Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(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: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to help you get your projects done. 888-666-3974. Speaking of projects, we know it’s still spring but in just a couple of months it will be summer and that means it’s air conditioning season. And you know when the best time is to get your air conditioning serviced?
LESLIE: Before you need it? (chuckles)
TOM: Not mid-July when you’re planning a big get-together at your house and the thing breaks down. No, the spring is the best time to get your air conditioner serviced, so we’re going to tell you what to do when the service man comes to your house to make sure it’s done right.
LESLIE: And spring, of course, is the perfect time of year to clean up and clear out. I know everybody is familiar with the term ‘spring cleaning.’ Well, coming up, we’ve got some of those notorious, dreaded spring-cleaning tips so you get things going smoothly for you this year. And if you haven’t really done a major cleaning in a while, this is your year. We’re going to tell you how to get it done in just a few minutes.
TOM: And this is probably no surprise but eight out of the ten most complained-about service companies have something to do with your home and that’s according to the annual review by Angie’s List. Find out about the most complained-about service and how you can be more careful when choosing your contractors when we’re joined by the founder of Angie’s List, Angie Hicks.
LESLIE: And also this hour we’re giving away a kitchen in a box. Yeah, it’s a really small one and you’ll make really small meals (Tom chuckles) to keep you on your diet. (chuckles) No, I’m kidding. It’s not actually a kitchen but it’s everything you need to make your kitchen that you have now look great. It’s a kit, actually, from Rejuvenate and there are three different products. They’re going to help you bring old and dull cabinets, countertops and your flooring back to life. It’s like a new kitchen in an instant.
TOM: It’s a prize package worth 50 bucks; going to go to one caller to today’s program at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Taking a call from New Mexico with Beth who wants to talk about tile. What can we do for you?
BETH: Hi, I have a two-story house and the first floor is totally open. You walk in the front door on tile and the tile wraps around to the kitchen area. The living area is carpeted and it’s really in bad shape.
BETH: The steps going upstairs are carpeted and the whole upper floor is carpeted. And I’d like to take the first-floor carpet out but then it leaves me with what do I do with these stairs.
TOM: These are wood stairs?
BETH: I believe so.
TOM: Well, if they’re paint-grade stairs or carpet-grade stairs, it’s probably pine or fir and if you pull the carpet up you may be able to sand them down and finish them and have them look halfway decent or maybe replace the full carpeted tread, which is the runner that kind of goes up the middle of it.
TOM: The least that you could do is paint them and that’s always a possibility and if it’s done well it could look very, very attractive.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and in New Mexico you probably have – you know, I always see such beautiful color usage in the state in my travels when I see people’s homes and you can really have an opportunity to do a beautiful color on the riser and a different color on the tread, still very earthy and homey and pretty, just to sort of give it that New Mexico vibe.
BETH: Oh, that’s a perfect idea. That would – I can see that working so well.
LESLIE: Great, and as for the first floor, I say go ahead and replace that carpet with a laminate or an engineered hardwood; whatever suits your taste and don’t worry about the transition between the tile and the new flooring because they make all sorts of different materials that bridge that transition between one type of flooring and another, so you’re not going to be left with this oddity between the two.
TOM: And then you can use some throw rugs to give you a little bit of a carpeted feel in the living room if you still miss that feel.
BETH: Alright, well with all the dry air and dust we have here, it’d be easier not to have the carpet. So I’m ready to sacrifice … (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Alright, Beth. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alan in Ohio has a plumbing question. What’s going on?
ALAN: A house we purchased recently we’ve got [a little extra] (ph) plumbing pipes in there from copper with some of the new things, some galvanized on the old section and some plastic with something in between.
TOM: Little bit of everything, huh?
ALAN: Yeah, a little bit of everything. My question was I’m not real good on copper pipes for soldering.
ALAN: What are your thoughts about going with this CPVC that’s good for hot and cold?
