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Which Type of Countertops Are the Most Earth Friendly, How to Silence Noisy Plumbing, Getting Value Out of a Storage Shed, and more

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We are here to help you with your home improvement project. We want to help solve our do-it-yourself dilemma. If you don’t know where to start, what to buy, how to get the job done, who you should hire, pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Whether it’s a do-it-yourself project or one you want to hire out, we can help you take those all-important first steps to get the project done right.

    Coming up this hour on The Money Pit, St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and there could not be a more perfect time to talk about greening your home. No, not in shades of chartreuse and lime but with green building materials. So we’re going to talk about some Earth-friendly countertops that you might want to consider for your kitchen.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And also, have you ever heard your pipes make a sound that kind of sounds something like a jackhammer, like guh-guh-guh-da-da-da-da (ph) or even a moan or maybe a whistle? Well, chances are that your house is not haunted but your plumbing may be. But really, it just might need some attention to quiet all those noises. And we’re going to share some solutions, in just a bit.

    TOM: And what do you do when your lawn equipment, your bicycles and your tools take over your garage, leaving no room for your car? Sounds like my garage. We’ve got storage solutions that we’re going to talk about, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, one caller chosen at random this hour is going to get a high-performance drinking-water system, with maximum filtration, from Filtrete. So that means no more expensive bottled water.

    TOM: It’s worth $99. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question. It could be you, so pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Sally in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    SALLY: We just bought a second home and I’m not sure – it looks like it’s concrete. It’s a very – there’s really high-end appointments throughout the house but I think the hearth is concrete. And it’s just got lots of really big, nasty, black stains on it. And a very close friend, who’s the son of a mason, suggested that we try CLR and it just didn’t really make any of those stains budge. So I’m wondering if you know of something that might help lift those marks.

    TOM: One thing that you could try is trisodium phosphate – TSP. It’s available usually in the painting aisle of a hardware store or a home center.

    SALLY: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: And you mix it up with water …

    LESLIE: Into a paste.

    TOM: A little – yeah, a little bit of a pasty kind of a thickness to it.

    SALLY: OK.

    TOM: And you want to apply it with a scrub brush, something with a pretty long bristle? And try to work one area of the hearth and see what kind of a job it does. It does tend to lift out stains in masonry surfaces, so we recommend it a lot when you have an oil stain on a driveway or something like that. So I would give that a try and see if that brightens it up. I’m sure it will.

    SALLY: OK. Well, gosh, thank you so much for letting me be on the show and I’ll try the TSP plan.

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

    LESLIE: Tom in North Carolina is getting ready for tax season. How can we help you with that?

    TOM IN NORTH CAROLINA: I’m getting ready to put a new heat pump in this week and I read a while back in the paper that they were extending the tax break for heat pumps. But I’ve also had somebody – people tell me, “No, that’s not true.” Well, this is getting – actually it’s – my unit is 12 years old. It’s just going to naturally be a whole lot more efficient. Do you have any idea if that is true about the tax break or do I file for that or …?

    TOM: Yeah, it actually is true. It’s called the Non-Business Energy Property Credit and it’s a credit that’s offered for the installation of products that are going to help you use less energy in the house. And certainly, a heat pump can do that.

    There’s a $500 lifetime cap on the credit and different improvements qualify for different types of caps. So, the energy credit is – was reinstated and it is effective for improvements, even those that were done in 2012. And it runs through the end of 2013, so I think it’s a really good time to do that.

    Now, you mentioned that you have a heat pump. Are you thinking about just replacing the one you have? Have you considered geothermal? Because if you consider a geothermal heat pump, there’s even a bigger credit on that and that’s 30 percent of the cost of the installation.

    TOM IN NORTH CAROLINA: Yeah, that’s what I read but I did not know the difference. But the guy that’s going to put it in told me that, yeah. But that thermal thing, it was very expensive compared to what – this thing’s going to cost me about four grand, both inside and outside unit.

    TOM: Yeah, the geothermal systems are more expensive but look at what they’re going to cost when you get a 30-percent tax credit on it, because it does dramatically reduce the cost.

    TOM IN NORTH CAROLINA: Thank you. I appreciate it. And I love your show; I listen to it every week.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, spring is just a few short weeks away, so how can we help you get ready for this beautiful season of growth? Give us a call. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, more and more Americans are looking to sustainable or renewable building materials when they renovate. Coming up, we’ve got tips on picking the greenest option in countertops, after this.

