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Should You Purchase an Extended Appliance Warranty?, How to Choose Replacement Faucets, Creating Extra Storage in a Small Bathroom

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we’d like to kick off today’s show by wishing you a very happy new year. It’s 2014 and time for a fresh start. So, if your fresh start is going to involve a home improvement project – perhaps you’ve been putting it off – or a repair that needs doing, we are here to help you get that done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Help yourself first by picking up the phone and giving us a call.

    It’s also a great time for those after-Christmas deals on big-ticket items like appliances. But you know what’s usually not a deal when you buy an appliance? An appliance warranty, that is, unless you know what to look for. So we’re going to have some tips, coming up.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, if your faucets are dingy, dated or damaged, it’s time to replace them. There are so many types out there, so we’ve got some help lined up to figure out which one is going to work best for you. This Old House‘s plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey, is stopping by to give us a hand.

    TOM: And while you’re updating fixtures, do you have a cramped bathroom or maybe a powder room that could use some extra storage? We’ll have tips on how you can stretch those storage options, as well, coming up.

    LESLIE: And one way to stretch that storage space is with our prize this week. We’re giving away a Cabidor, which is actually a behind-the-door storage cabinet. And it’s worth $199.

    TOM: Yeah, you’ve got to check this out. It’s pure genius because it uses your door’s hinges to mount, so it’s always secure and it holds a ton of storage. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random from those who reach us on today’s show. So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Now we’re going over to Missouri where Jim has a question about a humidifier. How can we help you?

    JIM: Yeah, hi. I am just kind of curious. It would – obviously, with getting cold, just turning the heaters on and everything – and the whole-home humidifier has kind of intrigued me and I wanted to know if it’s worth installing those onto the heater. Obviously, it would – if it works, it would help out with my dry skin. I’ve got a one-year-old boy and I’m obviously worried about his health, too. And so if I could put one of those on there, it’d be a quick, easy install? And is that worth doing?

    TOM: Well, absolutely. It’s not necessarily a quick, easy install but it is worth doing.

    Now, there are many different types of humidifiers. There’s the kind that atomize or spray water into the air. There’s other types that have sort of like a roller that sort of roll in a pan of water and then the air blows over them.

    There’s one that deals – that works off evaporator pads. I kind of like this. It’s made by Aprilaire, a great brand in the HVAC business. And the way it works is it has jets of water that drip water down an evaporator pad and then water rolls across that pad and that’s how it gets the humidity into the air.

    Then the more sophisticated ones have humidistats that calculate exactly what the humidity is in the house all the time and then adjust the humidifier to compensate for that. In fact, some of the better ones even have a thermometer that goes outside so they can calculate the difference between outside temperature and inside temperature and know exactly where the relative humidity is and then supplement that with the amount of moisture.

    So take a look at the humidifiers that are made by Aprilaire. I think that’s a good place to start.

    JIM: Alright. That’s great news. I appreciate that.

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

    LESLIE: Elaine in Delaware is on the line with a bathroom-flooring question. How can we help you today?

    ELAINE: I purchased an older house and when we went to replace the toilet, we’d seen some of the linoleum on the floor sticking up. So we pulled up the linoleum and underneath, we’d seen it looked like was rotted. So we started pulling it up and there was hardwood floor underneath.

    So we decided we would stay with the hardwood floor. Now we can’t get the toilet to be flush because we’re missing that linoleum and that subfloor.

    TOM: Well, there’s a product out that’s designed for almost this very situation. And it’s a toilet gasket that is not made of wax. It’s called Sani Seal – S-a-n-i S-e-a-l. And it’s a very thick gasket that takes the place of the wax seal. And because it’s so thick, it takes up that big gap that you’re dealing with. And it’s an excellent option for situations where you have taken the floor apart and now don’t have exactly the same flush floor that you had before.

    Take a look at their website. It’s SaniSeal.com – S-a-n-i-S-e-a-l. Very simple device. About an inch-and-change thick and really well-designed.

    ELAINE: OK. Well, that sounds great.

    TOM: OK? 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.

    Happy New Year, everybody. We are here to help you with your home improvement New Year’s resolutions. So if you’re looking to expand or renovate or do any project around your money pit, big or small, we’re here to lend a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question.

    Still to come, we’ve got simple storage solutions for a small bathroom, when The Money Pit continues, after this.

