The Secret to Avoiding Contractor Horror Stories, How to Care for Leather, and the Scary Details of Child Car Seat Safety
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: We are here to help you with your home improvement projects, so help yourself first. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ve got a project you want to tackle this fall, perhaps to warm up your house for the winter season ahead? Perhaps you’re going to be spending a lot of time inside that house and you want to spruce up the interior? Maybe you want to improve the air quality. Maybe you want to cut the heating cost. Whatever is on your to-do list, lets deal with it together at 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, if one of those projects you want to tackle involves hiring a contractor, you might be afraid you’ll get a bad apple. If you weed out the unqualified or unreliable GCs by asking the right questions, we’ll tell you what those are, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And there’s some very cool, new nailing tools on the market that will make you more productive than ever, no matter what job you’re tackling, from floorboards to shingles and everything in between. We’re going to share some info, in just a bit.
TOM: Plus, we’ve got advice on how you can easily stay informed about important recalls that can impact your family’s safety. And we’re taking your calls to 1-888-MONEY-PIT about your home improvement questions. So let’s get to it, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Ollie (sp) in South Carolina has a painting and design question. What can we do for you?
OLLIE (sp): I’ve got paneling. I don’t know if it’s laminated paneling or not but it’s got little grooves in it all the way down and it’s darker than the other paneling itself. And I wanted to paint it. Do I have to do something to fill it in – lines or cracks or what you want to call it?
LESLIE: Now, the lines that you’re talking about, those are like the beading. It’s like a decorative feature; it’s supposed to be there. Is that what we’re talking about?
OLLIE (sp): Yeah.
LESLIE: OK. You don’t want to fill that in only because if you try to fill it in with joint compound or wood filler, it’s just going to dry out, crack, detach. It’s never going to last.
So you kind of have to think about it. Can you embrace the look of the paneling, as far as a core element but paint it a different color and love that vertical lining? Or do you just hate that so much that you want to sort of try to remove it or cover it up?
OLLIE (sp): No, I’d like to leave it if it would make a nice design, you know?
LESLIE: I personally like it. I think painted paneling can be very lovely in the right type of space, with the right type of décor, and if you choose a good color. Now, the fact that you don’t know whether it’s wood or laminate, that could be a little bit of a concern only because we want to make sure that you have good adhesion.
So if the finish on the paneling right now is a little bit glossy or has a shine to it, you want to use a product like a liquid sander. And that’s something that you just wipe on and it sort of abrades the surface.
First, I’d give it a good cleaning, then I’d lightly abrade it with a liquid sander. Then I would prime it and I would prime it well with a good-quality primer. And then once that’s done, I would paint it. And I really enjoy the look of a paneling that’s in a glossy white. But I think if you go with a neutral color and try not to get crazy and just sort of let it be a neutral background with a decorative detail in it, I think it’ll be great.
OLLIE (sp): I think it would look nice. But thank you. You have a good day.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Darren in Iowa on the line. What can we do for you today?
DARREN: I have a problem with my basement walls. They’re a poured concrete wall. And in the wintertime, I get a thick frost on the inside of the basement wall, on the area that’s not underground, per se.
TOM: OK. So what’s happening is you have warm, moist air inside your basement striking a very cold, concrete surface condensing and freezing. The solution is to add basement-wall insulation.
Now, there is a specific type of insulation that’s designed to cover those poured-concrete basement walls. It’s like a fiberglass batt that’s surrounded in a reflective, foil Mylar kind of covering. It’s pretty easy to install and that will stop that from happening. Because once you have the warm fiberglass across that wall on the inside, you’ll no longer have that thermal contact between the moisture in the air and the chilly basement wall that’s causing it to freeze and crust over.
DARREN: OK. Would you put a vapor barrier in between? A thick plastic, per se?
TOM: Nope. Just put the insulation on and you’ll be good to go.
DARREN: OK. Will the same suggestion be correct to do if we’re going to fir (ph) the basement out later?
