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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: Very happy to be here helping with your home improvement projects. So, what’s on your to-do list? The weather is beautiful. You can work outside. You can work inside. You can do a project yourself or you could help a friend, help a neighbor, help your mom, help your dad. Whatever project you need to get done, let us help you take the first step. Call us, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    It’s also open-house season right now. If you noticed all the open-house signs, it’s so nice to see so many homes on the market right now. It’s a sign of a great economy. And if your home is on the market, a great way to draw folks in is to have an open house. But keeping them interested does take some careful preparation. We’re going to have some tips on how you can hold a successful open house, coming up.

    LESLIE: I wonder if one of those tips is baking some cookies in the oven before they arrive. I always remember …

    TOM: Yeah, making the house smell like chocolate-chip cookies?

    LESLIE: My mom was a realtor in the 80s and she’d always be like, “I have to bake cookies there.” So, I look forward to that tip.

    Alright. Also ahead, cracks in your walls? Well, they’re not necessarily a major problem. They’re often just caused by your home’s normal expansion and contraction, which is going to happen. But you need to fix them so that they don’t reappear. That is the tricky part. We’ve got sure-fire wall-repair solutions, coming up.

    TOM: And this hour, we’re giving away a Stanley TLM65 Laser Distance Measurer worth 60 bucks. It’s a simple and easy way to measure anything up to 65 feet away. So, pick up the phone right now and give us a call with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Kimberly in Missouri is dealing with a noisy floor. Tell us what’s going on.

    KIMBERLY: I have a section in my tile floor. It’s the longer planks, wood-looking floor. It’s a high-traffic area and there’s various areas on it – when you walk over it, it makes a popping noise. And it’s not the same spot all the time. It’s probably within – they’re alternating so that they’re not all lined up together. So, it’s probably 8 to 10 different areas there that will pop from time to time.

    So, I don’t know – and it’s different times of the day; it’s not every time. But when you’re walking through an area, you don’t particularly pay right where you’re putting your foot every time you walk through, you know, so …

    TOM: Do you happen to know what the tile floor is on top of? In other words, what’s the underlayment under the tile floor? Is it a double-layer of plywood, by any chance?

    KIMBERLY: It is plywood underneath.

    TOM: Is it right on the plywood or is there an underlayment?

    KIMBERLY: There is a flooring underlayment underneath that, because we had parquet underneath that at one time, and that’s a solid plywood. And then they did put an underlayment board on top of that. But it’s like a ¼-inch or 3/8-inch or whatever that is.

    TOM: Part of that’s sandwiched. There’s probably space in there somewhere. And it’s the kind of problem that’s not really structural in nature. In other words, I don’t think this is indicative but it’s super-annoying.

    KIMBERLY: Yeah.

    TOM: One of the ways to solve this – and it’s a little bit of a pain in the neck – is by basically drilling out, from underneath a section of the floor, and then inserting a construction adhesive up into that to kind of close the gap.

    So, for example, if you had a hole saw and you set the drill bit on the hole saw to just barely be longer than the saw itself, you could, essentially, excise out a hole of the plywood – a circle of the plywood – whatever the diameter of the hole saw was. Let’s say it’s 2 inches. You can take that out up against the underlayment that’s against the tile and then you could squeeze into that space construction adhesive, like a LIQUID NAILS or something like that. And that can flow in there and take up the gap and help solidify the area.

    But it’s a very time-consuming, annoying process that’s not always successful. So unless it’s something that’s really, really, really bothering you, I would probably just accept it.

    KIMBERLY: OK, OK. Well, then we’ll just chalk it up as character then.

    TOM: Alright, Kimberly. Good luck with that project.

    KIMBERLY: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Ben in Illinois is on the line and is having some issues with a water heater. Tell us what’s going on.

    BEN: Over a period of time, my hot-water stream would keep getting smaller and smaller and smaller. And finally, it got to the point where I’d turn the hot water on, it would just barely trickle. I disconnected the discharge pipe on the discharge side of the hot-water heater and found that the lime had built up so bad in the pipe, coming out of the top of the hot-water heater, that there was just a very tiny hole there.

    TOM: Right.

