the roof and funneled down into the house where we had the crawlspace opening.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, you’re going to have to do a better job at managing that roof water.

    ANN: Well, yeah. We weren’t finished and …

    TOM: Yep.

    ANN: Alright, I appreciate that.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Well, this is the most exciting time of year for me. You guys know I love the holidays. I can hear those jingle bells ringing. So, if you need any help getting your house in tiptop shape for the big holiday season, give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I might be wrapping gifts or making a turkey but I’ll get back to you. So call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, we’re going to tell you why winter is not a time to be slacking off on doing some outdoor chores and what you should be doing right now to get your yard ready for spring. That’s all coming up, next.

    (theme song)

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And you may not know that smoke detectors don’t last forever; in fact, most fire officials recommend that you replace your smoke detectors once every ten years. That’s our prize this hour. We’re going to help you do just that as we’re giving away the First Alert combo smoke detector and CO alarm. You get a smoke and carbon monoxide detector in one. It’s worth 55 bucks. Going to go to one caller chosen at random that reaches us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you are thinking about yard work this time of year. Hmm, cold outside, winter time; don’t have to do any yard work. (Tom chuckles) I’m going to relax on that one. Uh-uh; sorry, Charlie. It is absolutely not true.

    Now, winter – it’s actually the best time to prune your fruit trees and your rose bushes because this is the time before they start to bud. So when you’re looking at all of those fruit trees, rose bushes that you’ve got around your yard, you want to remove any crossing canes, then thin out the branches and finish by spraying the plants with dormant oil. This will make sure that when springtime rolls around, your fruit trees, your rose bushes, they’re going to look beautiful and you’re going to get a lot of beautiful flowers and your fruit trees will grow more delicious fruit than you have ever seen in your life. Don’t hold me to it but I promise you, they’ll grow back.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Neal in California is dealing with a tile floor that’s cracking. Tell us about the problem.

    NEAL: Well, I got a – I laid my tile floor on top of – my foundation is all a cement slab. And here – and you know, within a year of when I did some of the tile, some of it’s cracked and then there’s some that I’ve done, oh, longer than that – probably eight years ago – and some of that started cracking. But I presume that the cement slab is settling and I just want to see what you recommend.

    TOM: Well, you know, you’re probably better off replacing the tiles. It’s really not possible to do anything that – in terms of a repair – that’s going to look halfway decent. You know, you could always try to silicone over the cracks or something of that nature. Are they separated or are is it just sort of hairline cracks?

    NEAL: They’re more or less hairline cracks and …

    TOM: Yeah, what’s going to happen is they’re going to catch dirt and it’s just not going to look good. So I mean if you’ve got a cracked tile, I would just pop the tile up and replace it. Do you think you can find the original tiles?

    NEAL: I’ve still got some of them.

    LESLIE: Oh, good.

    TOM: Well, good. Well then, that would be the way to do it.

    NEAL: (chuckles) That was good.

    TOM: That was a wise thing. All those years you’ve been saving those tiles, Neal, because you knew one of these days you were going to need them, right?

    LESLIE: (chuckles) It was going to pay off.

    NEAL: I’m trying to do some remodeling and I was going to tile another section of my house. I wanted to have a gazebo or whatever – the front of my house is all windows – and I was going to tile that section, too, but I don’t know.

    TOM: Maybe you better save those tiles for the repair of the existing floor and choose something new for the new section.

    NEAL: (chuckling) Yeah, very possible. OK.

    TOM: Alright, Neal. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Heading out to Utah where Emma needs some help with a roofing situation. What’s going on?

    EMMA: Yeah, my daughter bought a house and it turns out it’s going to be a bit of a fixer-upper.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.

    EMMA: So her shingles are flapping in the wind.

    TOM: Flapping in the breeze, huh? (Leslie chuckles)

    EMMA: Yeah.

    TOM: OK.

    EMMA: And she wants to know what she could do to – so she won’t lose any more than what she has …

    LESLIE: So they stay put.

