Windows That Stick, Dig Safely, Repair Old Garden Tools, Keep Your Closing on Track 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, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, have some of your summer home improvement projects involved a shovel? Whether you built a deck this summer, planted a tree or even did something simple like installing a mailbox, all of those projects have one thing in common: digging into the ground. And according to the experts at the Common Ground Alliance, people doing simple projects just like that hit thousands of underground utility lines and water pipes every year. We’re talking about electrical wires, water pipes, phone lines. It can be really dangerous as well as very disruptive when your shovel strikes something it shouldn’t. (Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: And I bet expensive. Well, fortunately, there’s a simple solution which is to call 8-1-1 before you dig anywhere, to find out what lies beneath those projects that you’ve got planned. We’re going to have some more on that free service, in just a bit.
TOM: And also ahead, summer is a season for sticky windows and doors. If that’s you, we’ve got tips to help free them up or replace them, coming up.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a chemical-free, grill cleaning kit from Nutek. It’s worth 29.99 and if you’re like us, we love to grill, so your grill is probably looking a little gunky and yucky right about now. So, a good cleaning kit will come in very handy to one lucky winner, so give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Randall in Kansas is dealing with some ducting issues. What’s the matter? It’s not cooling efficiently?
RANDALL: No, it’s cooling just fine; it’s just the fan roars. And they said it’s due to the ductwork being too small.
TOM: So, fan makes a lot of noise. Is that what you’re saying?
TOM: It’s more likely – has the fan always roared or is it something that’s a new development?
RANDALL: Yeah, from the first time it was turned on.
TOM: Really, huh? Yeah. Well, I mean it’s not likely because the ductwork is too small; it may just be the way it was installed. If it’s slightly out of balance, for example, it can make a real racket.
So, why do you think the ductwork is too small? I mean does the system not heat or cool properly?
RANDALL: It cools just fine. It works fine.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah?
LESLIE: It’s just noisy.
TOM: It’s just noisy.
RANDALL: Just noisy.
RANDALL: Not a rattling noise; it’s a roar-type noise; you know, wind roar.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Has anyone suggested to you that you slow down the fan speed?
RANDALL: No. Actually, you’re the first person I’ve actually talked to about it other than the dealership.
TOM: OK. Well, most fans, most blowers inside HVAC systems have multiple speeds. And depending on the run – the length that you have to move the air – you may be able to get away with a lower speed than what the fan is currently set at. And if you slow it down, it’s going to get a heck of a lot quieter, so I think that’s a good place to start.
You might want to talk with your HVAC contractor about that the next time you have the system serviced and find out if it’s a multi-speed blower – which I would be very surprised if it’s not – and see if you could sort of step it down one notch and see if that makes a difference for you.
RANDALL: OK. Well, I haven’t even got moved into it. It’s brand new.
TOM: Oh, well, then the builder should handle that. (Randall chuckles) Why, you’re not getting that kind of cooperation?
RANDALL: Do some more complaining about it.
TOM: Alright. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) Well, there’s an option for you. Why don’t you raise that issue, OK? (Randall chuckles)
TOM: Listen, make sure you get a home inspection done before you close on that place, because a pro can come up with a very detailed list of things that need to be tackled and get it done before you close.
RANDALL: Well, we’ve already closed.
TOM: Oh, you’ve already closed. Alright. So you’re dealing with a warranty company now.
RANDALL: Yeah. (inaudible at 0:04:10).
TOM: The builder’s warranty branch. Alright. Well, listen, squeaky wheel gets the grease. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to head south to North Carolina where Phyllis is experiencing some unusual water pouring out of her backyard. What’s going on?
PHYLLIS: When we have a strong downpour of rain, we have water that gushes out of holes in the backyard. These holes are created only when we have a strong downpour and I’m not really sure what’s going on or how to fix it or who to blame.
LESLIE: Do your downspouts from your gutter system – do they go into some sort of flexible pipe that’s buried underground?