    BEN: At that point in time, I didn’t know what else to do. I just took a very large screwdriver and tapped that limestone out of there. Of course, that fell to the bottom of the hot-water heater. It’s been fine for about four-and-a-half years. It’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to do it again.

    And I’ve talked to retired plumbers in that and they told me that what’s causing that is a reaction between the copper pipe and the metal that is on top of the hot-water heater. And I was told that there was like a nipple that you screw on top of the hot-water heater and then connect your copper pipe.

    My question is: what type of metal is that that goes between the copper pipe and the metal coupling on top of the hot-water heater?

    TOM: Yeah, Ben, all you want to do is head to a plumbing supply house and ask for plastic-lined nipples. That actually is going to create the sort of the bi-metal protection or insulation between those two pipes. And that will stop that corrosive effect that you’re seeing and of course, they’ll stop the pipe from clogging as a result of that.

    BEN: Alright. Well, I sure thank you for your time and your advice.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair 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, it’s open season for open houses. Make yours stand out with the right preparation. We’ve got expert advice, presented by the National Association of Realtors, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door, it alerts your smartphone so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.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 the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT where we would love to take your home improvement question.

    And we’d also love to send you our prize this hour. It’s the Stanley TLM65 Laser Distance Measurer. This is a device that packs a lot of functions into an easy-to-use design.

    LESLIE: Now, with a range of 65 feet and an easy, two-button design, you can measure distance, area, volume or square footage. It’s really amazing. I’ve been using mine non-stop.

    It’s perfect for real estate agents, contractors, landscapers, painters and best of all, do-it-yourselfers like all of us out there. And it’s also a great and affordable Father’s Day gift.

    Check it out and all of our Father’s Day gift ideas at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: Point, click, measure, done. To learn more, visit StanleyTools.com and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Shirley in Nebraska on the line who has a foundation question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    SHIRLEY: I have a townhome and the dirt around my foundation, due to the drought, pulled away. I had somebody come in and grade it, fill it with dirt and some river rock on top of that. However, my basement is a poured-concrete basement, where they have the metal rods in different – in the sections? And I have some fine lines of cracks going down and maybe going out about 6 inches from those rods. Do I have to be concerned about that? Do I have to fill those in with something or do something? Paint over it or …?

    TOM: Generally, those are shrinkage cracks. Whenever you pour that much concrete, you get a fair amount of shrinkage cracking. And so if they’re fine lines like you’re describing, I wouldn’t worry too much about them, Shirley.


    TOM: That’s considered fairly normal with a poured-concrete foundation which, by the way, is one of the most – is one of the stronger foundations that you could have.

    SHIRLEY: Mm-hmm. I just didn’t have all those before the dirt problem, so that’s why I was wondering about it.

    TOM: Yeah. And I would make sure that you maintain proper drainage around the house so that you’re restoring the dirt that shrunk away and that it’s always sloping away from the wall. Because that’s going to keep – that’s going to make sure you don’t make excessive moisture, because the other thing could happen: when it’s not dry out and you get very wet weather, the excessive moisture, that can have an adverse effect on a foundation. So just make sure you always maintain the proper slope on the outside and fill in those gaps as they occur.

    SHIRLEY: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Mark in Wisconsin is having a gutter issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARK: Oh, yes. We have lots of trees around our house. And so, in the fall, they fill up with leaves and also, we have pine needles and lots of acorns. So I was wondering what product you would recommend for curtailing that issue.

    TOM: Well, there are many, many, many different types of gutter guards, as I’m sure you know. The basic screening that we kind of all grew up with, as the very first gutter guard, is somewhat effective but it’s high-maintenance because all of those – especially those pine needles get right through that. You end up having to pull the screens off to clean it.

    So, one product you might want to think about is this type of gutter guard that, essentially, let the leaves wash off the gutter but takes the water into the gutter. They lay on top of the gutter, they go up under the first roof shingle and they work on the principle of surface tension. As the water runs down the roof, it comes across this gutter guard and it goes over sort of a curved edge into the gutter. But the leaves wash off the type – off the top.

    There’s many different manufacturers that make this but I’ve seen them work and work very well, in most situations. If you happen to have a roof that has a high pitch with a lot of – forcing that water coming down in a heavy rainstorm, I can see it also bounce right off of that and go over the side of the house, which you don’t want it to do.

