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    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: Give us a call, right now, because we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. What are you working on on this beautiful summer weekend? You working outside? Maybe you’re building a deck? Picking up a paintbrush? Planning some décor for the inside of your house? Whatever’s on your to-do list, we’d like to help you move it over to the done list with a call to us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Hey, coming up this hour, would you like to incorporate a sleek, modern and clean look into your kitchen? We’ll have tips on how to achieve one of the hottest new design trends making its way to this side of the Atlantic from Europe.

    LESLIE: And if you’d like to breathe new life into some of the furniture you already have, you can do that with stain. We’re going to have tips on some of the newest stain products out there with applicators designed specifically to make that project simple, quick and easy to clean up.

    TOM: And do you feel like your A/C just isn’t doing the job it should? Well, I’m going to share a trick of the trade you can use to test your air conditioning to know exactly how well it’s performing, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And if you call us with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT, you might just win the complete wardrobe you need to tackle those projects. Because we’ve got $120 worth of Dickies Performance Workwear to give away.

    TOM: That’s right. The package includes the very durable Dickies Denim. So give us a call right now. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Caitlin in Iowa is on the line and needs some help restoring an old bath. Tell us what’s going on.

    CAITLIN: Hi. My husband and I moved into our 1917 farmhouse about a year ago. And our main bathroom only has a clawfoot tub and we would like a shower in it. So I was wondering if you had any tips on restoring the clawfoot tub and installing a shower kit.

    TOM: So, you want to keep the tub, right? You don’t want to put a separate shower. You just want to basically plumb up a showerhead into that, correct?

    CAITLIN: Correct.

    TOM: Since it’s a clawfoot tub, if you disconnect the plumbing, then you can get that out of the house. Because the best way to refinish that or resurface that is to send it out to a company that does that. Because if you do it in the house itself, they can come in with acids and they can etch the old finish and they can add a new finish and then they can bring in heat lights and bake it on. But I’ve found that it doesn’t work nearly as well as basically sending it out to a place that’s set up to re-enamel a tub. And then you’re going to have one that really lasts for the long haul.

    And after that, installing a shower kit to that is pretty much a plumbing project. Lots of places, like Restoration Hardware, have kits or you can find them online. Or you could basically plumb up the pipe that comes up and then arcs over for the showerhead. And you need a circular shower curtain – shower bar above it for a curtain – and all that’s easy. But the hard part is getting the tub re-enameled.

    CAITLIN: OK. And how costly is re-enameling a tub?

    TOM: It’s probably not as expensive as buying a new tub and it’s going to last indefinitely.

    CAITLIN: OK. Well, thank you for your advice.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Patrick on the line who’s got a roofing question. How can we help you today?

    PATRICK: I had a question about a metal roof versus a shingle roof. Our roof is about 17 years old and it’s ready for – it’s ready to change.

    LESLIE: Now, is it ready to change because you don’t like the way it looks or is it failing in some way?

    PATRICK: Oh, no. It’s actually fine; the shingles are fine. But I was kind of wondering about the cost benefit of spending twice as much for a metal roof versus a shingle roof for another – you know what? How long will the shingle – how long should that metal roof last? What’s the gauge of the metal? That kind of thing.

    TOM: How long do you plan on staying in the house?

    PATRICK: Forever.

    TOM: Forever. OK, that’s important information.

    So, if you put a metal roof on this house, I think it can last, for all intents and purposes, forever. The metal roofs of yesteryear, when they were properly maintained, would easily last 50 to 100 years. The metal roofs of today will do the same thing and they can even do it more successfully because of some of the modern elements of technology that are added to it.

    For example – you are in Florida? Is that correct?

    PATRICK: Yes. Port Charlotte.

    TOM: You know, the one nice thing is that metal roofs have a reflective paint; it’s like a low-E paint. And they actually reflect some of that radiant heat back off of the roof. So instead of having a roof that’s like a heat collector, you’re going to have a roof that’s a heat reflector. So there’s also an energy-efficiency element to it, as well.

