Too Much Water Can Cause Structural Damage, Eco-Friendly Flooring Choices, Learn to Tile a Kitchen Counter and more
(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 2 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project because we are here to help. Home improvement, home repair, home décor; we’re going to help you get that project done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Whether or not you are a do-it-yourselfer or a direct-it-yourselfer, we will make sure that you don’t become a do-it-to-yourselfer by doing something really silly, very embarrassing, potentially dangerous and making sure that your project just doesn’t come out right at all. (Leslie chuckles) We can avoid all of that stress, all of that hassle, all that drama if you just pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
We’ve got a great show planned for you this hour. We’re going to talk about structural issues, first off. You know, it’s often feast or famine in the summer months. Either we get no rainfall or we get a tremendous amount and when you get a lot, the deluge, well that’s what causes the structural issues to surface because that water gets in under your foundation and can really cause some mischief. We’re going to tell you what to look for to make sure your house is safe, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And when you think about going green for your home improvements, do you think about your flooring? Well, bamboo floors are becoming very popular and they come from a truly sustainable resource, which makes it a very practical choice for both you and the environment. We’re going to tell you more about the advancements in bamboo flooring, later this hour.
TOM: We’re also giving away a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure, if you pick up the phone and call us right now with your home improvement question. We will send one autographed copy out to one lucky caller. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Kurt in North Carolina is calling in with a flooring question. What can we do for you today?
KURT: Hello, there. I’m fixing to put down some new carpet in a couple of rooms and I’ve never been able to wash the carpet or use a carpet cleaner because of the water.
TOM: OK. Right.
KURT: Because my flooring under the padding of the carpet is particleboard.
KURT: OK? And the house is 37 years old and I’ve put probably three different pieces of carpet on it in the past but this time I want to try and do something about sealing that floor, if I can.
TOM: Well, why do you think that you can’t put water on particleboard? Usually the carpet cleaners push water down into the carpet but pull it right back up again. So while the flooring will become damp, it’s not going to get so much water that it’s going to be warped or cause any kind of mold growth or anything of that nature.
KURT: You don’t think that that’ll be a problem then.
TOM: No, not at all.
LESLIE: No, because they don’t heavily saturate it. I mean they use a cleanser. They’ve got super-powerful, vacuum-cleaning machines so that all the water that they put in is almost immediately sucked right out.
TOM: Yeah, it’s not like you’re hosing the floor down.
KURT: OK. As long as it’s put on and then taken right back off, I should be OK.
LESLIE: Well, and that’s what they do.
TOM: Right, the machines do that for you.
KURT: Right. I was concerned because I’ve seen the particleboard – the old particleboard get wet like that …
LESLIE: Turns into a sponge.
KURT: … and it expands and comes apart and (inaudible at 0:03:24) to happen.
TOM: Yeah, but that’s not going to happen from just carpet cleaning, if you use the right equipment, Kurt.
TOM: Go rent a machine. You’ll be done before you know it.
KURT: Alright, well that’s what I wanted to know.
TOM: Alright, well good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jody in Rhode Island needs some help with a fireplace project. What can we do for you?
JODY: Yes, I was wondering if you have an easy idea regarding taking off the soot from the walls so I can repaint it.
LESLIE: Oh, soot from the walls. So it’s not on any of the masonry. It’s actually on the drywall?
JODY: Yeah, right.
LESLIE: Have you tried – there’s a solution that you can get at the home center. It’s usually in the painting aisle and it’s called TSP, which is trisodium phosphate. And that’s basically like a wall cleanser. It’s a prepping project that a lot of professional painters use. And if you mix it according to the directions, it should get that right off. Because it’s also – it’s like a degreaser. It’s a good cleanser.
JODY: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Jody. 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 be part of the Money Pit action. Just pick up the phone and give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with your home repair or your home improvement, even home design question. We’re here for you at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, you know the old saying, “Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink.” Well, it’s the water, water everywhere that we’re worried about when it comes to severe summer storms. They can cause some pretty significant structural problems, especially with your foundation. We’re going to tell you what to look for, next.
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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 you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We can help you with pretty much any project that you’re about to tackle.