PHYLLIS: No. Only a couple of them do. This house was actually built probably in 1952 and we had the gutters on them but it’s only two that really go into pipes underneath the ground; the rest just sort of run off.
TOM: Well, two are enough. Do we know where these pipes are going?
PHYLLIS: Do I know?
LESLIE: Yeah. Maybe where the end where the water is gushing up is the end of that pipe that’s buried from your downspout.
TOM: Yeah, I have a strong suspicion there because certainly if you have a lot of rain, your water will rise; but if you get a gusher, there’s got to be some pressure behind it and if it only happens when it rains, then it’s most likely that underground pipe.
What you might want to do is you can take a garden hose when it’s dry and fill that downspout up with water and see if it seems to come up in that area of the lawn where you see the gusher and then you’ll have your answer.
PHYLLIS: So the remedy is what? To dig it up and then …?
TOM: Well, here’s another thing that you can do if you don’t want to dig it up. What you could do is you could abandon it; in other words, just disconnect the downspout so it’s not going underground and run it out, at least temporarily – get a piece of leader material. Run it out temporarily over the ground. Just run it out a few feet and then wait a few rainstorms and see what happens. If you don’t see it gushing up anymore, then we know the solution to the problem is to clean out that drainpipe.
PHYLLIS: Oh. OK, we can do that.
TOM: Alright, Phyllis.
PHYLLIS: (overlapping voices) Why, thank you.
TOM: Alright, Phyllis. Good luck with that project.
I think Phyllis sees the light. (Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity that makes you miserable and causes windows and doors to stick. Find out how to free them up, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Exterior Weatherproofing Wood Stains and Finishes, with an advanced 100-percent acrylic resin to protect decks, siding and fences from sun, rain, snow and ice. The line offers long-lasting beauty and excellent durability. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, you’ve been using it all summer long but chances are the last time you thought about cleaning your grill, you decided to put it off yet again because, let’s face it, it’s a nasty, crummy job. (Leslie chuckles) Well, not for one caller we talk to this hour because we’ve got a grill cleaning kit to give away from Nutek.
This is a really cool product. It’s an environmentally-conscious company that uses Simply Soy, a 100-percent biodegradable and renewable green degreaser. It’s certified safe to be used on food areas and it really, really works. The kit is worth 30 bucks, so call us now for your chance to win. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, summer heat and high humidity can actually cause your windows to stick. So to free these up, you want to run a putty knife between the window and the frame and then spray that area with furniture wax, to help those windows move more easily.
Now, if you find that your windows are still just hard to open or close or if they don’t stay open or maybe they’re not locking, well, the experts at Simonton Windows say that could be a sign that the windows weren’t installed properly and might actually need to be replaced. Another symptom could be excess air leakage, so there are some things to think about.
TOM: Yes. And actually, that’s a bit hard to check for in the summer, as warm drafts are not nearly as obvious as the chilly drafts that you feel sort of fall down your neck when you sit in front of a window.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) True.
TOM: But one way to test it is to run the back of your hand around the window and if you feel drafts, it could be an indication that the unit has not been properly installed or caulked or sealed and it definitely would be contributing to energy loss. And you use the back of your hand because that skin is actually more sensitive than the skin on the palm of your hand and you are much more likely to feel the drafts if you use that side of your hand.
LESLIE: That’s a good tip.
If you want some more tips on how to tackle care of your windows and some more tips on energy-efficient replacement windows, head on over to Simonton.com/TaxCredit. In fact, if you purchase your windows now, you’re going to reduce your daily energy bills and you’re going to get up to a $1,500 tax credit from the government this year.
TOM: That’s right. And also check out the Window Replacement Guide that’s online right now at MoneyPit.com. We put that together with help from the experts at Simonton: “Your Complete Guide to Window Replacement.” It’s a downloadable chapter from our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure, online right now on the home page at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Tony in North Carolina is looking for some help with a kitchen makeover. What are you working on?
