Save Money on Water, Kitchen Cabinet 101 and Score Big on Tailgating
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. Need some help solving those do-it-yourself dilemmas? Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Well, the holiday season is upon us. Lots and lots of visitors showing up on your house. Do you dread the thought of looking at your water bill after they leave? Well, there are many easy and inexpensive fixes that will help keep a few extra bucks in your wallet. We’ll have water-conservation tips, just ahead.
LESLIE: And are you updating your kitchen? Well, if you are, you know that it can add plenty of value to your home, so you want to make sure that you don’t wipe out that windfall by making costly mistakes. This Old House general contractor Tom Silva is here with everything that you need to know before ripping out those older kitchen cabinets.
TOM: And nothing goes better with Thanksgiving turkey than tailgating. Well, maybe the stuffing too. But we’re going to leave that up to you. Tailgate warmer this Thanksgiving, and all winter long, with low-tech and high-tech comforts. We’re going to tell you about them just in time for the big game.
LESLIE: And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a set of Diva C•L Dimmers from Lutron. It’s a prize worth $90 and it’s actually going to save you money over time, because the Diva C•L Dimmers are compatible with energy-efficient bulbs.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question and we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat. And you may win those Diva C•L Dimmers from Lutron worth 90 bucks. 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Mary in Illinois is on the line with a basement-moisture situation. What’s going on over there?
MARY: My neighbor’s house sits a little higher than mine does. And they’ve also re-landscaped since they moved in about three or four years ago. They have an oversized downspout that’s pointed directly towards my house. And when it rains, the water pools from their downspout up against my house. And then, also, after it rains, for days later the downstairs basement brick wall can be moist.
About a year ago, I had a landscaping company come in because I thought I could address this on my own. And they put a French drain in and trenched it out through my backyard and it still doesn’t seem to be addressing the issue.
TOM: Well, have you spoken with your neighbors about potentially extending those downspouts in a different direction? Typically, you can just run them out farther so that they don’t end up on your property.
MARY: I haven’t spoken with them yet. I had another issue shortly after they moved in where they were – again, they are higher on ground and I – and they had their sump-pump line pumping out. And it ran downhill, flooding my backyard. So when I tried to address that with them, although it did eventually get changed, it wasn’t an easy nor very negotiable process. So I was trying to not get into another situation where …
TOM: Yeah. You’re trying to be as nice as you can but – and they’re not being very cooperative. That’s not very neighborly of them, is it?
TOM: Well, I mean there’s always legal recourse but what you might want to do is speak with them and say, “Look, I’m having this issue with water in my basement.” You can blame us. Say, “Hey, I called my friends at The Money Pit Radio Show, who diagnose this problem every single minute of the day sometimes.” And we get so many questions about this. And just explain to them that water that collects around foundations ends up as basement leaks and you’re trying to avoid costly repairs. And if they would simply extend their downspouts, or allow you to extend the downspout so it doesn’t drain water right at the foundation corner, that will be very helpful.
Now, I do think that your landscaper was on the track – on the right track. You said that he put in a French drain. I’m going to guess what you’re talking about is a curtain drain, because curtain drains that are properly installed -and it may very well be that this was not properly installed. But a curtain drain that’s properly installed can intercept that water as it runs down and run it away from your house.
And if I was putting a curtain drain in, I would trench it down about a foot below the surface. I would put in 2 or 3 inches of gray gravel, on top of which I would put a perforated PVC pipe. Not the flexible, black drain pipe that so many landscapers use but a regular PVC pipe with holes in it. It’s a perforated pipe. That pipe has to have a pitch to it, so it has to drop maybe an 1/8-inch per foot or so, just so it has some pitch.
And the holes are on top. What happens, it fills up, the water flows into the holes and then it runs down the pipe, around the house and out. So, on top of the stone, you put the pipe, you put more stone to cover it completely. Then you put filter cloth, which is like a black, sort of burlap-y kind of landscape cloth. Then you could put dirt and sod on top of that.