TOM: Yes. And the other suggestion I would make is to reduce the amount of moisture that could possibly be getting into those walls from the outside – is to improve your drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter. And that means making sure your gutters are clear, the downspouts are extended well away from the house and the soil slopes away from that wall, as well. OK?
DARREN: Excellent. Well, I sure appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, don’t let your precious project budget go to waste. Make sure you hire the best contractor to do the job. We’ll have the inside scoop on how to hire the best pros, after this.
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: Are you watching the trees change colors right now? Well, why not consider changing yours, too? We’re talking about the color of your house, that is. Painting vinyl siding is a wallet-friendly way to give your house a whole new look that will last for years to come. Just head on over to MoneyPit.com for a step-by-step guide to giving your vinyl siding a new coat.
LESLIE: Michael, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MICHAEL: I have an A/C coil. It has an issue with it. It’s positioned at an angle – air handler in my attic. And I believe this is so it will allow condensation to run down the baffles, into a drain pan. But mine doesn’t do that. The condensation simply drops off the baffles, directly into the bottom of the air handler, not into the drain pan.
Yeah, so I’m wondering if there’s a spray coating or something I can add to it to make it cohesive, where the water will stick to it until it goes to the drain pan. I had the A/C unit serviced last summer and one of technicians told me that the – he said, “The coating has worn off of your baffles and you just need to replace it.”
TOM: It sounds to me like it’s the kind of thing that’s installed when the product is manufactured, not something that’s added as an after-market.
So, is all the moisture dripping off of this as opposed to going – is most of the moisture getting to the drain pan or is it all just sort of spilling off all over the place?
MICHAEL: The drain pan is completely dry. It just drips directly from the coil for the baffles into the bottom of the air-handler unit.
TOM: Rusting everything out, too.
MICHAEL: It’s rusting and from the air intake down the hall, it finally built up enough where it was basically leaking.
TOM: And there’s no clog of any of the drainage of this down to that pan? There’s nothing that’s backed up? Because very often, some of that internal plumbing gets backed up.
MICHAEL: No. There’s nothing in the drain pan to drain out. It’s completely dry. It doesn’t drain down the baffles into the drain pan. It just drips directly into the bottom of the air handler. I wondered if just getting – I mean I looked at – there’s some cleaners you can go on and clean your coil with and things like that. And I suppose that may help – I don’t know – but…
TOM: It wouldn’t hurt. But the thing is you’re not going to know until next summer.
MICHAEL: Well, yeah. I could turn the A/C down and check it temporarily but …
TOM: Nah. It’s kind of unusual but what would happen is sometimes technicians will see these same units over and over again because they’re common to a particular area of the country or area of a state. And so they get accustomed to diagnosing this kind of defect over and over again. But unfortunately, I’m not aware of any type of coating that can replace what was probably put on when those blades were made originally.
MICHAEL: Not the news I was looking for but…
TOM: Alright. Well, thanks for giving it a shot.
MICHAEL: Yep. Thanks.
TOM: You’ve got it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Anna in Oregon is on the line and she’s got a question about sheds and critters. What’s going on?
ANNA: Well, I have a question. I was thinking of getting one of those sheds that you build yourself, like from Home Depot, and you put it in your backyard. And a neighbor of mine did that and another friend that I know did that and then they said they got rats underneath. And I’m wondering, is there any way to prevent that problem from happening?
TOM: Well, if you build this in such a way where it’s supported up in the air so you basically have created, for lack of a better term, sort of a kind of crawlspace underneath the shed, then you could get animals that are going to nest down there. But a better way to do this might be to put it on a simple foundation.
And so, to do that, essentially what you’re going to want to do is dig down into the area where the foundation – where the shed perimeter is going to be and set blocks into that area. Now, you would put them on a simple footing and set blocks into that area, compact the soil, set bricks or blocks in that area and then position the shed on top of that block foundation. And this way, it’ll be kind of a sealed bottom, as opposed to an open bottom. So if you put it on a small foundation – or the other thing you could do is you could pour a slab and then you don’t have to have a wood floor; you could just have an open floor.
