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  • 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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We are here to help you out with your home improvement projects but you’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us. The number is, again, 888-666-3974.

    Got a busy show planned for you. Coming up, are you a die-hard deck user? Does a little snow or cold outside just not stop you in the least from grilling and chilling at the same time, on your beautiful, outdoor deck? Well, if that’s you, we have got some solutions to make that outdoor space more winter-friendly, coming up.

    LESLIE: It’s funny. I was just at the butcher shop and the gentleman who works there was saying, you know, “Oh, totally cook this on the grill.” And I’m like, “Have you seen all the snow outside?” He was like, “This is what you do. You go out there, you light the grill, you come back inside. Five minutes later, put the meat on the grill, come back inside.” He’s like, “You time it all out.” So there are people out there who will grill even in a snowstorm, I guarantee that.

    TOM: Listen, the very first part of our porch that we cleaned off was where the grill was, when we had all the snow.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So you’re one of them.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Alright, folks. And if you feel like maybe you are wasting time and a lot of water waiting for your shower to heat up, we’ve got a great solution for you. A hot-water recirculator can actually help get hot water to your bathroom faster so that you can save some energy, money and help Mother Nature, as well. We’re going to tell you what they are and how you can install one, a little later.

    TOM: And also ahead, we’ve got a bargain idea to help you fix up your unfinished basements. We’re going to tell you how to give plain, bare, concrete floors a more finished look without spending a ton of cash.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour we’re giving away a $350 gift certificate from Leggett & Platt, the makers of fine beds and bedding.

    TOM: So, give us a call right now for your chance to win and to get the answer to your home improvement question, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Who’s first?

    LESLIE: Randy in Oregon is on the line with a shower question. Tell us what’s going on with the plumbing.

    RANDY: Oh, well, the wife called me and she said that the shower was leaking out of the pipe that comes out of the wall.

    TOM: OK.

    RANDY: And so, I got up there and I got to looking at it and I thought, “Well, maybe it’s just loose.” So I gave it a little – and it’s always been loose in the wall. For some reason, it wasn’t attached inside the wall.

    TOM: OK. So the pipe kind of flops around inside the wall cavity.

    RANDY: Exactly.

    TOM: Alright.

    RANDY: And so I put a wrench on the silly thing and believe it or not, it was plastic.

    TOM: Uh-oh.


    TOM: OK.

    RANDY: Well, I managed to get an easy-out to pull that out but my question is, to fix it – to truly fix it – how do I attach that inside the wall so the silly thing doesn’t just wallow around in there?

    TOM: Can you get to the wall from behind it?

    RANDY: I can but that actually is a double wall that goes out into the service pantry.

    TOM: Well, that’s actually not so bad. If it’s so …

    LESLIE: Because then you’re not destroying living space.

    TOM: Right.

    RANDY: That’s true.

    TOM: So if there’s a service pantry on the other side, what you would do is you would – see, because I’m presuming you have tile or something on the front side of the bathroom, of the stall?

    RANDY: Oh, it’s the – it’s just wallboard. The …

    TOM: Well, I mean if you want to cut it out there, look, you’ve got to get into the wall to secure it, OK? Typically, you work on a bathroom wall from behind it. So if there’s a pantry behind it – and especially since it’s a pantry, it’s not going to be as visible – the repair won’t be as visible when it’s all done. I would cut the wall out from behind it to get into that space. Then you could secure the pipes to the framework inside that wall and then do the patch, of course, on the pantry side. And that’ll take care of it.

    RANDY: OK. Now, to actually secure it in there …

    TOM: Yeah, you can use a pipe clamp on it. There’s a little – sort of U-brackets that you can use that could attach the loose pipe to the studs. If it’s right in the middle of it, you may have to put another piece of wood across and then attach the pipe to that piece of wood, in between the studs, or you could use some steel strapping. But once you expose it, you’ll figure out the best way to secure it.

    RANDY: OK. So, the main thing is going to be just cutting the …?

    TOM: Getting into it, yeah.

    RANDY: Fortunately, if you cut that hole …

    TOM: Yeah. Now listen, when you cut into it, if you figure out where the middle of the stud is and you cut vertically down each stud and then you cut, of course, horizontally, take that piece out in one solid piece. That’s going to mean it’s going to be very easy to cut a new piece and nail it back in place. Tape and spackle and you’ll be done.