You know, wouldn’t it be great, when you’re doing all of your home improvement projects, if you had both Tom and I right there next to you being like, “Use that screw. Don’t use that. Pick up that hammer. Oh, use this”? Well, if you win our lucky prize this hour, you actually can. You can win a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. And it’s packed full of the same kind of great advice that we give you on the radio show here each week and we’re sure that you’re going to refer to it again and again. And one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to get a copy, so give us a call for your chance to win at1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, this summer, we’ve already had quite a few of those really serious summer thunderstorms in my area and when it happens, man, does the water really come down. And that heavy accumulation of water can cause house foundations to become weak and fail. Check yours carefully by looking outdoors and indoors for any signs of areas that might be cracked or bulging. If things look good for now, check it again over the next several weeks.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, water can wash out soil under the footings that actually hold up the house and not show up as a problem until months go by after the storm. So you want to watch out for interior walls that crack or doors that are suddenly getting stuck. That could mean that the foundation has been damaged and that the house is starting to shift.
If you see anything out of the ordinary, just don’t think about making those repairs yourself. Call in an expert, like a professional home inspector, who’s going to tell you what’s exactly going wrong with the house and not be the person who’s going to do the repair. They’re just going to tell you, “This is what’s going on and I recommend these actions,” and then you can go ahead and get a contractor in to bid on the job.
TOM: Good advice. Or you could always pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll sort it out together.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got Dennis on the line who’s calling with a heat pump issue. Tell us what’s going on with it.
DENNIS: Hi, Leslie. I don’t know. I’m having problems. It’ll cut out about every third day and all of a sudden we’ll look and the temperature will be up to 80, 81, 82. Sometimes we can get it started again; sometimes we can’t. We had to go out and buy a portable air conditioner just to keep us going one night.
TOM: Do you have your heat pump on any kind of a green switch where it’s wired into the power company grid and you give them the right to …
LESLIE: Reduce your power usage?
TOM: Yeah, basically; balance the load.
DENNIS: I don’t know. (Leslie chuckles) I don’t know that much about it. My problem is I can’t get out there and look at it. And I went out Saturday and bought another thermostat, thinking that might be the problem, and they said it would just plug right back in where the old one was.
DENNIS: And now they say, [“You’ve got to rewire those eight little wires.”] (ph)
TOM: Yeah, it’s not that easy.
DENNIS: So, be hard for me to stand there and do that, so …
TOM: Well look, this is not a job for a do-it-yourselfer; it’s a job for an HVAC professional. But the one thing I would check – because when you say that the heat pump goes off at various times, many power companies across the country have what’s called a green switch. And basically, generally there’s a program where they offer some sort of inducement to allow them to wire in this switch into the HVAC system so that, in certain times of the day, they can turn off the power when they need to balance the load across the entire grid.
LESLIE: To reduce the chance of outages.
TOM: Right. And if you have that, it may not be set right. So I think that you need to call an HVAC contractor and have them take a look at it; figure out what’s going on. It’s not a thermostat. It’s something with the control circuit that’s doing this and if you got a green switch, that could be the solution.
DENNIS: Well, it all started with a power outage and it wouldn’t come back on again.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah, I wonder if – I think it’s something with the control circuit. I just want to make sure you don’t have the green switch and that’ll help you get to the bottom of it.
DENNIS: Well, that’s great. I’ll tell them to look for that. They did put a new capacitor in it. That didn’t seem to work, so maybe that’s looking for the green switch.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Karen in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What project can we help you with?
KAREN: Well, back in the mid-90s they made a wallboard paneling that was decorative. It kind of had like a vinyl finish with – you know, sometimes it was embossed.
KAREN: And my question is – you know, I’m tired of it now. And can I paint over that or would it be better to put like a sheetrock over it?
TOM: Well, I mean you can paint it. You need to prime it. If you’re going to paint it, you have to prime it. And so I would use a very good-quality primer first – an oil-based primer – so that you get good adhesion of the top surface of the paint. The finish, on the other hand, is not going to be the same as if it was a wall but it might be acceptable. So it could be an easy, inexpensive way to get a new look for that particular room.
KAREN: And also, the joints don’t butt up very close and so there’s a gap. And what they did was they would put a taping, basically over that – a decorative taping – but that pulls away. So how would I cover that up? Would I use a putty or a caulk of some sort?
TOM: Well, no. You know, I’ve got to tell you, if the walls are in that kind of condition, you may just be better off covering the whole thing with drywall. You don’t need to use 1/2-inch drywall; you could use 3/8.
