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Sealing Roof Leaks, How to Install a Floating Floor, Turn Down the Thermostat and Use a Portable Heater Instead 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: Call us right now with your home improvement question. Let us help you solve your do-it-yourself dilemma but you’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Easy to remember, easy to dial and we will make your home improvement projects that much easier.

    We’ve got a busy show planned for you on today’s program. Coming up this hour, would you like to do a home improvement project but you can’t seem to get started? It’s always that picking up the first tool feels like it weighs 100 pounds, you know?
    LESLIE: Taking that first step sometimes is really hard.
    TOM: But after you get into it, it becomes that much easier. Well, what if we could promise you that there’s a project out there that you can do in less than 30 minutes? Might that motivate you to take that first step? There are actually a lot of projects that you can get done in under 30 minutes and we’re going to talk about some of those on today’s program, in just a bit.
    LESLIE: And also ahead, a new floor can really make all the difference in a room that just needs a facelift. Now, the newer generations of floating floors, whether they’re laminate or wood, make this nearly a foolproof, do-it-yourself project. So we’ve got some installation tips from This Old House general contractor, Tommy Silva, coming up.
    TOM: And with the chilly weather setting in, do you have one room in your house that just never seems to get warm? We’ve got a room like that; it’s our kitchen. It just is always too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer.
    LESLIE: A little chilly.
    TOM: But the good news is that there is a safe and cost-effective solution that we’ve discovered. We’re going to tell you about infrared heating. There’s a new device on the market that makes this very, very effective and we’re going to tell you all about it, in just a bit.
    LESLIE: And if you give us a call right now with your home improvement question, you just might win some funds to get all of your home improvement projects done, because we are giving away a $100 Lowe’s gift card, courtesy of the folks at Pella Windows and Doors.
    TOM: So let’s get to it. Call us right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: We’re heading over to North Carolina where Nicole has a roofing question. Tell us what’s going on.
    NICOLE: Well, we had a tree fall on our house and we had no structural damage but we had shingle damage. And so we’ve been working on finding the best reroofing option. So we’ve gotten some estimates and been looking around and researching; doing some research on the different types of shingles and that sort of thing.

    And what we’d really like to do is to go for a metal roof and we have a bid that’s not completely outrageous, which is nice. But the question, I guess, that we have is we’ve been told that some people choose to leave the shingles on the roof and to put the new, metal roof on top of it. Some people have said that it – that that minimizes the lifetime of the roof; of the new roof. So we’re just calling to get your take on that.
    TOM: OK. I think what you’re doing is you may be confusing multiple layers of asphalt shingle roofs with a layer of asphalt under metal. First of all, I don’t think it will shorten the lifetime. If you’re talking about multiple layers of asphalt shingle roof, yes, a second layer is not going to last as long as just a single layer, because the single layer acts as a heat sink and stores a lot of heat.
    And frankly, it’ll do some of the same thing with a metal roof and it’ll radiate some of that heat back into your house. But the nice thing about metal roofs is that they have – and you should confirm this with the product you’re thinking about buying – but most of them have low-e paint on them. So, essentially, they radiate a lot of the heat; they sort of bounce it right back out.

    Now that said, I would prefer, if you’re putting a metal roof on, to make sure it was on the structure and not on a previous layer of roof. I don’t think it should add dramatically to the cost to take off that initial layer and I just think it’s a much nicer, cleaner way to do a metal roof. I mean a metal roof can last you a lifetime, so why have a …?
    LESLIE: Yep. Fifty-plus years.
    TOM: Yeah, why have a second layer of roofing underneath that for all that time?
    NICOLE: Yeah, we’ve also been cautioned about how the metal lays because if it’s not put on
    TOM: Right, exactly. Yeah and so let’s say that you – let’s say that that roof starts to buckle a bit or those shingles start to curl underneath the metal roof, it could raise up the space. So I would tell you, if it was me, I’d probably pull it off even though I didn’t have to.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And Nicole, you may want to check with your community because I know in some municipalities, when you go to get your building permits, you know, some of them require a certain type of paperwork if you are leaving the roof structure as is and just putting a new layer on top and some require a different type of permitting if you’re taking everything off. So just make sure you follow up with your community, so you’ve got everything filed before you start the process.
    NICOLE: Perfect. Thank you.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Bela in North Carolina is calling in; needs some help with a project. What can we do for you?
    BELA: We have a crawlspace.
    BELA: And then we put heavy-duty plastic on the ground, you know, to keep the moisture in the ground.
    TOM:  OK. So far so good.
    BELA: And then one of my neighbors is a contractor. He says you need to put crushed stone over it so it is flat. And then there is another contractor. He said, “No, don’t do it because the moisture going to condense on the rocks and then you’re going to have water on top of the plastic.” So which way should I go?
    TOM: Well, I don’t think there’s any reason to put the rocks on top of the plastic. There’s no reason whatsoever to do that. You just want to put heavy-duty plastic down and what that does is that stops the soil moisture from evaporating up into the crawlspace and it keeps the humidity down. So there’s no reason to put anything above that. You’re not …
    LESLIE: No, the only concern is that if you’ve had to use more than one piece of your plastic sheeting to sort of cover that ground area, you need to make sure that you’ve got a really large overlap so that you’re not allowing moisture to escape.
    TOM: Right.
    BELA: So you don’t think that’s a good idea?
    TOM:  I don’t think it’s necessary.
    BELA:  I already shoveled two cubic feet or two cubic yards of crushed stone under the crawlspace.
    TOM: No, not necessary. Put the plastic right on top of the soil and be done with it.
    BELA: Ah, that’s very – thank you very much. I wish I contacted you two weeks ago.
    TOM:  OK. Bela, 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, is this your weekend to put out your autumn décor or your spooky Halloween decorations? We can help you get your home in top, frightful shape for the upcoming Halloween holiday. So give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Talking about holiday horrors, here is a home improvement horror (Leslie chuckles): a leaky roof; especially one that happens around your chimney. The good news is, though, that there is a quick and easy fix for this problem. We’re going to give you the step-by-step instructions, next.
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: And you should give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Why, you say? Well, not only will we help you with your home improvement question, one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $100 gift card for Lowe’s, courtesy of Pella Windows and Doors.
    Lowe’s is making it easy to jumpstart your next home improvement project with 31 ways to save during 31 days in October. Spend your money wisely, though, with energy-efficient products like Pella’s Designer Series 750 Windows. These are those really cool windows with blinds in-between the glass so not only are they energy-efficient, you never have to dust.
    LESLIE: Ooh, I love that chore.  Dusting window shades and window blinds is like the most tedious, so to skip that chore is fantastic.

    And you know what, guys? Replacing your old windows and doors with more energy-efficient ones from Pella, which are sold at Lowe’s, can actually help you save energy year-round and could really help you save at tax time, too.
    Now, one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. But if you don’t win today, tune in again next week because we’re giving away a $100 gift card every week this month.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Well, here is one area of home improvement that really can be horrific and that is a roof leak that happens around your chimney. Fortunately, though, it’s pretty easy to take care of.
    To keep your chimney’s structural integrity intact, it’s important to make sure that there are no leaks and the common weak link in the masonry chimney is the crown. Now that’s the cement area between like the outside edge of the brick and the terracotta-clay chimney liner.
    When the crown cracks – which happens; it happens all the time; it’s almost normal, it happens so frequently – water gets down into the chimney and then during the winter, that water gets trapped in those cracks. It can freeze, it can expand and break up the crown; it will break up the brick. And in the springtime, it’ll actually leak right down through the chimney, into the fireplace and it can come out all sides of the chimney once it gets in the building and show up even as a leak on your ceiling.