TOM: Well, there are a lot of homes begin built with the new plastic piping and I think it’s standing up extremely well. If you’ve got a lot of work to do it is a very do-it-yourself, friendly product to use, Alan. Why – do you have a lot of work to do? I mean why are we having this conversation? What’s going on with that plumbing that’s going to force you to have to do so much work?
ALAN: Well, we’d like to add a bathroom to the basement …
ALAN: … because we need more bathroom space and the other problem we have also is right now when somebody is in the shower and you crack a faucet at, say, the kitchen sink, the shower instantly either goes hot or cold; you know, depending on what you turn on at the kitchen faucet.
TOM: OK, well that actually can be solved by replacing the shower valve. What you need is a pressure-balanced valve. That’s a type of valve that can be installed in a shower that maintains the same mix that you have, in terms of hot and cold water, regardless of how much pressure is in either pipe. You follow me? So you’ll reduce the flow but you won’t change the temperature of the water.
TOM: So here you were thinking you had to replumb your house, Al, and we just saved you a big bunch of work. (Leslie chuckles)
ALAN: Yeah, I appreciate that. Thanks a lot.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Yeah Leslie, you know, sometimes we make more work for people (Leslie chuckles), but we could occasionally make less.
LESLIE: So Alan’s plumbing poo-poo platter, if you will, really isn’t such a bad thing.
TOM: Not so bad and pretty easy to do and that’ll definitely have him avoiding those cold spurts of water in the shower.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week, any time of the day or night that that home improvement project strikes you or happens on its own and causes you to have a project. So call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, it’s time to get your air conditioning system running so that you are cool all summer long. We’ll tell you what to do, after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information go to Aprilaire.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. We’d love to hear what you’re working on and give you a helping hand if we can, which we always do. Plus we’re giving away a great prize. It’s a $50 prize package and it’s from our friends over at Rejuvenate. It’s the New Kitchen in a Box. It’s a do-it-yourself renovation kit that instantly brings a kitchen back to life in less than an hour. It does require a bit of elbow grease. It’s got three different products to bring old, dull cabinets; your countertops and floors back to life so it makes everything look brand, spanking new. And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win so pick up the phone and dial 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you haven’t already, you’ll soon be running your air conditioning system for the first time this year and in order to run efficiently that central air conditioning system needs to be kept clean. So here’s what you need to do.
First of all, inspect the coils – that’s around the outside of the unit – and wash them down with a hose to free up any of that dirt. You can brush them out, you can hose them off and actually, if you keep those coils clean it will run more efficiently. Also be sure that all of the bushes around the compressor are trimmed to allow at least 12 inches of space between themselves and the compressor so that you don’t block any of the air that’s going to sort of flow through there. If the bushes are any closer the unit really can’t cool properly and has to actually run longer to do the same job and that’s going to lower efficiency and also increase your costs.
And lastly, make sure you call your service contractor and have that system serviced because even if you turn it on and it’s cooling properly, it may not be cooling efficiently. You need to have that refrigerant level checked so that it’s working properly; it’s lubricated properly and it’s going to last all summer long.
888-666-3974 is the number we need you to call right now for the answer to your home improvement question.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Ginny in Pennsylvania, welcome to The Money Pit. How are you today?
GINNY: Fine, thank you, and you?
LESLIE: Great. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit?
GINNY: I have a concrete breezeway and there’s a damaged place in it and I need to kind of fill it and then I want to paint the breezeway.
GINNY: What can I fill that with?
TOM: You’re going to want to use an epoxy patching compound, available at a home center or a hardware store. It will stick properly to the concrete and after it dries then you can paint the whole concrete surface again with an epoxy paint.
GINNY: And it’s not going to chip our or …?
TOM: It will not chip out.
GINNY: Oh, that’s great.
TOM: As opposed to using a concrete patch which could chip out. You want to make sure it’s an epoxy-based patching compound; it’s designed specifically to stick to the old concrete.
GINNY: Can you do the same thing with a crack in the concrete like in the sidewalk?
TOM: Yes, you certainly can do the same thing to a sidewalk crack as well.