TONY: Formica countertops.
TONY: And we were hoping to be able to give them a granite look and I was told by a friend on a previous show that you had talked about a kit that might do that.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, it’s called Giani and it’s made by the same guys who came up with liquid stainless steel, which is another paint product.
LESLIE: It’s made for appliances. It absolutely makes them look like stainless and lasts.
TOM: Yeah. And actually, that’s the website – LiquidStainlessSteel.com – and you can click through to the granite paint for countertops. Comes in what, two colors did we see that in? Yeah, it looked pretty good.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It comes in like a black option with like a white speck and then something that they call Sicilian Sand, which is like a taupe-y tan with different color speckles. And depending on how you want it to look, I think you can add certain speckles over other speckles and then different layers.
But the good thing is that when it’s all cured, I mean it is super-duper hard and durable. Tom and I saw it at the hardware show and it was being launched as a new product and we got to see it in a variety of steps through the process and the finished product. And I have to say – for my own personal preference – I thought the Sicilian Sand, the lighter tone, was much more convincing than the dark one.
TOM: Yeah, yeah. I had to agree with you on that.
TOM: The company is called Thomas & English and the website, again, is LiquidStainlessSteel.com. So check it out there. The product is the Giani granite paint for countertops and it’s very cool.
LESLIE: Yeah. And as long as your Formica countertop is in good shape – you don’t have any tears or pieces rolling up or holes in it – you’re going to be great.
TOM: And I’ve got to tell you, for years people asked us about painting countertops and we always said, “No, can’t be done.” And these guys have nailed it.
TONY: (overlapping voices) Right.
TOM: So, it’s a great product and a great opportunity for some new life with those old tops.
TONY: Well, that’s awesome. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You’re welcome, Tony. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joan in Louisiana, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOAN: Yeah. I didn’t quite back up far enough for my garage door to come down the right way.
TOM: (laughing) OK. Alright.
JOAN: And it kind of buckled.
JOAN: The other garage door is the old kind that has the springs and the roller.
JOAN: So, we’re wanting to replace both doors.
JOAN: OK. Which would be the best; the steel insulated or the steel insulation steel? Well, I realize what’s best but what do you think?
TOM: Well, let me ask you a question, Joan. Is your garage heated or cooled?
TOM: Then why do you want to insulate it? You don’t have to insulate it. The insulation – a garage is an unconditioned space, so the thermal barrier is the walls and the doors between the garage and the rest of the house; it’s not the garage door. So there’s really no reason to insulate the garage door. So take that out of the equation.
TOM: You know what I always used to see people do when I was inspecting houses? They would hang a tennis ball from the ceiling of the garage and they knew that when they drove in and the tennis ball hit the windshield it was time to stop. (chuckles)
JOAN: (overlapping voices) Yes, I’ve seen that, too.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) They were good.
JOAN: Well, that will be our next deal once we get the new doors put up. Thank …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, new garage door and two new tennis balls for Joan. (Leslie chuckles) Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: At least she was honest.
TOM: That’s right. (chuckles) She owned up to her little incident.
LESLIE: That’s funny. Yeah, I remember when my sister was learning how to drive, we had this Volare station wagon. And I was a kid and she backed right into the garage door when it was down and we were coming up the driveway and punctured this big hole in it. And we quickly – I remember my mom grabbed the repairman and had the piece of wood repaired and the paint done on it. And I remember my …
TOM: Oh, before your dad found out?
LESLIE: Right before my dad came home from work that night. (Tom laughs) And I remember my dad walking up the driveway and like putting his hand on the garage door in the exact spot, like he knew – he sensed it – and he came in with brown paint on his hand.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. (chuckles)
LESLIE: It was like, “Is there a story I should know?” (Tom chuckles) It’s funny. She was honest.
Bruce in Michigan is calling in with help on a painting project. What can we do for you today?
