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Updating Kitchen Cabinets on a Budget, Creating Natural Sound Barriers, and a Ladder That Raises the Bar on Comfort and Safety

  • 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 with your home improvement projects. So, pick up the phone and help yourself, first, by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. It’s warming up outside, finally, after that brutal winter, which means hopefully you’re feeling inspired and energized to take on a project, get started on that project. Maybe you’ve been putting it off up until this point. Let us help you take that very important first step, 888-666-3974.

    Hey, if a kitchen is on your to-do list because, perhaps, your kitchen cabinets are getting older or just need a pick-me-up, you know, you don’t necessarily have to tear them all out. We’ve got some tips, coming up, on how to get a brand-new look for your cabinets without breaking the bank.

    LESLIE: And does the noise outside your home sound like it’s breaking the sound barrier? Well, you can put a stop to that racket with a barrier of your own. We’ve got landscaping contractor Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House stopping by to tell you how.

    TOM: And we’re going to tell you about a new ladder that makes you feel as comfortable and safe as you do when standing on the ground. It’s being released, in just a couple of weeks, at the 2015 National Hardware Show and we’ve got a preview.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour we’re giving away a 25-Foot Magnetic Tape Measure from Milwaukee. It’s worth 25 bucks. And tape measures are always a great addition to your toolbox, especially when it’s this awesome Milwaukee one.

    TOM: And our winner is also going to get a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Mary in Florida is looking to make her kitchen bigger by taking away from her deck. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    MARY: Well, I have a fairly small kitchen/dining-room area and I was wanting to expand it. We have a patio/deck that’s probably about 30×10 feet that’s directly attached to it. There’s glass sliding doors that’s attached to it. We were wanting to find some way that we could enclose that and make that more of an off-season-type area, as opposed to a couple weeks out of the year. We didn’t know if you had any suggestions, ideas?

    TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, Mary, you can’t take your deck and then sort of put four walls on it and a roof and call it an addition, because decks are not designed for that. They’re not really part of the foundation of the home. And I’ve seen a lot of folks do exactly that and ultimately, it catches up with you. Usually, if you try to sell the house or something of that nature, it doesn’t meet the code requirements. It’s just generally a bad idea.

    What you could do for that space, to make it more of a year-round use, might be to consider adding some heating or something of that nature. But it’s always going to be an outdoor space. You can’t take an outdoor deck and turn it into an indoor space. I mean that’s an addition and you can’t just put a door and some walls and a roof and some screening or whatever you’re planning and call that now like an extension of your kitchen. Because it just doesn’t count, OK?

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Edward in western Pennsylvania who’s got a question about insulation. What can we do for you?

    EDWARD: Yes. The rolled-type insulation that’s like a thin film, they call it a “space-age product” that was made that you can’t actually even rip. And it’s supposed to hold the heat in the house, like in an attic. It’s installed in my parents’ house and now there seems to be a problem on the – actually, between the rafters. I noticed it on the sheathing. It’s got a white mold. Not a lot but just a tinge of a white mold that’s appearing. Does this cause a moisture problem in the attic of that house?

    TOM: OK. So, first of all, what you’re talking about is called a “radiant barrier.” And I’ve personally not experienced them to be very effective. In fact, the Department of Energy says on their website that some studies – some studies – show that they can reduce cooling costs by 5 to 10 percent when used in a very warm climate.

    So, for my money, it’s generally not worth it. So if this now is trapping moisture so that the insulation is getting damp – if that’s what’s happening, that’s a bad thing because insulation has to be dry to be effective. So, I wouldn’t be terribly upset if you took it down.

    EDWARD: I see. They actually installed this on the floor. It’s a floored attic and they installed it on the floor.

    TOM: What’s underneath it?

    EDWARD: There is insulation under the – most of it. But where it was floored, I doubt whether there is. And nobody has ever taken that up to look.

    TOM: So, you say this is on the floor. So, you can walk on it?

    EDWARD: Yeah. You’re walking, actually, on it in the attic.

    TOM: It’s like a foil, right?

    EDWARD: Yes, it’s like a very heavy foil and you can’t rip it.

    TOM: So, I – so your question is: should you leave it in place? Does it make a difference? Is that what you’re asking me? And you say it’s starting to tinge?

    EDWARD: Right. And is this going to cause, do you think, a mold issue that could get worse in time?

