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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.)


    (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: And your home improvement products just got easier because we’re here to help. Pick up the phone and call us right now. We’ll help you out. If you’re thinking about tackling a home improvement project or whether you want to do it yourself or direct it yourself, we will make sure that you don’t become a do-it-to-yourselfer when you’re trying to get those jobs done, if you call us first at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, coming up this hour we’re going to talk about the greenest way to insulate your home. We’re going to tell you how to cut energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and breathe easier inside your home, all at the same time.

    LESLIE: And speaking of saving energy, we’ll tell you about a $2 investment that will help you seal out drafts for the entire winter. Now is the time to do it. Find out why in just a little bit.

    TOM: Plus, you know, there are things that could be potentially dangerous to your home and up at the top of the list is excessive moisture. Learn what you can do to control it and avoid the rot and mold problems that can come from it.

    LESLIE: And we’ve got a great prize this hour. We’ve got a Garage Pro Wet/Dry Vac from our friends at Bissell.

    TOM: That’s pretty cool. You can really suck up a lot of home improvement dust with that. It’s worth 200 bucks. So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and remember, you need to have a home improvement question to qualify for the drawing for the vacuum and be willing to come on the air and ask us.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Marie in California needs some help cleaning. What’s going on?

    MARIE: I have a couple questions, not major home improvement projects but I have – in my hallway and master bathroom, we have travertine.

    TOM: Yes.

    MARIE: It’s a natural stone, I guess, you know …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah.

    MARIE: And a couple of questions. I’m starting to get little pits in it – you know like little nicks – and I’m wondering what’s causing that and how can we repair that? I know we can go back to the installer but is there anything I can do?

    LESLIE: Well, travertine – probably the reason you’re seeing all these little nicks and dings and things happen to it is that, over time, it does need to be resealed and if it’s not resealed, it’s sort of whatever sealant has been on there from the beginning is wearing away and now you’re sort of leaving everything that’s vulnerable in the flooring itself open to damage if you drop something or if you wear high heels. It’s just natural wear and tear because natural stone, even though it’s very strong, when that sealant is gone it really does have a hard time standing up to it. There’s a great website called Stone Care International and their website is StoneCare.com and there’s a whole section on that site for travertine, specifically for flooring. And there’s a product that they have called Bathroom Stone Floor Kit and it’s got a Spray-N-Seal, it’s got a disinfectant, it’s got a cleanser; so it comes with everything that you need to clean, maintain and then seal that floor.

    MARIE: OK, great. Yeah. It’s only been a year so it’s not a long time and this will be from …

    TOM: Yeah, but you’ve got to stay on top of it and if you don’t, it definitely can pit …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … and be something that – you know, it’s a natural surface so it really does need some maintenance.

    LESLIE: And even with granite countertops, which we have in our kitchen, every year we have to reseal it.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: And if I skip a year just because I think I did it already, sure enough I drop a pot or pan on it or something happens and I get a little ding right in one of those places where the granite was sort of shallow and they filled it with epoxy to sort of make everything even. You’ve really got to stay on top of natural stone.

    MARIE: OK. Great. And the other thing is tile. Do you recommend – you know, just for regular ceramic tile, what kind of cleaner do you recommend?

    TOM: Well, with ceramic tile, usually the issue is the grout and what we like to suggest is something called a grout stripper. It’s basically a heavy-duty cleaner. It usually comes in a concentrate available at hardware stores and home centers. Typically, you have to mix it about one part grout stripper to about seven parts water. Then you scrub it with a stiff brush, you let it sit for up to about 45 minutes keeping it wet. And then the trick of the trade on really getting it super clean, Marie, is to try not to wipe it off. If you have a wet/dry vacuum, you can actually suck off the dirty water and that avoids it from going back into the grout lines. And then once you have it really, really and clean and dry, then you want to apply a grout sealer to keep it that way.