    TOM: Yeah, very simple. What’s she’s going to do is pick up some asphalt roof cement. It comes in a caulking tube. And she’s going to put a little dab of that underneath all of the loose edges of the shingles and press them down.

    EMMA: Oh.

    TOM: And that will dry and it will seal them in place. And you know, if they’re getting to be older, she may have to do that from time to time.

    Now if those break off, then you can actually buy replacement shingles and you can sort of extract the one shingle that’s broken and slip in a new shingle, too, without replacing the whole roof. So it’s totally reparable and something that she can probably stay on top of.

    EMMA: OK. I thank you so much. I appreciate that.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to chat with Mike in North Carolina who’s got a question about a water heater. What’s going on?

    MIKE: I hear you talking about the tankless water heater and the efficiency about it and everything like that.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yes.

    MIKE: My question is what I have now – I have a water softening system.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And I don’t know exactly where I heard it but I heard that a water softening system is not compatible with this particular – a tankless heater.

    TOM: No, that’s actually – it’s actually opposite of that. If you have hard water, the mineral deposits will clog the inside of a tankless unit. So the fact that you have a water softener protects you from that problem. So you can go ahead and install a tankless water heater and enjoy that efficiency and that unlimited demand for hot water – that unlimited supply for hot water, I should say – and be fine; as long as you have a water softener.

    MIKE: What would be the return on the investment for this tankless heater?

    TOM: You know, you’re going to get a pretty decent return on investment. Now mind you, tankless water heaters are a bit more expensive than traditional water heaters but not that much, if you compare them against the high-efficiency tank water heaters.

    I love tankless technology. We’ve got a lot of great success stories to back that up. It’s got a lot of advantages. Not only do you have an unlimited supply of hot water; many of them have remote controls so that you can actually adjust the water heater without actually being at the appliance itself. Very safe; especially if you have kids and you want to send them up to take their shower on their own. You can make the water a bit cooler for that and then crank it back up to the normal temperature that you use when an adult takes a bath or a shower. So I just think it’s a great product.

    Now that you have a water softener, you will have no worries about clogging and I think it’s a worthwhile investment.

    MIKE: OK, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Brenda in Colorado is dealing with an exterior siding situation. What’s going on at your house?

    BRENDA: Hi. We have a one-story ranch on a crawlspace that was built in the 70s and we want to replace the siding. And it has sheathing under the siding that’s like fiberboard but there was never any house wrap applied. And we’re wondering if when we re-side, should we add house wrap and then, also, how do we deal with the windows? Do we take the windows out and put the siding there and then reinstall the windows or can we install the siding with the windows still in place?

    TOM: Alright, well first of all, you don’t have to pull your windows out.


    TOM: What kind of siding do you have right now?

    BRENDA: It’s a pressed fiberboard paneling type look (ph).

    TOM: Alright, so you want to take that out completely. And is there any sheathing underneath that?

    BRENDA: There is sheathing in most areas.

    TOM: Alright, what kind of siding – what kind of new siding do you want to put up?

    BRENDA: Well, we would like to put kind of what looks like clapboard, made probably from similar material; kind of that pressed composite.

    TOM and LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Well, here’s what I would recommend. First of all, you are going to need sheathing; so the areas where you don’t have sheathing you can simply add that. You would put a vapor barrier around it. You would put a building wrap like Tyvek or a product like that. Then above that, a good product to install is hardy plank, which is actually a cement-based siding product and it looks – well, it can look like a shingle; it can look like clapboard …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, it can look like clapboard.

    TOM: … and it’s totally indestructible. I mean it’s really good stuff.

    LESLIE: Excellent. Well, thank you. I really appreciate the information.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Brenda, and good luck with that project. Send us some pictures.

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

    LESLIE: David in Florida has a question about tiles. I guess you want to recycle them? What’s the project?

    DAVID: I do. Well, inside my house, the only thing that’s gas is the little fireplace they put in; you know, the …

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    DAVID: And so I’ve been trying to take it out and I’ve taken all the screws out and everything, so it’s still in there. And so, I’m thinking, “Well, I have to take the tile out around the outside of it in order to get the whole insert out.”