ANNA: I see. Well, OK, I appreciate that suggestion.
TOM: Well, sometimes the toughest part of a home improvement project is the very first part: hiring the right contractor.
LESLIE: Now, there are plenty of credible, qualified and reliable contractors out there. But we’ve all heard our share of horror stories about the not-so-great ones. So, what’s the best way to avoid those rotten apples? Well, a detailed interview beforehand where you ask the right questions.
TOM: Now, it’s important to define the parameters of the project. So first things first: have a perspective contractor confirm the dates they can start and finish and the hours they’ll work. But to really weed out the bad guys, go deeper: find out how long the contractor has been in business and who’s going to be assigned as the project supervisor to the job.
LESLIE: Now, accidents happen on job sites. So find out whether workers are employees or subcontractors and if the company carries workers’ comp and liability insurance. If licensing is required in your state, call that state or your local government agency to verify.
TOM: Next, make sure the perspective contractor is the right one for your specific project. Get answers on how they’ll approach a project like yours, how many similar projects they’ve completed in the past year. And finally, request a list of references for those projects, which you should go ahead and call to find out if they’ve earned a good reputation.
LESLIE: Alright. Scott, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SCOTT: We had water come in our basement two, three weeks ago from a rainstorm we had. And I’m just wondering how to prevent that again.
LESLIE: OK. So far, you’ve dried everything out, gotten rid of any sort of issues that may have occurred from the flood?
LESLIE: OK. So, if you’re getting water that comes along with a heavy rainfall, what you want to do is – that really is a signal that you’ve got drainage issues around the exterior of your house. So there’s a couple of things you have to look at.
First of all, you want to look at your gutter system. And a lot of people don’t have a sufficient amount of gutters or maybe the gutters are clogged, maybe the downspouts are clogged or perhaps the downspout just isn’t sitting in the right location. A lot of people just put a downspout right next to the foundation wall and call it done.
So, what you want to do is make sure that your gutters are clean and free-flowing, downspouts too. Sometimes you have to snake those out. If they run underground, you want to make sure that everything is connected and it’s still moving the water away to where it’s supposed to be. And if they’re just ending at the foundation wall, you want to extend that downspout out at least 3 feet or so away from the foundation.
Then you want to look at the dirt all around the perimeter of the foundation. You want to make sure that it slopes away from the foundation. You want a gradual slope but you want to make sure everything is moving away from the foundation wall. And if you can do that, that’ll really do the trick.
A few years ago – gosh, more than a few years ago now, I had a clogged downspout. I didn’t even know about it. Went underground. I just assumed everything was fine and I came home to a super-duper-duper soggy basement and it was truly just because of that. And ever since we fixed that – knock wood – it’s all working.
SCOTT: Alright. Well, thanks for your help.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Catherine in Michigan is on the line with a basement-window question. How can we help you with this project?
CATHERINE: Yeah. I’m just wondering if block windows are the best option for a basement window, as far as security and energy efficiency?
TOM: Well, block windows are – they may be secure, because they’re block windows but they’re certainly not energy-efficient. And most importantly, they’re not ventable; they don’t open.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Nor are they an egress. You need to have a window that you can escape out of from a basement.
TOM: Well, if you have living space down there, you need a window that you have to escape out of. But if it’s a traditional basement window that’s a small window, it’s never going to be an egress window but it sure is nice to have one that you can open to – and you can get some ventilation when you have to, so …
CATHERINE: But we would get the vents that they put in the middle of the block window.
TOM: Yeah, still not very big. I don’t know. I’m not crazy about block as an option for windows. I would recommend a traditional basement window. You can get a thermal-pane basement window. Very energy-efficient. If you need security, then you can install window bars. But just make sure they have an escape mechanism that you can activate from inside so that you can get out through that window if you had to.