    MARIE: OK. OK. Well, great. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Paul in South Carolina needs some help with it seems like his entire home, based on this note I got from our call screener. (Tom chuckles) What’s up, Paul?

    PAUL: I have noticed that in my second story, the hardwood floors are uneven. They seem to be higher right down the middle of the house.

    TOM: What kind of home do you have, Paul? You said a two-story colonial?

    PAUL: That’s probably the best way to describe it.

    TOM: OK, because down the middle of a typical two-story colonial, you typically have a girder and a bearing surface where the floor joists sort of criss-cross.

    PAUL: Right.

    TOM: And if the hardwood floor seems to be higher in the middle, it could be that the outside walls are settling or even more commonly is that when the contractors put the floor joists and criss-cross them at the girder, they overhang them on the girder a little bit too long and, if you can imagine this, as the floor settles, they kind of scissor-up and press up the floor in the middle of it. Do you see any evidence of active movement; like do you see wall cracking that is significant or anything of that nature?

    PAUL: I have noticed that there is some cracking in the ceiling in the downstairs.

    TOM: OK. Well, you know, it might be worth having the home looked at by a professional engineer or a professional home inspector to see if you can get a sense as to why this is happening. A little bit of cracking is OK but you’re now putting two and two together. You’re seeing movement underneath and movement above and by the movement, I mean the hump in the floor …

    PAUL: Right.

    TOM: … and the cracking of the ceiling. And so it’s possible something could be moving. There could be other things going on that a trained eye might be able to pick up.

    PAUL: OK. And you think a home inspector would be the right way to go?

    TOM: Yeah, a good-quality home inspector. I would go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors and that’s at ASHI.org and you can put in your zip code; you’ll find a list of home inspectors in your area that are certified by that organization. You know, call a few off of that list; see if you can find the right guy that way.

    PAUL: That sounds great. Thank you for your help.

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

    LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone, give us a call, let us know what you are working on. We want to help you get the job done right the first time. Give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, it’ll save dollars and the planet. Find out about the greatest way to insulate your home, 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: 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: And have you looked around your yard and wondered where you’re going to put all those toys and lawn furniture and bird baths and tools you’ve collected over the years? How about inside a brand spanking new 8×12 shed from Lifetime Products worth almost 1,200 bucks that you can win by playing the My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Game and Sweepstakes.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’re celebrating our new book in a super big way. We’re giving away hundreds of prizes. All you have to do is test your home improvement knowledge. In the process, you’re going to learn something and you’re going to win some awesome things. If you visit MoneyPit.com, you can play there. Enter now and we’ve got a big grand prize: $5,000 cash.

    TOM: And if you win the cash, you might as well sink the whole thing into your own money pit. Why wouldn’t you want to maintain and improve your biggest investment? For example, how about some state-of-the-art insulation?

    LESLIE: Yeah. Insulation has come leaps and bounds. There’s a brand new product called isonene. It’s a spray foam insulation and if you use this in your house, you can reduce your home heating and cooling costs by up to 50 percent. It’s sprayed into your walls, into the ceilings and the attic and the floors and then it expands in seconds to create a soft foam insulation and an air barrier system that both insulates and then seals out all of those drafts that you can’t even see around your house.

    And isonene, it’s 100-percent water-blown foam insulation; which means it’s very green, it’s environmentally friendly and it’s a non-ozone-depleting substance so you don’t have to worry about contributing to global warming.

    TOM: You know what I really like about this type of a product is that it’s very high-tech and it’s not just your typical insulation, which provides like the R-value; it also provides air sealing. So it basically cuts the drafts and saves you energy in one step. It’s also healthier, it’s quieter, it’s more energy-efficient; in fact, it can actually save about 50 percent on the cost of heating your home.