    The good news is that it’s very easy to fix. You’ve just got to go look for it and you have to caulk it and you want to use silicone caulk. And if you do that, every year – keep it from opening up, keep it from spreading, keep the water from getting down there – your chimney will stay in excellent structural shape and you won’t have any leaks to deal with.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the good news is this is a project that only takes a half an hour and it’s one of our 30-under-30 projects that we’ve got listed in our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure. And climbing up on the ladder to look at your chimney truly is an adventure. (Tom laughs)
    Check it out right now at MoneyPit.com for a sneak peek.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Call us with your next home improvement adventure because we are here to help.
    LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Liz in Delaware who needs help with a bathroom project. What’s going on?
    LIZ: I have an old house and the bathroom has those tiles all the way around; you know, those square tiles. I want to bring down my medicine cabinet because all you can see is the top of your head.
    LESLIE:  OK.
    TOM:  OK.
    LIZ:  So, I wondered if you – do I have to take off the tiles? There might be like three or four before this medicine cabinet goes down. Do I have to remove it?
    TOM: Now, is it the kind of medicine cabinet, Liz, that’s set into the wall?
    LIZ: Yes.
    TOM: Alright. Well, it’s a fairly big job, so let me tell you …
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And there’s going to be a repair above where now you have the hole where it used to be.
    TOM:  Exactly. So let me tell you the steps. First of all, you’re going to have to remove the old medicine cabinet out of the wall so you can kind of have plenty of room to work.
    LIZ: Yeah.
    TOM: Then, to lower it, I’ll give you one trick of the trade.
    LIZ:  I have to get another one. I have to get a new one because this is all corroded, right?
    TOM: OK, well, go ahead and get a new one.
    LIZ: Yeah.
    TOM: But to lower it, get it down further, one of the ways that I might think about doing that is to use a tool called a RotoZip. A RotoZip kind of looks a bit like a router and a bit like a drill and what it does is it actually can carve right through that tile. It’s a great tool for plumbers or anybody that has to sort of cut a small hole out of tile. It kind of works like a router and it will just saw right through that stuff. And I would use a RotoZip and saw out the old tile to the new opening size to get the new medicine cabinet in.
    You may also – above where the tile ends, you may have to pack that out a little bit because, remember, the tile is going to be about a ¼-inch thicker than the wall above it, so you may have to offset that. And then, on top of the medicine cabinet – assuming you don’t have one that’s taller than what you had – you’re going to have a hole, as Leslie said before, that you’re going to have to fill in and that can be accomplished simply by cutting a piece of drywall to fit and taping and spackling it.
    LIZ: Oh, OK.
    TOM: So, it’s a lot of work. You might just want to think about buying a stool. It’s probably a lot easier. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
    LIZ: Oh, no. Oh, is it?
    LESLIE: Wear more high heels.
    TOM: That’s right.
    LIZ:  You’re really supposed to look at half your body in a medicine cabinet, not the top of your head. Plus it’s got a high ceiling, so …
    TOM: Well, that’s what you’re up against, Liz. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Now we’ve got David in Iowa who is working on a basement floor. Tell us what’s going on.
    DAVID: Hi, Leslie.
    LESLIE: Hi, David.
    DAVID: Yeah, the sewer backed up into our basement; carpet’s down there.
    LESLIE:  Oh, goodness.
    TOM:  Sorry to hear that.
    DAVID: So I pulled out the carpet and the pad and I was …
    LESLIE: And got it far, far away from your house.  Wearing nose plugs and ran from it.
    DAVID: And I was thinking of options in what to put down instead, because I was reluctant to do carpet again. So my wife wanted to do ceramic tile and it’s about 540 square feet. That would be kind of pricey so I’m just going to paint it with epoxy paint and I was wondering if that would be a good idea. There are a lot of bowls and waves in the concrete.
    TOM:  Mm-hmm. Okay.
    DAVID: The carpet …
    LESLIE: Well, that’s all fixable.
    DAVID: Yeah.
    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, I think you’ve got a bunch of options. Epoxy paint, definite possibility. They have a lot of good-looking colors in epoxy paint and a lot of different sort of chip surfaces.
    LESLIE: Like additives.
    TOM: Yeah, additives that kind of give it a nice décor look to it.
    The other things that you could think about doing would be either laminate flooring or even engineered hardwood floor.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And of course, these are all things that run the gamut of the price range. You know, even with ceramic tile, which is something that your wife likes, you can get something for as low as $2 to $3 a square, up to $100 a square. So you really need to sort of look at your budget. But Tom’s right; you can go laminate, you can go engineered hardwood. Those are all things that are made to be in that super-moist area that is your basement, on that concrete subfloor.
    And another thing, you’re mentioning this epoxy flooring but you did say – I heard that the floor is kind of wavy and a little uneven. There are a ton of products out there.
    Is it Abatron, Tom, is the website?
    TOM: Yeah, mm-hmm.
    LESLIE: Abatron. They make something called Abocrete or Abocast; I forget which is the one. But it’s a compound that you mix up and sort of put over the floor that you already have and it sort of self-levels and evens out the areas where there are dips and divots. I mean it’s a process; it takes a couple of days. But if you’re going to go with that epoxy floor, you want it to look smooth.
    DAVID: Can I just put more concrete?
    LESLIE: No, it won’t stick to each other.
    TOM:  No. No, no, no, no. It won’t stick. No, you need an epoxy-patching compound; that’s the only thing that’s going to adhere.
    DAVID: OK.
    LESLIE: Otherwise, it’ll just pop right off and then you’ll have an area that’s half epoxy-coated and one that’s not.  So don’t even mess with it. Definitely level it off first.
    DAVID:  OK.
    LESLIE: And it’s not a difficult process; it’s just a bag of powdery material that you’ve got to mix up and it’s work. But it does make the floor fantastic.
    We had a similar situation; we had the basement flood, with carpeting. Took all the carpeting up; the concrete subfloor was a disaster. (David chuckles) And there were some real areas of unevenness and that Abocrete like saved my basement’s life. It really – it took three days to cure with fans and really a process but that floor looks fantastic. And then we put a laminate over it, which is – we love it.
    DAVID: Alright. Thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got a neighbor of mine calling from Glen Cove, New York. Elizabeth, welcome to The Money Pit. I live in Garden City, so that’s why you’re my neighbor.
    ELIZABETH: Oh, isn’t that wonderful?
    LESLIE: What can we do for you today?
    ELIZABETH: I heard the program about roof stains.

    TOM: OK.
    ELIZABETH: I have it all down: gentle power wash, water, bleach; OxiClean could be used. And I don’t understand the copper or nickel ridge band.
    TOM: Ridge vent.
    LESLIE: Well, when you are dealing with the stains that are associated with your roof – moss, mildew, et cetera – the nickel and the copper, it’s a natural material that when it gets rained on it sort of releases some of those minerals within itself. And as that runs down your roof, it’s a natural cleanser for that mildew that might grow.
    ELIZABETH:  For the stain.
    LESLIE: Correct.
    ELIZABETH: Alright.
    LESLIE: Now, if you don’t – you don’t have to do a ridge vent, right Tom? You can just put a metal strip or flashing, correct?
    TOM: Right, exactly.
    ELIZABETH: I don’t – oh, I’m not too good on this stuff. I have to hire someone to do it. Would I get a roofer?
    TOM: Yes. A roofer could do it or a handyman could do it very easily.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. You know, an easy way to give a tired room a brand-spanking-new look is a new floor. Now, today’s floating floors, they’re easier than ever to install so we’ve got a few expert tips from This Old House general contractor, Tom Silva, next.
    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is presented by Trewax All-Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner. Since 1935, Trewax products have set the standard for quality floor care, with a line of waxes, sealers and cleaning products.
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Well, one of the most common questions we get here on The Money Pit is how to install flooring. And the good news is that installing flooring has become easier and easier to do, making it a perfect do-it-yourself project.
    TOM: Absolutely. And that is especially true when it comes to the wide array of products that can be installed as floating floors. For the step-by-step on this project, we turn now to how-to expert, Tom Silva, from TV’s This Old House, who practices magic in his spare time and knows how to make floors levitate and float all by themselves.
    TOM SILVA: (chuckling) Oh, yeah. Well, it’s nice to be here, guys. How are you doing?
    TOM: Oh, it’s great to have you, Tommy. And let’s talk about what a floating floor is. It’s not quite that magical but it means that it simply sits on top of an old one, right?
    TOM SILVA: Right. It’s really the way that you install the floor, so it’s a floor installation. So that new, floating floor just sits on top of the floor below.
    TOM: So no glue, no nailing, no physical attachment.
    TOM SILVA: (overlapping voices) No mechanical fasteners, right.
    TOM: Got it, got it.
    TOM SILVA: Right.
    TOM: Now how many floors use that kind of design today? Are there a lot of options in materials?
    TOM SILVA: You can get just about anything you want; any width, any species. Like you can get laminate floors, you can get engineered hardwood floors; you can bamboo, cork and even vinyl and tile.
    LESLIE: Now, because they’re floating, what about an underlayment? Is there something specific to each type of floor that you should be using when doing the installation?
    TOM SILVA: The first thing you want to do is you want to read what the manufacturer recommends. Some manufacturers want a vapor barrier under it and some manufacturers have their own vapor barrier that they want you to use. Some manufacturers recommend a foam underneath it.

