This Old House Meets The Money Pit
TRANSCRIPT FOR JULY 20, 2009, HOUR 1Hosts: 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.)BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:(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: Pick up the phone; give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We’ve got a busy show planned for you this hour.Up first, when it’s hot and sticky outside, the first thing you want to do is turn down your AC ’til it’s as cold as it can get and then pretty much break off the knob and forget about it. (Leslie chuckles) But that’s not the best way to maintain your indoor comfort, nor is it the best way to save money on AC. We’ll tell you what you need to know to save some money and be comfortable, in just a bit.LESLIE: Plus, if you’re enjoying a summer with your kids at home, you know, now might be the perfect time to think about some home improvement projects that you can actually do with your kids; including their very own room makeover. Well, we’re going to have some ideas that are going to make that project simple and fun, coming up.TOM: And later this hour, we welcome our pals Kevin O’Connor and Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House. They’ll join us here on The Money Pit with some strategies to keep your lawn looking green through the hottest days of summer that lay ahead. But first, let’s get right to the phones and answer your home improvement questions. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.Leslie, who’s first?LESLIE: Pam in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?PAM: Yes, ma’am. About a year ago, we moved into an older home and in the basement there is a drain, a sewer drain, and it has an open vent on it.TOM: OK.PAM: Occasionally we get some odors coming up from that. I covered up the vent a little and put a bucket on it because it is also being used as a drain for our air conditioning unit.TOM: Oh, boy. OK.PAM: For the dehumidifier.TOM: Right.LESLIE: OK.PAM: The other thing I’ve come up with is pour a little bleach around; ammonia.TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, listen, unless you have – if you have an open vent for a drain-waste-vent pipe, you’ve got to have that really tight or you are going to get an odor. So our advice here would be to get a plumber in with the right parts to make this do what it needs to do without being open whatsoever because you are going to get a gas out of that and at certain times of the year it’s going to be a really strong odor, as you probably have already discovered, Pam.LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah.PAM: We have.TOM: Yes, yeah.PAM: We have. Walking into the house, especially, and noticing it.TOM: Yeah, not pleasant. It sounds to me like somebody probably opened it to maybe add that condensate drain, at some point in time, and just didn’t put it back together correctly. This is not difficult. This is not unusual. It’s something a plumber can do very successfully; shouldn’t be very expensive. But I would have it done and have it done right so that you don’t have this problem because that could be very unhealthy.PAM: OK. OK, is there any sort of a test that I can get to see if that is hindering our health; you know, in the house? I mean are the fumes going to be …?TOM: You know, it’s going to make you very uncomfortable. You’re going to be thinking about it all the time. You know, I would just tell you …LESLIE: Mm-hmm, just fix it.TOM: I would just tell you to get it fixed. OK?PAM: (chuckling) OK.LESLIE: Just for peace of mind and getting rid of that odor, it’s going to be worth it.TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, exactly. Yeah.PAM: Exactly.TOM: You’ll feel so much better when the plumber finishes. Instantly, your health will improve; at least your mental health.PAM: OK. OK. (Leslie chuckles) Thank you.TOM: Pam, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.LESLIE: Franklin in Georgia needs help with a roofing project. What’s going on at your money pit?FRANKLIN: Yeah, I have a cupola on the roof of my garage …LESLIE: OK.FRANKLIN: … and it’s rotting away. I want to know if anyone makes one of these things out of fiberglass or something like that.TOM: Yeah, actually, Franklin, there absolutely is a solution here. There are fiberglass cupolas out there.LESLIE: What size is your cupola, Franklin?FRANKLIN: It’s about 18 inches square, I think.TOM: Oh, so it’s less than two feet. That shouldn’t be too expensive. I think you can get those for probably about 300 or 400 bucks.LESLIE: Yeah, not bad. There’s a company, actually, out of North Carolina, I think – which is a neighbor to you – and they’re called Piedmont Cupola. And they have a two-foot square unit that’s great for garages or storage sheds and they’re about 350 bucks and they’re totally fiberglass. And then if you go and put a little weathervane on top, it’s really cute. