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Repair, Refinish or Replace a Hardwood Floor, How to Organize Your Closet, How to Hang a Flat Screen TV and more

  • Transcript

    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: Here to help you in the new year with your home improvement project. So help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Now, if it’s a project you plan to do yourself, we can help. And if it’s a project that you plan to hire out, well, we can help you with that, too. Just give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. Maybe it’s a décor dilemma that you’re challenged by, you can’t pick the perfect paint color. Whatever is on your to-do list, let’s move it over to ours at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour on the program, if you wanted to buy a new TV and you’re looking for a good excuse, well, it’s Super Bowl season. Now, that works for the guys but I guess it’s sort of Academy Awards season, as well, that works for the girls.

    LESLIE: That’s a good twist, Tom.

    TOM: Right. But before you can gather around a new set, you need to make sure that you’re going to secure it to the wall properly. We’ve got some great tips for choosing the right mounting bracket. Because nothing puts the brakes on a game like a TV crashing down off that wall.

    LESLIE: That is true.

    Alright, guys. Also ahead, if your home has damaged hardwood flooring, should you repair it or should you refinish it or just replace the whole darn thing? We’re going to give you some advice on how you make that decision, in just a few minutes.

    TOM: And are your closets stuffed to the brim? It’s time to take on a chore that most homeowners put off as long as they can: closet organization. We’re going to give you some step-by-step simple tips that can help make this job a little less overwhelming.

    LESLIE: Geez, Tom, quit spying on my house just because my closet doors are bursting at the seams.

    Alright, guys. This hour, we’ve got a great prize up for grabs. We’re giving away a LIQUID NAILS prize pack worth $50 so that you can glue your closet doors shut so that nothing bursts out of it. No. But seriously, guys, LIQUID NAILS, it’s a great prize pack. It’s worth $50. And one winner is going to get a case of Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive.

    TOM: So give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Todd in Louisiana wants to work on a wood-flooring project. How can we help you today?

    TODD: Yes. I was listening to your station the other day and somebody had called in and stated that they had put in some wood flooring. And they had put it in, at the time – well, let’s put it this way: they had a contractor put it in and it was done during a time of the year where the gentleman had left a little gap or swelling. And then when the other season came on by, instead of swelling, it contracted, so the gaps that he left were even larger. So I’m trying to see, at what point in time of the year is the wood going to be already contracted, so I know how to adjust for this?

    TOM: Well, in Louisiana, you don’t have the temperature swing that we might have to deal with, for example, in the North, which is a bigger issue.

    TODD: OK.

    TOM: So you’re – I don’t think it’s going to make a difference in your particular part of the country. But generally speaking, wood is going to shrink in the winter and swell in the summer.

    TODD: OK.

    TOM: High humidity is going to cause everything in your house to swell. And that’s where doors start to stick and that sort of thing.

    TODD: OK.

    TOM: But the rule of thumb here is that if you’re going to put in hardwood floors, you want to put that material in the house and let it acclimate there for a few days, you know, before you actually start the installation.

    TODD: OK.

    TOM: You don’t want to take it from one climate, bring it into the indoor climate and start banging it in right away. You do want to let it acclimate a little bit, for a little bit of time.

    TODD: OK.

    TOM: So I don’t think it’s as much of a concern for you in Louisiana, for those reasons.

    TODD: OK. Hey, I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Shironnie (sp) in Colorado is on the line and has a question about mold. What can we do for you today?

    SHIRONNIE (sp): The pipes have broken inside the walls and we fixed the pipes and everything. Now we’ve got this problem with mildew and the mold, so we have – we want to know what’s the best way to treat it.

    TOM: Yeah. First of all, when that happened, did you file a claim with your homeowners insurance company?

    SHIRONNIE (sp): No, we just got the house. We got it as is, so we’re fixing it before we move in.

    TOM: Oh, oh. OK. Got it, got it, got it. OK. Well, is it a lot of mold or is it a little bit of mold?

    SHIRONNIE (sp): A lot. We’re ripping out drywall and as we rip it out, we’re finding more.

