Tips to Help Sell Your Home, Improving Curb Appeal and Designing Your Own Game Room
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We’re here to help you get those projects done around your house. We are in the money pit prevention business, so give us a call and let us help you out. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, coming up this hour, home sellers around the country are frustrated as more and more houses are sitting and sitting and sitting on the market with no action. So, do you ever wonder what you can do to set your house apart from the others? We’ve got some great tips this hour; our first one, curb appeal. We’re going to give you some ideas on how to make your front entry look inviting and, even better, more desirable. Stop those folks as they’re driving around checking out houses in your neighborhood and send them into your front door.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Make them want to jump out and buy your house immediately.
And also ahead, what you do before you put your house on the market can make a huge difference for potential buyers. We’re going to tell you how one type of inspection you can do before you even list your house can actually help you sell it.
TOM: And if you want to know what buyers are looking for, it turns out game rooms are very popular these days, according to a new study done by the NAHB. We’re going to tell you what makes a good game room and how to create one in your house, a little bit later.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away the 5-Minute Faucet from TOSCA. Now, it’s a quick and easy do-it-yourself project that can improve the look of your kitchen faucet.
TOM: It’s a prize worth 130 bucks, so give us a call right now with your home improvement question for your chance to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to the phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Randy in North Dakota is calling in about flooring. What can we do for you today?
RANDY: Well, I got a – in my basement, I want to replace the flooring that’s down there right now; it’s carpet. And I’d like to put laminate flooring in there but I’ve talked to several different people – installers and what-not – and some say it’s OK to put it in and others say don’t put it in because it’s going to absorb the moisture and warp.
RANDY: I’d like to get your take on that.
LESLIE: Well, Randy, you can’t get in a worse situation than you already are in with carpeting down in a basement. Carpeting is like the worst choice for a moist environment because it’s going to absorb all of that moisture that’s coming up from your concrete floor underneath and it’s going to stay in there and it’s going to get in all those fibers and in the padding and that is mold food. So right now, you’re dealing with possibly a respiratory issue down there because of the carpeting on the moist surface.
A laminate is the complete opposite. It’s fabricated from materials that don’t warp, that are resistant to moisture, that won’t grow mold; so it’s perfect for the basement environment. Now, the issue is you’re in North Dakota. It gets quite chilly there, so your floors are going to reflect that.
TOM: Yeah, and there’s an underlayment that goes under most laminate floors that can help a little bit. It gives you a tiny bit of insulation and will make them a little bit warmer. But it’s a very stable product for a basement.
In a basement, you can certainly use, obviously, a vinyl or a vinyl tile or a sheet product; you can use laminate. There is also a type of hardwood floor that you can use in the basement, too. It’s not traditional, solid hard wood; it’s called engineered hardwood, Randy, and it’s made up of multiple layers of hardwood – kind of like plywood, where you have alternating layers of wood that give it that dimensional stability. So laminate is a good choice, as is engineered hardwood, for a basement floor.
LESLIE: Now Tom, at this point, could he put out a radiant flooring heating mat, if you will, to go underneath the laminate or the engineered hardwood; just because it does get so cold up there?
TOM: Potentially, you could. It would have to be an electric radiant heating system, which is kind of expensive but the good news is you only have to run it when you’re using the basement.
RANDY: Well, we use the basement quite a bit, so …
TOM: Is it heated down there now, Randy?
RANDY: Yeah. Yeah, it is. We’ve got the baseboard water heat; hot water.
TOM: Well, then you’re in great shape. I would go with the …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, you’re going to be nice and toasty.
TOM: Yeah, I would go with the laminate. No concerns whatsoever.
LESLIE: And you know what, Randy? You can always get big, plush, beautiful area rugs to warm your tootsies on. That will not be a problem because you have the laminate in between.
RANDY: Oh, OK. Alright. Well, I thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Randy. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Sandra in North Carolina needs some help in the attic. Tell us about your problem.
SANDRA: How can I keep pests out of my attic without finishing it?
TOM: Without finishing it. You mean without like turning it into a finished remodeled room?
SANDRA: Correct. Because there’s like 800-and-something square – over 800-and-something square feet …
TOM: Well, who’s been visiting you up there, Sandra?
SANDRA: All kinds of pests: wasps; beetles, I guess, or some kind of flying, hard bug.
TOM: Oh, insects?
