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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: And your home improvement projects just got easier. We’re here to help. Pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We’ve got a lot of work to do this hour. We’re going to help you get some jobs done around the house, starting with clutter control. You know, if clutter has taken over your life we’ve got some tips. Look up! We’re going to tell you how to take advantage of the vertical space that you might not have thought of customizing with some built-in furniture. Some ideas coming up in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, so it’s probably taken you most of your adult life but you finally found a house that you love and you’ve spent years making it into a home that you really want to just grow old in. So why would you even consider retiring somewhere else? Well, we’re going to tell you how to keep your current home maintained so you can stay in it for as long as you physically can.

    TOM: And let’s talk paint. It’s a great fall home improvement project. But there’s a little bit of a terminology lesson here for y’all to know: eggshell, gloss, semi-gloss, flat. What does it all mean? We’re going to give you some inside secrets on choosing the right paint finish for your home.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and also we’ve got a great prize for you this hour, as we always do here at The Money Pit. One caller that we talk to today is going to win the Eureka Capture Plus vacuum. It’s a complete cleaning machine from floor to ceiling with a ton of high-tech dusting attachments and a very cool HEPA filter. It’s worth 169 bucks.

    TOM: That’s what we want to talk about. What do you want to talk about? Call us right now with your home improvement question, your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Adam in New York tunes in on WABC. What can we help you with?

    ADAM: I had a question about my home, naturally. (Leslie chuckles) I had wanted to change its color and perk it up a little bit. So I figured paint. And that’s why I had called; to ask you about the proper paint to use, the best paint to use. But in the meantime I’ve discovered that the shingles are made of – siding of the house is made of white cedar.

    TOM: Oh, that’s a terrific material.

    ADAM: But they told me – now it had been previously stained.

    TOM: Probably right, mm-hmm.

    ADAM: Yeah, they said that – they said that maybe paint wasn’t the way to go because white cedar has to breathe.

    TOM: Yeah, it would be a shame to paint the cedar because that’s a very expensive siding. What I would recommend you do is clean it and then prime it. You would use an oil-based primer and then you would use a stain; a solid color stain would be best.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but you know there are products on the market that are a combination of the two. And the Flood company, which you can find pretty much in any home center, they have a solid stain. And the benefit of a stain over a paint is that a paint is just going to sit on the surface and a stain is going to saturate into the wood so it’s really going to stick well. And the Flood company does a solid stain that has something – it’s like an oil-based primer and a latex topcoat stain all in one. So it’s one step. Once you clean the house you can apply this. And if it’s done right on siding, I believe they’ll guarantee it for 15 years.

    ADAM: Oh, that’s – that is terrific. Can you use a lighter color? Could I lighten the color of the house? Right now it’s kind of like a medium brown.

    TOM: Well, you could. As long as it’s solid stain. Because there will be enough pigment in there to lighten it up.

    ADAM: Oh, that’s great. That’s just what I needed to know.

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

    LESLIE: Talking to June in Massachusetts. What can we do for you here at The Money Pit?

    JUNE: Hello. We have an old barn, going back to 1820, in which we put a new floor for our kitchen. And the carpenter suggested that we use these antique boards from some of the factories down south that were demolished. And they are absolutely gorgeous. There’s only one problem. We can’t touch with the carpenter anymore. And we wanted to know how to clean them. And I remember asking him and he said, ‘Oh, just water.’ And that didn’t seem to make too much sense to me.

    TOM: Have you tried Murphy’s oil soap?

    JUNE: Well, that’s – I haven’t tried anything.

    TOM: OK.

    JUNE: So, I don’t want to ruin the floors, but that’s what you suggest? Murphy’s Oil Soap?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a soap that’s made for wood floors.

    JUNE: OK.

    TOM: And it’s not going to ruin them. You don’t – just don’t slop too much water on there.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: You do this with a damp mop.

    LESLIE: That’s the thing. You want to make sure that regardless of what you use as the cleanser that you control the amount of moisture. So don’t put that heavily saturated mop on there. Really wring it well and, you know, really spread it around and get up everything that you put on there.

    TOM: But it does a good job cleaning them and it’s not going to ruin the floor.

    JUNE: Now, somebody had suggested white vinegar and water. What do you think of that?

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) That’s a great option. It’s another great option.