GINNY: OK, well, I thank you very much and I enjoy your program.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tom in Florida has got a question about tiling. How can we help?
TOM IN FLORIDA: Hello. I have ceramic floor tiles with – it’s a new house and the tiles have hollow spots. Some of the tiles are hollow on three of the edges of them and I was wondering if there is a material that I can buy to inject under the tiles to seal them rather than pulling them up and resetting them.
LESLIE: Now when you say hollow spots, do you mean that the tile is moving and it’s …
TOM IN FLORIDA: No, the tile is attached enough that it doesn’t move but if you tap on it, it does move up and down.
TOM: So it’s a little loose.
TOM IN FLORIDA: Yes.
TOM: At this point, I wouldn’t create a bigger problem by trying to get any glue under it. I suspect it’s going to be a sloppy situation if you do that. If it physically loosens up enough to the point where you can actually remove it, then at that point I would just apply a mastic and reset it. But if you try to get glue under it now, I think you’ll probably end up getting some in the grout and everywhere else and it might not look that nice.
TOM IN FLORIDA: It’s loose enough that it causes the grout to crack and I’ve had to have it regrouted.
TOM: Well then, if you’re going that far, then take the tile out completely.
TOM IN FLORIDA: OK.
TOM: You shouldn’t put, you know, good grout against the bad tile, so to speak.
TOM IN FLORIDA: Right.
TOM: Because it’s only going to keep happening. So if you’re going to take all that grout out to regrout it, then pop the tile up and reglue the whole thing at that point and then once you grout it you won’t be – you’ll be done. You never want to regrout it if it’s loose.
TOM IN FLORIDA: I agree. I’ve been trying to get my tile setter to agree with me. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Ah, well. You know what? Just do it yourself. (chuckling) It’s a lot easier.
TOM IN FLORIDA: I’m of that opinion also, at this point. I appreciate your comments.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading out west to chat with Jan about some trees and some curb appeal. What can we help you with?
JAN: I have two silver leaf maple trees that are about 30 to 35 years. One of them seems to be more of the problem. They’re very close to the street and to the gutter but the roots have come up quite a bit and they’re causing the gutter and the walkway that we have going to the front door to buckle. I mean it’s actually cracked in the seams, the gutter that’s in the street and I’m not sure what I can do. The roots are up above the grass quite a bit, but what I was thinking of is where the roots go down to the gutter and have lifted it one area and lowered it in the next seam, if I chop through those roots enough to put like a piece of wood or whatever and then build it up higher with dirt, is that going to be a problem with the trees?
TOM: Well, it could harm the tree. It’s a difficult situation because anything that you do can harm the tree or could make it weaker so it could get blown over in a storm. Unfortunately, this is an active problem. It’s always going to be getting worse on you and you could break about the curb or the area of the walkway that’s being cracked and then repour it but it’s only going to be a matter of, you know, some number of years before it happens again.
LESLIE: If you start repairing something on the curb which belongs, obviously, to the city/county community, that has to be done through the community. That’s not something you as a homeowner do, correct?
TOM: And the problem is that if you call the township or the county to take care of that, they’re going to go, ‘We’ll take care of it. We’ll just cut your tree down and it’ll be gone.’
JAN: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: So I think this is a situation where you just kind of want to maintain it as much as you can. There’s no easy fix here, Janet.
LESLIE: Fred in Michigan, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
FRED: I just built a new house and it’s got a 1,400-square-foot garage that’s well insulated because I live up here in northern Michigan. I’m wondering how I can heat it efficiently …
TOM: Well, the best way to heat that unheated garage is with a vented ceiling heater; you know, one of these big heaters that hangs in the ceiling. Basically it works just like a regular furnace in that it has a heat exchanger and it has a fan that blows air over the heat exchanger so the fuel, the gas combustion, stays inside the heat exchanger and goes through a vent pipe – usually a class B vent – goes up through the roof and out and away and then the fan blows over it. I would definitely not recommend an unvented propane heater and the electric heaters are just going to cost you an arm and a leg to run. So if you want to heat the garage and use it on a regular basis, I would put in a vented ceiling heater and do it right.