So that’s our two cents. If you like the block windows and you think you’re going to get enough ventilation out of it, then go ahead. But for me, I would never put a block window in a basement. I’d always use a traditional window. I think that’s what people expect in homes. I think doing something different like that could adversely affect my home value. I think I’m going to get the best overall results by doing just that.
I hope that helps you out. Catherine, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Peter in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PETER: We built our house in ’06, so it’s a brand-new house; we had it built. My wife was in a wheelchair, so we made the doors wider, like instead of 2-8, 3-0.
PETER: And we’re still bumping up against the door frames, you know? And they’re not too bad but they’re – when we’re backing up and stuff, we’re hitting the walls and the door frames. And we were just wondering if there was anything that you might be able to – maybe to cover up the dents in the wood.
TOM: So do you want to repair the wood or do you want to – like do you want some advice on how you can put a guard on those door frames?
PETER: I think maybe just to try and repair them or cover up the dents.
TOM: Well, that becomes a pretty easy repair. I mean basically, what you want to do is sand out the paint there and sand out any rough spot around that. And then you want to fill it. There’s a wide variety of products you could choose from. Elmer’s has got a great line of wood fillers that are easy to sand. And then you touch up with some primer and then you paint it again and that will cover it up.
And you also might want to think about taking a look at some of the clear corner guards that are available that can protect that. They kind of blend into the material so you don’t really see them. But it’ll help you protect from gouging it any further.
LESLIE: Oddly enough, at the home centers, Peter, they are found in the painting aisle. And I know this because the steps going down to our basement, my four-year-old likes to run down and grab onto that corner and he peels off the wallpaper every time he goes down and it’s been driving me nuts.
PETER: OK, great. Hey, thank you very much for your help. Yeah, we love listening to your show. We have a new house, so we don’t have all the problems like people have with dirt cellars and all that, so …
TOM: Oh, that’s alright. We’re glad we can help you out with the small repairs, as well as the big one. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Janet in Michigan, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JANET: My house is over 100 years old and there was a large, three-trunk tree in the backyard that had to be cut down. But it had so many nails in the tree that after using two chainsaws and losing the chains because there were so many nails in it, we have this humungous trunk left in the backyard. And I’d like to know how to get rid of it, because I can’t use the grinder on it.
TOM: Why can’t you use a – well, you mentioned chainsaws. But why not a trunk grinder: the type of grinder that tree services have that basically ground down or grind down the stumps to below-grade? That sort of grinder should certainly be strong enough to handle the nails that are in the tree.
TOM: So I would have a pro come out and use a stump grinder. And that’s the best way to get rid of that. You don’t have to get it all out; just get it down to below the surface and Mother Nature will do the rest.
Janet, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Burt in Delaware is on the line and needs some help with a bathroom vent. What can we do for you?
BURT: Our house was built 21 years ago and I’m working on remodeling an upstairs bathroom. And I’m putting a – it’s a small, Jack-and-Jill bathroom with a commode and the shower in a separate area but it’s very small. So I’m putting a fan directly over the shower that’s on a GFI. And when they vented the old fan, they just stuck it out at the top on the – out by a soffit. And I’m just wondering – that might not be the best way but it’s still – is that still – does it still work, I guess, is what I’m asking?
TOM: Yeah, it’ll work. The thing is you want to make sure it actually comes through the soffit. I’ve seen bathroom vent fans be dumped like in the soffit, expecting the warm, moist air to come through the perforation of the soffit.
TOM: But if it actually turns and vents straight out through the soffit, that’s fine. It’s probably a fairly short run, which means you’re not going to have any loss as you move that air along the duct and then bring it out.
BURT: OK. But you’re saying cut a hole in the soffit.
TOM: Absolutely. You don’t just want to dump it inside the soffit; you want to cut a hole and bring it out. Otherwise, you’re going to – ask for problems with moisture, as well as a fire hazard because all of that dust will collect up in that one space and that’s just not a good idea.