KAREN: Well, I was thinking about 1/4-inch. I mean would that – I mean because there’s solid wood wall behind that. It’s an old, old house.
TOM: Right. Yeah, I mean you could do that, too. The reason I say 3/8, because it becomes a little – it’s a little hard to handle those 1/4-inch sheets. They’re awfully floppy.
KAREN: OK. OK.
TOM: But you certainly could put that up and then tape and spackle the joints and then you’ll have a really clean, obviously new surface.
KAREN: OK, OK. Alright. Alright, well thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dave in Alabama, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DAVE: I have a crawlspace that’s humid and I was thinking of putting down some gravel and plastic sheeting and I was wondering whether the plastic sheeting should go on top of the gravel or below the gravel or forego the plastic sheeting altogether.
TOM: What’s the purpose of the gravel?
DAVE: The purpose of the gravel was either to protect the sheeting or, I was thinking, to keep it drier underneath the plastic.
TOM: Well, what kind of a surface do you have on the crawlspace floor right now, David?
DAVE: I just have dirt.
TOM: Just dirt? All you need to do is to put the plastic sheeting on top of the dirt. The gravel is not really necessary. What you’re doing is just you’re basically stopping the evaporation of moisture off the soil up into the rest of the house. So what you want to do is you want to use very good-quality, thick plastic sheeting; you want as few seams as possible; and just lay it out there across the soil and you’ll see an immediate difference.
DAVE: OK. They do talk about gravel, though. Do you just find it doesn’t help at all?
TOM: It doesn’t really help at all. It doesn’t serve any purpose. You want to stop water from evaporating off the soil and getting into the air and making the crawlspace damp and moist. So, to do that, all you need to do is to cover that surface with plastic sheets.
LESLIE: And keep the moisture below it.
TOM: There’s no value to stone in this equation. (Dave chuckles) No value whatsoever. OK. This is an easier project than what you were thinking.
DAVE: Yeah, it is.
TOM: And a lot easier on your back, too.
TOM: Think about all of the money you’re going to save in chiropractic visits. (Leslie and Dave chuckle) Alright, David? Good luck with that project. Go get to it, alright?
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Thanks so much for calling us.
LESLIE: Ruth in Arkansas has a question about an attic. What can we do for you today?
RUTH: We built our house a couple of years ago and we have a sheetrock ceiling. And we failed to have an opening for an attic and I feel like we’re losing storage space.
TOM: When you built your roof, do you know then if it was stick-built or is it built with trusses?
RUTH: It’s trusses.
TOM: It’s trusses. OK. And do you know if they’re attic trusses?
TOM: OK, do you know what an attic truss is, Ruth? It has a flat area for storage where you can put boards and create like a floor. It’s a special kind of truss.
RUTH: Oh, OK. Well, it is flat on top. [You know what I mean] (ph).
TOM: Alright, let me explain this to you. You can put an opening in by cutting the sheetrock under two of the trusses; they’re probably 24 inches apart. And so you can cut the drywall out into the size that you need for the opening. It depends on whether you’re putting a hatch or a staircase. But you would cut it to fit whatever type of opening you want.
But the issue is that, with respect to the trusses, you can’t cut any of the pieces of the trusses away because they’re designed to work as one, continuous unit. And if you cut any piece of that truss, you’re going to make the roof structure weak. So you may not have storage up there, is what I’m telling you, unless you have a specially-designed attic truss which has a flat floor section sort of built into it that you can put some plywood down and some storage.
If your builder did not provide an attic truss with room for storage, you’re not going to be able to create it now. That attic may not be storable.
RUTH: OK. I’ll have to check with my contractor for sure, that put the trusses in.
TOM: Good. That’s a good place to start.
RUTH: Yes. OK, well thank you so much.
TOM: Alright, Ruth. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So instead of a traditional roof truss where you’re dealing with that, say, triangular shape that’s sort of supported throughout that triangular frame, you have an open box within that triangle frame?
TOM: An attic truss. Right, it has – it doesn’t have as many cross-members. It’s sort of like a big, framed opening and then the bottom cord, instead of being a 2×4, might be up higher. It might be eight inches off, say, the drywall, so that you could have room for enough insulation and still have some flooring space there.