    So, like I say, it’s very important that you follow their instructions.
    LESLIE: And what about during the installation process? I mean you always see some sort of finish around the baseboard, whether it’s a shoe molding or a quarter round. Do you need to give yourself some sort of gap around the perimeter of the room, for expansion?
    TOM SILVA: Right. When you put a floating floor together, each piece connects to itself. It clips together, glues together depending on which one. So now that floor now becomes one giant piece of flooring. That flooring is going to expand and contract and it’s going to need some place to go. So you have to create a gap around the perimeter of the room; a minimum, usually, of a ¼ an inch. You can cover that gap with the baseboard or a shoe molding.
    TOM: Sounds easy enough. Now, because you’re putting a second layer of flooring on top of the original, there’s some thickness that you’re building up there. By the time you get done with the flooring and the thickness, you’ve got to be up to a ½-inch or so. Are there situations where that could kind of get you in trouble?
    TOM SILVA: Absolutely. Suppose you’re going to a kitchen, for example, and you’re putting a ½-inch floor on top of that kitchen. And that dishwasher that’s under that counter just made it in there.
    TOM: Oh, yeah.
    TOM SILVA: Well, if you’ve got to service that dishwasher, are you going to be able to get it out? You’ve got to think about that. So, you think about the thickness of the floors; it’s very important.
    LESLIE: Now, Tommy, since you work in older homes quite often, have you ever encountered an instance where this floating type of flooring just isn’t going to work there?
    TOM SILVA: I actually haven’t encountered a situation where I couldn’t use it but it takes a little more prep work to make the floor go in and look good.
    TOM: I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got an 1886 kitchen with a floating floor on it right now. I would be embarrassed to tell you how many dips and weaves there are in that. (Leslie chuckles) It’s really stood up quite well.
    Tommy Silva from TV’s This Old House. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
    TOM SILVA: It’s my pleasure.
    TOM: And there’s a great video and article on ThisOldHouse.com on this very subject.
    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch more tips from Tom Silva and the entire This Old House team, on your local PBS station.
    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
    Up next, as cooler fall temperatures set in, you might be reminded of that cold spot in your house that just never seems to get warm.
    LESLIE: That’s right. Up next, we’ve got a solution in the form of a portable heater that is totally safe and can help you cut your heating costs, as well. All those details, after this.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your toolbox, visit StanleyTools.com.
    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. And we’d love to hear from you, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We want to hear what you’re working on and we want to give you a hand. And if you are lucky enough to get on the air with us this hour, one of you is going to be extremely lucky because we are giving away a $100 gift card for Lowe’s, courtesy of our friends over at Pella Windows and Doors.
    Now, Lowe’s is making it easy to jumpstart your next home improvement project, because they’ve got a promo. It’s “31 Ways to Save During the 31 Days of October.” Now, you can spend your money wisely with energy-saving products like the Pella Designer Series 750 Windows.
    And these are those really cool windows with the blinds in-between the glass panes. And you guys know much I love to clean; I mean I really do but dusting those window shades and blinds, not so much. And with them encased in the glass, you never have to clean them again.
    TOM: You know, replacing old windows and doors with more energy-efficient ones like those from Pella, which are sold at Lowe’s, can help you save energy year-round and that can actually help you out at tax time, too. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win that $100 gift card, so call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    And if you don’t win today, tune in again next week. We’re giving away 100 bucks in gift cards every week this month.
    LESLIE: Alright. Well, if you haven’t already – and believe me, some of us in the United States have – pretty soon you’re going to be turning up that thermostat to get your house nice and toasty. But did you know that every 2 degrees that you lower your thermostat in the winter could save you 10 percent off your energy bills?

    Well, to supplement the heat in the room that you use most often, you might want to consider a portable heater.
    TOM: And we’ve got a new sponsor that I’m totally loving, because I’ve got one room in my house that is always cold and can definitely benefit from this product. It’s called the SUNHEAT Electronic Infrared Zone Heater.
    And this is a supplemental heater that uses infrared heating to warm any area of your home. So you can turn down the furnace, stay warm and save money. And that’s important because we end up having to overheat some parts of our house to get …
    LESLIE: Just to accommodate.
    TOM: Yeah, just to basically to accommodate it and to get heat in that chillier room. And most people spend like 80 percent of their time in 20 percent of their house, so why pay to heat in the entire house?
    The original SUNHEAT is a more effective brand of heat that can pay for itself in one heating season. To learn more, go to SUNHEAT.com or call them at 877-GO-SUNHEAT. 877-GO-SUNHEAT. And then let us know what you think because, I’ve got to tell you, I’m really happy with this product.
    LESLIE: Maryann calling in from New York is dealing with a situation on the pavers. What’s going on?
    MARYANN: A lot of moss growing on the bricks and in-between them.
    TOM: OK, moss?
    MARYANN: Moss.
    TOM: Alright.
    LESLIE: Well, that’s not a terrible thing.
    TOM: No, it’s not.
    LESLIE: It’s not a difficult problem; it’s something that can be handled very easily. And once we’ve gotten rid of the moss, what you want to do – Tom, would you use Roundup or would you use bleach and water at this point, if it’s a heavy moss?
    TOM: I would probably use bleach and water on the moss, because Roundup is going to be good for plants like grass and weeds that are coming up through it. But with moss, I’d probably use a bleach-and-water solution and I would get rid of all the moss. And then those gaps between the brick, I would fill them with sand.