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

    (theme song)

    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: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and we’re giving away a great prize. It’s a Filtrete High-Performance Drinking-Water System for your home and it delivers maximum filtration. You simply install it yourself and it filters out all kinds of contaminants, like lead and microbes and other stuff that you don’t want your family drinking. It’s worth $99. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us on today’s show at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    You can check out Filtrete.com for more information or call us at 888-MONEY-PIT for your answer and your chance to win.

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

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

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


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

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

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

    SHIRLEY: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Hugo in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    HUGO: I’m redoing my kitchen and bathroom. And I’m wondering what you would recommend for flooring it. I’ve got carpet in it now and I sincerely dislike the carpet. And I want to put something else in and would you recommend a composite material or vinyl or linoleum or what?

    TOM: Well, I can’t think of two rooms that are worse for carpeting than kitchens and bathrooms.

    HUGO: I know. Tell me about it. I bought the house seven years ago and it had that in it, so …

    TOM: Yeah. Bad décor choice but I think you can do a lot better. I think one thing that you might want to take a look at is laminate flooring, because laminate flooring can come in a wide range of designs. I mean it can look like tile, it can look like stone or it could look like wood. And it’s really durable when it comes to moist/damp places.

    HUGO: What about – will a stove and refrigerator leave dents in it?

    TOM: I’ve had laminate flooring down in my kitchen for 10 years and we pull the refrigerator out whenever it’s necessary. I never worry about it.

    HUGO: Well, I appreciate the information. I thank you and I’ll look into it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, we’re going green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, only our green may be a little different than most. You know, we’re not talking about green beer or a green canal in Chicago. We’re talking green in terms of eco-friendly and specifically, eco-friendly kitchens.

    Now, one of the easy ways that you can be kind to the Earth is through your choice of countertops.

    TOM: You might not get absolutely everything you want in an Earth-friendly countertop but there are some things to think about.

    Stone countertops, for example, are beautiful, they’re natural and they’re durable but they are not, surprisingly, renewable. Mining of any kind affects the land and water quality.

    Another option is solid surfacing. It’s beginning to catch up in terms of Earth-friendliness, because some counters are made of recycled plastics. But in the end, the product often ends up in the landfill.

    LESLIE: So, what are the most Earth-friendly choices out there? Well, both ceramic tile and glass tile come from recycled materials and they can then be recycled when you’re done using them. Another green option is concrete and that’s really gaining in popularity.

    TOM: And if this idea intrigues you, you can learn more about green countertops by searching “green kitchen countertops” at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lu from North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a water-pressure issue. How can we help you today?

    LU: I don’t have any water pressure in my house and I wonder how to make the water pressure a bit higher.

    TOM: Now, has this always been a problem or is it a recent problem?

    LU: I think it’s always been a problem.

    TOM: Yeah. How old is your house, Lu?

    LU: Forty-three years old.

    TOM: Is it a well-water system or is it a city-water system?

    LU: I don’t know.

    TOM: Do you pay a water bill?

    LU: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. So it’s city water, then, if you’re paying a water bill.

    So, then, what I would do is this: I would start by having the water pressures checked at the street and find out what the water pressure is coming into your house. It needs to be between about 50 and 80 pounds or so to give you decent water pressure.

    If there’s good water pressure at the street, then we have to go inside and start to figure out where it’s being restricted. It could be by the pipe, it could be by the water valve or it could be by fixtures. But if it’s evenly poor across the entire house, it’s more likely to be somewhere near the main water valve. It could be partially closed, it could be obstructed with mineral deposits.

    But I would start by contacting the water company and tell them that the water pressure in your house is not acceptable and then have them test the water pressure at the main for – where it comes into your house and see what’s going on. It could be that there’s a problem at the main that they could fix right there without even having to come in your house. OK, Lu?

    LU: OK, OK. I’ll contact them.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Richard in Washington on the line who’s doing an addition and needs a hand. What can we do for you today?

    RICHARD: Actually, here’s what I’ve got. I’ve got a house built in 1938: a footprint – essentially, a shape like a cross.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: The bottom portion of that cross used to be the garage. They turned it into living space and what they simply did with that bottom left quadrant, they poured about a 4-foot-high concrete wall.

