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: Making good homes better at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. This is where work and fun meet. If you have a home improvement question, if it’s stressing you out, if you’re not getting the job done, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, because home improvement should be fun. So …
TOM: It should be fun.
LESLIE: … we’ve got the answers to help you make it really easy, folks.
TOM: If you don’t know the difference between a claw hammer and a claw foot tub, no worries. (Leslie chuckles) No judgment here. We will help you out. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, one fits in your tool belt and one doesn’t. (chuckling)
TOM: (chuckling) And one you fit in. (Leslie laughs)
You know, it’s spring cleaning season and if your to-do list includes closets, we have a good show in store for you because we’re going to have tips to help you organize that will help save your sanity and make your closets a bit safer.
LESLIE: And coming up, in a rain storm you might think that the most vulnerable part of your home is your roof. Well, that’s only half right. Coming up, we’re going to talk about some of those lesser known areas that you need to know about to help you spot and stop those leaks in their tracks.
TOM: And if your home is like mine, you probably have some large buckets laying about; you know, around your garage or your basement. Hopefully not under your roof leaks. (Leslie chuckles) But I bet you didn’t know …
LESLIE: That’s where I thought you were going with it. (chuckling)
TOM: No. Actually, these buckets – you know, we have them from, you know, the laundry detergent and, you know, of course my spackle buckets and things like that. They’re very handy to have around. But you might not know that they can also be very dangerous to small children. This is just one of the many items inside your house that you may not be aware of that can be dangerous to kids. So coming up later, we’re going to interview the executive director of the Home Safety Council to talk about the top five danger zones for kids in your home and tell you what to do to make them safe.
LESLIE: And we’ve got the tools to make things safe as well. We’re going to be giving away a Ryobi One+ pole pruner to one caller today who calls up and asks their home improvement question on air. It’s a great tool for all of your spring and summer yard work. So you’ve got to be in it to win it, folks. Get to the phones.
TOM: Let’s spring into it right now. Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Brian in Arizona, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
BRIAN: I’ve got a question. Is it more cost effective, in the long run, to build a house out of concrete rather than wood and, you know, normal building materials?
TOM: Yes. If we’re talking about insulated concrete forms. Is that what you’re referring to?
BRIAN: Yeah, I’ve heard of a product. It’s foam blocks – interlocks.
BRIAN: It’s kind of like the LEGOs we had when we were kids and then you pour concrete down in the middle of it.
TOM: Yep. Exactly. They’re called ICFs – insulated concrete forms. And you’re exactly right in your description. You stack them up, much like oversized LEGO blocks. Inside of the foam blocks, you attach rebar – reinforcing rod. And then …
BRIAN: That was – OK, that was going to be my next question.
TOM: Right. Yeah, it gets – depends on the block design but usually the webbing is designed so that you can sort of snap the rebar in place. And these foam walls are braced, obviously, on both sides so that they don’t collapse under the weight of the wet concrete. And the concrete is poured from the top. It’s a little more liquid than it might be for, say, a driveway or a slab. It settles in there. And then once it dries, you have solid concrete exterior walls that are also super insulated.
And there’s a lot of advantages to this that you’d never get with a wood frame wall. For example, when you build an ICF house, you can downsize your heating system by one third. So if your wood frame house needed a 100,000 BTU furnace, your insulated concrete form house would need like a 70,000 BTU furnace. So you get a more energy efficient house. You also get a very storm-resistant house. You don’t have to worry about flying debris from tornadoes and hurricanes and things like this. You get a quieter house.
So, for all of those reasons, I think ICF is an excellent technology.
LESLIE: How does it compare cost wise?
TOM: It’s about – well, it used to be about five percent more but now that’s actually come down because it’s become more popular. So it costs about the same amount of money to build an ICF house as it does a stick-built wood frame house. So I think it’s a really good idea.
