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    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: What are you working on this beautiful spring weekend? We’re here to help you get those projects done around the house. So help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online at MoneyPit.com’s Community page.

    Coming up on today’s program, are you looking for a backyard space where you can entertain, cook, eat and hang out? Well, look no further than a patio. This is a DIY project that you really shouldn’t be afraid to take on. And we’re going to have some tips to make sure it goes well, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, it’s a great time to make sure that your air-conditioning is running correctly. We’re going to share with you our checkup checklist.

    TOM: And this hour, we’re giving away a cool product: it’s the City Pickers Patio Raised Garden Bed, plus a $25 Home Depot gift card.

    LESLIE: And now, this is a self-watering raised garden bed, which really makes it perfect for turning your porch or patio into a personal garden.

    TOM: So call us right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Ted on the line who’s noticing a musty smell in the basement. What’s going on?

    TED: I have a finished basement that’s carpeted and I live in a townhome. And I just – it has a musty smell and I can’t get rid of it, no matter what I do.

    TOM: Is the basement heated and cooled?

    TED: It is, yes. Actually have the heat turned on down there now and I usually turn the air on in the summertime. And on nice days, I open the windows and let the windows stay open all day long.

    TOM: Do you have a dehumidifier?

    TED: I do not.

    TOM: Well, generally, when you get a musty smell, it’s because of moisture. And sometimes, the moisture settles into carpet and furnishings and can exacerbate it. But if you reduce the moisture and the humidity, that will sometimes improve it.

    So, in a basement, you could do that with something called a “whole house dehumidifier,” which is actually something that can be added onto the HVAC system. And it will take out – these whole-house dehumidifiers can take out 100 pints of water a day. They work really, really efficiently. And it’s not the kind of thing where you have to dump it or anything like that; it just goes to a pump and gets pumped right outside.

    The other thing that you can do is to improve the drainage conditions outside your house. Because believe it or not, if you extend gutters away from the house and if you slope soil away from the house, there’s a lot less water that collects at the foundation perimeter and ends up getting into your house and raising that humidity level. If you manage the moisture at the foundation perimeter and add a dehumidifier, you’ll find that it goes a long way towards reducing that amount of humidity.

    Then, finally, I would check the HVAC system to make sure you have a good-quality return vent in the basement. Because you don’t just want supplies, you want returns, too, so it pulls that moist air back into the system. And as it goes through the system, it heats up or it goes across the air-conditioning coil and condenses. You’ll be pulling more moisture out that way, as well, OK?

    TED: OK. Great. I’ll give it a shot.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bonnie in California. Welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    BONNIE: We have a condo that we’ve – it’s been rented for 12 years. And when our renters moved out, we were going to sell it. And we saw stains on the carpet and we thought, “Well, we’ll pull up the carpet, replace it and just paint and clean up and put it up for sale.”

    TOM: Right.

    BONNIE: Well, when we pulled the carpet back, the cement slab – it’s a cement slab, single-level condo, 1,600 – almost 1,700 square feet with a cement-slab floor. And when we pulled back the carpet, we found that it was very damp and there was that white, fuzzy kind of effervescence or whatever they call it that comes up from the cement.

    TOM: Efflorescence. Mm-hmm.

    BONNIE: Lots of that. We tore up all the flooring and thought, “Well, we’ll go ahead and hire a contractor and have it all fixed and put new stuff down.” And it didn’t dry out; it just was damp.

    But in any case, this problem is not getting solved. We have – we don’t know where to go from here. We want to figure out if there’s some way to seal that floor that is going to keep it from, you know, ruining the carpet and wood again and get it for sale. But fix it so that it’s – so that we can say it’s fixed.

    TOM: Alright. Well, here’s what I think is going on, based on your description. If you’ve got that much of a water source that close to the concrete slab – concrete is very hydroscopic. I mean it will really absorb water like crazy. And so if the ground outside is saturated, that is clearly drawing through the concrete into the interior and that’s why the floor has been so wet. My concern is that this could develop, if it hasn’t already, into a mold problem.

    The bad news for the condominium association is that if they’re responsible for the structure of this building, which would include the floor, this is their problem to fix, not your problem to fix. And if I was advising them, I would tell them to stop calling contractors to check leaking ponds and start calling professional engineers that can analyze the building and figure out exactly what’s going on and prescribe the proper fix. They’ve got to think big here, not think small. Because I think they have a lot of liability, because it’s probably not you; you just happen to be the one that found it. But if your neighbors start pulling up carpet, they’re going to probably find the same thing.