    JUNE: OK.

    LESLIE: It’s an all-around, excellent cleanser pretty much for anything in the house; especially wood floors.

    JUNE: I think I must have heard it on your show, as a matter of fact. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Hey, maybe we were the somebody. (chuckling)

    JUNE: Uh-huh. OK. And that’s the end of it. Because as I recall, you know, when I said, ‘Well, what about waxing? What about this?’ and he said, ‘No, leave it alone.’

    TOM: Yep.

    JUNE: Does that make sense to you?

    TOM: Just keep it clean.

    JUNE: OK. Well that’s wonderful. And I will do it and I’ll think of you. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) And thanks a lot.

    TOM: Alright. June, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: In Louisiana you can find The Money Pit on KEEL like Jeff does. Jeff, what’s going on at your money pit?

    JEFF: I got some paneling on my walls in my den.

    TOM: OK.

    JEFF: And I was wondering could you mud that paneling and then paint it?

    TOM: No. No. Because the paneling is fairly flexible the spackle is not going to stick to it.

    JEFF: OK.

    TOM: It’s going to fall off. It’s not going to be smooth and flat. If you don’t like the paneling we would recommend either painting the paneling, which can be done successfully, and if you really don’t like the grooves take the paneling down and if you can’t take it down then putting another layer of drywall on top of it will be just as good.

    JEFF: OK.

    TOM: But definitely don’t try to spackle over it, Jeff. I know many people think that can happen but it just never comes out right.

    JEFF: OK. Well, I sure appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Lots of great home improvement advice coming up, including everything you ever wanted to know about making your house energy efficient for the fall and winter. So call us now with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well Leslie, with three kids, a wife and a dog …

    LESLIE: (chuckling) That’s a busy house.

    TOM: (chuckling) … there’s a lot of stuff in this house. And we certainly are always challenged by the clutter that just seems to come out of nowhere. If that’s how you feel, we’ve got some tips on how you can take advantage of some of the vertical space in your house. We’ll talk about that, next.

    (promo/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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And the number here at team Money Pit is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And one caller that we talk to today is going to win a $169 vacuum. It’s from Eureka. It’s called the Capture Plus. And this machine is going to reach more dirt on more surfaces than your average vacuum. It’s got a very powerful sealed HEPA filter, which is great. It’s got a dusting wand that can be electrostatically charged to just grab all that dust off of those hard to reach places like fan blades and crown moulding; all those places that you just kind of ignore regularly when it comes to cleaning. And it also has the Power Paw which is an attachment that cleans both horizontally and vertically so it’s perfect for the stairs. But you’ve got to call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: You must be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, let’s talk about your stuff. You know, all the stuff that you don’t have a place for and that you need to store. Here are a few tips.

    Built-in desks, shelves or entertainment units are a great way to make use of otherwise dead space in high-traffic areas like your kitchen, your den, your office, your livingroom. But in designing your custom furniture you have to include plenty of shelves and drawers and don’t forget provisions for your electronic gear: your PCs, your phones, your faxes. So when you’re shopping for that type of furniture remember to think vertical. Use tall units. Use units with lots of drawers; lot of shelves. They can fit into smaller spaces and hold just as much stuff.

    1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Hey, maybe you want to build a storage unit yourself. We can help you with that, too.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Susan in New York finds The Money Pit on WABC. What can we help you with?

    SUSAN: Hi, I have a daycare center in my home and when I did the flooring I got foam tiles. And now I’m having a very hard time keeping them clean. They’re just – they’re about a year old and they look very, very dingy.

    LESLIE: Are these the foam tiles that look like giant puzzle pieces in fun, bright colors and you snap them together?

    SUSAN: Yeah, those are the ones.

    TOM: Can you take them up, Susan? Do they come up? Do they like – if they’re puzzle pieces can you take them up and soak them?

    SUSAN: Well, yeah. I’ve done that a few times. Like I’ve actually taken them outside and scrubbed them with soap and hosed them down. But the dirt is getting stuck into like little grooves on the tiles.

    TOM: Hmm.

    SUSAN: And it just looks – it looks terrible. So I’m – you know, I want – I’m pretty much – you know, I just want to get rid of them. And the only thing is like carpet – you know, I need something soft. But at the same time it’s high traffic; they’re eating there; spilling. You know. So, it’s got to be something really durable that’s – you know, that can be just cleaned easily.