    But I think that metal roofs last literally indefinitely, as long as they’re properly maintained. They don’t need a lot of maintenance. Of course, if there’s a storm and that sort of thing, they stand up a lot better; they don’t fly off like shingles do. And even though it’s twice as expensive, it’ll probably be the last roof you’ll ever have to put on that house.

    PATRICK: If I do this $11,000 roof, will I report that to my homeowners insurance and will I get a benefit from that or no?

    TOM: That’s a good question for your broker. Certainly, a metal roof is more fire-resistant. I also would look into energy – any energy-efficiency rebates. Because since it’s a low-E roof coating, you may actually qualify for an energy rebate. So I would look into that, as well.

    PATRICK: And how would I look into that?

    TOM: A good source is the Metal Roofing Alliance. That’s a trade association for the metal-roof industry. Go to MetalRoofing.com. And in fact, they have a section on their website about tax incentives, so they are available for metal roofs.

    PATRICK: Alright. I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Sandy in Florida is dealing with a squeaky door. Tell us what’s going on.

    SANDY: Well, we’ve had this squeaky door now for three years. We’ve tried putting oil on it, we’ve tried using WD-40 and then we went out and bought three new hinges and put on it. And it still is a squeaky door.

    TOM: Are these hinges sort of standard hinges?

    SANDY: Yes. It’s just three standard hinges.

    TOM: So what you might want to do is go out and buy some ball-bearing hinges. There are some upgraded hinges. They’re often used on heavier doors but they rely on ball bearings to open and close. Instead of just the metal sitting on top of the metal, there’s actually bearings there that the different sides of the door will ride on. And those will be absolutely quiet and they’ll last forever.

    SANDY: Wow. Where would they carry those?

    TOM: Well, I would expect that you would find them – you may need to go to a home center and order them. Go to the millworks section of a home center, bring an old hinge along and try to order a ball-bearing hinge to match it. Or your hardware store. Or you can probably find them online, as well.

    SANDY: Yeah, that’s what we’ll try. Well, thank you.

    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. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still to come, a hot, new trend in kitchen design is making its way here from Europe. We’re going to learn more about this modern look, 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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a complete set of Dickies Work Clothes, which includes Dickies Denim and the original 874 Work Pants sized, of course, perfectly to fit you. Dickies is synonymous with durability, functionality and comfort. And the Dickies name has endured the test of time.

    The package is worth $120. Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And you can learn more about those fantastic products at Dickies.com.

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

    TERRY: I’ve recently laid blacktop down probably about two years ago. Now, I’m starting to get some cracks in there. And some of them might be at least a ½-inch wide to ¼-inch. And I’m curious if you have a new product you’re aware of, that was rated highly, to use now to fill cracks with on blacktop?

    TOM: Well, it’s interesting that the driveway was only two years old and it’s already forming cracks. That can mean one thing and one thing only, Terry, and that is that it wasn’t put down very well to begin with. Perhaps the base wasn’t as solid as it should have been. Is this a project that you had a contractor do for you?

    TERRY: Yes. And you’re absolutely right. What happened – I didn’t get the 3 inches I was guaranteed to get. And I drive a semi and in the wintertime, I’ll back my semi up there to plug it in due to the cold weather. I live in Wisconsin.

    TOM: Right.

    TERRY: And I got off on the edge a little bit and it pushed it down.

    TOM: OK. So, what you want to do is use a latex asphalt crack filler. And then also use a latex top-coat sealer. The latex products today, the formulation is pretty good and they’re a lot easier to work with. But don’t use the sealer on the cracks until you put the crack filler in first. The crack filler has some depth to it, so it can fill up those voids – those ½-inch voids – that you described. Then after you apply the crack filler and seal those cracks up – because, remember, what the purpose of the crack filler is really is to just keep the water out of it and keep it flush so the water doesn’t get in and freeze and make it worse.