    What I’m wanting to do is try to gain as much ceiling height as possible. It’s currently framed with 2×10 for the ceiling joists. And I just didn’t know if some of the new engineered lumber would allow me to perhaps get away with something a little shallower while still retaining the strength. But need to go 16 on center – pardon me, 12 on center instead of 16. I’m willing to do that.

    TOM: So, Richard, let me ask – let me stop you, OK, because you’ve got a complicated question. And my first question to you about this is: do you have an architect working with you on this project?

    RICHARD: Not currently.

    TOM: You need one, OK?


    TOM: This is not a do-it-yourself, general-contracting kind of project. You’ve got a house that you started with that’s got problems. It sounds like – it definitely sounds like the guy before you didn’t have an architect; otherwise, he wouldn’t have designed all these drainage problems into it. And then the guy that came before that, that originally built the house, didn’t have an architect: at least one that knew what he was doing. You, my friend, need an architect.

    An architect can look at this situation, address these questions in terms of the design, the elevation and spec out the lumber that you’re going to need to get you where you want to go. Yes, will TJIs or laminated beams help you get more span with less depth? Yes, they will. But it’s an engineering problem to figure out which ones you use and how you lay it all together.

    So I would tell you, “Stop, right now.” Stop wasting time trying to figure this out on your own and focus on finding an architect to help you. You will be spending some money on this design. It will be well worth it. You will avoid a whole host of problems with the design later on. And secondly, you’re also going to have a set of specs that you can use to go to different contractors and get some prices. So that’s definitely your next step.

    RICHARD: OK. I guess that covers it.

    TOM: Richard, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Darlene in Iowa is on the line who’s got a leaky roof. Tell us what’s going on.

    DARLENE: I have got a three-season room that was built onto the house that I purchased and it was attached to the original home. And I’ve been fighting with a leak in that area. And I used some BLACK JACK for a sealant where the shingles come over onto the three-season room area. It’s a flat roof.

    TOM: So, I think that what’s happened here, Darlene, is that the junction between the three-season room and the roof was probably not correctly done. The BLACK JACK stuff you are talking about is, obviously, a temporary coal-tar patch type of a product. And that might give you a short-term solution but it definitely will not give you a long-term solution.

    If you’re having this kind of a long-term problem, what I would do is I would take the roof apart at the intersection between the three-season room and the main roof and then I would reinstall it, making sure that I address whatever the imperfection is.

    So, I suspect that since it might have been added after the fact, that it wasn’t flashed correctly. So, if you were to pull that off and use ice-and-water shield, which is like this rubberized material, under that junction between the three-season room and then the main roof and go up from there and make sure everything overlaps properly so that the water runs down and not back up, that will solve it.

    But short of doing that, you’re only going to be making very small gains in terms of slowing down this leak. So I would encourage you to stop using the temporary patch material, to take the roof apart and then fix it right so that you won’t have to be bothered with it again. Because if you don’t, there could be long-term problems: it could cause rot to the roof sheathing, as well. Even though you don’t see the water below, it could be leaking very slowly into the roof sheathing. So that’s the way to fix it once, fix it right and not have to worry about it again.

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

    LESLIE: Barbara in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    BARBARA: We’re restoring my mother-in-law’s 130-year-old home. Not that she’s 130 but this home is.


    BARBARA: And I’m having a problem with the carpenter. I want to put in pocket doors and for some reason, he keeps telling me not to do that. He doesn’t want to do it. It’s not structural; it’s just he doesn’t want to do it.

    TOM: Yeah. And you know what, Barbara? I mean a pocket door is a lot of work. And maybe that’s why he’s trying to talk you out of it. It will be far more expensive than a normal door to install because, essentially, it’s not just a door; it’s a wall, too. You have to put in the pocket side of it in addition to the door side of it. And that means that you have to kind of re-drywall that whole section so that it truly is a disappearing door.

    That said, I’ve got a pocket door in my office and I love it because I don’t have room for the swing. And we’ve got a full-size, 30-inch by 72 or – I’m sorry, 30-inch by 80-inch door in this pocket that swings into the wall. But I remember the process of getting this thing in and it is a lot of work. So that might be why your contractor is a little reluctant to take it on.

    BARBARA: Do you have some words of wisdom I can share with him to encourage him to do that?

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, tell him to expand his horizons, that the customer is always right and you want your pocket door and you’re willing to pay for it, pay him to do it. And he’s probably working by the hour, “so stop whining and get to work.”

