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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Why should you call that number? Well, because we are here to give you the answers to your home improvement question. We know you have one. Take a look around your house. What are you thinking about working on right now? What are you tackling? Is it inside? Maybe it’s a problem with the wall; you have a popped nail. You have a crack in the drywall. You have a crack in the belfry. (Leslie chuckles) Whatever you have a crack in.
LESLIE: Or maybe you’re all cracked up about something …
TOM: Or maybe you’re all cracked up. Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Maybe you have a leak. Maybe you have a squeak. We’re here to help you get the job done.
We have a great show in store for you. First up, the results are in and Consumer Reports has just released their ratings on mowers and tractors. We’re going to interview who got to drive all of those mowers and put together the ratings in just a bit. Plus, Consumer Reports did a very interesting and somewhat embarrassing survey, along with this story, that has to do with what other people think about your lawn. (Leslie chuckles) And you’re going to be really interested in what they had to say.
LESLIE: In the true spirit of American busybodies (Tom chuckles), we are all paying attention to what’s going on at the neighbor’s house. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Alright. Now have you been up in your attic lately? Have you been on your roof lately? Well, it might be the only way to really inspect for leaks that are happening up on the tiptop of your house. You can do it yourself; especially if you’ve got a friend who’s willing to help and if you’re both very, very careful. Coming up, we’re going to have step-by-step directions to help you inspect your roof for leaks.
TOM: And if you have kids, you have no doubt baby-proofed your home. But did you know that you can make lots of areas of your home safe and more convenient for any stage of life, whether you have children or even elderly parents that are living with you or even elderly parents and elderly relatives that are visiting you. There are little things that you can do to your house to make it safer and more comfortable for all. We’re going to fill you in on those details in just a bit.
LESLIE: Even if you’ve got home improvement shoulder, these things are going to help you, too. (chuckling)
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re going to be giving away a Ryobi One+ random orbit sander. It’s worth 100 bucks and it’s a pretty cool prize.
TOM: So call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Jay in Virginia finds The Money Pit on WJFK and we’re talking about decks. How can we help you?
JAY: Hi. I had a question about decks. My wife and I – our back deck is starting to go and we’re thinking – we’ve had structural engineers look at it. They said the deck itself, structurally it’s fine; it’s very solid. But it’s just the deck board.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It’s just the decking?
TOM: Yeah, the deck surfaces themselves? Well, you can do sort of a deck makeover by removing just the deck surface boards and replacing them with a composite.
JAY: That’s what I was wondering about. Someone was telling me that – I’ve heard good and bad; that some of the composites are good and then some – I’ve heard some words of like they crack or something. What’s the story on those?
TOM: No, I never heard them crack. Usually the complaint on composites is …
LESLIE: That they get really hot.
TOM: … they get – sometimes they say they get hot.
TOM: But actually I did learn recently that that’s not completely true because there’s been, actually, temperature tests of surfaces of composites versus wood and they actually do get to be the same temperature.
LESLIE: Yeah, but in the same line, wood decks get hot.
LESLIE: So if you’re going to say a decking surface gets hot, they all get hot.
TOM: It’s all going to get hot, right.
The other common complaint about composites is that you get telegraphing; where you put the deck boards down – they’re not quite as stiff as regular deck boards; as wood deck boards. So if the floor joists are a little bit uneven, they’ll sort of telegraph; like go up and down and be a bit wavy at the surface.
And the other – and the last complaint we hear about composite decks is that you get sort of a mildew growth on them that needs to be cleaned. All that is true. But you know, all these materials are going to need some level of maintenance.
TOM: I don’t consider cleaning, you know, the mildew that builds up on a composite deck …
LESLIE: I mean that’s a level of maintenance you’d be doing with a wood deck as well.
TOM: Yeah, and …
TOM: And you know, the good news is that composite decks last like forever. I mean they’re incredibly durable.
LESLIE: And they’re looking more and more natural. We’re finding ones with a more pronounced wood grain, with differentials in colors that sort of make them look more realistic. The only thing for you to decide is whether you like the look of a composite and what that offers to you or do you love the look of natural wood. With natural wood, you’re getting the trade-up of you’ve got to give it time to cure before you finish it, regardless of the type of wood that you use; even with pressure-treated. And then, every few years there’s going to be some upkeep.