There is a website called ConcreteHomes.org that is put together by the Portland Cement Association which is an independent trade group of the concrete industry. And they did a really good job, on that site, of sort of collecting the information about concrete home technology. I actually have been following it for many years, Brian, and I really am impressed with the technology.
BRIAN: Excellent. Alright, excellent. So thank you guys so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Brian. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Wes in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
WES: Hi, folks. Sorry to bug you. But I’m looking to buy some …
TOM: That’s our job. (chuckling)
WES: (chuckling) Some stockade fence for my backyard …
WES: … here in Florida. And I want something that’s safe; that gives a lot of privacy for my kids, for my wife is she wants to go out back; stuff like that. What should I look for? What should I be concerned about? What will – what should I look for to keep from getting, you know, the mineral stains on there? Any ideas?
TOM: Well, you know, when it comes to fencing, your first choice is whether you want – if you want to go wood or PVC. If you want to go wood, then you have a variety of qualities from spruce up to cedar. If you’re going to put a wood fence in, you’ve got to stain it before you put it in if you want it to last.
LESLIE: And you want to account for some space so that the wood is not sitting directly on the floor except for the support posts. You want to make sure …
TOM: Which is where the bugs can get it.
LESLIE: Exactly. You want to get it away from that moisture. What do you need? Like six inches maybe?
TOM: Yeah. Well, maybe four, you know, inches underneath that.
LESLIE: Four. OK, because six is kind of high.
TOM: Yeah. But if you want to spend a little bit more money, the PVC is awesome, too. You know, the white, plastic fencing? More expensive than wood but pretty much lasts indefinitely. So those are your options.
WES: That’s what I’d like to get is the PVC. I just – you see sometimes when they get the orange mineral stains and I’d like to try to avoid that.
TOM: Well, that’s probably – that’s not orange mineral. That’s rust from your sprinkler system and hard water …
TOM: … that gets on that. And that’s going to happen whatever you have. If you’re getting those kinds of stains on your sidewalk and patio, you’re going to see it on the fence and you’re just going to have to clean it; unless you put a filtration system on your sprinkler water. That’s normally what’s causing that.
WES: Yeah, I’ve seen it on other people’s fences. I haven’t had that problem myself so …
WES: Then I should be safe, then. Good.
TOM: Yeah. And if you aim those sprinklers so they don’t hit the fence, better yet.
WES: (chuckling) That’s a good point. (Leslie chuckles) Thank you both very much. Appreciate it.
LESLIE: John in Michigan listens in on Discovery satellite radio. What can we do for you today?
JOHN: Yeah, I was just wondering – I trimmed my house all out of cedar. And bottom is changing colors from the top. I was just wondering what kind of material should I use like to put on it. You know, I know if I pressure wash the bottom it’ll come back to the natural color but I like that natural wood finish.
LESLIE: Did you put anything on it initially or is it raw?
JOHN: It’s just wood; like rough-cut cedar lumber.
TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you, we had cedar siding on our house. I’ve had it one for many, many years. And for the first 10 or so years it was OK with a clear finish. But the sun eventually got to it and started to darken it.
LESLIE: And starts to gray it.
TOM: And what I found was the best thing to do was to use an oil-based primer that has tannin-blocking qualities. This is the bleeding that sort of comes out of the cedar after a long period of time and it’s sort of black and dark. And you need an oil-based primer to seal that in. So we used an oil-based primer; sprayed it on first. And then I used a solid color stain on top of that.
Now, if you want it to look natural, then use a natural color stain. You’re not going to be able to maintain the true natural appearance of the wood indefinitely. But if you use a cedar color stain on top of it, then, you know, you have half a chance of having it look fairly natural. And if you use a tanning-blocking primer underneath it, then it’s going to stay on there for the long haul. That was really the key. The primer is so important.
LESLIE: Yeah, but that’s if you want a solid color. If you want to see the grain you – you know, you’ve got to do something different.