TOM: OK. Well, you can have an exterminator treat for those sorts of things but, frankly, unless they’re getting down into the house I wouldn’t worry about the occasional mud wasp nest or something of that nature. I thought maybe you were talking about animals getting in there.
SANDRA: Oh, no. No, no animals.
TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s pretty common. You’re never going to make a house tight enough to keep them out. If they really bother you, you can have them treated professionally, but I wouldn’t worry too terribly much about it.
SANDRA: OK. Alright. Well, I really appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sandra. 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, it’s a few weeks til tax time, so if you’ve got any questions about your energy-efficient home improvements – what you need to do to file to get those tax credits – pick up the phone and give us a call because you can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with any home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, we’re going to have advice on how to create a front entry that adds value to your home without spending a ton of money. Learn what to do, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru Doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit Therma-Tru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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 if you want to bring your kitchen up to date without spending a lot of money, new fixtures might just do the trick and this hour we can help you do just that because if you give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, you’ll get a chance to win the TOSCA 5-Minute Faucet from Homewerks. The 5-Minute Faucet is stylish, it’s simple to install and it’s likely to brighten and modernize any kitchen at a relatively low cost; especially if you win it, which makes it free. They’re available exclusively at Lowe’s and Lowes.com and just like the name says, anyone with very basic skills can install this faucet in about five minutes. It’s a prize worth about 130 bucks but one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win it; the TOSCA 5-Minute Faucet from Homewerks. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you’re thinking about or perhaps even have your home currently on the market up for sale and it’s maybe not going so well. You really want to get that house to sell, so here are some things that you can do.
Now, a great front entry that shines is a great way to make your home look more valuable. In fact, studies show a new door or even a spruced-up door can make your home look much more high-end; so, if you’re looking to replace your front entry door, a great option is a fiberglass door. They’re far more energy-efficient than a regular wood door.
Now, Therma-Tru, they’re a sponsor of this program and the original manufacturer of the fiberglass door. Now, the American Style Collection is inspired by early 1900s residential architecture and the collection complements many popular home styles. Now, made with Therma-Tru’s patented AccuGrain technology, you’re going to get the look of high-grade wood with all of that durability that fiberglass offers.
TOM: Now, if you already have a fiberglass door, you might just want to stain it. Therma-Tru has created a patented, all-exclusive same-day stain kit that basically lets you stain your entry door very easily in a single day; and it also resists fading and bleaching and it comes in a whole bunch of colors.
LESLIE: And changing the color of your front door really can change the entire look of your house and make it look so much more inviting.
Now, lastly, if you’d really like to add some punch to your home’s façade, you might want to consider adding some finishing touches like shutters or corbels. Now, a corbel you can put over your door. They would go sort of in that soffit overhang and make it look like this really beefy architectural detail of your home. Actually, Fypon, they’ve got lots of options including a southwest collection that’s inspired by the picturesque landscapes and architecture of the southwest region and they also make quick-wrap column wraps that can actually transform a plain, old post into a beautiful and elegant column for any style of home.
They go together really easily – I’ve actually used them on a home makeover show in the past – and it makes a tremendous difference going from those simple posts to something really structural and architectural. It’s gorgeous.
TOM: Lot better looking than a plain, old 4×4; that’s for sure.
TOM: And you know, all these improvements are really budget-friendly. They can add tons of perceived value to your home; not to mention the fact that they can help draw those potential buyers right in off the street. If you want more tips on how to do a makeover to your front entry, check out Therma-Tru.com for more information or pick up the phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement project. Again, the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dion in Iowa is dealing with some sort of crazy situation in the basement. What’s going on? You got a lot of water in there?
DION: Yes, we live on a slope and the contours out in the yard, they pretty much funnel everything towards the house. I’ve got a good idea on what to do on the outside of the house but I want to finish my basement and I don’t quite know what to do on the inside to battle this mold off to where I don’t have to worry about it being inside the wall after I finish it off.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, on the outside is where I would start and, typically, if you have a hillside that points down toward your house, you want to intercept the water as it runs down the hill with something called a curtain drain. Are you familiar with this?
DION: That’s something like, say, a sub-drain?