JAY: Yeah, but with a traditional wood every few years, besides cleaning it, we’re resealing it. You don’t have to …
LESLIE: Oh, exactly.
TOM: Right, exactly. I think that you’re in need of a deck makeover. I think it’s a great project. You know, not difficult to do; not structural since you’re not changing any of the structural parts of it. And choose a good composite. You can match it up with some composite rails and I think you’ll be enjoying your deck for a long time.
JAY: And they cut just like traditional wood, correct?
LESLIE: They do.
TOM: Just like wood. Cut, route. Yep. Just like regular wood.
LESLIE: They’re heavy, though. (chuckling)
JAY: They’re heavy? (chuckling)
TOM: Yeah, Jay, the only thing you might want to look into is when you actually reattach the composite boards to the joist there are special composite deck screws that prevent mushrooming. In other words, when you drive the screw in it doesn’t sort of swell. It has a little bit of an edge underneath the screw head that cuts its way in. And they go in nice and flat.
LESLIE: So it countersinks itself, yeah.
TOM: Yep, exactly. OK, Jay?
JAY: Thank you very much. It’s the information I was looking for. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Something’s going on in Louisiana with Phillip’s windows. How can we help you?
PHILLIP: Well, here a couple of months ago they were continually sweating on the inside when it was cold outside with, you know, heat running on the inside.
TOM: Yeah, mm-hmm.
PHILLIP: It’s a big (INAUDIBLE) home. It’s only six – well, it was built last June.
PHILLIP: And I was trying to figure out how to solve the problem. In the meanwhile, I believe I alleviated the problem but I’m not sure if it makes sense what I done; if that corrected the problem.
TOM: What did you do, Phillip?
PHILLIP: I actually found out that I had the wrong air filter on my central air unit on the inside. And I had a feeling that it was running around my filter and I don’t know if that was creating something there where the, you know, the system wasn’t able to dry up the air quick enough and it was drawing the moisture out of the air in the home or if that even makes plausible sense.
LESLIE: Well, it could also be that the exterior temperature and the interior temperature are much more similar at this time of year. It could just be that the weather has sort of corrected it as well.
PHILLIP: Yeah, if you have a lot of – a lot of humidity in the home in the winter time and then you have cold windows that are not properly insulated, it sounds to me also like the windows may not be insulated very well; even though they’re newer windows. If the windows are thermal pane and have an insulating glass seal between the panes, you shouldn’t be getting that level of condensation because the inside glass shouldn’t be cold enough to let the moisture that’s in the air condense and form those water droplets. So, I’m a little bit concerned about the quality of the windows in this fairly new house in allowing that to happen.
The other things to look at are the moisture sources inside the house. For example, cooking – do you have a fan that vents outside or is it a recirculator; bathrooms – again, do you have fans – bath vent fans that vent outside?
LESLIE: And not just into the attic. And are you running them, after you take a shower, for 10, 15 minutes?
TOM: Yeah, and you also mentioned that you have central air conditioning. I don’t think the filter had anything to do with this. That would only cause dirty air. But central air conditioners are actually not very good dehumidifiers. They’re fairly inefficient dehumidifiers. There’s another type of unit that you could add onto that that’s, in fact, called a whole home dehumidifier, that is designed specifically to take out moisture and humidity in the air. In fact, Aprilaire makes one that takes out like 90 pints of water a day out of the air. And so, that’s an option for you as well.
Are they thermal pane windows?
PHILLIP: Yes, they were – yeah, they’re supposed to be. And I didn’t actually build the home myself but …
PHILLIP: … according to the builder. And he did send me paperwork over showing they are supposedly thermal pane windows.
TOM: I might want to push that issue a little bit further, Phillip, because you shouldn’t – with newer windows that are properly made – get that kind of condensation. You might want to ask for the Fenestration …
LESLIE: The label.
TOM: Yeah, the Fenestration Rating Council label on that because that will tell you – the National Fenestration Rating Council, the NFRC label, will tell you how energy efficient that window is and also find out if there’s a manufacturer that you could speak with because I’m just wondering if they’re not insulating the way they’re supposed to be. You should not be getting that level of condensation in a window that’s only a year or so old. OK, Phillip?
