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The Three most Common Building Code Violations in Homes, How to Paint a Garage Floor, The Best Way to Get Wallpaper Off Walls, and more

  • 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 we are here to help you tackle your home improvement projects. So help yourself first. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you this hour. First up, we’re going to talk about garages. Is your garage looking a bit old, maybe a little dingy? Well, one simple update is to simply paint the garage floor. That could change all that. And we’re going to have tips on how to tackle a garage-floor painting project, this hour. Because it’s not just opening up the can and slopping on the paint. You’ve got to take the right steps in the right order, with the right paint. And if you do that, it’ll look just great.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And building codes, they’re there to keep your family safe but only if you follow them. Residential building codes really do change from year to year. We’ve got the updates on how to avoid the three most commonly violated ones.

    TOM: And here’s a home improvement hassle that we hear about frequently: old wallpaper and the never-ending battle to get rid of it. In fact, I think so many people decide just to live with it because they can’t stand the project. Well, we’re going to show you, once and for all, the best way to get that stuff off the wall and into the garbage so you can start fresh again.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, one caller who gets on the air with us is going to be able to turn their garage into a workshop, with one tool. We’re giving away a Garage Power Station from Chamberlain. And it’s a three-in-one tool that provides on-demand light, power and compressed air.

    TOM: And it’s worth $129. Going out to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We will toss all caller names into The Money Pit hard hat that reach us this hour and perhaps be sending that very cool Chamberlain Garage Power Station out to you. Let’s get started.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Clarence in Nebraska is on the line with a basement that’s cracking up and he wants to fix it. What can we do for you today?

    CLARENCE: Yeah. I had a contractor come in and pull my basement walls back. And I’ve got these cracks in the mortar. Some are pretty big; other ones are hairline. What can I do to fix that? Do you have to cut it out or is there a tool you can chip it out and then re-tuckpoint that or what do you think?

    TOM: The common mistake is kind of what you just explained. When you say “tuckpoint,” you’re assuming that you’re going to put more concrete or mortar mix into that crack. And that’s not going to work because the patch and the wall surrounding it are going to have different expansion and contraction rates.

    So, concrete-product manufacturers have products designed specifically for crack repair, because they’re flexible and designed to stick to the old concrete surface. So, for example, you could go to QUIKRETE.com – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. They have a concrete-repair product that comes in a tube; it looks like a caulk tube.

    And you apply it with a caulk gun and it’s like a sanded acrylic-latex formula and it’s designed specifically for crack repair. You can buy it in a 10-ounce size or a 5½-ounce sort of squeeze-tube size. And you can fill the cracks in with that. You know it’s going to dry solid and it’s not going to open up again. And it’s good for either vertical or horizontal applications.

    So you want to use a product like that that’s designed specifically for crack repair because if you don’t, Clarence, it’s just going to fall out and you’ll be doing the same thing over and over again.

    CLARENCE: Hmm. Trying to re-crack. I don’t know if it would fall out, would it?

    TOM: Well, it may and very often, it does, especially if you get any moisture in there, as well. If it’s a basement wall and it gets cold, you get some frost heave, it can pop out. So, I would use the product that’s designed for it and that’s just one by QUIKRETE. And I’m sure that that will work out for you, OK?

    CLARENCE: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jackie in Colorado on the line with a wood-paneling question. How can we help you today?

    JACKIE: Well, I’ve got this old, medium-colored wood paneling, which is really light, that was put over concrete walls. It’s the one that’s got the black stripe in it.

    TOM: OK.

    JACKIE: I just want to know how – the best way to clean it. Years ago, I used Murphen (ph) Oil.

    TOM: You mean Murphy’s Oil?

    JACKIE: Uh-huh.

    TOM: Yeah, Murphy’s Oil Soap is the best way to clean wood. Have you used that again?

    JACKIE: Well, I just used maybe a tablespoon with a bucket of warm water. Would that be OK?

    TOM: Yeah, I think you can actually use a little more than that. Follow the label directions. But when you’re trying to clean old wood paneling like that, Murphy’s Oil Soap is really the best way to go because it’s not going to dry out the wood and damage it. It’s very, very gentle. Just follow the instructions but I think that’s the best product to use for that situation.

    JACKIE: OK. I really enjoy your program. It’s just very enlightening for me and I’m not – you know, if I need to find something else, I’ll just call you guys.