    So use the crack filler first and then put a coat of latex sealer on the whole thing. I would just buy one of the squeegees on – with one side, the broom on the other – kind of application tools. Start on one end, go to the other and then stay off it for a couple of days.

    TERRY: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your kindness in answering my phone call.

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

    LESLIE: Jeanette in Colorado is on the line and needs some help with a radiant-heatingquestion. What can we do for you?

    JEANETTE: I would like to know if it would be good to do the radiant floor ourselves or to have someone else do it. Is it going to increase my electric bill quite a bit? And if it is something I could do, what materials would be best to do?

    TOM: Wow. Lots of questions.

    LESLIE: Yeah. We only said, “One question,” lady.

    TOM: Alright. So, the bathroom is the only room in the house that you want to have a warm floor?

    JEANETTE: Well, for starters. We would like to do it in the kitchen, also. But we thought we’d start with the small project as the bathroom.

    TOM: And what kind of a house do you have? Is it a ranch? Colonial? What are we talking about?

    JEANETTE: No, it’s more of a ranch. It has a – the bottom is not sitting completely on the ground because it’s lots of rocks and stuff in the mountains there. So it does have crawlspaces underneath.

    TOM: It does.

    JEANETTE: Yes, it does have crawlspaces where you – we have sump pumps in there to help anything that might cause that. So you can crawl under the house but it’s not very much room.

    TOM: OK. And how is it heated? Is it hot water or a hot-air system?

    JEANETTE: Hot air but we mostly use pellet stoves.

    TOM: So, it sounds to me like you’re going to be limited to an electric radiant-heating system. There are different types of heating underlayments, so to speak, that you would put on a bathroom floor and you would tile on top of.

    Now, is it expensive? Yes. It’s electric heat. It’s expensive to purchase and install, it’s expensive to run. It’s not a way to save money on your heating bill. There’s nothing cost-effective about electric heat. It’s very pleasant and nice to have that warm floor but it is an expensive project and it’s expensive to run. That said, if you put it on its own timer so it’s only on, say, in the morning or in the evenings for a limited period of time, you could manage that expense.

    Is it a do-it-yourself project? Yes, if you’re pretty experienced. Because the tile mats usually have to be ordered custom-made. And you have to make sure that they’re installed properly because if you get that floor down and it doesn’t work, you’ve got a big problem. You end up having to tear it up.

    Frankly, my advice would be to not do it yourself, because I would rather have a contractor do it that’s worked with it time and time again. I’d hate to see the whole thing get together and you’ve got a problem with it and you’ve got to tear it all up and start again. So, the amount of additional expense for labor, I think, would have sort of an insurance quality to it to make sure it comes out right.

    JEANETTE: Well, thank you all for your advice and I appreciate it.

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

    Well, sleek, clean cabinets have been popular in Europe for years but they’re now making their way to American kitchens. So, if you love this look and you’re wondering how to incorporate it into your home, there are a few ways that you can go with it and not all are super costly.

    LESLIE: Yep. First of all, you can refinish your cabinet doors. I mean you’ve already got them, so why not refinish them? Now, dark, wood cabinet doors are a beautiful contrast to a lighter countertop, walls, even your floors. And it can deliver an upscale, modern look. On top of that, if you add stainless-steel appliances or even stainless-steel hardware, you’re going to get a nice, sleek look that really will blend in with the rest of your modern kitchen.

    TOM: Now, if you’re planning a new kitchen, what makes cabinets ultra-modern is when they are frameless and they have sort of a slab-styled European door and hidden hardware. That adds kind of a very modern look to the space.

    Now, those slab doors, that’s the kind that’s smooth with no panels, no accents or no embellishments.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? The nice thing is that there are a lot of very affordable frameless cabinets out there that you can choose from. One retailer that, you know, just jumps out at me that does have super-affordable, modern-looking cabinets is IKEA. They really do deliver a great product.