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)FRANKLIN: Well, that’s what mine had …LESLIE: Good.FRANKLIN: … and I had to take that down because it was rotting so bad. I had to take that down and just cover it with like a two-foot piece of aluminum square.TOM: Yeah.FRANKLIN: I just put that over the louvered part.TOM: Well, maybe now you can get the fiberglass cupola and put the weathervane back in there.FRANKLIN: OK. Thank you very much.TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can help you get all of your home improvement projects done right the first time. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.TOM: Up next, it’s hot, it’s sticky; so you may be tempted to set your AC on the deep freeze setting and then pretty much break off the knob but it’s not the best idea for your AC or for you. We’re going to have a better suggestion to increase your comfort and save some cash, next.(theme song)TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a gift pack full of all the Liquid Nails you might need to tackle just about any home improvement project around your house. It’s worth 65 bucks but going out to one caller who reaches us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you just can’t take the heat not one minute longer. Alright, you know it is hot and sticky outside and many of us, in these conditions, love to head indoors and set our central ACs on deep freeze. I think I’ve actually seen that button. It’s probably the one with the snowflake and, you know, the devil shivering underneath it.TOM: (chuckling) Probably the one that’s worn off.LESLIE: (chuckling) Exactly. Alright, well you might think that’s going to help you feel better more quickly. Well, it won’t; because running the system for short periods at a very low temperature doesn’t actually allow enough time for your AC to dehumidify the air inside your house and that’s what makes you feel uncomfortable. So for best results, always keep your thermostat at a steady 78 degrees. I know it sounds surprising but it’s true.TOM: That will keep you comfortable and pull enough moisture out of the air so that you won’t feel clammy. Well …LESLIE: Well, and pull that moisture out consistently.TOM: Yeah, exactly.Well, let us take the chill out of your home improvement projects with the information you need to tackle the next one that’s on your list. Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.Who’s next?TOM: Now we’re going to talk to Amelia in Edison, New Jersey who needs some help with an outdoor project. What are you working on?AMELIA: The dark green resin chairs I have, they have become very dull and I was wondering if there’s anything I can do to bring the luster back up.TOM: If it’s a resin chair, probably not. I will – I’ll tell you what might work: Armor All – the stuff you use for your car; because you use that on vinyl all the time and it does leave it to be somewhat shiny. But I think what you’re seeing in a resin chair is you’re seeing that the UV from the sun; essentially fading them and I don’t think you’re going to restore the color. You could probably make them look a bit shinier but I don’t think you’re going to ever restore the color.LESLIE: Can you use that spray paint that’s made specifically for plastic on that?TOM: That’s a good idea. Yeah. Actually, that’s called Fusion. It’s made by Krylon and …AMELIA: How do you spell it.TOM: Fusion – F-u-s-i-o-n.AMELIA: Oh, I see.TOM: It’s made by Krylon and it’s a …LESLIE: If you go to the home center, you’ll see it’s clearly labeled that it’s for plastic and it probably even shows a picture of the chair you’re talking about right on the can.TOM: Yeah. Yep. Yeah, that’s a good point.AMELIA: OK, so Armor All or – should I try that first and then go to the Krylon if I can’t …?TOM: I wouldn’t do one after the other because if you put the Armor All on it’s not going to …LESLIE: The paint won’t stick.TOM: It’s not going to stick. But, actually, Fusion is probably a better choice for this and you can repaint them, they’ll be solid color and they’ll look good. And the paint is pretty durable, too; we’ve used it.AMELIA: OK. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.TOM: You’re welcome, Amelia. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.Yeah, that’s a good point. Forgot about that plastic paint.LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and that’s good because you can make your green chairs hot pink if you like. (Tom chuckles)Ken, you’ve got the Money Pit. How can we help you today?KEN: Well, it’s like this. My folks are in their 80s and their house was built probably in the 50s.LESLIE: OK.KEN: Somewhere around about the end of the Korean War.TOM: OK.KEN: And they have wet wall; you know, it’s brittle. It’s not drywall. It’s definitely wet wall.TOM: OK.KEN: And I have to install a grab handle in the bathtub.TOM: OK.LESLIE: Oh, gotcha.KEN: So I’m just not positive about the construction behind the wet wall. Can I find studs with a stud finder and are they 16 inch on center?LESLIE: What about those Moen brackets, Tom?TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, there are a number of different types of brackets that are designed to adhere to a hollow wall, so you don’t necessarily have to find the stud. There are brackets that can go and it’s sort of like a high-tech toggle bolt, so to speak. But there are brackets that can support, believe it or not, 500 pounds in a hollow drywall wall; and certainly, if you have a wet plaster wall, they could do it as well.LESLIE: I would buy the whole thing together; just because this way you know you’ve got the right brackets for the right grab bar. And you know, maybe your parents want something that’s a little bit more decorative. Tom and I have seen these in person. We’ve installed one; when we did a home safety makeover for the AARP. Moen – you know them; great manufacturer of bathroom products – if you go to their website, Moen.com, and under products you’ll find Bathroom Safety, I mean there is a plethora of grab bars that are available that look beautiful; that come in a variety of finishes; that look almost like a towel bar but they’re made to hold 500 pounds because of the special bracket that they sell with it. So I would kind of go that route rather than trying to sort of retrofit a more sterile-looking grab bar.KEN: Well, thanks to you very much.TOM: You’re welcome, Ken. I’m sure your parents will appreciate that. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.LESLIE: Linda in Connecticut, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on at your house today?LINDA: I was wondering if you could come up with an idea on how I can get rid of the discoloration on my bathroom floor made from the rubber backing on my rug.TOM: Do you have a vinyl floor?LINDA: It’s linoleum.TOM: Ugh.LESLIE: Mm-hmm.TOM: Let me tell you what’s happening here, Linda. You have an – there’s oxidation that goes on between the rubber-backed carpets and the vinyl or linoleum floors that causes a chemical reaction that’s a discoloration. So what you’re seeing is not a stain in the sense that it’s dirt or something else that’s on top of it; it actually is a change in the material. So, unfortunately, there’s nothing that you can do about that.If you – when you buy new vinyl floors and new linoleum floors, the manufacturers actually warn against this particular – in fact, I’ve seen this on the Armstrong website; about the effects of oxidation.LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s like a void in the warranty.TOM: Exactly.LESLIE: And it’s so funny because every bath mat that’s out there has a rubber backing.LINDA: That’s true.TOM: But there is a solution, Linda. You have to buy a bigger bathmat (all chuckle) and cover it up.LINDA: Oh. I know, I’d have to lay it on there exactly the same spot.TOM: Alright, Linda. Sorry we can’t give you better advice. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.LESLIE: Tony in North Carolina is looking for some help with a kitchen makeover. What are you working on?TONY: Formica countertops.LESLIE: OK.TONY: And we were hoping to be able to give them a granite look and I was told by a friend, on a previous show, that you had talked about a kit that might do that.TOM: Yeah, it’s called Giani and it’s made by the same guys who came up with liquid stainless steel, which is another paint product.LESLIE: It’s made for appliances that absolutely makes them look like stainless and lasts.TOM: Yeah, and actually, that’s the website – LiquidStainlessSteel.com – and you can click through to the granite paint for countertops. Comes in what; two colors did we see that in? Yeah, it looked pretty good.LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It comes in like a black option with like a white speck and then something that they call Sicilian Sand, which is like a taupe-y tan with different color speckles. And depending on how you want it to look, I think you can add certain speckles over other speckles and then different layers. But the good thing is that when it’s all cured I mean it is super-duper hard and durable. Tom and I saw it at the hardware show and it was being launched as a new product and we got to see it in a variety of steps through the process and the