But if it’s done correctly, it will successfully intercept the water – the runoff – and run it around the house and away from that foundation. You’ve got to start with the simple stuff here, Mary, which is talking to your neighbors and seeing if they’ll extend those downspouts so that they don’t dump into your house and flood your basement.
MARY: OK. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in Washington is on the line and is having a door issue. What’s going on at your money pit?
JIM: Well, I have actually two doors with similar problems. Gradually, it’s grown worse over the last several years. The door does not fit tightly up against the weatherstripping. And I’ve finally resulted to putting in small wedges. And this is a front door and a door to the garage. To keep it pressed up against there, I have replaced with new weatherstripping trice but it still doesn’t get up there tight. What can I do to correct that, outside of replacing the door?
TOM: So, if you close the door and you push it tighter closed, does that make the seal?
JIM: Yes. And that’s why I’ve resorted to …
TOM: So then why didn’t you just replace the – why didn’t you just adjust the lock?
JIM: I don’t know how to do that. I didn’t know you can do that.
TOM: OK. So, basically, what you need to do is – where the lock strike is – OK, that’s the metal plate in the jam? – you need to move that closer to the weatherstripping so that the door has to actually shut more before it latches.
TOM: Because you need that weatherstripping to compress a little bit before it latches.
Now, does this have a deadbolt on it?
JIM: Yes, it does.
TOM: Well, you could probably just do it with a deadbolt. Sometimes the deadbolt – you just push in the door a little bit, put some pressure on it, then turn the bolt so you kind of create that seal. That would make a lot more sense than trying to wedge it against that. Because that’s exactly what the lock does: it holds it – holds the door tightly closed. So I would adjust the lock and forget about the weatherstripping for the moment.
Are these wood jambs with the weatherstripping sort of inserted into a groove?
JIM: Yes. Yes, they are.
TOM: So those pieces of trim with the weatherstripping inserted into it, those usually will come off the door. So another thing to do here is you could take that weatherstripping – those pieces off – and actually move that. It’s, essentially, a piece of trim. Move that closer to the door and reattach it, as well.
So, either way, you need to basically get the door closer to the weatherstripping. The easiest way to do it is just to adjust the lock, though. So you’re adjusting the striker, not the lockset. You’re adjusting the strike: that metal plate that’s in the door jamb.
JIM: OK. And because, naturally, that’s screwed into there, do I just fill the old screw hole with …?
TOM: No. What you do here is you unscrew it. You pull it out, right? And then you move the plate closer by a ¼-inch or whatever gap you have to close, OK? You’ll probably have to notch out the door jamb to fit the new one. Then look at how the holes line up. You may be moved over far enough where you actually will have a shot at making a brand-new hole and you can ignore the old one.
If you can’t, what you want to do is take a small piece of wood. I usually use pieces of cedar shingles. I put a little glue on them, I shove them in the old screw hole, break them off flushed to kind of create a wood plug and then you can drive a new screw next to it.
JIM: Fantastic. Alright. I think I will try that first. And if that doesn’t work, then I’ll try moving the trim.
TOM: OK. Good luck, Jim. 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.
Well, the holiday season is upon us. What are you working on to get your money-pit guest ready? Whatever it is, we are here to lend a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And you don’t even need to feed us any turkey. Just give us a call, 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, do you feel like you’re spending too much on utilities? We’re going to have some water-saving tips, just ahead, that’ll benefit your budget and Mother Nature. Soak them 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 we want to hear from you, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers.
And we’ve also got a pretty cool prize for one caller that we talk to on the air this hour. We’ve got a set of Diva C•L Dimmers from Lutron.
TOM: And they’re compatible with energy-efficient bulbs, so they can let you adjust your light level while also saving energy. Visit YouCanDim.com to learn more about the Diva C•L Dimmer and let us hear from you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joyce in Missouri is on the line with a grout question. What can we do for you?
