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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

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


    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because we are here to help you get those jobs done around the house that you’d like to tackle this time of year.

    We’ve got a great and very busy show planned for you. Coming up this hour, we’re going to talk about fireplaces; they’re a favorite when it gets nice and chilly outside. But you know what? They’re no longer limited to just the living room or the den. You can bring that roaring fire right outside and even extend the use of your outdoor space. We’re going to tell you exactly how to do that in just a few minutes and it’s really fun.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and while you’re out there enjoying that new outdoor fireplace, why not take a look around and think about your outdoor lighting. You know, there are so many ways that you can improve your curb appeal with what sometimes is called lightscaping. We’re going to give you a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing, in just a bit.

    TOM: Also ahead, how’d you like to cut energy costs and still have a nice, hot shower in the morning? We’re going to have some tips from the experts at Rinnai about how a tankless water heater can help you out with just that. You know, those units are really much more energy efficient than a traditional tanked water heater and it supplies an endless delivery of hot water.

    LESLIE: Hey, and speaking of Rinnai; you know, they are one of the fantastic sponsors of the My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes and this is your last chance to get in on this great contest. We’re giving away over 200 prizes worth about 16,500 bucks in prizes. One of those prizes is a $5,000 cash grand prize. We’re giving away five EasyWater softening systems, two sheds and a utility trailer from Lifetime Products and a whole bunch of wall-hanging hardware from our friends over at Monkey Hook.

    The contest runs through the end of the month. This month. You’re running out of time. So go to MoneyPit.com right now for your last chance to enter and win our game and sweepstakes.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number you need to know to get help with your home improvement projects, so let’s get to that right now.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Jane in New Jersey needs some help around the garden. What can we do for you?

    JANE: I have a patio …


    JANE: … and there was a tree blocking – the leaves covering it with all the shade and now the tree is down but I have moss growing in between the pavers.

    TOM: OK.

    JANE: What can I do to remove the moss?

    TOM: You want to spray a bleach-and-water solution on the patio.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, that’ll kill that moss.

    TOM: Mm-hmm, it’ll kill the moss and then you can pressure wash it off; the rest of it.

    JANE: How many parts bleach to the water?

    TOM: I would go about one-third bleach and two-thirds water.

    JANE: Okey-dokle.

    TOM: Okey-dokle. (Leslie chuckles) Jane, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, I live in New Jersey and I never heard anybody say …

    LESLIE: And you’ve never heard okey-dokle?

    TOM: … okey-dokle. Nope. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: What is that QUIKRETE product? Is it the ProLock? It’s that joining sand.

    TOM: The sand. The sand. The joining sand, yeah. And that might not be a bad idea for her to put that in after the fact because that sand product that QUIKRETE has; it actually solidifies and kind of locks the pavers together and stops …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and this way nothing can grow up between there.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

    LESLIE: But it’s still – you know if you ever need to take out a paver, you can; but it sort of makes this (Leslie makes sucking sound) you know like semi-suctiony lock thing that’s temporary.

    TOM: It’s okey-dokle.

    LESLIE: It’s okey-dokle. (Tom chuckles) I’m going to add that to my repertoire.

    TOM: There you go. Use that in a sentence today.

    LESLIE: Frank from Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    FRANK: Hi. My question is when we bought this house that we had, we put an addition onto the front entrance and when they poured the footing and the foundation, they had what’s called a blowout. And they quickly tried to fix it and of course I got a discount on the concrete.

    TOM: (chuckling) Good news, discount on the concrete. Bad news, your house is falling apart.

    FRANK: (laughing) The thing is that it’s under where the eave is. I can put a gutter there [to hold] (ph) the water from coming into that corner of the foundation but they call it like a cold …

    TOM: So when you say it’s blown out; is it like sort of swollen out where it’s like thicker than the rest of the wall?

    FRANK: Right, like on the bottom, instead of being the eight inches or whatever, it’s a nice 12.5 and triangle-shaped.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. OK. Right, I hear you.

    FRANK: But now what I’m worried about is that where it attaches to the house, it’s like a cold – well, it’s – you know you can kind of see a gap. But I’m trying to figure is there a material out there that I can fill that gap in. Because I tarred and tried to fill in one side of it so that it was protected from water.

    TOM: Right.

