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Smart Homes On A Budget, Cleaning And Disinfecting Your Dishwasher, And How To Keep Concrete From Cracking As Temperature Change

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And welcome to this hour of the program. We are here to help you with your home improvement projects. So, help yourself first: pick up a phone and call us. We’d love to chat with you at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. You can post your question online at MoneyPit.com or at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit .

    We’ve got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, if the inside of your dishwasher is dirty, so might also be the dishes, pots, pans and utensils that come out of it. So if it’s been a while since you disinfected your dishwasher, we’re going to give you a tip on an easy way to get that dishwasher fresh and clean in one easy step.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And speaking of easy, smart homes make life easier but they aren’t always easy on your budget, unless you take the DIY approach. Coming up, we’re going to have tips for you to add monitoring and automation to your home without breaking the bank.

    TOM: And I hate to admit it but colder weather is now officially on its way. So we don’t want to let those changing temperatures get the best of your driveway, your sidewalks, your patios and your steps, so we’re going to tell you about a product that will prevent cracking in the cold weather in those spaces.

    LESLIE: And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a handy PURPLE Tool Kit from National Gypsum. It’s got everything that you’re going to need for your next project.

    TOM: So let’s get to those phones, 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Tammy in Arkansas is on the line and is having an issue with the bricks on her home. What’s going on?

    TAMMY: OK. I’ve got a home that sits on a concrete slab. They’re made out of the cinder blocks and the cracks are beginning to crack on the outside and the inside. And somebody told me to use concrete with it and I’m wanting to do it myself. So what do I need to do to seal those cracks?

    TOM: Yeah, you don’t want to use concrete because concrete is not going to fill cracks very well. Are we talking about sort of hairline or fairly thin cracks here, Tammy?

    TAMMY: Well, maybe a ½-inch. They’re kind of separating there but they’re separating into seams of the block.

    TOM: But you really think it’s a full ½-inch? That’s an awfully big crack.

    TAMMY: Well, you can put your finger up to it. It’s pretty deep. You can see on the outside and you can see on the inside.

    TOM: OK. Well, listen, if you’re getting that kind of movement in the wall, you need to have this looked at by an expert. I would have a professional home inspector or a structural engineer look at it because that’s a huge crack in the building. A ½-inch crack is really big if it’s pulling apart. That means that the house is sliding apart at that wall or settling on one end of the building, causing that to crack. And I would like to know why that’s happening.

    Are those cracks new or have they always been there?

    TAMMY: No, no, no, no. They just started, because the place was built in 1969.

    TOM: Yep. You’ve got to get to the bottom of it, Tammy, because there’s something wrong with the house for those cracks to occur like that.

    Now, you’re not talking about mortar that fell out, are you? You’re talking about physical cracks; all the mortar is still there. It’s just separated.

    TAMMY: It’s just separating. It’s all it is. The mortar is still there.

    TOM: Yeah. I would – here’s what I would do, Tammy: I would go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. It’s ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org. Find a certified home inspector in your area or have a structural engineer look at it, get their recommendations and then you can take it from there. If the cracks are that big, I want to stop the building from moving before we begin to think about sealing them up, OK?

    TAMMY: OK. OK. I sure appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got James in Massachusetts on the line who is having an issue with an unruly couch.

    What’s going on, James?

    JAMES: About 20 years ago, I bought a beautiful, wooden couch stained a nice, dark walnut color. And where you sit on it were cushions that were covered in a fabric.

    LESLIE: Were they loose cushions or were they attached to the frame?

    JAMES: They were not attached to the frame; they were loose. The frame is quite beautiful. You’d walk all the way around the couches. It’s probably best seen from behind, where you can see the structure of the wood. It’s a very nice couch. But after about 16 years, the cushion fabric wore out so I had this brilliant idea that I was going to cover the cushions in a faux leather.