    LESLIE: Susan, if you want to give it one more try with cleaning why don’t you pick up one of those commercial orange cleansers which are really meant to attack all sorts of grime and grit; like especially fingerprints and like greasy marks like that. It’s worth a shot, especially if you’re sort of at the stage where you’re over them and you’re tired of cleaning. Then …

    TOM: The other product that I think works well is Simple Green.

    LESLIE: Oh yeah, that’s a good option as a cleanser as well.

    TOM: Yep. Very environmentally friendly and safe for the kids, too.

    LESLIE: And then if you’re thinking about carpeting or you’re sort of leaning in that direction of soft goods, there’s a company called Flor Carpet Tiles. It’s F-l-o-r. And basically they’re like those puzzle pieces but they’re carpeting. So you just lay them next to one another. They have little sticky tapes on the backside that you would glue them down to the floor. It’s just four little stickers. And then if there’s a damage or an incident or somebody spills you just pick up the one that’s been ruined and put the new one down. They’re reasonably priced. They’ve got a lot of great options; all different kinds of pile heights. They even have fun ones like those maps on the carpets for kids that look like little railroad tracks and airplanes and – and there’s a lot of cute options. So it’s worth checking it out and the prices are really good.

    SUSAN: That sounds really great. Yeah, that sounds really great because one of the things that attracted me to the foam was that if something horrible does happen you know you can just really take them off and, you know, take them out of the situation. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    SUSAN: So that sounds really – that actually does sound like a good option.

    TOM: Yeah, the company’s called Flor. It’s spelled F-l-o-r. Just one ‘o.’

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And they’re probably available – and they’re available online. What’s their website?

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah. It’s Flor.com. F-l-o-r.com. And it’s kind of fun because you can go to their website and you can say, ‘Hey, customize my own rug’ and you put in the dimensions of your room and you say, ‘I like these five tiles’ and they can help you map them out to make a fun pattern. Or you can completely do it on your own. It tells you how many you need. And they range from like $9 a tile up to $25 I think. So there’s something in your price range and they’re very durable.

    SUSAN: That sounds really good. OK, thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Bernard, welcome to The Money Pit. What are you working on?

    BERNARD: I’m thinking of redoing my bathroom. Now the thing that I don’t understand – in other words, the bath makeover – in other words, instead of taking out the bathtub they have this system of covering the bathtub.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    BERNARD: It’s called a bathover. I want to know what you think about that.

    TOM: Well, it’s an insert and basically it’s made to fit inside and cover the tub that way and sometimes it goes up and around the walls.


    TOM: You know, I think it’s an option. It’s usually pretty expensive. I found, when I priced out these bath inserts, that they cost almost but not quite as much as the cost of replacing the walls and the tub yourself.

    LESLIE: Yeah, but you know what? There’s the tradeoff. Because if you do a traditional bathroom remodel you’re looking at weeks, you know, to do the entire project. With these bath refitting, sort of covering products, it’s done in a day.

    BERNARD: Right, I understand that. (INAUDIBLE)

    TOM: The other thing is, Bernie, that what you’re going to find is it does take up some room in the bathtub. So the bathtub will end up being a little bit narrower and a little bit shorter by virtue of the fact that the insert is there.

    BERNARD: Oh, that’s very interesting. I didn’t know. (INAUDIBLE)

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, because it’s pretty thick.

    BERNARD: The only thing that I had – was thinking about, if I had any problems in the wall. In other words, I have to break into the whole system.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. Well, that’s a good question. I don’t know – I don’t know if that system is designed for that. Let’s say you had to get behind the wall to replace the plumbing valves or something.

    BERNARD: Right, right. That’s what I was thinking about.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) If you can’t access it from the backside then, you know, that’s right. There could be an issue there.

    BERNARD: Right, so I’ll go through the old traditional way of just retiling with tiles itself.

    TOM: Yeah, I think that that’s a better option.

    BERNARD: Replacing the bathtub.

    LESLIE: And you know what? It looks way better. Even though those products do look nice when you see them on TV and magazines and stuff, it’s always so much nicer to do the work the real way. And plus, on a resale front it’s going to be way more profitable for you.