    TOM: Yeah. And they’re a good value, too. I actually have those in my office kitchen and they look great.

    888-666-3974. What project is on your to-do list? Let’s talk about it at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got William from Texas on the line.

    William, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?

    WILLIAM: Well, my daughter bought a house. And the person that she bought the house from smokes cigarettes. And the house – when you walk – as soon as you walk in the door, the cigarette smell hits you. And it was basically throughout the house. And we’re in the process of trying to figure out how we’re going to get all that smell out, short of ripping the walls out.

    TOM: Does the house have carpet?

    WILLIAM: Yes.

    TOM: Then it’s probably got to go.


    TOM: You can try steam-cleaning it but it gets into the padding and everything else. The least you have to do is steam-clean it. But what you want to do on the walls is you want to paint the walls with a really good primer. And so an oil-based primer or an alkyd-based primer will seal in that odor.

    Clean the walls well, use a TSP – trisodium phosphate – to wash them down and then prime the walls. If you don’t prime the walls, the odor will basically permeate right through the new paint. But if you clean them and you prime them well, that will do a – go a long way towards getting rid of a lot of that odor. That plus removing the carpet or at least steam-cleaning the carpet are the two most important things to do.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? If you do end up removing the carpet, make sure they remove the padding, as well. And if it’s a wood subfloor, you want to paint it again with that same odor-blocking primer because that will do a lot to help with that, as well. And I don’t know if you’ve held on to any of the draperies or any other soft goods from the previous owners. Just get rid of them or really have them cleaned well.

    WILLIAM: OK. That will work. I appreciate your answer.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Jim in Oregon with a paneling question. Tell us what you’re working on.

    JIM: I’ve got a house that was built in the early 1950s and I moved into it in the 70s. And it didn’t have any insulation in the walls of the house, so I took the interior paneling off, which was – ¼-inch plywood was all it was. And then I put insulation behind that and of course, rewired it at the same time.

    And then when I put the ¼-inch paneling back, after I put the insulation in, then I put – of course, it was in the 70s, the big paneling era. So I just put paneling over the top of that. Now I want to kind of upgrade it a little bit and I’m not too sure if my best route would be to clean the paneling really well and paint it or clean the paneling really well and have somebody come in and spray it, like you do sheetrock. Or maybe I should put ¼-inch sheetrock over the top of it and tape it off and then spray it. Or possibility of putting – on every stud, put a 2×2 on the stud and then put the insulation in that looks like Styrofoam with the tin foil on each side and then a panel over – or sheetrock over the top of that. So, I’m kind of looking at dollars and cents in which way to go.

    TOM: Wow, you have a lot of choices. Do we want – we really want a cosmetic solution here?

    JIM: Yes.

    TOM: That’s the case, there’s no reason you can’t paint this.

    I mean paint on paneling can look quite attractive if it’s done well. Right, Leslie? But I think priming is probably important.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You’re right about wanting to clean it. Then you’re definitely needing to prime it with a very good-quality primer, because you want it to adhere very well to the paneling. And depending on if this is actual wood paneling or some sort of, you know, wood-like paneling, you just want it to stick well. And then I would go with whatever paint over it.

    The issue here is whether or not you like the look of the vertical lines. If you like them, then you’re going to love it painted. Because somehow, white paneling looks fantastic, especially if you’ve got a décor and a home style that lends itself to that look. It can really work for you.

    I really wouldn’t paint it any other color because then it’s like, “Oh, that’s painted paneling.” Where suddenly, in white, it’s like, “Oh, it’s got a country chic-ish charm to it.” But it’s really up to you whether that’s a look that you like and will enjoy. If you can work with it, then I definitely say go for the paint.

    JIM: So if I painted white on it, my big-horn sheep hanging on the wall and the antelope and stuff would stand out really well then.

    TOM: Yeah, I bet they would.