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    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT and we will toss your name into The Money Pit hard hat. Because this hour, we’re giving away the Cabidor Storage System, which is very unique because it’s a behind-the-door storage system. It installs seamlessly on your door’s hinges, so that means there’s nothing to impede it from closing properly. And it’s a heck of a lot better than, well, let’s say, hanging a shoe bag on the back side of your door or something like that. I mean this thing really holds a lot of stuff.

    LESLIE: That’s true. Now, it can actually store five medicine cabinets’ worth of stuff. And it doesn’t have to just be bathroom supplies. It can really hold anything from craft supplies to pantry items and even beauty supplies or pet products.

    TOM: It’s worth $199. Check it out at Cabidor.com. That’s C-a-b-i-d-o-r.com. And call us right now for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Vivian in Texas is dealing with a mysterious odor in her house. Tell us what’s going on.

    VIVIAN: I don’t know what’s going on. I have had three plumbers out there, thinking they could find out what it is. But one of them told me I had a bird in my air-conditioning vents upstairs, because our air conditioning-and-heating system is in the attic, and it wasn’t that. And it’s only been a year-and-a-half since I had the septic tank pumped out.

    TOM: Where is the odor most prevalent?

    VIVIAN: When you walk in the back door.

    TOM: Do you think it could be originating near the kitchen sink?

    VIVIAN: I had one plumber tell me that, too. And he opened it – opened the grease trap or whatever you call it outside. And he says, “No, that’s clean as a whistle.”

    TOM: One of the areas in the house that is often overlooked when it comes to odors, and especially sewage-like odors, are the kitchen-sink or the bathroom-sink drains and not, though, the traps themselves. But what happens is that you will get bacteria that will form around inside the pipe and actually line the pipe. And it gives off what we call “biogas.” And biogas has an awful odor to it and it really is difficult to track down because sometimes it’s worse than others.

    So, what we would recommend that you do, before you do anything else, is to get the equivalent of a bottle brush and some bleach-and-water solution and carefully scrub the inside of the drains of the kitchen.

    Now, to do that, you might have to take that trap off again and kind of work up. But you really want to make sure that you get rid of any debris that could be stuck to the inside of those pipes because that’s what the biogas is built upon, so to speak. Does that make sense?

    VIVIAN: Well, thank you very much. I’m going to sure try it because three plumbers couldn’t tell me what it was.

    TOM: Alright. Well, thanks very much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    WILLIAM: Well, I’ve got a wood stove in my living room. And I have my stovepipe coming out the back, through an elbow, going straight up about 5 or 6 feet and then got another 90-degree elbow. And it’s going through the wall, through an insulated piece of stovepipe, to the outside and then another 90-degree bend and going up about 4 or 5 feet to my – to the cap (inaudible at 0:09:59).

    TOM: You have three 90-degree bends in the wood-stove pipe?

    WILLIAM: One, two – yeah, got three in it. And what’s happening is right behind my wood stove, I have a big, 3×6-foot plate-glass window that’s framed in. And we’re getting some leakage of black creosote liquid. It’s condensation or water of some type. It’s got creosote in it. It is actually dripping down and running down the inside of the frame of the window.

    So the leak is in the – is inside the wall somewhere. And I have sealed and done everything that I possibly can and I don’t know how to stop this leak or what could be causing it or where to go from this point.

    TOM: So, does the pipe exit the wall above the window?

    WILLIAM: Yes, it does. Just above the window, to the left.

    TOM: Alright. Well, see, here’s what could be happening. First of all, I really don’t like the fact that you’ve got three 90-degree bends in this stovepipe. That’s a lot of resistance to kind of overcome. And also, with the three 90-degree bends, that pipe has lots of time to cool. And so the cooler the pipe gets, the more condensation you get. As the condensation forms inside the pipe, it basically washes down the pipe, comes out the seams of the pipe and carries away all of the charcoal debris that’s inside the pipe with it. So that’s probably the source.

    And I guess what I would be more tempted to do – it’s not so much the kind of thing where you’re finding a leak. I’d be more tempted to replace my stovepipe with at least a double-wall pipe that was insulated. Because then you’re not going to have that difference in temperature and it will – you will never have any of those kinds of condensation issues. And it’ll be a lot safer, too.

    My concern with that pipe is it’s really hard to clean and every time you have a 90-degree bend in a pipe, William, that’s equivalent, resistance-wise, to 20 foot of straight pipe.