    TOM: Oh, boy. Yeah. Yeah, this is generally not a do-it-yourself project because when you have a lot of mold, you can contaminate parts of the house with this. I really think this is the kind of thing that you want to stop and get some professional help with, Shironnie (sp). Because if you release all those mold spores into the air, you potentially could be causing a bigger problem.

    Generally, when you have that much mold – you say a lot of mold – you have to be careful about how you take that apart. What you generally do is you depressurize the house, you put fans in the house so that it pulls the air out as you’re breaking out that – the drywall and so on and flushes all of those mold spores to the outside. And then all of the framing gets sprayed down so that you kill anything that’s left behind. You get it good and dry and then you reinsulate and re-drywall.

    But it’s a pretty big job and when you have a lot of mold like that, you can be exposing yourself to that mold and that could make you sick. So I would say to proceed very cautiously when you’re trying to rebuild a house that’s got heavy mold damage. It’s not an easy problem to resolve.

    SHIRONNIE (sp): Oh, OK.

    TOM: So good luck with that project. 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. We are here to give you a hand with all of your January home improvement resolutions. What are you working on? We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still to come, are you thinking about buying a new TV for the new year? Well, you’d better make sure you know how to hang it. We’ll have tips on choosing the right mounting bracket, 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.

    TOM: Standing by for your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project. We’ll give you the answer to your question and a chance to win a great prize. Giving away this hour a case of LIQUID NAILS Extreme Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive.

    LESLIE: Yeah. LIQUID NAILS performs in extreme conditions, so you can actually use it in temperatures from 22 degrees up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. So no matter where you live in this country, no matter what kind of odd weather situation you’ve got going on for this time of year, you will get bonding from LIQUID NAILS.

    And the prize pack includes a case of adhesive, a t-shirt, a cooler and a level.

    TOM: It’s worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller to 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Check it out, now, at LIQUIDNAILS.com. And give us a call with your home improvement question at 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joe in Michigan who’s dealing with a gutter issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOE: Hey, this roof, I need some help with. I bought the house about eight years ago. And it’s got a good roof on it but it appears that they tried to save some money and have somebody do it. And what the problem is is the shingles don’t come out far enough from the top of the roof to get into the gutters. And there’s a metal strip that goes along, right at the bottom edge of the roof.

    And from what I see, it almost looks as though it’s turned around backwards as though if it were put in properly, it would extend out further to help get the water towards the gutters or into the gutters?

    TOM: Hmm. OK.

    JOE: So what – the mess I’ve got now is I’ve got all this water that’s hitting some spots in the gutter properly and others not. And I’ve tried to push the gutters and tap the gutters back up as far against the fascia as I can and I’m still getting water through there and it’s frustrating.

    TOM: Well, the metal strip is throwing me a little bit. Now, typically, at the edge of the fascia, you’d have something called a “drip edge,” which is sort of like a right-angle piece of trim that goes over the front of the fascia and up under the roof. And it’s at a 90-degree angle. Is that kind of what you’re seeing or not?

    JOE: I had them install some aluminum over the fascia board but I don’t think that’s what you’re talking about. It is a channel of sorts but it’s right on the top lip of the roof, if I’m explaining this right. You know where they first start putting the shingles on and then they start moving up forward? It’s like right at that edge, there’s a – there’s metal.

    TOM: Are the shingles resting on top of the metal?

    JOE: Yes.

    TOM: Regardless, the solution here is the same. What you need to do is to extend those roof shingles into the gutter. So, because there’s not a magic potion that will do that, the way to fix this is to get a flat bar – and that’s a very thin pry bar. And you’re lifting up the edges of those shingles at the bottom of the roof edge. And you’re going to slip underneath some flashing. And the flashing that you would use is probably just aluminum-roll flashing, maybe 6-inch or 8-inch-wide flashing. And the easiest way to do this is in small pieces, because it becomes too hard to handle when you have a long piece.

    And you run the flashing up under the roof shingles and you make sure it extends past the roof shingles and lays into the top of the gutters. So, essentially, what you’re doing is creating a bridge to make up the distance between where the shingle ended and where it really should have ended, which is at the edge of the gutter. And this way, when the water comes down the roof, it will drop from the shingle to the flashing to the gutter. Does that make sense?

