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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: We make good homes better. Standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let us help you make your good home better. Call us with your home improvement question. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Give us a call right now with any home improvement question; any how-to challenge. We want to help you. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: We’ve got a great show for you this hour, folks. So you’ve decided what you’re going to work on in your house; you’ve decided on a contractor; you’ve gotten through half of the battle. Now’s the time to talk money – budget, that is – with your contractor. You think maybe fibbing a little bit, make it sound like you don’t have that much money to spend is a smart idea? Well, it could actually cost you in the long run and we’re going to tell you how that happens.

    TOM: Speaking of things that are expensive, heating your water can be very, very expensive. You know, an electric water heater is the most expensive way to heat water, but it doesn’t have to be. Coming up this hour, we’re going to give you some tips to cut those costs down in half.

    LESLIE: We’re also going to talk about how maybe it’s not that cold right now, but it’s coming. The winter is right around the corner. We’re going to give you some tips on things you can be doing right now to get your home ready for the winter season.

    TOM: And if you want to makeover your bathroom, we’re giving away a faucet from Peerless worth 68 bucks. It’s going to add some bling to your bathroom. You can win it by calling us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974, with your home improvement question.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Well, when you call in your question to The Money Pit, you never know when we’re going to get back to you. We just got James out on the golf course in Louisiana. Oh, but your game was disrupted from rain. Were you doing well?

    JAMES: We were in a tournament and we were in the lead.

    LESLIE: Oh!

    TOM: Oh, no! (laughing)

    JAMES: The lightning came and we got stopped.

    TOM: Alright, well let’s see if we can make some positive use of your downtime, James. What can we do for you?

    JAMES: Well, I bought this house we live in. It was built in 1968. And we’ve been in it two years and when we turn – when we go to take a shower or turn on the water, we hear like a thumping in the pipes. But it’s on a concrete foundation.

    LESLIE: And it’s only when you turn the water on. It’s not for the duration of the water running or when you turn it off?

    JAMES: Mainly – well, no, it’s when the water is running.

    LESLIE: So the whole time?

    TOM: When the water’s running and you turn it off that you get the thumping sound?

    JAMES: When we turn the water on – like you go to take a shower –

    TOM: Right.

    JAMES: – you can hear the thumping like it’s going through the wall.

    TOM: That’s exactly what’s happening. When you turn the hot water on, your copper pipes are expanding. And they’re probably rubbing across the 2x4s or the different framework of the wall structure. And as they do that, they make that thumping sound as the pipe just expands and rubs across that wood surface. And because it’s copper, the sound resonates throughout that whole area, so it might sound bigger than it is. But I think what’s happening is the normal expansion of the pipes. It usually happens when you first turn the water on and then when you turn the water off, as the pipes shrink, then it happens on the opposite way.

    JAMES: That sounds about what it is.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s nothing to worry about, James. It’s not going to hurt anything. It’s just an annoyance.

    JAMES: I was afraid that the pipes were, say, rubbing and it was going to rub a hole in the pipe.

    TOM: I don’t think so. It’s real – I’ve never heard of it causing a problem. It’s really – it’s just really an annoyance and it’s because when the pipes were put in, they weren’t attached properly to the framework. Generally, you know, they have to be strapped tightly and where they go through holes there’s a little bushing around them that stops that happening. But in some houses, it’s just not done that way so you can get those expansion and contraction sounds.

    Don’t worry about it, James. Tell you what? Concentrate on that golf game, OK?

    LESLIE: Yeah, good luck.

    JAMES: Alright, I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: On our way to Rhode Island now, where Scott listens to The Money Pit on WPRO. What can we do for you today?

    SCOTT: Hey listen, I’ve got a quick question for you? I’m going to have some roof work done and I’ve been doing some research. And my question is regarding shingles. There are two different types that I know of. One is the three tab and one is an architectural and I’m just – I don’t know which one I should go with.