    The other thing that you might want to think about is if you do choose to use one of the screen systems, make sure it’s a hinged system. And these screen systems today have hinges so that you can lift up – lift them up every 4 feet or so, get your hand in there and clean out the junk in the gutter.

    MARK: Oh, OK. I’ve never seen a hinged system before.

    TOM: On the MoneyPit.com website at MoneyPit.com, we have an article called “Cost of Gutter Guards: Are They Worth It? Tips to Select the Best Way to Prevent Clogged Gutters,” which describes about a dozen different types of gutter guards that are on the market right now. So take a look at that and hopefully, that will help you out.

    MARK: OK. Sounds real good. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Well, it’s time now for today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. And part of the process of selling your home is holding a realtor’s open house so that buyers touring homes in an area can get to know your home.

    LESLIE: Now, holding an open house is a great way to get lots of potential buyers in the door. But first, you’ve got to make sure that your home is ready to be seen.

    Now, the buyers need to be able to envision how they’re going to live in the space, not how you live in the space. How they can live in the space. So, you want to clear your clutter. That’s really the best place to start. And you can also open up rooms by removing larger furnishings: you know, maybe ones that you really don’t need in a proper plan but you guys use. But give them some space to walk around.

    TOM: Now, buyers are not going to notice if your home is spotlessly clean but they will notice if it’s not. So hire a cleaning service to make it sparkle. Neutralize odors by shampooing carpets and keep those litter boxes clean, as well.

    LESLIE: Now, touches like new towels in your bathroom or a beautifully set dining table will also make a great impression. Outside, you’ve got to trim the lawn, you need to weed the landscaping and prune those shrubs. And once the day of the open house arrives, leave. The buyers will ask more questions and be more interested in the property if you are not there. And your realtor can then highlight the positive features of your home without feeling like they’re biased.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Considering selling your home? Today’s market conditions may mean it’s a good time. Every market is different, so call a realtor today and visit Realtor.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Steve in North Carolina on the line who’s having a roofing issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    STEVE: It’s probably been 15 years ago I built an addition onto a cabin that I have in the woods on my property and built a bathroom. But I built a flat roof and used an asphalt roofing material to do it. It was more of a tar than an asphalt. Not shingles. But it is – the problem is it’s a flat roof and I’ve got a lot of pines – a lot of tall pines – that leave a lot of debris. And I try to get them off and obviously, the roof is 15 years old.

    We’ve got a serious leak, which I assume is somewhere in the seam because the actual interior – let’s say the main body – seems to be all intact. I guess my question is: is a flat roof a good idea at all? Should I go ahead and – is it cost-effective to just go ahead and build up a pitch and …?

    TOM: So you’re telling me that that flat roof is 15 years old?

    STEVE: And has lasted that long, yeah.

    TOM: And congratulations, first, on your flat roof lasting 15 years.

    STEVE: Yeah.

    TOM: And may we be the first to tell you that it’s at the end – well past the end of a normal life for a flat roof. You’re lucky if you get five to seven out of there. So, you must have done a really good job putting that roof together, Steve.

    What happens is over time, it loses – the asphalt dries out and the material can become more porous. You can develop very small cracks in it where water can leak through. So, I would just replace that roof and I would do it exactly the same way you did it the first time or you can use an upgraded material. But I think the roof is just worn. At 15 years old, you’re lucky it lasted that long.

    STEVE: OK. Well, thank you so much, yeah.

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

    LESLIE: Heading over to Alabama now where Mary is trying to remove some old caulk from a bathroom fixture. What’s going on?

    MARY: Hi. I recently was trying to remove the caulk from around my bathtub and cannot get it removed.

    TOM: OK.

    MARY: I have purchased one of the tools at a home improvement store and it is so hard that it won’t remove. And I’m worried about scratching the bathtub and the edge if I get a razor blade.

    TOM: Have you ever used a paint remover to remove layers of paint?

    MARY: Yes.

    TOM: OK. Well, just like a paint remover will strip paint, there’s a product called a “caulk softener.” And the caulk softener gets applied to the caulk and it sort of reliquifies it, softens it up and makes it a lot easier for you to scrape it out.