    RANDY: Oh. Oh, OK. Now what do you recommend that I use to cut that wallboard so that it’s …?

    TOM: Just a utility knife.

    RANDY: Just a utility knife? OK.

    TOM: Yep. Very carefully with a utility knife. You can slice – you’ll be able to slice right through it.

    RANDY: OK. So I don’t have to go out and buy one of these new, vibrating …?

    TOM: No. But if you wanted to use this as an excuse to buy a good, new tool, we back you up on that.

    RANDY: I was thinking about that, actually.

    TOM: You might want to go with that. Say, “Tom and Leslie said I can fix it myself but I’m going to need a new reciprocating saw to get the job done, honey.”

    RANDY: Yeah. Are those little – I know that – I notice that Dremel has one out, Bosch has one out and the company from France or Germany, I think, has one out. It’s got the – they’re like a multi-tool that – oscillating cutter and …

    TOM: Yeah, those are pretty cool. Yep, those are pretty cool.

    RANDY: Do they work?

    TOM: Oh, yeah, they work really well. We play with those at the trade show all the time. They cut through tile grout; they can cut trim molding. But look, we’re just talking about you cutting drywall, which is pretty easy.

    LESLIE: To get to where the repair is.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And then, if you do end up tiling that wall, just make sure in that pantry you leave yourself an access panel. This way, God forbid, you’ve got a place to get to it.

    RANDY: Well, now you’ve talked me into buying a new tool.

    LESLIE: There you go.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project.

    RANDY: Well, thank you very much, guys. It sounds like – I was envisioning a big nightmare thing. It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be that big of a deal.

    TOM: I don’t think so. I think it’s a pretty simple, straightforward project.

    RANDY: Fantastic. It’s one of those …

    TOM: But you can certainly buy a tool if you want.

    RANDY: Well, of course. I’ve got to.

    LESLIE: Any excuse.

    TOM: Have a good day.

    RANDY: Thank you.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can be part of the home improvement action. We’d love to give you a hand with whatever you are working on, repairing or improving. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you love to use your deck year-round? Well, why not? We’ve got some ways, though, to make that deck more weatherproof so a little snow or cold won’t keep you from grilling and chilling.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide four times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because you are going to get a chance to win a great prize, in addition to getting your home improvement dilemma figured out.

    The prize for grabs this hour is a Leggett & Platt $350 gift certificate. Now, they are the makers of fine beds and bedding and the winner could choose the Invisicase Surround Protector. It’s got a breathable backing on the sleeping surface and it has a high-performance fiber that really repels moisture. Plus, it fits mattresses up to 12 inches thick and it’s available in all standard mattress sizes.

    If you want some more information or you really just want to check out some great bedding, visit their website. It’s LPCPG.com. And give us a call right now for your home improvement question answered and your chance to win 350 bucks worth of Leggett & Platt merchandise. Number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, are you a die-hard outdoor decker? Do you love to use that outdoor space all winter long to grill and chill in below-freezing temperatures? Well, guess what? You’re not alone. You’ve got quite a bit of company, because a recent article in the New York Times revealed that many homeowners love to enjoy their outdoor spaces all year; even cooking outside in the winter months.

    So if your deck is the first place you clear off after a snowfall, we have got info on some great products that will help you enjoy this space even more.

    LESLIE: Well, the first thing that you want to think about is a heat source. Now, this could be anything from an outdoor heater, a fire pit or even a portable fire pit.

    TOM: You know, we have a portable fire pit and in fact, we have actually gone through about two of them over the years because they eventually rust.

    LESLIE: You guys love them.

    TOM: We love them; the kids love them. They’re easy to set fires in. You can move them around and they’re terrific for toasting marshmallows. So, way to go.

    LESLIE: You’re so funny. I think this is like a male/female thing. While I love grilling – hooray – you guys are just obsessed with your fires. It’s really amazing to me.

    TOM: We love fires. It’s a guy thing.

    LESLIE: If you’re ever in need of a holiday gift for whatever holiday, for a man in your life, fire pits. Always a great choice.