    FRANK: But I’m also looking to try to fill in that gap.

    TOM: So is it like a physical space between the foundations?

    FRANK: Yeah, there’s probably anywhere from a half-inch to a, you know, 5/8 gap in certain areas that I can actually see some daylight.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.

    FRANK: And the exterior isn’t finished yet to where, you know, I have a …

    TOM: I tell you what I think I would do here. I would probably – and this is getting a little creative – I would probably use an epoxy patching compound; the kind that’s designed sort of to fix big cracks in the floor. Because it’s real sticky and it adheres very, very well to concrete. And what you’re probably going to have to do is get a spackle knife – like a four or a six-inch spackle knife – and kind of trowel it in place. But if you use an epoxy compound, that’s going to dry well, adhere well and be the best for trying to keep that space as watertight as possible.

    When you have a situation like this, especially where you have this wall that’s sort of blown out and swollen out, you’ve got to get kind of creative because you’re right; the name of the game here is to stop the water from leaking in there.

    FRANK: Excellent. And I can apply it from the inside out? Will it create enough pressure to (inaudible at 0:06:24.5).

    TOM: Either way. You can trowel it and you can get it pretty deep into that space.

    FRANK: Excellent. You guys have been great. I love your show.

    TOM: Well, thanks so much, Frank. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement or your home repair question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, time to enjoy your deck, patio or other outdoor space long into the cooler months. Wondering how you can do that and still be comfortable? We’re going to tell you, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional-feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi Power Tools. Pro features. Affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: 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: Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. If you call that number, two things will happen: first – we’ll try to answer your home improvement question; and second – we’ll toss your name into the Money Pit hardhat because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 prize pack that includes GE Caulk Singles; they’re single-use squeeze-packs of caulk. They’re going to make your caulking jobs very, very easy. All you’ve got to do is tear, squeeze and toss. You won’t need to struggle with a caulking gun. There are lots of projects you can tackle around your house, from weatherstripping to caulking the bathtub, with this $50 prize pack from GE Singles. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, that’s going to make you all toasty and warm on the inside but how about staying toasty and warm while you’re outside? You know, no longer limited to the living room or your den or your master bedroom, the fireplace is now becoming the centerpiece of an outdoor living room. And there are a couple of ways that you can accomplish this fun outdoor space.

    You can buy a simple fire pit at almost any big box retailer near you. This type is going to be portable, so you can bring it into the garage or the shed when the weather gets really cold and snowy and yucky; or more elaborate fire pits can be custom installed and they can be fueled by other wood or gas.

    You can also look into something called a chimenea and they’re inspired by a Mexican wood-burning bread oven. They’re usually made of clay and they’re sort of like a little potbellied, chimney-looking structure – hence the name chimenea – and they’re really beautiful. And the great thing about these is that they’re also portable and you can use them indoors. All you have to do is fill the opening with some gravel or stones and add candles when you do bring them into your house. Not raging fires in the house, OK?

    TOM: That’s right. We’re not suggesting you start a fire inside your house with your chimenea. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) No, candles.

    TOM: You know, you can even go all out and have a custom-built outdoor fireplace added to your patio if it’s in your budget. Whatever you decide, a roaring fire’s going to extend the use of that outdoor space for most of the year; depending where you live.

    Now I will warn you; there is downside, though, especially if you have kids and a fireplace outside like me. You need to buy a lot of marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate well into the early winter season because …

    LESLIE: Yum, s’mores are delicious.

    TOM: … s’mores become an almost year-round activity around my house with that fire pit outside. And they are tasty.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Steve in New York needs help with a flooring situation. Tell us what happened.

    STEVE: Well, my sister-in-law had a laminate floor installed in her house; I guess it was about three months ago. About three weeks ago it started to bubble up; not just a little bit but it was actually going about four inches above the floor. What I was wondering –

    TOM: Wow.

    STEVE: Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Now the house is on a slab and what I was wondering – I’m sure it’s just an expansion from humidity transferring through the concrete. Is it advisable to put some kind of impermeable layer down before you do these floors? And as far as taking care of the bubbling, will just kind of trimming the edges to give it room to float take care of that or …?

    TOM: Did she have this installed professionally?

    STEVE: Yes.