TOM: Well, but the thing is if you put solid color on it, you’re still going to see the grain. You’re still going to see the grain through the solid color because – you’re just not going to see differences in the grain color but you will still see grain. It’s not the same as paint. Many people confuse solid color stain with paint. It’s not the same thing.
LESLIE: Yeah, but sometimes solid color stain is so heavily saturated that you just lose a lot of the characteristics of the wood and it almost looks like paint but the difference being the wood is absorbing it rather than it sitting on top.
TOM: Yeah, but when it’s 10 years old, I really think that’s the best way to go. If it was newer, you know, then you had a chance of doing it.
LESLIE: I would say, John, if you want to see the natural wood and you’ve gotten it fairly clean, I would use a cleanser that’s made for exterior wood; something that’s used to bring back the color. And one of them that I know is called DEKSWOOD and it’s by a company called Flood. You can get it at The Home Depot or any other home center. And that goes on. And you know, it’s a pretty hefty cleanser but it really does work great to get rid of all of the, you know, grayed and weatheredness that sort of has saturated into the wood. And once you get it back to the natural surface and let it dry up, then I would use a clear wood finish for exterior woods that’s oil-based to help seal in those tannins and to keep that color looking more uniform. I mean those are two options.
JOHN: Well, I appreciate your help.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Are you looking to create that home improvement project of your dreams? Well, if you are and you don’t know where to start or you don’t know how to finish it, you can call us right now with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, are your closets overflowing with stuff? Well, when you try to locate something that can be a real mess. Can also be dangerous. Up next, we’re going to give you some tips that will keep you organized and help you keep your sanity at the same time.
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: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Our motto: measure twice, cut once and keep a fire extinguisher handy (Leslie chuckles) because you never know. And you want – we want you to be safe when you tackle those home improvement projects. Give us a call. We’ll show you how. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, and you know what happens if you call that number and ask your home improvement question on air? You’re going to get a fantastic answer and you’re also going to get the chance to win a great prize. It’s the Ryobi One+ pole pruner. You can trim small branches and limbs that are even over your head because it’s got a telescoping handle. It’s a kick-butt tool. It’s brand new. It works off their One+ system so you can interchange this battery with any of the other tools in the One+ line. It’s worth 100 bucks but it can be yours for free if you call in now.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You know, it occurs to me that Ryobi’s never had that kind of testimonial for their tool before.
LESLIE: What do you mean? It’s a kick-butt tool?
TOM: That’s a kick-butt tool, yeah. (laughing)
LESLIE: They are, though. It’s so great. You know, when I think about my life before the One+ system – and not even fooling you (Tom chuckles) – I had so many different things; different vendors, different brands, all these different batteries.
TOM: I know.
LESLIE: And it was a huge mess in the garage. So, I’m thrilled.
TOM: My son and I built an entire shed on our property with our One+ kit because we just kept changing out the batteries. Had one in the charger at all times, one in the tool. And you know, we didn’t have to run, you know, 100 feet of cord out. It was very, very convenient. It’s a great system.
LESLIE: And you know I love organized, tidy areas. So it puts my mind at rest.
TOM: And that’s why, right now, we’re going to talk about organizing that closet. You know, if you have a closet, it’s stuffed full; it’s a mess to navigate; you can’t find everything.
LESLIE: Oh, just the thought of that is making me crazy.
TOM: Yeah, right? Or you can find it but it topples on top of you? Well, it’s time to organize. AARP has some tips to help you that’s going to save your sanity and one day maybe save your independence. First of all, get rid of the stuff you don’t need or use. You want to toss, sell or donate as much as possible. Next, go shopping for a closet organizing system. You know, they’re cheap. These systems have clothing rods, shelves, drawers. They have everything that you need that will help you put your hands on what you need when you need it.