    So, once you’ve got your fire going, you should really look for things on your outdoor furnishings that are going to make them super-durable for year-round use. And one of those is outdoor fabrics. And the reason why you want to make sure that you pick fabrics or pick cushions that are made specifically for outdoor usage is that they’re going to resist stains and they’re going to resist mildew.

    Now, you might even consider treating your outdoor upholstery with something additional, as far as a stain resistant. And you want to make sure that when you’re not using this furniture, even though you know you’re going to use it, whether there’s a foot of snow or no snow at all, you want to stack it up and cover it up when you’re not in use. And just store your cushions, so you don’t have to worry about them getting snow or ice or anything sitting directly on them that might cause damage after extended usage from the snow.

    TOM: Now, if you’re thinking about building a new deck or maybe your wood deck has seen better days, you might want to consider replacing it with composite decking. We like Fiberon; we’ve been using that for quite a while now. They make a composite decking that looks absolutely like real wood. They’ve even got a line of tropical hardwoods that are just drop-dead gorgeous and they stand behind their product with a 20-year stain and fade warranty.

    Composite decks are also very easy to clean. A little wipe-down is just about all the maintenance that you’re going to have to do. So …

    LESLIE: I want to say that I actually miss maintaining our old, wood deck since we’ve got the Fiberon but I don’t. And I actually – and I absolutely love my Fiberon deck so truly, it’s a wonderful product that you really have to do very little year after year to take care of.

    TOM: Well, hopefully, all of these ideas are going to get you on your way to being able to enjoy your deck all year long. If you’ve got questions about outdoor living topics just like that or anything else in your house, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get back to those phones.

    LESLIE: Connie in Tennessee is calling in with a heating question. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    CONNIE: Well, I am having problems with my heat and from one end to the other, it – they’re cooler in one end and warmer in the other end. And sometimes – I’ve got one vent in my king-size bedroom. It’s on the far end and then the one in the middle is not blowing out as much air as the other one.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Alright. A couple of things to check here, Connie. First of all, heating systems sometimes have dampers in them; these are like doors that open or close the ducts. You need to make sure that all the dampers are open and that means that if the little handles are on, they’ll be in – they’ll be parallel to the ductwork.

    Secondly, there is a device called a duct booster. I’m assuming that the heating system – the rooms that are farthest away from the heating systems are probably the ones where you have the most problem with flow. There’s a device called a duct booster, which is basically like a fan that goes on the room side of the end of the duct and it pulls more air through it and helps improve the airflow and speed it up. It’s pretty inexpensive; maybe $50 or $75. It plugs into a wall outlet and it sits flush in with the duct and that can actually make a pretty big difference.

    And thirdly, you need to check where your return register is inside the home and make sure that there is airflow that comes under the doors of the house, especially when the doors are closed. You need about a 1-inch gap underneath. Those three things all together will solve this problem.

    Connie, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jeff in Tennessee is tackling a flooring project in a bathroom. Tell us what you’re working on.

    JEFF: Well, I’m in a quandary because I’ve been told I can’t do what I want to do but that’s not unusual.

    TOM: OK.

    JEFF: I’ve got a vinyl floor in a bathroom and I want to put down tile and I wanted to minimize or eliminate the extra work. And I wanted to put the tile over the vinyl flooring.


    JEFF: And it’s just ceramic tile. It’s not a large area. It’s got a vanity and a bath/shower combination and a toilet.

    TOM: Is it fairly small ceramic tile?

    JEFF: Twelve inch.

    TOM: Ooh, 12 inch. OK. So you need a really solid floor for this, which means you’re going to have to put down WonderBoard or a mud floor. Because if you try to put this down over the vinyl or over, say, luan plywood or something like that, it will most likely be too much flex in the floor. And tiles don’t bend, especially the big, wide, 12-inch ones.

    So, your first priority is going to be to pull everything out of that bathroom and put down a solid floor – solid subfloor – and then you can tile on top of that. That’s the biggest part of that project.

    JEFF: Now, Tom, if I do that, does that mean if I put – and I guess some people call that HardieBacker board or something like that.

    TOM: Right. WonderBoard or HardieBacker, yep. Mm-hmm.