    TOM: Alright, Jackie. 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. Well, we are full into the summer season and hope you’re enjoying yourself. What are you working on at your money pit? We’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, weekend warriors know most big projects can’t get done without a building inspector stopping by to make sure things get done right. We’re going to have tips on the three most commonly violated building codes, so you can avoid them, after this.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by PORTER-CABLE professional-grade nailers and staplers. With over 100 years of experience producing quality, performance-driven tools, PORTER-CABLE continues to be a leading manufacturer and marketer of professional-grade, pneumatic fastening tools and compressors. Available at The Home Depot and independent retailers. To learn more, visit PORTERCABLE.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: Taking your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT and also giving away one tool that could totally transform your entire garage into a workroom. It’s called the Garage Power Station. It’s made by Chamberlain and it mounts on the ceiling and has a 25-foot, auto-retractable utility cord. Now, that cord gives you on-demand power, an LED light and 100 psi worth of compressed air. So think about it: you could do all sorts of projects in your garage with this one tool, from tackling home improvement jobs to filling up bike tires.

    It’s worth $129 and available exclusively at The Home Depot. But we’re giving one away today, so check it out at Chamberlain.com and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question for your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Mike in Georgia is on the line with a question about a dimmer. How can we help you?

    MIKE: My kitchen is in the center of my house, so I get very little light from the windows.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And I tried an LED light. I have five 60-watt cans in there. I had heard you mention about a dimmer that would work with the LEDs? My question is: is there a particular kind? I need one that works with a three-way.

    TOM: Yeah. You can go to The Home Depot and you can pick up the Lutron Skylark Contour CžL Dimmer. That’s the Lutron Skylark Contour CžL. This is a dimmer that’s designed specifically to work with energy-efficient bulbs. It works with CFLs and it works with LEDs. And specifically, it’s adjustable so that you can get the lowest level and then the highest level of light. And therefore, when you move the dimmer up and down, it controls that.

    Typically, with standard dimmers, you can get a flicker because at some point, you’re going to be not putting enough power in to bring that bulb on. So you get this sort of flickering effect?

    MIKE: Right.

    TOM: But with this Skylark Contour CžL line of dimmers, you can adjust the low end and this way, it’ll always be on when you turn the switch on. And then you can bring it up from there.

    MIKE: Yeah, I was afraid with five cans in the middle of the house, it would look like Yankee Stadium at nighttime.

    TOM: No, actually – I actually have one of these dimmers in my kitchen and I’ve got five cans on this dimmer, so I have exactly that situation. And I have LEDs in the lights. I have the Philips LEDs in there, the ones that are yellow. And they turn really super-clean white light when you turn them on. And I’ve got that Skylark dimmer controlling the whole thing. Now, that’s not a three-way but I’m sure it will work on a three-way.

    And the thing that’s cool about Lutron is as you’re putting this together, if you have a question, they have an 800 toll-free, tech-support number. You can call them and there’s somebody always standing by to kind of answer your wiring questions. If you can’t figure out where the extra wire goes, they’ll tell you.

    MIKE: OK, great. Thanks a lot.

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

    LESLIE: Jan in California is having a wallpaper-removal situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    JAN: Hi. Been removing wallpaper and repapering for 50 years and never come across where you take the wallpaper off and it looks like there’s a paper lining behind it. I’ve had some people tell me that this is a filler for the texturing so the wallpaper looks smooth. And others tell me that it’s a liner and it fills the whole wall with pencil lines where the wallpaper goes. I don’t want to damage the sheetrock that’s underneath, so I’m a little leery about taking that off or leaving it on or what I should do with it.

    TOM: So your end game is to get down to the drywall?

    JAN: Well, it doesn’t have to be if I can texture over what’s there. But it’s almost like a paper and I don’t know if we can put the mud and everything on that.

    TOM: If it’s adhered well, then I don’t see why you couldn’t texture over it. Do you want to use a textured paint?

    JAN: No, I want to use the texture that I’ve had on the other walls.

    TOM: The key here is whether or not the surface that you’ve exposed is well-adhered to the drywall underneath. If it’s well-adhered, then you can go ahead and put your texture over that. If it’s not, then your texture could be on there for a couple of months and it could start falling off in chunks when that backer paper pulls off. As long as it’s well-adhered, then I don’t see any reason you can’t go on top of it, Jan.

    JAN: OK. I appreciate you and enjoy your program.

    TOM: Well, building codes ensure the safety of your home and everyone who enters it. But that only happens if you follow them. Codes are always evolving and from time to time, there are a few residential codes that we know are frequently overlooked.