JOYCE: Hi. I have ceramic tile that I have had down for a few years. And I have – the grout is a charcoal color with a black-and-green tile. And the charcoal has dulled over the years and looking almost chalky. What can I do? Do I have to pull all that grout out and regrout it? Do I need to paint it or what can I do to give it new look of life?
TOM: Well, the grout is pretty easy to replace. There are special tools called “grout saws” that you can use to carve out the grout and then put new grout over sort of where the old grout was. You know, you don’t have to get it all out but you’ve got to go down at least an 1/8-inch or so. And so, if your real concern is the grout and the condition of the grout, I think that’s the easiest way to deal with that.
JOYCE: OK. So that’d be – the best way to make it look fresh and new again is just take the top layer off at least an 1/8-inch and just regrout it?
TOM: Yeah. Make it look fresh and new by putting in fresh and new grout.
LESLIE: Yeah. And then make sure you seal it.
TOM: Right. Yeah, that’s key. You want to seal it first.
LESLIE: Otherwise, it’s not going to look fresh and new for so long.
JOYCE: Seal it after I put new grout in and let it dry? Then seal it and then we’re good to go?
TOM: Right, exactly.
JOYCE: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, now that the holidays are upon us, the guests are swarming in and will no doubt run up your water bills this holiday season. Do you want to save some money on those water bills? There are eco-friendly ways to do just that. Plastics make it easy to help the environment by reducing water use in your home. So here are some tips from the experts at Plastics Make it Possible.
LESLIE: Yeah. When it comes to your plumbing system, some types of plastic piping have fused joints that are virtually leak-free, so there’s less wasted water over the life of your plumbing system.
Now, plastic pipes also resist corrosion so that the flow capacity will remain consistent over its lifetime. And the energy expenditure to pump that water is less likely to increase over its lifetime.
TOM: Now, a variety of plastic products also offer ways to water your garden with less waste, like plastic hose nozzles that shut off automatically and drip-irrigation systems that allow water to absorb slowly, reducing water loss from surface runoff or evaporation.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And artificial turf is going to look just like real grass but it can dramatically reduce your water use. And since it’s virtually maintenance-free, it can also be a great timesaver.
Rain barrels, they’re made with durable, weather-resistant plastics and they can help reduce your home’s water consumption by collecting and storing fresh rainwater for you to use in your garden.
TOM: All great ways to think about reducing your water consumption. And these water-saving ideas were presented by Plastics Make it Possible. For more information, visit PlasticsMakeItPossible.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Daniel in Washington on the line.
Daniel, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
DANIEL: Well, you can help me figure out why my wife takes a cold shower and I take a hot shower.
TOM: I bet she’s not too happy about that, either.
DANIEL: She’s very unhappy and she seems to think it’s my fault.
TOM: So, who goes in the shower first? She goes in first?
DANIEL: She does.
TOM: And then what? It takes a long time for the water to get hot?
DANIEL: Well, she turns it on. Our bathroom shower is about, I guess, when I added up all the pipes, maybe 30 feet from the water heater. So it’s not very far. We’ve lived in the house for 12 years, so we can usually count on hot water coming about four seconds after we turn on the water. And it’s not happening this time. She’ll leave it on for a minute or so, it’s still cold. And she says, “What the heck, I need to get going.” So she takes a shower and then she screams and yells at me.
LESLIE: And then it’s all your fault.
DANIEL: Twenty minutes later, after she clears out of there, I get in there and the shower is nice and warm.
TOM: Well, that’s an odd problem because certainly, it’s not the distance; that’s very, very short.
Now, as far as you know, is your water heater working normally? So if you go to your kitchen sink, does it deliver hot water pretty quickly?
DANIEL: When we turn it to the left, it’s hot, and when we turn it to the right, it’s cold.
TOM: Right. So the kitchen sink is fine.