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Wouldn’t normally, when you move into a new construction home, have the labels on the windows?
TOM: Yeah, but the builder – especially if they put on that much glass – I mean they may have pulled them all off and I just wonder if they tried to sort of, you know, save some money on these windows. But you know, to have windows that are less than a year old or just about a year old that are causing those types of issues is just almost unheard of. Because if the window is insulated, you’re not going to get the cold temperature transferring from …
LESLIE: The differences in temperature.
TOM: … the outside glass to the inside glass to the point where you could get enough condensation.
LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. With summer only weeks away, now is the time to get your house ready and we can help. Call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
So Leslie, I know you do a lot of events with children.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I love kids’ projects.
TOM: You prefer to sort of rent and now own. (Leslie chuckles) I, on the other hand, own them lock, stock and barrel. And when you’ve got kids, you are always looking for ways to make your home safe and secure for them. But the same should go for every stage of life. Up next, we’re going to have some tips to make sure you or your parents can stay safe and comfortable in your home for as long as possible.
ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/HomeDesign to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we believe you can never have too many power tools. So pick up yours and call us right now. Let’s get to work at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if you don’t have one, well that’s OK too because if you call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT, you may just win this hour’s prize which is a Ryobi One+ random orbital sander. It’s part of the tool system Ryobi created where they have 25 different power tools that can be interchanged to work off the very same single battery. No more clutter in the work room. It’s worth 100 bucks. So call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, we all know that the real estate market can be a real adventure; especially when people are purchasing their first house. There’s usually a lot of thought and planning going into it. And the same is true when you’re preparing your home for the arrival of a new baby or when you have young children growing up in the house. Thought and advance planning should also be done to make changes in the home that are going to benefit everyone, including your kids and your aging parents.
TOM: Here’s some tips to help you do just that from the folks at AARP. In the kitchen, install easy to grasp C or D-shaped cabinet door and drawer handles. These are easy to grab, especially if you have your hands full with a baby or groceries. Also, make sure you place an A, B, C-rated fire extinguisher within easy reach of the stove. Why would you do that? Well, because A, B, C means the extinguisher will work with all sorts of fires; including those that are from grease.
Next, you want to install lever handle faucets with built-in anti-scald protection on the sink.
Now, on the staircases – another area of concern – make sure you have handrails on both sides of the stairs and not just one. And put nonslip, reflective or contrasting tape on the edge of the stair tread. The stairs also need to be well lit with lights at the top and the bottom; a good chance for you to use those compact fluorescent bulbs which last like for years with those lights at the top of the stairway. Put one of the CFLs in there and you won’t have to change it.
LESLIE: They keep you off the ladder.
TOM: Yeah, for a long, long time.
A few changes like this can keep your home safe and comfortable for years to come.
If you’d like some more tips, go to AARP.org/HomeDesign. That’s AARP.org/HomeDesign. Or call us now with your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Linda in Virginia finds The Money Pit on WSVA. And how can we help you?
LINDA: Hi. We just moved into a house. It’s a 24-year-old home. The master bathroom – the sink and commode are both an off-white color. The tub is green. (laughter)
TOM: You know what always amazes me about those homes? Imagine the conversation back in, you know, 1972 when that couple was trying to decide; pick out those colors, you know. (Linda chuckles) ‘I think avocado green is the perfect tub color, honey. What do you think?’ You know? (Linda chuckles)
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Avocado green is my favorite.
TOM: And here we are dealing with this now.
LESLIE: Well Linda, do you like it?
LINDA: Well, it just kind of catches my eye every time I go in. I mean my husband and I probably will be the only ones that will ever see it. But I mean I can live with it if I have to. (chuckling)
LESLIE: I mean because you can – if you like the tub, you could have it reglazed professionally so that it is durably finished and will last forever and you could have it to match the rest of the fixtures in the bath. Or if you think it’s kind of fun, we can figure out a color scheme and maybe some mosaic tiles or one-inch tiles that could balance that green monster in the bath.
LINDA: Uh-huh. Now it has new tile – well, they look like new tiles – all up around the tub.
LINDA: And around the walls of the bathroom. Other than the green tub, everything’s pretty in there.