    LESLIE: That’s a whole ‘nother conversation for another day.

    JIM: Yeah, I can just understand. I used to own a sporting-goods store, so I understand that.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Hey. Are you ready for some quick and easy furniture makeovers? Well, we’re going to have tips on easy ways that you can get a new look fast, next.

    ANNOUNCER: Today’s Money Pit is presented by Haier, the world’s number-one appliance brand. Stay cool this summer with a Haier Serenity Series Air Conditioner. Quieter than the average window air conditioners, yet cool your home effectively and efficiently. Learn more at HaierAmerica.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.

    TOM: Well, these days, so many of our building projects involve composites. These are materials that stand up better than wood. But what they can’t do is display the beauty of natural wood grain, something that’s easily highlighted with a simple application of stain.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And no one knows stain better than the experts at Minwax. Joining us with tips is Minwax spokesperson and woodworking expert Bruce Johnson.

    Welcome, Bruce.

    BRUCE: Thank you, Leslie and Tom. I really appreciate the opportunity.

    TOM: So, Bruce, sometimes folks think of stain as a pretty big and messy project. But one of the things that Minwax has done, that I like, is that they developed another very easy way to apply stains called “finishing cloths.” How do these work?

    BRUCE: And you’re right, Tom. Used to be in the old days staining was something that people dreaded, like stripping furniture. But Minwax has made it easier with products that are fast-drying, easy to use, easy cleanup. And you’re right: the Minwax Wood Finishing Cloths are a perfect example. These are pre-moistened cloths that contain both your stain and your finish in one cloth that you take out of a package. You reseal the package so there’s no messing with the can, no stirring sticks. And you literally apply your stain and your finish by just using the finishing cloth to rub it onto the raw wood. It’s a great way to do it. An easy project. Quick. It’s water-based, so you don’t have to worry about fumes. And it dries quickly.

    LESLIE: Now, with the products that are already on the cloths are on the sponges, when you’re, say, refinishing or repurposing a chair or something that you might find at a thrift shop or on the side of the road, is that something that you should do or do you really have to start from scratch with a piece that you’re refurbishing?

    BRUCE: I take two different approaches, Leslie. As Tom was talking about the wood finishing cloths, really, your design – if you’re working on, let’s say, a piece of unfinished furniture or an unfinished picture frame. But if like me, you’re going to the thrift shops or you’re looking for those bargains alongside the road, those are typically pieces that already have a stain and a finish on them but they’re worn out. And in a case like this, I go for the easy approach first.

    First thing I do is I clean it. I don’t use any of my grandmother’s old formulas with lye and trisodium phosphate because those things can actually remove a finish. I use Minwax Hardwood Floor Cleaner for floors and Minwax Wood Cabinet Cleaner for furniture. So I clean that thrift-store find first, let it dry. And then, generally, it’s going to have nicks and scratches, just like your furniture in your house probably does at any time. And for those I like to use the Minwax Wood Finish Stain Markers. These are like magic markers but they’ve got eight different colors of wood-finish stain in them.

    So I clean it first, then I touch up my nicks and scratches with the stain markers and then I rub on a coat of wipe-on poly. And like the name implies, you don’t need a brush. You just use a cloth and you’re putting on another layer of polyurethane protection. So that’s the three-step method I use for my thrift-store bargain.

    TOM: I tell you, it can’t get any easier than that. It used to be that it was a big project to tackle: staining. But with these cloths and the markers and the wipe-on poly, it really is a very, very easy way to go.

    So, Bruce, what’s next on the horizon for Minwax? I know that you have a new project that you’re working on that’s got a sort of an emotional bent to it. Tell me about it.