    And there’s a polymer-based sand that QUIKRETE makes that will …
    LESLIE: It’s called JOINT-LOCK.
    TOM: Yeah, it’ll sort of set in place and lock in place and that actually plugs those gaps and stops weeds from growing up through them.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You can get it at pretty much any home center but I would start with QUIKRETE’s website and look at the product called JOINT-LOCK and then see where you can find it. But I’m sure you can get it anywhere. And you want to sweep it into all of the joints between your brick pavers on your walkway and then you hose it down.
    And what happens is the water sort of activates the polymer in the sand and it becomes almost like a caulk, if you will; it sort of goops together and fills in the gaps. Nothing can grow through it but then if you ever have an issue where you need to pick up one of those bricks, you can easily sort of rock it back and forth and pull that brick out.
    TOM: Maryann, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Tanya is up next with a grout question from Virginia. How can we help you?
    TANYA: Hi. We are remodeling a bathroom in our new – well, not new; new to us – home.
    TOM: OK.
    TANYA: And we have tiled the entire wall area of the shower and then the bottom half of the rest of the bathroom.
    TOM: That’s a big project.
    TANYA: It is. And we’ve done really well with it and it’s grouted. And we’re trying to figure out what type of sealer to put on that grout.
    TOM: OK. Yeah, you want to use a silicon-based sealer.
    TANYA: OK.
    TOM: OK?
    LESLIE: And there’s a lot of great applicators out there to help you get it on to just the grout area. There’s some that looks like a little nail polish bottle with a brush actually built right in. There are some that have like a spongy wheel. Pick whichever one you feel comfortable with and which helps the sealer to flow properly from it.
    TANYA: OK.
    LESLIE: And once you do that, you will be so happy because your grout will actually stay clean.
    TANYA: Mm-hmm. OK. Well, thank you.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Tanya, and good luck with that project. It sounds like you guys have done a lot of work there and this is the final step. We’re happy to help you out with it.
    TANYA: Thank you so much.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Mark in Virginia is dealing with a very moist garage. Tell us about the problem.
    MARK: Yes. I have mold in my garage. It’s due to standing water on the outside. Came home from a business trip and come inside to cut the grass; I grab my work boots and they’re all covered with mold. Since then, I called the landscaper and he’s going to be regrading the yard to put soil around the house to push the water away. We also talked about putting plastic downspouts under the ground and carry it out further away from the house.
    TOM: Well, those are two very good things because you do want to move the water away from the house. Make sure, if he adds soil, that it’s not topsoil because landscapers love to put too much topsoil around the house. The grading improvement should be made with clean fill dirt, not topsoil. You can put a little bit of topsoil on top of it but the grade has to be made with clean fill dirt. If you put too much topsoil around it, basically, it’s going to do the opposite and, Mark, it’s going to hold water around the house. You don’t want that to happen.
    So those are two things to do. Have you cleaned up the mold that you found in the garage?
    MARK: I am in the process of doing it and that is a very timely experience, I tell you that.
    TOM: Yep.
    MARK: I’ve thrown away a lot of cardboard boxes.
    TOM: Yeah.
    MARK: Just using plastic bins right now.
    TOM:  Right, well that’s all mold food.
    LESLIE:  Yeah and that’s the best thing.
    MARK: Oh, OK.
    TOM: Yeah, you don’t want to …
    LESLIE: Anything that’s a natural fiber. Fabrics, papers, cardboard – which are typically things that you store items in – are terrible in a high-moisture situation. And once you get a good system with those plastic bins, you’ll be able to see everything that’s in them, be super-organized, which is great for an extra space like this.
    MARK: OK. Awesome. That’s great.
    TOM: Alright?
    MARK: Awesome. Alright. Well, I want to thank you very much. My wife and I love listening to your show. We think it’s awesome.
    TOM: Thanks, Mark.
    LESLIE: Well, thank you so much.
    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Ari in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
    ARI: Hi. I’m currently buying a 3,400-square-foot home with many large windows and …
    TOM: Congratulations.
    ARI: Thank you, thank you. And I was given an estimate on doing a 25-percent window tint. I was given an estimate of between $2,000 and $3,000 and I was told that that would help me reduce my utility bills.
    TOM: Well, if this is a new house, what kind of windows are they putting in there, Ari? Are these Energy Star windows? Are they low-e windows? Are they insulated windows?
    ARI: The truth is I’m not sure. I know they’re Andersen double-pane.
    TOM: Oh, well that’s a very good window then. That’s a very good window. You probably have a low-e coating, so that’s going to reduce the heat. It’ll reduce the solar glare, to some extent, as well. I mean some folks like the tint but I don’t think that there’s an energy-saving argument for it; not on brand-new windows like that, that are already pretty energy-efficient.
    ARI: Uh-huh, uh-huh. OK.
    TOM: I think you need to look into the qualities of the window that you’re buying – that you’re getting with the house and make the decision from there. If these are Energy Star-rated windows, I think you’re in very good shape right now.
    ARI: Uh-huh. OK, fine.
    TOM: Alright? Maybe you can put that into furniture. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
    ARI: OK. (chuckles) OK, thank you so much.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Ari. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. You know, we talk about installing a floating floor being a fairly easy DIY project. But what if you’ve got bumps and dips to deal with? Up next, we’re going to teach you how to level that field before you begin, so that you can install a beautiful, new floating laminate or engineered hardwood floor.
    Not that hard; simple DIY job. Find out how, 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: And Halloween is now right around the corner. For great ideas on avoiding tricks but keeping the treats in this year’s celebrations, check out MoneyPit.com for ideas. We’ve got advice on keeping pranksters away. We’ve got some tips on safe lighting for your walkway and a lot more. Just search “Halloween” at MoneyPit.com.
    LESLIE: Hey and if you’ve got a question that you want to ask us but you’re too shy to pick up the phone, no worries. Email us; we jump into the e-mail bag every week. And I’ve got one here from Mitch who writes: “We want to install a new kitchen flooring in our 26-year-old house. It’s currently linoleum that we want to cover in laminate. The problem is there are a few dips in the floor. What advice can you give us?”
    TOM: Well, I found that laminate is reasonably resilient and I will say that the last time I put laminate down in our kitchen – now this is an 1886 house; it’s got plenty of rolls, believe me. (Leslie chuckles) It’s up; it’s down. There’s not a flat floor in this entire house and it took it very, very well.
    LESLIE:  You’ve got bunny hills; not quite dips.
    TOM: What you can do is there’s an underlayment that goes under this laminate floor and if you do have an area that’s a dip, a little trick of the trade is you can double-up the underlayment there. It’s sort of like a padding. So you can double it up where it sort of is down or double it up on either sides of the place where it’s crowned, to sort of smooth it out.
    LESLIE:  To sort of build it up.                                                               
    TOM: That’s right. And if you want to do an extra-good job, you can glue the joints of the floor together. They do snap together but if you put a little bit of glue in them – which sometimes, if you’re doing a tough installation like a bathroom, they recommend – you can glue those joints.
    Just make sure; you know, you’ve got one shot to get it in there and get it done right. But if you use a yellow glue and you let it dry, you can basically peel it right off the surface, because it doesn’t actually stick to the laminate itself. It’s kind of like wax paper; it won’t stick to the surface, so you can peel it right off without damaging the floor.
    I wouldn’t let it go until it’s like super-hard but when it gets kind of rubbery, you can peel it off and then sort of damp-sponge anything that’s left behind. But I think that you could definitely could put it on a floor that has a little bit of dip in it.
    LESLIE: Alrighty. Alright, next up we’ve got Emily in California who writes: “We just moved into a home with ceiling tiles in several rooms. I’ve yet to determine what’s underneath them. Is there a way to paint them or replace them or would it be better to deal with what’s underneath?”
    I am assuming she means like a suspended ceiling, correct?
    TOM: Well, I was thinking fiber tile; like the interlocking kind.
    LESLIE: Oh.
    TOM: It depends. If it’s suspended, it would be easy enough to lift it up. That’s why …
    LESLIE: Yeah, because you can just pop those out.
    TOM: Yeah, I’m thinking that she’s talking about fiber tile that are like interlocking.
    TOM: And yeah, I mean …
    LESLIE: Almost like a tongue-and-groove-type thing.
    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. If you pull those down, they’re going to be on furring strips.
    LESLIE: They’re going to crumble.
    TOM: Well, not only will they fall apart but they’ll be on furring strips, so you’re going to have to pull those down, take out a bunch of staples and then pull down 1x2s that are probably underneath that or something of that nature. And you’re going to end up with a ceiling that’s been pretty badly damaged and then you’ve got to figure out what to do about it.
    So, if you’re not totally hating the fiber tile, why not paint it? You could paint it; it would absorb a lot of paint. But use ceiling paint because they’re a little thicker and it doesn’t drip as well.
    LESLIE: And definitely prime it first, because you don’t know what’s on that surface, how long it’s been there and that primer is really going to adhere well to it.
    TOM: Yeah.
    LESLIE: And if you want it to absorb something, let it absorb the primer and then your topcoat color. And if you’re going with an interesting shade other than a neutrally color, make sure you’ve got that primer tinted to sort of help you along with that topcoat.
    And if it’s that foam that’s kind of textural, go with that roller that looks like it’s sliced like a spiral ham, just to sort of open up and accommodate whatever texture might be on that foam ceiling and that’ll really help you get the paint on there really well.
    TOM: And one more thing. If you decide to get rid of the ceiling tile, don’t take off the furring strips; just take down the ceiling tile and put new ½-inch drywall right on top of the furring strips. You actually will be giving up a little bit of space but it’ll just be a lot easier because you’ll have a lot of strips. Those strips will be 12 inches on center and you’ll have plenty of space there to attach the ceiling and it’ll come out flatter and look a lot cleaner when you’re done.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s a really great ceiling application, as well. And it’s a very encouraging do-it-yourself project because when it comes out great, you did a super job.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
    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.
    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
    (promo/theme song)