    And now, four years on, I find that the cushions stick to the wood. Somehow, the faux leather – Naugahyde, whatever it might be – is leaching the stain right out of the wood. The rest of the wood, where the cushions don’t touch it, is still as beautiful as it ever was. But where the cushions touch it, now it is all tacky. It does not transfer onto the cushions themselves. I can touch the cushions and they do not feel sticky. Is there a solution besides taking this thing down to bare wood?

    LESLIE: It’s possible. And that’s probably because of the same reason you’d see it in the kitchen, which is moisture. Not saying that the cushions are wet but because the cushions have a texture to them that is also smooth – if that makes sense? You know how leather or even artificial leather, when you sit on it, it gets warmed up and then you kind of stick to it? I feel like you’re probably getting the same thing, just in the area where you’re getting the contact from the finish to the actual fabric itself.

    Now, what you could do, if you are committing to a specific side of the cushion that will always be the top, you could sew something almost like a canvas or a moleskin or something on the bottom that gives it more movement but is also more of a breathable fabric. The only issue is it might come sliding off. But it won’t stick.

    JAMES: Oh, that’s an excellent idea. So half the cushion would be fabric and the part that’s touching the wood?

    LESLIE: Right. The bottom side would be a fabric that’s more of a backer or a base, like a canvas or a duck cloth.

    JAMES: Now, these are – not only is the bottom cushion but also the back that touches wood, as well. So, fabric all the way where it touches the wood. Is there anything that can salvage the finish of the wood without just taking it down to bare wood?

    LESLIE: Do you find that when you have the cushions off for some time that it sort of re-solidifies or re-cures or no?

    JAMES: No. It remains tacky, although I have to admit I’ve not tested that out for a great length of time. I mean like a month or something.

    LESLIE: It might be worth it just to do – not to take it all the way down to bare wood but to get something like a liquid sander. It comes in a bottle. You’ll find it in any home center in that paint-and-stain aisle.

    And then just put that on. You sort of brush it on or wipe it on in the area and just let it have a little bit of tack to it. And maybe just then hand-sand it a little bit with a sanding sponge and then just apply your stain or your finish to that exact spot or do that whole railing. It sounds to me like you have a slatted back and a slatted seat, perhaps. So I would just do the boards that have the issues to it, not the rest of the frame.

    JAMES: Sounds like an excellent idea. So, liquid sander and fabric on the back of the cushion.

    LESLIE: It’s worth a shot.

    JAMES: Thank you very much. I appreciate your help.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending your Labor Day Weekend with us. Hopefully, you are enjoying the fruits of all of the hard home improvement work you’ve done all summer in one big, last hurrah. But give us a call if something’s going wrong and you need a hand, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you prefer your pots, your pans, your dishes to be free of germs, grease and the remnants of your last meal? Or maybe you consider that a sort of season. Well, I am sure you don’t. You’d like them to be sparkly clean and they can only get as clean as the dishwasher you put them in. We’re going to have tips on how you can sanitize your dishwasher, the easy way, when The Money Pit Radio Show continues after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.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: And do you have a home improvement question? Well, we’d love to talk with you about just that. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if you do, you might also win a $50 PURPLE Tool Kit from National Gypsum, including everything a do-it-yourselfer needs: hammer, screwdriver, torpedo level and more.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s a 24-piece set. PURPLE drywall products from National Gypsum provide resistance to mold, mildews, scratches, dents and they can even reduce noise between rooms.

    TOM: Check it out at AskForPURPLE.com and give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

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

    WENDY: I have a mobile home. So there’s no attic space. And recently, I had a leak in my roof, in my bedroom, and it started out just a water stain on the ceiling. It’s approximately 12 inches wide, 24 inches long.

    But here, recently, in the past few weeks, it looks like it’s growing mold. It’s a spot about the size of a dinner plate that – it’s real dark, black mold. I’m concerned that it may be black mold and I don’t know if – is there something that I can do to fix this with primer or paint and maybe bleach or something to kill the mold? Or is it something – am I going to have to replace the sheetrock in the ceiling?