TOM: It’s a specifically-designed type of truss structure and you can’t just put a floor on a regular truss because you’re going to crush the insulation that’s there; plus, you’re not supposed to be loading those up.
LESLIE: Chris in Texas is calling in with an air conditioning question. What can we do for you?
CHRIS: Yeah, I have a problem with my air conditioning unit. I have a central air unit in my – I have two zones – in my upstairs that I don’t use as often. But when I do turn it on, I have a major leak out the exit PVC pipe that goes to the outside and it just leaks all over my patio. And one of my fixes is additional PVC pipe to carry that water over into the yard …
LESLIE: Further away.
CHRIS: … but I’m trying to figure out how to fix the unit from doing it.
LESLIE: Well, isn’t that the condensate pipe, Tom? Like isn’t …?
TOM: That’s what it sounds like.
LESLIE: I think it’s supposed to leak.
CHRIS: Yeah, I believe it is but it’s just consistently leaking; I mean the water just …
TOM: Well, it’s not actually leaking. Think of it as draining. It’s part of the plumbing system of the AC. Because as you cool air, you dehumidify it and it pulls the moisture out and sends it down the pipe. Now …
LESLIE: Which is why you feel so nice in your house.
TOM: Right. So this is a good thing. OK? It’s not a leak like a plumbing leak; it’s supposed to be doing that. The issue is where it’s dropping the condensate. So your issue is that it’s dropping it on the roof? Where do you want it to go?
CHRIS: Well, it drops it onto the covered patio.
TOM: Alright. So we need to divert it. So is there a way to run the pipe somewhere else, Chris?
CHRIS: I probably could. I guess I’m having a hard time because the difference between the two units – I have the main unit downstairs – doesn’t leak or doesn’t drain the condensation like the upstairs one.
LESLIE: Well, I mean think about it; the second floor is much more warm, so you’re dealing with a lot more warm air, a lot more moisture in the air, so it’s really doing its best to pull all that moisture out so you actually feel cool. I mean this is our first year with our central air conditioning system and I’m amazed – I mean granted, in the northeast we have had tremendously high temperatures, as I imagine everybody else in this country, but there is just a tremendous amount of water that comes out of condensate pipe. And I mean it’s in the middle of my driveway and all I can think of is, “Well, if this were winter, I’d be slipping, sliding. But it won’t be happening in the winter.”
CHRIS: Sure, sure. OK. I was just worried it was a problem with the unit because I actually had a contractor tell me that I needed to pour half bleach, half water down one of the pipes to clear it out.
TOM: No, this is not a leak. This is condensate. That’s the condensate drain; that’s what it’s supposed to do. So you just need to figure out a better way to run it.
You know, there’s another thing that you can do, too. If you don’t want to run it outside, you could use something called a condensate pump and that could lift it up, even if you had to go sort of against gravity, and find a better place to pump it up across the house or something and drop it somewhere else.
CHRIS: I see. OK.
CHRIS: Well, if it’s supposed to be there, I’m happy with that. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Well, that’s right. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Sometimes when you see a pipe, it doesn’t always mean it’s a bad thing when there’s water coming out of it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean my goodness, ours is just putting out a tremendous amount of water, consistently, but that means it’s doing its job.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, what kind of floors are economical, environmentally friendly, durable and look great? Well, the answer is bamboo. This is a flooring choice that is more popular than ever. We’re going to have details from an expert on how to buy bamboo flooring for your home, next.
TOM: 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. And you know, so many of us are thinking about going green and making green improvements to our homes but when you think about going green, do you think about flooring? Well, if you don’t, you should. Advances in the availability and the quality of environmentally-friendly bamboo hardwood floors make this a very practical choice for you and for the environment.
TOM: And with us to talk about just that is Tom Sullivan, the president of Lumber Liquidators.
And Tom, bamboo has really become a very popular flooring option, hasn’t it?
TOM SULLIVAN: Yes. Very popular. We’ve carried it for probably about 12 years now and initially thought it was just going to be a fad. It was big in California when we first hit stores out there and [said, “You know.”] (ph)
TOM: Lots of fads start in California, don’t they? (chuckles)
TOM SULLIVAN: Yeah. So I didn’t really believe it but we started bringing it in and it’s three or four different types of bamboo in our top ten types of floor that are most popular.
LESLIE: Well, I know that bamboo grows super-duper fast. I mean I’ve seen it run rampant in people’s yards even here in the United States. But is it durable because it grows so quickly? What is the strength factor to it?