    TOM: The thing is, if it’s serving as a vapor barrier, it’s basically on the wrong side of the insulation.

    EDWARD: I gotcha.

    TOM: Because vapor barrier goes between the heated and the unheated space. So if it’s on top of the insulation, then it definitely could trap moisture. Because warm, moist air is going to come up from your house and get stuck in that insulation and not ventilate out. You follow me?

    EDWARD: Right, right.

    TOM: It doesn’t make a lot of sense, Ed.

    EDWARD: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. 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, now that we are in the spring season and spring allergies are all abound, if you can tell by my stuffy-sounding self – you know, we’ve got spring allergies, we’ve got spring projects. Let’s find a way to do them together without sneezing in all that sawdust.

    Anyway, we’re here to give you a hand, whatever it is you are working on, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, kitchen makeovers can cost you big but they don’t have to. We’re going to have tips on how you can get a new look in your kitchen without spending new kitchen money, with this week’s Pro Tip, presented by Grayne Shingle Siding from the Tapco Group. That and more when The Money Pit Radio Show continues, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who asks us their question on the air this hour is going to win a great prize. We’ve got the Milwaukee 25-Foot Magnetic Tape Measure, a very handy tool.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know what’s really great about the Milwaukee Tape Measure is that it’s going to hold up as much as 10 times longer against job-site dirt and debris, because it has nylon-blade protection. I know whenever I tend to be doing a project in the dirtiest part of my yard or on an exterior of a client’s home, I always end up dropping my tape measure in the dirt.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: And then they kind of go kaput after that. But this one is going to hold up. And you can find it at The Home Depot and also at HomeDepot.com.

    TOM: And if you take it home, you’re also taking home a signed copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Jerry in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JERRY: We have an all-seasons sunroom. Love the sunroom. It’s a nice size: 12×20. It has a metal roof on it with four panels. We’ve had a leak between the panels, probably for a couple of years now. We’ve tried – had several people look and do (inaudible at 0:09:04) things with it.

    The person we bought it from – the company we bought it from – has since gone out of business. And so, we’ve called another dealer – an installer – in Nashville. And so what he suggested to us is that they coat the entire roof with a rubber coating. He said that that has been successful in the past. He said, “If you want to, you could put shingles on top of it.”

    TOM: That seems like a really dumb idea.

    JERRY: So, this is something you don’t recommend?

    TOM: Well, the thing is, for as long as we’ve had metal roofs, there have been roofers that want to coat them with rubber or coat them with tar or something. In the old days, when you had real metal roofs, they would last forever, pretty much. And if they developed any leaks, you’d basically take them apart and reassemble them and fix it. But at some point, a roofer shows up on site and covers that thing with tar or rubber or something and that marks the beginning of the end for the roof. Because water still finds its way underneath and now it starts to rust away the material.

    If you’re convinced that this is in the seam, it seems to me that it shouldn’t be terribly complicated to figure out which seam is causing the leak. What I would try to do is I would try to disassemble some of the roof, if anything. Because, obviously, it had to be put together. And so I would try to disassemble some of those panels so that I could get a good layer of sealant – some good-quality silicone is probably what I would use – in between those seams where they’re leaking. I would also get the hardware. Because sometimes the bolts and the screws that put those together have a rubber sort of washer underneath and that can break down. And I would seal those with silicone.

    But I would go up and seal all those seams with silicone way before I would think about just slapping some tar on it and putting some shingles over top. I just think that’s kind of a waste.

    JERRY: Yeah, we – of course, we are so frustrated. We’ve been dealing with this for several years now. We’ve had several people who were not roofers or sun people – sunroom people – look at it and it’s just not been successful.

    TOM: Yeah. The thing is, you can figure out, strategically, Jerry, where exactly the leak is if you go up there with a hose and just start at one end and very slowly drag it across the roof until you create the leak. You can get a pretty good idea of where the weak spot is and kind of narrow down your attack from there.

    JERRY: Our problem is that it doesn’t leak in just a normal rain. It’s when you get a really heavy rain.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah. I hear you. Well, again, same thing. I might see if I could – I might try it with a hose to see if I can figure out where it’s leaking, maybe even spray water up into it. But the thing is, those seams are all repairable, OK? They’re all sealable. They went down once; they can go down again. I would definitely not go right to the point where I’m covering that whole thing up. OK?