    TOM: Well, first of all, do you think that you’ve dealt with the leak? That there’s no longer a leak there?

    WENDY: Well, I have a metal roof and I think what has happened is the rain became a really, really bad storm and it was blowing all different directions. And I think the water actually blew under – it blew up under the metal on the roof. I don’t think it’s actually a leak, because I haven’t ever had any more problems.

    TOM: Alright. So here’s what you need to know: if your ceiling gets stained like that from a leak, you can’t just paint over it because the stain will come through. So what you have to do first is you have to prime it. So get an alkyd-based primer or an oil-based primer – water- or oil-based, it doesn’t matter – and paint over that spot. Then once you’ve painted over with the primer, then you can paint – put the finish coat on top of that. But the primer has to be done first.

    If you’re concerned that it’s mold and you want to make sure it’s not, then I would take about a 15- to 20-percent bleach solution – so maybe 1 part bleach, 3 parts water, something like that; you can make it a bit stronger – spray it down in that moldy area, let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then clean it off. And then proceed with the primer and the paint.

    WENDY: OK. Like I said, I’m concerned I can’t see the other side of the sheetrock because there is no attic space.

    TOM: Well, right now, it’s a fairly small spot, so let’s just deal with that and then move on. I wouldn’t make a bigger problem out of it just yet. We think the leak was a one-time situation, so now we just have to deal with this. It’s most likely a leak stain that you’re looking at and not mold.

    WENDY: I’m pretty sure it’s mold. It’s one spot (inaudible at 0:12:55). It does look fuzzy-like. It’s a white …

    LESLIE: There is a product called a 5-Minute Mold Test and it’s actually a swab within almost like a little tube-y thing and you just swab the area that you think is mold and pop it in there. And you’ll actually get a reading within five minutes telling you if it’s mold.

    And I think – does it also tell you the type of mold, Tom?

    TOM: I think it might and they have a consulting service, too, that they’ll follow up with you on the result and tell you what they recommend you do about it.

    WENDY: OK. Well, great. That certainly helps. I’ll give it a try.

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

    Well, your dishwasher makes cooking, cleaning and life just generally a lot easier or so you think. It turns out, though, that a dishwasher actually can do more harm than good if the inside isn’t really clean.

    LESLIE: It’s no secret that dishwashers see their share of cooking grease, discarded food and germs. But what is surprising is how long those things can hang around, which makes your dishwasher a breeding ground for foul odors and even health hazards.

    TOM: Now that’s where Glisten Dishwasher Magic comes in. Just put it in your dishwasher for one cycle and Glisten Dishwasher Magic removes rust, grease and other buildup that’s not only unsanitary but it can actually affect your dishwasher’s performance over time.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And unlike other machine cleaners, this one’s going to clean and disinfect even the hidden, hard-to-reach areas so you don’t have to.

    TOM: Glisten Dishwasher Magic kills 99.9 percent of germs and it’s the only EPA-approved dishwasher cleaner good for your house and the environment.

    Visit Glisten.com to see the entire family of products from Glisten, the machine-cleaning experts.

    LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Kenneth on the line to The Money Pit who’s got a flooring question. How can we help you today?

    KENNETH: Hi. Well, I was going to ask you about – how do you fix squeaky floors on a second floor of a house that has rugs, without ripping up the rugs?

    TOM: There’s a couple of things that you can do. First of all, you need to understand what causes the squeak. And generally, it’s movement between the subfloor and the floor joist underneath.

    KENNETH: Right.

    TOM: So, to try to reduce the squeak or eliminate it – you know, you mentioned that you’ve got rugs and you don’t want to take them up. I just want to tell you that, of course, the surefire way to stop the squeaks is to pull the rugs up and then to screw the subfloor to the floor joist using long, hardened-steel screws, which you drive in with a drill. You don’t want to do that, so I’m going to tell you a little trick of the trade on how you can fix some of the worst ones without doing that. And that is to locate the floor joist underneath the carpet.