    JEFF: OK. And if I put that down, am I going to have to raise that – the toilet – in order to accommodate the tile and that backer?

    TOM: Yeah. But there’s an extension that you could put on the flange that will bring that up that inch or so that you’ll need.

    JEFF: And I guess I’ll probably have to look at cutting off the bottom part of the door to accommodate the threshold of that.

    TOM: Yeah but that’s easy enough to do.

    JEFF: Now, you indicated that – and you kind of cringed a little bit when I said 12 inch. Would it accommodate smaller tile?

    TOM: Well, I mean it’s a design question but when you have wide tile like that in a bathroom, it will tend to crack. You know, the floors get soft and bouncy, especially around the toilet, so it’s really critical that it be properly supported.

    And the trend now is, surprisingly so, to go wider tile. It used to be that you would – in a small bathroom, you would use a small tile. But now, the trend seems to be opposite to that and they’re using a lot more wider tile because it makes the room look bigger.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And other options, as far as tile size in a small space, is going with a tile that’s more plank-size, so it almost looks as if it’s a plank of lumber. Maybe it’s 6×24 and then laying it out brick-style as you would wood floor. And that can also help make the space feel larger but again, because of the size of the tile, you have to make sure that that subfloor and that base is very stable and really secure. Because if there is any movement, that tile is going to crack.

    JEFF: I just can’t get around being lazy. I’m going to have to go the whole route.

    LESLIE: If you want it to last for a long, long time and save you from doing that project again, then yes.

    JEFF: Thank you so very much. I really enjoy your show and catch it as often as I can.

    TOM: Well, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jennifer in Alaska is dealing with some moisture issues in her house. What can we do for you?

    JENNIFER: Yeah, actually, I have question regarding our – I guess our roof and our ceiling. We have a low-pitch roof with cathedral ceilings. The roof doesn’t leak but our ceiling drips on us.

    TOM: You have a low-pitched roof with cathedral ceilings. The roof’s not leaking but your ceiling is dripping. What’s dripping? Is it condensation?

    JENNIFER: I think it’s condensation from 30 years worth of moisture saturating the insulation.

    TOM: Hmm. That’s not good. Cathedral ceilings have to be very carefully ventilated and typically, the way you vent them is this: let’s say that the roof rafter is a 2×10; you would put in like 6 inches worth of insulation and leave 4 inches between the insulation and the underside of the roof sheathing. If you are so saturated that you’re getting that level of condensation, it is almost a given that you probably have some decay inside that roof cavity and eventually, you’re going to end up having to open it up to fix all that. In fact, the roof sheathing may very well be delaminated by this time.

    JENNIFER: Yeah. We were just wondering the best way to fix it, I guess.

    TOM: Well, the best way to fix it is to take the roof apart from the outside. How many layers of shingles do you have on there?

    JENNIFER: It’s not shingles; it’s torch-down.

    TOM: Oh, it’s torch-down. Well, oh, man.

    JENNIFER: Alright. Do we have to add an attic or is there a way to fix it without actually putting trusses and an attic?

    TOM: Well, if you took the ceiling down from the inside – how thick do you think your roof rafters are?

    JENNIFER: Think they’re 2×12 or 16; I’m not sure.

    TOM: Yeah? Because what you should have is you should have ventilation at the soffit area at the overhang. And if you don’t have a soffit, you can create it with something called a drip-edge vent. Then you should have more ventilation at the top edge.

    You want air to move into the roof cavity, up underneath the roof sheathing and then exit at the ridge area, so to speak. So that’s what you want to try to create. You need more ventilation and probably less insulation and that will stop the condensation from forming.

    JENNIFER: OK. Alrighty. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    That is a bad, bad ventilation problem right there when it’s so bad that it’s condensing inside the house.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead, are you tired of waiting on that hot water for your morning shower? Well, if you are, a hot-water recirculator is going to speed up that waiting time so you will waste less water and less energy. We’re going to tell you all about that, after this.

    (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: And March may come in like a lion but by the end of the month, you guys are going to be in full, spring-cleaning mode. We can help you out with some tips on child-safe cleaning supplies, garage organization and some inside knowledge on how to get rid of old paint. And it’s all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Hider in Virginia is having an issue with a fireplace. Tell us what’s going on.