    JERRY: OK. Hey, listen, Tom and Leslie, we thank you.

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

    Well, kitchens are one place in the house where most of us spend a lot of time. But if you ever feel like your kitchen cabinets are dated, drab, dull, you’re just done with them, it might not be your favorite room.

    Now, the good news is that while many folks think kitchen makeovers have to be very expensive, there are actually options for getting a new look without breaking the bank. You could do things like simply replacing, refacing or just refinishing the cabinets. Costs a lot less. And we’ve got tips on that in this week’s Pro Tip, presented by Grayne Shingle Siding from the Tapco Group.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s like the three Rs – reading, writing, arithmetic – but different. It’s for the kitchen.

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: So, let’s review the difference between these three Rs. First of all, we’re talking about replacing. Now, of course, that’s just that: you tear out and then you start again. You replace when you really want to reconfigure the layout or when the existing boxes – the cabinet itself, not the doors, we’re talking about – when the boxes are just junky.

    Now, refacing is when you resurface the cabinets with new doors, drawer fronts and hardware. And that can be less expensive and can actually make a dramatic difference without breaking the bank.

    TOM: Yeah. But first, you have to determine if the cabinet is a candidate for refacing. You should be happy with the existing configuration, because refacing really doesn’t change that layout or any new cabinets.

    Cabinets should also be good quality, structurally speaking. For example, if you’ve got some very inexpensive particle-board-built cabinets, there’s no sense refacing that because it’s just not going to stand up very long.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, the last R is refinishing. And refinishing a cabinet is probably your most cost-effective move since repainting or restaining – it’s really a great do-it-yourself project that delivers good results. And with the trend in cabinet doors, like gray and white, painting really can be an inexpensive option that can update your kitchen very easily.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Pro Tip, presented by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from the Tapco Group. The uncompromising beauty of Grayne’s 5-inch shingle siding offers the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com – that’s G-r-a-y-n-e.com – or ask your pro today.

    LESLIE: Margaret in Arkansas is on the line with at tiling question. What can we do for you?

    MARGARET: I’ve got a big imagination. I was hoping that there was a product out there that would equal it.


    MARGARET: I’ve got an old floor that I was hoping that I could maybe fill the cracks and the little places it’s chipped out and then refinish the whole floor to where it looked like new.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s – I would not pursue that. Because you know what? First of all, the reason it cracked is probably because the subfloor wasn’t properly installed or has weakened for some reason. Because tiles don’t bend. And if they’re cracking, that means that the floor is weak underneath.

    So, except for the occasional odd repair when you’re just fixing like one or two broken tiles, it’s not the kind of thing that you want to invest any time in whatsoever.

    MARGARET: So, the best thing is just to take it up or …?

    TOM: You can either take it up or you could actually put a new floor on top of that if you don’t want it to be tile. You could, for example, install a laminate floor on top of that, which goes down in interlocking pieces. And then that sort of floats on top of the tile; it’s not physically attached. It just sort of stays in place by its own weight. It’s really beautiful and very durable stuff and not too expensive. Certainly a lot less expensive than redoing the tile floor.

    MARGARET: OK. Laminate is what it’s called.

    TOM: Laminate. It’s called laminate floor. Lots and lots of different types out there.

    MARGARET: OK. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Tony in Florida is dealing with some not-so-energy-efficient appliances. Tell us what’s going on.

    TONY: Yes. I have a Trane 19-SEER, 3-ton unit. It has a dual-compressor on there. I also have a Pentair variable-speed pool pump and one of those heat pump – GE water heater.

    TOM: OK.

    TONY: And as far as I’m concerned, those are the two appliances that would be responsible for my big energy bill.

    TOM: OK.

    TONY: After installing those appliances, I am still looking at an energy bill ranging between 180 and 2.

    TOM: Wow. That’s expensive.

    TONY: Yeah.

    TOM: So, let me ask you something about the heat – the Trane unit that you put in. When you put that in, did you just replace the compressor outside or did you also replace any of the internal parts?

    TONY: The full unit, as well as replace and re-duct.

    TOM: A couple of things that you can check. One of which is to have the HVAC contractor – or if you know how to do this, check the amperage draw for the compressor when it’s running. That can be done from the electrical panel with an amp probe. See if we’re pulling any excessive amperage. I’m wondering if anything is broken in the compressors or the fan system that’s causing it to pull more power than it should. So, you can check that against the manufacturer’s specification on both the heat pump, frankly. The heat pump, it’s a heat-pump water heater, correct?