LESLIE: And when you’re doing the shopping, you really want to think specifically about who’s going to be using this closet. Think about things like does someone in the house have a wheelchair or is this going to be a child’s closet that we’re organizing. If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you don’t want to place the drawers more than 30 inches off of the floor. And you want to see if you can find full extension drawers because full extension drawers allow you to pull the drawer out far enough to see everything that’s stored in there. And make the higher drawers more shallow than the lower drawers, which can be really deep. And if you’re choosing wooden drawers, use D-shaped or U-shaped handles because they’re really easy to grip for anyone in the house.
And finally, make sure that your closet is well lit so that you can clearly see everything and exactly where it is. And once it’s clean, folks, keep it that way. Keep organized. Stay on it once in a while.
If you want some more info, you can go to AARP.org/HomeDesign. Website again is AARP.org/HomeDesign.
TOM: Or call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Paula in Virginia’s got a freezing farmhouse. What can we do for you?
PAULA: And the farmhouse is truly freezing. We have to replace the pipes. They’re galvanized iron. And we have to replace them between the kitchen and the bathroom. Now, what would be the best material to use to replace them, number one? And right now, the pipes are in such an area that maybe an eight-year-old, 50-pound child would be able to get to them. (Tom and Leslie laugh)
LESLIE: Well, if your house is a 100 years old, we’re talking child labor laws. (chuckling)
TOM: You know, what would be a good option for you, right now, is a material that’s gaining a lot of popularity called PEX; P-E-X. It stands for cross-linked polyethylene piping. And one of the reasons it’s nice is that it’s a lot easier to work with. It can actually be snaked.
LESLIE: Well, it’s flexible.
TOM: It’s flexible so it can be snaked inside of wall and floor spaces that you can’t get somebody …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Similar to how electrical piping is.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. So I would look into PEX and talk with plumbers that are using PEX piping. That would probably be a great choice for you in this particular situation. You can always use copper but then you’re going to probably have a lot more destruction before you get to the construction because you’ll have to tear open floors and walls and things like that to get access to these pipes.
But I’ll tell you, with the age of that house, that piping – you can’t do this any – you can’t do this too soon because that plumbing is going to continue to rust and eventually you’re going to get a leak in that space and then you’ll have no choice about having to get in there. You’ll have to do it right quick.
PAULA: Well, that’s what happened this year. It …
TOM: Oh, too late, Tom. (laughing)
PAULA: Yeah. No, we were able to patch the leak but that’s when we found out how hard it was to get to the pipe and how bad they were. So, it’s going to be more than a weekend project. (chuckling)
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: Yeah, that’s for sure. That’s for sure.
Paula, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Phil in New York, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
PHIL: Yeah, hi. I had a question about installing a roof.
PHIL: And I guess – what happened was I got ripped off the first time and had to have the roof redone a second time. And they were talking about putting on, I guess, ice and water shield. And the question was to what extent do you need ice and water shield on the roof? Do you need to put it on the entire roof or – and also, do you need felt as well – in addition to the Ice and water shield.
TOM: Great question. Both products have a separate purpose. Now, Ice and water shield is designed to stop ice damming or water that backs up, say, from your gutters and getting into the roof surface. It’s typically only installed on the first …
LESLIE: At overhang areas?
TOM: Well, no. The first three feet. In the northern part of the country, it’s typically only installed at the roof edge. And the reason for that is because the overhang being out there in midair will freeze in the winter time and then water runs down the roof, it hits that overhang and it freezes because that’s going to be colder than directly over the heated space of your house.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s like the bridge may freeze before the road.
TOM: Exactly. And so, what happens is the water hits that ice dam and then backs up under the roof shingles and causes leaks. So, in our area of the country we typically only put this up to the first three feet.
Now, if you live down in Florida where hurricanes are an issue and shingles get ripped off of roofs and rain flies sideways on a regular basis, down there, typically they’ll put Ice and water shield sometimes across the entire roof.