    TOM: Well, I think you’ve got a warranty claim here. I would contact the folks that you hired to do this installation. Did you buy the floor product and have the installation done by the same company?

    STEVE: Yeah. Well, the thing is, she’s already called them but they have like a six-month lead time before they’re willing to come.

    TOM: Well, that’s …

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Because, clearly, they have this problem with other people.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a little ridiculous, you know; that they’re going to try to put you off like that.

    STEVE: Right.

    TOM: I think you’re going to have to ratchet this up. You know, I’m talking Better Business Bureau; possibly small claims court; get onto Angie’s List and tell people about the experience. If you bought this product and installed it from the same company, that’s good because at least they can’t blame each other.

    STEVE: Right.

    TOM: But somebody screwed up here, Steve. That should not be happening. And I’ve got to tell you; it’s very rare that we hear a problem with laminate floor buckling up because the stuff is very, very moisture-resistant. I think something …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, that’s what it’s made for.

    TOM: I think something else is going on here; I’m not quite sure what. But it’s incredibly unusual for it to buckle up four inches like that.

    STEVE: OK.

    TOM: Do you know what product it was and what manufacturer?

    STEVE: I can’t remember the name of (inaudible at 0:11:46.1).

    TOM: Well, you might want to find that out and also call the manufacturer directly. All of these manufacturers have area reps and, generally, what they’ll do is send somebody by to look at the installation, look at the product and try to figure out what the heck is going on. And that information can be very, very helpful; especially if this is a defect in the installation.

    STEVE: OK. Well, thanks for the advice.

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


    LESLIE: Cindy in Nebraska needs some help with screen damage. Tell us what happened.

    CINDY: Recently we had a hailstorm and we have nylon screens that are about 13 years old. And I would like to know how difficult it is to repair those screens or whether it would be more cost-effective to replace them.

    TOM: Nylon screens tend to deteriorate with exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Unless they’re fairly new, they’re generally not worth repairing. What I would rather you do is take the screens to a local hardware store and have them replaced. It’s a fairly simple process, not that difficult to do, not terribly expensive and it’ll look a lot better.

    CINDY: Alrighty. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Now you can’t get the roll of nylon screen and the tubing and the pizza cutter-looking tool and just replace it yourself?

    TOM: Sure, you can. But you know, unless you’ve done this a bunch of times, it tends to get kind of saggy. But it’s not a hard job to do.

    LESLIE: That is true.

    James in Rhode Island is going green with some solar panels. What can we do for you?

    JAMES: I had a discussion with my brother. Basically, are there are any type of maintenance issues you have to handle with solar panels – yearly, quarterly, electrically or cleaning – in this [issue area] (ph) if you put them on your house?

    TOM: Well, there’s going to be some mechanics involved with the panel. You’re going to have a circulation pump, for example, that needs to be oiled. But in terms of cleaning the panels, unless you have some odd event that gets them really dirty – like a very severe storm or something of that nature – I really don’t think that you need any maintenance to the panel surface itself. I mean those panels are really, really durable and continue to perform well even when they have normal accumulation of dust and dirt on it just from the environment. So I don’t think you have a lot of maintenance there.

    You will have some mechanical maintenance, though; to make sure that the system is continuing to circulate. I presume we’re talking about active solar panels here for a hot water system.

    JAMES: Well, yes, and it’ll apply to electrical, too, then; the same issue.

    TOM: Well, it certainly would and you know there have been a lot of changes in the electrical solar panel industry; probably the most recent is that they’re starting to come out with solar tiles that look like roofing shingles, or at least shaped to work within a roofing system, that actually are photoelectric collectors.

    LESLIE: And they’re so thin. They lay, you know, in the exact profile of the existing roofing material; so they do sort of blend in while providing, you know, the greenness and the energy efficiency you’re looking for.

    TOM: Exactly.

    JAMES: Amazing. Amazing. Well, thank you so very much.

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

    LESLIE: You know, I can understand why he’s asking the question; because if you search the web and just try to do some research about solar panels, tons of companies will pop up saying, ‘Oh, we’ll come to your house and clean your panels.’

    TOM: (chuckling) Yeah.

    LESLIE: It’s not really a huge necessity.