    TONY: Yeah.

    TOM: So, check the draw. Secondly, is there any other major consuming appliance in the house? How are you cooking? Are you cooking with electric heat – with electricity, I should say?

    TONY: Yes. I’m cooking with a heat-induction stove.

    TOM: Heat-induction stove, OK. So, you are using quite a bit of power for that. What I want is to get to the point where we’re breaking this down, on a case-by-case basis, to try to figure this out.

    Here’s what I want to tell you to do, OK? You’ve got a lot going on in that house. This would be a really good case for an energy audit. There are energy auditors that you could usually find through your local utility company or you can find them independently. And in many areas of the country, there are rebates for these or they’re even free.

    Energy auditors can come in and look at every source of energy that’s being consumed in that house, as well as insulation, windows and doors, things like this. And the nice thing about an energy auditor is they’re not there to sell you stuff, you know? Sometimes, when you call a contractor and say, “I want an efficient heating system,” they sell you what they want to sell you. Energy auditors are kind of like home inspectors but they specialize in energy efficiency. And they can do an independent evaluation of all of the elements in the house and help you very accurately pin down where that energy is going.

    Sometimes it’s free because it’s paid for by the utility companies. In fact, some utility companies, as a condition of licensing, are required to provide energy auditors or low-cost auditors. Find a good one. Research them carefully and get an energy audit done of your house. And I think that that will help you stop speculating on where the power – where the energy is being used and where it’s not and get some real, factual data that could help you make some intelligent decisions on how to cut those costs. Does that make sense?

    TONY: Oh, yeah, that makes perfect sense.

    LESLIE: Hey, guys. When you’re opening your windows because it’s spring and you want to bring in that nice, fresh air, are you also getting a bunch of loud noise coming in with it? Well, This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook is here with a natural solution for some peace and quiet. Thank goodness. That’s coming up.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: When you’re ready to search for a home, start at Realtor.com. Realtor.com is the most accurate home search site. And be sure to work with a realtor to help you through the process. Realtor.com and realtors. Together, we make home happen.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, you know what? My suitcase is already packed.

    TOM: Already?

    LESLIE: That is how super-excited I am for the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. I know it’s not tomorrow but it is coming up fast and I like to be prepared. And when you’re a single mom, any time to get out of the house is always fantastic.

    So I’m really excited for that but also for the amazing, new products that Tom and I are going to get to see at this invitation-only show. Not only do we get to just drool over all the cool, new products – though we’ll be doing lots of that – we’re going to tell you about it, too. So we’ll wipe away the drool to share the fun stories.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And The Money Pit’s Top Products Pavilion will be set up right there on the floor of the National Hardware Show. And remember, you can’t go to this but we can. And why we go is because we get to check out the newest products that are going to hit the market.

    And one that’s already getting lots of attention is this new Krylon SUPERMAXX. It’s a spray paint that eliminates the need for sanding, priming or prepping of any surface. Pretty much everything you hate about painting, this Krylon SUPERMAXX eliminates.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Who do I talk to over at Krylon to get all those hours of my life back that I would have saved had SUPERMAXX been around during the Trading Spaces/While You Were Out years? I mean come on, hours and hours. Think of all the more furniture I could have painted.

    You more or less just shake it and go, no matter what you’re painting. And SUPERMAXX’s easy, push-spray tip is two times easier to hold down than most typical aerosol spray tips. So your push finger is not going to hurt and get covered in spray paint, which always would happen. Not with SUPERMAXX.

    TOM: Krylon’s SUPERMAXX at the National Hardware Show this year. You can hear more about it and other hot Krylon products on Twitter. And also, follow us at the hashtag #TopProductsNHS.

    LESLIE: Tim in Rhode Island, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    TIM: Purchased a house approximately five years ago. And they had recently replaced the outside shingles around the entire house and it looked very pretty. In a couple years, it’s turned gray and so I took a power washer and I stripped it all down and it looked very pretty again. And last year, I ended up doing the same thing again but I – if I keep doing this, it’s probably going to end up with no shingles on the house at all.