    So you want to apply the caulk softener first. And once it works and softens the caulk, clean it really, really well. The next thing you want to do is take a bleach-and-a-water solution and wipe that seam down really well, because you want to kill any bacteria that’s in there. You want to make sure there’s no mold spores that are left behind.

    And the next thing that you want to do is fill the tub with water. We always caulk tubs when they’re full of water and here’s why: because when the caulk dries, the tub sort of comes back up. When you fill the tub with water, it sinks down. When you put the caulk in it, let the caulk dry and then let the water out of the tub, it comes back up and compresses the caulk and it’s not likely to fall out again or pull apart again at the seam, OK?

    So, those are the steps you want to follow. Start with a caulk softener, wipe it down with bleach-and-water, fill the tub with water, caulk it. When the caulk dries, let the tub water out and you’re good to go.

    MARY: Can you recommend a good caulk to replace it with?

    TOM: I would take a look at the DAP products that include Microban. Microban is an additive that stops any mold from growing inside the caulk.

    MARY: OK. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Always love taking calls from my neck of the woods. We’ve got Scott in New York who’s working on the driveway. Tell us what’s going on.

    SCOTT: At my house, in my driveway, I have a blacktop driveway. I notice sitting water spots after a rainstorm. I was wondering what my options were [for a fix] (ph).

    TOM: So, are these actual potholes or just sort of low spots?

    SCOTT: Just low spots.

    TOM: I’ve got to tell you, it’s difficult to address a situation where you just have low spots like that, because it’s a failure of the base of the driveway. When the driveway was put in, the base of the driveway underneath, you know, probably wasn’t prepped correctly. And so, over time, it’s settled and sagged. And that’s why you’re developing those water spots now.

    It’s difficult to patch over that unless it’s a fairly contained area. So, for example, if you had a section of broken-up driveway that maybe was a foot or so square, there are different densities of patching compounds. They come everywhere from like a gravel mix, that is a latex product that you could put in and will dry solid, to something that’s fairly liquid for cracks.

    But to really raise the level of low spots in there, you’re really talking about a situation where you’d have to replace the driveway or put a second layer on it. And I’ve got to tell you, I probably would not even put the second layer on it, because I would not be confident as to how the original driveway was constructed. And if I wanted to avoid that in the future, I would probably just tear it up and start again.

    So, I guess your question is: how much does this really bother you? Does it bother you enough where you want to tear it up or you just want to live with it for a few more years before you get to that? If it’s not cracked, perhaps just sealing it is going to protect it as long as possible. Keeping that water from saturating into that area and soaking into that area will help stabilize it for the – at least for the immediate future.

    SCOTT: OK. Thanks for your help.

    LESLIE: Say, are you thinking about putting in a new floor? Well, you’ve got tons of choices out there and we’re going to help you sort them out, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement Products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone; give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We would love to help with your home improvement project.

    LESLIE: We’ve got Cindy in Michigan on the line who wants to talk about reducing energy costs. How can we help you?

    CINDY: Is there a way to lower your electric bills by generating your own electricity? I’ve heard of solar panels and windmills and seems like they cost a lot of money to get them going. And I’m wondering, is it actually feasible, financially, to do something like that?

    TOM: Yeah. Well, first of all, the most effective way to cut those energy costs – and especially if we’re talking about heating and cooling energy – is to improve the energy efficiency of your home. And the single most important way or easiest way to do that is by improving insulation. It’s amazing how many people simply don’t have enough insulation. And in a state like Michigan, you’re certainly going to want to have 15 to 20 inches of insulation in your attic.

    Now, as to your question about generating your own power, there are some programs that are run by state governments and by utility suppliers that include different sorts of rebates and different sorts of purchase – I don’t want to say “schemes” but sort of plans for getting that equipment to your house.

    So, for example, in my part of the country, they have offers where you don’t actually pay for the initial installation. There, you partner with an energy company that does the installation of solar panels and then as it generates energy, you get to keep some of that and some of that goes back to the utility company and eventually it pays off the cost of that installation. So I would investigate solar programs in your area and rebates that might be available. Start with the utility companies and go from there.

    Because if there’s a favorable program, that’s the only way it makes them cost-effective. You are correct in that a lot of these things are very expensive and don’t make a lot of economic sense. But if there’s rebate money available – either locally, at the state level or federally – it does make sense.