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement project. Standing here to give you a hand getting those projects done around your house. Maybe it’s a repair project, maybe it’s a décor project, maybe it’s a project that you’ve really been putting off for a long, long time; just need a little bit of a push to get over that edge. We don’t judge, we don’t nag; we just give you solutions and some direction to get it done once, get it done right and get back to the lounge chair immediately (Leslie chuckles) thereafter.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) We just give a hand.
    TOM: Now here is a project we’ve got planned for this hour that folks really love: natural stone countertops. Beautiful, right? Except for the price tag.
    LESLIE: Yeah, not so much.
    TOM: Very, very expensive. There is good news, though. You can get stone countertops and you can do so for a bargain price. We’re going to tell you how, in just a bit.
    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, what you can do now to your lawn and garden that will help you get through this winter and then get everything ready for the springtime. I know it is just the start of the cold season but there are some things you can do that is going to make spring a breeze. We’re going to share with you some easy, fall, landscaping care tips, coming up.
    TOM: Plus, having a backup generator in your home has never been more within your reach. These products, the prices are coming way down. They’re very affordable and contrary to what you might think, they are definitely not a luxury anymore.
    We’re going to teach you how to size one so you’ve got enough backup power for your home, a little bit later this hour when we welcome an expert that will kind of walk us through the process. This way, you’ll know what to shop for; you can really seriously consider getting a generator. I’ve got one and I’ve got to tell you, I’m so happy that I do. I’ve had it for five years now and never have to worry about power outages in this house because of it.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Tom? Luckily, we have the standby generator in the studio, as well, because there have been times we’ve been in recording sessions and lost power. So, we’re able to bring you The Money Pit even if there is a power outage in the state of New Jersey, because we’ve got a standby generator. So, really something to consider.
    And this hour, guys, we’ve got a great prize. We’re giving away an under-rug warmer from Warmly Yours. It’s worth $200 and it’s a great way to sort of add radiant heat to a cold, winter floor but without ripping up your floors.
    TOM: I love this. It fits under an area rug. You can even put it under a desk and get rid of those little, cube electric heaters that folks are using. So it’s going to go to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT during today’s show. 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jim on the line from Ohio who’s got a, I guess, a driveway-resurfacing project. What’s going on?
    JIM: Well, my driveway is all cracked up and they’re quoting me big money to bust it out and pour new concrete. And I’m just wondering, I have the height to do it; I’m wondering if I can just asphalt over the concrete and maybe just touch that up every few years instead of – with the cost of gutting it and pouring new concrete.
    TOM: Probably not because what’s going to happen is the concrete, if it’s already cracking, it’s going to continue to crack and now it’s going to lift sections of the asphalt at the same time. You know, the key to a proper driveway surface is the layers and the way it’s built up. So you need to pull out the concrete which, frankly, you could do yourself. I mean that part of it is just labor; you can rent a jackhammer. But pull that out and then you put down the stone and then you have the crushed gravel and it’s compacted and that’s what really makes the driveway last a long time.

    So if you’ve got bad concrete there, just pull it out yourself and start from scratch. But you cannot go on top of it; you will not be happy because those cracks will continue to move and shift. Imagine it like when you see tree roots that lift up through asphalt; it doesn’t take much strength to do that and that’s what’s going to happen.
    JIM: Alright. Sounds like I should rent a jackhammer and put my four teenage sons to work.
    TOM: There you go. That’s the easy way to do it.
    JIM: Thanks, guys. You’ve got a great show.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Dee needs some help taking care of and cleaning some marble in their house. What’s going on?
    DEE: Hi. Hi, Leslie. Yeah. I have a problem with travertine.
    DEE: I have an open shower and a tub-surround and from the water – it’s about 18 years old – and from the water, I guess it’s – there’s a mineral deposit and where the water is going down in the shower, it’s taken off the polish from the travertine. And I’m wondering how do I clean this mineral besides with a little putty knife and how do I get the luster back into the travertine where the water is hitting the wall?
    LESLIE: Well, I think first, to get rid of the mineral deposit, it is actually a simple, homemade solution that you could use which is a white-vinegar-and-water mixture and that really does a wonderful job of dissolving that mineral deposit; any sort of white cloudiness that you might see around a faucet or on a shower wall. Dilute some white vinegar and you can really make a difference with that.
    DEE: To soak it with the vinegar and water? I mean it’s like …
    TOM: Well, you could mix it up and put it in a spray bottle and spray it on there and then just sort of wipe it down. And maybe you can just kind of keep that spray bottle around to clean up after the showers. It does a great job of melting the salts. Travertine marble is a great material; you would think that as natural as it is, it would be incredibly durable in terms of the finish but actually it’s not and it does need to have a lot of maintenance.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. And it’s very porous.
    TOM: It’s very porous, right. There is a website that specializes in products for marble and other porous surfaces. It’s called StoneCare.com.
    DEE: Oh. OK.
    TOM: And they have a …
    LESLIE: Great website. Excellent products.
    TOM: Yeah. They have a product there called All Surface Cleaner that works well.
    DEE: OK.
    TOM: And they also have a sealer. The bottom line is it’s a two-process; it’s a two-step process. You need to clean it first, then you need to seal it and you really need to seal this stuff pretty frequently; I would say probably once every three to four months.
    DEE: Is this something I can do myself or I have to have it …?
    TOM: Yeah. You spray – yeah. No, you can do it yourself. You can – these are sealers that you basically spray on and wipe off.
    DEE: OK.
    TOM: So they’re not hard to do.
    DEE: OK.
    TOM: But you really just need to use the right product on this.
    DEE: OK. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
    TOM: I think you’ll also find, too, when you keep it sealed, that you don’t get as much mineral deposit built up on it.
    DEE: Will the sealer bring back the sheen where the water is hitting against the wall?
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yes, yes. Yes, definitely.
    DEE: Oh, great. Great. Wonderful. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
    TOM: You’re very welcome, Dee. 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, home improvement, holiday décor, how to start even thinking about getting your house ready for the holiday season which, good Lord, is right around the corner. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Up next, soon you’ll be off the hook when it comes to those outdoor chores. But before you put the shovel and the rake away for the winter, take a few minutes to protect your lawn and your garden for a head start on spring. We’ll tell you what to do, after this.