Now, up here in New York I would put it on the first three feet and then in terms of the felt paper, that goes over that. But rather than put felt paper, there’s a high-tech synthetic material called Tri-Flex 30 that’s made by Grace. And it’s much more durable. It’s synthetic underlayment. Much more durable than tar paper. It can go on, it can be exposed to water, it’s not slippery and it’s going to be a better product to put under the roof.
Phil, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mariana in Rhode Island finds The Money Pit on WPRO. What can we do for you today?
MARIANA: Hi. We just recently moved into a new house. New dishwasher, new flatware. But I find that it leaves stains. It looks like there are rust stains on the flatware. And I was wondering if you had any suggestions.
LESLIE: What is your flatware made out of? Is it sterling? Is it stainless?
MARIANA: It’s stainless. I tried to buy like that 18/10 – you know, they told me …
LESLIE: Oh, it’s like the middle of the road between the sterling and the stainless. I have the same. You should never, ever put the sterling silver – even that derivative of sterling; the in-between one that you have – in the dishwasher because when you wash them, they need to dry immediately. So if you were to handwash them and then hand dry them you would get no spots. It’s something about the metal and the heat and sitting in the dryer causes them to wear really easily. And if you do have stainless and you do have real silver, you should never wash them together because one reacts with the other. So it’s always best to just handwash your silver or, if you’re going to put them in the dishwasher, take them out before the drying phase and just dry them real quick.
TOM: And Mariana, if that’s like way too much trouble for you and you don’t care that much about your flatware, what you might also want to try is a rinsing agent like JET-DRY or something of that nature because what that does is that coats your dishes in the rinse cycle and it helps the water evaporate off them more quickly.
LESLIE: Like it beads up off of it.
TOM: Yeah, it’s kind of like – it beads up a bit and it runs off more quickly and reduces spotting.
MARIANA: OK, great. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, you may have a few items around your house that are seemingly harmless; things that you use every day. But did you know that those things can also be deadly to children? Up next, we’ll have the scoop on the five home hidden dangers from the executive director of the Home Safety Council when she joins us, after this.
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: It’s home repair because we care. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974, with your home improvement question; especially if it has to do with child safety.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. You might not realize it but there are probably some things around your home right now that could prove to be deadly; especially to a child. And as a parent, you most likely have safety-proofed your home but there could be some key areas that you might have missed.
TOM: That’s right. And joining us to tell us about those top five hidden danger zones is Meri-K Appy. She’s with the Home Safety Council.
MERI-K: Hi, Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: Hi, Meri-K.
TOM: Unfortunately, this is a busy time of year for you. I think with the throwing up of the windows and everybody wants to get outside, there are a whole lot more places for kids to get hurt.
MERI-K: Absolutely. Summertime can present some special risks. So I’m glad we’re talking about that today.
LESLIE: Well, I know – especially in New York City, when I was living in an apartment – we had special guards on the window and sometimes they seemed flimsy. But they were state mandated. We had to have them in the city. Do you find that these safety guards are a general rule across the country or is it really based on if you know about them people are getting them?
MERI-K: I think people all too often don’t even think about their window as being a risk to children. And as a result – particularly during the spring and summer months – we experience a lot of injuries and deaths to kids because folks are trusting the screens to keep their children inside. So I wish everybody had either window guards or window stops to prevent the window from opening enough to let a child fall through the window.
You never want to trade off your safety when you’re concerned about security. And too many firefighters have experienced the excruciating situation of responding to a fire but not being able to get in because the guards did not have a quick release mechanism and they can’t get inside fast enough. So it’s really important as you’re – if you’re deciding on a security bar system, you need to have at least one set in a window needed for escape that can be opened immediately from inside just by pushing a button or stepping on a lever to pop open that window guard immediately.
You don’t want to ever put yourself in a situation where you are really trapped inside that room. If you can’t get out your primary exit – through the door – you may need to get out the window and that has to be opened. Some folks’ windows won’t open because they’re simply painted shut, too. So being able to open that window is very important.
TOM: So we’re talking about windows, but let’s move on to a couple of other summertime dangers. How about poisons that look like food?