    Now, the first one I’ll point out involves wall-mounted handrails. Handrails technically need what’s called a “return” on them. And that simply means that a piece of the end of the rail turns and goes back into the wall. And the reason for that is because it keeps things like shirtsleeves and purse straps from getting caught on the handrail, which could jam you up and cause a fall hazard.

    And also, speaking of handrails, open handrails are no longer up to code. You need to have balusters that are spaced no more than 6 inches apart. And believe me, now that you know that tip, you’re going to notice how many staircases don’t have them or violate those rules one way or another. And they can really get dangerous.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you’re right. I mean about the handrail one with the return, I don’t think any of my interior – well, please don’t come check my house, anybody. But I don’t think any of my interior staircase railings have the return. Maybe the upstairs one. I’m going to have to take a looky-loo.

    Now, here’s the second most commonly violated building code and that’s a misplaced smoke alarm. Now, for existing homes, here’s what you need: you need one on each level of your house and one outside of each bedroom. Plus, you’ve got to make sure that they all work.

    Now, if you’re building a new home, there’s a new code that requires you to have a smoke alarm in each bedroom. They need to be hard-wired with a battery backup and interconnected so that if one goes off, they all go off. And that’s really a good safety measure right there.

    TOM: Absolutely. Now, this last one is violated a lot, especially in older homes: it’s missing or defective ground-fault circuit interrupters. Now, what’s that? Well, a ground-fault circuit interrupter – or it’s also known as a GFCI – basically cuts power to a circuit if it detects a diversion of current to a ground source, which is actually you if you’re getting a shock.

    Now, a GFCI could be mounted in an outlet or it could be mounted in the circuit-breaker panel. But the protection is required for outlets in the kitchens, bathrooms, garages and for everything outside.

    Now, ground faults also have a test button kind of built in, which you should use monthly. And if you don’t have any ground faults, this is a very wise safety improvement to schedule when you can.

    We’ve got more tips on how to avoid building-code violations in your home, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Nadine in Iowa has an interesting question. Your countertop has gotten noisy? Tell us what’s going on.

    NADINE: Yes, it does. We had it installed, I would say, between three and five years ago. And right after we had this Corian counter installed, we started getting very sharp, loud bangs occasionally. And I mean somebody-just-shot-up-the-house bangs. And it has been going on since we had it installed, to varying degrees. Louder sometimes than others.

    But they’ve been out to check and can’t figure it out and I don’t – the only unusual thing that happened when they put it in was that one corner didn’t want to go down, so the guy had to put his full weight on it to push it down and finally make it go down. And my feeling is – or something must be bound in there that every once in a while builds up enough energy to really snap.

    TOM: Well, that’s certainly an unusual situation because countertops aren’t known for their noise.


    TOM: We get squeaky-floor questions, we get banging-pipe questions.

    I don’t think we’ve ever gotten any loud-countertop questions, huh, Leslie?

    NADINE: Well, I doubt that it’s the countertop. My feeling is something might be bound in there, having been caused by having the countertop put on.

    TOM: Well, you might be correct and what could be happening is that you could have expansion and contraction going on, either with the walls or even with the plumbing. Especially with the water being right there, when a pipe heats up, it tends to expand. And if it’s attached to the framing very, very tightly, it will rub across that framing and it can make a creaking sound or a banging sound.


    TOM: And I’ve heard that before in bathrooms and also in kitchens.


    TOM: The other thought is that if the countertop is bound, as you say, against part of the frame of the house and you’re getting expansion and contraction, that could be the source of the sound. Although, I tend to think that, even though it’s annoying, it probably isn’t really very damaging if it’s one of the other of those things.

    NADINE: No, I don’t think it is damaging at all. It’s just that when you have guests and their eyes get wide and they start to go for the floor, you think maybe – I mean it is quite loud when it does it. So you think it could possibly be plumbing?

    TOM: It could very well be because plumbing really carries the sound. And especially if you’re running a dishwasher and the hot water comes on, that could cause a noise.

    NADINE: However, we’ve kind of checked that out – what’s on, what’s running and all of that – and that doesn’t seem to come into play. What would your suggestion be as to sleuthing this problem out?

    TOM: Well, I guess I would have to be sitting there staring at it, thinking about it for a long time. But reinstalling the countertop would probably be the best solution, although it’s a boatload of work and you can potentially damage the countertop in the process. If they had to really squeeze it in, I suspect that something is a little bit too tight in its intention and it’s really not designed to be pulled out.