    WILLIAM: Wow. So I might be better off just running that thing straight up through the roof rather than taking it out the side of the house.

    TOM: That’s the best thing to do, with an insulated pipe – a triple-walled, insulated pipe – straight up through the roof and out, without all those bends. Just make sure you’re following the National Fire Protection Association guidelines for this, get it inspected. And I think you’re going to be a lot happier with it.

    William, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, small baths don’t really provide many places for storage but hidden storage areas are sure to be found, if you know where to look. For starters, there’s a lot of space but it happens to be above your toilet. And if you’re not thinking about that, turn around and take a look the next time you’re in there. That space behind your toilet is actually large enough for a full, 12×30-inch storage cabinet.

    Now, here’s another idea: inverted sink base cabinets are another option. And that’s the style where a large drawer is designed into the bottom of the base.

    TOM: Now, you can also consider a rack that you can hang on the back of the door to give you some extra space for toiletries. And don’t forget to look up. One neat trick for bathrooms is that you can add shelving or cabinets up to the ceiling for extra linen storage. Just looking at your small bathroom in a new way can really give you plenty of fresh ideas for more storage area.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, if you’ve got a storage project in mind, a roof project, a painting project, a décor project, we’re here to help. Help yourself first, though, by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    RHONDA: Hi there. Yeah, a couple of years ago, we had a moisture problem in our crawlspace. I live in a townhouse-style condo and as a result, the adjoining wall down in the crawlspace – it has drywall on it and it’s got some mold. And I’m not sure how to get rid of that.

    TOM: OK. So, we’re talking about crawlspace areas in a condominium form of ownership?

    RHONDA: Yes.

    TOM: Typically, that’s – you have to check your public offering statement but generally, that part of the structure is owned by the association. And therefore, the association bears a responsibility of maintaining it. In most multi-family forms of ownership, in a townhouse/condominium kind of ownership, generally, what you own is inside sheetrock to inside sheetrock.


    TOM: And this is important to know because, for example, when you insure your home, you know, the insurance you purchase has to cover things like paint and kitchen cabinets and flooring, carpets, stuff like that.


    TOM: But it doesn’t cover the wall or the floor structure because that’s covered by the association. So if you’ve got a mold problem in the common area – that’s called the “common area”; in other words, the area that’s common to the entire association – they are responsible for addressing it and that’s why you pay monthly maintenance fees.

    RHONDA: Really? Yeah.

    TOM: So make sure you know who owns what before you start messing with this.


    TOM: And especially in a multi-family situation, if you’ve got mold that’s festering in a crawlspace, that can get up into the units and really affect a lot of folks. So I would first address this with the association. I would address it in writing.


    TOM: Include pictures so you’re documenting it. And then ask them to have a professional take a look at it.


    TOM: And by the way, by professional, I mean industrial hygienist: somebody who’s an expert in mold, not the local handyman that’s going to come down there and try to scrub it away and in the process, distribute it to the entire unit.

    RHONDA: Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.

    LESLIE: Barry in Florida is dealing with a plumbing situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    BARRY: Well, I replaced the sprayer in my kitchen sink. And I did – at the same time, I did a dishwasher and the dishwasher is working fine, no problem. And the sprayer, though, it’s been there 22 years. It just wasn’t spraying. I figured it was all clogged up so I replaced it and when I did, the new one – when I turn on the water – not the sprayer but the water – I get a bang-bang-bang like air in the pipes. But it’s been doing that for about a month now, waking everybody in the house up.

    So, I thought maybe I’d call you guys and see if you could help me figure out – I’m fairly handy – what I need to do. Either replace the whole thing again – and I replaced it with a brand-new one I bought at the hardware store.

    LESLIE: Barry, when you said that the sound is waking everybody up, is it happening on its own or only when you’re using that sink?

    BARRY: No, no. Only when you’re using the water. My wife told me that when I get up in the morning to make coffee, I wake her up by turning on the water. Only when you use the main water handle.

    TOM: Now, does it happen when you turn the water on or when you turn it off?

    BARRY: On. When you turn it on.

    TOM: On?

    BARRY: The whole time the water’s on it does that.

    TOM: Hmm. That’s interesting.

    BARRY: If I left it on for 20 minutes, it would do it constantly for 20 minutes. That’s why I don’t think it’s air.

    TOM: And the whole time it’s on. Yeah, so, I think you’ve got a bad washer in there somewhere.