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: And since it is on sheetrock instead of the cement, I’m hoping there’s a way I can take them off and reuse them once I put in an entertainment center in there and …

    TOM: Sure. Do you care about the sheetrock?

    DAVID: No.

    TOM: OK. Here’s one thing that you could try. You could get a wire, like a piano wire, and you can work it behind the tile. And you want – you’re probably going to have to tie some wood dowels on the end of the wire or something so you have something to really hold onto.

    LESLIE: Well, you know what? You could even, at a crafts store, in the pottery section – like for people who throw pottery –

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: – there is a piece of like wire that has two dowels already attached to it so you can trim the top of your pots and plates and things that you’re using.

    TOM: Oh, OK. But essentially, you’re going to get this wire behind the tile and kind of work it across and try to separate it from the drywall. You’ll end up damaging the drywall a bit but you should be able to get the tiles off.

    DAVID: OK. And then just clean them off and reuse them.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Once you get them off, you know, then you can abrade the back and, you know, if there’s a little glue on there you may have to sand them a bit. And when you go to put them back together, just make sure that they’re fairly consistent in thickness so you don’t get problems with that.

    DAVID: OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    DAVID: So, that’s what I’ll do. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Veronica in New Jersey needs some help with a cement overrun or spill, if you will. What happened?

    VERONICA: I had a major oil leak and it required a major cleanup to take out my front steps and my front sidewalk and the company who did the cleanup had done the replacing of the sidewalk and the front steps and they did a terrible job. Specifically, my front step is cement with slate surrounding the top and then the steps are slate.

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    VERONICA: The top part that was cement, they spilled a lot of the cement onto the slate part and it just looks awful and it – I don’t know how to get it off the slate. I don’t want to ruin the slate but it’s brand new and it looks like it’s about 50 years old. I mean they just did a terrible job.

    TOM: Essentially what you have to do is wear it off the slate. You have to abrade it so it goes off the slate. You’re not going to be able to do anything that will loosen it up or wash it off as you would try to get a spill off of a floor. It doesn’t work that way. Slate is very absorbent and so that concrete is probably really soaked into it and it’s very difficult to get it out.

    Now you know, it’s possible that you could try an acid wash, but I’m concerned that that may adversely affect the slate. I can tell you that if you were to have it ground off, it could be abraded off and slate is going to retain its color straight through. So it could sort of be ground and polished off. It’s really not a do-it-yourself job. I mean you need some heavy tools. If you try to do it with a hand grinder, one of these abrasive pads that’s on the bottom of – sort of like an abrasive pad with a handle on it that masons use, you know, it’s a lot of work. But if you have the right tools you can grind that off, polish that slate and it’ll look fine. But it’s nothing that you can definitely clean yourself, Veronica.

    VERONICA: So would that be a mason I would call? I mean who would I call to do that?

    TOM: I think a mason could handle that for sure; absolutely.


    TOM: They would have the right tools for that.

    VERONICA: Excellent.

    TOM: Veronica, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Hey, still ahead, we’re going to share more tips on yard work that you need to take on this winter, including how to get your shrubs ready to survive this cold season. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know when we interview This Old House landscape expert, Roger Cook, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Install a new, energy-efficient Therma-Tru door today and qualify for up to a $1,500 tax credit. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com/TaxCredit.

    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.

    TOM: Hey, you want to follow us on Facebook? Just text “Fan the Money Pit” to FBOOK. That’s 32665 from your cell phone. You’ll be instantly added as a fan to our fan page on Facebook. It’s as easy as that.

    LESLIE: Tim in Delaware needs some help with an insulation question. What can we do for you?

    TIM: Well, I have a basement crawlspace and what’s the best way to insulate it? Right now there’s just nothing there.

    TOM: So it’s a crawlspace or a basement?

    TIM: It’s actually a – on one side, I have a full walk-in basement.