LESLIE: So are you feeling like you would want to replace that tub or you just want to figure out how to make it work?
LINDA: I don’t think we’ll replace it. We had a price and it was just – he said it would be such an awful lot of work to tear out all the tile that’s in there; because like I said, the tile is in really good shape.
LESLIE: Well, the easiest thing I would say, if you want to just bring in some other decorative items that are going to work, maybe go for a drapery or a window treatment in that room that is predominantly of a neutral color but has a green border or stripe inset into it that works with that color …
LESLIE: … so it still stays neutral but it’s carrying that color over to the other side of the room and giving some balance. Maybe all of the soap dish holders or dispensers and toothbrush holders also have a fun pattern or stripe or something that gives a hint of that green. Of course you can bring it in with towels, you can bring it in with bath mats, shower curtains. And remember that complementary colors really do provide excellent balance. And the complementary color to green would be red, which gives you a range of pinks and browns which could really work well with the neutrals and the green.
LINDA: OK. That helps a lot. I may work on something like that.
TOM: Yeah, with projects like that it makes sense to decorate around it since it’s so difficult and costly to actually replace the tub. You know, this is the same kind of decorating advice that we often will give in the kitchen, for example, where maybe you have really dark cabinets but everything else in the kitchen, you know, really needs to be lighter. You can lighten it up and feature the cabinets. So there are ways, always, to decorate around these areas.
LINDA: Right. I hadn’t – well, I hadn’t thought about bringing in the color.
LESLIE: I mean why not? Because it’s standing out to you because it’s the only thing in the room that’s that color. So if you give it some balance …
TOM: The more color you bring in, the more neutral it becomes.
LINDA: That’s true. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pat in Illinois finds The Money Pit on WYLL. What can we do for you today?
PAT: Hi. I’m calling – I have a question regarding radiant – my radiant heating system. It’s hot water radiant. The pipes are in the basement floor. But my concern is up in the ceiling. I’ve been having a – I had the house winterized and the people who were out here, they said they could not add any insulation up into the attic, which is a crawl space, due to the fact that there was a leak in the roof. Now, my question is with the thin layer of insulation that’s up there right now, when the pipes up there start heating with the cold ceiling, could that cause enough condensation to drop on the floorboards up there to appear like there’s a leak – leaks in the roof?
TOM: Not likely. Not likely. But you know, you could insulate the pipes if you like.
PAT: Is that right?
TOM: Yeah. Just insulate the pipes with some pipe insulation.
TOM: I don’t think you’re going to have enough to cause a heavy condensation issue. First you’d have to have a lot of humidity up there and, in the winter time, the air is going to be drier. So that’s not …
LESLIE: It’s going to be the same as it is outside.
TOM: Yeah, it’s not going to be likely to cause condensation.
PAT: So I have to look – have to go to a roofer then and find out where …
TOM: Yeah, fix that roof leak. That’s your number one problem.
TOM: Because you know, you’re going to have all kinds of hurt if you don’t get that fixed. You’re going to – you’re talking about structural issues and mold issues and all kinds of things. So get that roof addressed first.
PAT: OK, well thank you so much for your advice.
LESLIE: Jeremy in Washington, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
JEREMY: Yes. I had a light fixture fall on one of those newer laminate floors.
JEREMY: And – in my kitchen. And it left – the nut on the light fixture left a big dent in that laminate flooring.
TOM: Did it break off the surface of the laminate or is it a physical sort of depression?
JEREMY: It’s more – it broke through the surface of the laminate and into the material that’s underneath the laminate.
TOM: OK. And so, how big are we talking about?
JEREMY: Oh, we’re talking about 3/8 of an inch in diameter and maybe 3/16 to a quarter inch deep.
TOM: Not such a problem. Most major manufacturers – do you happen to know which manufacturer made the product that you have in the kitchen?
JEREMY: Not off the top of my head.
TOM: Well, most major manufacturers have touch-up kits available for this very situation. They usually include an acrylic putty that is available …
LESLIE: That’s used as a filler.
TOM: Yeah, as a filler that’s similar in colors to the colors that laminates are available in. If you can’t find one that’s sort of dead-on perfect, sometimes what you have to do is buy the one that’s a bit lighter and the one that’s a bit darker than that …
LESLIE: And blend them in between.