    CINDY: OK. So you would just call your energy company then?

    TOM: I would start there, with your utility company or just simply do some research online for rebates that are available in your area. OK, Cindy?

    CINDY: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project.

    Well, a beautiful floor does help set the tone for the character of your entire room. But if you’re picking out a new floor for your house, there’s a lot more than just appearance to consider.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you have to consider what happens in that room. What’s your flooring going to have to withstand? That’s going to determine what you’re looking for in the ways of a warranty. How long, if ever, until you’re going to need to replace this new flooring? Now, some floors, such as hardwood and ceramic, they can last a lifetime if they’re properly maintained. Others, such as laminate, may last for about 15 to 30 years. And simple, peel-and-stick vinyl tile may only last several years.

    TOM: Now, if you’ve got an active household, you need to consider that, as well. Some floor types are better than others at standing up to traffic, resisting pets and even spills. Vinyl and sheet (ph) tile, for example, are excellent choices for homes that have kids and critters. And also, though, it’s important to consider the care and maintenance of the floor, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time taking care of it if you choose the wrong product.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And most of today’s floors offer easy maintenance to keep them good-looking over time. Some are going to be easier to care for than others. Some require nothing more than simple vacuuming and mopping, while others are going to require periodic refinishing. And laminate and vinyl sheet flooring are two of the easiest floors to take care of.

    TOM: Now, I recently saw a new product that was introduced, Leslie, called Tarkett FiberFloor, which is sort of an upgraded vinyl floor. Except because it’s called FiberFloor, it has fiberglass reinforcement, which I thought was a really cool idea. Because vinyl, in the past, had been somewhat soft and easily damaged but this FiberFloor was really, really tough stuff. So that’s really new on the market and it was only $2.00 a square foot installed. And it came in some really nice designs and patterns that did look like natural material, so that’s another option, as well.

    Hey, if you want more information on flooring choices, we’ve got a great story on that on our website. So simply visit MoneyPit.com and search on flooring.

    LESLIE: Ruth in California is on the line with a patio question. How can we help you today?

    RUTH: I am wondering how I can get rid of the mold – permanently get rid of the mold – on my patio. It’s a pebble surface. And I’ve tried Roman Cleanser, you know, Clorox? And it takes care of it for a while and then it comes right back.

    TOM: There’s a product on the market called Concrobium Mold Control and their website is CureMyMold.com. Now, they have a deck wash that I think would work for this. And the nice thing about the Concrobium products is they leave a protective barrier on the surface when it dries. So not only does it kill and help clean up the existing mold but it leaves a protective barrier that makes it a lot less likely for the mold to grow back.

    Concrobium Mold Control. Just go to CureMyMold.com and that is a great product that’s non-toxic and works very well.

    RUTH: OK. So it won’t bother the grass or anything around the patio.

    TOM: Correct. Exactly.

    RUTH: OK. Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, the trash cans in your home, they quietly do their job all year round but you need to take care of them from time to time. Because if you don’t, they’re going to make their presence known. And you know how they do that? They stink. A lot.

    TOM: P.U.

    LESLIE: Gross.

    TOM: We’ll be back with can-cleaning tips, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door, it alerts your smartphone so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.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.

    Now, one caller we talk to on the air today is going to win the new Stanley TLM65 Laser Distance Measurer. It packs a lot of functions in a really easy-to-use, two-button design. It’s got a range of 65 feet. You can measure distance, area, volume, square footage. So if you’re trying to figure out how much paint you need, how much flooring, how much tile, it can help you with all of that. It is great for us do-it-yourselfers out there but it’s also a great Father’s Day gift.

    You can check them all out at MoneyPit.com for some great Father’s Day gift ideas. Or head on over to StanleyTools.com to check out the TLM65. Give us a call, 888-MONEY-PIT, for help with your home improvement question.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Elvis from Texas is on the line. He is in the building and he has a question about plumbing.

    Elvis, what can we do for you?

    ELVIS: My wife and I had a house built. Started back in early 2005 and it’s in Lubbock. Houses are made on concrete slabs.

    TOM: Yep.