    If you want more information, you can visit InsulationSmart.com. That’s InsulationSmart.com.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And if energy-efficiency is generally on your mind and you’ve got a lot of questions going on in there and you need some help, we can help you get through all of those situations; especially now that we’re entering heating season. So pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    LESLIE: Sally in Georgia has got a water problem at her house. It’s causing her house to sink. What’s going on?

    SALLY: Actually, the water is standing underneath my house and every time it rains, you can tell the yard starts to fill and then we look under the house and it’s full and the house is – well, it was built in the ’30s so it’s up on bricks and we could tell that there were cracks in the bricks starting to appear. And we had someone come in and take measurements and apparently the floor is all out of level. And so the house is sinking and no one will come in and fix the house from sinking until we solve the water problem, so we’re trying to figure out how to get the water from underneath the house.

    TOM: Does the water only accumulate after heavy rain storms or does it seem to be there all the time?

    SALLY: Any time it rains. It doesn’t have to be a heavy rain; it can be a light rain. Any amount of water …

    TOM: OK. Well, then we need to trace how the water is getting from the sky to under your house and, typically, that happens because it’s not being managed properly, either right at the house or around the house. For example, do you have, Sally, gutter systems on the entire house?

    SALLY: No. There’s no gutters.

    TOM: Well, that would be part of the problem right there; in fact, that might be the entire problem. You need to collect the water at the roof’s edge. You need to run it down downspouts and you need to extend those spouts well away from the foundation perimeter. If you’re going to allow the roof to spill the water right at the side of the house, it’s going to run right back under the house and it’s going to erode a lot of bricks along the way. So you need to get gutters on the house and once you do that, I think you’re going to see a dramatic difference …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … on the amount of water that’s collecting.

    LESLIE: And I think if you also look at the grading, it’s possible that somewhere along your property you’ve got, you know, maybe a higher area that’s forcing the water to go right towards your house. So if you can sort of …

    SALLY: Everything in the area is higher.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Make it so that that is lower and the water will go away from your house.

    SALLY: Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: She sounded desperate but it’s not that bad.

    TOM: I know. No, I mean we hit the nail right on the head when we asked her if she had gutters and if you don’t have gutters, you’re going to flood. I mean that’s a house waiting for a flood, without gutters.

    LESLIE: Joan in Colorado is dealing with a painting situation. What’s going on?

    JOAN: Yes. Well, thank you, Tom and Leslie. About four years ago, we had the outside of our house painted and now I’ve noticed last summer and also this year, the paint is chipping off the foundation because they painted the foundation along with the siding and it’s taking off a layer of the concrete from the foundation.

    TOM: OK.

    JOAN: And so we really don’t know what to do; whether we should repaint the foundation or – basically, my husband would love to just get rid of the paint on the foundation but …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    JOAN: … again, we have that problem of the concrete chipping off with the paint.

    TOM: Well, probably what’s happening is the paint is separating from the concrete foundation and the reason it’s doing that is because …

    LESLIE: Because of moisture.

    TOM: Yeah, the concrete is very hydroscopic, Joan. It soaks up an amazing amount of water and they probably used the same paint they used on the house on the foundation, which was the wrong thing to do.

    LESLIE: Rather than using a masonry paint.

    TOM: Yeah, correct. So I think that what you might want to do is try to get off all the loose paint you can on the foundation and then I would prime it again. I’d do this on a really, really dry day and make sure it’s primed.

    LESLIE: Yeah, let it dry for a couple of days; like wait until …

    JOAN: OK.

    LESLIE: … that foundation is as dry as it can possibly be.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: Take two, three days dry weather.

    TOM: Prime it. Use an oil-based primer; you’ll have the best adhesion and then you can put a topcoat of foundation paint, masonry paint, over that. You could have the paint tinted so perhaps your husband can get a different color if that’s what he’s trying to go for, you know. Maybe go back to the gray color. It doesn’t matter.

    LESLIE: What about patching any of the concrete that sort of chipped off with the paint with an epoxy compound?