TOM: … and sort of blend them a little bit to kind of like smooth it all out. But a small area like that, where it’s 3/8 in diameter, you can build that up. And kind of like filling any hole, you don’t want to do it all in one application. You want to do it in several smaller applications, Jeremy; not just do it all in one fell swoop because it could shrink and crack and then it’s not going to look very good at all.
JEREMY: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: Thinking about buying a new mower for your house? Wondering which the best one is? Well, the ratings are in. We’re going to have the expert that actually put that report together from Consumer Reports on the show after this.
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TOM: 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. If you’re working in your house or if you’re working outside your house, whatever your home improvement projects might be, call us right now. We’ll do our best to get you the answer and some of the tools to get the job done.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. So we know that you’re not thrilled with your lawn half of the time. But a new …
TOM: And how do we know that?
LESLIE: Because a new online survey by Consumer Reports found that 43 percent of those polled had complaints about their neighbor’s lawn also.
LESLIE: So if you’re not liking your own lawn, you’re not even liking your neighbor’s lawn.
TOM: Well, the May issue of Consumer Reports magazine has tips on what to look for in a mower so that you can get that lawn looking better and perhaps you can do the neighborly and go over and …
LESLIE: And move over to the neighbor’s lawn as well. (chuckling)
TOM: … help out your neighbor as well. And it’s got all the ratings that we know and love for all of those new mowers and tractors. The guy that gets to test them all out is Peter Sawchuck and he joins us right now to talk about the new mowers.
PETER: Tom, how are we doing?
TOM: Good. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and thanks for climbing down off that mower for a bit of time.
PETER: Oh, hey, it’s my pleasure and we’ve got lots to talk about here.
TOM: Peter, let’s talk about some of the new – the new features that you’re seeing in lawn mowers that are out today. You’ve got some new features like electric starting and wide cutting blades and a lot lower cost. What are some of the new features that manufacturers are rolling out right now that you saw in all of these tests that you did?
PETER: We certainly did see more units with electric starting. That’s not new but it’s been around but you’re seeing more units with it as we’ve got an aging population. You’re also seeing more emphasis on what we call the infinite drive system and they all have different names for it. But basically it gives you varying speed (INAUDIBLE) the faster you walk the faster you can go. So you can actually set the pace by which you mow.
LESLIE: So you’re not being dragged around the yard.
PETER: Exactly. Or you know, without it going too slow.
The other thing that was new that we saw this year on walk-behind mowers, on Toros, is Toros for the first time – now this is not new because when I worked for Troy-Bilt and we made Boen’s mowers we actually had a washout port. But in the last 10 years, they’ve put what’s called a washout port. It’s a little hose connection on the deck of the mower so you can take your garden hose, connect it to the mower, start up the – you know, turn on the hose and then start up the mower and clean out the inside without having to turn it over and have gasoline and oil …
TOM: Wow, that sounds pretty cool.
LESLIE: That’s really cool.
PETER: It is and it’s a very good idea; particularly if you’re mulching. You need a clean deck inside.
TOM: Yeah, and it helps you keep it there a whole lot easier than having to flip it upside down and do it the hard way.
PETER: Yes, it is.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about the different types of mowers that you test. You divide them up into four categories: rear wheel drive, infinite drive speeds, premium engine and a blade brake clutch. What are the key differences if you’re shopping for a mower among these different types?
PETER: Yeah, among those features, if you’re going to – particularly if you’re going to bag or, you know, if it takes you an hour or more to mow your lawn, then certainly you’re going to want self-propelled with the infinite speeds. And rear wheel drive is far superior to the front wheel drive; particularly when your bag fills up with grass clippings.
The other one that I encourage people to look at are what we call a premium engine. That’s an engine that either has overhead valves or overhead cams on it. The Honda engines are, for instance, all premium engines. And other engines that are premium engines are labeled as such; usually as overhead valve engines. Those engines will last longer and, more importantly, those engines start easier as they get older.
LESLIE: What about for folks who have a lot of property and they tend to be on those lawn tractors? Anything new from that category?