TOM: It’s like a trench. And basically, you dig this trench …
LESLIE: It’s a moat, in this situation. (chuckles)
TOM: Yeah, it’s a moat. That’s a good point. It’s a very shallow, small moat about 12×12. So, you basically shovel out this narrow ditch and you put in a perforated pipe – so like a four-inch PVC pipe with holes in it – and then you surround that with stone. You put a little bit of weed cloth and then dirt and grass over it so when it’s done it’s invisible. But as the water runs down the hill, it falls into the curtain drain and then it comes up into the pipe and then runs off somewhere, wherever you point it.
DION: Would you want to horseshoe it around the house more or less? And outlet it on the sides and …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, right. That’s right. Exactly. And shoot it off – right, shoot it off to the sides where it’s not going to do any harm. That’s one way to intercept that water run off. I mean the other way is to create something called a swale, which is what should have been done, but it’s very hard to do at this point when the house isn’t new. And a swale is simply a way of grading soil away from the house walls and then the hillside grows into that or grades into that and then it collects that water, runs it around the house. But that’s a lot more complicated from a grading perspective. A curtain drain is pretty straightforward. It’s a couple of days of work but it works really well.
LESLIE: And does a landscaper do that?
TOM: Yeah. But I mean – well, I wouldn’t hire a landscaper that was the first time he ever built one.
TOM: They’re not that hard to do. You need about 1/8 to 1/4-inch-per-foot slope.
LESLIE: Olivia in Utah, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
OLIVIA: We had a water heater begin to leak in the middle of the night the other night. Anyway, for our home we had two 40-gallon tanks; regular water heaters.
OLIVIA: And in replacing these, it was suggested to us that we get only one 25-gallon, quick-response water heater. And this particular company has told us that the one 25-gallon, quick-response water heater will give us as much hot water on demand as the two 40-gallon tanks gave us. Is this correct or incorrect?
TOM: I actually have no idea because it sounds to me like you have a hybrid here between a tank and a tankless water heater. What I would recommend at this juncture – considering that you had two water heaters that went and both are going to go and be replaced now – I would recommend that you look into a tankless water heater; not a smaller tank than what you have but a true, tankless water heater. You have gas?
TOM: OK. So, I would go to a website called ForeverHotWater.com and that website has a sizing tool on it so you can figure out what size tankless water heater you need. It’s put together by the experts at Rinnai.
TOM: And I think that a tankless water heater would be an excellent solution for you because it’s going to deliver an unlimited amount of hot water. It also has a lot of nice features: it’s energy-efficient; you can dial that temperature down or up from a remote location; and it’s going to last a heck of a long time. Now is the perfect opportunity for you to do this because you are replacing your old-fashioned tanked water heaters and also you’re going to save a lot of room because the amount of actual floor space – or more importantly, wall space – that the tankless needs is much, much less than what you would have needed for the tanked water heaters. Follow me?
OLIVIA: Uh-huh. What do I run into cost-wise?
TOM: Well, the tankless water heater is going to be more expensive than a tanked water heater but it’s going to last a long time, it’s going to save you money on utility bills …
LESLIE: It’s also going to take up far less space.
TOM: And take up far less space. So it really is the way to go today. If my water heater went, I would not put back a standard tank water heater; I would always go tankless at this time.
OLIVIA: Oh, I probably have made a terrible mistake because we have already let them put in what they said was a quick-response, 25-gallon water heater that is supposed to furnish us as much hot water as the two tanks we did have.
TOM: Well, it sounds like they sold you something that they had some experience with or perhaps just made some more money on. I don’t know. I’m just not familiar with that in-between model. I’ve seen them at trade shows but I certainly don’t think they have enough history. You know, tankless has been out for a long time now; it works really, really well. But I guess time is going to tell.
OLIVIA: OK. I really appreciate your help.
OLIVIA: I just wish I could have gotten in touch with y’all sooner before I let them put it in. But thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tim in Alabama is calling in with a mold question. What can we do for today?
TIM: Yeah, hi. What I’m currently experiencing is in my bathroom area we have a marble shower area and the caulking has become overrun with mold. And directly when you step out of the shower, on the tile, the grout – where some of the water has dripped from the shower door – looks like mold is starting to try to set up in some of the grout there.
TIM: My question is what I have understood you’re supposed to do is just cut it out and recaulk it but I’m not sure if there’s any prep work that needs to be done prior to putting new caulking in and what do you do about the grout?
TOM: OK, the grout that’s – first of all, the caulk that’s down there now, is it clear caulk or is it …?
TIM: No, it is a color to match the tile.
TOM: (overlapping voices) It’s like a white?