    All that you can do on the inside is really stop-gap. You can clean up the efflorescence, you can put a masonry sealer on the floor. But the problem is that that concrete is going to continue to get wet, continue to get damp and eventually it’s going to pull back into the unit. So, I think that you need to have a very serious sit-down with that condominium association.

    BONNIE: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: Alright? Good luck, Bonnie.

    BONNIE: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Thank you for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Terry in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with some woodpeckers. Tell us what’s going on.

    TERRY: We have a small woodpecker; it’s about the size of a sparrow. It’s dark gray or black with white speckles on its chest. And it actually pecks holes in the corners of my chimney, on the 1x4s. And then the guy next door actually redid his chimney with stuff that’s similar to Sto stucco-type stuff. And they actually peck holes in that stuff.

    TOM: Right.

    TERRY: And he fills them and they peck more holes.

    TOM: Well, look, there’s a couple of things that you can do. One real easy thing to do is to try to dissuade them from landing on your chimney. You can – temporarily, by the way, on this is what I might suggest, just only temporarily – hang tin pie plates on the chimney. Because the silvery pie plates kind of drifting in the wind totally freak out woodpeckers.

    Another thing that you can do is you could take a Hefty bag and if you were to cut a Hefty bag – like a black Hefty bag? – and cut strips of plastic for the same thing – in other words, have them sort of flopping in the breeze around the top of the chimney, that also is very intimidating to woodpeckers and they will leave it alone.

    TERRY: Oh, OK.

    TOM: And if you do this maybe for a month or so, they might just forget about your house and go attack somebody else’s.

    TERRY: Fantastic. Alright. Thanks a lot.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Give us a call. We’re standing by at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, are you looking for an outdoor entertaining space? Well, we’ve got step-by-step advice for planning and designing the patio of your dreams, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    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: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the City Pickers Raised Garden Bed, plus a $25 Home Depot gift card.

    Now, this has got a cool name but what it really is is a self-watering, raised garden bed. It’s about 2-feet-square. It’s got casters built in and that makes it perfect for turning your porch or patio into your own personal garden. It’s safe for growing garden vegetables and we’re throwing in the $25 Home Depot gift card for materials and plants to get you started. You can get everything you need for your patio, your garden and for all things spring at The Home Depot.

    That package is worth 55 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. Make that you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Laura in Pennsylvania needs some help with a lighting question. What can we do for you?

    LAURA: Oh, well, my son gave me some compact fluorescent bulbs because he didn’t like them.

    TOM: OK.

    LAURA: And I had never used them before and I thought, “Well, I’ll put them in my little lights I use with timers.” Only they all blow out.

    TOM: There’s no reason you can’t use a compact fluorescent bulb in an outlet that has a timer. I mean a timer simply automatically turns the light switch on or off, so that shouldn’t have an effect on damaging the bulb.

    LAURA: Yes, that’s what I thought. And I have incandescent bulbs in them now and they work just fine.

    TOM: Well, maybe he gave you some bum compact fluorescents. I don’t know. But it’s kind of an odd thing for it to happen to. Compact fluorescents work really well in most fixtures that take incandescents. In fact, you can even have them work well in fixtures that are controlled by dimmers. 

    There are special dimmers today that are designed to work with compact fluorescents and with LEDs, where you can adjust the range of the dimming so that it doesn’t ever flicker or go out. So, compact fluorescent bulbs are a great option. I don’t know why they’re not working for you but the timer shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

    LAURA: OK. Well, maybe I’ll try them again or – I have two left. Or I’ll try and buy some. Maybe he has an off-brand or something like that. I don’t know. Because they should last a really long time, right?

    TOM: They should. And you know what I like better than compact fluorescents are the LED bulbs. Take a look at the Philips LED bulbs. These are – they’re very distinctive. They’re yellow. They look like bug lights but they have a very pleasant white light that comes off of them. And they’re going to be more expensive than compact fluorescents but they last forever and they’re super energy-efficient.