    LESLIE: And phrase it exactly like that. No, don’t.

    TOM: Just like that. “Stop whining and get to work.”

    BARBARA: I like it. That’s great.

    TOM: Alright, Barbara. 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, houses make a lot of noises but maybe you’re hearing a squeak or a moan or even a loud jackhammering sound coming from, maybe, behind your walls. Well, these are all sounds that your plumbing can make and it’s really its best way of letting you know that it needs some attention. So, up next, This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey will be joining us with tips to fix those noisy pipes.

    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 hey, if you are one of the 500 million people tweeting away on Twitter, make sure you follow The Money Pit. We send out timely information that can help you take care of your home year-round. We also tweet info on giveaways and new articles. You can find us, @MoneyPit, on Twitter.com.

    LESLIE: Well, if you love old homes, you know that they can definitely have personalities. And some of that personality can come out in the way of a noisy plumbing system.

    TOM: With us to talk about some of those sometimes mysterious sounds that your plumbing system can make is a very popular plumbing personality: Richard Trethewey, the plumbing and heating expert on TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Nice to be here.

    TOM: So, I guess the question is: are all those banging and clanging noises that we hear from both our plumbing and our heating systems just a nuisance or can they potentially signal a more serious problem?

    RICHARD: Well, I am the pipe whisperer and I can hear sounds that nobody else can ever hear.

    It’s usually telling you something. It’s usually – we laugh on Ask This Old House that so many of the letters we get are about people trying to describe the sounds in their houses.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: And there’s some obvious places where it comes from. It’s any time that a pipe expands and so on a heating system, like a baseboard system, that thermostat comes on and all of a sudden, 180-degree water goes through that pipe. And now, that pipe wants to get longer and so now you’ll hear that tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick. And as it gets up to temperature – tick-tick-tick – it slows down.

    TOM: Slows down, yeah.

    RICHARD: It slows down and then it does it again 20 minutes later. And so you’ve really got to look for where that pipe is rubbing against any wood, because that’s part of it, or anywhere it just can’t expand. And so there’s a whole bunch of tricks that we’ve done through the years to try and release this thing so it can expand.

    LESLIE: But that’s really not an issue of concern; it’s just more of a nuisance, correct?

    RICHARD: Well, if it wore long enough – it that pipe rubbed back and forth against wood or metal over time, it could wear the sidewall of the copper pipe and you could have a little pinhole leak, yeah. So it …

    TOM: Because it’s pretty soft copper, right? I mean it’s not going to abrade well.

    RICHARD: Yeah, it’s not really heavy, heavy-duty, so – particularly the heating pipes are a little bit even thinner than the water pipes are.

    TOM: So how do you diagnose that? Do you have to isolate that pipe that’s making the noise?

    RICHARD: Well, you listen for it, try and – it’s always best at night; it’s always best when you’re asleep, trying to sleep. If not, you’ll keep – there’s no other noise in the house. And then you’ll find it. And then, usually, you can look where the pipe comes through the wall. And you might take a little bit of cardboard or the matchbook and sort of put it in so it releases that pipe from rubbing against the wood.

    And it’s a piece – you’d be surprised. We did one where the whole thing was so loud on the show that it just made this noise that woke people up. And we looked and it was – the pipe was so long when it was first installed, it had no room to expand.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: So it just was pushing the outside wall out a little bit. And we cut it shorter and fixed it.

    LESLIE: I think another call that we get a lot at The Money Pit is about something called “water hammering,” or they’re hearing this loud clanging and banging when they’re getting the hot water running.

    RICHARD: Yep. Sure.

    LESLIE: And they immediately think something is horribly wrong.

    RICHARD: Yep.

    LESLIE: But in that situation, again, it’s just a rubbing situation or – how is that?

    RICHARD: The thing that makes it happen, the water is going through the pipes to any fixture. And if the fixture is what they call a “quick-acting valve,” like a washing-machine valve that suddenly shuts off or a dishwasher valve that suddenly shuts off – now, the water has a certain amount of inertia going through the pipes. And all of a sudden, it stops so suddenly that it’s as if you’ve now taken a hammer and hit that pipe. The water is actually creating the bang, the noise.

    So we’ve installed, through the years, a thing called a “water-hammer arrestor.” It’s really like a shock absorber for your car but it’s a little sphere with a little neoprene bladder in between, so it – when the water comes, it can sort of be absorbed into that bladder, like a little bit of a shock absorber. And they work; they really do work.