FRED: OK. Well, that sounds – answers my question. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Fred. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: And they work really, really well.
TOM: Yeah, they really do. Definitely the way to go.
LESLIE: Pamela has got a painting question; actually, a painting – about a nonpaintable surface. What’s going on?
PAMELA: Actually, we picked up the wrong tube of caulking when I was caulking my shower and I put 100-percent silicone caulk that is nonpaintable and now I need to paint the wall and, of course, nothing is sticking to it. Is there anything that you can wipe that with that would make paint adhere to it?
TOM: No, you’re not going to make the paint adhere to the silicone but what you could do is replace that silicone. You want to use a product called a caulk softener and it’s available from a number of different manufacturers and basically it’ll make that caulk easy to take off. It works on acrylic; it works on butyl (ph); it works on silicone. You’re going to want to scrape out that old silicone caulk and then replace it with a latex caulk that’s paintable.
TOM: That’s the best way to handle the situation.
LESLIE: Because you’re never going to get paint to stick to it otherwise.
TOM: Pamela, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kathleen from Texas is looking to save some money. How can we help?
KATHLEEN: I was wondering if you can get a tax credit on putting in new windows and what brand they have to be.
TOM: Yes, you can.
LESLIE: You can get tax credit for putting in anything energy efficient.
TOM: Yeah, they have to be Energy Star-rated window but they would qualify for the federal energy tax credits and I think the tax credit is up to 500 bucks.
LESLIE: Five-hundred dollars.
KATHLEEN: Good for a whole house? Up to the whole house (inaudible)?
TOM: Oh, absolutely.
LESLIE: I think as long as you have a receipt that says that these are Energy Star-rated windows and have all of the information and fill out the proper tax forms, bring it to your accountant and it’s done.
KATHLEEN: OK, thank you very much.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome, Kathleen. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Yes, the government is actually bribing us to put in energy-efficient upgrades to our homes.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and if you’ve got a complaint about a home improvement company you are not alone, my friend. Of the top 10 most complained-about service companies, eight of them were home improvement-related. I bet that’s no surprise to a lot of you out there.
We are going to have the list and some tips for you, right after the break.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic; the all-natural, super-strong air freshener available in spray and solid form. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
We’ve got a great guest standing by. We’re going to be talking with Angie Hicks and you know, Tom, this is probably not a surprise to you but eight of the ten most complained-about service companies that Angie’s been reviewing have something to do with your home and this is an annual review that Angie’s List does every year.
TOM: No surprise here, that’s right, and at the very top of the list, home warranty companies and we’ve gotten plenty of calls about these guys. You know how this works. You go to buy a house – predominantly we see these on situations where people are buying a home; they offer a warranty on the home. So you know, ‘Go ahead and buy it. Don’t worry about it. If anything goes wrong the warranty company will fix it.’
LESLIE: ‘We’ll fix it.’
TOM: Not. (Leslie chuckles) And as a result, these guys are now, for the third year in a row, the most complained-about companies on the list. Let’s welcome Angie Hicks.
TOM: So you guys have been doing a good job with those lists. I see that you’ve gotten nearly 300,000 reports that you went through to kind of sort this out. So let’s talk about those evil home warranty companies. (Leslie chuckles)
ANGIE: Well, each year we look at this most complained-about categories and, as you mentioned, the home warranty category has ended up on our most complained-about list for the last three years, topping the list this year. And you know …
LESLIE: So they’re not even improving at all. They’re getting worse.
ANGIE: Well you know, the home warranty category, it tends to be we have some common problems that we run into on the home warranties when we look through the reports. One is people don’t understand what the warranty covers and, you know, so it’s – you know, sometimes people think that it – you know, if they’ve had a home inspection then everything is good and it’s going to cover everything, but you’ve really got to read the details of that contract because they have their own rule. The home inspection and home warranty; two separate things.