    Now, if it happened when you were spraying and then you released it to turn the water off and you got banging then, that I would say is water hammer, because the water has a forward momentum in the pipes. And when you stop spraying the water, it keeps moving and bangs the pipes. That’s water hammer.

    BARRY: Ah, yeah.

    TOM: That has one solution. But if it’s happening just because you turn the sprayer on, then I think that the valve in the sprayer is bad and it’s probably vibrating somewhere in there. This happens sometimes with kitchen sinks. If you lift up the lever to turn the sink on, sometimes you get a kachunka-chunka-chunka-chunk kind of a sound.

    BARRY: Yeah.

    TOM: And that’s when you have a bad valve. And so I suspect that if you replaced just – you don’t have to replace the whole line but just the handle part of it. Try replacing that and see if it still does it. I think you’ve got a bad one there, buddy.

    BARRY: You’re talking about the handle in the hand-held sprayer.

    TOM: Correct. Yeah. And those are replaceable.

    BARRY: OK. OK, sure, yeah. Absolutely. OK.

    TOM: Alright, Barry. Give it a shot.

    BARRY: Well, I’ll try that. I didn’t think – that’ll be an easy fix if that’s the fix.

    TOM: Glad we could help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Up next, we’ve got solutions for outdated or poorly functioning faucets. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing expert from TV’s This Old House will join us with some tips, after this.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and look, if you think I’ve got it dirty, listen to Tom. He works in a pit. Well, it’s a money pit but you get the idea. It’s still filthy.

    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: Why not visit our Pinterest page for great snow-removal tips and tricks? Check out the board “Let It Snow!” We’ve got ideas on everything from dealing with icy sidewalks to snow loads on roofs. You’ll find it all on our Pinterest page. Get to it from MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Eric in Alaska is on the line with an insulation question. Tell us about it.

    ERIC: I have a crawlspace and I’m trying to figure out what – the best way to keep the temperature a bit warmer than it is down there and to keep my floors in the home from getting so cold. I’ve got hardwood – ceramic-tile floors.

    TOM: OK.

    ERIC: And my – all of my plumbing is in the crawlspace. My pressure tank is down there, so I need to keep the temperature somewhat warm down there so I don’t freeze my pipes up.

    TOM: OK. How much insulation do you have in the floor above the crawlspace area now?

    ERIC: None.

    TOM: Is it completely – oh, you have none? Well, see, now there would be a good place to start, Eric.

    ERIC: Right, right.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s going to make a huge difference.

    TOM: So, what you want to do there is if you have – let’s just say your floor joists are 2x10s, then you’re going to use 10 inches of insulation. You want to fill up that entire cavity with insulation. You can use unfaced fiberglass batts. The first place you insulate is the box joists – that’s around the outside perimeter – and then you work your way in to the floor joists.

    ERIC: Right.

    TOM: You can use insulation hangers to hold it in place. And that’s going to make an enormous difference warming up that floor.

    You may find that the crawlspace becomes a bit warmer as a result of that. Or you may find it becomes colder because now the heat from upstairs is not getting down there. Is there a concern of water pipes or anything like that freezing?

    ERIC: Yeah, that’s what my concern is if I insulate the floor there. You know, my pressure tank and all of my plumbing fixtures and drains are all down there.

    TOM: You don’t have to worry about the drains freezing, OK? They’re never going to hold enough water to freeze and break. As far as the plumbing pipes are concerned, if you do have pipes that are below the insulation – if they’re in the insulation, you don’t have to worry about it. If they’re below the insulation, then you can insulate those themselves with insulation sleeves that just fit around them and get taped off.

    So, insulate the pipes, insulate the floor joists and I think you’re going to find it’s a lot more comfortable as a result.

    LESLIE: Well, if your old faucets are hard to operate, emit strange sounds or are constantly dripping, it might be time to think about replacing them.

    TOM: And the good news is that faucets have come a long way, with better valves and finishes that can deliver years of flawless faucet performance. Here to walk us through the process of picking the perfect, new faucet is Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating expert for TV’s This Old House.

    Hi, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hello, guys.

    TOM: Now, many of these faucet woes can be repaired but sometimes, especially with the better technology of faucets today, does it make sense just to replace it?

    RICHARD: Well, I think we’re reaching a point that it’s become a replace-versus-repair market for faucets.

    TOM: Yeah. In so many things, right?