    NADINE: Yeah. Alright. Thanks so much.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Gary in Georgia on the line who wants to save the rainwater. What can we do for you?

    GARY: Yes, I do. My wife and I have a lot of grass to water during the summertime. And in Georgia, it gets like drought weather all the time. And we’ve noticed that during this – these months – we actually have a lot of water running off the house. And we wanted to know if there’s a way that we could create a water reservoir to save that water that’s coming off of our house.

    TOM: Yeah, you definitely can collect that rainwater. What you want is simply a rainwater harvesting collection system. And there are a lot of modern ones that are available. In fact, we wrote a story about this on MoneyPit.com. If you go to MoneyPit.com and just type in the search box “rainwater collection system,” you’ll see an article.

    There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you install it but again, there’s a wide variety of collectors that are out there. There are some that look they’re traditional barrels; there’s even one that looks like a half-barrel that’s got a hose spigot on the end, on the bottom of it. So it collects water off the spouts and then you feed it from the hose.

    So, it’s definitely a good system, a good idea. And there’s a lot of options out there and we encourage you to do that.

    GARY: And is this an easy project that I could do probably over the weekend?

    TOM: Yeah, clearly. You definitely just need to position this. Yeah, you’re going to have to – may have to rework your spouts a little bit to feed it but it’s definitely a very simple installation.

    GARY: 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.

    And that article, again, is called “Rainwater Harvesting Collection System” and it’s online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    So, do you have an old, ugly garage? Well, you can easily fix that with a fresh coat of high-tech garage floor paint. We’re going to tell you how, 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.

    TOM: Hey, now we are in the midst of summer. Is your air conditioner feeling the strain? If it is, you can go to MoneyPit.com for money-saving tips on how to get the most out of your cooling system. Just search “air-conditioning efficiency.”

    LESLIE: Elaine in Delaware needs some help with a flooring project. What can we do for you?

    ELAINE: I’m mainly concerned about the fact that I have some rescue animals and some kids. And every time I try to think of what I can do – when I lift up this rug and put a surface down, I need something durable. And I thought of wood and then I thought of Pergo and everybody says, “No, the dog will scratch it or the kids will scratch it.” And then I saw something at a hospital the other day – actually, you know, like an x-ray area, where it takes a lot of traffic?

    TOM: Right.

    ELAINE: And it looked like a heavy-duty plastic, plasticized type of imitation wood. And I tried to find out where they got it from but it’s nothing I can find in going to the local shops, like Lowe’s and Home Depot.

    TOM: Right. It might have been luxury vinyl, although I doubt that in a hospital. What I think you might want to consider is laminate. Pergo is just one brand of laminate. But remember that there are different finishes on these floors and you want to find one that has a commercial finish.

    LESLIE: That will make it the most durable.

    TOM: Yeah, really super-durable.

    I think the best option here and the one that’s most accessible is to think about using laminate flooring. Laminate flooring can look like wood, it can look like tile, it can look like vinyl. And if you get one that has a commercial-grade finish on it, it can clearly stand up to the kids and the dogs.

    ELAINE: I appreciate that very much.

    LESLIE: Well, more and more people today are treating their garage like an extra room and go that extra mile to really make it an attractive, warm and even welcoming place for their car and let’s face it, themselves.

    TOM: That’s right. And an easy place to start this project is by painting the garage floor. There are many very attractive options to choose from and here to fill us in is Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Tommy.

    TOM SILVA: Thanks, guys. Nice to be here.

    TOM: Besides making the garage more attractive, a properly finished floor is actually a lot easier to maintain, isn’t it?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. It’s a lot easier to maintain and it feels good when you walk in. A nice, clean space. But there are a lot of options out there. I think that most people know that – of the epoxy flooring. You go in and mix the two parts together and paint the floor. But if you don’t prep it right, it isn’t going to last.

    TOM: And that is the key, preparation, especially when you’re dealing with something that’s not new concrete. Who knows what’s gotten into that floor?

    LESLIE: And it’s super-filthy.

    TOM: Filthy, oil stains, you name it.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. Yeah.

    TOM: So, you mentioned the epoxy products. I’ve noticed they typically come in kits and they have all of those materials with them, correct?

    TOM SILVA: Right. Everything comes in the kit. You can even choose a little sprinkly thing to go on it that’ll change the plainness of the floor. You can put the little black flecks on there or the gray-and-white ones.