    TOM: Bernie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    BERNARD: Oh, thank you, thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright, our next caller, Cathy, is calling just in time. Because there is a potential risk for a dryer fire. Tell us what’s going on with your dryer, Cathy.

    CATHY: Yes, my laundry room is located in the basement of the downstairs of a raised ranch and it’s in the center of the house. It actually goes up. The vent goes up over the bathroom, which is located next to it, before it goes out. So it doesn’t have a direct line to the outside wall.

    TOM: OK, it kind of snakes its way out.

    CATHY: Right. How would I go about changing something like that? I did have a plumber come. He said it wasn’t worth it.

    TOM: So, right now the dryer vent that goes through – is it going through a wall cavity?

    CATHY: Yes. A ceiling cavity.

    TOM: A ceiling cavity? And it’s a plastic dryer vent?

    CATHY: Yes, it is.

    TOM: Mm, not safe. Well, you know, there probably is a way to snake a metal dryer exhaust duct in there.

    LESLIE: Like a fitting that would go inside of the existing one?

    TOM: No, what I’m thinking is that if you – it’s the same way that you would snake wires or new plumbing pipe through walls. You may have to cut an access hole. But you can – if it’s the accordion type where it sort of unfolds all you need to do is to kind of get it started you can pull it through that whole space and hook it up to the outside.

    LESLIE: Cathy, how do you know that the entire dryer vent line is all plastic and it’s not just the piece that’s going from your dryer into the wall?

    TOM: And by the way, Cathy, that would be very unusual for it to be plastic inside the wall.

    LESLIE: Because it’s a fire hazard.

    TOM: Alright, so it’s that one piece from the ceiling outside that has to be replaced.

    CATHY: Right.

    TOM: Yeah, well you’re just going to have to snake a new one in there. I mean it’s not impossible. You may have to open up a piece of the ceiling on the far end so that you can access all the way across.

    CATHY: Right.

    TOM: But it’s very important that that be replaced. Because if it’s plastic it’s a fire hazard.

    CATHY: It is plastic.

    TOM: It definitely is?

    CATHY: Yes. I can see it from the outside opening.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    CATHY: You know, when I clean it out.

    TOM: Yeah, and you know it’s working? When you turn the dryer on you see that the hot air comes out the vent on the outside?

    CATHY: Yes. If I’m outside I can see it.

    TOM: OK. So we know it works.

    CATHY: Right.

    TOM: You’re just going to have to replace that. It is definitely worth it because it’s dangerous to have a plastic vent – dryer vent – inside the ceiling cavity. It’s not designed to do that.

    LESLIE: Ted in Tennessee finds The Money Pit on WNWS. Ted, what can we help you with?

    TED: I have a question about hanging some interior doors in a master bathroom.

    TOM: OK.

    TED: My question is, for us people who don’t do this very often, I know you can buy a template to set this and you need a router. Is there a tool that you can put on your tire drill or something or an easier way to indent those doors for the hinges?

    LESLIE: Are there doors already hanging there now that are set appropriately …

    TED: There are doors already there. And I know the dimensions about where I need the indentations. But it’s a pretty good job on chipping that out. Is there an easier way?

    TOM: Ted, have you thought about using a prehung door and not just replacing the physical door but also the door jambs?

    TED: No. They’re not – they’re not prehung.

    TOM: Well that’s my point. If you used a prehung door it would be fairly easy for this to be installed. But taking a door and making it custom fit is actually a fairly difficult carpentry project. Now, if I didn’t have a router template what I would do is I would be using a chisel. I would be laying it out very, very carefully and I would be using a very sharp wood chisel to set my hinges in flush with the jambs and to set them in flush with the edge of the door.

    TED: OK. OK. I’ve also been told, on resetting the holes that are in the hinge door on the outside maybe I can put a toothpick or some kind of piece of wood with some wood glue and it’ll set that. Would you recommend doing that?

    TOM: Yes, that’ll absolutely work. Do it all the time.

    TED: OK.

    TOM: Little bit of Elmer and a sliver of wood is a good thing to do to fill in an old nail hole. Or if you have the screw that you’re putting in it and the nail hole’s a little too big; it’s sort of stripping it, that’s an easy way to fix it.