    ELVIS: Before they poured the slab, they put in a – with all the plumbing was installed. And instead of copper plumbing, which was in kind of short supply back in 2005, the going thing then was called Kitec. I think it’s K-i-t-e-c. And it’s a double-walled plastic pipe with aluminum in the center, instead of regular connections that use, if I’m understanding, a bronze connector. And we’ve had a couple of small problems with the plumbing but it seems as though I’ve read that the bronze can cause a delinkification (ph) in the copper.

    And I’m wondering if there’s been any studies done, if there’s different fittings that can be replaced. If the plumbing has to be replaced, it’d be very labor-intensive to go underneath the house. And we get down to fairly low winters, maybe to zero, and I don’t think I’d want any plumbing overhead for it to freeze. Or if you have any suggestions or thoughts.

    TOM: Yeah, Elvis. The problem with Kitec plumbing is, as you suspect, the fittings will leak.

    Now, what’s interesting is that Kitec starts with PEX, which is cross-linked polyethylene which, by itself and as installed today, is actually an excellent plumbing pipe with fittings that don’t leak. But the Kitec system has definitely had a history of leaking. In fact, there are many class-action lawsuits over that product that are active and going on around the country. And you certainly should investigate those that you may qualify to join.

    Unfortunately, your solutions only include, really, replacing it. And what I would advise you to do is to only replace it where it’s accessible. I mean I wouldn’t create the emergency if the emergency doesn’t exist, so I’m not going to tell you to tear open your walls and pull all the plumbing out and start from scratch. But I would say that if you do happen to be doing a bathroom renovation or you open a wall and you find Kitec, it should be sort of a matter, of course, where you always replace it. Because it’s not going to get any better; it’s only going to get worse.

    ELVIS: Not news I wanted to hear but kind of what I suspected.

    TOM: Yep. Unfortunately, that’s the case. Every once in a while, we get a building product like that and I’ve seen it happen many times over the years. And there’s just no way to make it better because at its core, it’s a defective system.

    ELVIS: OK. No way to just replace the fittings.

    TOM: That’s correct. So I would attach it to a plumbing – to copper piping or to traditional PEX piping.

    ELVIS: OK. So I can talk with some local plumbers and discuss it from that point.

    TOM: Exactly. I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, the garbage can is probably the most underrated appliance in your home. And although you put some pretty nasty things in there, it does a good job of storing life’s leftovers right in the middle of where you live, you eat and you breathe.

    LESLIE: But if you want to maintain your trash can’s stealthy persona, once a month you need to take all indoor trash cans outside for a thorough cleaning. You need to mix up ¾-cup of bleach into 1 gallon of water and wash the interior of the garbage can, as well as the handles and the lid.

    TOM: And remember to make sure that bleach-and-water solution has time to do its job and kill all that bacteria. You need to leave it on for at least five minutes before you rinse it and dry it thoroughly.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Heading over to Florida, where Peter has lost power in the bathroom.

    Peter, what’s going on and can you see what you’re doing?

    PETER: Yeah, I had a GFI go bad. And when I went to change it over, for some reason I couldn’t get any juice to the receptacle underneath the sink. So, I got juice to where I put the new one in but – so I went down to Home Depot – I listen to you folks all the time – and I got a new one. And the gentleman over there told me to find the hot wires go and put them on the receptacle where it says, “Line.” And then the other two hook up on the bottom of it.

    TOM: Peter, do you know that the ground fault circuit worked properly and then it stopped working?

    PETER: Yes, sir.

    TOM: So it worked properly and then stopped working. Have you considered the fact that the ground-fault circuit interrupter could be doing its job and then there could be a problem elsewhere in the circuit?

    PETER: Yeah, I didn’t give a thought about that. No, I didn’t.

    TOM: So, I think that when ground-fault circuit interrupters start to trip, people say, “Oh, it must be a bad circuit breaker,” and they don’t consider the fact that the circuit breaker is, in fact, doing its job detecting a diversion of current to a ground source and tripping to prevent you from getting a shock.

    So, the solution wouldn’t be necessarily first to replace the ground fault. I would investigate further to see what exactly is happening and causing that to trip. I think, based on your description of what you’ve done thus far, that this might be just a little bit above your skill set. And while we can respect the fact that you’re doing this on your own, when it comes to electricity you want to get it right. And if you were to miswire that and in fact, perhaps, you – there are different ways to hook up ground faults. And if you do it one way, you can get it to trip and not protect the rest of the circuit. So, it would appear to be working correctly when, in fact, it wouldn’t.