MERI-K: Now the poison control centers, in 2005, reported some 2.4 million poisoning exposures that people called in to the poison control centers. Huge number. And more than half were to kids under the age of six. We have a lot of stuff in our homes that may have a label on it with the word ‘caution’ or ‘warning’ or ‘danger.’ And yet, they’re right within sight and reach of children. Sometimes the cleaning products we use may be in the shape of a bottle, of a beverage …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And sometimes the labels are really friendly and encouraging.
MERI-K: That’s right. You might see a fruit slice on the label that suggest, to an adult, this smells delightful; like a piece of fruit. But to a child, it could be mistaken for something they could eat or drink. So do a good sweep of your home. Look where you store your household products and if you see any of those signal words, know that that’s a product that needs to be locked away out of sight and reach of children, using a child safety lock.
And just taking the kids’ eye view of things. We have to get down – even crawling around – to see what is within sight and reach of our children that they might misunderstand, get a hold of and then have a real problem.
LESLIE: What do you think people need to do when taking precautions in their home for fire safety? How many fire alarms are enough? How do you take extra precautions with children in the house?
MERI-K: This is a big topic. Number one, parents and caregivers of young children particularly, should realize how fast and dangerous a fire is. It can go from ignition to flash over – when everything in the room is so super heated it bursts into flame – in as few as three minutes. The recent research is indicating that children often will sleep right through conventional smoke alarms. So, plan your escape with your children; practice it with them so that you’re confident you can wake up and get to everybody in time within that three minute horizon.
TOM: And you know, some of these modern smoke alarms now have add-ons to them. I think it’s Kidde that has one called a smoke sounder, which is an additional speaker, essentially, that is plugged into a 120-volt outlet that communicates wirelessly with the 9-volt smoke detector so that when the smoke detector goes off it actually triggers this speaker; this sounder that has, of course, 120 volts of power. But these 9-volt smoke detectors can only put out so many decibels and that’s the problem with them.
MERI-K: Well Tom, you’re talking about interconnected smoke alarms and you are right on. The beauty of an interconnected system, when the smoke alarm nearest the fire sounds, they all go off at once. And that gives you more time to snap into action, get to your family and get them to safety.
TOM: Next, choking on candy. You say that candy is often given to kids as a reward but, of course, there’s a lot of choking instances associated with it.
MERI-K: Yeah, candy is associated with about one in five of choking-related emergency room visits. And often, it does involve hard candy, which is just about the size of a child’s windpipe. It’s not only candy that’s an issue, though. Really, any hard, round item: a coin …
LESLIE: Even some toys.
MERI-K: Toys, yeah. In fact, what the Home Safety Council recommends is that parents and caregivers are aware of the size of that child’s windpipe, which is just about the size of a toilet paper – the cardboard tube inside of a toilet paper roll.
MERI-K: Right about that size. So if something is small enough to fit through there, it can choke a child.
TOM: And finally, Meri-K, you say a five-gallon bucket is also a danger. How so?
MERI-K: People just don’t realize. A small child can drown in as little as inch of water. So certainly, during the summer, yes, we’re worried about backyard pools; yes, we’re worried about wading pools and spas. But even a little bit of water in a bucket you may be using for an outdoor project can prove lethal to a child. So whenever you use a bucket, empty it immediately and store it upside down where kids can’t get a hold of it.
TOM: Meri-K Appy, great information. Thanks so much for filling us in with these great details from the Home Safety Council. It’s always important to think about the obvious sometimes so we keep our kids safe.
If you want more information, you can learn about home hidden dangers at HomeSafetyCouncil.org.
LESLIE: Man, just when you thought you were safe in your own home. That really is some very valuable information. Thanks so much.
Alright, Money Pit listeners. Up next, are you wondering what the biggest danger is to your home’s structure. Well, it’s water. We’re going to teach you about some high-risk areas around your windows and doors and how to keep them leak free, next.