    Now, you need to do that kind of by trial and error. You can do that by tapping on the floor; you can do that with a stud finder. There’s a whole new line of Stanley stud sensors that work really well and they’ll penetrate through the carpet. You need to find that beam.

    Once you find the beam, then what you do is you get yourself some 12-penny, galvanized finish nails. And I say “galvanized” and hot-dipped galvanized is the best. Those are the ones that are really sort of crusty on the outside. And you find that spot and you drive the nail straight through the carpet. Don’t let your wife see you do this, OK? Because she’ll get upset with you.

    Straight through the carpet and then with the nail set, you punch that head right through the carpet. When you finish driving with the hammer, it’ll look like the carpet is dimpled. But if you take a nail set, you punch it through the surface of the carpet and sort of pull the carpet back up and rub it with your hands a couple of times and it’ll disappear; that divot will disappear.

    What you’re doing is you’re securing that floor right above – right through the carpet without pulling the carpet up. Now, I wouldn’t want you to do this to the whole house but I’ve fixed this in lots of houses using two or three strategically driven nails. And I find if you drive it at a slight angle, it works better, because the nail holds better.

    KENNETH: OK. Well, I noticed they had on the old – This Old House the other day on TV, they showed you how to do it with the rugs, before I called you. And they use this O’Berry Enterprising kit, which is a drill bit that’s only got three threads on it that you drill down until you find your stud. Then they have 50 screws with little socket heads on them and you drill those down into the beam and then you have a little tool that breaks the head off. And it’s ingenious. The only thing is is that I can’t find the beams.

    TOM: Yeah, you need a stud sensor. So that would be a worthwhile investment of a few dollars. I mean those stud sensors are $10 to $20, $25 for a real good one.

    KENNETH: I will and I thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Trudy in Delaware needs some help jazzing up her brick home. What can we do for you?

    TRUDY: I have a single-family house and the base of it is not finished, from the dirt up to where the siding starts. And I’m wanting to know what I could use on that so I have a more finished look.

    TOM: So is it a brick foundation, Trudy?

    TRUDY: No, no. It’s a brick front and then the sides and the back is siding. But from the dirt – from the ground up to where the siding starts is about maybe 2 feet. It’s just basic cement, unfinished look. And I wanted to know what I (inaudible at 0:18:02).

    TOM: Right. There’s a couple things you can do. You can do something really simple, like paint it. You would use a masonry paint for that exterior. Masonry paint.

    The other thing that you could do is you could stucco that. Now, that’s a little bit more work but there are premixed stucco mixes that you can buy at a home center. And with a few tools, you could apply a stucco to that, maybe put a bit of a pattern on it. And you need to do that, though, by following all the right steps for prep. Because if you don’t get it right, it’ll freeze and break off.

    But those would be the two easiest ways to clean that up.

    TRUDY: OK. So, yeah, I didn’t want something to start chipping off or the paint to start slinking (ph).

    TOM: Right. Well, that’s why you’ve got to use the right products with the paint. You’ve got to prime it and then you’ve got to use an exterior-quality masonry paint. And kind of the same thing with the stucco. You’ve got to use the right tools and the right application methods and make sure it’s nice and clean and dry when you start and it’ll hold up nicely. Alright, Trudy?

    TRUDY: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Automated smart houses are big on convenience but they also require a big budget unless you take the do-it-yourself approach. Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House is here with tips for making your home a smart home without the big up-front investment.

    TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools. Stanley Tools has been helping to build America since 1843. Look for specially marked Stanley packaging featuring the Made In The U.S.A. With Global Materials logo. And visit StanleyTools.com/BuildYourAmerica.

    RICHARD: Hi. I’m Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor from TV’s This Old House. If you want to keep your home from freezing, frying or going on the fritz, keep listening to Tom and Leslie on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And Leslie, do you think the White House ever springs a leak or shows a few maybe drywall cracks?

    LESLIE: I bet it does more than one at a time.