    HIDER: Yes. I have a gas fireplace. I guess it’s called a direct-vent fireplace?

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    HIDER: And whenever I’m not using it, the cold air comes out of the vents; basically, the front of it, on top and on the bottom. So I wanted to know if there’s anything I can do to prevent that while the fireplace is turned off.

    TOM: Does this fireplace have a damper inside of it?

    HIDER: I didn’t – I don’t think so. I didn’t see one. I’ve opened the bottom of it but not – I haven’t looked anywhere else.

    TOM: Well, if you open up the doors and look up underneath it and see if there’s a damper – now, sometimes with gas fireplaces, they don’t have dampers because they don’t want – they want to make sure that you can never, ever run the fireplace with the damper closed.

    HIDER: Yeah and I think this one doesn’t have a damper from what I could see but I would have to look further.

    TOM: Yeah. Does it have glass doors on it?

    HIDER: It has a glass door on the front. That is correct.

    TOM: Alright. But it’s still – you still get the drafts through the glass door?

    HIDER: Yeah. Actually, it has grills – a grill on the bottom and on the top of the glass – so that’s where the air comes out of; the cold air.

    TOM: Well, I think the solution is to take a look underneath and see if there’s a damper system. Because if the damper is closed, you’re going to stop the cold air. But I think you make a good – you bring up a good point about fireplaces and that is it’s not all peaches and cream. They can be pretty drafty and pretty expensive to run because not only do you get cold drafts that come through them …

    LESLIE: But even when you’re using them, they traditionally suck the heated air out of the space anyway.

    TOM: Yeah, they need to use the heated air as combustion air.

    HIDER: Yes. It feels like when it’s turned on, the regular HVAC – the heating system – seems to be working harder.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It is.

    TOM: Right, because all of that hot air is going up the flue. How old is this unit?

    HIDER: This unit is – I would think – I think it’s less than a year old. We bought the house in April and I think they had put it in brand new at that point.

    TOM: Wow. This doesn’t sound right. Here’s what I would do.

    LESLIE: It sounds like it’s not installed right.

    TOM: Yeah. It doesn’t sound like it was installed right. I would contact the manufacturer. It should be well-labeled there. Identify who the manufacturer is. Call them, explain the situation. They could probably narrow this down to the areas that it’s most likely – where it’s most likely leaking. And then we need to check the installation. If it’s a brand new unit – I was thinking it was older. If it’s a brand new unit like that and it’s drafty like that, I suspect it was not installed correctly. Because one of the newer gas fireplaces this should not happen to.

    HIDER: OK, OK. I was thinking the same thing but I wasn’t sure how to go about – so, OK, I found the manufacturer. I forgot who it was but I did look up the manufacturer not too long ago and – but I haven’t contacted them yet.

    TOM: Yeah, I think that’s the hot idea.

    HIDER: OK. And if it doesn’t have it – if it turns out it doesn’t have a damper, what would be the best way …?

    TOM: Well but I’m kind of leaning away from that now because I suspect that this should not leak.

    HIDER: OK, OK.

    TOM: If it’s a newer unit, it should not be drafty.

    HIDER: OK, OK. OK, that sounds good.

    TOM: So I want you to get the installation evaluated to make sure it was done correctly. I suspect that it was not.

    HIDER: OK, OK. That sounds like a plan, actually. That sounds like a …

    TOM: Alright, Hider. Good luck with that project.

    HIDER: Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, when most of us awake and head for a hot shower to get the blood flowing, we often have to wait and then sometimes wait and wait and wait for the water that runs through the shower to actually get hot.

    TOM: Absolutely. And besides testing your patience and having to run all that cold water through your pipes to just get the hot water, well, it’s not a very environmentally-friendly thing to do. One solution, though, is to install a hot-water recirculation system. Here to tell us more about that option is a guy who gets more homeowners into hot water than out of it – and that’s a good thing – This Old House plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey.

    Hi, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hi, guys. Nice to be here.

    TOM: And this is a question we get asked very, very frequently on the show and most people think that a new water heater will solve this problem but it’s really not a case of capacity, is it?