    TOM: Well, the architectural – I think you mean dimensional. Is that …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Is that what you’re talking about? Where it could look like a cedar shake or a slate tile? That sort of thing?

    SCOTT: Exactly.

    LESLIE: They’re gorgeous.

    TOM: Yeah, OK. Yeah, it’s really a cosmetic decision because the interesting thing – even though the dimensional shingles seem to have two layers, the weather layer is still a single layer. It has an extra layer to kind of give you the appearance of a dimensional roof; like one that might be of terracotta tile.

    LESLIE: And they might look a little funny when you’re just looking at one shingle on its own. But when they’re completely applied to the roof, they look very dimensional; they look really beautiful and they can actually visually duplicate that natural tile or that natural cedar shake that they’re trying to replicate. So if you can afford it – because they are little bit more pricy just because they look so fantastic – I say go for it.

    SCOTT: Well, I’m seeing – more and more of the roofs that are being done, I’m not seeing the three tabs; I’m seeing all the architecturals in my neighborhood, so I didn’t know if they changed them or what. But I love the look of it so I think that’s what I’m going to go with if it’s not a difference.

    TOM: Well, let me give you a little trick of the trade for doing the installation with a dimensional shingle – and I think is some place that a lot of the roofing installers totally drop the ball. You have to imagine if you were actually putting in a hard tile roof or a cedar shake roof. You wouldn’t be able to do, say, a weaved roof shingle valley; where the two roofs come together at sort of a 45-degree angle. You would have a hard corner there with flashing. So you wouldn’t overlap the shingles; you would have a piece of flashing that it would come up to nice and even. So I think if you’re going to put a dimensional shingle in that is emulating wood shakes or clay tiles, you should use the same kind of copper flashing – in fact, in sort of a decorative way – at the valleys and also at the peak.

    SCOTT: That sounds good, actually.

    TOM: But you’ll have to ask your roofer to do it; otherwise, you’re going to try to install it as if it was not a dimensional shingle and they’ll just weave the valleys and it’s just not going to look right.

    SCOTT: I appreciate your help. You know it helps me out a lot.

    TOM: Terrific. Scott, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You know, Tom, it’s my dream to have a slate roof.

    TOM: Yeah?

    LESLIE: And I know it’s just ridiculously expensive. I mean durable; will last forever and gorgeous. But there are – some of our neighbors have the dimensional architectural shingles on their roof that look like slate and it really is fantastic.

    TOM: If they do a good job and if they use copper flashing instead of the weaved valleys, I’m telling you, from, you know, from 50 feet it’s really hard to tell it apart because the new shingles are very thin. And so, what the manufacturers can do is they actually control the granules that are on the shingles and they put darker ones at the inside edges to give you that appearance …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … of depth and thickness; sort of like a drop shadow kind of effect. So it really is quite attractive and is a lot less expensive than the real thing.

    LESLIE: We’ve got Brian in Iowa next, who listens on KWKY. What can we do for you?

    BRIAN: I have a brick house and you know, it has, you know, plaster walls here on the inside. And I was interested in putting foam insulation into the walls.

    TOM: Hmm, you mean like spray foam?

    BRIAN: Yeah.

    TOM: Well, I don’t think you could use spray foam in a house that’s already built because you can’t control the expansion. What you probably could use is a blown-in cellulose insulation. And the way that works is there are small holes put in through the plaster and the cellulose is basically put in under pressure. And it has to be done by a company that’s very experienced because if it’s not done correctly …

    LESLIE: It’s a huge mess.

    TOM: … it’s a mess and what happens is you don’t control the settling and you end up with voids in the walls. But cellulose would be a good thing to do. And the cellulose, by the way, is treated so that it’s fire retardant as well. I think that would probably be the best choice over any kind of an expandable foam because that’s going to blow some of those plaster walls right apart.

    BRIAN: Do they make foam insulation that does not expand?