TOM: Ah, OK. Well, here’s what you need to do. The first thing you need to do is to remove the old caulk. There’s no way to clean it because what happens is the mold actually gets in it, it grows under it. I mean you can wipe it down. Yeah.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Gets through it, goes behind it.
TOM: You can wipe it down with bleach but if that doesn’t do it, you’re going to have to strip it out; so you can use a caulk softener for that. There is a very simple – [trying to think of a] (ph) paint stripper but it’s for caulk; it softens the caulk. And then there’s a plastic tool that you can use to scrape it out with, available at any home center or hardware store.
Next, the new caulk that you put down, you want to make sure that you use a caulk that has a mildicide in it. The most common one is called Microban and I know it’s available in DAP caulks. It may be available in others as well. But this Microban product is pretty darn good and it doesn’t let mildew grow into the caulk. Since you have a colored caulk, it might be something that’s fairly custom. You may not be able to reproduce that exactly. I would just go as close as possible and make sure it has Microban.
As far as the grout is concerned, you can, again, try to clean that. You want to use a grout stripper, not a grout cleaner. It’s a little more aggressive. But if you – if it gets so dirty and so mildewy and moldy that you really can’t clean it, then what you do is you scrape the old grout out and you use new grout and the grout also should have an additive in it. The Microban is available in grout, too, and the brand that carries that is called LATRICRETE – L-A-T-R-I-C-R-E-T-E – so you can actually replace the grout with a grout that has Microban inside of it and that should stop the mold problem.
The other thing, though, is to make sure you manage the moisture inside that bathroom; that will actually help as well. So make sure you have a good, powerful vent fan that runs for at least 20 minutes.
LESLIE: And you use it.
TOM: Yep. Runs for at least 20 minutes after you’re done.
LESLIE: And you know what? Tim, while you’re at it with the caulking, when you take out the old caulk, you want to mix up a solution of bleach and water and go pretty heavy on the bleach and spray it where you’ve taken out all of that grout just so that any mold spores that may have gotten behind it – I’m sorry, the caulk – so any mold spores that may have gotten behind it, you can kill those then let that area dry out very well and then apply the new caulk in there. This way, if there’s anything back there, it’s not going to grow again on the new.
TIM: Ah, will do. Thank you very much. Appreciate your help.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You’re very welcome. 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.
Up next, what you do before you put your house on the market can mean the difference between a confident listing and the surprises that could kill the sale. Find out what you need to do, next.
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: And you can visit MoneyPit.com for advice and information on buying or selling a home. Buyers are holding all the cards right now; so if you’re a seller, there are some things to keep in mind. Learn what you need to know at MoneyPit.com. Under the Ideas and Solutions section, we have a whole area devoted to the topic of buying and selling a home and I’m pretty confident you will find your answer right there.
888-666-3974 is the number for the rest of your home improvement questions, so give us a call right now and let’s help you out.
LESLIE: Hamilton in Texas needs some help warming the floors at his money pit. What can we do for you?
HAMILTON: Well, I would like to know if I can use a foam insulation underneath my house – it’s a pier-and-beam (ph) – to warm up the floors in the winter time. And I’m sure it’s leaking out. It’s cool in the summer but maybe not so much.
TOM: Is that because you feel like it’s too difficult to install fiberglass insulation, so you want use spray foam insulation?
HAMILTON: Well, that’s what I thought. If there’s – I guess if there’s a significant difference in the price or effectiveness …
TOM: There will be. Yeah, well applying a spray foam insulation is going to be a lot more expensive than fiberglass. If you can find a way to make unfaced fiberglass batts work, that would be your best option. Plus, in a crawlspace, it’s so critical that you retain access to all of the plumbing and electrical fixtures, so we don’t want you to bury those under any spray foam insulation.
HAMILTON: Oh, OK. I hadn’t thought of that.
TOM: Yep. Yeah, I would prefer to see you, at this point, just use fiberglass. I think it’s going to be a lot more manageable and it’ll do the job that you need it to do.
HAMILTON: So then – and then how is that installed?
TOM: OK, well, what are the centers that your floor joists are on? You said …
HAMILTON: I think that they’re on maybe 14-inch centers. They’re less than 16, I know.
TOM: OK. Well, standard batts of insulation are 15 inches wide, so you would support that with wire insulation holders. They basically go in between the beams. They’re a little bit longer. They’re like 16 or 17 inches long. You can actually cut them if you need to and you sort of bend them and stick them up in between the beams and that presses the insulation up against the floor. But try to put it in as loose as you can because that makes it work a lot better.