    RICHARD: Well, think about it. If your master bathroom is 60 feet away from the water heater, you have to open up your hot-water faucet and 60-feet-worth of water has to be emptied out of that pipe before you see some of the hot water.

    So what we’ve often seen is people put in a hot-water recirculation system. This is a little, bronze pump that would come on at specified times and it would bring that hot water up towards that fixture – the farthest-away fixture from the water heater – so you can open up your faucet and have hot water right then.

    LESLIE: Now, does that require any extra plumbing, like perhaps a loop to sort of keep that water going to that fixture? So is that something that can be done in a retrofit?

    RICHARD: Well, there’s two choices. If you have a wide-open basement, then you can do it. You can run a relatively small – just a ½-inch – line from that farthest fixture back to the water heater, with a little, bronze pump and a little check valve and usually a timer. Now, sometimes you can’t, as you note, in a retrofit.

    And they also make this very ingenious, little, bronze pump that can sit underneath a vanity in your master bathroom. And you can hit a button and it can bring on a little pump which pulls the water from the hot-water pipe and actually pushes it over towards the cold-water pipe. And so – and it’ll shut off as soon as the hot water gets to that little pump. And there you open up the faucet, you’ve wasted no water and it’s coming on when you need it and only when you need it.

    LESLIE: Is that terribly expensive to operate?

    RICHARD: No, it’s actually – it’s more efficient to operate than a conventional recirc line. If you have a conventional recirc line, it actually can be an energy waster and let me explain. If it’s on all the time and you have a water heater that’s sitting at 130 or 140-degree water and you’re just pulling that hot water out and circulating into the far end of the building and coming back, you’re bringing cooler water back and making the water heater work harder. So, it’s a pretty good energy waster if it’s not properly controlled.

    This device I was talking about up underneath the vanity, you hit a button when you’re in the bathroom and bring it on and so you’re really not going to have that waste of energy.

    TOM: And the time it takes for that water to get warm once you bring it on?

    RICHARD: It’s a function of the distance away, you know. But it’s not much; it’s a couple seconds I think, yeah.

    TOM: Right. And certainly not nearly as much wasted water.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: And as you say, the water heater is not sitting there reheating water that’s cold; excessively so.

    RICHARD: Right.

    TOM: Because I think we don’t realize that water heaters are pretty dumb.

    RICHARD: Right.

    TOM: I mean they’re designed to keep water in that vessel at 110 degrees, 24-7, so the more cold water you dump in there, the more gas that has to come, the more electricity has to run.

    RICHARD: That’s right. I think I saw the future, recently, in Europe. I was at a place that sort of has the new energy model over there and it had a little proximity switch when you walked into the bedroom – sorry – the bathroom. And so, when you came into the bathroom, the recirc pump came on then and only then.

    TOM: Oh, like an occupancy sensor?

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s cool.

    RICHARD: Absolutely.

    TOM: Oh, cool.

    RICHARD: So it just brought that pump on just then because otherwise, people will leave the timer on all day and then they’ll be at work and they’re wasting energy.

    TOM: Right. I can barely get the kids to shut the faucet off, let alone the little button under the vanity.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: Well, what a fantastic system. For more tips just like that, from Richard and the entire This Old House team, check out ThisOldHouse.com.

    Richard, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. You’re going to make us a lot more comfortable in the morning.

    RICHARD: Great to be here.

    LESLIE: Alright. For more great home improvement advice, you can watch Richard and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Still ahead, we’ve got tips on a cheap fix for a plain-Jane, basement floor that will help give a finished look to that very unfinished space.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. Want hardwood floors but are on a budget? The affordable and feature-filled Skil Flooring Saw is just what you need for your installation project.

    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. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a chance to win a $350 gift certificate from Leggett & Platt, makers of fine beds and bedding.

    The winner might choose the Invisicase Surround Protector. The Invisicase will keep your mattress clean and protected and is available in all standard mattress sizes. And this is also a great solution for keeping bedbugs out of your bed. For more info, visit LPCPG.com or call now for your chance to win $350 worth of Leggett & Platt merchandise.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now that’s a great way to add some value to your bedroom, as far as your sleep value is concerned. But if you’re looking to add real, true, cash value to your home, the truest way to do that is by adding livable space, like a finished basement which, thank goodness, we have at our house because it truly is the sanctuary where I go to get work done, just relax. I know, it’s like my man-cave except I’m a girl, so hard to say. But I do love that we have a finished basement.