    TOM: OK.

    TIM: And on the other side, there’s actually a crawlspace; looks like a half-finished basement. But I can see …

    TOM: OK.

    TIM: Looking into the other side, it’s like a crawlspace.

    TOM: Alright. In the crawlspace area, you should insulate the floor from below. So if you have like 2×8 floor joists, you should put eight-inch-thick batts of fiberglass insulation in there and they can be held up with insulation supports which look like kind of small wires that sort of get springy in between the floor joists.

    TIM: Right, I’ve seen those. OK.

    TOM: Right. That’s the best way to insulate that. As far as the basement …

    TIM: How about the pipes? There are some pipes down there.

    TOM: Not necessary. Generally not necessary to insulate the pipes.

    TIM: (inaudible at 0:21:47.7)?

    TOM: Yeah, mm-hmm. But insulating the floor is going to make you a lot more comfortable upstairs.

    TIM: I have oil heat; oil – like steam heat, I guess.

    TOM: OK. Right.

    TIM: Is that going to be OK?

    TOM: Sure, I don’t see why not. Now, as far as the basement, the only place you really need to insulate an unfinished basement is the box joist, which is above the wall all the way around. If you decide to put walls in, like finished walls, and you’re going to frame them out, then you could put insulation in the framed walls; but, other than that, you should just insulate the box joist right above the foundation.

    TIM: Now, I’ve seen a place where they’ve actually taken like plastic and they staple-gunned in between the joists after they put the insulation up. Is that recommended or no?

    TOM: No, I would do not do that because, if you’re talking about the crawlspace, the vapor barrier goes between the insulation and the living space.

    TIM: OK.

    TOM: Which means it would be above the insulation; against the underside of the floor, not below it.

    TIM: Alright.

    TOM: Because if you put it below it, you’re going to trap moisture in that space and …

    LESLIE: And you’re going to reduce the r value.

    TOM: Exactly.

    TIM: Got you. OK. Alright, I think that’ll do it for me. That’s all there is to it. There’s nothing – besides that, there’s no other tricks we’ve got to do?

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Nope. Nope, it’s a good project and one you can get done in a weekend.

    TIM: Sounds great. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Like it sounds like Tim wanted it to be more difficult. (chuckles)

    TOM: Yeah. No, that’s pretty straightforward. You want to be careful with the insulation; obviously you want to wear a dust mask and long sleeves and gloves and safety glasses. But an insulation project is not that hard to do.

    LESLIE: Big payoff.

    TOM: And you know, some insulation projects today, they have a different sort of weave to them; so they’re not really as stringy as the old-fashioned fiberglass used to be. They’re more like a wool.

    LESLIE: Hmm.

    TOM: Encapsulated insulation, it’s called.

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    TOM: Yep. Easy project and very cost-effective and a great return on investment.

    LESLIE: Well, winter can be rough on your outdoor shrubs and plants. Heck, it’s rough on me. (Tom chuckles) So if you want to protect your landscaping, there are some steps that you can take.

    TOM: That’s right, and here to tell us just what to do are our friends from Ask This Old House. Welcome, Kevin O’Connor, host, and landscaping expert, Roger Cook. These are two guys that know a thing or two about cold weather; right, Kev?

    KEVIN: You got that right. In New England and many parts of the country, we’re used to long, cold winters. And while we may be able to survive the snow and ice, our landscaping shrubs may not.

    Roger, any tips on helping these plants make it through the long, hard, cold winter?

    ROGER: There are two main problems in the winter time: cold and snow load. Cold weather and strong winds can strip the shrubs of precious moisture. To prevent this, use burlap, antidesiccant sprays or a rose cone; especially on tender and newly-planted material. To prevent damage from heavy snow loads, tie them up with jute or create a wooden shelter, like an A-frame, to protect the fragile branches.

    KEVIN: How about container plants? What do you recommend for getting them through the winter?

    ROGER: Two things you can do with a container plant: you can either bring it into an unheated garage; or dig a hole, put the container in it and then put mulch or wood chips on top of it to insulate it from the cold.