    BRUCE: Yeah, Minwax has got an exciting new campaign coming. It’s called Made with Love, Finished with Minwax. And when you think about it, Tom, we get emotional about our homes, we get emotional about our cars. But Minwax is pointing out the fact that – especially with family heirlooms or pieces, maybe they’re not even that old but they’re pieces that maybe you worked on together as a family project – that you get an emotional involvement with that, as well. And so Minwax is anxious to point out to people how easy it is using products that are water-based and don’t have fumes, that dry quickly – how easy it is to get that emotional attachment with furniture, as well. Because, really, when you think about it, once you’re in your home, it’s your furnishings that you really relate to.

    LESLIE: You know, Bruce, this really seems like a great social campaign. Is this something that Minwax is working on?

    BRUCE: Absolutely. Minwax is striving real hard to bring in a new generation of users. So we’re going to find lots of great tips and projects over at Minwax.com and at the Minwax Facebook page, as well. So it’s a great place to check out for some inspiration and some good tips I provide there, as well, too.

    TOM: Bruce Johnson, Minwax spokesperson and woodworking expert, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    BRUCE: Thanks, Tom and Leslie. It was great to have the opportunity to talk with you today.

    TOM: And as Bruce mentioned, you can learn more at Minwax.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, we’re going to share a quick and easy tip to make sure that your air conditioning is running smoothly. Money Pit continues, after this.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We will help you with whatever it is you are tackling around your house this week or planning to tackle next week. Plus, we’re giving away a great prize. And this hour, we’re got up for grabs some Dickies work clothing. And that includes Dickies Denim.

    Now, you guys know that Dickies is just synonymous with durability, functionality and comfort. And the Dickies name has really endured the test of time. Dickies Performance Work Wear will deliver quality at an unmatched value.

    You can check out their website at Dickies.com. The prize pack is worth 120 bucks. And that’s going out to one lucky caller we draw at random.

    TOM: That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Sue in Ohio needs some help cleaning a carpet. Tell us what’s going on.

    SUE: I have a concrete sun-porch slab that has – had been covered with black carpeting. And it’s – we had a very muggy summer this year and green mold started to grow on it. And though I tried washing it off and rinsing it off – and it just won’t take care of it. And I know that you had helped other people with mold problems, with 10-percent bleach. But I wouldn’t dare put bleach on that black carpet and I wondered if there’s something else that will kill that mold.

    TOM: Well, how do we know it’s mold? It sounds like algae.

    SUE: Could it be?

    TOM: It could be, yeah. What I would do is I would simply – if the carpet’s that dirty, I would simply go out and rent a steam cleaner – rent a carpet cleaner. Those carpet cleaners are pretty darn effective. I rented one myself at The Home Depot just a few weeks ago for a couple of rooms in an apartment that we own that was getting a new tenant. And I’m always astounded with what a phenomenal job those steam cleaners do on what looks like carpet that has to be torn out.

    But when you steam-clean it with the right materials, use the chemicals that come with the machine, it does a really good job. You’ve just got to take your time. Usually have to go over it a couple of times and it takes a little bit of work but it really does a great job. So I wouldn’t try to do this any other way.

    The way the steam cleaners work is water is injected into the carpet and then almost at the same time, a very strong vacuum pulls that water back out with the dirt and debris attached to it.

    SUE: Oh. So the steam kills the algae.

    TOM: Yes. It’ll clean it. And then if you dry it really well after that, it should stop it from coming back.

    SUE: OK. OK. Well, that’ll help me, yeah.

    TOM: Alright? And that won’t damage the color.

    SUE: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us.

    LESLIE: Is your A/C on but maybe your house doesn’t seem to be getting cool? Well, there’s a quick and easy way to check if everything is working OK without calling a pro.

    TOM: Yep. All you’ve got to do is take a thermometer and measure the airflow at the supply and return duct nearest the blower.

    Now, the temperature difference should be between 12 and 20 degrees. If it’s not, your system is not running efficiently and probably needs refrigerant, which can be easily added by your local HVAC pro. So, it’s simple as that. Just take the temperature of your air-conditioning system and you’ll know what you need to do.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Louis from Michigan on the line with a roofing question. What can we do for you?