PETER: Well actually, the biggest news this season, from my viewpoint – and obviously I’m looking at a lot of this equipment – is in the riding products. John Deere, of course, has maintained its first and high priority among our testing; that is, it’s come out first. They’re just first class. But surprisingly, this year, Craftsman – which has been OK but not great – has come out with a new 46-inch deck. It’s a twin-blade, 46-inch deck that is, from our testing, is – cuts every bit as well as the Deere 42-inch deck.
PETER: And the prices are pretty much the same. So now you’ve got a Craftsman tractor featured basically the same; you know, with the same convenience. It’s almost a copy of the John Deere …
PETER: … in terms of convenience but yet, with a 46 versus a 42-inch deck that cuts just as well. So it’s – sure, it’s four inches wider but, you know, if you’re cutting three acres, that’s going to make a …
TOM: Yeah, that adds up. (chuckling)
LESLIE: That’s going to make a big difference.
PETER: Yeah, that’s a pass or two less. And it really surprised me because Craftsman’s kind of been ho-hum to me; you know, in terms of …
PETER: … the performance that we see. And this replaces the 42-inch deck at the same price.
LESLIE: Now that’s quite a sizable riding mower. What if you’ve got a lot of obstacles in the yard; trees, playground equipment, something that you need to really maneuver around? Have we seen advancements there?
PETER: There have been advances. But let me tell you one thing for openers. Most of the lawn tractors steer a lot tighter than they used to steer. So before you pay extra money to buy a tight-turning unit, I strongly suggest that you kind of try or look at the standard lawn tractors. If you do need more tight turning, there are several out there. One that’s particularly nice is this John Deere X-304 which is four-wheel steering. The rear wheels pivot or help in the steering. That’s tight turning and that’s our number one-rated lawn tractor. That’s just a beautiful lawn tractor.
Cub Cadet has just come out – and you’ll see this advertised at Home Depot – with what’s called the I-1046 and there’s also a model called the I-1050. And what they’ve done there is made a very tight – the wheels turn almost at right angles to the tractor.
PETER: It turns very tight.
TOM: So you can really turn the whole thing on a dime.
PETER: Very much. It’s like the lever steer units which are called zero-turn radius units – ZTR – which means they can pivot on themselves. You know, you’ll see people sitting up on the seats. It’s what you see most of your commercial cutters using. Those are out there. Some of the problems with those is some people find using the levers a bit awkward.
TOM: Peter Sawchuck from Consumer Reports, thanks for so much great information.
If you’d like more details – I know there’s a lot to think about – you can check out the article on mowers and tractors. The report is in the May issue of Consumer Reports, available wherever magazines are sold and online at ConsumerReports.org.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, April showers might be over but wind and rain are always a possibility. So you want to make sure that your roof is ready for the rain. We’re going to go over some useful ways to do it yourself, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, available right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to today is going to win that Ryobi One+ random orbital sander. It’s an 18-volt tool that comes with a battery and charger that can be used in any of Ryobi’s One+ tool line. There’s about 25 different tools plus four new lawn and garden tools that same battery can power. It’s a great prize. If you’ve got a home improvement question you could just win. But you’ve got to call us first. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Your roof – does it seem like the unknown frontier? And while hiring a licensed professional contractor is often the smart choice, roof inspection can be a do-it-yourself project. All you need is a spray nozzle and a hose, a ladder, a flashlight and a friend. (Tom chuckles) You want to start (Leslie chuckles) – just make sure you’re taking all the safety precautions and using the right equipment to get up there. Start off with one person on the roof with the hose while the other person is in the attic with a flashlight. Here’s where walkie-talkies come in real handy folks.
Up on the roof, you want to use a low water pressure setting to saturate areas that are about five feet by five feet square. And you want to work your way from the lowest section of the roof to the highest. You don’t want to blast the water underneath the shingles because this could actually cause leaks. And remember, don’t stand on the wet parts because it could get really slippery up there.
TOM: And if you’re not comfortable walking on the roof, you know, you could just do this roof inspection …
LESLIE: Make the friend do it. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Well, yeah, or you could do it from the grade with a pair of binoculars. Not as effective as splashing your water down with the hose but you could do it also from the grade and you could look for things like loose flashing and loose shingles and things like that.
It’s also a good time to consider upgrading your roof’s protection.