    (theme song)
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to 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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a rug warmer from Warmly Yours, worth 199 bucks. I love this; no installation required. Just plug in the ¼-inch-thick mat for a quick and easy way to add warmth and comfort to any room in your home. You can visit Warmly Yours to check it out yourself; it’s WarmlyYours.com. Or give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
    LESLIE: That’s right. Well, we’re just about to enter in the super-cold time of year and winter can be really tough on your lawn and garden. But with a few tips, you can protect your landscaping. So no matter how temperate the climate is in your part of the country, your flowerbeds should absolutely be mulched all year long because the mulch, it’s going to help provide protection to the plantings and then it also provides organic matter for the soil. And then it keeps moisture on the bed to sort of continually nurture the garden.
    Now, if you live where the fall and winter can get really, really cold, you want to place a thicker layer of mulch during those chilly seasons. And then as the leaves start to fall, be sure that you clear them from the flowerbeds so that they don’t smother the growing plantings and then start to sort of encourage rot to grow.
    Finally, fertilize your lawn before the ground becomes frozen. And if you’ve got any patchy areas, make sure you reseed those, as well, before any sort of frozen areas develop on the property. And if you do that, you can really keep ahead and once spring comes around, everything is just going to grow in beautifully.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Give us a call right now with your home improvement project.
    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Sal calling in from Iowa who’s dealing with a water pressure situation. Tell us about it. Is it only in one faucet, shower or sink? What’s going on?
    SAL: Actually, yeah, it’s only in one faucet. It’s in the bathtub; the bathtub doesn’t seem to get hardly any pressure coming out. When I put on the hot water, it barely dribbles and the cold water, you know, isn’t that much better.
    LESLIE: Is this a new problem or has this always been going on in the life of the fixture?
    SAL: Actually, I just moved in so I’m not real for-sure how long this has been going on, though.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
    LESLIE: And you didn’t turn on the faucet before you moved in? Didn’t your – my dad was always like, “Flush a toilet (Tom chuckles) and turn on the shower.” (Sal chuckles)
    SAL: Well, I’ll have to talk to my dad about that then. (Leslie chuckles)
    TOM: You know, if it’s only in one faucet like that, then you don’t have a water-pressure problem; you just have a problem with the faucet.
    Now, things that could cause that could be something as simple as a little bit of debris that got into the valve.
    SAL: Oh, OK.
    TOM: And you may be able to get – to take it apart and clean it out.
    SAL: OK.
    TOM: It’s amazing, especially with some of the more modern valves, what a tiny bit of like crud that gets in the pipe – a little piece of mineral deposit …
    LESLIE: Even a hard-water buildup or something.
    TOM: That’s right. Hard water or a piece of solder that broke off can totally ruin the flow.
    SAL: OK.
    TOM: Now is it just – is it the tub faucet or is it the shower?
    SAL: It’s actually the tub (inaudible at 0:10:38).
    TOM: The tub faucet? Not the shower? So the shower faucet, the shower spout – sorry, the shower spigot has plenty of water coming out of it?
    SAL: I actually haven’t tried that yet.
    LESLIE: Why?
    TOM: Well, why don’t you try that?
    SAL: I have to get a couple shower curtains, so …
    TOM: Let’s start in there. Work with me here, Sal. Let’s narrow it down, OK? 
    LESLIE: Sal’s like, “I haven’t even unpacked yet. I just turned on the tub.” 
    TOM: But I do think that’s probably what’s causing it. I think there’s some debris in the line. You’ve got to isolate it, figure out what part of it is affected and then fix it.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And what you can do is you can disassemble the tip of your faucet, which is where the aerator is going to be and really work on – as you take it apart, take pictures, write it down, keep it in order so you know how to exactly reassemble it.
    SAL: OK, yeah. I’ve got a video camera so I’ll do that. True.
    LESLIE: And some white vinegar and water’ll do a great job of breaking down any sort of mineral buildup. It’s worth a shot.
    SAL: Oh, I really appreciate all the help.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Sal.
    SAL: Yep, you folks have a great show and have a good evening.
    LESLIE: Thanks, Sal.
    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Victoria needs some help with a kitchen project. How can we help you?
    VICTORIA: Yes, I would like to know about my kitchen cabinets. They are wooden but they are painted and I was sort of debating whether to refinish them – remove the paint and be refinished – or to either buy new cabinets.
    LESLIE: Well, are they solid wood? Are you certain …?
    VICTORIA: They are solid wood. That’s my problem; they’re solid wood. So …
    TOM: And you hate to part with them, huh?
    VICTORIA: Well, you know  – I know they’re good wood but I certainly – I’m tired of the painted surface.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So you’re hoping to get to a stained finish?
    VICTORIA: That’s right.
    LESLIE: Well, it’s going to require a little bit of, or I should say, a lot of elbow grease because you’re going to need to chemically strip that paint off of the wood surface itself. So you’re going to need to pull off all the cabinet doors and drawer fronts and make sure you label where everything came from. Leave the hinges either on the door or on the cabinet box itself so you know exactly where things go and how things fit back.
    And then you need to apply a stripping agent to the wood itself. There’s one that I’ve worked with several times and have had good success with. It’s called Rock Miracle; sort of goes on as a jelly and you can watch it dissolve. There’s a lot of …
    VICTORIA: Called Miracle?
    LESLIE: Rock Miracle.
    VICTORIA: Oh, Rock Miracle?
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And there’s a lot of good, eco-friendly ones out there that you can find if you’re concerned about fumes and what-not. You need to apply it, perhaps, a couple of times; applying it, then removing it as instructed and making sure you’re getting as much of that paint off as you can. You might even need to use a wire brush or a sander to get as much …
    VICTORIA: Or a sander, mm-hmm.
    LESLIE: Yeah, to get as much of that paint off as you can. And once you get that surface as clean as possible, then you can go ahead and apply your stain.
    VICTORIA: Well, I was thinking of keeping the inside as it is, painted, because it’s in very good condition and just have all the outside refinished. Does that sound crazy or should it …?
    TOM: No, not in the least. You could do that. In fact, you could do something sort of halfway in between, too. If you are not terribly upset about having some of it be painted, you could leave the outside of the cabinet boxes painted and then perhaps just refinish the doors.
    LESLIE: The doors themselves.
    VICTORIA:  Just the – yeah. Right.
    TOM:  Maybe just strip the doors and the drawer fronts of the old paint and have them be natural and have everything else be painted a neutral to match.
    LESLIE: Now we’ve got John in Pennsylvania who’s calling in with an insulation question. What can we do for you today, John?
    JOHN: I’ve got a question concerning installing insulation in my attic.
    TOM: OK.
    JOHN: Do I need to protect the gap between the roof sheathing and the sheathing of the wall? The house does not have an overhang; it’s a simple gable roof with vents at either end and a ridge vent. But where the wall sheathing meets the roof sheathing, there is a gap of approximately 1/8 of an inch. And I was advised that that gap should be protected by a home inspector.
    TOM: Now, wait a minute. So you’re talking about – you’re going to reroof and you have a gap between the wall sheathing and the roof sheathing. And isn’t the roof going to go over that gap and hang over the outside wall?
    JOHN: Well, the gap is between the underside of the roof sheathing and the wall sheathing. There is, essentially, no overhang.
    TOM: Yeah, I understand what you’re saying but I don’t understand. The sheathing is not part of – is he worried about water getting in?
    JOHN: No. The question is is for insulation purposes, do I need to keep that …?
    TOM: Nah. No, no, no, no, no.
    LESLIE: So that doesn’t act like a soffit vent? That little gap?
    TOM: No. No. I wouldn’t worry about that.
    JOHN: OK.
    TOM: I don’t think it’s an issue.
    JOHN: So that – I noticed that if I installed drip – a drip edge on the roof when I haven’t reroofed, that gap is going to be closed by the drip edge.
    TOM: That’s my point. Yeah, you can roof right over that.
    JOHN: OK.
    TOM: OK?
    JOHN: OK, that answers my question.
    TOM: There you go. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Joanne in Florida is having a problem in the bathroom: the plaster is bubbling up. Tell us what’s going on.
    JOANNE: Alright, I have a house that was built in 1967. It’s a block house and in my bathroom it’s plaster on top of the block.
    TOM: OK.
    JOANNE: Between the window and the corner of the room, there’s a section about two feet tall and about a foot wide that the plaster keeps getting soft and bubbling up. And I’ve tried spackling years ago and that bubbled out and I’ve tried a plaster patch repair and, over time, that bubbles out.
    TOM: Hmm. It sounds to me like you have a leak, Joanne, and we need to get to the bottom of that.
    JOANNE:  A leak?
    TOM: Yeah. You mentioned it’s a concrete block house. The thing about concrete block is it’s very hydroscopic. It’s going to absorb water and that water can not only sort of fall down with gravity but it can actually get drawn up and across the wall.
    So the first place I would look is right around that window to make sure that we’re not letting any water in there that’s getting drawn into the block and pulled across to the wall. Because what you’re describing is exactly what happens when that block gets wet and, as such, the plaster can’t attach to it; it gets very saturated and sort of keeps falling off. Could be happening very slowly over time but I’ve really got to get – we’ve really got to get to the bottom of this leak and I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening.
    TOM: So take a look at the window, take a look at the flashing, take a look at the caulking around it and try to seal it up as best you can and then keep an eye on it and see if it repeats itself. And by the way, the next time you patch this and get it all nice and dry and smooth, make sure you prime the wall with an oil-based primer. That would help, as well.
    JOANNE: OK. Great.
    TOM: Alright, Joanne, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Art in Michigan is doing some work around his money pit. What can we help you with?
    ART: Hi there. I have two, large porch openings that get a blast of Northwest wind through the winter. They’re about 12 feet long by 6 feet tall; two of them. And I’m trying to figure out how to close them in without – with a clear enclosure so that from inside we could still see through the porch and also in a way that would not – I would not have to screw into the wood frame of the opening.
    TOM: Well, you’ve got to have some system for attaching it so at some point, you have to have some hardware installed.
    ART: Yes.
    TOM: Now, it may not be something that you’re nailing-in every single season and we could come up with a system that, essentially …
    LESLIE: Like maybe a tracking system.
    TOM: Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking. What I was thinking that if you had – have you ever had sliding windows?
    ART: Yes.
    TOM: Or a sliding door? Do you know how to – how they drop in at the top, you lift them up very high and then you drop them into the bottom track?
    ART: Yes.
    TOM: What if you built panels that did it, where you had a channel up top and a channel down below and the channels were attached to the opening? And you dropped in some panels that were clear; they could be framed and covered with clear Plexiglas. And then you drop them in when the winter season comes. So slide them up the track and then in.
    LESLIE: And the track then really isn’t visible because you’re probably going into the soffit or right into that opening on the porch and then to the floor or somewhere, so you’re not really seeing it. This way, when it’s not functioning, you’re not looking at a hole or …
    ART: Alright. Well, very good. I appreciate your help.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, you might think of a backup power generator as a luxury that you simply can’t afford or you don’t really need but think again. This appliance is becoming more and more of a necessity and the prices, they’ve never been more affordable.
    TOM: That’s right. And the key is finding the right-size generator for your home. That’s why, up next, we’ve got an expert to help us walk us through the process.
    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to 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: Well, having a backup electric generator was once considered a luxury but with more and more demand on the country’s aging power grid, homeowners are finding backup power is an absolute necessity. And if you’re in the market for a backup generator, the most important thing you need to do is to size it correctly so it delivers the power you need, exactly when you need it.
    LESLIE: That’s right. So we’ve got a great guest joining us this hour. We’ve got Jon Hoch, who’s the founder of ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com, to help us sort out exactly how you size a generator for your home and what you want to power.