    TOM: Yeah. If you have chips or holes, you can patch it and, as Leslie said, use an epoxy patch material for that.

    JOAN: Oh, OK. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright. It’s not critical; it’s more cosmetic. OK, Joan?

    JOAN: OK. Well, thank you.

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

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

    JOHN: What I was inquiring about was I had heard about these fake lawns that you put out …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    JOHN: … and then having your regular grass. It would save you mowing and so on and I was wondering where you would inquire – where you would check on something like this.

    LESLIE: You know, John, there’s actually a ton of different companies that manufacture this synthetic lawn, if you will. And you’re right; it saves you a ton of chores that you wouldn’t have to do every weekend and it saves you from watering the lawn as well. And we actually used one of the products on an episode of While You Were Out a few years ago in Las Vegas and the company that we worked with then was called Waterless Grass and they have a website called WaterlessGrass.com. And it actually looked quite fantastic when installed; it installed very easily. I remember it being reasonably priced. I mean there are a ton of different resources online. I’ve worked with them and I know the product looks great.

    JOHN: OK. Sounds good. Thank you for your time.

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

    LESLIE: Heading over to Rhode Island to chat with Scott about roofing. What can we do for you today?

    SCOTT: Well, I tell you what, we’ve had some nasty thunderstorms here in the northeast this summer and, as luck would have it, a big, old maple tree fell on the roof of my house. Most of the damage that was done, fortunately for me, was done to the shed roof, which is attached to the back of my garage but …

    TOM: I hope you weren’t home when it fell down, Matt.

    SCOTT: I was. As a matter of fact, I was getting dressed and I heard this big thud. I thought the trash cans had gotten blown over by the heavy winds but it wasn’t; it was the tree that fell on the roof but, fortunately, nobody was hurt and …

    TOM: Alright.

    SCOTT: … the damage was relatively minor. I mean, it ripped a satellite dish …

    LESLIE: You’re lucky.

    SCOTT: … off the corner of the roof and bent the gutter …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    SCOTT: … but all stuff that I could fix. It actually broke the fascia board in front of the soffit on the overhang. But my one question that I have – and I’ve even repaired the bent drip edge as well. I’ve got some damaged shingles. Now, this roof is relatively newly shingled.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    SCOTT: They’re architectural shingles and I have extra shingles from when I did it myself.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    SCOTT: My question is now, with some of these shingles damaged and needing to be replaced – not the whole roof – how do you replace shingles in the middle of the roof?

    TOM: There’s a trick of the trade for that and what you need is a flat bar. It’s like a flat pry bar where it’s sort of curved on one end and flat on the other and used to pull out nails. And you take the flat bar and you work it under the shingle and you actually go up to right where that nail is going through the shingle, bend it down and pop the nail out. Then, go above it and pull the nail out. If you do that carefully across one row, you will have loosened up those shingles and as you know, once you get the …

    LESLIE: So you can get underneath it.

    TOM: Once you get the first one out, then it’s a piece of cake. What you need is a flat bar to do that.

    SCOTT: I think I may have what you’re talking about. I call it a cat’s paw. Is that the same type of bar?

    TOM: No. No, no, no, no. It’s not a cat’s paw. No, a cat’s paw is round and that’s designed to kind of go down from the top. A flat bar is essentially that; it’s a tool that’s about two inches wide, you know, an eighth of an inch thick and about 12 inches long and it has a groove at the end that slides under the shingle with a little V-groove in it and you can wiggle it …

    LESLIE: Not called a pry bar?

    TOM: Well, it’s a little bit like a pry bar but it’s not like a crowbar. It’s not round like that; it’s flat.

    SCOTT: Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Does he need to be worried about working with it on a cooler day, possibly snapping the tile?

    TOM: No. Only if it’s really, really cold would you have to worry about that.