    TED: Well, I appreciate that very much. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: And there are so many companies that manufacture hinge templates: Hinge Mate; Porter Cable. I mean there’s a lot of options out there. They are, you know, in the $100 range but …

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: … if you have one of those it’s going to set it up exactly the way your existing door is [and it, you know, even though it’s work] (ph).

    TOM: If I was just doing it one time I would definitely do it by hand.

    LESLIE: Yeah?

    TOM: I wouldn’t buy the template. Because you’ve got to buy the template and the router to make it work. And I don’t – I don’t think Ted had that tool.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. But a router is so fun.

    TOM: Yes, routers are fun to use.

    LESLIE: And you can do so many things.

    TOM: That’s it. Buy the router, Ted. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: It’s an excuse to get a new tool. Come on.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    It’s taken years but you’ve finally gotten your house exactly where you want it. So why would you want to retire somewhere else? Up next, find out what you need to know to maintain your current home so you can live there as long as you are able.

    (theme song)

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. This is where work and fun meet because home improvement projects should be fun; except when they have unexpected results. Then they get really fun.

    LESLIE: Oh, then they get really sad. (chuckling)

    TOM: And really exciting. Like when you crack open a wall and the termites fall out. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: No, that’s not exciting. That’s a situation.

    TOM: Well, we want to make sure that your house stays fun and stays exciting and stays in good condition. And you know, taking care of your home will not only keep you safer and more comfortable, it will keep up its value and allow you to stay there as long as you possibly can. Here are a few things that you can do each month to help you do just that.

    First of all, test those smoke detectors, will you? We are moving into the fire season. There are more fires in the fall and winter than any other time of the year. So make sure you are testing smoke detectors.

    Also, test and reset those ground fault circuit interrupters. Those are the little outlets with the test and reset buttons right in them or it could be built into your circuit breaker as well. You have to sort of exercise those so that they work properly.

    Also gauge – check the gauge on that fire extinguisher and make sure that your fire extinguisher reads A-B-C. That means it can handle all sorts of fire: wood, paper, electrical and grease.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and with fire extinguishers keep more than one in your house. Keep one near where you cook and keep one near your fireplace. This way, in the event of an emergency you are repaired and not running around looking for something.

    And twice a year check all your faucets and under your sinks for leaks. Inspect all the caulking around the sinks and the tubs and the showers. Replace it. Fix it if you’ve got to. Just make sure it’s sealed up nice and tight.

    Clean the coils on your fridge. Drain a few gallons of water from your water heater to prevent sediment buildup. You should do that all the time, folks; twice a year.

    And some quick checks and repairs are really going to ensure that your future in your home is good and safe and ready to go for years to come so you don’t have to leave it because you love it. If you want some more info you can go to AARP.org/HomeDesign.

    TOM: Or if you need more tips on those projects right now call us. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Harold in Washington, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with at your house?

    HAROLD: My problem is I have soap scum buildup in sink traps and so on.

    TOM: OK.

    HAROLD: Particularly the bathroom sink. And I’m wondering if there is anything I can do without taking the plumbing apart.

    TOM: Is it slowing down the drains?

    HAROLD: It slows it down.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    HAROLD: It is still flowing.

    TOM: Does the stopper in the bottom of the sink still work? Does it still go up and down?

    HAROLD: Yes.

    TOM: What you might want to do is – a lot of times you’ll get hair and soap scum trapped around that linkage. So what you might want to do is clear the stuff out from under the sink and unscrew the lever that operates the stopper. It comes in from the side of the pipe. When you do …

    HAROLD: I’ve done that.

    TOM: You’ve done that? Well, when you do that and you pull the stopper out do you see any type of debris in there; hair or anything clogging it up?

    HAROLD: There was soap scum buildup on the stopper itself.

    TOM: Right. Yep.

    HAROLD: Not hair. And I don’t see anything because I’m totally blind.

    TOM: Oh, OK. I would say that it’s very unusual for you to get enough soap scum buildup for that trap to not pass a lot of water. Generally it gets sort of tied up at the stopper level where you get the soap scum and the hair in there. But if you take that stopper out and then you put it back together and run super hot water through it – another thing that you could is run – is put some baking soda and vinegar in there. That tends to clean out the drains. That’s a natural way to do it. Or if you really have an obstruction, take that stopper out and run a plastic drain snake down them. They sell them at the home centers. They’re about two feet long and they’re specifically designed to clear obstructions out of traps and sinks so you don’t have to go a long distance.