BURT: OK. Well, that’s what I need to know. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit. Still ahead, forget that garage, shed or workshop full of tools. We’ve got some info on a nailer that’s a true multitasker, just like you are, that will help you take on all kinds of projects, from framing to roofing. We’ll spill the details, after this.
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TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, we often get calls for second opinions from contractors and other construction pros. And one thing we’ve noticed is that today’s contractor is multitasking more than ever before. But not in the way you might think.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. They might be working on a roof today and then framing out a room tomorrow. So, tools that can work for several different projects are really important to the pros out there. Here to tell us about one such tool is J. Brooke Roberts from Stanley Black & Decker.
BROOKE: Good afternoon, everyone. How are you doing?
TOM: Good. So you guys have a new lineup of pneumatic nailers that are available exclusively at The Home Depot. Tell us about these.
BROOKE: That’s right. We’ve just launched 11 nailers at The Home Depot – exclusive to The Home Depot – and over 40 fasteners to go with it. DeWALT is the market leader for professional power tools and we take a lot of pride in making those tools and designing specifically for the pro. And as a result, the pro customer recognizes DeWALT is the brand that they can trust. So, very excited to be in this partnership with Home Depot.
LESLIE: Now, what makes this new line so special? Is it more user-friendly? Does it have better features?
BROOKE: So when you take a look at – as an example, if you took a look at the framing nailer, we’ve designed it for job-site specs, so it’s a compact framing nailer that’s only 13 inches tall. And the benefit of that is that it can easily fit in between studs and get into very tight places.
It’s also really lightweight; it’s only 7.8 pounds. What that’s going to do, it’s going to minimize the fatigue that you’re going to have on the job site.
And even though it’s really compact, it’s also extremely powerful. So it’ll easily sink up to 3¼ inch nails, all day long, into engineered lumber. So, durable, compact, lightweight. It’s just a great framing nailer for the pro.
TOM: I tell you what, that weight makes such a big difference, having worked with those tools for many years. When they first came out, they were just so heavy you almost didn’t want to use them. And now, with the lightweight tools that are available, they’re just so flexible and effortless, almost, to use.
BROOKE: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s something that’s certainly recognized from the – by the pro. We put it in their hands, they can immediately feel that weight and the balance of it feels really good, too.
So, end of the day, the user feels like he can work longer and with less fatigue.
TOM: We’re talking to Brooke Roberts – he’s the director of sales for Stanley Black & Decker – about the new DeWALT line of pneumatic nailers. It’s available exclusively at The Home Depot.
Brooke, we talked about the versatility of contractors and the fact that they’re running multiple jobs and working on multiple projects within the job at the same time. How flexible are these new pneumatic nailers to make that possible?
BROOKE: Well, most of the nailers are targeted at one specific segment, right? But if you took a look at our finish nailers, as an example, our finish nailers offer a new technology that’s called Precision Point. And what that’s going to do is it’s going to allow for a smaller nose footprint towards the top. And that’s going to allow customers to be able to get into tighter, more smaller spaces and know exactly where that’s nail’s coming out every time.
So, as an example, if you’re doing crown molding or if you’re doing base molding or if you’re chair molding, you want to know where that nail’s coming out every single time. So, you want a tool or lineup of tools that’s going to be able to do that. And that’s what those DeWALT finish nailers do with this Precision Point technology that we have. It’s going to allow you to be able to get into tighter spaces and it’s going to allow to know exactly where that nail’s coming out, no matter what application that you’re doing inside the house. So that’s some of the versatility that we have.
LESLIE: You’re right. And that is so important, especially when you’re doing any sort of, you know, fairly detailed molding. Because if you get it in the wrong spot, it’s impossible to fill and then impossible to hide.
BROOKE: Yeah, you’re exactly right. I mean the contractor wants to know exactly where that nail is coming out. Because if it comes out in a place where he doesn’t want it to be, you’ve ruined that piece of molding. That costs you time and money and it’s not what we’re all about.