    TOM: So you get a bit of a pattern to it when it dries.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. Well, what that does is it also hides a lot of the imperfections of the floors, so it really is a nice feature.

    LESLIE: And really, the prep part of those kits that you can get, is that enough or should I be pressure-washing the floor first to try to get up some of that gunk that’s in there?

    TOM SILVA: You’ve got to get it up. There’s all kinds of ways to get it up. In the directions, they will give you products that you should be using. And there’s a lot of environmentally friendly products that will allow you to degrease that floor. Use them, take your time. Do it right or it isn’t going to stick.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I think that’s really important.

    What about a different type of flooring for the garage? Is there something that can handle the weight, still be attractive and be easily installed?

    TOM SILVA: Sure, they have like floor tiles that will set right on top of the floor that you can use. They have plastic ones. They don’t feel – that you wouldn’t think that they’re strong but they’re meant to drive on. And they’re 12×12. They also have an interlocking floor. Then you can also get mats that roll over the floor. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can even get a vinyl floor and roll that over on it. And you may have to change it.

    The trick to letting a floor last in a garage is if you have to go in the garage and you turn your wheel back and forth, that turning of the wheel – the steering wheel – where your wheels turn, that tears up the floor. So I had a friend, years ago, paint his garage floor and he thought he did such a great job with the epoxy. And he waited a day before he drove his car in. He drove his car in and when he backed out, all the paint was stuck on it.

    TOM: He took up all the …

    TOM SILVA: Because he didn’t prep it right.

    TOM: Right, exactly. And preparation is the key.

    So let’s just back up for a second and just explain exactly what those steps are. So we’ve got to clean it; we talked about that. Is there a primer that goes down next?

    TOM SILVA: Yes. You’ve got to – basically, it’s like a two-coat system, really.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: You put it on, you roll it out, you let it set up, you let it dry. And usually the next day, you can go back – or that afternoon, depending on the product ­- and then you roll it again. While it’s wet, you sprinkle on that vinyl chip, for example. And then you – and the more chips you put on it, the more it’s going to hide the paint below.

    And then there’s a clear coat that can go over that and that seals them all down. So, once you sprinkle the chips, you basically roll it out with a dry roller, push them down nice and tight. Sometimes you sweep them up and then go over that again with a clear coat.

    LESLIE: So this really needs to be a well-thought-out process. Because if you’re painting, say, from corner edge of your garage to the door and you are painting an area and sprinkling and sweeping and dry-rolling – you’re doing all of these things – you really need to be prepped to do that one area, in all of those steps, before you work your way out.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, you should have everything ready to go and you need to work fast. And don’t get ahead of yourself. Because when the professionals do it, they actually wear these spikes on the bottom of their shoes that they actually can walk on the paint when it’s wet, so they can go back and sprinkle it, you know?

    TOM: How interesting. The wet paint.

    TOM SILVA: And there’s a little – it’s like a golfer spike only much longer. And they just click them on the bottom of their shoes and then they roll the floor out really fast. And then they walk across and they throw a lot of the sprinkles on. And they walk back with their roller and they push it all down hard. You, as a homeowner, don’t have that …

    LESLIE: Right. I’m just picturing Joe Homeowner holding 14 things next to him.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. Well, he can use his golf shoes, yeah.

    TOM: Wearing his golf shoes.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. And a 9 iron, whatever.

    But I mean you’ve got to work fast and you’ve got to make sure that you follow the directions. You have to follow the directions. Because if you don’t, it’s not going to work right. It’s going to come up, it’s going to peel.

    TOM: Good advice. Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. That is a fun weekend project that just about anybody can do.

    Thanks, Tommy.

    TOM SILVA: Thank you.

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

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by State Farm Insurance. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Up next, one of the most common problems we hear about here at The Money Pit is old, ugly wallpaper. We’re going to tell you the absolute best way to get rid of it for good, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by PORTER-CABLE professional-grade nailers and staplers. With over 100 years of experience producing quality, performance-driven tools, PORTER-CABLE continues to be a leading manufacturer and marketer of professional-grade, pneumatic fastening tools and compressors. Available at The Home Depot and independent retailers. To learn more, visit PORTERCABLE.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 we want you to be part of The Money Pit fun, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. Now, one lucky caller is going to be able to turn their garage into a workshop, thanks to the Garage Power Station from Chamberlain. What it is exactly is a great, three-in-one, ceiling-mounted device that’s going to supply air, LED lighting and power in your garage work area, all through one 25-foot, retractable cord.