TOM SULLIVAN: It’s actually a grass, so it grows – you cut it off just above the root and it will grow back just like your lawn will. It can be very strong. There’s – one thing that you have to look for is get older growth bamboo in flooring. If it’s cut before three years, it can be pretty soft. You want to get older growth, which is four or five years old.
TOM: That’s really interesting. Now is that something that should be visible on the packaging? I mean obviously if you go to LumberLiquidators.com, you can identify the types of bamboo flooring very easily there that you offer. But what if the consumer just happens to see bamboo flooring in a store? Is this something that’s standard or do they really have to dig in and ask the questions?
TOM SULLIVAN: No, they need to ask for it. Some of the cheaper bamboo, you’ll see, is early cut bamboo and it’s hard to – some people may not know or be truthful about it but you definitely want to get the older growth bamboo. And there’s also a new type called strand bamboo which is bamboo that’s pretty much woven bamboo fibers, which is very strong.
TOM: That’s interesting. Is that similar, then, in principle, to engineered flooring where you have different layers that are laminated or is it all solid?
TOM SULLIVAN: It’s similar. It’s not solid but it’s bamboo fibers with an adhesive put together and it’s very hard; harder than – it looks different. It’s not like the traditional bamboo. It has more of a woven look to it but …
TOM: Stranded. Interesting, yeah.
LESLIE: Now is it harder to install because of the toughness of the bamboo itself or does it install pretty much like any other laminate or engineered hardwood?
TOM SULLIVAN: There are a couple different ways of installing but it’s – you have the traditional nail-down, which would go down just like a regular hardwood flooring. And then you have glue-down and we also have it in a click-together which you will – no glue, no nails and it just clicks together and it floats. So that’s like an engineered bamboo. The top layer is bamboo and the middle section is like a plywood type.
TOM: We’re talking to Tom Sullivan. He’s the president of Lumber Liquidators and an expert in bamboo flooring.
Now Tom, with so many folks interested in green options, obviously that’s spurring some of the interest in bamboo flooring but it also is a very beautiful product that comes in a lot of colors. Talk about that a bit.
TOM SULLIVAN: Initially, we just got it in the regular natural and carbonized, which are the more traditional bamboo. The natural is like a blonde color and you can either get it with what they call the knuckles showing, which you think of bamboo …
LESLIE: Like the knots on it.
TOM SULLIVAN: Yeah, kind of like a knot. And then the vertical, which is thin strips. And then there’s a carbonized, which is like a caramel color – just a little darker; like a stain on it. But these days, we have it in all kinds of colors: black, white, reddish, hand-scraped; a wide variety of different colors.
TOM: Now Tom, does the product have to be stained or sealed after application? Does it come unfinished or is it always finished?
TOM SULLIVAN: No, typically the bamboo comes all prefinished; prestained and prefinished. So you just put it down and that’s it.
TOM: What about warranties on bamboo flooring?
TOM SULLIVAN: Yes, we have the Morning Star bamboo which is a 30-year warranty on the finish. And then we have a Supreme bamboo with a 15-year warranty. But typically we’ll have a warranty around there on bamboo flooring.
LESLIE: That’s great. And the flooring is so beautiful and we all know that bamboo just grows so quickly. So it really is truly a renewable product.
TOM SULLIVAN: Yeah, and you don’t disturb any of the earth. You just cut it like cutting your grass and it grows like crazy.
TOM: Tom, how does the price of bamboo hardwood flooring compare to other species of flooring?
TOM SULLIVAN: There’s a range. Hand-scraped is going to be more and the stained is going to be a little more, but it’s similar to an oak hardwood flooring as far as price.
TOM: Yeah, and it’s certainly just as tough, if not tougher.
Tom Sullivan, president of Lumber Liquidators, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on the latest in bamboo flooring.
TOM SULLIVAN: Sure, thank you very much.
LESLIE: Alright, up next, tiling your kitchen counters or your backsplash, it’s a very popular project right now. So when we come back, we’re going to share super-easy tips to help you get that project done right the first time.