    TOM: And that absorbs the energy and stops the pipe from shaking.

    RICHARD: Right.

    TOM: Also a good idea to take a look at those pipes to make sure they’re properly secured. Because sometimes, you go in the basement and this pipe’s just like hanging and loosely just – like almost from point to point, like a curtain, yeah, that’s drawn.

    RICHARD: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Hanging.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Absolutely. That’s exactly – the thing I was going to jump on is that for lack of a 20-cent clip, that pipe has been banging for it’s whole life. And so any time you can, just clip it. Don’t clip it too much; let it breathe a little bit. But just clip it at least every other joist when you’re going horizontally.

    TOM: We’re talking to Richard Trethewey – he is the plumbing and heating expert on TV’s This Old House – about silencing noisy plumbing systems.

    Now, here’s one that really can wake the dead: when you get one of these screaming, squealing faucet sounds. What causes that?

    RICHARD: Some foreign matter has gotten into one of the smaller openings inside the faucet, generally. In my own house, right now I have a diverter. The little thing that makes your spray hose work has a very small opening and that must have something in it. So, you can hear my faucet, so this is like the case of the cobbler’s kids having bad shoes. So, I’m leaving from the studio to go to repair that, yeah, so …

    TOM: Go fix that. It’s on your honey-do list.

    RICHARD: That’s right, so …

    TOM: But that’s pretty straightforward to fix, then, right?

    RICHARD: Yeah, it is. Yeah, you have to take it apart any place that people have really hard water, high minerals, high calcium, where it can get in and sort of clog the inner workings, you know. You may have to shut the water off, take apart the aerator, take apart the stem units and the things inside the faucet and just clean them out a little bit. And at the worst case, you have to replace those working parts that are just closed down a little bit.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. The other thing we hear a lot about is when your ductwork sort of makes a popping or …

    RICHARD: Yeah, the tin can.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And what is causing that?

    RICHARD: Well, think about the life of ductwork. You sit in the house and it’s cool and you’re relaxed and all of a sudden, the thermostat comes on, the furnace sends hot air. And now that metal, like any metal, wants to expand as it gets warmer. And so now, as it wants to expand, it’ll suddenly just sort of start ticking first and then – also, the air that’s being now pushed into that ductwork that used to sit contracted, now you’re pushing air in. And now, like a tin can, it actually expands. And so, all of a sudden, you hear that [buh-wung buh-wung] (ph). Is that the sound? Buh-wung (ph)?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s pretty good. Yeah. The oil-canning sound.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    TOM: So it’s kind of like the ductwork itself is filling up like a balloon.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: And that air is just pressing on the interior walls outward.

    RICHARD: That’s right. Right, right.

    TOM: Now, is there a way to sort of restructure those ducts or reinforce those ducts to kind of stop that from happening?

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Wrap them in Quiet Wrap?

    RICHARD: Well, not just Quiet Wrap. You want to give it some structure, so you can take some of the standard J-bead and some of the – when you connect conventional ductwork, you connect it with real little, galvanized strips of metal. And you can take some of those and span those big, horizontal, flat spaces to try and just give it a little bit of a reinforcement.

    LESLIE: Right.

    RICHARD: And then you can insulate it, as well.

    TOM: In a jam, I’ve actually just put a furring strip across the duct, just anything that …

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. Anything that keeps it to hold its shape a little bit, yeah.

    TOM: Gives it that rigidity to (inaudible at 0:26:14).

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah.

    LESLIE: Can you see the exact spot where this is happening if you watch it? Or are you just guessing?

    RICHARD: Not generally. But it’s going to be – I think it’s mostly going to be on a long, straight run of ductwork, where you’ve got a long, expansive thing that’s unsupported where it wants to now kettle or push up or down.

    TOM: We’re talking to Richard Trethewey. He’s the plumbing and heating expert on TV’s This Old House.

    Finally, Richard, let me ask you about radiators. Sometimes, you get a whistling sound that happens from the radiator and particularly, steam radiators. How do we straighten that out?

    RICHARD: Hissssssss (ph).

    TOM: That’s it.

    LESLIE: I like it.

    RICHARD: I’m the master of all voices.

    TOM: You know, he’s going to be our new sound-effects man.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Every time a steam radiator comes on …

    LESLIE: An angel gets its wings.