    TOM: Right, exactly. And you know, there’s always going to be somebody out there to sell you something you don’t need or something that you do need at an exorbitant price and that’s why you can pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mike in South Carolina needs some help with a basement floor. What’s going on at your money pit?

    MIKE: Hello and thank you for your show. I enjoy it.

    LESLIE: Thanks.

    MIKE: Have a small house, story and a half, that has a – a walkout basement is the bottom floor.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And it has a smooth, finished concrete floor in it that used to have carpet on it.

    TOM: Alright.

    MIKE: The carpet was taken up and now we have the carpet glue on the floor. And I was thinking about refinishing the floor with one of the epoxy coatings.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: So my question is how do I get the surface smooth enough to paint?

    TOM: Very difficult to remove those old adhesives.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, that’s going to be tough.

    TOM: Have you thought about using a different type of floor product? Have you thought about perhaps using a laminate floor? Is this a …

    MIKE: I have. Yep, yep.

    TOM: … space that you would like to finish? Because that would be my choice.

    LESLIE: Well, and that would be the easiest because then you’re not dealing with having to remove those sort of uneven surfaces, the remnants of the adhesive. Now you’ve got the sort of floating floor that goes over everything; you know, with that foaming underlayment that you’re going to put underneath your laminate. It sort of smoothes out all those little bumps that you’ll see in there and then that floor will sit right on top of that. If you …

    MIKE: Now a lot of that engineered product is just kind of a snap-in-place; it’s a floating type floor? Is that right?

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Absolutely.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) It is, it is. It’s not adhered down and I can tell you it’s very forgiving when it comes to uneven floors. I have laminate floor in my kitchen of my 1886 house and I can tell you that that floor is about as roly-poly as it gets and I’m sure I far exceed the tolerance that’s specified by the laminate floor manufacturer (Leslie chuckles) for how far out of whack a floor can be.

    MIKE: Right.

    TOM: But this laminate floor has really gone down great. It’s been down now for a decade and it really has stayed together nicely. So yes, I think that it’s very forgiving when it comes to uneven floor surfaces and if you have some glue buildup, get off as much as you can; but between the fact that it’s floating and it goes over an underlayment, I think you’re going to be in good shape and be very happy with the result.

    MIKE: OK. Well, very good. I’m into easy; whatever that might be. So … (Tom and Leslie chuckle)

    LESLIE: You know what? It’s going to be easy, it’s going to look great and it’s going to turn that basement into a really warm, usable space.

    MIKE: Alright, well thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    Up next, we’re going to tell you how to save money by heating water as you need it instead of keeping a giant tank full of water steaming hot all the darn time. We’re going to tell you how, right after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And do you like to pay for something even when you don’t use it? That seems pretty unfair, to me; doesn’t it?

    LESLIE: Yeah, totally.

    TOM: Well, that is exactly what happens when you have a traditional water heater. You know, with a standard tank-type water heater, you heat and then reheat the same water even when you’re sleeping. A better option is a Rinnai tankless water heater because it’s more efficient and it heats the water very quickly and delivers an endless supply for as long as you need it. With a Rinnai tankless water heater you only have to pay to heat water when you need it and for as long as you want it. A tankless water heater is also 30 percent more energy efficiency than a standard water heater and – check this out – up to 50 percent more energy efficient than an electric water heater.

    So if you’re in the market to get a new water heater, consider a tankless water heater by Rinnai. They’re small and they can also be installed in places where a big ole tank water heater won’t fit.

    LESLIE: Now the folks at Rinnai are one of the many sponsors of the My Home, My Money Pit Game and Sweepstakes and you’ve only got a few days left to enter. The contest ends at the end of this month. So head on over to MoneyPit.com today, right now, and check it out. We’re celebrating our new book in a super-giant way. We’re giving away more than 200 prizes, including a grand prize of – get ready — $5,000 cash. And all you have to do to be in it to win is play a quick and easy game. It allows you go qualify for the sweepstakes. We’re not talking about taking your SATs here, folks. We’re talking about just having some fun with how much you really know about your own money pit. And who knows? You could be our lucky grand prize winner.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number you need to know to dial right now and get your home improvement questions answered.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Liz in Delaware who needs help with a bathroom project. What’s going on ?

    LIZ: I have an old house and the bathroom has those tiles all the way around; you know, those square tiles. I want to bring down my medicine cabinet because all you can see is the top of your head. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: (chuckling) OK.