finished product. And I have to say – for my own personal preference – I thought the Sicilian Sand, the lighter tone, was much more convincing than the dark one.TOM: Yeah, yeah. I had to agree with you on that.TONY: Oh, OK.TOM: The company is called Thomas & English and the website, again, is LiquidStainlessSteel.com. So check it out there. The product is the Giani granite paint for countertops and it’s very cool.LESLIE: Yeah, and as long as your Formica countertop is in good shape – you don’t have any tears or pieces rolling up or holes in it – you’re going to be great.TOM: And I’ve got to tell you – you know, for years, people asked us about painting countertops and we always said, “No, can’t be done.”TONY: Right.TOM: And these guys have nailed it. So it’s a great product and a great opportunity for some new life with those old tops.TONY: Well, that’s awesome. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.TOM: You’re welcome, Tony. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Jeanette in Florida. How can we help you today?JEANETTE: I was wondering what are the choices for having portable digital TVs; like for hurricanes in Florida.TOM: Oh, gosh; there’s like so many choices out there. You know, now that we’ve had the digital transition, those TVs that we had that used to work on like 12 D-size batteries; they’re no longer useful.JEANETTE: Exactly. So do they have portable digital TVs?TOM: Well, absolutely.LESLIE: They do and there are several models. They’re made by, you know, a ton of different manufacturers from Sansonic to Insignia to Naxa. They’re all in the, I would say, like the $100 to $200 range; depending on your budget. Envision has one. Coby has one.Tom, you saw one somewhere, right; recently on Amazon or something?TOM: Yeah, just search for portable, digital TVs online and you’ll find tons of options. But you’re right, those old ones that we had are not going to work anymore.LESLIE: Keep in mind that, you know, they’ll probably only be very useful for like a short power outage. If you’re facing – I mean down in Miami, you could be facing a power outage from a hurricane for a couple of days; so you want to make sure that you have the weather radio as well.JEANETTE: (overlapping voices) Could you believe weeks?LESLIE: Yeah, exactly.JEANETTE: Yeah, well I have a – I have two radios. I have, you know, those weather radios that – I have one that you self-wind on batteries. I have a couple of those.LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Good.TOM: (overlapping voices) Great.JEANETTE: But having been through Hurricane Andrew – which we didn’t have electricity for a long time – it’s just nice to have something you can see (inaudible).TOM: Absolutely. Well, it’s a smart thing to pick up, Jeanette. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.LESLIE: Yeah, I mean great for technology. We’ve changed over. Whoo-hoo, digital. But everybody in the majority of the United States faces major power outages because of weather situations and everybody who had those wonderful, portable units; we can’t use them anymore.TOM: Yeah, but you know what? The weather radio still works, so you can always rely on those.LESLIE: Mike in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?MIKE: Yes, I have a recurring problem with sewer flies in the basement bathroom that we have, which is the last bathroom on the line in the house.TOM: OK. The flies are coming up the drain?MIKE: I’m not sure where they’re coming from. They may be coming out of the toilet but they’re in the bathroom. They look like little black flecks. And we’ve had the plumber come in and, actually, they used the camera and we had recurring obstructions and they put a liner in. And a couple of weeks after they left, we still had a problem.TOM: Hey, Mike, in this bathroom, how many drains do you have? You have a floor drain? You have a sink drain? You have a shower drain? What do you have?MIKE: There’s a shower drain and there’s a sink drain and the toilet drain.TOM: OK, do you use the bathroom all the time?MIKE: Not too often.TOM: Alright, let me give you a little trick of the trade. I’d like you to take some tape – some duct tape or something like that is fine – and when it’s nice and dry, put some tape across all of the drains and wait a few days and then peel the tape up and see if there are flies stuck to the backside of it.MIKE: OK.TOM: Once you find the location, you’re going to know which pipe the flies are coming up. The next question is, is there a trap in the line. You know, if it’s the floor drain or a sink drain, then there needs to be a trap. If it’s the toilet, there wouldn’t be a trap there because the toilet itself is the trap. But you should have a trap in