BRUCE: Yes, I painted my floor with an etching primer and then put paint for basement use on the floor and it chipped up.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. OK.
BRUCE: What can I do to prevent this in the future?
TOM: Well, the best paints today for basement floors are the epoxy paints. They’re two parts. They’re a chemical cure. And so once they actually cure, they really do lock in tight to the floor surface. In this case, you’re probably going to have to strip up the paint that you have right there because you can’t put good paint over paint that’s not sticking because it’s …
LESLIE: Yeah, it won’t stick to it.
TOM: Yeah, it’s kind of like putting it on top of a Teflon surface; it’s just going to come up again. So what you’re going to have to do here, Bruce, you’re going to have to remove the original coat of paint and then I would use an epoxy paint. It’s available from a bunch of good manufacturers: QUIKRETE makes one; Rust-Oleum makes one.
Good-quality product; good process where you clean the surface, then you mix the paint, you put it down, then you use a color chip which is nice because it sort of hides the dirt. And once you’re done, it cures pretty quickly. Also available for garage floors, too.
BRUCE: OK. Well, that answered my question.
TOM: Alright, Bruce. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sue in Utah needs some help in the kitchen. What can we do for you?
SUE: I purchased a home with a travertine floor. The home is 10 years old. The travertine floor is original.
SUE: The grouting is coming out. They’re 12×12 squares. It’s got a very dull look and it’s chipping along the edges because the grouting is coming out and I’d like to know what to do.
LESLIE: Well, this is a situation where you’re going to want to remove the rest of the grout as best you can just to sort of give you a nice, even surface in the grouted areas so that you can go ahead and regrout the flooring. Because if you try to add – Tom, if she tries to add some new grout on top of the old, will it adhere as well as you would like it to?
TOM: It probably won’t stick and you definitely would have a color issue.
SUE: OK. What do I remove all the grout with?
TOM: A grout saw. It’s a device that can either be attached to a drill that will grind it out or there’s a hand version as well. And once you get it regrouted, you mentioned that the travertine is rather dull. There’s a good website that has a lot of products dedicated specifically to taking care of those natural surfaces. It’s called Stone Care – StoneCare.com.
TOM: And they have a number of products that can help freshen that surface up and make it look better again.
LESLIE: Vince in Delaware needs some help with a staining project gone bad. What happened?
VINCE: I stained my deck with Olympic stain and I splashed it up on my siding.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. Uh-oh, you were a sloppy stainer.
VINCE: Yes, I am; I’m the most sloppy painter there is. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) And I splashed it up and then I wiped it off with a rag but there’s the tan stain on my yellow siding.
TOM: What kind of siding was that? Did you say aluminum?
VINCE: Aluminum siding. Yes, sir.
TOM: Yeah, you’re going to have to paint it, my friend. You know, you can try a slight abrasive. You know what you might want to try is some compound from an auto parts store like a Pep Boys because that’s a very slight abrasive in it like you would use if you were compounding your car finish. You may be able to abrade just enough of that old stain off to bring some color back.
But the aluminum siding is probably – the paint is probably fairly worn on that anyway, so you may have to just repaint it. But you couldn’t hurt it by seeing if you could get a little bit off first with an abrasive cleanser or a compound.
LESLIE: Robin in Massachusetts has a rabbit problem at her house and they multiply in great numbers, we know. (Tom chuckles) Welcome, Robin.
ROBIN: Oh, hello. I’m calling because the rabbits are eating all the flowers from the marigolds.
TOM: That’s terrible.
TOM: Well, rabbits need to eat, too.
ROBIN: And the squirrels are eating all the strawberries. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: OK. (chuckles)
ROBIN: So we need to know what to do.
LESLIE: Stop planting such tasty things around your house.