HAMILTON: OK. OK, good. Well, I appreciate it very much. Let you know if we have warm feet. (Leslie chuckles) I bet you will. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Well, in many parts of the country right now, real estate is a buyer’s market. Sellers may need to take a few extra steps to make sure their homes sell quickly and for the desired price. Here with some tips on how to do just that is Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House.
KEVIN: Hi, Tom. Great to be here.
TOM: So, where do we begin.
KEVIN: Well, you know, there are a lot of simple things that you can do. Let’s talk about landscaping. Think about replacing tired, overgrown foundation plantings because that can make a huge difference to the outside of your house. And you know, minor kitchen remodels can also have one of the highest returns on investment; so consider painting your cabinets, replacing the faucet or a sink or even installing new cabinet hardware.
TOM: Now, I was a home inspector for 20 years and always wished that more home sellers would get those inspections early on so they would have a heads-up as to what to expect when the buyer’s inspector walked in the door.
KEVIN: You know, it’s a great point. Most people think that the inspection is something that the buyer is going to do but if the seller does it, it gives them a chance to get out in front of any issues that might derail a sale because it’s always better to know about them as early as possible.
So, for more simple ways to add value to your house, watch our videos on ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: Good point.
Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Thanks for having me.
LESLIE: Yeah, you know that inspection idea is really worth it because you’re going to know exactly what those potential buyers will come up with when they conduct their own inspection and you can be ready for it.
TOM: Yeah, and that’s the best time to fix it is before they find it and then everyone’s sort of looking over your shoulder to make sure that that job is done correctly. You’re better off just getting it done before they walk in the door in the first place.
Hey, for more tips from the guys at This Old House, you can watch them on This Old House Television which is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t do any better.
Up next, we’re going to talk about taking advantage of a trend that is here to stay. The game room is back, according to a new study. We’re going to talk to you about how to build your own and make it work out for your family, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac automatic standby generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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: Hey, if you’re looking for an easy fix to a boring kitchen, then a fancy new fixture for your sink could be the answer and, lucky for you, we are giving one away this hour. So all you have to do is give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win this great prize. We’re giving away the TOSCA 5-Minute Faucet from Homewerks.
Now, this is a faucet – it’s gorgeous, it’s a single-handle lever faucet but the coolest thing is that even with basic do-it-yourself skills, you can install this faucet in five minutes. So it is a very handy do-yourself project and it’s only available exclusively at Lowes and Lowes.com for about 130 bucks but one of you lucky Money Pit listeners out there who picks up the phone and dials 1-888-MONEY-PIT with a home improvement question is going to win this great prize.
TOM: The number again is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
You know, another room in the house that is getting more popular now than ever before is the entertainment room. And according to the National Association of Home Builders, they did a study called the Home of the Future Study and, apparently, this room is now going to become an even more integral part of the average American home. So, if you’re thinking about a game room for your money pit, rest assured that this is something that apparently can be a major selling point should you ever decide to move.
Now, for the location, you can go into a reinforced attic; you can use a sunroom, a covered porch and, of course, the old standby basement if you’re not fortunate enough to have a separately-constructed game room – which most of you don’t.
LESLIE: (chuckling) You know, you know …
TOM: Except that my kids tend to make it wherever they sit.
LESLIE: Well, generally, the game room is the entire house in most people’s homes. (chuckles)
Now, if you do choose to go into the basement – that is, if it’s not your mega-storage area right now, you want to make sure that you prepare the space first. You really do need to take care of those moisture issues that are just inherent in the basement spaces. Or you at least want to make sure you insulate loft space above your garage. Then the sky or your budget – usually your budget comes first – is the limit. (Tom chuckles)
Now, game rooms these days, they can include a pool table, a card table, your gaming systems, flatscreen TV or pretty much all of the above for a total kick-butt game room and you might even find custom touches like a dart board, a pinball machine or a juke box. But the bottom line is go for it and game on. Have a lot of fun out there.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is the telephone number. Give us a call right now with your home improvement project. Let’s get right back to the phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Vera in Vermont has a flooring question. What can we do for you today?
VERA: Yes, I have a Formica laminate flooring which was professionally installed about 10 years ago.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.
VERA: Several of the planks have separated slightly. Is there any way to reseal it? And also, can I use a steam mop to clean it?