DANIEL: And the kids’ bathroom is fine.
TOM: OK. So, it’s not the water heater, it’s not the pipes. What’s left here? The shower valve. You’ve got a bad shower valve.
DANIEL: You came to the conclusion pretty quickly that it’s not the hot-water heater. Somebody suggested that it’s some deely bopper inside the hot-water heater that has to kick over.
TOM: By virtue of the fact that your water heater delivers hot water to your kitchen sink and delivers hot water to your kids’ sink, it’s only not delivering hot water to your master-bath sink or shower, right?
DANIEL: It does deliver hot water to the master bathroom and the master bathroom shower, but it takes – I don’t know – 10 minutes or so after my wife goes in there. So, one theory is that we’re – by her taking a cold shower but having the nozzle turned to the right – to the left – where it would give hot water, it activates something.
TOM: OK. So, let me ask you one more question. In your master bathroom, you have a sink correct?
TOM: And does that sink get hot quickly?
DANIEL: Sure. But maybe not first thing in the morning.
TOM: Well, does it take as long as the shower to get hot?
DANIEL: I haven’t tested that.
TOM: Alright. So test that. If the sink gets hot quickly and the only plumbing fixture in the house that’s not getting hot quickly is that shower, then you’ve got a problem with the shower valve. And that could happen. Something could break down inside the shower valve. And it might be that it takes so long to run before it finally lets some of that hot water in, because maybe you’re waiting for one of the pipes to – one of the valve parts to expand and just something to jam shut and it’s just not letting the hot water out.
So I suspect that you’ve eliminated – everything else is normal; it’s just that shower that’s not. I’d replace the water valve. It’ll probably save your marriage. Think about it.
DANIEL: Well, at least my hearing.
TOM: There you go. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going over to Missouri where Jim has a question about a humidifier. How can we help you?
JIM: Yeah, hi. I am just kind of curious. It would – obviously, with getting cold, just turning the heaters on and everything – and the whole-home humidifier has kind of intrigued me and I wanted to know if it’s worth installing those onto the heater. Obviously, it would – if it works, it would help out with my dry skin. I’ve got a one-year-old boy and I’m obviously worried about his health, too. And so if I could put one of those on there, it’d be a quick, easy install? And is that worth doing?
TOM: Well, absolutely. It’s not necessarily a quick, easy install but it is worth doing.
Now, there are many different types of humidifiers. There’s the kind that atomize or spray water into the air. There’s other types that have sort of like a roller that sort of roll in a pan of water and then the air blows over them.
There’s one that deals – that works off evaporator pads. I kind of like this. It’s made by Aprilaire, a great brand in the HVAC business. And the way it works is it has jets of water that drip water down an evaporator pad and then water rolls across that pad and that’s how it gets the humidity into the air.
Then the more sophisticated ones have humidistats that calculate exactly what the humidity is in the house all the time and then adjust the humidifier to compensate for that. In fact, some of the better ones even have a thermometer that goes outside so they can calculate the difference between outside temperature and inside temperature and know exactly where the relative humidity is and then supplement that with the amount of moisture.
So take a look at the humidifiers that are made by Aprilaire. I think that’s a good place to start.
JIM: Alright. That’s great news. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome, Jim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, are you guys feeling overwhelmed at the thought of updating your kitchen? Well, Tom Silva from This Old House is here with the 411 on the biggest investment and source of confusion: kitchen cabinets. We’re going to give you the rules of thumb for measuring, spacing and everything else that you need to consider before the dropping that first dime, after this.
TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by the Stanley FatMax AntiVibe hammer. Pound nails, not your arm.
LESLIE: And also by Delta Shower and Bath products, featuring Temp2O Technology so you know the water temperature before you enter. It’s the perfect holiday gift and it’s available at The Home Depot.