    So, (audio gap) I’m wondering is, do you have any recommendations on what I might or might not treat it with? I thought of Thompson’s WaterSeal or something like that and then I said that (inaudible at 0:22:21) came from this one and that one – “Don’t seal cedar shakes.” And I said, “Well, I don’t know what to do.”

    TOM: Here’s the deal. So, you put the cedar on, it looks great and then it oxidizes and turns gray. Now, if you use red cedar, it will turn like a dark, kind of yucky gray, which people don’t like. If you use white cedar, then it kind of turns to that sort of pleasant, almost New England-looking gray, which people love.

    If you’ve got red cedar shingles, what you have to do is stain them. There’s nothing wrong with this. I’ve got a house that’s got red cedar shingles. And the way we stain them enabled the stain to last over 20 years, which is virtually unheard of. But here’s what you do. What you do is prime them first with an oil-based primer and then you apply a solid-color stain on top of that.

    Now, stain comes in solid-color and semi-transparent. Solid-color has more pigment in it and lasts the longest. And if you do it in that way – if you prime it first and then put the solid-color stain – you’ll get, easily, 15, 20 years of life out of that siding.

    Now, the solid-color stain doesn’t look like paint. It’s not coated. You’ll still see the wood grain sort of showing through but it really looks nice and you’re not going to have to deal with this. You’re right: if you keep pressure-washing these, you’re basically taking years off the life of this, because cedar is really soft. And if you keep stripping off that outside layer, you’re not going to have a lot left.

    So, I would let them get good and dry. I would have it primed and then stained on top of that. It can be done all by brush or by roller. You put a lot of material on it. The last time we had our house done was actually about a year ago now. And it was all applied by roller and brush and it looks fantastic. And the time before that was literally 20 years ago, so that’s how long it lasted.

    TIM: That helps me a lot. I really appreciate your advice.

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

    LESLIE: Well, road noise assaulting your ears day in and day out can really wear on your nerves and interfere with the peace and quiet you want to feel when you’re at home.

    TOM: But if you’d like to muffle the noise before it even reaches your walls, you might want to consider adding trees to create a natural and a beautiful sound barrier in your yard. Here to tell us how is This Old House landscaping expert Roger Cook.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me.

    TOM: So, many people use fences to quiet a yard but that can only help so much, right?

    ROGER: Right. Because there’s restrictions on how high a fence can be. The great thing about using trees is there’s no restriction on how high they can get.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point.

    So, trees reduce the perception of noise by sort of creating a visual barrier between the source and the hearer. But people are also less conscious of noise if they can’t see the source, right?

    ROGER: Exactly. It’s a study that was done that says if you can’t see where the noise is coming from, it mentally blocks some of the sound.

    LESLIE: That’s interesting.

    TOM: You can’t see it if it doesn’t exist.

    LESLIE: Right.

    ROGER: Right. There you go. Yeah.

    But noise is noise and it’s very interesting how it can weave its way through different things to get to where you want to be.

    LESLIE: So when it comes to placement of these trees, do you want it to be closer to the noise source, closer to the house or can you go right in the middle?

    ROGER: Right in the middle is probably the worst spot. Ideally, you want to be as close to the noise source as you can.

    LESLIE: And I think in your ideal mind, you want these bushes or shrubs or trees, whatever you’re using, to be really close to one another. But you’ve got to give them the proper space to sort of grow into their own, right?

    ROGER: Well, it’s a fine line on what you want to accomplish right away. And you can pick certain types of trees that will grow upright so that they will grow into each other and become a living hedge, which could get 8, 10, 12 feet tall and really knock down the noise. If you pick out trees that get too big, then you’re going to end up pruning off some of the branches, which will let the sound through again.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Now, when it comes to choosing the trees, I guess you want to decide if you’re going to have this deciduous tree, so that’s going to leaf in the spring and the summer, or an evergreen that’s going to be green all year round. Because without the leaves, you’re certainly not going to get the same kind of sound protection, right?

    ROGER: Right. So it depends where the noise is coming from and what’s bothering you. Are you out on your patio when this noise is bothering you and is it different in the winter? If it’s just when you’re out on the patio, then you could use big, deciduous trees with large, large leaves on them to knock down the noise. If it’s something you’re trying to – like road noise you’re trying to block all year round, then you’re better off going with evergreens.

    TOM: Now, before you make that final determination, I guess it’s important to know your hardiness zone?