    LAURA: OK. I will be happy to. That’s a really good idea. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Tom, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    TOM (CALLER): Going to have new gutters put up on the house. And I’m thinking about putting gutter guards on. Now, the neighbor has gutter guards similar to the one that I’ve decided on. But he’s got about the same pitch roof as I have – a 4/12-pitch roof – and the gutters are the same. They slope. And he’s had real good luck with that. I’ve seen it for 20 years and there’s no problem at all with leaves and stuff collecting.

    Now, the salesman says you don’t need a slope. He said his kind are flat. And I just wonder if that’s true. Do you need a slope or not?

    TOM: So, the gutter cover that your neighbor has is sloped or tilted. And the one that the salesman is selling for your house is flat and not tilted. Is that correct?

    TOM (CALLER): That’s right. I’m going to get a 6-inch size so that the back side would be 2 inches higher than the front side.

    TOM: The only problem I’ve seen with gutter covers is when you have a really strong rainstorm and the rain runs down the roof very quickly. And then it hits the gutter cover and bounces off and just keeps going. I think that whether you have a slight pitch to that gutter cover or if it’s flat probably won’t make a big difference but I do think you need some pitch. I think if it’s totally flat, it can run backwards and towards the house, maybe perhaps even get into the fascia. So I think you definitely need some pitch. I wouldn’t draw a big distinction in making sure you have to have a lot of pitch.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it’s hard to enjoy an outdoor living space if you have no patio at all or if you need to expand the one that you do have. But before those dollar signs start flashing before your eyes and giving you an extreme headache, I want you to know that building a patio is not incredibly difficult if you’re a seasoned do-it-yourselfer.

    TOM: A patio, in its simplest form, is really just a concrete slab. But of course, you’ve got to plan before you pour, so lay out the exact dimensions and location, taking the sun exposure into mind.

    Now, an easy way to see the shape of your potential patio is just to use rope to lay out the perimeter. Then you can step back and review the space and get a good feel for it. And you might even consider adding furniture inside that patio to make sure it fits well.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s really a good point, Tom. Because then you can really see how the furniture fits in the space and if it’s going to work for you.

    Now, another important design factor to consider, if you’re putting it right up next to your home, is the distance from the top of the finished patio surface to the doorway of the house. That should be no more than 8 inches.

    TOM: And also, the patio needs to slope away from the house at the rate of about 1/8-inch per foot. You don’t want to fudge these numbers or you’ll have drainage issues or potentially a dangerous, slippery patio come winter.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Sylvia in Texas on the line who’s got some bathroom things going on at her money pit. How can we help you?

    SYLVIA: Whenever I flush the toilet, I can hear the water running through my sink drain – you know, the bathroom sink drain?

    TOM: Right.

    SYLVIA: And so I didn’t know if that was normal or not. And then the other day, we had a real windstorm and I could hear the wind under my house, through my pipes, through that same sink. And I have a concrete slab, so I didn’t know – is that normal?

    TOM: Probably the wind blowing over the roof and you’re hearing it through the vent pipe. The plumbing system is all connected, obviously. And the water drains down and the air kind of replaces it from the top – from the vent on top. And so when you flush the toilet, in some cases you can hear that water run down through the pipe and it be replaced by air. So that’s entirely possible.

    But if it’s behaving properly and you don’t have any odors and everything’s flowing right, I wouldn’t worry too much about that, Sylvia.

    SYLVIA: Oh, OK, OK. Thank you very much. I was just worried about it, because I was just like, “What’s going on with my plumbing, right?”

    TOM: And the other thing about plumbing is it’s – it really carries the sound. Anyone that’s ever had a second-floor bathroom and flushed it to the horror of everyone that’s sitting in the dining room enjoying dinner time knows exactly what I’m talking about.

    SYLVIA: Oh, thank God I don’t have a second floor.

    LESLIE: Rick in North Dakota is on the line with a driveway-repair question. How can we help you today?

    RICK: I have a concrete driveway that, over the years, it’s started getting little pits in it in some of the areas. It almost looks like it’s where rocks have popped out of the concrete from over time and there’s other areas that little – small, little scales or sheets of concrete have come loose. And I’m just wondering what type of a product I can use to repair those pits. I know I’ve seen, different times, where people have put regular concrete in there and it doesn’t tend to stay very well.