LESLIE: Now, when you say “separating,” you’re seeing a gap between some of the planks?
VERA: Yes, there’s a gap – you can put your thumbnail in between the planks.
TOM: Mm-hmm. I don’t think there’s an easy way to pull that back together and the very old Formica flooring, which I happen to know a lot about because I have some of it …
LESLIE: Were tongue-in-groove, right?
TOM: Yeah, it was tongue-in-groove. It wasn’t lock-together; you had to glue it together.
VERA: Yes, they were glued together.
TOM: Yeah. Good stuff but …
LESLIE: So you can’t back some out and then hammer – you know, pound it back into place.
TOM: No. No. But I mean I’d consider it normal wear and tear.
LESLIE: And a thumbnail is not that big of a space.
VERA: No, but I wondered if there was something – some filler or something that you could put in there.
TOM: Well, there are – there actually is a Formica laminate filler but …
LESLIE: But it doesn’t crackle out over time with the vacuum and what-not?
TOM: Well, that’s what I’m concerned about. Yeah. I think it might just crack and fall out. It’s really designed for like surface chips.
VERA: I see. Can a steam mop be used to clean this type of flooring?
TOM: I don’t think you need a steam mop. I think all you need is a damp mop. I wouldn’t go too steamy with it but I think if you use it for light cleaning you’d probably be fine.
VERA: OK. Alright, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Michael in Kentucky has a question about his water heater. What can we do for you?
MICHAEL: Yes, couple of months ago I caught my shirt on the release valve; my water heater.
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
MICHAEL: And prior to that it hadn’t leaked at all …
TOM: But now it leaks all the time, right? (Leslie chuckles)
MICHAEL: Yeah. Well, when the water was released, it had some residue in it.
MICHAEL: You know, like the sediment?
TOM: Yeah, and sometimes that kind of gets stuck in that valve and it never closes fully anymore and now it’s a constant drip-drip-drip.
MICHAEL: Yeah. Anyhow, I replaced it and then it continued to leak. I had the city come out and they measured my water pressure at one of my spigots outside at 130 pounds.
MICHAEL: Now, I don’t know? Is that too high or is that …?
TOM: That sounds awfully high because the temperature pressure relief valve on a water heater is set at 150 pounds and that did occur to me; that maybe the fact that it’s dripping is it’s actually doing its job and the water pressure, as it heats, is getting too high. You may need to have a piece of plumbing equipment installed that actually reduces that. A hundred and thirty pounds is a huge pressure; normally it’s like around 70 or 80.
MICHAEL: Yeah, my understanding is that – I live in a pretty rural area and they don’t increase the size of the water mains.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Of the pipes.
MICHAEL: They just keep increasing the pressure at the main station there and I think that …
TOM: That’s got to cause a lot of maintenance issues. You can’t be alone on this.
MICHAEL: Yeah, I’m going to have to look at my neighbor’s residence here. But I guess – I think I might have answered my own question.
TOM: Yeah, I think you did. Yeah, because that TPR valve – that temperature pressure relief valve – is set at 150 pounds and if it’s dripping, it may just be exceeding that.
MICHAEL: OK. Well, thank you so much for the information then.
TOM: No problem, Michael. Good luck with that project.
The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you’ve got a mystery like that, pick up the phone and give us a call right now and we will help you answer your own question. (Leslie chuckles) 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Cindy in Ohio needs some help with a bathroom vent fan. What can we do for you?
CINDY: Hi. We have a pretty good-sized bathroom; I think it’s about 9×10.
CINDY: And we have an exhaust fan in the ceiling and we just got a little ceramic heater. And when we run the exhaust fan alone, it doesn’t defog the window or the mirror.
CINDY: But when we run the heater it defogs everything and I wanted to know if we should run both of them, because it’s wallpapered, or if we should just run the heater or just the exhaust fan. I don’t know which one to use.
TOM: Well, basic physics going on here, Cindy. When you warm air, it absorbs more moisture. So the warmer that room is with that ceramic heater, the less moisture there is in the air and the less condensation – otherwise known as fog – on your mirrors, so that’s why it’s doing what it’s doing.
Generally, you want to have a good-quality ventilation system that pulls out enough air so that doesn’t happen. I see no reason why you can’t run both together, if you want a little bit extra heat. So long as you’re not blowing breakers, you could certainly go ahead and do that.