    TOM: But that adhesive will chill as quickly as it will heat …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … so as long as you’re doing it in the morning and not like in the middle of a 90 degree day, he’ll be fine.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Garage Pro Wet/Dry Vacuum from Bissell worth 200 bucks. So pick up the phone and give us a call right now. And remember, you’ve got to come on the air and ask your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that Bissell prize is great for cleaning up spills and you might need it if you’ve got excess moisture in your home because moisture, it is one of your home’s absolute worst enemies. We’re going to tell you how to control it, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic, the all-natural, super-strong air freshener. Available in spray and solid form. 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. Alright, Tom, I want to talk to you a little bit about the changing of seasons …

    TOM: Yes.

    LESLIE: … and good news, bad news. I’m always thinking about things that need to be done around the house. And as we’re getting into autumn, I just …

    TOM: You have to, Leslie; that’s your job. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: I know; it’s totally my job. But you know what? I’ve been thinking a lot about dehumidification, moisture, what’s going on around the entire housing system because homes today are made so much more efficient.

    TOM: It is mold season as well, so keeping the moisture down is real important this time of year.

    LESLIE: I mean, it really is and especially with the way new homes are being built: super-efficient air conditioning systems, perfect vapor barriers, hugely-improved insulation overall around the entire house and the envelope itself. So what’s the downside of all this good news in how your house is put together?

    Well, all of that tends to lead to excess moisture and since you mentioned mold, we really need to be concerned.

    TOM: That’s right. So joining us now to talk about how to control moisture in our homes is Matt Gotto. He’s the dehumidifier and ventilation product manager for Aprilaire.

    Hi, Matt.

    MATT: Hi. How are you doing?

    TOM: We’re good. Now, typically when you talk dehumidifier, you think of that thing in your basement that collects about a gallon of water before it spills on your floor and you have to empty it out. (Leslie chuckles) The technology has changed, though, and now it’s able to actually do the entire house. Can you talk about that?

    MATT: Yeah. I mean, that’s what we see; a lot of people own the small portables that you’d see that would run, you know, forever and ever; they’d fill up the tank, you’d have to empty it and it would just be a never-ending cycle. Well, there have been some really great advances, especially for people – their home, their health, their comfort – in whole-home or central dehumidification. And these systems are used to really take care of the whole moisture – it’s a whole-home moisture solution.

    LESLIE: Now, Matt, I’m just going to jump in here because, you know, we talked about the portable units and when you think moisture and moisture management in your home, generally you go to the basement/below-grade rooms. So why should a homeowner really be thinking about the entire house overall for moisture control? I mean, where are the problem areas and what can all of this lead to?

    MATT: Well, you see – and it depends on the home and how it’s constructed, obviously. But we do see high humidity in basements, for example. But you also see the same moisture issues on supply vents on the upstairs where the cool air is condensing the moisture that’s in the air and you could see moisture condensing on the vents or on the materials inside the house. So the moisture is throughout the whole home. The temperature affects how that feels inside your home.

    TOM: Alright. Well, let’s talk about that. First of all, the dehumidification of the whole home – we’re not talking about having portables in every room of the house. This is a central system that works with the existing ducted HVAC system, correct?

    MATT: Correct. It can work independently but it can also work in conjunction with the HVAC system and that’s where, you know, you truly get the advantages of using the HVAC system that you have to manage humidity throughout the whole house.

    LESLIE: And since it’s autumn and a lot of people don’t have their – well, large parts of the country aren’t going to be needing cooling systems right now. Since it’s involved in the whole HVAC system, it doesn’t need the air conditioner; you can sort of just kick it on; it can even work in conjunction with heating?

    MATT: Yeah. The system is designed to really work in conjunction as an optimal solution with your air conditioning and heating system. When the temperature – an air conditioning and heating system is temperature-dependent so you’re controlling temperature. When the cooling – for example, when the cooling is not needed, the dehumidifier can be the humidity control and not use the air conditioning where a lot of people might attempt to overcool. They’ll set the thermostat down because they’re not comfortable.