    ROGER: Yes. You know, there is a USDA map that shows everyone’s hardiness zone. And you want plants that’ll survive and grow well in that zone, so it’s important to pick out the right plants for the right spot.

    LESLIE: Yeah, we used Leyland cypress to do this in our yard.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And I mean it’s amazing how tall they’ve grown over the 11 years we’ve had the house. They’ve been 20 feet tall consistently since about 3 years after we planted them. They’re fantastic.

    ROGER: Right.

    TOM: And how is the noise working out?

    LESLIE: Those neighbors moved but it was a really …

    TOM: See? So they worked perfectly.

    LESLIE: It worked great. But it really was an excellent sound buffer.

    ROGER: Right. But if I plant leylandii cypress up here, maybe every four or five years it gets so cold they get knocked back or killed.

    LESLIE: Really?

    ROGER: Yep. So we use arborvitae instead of Leyland cypress.

    TOM: So, again, you’ve really got to know your zone and choose the plant that’s appropriate for your part of the country.

    ROGER: Yeah, it’s an investment. Like Leslie just said, they grow and they grow and grow. And they only get better and better.

    LESLIE: They really do.

    ROGER: They not only knock down sound for wildlife and birds and everything else. So, choose the right plant for the right spot.

    TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me.

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

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Coming up next on The Money Pit, when you climb a ladder to do a job, your heart rate usually climbs a bit, too. Well, finally, there’s a ladder with added safety and lots of added convenience. It’s brand new and we’ll tell you about it, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.

    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.

    Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. One lucky caller who asks us their question on the air this hour is going to win the Milwaukee 25-Foot Magnetic Tape Measure. It’s reinforced and it’s got a frame that will provide drop protection and dual magnets to hold onto steel studs. So you can easily measure things on your own without that crazy reaching or having a pal to help you with the project.

    You can learn more about it at HomeDepot.com.

    TOM: Our winner also takes home a signed copy of the book written by Leslie and me: My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. So call us, right now, for your chance to win both prizes at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if it’s been a long time since you’ve bought a new ladder, it’s probably because there’s really been no reason to. Ladders have been clunky and quite frankly, nerve-racking, since the beginning of time. And they’ve really more or less stayed that way, until now.

    TOM: Yep. And the new Werner Podium Ladders are available in fiberglass and aluminum and they reach up to 9 feet. And what I like about these is that they provide the comfort and ease you’ve always wanted while you’re up on a job. Because not only do they let you work facing any direction, there’s a large standing platform and kind of a wraparound guardrail, which is great because it keeps you feeling safe and it’s very comfortable. And all of your tools can be within reach.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s got a holster-top tool holder with a lock-in system built right into that guardrail. So you don’t have to balance things, like a toolbox or a tool belt, or reach dangerously for supplies that you’ve kind of put places while you’re on top of a ladder.

    TOM: Werner’s Podium Ladders are available at The Home Depot. You can learn more at HomeDepot.com.

    LESLIE: Pat in Illinois needs some help with a leak. Tell us what’s going on.

    PAT: I got new, enlarged gutters and downspouts on. And they cut a trough out to the – my field, which is OK. We’ve had some torrential downpours and this hasn’t, obviously, been lately but I got flooding in my basement. And I was told that there’s a trough that is next to my block basement that is either inside or outside. I could see, visually, it coming in underneath my stairs as I cut away the drywall and I’m not sure – because, unfortunately, the company that did it is out of business – if my trough is inside or outside.

    TOM: Does the rainfall precipitate the flood? In other words, does it always flood after a heavy rain?

    PAT: It never flooded. I built the basement on in an addition 12 years after I built the house for, really, a storm shelter. And it never did until I put the new, improved, larger gutters/larger downspouts on.

    TOM: Right. So, obviously, it’s – the issue is with the drainage of these spouts. And when you have an area that’s susceptible to flooding, you need to discharge the water at least 4 to 6 feet from the foundation, if not further. I mean I – if it’s possible, I like to run the pipes out underground and take them to a dry well or take them to daylight somewhere if the property is set up such where you can get away with that. But you’ve got to manage the drainage.

    And it’s great that you got the bigger gutters because they’re not going to clog as easily. But wherever these downspouts are hitting, that water has got to get far away from the house.

    PAT: I think that was the case. I think what has happened is the abundance of rain that came over the gutters, based on the mass that it came down – and again, it probably has happened before but it never flooded down there.