    TOM: Well, now, even the Obamas or their staff can get the do-it-yourself advice they need on WQLL, which is Money Pit’s newest affiliate in the Baltimore/DC market. You can check out the show at 1370 on the dial starting Sunday, September 13th from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. So welcome to The Money Pit family.

    LESLIE: Cindy in Delaware is on the line with some plumbing odors.

    Tell us what is going on, Cindy.

    CINDY: I have dual sinks in the master bathroom.

    TOM: Right.

    CINDY: And every once in a while, I get a strong sewer smell.

    TOM: OK.

    CINDY: I don’t know what’s causing it. It doesn’t matter if I run the water or flush the toilet but the left bowl connects the – underneath the pipe connects to the right one and it goes down into the – you know, under the house.

    TOM: OK. Well, assuming that they were plumbed correctly – and that you, in fact, have a plumbing trap there, which I’m going to presume you are – the odor is probably the result of something called “biogas,” which is – basically happens when you get a lot of debris over the years. And it lines the inside of the pipe and it lines the inside of the connections, the drain and so on. And then that material will start to produce a pretty strong odor.

    So what you need to do is take the drain apart and use a bottle brush to scrub the inside of it. You can’t just run something down there. You physically have to scrub it – those pipes – out. And that usually will eliminate that material and therefore the odor.

    CINDY: OK. OK. Because I had used – tried vinegar and baking soda.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s all good stuff but if it’s really building up like that, you’re going to have to remove the scum, so to speak, that’s containing all that bacteria that’s producing the odor.

    CINDY: OK. Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, built-in home automation systems can help monitor and control your home systems whether you’re home or not. But installing some of these systems can require a big up-front investment that may be hard to recoup.

    TOM: Well, the good news is that there are many new products on the market now that give you the same sense of automatic smart-home control without the need for a costly, centrally-wired hub. Here to discuss some of those options with us is This Old House host, Kevin O’Connor.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: If you think about it, when home automation first hit the market, there was a lot of interest. But most of the early systems required a centralized, hard-wired control panel, which you really had to commit to. And that was expensive and costly and I think it turned a lot of people off.

    KEVIN: I think it definitely prohibited a lot of people from diving in to what was a big decision, something that was going to require a lot of thought and probably a lot of money. And the big change today is that the need to hard-wire everything is pretty much fading away, thanks to Wi-Fi technology. And the need to sort of just pick one system and have everything run off of that is also changing.

    Because of that wireless technology, there are systems now where you can actually cobble together different manufacturers’ products, different brands into one unified system. Basically, it’s all going to your smartphone eventually, right?

    TOM: So the phone has basically replaced that big box you used to have to stick in a closet somewhere?

    LESLIE: The phone is the brain.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: The phone is the brain and the phone is not wired anymore. And so it’s a lot easier to sort of cobble together the system that serves you best and to use products from different manufacturers that you like over – one over another.

    TOM: Yeah. Home Depot, for example, has a system now called Wink, which is a platform that can be connected to multiple manufacturers of the same products like, for example, in thermostats where it will work with the Nest thermostat or the Honeywell.

    KEVIN: And there are a lot of other things that sort of fall under that umbrella. So now you don’t just have thermostats and alarms. You’ve got things like smart outlets where you can actually plug in an outlet or (inaudible at 0:24:05) wire an outlet.

    And now, all of a sudden, you could control that outlet remotely, so you can have an air conditioner go on and off via your smartphone. You can have humidity sensors, temperature sensors, motion sensors, cameras, all of these things now coming together into a unified system that sends it back to your phone that can be, again, different brands, different technologies coming into that one central hub, which is often the smartphone.

    LESLIE: You know, I think it’s so interesting because you’ve created sort of a smart way to fool potential burglars. We recently took a vacation and I put in three or four different automatic timers for lights around the house to come at different times so that it could essentially look as if someone’s been moving about the house. Here you could be anywhere in the world and be like, “Boop, I’m going to turn the light on in that room. Ha ha. Tricked you.” I mean it really is convenient and amazingly accessible.