    LOUIS: The house was built in 1929. The siding – it’s a siding question. The siding is asbestos concrete shingles. We have iron in our well water. When spring – the flowers – the water has accumulated, over the years, on the shingles. Now, one wall of the house now has a golden glow. Any recommendations for removing the iron-golden glow?

    TOM: Well, if it’s siding, you’re going to have to clean it and paint it. That’s the only thing you can really do. You could wash this house down, you can use a TSP – trisodium phosphate. That will tend to take out some of that. But you’re going to end up having to paint this siding.

    The nice thing about asbestos is it lasts forever. The not-so-nice thing about it is it has to be painted forever. But it’s a non-organic product, so it will not rot, it will not fall apart organically. But it doesn’t look very nice and it does absorb a stain and needs to be constantly maintained.

    Because the asbestos is held inside of a cement binder, it’s not a safety risk; it’s just really a maintenance headache.

    LOUIS: Appreciate it. Thank you.

    TOM: Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jackie in Colorado on the line who’s dealing with some issues from a sink drain. What’s going on? Stuff is only supposed to go down, right?

    JACKIE: Yeah, it’s supposed to. The only time I have trouble with it is when I use my washing machine. It’s connected to the same line as my sink. And the old-timers put it out in an open well. And so, the only time I have trouble with is when the washing machine drains, then it bubbles back into my sink. And then when the water finally goes out, I get this gray-water smell.

    TOM: So, you have a gray-water drain when you say it goes to a well. You don’t mean a drinking well; you mean a gray-water well.

    JACKIE: It’s just an old well that they dug and they used it to – as a drain. It’s not a septic tank.

    TOM: OK. So, yeah, it’s called a “gray-water drain.” And so, you’re getting odor back in. So the reason you’re getting odor is because you need an additional trap in the system. Before that line goes out to the “well,” that you’re calling it, there should be an additional trap.

    Now, the trap is a U-shaped pipe, the same that you might see under your sink. And the idea of the trap is it lets the water drain one way but stops the gases – the odor that you’re getting – from coming back in. And so, if they didn’t put a trap in that line, that’s why you’re getting the odor.

    The fact that you have the washing machine and the sink on the same line is not exactly legal but it’s also not unusual. And so, I’m not going to tell you to change that but you absolutely do need a trap in there. Otherwise, who knows what kind of gases you’re going to bring back in from the soil? And if you do that, that should solve that problem once and for all. OK, Jackie?

    JACKIE: OK. Alright. See if I can get that done then.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Kurt in North Carolina on the line who’s working on a restoration. Tell us about the project.

    KURT: So I’ve got 2×6 floor joists spanning 15 feet. And I’d like to know if I rip some ¾-inch plywood and sister it up against the 2x6s and glue and screw it, if that would be sufficient. My crawlspace has six vents under the floor and I want to seal them up. I read it doesn’t need cross-ventilation. It’s kind of old-school. And I put six-mil poly on the ground. Your thoughts, please.

    TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, in terms of beefing up the floor joists, sistering the floor joists by doubling them – I don’t necessarily think I would use plywood on them; I would double them.

    KURT: Would it be flimsy?

    TOM: Well, I mean it may not be flimsy but the thing is, if you want to sister a floor joist and help support it, you need to go from bearing point to bearing point. So if it’s going from a girder to an exterior wall, the sister beam has to go the same length.

    KURT: Yeah.

    TOM: You know, another thing that you could do, Kurt, is you could run another girder, at the midpoint of that 15 feet, from end to end. Now, it doesn’t necessarily have to be – has to be as strong as the main girder for the house, because you’re really just taking the flex out of it. So if you poured a small footing underneath it and just got something in there to kind of stiffen the floor, that would take the bounce out.

    KURT: Right. Yeah, I thought about that on the main floor but my second story, I didn’t want to – if I put a glulam in, I only have 7 feet, 5 inches to ceiling height.