    Welcome, Jon.
    JON: Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
    TOM: It’s our pleasure. So, Jon, when it comes to sizing a generator, is bigger always better? I mean how do you start the process on figuring out exactly what you need to have the power that you need for your particular situation?
    JON: Yeah, the process is actually really simple. The whole point is trying to replace what you lost from the utility, right?
    TOM: OK.
    JON: So, a lot of people think about whole-house generators. If you live in a dog house, you just need a camping generator; it’s pretty simple.
    TOM: Right.
    JON: But most people live in normal-size houses so they’re going to need something of a certain size. Most houses, nowadays, come with 200-amp panels with a bunch of different circuits already prewired to make the electrician and the electricity work just fine.
    So the objective is not necessarily to replace the appliances that lost power but you replace the circuits that are already in the house. So standby generators come with up to 16 different circuits that they can power.
    TOM:  OK.
    JON: So instead of turning a lamp on, you can turn the entire kitchen on.
    TOM: Right.
    JON: It’s a whole lot easier to do that.
    TOM: So, I guess, when you’re trying to decide what you want to power, you’re not deciding, necessarily, on an appliance-by-appliance basis. You’re not saying, well …
    LESLIE: It’s like a zone thing.
    TOM: Yeah. And I want my TV and my alarm clock …
    JON: No, you’d go crazy. I mean doing the mathematical calculations would drive you nuts, right?
    TOM: Right, exactly.
    JON: If you go to ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com, we actually have a sizing guide. And the cool thing about this is that you don’t have to do any work, really. All you’ve got to do is print out the handout that we have on the website, go to the basement and identify the circuits that you want to power.
    TOM: OK. OK.
    JON: And you fill out the form, you come back to the computer, you plug it in and poof, it’s going to tell you exactly what size generator you need. So the more circuits that you want to power, the bigger the generator you need, the more expensive it gets.
    TOM: Now what’s the average size generator that most homes have?
    JON: Well, in most of them – the home standbys start at about 8 kilowatts and they go all the way up to about 20 kilowatts.
    TOM:  OK. OK.
    JON: So the real difference, whether you want a little one or a big one, really depends upon your central air conditioner. Because if you want to run your central air, if you’ve ever seen your utility bill in the summertime, you know that they use a lot of electricity.
    TOM: Right.
    JON: So if you want to run your central air conditioner, we recommend getting something around 17 to 20 kilowatts and you’re going to need the extra power to be able to turn that motor over to be able to get it to run.
    If you live in northern climates, most cases you don’t – if the power goes out in the summertime, you open up the windows and you’re fine, right? It’s the winter you have to worry about. So if you live in the North, you’ve got to protect your furnace and some of the other things from – you don’t want your pipes to freeze and burst and have problems.
    LESLIE:  Freezing. Now, technology has really advanced when it comes to standby generators. You have the opportunity that when, you know, power goes off, that they just turn on everything by themselves within like 30 seconds of losing power. Do you need anything special within your home’s electrical system to make that automatic standby generator work or is it pretty much plug and play?
    JON: It’s mostly plug and play. The things that you’re going to need are, obviously, is fuel. You’re going to need either natural gas or propane. And other than that, the systems come all-equipped with everything that you need to run to restore power.
    We recommend that a licensed electrician install this system. You can buy this system either through us or through other distributors and make – get some great prices. One of the advantages of buying through us is we ship it directly to your door for free and there’s no sales tax if you live outside of Illinois, so there’s some cost-savings advantages from us.
    TOM: And also, Jon, I would imagine that typically when people think about buying a generator is because they just had a major power failure. And when that happens, of course, everybody has the same bright idea but you can’t find one locally and if you can, the prices are high because of supply and demand. If you’re buying from a site like ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com, though, you’re guaranteed, first of all, to get a fair price and secondly, practically, you can get it reasonably quickly. In fact, in some cases, you can get it quicker than you could find the time to go out and pick one up yourself.
    JON: Oh, absolutely. I mean we – right now, we have, literally, hundreds of standby generators in stock and we have a system called “Priority Shipment.” If you’re in a hurry, we can get it out the door the same day; it can be delivered to your house within two days.
    The challenge with generators is that not only do you need to get the generator, which is hard to get during a power outage, but it’s also equally harder trying to find an electrician or somebody to help install it for you.
    TOM: Sure.
    JON: So the key for buying a generator is to buy them between storms. That’s when you can get some savings and that’s when you can even have some people who have time to actually install this thing for you.
    TOM: Good advice, Jon Hoch, the founder of ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com. Great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
    JON: Thank you.
    TOM: For more tips, you can go to ElectricGeneratorsDirect.com or pick up the phone and call them at 800-710-7499. That’s 800-710-7499.

    And even if you’re not ready to buy one right now, you ought to go to Jon’s website and use that sizing calculator and figure out what size you need. It’s a great exercise to really appreciate, you know, how you’re using your system and what it might take to replenish it if power goes out again, because you know it will.
    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit. Coming up next, granite countertops, we love them. They look great and they last forever but boy, can they be expensive. Coming up, we’re going to share with you a solution for the same look with a way-more-affordable price tag, so stick around.
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac Automatic Standby Generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Now, one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win – I think this is a great prize. We’re giving away a rug warmer from Warmly Yours. It’s worth $199.