    KEVIN: And the fact that it’s convenient, I believe, means you’re more inclined to use it.

    LESLIE: To use it, yeah.

    KEVIN: If you had to crawl down underneath the couch and pull out that old timer that you had to push down the little tabs and try to …

    LESLIE: Were you spying on me again?

    KEVIN: Right. But if that’s what you had to do before you went away for the weekend, chances are you’re going to walk right by it and you weren’t going to get the lights turned on remotely, so it just didn’t serve you well. The ease of being able to do it from your smartphone and then because it’s so intuitive means you’re more likely to actually use this stuff.

    TOM: It’s really exciting and a fun time to add some of these things to your house. There’s a new garage-door opener now that it is smartphone-enabled, so you can literally pull away from your house and if you recall that you left the door open, no problem. You just pull over, open up your smartphone and close it.

    KEVIN: Probably not a bad thing to have when you consider that most of us go in and out of our houses through the garage. Would you ever leave your front door open? No. So why would you leave your garage door open by accident when oftentimes it is the primary access into your home?

    LESLIE: Well, I think that’s an interesting point, also. We’ve seen entry systems also become automated for homes, as well. So if you need to let, perhaps, a service person – or your kid’s home from school, you can just easily program the door to open at a certain time. Or you know they’re there by your smartphone and you just go boo-boop, door opens, done.

    KEVIN: I have a neighbor who pretty much, every time we go away, calls me up to see if he can borrow the leaf blower, which is great because he knows I’m not using it right then but it’s locked in the garage.

    TOM: Now you can let him in.

    KEVIN: I can let him in. I could just send him the passcode and in he goes, he unlocks the garage door. I don’t have to give him the key. He shuts the door afterwards, it automatically locks. It’s great convenience. I love to have that sort of remote access to it.

    It will also, if I wanted it to, send me a notification when that door was opened or closed so I can keep track of who is coming and going.

    LESLIE: If your leaf blower has been returned.

    KEVIN: Well, that’s how I actually figure out how many beers he owes me for the leaf blower.

    TOM: There you go. Leslie and I recently both just installed KOHLER standby generators or KOHLER whole-house generators and we have apps now on our phones. Tells us when it comes on, when it goes off, when it’s exercising itself, running tests.

    LESLIE: You can turn it on, you can turn it off.

    KEVIN: It really is a brave, new world when it comes to home automation.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And now there’s a lot of smart features that are purely for entertainment. You just put in a system at your Charleston home project that was an audio system that was all sort of Wi-Fi, enabled in smartphone control, right?

    KEVIN: We did. And the beautiful thing about it is that we’ve got a central hub that’s down in the basement and then we have these wireless speakers all throughout the house, so you’ve got them on all different floors and all different rooms. They’re connected to wherever your music source may be, whether it is on that central hub or again, on your smartphone. And it also allows you to connect it to the television sets. You can move these things around, you can pick settings so that you have the music going on throughout the entire house during a party.

    We’ve seen this stuff before. It’s just getting easier and easier to install them because the wires are disappearing.

    TOM: And really, really fun. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Thank you for having me. Always a pleasure.

    LESLIE: OK. Catch the current season of This Old House andAsk This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Still ahead, extreme weather can affect your driveway, your walkway or your patio. Get info on a concrete that’ll endure temperature changes for years to come, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by SimpliSafe Home Security. SimpliSafe has no long-term contract and the award-winning, 24/7 protection is just $15 a month. Money Pit listeners, save 10 percent when you visit SimpliSafeMoney.com today. That’s SimpliSafeMoney.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who joins us this Labor Day Weekend on the air is going to have a chance to win a $50 PURPLE Tool Kit from National Gypsum. It’s going to include everything that a do-it-yourselfer needs: hammer, screwdrivers, torpedo level and more.