    TOM: Pat, whenever you get a flood that’s consistent with rainfall, it’s always, always, always drainage, OK? It’s not rising water tables or any of that other kind of stuff. It’s always drainage, always. So, it’s a clogged gutter, it’s a downspout that’s dropping water too close to the house, it’s soil that’s sloped back into the wall. Fix the drainage, you’ll fix the flood, guaranteed.

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

    LESLIE: Up next, is your hot water out before you are? Well, we’re going to share some causes to what might be up with those cold showers, when The Money Pit continues.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And hey, let’s take a moment to welcome a brand-new affiliate to The Money Pit family: WLOE in Eden, North Carolina. It’s 1490 on the dial.

    We look forward to helping you with your home improvement headaches, North Carolina.

    LESLIE: Alright. And let’s get started. We’ve got one right here, a post from Jeff in North Carolina who writes: “I purchased a water heater from my brother-in-law’s plumbing-supply company. I was …”

    TOM: Stop right there. This cannot have a good ending.

    LESLIE: I know. I’m like, “Oh, no, you bought it at a” – alright. So he says, “I thought I needed a 40-gallon heater but realized afterward that I should have bought a 50-gallon tank. They will not let me return it or exchange it. I have a 2,700-square-foot, 2-story home with 3 full baths. There are four adult family members living here but only my wife and I take showers in the morning. Do you think a 40-gallon, gas water heater will be enough to replace the 50-gallon, gas water heater, which is about 20 years old?”

    Well, first of all, get that 20-year-old one out of the house before it bursts.

    TOM: First of all, if it’s still in the box, you know, there’s no reason your brother-in-law shouldn’t be taking it back. If you’ve installed it, then I can – it’s a different situation, because you can’t sell a used water heater.

    But aside from the family squabble, I think a 50-gallon water heater is the right size for your home because you have three full baths.

    LESLIE: Is there a formula, Tom? There has to be.

    TOM: Well, there is. And if you have 1 to 1½ baths, I think a 40 gallon works. But when you go to 3 full baths, you’re definitely talking 50-gallon, gas water heater, because you’re just not going to be able to recover water quick enough.

    Now, the silver lining in this case might be that you’re only going to have two family members living in the house. And if that’s the case, you probably can get by on the 40. But the problem is that if you sell your house, you’re going to have a grossly undersized water heater. The new buyer is not going to be happy about running out of hot water quickly.

    So, if you’ve already paid for it, if it’s already installed, I think you’re stuck with it at this point. But it really isn’t the right size for your home.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Lynn in Virginia who writes: “I need to replace my roof, which has solar panels installed for heating my pool. What do I need to watch out for when talking to roofing contractors? The panels have to be removed and then reinstalled upon completion of the roof. Every roofing contractor reassures me that this is not a problem. However, I’m skeptical.”

    TOM: I’d be skeptical, too, because unless roofing contractors are working on solar installations on the side, they’re not going to have, necessarily, the skill set to disassemble and reassemble these panels. In fact, I might consider hiring the original solar-panel company that did the installation or somebody, at least, that’s in this business to do the disassembly and the reassembly. Because I just don’t feel like it’s a skill that a roofer is necessarily going to have. I mean most roofers are trained to rip off that roof as quickly as possible, right down to the sheathing, get it covered, get it reroofed lickety-split.

    They’re not mechanics, in the sense where they’re doing a lot of installation of mechanical elements, which is essentially what this is like, say, a plumber or an HVAC contractor might be. These guys are – they’re kind of nail-bangers. They’re skilled but they’re not into the mechanical side of the business; it’s more of a structural side of it. And so I’d be very nervous about having their folks do it, unless they had somebody that really – they could prove to you specialized in that sort of work.

    I’d have the panels removed, set aside safely. Then you can have the roof removed and replaced and then the panels reinstalled.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s the best bet. This way you know that they’re stored, they’re going to be well taken care of and then they’ll be put back properly. I wouldn’t just mess around. That’s a big investment.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com on this beautiful spring weekend. We hope we’ve given you some tips and ideas on projects that you’d like to get done around your house. We are available, 24-7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. You can always call the show when a question just pops up that you just don’t know the answer to. And if we are not in the studio, you know what happens: we call you back the next time we are.

    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 2015 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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