    There are times where you have that and there are times where you just don’t need air conditioning but the humidity still makes it uncomfortable, unhealthy. That’s where the central dehumidifier can turn on – utilize that HVAC system to do a whole-house dehumidification.

    TOM: We’re talking to Matt Gotto. He’s the dehumidifier and ventilation production manager for Aprilaire.

    Matt, that makes a lot of sense because it would seem to me that this is an energy-efficient thing to do as well because if you’re dehumidifying and pulling that moisture out of the air, you really don’t need to use the air conditioner as much or you certainly don’t need to have it as cool.

    MATT: Correct. We’ve got testimonials from people where they’ve been able to raise their temperature four degrees and they’re as comfortable or more comfortable than they were before. And they’re seeing those savings in their energy bills.

    LESLIE: Now with the whole-home dehumidifier, can you focus it on certain areas of the house? Like if you know the basement is extra-moist for some reason, can you have it just kick on more often in the basement or maybe in the kitchen because you’re preparing a large meal for a party and you know you’re going to be producing a lot more moisture in that area or does it do every area sort of the same?

    MATT: It can do the whole area the same but it also has – the unit has a zoned option so you can zone it for, just as you said, controlling the humidity in the basement but then when it makes sense, you do the whole house. It’s got that zoning capability.

    TOM: So how does that work, Matt? Is it basically wired to zone valves so that it – or zone dampers so that the dampers will open and close?

    MATT: Yes. It’s pretty much identical to if you had a zoned heating and cooling system in your house …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    MATT: It’s using dampers to open and close and dehumidify the area that needs it.

    TOM: Well, I love the technology and I tell you what, it’s certainly going to make us more comfortable all year round. Matt Gotto, the dehumidification and ventilation product manager for Aprilaire. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    MATT: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for joining us, Matt. Up next, we’re going to tell you how a $2 investment can bring a big return of savings on your energy bill, so stick around.

    (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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And if you call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we talk to you on the air, you’re automatically entered into our random prize drawing. Up for grabs this hour is a Bissell Garage Pro Wet/Dry Vac, which is better than the Bissell Garage Amateur Wet/Dry Vac. (Leslie chuckles) I like to have the Pro version, myself. It’s worth 200 bucks. The number again is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, we’ve got a great tip for you right now that’s worth about two bucks but it’s going to save you a ton more money on your energy bills. All you’ve got to do is spend the two bucks to get this tip going for you. Latex caulk. If you apply it to the gaps between your interior window molding and the wall, it is a super-effective way to seal out all drafts from your house. Caulk – it’s cheap; about $2 a tube plus you can apply it really easily with a caulking gun and it’s pretty fun to do.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Jacqueline in Oregon has a question about backsplash tile. What can we do for you?

    JACQUELINE: Yes, I do. In my bathroom, I have noticed that over time I have a stain developing back there and I’m not sure if it’s because I have hard water. I have a well …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    JACQUELINE: … and so I know sometimes that tends to be hard water but – so it’s stained and the only way I could really ever get it off is if I take a razor blade and really scrub it hard. And I’m wondering if there is something that I could use to eat that away.

    LESLIE: Is it like a white, cloudy stain?

    JACQUELINE: It’s more like a brown kind of stain. It’s discolored.

    TOM: It sounds like hard water stains.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: Do you have hard water?

    JACQUELINE: Yeah, I think it – I think I do have hard water.

    TOM: Do you find that it takes a lot to get like really soapy? Do you see mineral deposits on your glassware and things like that?

    JACQUELINE: Yes, I do.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: Well, it sounds like you have hard water. You know, you might want to think about putting a water softener onto your home. We just started working with a product called EasyWater, which is a really high-tech water softener. It’s a lot less expensive and a lot healthier than the salt-based softeners but, basically, it’s an appliance that’s plugged in right near your main water line and then you wrap a wire around the main water line and electrically, it charges the mineral particles so that they don’t stick together and they don’t …

    LESLIE: It forces them apart from one another.