    TOM: So, what you want to do is use a concrete-patching product. And it’s not just regular concrete or regular cement, because that won’t stick. It usually is epoxy-based. And I know QUIKRETE has a product designed specifically for this and you can go to their website at QUIKRETE.com. That’s spelled Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com. The epoxy-based products will stick to the old, original concrete material and not fall out the first time the surface freezes.

    Now, I just want to also point out that being in North Dakota, I’m sure you get a lot of road salt on that driveway and that probably contributes to this. But if you’re doing any salting on your own, make sure you’re using potassium chloride, not calcium chloride. Because potassium chloride is much less corrosive to the concrete surface and will not cause that destruction that you’re witnessing now.

    Alright. Does that help you out?

    RICK: Yep. That does. Thank you very much for your assistance.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jeff in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a ventilation situation. What can we do for you today?

    JEFF: Yeah, I should vent a little bit, because I had to insulate that attic up there.

    TOM: OK.

    JEFF: Yeah. So, you know, it’s an old addition and when they built it, they covered the old gable up. And so, when I went up there to insulate this spring, I had to kind of cut a hole through the old gable end to get into the addition. And so my question is: do I need to – should I keep cutting away at that or do I – how do I properly vent that? I don’t want to cut the whole thing out because I suppose there’s some support there.

    TOM: OK. So they – basically, when you added the addition, they added it onto the gable end of the old roof. So when you go up in the attic, you kind of see the old roof structure and the old gable end where the vent used to be, correct?

    JEFF: Right. In fact – and I couldn’t get through there. I mean there was – the vent was too small for me to get through to get into the addition to insulate.

    TOM: Oh, so there wasn’t even any access in there to insulate. They didn’t insulate when they built the addition?

    JEFF: They did. They did insulate but how they actually got it in there, I don’t know. But I couldn’t get to it, I know that.

    TOM: The answer to your question is that you want to basically treat each space separately in terms of ventilation. And the best type of ventilation is – actually no longer do we consider gable vents to be the best type of ventilation. The best type of ventilation – a continuous ridge vent that goes down the peak of the roof, matched with soffit vents at the overhang. So this way, we take air in down low, we run it up under the roof sheathing and exit it at the ridge. And that cycle will repeat 24-7, 365.

    JEFF: Yeah. The only problem is there’s no soffits in this house.

    TOM: Alright. So if you did want to improve the ventilation, you could use a type of vent called a “drip-edge vent,” which would require a little bit of carpentry. You’d have to extend or actually re-shingle the bottom layer of shingles at the edge. But the drip-edge vent actually extends that roof line by about 2 inches and creates a continuous soffit.

    And if you go to AirVent.com – that’s the website for the CertainTeed air-vent companies – I know they’ve got a good diagram of one right there. So that’s the way to improve that.

    Now, if you can’t do that or you don’t want to do that, for all the obvious reasons, and maybe you’re not seeing that you have a big ventilation problem right now, then I guess what I would suggest to you is to put in the ridge vents, since that’s something that you can always do, and then couple that with as many other roof vents as you can.

    Jeff, thanks so much for calling 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, hot summer days are not far off. So, is your air-conditioning up to the task of those warm days just ahead? Well, we’re going to tell you how you can do your own air-conditioning checkup, next.

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    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.

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    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Johanna from Michigan who wants to get out and enjoy the deck. How can we help you with that project?

    JOHANNA: Hey. We’re getting ready to put a deck on the back of our house. It’s going to be about 20×20. And we’re looking at the composite products and in doing some research, I have come across some hair-raising images of black mold, chipping, cracking, crumbling and so on. And I would just like to get your opinion on the composite decking and if it truly holds up the way it says it does or if there are things we need to look out for.

    TOM: I think it absolutely does hold up. Originally, the very first composite products that were out there had wood fiber in them, as well as the plastics. And the wood fiber would tend to grow sometimes algae and things like that and people didn’t like that.

    I think it’s a perception issue. If you think that there is zero maintenance – “I’m never going to have to do anything at all” – you’re not going to find any product like that. Because even though it’s composite, it’s going to get dirty, it may grow a bit of algae and need to be cleaned once in a while. But realistically, I think it’s going to stand up a lot better than pressure-treated.

    Just give you an example. My son recently completed his Eagle Scout project about a year ago. And his project was to build a 30-foot bridge across a stream. And we chose, for that project, composite decking. This is going to be in a park, it’s going to get lots and lots and lots of foot traffic. That’s been up now for a year and it still looks as good as the day we put it down.