    JOE: Absolutely. And that sounds like something I can do, so I appreciate you and we’ll give that a shot.

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

    LESLIE: Sandra in North Carolina is on the line. How can we help you today?

    SANDRA: We’re trying to decide which quality of filter to use for our furnace filter ­- switch out? Should we use the ones that are cheaper, like the 4-for-$2 or should we use the HEPA-filter quality ones that are like $20 for your furnace filters, when you change them out?

    LESLIE: Well, with filters, you’re definitely getting what you pay for. And it really depends on what the situations are with everybody in your house.

    Now, the less expensive a filter, the thinner that membrane is going to be and of course, the wider that webbing is, if you will, so it’s really not going to stop very much. You know, Tom and I always joke that they’re called “pebble stoppers,” because that’s really the only thing that’s not getting through there.

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: So it really depends. The less money you spend, the less things that are getting trapped. If you’ve got somebody with allergens in the house, you want to spend a little bit more money because you’re definitely going to get what you pay for.

    SANDRA: OK. So I need to go to a quality filter because I have a lot of allergies. And the people that built the house say to go with a cheaper filter so you can let air circulate.

    TOM: Yeah, well, look, a good-quality filter does not block the air, whether it’s one that’s designed for better filtration or one that’s designed for lesser filtration. None of these things block the air. So if you have allergy issues, you have asthma issues, you definitely want to use a good-quality filter.

    And if you want the ultimate in filtration, what you might want to think about doing, at some point, is installing an electronic air cleaner. This is a device that’s built into the HVAC system, right near the furnace, generally. And these are incredibly efficient at taking out 95-percent-plus of the contaminants that are in the air. I mean these electronic air cleaners today can take out microscopic-size particles.

    SANDRA: OK. Well, I really appreciate your information. You’ve been very helpful.

    TOM: Well, this is a big time of year for TV-watching. It’s award season and the Super Bowl is not far off, either. So it’s a great time to pick up a new flat-screen TV. And if you’re going to do that, you want to make sure that you secure that TV properly to your wall.

    LESLIE: Yeah. The first thing you need to know is that most flat-screen TVs come with a base rather than a wall-mounting unit. So you’re going to have to purchase that wall bracket separately.

    So to find one that fits, you want to check your owner’s manual for the phrase “VESA compatible.” Now, VESA is the Video Electronics Standards Association and it sets the standards for flat-screen TV mounting brackets.

    TOM: That’s right. And the VESA number – that’s V-E-S-A number – will be in the manual or it could be on the TV itself. And the number makes shopping for the flat-screen TV mounting bracket really easy, because all you need to do is purchase a bracket with the VESA number that matches your TV.

    Next, you want to check the bracket’s weight limit to make sure the bracket is going to safely support the weight of that flat-screen television.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the last thing is you need to decide what type of mount you’re going to want. So, you can get a flat one, you can get one that tilts, you can even get one that articulates.

    So it’s really up to how you want to view it and where your TV is being placed. Because the flat-wall mounts are most common and they simply hang the TV flat against the wall, just like a picture. Now, a tilting mount will allow your TV to tilt up or down. And an articulating, flat-screen TV mount, they’re no-holds barred. You can really move that TV pretty much any direction you like, so no matter where you are in the room you’ll be able to see it.

    TOM: And last, make sure you keep your TV at a comfortable height for viewing when you’re sitting down. And make sure there’s also plenty of outlets nearby because, remember, you’re going to have to plug in cable boxes and DVRs and so on. So you want to make sure you’ve got the outlets to support that.

    And here’s one final tip: when you get around to attaching that bracket to your TV, don’t use a powered screwdriver. Why? Because you might just strip those screws and that could ruin not just the bracket but your TV, as well. Always attach those brackets with a manual screwdriver.

    If you’d like more tips on how and where to hang your new flat-screen TV, check out “How to Hang a Flat-Screen” at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Roy in Illinois is on the line and there seems to be a crack in the front of the garage.

    What is going on? Are you getting water in the garage? Is it on the door? What’s going on here?

    ROY: When the house was built about 21 years ago, they brought in a cement saw and they cut marks in it to control the cracking.