    KEVIN: Alright. So for more information and videos on over-wintering plants and shrubs, visit us at ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: If it was only that easy for us to make it through the winter. (Tom and Kevin chuckle) Kevin O’Connor, Roger Cook, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Been our pleasure.

    KEVIN: Always good to be here, Tom.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Good tips, guys; especially if you worked really hard to have a beautifully-landscaped yard. You want to make sure that you preserve everything, your shrubs and your plants, so that they’ll look good in the spring.

    TOM: Well, you can get more great yard care advice by watching Kevin and Roger on Ask This Old House which is brought to you by GE. GE is a proud sponsor of Ask This Old House. GE – imagination at work.

    Well, still to come, if your holiday budget is feeling the crunch, we’ve got some advice on places to save.

    LESLIE: Oh, you mean like when, say, you’re buying that electronics gift for your kids and the sales person is like, “Hey, do you want the extended warranty?” (chuckles) which is always the question that follows any sort of purchase that involves a plug or a battery. (chuckles) So we are going to sort out when you should take one and when you should absolutely not, when we come back.

    (theme song)

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We know, around this time of year, suddenly those home improvement to-do lists become very, very, very important when you’ve got a holiday as a deadline and we have got a benefit for calling us with your home improvement question because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour wins the First Alert combo smoke detector and CO alarm. Now, you are going to be protected from two of the deadliest dangers. It’s worth $55, so give us a call now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Now, we know you’re out doing a lot of shopping these days and as you do that, are you getting hit with those pitches for extended warranties and are you ever tempted to buy them? I mean do you really need them? You know …

    LESLIE: Or pressured to buy them.

    TOM: Or pressured to by them because they’ve got huge commissions associated with them, so you’re always going to be offered them. And while some repairs are covered by the standard manufacturer warranty that comes with the product, Consumer Reports data shows that stuff rarely breaks within the extended warranty window after that standard warranty has expired but within the typical two to three years that follow purchase.

    So, when you’re buying electronics and appliances that do break, the repairs, on average, cost about the same amount as the extended warranty; in other words, you probably never need it.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, if you really feel like you do need to play it safe and you want to get that extra coverage, before you buy it, before you even go to the store, check your credit card company because a lot of credit cards – you know, maybe you’ve got a gold or a platinum card – they can typically lengthen the original manufacturer’s warranty by as much as one year. So ask your credit card company, first, if they’ve got that feature.

    And then also shop around because extended warranties vary in length and in term. And don’t pay more than 20 percent of the purchase price for the extended warranty and don’t be afraid to negotiate. I mean I feel like when these folks are offering you the extended warranty, they’ve got a couple of ways to be lenient and, you know, sort of bend the rules a little bit with pricing.

    TOM: Now, we have a detailed step-by-step on everything that you need to know about this topic, online at MoneyPit.com. The article is called “Service Contracts and Extended Warranties.” Search that at MoneyPit.com before you head out to buy your next warranty-prone product.

    888-666-3974.    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Nate in Wisconsin has a flooring question. How can we help you?

    NATE: Hi there. I have a hardwood floor throughout our bedrooms in our house and have some squeaking issues, especially with the floor in my infant son’s room. It actually squeaks loud enough that it’ll wake him up if we walk into the room when he’s sleeping.

    TOM: Oh, boy.

    NATE: I’m wondering what I can do to fix that.

    TOM: Alright, so this is a finished hardwood floor?

    NATE: That’s correct.

    TOM: OK, so you have to identify where the loose floorboards are because that’s what causes the squeak and there’s two ways that you can fix this. You can – you have to resecure those boards down. You can do that with finish nails or you can do it with a screw but you have to predrill the area and create a counterbore for a wood plug. And there are drill bits that are available that basically do all this in one step and there are wood plugs that are available.