    So, I think composite is a good choice. Stick with a name brand; stick with Trex, for example. Good product, good history. And I think it’s going to cut down on the maintenance overall and it’s going to look terrific at the same time. And you won’t have to paint it and stain it and all that.

    Now, you realize that you do – the framing of this is all done through standard pressure-treated, right?

    JOHANNA: Right, right. And we will have benches and stuff built in and we’re going to use, I think, cedar for that.

    TOM: OK. Well, I mean you can use composite for the built-in benches, too. Anything that’s going to be exposed like that, there’s no reason not to use the composite.

    JOHANNA: And it’s a very sunny area, so …

    TOM: Yeah, if you have a lot of sun, you really won’t have a lot of problems with mildew and algae growth, because the sun is a very natural mildicide. It’s usually the real shady decks that have the issues.

    JOHANNA: Yeah. The images I saw were from ’07, ’08. So it made me think, too, maybe there was a bad run at that time?

    TOM: And you know what? Composite has changed in the last five years, too.

    JOHANNA: OK. Well, good. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Alright, Johanna. Good luck with that project and let us know when the party is, OK?

    JOHANNA: Hey, it’s next Friday.

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

    JOHANNA: Thanks.

    LESLIE: Alright. Gene in Tennessee is up with a roofing problem. Tell us what’s going on.

    GENE: About 12 years ago, I built me a screened-in porch on my house. I’ve got a ranch-type house.

    TOM: OK.

    GENE: And I used the metal clips – the little hangers – to hang my rafters. And I went in beside of my rafters coming off my existing house and it only gives me a 1-inch drop per foot. And I had a little trouble with it leaking and so I had the regular asphalt shingles put on and it leaks.

    So, when I had my new roof put on about two years ago, I – seven years ago, I roofed the house and they recommended I put a rubber roof on a 10×30 addition to my house so the water would run off regular. And here, recently, about two years ago, I had one of the new shingles put on my roof. And I noticed that while I was up there, that the rubber seems to be kindly breaking down a little.

    TOM: OK. So, a couple of things. First of all, you have a low-slope roof. You originally had asphalt shingles on that, which was a mistake because asphalt shingles, you really need at least like a 3:12 pitch to put those on. If you’ve got a 1:12 pitch, that’s not enough.

    So now you replaced that with a rubber roof, which was the right thing to do. But now you’re seeing the rubber roof start to crack. So your question is: “How do I stop that? How do I protect it? How do I preserve it?” Correct?

    GENE: Yeah, well, I want to add a few more. It was guaranteed 10 years but it’s about 7 years old now and I want to make it last a little longer, yeah. Some kind of coating?

    TOM: So what you want is simply roof paint. Now, roof paint is a very specialized type of paint. It’s usually aluminum in color and sometimes they call it “fibrous aluminum.” And what it does, it has a high degree of UV reflectivity, so it reflects the UV from the sun back out again. And that keeps the roof cooler and makes it last longer.

    So, I would definitely give it a coat of roof paint. And if you go to a home center or a roofing-supply center and look for roof paint, you shouldn’t have any problem finding it. It’s very, very specialized. And we’re not talking about the kind of paint you put on your walls; it’s a roofing product. OK?

    GENE: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, do you love the cottage-style look but you don’t know how to get it done? Well, we’re going to tell you how you can do just that with paint, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Pick up the phone, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help you with whatever it is you are working on at your money pit. Plus, we’re giving away, this hour, the City Pickers Patio Raised Garden Bed, plus a $25 Home Depot gift card.

    Now, what this is is a self-watering, raised garden bed. It’s a 2-foot-square container, basically, with casters built into it. So it’s really fantastic for turning your porch or your patio into a personal garden. You can do a vegetable garden. You can make it beautiful, colorful pieces for the summertime. It’s a really great thing to have around your patio. Plus, we’re throwing in a $25 Home Depot gift card so you can get started and get it beautiful right off the bat.

    Get everything you need for your patio, garden and for all things spring at The Home Depot. It’s a prize pack worth $55 going out to one lucky caller drawn at random this hour.

    TOM: So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Sue from New York who’s dealing with some moldy caulking. Tell us what’s going on.