ROBIN: That would be a good idea. (Leslie and Robin chuckle)
TOM: You know, there’s a good product out from the folks at Havahart. It’s the Woodstream Corporation and it’s called DeFence – D-e-F-e-n-c-e – and it’s a rabbit repellent. It actually repels rabbits and deer. You can buy it for around $12 or $13 a bottle and, basically, it’s as easy to use as it gets. You spray it on the plants. It works on flowers, it works on ornamentals; it works on any kinds of landscape areas. And one application lasts up to three months and it will make those beautiful flowers very not tasty to the rabbits.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the best part is the USDA certifies it as being approved for organic gardening. So you don’t have to be concerned about it damaging your strawberries.
ROBIN: Oh, good. And where can I find this?
TOM: Well, you can find it in different home centers and garden stores or you can find it online. It’s one of the Havahart products, so I would maybe start with their website which is Havahart – H-a-v-a-h-a-r-t.com.
ROBIN: OK, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, alright. If you have plans to tackle a do-it-yourself project that involves digging, we have one thing to tell you: look out below. (Tom chuckles) We are going to share tips on a quick, easy and free way to make sure that you miss – we want you to miss – those underground pipes and wires, so stick around.
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: So, are you planning a project this spring? Maybe you’re building a deck, planting a tree or even installing a mailbox. Those projects have one thing in common: they all involve digging at some point in the project; usually at the beginning of the project. And when you need to dig, you can’t just go digging around in the dark. You need to take a minute to make a quick call, because it could save your life.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the number you want to call is 8-1-1 and that’s a national hotline that’s federally-mandated after several digging accidents that could have been prevented had they picked up the phone.
Now, the Common Ground Alliance helps oversee the service and we’ve got Khrysanne Kerr – she’s from that organization – joining us now to talk all about it.
KHRYSANNE: Thank you very much. Great to be here today.
TOM: Khrysanne, you did a survey and you found that two-thirds of the people who plan to dig this year don’t plan on calling 8-1-1. (Leslie chuckles) It doesn’t surprise me. Tell me what’s happened in the past when people have done that.
KHRYSANNE: Homeowners generally think, “I’m just digging; I’m not excavating. It’s just a tree; it’s just a deck. I’m not doing a large project involving heavy equipment or I don’t need a building permit,” not realizing that our nation’s infrastructure is getting more and more crowded and many of the vital services you and I depended on are buried right beneath the surface of the round. And there’s approximately an unintentional damage to a buried utility about once every three minutes, resulting in approximately 200,000 utility damages every year.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Wow. Oh my goodness. Now, when we’re talking about digging, are we talking about, OK, three feet deep or should I be concerned if I only have to dig about a foot?
KHRYSANNE: You know what? We tell people, “Don’t make that judgment call; just make a phone call.” It’s a free service. If you dial 8-1-1 a few days prior to digging, it goes to your local state one-call center and they in turn will capture some information about what type of digging project you’re planning on doing, your location, the type of equipment; and then they will notify, electronically, your affected utility companies who will then come out and mark the utility lines that they own, for free. And that’s where you see those paint and flags on the ground and across the cement in your neighborhoods. Those mean that there’s a utility buried underneath those marks.
TOM: Now, Khrysanne Kerr, I think the first thing that comes to a lot of folks’ mind that may be listening to this would be, “Well, if I call this 8-1-1, does that mean the local building inspector will now show up and make sure that my mailbox post is, in fact, two feet from the street instead of three feet from the street or is it going to trigger a scrutiny by the local authorities?”
KHRYSANNE: And that’s a great question and a fear that we have heard surfaced in the past. But the primary goal and responsibility of the one-call center and the utility companies is to protect their lines and to keep your communities safe and connected. Your neighbors depend on that phone line for 9-1-1. Your neighbor across the street could depend on that electric line to power their computer because they work at home.
Certainly, the free call and the safety in mind in keeping your community safe and connected outweighs that anomaly of that information being used for anything other than to keep your community safe and connected.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And God forbid in the event that I don’t call and I do cause a tremendous amount of damage – or even a small amount of damage – am I responsible? I should be, of course, for whatever damages I might incur.