    TOM: Yeah. They don’t get stuck on things and it makes the water flow a lot nicer. It makes it easier to soap up. You know, it’s a lot of advantages to it; it’s called EasyWater. They have two different models and I put one in our shore house and it works fantastic.


    LESLIE: And you might want to try, with the existing stain, some white vinegar. Just take some white vinegar on a sponge, saturate that area; see if that will sort of break up the minerals that are sticking and making all of that stain on the walls and then rinse it really well.

    TOM: And …

    JACQUELINE: I’ll do that.

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

    LESLIE: Dominick in New York has an issue with the fireplace and chimney. What’s going on?

    DOMINICK: Up on the roof where the chimney is, there’s like a – I think they call it a whirlybird or it’s like a fan that turns when the wind blows.

    TOM: That’s not for your fireplace; that’s your roof vent.

    DOMINICK: Roof vent?

    TOM: Yeah.

    DOMINICK: I was wondering what the purpose of that was because it’s kind of making a noise.

    TOM: There’s no purpose for it. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) It’s a type of vent and people put them on many years ago because they were impressed that it did spin and thought they were doing something. But effectiveness-wise, they’re really lousy roof vents and what happens is the bearings wear out and they get real noisy and screechy and I would suggest that you remove that vent and roof over it so that you no longer have a hole in your roof. And to replace it, the best kind of ventilation would be a ridge vent that goes down the peak of the roof, coupled with some soffit vents at the overhang.

    DOMINICK: I think it’s hooked up on top of the chimney, though. I think it’s on where the, you know, the smoke stack – where it comes out for the fireplace.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    DOMINICK: It’s on top of that.

    LESLIE: You might be seeing on top of the chimney, those sort of chimney cage covers to prevent any animals climbing down into it and they could look kind of similar.

    TOM: You telling me you’ve got one of those vents that spins on top of your chimney?

    DOMINICK: I believe so, yes. I mean, I can’t see it; I live in a – it’s in a condo complex and what happened was a roofer went up and he was up there working and he tied it down. Presently, it’s like tied down so it doesn’t turn to make the noise and that’s what happened.

    TOM: I’ve never seen that type of a vent on top of an active chimney. That sounds very strange to me and I’d want some more information on that. What you might want to do is have a certified chimney sweep look at that just to make sure it’s safe.


    TOM: That sounds very unusual.

    DOMINICK: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: You typically don’t have any type of a termination like that on a vent pipe for a chimney or a fireplace.

    LESLIE: We’re heading out to New Mexico to talk to Vicky, who’s got a sump pump question. What’s going on?

    VICKY: If our home does not have a basement, do we have to worry about any possible water backup? I’m trying to deal with prevention, just to get information.

    TOM: Now, is your home, Vicky, on a crawlspace or is it on a slab?

    VICKY: A slab.

    TOM: Well, generally not. I mean, it’s always possible that you could get a broken pipe under the floor or something of that nature but you don’t have to generally worry about water infiltration. I have seen, in rare circumstances, where there was a lot of water that collected along the outside of a home that has a slab floor and because concrete is so absorbent, it will suck up the water and sometimes that can draw water into the house and make the carpet wet or make the wall wet. But generally speaking, if your house is on a slab, you don’t have to worry about that.

    VICKY: OK. Then maybe this is a related question. I never heard of a sump pump until last year. What kind of houses need a sump pump?

    TOM: Well, a sump pump is simply a pump that is usually in the basement or the crawlspace that helps take water out that collects in that space. But since your home is slab on gray, you really have no need for one.