    HAROLD: Very good. And I thank you. I’ll give it a try.

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

    LESLIE: Edna in New Jersey wants to talk about porches. What can we do to help you with?

    EDNA: Well, I need to have it repaired. I think it’s called point or something like that.

    TOM: Uh-huh.

    EDNA: And then I also saw someone that had a metal one that they just bring in and put it in. But I just don’t know, like underneath, if once they take the old one I’d have to have that all cemented. And …

    TOM: Alright, so first of all, Edna, you have a porch that’s made of brick?

    EDNA: Yes.

    TOM: And it needs to be restored because some of the mortar’s falling out of the brick joints?

    EDNA: Correct.

    TOM: Well, I would do that. And you know, brick is about as durable a product as you can get. I certainly wouldn’t tear it out just because it needs to be repointed. Repointing is normal maintenance for bricks.

    EDNA: Oh.

    TOM: And repointing refers to the process of taking the loose mortar out that’s between the bricks – just, you know, the outside edge of it – and then pushing some new mortar in there. And masons do this all the time. And it only has to be done once and it – you know, it lasts a good 10 or 20 years.

    EDNA: Oh, because it’s actually lasted over 40 years. So, you know, now it’s (INAUDIBLE).

    TOM: Well, see. So that porch doesn’t owe you any money, does it Edna?

    EDNA: No, it doesn’t.

    TOM: Edna, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Lots of great home improvement advice here at The Money Pit coming up. But first, an insider secret that’s going to help hide those little dents and dings that have somehow mysteriously found their way onto your walls. So stick around.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/HomeDesign to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: It’s a great hour. It’s a great idea. It’s home improvement. What can we do to help you get those projects done around the house? Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because not only will we answer your home improvement question but we will give you a tool to help you clean up from that home improvement project. (Leslie chuckles) It’s the Eureka Capture Plus vacuum. It’s a pretty cool vacuum. It’s worth – what? – 169 bucks isn’t it worth?

    LESLIE: Yeah, and it’s really, really high-tech. It’s get a lot of great attachments that are just, you know, made to really reach hard-to-get places.

    TOM: It will go all the places you can possibly put your sawdust. Let’s put it that way. (Leslie chuckles) So if you want to win it, this $169 Eureka Capture Plus vacuum, call us right now. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air and ask us to qualify. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Yeah, now maybe when you call in here at The Money Pit, maybe your question has to do with the condition of your walls. Because we get a lot of calls here at the show about how to maintain smooth, clean and secure walls in your home. And here’s a little insider secret when it comes to paint sheens.

    We encourage you always to get the very best quality paint that you can afford and actually you should probably splurge on this because your walls are the canvas for your entire home. And choose a flat finish when you can because that’s going to hide the imperfections otherwise magnified by those light-reflecting glossy finishes. So unless you’re dealing with a bath or a kitchen go matte. It looks beautiful and it hides all those dings.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT is the telephone number. Call us right now with your home improvement question. 888-666-3974.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: David in California picked the right place to ask this question. He needs help with a home inspector. I think Tom knows the answer.

    David, welcome.

    DAVID: Great show. I live in California. I’ve always lived in Los Angeles. I have a couple investment properties that had inspections [on all warm climate area] (ph). I’m looking to buy my first investment property in Indianapolis …

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: … where, of course, it snows. So what, as someone not knowing anything about what to look for in a cold climate where it snows, humidity, what should I have an inspector really look for? And even if there’s mold possibly in a basement – I hear it’s kind of common – what should I look for?

    TOM: Well, you don’t have to tell the inspector what to look for. That’s what they do. Home inspectors know their neighborhoods very, very well so they know the defects that happen in the neighborhoods. You know, in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector working in the New York/New Jersey area I got pretty good at being able to drive through a development and, literally, on a – from the time I parked the car I could look at a house and say, ‘Hmm, 1965 house. I bet we’re going to find aluminum wiring here’ and be right every time. Because the homes get fairly in the way they’re built.