JONATHAN: Hey this is Jonathan Scott, host of HGTV’s Property Brothers. And you’re listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
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: Get more advice, more answers and more Money Pit, whenever you want it, by liking us online on Facebook. Just head to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and click Like.
LESLIE: Rhonda in Alaska, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RHONDA: Hi there. Yeah, a couple of years ago, we had a moisture problem in our crawlspace. I live in a townhouse-style condo and as a result, the adjoining wall down in the crawlspace – it has drywall on it and it’s got some mold. And I’m not sure how to get rid of that.
TOM: OK. So, we’re talking about crawlspace areas in a condominium form of ownership?
TOM: Typically, that’s – you have to check your public offering statement but generally, that part of the structure is owned by the association. And therefore, the association bears a responsibility of maintaining it. In most multi-family forms of ownership, in a townhouse/condominium kind of ownership, generally, what you own is inside sheetrock to inside sheetrock.
TOM: And this is important to know because, for example, when you insure your home, you know, the insurance that you purchase has to cover things like paint and kitchen cabinets and flooring, carpets, stuff like that.
TOM: But it doesn’t cover the wall or the floor structure because that’s covered by the association. So if you’ve got a mold problem in the common area – that’s called the “common area”; in other words, the area that’s common to the entire association – they are responsible for addressing it and that’s why you pay monthly maintenance fees.
RHONDA: Really? Yeah.
TOM: So make sure you know who owns what before you start messing with this.
TOM: And especially in a multi-family situation, if you’ve got mold that’s festering in a crawlspace, that can get up into the units and really affect a lot of folks. So I would first address this with the association. I would address it in writing.
TOM: Include pictures so you’re documenting it. And then ask them to have a professional take a look at it.
TOM: And by the way, by professional, I mean industrial hygienist: somebody who’s an expert in mold, not the local handyman that’s going to come down there and try to scrub it away and in the process, distribute it to the entire unit.
RHONDA: Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.
LESLIE: Well, they’re more than just for storage of pots and your plates. Cabinetry can really define the look of your cooking space.
TOM: Yes, it can. And investing in new cabinets can be exciting. But with a lot of money at stake, it can also be nerve-wracking. Here to help you make the right decision is This Old House general contractor Tom Silva.
TOM SILVA: Well, hi, guys. It’s nice to be here.
TOM: So, how can homeowners make sure they get the most bang for their buck when they’re selecting new kitchen cabinets? I mean it’s a pretty overwhelming decision, right?
TOM SILVA: Oh, you better believe it. There are a lot of different choices out there. But I always focus on not only the way the cabinets look but the quality of the pieces of the parts that you don’t see.
TOM: Right. The hardware and that sort of thing.
TOM SILVA: The hardware, the cabinets, how they’re put together, the thickness of the material and the type of material.
LESLIE: Tommy, it seems like there’s so many different aspects to cabinetry that you really kind of have to go into a kitchen project with a budget hierarchy of what it is that you want. So, how do you sort through what’s most effective?
TOM SILVA: Well, right. And everybody has a budget that they want to try to stick to. And you can start off with the – I think the lowest cabinet is a stock cabinet: something that you get off the shelf. They have a lot of different configurations in finishes and styles but you have a limited selection. Semi-custom is where the configuration is a little better but you still have to use fillers to make the pieces fit where they want to fit.
TOM SILVA: And then if you really have a budget that is, I think, higher, then you want to get into a custom kitchen where they can make the pieces fit exactly where you want them. You can pick out how you want the boxes and how you want the drawers and the type of hardware and how you want the doors. It’s all a matter of your budget.
TOM: It’s all a matter of dollars and cents.
TOM SILVA: Dollars and cents, yeah.
TOM: That’s a good point. Now, I’ve actually put together some of those cabinets and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality isn’t there.
TOM SILVA: No.
TOM: In fact, they’re really saving you some money when you put them together yourself. And it’s not that hard.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. We did a great project on Ask This Old House where we actually assembled the cabinets and put them together. And what a difference it made in the kitchen. And they were great cabinets.