    VICKY: So you folks have been very helpful.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next, are you tired at staring at a weathered, old fence? Well, we’re going to tell you how to snap it back into shape, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Hot Shot. Hot Shot Home Insect Control Clear Formula protects your home from insects indoors for up to nine months. This clear, no-odor, non-staining formula packs a powerful punch against roaches, ants and other insects. Hot Shot. It’s your home, not theirs. Available at Lowe’s. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And making your good home better, you might be thinking about hanging some beautiful artwork or any other kinds of decorative items that you’re just in love with around your house and on your walls. Well, if you’ve ever attempted to hang something kind of weighty, you might know about the challenges of finding a stud.

    TOM: Now, you mean a wall stud, that is; not to be confused with the challenge of finding a handsome guy to help you with a wall-hanging project.

    LESLIE: (chucking) Of course. (Tom chuckles) It’s so funny. Every time on While You Were Out, when we’d say stud finder, Andrew would pick up a stud finder and be like beep-beep-beep, ‘I found it,’ and he’d be pointing it at himself. But of course I mean a stud in the wall and we can help you because we are giving way 100 packages of a product called the amazing Monkey Hook wall-hanging hardware to the winners of our online My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes. And the Monkey Hooks are super-easy to hang. You just sort of pierce it into your wall and it – I don’t know, kind of like cantilevers, the weight of the …

    TOM: It sort of locks in place.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It really is fantastic and you can hang anything on your walls up to 75 pounds.

    TOM: And if you need even more inspiration to play our game at MoneyPit.com, we probably should tell you that while the Monkey Hook is an amazing prize, it’s only one of over 200 other prizes we’re giving away, including the grand prize of $5,000 cash, so play today at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And while you’re there, click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and e-mail us a question, just like Ron in Brick, New Jersey who writes: ‘I love your show and need your help. I’m installing a cedar picket fence and would like to paint it white. What will last longer – a good, white paint and primer or a solid white stain? How important is it to paint or stain the bottom of the picket to keep out the moisture?

    You know, Ron, I hope you haven’t built it yet because one note you should keep in mind is that you don’t want the bottom of the pickets to be even with the ground level. How much space do you want – like six inches less?

    TOM: Six inches. And actually, before you even assemble them, I would definitely seal the bottoms of those pickets and I would use a solid white stain to do that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You really want to make sure you keep it off the ground so you’re not allowing moisture to sit in and cause rot and decay and termites. A solid white stain will do a great job. If you go with one, like a company, say, from Flood, they have a primer built right into the solid stain and they’ll do exactly what you want.

    TOM: Well, as we enter the heating season, I’m reminded of how dry homes can get. During that season, if you want to avoid that, you need a humidifier. They’re a great way to maintain a comfort level all winter long but they do need to be maintained. If not, they can get clogged, they can stop working or worse, they can contribute to mold and bacteria by distributing that throughout the house.

    To make sure you know exactly how to maintain your humidifier, we turn to today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. A humidifier is such a necessity, especially in our home during the winter season. I’m sure a lot of you out there deal with this. You wake up in the morning – throat is sore, nose is all stuffy. It’s just because your house is way too dry with all that heat you’re pumping into it in the winter season.

    So keep a humidifier handy in your bedroom. Use it when you’re sleeping; you will wake up feeling a million times better but make sure you clean it well. And you want to clean your humidifier exactly how the manufacturer is telling you to do so, so hold onto those instructions. Keep them, change out filters when you’re supposed to, read those directions, keep them handy so you know that it’s working well.

    And one of the tricks of the trade that we use in our house is we soak the evaporator pad in a white vinegar and water solution because our humidifier and most out there get clogged by the mineral salts that are left behind as the water evaporates. And the vinegar, the white vinegar that you’re going to use to clean it, is going to melt all of those salts away and keep everything nice and open. You just want to make sure that you rinse it very, very well; otherwise, that next night when you go to use it, your entire bedroom is going to smell like an antipasto salad. So rinse it well.

    TOM: Yeah, especially if you use the balsamic red vinegar by mistake.

    LESLIE: No, white.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to solve your home improvement questions. 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 2008 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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