    RICHARD: I mean man, just in the years I’ve been in the plumbing industry, we used to keep an inventory of every kind of repair part ever.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: And nowadays, I think the cost of labor is so high for the plumber and the people just say, “Just change the faucet out.” So we’re seeing people change a faucet with much more regularity.

    But you’d know you’d want to replace it if the finish is completely pitted and looks really dirty or if the drip – and even after you do repair it, it means that you just – there’s nothing more you can do to it. And then, some people change it for style that …

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: “I’m in a place right now that my kitchen – I think it’s a little dated. It might be time for me to actually get a new faucet.”

    LESLIE: No, I think choosing the style, as difficult as that could be sometimes, is kind of the easy part in the entire process.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

    LESLIE: Because when you dive a little deeper, what they’re made of – there’s so many different components.

    RICHARD: That’s right. Yeah.

    LESLIE: How do you know what’s right for you?

    RICHARD: They all look shiny on the outside but it’s a question of what they’re made of.

    TOM: Yeah, right?

    RICHARD: And so, I’m a believer and feel very strongly about a good brass faucet. It’s still time-proven to be the best material for being able to work and turn on and off and last for a good period of time.

    So, they have – solid-brass bodies are available. The downside of that is that they’re the most expensive. And then you’re seeing more plastic. It’s ironic. The plastic stuff is getting better than I ever dreamt as far as being non-corrosive and some of the finishes. So I would take – brass would be my first choice. Ironically, plastic would be my second and I think zinc alloy would be my third.

    TOM: And the plastic is a great entry-level faucet if you don’t want to spend a whole lot of money.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. The other thing is it’s amazing what the technology behind plastics nowadays.

    TOM: Yeah.

    RICHARD: It’s not just plastic goo that’s going to fail; there’s some real engineering in it, so …

    TOM: Yep. Now, finish is another consideration that really determines how long you’re going to put up with that faucet.

    RICHARD: Yeah. That’s right.

    TOM: Like you said, if it’s all faded and pitted – but there have been some advances in the plating that’s used on finishes today, where you can get smudge-free finishes.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah.

    TOM: And some finishes – I’ve seen finishes that you can literally rub with steel wool and it doesn’t dull.

    RICHARD: That’s right. When we first did anything but chrome – say you did the polished brass. Within a year or two, the lamination, which was covering the brass, was gone and it was pitted. It looked like it had the measles, these things.

    Nowadays, these finishes are unbelievable. It’s that same finish that is used on some of the higher-end door hardware that’s available, where you’ve got some of these door knobs and door accessories that the finish is beautiful and it lasts forever. And so, the choices are really dramatic. Once you go to those finishes, now it becomes a decorative part of the kitchen. You can sort of think about how to use this as part of the decoration plan.

    But the finishes that always catch my eye is just pewter and nickel. That nickel – I like the nickel finish. It’s not quite a chrome but it’s got a little …

    LESLIE: It’s got an interesting color to it.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah, it really does.

    TOM: Yeah.

    RICHARD: And in the first days we used to offer it to people, we were always worried we wouldn’t be able to get the soap dishes and all the other accessories or all the other things – but nowadays, you really can. These finishes have become very real and very available.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I think that the finishes that are available today – whether you go with a satin, nickel or something that’s more of a polished finish on that same color – you’re still seeing that same durability, that same resistance to smudging, the toothpaste stains, all of that.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. That’s the big difference. It used to be that if you were brave enough to go to a gold or polished brass or polished nickel, you had to suffer the fact that within a fixed and finite amount of time – three to five years – you were going to be mad at it and you had to change it again, so …

    LESLIE: Satin, nickel. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Yeah, you’d be tired of maintaining it, yeah.

    RICHARD: That’s right. Yeah.

    LESLIE: Now, I think when we think about advancements in faucets, a part of that brings us to what universal design is or accessibility.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And it’s interesting to see that something as common in a commercial space – hands-free faucets – are really entering the home marketplace.

    RICHARD: Yeah, absolutely. This technology was just – it was a dream at one point, you know. It was like magic that it would work.

    LESLIE: Kind of like The Jetsons.

    RICHARD: Right. And so, what – and this was an interesting innovation where it started in the commercial market but now it’s coming back to the residential, as you said. So, we see it all the time now. There’s one that we just showed on the show that – just a single touch to it. You can touch it and bring it on and off.