    TOM: And National Gypsum is celebrating their PURPLE drywall product, which provides resistance to mold, mildew, scratches, dents. And it can even reduce noise. Check it out at AskForPURPLE.com and give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Well, concrete sidewalks and walkways that crack and buckle can require expensive fixes. It’s a common complaint among homeowners and do-it-yourselfers alike.

    TOM: Yeah, especially as the temperatures change. The rain, the snow, it really can cause cracking and become a problem that mainly traces back to the concrete itself. If you have too much of one ingredient or too little of another, what happens is the concrete becomes fragile and it becomes prone to breaking. And that’s a problem that QUIKRETE is tackling head-on with a new product called the Crack-Resistant Concrete Mix.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, this mix includes the proper ratio of stone, gravel, sand, cement, fibers. And that’s going to make for a strong concrete, so strong that it eliminates the need for wire mesh. And it offers superior crack resistance against freezing and thawing, so no more shoveling all that snow away or raking leaves only to find that you’ve got damaged driveway underneath.

    TOM: QUIKRETE’s Crack-Resistant Concrete Mix is easy to work with, too. It’s the perfect way to get concrete back in shape before the cold weather sets in and makes cracked concrete look even worse.

    LESLIE: Steve in Massachusetts is on the line with a leak in the ceiling. What’s going on?

    STEVE: I have a two-story Colonial and I have a number of water leaks, especially down in my first floor, in a foyer, a living room, a kitchen and a first-floor bathroom and also on a second-room bathroom. And they’re not big leaks but they are noticeable.

    And I want to kind of correct the problem and paint over it but I want to correct the problem first. So I had a roofer tell me that maybe I should put a ridge vent and I know what – a lot of the ice dams we had last year. I’m just wondering – I’m kind of dumbfounded why all on the first floor and none other than the bathroom on the second floor.

    TOM: So these seem to be from condensation?

    STEVE: Could be, I guess. All the yellowish and that. I do have a little overhang in my kitchen area and that came about four years ago. I painted over it, I used Kilt and that but then it came back again a year later. So I don’t know whether it’s an insulation problem or a roof problem. I did put a second roof on back about five years ago. Up to that point, I never had any problems, so …

    TOM: Because it doesn’t sound like a roof leak or a plumbing leak. It’s just showing up in the oddest of places.

    STEVE: You know what? I’m dumbfounded where to go, I mean.

    TOM: Now, how much water do you see when you say you see a leak? Well, how much water are you seeing?

    STEVE: I just see the stains. I don’t really see the leak.

    TOM: Have you ever confirmed that it’s actually wet?

    STEVE: Not really.

    TOM: There’s a moisture meter that you can use. We used to use them in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector. And there’s a kind that you can just basically wave over the spot and it will read what the moisture level is. It’d be interesting. If I saw those stains, I would take a reading at the stain and I would take a reading at the ceiling somewhere else. And if it’s the same number, then it’s not really wet. It may have been wet but it’s no longer wet.

    If the stain is wetter than the other areas, then that would tell you something different; it would tell you it’s an active leak. But what we have to do is get to the bottom of the moisture source and then get these leak stains eliminated. And I think you’re on the right step with the right process with that. You want to basically paint them over with a primer – an oil-based primer – and then put a finish topcoat of paint on top of that.

    But if it’s actively leaking, we have to deal with that. So I would say that the first thing we need to do is – and since you have so many of these, it might make sense for you to have a professional home inspector come by, take a look at these up close and personal. Home inspectors always carry moisture meters with them. Try to figure out what’s going on and then get it resolved. I wouldn’t do anything in terms of repair until I got some independent, expert advice from somebody who doesn’t want to sell you anything.

    That’s the problem with getting the advice from the roofer there. You ask them how to solve the problem and they’re always going to give you a solution where they’re a part of it. Part of it includes hiring them. So, just avoid that conflict of interest in a situation where you have so many areas that you’re seeing leaks. I would get some independent, expert advice in person.

    STEVE: Alright. Very good. Thanks a lot.