    TOM: OK.

    ROY: Well, the first cut is 4 feet from the garage door. Well, now, that part next to the garage has settled down so when it rains, the water runs towards the garage, which is making it worse.

    TOM: Ah, OK.

    ROY: And I saw a commercial on TV for this mudjacking outfit and they say for a little more than half of what it costs to replace the cement, they could jack it back up in place. But you will see the marks where they drill the holes to put the cement in. And will it last? Should we do the whole driveway over or is there some way we can do something to make it look good and last? It’s a beautiful place. We have no problems with anything except you drive in the driveway and you see that.

    TOM: Yeah. So when you get close to the driveway, that last slab, so to speak, tilts in towards the garage and it’s running water up against the house? Is that correct?

    ROY: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s going to – could affect the foundation that’s holding the garage up because you throw a lot of water under it, it becomes less stable and you get a lot more movement. So I do think it’s an important thing to fix.

    Mudjacking will work and it can replace that area as long as they can lift that slab nice and even so it doesn’t crack and become worse. I would just try to get their guarantee that they’re not going to crack the slab in the process. But if they can get the mud underneath it – they’re basically filling in the low spots, bringing that slab up and then it’s not going to collapse anymore, because the concrete they put under it – the mud, so to speak – takes up that void.

    So, I wouldn’t be afraid of doing that. And if it turns out that that’s less expensive than breaking that one piece out and just pouring that one piece new, then I think you can do that. If you decide to break that out, I don’t think you have to do the whole driveway; you can just do that one piece.

    And make sure the soil below is properly tamped. You’re going to have to replace that with fill dirt and stone and get it tamped down. Tamping is really key so it’s really solid. What’s happened is water has gotten over there over the years, it’s softened the soil and that’s what’s caused that slab to sort of rotate with the car going back and forth.

    So I think either option is OK. It becomes an economic choice. My only concern is that you commit to spending money on mudjacking and end up breaking the slab and then you’re kind of almost back to the beginning.

    ROY: OK. Sounds great. Sounds like you’ve got the answers.

    TOM: Yeah, well, we try. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    JAMES: Bought a house about a year ago and I don’t know how old the water heater is because it was a foreclosure. And I had gone downstairs and took the cover off and turned up a little bit to try to get a little more hot water out of it temperature-wise. And I noticed on the inside that it seems wet, like the fiberglass insulation on the tank? So, I was wondering if that means the tank is going bad or do I need to start saving money to buy a new water heater?

    TOM: The water heater is in your basement?

    JAMES: Yeah, it’s in my basement. Correct.

    TOM: Sometimes you get a little condensation inside of that. Does your water stay hot or do you – does it seem to run out quickly?

    JAMES: No, it stays hot for a while. It’s just not as hot as I’d like it, so I just went down to dial it up a little and I saw it was wet inside. And I don’t see anything leaking from the bottom.

    TOM: OK. Well, generally, when water heaters leak, everybody knows it, OK? It’s not subtle.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    JAMES: Yeah, OK. Good.

    TOM: Alright? So I doubt it’s leaking badly right now. You may have a bit of condensation in there. However, what you want to keep in mind with electric water heaters is, first of all, they’re very expensive to run and so it’s a good idea to have a timer on them. Secondly, with an electric water heater, there’s two coils, not just one. So, on the outside of your water heater, you should see two panels: one up high and one down low. And each one of those has its own thermostat. And so in order to adjust the temperature, you have to open both of them up and with a screwdriver – an insulated screwdriver – you turn it very carefully until it’s about 110 degrees on both of them.

    JAMES: OK.

    TOM: And with a 40- or 50-gallon water heater – how many bedrooms – I mean how many bathrooms do you have in the house?

    JAMES: Two.

    TOM: So, a 40-gallon would be smallish, maybe adequate; 50-gallon would definitely be good.

    JAMES: That’s what it is.

    TOM: If you’re wondering the age of it, on the label on the water heater, there’s generally a date that’s either written plainly on that or it’s coded into the serial number. So, if you look at the serial number, you look at the date, you may see a date on there and you can figure out how old this is.