    Now, if you want this but it doesn’t seem like it’s in your budget right now, you can still give your basement a facelift that’s going to make it far more usable. If your basement has a concrete floor that’s in good condition, why not use what you’ve already got, to add style to the space? You could go with something that’s called acid-staining, which really is a way of using different products, different chemicals that sort of mix together to etch the surface and then add color.

    And it’s really a wonderful, permanent treatment that’s not going to flake away like paint would. And you can really do some wonderful things with kits that you’ll find at crafting stores, home centers, online. There’s some wonderful information online and you can really look up some good options as far as how to blend the different processes and really make a stunning floor.

    Now, if you do decide to paint your concrete floor, you want to add a resin clear coat on top of it. And that’s going to give whatever you put on that floor a super-highly polished, high-end surface and that’s going to just take that whole basement area up a notch. And you’ll really find yourself using that space far more.

    Alan in Alaska, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ALAN: I’m in the process of remodeling a duplex and I’ve got some new sheetrock up and some old, textured walls. I’m trying to figure out the best way to go over them. I’ve heard people say that I need to prime the walls before texturing, after doing the drywall work. What is your opinion on that?

    TOM: Well, when you put fresh drywall up, you should always prime the wall because you’re going to find the drywall is very absorbent. And if you put a good coat of primer on there, it’s going to help anything that comes after that adhere better. So we do think that priming is always the first step.

    ALAN: And after texturing, prime it again before painting?

    TOM: No. I don’t think after texturing you need to prime it again. You can continue with the painting process and paint right over that. Now, if you’re painting over a textured surface, you’re going to have to use a very, very thick roller.

    LESLIE: Yeah, like super-textured; like a thick nap on it. I’ve seen – and actually, in the home makeover shows that I work on – a lot of the wall surfaces are textured in these newer homes and we’ve used the thickest, napped roller I’ve ever seen in my life. And it coats those walls pretty much in one coat and it’s like the super-duperest, thickest roller I’ve seen. If you can get your hands on that, go for it.

    ALAN: Well, great. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’ve very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Vera in Vermont has a flooring question. What can we do for you today?

    VERA: Yes, I have a Formica laminate flooring which was professionally installed about 10 years ago.


    VERA: Several of the planks have separated slightly. Is there any way to reseal it? And also, can I use a steam mop to clean it?

    LESLIE: Now, when you say “separating,” you’re seeing a gap between some of the planks?

    VERA: Yes, there’s a gap – you can put your thumbnail in between the planks.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. I don’t think there’s an easy way to pull that back together and the very old Formica flooring, which I happen to know a lot about because I have some of it …

    LESLIE: Were tongue-in-groove, right?

    TOM: Yeah, it was tongue-in-groove. It wasn’t lock-together; you had to glue it together.

    VERA: Yes, they were glued together.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s good stuff but …

    LESLIE: So you can’t back some out and then hammer – pound it back into place.

    TOM: No. No. But I mean I’d consider it normal wear and tear.

    LESLIE: And a thumbnail is not that big of a space.

    TOM: No.

    VERA: No. I wondered if there was something – some filler or something – that you could put in there.

    TOM: Well, there are – there actually is a Formica laminate filler but …

    LESLIE: But it doesn’t crackle out over time with the vacuum and what-not?

    TOM: Well, that’s what I’m concerned about. Yeah. I think it might just crack and fall out. It’s really designed for like surface chips.

    VERA: I see. Can a steam mop be used to clean this type of flooring?

    TOM: I don’t think you need a steam mop. I think all you need is a damp mop. I wouldn’t go too steamy with it but I think if you use it for light cleaning you’d probably be fine.

    VERA: OK. Alright, thank you very much.

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

    Up next, drafty windows can be a pretty easy fix, if you happen to own them. But if you’re a renter? What if you are limited in what you can do to your drafty windows but they still are drafty and they’re driving you nuts? Not to worry. We’re going to have some easy solutions for you renters, to seal away those drafts and help keep those heating bills in check. That’s all coming up, next.