LESLIE: Yeah, you want to make sure that you or your roofer – whoever’s doing the work – uses a premium waterproof roofing material. And Tom and I recommend something like Grace Tri-Flex 30 or even Grace Ice & Water Shield. And both go underneath a roof’s shingles and that’s going to really prevent water from getting into the house. If you want some more information on how to properly waterproof your home or your home’s roof, you can visit GraceAtHome.com.
TOM: That’s GraceAtHome.com or call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Larry in Utah, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
LARRY: Hi. I’ve got a house that was made in 1927 and I want to finish the basement with some sheetrock and that and maybe put a couple walls up. But I don’t want to drill any holes into it and damage the structure of the wall or the floors. Is there something I can do to attach things securely without drilling holes in it?
TOM: Well, I wouldn’t be too concerned about drilling a few holes in the concrete walls. I mean it’s not going to hurt.
LESLIE: Because you’re going to have to build some framework in front of the existing walls. Because if your walls are concrete as well, you don’t want to put your new wallboards right in front of it because then you’ll have a moisture problem because the moisture will be wicking through the concrete. So you want – what? – like six inches?
TOM: Yeah. And you want to build like a fake wall in front of the exterior foundation wall. So you would stud out a wall, start with a pressure-treated sill at the bottom, stud it up in wood. You can attach the top sill to the floor joist above. No reason you can’t do that. And then you’re going to want to drywall that area.
LARRY: OK, but to anchor it to the floor or the walls – I have no cracks, no leaks on anything. I don’t want to …
TOM: You’re not going to cause a crack or a leak.
LESLIE: No. Just drilling and screwing into that concrete slab is not going to.
LARRY: Oh, OK. So, would I use some kind of like a hardened screw to attach the stuff in there?
TOM: Yeah. It’s called a Tapcon.
LESLIE: And you need the Tapcon attachment. It looks like a – it’s got a long drill-bit and then this piece slides over it and has the driver bit for the Tapcon head. And that will do a really great job of conquering through the concrete and getting you a secure fastener. You might want to also – if you don’t have – rent a hammer drill for the day.
TOM: You know, Larry, my house was built in 1886 and I recently had to build a very secure bench in the basement to hold some storage; had to be really solid. And I, you know, Tapcon my way right into 125, 135-year-old brick. And no problem. Did a great job. Clean connections. Real strong. And you know, really, no structural damage whatsoever. So I would have no fear about using something like that to tap this sill plate into the floor.
LARRY: Alright. Well, thank you very much. I’ll check that out then.
TOM: You’re welcome, Larry. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’re going to talk to Dick in Virginia. What’s happening with the flooring at your house?
DICK: Well, it’s stretching away from the wall.
LESLIE: OK, what type of flooring do you have in there?
DICK: It’s a sheet vinyl flooring and in two places it is pulling away from the wall. And one place is about an inch and a half and another about three quarters of an inch.
TOM: Oh wow, that’s a lot. Now you’re sure it’s not the wall moving away from the floor? (chuckling)
DICK: (chuckling) Right.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Wow, my house is growing. This is amazing.
TOM: I don’t think you’re going to get it to stretch back, Dick, so you’re going to probably have to replace that flooring.
LESLIE: How old is that floor?
DICK: Well, the house is 10 years old and the entire first floor is sheet vinyl.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t – I think you’ve got a lot of shrinkage there. I don’t think you’re going to be able to stretch back. So, we don’t have any miracle cure for you. I thought that you were going to tell me it was simply loose and peeling up. But if it’s actually shortened away from the wall that much and so much so that you can’t cover it with molding – which, if it’s an inch away, you certainly cannot – then you’re going to have to replace it.
DICK: Yeah. In a couple of places I can – I’ve got half-inch shoe moulding down. I can put one-inch and cover it in a couple of places but this …
TOM: Yeah. I think it’s time to talk about new flooring for you, Dick. Yeah, you might want to think about looking at some laminate options. You can go right on top of that vinyl. Looks great. Much more maintenance free. Super durable. And it doesn’t shrink; most importantly for you. (Leslie chuckles)
DICK: Well, that’s bad news.
TOM: Yeah. Sorry, Dick.
LESLIE: Sorry, Dick.