    So, all these sort of cool sort of Jetsons-type stuff, at one time, is now very, very doable. And I think, from a hygiene standpoint, not having everybody touch these handles – so you can say, “Oh, we just washed them.” No, you didn’t.

    TOM: Yeah, with …

    LESLIE: And I think, in a kitchen, how many times are you handling raw meat or poultry or something and then you’ve got to then turn on the water to wash your hands.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. Yep. That’s right. That’s right. Yeah.

    LESLIE: Now you’ve contaminated the hot and the cold, the soap dispenser, everything.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah.

    LESLIE: So when you’re seeing more of this hands-free technology in the water-dispensing and in the soap-dispensing, from a germ and ickiness standpoint, it really is nice to know that it’s out there.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. I think I’m still most partial to a single-lever handle in a kitchen. You can use it like a gear shift on your car where you shift from hot to cold and on and off. And that, to me, is the most functional. I think hands-free would be my second choice and the least favorite, for me, is these two separate handles, hot and cold, to your point, having your hands all gunked up trying to adjust them.

    But there’s some choices. It’s pretty fun.

    TOM: We’re talking to Richard Trethewey. He is the plumbing-and-heating expert on TV’s This Old House.

    Richard, final question. There seems to be another benefit of replacing faucets today and that is the valve technology. Ceramic disk valves have really become sort of a part of the mainstay now, in terms of how these are made. And what I love about ceramic disks is that the longer you use them, the tighter they get.

    RICHARD: Yeah. That’s right. And so, for people who don’t know, instead of having a rubber washer – which was a big part of our family business: going out and replacing the washers on faucets. And they would last a fixed period of time because you were turning that handle and just wearing out the rubber. With this, these two, finely-milled ceramic disks are together and they’re so beautifully milled that no water can pass between them.

    And so – to your point, Tom – the more you use it, the more it hones the stones, so to speak. And it just runs and runs and runs. It’s a revolution, really, I think, in faucet technology.

    TOM: That’s a great point.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    TOM: Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating expert on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on the facts on faucets.

    RICHARD: Good to be here.

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

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot, more saving, more doing.

    Still to come, we’ve got tips on the questions you need to ask when looking at appliance warranties. That’s coming up, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    One caller that we talk to today is going to win the Cabidor Storage System. Now, this is so unique and really superior to those other behind-the-door storage systems because it installs seamlessly onto your door’s hinges. Nothing will impede it from closing properly.

    TOM: Yeah. It can actually store up to five medicine cabinets’ worth of stuff. So, if you like to shop for maybe the large economy sizes of aspirins and Pepcid ACs and all of the other things that you buy at the big Costco’s and BJ’s, you could put it all in the back of the door with this product. It really could store a lot of stuff.

    But not just that. Think about craft supplies, pet supplies, really anything that you need to get up off the floor or out of a drawer for easy access. That’s what the Cabidor is great for. Their website: Cabidor.com. That’s C-a-b-i-d-o-r.com.

    And call us right now for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, post-holiday sales are great for getting deals on appliances, like washers, dryers, ranges, fridges and even computers. Now, when you buy an appliance, be sure to get all of those factory-warranty details, including the length of the warranty and most importantly, exactly what is covered.

    Now, you need to ask questions like, “Will only the parts be replaced? What about the labor costs? Who pays for that? Where are those authorized service agents located?” Because sometimes, they’re not that close to you. And if the dealer seems to be vague about this coverage, shop somewhere else.

    TOM: Now, what about those extended warranties, you might be thinking? Well, generally, they’re not a good idea. Extended warranties are very costly for the coverage that they provide. And if you’re sensitive to an unexpected repair bill, why not start your own house-repair fund? Stash a bit of money away, once in a while, so it’s there when you need it. The warranties usually don’t pay off.

    LESLIE: Kelly in South Dakota is on the line and needs help with a cleaning question. Tell us what’s going on.

    KELLY: Hi. We have a stain on our breezeway cement. Seems like an oil stain and we just are having a lot of trouble getting that up. Do you have like a professional formula?

    TOM: Where’s the floor and why do you need to get the oil stain on the cement? Oh, wait. Is it in the garage or where?

    KELLY: No, it’s in our breezeway. We have – in between the – it’s an enclosed breezeway. It’s kind of decorated and we use it.

    TOM: I see. So it’s a finished space, yeah.