    JAMES: Oh, OK. Great. Thanks so much (inaudible at 0:19:10).

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, when it comes to a damaged hardwood floor, should you repair or replace? Well, that’s the question we’ll help you answer, after this.

    JOHN: Hi, this is John Ratzenberger. Played the bar know-it-all on Cheers. And here’s something I really do know about: you’re listening to the best home improvement radio show made in America, the Money Pit with Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety and convenience, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    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: Well, we are just back from the International Builders’ Show, which is the nation’s largest residential housing-construction trade event. It’s geared towards manufacturers and suppliers of home construction products and services. And we go there because it’s a free trip. No, actually, we go there because it’s a great place to check out the newest innovations in home construction.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You can follow us for our latest finds on our free trip. Seriously, though, if you want to see what’s going on at the International Builders’ Show, check out our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit or our Twitter feed, @MoneyPit.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, we go to these trade-show events and we tell our spouses how hard we work. And we have to leave out the details of all the fun we have along the way, like the chance I had to see the Elton John concert in Las Vegas while I was away.

    LESLIE: Man, Tom.

    TOM: It was work, though. It was work. It was put on by a very generous sponsor.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You were working up a sweat waving your hands over your head, having a good time at the show.

    TOM: I was, I was. Rocking round the clock was killing me.

    LESLIE: Alright, Crocodile Rock.

    Now we’re talking to Pauline in New Jersey who needs some help with a countertop. How can we help you today?

    PAULINE: I have a lot of counters in both bathrooms and the kitchen. And from the – I have backsplashes, as well. And where the backsplash and the counter meet, it’s coming up white and it looks like dry paste. And also, what’s happened over the last few years – at first, I took a little bit off here with my nail but now it’s getting really bad. And it’s – there were splash marks, as though when they put the counter in, they didn’t clean off the – so whatever they used. And it looks like you splashed something on that dried up.

    And I don’t want to use anything that isn’t right for the granite and ruin it. So I was wondering if you had a suggestion that might be easy for me to use and get rid of this stuff.

    TOM: How long have you had these countertops? When were they first installed?

    PAULINE: Seven years ago.

    TOM: And they’ve never been sealed since?

    PAULINE: No, no.

    TOM: Well, granite tops do take quite a bit of maintenance. People think that they’re fairly maintenance-free because they’re somewhat indestructive (ph). But they really do need a lot of care and they need to be resealed from time to time.

    And it sounds to me like the white stuff that you’re describing is most likely mineral salt. And what happens is the countertops, when they lose their seal, they absorb more moisture. Then the moisture evaporates off and it leaves behind the mineral-salt deposits that’s in the water. And that forms that white sort of crust; it’s like a grayish-white crust.

    Now, what are you using to clean them on a daily basis?

    PAULINE: Generally, just water and a little – they told me to use the Windex.

    TOM: Yeah, you can make a homemade granite cleaner with rubbing alcohol – standard rubbing alcohol – mixed with maybe a half-a-dozen drops of dishwasher detergent.

    PAULINE: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, hardwood floors add value and visual appeal, so keeping them in shape is a top priority.

    TOM: And if you’re not sure whether to repair or replace a weathered hardwood floor, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva is here with tips on both.

    Welcome, Tom. Great to see you.

    TOM SILVA: Hi, guys. It’s always nice to be here.

    TOM: And hardwood floors are pretty darn durable. There’s probably few scenarios when you actually have to rip that out, correct?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, they have to be pretty bad to rip it out. A lot of people today, if they’re stained or a little beaten up, what they’re even doing is they’re refinishing because everybody wants the reclaimed wood.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: So now they’re just saying it’s a reclaimed floor. And it looks great.

    TOM: So beat-up is in.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, beat-up is in. But if – I mean lots of times, you don’t have to replace a whole floor; you can patch it in.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: I’ve done a lot of patches around old radiators where the floor just rots around it from the steam. The hardest part about the job was almost taking the radiator out and get the radiator back in, because it’s so heavy.

    TOM: Well, let’s talk about that for a minute. Because hardwood floors are tongue-and-groove. So how do you sort of excise that one piece of hardwood to get a new piece in?