    So, what you want to concentrate on here is finding a good home inspector. You should understand that the standards of practice for home inspectors was established many, many years ago by the American Society of Home Inspectors. And they continue to have a membership process that puts inspectors through their paces to get them to qualify as home inspectors. So I would tell you to go to the website for ASHI – the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org. Put in the zip code in the Find an Inspector section for the area in Indiana where you’re buying your home. And then that will deliver to you a list of ASHI-certified inspectors and from that list I would call around and find someone you’re comfortable with. This way you’ll get a good home inspection done and you won’t have to worry about what goes wrong in an area because that’s what those guys do.

    DAVID: Right. Is mold kind of common in a basement where there’s a lot of humidity?

    TOM: Well, mold is common all over the country. You know, certainly in a warm climate or a damp climate. But having mentioned mold specifically, I should tell you that a home inspector is not – that’s not something that a home inspector necessarily checks for. That would be a mold inspection and that’s slightly different than a home inspection.

    Go to the website for ASHI.com. Click on the Standards of Practice and review what’s covered by the home inspection. And even if that inspector that you ultimately choose does not check for mold, I bet you he or she can find – can recommend you to a good guy in the area or a good woman in the area that could do that part of the inspection for you.

    DAVID: Well, purr (ph). I greatly appreciate it. Because this is a HUD home so I know there’s going to be a little bit of defect so I want to make sure I cover all the bases so I know what I’m getting into.

    TOM: Absolutely a wise thing you’re doing.

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

    DAVID: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Melissa in West Virginia wants to install a fish pond in your backyard. How’s it going so far?

    MELISSA: Hadn’t started yet.

    LESLIE: That’s good.

    MELISSA: I’m not so sure which route to go. I’ve seen the ponds that are like a coy pond that’s in concrete. And then versus the one that has a liner in it. I’m not sure which is going to be least expensive and less maintenance.

    LESLIE: Hmm, well that’s an interesting question. With any sort of water feature or a fish pond that you might install in your yard there’s a couple of things you need to think about. Think about how large do you want it; how deep; is there a specific size; what type of water feature do you want it to be. Because some of those precast forms might not come in the exact size that you’re wanting. And there’s an easy way to do it; whether it’s with a precast form or whether you’re doing something out of just a pond liner. And the pond liner can be a little bit pricy but it’s very durable and it does stand up well and they come in sizes depending on how large you want your fish pond to be. So make sure you really plan out how big, how deep so you know exactly what size fish pond liner to get.

    And what you want to do is you want to make sure that you lay out very well, either with some spray paint or some bright-colored string, the size and shape of your fish pond in your backyard. Get a good layout for it and make sure it’s got either the right amount of sunlight or shade depending on what type of fish and what type of plants you want to put in there.

    Once you lay it all out and you’re happy with it, start digging away and make sure it slopes at an angle so you’re getting a shallower end and a deeper end so if you’re having any sort of water feature in there or at least it’s aerating properly so that you have your filter in there will operate properly. Dig it all out. Make sure it’s level on the surface around it so if you’re using any sort of insert liner it sits in there and sits flush on the top. Or if you’re going to use a pond liner, one of those plastic sheets, make sure you take out any sticks or rocks that might pierce that once you put the water in.

    So once you’re happy with the size of the hole lay some sand down in there on the bottom so that it gives it a nice, soft bottom for that weight of the water to sit on. And when you’re laying in the liner lay it out in the sun for a few minutes before you start working with it because that helps it stay more flexible. And put it in there with the sand in the hole that you’ve dug and lay it over the sides. Make sure you have enough so that it doesn’t fall back in on itself when you fill it water. Fill it all up with water and then you can use stones or rocks or dirt to go on the outside of the liner on the top edge to cover it so it looks nice and uniform. You can cut away any excess but make sure you have enough hanging over so that you don’t – it doesn’t slip in. And keep any of that excess in case you need to patch it in the future.

    And what you need to do is once it’s filled with water you have to make sure you dechlorinate the water before you put the fish and the plants in; otherwise, the fish will die.

    MELISSA: Right. OK. Well there’s some of those points that you had mentioned that I hadn’t even thought about.


    MELISSA: So I guess the best thing is to figure out what shape I want it and how deep I want it and where I want it.

    LESLIE: Exactly. And it’s really easy. It’s not difficult to create a waterfall if you’re thinking about getting some ledge stone and stacking it up to create a water feature part of it. Those are very easy and they’re done with simple water pumps and you’re going to need one anyway to introduce are into the water to keep it circulating properly. So if you wanted to add a water feature element they’re really easy. It’s just a matter of getting the right pump with the right pressure to send the water up as high as you need it to go.