    Now, you can instantly pump up anything with the 100-psi multipurpose inflator. You can get 100,000 hours of LED light and bring power to all of your tools in every single part of your garage. That’s awesome.

    TOM: It’s worth $129 and is available exclusively at The Home Depot. Check it out at Chamberlain.com and be sure to give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Paul in Missouri is on the line with a clay residue in the water system. Tell us what’s going on and where you’re seeing it.

    PAUL: Yes, I’m seeing it in the kitchen faucet mostly and the bathroom faucet.

    TOM: OK.

    PAUL: The well’s 230 foot down with casing the whole way.

    TOM: So, you can pick up a whole-house filter. It’s actually called a whole-house sediment filter. And the way these work is they’re – we’re not talking about treating the water; we’re talking about filtering the water. So there’s going to be a micron rating. That basically tells you how small of a particle it will trap. It’ll usually be 5 microns or 10 microns. And the other thing that’s important to note is the pressure drop. Because it does take away some of the pressure and so you want to make sure that you have enough pressure that flows through it.

    So if you simply search “whole-house filters” online, you’ll find a bazillion choices. And then if you head out to your local plumbing supply and ask them for a sediment filter, tell them your situation. I’m sure your local plumbing-supply contractors or retailers can recommend one that’s going to work for you. Not terribly difficult to install. And that should handle the sediment issue that you’re having in the house, OK?

    PAUL: OK, sir. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Good luck with that project, Paul, and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Are you one of the many people that are just living with old, ugly wallpaper and pretty much only because you just dread the job of getting it removed? Well, honestly, it’s not an easy project but there are a few tricks of the trade that can greatly speed up the process of getting that wallpaper out of there. First one is waiting, you know, 15, 20 years for that style to come back into fashion.

    But if you can’t do that, here’s what you have to do. First of all, remove all of your switch plates and outlet covers and cut the power to the room. Next, you want to score the wallpaper by piercing small holes in it with a tool called a PaperTiger. You can find it pretty much in any home center or hardware store, usually in the painting/papering aisle. And what this does is it allows steam or the water to penetrate that wallpaper and actually get to the area where the glue is. So you’re going to start loosening things up and that’s going to make it easier to remove.

    But keep in mind that the more scoring you do, the more little, tiny pieces of wallpaper that you’re going to have to remove. So, only score enough to free up the paper. This way, you’ll get the moisture or the water or the steam to the back side to loosen up that glue and then you’ll be able to pull off bigger pieces, which will actually help the job go faster.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Now, when it comes to wallpaper removers, there are a lot of commercially available products. But honestly, nothing works better than a liquid fabric softener mixed with hot water. What I like to do is a 50/50 combination. You can either mix it in a bucket and sponge it on or you could put it right in a spray bottle.

    And the way you use it is this: you saturate a section of the wall at a time and let it sit for about five minutes, then start pulling or scraping off the wallpaper. Start at the bottom corner and then pull up. You can use a putty knife if it makes it easier or even a spackle blade, which is a bit wider. And just keep doing this until all the paper is gone. You’re going to have to repeat the steps from time to time, especially if it tends to dry out.

    And after that wallpaper is stripped, then sponge the walls down with dish soap and water. And then finally, after it dries, be sure you use a primer on those walls. Because before you’re ready for your new décor choice, you’ve got to prime the walls. That will seal in any nastiness that’s left behind and get the surfaces ready to accept that fresh, new coat of paint and say “bye-bye” to wallpaper forever.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Virginia on the line who needs some help with a basement-flooring project. Tell us what’s going on.

    VIRGINIA: We want to finish the basement floor.

    TOM: OK.

    VIRGINIA: And in the – it’ll be like a kitchen area. And we want to put in – it’s kind of like a laminate wood-type flooring that you put in sections. Is that a problem? Like somebody said something about – you need a moisture barrier? Is there an issue with that?

    TOM: Well, first of all, it’s a good choice for a basement because it is very moisture-resistant. The way you install it is going to depend specifically on the manufacturer’s recommended instructions for it, Virginia. So, it’s really critical that wherever you buy this, you follow their specs because each one’s a little bit different.