TOM: But the good news is you’re going to get a new floor, Dick.
TOM: Think of it positively, man.
TOM: Alright. Go forth and improve that home. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. We are going to level the playing field. Up next, we’re going to help one listener get an uneven floor ready for carpeting.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Where you can pick up the phone and call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT. We always have a live call screener standing by to take your home improvement question. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are. And you can also go to our website at MoneyPit.com, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question. If you’re a bit shy, you don’t want to pick up the phone, you can just e-mail us your question and we’ll e-mail you back your answer. Or we’ll do it right now on the program.
Let’s get started with Shirley from Lincoln, Nebraska.
LESLIE: Okey-dokes. Shirley writes: ‘My family room was built on a concrete slab. We used regular bricks and mortar for a floor. I need something to fill in all of the floor and make it level because I really want to put carpeting over it. There is also a clear coat of something on it that was used to seal the floor.’
TOM: Interesting. Well, you’re going to need something very, very thick for that.
LESLIE: Because there’s a lot of areas of different.
TOM: Yeah. What you might want to think about doing – I’m assuming, now, that this is a finished room and it’s a heated room. What you might want to do is put down a subfloor. I might recommend that you put down a tongue-and-groove plywood subfloor. It will be rather difficult …
LESLIE: Would you fir above the bricks first?
TOM: I think if the bricks are fairly flat and if it’s a thick plywood floor you could probably attach it right to the brick. But this was – this is going to give you a reasonably flat floor. Because if you use anything else – any other type of padding – it’s definitely not going to be flat. You need some sort of material there to sort of flatten out the unevenness of the brick.
The other thing that you might want to think about doing is if you don’t want to carpet but you want a different type of a hardwood floor, why don’t you think about using a laminate floor? Because I think laminate floor is probably dimensionally stable and structurally strong enough to be actually laid on top of that brick floor and still be relatively flat. It’s not, obviously, going to take any of the curves like carpet does. And then perhaps you could choose a laminate that looks like hardwood and then put some throw rugs around it.
So there’s a couple of options for you, Shirley. Quite an unusual construction, though, to have a brick floor be inside your house.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Brick and mortar floor.
LESLIE: Alright, our next one is from Jean in Pottstown, Pennsylvania who writes: ‘I had a sink in my basement. We had a clog in the drain line – the pipe going out to the street – and water backed up all over the basement. I took out the sink and capped the drain. Is there any way to use some sort of check valve to prevent this from happening again in the future?’
TOM: Yes, Jean, and what’s that called is a check valve. (Leslie chuckles) Go figure. Yeah, there is actually a check valve that will only allow the water to roll one way. And also, with those sinks in the basement, you’ve got to make sure that you are draining it properly. Because, very often, the sinks are below the main drain to the house and sometimes you need to use a lift pump that actually lifts up that water and runs it out with a little more – a little more height that gives you a little more speed and kind of prevents some of that backup from happening quite as easily. But certainly a check valve is possible and that would be the solution to that problem, Jean.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got another here. Gloria from Brightwood, Oregon writes: ‘We had someone apply deck stain on our cedar shake roof. Do you recommend deck stain for a roof? We notice after only five months the shakes are cracking and curling.’
TOM: I don’t think we recommend any type of a finish for a cedar roof.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) No.
TOM: I mean cedar deck, yes; cedar roof, no. And if they’re cracking and curling, they probably used something that really sealed it in. One of the – one of the ways that roofs work – cedar roofs work – is …
LESLIE: Because they breathe.
TOM: Yes. Well, they get wet but then they dry out. The water evaporates. But when you put a sealer on it, you stop that from happening and, as a result, you will get curling and cracking and buckling. So, not a good idea. I would let it ride the way it is now. It’s probably not going to have a terribly long-term effect but definitely don’t do that again. It’s designed to look aged. Just let it be.
LESLIE: Alright. And those cedar shake roofs are so gorgeous. So just enjoy its natural look.
TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
Hey, coming up next week on the show, hidden home dangers. We’re going to tell you why household accidents and injuries happen when you least expect them because of items in your home that might seem perfectly harmless. You’re going to be really surprised when you find out how many danger zones there are and we’ll tell you what you need to do to avoid them.
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 2007 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.)