    Well, what I would do is I would consider painting that cement floor. I would use an epoxy paint. I would use a two-part epoxy paint, which you mix up and has a chemical cure. There’s going to be a degreaser that’s part of the process that preps the surface. And so you clean it with a degreaser first.

    And I assume we’re talking about an old stain here, nothing that’s soppy and oily.

    KELLY: No, no.

    TOM: But you hit it with the degreaser first, let it dry. And then you use the epoxy paint and you’ll get a nice, clean finish and you’ll find that it’s going to be a lot easier to sweep and keep nice and tidy, too, with the epoxy paint. Not terribly expensive, not complicated and it will clearly solve the issue.

    KELLY: Will it be slippery if it gets wet?

    TOM: No, absolutely not.

    KELLY: OK. Well, that sounds great.

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

    LESLIE: Well, soup to nuts, floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. And if your floorboards are covered with carpet, up next, we’re going to have some tips on how to extend carpet life so you won’t have to replace that carpet anytime soon, so stick around.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We are available on Facebook, at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit where, right now, we have a sneak peek at the color trends for front doors for 2014. Bottom line: don’t be afraid to go bold. That’s where the trend is heading. You can learn about all those colors that you can choose, at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And while you’re online, you can post your question in the Community section at MoneyPit.com, just like Patricia from Boynton Beach, Florida did. And she writes: “When carpet becomes loose or wrinkled, do you need to purchase new padding? How much can I expect to pay per square foot for stretching the carpeting?”

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. You don’t necessarily have to replace the padding. Carpet will stretch over time and it’s a pretty standard operation for a carpet installer to come in and restretch your carpet.

    Now, I will say that, typically, you’re only going to get away with doing this about one, maybe two, times. But it’s not a hard project; it doesn’t take a lot of time. Most of the work is just kind of getting the furniture out of the way. But you can have it restretched with the padding that’s there. And essentially, they’re going to cut off the excess carpet. It’ll be tight once again.

    If it happens more than once or twice, though, it probably means that the carpet is fairly worn. Because the more you stretch it, the thinner it actually is going to get.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And eventually will reach its stretched-out point.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Richard in Anchorage, Alaska who writes: “I live in Alaska and I’m interested in a whole-house tankless water heater. The house has 1,900 square feet and has two bathrooms. Our water comes into the house at 40 degrees.” That is chilly. “Is the water coming into the house too cold for a tankless?”

    TOM: No, absolutely not. Your tankless water heater can, you know, take that water from anywhere above freezing and convert it into whatever you have it set at, say, 110 degrees or so. And most importantly, it will do that endlessly.

    The risk, of course, or the downside of really the water-heater design is where that water heater is placed. So if you’ve got a 1,900-square-foot house and you’ve got a bathroom that’s at the end of where the water comes into the house and the tankless water heater is located, it’s going to take a long time for that water to get hot.

    The thing about tankless, though, is that they’re small, so you might want to think about having multiple water heaters in your house. You could zone, in effect, your domestic hot water. So you might have one water heater covering the downstairs and one water heater covering the upstairs or however you decide to divide it up. And this way, you won’t have to wait a very long time. You’ll literally be heating that water on demand and then using it just as quickly.

    LESLIE: Alright. And you know what? Before we let you go for this hour, we were talking a little bit about carpeting and how to keep it looking new for the long run. Well, I think what’s so important about really maintaining the life of your carpeting in your money pit is to make sure that you keep it clean and not just for an aesthetic reason here. Obviously, if it looks clean, then it feels clean and you’re happy.

    But when it comes to wall-to-wall carpeting, if you’re not properly cleaning it or maintaining it for its lifespan, what happens is the dirt just gets into the fibers and it starts to really sort of wear down how the carpet is put together. And it’s going to start to look dingy. If you suffer from asthma or allergies, you’re not going to feel great. And the more dirty it gets, the more the fibers get worn and the less it’s going to last. So it makes sense to either rent a steam cleaner or hire a pro to come in and do it for you.

    Now, the other thing to keep in mind is if your carpet came with a warranty, you might have to be cleaning it on a regular basis. So just double-check and do your diligence to make sure that you keep the house nice and tidy.

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where we will help you step it up into the new year, with advice on how to take care of your home as the months go on. So, if you’ve got a project, remember, 24-7, we are available at 888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio when you call, we’ll take your name and number and call you back the next time we are. You can also post your question online in the Community section at MoneyPit.com or reach out to us on Facebook.

    Happy New Year. 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 2013 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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