    What I would do first is I would get a stud finder and I would scan across the hardwood floor to make sure I know that I’m on top of the floor joist. And then you can start by trying this by using finish nails. I would use like a #12 finish nail. I would pilot drill out a hole because you can’t just nail right through the hardwood; the nail is going to bend. So you want to pilot drill a hole that’s slightly narrower than the finish nail and then you want to drive that in at a slight angle because that tends to hold better. And then, if you do that in a couple of places – and you’ll notice the floor starts to quiet a bit – now you know you’re on the right track.

    Once you’re convinced you’re on the right track, then what I would do is I would drill out the floor; I would add a couple of long screws to hold it down nice and tight – you may only have to do this every other board; then you could glue in a wood plug – you can oak plugs that, say, are a 1/2-inch or 3/8-inch in diameter; you can grab a chisel and carve it flat; sand it a little bit; touch it up with a dab of polyurethane. It’ll look somewhat obvious when you first do it but give it a few months; the color will fade and it’ll all blend in nicely together.

    NATE: OK. There’s no option for doing anything from underneath; like putting a weight from above and running screws from below?

    TOM: What’s under the floor?

    NATE: I have bare joists below. We’re in the lower of a duplex.

    TOM: Well, if you’ve got bare joists below and somebody could walk on the floor and you happen to see that there are spaces between the subfloor and the floor joists, then perhaps.

    NATE: OK.

    TOM: But typically, the floor squeaks are caused by the nails moving in and out of that hardwood floor or moving in and out of the subfloor and nothing short of stabilizing that is going to stop that squeak from happening and it’s easiest to do that from the top. I’ve fixed a lot of floor squeaks over the years and, believe me, it’s easier to do it from the top than the bottom.

    NATE: OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    LESLIE: And when you have more sleep, you’ll be far happier; I promise.

    TOM: Exactly. (Nate chuckles) You and your baby son.

    NATE: Alright, thank you.

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

    See, it’s quieter in Wisconsin already.

    LESLIE: Fiona in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    FIONA: Yes, hi. I purchased a house about 12 years ago and about 2.5, 3 years ago I noticed every spring – and when this started I didn’t think it was a big deal – I started having what I later found out to be drain flies. Now I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on products via the internet. I’ve had every exterminator you could possibly imagine in here. I had a sewer guy come in and put a video cam into the piping (Tom and Leslie chuckle), trying to get – because they actually can see them.

    TOM: Right.

    FIONA: Trying to figure it out. Now my problem is I’ve also been told if there is a leak – which the guy with the video cam did not see …


    FIONA: … because that’s what they check for – they said that I would have to tear up the floors. Now, I’ve redone this house from top to bottom over the past 12 years. I (inaudible at 0:11:50.1).

    LESLIE: And you’re like, “This is all stuff I would have liked to know.”

    TOM: There’s a website that we’ve recommended before that we’ve gotten good success with – it’s called Do-It-Yourself Pest Control – and they have a product called Invade Bio Foam. And it’s used a lot in commercial establishments. It’s a concentrated liquid with a foaming agent that helps it get in all the places it has to go.

    LESLIE: Because what’s happening is you have organic debris and the flies are breeding in it and feeding on it and you need to get rid of that debris that sits in your pipes. And if you can get rid of that debris that’s their food source and their breeding source, then they’ll go away.

    TOM: You know, there’s another good website that you might want to take a look at and it’s the National Pest Management Association has a website called PestWorld.org. And on Pest World, you can actually contact one of their association experts and get a response. It’s a good group. They have an ask-the-pro section of it.

    FIONA: OK. I’m going to try all of this. I’m desperate at this point.

    LESLIE: Well, good luck.

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

    TOM: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Online, lots of tips and advice on how you can cut your energy costs and feel warm and comfortable this winter season. Just head on over to MoneyPit.com.

    Speaking of feeling warm, up next, we’re going to have tips to help you learn how to insulate your attic. You know, most homes in America just don’t have enough. Adding more is a pretty simple project. We’ll tell you how to do just that, after this.