    (theme song)

    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: You can listen to The Money Pit on the go with The Money Pit’s new iPhone app. Did you check this out? It really works very well.

    LESLIE: It’s pretty awesome.

    TOM: And you put it on your iPad, didn’t you?

    LESLIE: I do. I have it on my iPad and on my iTouch. And my son, it’s like the best way to have Mommy around when I’m not around.

    TOM: Because he sees Mommy’s picture, right?

    LESLIE: He’s like, “Hey, I know that lady. But that’s not Daddy.”

    TOM: You can get the – yeah, what’s going on there?

    You can get the full show archive, you can ask a question on the Community forum or you can connect with us on Facebook or Twitter, with the new, Money Pit iPhone app. It’s all online and is free at MoneyPit.com. And it’s also, of course, in the iPhone store.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s super-user-friendly, so really check it out today.

    And while you’re online at MoneyPit.com, you can go to the Community section and you can post your questions there. And I’ve got one here from Joe in New York who posted: “There is a draft coming in by the windows in my apartment. The windows are cold and it appears that the cold air is coming through the slots where the window isn’t closed well. Between the wall and frame there is no draft, so caulk isn’t going to help. I don’t own the apartment but I do pay for my heat. So how would I fix a problem like this without having to replace the windows?”

    TOM: Well, two things. You can use shrink film, which will seal the entire inside space of the window.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that actually works, surprisingly.

    TOM: It does work.

    LESLIE: It works really well. And you would apply it with a hair dryer. It can’t get more simple and it’s not that expensive and you’ll find it pretty much at any home center.

    TOM: Or you could use a temporary, weatherstripping caulk, which is also pretty cool.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that also works really well.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: I think – is it DAP Peel ‘N Seal is one of the brands?

    TOM: Yes. There’s a couple of them out there and they’re usually special order. But it’s a weatherstripping caulk and it’s designed to peel off in the spring. So, basically, you caulk your windows shut.

    Now, you’ve got to be careful with this if you need to access the window, you know, like it’s on …

    LESLIE: Yep. You’ve got a fire escape.

    TOM: Yeah, something like that, right. But otherwise, it’s a great product and it peels right off and it doesn’t leave any damage.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s a seasonal thing that you can reapply. And since you are paying for your own heat, Joe, you should probably invest some of those heating dollars in a tube of that sealable caulk. Alright.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s pretty inexpensive and it’ll definitely cut back on the heating bills.

    LESLIE: Alright. So now I’ve got a post here from Judy in New Jersey who writes: “I purchased a home with a tree that sits in front of my den window. The sewer keeps clogging from the tree roots, flooding my basement and it’s costing me a lot. What’s the best way to fix this?”

    TOM: Well, do-it-yourself plumbing work is sometimes hazardous and usually not a good idea.

    LESLIE: Never a good idea?

    TOM: What’s happening here is I suspect that you probably have a clay waste pipe. This doesn’t often happen when you have a PVC or cast-iron pipe but the clay pipes – the tree roots will enter into the joints of the pipe. And in doing so, they’ll grow because, of course, there’s lots of fertilizer inside that pipe. So there’s a lot of good reasons for the tree roots to go there.

    I had a situation like that and the reason – the way I solved it was I put an additional clean-out into the pipe. And if it is in fact a clay pipe, you’ll be happy to know that it’s very easy to break into that. There’s a type of coupling called a Fernco coupling that kind of holds the pipe and then adds another angle to it. You can essentially put your own clean-out in and then you could get a pipe snake, which you could rent inexpensively, and clean it out once a year or every six months. If you do that, you’ll keep the roots from getting so bad that they build up and block the pipe but you have to do it on a regular basis.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Judy? I bet you never thought you were getting that when you saw this beautiful house and thought, “Oh, that’s a wonderful tree I’m going to enjoy starting out of my den window.” Well, now you know and the solution is not that bad, so good luck with your new house.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. I can’t believe we are approaching the end of February and ready to sail right into March. And that means the kickoff of the big, home improvement season. I am so psyched. We will be here 24-7 to help you out with those projects at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Remember, you can also log on to MoneyPit.com, check into the Community section and post your question to us right there. Lots of ways to help you with all of your home improvement projects.

    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.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2011 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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