KHRYSANNE: You know what? Laws do vary from state to state but as we witness this urban sprawl where once was a farm field is now a subdivision, homeowners and their property lines are getting much closer to right-of-ways that involve large-transmission pipelines; fiberoptic communications that carry large amount of information. So with that network being more and more crowded, in certain circumstances you can be billed back for repair charges, loss of service, damage to the environment. And we hope it doesn’t get to the point of personal injury or even death.
TOM: We’re talking to Khrysanne Kerr, Vice President of Program Development and Communications for the Common Ground Alliance, the organization that is tasked with administering the 8-1-1 national hotline, the call-before-you-dig number.
Khrysanne, before we let you go, you’ve got a good story about, perhaps, a homeowner who unknowingly stirred up some trouble by not calling first?
KHRYSANNE: Unfortunately, there’s way too many (Leslie chuckles); about 200,000 of them. But everything from unintentionally installing a clothesline in the backyard and hitting a primary electric line.
KHRYSANNE: And every time that wife went out to hang a piece of laundry on the line, she got quite the shock. So, we encourage you, projects big or small, always make that call.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Wow.
KHRYSANNE: Call 811.com for more information on what you can do to keep your community safe and connected.
TOM: Khrysanne Kerr, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Good information.
KHRYSANNE: Think safely, America.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, up next, do you have a house that you’d actually like to sell? Well, we’re going to tell you how you can keep your home’s closing on track, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac Automatic Standby Generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, you’ve been using it all summer long but chances are the last time you thought about cleaning your grill, you probably decided to put it off because grill cleaning is such a hassle.
Well, no more because one caller we talk to this hour is going to win a grill cleaning kit from Nutek. This is an environmentally-conscious company that uses Simply Soy. It’s a 100-percent biodegradable and renewable green degreaser certified safe to be used on food areas and it really works. The kit is worth 30 bucks, so call us now for your chance to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call, especially if you’ve got your house on the market, because it’s certainly been a stressful real estate market these last couple of years. But things are finally starting to move along and more and more of you that are selling will be finding qualified buyers.
But while making the deal can be the most important step in the process, actually keeping the deal together between the offer and the closing is crucial. You know, once you’ve accepted an offer, you can help to keep the deal together by making sure that you meet deadlines and criteria, including home inspections, buyer visits and schedule deposits.
And as the closing date gets nearer to you, you may also need to perform certain repairs or do additional work to the house that you’ve agreed upon in your contract. You know, there are so many things that could go wrong and be major deal-breakers, so paying attention to the details during this part of the process is really key.
TOM: Absolutely. In fact, as a former professional home inspector, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen both buyer and seller count chickens before they were hatched. So keeping the deal on track over this period of time is the only way that you’ll ever get to closing.
888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, because that is definitely easier than selling a house.
LESLIE: Regina in New Jersey has an air conditioning question. What can we do for you today?
REGINA: Well, my air conditioner is 13 years old and when I went down to the basement, it was surrounded by a lot of water.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
REGINA: I was checking it out and it looks like there was a – I was looking in the furnace and there were a whole bunch of water droplets inside the unit.
REGINA: So it looks like the humidity is coming out of the house but not going outside but puddling around the floor of the furnace.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yep, easy fix.
REGINA: What’s the problem?
TOM: Your condensate – a couple of things. You’re looking at the – what you’re seeing is the air conditioning condensate. When your air is cooled, it releases moisture; and so what you’re seeing is that moisture is not draining properly. Now, I’m not quite sure how your system is set up to drain but I can give you a couple of options.
Typically, there’s a condensate tube – usually a white PVC pipe – that is mounted above the furnace that catches that water and drains it down that pipe and into what’s called a condensate pump, which is usually a small box about the size of a car battery or maybe smaller, on the floor next to the furnace where that water is pumped out.