TOM: And I was a home inspector for 20 years, Angie, and you know, we used to see those warranty companies come in all the time and what used to amaze me is that let’s say something went wrong and let’s say your furnace broke six, nine months after the home was closed on. The warranty company would always come in and say, ‘Oh, well that’s a pre-existing condition.’
TOM: And we’d say, ‘Well, that’s funny because we did a thorough evaluation of that and there was no evidence of a failure.’ So on one hand you have a report that documents that it’s not a pre-existing condition but you have the warranty company that comes in and tries to welch on their promise to replace it by claiming that it is.
ANGIE: That’s right and, you know, pre-existing conditions are something that sometimes get – the people get tripped up on. They think something is going to be covered and it’s not. You know, also, keep in mind that a home warranty company is making the decision about whether something is repaired or replaced and, you know, they might have a different time horizon in their minds than you do as a homeowner. You might be thinking, ‘Hey, I want this water heater to last five years because I’m going to be in the house that long,’ but the home warranty company is – you know, you might be a customer for theirs for a year or two. You know, so they might be thinking, ‘We’ll replace it’ whereas you might have thought, ‘I might have wanted to just go ahead replace the item instead of repair it.’ And you know, keep in mind that just because you have a home warranty doesn’t mean you don’t have any out-of-pocket expenses. You know, a lot of times there might be a deductible or a service call when you do have a service company out to the house.
LESLIE: How much of this, Angie, is the homeowners’ misunderstanding or not delving into learning the full facts? I mean you can’t really fault the warranty company for someone not doing their own investigate work.
ANGIE: (overlapping voices) Right. People have to read these contracts so they know what they’re getting. You know, I was kind of disappointed when we did a poll and found that, you know, 82 percent of the respondents to our poll said that they only had a general idea of what their warranty covered. So, you know, we, as consumers, need to read more and understand more because that’s when we’ll get the most out of it. You know. But the other problem is that people have come across is the not being happy with the service companies that come out. You know, we all know that the quality of the repair is dependent on the quality of the service company and so that list of who the home warranty companies are sending out can be really important.
TOM: We’re talking to Angie Hicks – she’s the founder of Angie’s list – who just did an annual review of the top ten and bottom ten service companies from 2007; home warranty companies number one in terms of the worst service companies out there.
What advice do you have if you have a home warranty company and you have a service issue? What advice do you have? How do you complain? What’s the best way to get what you’re entitled to?
ANGIE: One of the best tips I’ve found – a member was telling me how she best uses her home warranty company is when she calls she always asks for three or four names of companies that the home warranty company would approve to do the work in her house; then she does her research on those companies, just as she would if she were hiring them directly; then she goes back to the home warranty company and says, ‘I’ll take company C.’ So she’s doing a lot more homework than someone who might just take the first name given.
TOM: Great advice. Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List.
If you want more information on Angie’s list you can go to their website at Angie’s List.com.
ANGIE: Thank you.
LESLIE: I just love talking to Angie. She’s always got lots of great advice.
Alright, stick around because up next we are going to make sure that you give your home a thorough cleaning without petering out; getting tired of the job before you actually tackle it top to bottom. So stick around.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters, you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.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.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. One caller we talk to this hour is going to win Rejuvenate’s New Kitchen in a Box. It comes with three products that will bring dull floors, counters and cabinets back to life. It’s worth 50 bucks. If you want to win it you’ve got to be willing to come on the air and ask us your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Hey, and good news. If you win that prize you’re getting a good head start on your spring cleaning. (chuckles) I know it’s all about cleaning in the springtime but it really is; it’s a wonderful opportunity to get a fresh start. And really, this is the first time of year that most of us across the country can actually open up the windows because it’s not so darn freezing outside. So go ahead and take on a spring cleaning project at home. It’s not fun, we know, but we’re going to help you make it a little bit easier. Here are a couple of really good tips to help you get the job done.