the other drains and if the trap is not working properly – if it’s broken or it’s disconnected or something – that could be the reason there’s no – that the flies can come back up and if that’s the case you’ve got to get the trap fixed because there’s nothing you’re going to do to stop them. If you do have a trap and you still have the problem, then there may be a gel cleaner that you can use that will break down the bacteria that the flies like to feed on.LESLIE: And these are sort of like a bacterial digester. There are a lot of different companies that make one – I know Roto-Rooter has one; there’s another one called Invade Bio Gel – and they’re just sort of something you put down the drains, the sinks, the showers that eat all of that bacterial – I mean that organic debris that these flies like to feed on. So if you can get rid of that, you’re getting rid of the food source.TOM: So that’s the way to do it, Mike; step by step. OK?MIKE: OK, great. Thank you very much for your help.TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.LESLIE: Well, if the dog days of summer are getting you down, just imagine how your lawn feels. (Tom chuckles) Coming up, landscaping contractor Roger Cook and host Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House are going to be joining us with tips to keep your lawn looking green even through the hottest days that summer can dish out, so stick around.(theme song)ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Install a new, energy-efficient Therma-Tru door today and qualify for up to a $1,500 tax credit. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com/TaxCredit.TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.TOM: And we’ve got your staycation solutions at MoneyPit.com; everything from how to give your home that great curb appeal you’re looking for to the best material for the deck you’re thinking about building. It’s all at MoneyPit.com/Staycation; sponsored by WORX, the makers of the WORX GT battery-powered trimmer/edger.LESLIE: And also by the folks at Fiberon. You know, they’re the company behind the 10-year stain-and-fade warranty for many of their composite decking products and you can also enter now to win a John Deere mower worth 400 bucks. It’s all right there for you at MoneyPit.com/Staycation.TOM: That’s MoneyPit.com/Staycation.888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.LESLIE: Greg in New Hampshire needs some help with a concrete slab. What can we do for you?GREG: I live on a lake and I have a bunkhouse that is located approximately 10 feet from the edge of the water …TOM: OK.GREG: … with a retaining wall in between.TOM: Now why do they call it a bunkhouse? Is that where you bunk when you get in trouble with your wife? (Leslie chuckles)GREG: I put my son out there; that’s why. That’s always an option, I suppose.TOM: (overlapping voices) (laughs) I was close.GREG: And what happens every time we get rain is the bunkhouse floor, which is a concrete slab, gets moist; gets wet.TOM: Right.GREG: And it does have a drain in the middle of it but it never gets that wet; I never have standing water in there. And I have put – I started – I tried to put a French drain around the perimeter, so I dug out probably about a foot down all the way around it and put crushed stone in there but that doesn’t seem to help at all.TOM: OK. Well, this is a monolithic slab? In other words, the slab and the footing are all one piece?GREG: Yes.TOM: When you dug down along the side, did you sort of feel that you were up against concrete?GREG: Yes.TOM: OK, so what you want to do here is move water away from the slab, not towards the slab. See, concrete slabs are very hydroscopic. They’re very absorbent; they suck up water in a very big way. So if you, on this bunkhouse building – do you have gutters on it?GREG: No.TOM: OK, so that’s a problem. If you’re dumping a lot of water around the foundation perimeter, it’s getting against the slab; it’s going to be sucked into the slab and drawn throughout the entire surface because it’s not that big. So what I would do is I would first put gutters on the building and I would get the downspouts extended, you know, four or five feet away. I think you’ll be amazed at what a huge difference something as simple as that will make because you want to move the water away from the walls so you don’t have as much water collecting there. When you did the drain around it, the trench around it, you probably made it worse.So you want to add soil, you want to slope it away from the outside walls and you want to extend the downspouts so that you try to keep the water away from the foundation perimeter. Do those things and then also paint that floor with an epoxy paint. Wait for a really good, dry day; use a two-part epoxy paint and that will stop some of the evaporation of the water into the building. And I think those two things together will result in this being a lot drier than you’ve ever had it before.GREG: Beautiful. I’ve got a bunkhouse I can hopefully stay in. Thank you very much for your help. (Leslie chuckles)TOM: (overlapping voices) There you go. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.Just made Greg’s home-away-from-home that much more comfortable.LESLIE: Well, as the dog days of summer turn long and hot, your lawn might be looking a bit parched. But how much water do you really need to give it to keep it looking fresh and green?TOM: Well, let’s find out as we welcome our guest host, Kevin O’Connor, and landscaping contractor Roger Cook from TVs This Old House.Welcome, guys.KEVIN: Our pleasure. We’ve all heard the saying that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Well, maybe it’s because their neighbors know how to water the lawn better than we do. What do you think, Roger? Any tips?ROGER: I like to water the lawn early in the morning. It prevents evaporation and if you water at night and leave that lawn wet, it could get a fungus disease. The other thing is, don’t water every day. Your lawn really needs an infrequent watering. Two or three times a week is better than watering every day. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your lawn receives one inch of water a week, depending on where you live and what type of grass you have.KEVIN: And what’s the best way to make sure that you’re getting just one inch of water?ROGER: Well, it can be as complicated as an electric device tied into an irrigation system or as simple as a rain gauge. And even simpler, when you go to water, put out an empty coffee can. After the watering is done, measure the amount of water in that can and that’ll help you figure out how much water you’re putting down.KEVIN: Sounds good.TOM: I like the coffee can system. That works well. Very simple.Roger Cook, Kevin O’Connor, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.KEVIN: Decaf coffee can or caffeinated coffee can? (Tom chuckles)ROGER: I prefer a decaf.KEVIN: French roast?TOM: Yep. (chuckles)ROGER: French roast?LESLIE: That’s great advice.Hey, if you want some more lawn-watering tips, there’s a great step-by-step video on just that at ThisOldHouse.com. Now This Old House is sponsored by The Home Depot; The Home Depot – more saving, more doing.TOM: Up next, if you’re enjoying time this summer with your kids at home, now might be a good time to think about some home improvement projects that you can do together. We’re going to have some tips on how to get kids involved in those projects in a fun, easy and safe way, next.(theme song)ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. You can count on Therma-Tru for beautiful, reliable and easy-to-install entry doors. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a gift pack full of all the Liquid Nails that you need to tackle just about any home improvement project. That gift pack is worth 65 bucks but going out to one caller drawn at random from the Money Pit hardhat; so pick up the phone and call us right now with your question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.LESLIE: Alright, give us a call; especially if you’re thinking about tackling some home improvement projects with your family because according to a survey by KILZ, one in five moms spends more time and money on her kids’ rooms than any other area of their home. And we think that if you’re planning a new room décor for your kids, getting them involved in the entire process is a great way to inspire imagination and build some very early home improvement skills.Now I know when I was growing up, my father was an architect – I’m sure you guys all have heard me talk about him many times – and I don’t know if he was on to either getting us to not rearrange our rooms or really trying to lay down the skills of spatial relations but we could never move furniture, Tom …TOM: Yeah.LESLIE: … unless we took a piece of graph paper and mapped out our room to scale – whether it was one block is a foot or four blocks is a foot – and created our room on like a blueprint and put the furniture where we wanted it to go to actual measurements so that we knew it would fit, rather than moving the bed 13 times.TOM: And look, here you are today as a decorator; so it sunk in. (laughs)LESLIE: I know, can you believe it? So it really worked. So really talk to your kids about the entire idea of how space planning works; where you want the furniture to live; what kind of storage; what kind of colors; what inspires them; is there a place that they