So, our finish nailers are compact, lightweight and they offer that Precision Point technology. It’s been really well received by the pro and a really big seller for us at The Home Depot.
TOM: Can’t wait to check them out. Brooke Roberts from Stanley Black & Decker, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and telling us about the brand-new line of DeWALT pneumatic nailers, available exclusively at The Home Depot.
If you’d like to check them out yourself, take a look online at HomeDepot.com.
LESLIE: Hey, does your DIYing extend beyond the house and into your car? Well, up next, we’re going to have some insight on a product to keep your car’s leather interior looking good as new and undo some damage that’s already set in, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues after this.
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: Hey, it’s time to get ready for treats and not tricks. On The Money Pit’s Pinterest page, right now, we’ve got a Halloween board up with ideas on safety, décor and cleanup.
LESLIE: Sal in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
SAL: Well, we had – the A/C got a leak. The whole house – A/C got a leak. So, there’s a leakage in there and we were told the diagnosis. And they recommend we replace the whole A/C system in the house.
LESLIE: Like just the air handler and condensing unit or all of the ductwork, as well?
SAL: I think just the condenser thing.
LESLIE: OK. How old is your unit?
SAL: Well, it’s old, like about 20 years old.
LESLIE: Oh, OK. So it’s time. OK.
SAL: So, I was wondering if there’s a recommended, affordable company that can supply – can replace the whole system, with affordability, too. We live in Durham, North Carolina.
LESLIE: Well, you’re going to want to find a local HVAC contractor that you checked their references and that you trust. Ask people that you know. Ask people in the neighborhood. Look online, maybe an Angie’s List. Check their references, call them up. And find somebody that you feel comfortable with.
Now, when it comes to a manufacturer of a condensing unit, Carrier is a fantastic brand. Trane is a fantastic brand. You really want to look at things, such as energy efficiency. You want to make sure – now that you’re doing some work, you want to make sure that it’s properly sized for your home. And the right HVAC contractor can calculate which size condensing unit you’re going to need for the amount of rooms and distance of the house that you’re really trying to cool.
So you want to make sure that you’re looking for high energy efficiency. If there’s any rebates going on, ask those questions. A good HVAC contractor is going to know that and help point you in the direction of which manufacturer has those going right now, as far as tax rebates. Those are things you really want to look into. But I say you can’t go wrong with a Carrier or a Trane.
SAL: Oh, good. But I have another question. Some manufacturers offer an insurance – two years of insurance – for the replacement. Do you want me to buy the insurance or it’s a new one, we don’t have to get insurance for that?
LESLIE: It depends. Now, usually, a brand-new piece of equipment is going to come with some sort of manufacturer’s warranty. And you have to make sure and find out what the term on that is. And that’s usually included. I wouldn’t buy anything extended.
What I would look into is if there’s a service contract with the HVAC company that’s doing the install. Because it’s a piece of equipment that you’re going to want to have looked at once a year. Levels are going to have to be checked. Everything is going to have to make sure it’s in top operating condition, number one, for the efficiency. But also, you want to make sure it’s cool on the days that you need it to be cool.
So I think the money is better spent on an annual maintenance contract, because it’s going to include most of those things, as far as parts. Sometimes they include filters, sometimes they don’t. But you want to make sure that you get filters, because you do have to change those monthly and that’s in the return duct. But I think the money better spent, other than an extended warranty, would be on an annual service plan.
SAL: Oh, great. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, as do-it-yourselfers know, doing it yourself often extends beyond the house. You’re probably doing it all yourself, including taking care of the family car.
LESLIE: Now, one thing that has become not only a luxury but sometimes a necessity for families is a vehicle with leather seats, which makes it really easy to clean up any spills that happen. And come on, guys, if you’ve got kids, things are getting spilled. But over time, your car’s interior is exposed to dirt, grime and harmful elements, like UV rays and oxidation.