Use a two-bucket cleaning method for really dirty surfaces. You want to dip a clean sponge or cloth, whatever you prefer to work with, into one bucket that you’ve got mixed with cleaning solution; then go ahead and clean an area and then rinse that cloth in a second bucket with just simply clean water in it. Change that rinse water as needed so you’re always going back into that clean water when you’re cleaning off the surface. And then also think about breaking up your spring cleaning marathon – it truly is a marathon, folks – into smaller segments; one area, one room at a time. This way, if you start to tire out and you want to stop you can actually stop when you’ve completed something and you’re not stepping away from a project that’s half done.
TOM: Good tip and there’s lots more on our website at MoneyPit.com, including in the next edition of The Money Pit’s free e-newsletter. We’ll have some cleaning tips and ideas just like that that will make your projects go super smoothly. You can sign up right now at MoneyPit.com. It’s free.
Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Going into the basement with Dave in New Jersey. What can we do for you?
DAVE: Hi. I’m calling about some mean (ph) steam pipes in a 100-year-old house.
DAVE: I still have some asbestos on them.
DAVE: And the question is, is there a way to safely seal that asbestos in plastic and make that a safe environment or do I have to go through a costly hazardous waste type of removal?
TOM: Well, there’s really two ways to deal with asbestos insulation on steam heating pipes: one is removal and one is encapsulation. But neither are a do-it-yourself job, Dave, and I am an advocate of removal because once you remove it you never have to deal with it again. It doesn’t have to be, ‘Well, we have asbestos but it’s been covered.’ I think removing it is really the best thing to do and I would have it done by someone who is experienced at removing it because if it’s done wrong you can literally contaminate the entire house. Having said that, though, if the basement insulation on the pipes, if the asbestos insulation is not going to be disturbed, the chances of it being released to the air are very, very small. So it’s OK as long as you don’t disturb it but if the insulation is in an area where the kids are playing; the balls can hit the pipes; you know, it’s in a traffic zone; that kind of thing, then it’s even more important to have it removed. So not a do-it-yourself job; something for a professional to be done. It can be encapsulated but I would prefer to see it removed.
And there’s one final step to that, Dave, and that is after you remove it, remember the insulation was there for a reason. You have to have new insulation put back on; otherwise, it’s going to be very, very hot in the basement; the steam is going to take a lot longer to get upstairs and it’s going to be more expensive to heat your house.
DAVE: Outstanding. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Dave. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kathleen in Florida is dealing with some leaky copper pipes. Tell us about what’s going on.
KATHLEEN: OK, within the last six months I’ve had pinhole leaks in three pipes in three separate areas of the house –
KATHLEEN: – one of which we repaired by putting new copper pipe in, which involved the soldering; another one we repaired by putting PVC pipe; and the one out in the garage we repaired it by putting two clamps and a piece of soft rubber hose.
TOM: OK. (chuckles) OK. That’ll do it, too.
KATHLEEN: So what’s our life going to be like for the next year?
TOM: Well, and that is the question, isn’t it? Pinhole leaks are typically caused by a chemical reaction between the water and the copper and there are varying opinions on what exactly has to happen to cause that. But generally, you have to have a pH between 7 and 7.8 to make it start. There’s a good article on this on a website called ToolBase.org – T-o-o-l-B-a-s-e.org. There’s an entire case study on pinhole leaks and, essentially, the strategy for repairing them is really threefold. First of all, you repair the needed leaks as they develop, which is what you’re doing now. But then you also plan and budget for a more major upgrade of the accessible parts of the plumbing system in the future. So in other words, whenever you have, say, some areas of plumbing pipe exposed, then you replace it and you do that sort of as the second stage and then the third stage is to replace the pipes in the inaccessible areas but only if the leak develops.
I would recommend that you consider using PEX, the plastic piping, whenever you do these replacements because that stuff seems to be really indestructible and is a good solution for replacing pinhole-failed copper pipes.
LESLIE: Would it make sense if you’re doing any renovations where you’ve got drywall off and plumbing pipes are exposed to go ahead and do the changes then?