    TOM: I understand. So, doubling them is a solution, as well as using a mid-span girder.

    KURT: Alright, sir. I appreciate the information.

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

    LESLIE: Don’t go anywhere. After these words, we’ll return to help answer your questions at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll be right back.

    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: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online at MoneyPit.com, just like Sue did in Oklahoma.

    LESLIE: Alright. Sue writes: “A neighbor’s child poured a whole glass of juice into my floor air-conditioner vent. The A/C seems to be running fine but do I need to worry about that causing problems down the road?”

    TOM: Maybe not except for some ants or something like that. Look, as long as this dear child didn’t pour it into the mechanics of the air conditioner, just the vent, you’re not really going to hurt anything with that, Sue. If you can take the register off and maybe just spray some water in there and wipe it down, try to soak some of that up, I’d just do that much of it. But I wouldn’t worry about it damaging the system. And plus, your house will smell orange-y fresh for quite a while.

    LESLIE: Ugh. Well, you hope, anyway.

    Alright. Min (sp) from Vermont writes: “I live in the mountains and get lots of snow. This summer, I want to build a deck myself but I’m worried a big, flat, elevated deck won’t be able to withstand the weight of the snowfall. I’ve seen more than one crumble. What should I do?”

    TOM: Listen, it’s not a do-it-yourself project, Min (sp), if you’ve not done this before, especially in an area where you’re going to have a lot of severe weather conditions. Sure, I see these things fall all the time and the reason is, of course, they’re not built right. And it’s not the kind of thing that you do as your first DIY project. Some of the key things is to make sure it’s properly attached to the house, that the floor joists are the right size, that the beams are the right size and that the columns that hold the whole thing up are on the right-size footings.

    It is possible to build a deck that could withstand all the snow Vermont could dish out. But it’s certainly not possible to do that without a really solid knowledge base and a lot of experience. Plus, it’s just really hard to build an elevated deck by yourself. I mean really hard. Even somebody that knows how to do it, like me, it would be a challenging experience to have to do that one board at a time and have that come out – have it come out properly.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Min (sp), when you live in an area that gets so much snow, like a harsh environment, the structure – getting that really correct is key. And once you do that, you can barely knock that thing down.

    TOM: Well, would you like to have a patio floor unlike anyone else’s? Leslie tells us how, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, this really is one of the easiest ways to have the coolest outdoor area ever. You can paint a rug right onto your concrete patio.

    Now, to do this, you just need to make sure that your patio is really super clean. You can mop it with 1 cup of vinegar per 1 quart of water and then spray it away with a hose. Of course, make sure it’s super dry because you want everything to adhere. And then you’ve got to just mark off the area for this faux rug with painter’s tape. And make sure you get your lines nice and straight.

    Now, you can come up with a ton of different designs. I mean really think about it. Chevron patterns are super hot. Diamond patterns, they’re in, as well. Tone-on-tone, bright colors, a super-bright color against a white, all of these are going to work and be really graphic and create, really, a standout floor for your patio.

    So once you’ve marked everything off, you want to use concrete paint. Now, you can get this at most of your home improvement stores nearby. They’ll tint it any color you want. And then go ahead and first paint that background color and let it dry overnight. Then add in that detail once everything is dry.

    When you add in the detail, you can do it free hand with tape, you can get some stencils and create an overall pattern. Really, this is the chance for you to let your inner artist shine. So do some research online, look at different rugs, get inspired.

    Now, once it’s dry, you want to finish it with three coats of water-based polyurethane and let that dry completely. And that drab slab of concrete is now a completely unique and totally-you focal point.

    TOM: And I’m sure absolutely beautiful.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’ll have tips on how to survive the least favorite part of any construction project: the cleanup. We’ve got surprisingly easy ways you can get rid of that old to make room for the new, 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.


    (Copyright 2016 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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