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: 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: Give us a call right now. We’re going to give away one autographed copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure, to one caller who picks up the phone and gives us a call with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to hear what you’re working on. And maybe you’re considering a kitchen project but you’re suddenly realizing that kitchen makeovers can be kind of expensive. Well, here’s a do-it-yourself project that you can definitely take on that’s really going to boost your confidence and it’s going to give your kitchen new life. So if you’ve got some countertops that are looking a little worse for the wear, ceramic tile is actually a great choice to redo them. And it doesn’t have to end there.
You can actually continue your tile up the backsplash and get a whole, brand, spanking new look. Tile, it’s kind of inexpensive; depending on where you shop and what your budget range is. You can do it affordably or you can shoot for the stars and spend a lot. But it also can be easily installed and it’s really easy to maintain. And there’s actually a new product out there called Bondera TileMatSet. And it’s basically like super-sticky, double-sided adhesive that you can put right down on the countertop and then you stick your tiles to it. It’s also great for the backsplash. Tiles adhere right to it and then you can grout instantly, so that’s really a timesaver and it really works fantastically well.
Now once you’ve got everything tiled and grouted, you want to avoid the hassles of constantly cleaning your grout. So if you can and the tiles work, choose a darker color because that’ll just hide some of the dirt. But even if you go lighter, make sure that once the grout is all dried and cured that you seal the grout. And if you can, find a grout that has an antimicrobial additive that’s going to resist mold growth. If you do those things, that grout will really stay looking clean for a long, long time and suddenly you’ve got a brand, spanking new kitchen.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. Whether you’re working on your kitchen, your bathroom, your basement or any room in between, we are here to help. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jean in North Carolina needs some help with a cleaning project. What can we do for you?
JEAN: Yes, ma’am. Got quite a bit of blood on my nice carpeting and had a professional carpet cleaner in. He put a protein on. It helped but there’s still blood there.
TOM: Do we need to know why you got blood on your carpet?
LESLIE: Should we be calling the authorities?
JEAN: No, I just fell on my nose.
TOM: Oh. Oh.
LESLIE: Oh, and what – that bleeds so much, when you hit your face.
TOM: I hope you weren’t doing a home improvement project at the same time.
LESLIE: Hmm. What color is the carpet? Is it a dark color or is it super-light?
JEAN: It’s solid, dark. It’s a nice blue but a little bit on the dark side.
LESLIE: Hmm. Because generally, a good remover is going to be hydrogen peroxide but that might also take the color out of the carpet.
TOM: I think if you go a little bit at a time and try the hydrogen peroxide and see if it removes the blood without removing the color of the carpet, you may find that you can lighten it up a bit.
JIM: I’ll try it in the corner where no one would see it.
TOM: Give it a shot. Alright, give it a shot. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Amy in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
AMY: Hi. Well, I’ve got trees growing out of my gutters.
TOM: Ah. That’s the first sign that you need to clean them, Amy.
AMY: Yeah, yeah, I know. I am a baby do-it-yourselfer and I’ve just started listening to your show and realizing how important it is to clean out my gutters.
LESLIE: Well, let me guess. Do you have a wet basement, Amy?
AMY: Although it’s not growing mold; it’s doing that mineral deposit thing.
TOM: Yeah, that’s the first sign. That mineral deposit thing is when the water evaporates into the basement space and leaves its minerals behind. But when you get enough water, you’re going to get leaks in those walls, so we’ve got to get those gutters clean. So you’re going to have to do that the hard way. Get up there, clean out all the junk that’s in those gutters and get them free-flowing and then think about some sort of a gutter guard.
AMY: Well, that’s my problem. It has a gutter guard. We have three, very large maples and it keeps the leaves out but now all the whirlybird seeds stick in it.
TOM: OK. What kind of gutter guard is it? Is it like a screen?
AMY: It’s like a mesh net but the holes are just big enough …
AMY: … that it just locks all of them in there and so now it’s clogging around the inner corners really bad.
TOM: Yeah, those – the mesh slows it down but it doesn’t really stop it.
LESLIE: Because what happens is everything sort of just gets mashed and mushed from the weather and the weight of itself through that screen and it still gets in there. There are louvered kinds that sort of overlap one another so that the water kind of moves in and through but everything else washes over.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. You know, when you buy those mesh gutter covers, they come with a hinge for a very good reason, because you’ve got to lift them up and clean the gutters out pretty regularly.
AMY: Oh, good.