TOM: So, to keep your leather seats looking as good as the day you bought your car, try a cleaner specifically made for leather, like Armor All’s Original Protectant. It helps prevent cracking, fading and discoloration and maintains that leather’s rich look.
LESLIE: It’s available at The Home Depot. That’s right, the go-to source for all your DIY needs is now the destination for your car-care supplies, as well. The Home Depot has responded to growing demand and increased its automotive selection, both in store and online.
TOM: Look for Armor All All-Original Protectant in the expanded auto section at The Home Depot near you and online at HomeDepot.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Sacari (sp) on the line who’s dealing with some mold issues. Tell us what’s going on.
SACARI (sp): I have a half-basement – half dirt and the rest is cement – and there’s a crack in the brickwork but it doesn’t go all the way through. But it must be enough so you can – it seeps through. We’ve measured it and it hasn’t moved – the crack – but water, every once in a while when it rains, we hear it come through the wall and you can see it’s all wet. But upstairs, what it’s doing is causing the vents to get rusted. And my towel bars are wooden, so I’m constantly, every few months, spraying it with bleach or Tilex to get the mold off and then painting it over with KILZ that I thought would stop the mold from coming through but it doesn’t.
TOM: So you’ve got a major moisture problem going on in this house, right?
SACARI (sp): Right. It seems that way, too. And so I was worried about the mold, so I brought that test kit from Lowe’s that tells you. I sent it in and they analyzed it and said that we weren’t in danger of any mold but I’m always seeing mold on the shower curtain, the dish drains and everything, so …
TOM: Yeah, well, there’s different kinds of mold and the kind of mold that you have on shower curtains and dish drains is something called Cladosporium, which is a really common household mold. And unless you’re super-sensitive to it, it generally doesn’t cause a threat.
But let’s talk about the moisture issue because this is a situation, Sacari (sp), where you need to learn how to better manage the moisture that’s in your house. Now, I think that the moisture is starting in the basement because, obviously, you’re getting water in that crack when it rains heavily. And the fact that the water is consistent with the rainfall is actually good news, because that means that this is a relatively simple problem to fix.
You have too much water collecting in the area immediately adjacent to your foundation – that foundation perimeter zone. And so what you need to do is really two things. Number one, I want you to look at your gutters. Do you have gutters on your roof?
SACARI (sp): Yeah, we have gutters and we keep those pretty cleaned out. We actually even put the leaf protector so that they wouldn’t overflow. And it’s fairly new, the gutters. Well, I guess they might be like 10 years old but they’re in really good shape.
TOM: They need to be extended.
SACARI (sp): Well, that’s supposed to be like a hose thing under the ground that goes out from the house, so …
TOM: Well, the fact that you said “supposedly” means you’re not really sure and that’s mission critical. You need to be absolutely certain that that water is not leaking out anywhere near that foundation perimeter. If it is, that roof is collecting water and shooting it into your foundation.
It’s crystal clear to me that you have too much water around your house. How that’s happening, I’m not sure. But the number-one culprit is usually downspouts. And so if that water is not discharged away from the house – and I’ll tell you an easy way that you could check this. That is disconnect the downspouts from the underground pipes and just go add – buy three or four pieces of leader material from your local home center. Let it run out over the grass so that the water is away from the house. It won’t look good for a few weeks but at least you’ll be able to know when it rains, the water is absolutely not getting around the foundation perimeter.
And if you discharge that water and you’re certain it’s not near the foundation and it doesn’t show up in the basement, well, now you know the solution to your problem: somehow, in those underground drains, it’s being – it’s leaking out and redirecting into that foundation area.
The second part of that is looking at the grading and making sure that the soil slopes away from the wall. You want it to drop about 6 inches over 4 feet. And if it’s too flat or if it’s too mulch-y or there’s any kind of landscaping that’s retaining water against the house, that’s a problem. But I say that in most cases, 80 percent of this is gutters and downspouts and 20 percent of it is grading, unless you just happen to be at the bottom of a hill.