LESLIE: I feel like there are so many different styles of cabinetry. You’re looking at things. There’s Arts and Crafts and there’s Victorian. Do you really look at the architecture of the exterior of your home? How do you kind of figure what’s a good match?
TOM SILVA: Well, it really becomes a personal preference, what people like. Some people like Victorians with a – they have raised panels and maybe multiple layers of molding around those raised panels. Maybe big columns or turnings around the kitchen. It’s really that particular look that you may be looking at. Maybe an Arts and Craft, a much simpler detail. Flatter panel, styles and rails, maybe no detail around the inside of that flat panel.
And then, of course, you get the modern or the contemporary look. That seems to be the latest craze right now. Everybody wants that contemporary kitchen with the sharp, crisp lines. And the hardware makes a huge difference on the detail.
TOM: Now, with all these decisions, how do you feel about kind of going straight to a kitchen designer for some help here because it seems like – I think people are somewhat reluctant, sometimes, to hire design professionals. But in the end, it can actually save you money because you’re not making costly mistakes.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. Kitchen designers can have some great ideas. They can mix and match colors, patterns, products, tiles, all of those things. The little things that you don’t think make a difference make a huge difference. Like you can have a soapstone countertop around the sink and you can have a beautiful, wood countertop on the island with a glass backsplash, for example.
TOM: Something you might not have thought of.
TOM SILVA: No, exactly.
TOM: Because you don’t have the eye for it; you don’t do it every day.
TOM SILVA: Right.
TOM: We’re talking to Tom Silva, the general contractor for TV’s This Old House.
Alright. Let’s say you go into a store, right, and you’re looking at some cabinets. You want to sort of evaluate the quality of the cabinets. Things to look for?
TOM SILVA: Things to look for. Well, I look for a good plywood box.
TOM SILVA: I always like something to be thicker than thinner. Half inch is fine. I prefer three-quarter but it’s hard to get three-quarter, in some cases. You’ll get that more in a custom cabinet.
And how the drawers are put together. Lots of times, dovetail joints are important, what the drawer boxes are made out of. Wood laminates are always good. You can even get drawer boxes that are made of metal. And they’re put together and they fasten to the drawer fronts with the special fasteners. And they’re pretty good because they’re – you have adjustability over time.
TOM: And that drawer hardware is also important. The one I love is the soft close where it sort of finishes closing on its own.
TOM SILVA: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It’s great because it stops kids from getting their fingers pinched and the drawers don’t stay open just a little bit, so your kitchen doesn’t look messy.
TOM SILVA: And they have the hardware that goes on the sides of the drawers and also underneath the drawers, which gives you a little more width on the inside of the drawer. But they both will be a soft close if you want them.
TOM: And that’s so important because that’s what really wears those drawers. You load them up, especially the silverware drawer and that sort of thing, and they get opened and closed just thousands of times a year.
TOM SILVA: Exactly.
LESLIE: And I think it’s important. There’s so many options for what can be on the interior of those cabinets or those drawers. You know, everybody’s recycling everything. If you’ve got the right cabinet box on your lower counter area, you could have a door that opens up and have all three trash bins sort of there for you. You just have to sort of think creatively as to what your needs are.
TOM SILVA: Right. They also have areas with those hard-to-get places in the corners, where you may have a dead corner. They have these pull-out units now that are beautiful. You can open the door and then they swing out. They slide out so you don’t have to get on your hand and knees to dig out stuff that you’re hiding away in the corners.
TOM: Final question. When it comes to design, we always talk about the working triangle. Is that really important?
TOM SILVA: I find that it’s not as important today.
TOM SILVA: People aren’t really into that working triangle as much as they used to be, because there’s multiple people in the kitchen working now.
TOM: It’s true. You have to have multiple working triangles.
TOM SILVA: And so – yeah, sometimes a triangle – you’re in the way of one another.