    MELISSA: Alright. I thank you.

    LESLIE: You’re welcome. Enjoy it.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, all I want to know is what kind of pond makes it easiest to catch the fish. (Leslie chuckles)


    Up next, why wind-driven rain can be the biggest enemy for your roof. You think your roof doesn’t leak? You might think something differently when we give you this tip, next.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And one way that you can make your good home better is by getting a cordless tool or a bunch of them. They are so fun and really being free of a cord is just, you know, revolutionizing everything that you can do in and around your house. And it’s so fun to own really wonderful and functional power tools and going cordless is having you feeling freer than ever before and it’s great. But you really need to make sure that you take care of those rechargeable batteries. You know, it’s not a good idea to run that tool until the battery is dead.

    We are going to have a ton more rechargeable battery maintenance tips in our next issue of our e-newsletter. It’s free so sign up now at MoneyPit.com and it’ll be in your inbox every Friday morning.

    TOM: And while you’re on MoneyPit.com click on Ask Tom and Leslie just like John did. And John says, ‘I’m getting ready to replace my roof and getting some conflicting advice from the contractors I’m speaking with.’ Oh, what a surprise. (Leslie chuckles) ‘I live on coastal South Carolina where it rarely snows. Yet I’m being told I need something called Ice Shield. Can you clarify what that is and why I need it?’

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s actually a product from our friends at Grace called Ice and Water Shield. And depending on where you live in the country it provides a similar purpose; it’s just the amount of it that you would use and where you would put it. Like in the northeast where Tom and I live you would put it on the first three feet of your roof, especially at an overhang, because what it does is it’s an extra underlayment that helps to keep your roof at a nice temperature so that you’re not getting something called ice damming which could really damage your roof shingles; even though the icicles are very pretty.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s sort of self-adhering or a bit tacky. Sticky. It’s not tacky. It’s good form. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) But it’s a bit sticky. And what happens is you do put it under those roof shingles. This way if the ice comes down and it forms at the roof edge and then it melts it can’t back up under the roof shingles and leak into the house.

    Now, down in the gulf coast, in that area, where your homes are at risk of severe wind and rain, that wind-driven rain –

    LESLIE: And hurricanes.

    TOM: – and hurricanes – can find its way into your roof in so many places it’s unbelievable.

    You know, roof shingles are designed to work with the principle of gravity; that the rain falls on top, it rolls off. But when it’s wind-driven it can kind of go up under the shingles. And wind can also rip the shingles off, of course. So that’s why, in that part of the country, you put Ice and Water Shield across the entire roof and then you put the shingles on top. Because this way, if wind-driven rain gets in or if shingles get ripped off there’s not going to be any leaks in your house. That’s the way it works. It works very well, as evidenced by all those homes down in the hurricane belt that were damaged by hurricanes but didn’t leak.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and it really is a great product and if you’ve got any questions at all about it you can visit their website which is GraceAtHome.com and that should answer it all up.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. And that’s just about all the time we have for this hour of the program. Want to remind you that even though this show goes off the air we are still available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT. Even when we’re not on the radio you can still get your phone call in; your question in and we will call you back the next time we are in the studio. You can always go to our website at MoneyPit.com and shoot us a question by clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie.

    Hey, next week we’re going to hit the road, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Yeah, field trip, field trip. We’re going to Boston to the AARP Life at 50 event.

    TOM: Yeah, very cool event where there’s a lot of the nuances in universal design will be featured there; ways to make your house safer and more comfortable. We will be doing a broadcast from the show floor. We’ll be learning about new products that are available to improve your home; improve its value; make it look great and make it more comfortable and more safe at the same time thanks to the folks at AARP who have invited us to participate in this very, very major event. There’s going to be a boatload of people there.

    LESLIE: And what’s interesting, I think a lot of people think of universal design and have this misconception that it’s just for people of a certain age when, in fact, it’s really for anyone and everyone. You know, if you’ve got your hands full there are some features that can really make opening doors and turning lights on and off a lot easier. Maybe you’ve got a relative moving in. So a lot of the things we’re going to be learning are really going to help you everyday in your home.

    TOM: Coming up next week on the program.

    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 2007 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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