    But conceptually, it’s not hard to do. I mean in some cases, they’re going to want you to put down a vapor barrier first. In other cases, the vapor barrier could be attached to the bottom of the laminate. The underlayment could be pre-attached to the bottom of the laminate and so on.

    So, I would follow the manufacturer’s instructions but it is a perfect choice for a basement. It’s real durable stuff and gosh, today it could look like anything. It could look like hardwood, stone, tile, you name it. It’s a good product and it’s a good application for it.

    VIRGINIA: Oh, thank you very much.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, do you have a leaky chimney? Well, if you do, we’re going to have a solution, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain Garage Power Station, an air inflator, utility cord, and LED task light all together in a new, 3-in-1 tool. Exclusively at The Home Depot.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we want to help you by making sure your outdoor furniture will last more than just this summer. It’s expensive and if you’ve bought some new ones or maybe you’ve just refinished, you want that finish or that furnishing to last for many summers to come. So go to MoneyPit.com and search for the article “Give Your Outdoor Furniture Some TLC” for tips on keeping it looking great summer after summer.

    And while you are on MoneyPit.com, you can head on over to the Community section and post your question, just like Jan from Oregon did. And she writes: “After an especially bad rainstorm, water started leaking into the ceiling and walls around my chimney. I called a contractor out who suggested sealing the chimney area with silicone. My roof’s in good shape and only five years old. Does this sound right?”

    TOM: Interesting approach. Now, what my experience has been is that roofers have two ways of fixing a leaking chimney. The first one is the sealing way, where they slop on either roof cement or some sort of caulk to try to plug the leak. Generally, that doesn’t work. It works for a short period of time, like long enough for your check to clear, and then it stops working. So I don’t advocate that as the best solution.

    When you do have a leaking chimney, the first thing you want to know is was the flashing around the chimney installed correctly to begin with? If it was, you’re going to have a two-piece flashing system. You’re going to have a base flashing, which goes under the roof shingle and lays up against the side of the chimney, and then you’re going to have a counter-flashing, which is notched into the mortar joint of the chimney and folds over the base flashing.

    Now, I will say that sometimes that flashing can be held in place with a silicone caulk but the caulk is not what seals it. The flashing is what seals it. So, Jan, if you’ve got this leaking chimney, I would want to know what the flashing situation is up there now. And if you don’t have a two-piece flashing system, I would take the opportunity to have one installed. That would be a worthwhile expenditure for a professional roofing contractor. Slapping some tar on there or some silicone just to plug the leak temporarily is not.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? It doesn’t look good, either.

    TOM: No, it doesn’t. And it doesn’t last very long because the roof is always expanding and contracting differently than the chimney and that’s why it pulls apart so quickly.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Barb in Maine who writes: “I’m redoing my basement and putting a shower down there. Do I need to put a trap in the shower or will a straight drain be OK?”

    Well, isn’t this – at this point, the water’s got to go up, correct?

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. That’s not your biggest problem, Barb. Your biggest problem is that water is not going to run uphill. And so, what you need is called a “lift pump.” And basically, assuming that your main waste line is not below your basement, which would be very unusual, what you need is a lift-pump arrangement where the pump is set somewhere in the basement. It could be in the bathroom or it could be elsewhere. The drain from the shower, with the trap, I think is a good idea. It goes to the lift pump and then the lift pump basically lifts that water up high enough to drop it into the main drain-waste vent pipe.

    So that’s really the project that you need to think about. Once you get that set, you’ll be good to go.

    LESLIE: Now, being that we were on the topic of building codes for residences earlier, are you allowed to put showers and bathrooms in basements? I know where we live in the Northeast, it’s kind of a touchy subject.

    TOM: Well, you know why it’s a touchy subject? It’s a touchy subject because some people think – especially building inspectors think – you know what follows when you have a bathroom in the basement? A bedroom in the basement. And that is a problem because you don’t have emergency egress.

    So, I think, obviously, like everything, it’s a question for your local officials. But that’s what the concern is. You can have a bathroom in the basement, more likely, if you’re going to use it for a rec room or something like that. You can’t if it’s going to be the start of a bedroom project.

    LESLIE: Alright. So, Barb, make sure you ask all the right questions. Because the worst-case scenario is you put this in, somebody comes to inspect something else and all of a sudden, you are taking out all of your hard work. So make sure you do it right the first time.

    TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this summer weekend with us. If you’ve got questions, 24-7, you can reach us at 888-MONEY-PIT or simply log on to The Money Pit’s website and post your question. The show continues online.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2013 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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