CINDY: OK. And then my wallpaper will be safe?
TOM: I think your wallpaper will be safe either way.
You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, moisture problems can ruin your home if you don’t track them down. But how do you do just that? I mean how do you find them; especially if they’re only active, say, during a really bad rainstorm and you can’t be on the roof seeing where the water comes in? Well, we’re going to have some tips on how you can track down that moisture source and fix the leak once and for all, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’d love if you would follow us on Facebook. We’ve got a fan page there. You can join it by simply texting the word “Fan theMoneyPit” – I guess that’s two words because they’ve got “theMoneyPit” run together; so it’s two words – “Fan theMoneyPit” to FBOOK at 32665 from your cell phone. You’ll be instantly added to the fan page, which is really fun because there’s an ongoing conversation on that page almost everyday about a home improvement project going on somewhere. And everybody helps everybody else out and it’s kind of cool. It’s the Money Pit family.
LESLIE: Yeah, which is great. We’ve all been in the same boat and we’re all happy to help each other out with any sort of home improvement advice that we can offer. And speaking of offering home improvement advice, if you don’t feel like picking up the phone, you can e-mail us your question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon at MoneyPit.com and we will answer your e-mail like I’m going to do right now.
I’ve got one here from Craig, who writes: “The bricks on the front of my house are wet everyday. This is happening even when it’s not rained. The brick looks like a sprinkler has been spraying on the house because it’s not wet at the top. The wet part arches towards the center of the bricks. What could be causing this? And I don’t have a sprinkler system.”
TOM: Well, you obviously have a lot of water in and around the house. Even though you don’t have a sprinkler system, I think you’re envisioning, Craig, that the water is spritzing up and strategically targeting – you know, bulls-eyeing in that area where the bricks happen to be wet. But really, what’s happening here is masonry is so hydroscopic, it’s so absorbent to water that what’ll happen is the water will draw up through the bricks. One brick at a time it’ll just keep rising up. It’ll go through the brick, the mortar until it gets to that spot where it happens to pop out. So, that moisture source is most likely the soil around your house.
LESLIE: The ground.
TOM: Right, the grading. So I would be looking at the gutter system – make sure it’s clean and free-flowing and make sure the soil is sloping away from the walls in that area. If you dry out that soil around the house, you’ll get less of that moisture wicking up into the bricks.
And the other thing that could happen is, sometimes, as that water evaporates out of the bricks, it leaves its salt behind – which is kind of white, grayish powder – and that doesn’t always look good; especially if it’s very spotty like that.
LESLIE: But if you do have that, you can easily make that go away with a mixture of white vinegar and water. Just spray it on the areas where you do see that white mineral deposit and it’ll just disappear. It works really well; like a charm.
LESLIE: Alright, I’ve got one here from Hal, who writes: “During a recent show, someone asked how long would paint last in the can. You asked immediately asked if the paint had frozen. What happens if paint does freeze and is it still usable if it should freeze? And further, is there any way to tell if it has been frozen?”
TOM: Well, Hal, my first question is how did you end up with all this frozen paint? Because obviously, you’ve got quite a collection there. To your answer as to how do you know if it ever did freeze, I would tell you that most likely the can is going to expand because when liquid freezes it does expand. So if it looks like the can is swollen, the top popped off, a little bit of paint squirted out through the seal at the top it may have frozen.
If it has, you’re also going to notice, when you take the lid off – because what’ll happen is the paint will all be separated. It’ll separate into all its basic parts and it’s almost impossible to get it put back together again once that happens. There’s a chance you could mix it up and it might be OK but it’s most likely that it’s not in good shape and cannot be used again.
LESLIE: Yeah, and you really do want to be careful because, especially if you’re trying to do a repair in a room that rest of the room is already painted and you only want to do one wall, if it mixes back together, the color might not match, it my dry weird, it might be splotchy. So you really need to be careful. I accidentally left like five brand new gallons of paint in a car when we had like a deep freeze in New York and just that one night ruined the paint enough. So just be careful with your paint and make sure you label things as to what room they go to and keep them in a nice airtight Tupperware and you’ll be ready for your next painting project.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that you learned a few tricks of the trade to improve the comfort, the safety, the efficiency of your money pit and you’ve got the confidence to take on some of those projects on your own.
You got a question? You can call us anytime of the day or night at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are always here to help you get those projects done around your house.
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.
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(Copyright 2010 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.)