TOM SILVA: So, people need to design their kitchen or think about the kitchen and how they actually use their kitchen.
TOM: Of course, we’re talking about the distance between the refrigerator, the sink, and the stove.
TOM SILVA: Work area, yep.
TOM: But now you’ve got the microwave and you’ve got the wall oven.
TOM SILVA: And you’ve got the island with the big cutting board. And it’s all kinds of different things now, today.
TOM: Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House, great advice for helping you select kitchen cabinets.
TOM SILVA: Well, thanks, guys. It’s nice to be here.
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 and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.
Well, football season is upon us. We’ve got tailgating tips and tricks that’ll help you win big so you can cheer your team on to victory. That’s coming up, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.
And we’ve also got a great prize for one caller we talk to on the air this hour. We’re giving away a set of Diva C•L Dimmers from Lutron.
LESLIE: Yeah. And they’re compatible with energy-efficient bulbs, so they let you adjust your light level while you’re also saving energy. Visit YouCanDim.com to learn more about the Diva C•L Dimmer and let us hear from you. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, for many of us, it’s the most wonderful time of the year: football season. But before you head out to cheer on your favorite team this Thanksgiving, and all winter long, make sure your tailgate is also poised for victory.
TOM: You know, 40 percent of tailgaters spend more than 5 hours pre-gaming. But it only takes a few minutes to discover how cold it can get. You can put some of that suffering behind you this season by adding warmth to your tailgate party. Open flames, of course, are too dangerous and generators have been traditionally loud and heavy. But inverter generators, on the other hand, are lightweight and quiet and they draw power from fixed sources, like DC – direct current – and car batteries and solar panels.
LESLIE: Now, another option for warmth, you should consider using portable patio heaters. You’ve seen them at open-air restaurants. Now, most are going to run on propane and will warm up a good-sized area.
So while you’re keeping warm, you’re going to want to keep your beverages cold. Ah, the conundrum. And there are some great, new coolers on the market that do much more than that. They come complete with charging stations for your cellphone.
TOM: And finally, a good tailgate party always has great tunes, so check out the wide variety of Bluetooth-compatible speakers and your entire playlist will be available. This way, you can get pumped for the big game.
And get more great ideas on this topic and more when you visit MoneyPit.com and search “tailgating.”
LESLIE: Mark in Tennessee needs some help adding some insulation to the attic space. Tell us about the project.
MARK: What I have is a 23-year-old, split-level home. And I’ve got about 800 square feet over the bedrooms and the two bathrooms upstairs, with only very, very limited access to the attic area. There’s one hole that’s 18×12, which was put in the original house, and the other is an outside gable vent, which is 18×18. And those are the only two ways that I can get into to add insulation. Neither one would be good for a blower or the rolls couldn’t get through the holes. Help me, help me.
TOM: Put a bigger attic access in there. I mean it’s a very easy thing to do. You simply have to cut more of the drywall out. In the same way that that access point was put in to begin with, you could certainly put a larger one in. Just cut the drywall back along the ceiling joist. You need to sort of frame it out so it’s square on the ends. And then you can make a panel that drops in there to keep it closed. Best place to do that, of course, is in a closet where it’s not very obvious.
Now, do you have much height in that attic? Would it be worth putting a stair – an attic stair – in?
MARK: Well, it would be too tight for a stair. And the current access is located in a shallow closet anyway.
TOM: Can that be opened up and made larger?
MARK: Not the depth of the closet, no. I could go width of the closet but I’m guessing I’m going to be hitting some trusses.
TOM: Well, the thing is you’re going to work around the trusses. If you’ve got trusses, they’re probably 24 inches on center. That’s where most trusses are set. So, make the width of the opening 24 inches and make the depth of it about 36. And that would be plenty big enough to get a ladder up into that hole and get yourself up there and anything else that you need to get up there, as well.