    (theme song)

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And on MoneyPit.com, you’ll find lots of tips and advice on how to add insulation to your attic. Now, if you don’t have 19 inches of batt insulation or 22 inches of blown-in insulation, you don’t have enough. That means that you’re spending too much on your heating bill. Adding that insulation is not terribly complicated. It’s pretty simple. We even give you some tips on how you can do that and have some storage at the same time and that information is online right now at MoneyPit.com. Just search insulation and you will find it promptly.

    LESLIE: Alright, and while you’re online you can click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and e-mail us your question, just like Roger did. Now, Roger writes: “I have metal recessed fluorescent lighting with four three-foot bulbs inside. I can’t locate anywhere on this fixture whether or not it’s OK to insulate over them up in the attic. Any suggestions? How can I be sure it’s safe?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a very good question and the only way you can be sure it’s safe is by not insulating over them at all. Now, there are types …

    LESLIE: There’s not the same rating that you would see on a high hat, where it says like IC, is it, for insulation contact?

    TOM: IC, yeah. That’s right. Typically, a light fixture that’s rated to be covered by insulation has an IC stamp on it. If you don’t see it, I would not insulate over it. What I would do is I would box out the area around the outside of that and I would put insulation up to it but I would not put it over it. I mean fluorescent lights by themselves, with all the ballasts and everything that goes into those fixtures, they get very hot. I would not take a chance on overheating them. The least you’re going to do is shorten the life of the fixture. The worst that you could do is start a fire. So don’t insulate on top of it; insulate around it and play it safe.

    LESLIE: Okey-dokes. Next up, we’ve got one from Mary, who writes: “I was wondering if you know any company that will make metal outside doors in a small size. I have a small, outside door that is wood and has been refinished many times but it’s not reparable anymore. Now, the door measures 24 inches wide by 81 inches high. I can’t put a bigger door in this place without removing and remolding the whole front of the garage. My home is an older home and this little door is part of its style.”

    TOM: Hmm. You know, I do think that you could order a door that’s that specific size. Did she say she wanted a metal door?

    LESLIE: She does want a metal door.

    TOM: Yeah. I don’t …

    LESLIE: What about fiberglass?

    TOM: Well, that’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking that you could order a fiberglass door in that size and even if it comes a little bit bigger and you need a solid door or one without a lot of molding, you could always cut it down to make it that size. So I would simply order a 24-inch-wide solid door and I would cut it to be a little shorter than what it typically has to be.

    Now, you’re going to have to sort of disassemble the sill and the saddle and then reassemble it but I don’t see why a good, skilled carpenter couldn’t do that. So I would definitely go fiberglass. I would start with a standard-sized door and I would cut it down. That’s going to be cheaper than you trying to find one that’s custom-made for this particular unusual situation.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and I know she likes it; so, do some research and think about the fiberglass door because they last forever.

    Alright, now we’ve got one here from Josh in Michigan who writes: “I’ve been having some problems with what looks like drips on the wall in my bathroom. These drips are sometimes a yellowish color and more noticeable after the shower.” Oh, it’s condensation. (chuckles)

    TOM: Yes. Condensation and a lot of soap scum and mineral deposits that get up into the air and condense on those walls.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Gross. Yay.

    TOM: And sure, you’ve got a ventilation problem here. You need to make sure that you add a bath fan that runs not only during the shower but for about ten minutes after you’re done. That will vent that space; get it nice and dry.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Josh? I hate to admit it but we had the same problem in our home before we installed the bath fan, so do it. And make sure they vent it outside and not into your attic. It really does make a gigantor difference. You’re going to feel so much cooler in that bath after your showers and you’re also going to see the paint last a lot longer, so good luck.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.

    Hey, you can stay in touch all week long with us on our Facebook page. If you’re not a fan, well, you can do just that by typing “Fan the Money Pit” from your cell phone. You send that to FBOOK; that’s F-B-O-O-K. And you can stay in touch with us all week long. We’re always putting out lots of tips and advice and answering people’s questions on the fan page at Facebook.

    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 2009 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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