    SUE: I have a bathroom that has mold all over the caulking.

    TOM: OK.

    SUE: I’ve tried bleach and water but I was wondering if there’s something else I can do to get rid of the mold on the caulking.

    TOM: Well, sometimes the mold really takes hold, literally, in the caulk and it grows into it and it discolors the caulk. So if you’ve cleaned it in those traditional ways, probably not going to come out. So I would recommend that you recaulk the bathroom tub. And let me tell you how to do that successfully.

    First of all, you can purchase a product that’s called a “caulk softener.” It’s kind of like a paint softener or a paint stripper but it softens the caulk and makes it easy to get all of the old stuff out of the tub and the joint between the tub and the tile wall and so on. Then once you’ve got it all out of there and all cleaned up and dried out – and I like to wipe the wall with a bleach-and-water solution in between, just to make sure we’re killing any mold spores that are left behind.

    The next thing that you’re going to do, Sue, is fill the tub with water. And you’re doing that because you’re going to kind of weight it down. And then once it’s filled, you can go ahead and recaulk that seam.

    Now, the caulk that you use, make sure you use one that has a mildicide in it. So if you use a kitchen-and-bath caulk, it probably is going to have a mildicide. I know that the DAP products have an additive called Microban; I’m sure there’s others, as well. And then once that caulk dries, then you let the water out of the tub, because then it comes back up and compresses the caulk. And when you step in to take a shower, it doesn’t cause as much stress to that caulk seam between the tub and the wall and it stays in place.

    So, again, if you’ve already cleaned it, it’s probably a foregone conclusion that you’re not going to be able to get that mold out of the old caulk. I would just replace it. It’s not a hard job and it’ll look really nice when you’re done, OK?

    SUE: Very good. Thank you very much. I really appreciate all your help.

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

    LESLIE: Well, to you, summer may mean kicking back and enjoying yourself but if you expect your air conditioner to play along with that fantasy, you’d better make sure it’s up to the task. Both heating and cooling systems need annual maintenance to keep on running efficiently. And now is the time to get it ready.

    TOM: So, to do that, you need to clean your filters. A dirty filter slows down airflow and it wastes energy by making your system work a whole lot harder.

    LESLIE: You also want to think about adding a programmable thermostat and then setting it to match your away-from-home schedule. If you do that, you can save around $180 a year.

    TOM: And did you know that up to 20 percent of cool air will escape from poorly sealed and uninsulated ductwork? You want to use duct sealant or a metal-backed tape – never duct tape as it doesn’t have the required staying power – and then seal all the seams and all the connections.

    LESLIE: Yeah. For more step-by-step instructions, go to MoneyPit.com and search “air-conditioner maintenance.”

    TOM: Lots of advice right there, online, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now up, we’ve got Paul calling in from Tennessee who’s got an issue with a water pump. Tell us what’s going on.

    PAUL: I’m getting some air in this well water. The well is six-and-a-half years old, as is the house. And it goes down 350 feet and the casing goes down 105 feet where they grouted it. When they first put it in, I was bothered by the amount of turbidity I had in it and I was changing the whole-house filter about once a week.

    And I went back to the drilling company and they said, “Well, it would take about three months to quit that.” Well, it was 36 months. And then after about four years, I started getting some water hammer in the cold water, particularly in the basement although upstairs, it’ll do it, too.

    But then I’m getting air out of the faucets upstairs and it’s collecting air from somewhere and I can’t figure out where. And as far as I know, the well tank, with the bladder in it – the 40 pounds of air pressure hold the bladder. That seems to be OK, Tom.

    TOM: OK. Yeah, that was the first thing I was going to think: that if you had a leak in that bladder tank, that that would cause that. Other possible causes are bad siphons but I’m not quite sure how you could test that without having all the gear that you would need.

    Have you had the well company come back and take another look at this, specifically for the air-bubble problem?

    PAUL: No. Because it’s been quite a while and they – the guy they used to have there at the company, in the daytime, didn’t seem to know much about it. In fact, when he told me 3 months it was going to clear up and it was 36 months, I thought, “Maybe I’m talking to the wrong guy.” But I haven’t gotten a hold of him.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, he told you 3 months because his warranty was 90 days, right?

    PAUL: Yeah.