    RICHARD: Thank you.

    The air that’s in the radiator, in the off cycle, has to leave the radiator. And so this little valve on the end of it has to allow all the air out. And so it has to hiss and it’ll hiss until steam touches it. And when steam touches, it’ll shut completely. So, that is a function that’s – you’re supposed to have a noise.

    TOM: So that’s normal.

    RICHARD: You’re supposed to, with a steam radiator. The thing about steam radiators is you can also have a bang with steam radiators when – the water that used to be steam turns into what they call “condensate.” And if the radiator’s tipped the wrong way, it can sound like somebody took a sledgehammer in the middle of the night. Anybody who’s lived in New York City or Boston that has these steam systems – any urban environment, they know steam.

    TOM: Those are little steam explosions inside, right?

    RICHARD: Yeah. That’s when you put your little iPhone earpieces on and go to sleep. Turn the music up.

    TOM: But you say you can correct that by re-pitching the radiator?

    RICHARD: Yeah. On the hammer – the banging of the steam radiator – you can pitch the radiator so that the water goes back towards the pipe of which the steam came up through. And the air vents, you can change and put new ones on to try and get it to sort of clean – to whistle a little bit less.

    TOM: So you don’t have to tolerate it; there are solutions to all of these noises.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: It does not mean your house is haunted.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: It just means it needs a little plumbing TLC.

    Richard Trethewey, the plumbing and heating expert from TV’s This Old House, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RICHARD: Great to be here.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can 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 by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, where you get hardwood floors for less.

    Up next, there comes a time in every homeowner’s life when the garage is no longer a place where you can store your car. If that’s you, we’re going to have storage solutions to help you get that place organized, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    One caller is going to be chosen at random and they’re going to get a great prize. We’ve got up for grabs a drinking-water filtration system from Filtrete, with maximum filtration. Now, it’s a do-it-yourself project and it’s designed to filter out pretty much all contaminants that you don’t want your family drinking. You don’t want them.

    TOM: It does this through a patented, mini-carbon block that’s going to save you space under your sink. It’s worth $99. Check them out at Filtrete.com or call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    Well, have you ever driven your car into your garage and run into your lawn mower? That could be a bad thing. Or perhaps you hit some shelves and sent garden equipment and anti-freeze spilling all over the hood. If that’s you, it’s time for a storage shed. Arrow Sheds is a brand-new sponsor of The Money Pit and they deliver great value with their electro-galvanized steel sheds.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, Arrow sheds come in a lot of sizes and shapes and they really will fit into whatever your specific needs and budget might be.

    Now, the pieces are pre-cut and they’re pre-drilled, so it’s easier for you to assemble. In fact, it’s really a great weekend project that’s completely do-it-yourself friendly. They’re constructed from steel, so they’re really going to stand up to just about anything that Mother Nature can throw at them. They’re resistant to insects, fire, rain, wind or pretty much all of the above combined at once.

    And Arrow’s line of vinyl-coated steel sheds, they look great and they’re really tougher than they look. They’re a really great shed for your yard.

    TOM: Take a look at all of the Arrow shed options by visiting Sheds.com. That’s S-h-e-d-s.com.

    LESLIE: Anna in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ANNA: Well, I hope you can without involving me in too much work. I have …

    TOM: OK. A tall order but we’re up for the challenge.

    ANNA: I have two long slats from a bunk-bed set. Now, to use it as a bunk bed, you can’t get rid of these and I was thinking about throwing them out. And then when I looked at them, I thought, “Down the road, if somebody else would ever want these and use them as a bunk bed, I can’t throw them out.”

    TOM: OK.

    ANNA: But they’re – they’ve been outside and they’ve been kind of sheltered. But they’ve been outside for a couple years and they’re rusted; they’re metal. And so, I wondered how I could clean the metal off, (inaudible at 0:31:40) the rust off them so that – and treat them however – so that they could be used again.

    TOM: Right. So, very simple. What you’re going to want to do is either wire-brush and/or sand the metal to get rid of all of that rust. Then wipe it down so it’s nice and clean and dry and then you’re going to paint it with a rust-proofing primer like Rust-Oleum. If it’s fairly flat, you can brush it on. If it’s got any kind of detail to it, you can buy it in a spray can and just spray it on.