    BRIAN: You might be thinking of the old urea formaldehyde foam insulation that was done back in the 70s. But there was a problem with that; it was called urea gas. And when it got wet, it would offgas and some people were very, very allergic to it; ended up, in some severe cases, having to move out or tear down the house.

    LESLIE: Well, and there’s also foam sheeting but that’s not for your stage of construction. Being that your home has a brick exterior and plaster lath on the inside, there’s no way that you can sort of get into the guts of either to put this on as a substructure below your facing. If you had a different siding or were at a different phase of construction, that would be a great option.

    BRIAN: Now, when the cellulose is blown in – say, if I wanted to do it myself – you know, I know where I can rent it.

    LESLIE: Hiring a pro.

    TOM: Bad idea. Yeah. (chuckling) Bad idea. Don’t do it yourself. You’re going to end up not getting the insulation all the places it needs to go. If it’s put in with too much pressure, it’ll cause damage. If it’s not put in enough, it’s going to settle and end up with voids. Definitely not a DIY job. Even though you can do it yourself, that’s one that you should not do yourself.

    LESLIE: Hey, everybody out there in Money Pit land. Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just dial your favorite number – 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: So if you’re thinking about tackling a home improvement project that might involve a contractor, contractor will often ask for your budget. ‘You know, how much money do you have to spend there, Mr. or Mrs. Homeowner?’ It’s a pretty common question. And it’s a reasonably fair question if the contractor is trying to figure out whether or not your estimates are realistic for the kind of work that you’re asking him to do.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and it’s the difference between MDF and plywood.

    TOM: Exactly. But, if you lowball that estimate, which you might be tempted to do – say you tell them that you only want to spend $10,000 when you’re really thinking 15 – that could actually end up costing you more money in the end. Wondering why? We’ll tell you, next.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Peerless. If you’re putting in a new bathroom or kitchen faucet, Peerless can help you with every step including the hardest one – getting that old faucet out. For a complete undo-it-yourself guide, visit the Peerless faucet coach at FaucetCoach.com.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We’re like your handy neighbors who know everything about home repair; except we will not, absolutely not lend you our power tools.

    LESLIE: (laughing) Because we know better. We’ll never get them back.

    TOM: That’s right. Never get them back. (chuckling) You know, I went – one time I had to paint all of my power tool handles like orange or something so that everyone would know they were mine. Reflective paint. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, I just usually write my name all over everything in, you know, indelible marker; ‘Leslie Segrete.’

    Alright folks, nobody likes talking about money; especially when you’re talking money with your contractor. You might be tempted to lie a little bit – or a lot – because owners often fear that contractors are going to charge more if they know exactly how much money you really have to spend. But, on the other hand, the contractor is afraid that a homeowner will expect a certain level of quality that’s just not going to match that budget. So if you’re honest, your contractor can get the highest quality materials that your money can buy and you’re going to end up getting more value for your dollar. So this is a time when honesty counts.

    TOM: And if you’re concerned about disclosing that budget to your contractor, here’s another option. How about disclosing it to your architect? Or basically working to get that specification or that repair job done first? The more you can identify in terms of what needs to be done – what kind of faucet you want, what kind of flooring you want, what kind of cabinets you want – the more decisions you make before the contractor’s involved, the less wiggle room there is for these contractors. And also, you’re going to be building apples to apples. All the contractors will be bidding on the same scope of work and you’ll be sure to get the job that you want done at the price that you expect.

    Well, if you want more tips just like this, you can log onto MoneyPit.com. Coming up in our next edition, we’re going to give you some tricks of the trade for finding a reputable contractor among all of those out there that might not be.

    LESLIE: Well, you can also call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One lucky caller we choose this hour is going to win a single-handle lavatory faucet in a stylish brushed nickel finish and it’s from the folks at Peerless. It’s a great way to perk up your bathroom and it features classic styling that’s going to fit into any d

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