    TOM: Paul, obviously, we’re getting air into that system and if it’s not coming through the bladder tank, I’m not quite sure where it’s coming in. And I think you’re going to have to get a well expert there – a real expert – that understands these things and try to see if there’s any way they can determine exactly how that air is getting in.

    Do you have another well company that you might try?

    PAUL: Yeah, there’s several of them here because this area is very rural. We’re right at the edge of the Smokies.

    TOM: I would try another well company, because you didn’t have good luck with the first one, and see if you can get to the bottom of it. But I agree with you: if it’s not the tank, it more than likely is the pump.

    PAUL: OK. Well, very good. And thank you. I will try someone here local, then, and see if they can build (ph) it out.

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

    LESLIE: Coming up, selling a house can be a tricky process to maneuver. But one super-important step for the seller is the disclosure. Find out why being upfront always pays off, after this.

    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 for the answer to your home improvement question. Or you can post it right on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And we’ve got a post here from S. Stadler who writes: “Our house is on the market. Last week, a home inspection took place. Later, the buyer backed out but before we received a copy of the inspection report. Our realtor says that if we request a copy of the inspection report now, we are then obligated to share it with other buyers. Is that correct? Or if we get the report, can we then retain it for our own information and use only? Thank you.”

    TOM: Those are great questions but they’re really legal questions and we’re not attorneys. But now that that’s out of the way, I will say that in my 20 years’ experience as a home inspector, it’s always been my understanding that the home inspection report is the property of the client that paid for it which, in your case, is in fact the home buyer.

    Now, most real estate contracts are going to require, however, that if the buyer wants anything fixed or chooses to back out as a result of that report, then it has to be handed over to the seller.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s interesting because I didn’t think that if – even if the person backed out, I didn’t think they had to share. I thought that the inspection always belonged to the person who requested it.

    TOM: It does. But I think if you’re going to use that to back out, you’ve got to prove that that was, in fact, the reason that you did that, by handing over the report.

    Now, as for your knowledge of the report, the bigger issue is your knowledge of any defects. If you know something is broken or damaged and don’t disclose it, that is fraud. In which case, not selling your house will be the least of your worries. So I’d recommend that you get the report, review it and take action to fix anything that needs repair. Then you can hire your own home inspector to make sure everything has been addressed.

    You know, different inspectors can find different issues based on a wide range of reasons. But if you find a good one, you will be best prepared to handle any future inspections that come along. The way to find that inspector is to go to the American Society of Home Inspectors’ website. That’s at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org – and find an inspector there. They’re listed by zip code. They’re all certified. And this way, you’ll find a really good guy.

    And remember, when you hire an inspector – and this doesn’t apply to the ASHI inspectors. But if you don’t use an ASHI inspector, you’ve got to be careful that you’re not getting one that does repairs. You want complete independence from any repair work. Only inspection is what you want them to do.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And when you are finding an inspector, you want to make sure that you get one from a straightforward source, not somebody that’s being referred from somewhere else that might have an ulterior motive. And if you go with an ASHI home inspector, you know you’re going to have somebody who does just that.

    TOM: Well, if you like a beachy-cottage feel, Leslie has a great way to transform any room into a summer cottage with a can of paint, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You can give any room a cottage-style look just by putting a paintbrush to the wall. Now, you want to create a faux-plank look with the paint. And you can do that with just about any color for this project.

    Now, if you’re going for a beachy-cottage look, you want to try to work with ocean-toned hues. Or if it’s a more woodland or country cottage, you can go with greens or lighter earth tones. You can kind of think of it as a log cabin or a clapboard look.

    So what you want to do is space horizontal stripes about 6 to 10 inches apart. And use your room scale as your guide as to sort of where to place them. You also want to make sure that things kind of space out evenly along your walls. So you might want to measure the width of your wall and do some math to get the best plank width that will work effectively in the space.

    Now, the most important tool for getting this project right is a roll of good-quality painter’s tape and a level. So you want to mark off your paint lines first and be diligent in your prep work to ensure a beautiful, finished project. And then you can go ahead and finish the look with country or beach-themed accessories and you’ve got cottage style in no time flat.

    TOM: Great advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, stone walls are synonymous with strength and permanence. But a poorly built wall can crumble in no time at all. We’ll have tips for building a stone wall that’s solid enough to stand up to the future, from This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    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.


    (Copyright 2016 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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