    It takes a couple of hours to dry the Rust-Oleum product but it’s worth it because it really does seal it in and protect it. Then after it dries, you can put a topcoat on of the same color that the slat was before, just so it doesn’t look like – it doesn’t have that primer color to it.

    ANNA: OK. So I can get it in a color as a shade.

    TOM: Oh, sure. Any color you want. But the rust-proofing primer is kind of like a rust color. And so after that dries, then you can paint whatever you want.

    ANNA: Thank you for the advice and I like your show an awful lot.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, low water pressure can ruin a perfectly good shower. But how do you pinpoint the cause when your pressure goes south? We’re going to tell you, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Arrow Sheds, the leader in steel storage sheds and buildings. Steel sheds are durable, secure and a great value. Arrow Storage Products, available at national home centers, hardware stores and online. See a complete line of products at Sheds.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    I recently heard that March is described as the Friday of Months, as in we’re almost done with the cold and we’re onto warmer weather, so it’s kind of like the weekend of the year. Until then, we can really help you pinch every energy dollar that you can until the weather warms up.

    So head on over to MoneyPit.com. We’re going to give you some energy-saving tips. We’ve got 10 of them right there that you can do that aren’t going to cost you a ton of money. But they will save you a bundle.

    And while you’re online, you can post your question in the Community section. I’ve got one here from Pat in Connecticut who posted: “The water pressure in my house dropped very suddenly. Overnight, it went from really great to really low in all of the faucets. Do you have any advice on where I should start looking for the problem? Is it with the city or something in my house?”

    TOM: Overnight, it went from really great to really low in the faucets. To me, that means you had a drop in pressure probably at the city. It would be virtually impossible for a mechanical breakdown to happen that quickly.

    Typically, if the pressure in your house is going to drop, it’s going to drop very slowly over time. If you’ve had a sudden drop in pressure, then it’s most likely a drop at the city end of that. So I would definitely start with that. Have the water company come out and take a pressure reading at the main to see what’s going on there. And by the way, if there’s a leak anywhere in that line, that would be – that would certainly account for this.

    Now, if that is not the case, the next question I have is whether the drop in pressure is at a single faucet or fixture or room or is it generally the entire house. Because frequently, I will find – for example, people will complain about a kitchen faucet that doesn’t have enough pressure but everything else in the house is fine. It just turns out that the aerator in the faucet is clogged, which can happen with the tiniest speck of debris that gets in the pipe. You wonder how it gets in there but a little fleck of mineral or something like that can really drastically cut down the pressure that’s coming out of any faucet in your house.

    So start with the city and work from there, Pat.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one from Gail in Indiana who posted: “We have too many electronics on one wall in the living room and want to create a dedicated circuit for the TV and all of its components. A general contractor suggested we run wiring outside the home and conduit so we don’t have to tear up the drywall. Is this a valid way to solve the problem or is there something else we should consider?”

    TOM: It really comes down to how your home is built. It’s not a bad way to do it. But let’s say that you’re on a slab, so you can’t get under the wall to come up into it, so to speak. And maybe it’s a two-story house, so you can’t go from the attic and drop down.

    There are two different ways to get into a wall – really, three different ways: through the drywall or from the bottom up, from the top down. And if you have an open frame, electricians are pretty good at doing that and not causing a lot of damage, especially with something as simple as adding one outlet.

    But if you have a slab and you can’t get into it from the bottom or the top for whatever reason, running the wiring outside the house, through a conduit, is perfectly fine as long as you try to figure out a way to do it so it’s neat and doesn’t sort of obstruct the exterior of your house. Sometimes, if you run it along the bottom edge of the siding or slightly under the lip of the siding, then that’s a good way to have it not be that obvious and ugly.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And if there’s any cords in the house that are really driving you bananas – I know there always seems to be way too many for my taste – you can actually hide them with a curved piece of molding or a piece of wood that’s cut on an angle. Or you can build almost a three-sided box that you could paint the same color as the wall. There’s even plastic pieces that are already ready-made that’s sort of a channel – snap onto the wall. You run the wires through them, then something snaps over to lock it in place and then you paint that wall color. You’ve just got to get creative, keep things tight to trim and hide them as best you can.

    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. It’s only a few short weeks until spring and if you’ve got a project in mind and you don’t know where to go, how to start, what you need to buy, what tools are involved, remember, you can reach us 24-7 at MoneyPit.com. Or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-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.


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

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