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

    Hey, are you hoping to put off heating bills for as long as you can this fall? Well, improve your home’s insulation for a toastier home and you can actually reduce those utility bills, too. We’re going to tell you how, when The Money Pit continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Glisten. Glisten makes it easy to clean, freshen and maintain your dishwasher, disposer, microwave and washing machine. So improve the performance of your appliances with cleaning solutions from Glisten, the machine-cleaning experts. Visit GlistenCleaners.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, leaves on trees will change colors soon but your house can go green and stay that way, too, with The Money Pit’s green remodeling ideas.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You can discover 10 easy ways to make your next home improvement project Earth-friendly and even save money in the process. It’s all right on our homepage at MoneyPit.com.

    And while you’re there, post a question, just like Grant did who writes: “I have a floor in my walk-up attic, so it’s meant to store lots of stuff. The old insulation is minimal, probably wool but in fair condition. I’d like to add more insulation, either batts or blown-in. What do you recommend?”

    TOM: You know, adding insulation is probably one of the single least-expensive home improvement projects and that gives you the best return on investment. And attic floors or your upper ceiling is where you lose most of the heat. So because you have a floor, you have some decisions to make. Mostly it’s this: how much of that floor do you really want to retain for storage?

    If you can give up a good portion of that floor and, say, keep your storage towards the middle of the attic, what I would recommend is that you leave that floor in place and put unfaced fiberglass batts. Maybe pick up some 10- or 12-inch unfaced fiberglass batts and stack them right on top of that floor, edge to edge, across that entire attic, except the area right around, say, the attic opening or the hatch or the staircase where you could continue to use that space for storing.

    The issue is that if you were to, say, take the floor up and put more insulation in, you would have to raise the floor higher so it sits above the insulation, because you can’t crush the insulation. If you squish it or crush it, it no longer insulates. So if you were to insulate, say, 75 percent of that attic, you’re going to see a significant energy savings. And just leave that center section with just the existing floor where you can pick up some storage. And also, while you’re at it with this project, take a look at that attic staircase or that attic hatch and make sure it’s weather-stripped, because you can lose a lot of heat just through the attic hatch or staircase itself.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a question from Molly who writes: “Just last week, the central air-conditioning fan inside my home started making a constant, loud noise. What could be causing it? Could the fan be hitting something?”

    TOM: Well, it’s possible. There are several causes for noisy fans and noisy blower fans. The one that comes to mind that’s most common is when the fan’s bearings begin to weigh out, which is generally characterized by a lot of vibration and a real big racket. Because, remember, any noise in that fan is going to sort of transmit through all the ducts that it’s attached to, so it makes it sound a lot worse than it is.

    There’s also the possibility the fan is sort of baked with dirt or dust, which is forcing it out of balance. And again, you would get a lot of vibration if that happened and that would give you a lot of noise. Or there could be something inside the compartment that’s gotten loose and rubbing against those fan blades.

    So, I mean either way, to get to the bottom of it, I would have the fan checked by an HVAC tech. Look, you’ve got to have your air-conditioning and your heating systems serviced at least twice a year: once in the summer and once in the winter. So the next time you have somebody there or maybe you move it up and do it now, have it checked out by a tech. Let them figure out exactly why that noise is being made. If it turns out it’s something simple, they can fix it while they’re there. And if not, you can go ahead and replace that blower fan now.

    And it’s smart to do that because, believe me, it’s going to get worse and it’s going to break down at the least opportune time, like on a freezing-cold night or on a really, really hot day. And you’ll have no A/C or no heat and you’ll be sad. So, figure it out now, get it serviced at the same time and you’ll be good to go.

    LESLIE: I think sad is saying it lightly, Molly. Just get it maintained and fix that blower.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this beautiful Labor Day Weekend with us. We hope that we have given you some tips that will make your labor this weekend and in successive weekends much easier when it comes to your home improvement projects. Remember, the show does continue online where you can always reach us at MoneyPit.com.

    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.

    END HOUR 1 TEXT

    (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.)

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