Now it could be – what typically happens is sometimes that condensate line gets blocked. I’ve seen paper labels off of air conditioning equipment block that. I’ve seen other types of debris block that. It doesn’t take a lot because you’re not talking about a lot of water pressure but I bet you that that condensate line is blocked and, as a result, the water is backing up and spilling over into your furnace area.
Now you do want to get this fixed because in the long run what can happen is, besides making a big mess, that can rust out the heat exchanger which is right below that and that means you’d need a new furnace. Now that would take a long time but, for right now, you definitely want to get on it. It should be a simple fix. If you can’t figure it out yourself, have your HVAC contractor do it. But it happens all the time and it’s not a big deal.
REGINA: Well, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Regina.
REGINA: And I enjoy your show every week.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Thank you so much.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Thank you.
Byron, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BYRON: Hi, Tom and Leslie. Yeah, every time I do my dishes the glasses dry and I notice there’s like a milky-white residue. And I was just trying to figure out what that is. I’m in a new house and don’t know what’s going on.
TOM: Do you notice that when you pour water it looks a little cloudy or anything of that nature?
LESLIE: Are you having a hard time with soap sudsing up?
BYRON: A little bit of problems with soap sudsing up but, yes, the cloudiness in the water. If I’m drinking tap water I do notice that after a couple of seconds it is pretty cloudy.
TOM: Well, it sounds to me like you may have a hard water issue. That basically refers to having an excess amount of minerals in the water and that’s directly related to where your water comes from. So if you happen to have like sort of a stone quarry that your water comes from, you’re going to have more hard water in it, typically. And it can occur with both well water as well as city water.
There are a couple of things that you can do. First of all, with respect to the dishwasher, there’s such a thing known as a rinsing agent and the most common one out there is a product called Jet-Dry and that goes in – most dishwashers have the rinsing agent dispenser built in. That leaves sort of a coating on your glasses that makes the water evaporate quickly and I guess the way to explain is it’s sort of like Armor All for your drinking glasses; the water runs off but …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, it just sort of makes everything wash right off.
BYRON: (overlapping voices) OK.
TOM: Yeah, but it’s safe to use. And the other thing is that you might want to think about putting in a system to treat your hard water. Now, typically that’s done with salt-based treatments but that’s kind of expensive and it takes some time and some expense for the plumbing to be installed. There’s another system out there, though, that we like called EasyWater that recently became a sponsor of this show, so we learned all about it.
And basically, what EasyWater does is it uses an electronic technology, instead of salt or chemicals, to make sure that the minerals don’t stick and what that does, it helps it run off the glasses; it doesn’t clog up your faucets, your aerators; it doesn’t require any plumbing to install it. You simply install this near your main water valve and there’s sort of a wire that you wrap around the main water valve – not the valve but the main water supply pipe.
LESLIE: The pipe itself.
TOM: Yeah. That sort of creates like a coil and essentially what happens is the treated minerals, once they go through this, kind of repel each other. They lose their electrostatic charge, which is what makes them stick to the faucets and stick to the glasses and stick to everything else.
TOM: So once they go through this EasyWater treatment system they essentially lose that charge and then they don’t stick. So that’s a good option, as well. So use the Jet-Dry, think about putting in a hard water solution like EasyWater and I think that you’ll see that the water is going to clear up in your house.
BYRON: Now is the EasyWater something I can find at the home centers or online or where?
TOM: The easiest place to buy it is, frankly, right online. You can go to their website – it’s EasyWater.com – and talk with the folks over there. They’re very good at sort of walking you through the issue and making sure that this device is going to solve it once and for good.
BYRON: Awesome. Thanks. I love you guys’ show. You guys have bailed me out a couple of times.
TOM: Ah, you’re welcome, Byron. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you love your trusty garden tools and you wouldn’t replace them for anything but showing them a little love will help them work for you for years. So up next, we’re going to share tips to help keep those well-used garden tools sharp and clean.