    TOM SILVA: Well, you’ve got to start in the middle and work your way out.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: So what I like to do is I’ll either take a router and I go right down the middle or I take a SKILSAW and go down the middle, take the center piece out and work back in to the center and work your way out that way.

    And there is a wear layer. So above that tongue ­- or above that groove – you have so much material that you can take out before you’ve destroyed the integrity of that floor system. So you want to make sure that you don’t over-sand it. Because once you’ve destroyed it, then you’re going to have to replace it.

    TOM: Now, that’s a great point because I think folks that want to refinish floors automatically want to go to the belt-sanding, STAT.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, yeah.

    TOM: It’s fun. It’s a big machine.

    TOM SILVA: And it’s an animal.

    TOM: It is an animal; you have to use it very, very carefully. But you don’t always have to go there unless you’ve really got some serious damage in your hardwood. Can’t you just buff it out and lightly sand it?

    TOM SILVA: I love the buffer with a screening pad. And I tell people, “Keep your eye on your floors – your hardwood floors – especially in the wear areas.” Like where the kitchen sink is? Keep a little accent mat down there because, believe it or not, you wear that finish just by turning back and forth, going into the dishwasher back and forth. That wears it out.

    But keep your eye on the finish. If you start to see the finish wearing, get a buffer with a screening pad and screen the floor. Get that top layer off – that’ll really clean it down – and then put a couple of coats of poly on it. You’ll get a few more years out of it, no problem.

    TOM: Then when you apply that poly, best way to do that is not necessarily with a brush, correct?

    TOM SILVA: Oh, yeah. You do a brush, you’ll be – oh, you’ll be aching. I like to just dump it on the floor a little bit and I spread it around with a lambswool pad and it spreads out really fast.

    TOM: One thing I’ve learned about refinishing floors: never believe the drying time on the can.

    TOM SILVA: Oh. That’s for sure.

    TOM: It always takes longer.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. And the thing is is you’ve got to remember something about the finish on the hardwood floor: although it may feel dry, it’s still soft underneath, so you’ve got to be careful for a few days.

    TOM: Yeah, good point.

    Now, if a major sanding is required for deeper scratchers – we talked about the sanding machine. The floor sander is essentially a very, very big, heavy belt sander. Probably not a good idea to do that yourself because that’s a piece of equipment that takes a lot of skill, correct?

    TOM SILVA: All it takes is one second of you having the floor sander and your son or your daughter or your neighbor coming in and say, “Hey, Tom” – and you stop on that floor for a second, you’ve just gone down an 1/8-inch.

    TOM: Yep.

    TOM SILVA: And on a hardwood floor, you can’t afford to go down an 1/8-inch without ruining it.

    TOM: So that’s a job best left to a pro.

    TOM SILVA: Absolutely.

    TOM: Now, what about cleaning hardwood floors? People are reluctant to put any kind of moisture on there. What do you recommend for keeping your floor in good shape?

    TOM SILVA: I do like a mop that’s not soaked. You know, a damp mop over the floor, really quick, is not bad because it gets off that little grit that’s there. But I don’t recommend putting wax on polyurethane floors, because it will dull the finish.

    Years ago, when I was a kid, we had varnishes and we used to wax the varnished floors once a year and it really looked beautiful. But they can be slippery.

    TOM: Good advice.

    We’re talking to Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    And one more question. Let’s talk about a common side effect of hardwood floors: squeaking hardwood floors.

    TOM SILVA: Hmm. Yeah.

    TOM: Any easy ways to fix that, while we’re at it?

    TOM SILVA: Squeaky floors. They can squeak for a couple of reasons. They can squeak because the floorboards have shrunk a little bit and they’re moving independently. And they’re moving, actually, on the nail that is holding them down; they slide up and down. Or it could be the subfloor and the flooring itself that is attached to one another, pulling itself out of the joist, squeaking there, also.

    And they actually have a pretty good system that is a screw that the head snaps off, with a little attachment, that when you screw through the floor, it snaps the head of the screw off. So the screw sinks down about an 1/8-inch below it and then you can use a putty stick to fill in that void.

    TOM: Oh, that’s a cool idea. So, basically, you tighten up the loose board, snap off the head of the screw and touch it up with putty.