    So this is not the kind of thing I would recommend that you do yourself, Peter, with all due respect. I would definitely have an electrician look at this because I suspect that the ground fault is doing its thing. They rarely go bad. And if it’s tripping, it’s probably tripping because something is going on elsewhere in the circuit.

    The ground faults will cover everything that’s on that circuit. So if you had, for example, a loose wire somewhere down the line and that was causing some sort of an arcing condition, that could trigger the ground fault to go off.

    So, contact an electrician. This is the kind of job that you should not do yourself, because I want to make sure that the problem is what you think it is and it gets properly fixed.

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

    LESLIE: Still to come, are your walls cracking up? Well, don’t let it send you over the edge. Wall damage is usually not a structural problem and fairly easy to repair, once and for all, if you know what to do. We’re going to share the step-by-steps, after this.

    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, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And on MoneyPit.com, you will find our Top Products podcast, with interviews from this past National Hardware Show, including an interview with football great Joe Namath about his brand-new product, The Rapid Cooker by EdenPURE. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And while you’re online, post a question in the Community section, like Ed in Illinois did. And he writes: “My kitchen counter is Formica and it’s 25 years old. I would like to change the color and I wonder if there’s any way to paint it.”

    Man, that counter must be in amazing shape if he wants to paint it.

    TOM: Yeah. At 25 years old, if the – I tell you what, if the fiberboard or the medium-density fiberboard that it was attached to is not swollen, then more power to you. You certainly can fix it up.

    I think there’s a lot of options. You can paint it and we’ll cover that in a minute. But if you don’t want to paint it, you can tile over it. You could also think about relaminating it with new Formica by basically taking the backsplash apart, putting a second layer of Formica on those surfaces and then putting it all back together again.

    But if you do want to paint it, there’s a couple of options, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, there’s actually some kits out there. Rust-Oleum makes two different kinds. They actually have a – one that’s in sort of like a quart can. You can have it tinted to a bunch of different colors. It goes on in a series of a couple of coats. You have to let it cure in between. It takes a good two or three days to get a nice job.

    Then they also have a kitchen-counter kit that’s like a larger kit. And it looks like it creates a granite surface and it has four or five different color options. That you don’t tint. It ranges in price from $75 to $130 depending on where you’re shopping for it. And it comes with these amazing flakes.

    Now, I’ve used this before. It is a process. It’s time-consuming but when done and done right, it is gorgeous. And it will look like granite to even the best pro out there. It’s gorgeous.

    TOM: Well, have you ever stressed out because your walls are cracking? Well, don’t worry. It’s a very common problem that’s not that hard to fix. Leslie explains how, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, if you notice a crack in the wall or your ceiling, don’t panic. Although it probably seems to concern you and you might start freaking out, you have to realize that this is a function of age and movement of your home rather than a sign of a real structural problem.

    Now, as it ages, your home is going to settle. A plain patch or even just spackle is going to fall out because it can’t fill into the gap and then hold that gap together. The best way for a homeowner to fix it is to use a strong, perforated drywall tape. Now, this is a type of tape that has large squares and it kind of looks like netting. You want to apply this first to help you bridge the areas of the gap in the crack. Then you smooth a generous amount of spackle or mud over it. Once the area is dry, it can be sanded and then repainted.

    Now, you should be concerned about a crack if, say, Tom, it’s continually moving or if it just occurs in the middle of a wall and is maybe diagonal?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s potentially of concern but especially, like you say, if it’s moving. If you’ve repaired it and it continues to open and you’ve repaired it properly, that’s more of an issue. But do keep in mind that all walls expand and contract. All homes expand and contract. And cracks that are in the corners of walls or above windows and doors are not that uncommon. If there’s cracks in the foundation, I might be a little bit more concerned than a crack in a wall.

    888-666-3974 is the telephone number. We are here, 24-7, to take your questions. And coming up next time on The Money Pit, we’re going to teach you how to create a water feature in your own backyard that will deliver that tranquil feeling. Well, I say “we,” but really, it’s going to be Roger Cook, the landscaping expert from TV’s This Old House that will join us with those tips.

    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 2014 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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