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 toolbox, 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.
And now that we are in the summer season, maybe you are wishing you could take a vacation but it’s just not in your budget this year. Well, take a staycation instead. You can relax in your own backyard and we’ve got a ton of staycation solutions, from decking to outdoor living space to accessorizing your patio. It’s all right there at MoneyPit.com/Staycation. You’re going to come up with so many great ideas, you’re actually going to start to like your own backyard.
And while you’re online, you can e-mail us your question and I’ve got one here from Paul who writes: “I went to my electrical fuse box and opened all the circuits; in other words, shut the power off for everything. Here’s the question: should the meter stop running completely or will it continue to operate even at a slow speed? My meter continues spinning at a slow speed but I suspect that it should stop and I want to know for sure.”
TOM: I think it absolutely should stop and if you are in a multi-family house, which I suspect is why you’re asking this question, what that most likely means is that the neighbor’s circuit is wired into your meter. So you could be paying for electricity that you’re not actually using, so …
LESLIE: That doesn’t seem very fair.
TOM: No, it doesn’t but it’s not uncommon. In all the years I spent as a professional home inspector, we’d find stuff like this all the time. If you are on a split service where you pay for half of the power and the neighbor pays for half of the power, usually – let’s say it’s a two-family house; there are going to be three meters. There’s going to be one for one unit; one for the other unit; and one for the exterior stuff that, say, the owner of the building might pay for – the lighting for sidewalks and driveways and things like that; sort of the common areas; maybe the porch-front light.
But if you’ve turned off all your breakers and your meter is still moving, then obviously, there may be somebody tapping into that and you’ve got to make sure that you get to the bottom of that because you don’t want to be paying for your neighbor’s electricity. And I’m sure you’re a nice guy but (Leslie chuckles) not that nice.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) But not that nice.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’ve got one here from Roxanne who writes: “I have a rec room over a crawlspace. There’s vinyl flooring with berber carpet glued down to the flooring. I want to put laminate down. Can I skip the padding and just lay the laminate directly on top of the carpet?”
TOM: No. Be kind of sloppy.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) No.
TOM: No, you don’t want to do that because laminate is designed to sit only on laminate underlayment. If you put something down that’s too thick, like old carpet, it may not sit right and in fact, it might cause the joints to pull apart.
LESLIE: Or pop up.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Laminate floor locks together and if it’s too soft, those seams could actually break and you don’t want to do that after spending all the money for laminate. So take up the carpet, put down the underlayment and go put the laminate on top of that the way the system was designed to be installed.
LESLIE: You’ll be really happy you did.
TOM: Well, before you run out and replace those rusty garden tools, take a minute to give them a second look. It could be that they just need a little love. Leslie has got tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. They work really hard for you, so you’ve sometimes got to do a little hard work for your garden tools, to keep them in good shape for many years to come. So, to keep the garden tools and your shovels clean and sharp, you want to first make sure that you remove any rust with steel wool or sandpaper, however you see fit; whatever sort of condition it might be in.
Also, I’ve been doing some work with Nutek and their product, Simply Soy, kind of helps you to get rid of the rust. You might want to try that first before you get a little aggressive and see what happens.
Then, once you’ve got the rust off, you want to file the edges so that you keep them nice and sharp. Then go ahead and coat the metal surfaces with a lubricating oil to prevent that rust from coming back. Then you can go ahead and sand the wooden handles, so you get a nice, smooth grip and then coat the handle with linseed oil to keep the wood nice and conditioned.
Now, giving your tools a little tender loving care will keep them working hard all season long and the next season and the season after that. (chuckles)
TOM: Good tip.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Coming up next week on The Money Pit, you love watching but did you ever wonder how those lucky homeowners get chosen for TV makeovers? We’ve got the secrets from TV insiders you are rarely privy to. Maybe your home will be on TV one day. Learn what the producers are looking for and how to get them to makeover your house, 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.)