    TOM SILVA: Right. Yeah. And you’ve got to find the joist.

    TOM: Yep.

    TOM SILVA: So, finding the joist, you can try a stud finder or you can use a real long, 1/8-inch drill bit and drill a couple of holes between the joints of the board. And you won’t notice the holes. Once you find that joist, mark it and then measure 16 inches in both directions from that, across your room, and you’ll find your joists.

    TOM: Great tricks of the trade. Tom Silva from This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: My pleasure and always good to see you guys.

    LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.

    Still to come, if your closets are overflowing but you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning them, stay tuned because we’ve got great tips on closet organization that will help bring this task down to a more manageable level. It’s all coming up, next.

    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 is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller we talk to on the air today is going to win a LIQUID NAILS prize pack, including a case of LIQUID NAILS Brand Extreme Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive. And this formula performs in extreme temperatures and it’s GREENGUARD-certified as a low-emitting product.

    TOM: It’s a prize pack worth $50. The winner also gets a shirt, a level and a cooler.

    Visit LIQUIDNAILS.com to learn more and call us, right now, for your chance to win with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, closet organization ranks right up there with dental work as something to really look forward to. And it’s funny that we should talk about this because you know what I got for Christmas? I broke my tooth. So I will be getting a crown, in addition to having to organize my closet.

    TOM: You have to do both.

    LESLIE: So this is a very personal tip right now. Ugh. I feel the knife going in deeper.

    Well, guys, it may seem like an overwhelming task – and it is – but with the right steps, you can have a completely organized space.

    TOM: So, to get organized to organize yourself, you want to begin with an idea of how you want to use the space and what exactly you want to store inside of it. So, is it going to be a storage area, a place you keep your clothes or a spot to keep the formal or sort of off-season garments? And once you figure that out, take everything out of the closet and toss, donate or sell what you don’t want, need or use on a regular basis.

    You can follow the six-month rule: if you haven’t used it in six months, you probably don’t need it. So, think about that and purge away.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You definitely need to do that, guys. Because I always tend to be like, “Oh, I’m going to wear it,” and then I don’t wear it. So you really do have to purge that stuff.

    Now, once you’ve done that step, it’s time to organize your closet and select the components that you’ll need to hold your belongings. Now, what you choose and how much you spend will depend on your design priorities and the amount of closet space that you actually have to work with.

    Remember, though, that a great closet system can be a positive selling point when it comes time to move on.

    TOM: Now, there’s a wide variety of closet-organization products at home improvement stores. And organizing your closet can really be a fun DIY project that will give you incentive to keep your newly organized space nice and neat.

    888-666-3974. If that’s a project you’re tackling or anything else, give us a call right now. We are here to help.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joe in Illinois on the line with a plumbing question. How can we help you today?

    JOE: We just got through renovating the kitchen or – well, we’re almost through with renovating the kitchen. And the brass fitting inside the wall, when they put everything together, the galvanized nipple was cross-threaded into it.

    TOM: OK.

    JOE: And so when I went down – and I mean I cleaned out an unbelievable amount of corrosion. Had to use naval jelly to get all the rust out and finally got the threads cleaned up real good. And got the galvanized pipe and doped it up and went to screw it in and it would only go so far. When I backed it out, cleaned it back up again and took a look, it’s cross-threaded, because that brass is softer.

    TOM: Huh. Right.

    JOE: And what I wanted to find out, is there any kind of a thread repair tool that I can get? I’m fairly adept with construction stuff. My dad was a general contractor and he didn’t like giving kids money but he’d let you earn all you wanted to. So, as a consequence, I got a little bit of working knowledge.

    TOM: Well, look, if you were a plumber, you would probably have a tap that was big enough to clean that up, but that’s a pretty expensive piece of equipment. Now, you’re trying to connect a piece of galvanized to a piece of brass and you can’t thread them together, so the other option that comes to mind is a Fernco, which is like a rubber boot with two radiator clamps on either side. And a lot of times, when you’re using – when you’re trying to attach dissimilar drain pipes like that, you can use a Fernco. You get them together as best you can using a Fernco around the outside and strap them up and that keeps it nice and tight and it’s really easy to do.