MARK: Well, outstanding. That’s why I listen and that’s why I call.
TOM: Good luck, Mark. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead on the program, are you trying to get rid of mold? Well, not all solutions are created equal. Learn how to get rid of it, once and for all, 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, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, if you’ve ever wished that Leslie and I could be there with you as you tackle those home improvement projects, you can get the next best thing when you download Money Pit on your smartwatch. This way, you can hear us whenever and wherever.
If you’ve got an Android wearable smartwatch, this is new technology. You can download the iHeartRadio app onto your Android smartphone, sync it to the watch and you can hear The Money Pit on the go. Isn’t that cool? Learn more by Googling “the Android wearable smartwatch.”
LESLIE: Yeah. This is pretty cool, you guys. It’s the wave of the future. You’ll be listening to your watch.
And while you’re online, you can ask us a question in the Community section. And here is one that says, “I’ve heard that UV lights can be used to stop mold growth. Is this a legitimate remedy or a scam? I had my air-conditioning unit serviced recently and was told there’s mold in there, so I’m trying to figure out the best way to get rid of it.”
TOM: Well, I don’t necessarily think the idea of doing UV lights is a scam but I am concerned about the fact that your A/C contractor told you, on a service call, that you had mold in your ducts. Because guess what? They can’t tell by just looking at it. You need to test it to be absolutely sure you know what you’re doing. Anybody that just sort of spouts off that you’ve got mold, I would call their credibility into question.
So, if you want a second opinion, I think it would be a good idea to have it looked at by a professional home inspector or an environmental expert, because I just wouldn’t go trusting the fact of an HVAC guy telling me that I’ve got mold and taking action based on that. If it turns out that your ducts may very well be dirty – and that’s far more common than mold – then just have them cleaned. Have the ducts swept and cleaned.
But it’s unlikely to have mold inside a duct because, let’s face it, there’s not much organic in there for mold to eat. And remember, mold needs some organic surface. That’s why it grows so well on drywall, for example, but not so well on sheet metal.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post asking: “I have a gray, porcelain sink in my bathroom. And the bottom of the part that’s near the drain is now dull and staining. What can I use to reseal it or clean it?”
TOM: There’s really not much to reseal something that’s porcelain. And if the finish is wearing off, which is what this sounds like, there’s not much that you can do besides replace it. Now, of course, it doesn’t mean it’s going to leak; it just means it’s not going to look well.
But when it starts to wear – and this includes if we’re talking about, perhaps, the plating around the drain – the trim ring around the drain. If that’s the only thing you’re talking about, you can easily replace those plumbing parts. But if it’s the sink itself, then there’s really no easy fix for that. It’s really a matter of just replacing it.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got a post from Samantha who writes: “My house is two years old and the basement is covered with a foil-type insulation. After a recent, heavy rain I noticed what appeared to be a wet spot on the very lower part of the wall, as well as a hairline crack. Should I have my foundation professionally inspected? Is that overkill?”
TOM: I think it might be, at this point, because a hairline crack is really pretty typical. I would deal with the moisture issue, though. And if you’ve gotten a leak after a heavy rain, Sam, it’s very easy to fix this. You need to figure out what part of your outside drain system is not working.
So, for example, gutters must be clean, downspouts must be extended at least 4 to 6 feet away from the house. And you want to make sure the soil slips away from the house on all sides. If you do that, it’ll reduce that water. And if you do, your foundation won’t get wet and it’ll stay far more stable and it’s less likely to crack.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you really just want to keep an eye on the hairline crack. If it changes, if it gets bigger, if it shifts direction, then definitely bring in a pro.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We’re going to move on. But remember, you can catch our tips and our advice, 24/7, on MoneyPit.com where we invite you to join The Money Pit community, either on MoneyPit.com or on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you, we’d love to see your projects and we hope that you are getting started now with a wonderful holiday season.
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.
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(Copyright 2014 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.)