    Now, there’s no installation required at all. All you do is plug in this ¼-inch-thick mat and then you suddenly get this quick and easy way to add warmth and comfort to any room in your home. You’re going to just put this sort of radiant heat pad, if you will, underneath your area rug and then your once-cold tootsies are suddenly warm and happy.
    If you want to check it out, because it’s really cool, visit WarmlyYours.com to take a look at it or you can give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Well, natural stone is a great look for kitchens and baths. It’s easy to clean and it’s very durable but it can be very, very pricey. For a more affordable option in natural stone countertops, you can use smaller sections of stone, which are sold as large squares.
    Here’s what you do: you simply put them side-by-side and then the joints are filled in with grout and these smaller stone squares, therefore, are very much less expensive. They’re easier to install and they can provide a very attractive look at a small fraction of the price of the solid stone tops; kind of a cheap trick for a cool countertop.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, you can also find some really great options in laminates. And if you’re thinking, “No way, man. It’s going to look like the 60s Brady Bunch kitchen,” you’re actually way off.
    Today, newer laminates come in thousands of colors and styles and assorted types to look like, you know, diamond-plated metal and all kinds of wood and bamboo and really cool grasses. I mean they’re just gorgeous and you can even find some that look like granite or any of those solid-surface counters that are out there, at a super-duper fraction of the price.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Give us a call right now with your home improvement question.
    LESLIE: Peter in Alaska is calling in with a roofing issue. Tell us what’s going on.
    PETER: On the dark side of my house – actually, some parts are sunny; I thought it was bad – but I’m getting moss growing.
    TOM: Right.
    PETER: What’s the best way to get rid of that?
    LESLIE: Is there any way to thin out the trees just a smidgen, to get more sunlight on there? I know you’re about to enter in zero sunlight (Leslie and Peter chuckle) but …
    PETER: Yeah, I have but even in the sunny parts, I still get it there; it’s coming up, too, on the front of the house. I have a south-facing house and the front of the garage is still getting moss.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, it’s not going to pose any sort of damage to the roof structure, itself, although you might not think it’s that attractive. The best way to really get rid of it is with a mildicide, which could be as simple as bleach and water or a housecleaning product like a JOMAX or OxiClean makes one. I always go for bleach and water just because it’s what I keep handy in the house and I can sort of control how tough it is; aggressive, I should say.
    PETER: So you just pour it on there?
    LESLIE: You kind of pour it on there. I know when I deal with the trim around my windows on the side of my house that grows moss, I put some on there, I let it sit for a few minutes, I’ll take a stiff-bristle brush that’s more like a boat-deck-cleaning brush and give it a good scrub and wash it off with water and it really goes away.
    Now on the roof, you need to be careful because bleach or any of those house cleaners are slippery. So you’ve got to put it on there. If you can do it on a day when the sun’s kind of getting to it the best it can, it’ll help to sort of help that process. It’s just a maintenance thing.
    PETER: Hmm. So just bleach, huh?
    LESLIE: Now, I think it works.
    PETER: Yeah, OK. Thank you.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Adrian in Michigan needs some help with a deck question. What can we do for you?
    ADRIAN: Hi. We have an older deck that was recently gently pressure-washed because it needed to be refinished.
    TOM: OK.
    ADRIAN: And the contractor recommended going with a solid stain. They started painting it; about a third is done and, unfortunately, the color is not working out and it looks kind of taupey, almost like Silly Putty next to our sage-green, grayish house.
    LESLIE:  OK.
    ADRIAN: So now we’re stuck with this taupey-colored solid, half-painted deck; the other half being kind of like a red cedar, gently-pressure-washed color and we’re wondering how to remedy the situation. Do we have to sand and start over or could we maybe go over the whole thing with a darker color without making it look too pasty? Where do we go from here?
    LESLIE: And what they used …
    ADRIAN: I’m sorry. The contractor had said we had to go with a solid stain to protect it more but now I’m even wondering about that.
    LESLIE: Well …
    TOM: Well, your contractor is right.
    LESLIE: And what’s on there now? Is that taupey, putty-color solid stain or actual paint?
    ADRIAN: It is solid stain.
    LESLIE: Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend going over the half-stained and the half-unstained with another product because then the finished product is not going to look the same on both halves. It’s going to sort of adhere to both sides differently and sort of show its color differently because of what’s underneath.
    What I would recommend is go to the home center, pick up a chemical stain stripper or a paint stripper. And be cautious of how you use it. Follow the directions, apply it to the surface where the solid stain is and let it sit there and do its job and get up as much as you can. This way, you’ll be back to a uniform surface of that unfinished, whatever wood you’ve got there that’s sort of in its clean state, ready for new surfacing.
    And then, you’re right, solid stain is the proper thing; only because – especially if you’re dealing with an older deck and the graining is not looking so great and the planks themselves on the decking are kind of showing wear and tear – a solid stain is going to saturate that wood itself, deposit that color into the wood grain, allow you to still see some of the grain but give you a nice, saturated color appearance.
    In a sagey-green family, I think mahogany tones – deeper reds that sort of have a purpley-brown base that are sort of in that natural mahogany range – would look gorgeous. And that really is something you can achieve through a solid stain. At this point, I wouldn’t go semi-transparent because you’re going to be dealing with too much difference in the surface.
    ADRIAN: That’s what I was thinking. Actually, we were leaning towards even a darker brown maybe. OK. And what about the underside? Do we need to paint that?
    TOM: No, absolutely not.
    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show moving now, straight ahead into the fall season. And they call it fall for a very good reason, because lots of things fall. They fall off the trees, they end up on the roof and then they clog your gutters. Want the solution? We’ll have that, after this.
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Well, as we enter this autumn season, are you looking for ways to prepare for the winter with some easy fall fix-up? Well, if you are, head on over to MoneyPit.com. We’ve got ideas there that are going to add style, sparkle and organization to your money pit. All you need to do is search “fall fix-ups” at MoneyPit.com and you will get a host of information there to help you get your money pit in tip-top shape for this winter season.
    And while you’re there, you can e-mail us your question. And I’ve got one here from Hal in South Carolina who writes: “I just put on a new shingle roof on our single-story duplex six months ago. We have very large pine trees in the backyard and pine straw is piling up on the roof. How damaging can the straw be to the roof and do I need to clear it off periodically?”
    TOM: Well, I don’t think the pine straw is going to hurt your roof. You could have quite a bit of it on there but what I would tell you is it’s going to totally clog the gutters and that’s a problem. Because if the gutters get clogged, there’s a lot of bad things that happen that will make you very sad, like cracked foundations, slippery sidewalks, leaky basements, leaky crawlspaces. All these things can happen when your gutters get clogged. So I would tell you to make sure that you have a good-quality gutter guard on there.
    Now, there’s a bunch of different types and in fact, we’ve done an article on our website called “Gutter Guards: Are They Worth the Cost” that lays out the seven different types of gutter guards. But I will tell you that the ones that are – that rely on the water that sort of stick to them and roll off – there’s gutter helmets; there’s a bunch of different ones that are like that – they seem to work pretty well.
    LESLIE: The ones that are sort of like overlapping shingles-type things?
    TOM: Yeah, exactly. The only time I think that they don’t work is when you have a lot of water running down the roof at all. In heavy rain, you’ve got a lot of centrifugal force; I’ve seen them sort of overshoot it.

    But I’ve got one that’s similar to that that’s sort of like a louver-style that I’ve had under a pine tree for about five years now, that still hasn’t clogged. So the ones that sort of louver-style are the ones that work on the water sort of sticking to the surface and then rolling into the gutters and therefore into the downspout. They seem to work pretty well.
    The ones that are more meshy, well, that sort of acts like almost as a Velcro and the needles get stuck there and they never seem to go anywhere, so …
    LESLIE: Yeah and then as you get a buildup of debris on those types of guards, you know, everything sort of gets mashed and chewed up and then gets through there and almost becomes a glue. It’s not a good idea. You’ll end up being more sad that you added one of those.
    TOM: Now, while you’re at it, take a look at the downspouts and make sure they’re extended out well away from the foundation. Four to six feet, in the most cases, is going to keep that area around your house as dry as possible. And just make sure everything’s clean, free-flowing and ready right before the fall season sets in and this way, you’ll be good to go without any hassles.
    LESLIE: Alright, Hal. I hope that helps. Enjoy the autumn season.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: And now it’s time to turn to a quick, easy and cheap way to save money on your water bills. Those are three words that have never, ever been used to describe Leslie Segrete. And she’s got some tips  on how to save money, on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
    LESLIE: Ooh, the secret past that Tom may never know about. Muahaha. I’m always happy to make fun of myself.

    Alright, folks. When it is starting to get chilly outside and that mercury is dropping, you always think about adding an extra layer to your clothing, right? Maybe you put on a sweater; maybe you grab a blanket. But why don’t you do the same thing for your water heater? Ah, suddenly, light bulbs are going on across this country.
    Now, your water heater, it loses plenty of heat through the outside shell that they have. So, for about $10, you can actually buy an insulating jacket that keeps the heat from escaping. They’re really easy to install and they can really save hundreds of dollars on your energy bill over the life of the heater. I mean it’s really worth it. A $10 investment and a little bit of time in your boiler room and you have got a lower energy bill.
    TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’ve got great ideas for a safe and spooky fall season. Get tips on safe trick-or-treating and some easy decorating in, as well; even some easy cleanup tips, on the next edition of the program.
    I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
    (Copyright 2010 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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