    LIZ: (chuckling) So I wondered do I have to take off the tiles – it might be like three or four – before this medicine cabinet goes down? Do I have to remove it?

    TOM: Now is it the kind of medicine cabinet, Liz, that’s set into the wall?

    LIZ: Yes.

    TOM: Alright, well it’s a fairly big job; so let me tell you …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and there’s going to be a repair above where now you have the hole where it used to be.

    TOM: Exactly. So let me tell you the steps.

    First of all, you’re going to have to remove the old medicine cabinet out of the wall so you can kind of have plenty of room to work.

    LIZ: Yeah.

    TOM: Then, to lower it, I’ll give you one trick of the trade …

    LIZ: I have to get another one. I have to get a new one because this is all corroded, right?

    TOM: OK, well go ahead and get a new one but …

    LIZ: Yeah.

    TOM: … to lower it – get it down further – one of the ways that I might think about doing that is to use a tool called a RotoZip. A RotoZip kind of looks a bit like a router and a bit like a drill and what it does is it actually can carve right through that tile. It’s a great tool for plumbers or anybody that has to sort of cut a small hole out of tile. It kind of works like a router and it will just saw right through that stuff. And I would use a RotoZip and saw out the old tile to the new opening size, to get the new medicine cabinet in.

    You may also, above where the tile ends, you may have to pack that out a little bit; because remember, the tile’s going to be about a quarter-inch thicker than the wall above it, so you may have to offset that.

    And then on top of the medicine cabinet – assuming you don’t have one that’s taller than what you had – you’re going to have a hole, as Leslie said before, that you’re going to have to fill in and that can be accomplished simply by cutting a piece of drywall to fit and taping and spackling it.

    LIZ: Oh, OK.

    TOM: So you know, it’s a lot of work. You might just want to think about buying a stool. It’s probably a lot easier. (Leslie laughs)

    LIZ: Oh, no. (laughs)

    LESLIE: Wear more high heels.

    TOM: That’s right.

    LIZ: You’re really supposed to look at half your body in the medicine cabinet; not the top of your head. Because it’s got a high ceiling, so …

    TOM: Well, that’s what you’re up against, Liz. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Darren in Utah needs some help cleaning up an incident. What happened, Darren? Tell us what’s going on ?

    DARREN: Well, what I have is a concrete driveway that has some older oil stains on it. I’ve tried some household products like Simple Green and Ultra Dawn to try and clean the stains away but I’m still left with these shadowy, black marks. How do I get rid of them?

    TOM: Well, first of all, are the oil dripping cars all – have they all been removed? (Leslie chuckles)

    DARREN: (chuckling) Well, they have been removed.

    TOM: Alright, good thing.

    LESLIE: Alright, good.

    TOM: Have you tried TSP?

    LESLIE: Trisodium phosphate?

    DARREN: No, I have not tried the old standby TSP.

    TOM: I would try the old standby. It’s pretty effective. I would pick up some TSP and then usually you’ll find that, surprisingly enough, in the paint aisle of most home centers and hardware stores.

    LESLIE: Well, I mean come on. You’re painting; you’re bound to spill something and make a mess.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. And that’s a pretty industrial-strength cleaning formula. And what we like to suggest, Darren, is that you mix it up into sort of like a loose paste and then apply it to the stained area. Let it sit for a good 10 or 15 or 20 minutes and then scrub it clean. And it does tend to do a pretty good job of lifting out those oil stains. Now, if they’re really, really old and it’s really, really stained it’s not going to perform miracles but it will lighten it up quite a bit.

    DARREN: Very good. That’s a great idea. Now, do I have to be careful about the TSP solution once I’m rinsing it off with a hose; getting into the lawn and killing the lawn?

    TOM: Oh, you’re going to put so much water on that that it’s going to be pretty diluted.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Dilute it so much.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, I wouldn’t wash it towards my prized rose bushes but you know (Darren chuckles), if you’re just generally careful with it and use plenty of water to rinse it off; plus, you’re only applying into these sort of very concentrated, patchy areas. I don’t think you’re going to have an issue.

    DARREN: Great. Thanks for the answer guys. I love your show.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. When we come back, we’re going to teach you how the right lighting can improve the look of your fa

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