want to travel to or have dreamed about going to – even if it’s Mars or Egypt. Work with those themes and help them to create ideas that are going to play out through that space. Whether it’s through a piece of artwork or a color that you choose or some sort of fabric that you bring in, get the kids involved.Now when it comes time to choose your paint, you want to be really sure that you choose paints that are low VOC and that are water-based like KILZ Casual Colors paint and zero-VOC products like KILZ Clean Start primer because these are low-odor products and they’re a great choice for your kids’ rooms. You’ve got to think you guys are breathing this in, so choose products that are not going to be hazardous for you out there.TOM: And by the way, if you do give the kids the power to pick their own paint colors, don’t be frightened if they choose to go with the bright pink or Kelly greens (Leslie chuckles); because no matter how bold they chose to go, the next time it comes time to paint, a good coat of primer can cover it up and you can start all over again.LESLIE: Hey, and beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. (chuckles)TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?LESLIE: Colleen in New Jersey needs some help with a staining project. What can we do for you today?COLLEEN: I needed to stain two pocket doors …TOM: OK.COLLEEN: … to match the rest of the pocket doors in the framework in the house. And I went to the local, you know, center and home goods – whatever – and they helped me with a stain and they told me to apply the stain with a rag and then, after it dried, take a steel wool and rub the door down and then – I guess then I’d have to wipe it back down and apply the stain again but I don’t know what the steel wool is for.TOM: Well, are you going to put – after the stain, are you going to put a coat of polyurethane on or something like that?COLLEEN: Well, actually, I’m probably going to have to do three coats of stain to match the rest of the doors and then …LESLIE: To get the color you want.TOM: OK. Alright. Well, let me just give you – let me give you a step-by-step idea here of how to do a staining project like this, Colleen. And these are new doors?COLLEEN: Yes.TOM: OK. So the first thing that you want to do – and this is a little trick of the trade that I learned years ago – I wipe the door down with a damp cloth and the reason I do that is because the grain will now swell a little bit. And even if it was sanded once, once you wipe it with a damp cloth, you’ll find that the grain swelled and got a little rough. Then sand it again with a very fine sandpaper. We’re talking about like about a 400-grit sandpaper.LESLIE: Wow, that’s super-fine.TOM: Really fine. Yeah, because it’s just – the grain is just swelling; it’s just like sort of the tips of the grain that’s up there. So sand it down, then you can apply the stain. I generally don’t sand in between stain coats but I will at the very last step before I polyurethane; and again, I’ll do a very quick, very fine staining at that point.LESLIE: With the same 400-grit?TOM: Yeah, the same 400 – anywhere between 200 and 400. And then I’ll do urethane and in between the coats of urethane I’ll sand. The reason you’re sanding is because the grain swells and it gets rough and you’re trying to take it down. But I would not use steel wool in between steps on staining because what happens then is the steel wool ends up breaking apart and gets stuck on the door and it’s really hard to get out. So I would use a very fine-grit sandpaper; somewhere between 220 and 400.LESLIE: Don in Maryland is dealing with some mold in the bath. What can we do for you?DON: I’ve got a recurring problem with mold and mildew – I think it’s basically mildew – on the ceiling in the bathroom. We’ve used KILZ brand paint to try and cover it up. It comes back through. We’ve used the heavy, metal additives in the paint. We’ve sanded off and repainted and we’re out of options. It comes back after about two weeks. We’ve bleached the ceiling and I just don’t know what else to do.
TOM: Alright, well let’s talk about the ventilation that’s in that bathroom space. Do you have a vent fan that’s venting it outside?
DON: No, it’s an outside bath with just a window.
TOM: With a window. OK, well this would be part of the problem. We need to manage the moisture, OK, and the best way to do that is if you could install a bathroom exhaust fan that’s on a timer so that when the light goes off the fan stays on for another …
LESLIE: Fifteen minutes, twenty minutes.
TOM: Well, no I wouldn’t say that long but at least another minute or two. So …
LESLIE: Because I’ve always heard 15 minutes after a shower you want to run that fan.