TOM: The louvered type that Leslie is talking about, there are a lot of different brands. There are do-it-yourself brands, there are brands that you can have installed like – what’s one? Gutter Helmet, I think, is one of them. And those are more effective at keeping the whirlybirds out.
TOM: But keep those gutters clean; that will keep that basement dry and we won’t be hearing from you the next time it floods.
AMY: And how often should I clean them? Like I’ve never cleaned gutters before.
TOM: OK. Well, the first time …
LESLIE: We do ours four times a year.
TOM: Yeah, the first time you’re going to have a big project but after that, if you stay on top of it – don’t let the trees start growing in the gutter; that’s way too much, OK?
LESLIE: Yeah. (Amy laughs)
TOM: Alright, Amy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, we’re going to talk about mold; where it can and where it can’t grow. You might be surprised. We’ll have a little mold 101 that’ll help keep you safe, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and we already consider you guys our friends, so why not join us on Facebook. If you want to be a fan of us on Facebook, all you need to do is text “Fan TheMoneyPit” to FBOOK at 32665 right from your cell phone and you are going to be instantly added as a fan. You’re going to get a lot of great advice, good articles, good home improvement information there; so sign up today and become a fan. We’d love to have you.
TOM: And while you’re online, shoot us an e-mail just like John did in California who says, “I hear mold will not grow on paperless drywall.” This is true, John. His question, though, is, “Will mold grow on plaster walls? Isn’t plaster a masonry product and not organic?” You are correct, sir. It will not grow on plaster walls but the problem is that most of America, at this point, has drywall which is paper on top of a plaster-like surface and it does grow on the paper. So if you have an older house with all plaster walls, mold will not grow on the plaster.
Now it could grow on the dust that sticks to the plaster. And so, in that way, it can kind of stick there a little bit but even if that’s the case, it’s easier to clean. The paperless drywall you mentioned is a good option for any new construction; especially any below-grade, like a basement. It’s made by Georgia-Pacific. It’s actually called Dens Armor and it’s made so that mold will not grow to it because mold does need an organic material to actually take root.
LESLIE: And you know what, John? It’s also great for the bathroom or even the kitchen if you’re doing some work around the house.
Alright, we’ve got another here from D.C. in Lakewood, California who writes: “I’ve seen droppings of the rodent variety around my garage …” “… and I’m a little nervous that they’re going to get into my house. What can I do?”
TOM: Well, I would ask you what you keep in your garage. You know, many people, for example, keep pet food out there. Anything that’s like that, the rodents can eat; so make sure that you’re storing food properly. Also make sure that you’re not creating nesting zones like, say, piled-up newspaper or firewood around the outside of your house. Or anything of that nature will give those rodents a place to nest.
Check for small holes around the foundation. Rodents only need the space of about the size of your finger to get in. And put out some bait traps. That will actually give you a place to store the bait safely; making it accessible to the rodents but not accessible to your pets.
LESLIE: Alright, D.C., I hope that helps and let’s keep those unwanted visitors outside. OK? (chuckles)
TOM: Well, about now your window screens may be looking a little worse for wear. Perhaps they’re getting a big dirty. Cleaning, though, is not that difficult. Leslie has got some tricks-of-the-trade to do just that in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right, this tip is straight from the book My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. We’ve got a list in there called 30 Under 30 which is 30 home maintenance tips that we promise will actually all take less than 30 minutes.
Now, if your screens are looking a little dingy, you can actually give the screens a bath, so here’s what you need to do.
You want to remove all the screens and, if you have to, label them so you know exactly where they come back to; otherwise, you’re going to be with this crazy puzzle once everything is clean and dry. So once you’ve got all the screens off, you can go ahead and mix up some household cleaner like maybe Mr. Clean or Pine Sol or even plain, old dish detergent works really well; just don’t make it too, too sudsy. And then go ahead and apply whatever cleaner you’re using with a gentle brush and then rinse with a garden hose and let them dry and then reinstall. And it really is a fantastic way to just freshen up your windows because the screens do get pretty yucky over time.
Now if you’re looking for some more great 30 under 30 projects, pick up a copy of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up next week on The Money Pit, have you been looking for a little extra space in your house? Well, how about upgrading the space below grade? A finished basement adds value and gives you much-needed square footage. Just make sure that you do the job right to avoid problems down the road and make sure the basements don’t flood. We’ll tell you exactly how to do that on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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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.)