    JOE: Is that a readily available – and how permanent is that?

    TOM: It’s very permanent. I would go not to a home center for that but I would go to a plumbing-supply center and explain the situation. And make sure you measure the pipes because they come different sizes based on what you’re trying to connect.

    JOE: I do appreciate the advice, sir.

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, are you looking forward to a cozy fire but you’re not quite sure if your fireplace is safe? Well, we’ve got advice to help make sure that you can enjoy the warm glow of a fire without the risk of it spreading outside of your fireplace, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    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: Well, now that the crowd has moved on from the holiday glee that was at your house, would you like to get that house both clean and green once again? Then try out Shaklee’s Get Clean Kit.

    You can find it at GreenMyMoneyPit.com. It’s chock full of everything you’ll need to get your house clean without exposing your family to harmful chemicals. Most importantly, the concentrated Shaklee products work really, really well. In fact, Shaklee backs up their products with a 100-percent empty-bottle guarantee, which I think is incredible. Because if for any reason you’re not completely satisfied, even if you’ve used every last drop of the product, they’ll give you your money back.

    Check it out at GreenMyMoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And if you try the Get Clean Kit today, we’re going to send you a copy of The Money Pit Guide to Green Remodeling absolutely free. So start shopping today at GreenMyMoneyPit.com.

    And of course, post your questions, just like Pamela in Tennessee did who writes: “I live in a house that has a fireplace insert. One of the panels is cracked. I figure it’s concrete. I tried to find the maker of the fireplace but no luck. I would love to burn a fire but I’m too afraid that I’ll burn the house down. Any suggestions on how to fix the cracked panel without going broke?”

    TOM: Well, cracks in these prefabricated fireplace panels are not unusual. And as long as it’s just a hairline crack that may have occurred from expansion and contraction, I wouldn’t be too overly concerned about it. I think those are fairly normal.

    If you want to make sure your bases are covered, though, you should have the fireplace inspected by a licensed and certified chimney sweep. But you want to choose a chimney sweep very, very carefully, because many of the chimney sweeps that are out there are not qualified. And they exist solely to find extensive repairs that are not necessary.

    So if they try to tell you that you need a very expensive repair, always get a second opinion before you actually go ahead and contract to have that work done.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post from Jose who writes: “A geothermal heating system is being offered by the builder of a new home I’m thinking of buying. How do geothermal heating systems work and are they really efficient?”

    TOM: You know, geothermal heating systems can be a very efficient and very effective way to heat your home because they use the natural warmth of the Earth for power and comfort. The constant temperature of the top 10 feet of the Earth’s surface is really a perfect zone for the refrigerant-filled piping that powers a geothermal heat pump.

    LESLIE: And Tom, it doesn’t matter where you are in the country, right? There’s some sort of geothermal solution for every area, right?

    TOM: That is absolutely correct. There is a geothermal solution no matter where you live.

    And it’s similar in technology to an air-source heat pump, the kind that sits above ground, looks kind of like an air conditioner? But a geothermal heat pump can both heat and cool a home and it can also even provide hot water. And it does it all very cleanly, very quietly and actually more efficiently.

    If you choose an ENERGY STAR-qualified model, you’ll be using about 30 percent less energy that you would if you used an air-source pump. You’d also potentially qualify for attractive tax credits, so I would definitely consider geothermal for that new home.

    LESLIE: Now, Tom, it’s interesting because there are so many benefits to geothermal heating. If you have an existing home – not like this situation – can you still do it?

    TOM: Well, you certainly can but it does require some specialized installation and planning because the coil has to be installed below grade. So there could be disturbance of your lot. And if you have a tight lot, a small lot, it becomes more complicated. If you have a flat driveway surface, concrete surfaces, a pool, you have to work around all of that. So, it may or may not be as cost-effective given the installation charge. But I would definitely look into it.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good to know.

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online, always at MoneyPit.com. We are standing by for your questions, even when we’re not doing the program. You can call us, 24-7. Our screeners will take your question and we’ll call you back the next time we get on the air.

    That’s all we have for today. 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 2015 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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