If this was sourced by a rising water table, it would not be consistent with rainfall. But the fact that it rains heavy and you get water in the basement, it’s got to be associated with water collecting around the foundation. You just need to figure out where and how it’s getting there.
SACARI (sp): Alright then. Maybe because we have a lot of trees, maybe some roots did grow and puncture those – that downspout that’s underneath the ground. So, you’re saying buy some leader and let that run out and see when it rains hard. I gotcha, I …
TOM: Right out of the top, just to test it – just to test the theory and see what happens, OK? And if you wanted to invest the money, you could have a drain-cleaning service run a camera down those pipes and see where they’re actually broken. But let’s just figure out where it is first and then take it from there.
Sacari (sp), thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Coming up, there’s a huge product recall that has child safety on the line. Is your little one at risk? Find out, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Well, a room is just a room until you add the perfect finish. We’re going to help you get ready for plenty of compliments when you add crown molding and chair rails. You know, it’s a budget-friendly way to really take a room from acceptable to exceptional. It’s the perfect DIY weekend project. We’re going to give you some tips for adding crown molding and chair rails on the home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: And also online at MoneyPit.com, our Community section. You can head on over there and post your question, just like Bob did. So Bob says, “Now that it’s well into fall, I am thinking about resealing my driveway but wondering if it’s a job I can possibly do myself. How do I get started and deal, especially, with that big, black mess of tar that will be left over when the job is done?”
I think sealing a driveway can seem somewhat overwhelming but really, the products today are so smart, Leslie, it’s really pretty easy.
I mean the first thing you have to do is sweep it thoroughly to get all of the dust and grime off that you can. If you’ve got any sort of algae areas that are building up, you need to clean those. And that would best be done with a trisodium-phosphate solution. But once it’s really clean – and you’ve got a nice, dry, sunny day – you can next fill in cracks with asphalt crack filler, which is latex-based and asphalt patch, which is also latex-based. And once those are nice and flat, then you can add the sealant.
And the sealant comes in 5-gallon buckets. And again, it’s latex-based, so pretty easy in terms of cleanup. But the trick here is the tool. Now, it’s definitely worth purchasing a driveway squeegee.
LESLIE: Oh, you’re going to need that. You can’t do it with anything else.
TOM: Yeah. And even though you have to throw it out when you’re done – because it’s absolutely worth having – it’s not that expensive. And it just makes a really neat job.
Start up near the garage, work towards the street and then keep people off of that driveway for at least a day or two so – until it really, really sets in. Longer than it says on the package.
LESLIE: And you know what? You might even need an extra squeegee. I remember doing a project in Florida, for a series I was working on, and I swear we went through two squeegees. And you know what? Put on some booties or something that you don’t mind throwing out, because your shoes are going to kind of get some of it all over it. Well, I’m not saying I did it messy but you might get messy.
TOM: Well, talk about precious cargo. Millions of U.S. cars carry young children in car seats, which makes this next fact even scarier. Last year, more than 6 million car seats were recalled for a safety defect. That’s the largest car-seat recall in U.S. history. Is your child at risk? Learn how to find out, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s scary. Last year’s massive car-seat recall, it affected millions of families. And a lot of them might not even still know about it, because getting the word out can be really hard, you guys. So, how can you be sure that you’ll be informed when products you purchase are deemed unsafe?
First, you’ve got to register your car seats and other important purchases with the manufacturer when you buy it. This ensures that they can contact you in case there is a recall. A study by Safe Kids Worldwide shows that while 80 percent of parents think car-seat registration cards are important, only about 42 percent actually return the card.
So, are you wondering whether your car seat might be one of those recalled? Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s car-recall website and enter your seat’s brand name and model. If your car seat’s been recalled, act immediately. Contact the manufacturer, request the repair. And once you receive that repair, take the time to make it.
TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, what’s the only thing worse than a yard covered in leaves? Well, getting hurt while raking all those leaves up. We’ve got fall leaf-collection tips to save you time and sweat, as well as sprains and strains, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2015 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)