TOM: Nah, I don’t think you have to run it that long. But basically you do have to run it because you have to purge that area of the moisture and that’s the biggest issue you have going for you there; that you have a lot of moisture with no place to go. I mean obviously – there is an exception in the building code that says if you have a window you don’t have to have a bath fan but it’s a stupid exception because this is what happens.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.Up next, do you have a long list of home improvement to-dos to be done but just don’t know where to start? We’re going to have some suggestions when we jump into the e-mail bag and answer that very question, after this.(theme song)TOM: Welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to MoneyPit.com, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and send us an e-mail just like Trevor did from Walnut Grove, Minnesota.LESLIE: Alright, Trevor writes: “I love your show” – well, thank you, Trevor – “and I’ve been inspired to tackle more and more projects on my own after listening. I’d like to know if there is a resource that would help me sort out home improvement repairs into a sort of priority checklist for future projects. I thought of hiring a home inspector but I’m wondering if his efforts would be of any benefit to me or if he would just tell me what I already know.”TOM: Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? I’ve got to tell you, if you find a really good home inspector and if you communicate up front with that home inspector what your concerns are in terms of the home and the issues and the areas that concern you, a home inspector probably can help you prioritize things and sort things out and make a good decision.Remember that home inspectors are going to follow the guidelines of the American Society of Home Inspectors, so their inspections are not designed to be in depth. But as a general consultant in trying – somebody that can really help you plan the projects in an orderly and a safe way, that’s exactly what you’re hiring them for and it’s not really even a basic home inspection; it’s more of a consulting service. But I do think they have the skills to do that and an architect would as well, by the way. So either an architect or a home inspector or even an engineer, depending on the kinds of projects you’re talking about, could help you make those decisions. The person I would not call to help you with that is a contractor.LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Is a contractor.TOM: Because they’re going to decide what they need to do first and what they want to charge you for it.LESLIE: They’re like, “Hmm, I could really use the money made off of a bathroom right now.”TOM: “So I think I’ll recommend that first.” (Leslie chuckles) I think a home inspector is probably a good choice here. I would get somebody that’s certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors. You can go to their website at ASHI.org and then whatever that list generates in terms of those guys in your area, call them; you know, find somebody you’re comfortable talking to that really understands the issues and can help you. I think it would be a worthwhile inspection; a worthwhile investment.LESLIE: After – say you get the inspector; you come in and get your list. After you do some improvements, do you recommend bringing back that inspector to sort of go over what you’ve done or is it only based on some like major structural finds that you might work on?TOM: The only time I would recommend something of that nature – I mean you certainly could; I don’t know that that’s worth it. However, if – let’s say you’re dealing with a really major structural defect like a cracked foundation wall; in that instance, I wouldn’t tell you to bring in a home inspector. I’d say hire an engineer to do the design and then have the inspector come back or the engineer come back after the project is repaired to certify that was done correctly because, in doing so, you essentially are creating sort of a pedigree and this way if you’re going to sell the house in the future …LESLIE: It’s all there.TOM: … and there’s a question, you can say, “Look, we had it evaluated by an engineer; we had it fixed; we had the engineer certify the effectiveness of the repair” and you know, that’s as good as it gets.LESLIE: Alright, good to know.Alright, now we’ve got one here from Jeff in Flemington, New Jersey who writes: “I’m looking to paint my bare concrete basement floor. I don’t know if I should use a floor paint or an epoxy paint. What would you suggest and what would you use on your own floor?”TOM: Today, I would definitely go epoxy.LESLIE: Absolutely.TOM: I think the epoxies are really good, are really durable.LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well, and super-durable. Exactly.TOM: Yeah. And I love the chemical cure. You know, you’re not going to be slowed down my moisture; you know, being in a damp basement. As long as the floor is clean, that is definitely where I would go. There are a lot of good products out there; a number of manufacturers. Let’s see, Rust-Oleum has one; QUIKRETE has one – EPOXYShield I think is their product. They all have different color flakes in them so they can have a bit of décor to it.LESLIE: Some of them are even customizable for color as well.TOM: Yeah, exactly. So I think epoxy is definitely the way to go today if you’re going to do any kind of a basement floor or a garage floor.LESLIE: And you know what, Jeff? There’s actually another option. QUIKRETE – I think it was at the Builders Show, Tom, that we saw them launch this product – they have a home acid staining kit for concrete; an interior one and an exterior one. And I mean it’s in a couple of different colors. They’ve made it really easy to do and that gives you an interesting depth and tone. So there’s another idea for you, Jeff. Good luck with your project.TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com and remember; any time you’ve got a home improvement question, pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and if we are not in the studio we will get back to you the next time we are.TOM: 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)END HOUR 1 TEXT(Copyright 2009 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)