TOM: Absolutely. You never want to cover the old copper pipe if you have it exposed. You want to replace it at the same time. So I would look for that case study. It’s at ToolBase.org. Click on ToolBase.org and then search for pinhole leaks. You’ll find lots more solutions there.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, we’ve got tips on choosing a tankless water heater. One of our e-mailers wants to know if a tankless heater can be installed in an all-electric house. Is it going to work? We’ll tell you, next.
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TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. At least we do our best. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and hey, don’t forget; if you hear something that you love on the show, which I know is all the darn time, you can actually listen to The Money Pit where you want, when you want it. Go ahead and download our popular Money Pit podcast at MoneyPit.com; then you’ll have a little Tom and Leslie to go anytime you like.
TOM: And while you’re there, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question just like Kit did from Woodbridge, Virginia.
LESLIE: That’s right. Kit writes: ‘I own a townhouse and I’m thinking of replacing my water heater with a tankless one. My house uses a heat pump and is all electric. Will this work?’ Gosh, that’s got to be expensive.
TOM: No, actually it won’t. As good as tankless water heaters are, they’re only good if they’re gas-fired; I mean natural gas or propane. All of the electric tankless water heaters that I’ve seen seem to have an awful lot of complaints about their inability to deliver enough hot water; plus, they’re very expensive to operate. So you don’t get the efficiency that you do with a gas-fired water heater, Kit.
What I would recommend is that you use a high-efficiency tanked electric water heater. And by high-efficiency I mean two things: first of all, it’s very well-insulated – the tank is very well-insulated; and secondly, make sure it’s hooked up to a timer so that the water is only heating when you need it, which is generally only about half the number of hours in the day, if not less than that. A few hours in the morning; a few hours it the evening and it’ll stay warm in between. So use the right size water heater but make sure it’s super energy-efficient and that’s the best way to get efficiency when your house is all electric.
LESLIE: Alright, Barbara in Wappingers Falls, New York writes: ‘We’re thinking of having a retractable awning installed; however, the contractors want to use a roof mount and we’re afraid of having holes drilled into the roof and just having caulking around it. Is it going to leak? We are concerned.’
TOM: Not such a big problem. Remember, your roof has thousands upon thousands of holes in it where the shingles have been nailed on. It’s just a matter of doing it correctly. As long as those holes are sealed properly you should have no worries.
LESLIE: And think about all that wonderful usage you’ll get in those beautiful areas underneath that awning.
TOM: Well, now it’s time for a tip on instant organization from Leslie, who has some solutions in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, I love to keep all little tidbits of information and things that help me stay on track all over the house; especially in a neat and organized fashion. So if you’re like me and you want to help tackle the to-do list, go ahead and paint the side of a freestanding bookcase, a cabinet, even a dresser, even the upper cabinets – that side that sort of curbs around into your dining room; anyplace where you’ve got that spare space, go ahead and put a layer of magnetic paint. I’m sure you’ve heard about it but if you didn’t, it’s just like any paint that you can buy out there except this one has got all sorts of bits of metal in it to make it magnetized and when you’re working with it you want to make sure that you mix it kind of frequently as you’re going because the magnetic qualities tend to sort of settle to the bottom and then as you start painting with it more it’s not going to be as magnetized. So go ahead and give it a good mix every time you keep going on with different coats. And once you’ve got that magnetic base layer dry and ready to go, you can add a color topcoat to match anything you want; all those colors of your imagination and then go ahead and attach your important notices, invitations, assignments, family photos, to-do lists, even – just like me – show off your magnet collection from everywhere you’ve been in the United States. And I’ve got a friend who travels the globe and she keeps sending me these awesome ones from all over the place. So if you’re tired of having a stainless steel refrigerator that you can’t show off your magnets on, go ahead and do this project. You’ll be super happy.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Coming up next week on the program, learn how to make sure your grill is ready to be fired up for a nice, long summer of safe, sizzling steaks. We’ll give you the step-by-step cleaning and inspection tips, next week on the program.
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 2008 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.)