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: Do you like a pressure washer? Well, consider us a pressure washer for your to-do list because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we make good homes better.
LESLIE: We even make home improvement fun and we keep your wallet full because we give away free prizes. If you call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, someone that we’re going to talk to today and give valuable home improvement advice to is going to win a Ryobi One+ pole pruner. It’s the latest addition to the One+ line and it’s going to make your yard work a breeze. It’s worth 100 bucks and it comes with a battery charger and once you’ve got this tool you can build up your entire power tool arsenal because all of the tools in the One+ line work off the same battery. So no more clutter. Like I said, worth 100 bucks but could be yours for free if you call 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, let’s talk now a bit about waterproofing and how to keep your home leak free. You know, proper waterproofing and window flashing are really the best way to make sure that your home construction/remodeling projects are top-notch and long-lasting. The corners of windows and doors, these are the most vulnerable parts of your wall system and they’re rarely flashed correctly. They just don’t get this right. The contractors, as hard as they try, this is where the windows, the doors; they always leak. The water gets in your walls, then you get rot, decay and mold and that’s not good.
LESLIE: Yeah, which is why flashing these areas, it’s very difficult because of odd shapes and the sharp 90-degree angles are just hard for you to get to or the person doing the work; especially if you’re dealing with inflexible metal flashings. And most people don’t realize – even the pros – that there are some better choices out there. You can even find flexible, self-adhering rubberized flashing products. And one such product is the Grace VYCORners and it’s a prefabricated plastic corner. It totally seals your window at its most vulnerable area. And a few staples is all it takes and they’re designed to fit any window or door. Plus, when you install them with a premium peel and stick membrane, such as Grace Vycor Plus, you’re going to get a durable, water and air tight bond which, of course, all adds up to no leaks.
If you want some more information about weatherproofing your home, you can visit www.GraceAtHome.com.
TOM: Or call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Earl in Wisconsin finds The Money Pit on WCLO and you’re already thinking air conditioning, huh? How can we help?
EARL: I have air conditioning installed through the attic of the house. Had an energy audit done. They told me the pipes – they’re flexible pipes – in the attic were leaking. They’re wrapped with insulation. They’re covered with insulation. How do I go about finding it?
TOM: Well, the energy audit should have pinpointed this. It sounds to me like what you’re talking about here is flex duct. And the flex duct, where it attaches to the solid duct, is probably not sealed very, very well. Now, the best way to find this is by physically doing an inspection. Can you access the attic? Is it big enough for you to walk around or crawl around in, Earl?
TOM: Well, what you’re looking for are the connections between the flex duct and the solid duct. I would turn the air conditioning system on or, you know, if it’s still a little too chilly, just turn the fan on full blast. Go up there and inspect the connections between the flex duct and the solid duct. They’re usually attached with what kind of looks like a long zip tie around it. And that’s going to probably be leaking in some of the areas and you may have to cut the tie off and then put a new one on. You can buy those at an HVAC supply heating, heating supply, air conditioning supply place or at a home center. You want to get a good, solid connection between the flex duct and the solid duct. And that’s most likely what’s causing this issue. And it’s pretty easy to fix once you see the area that’s leaking and it’s easy to feel this area with your hand as you get into that space.
Earl, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
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: You’re welcome, Jeremy. Let us know how you make out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, Leslie, this would be a bad day. If you go down to your basement and you see your walls crumbling around you.
LESLIE: Ah, that would be really bad because maybe your house is coming down next.
TOM: (overlapping voices) That would kind of ruin your best day, you know? Because the whole gravity thing doesn’t work out so well.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, not working in your favor there.
TOM: Well, we’ve got an e-mail from a listener who’s trying to figure out how to fix some badly deteriorated basement walls and perhaps some of this advice could apply to your house as well. We’ll cover that after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We’re like a plunger in every room: handy and there when you need us. Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or log onto MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: So, does your home improvement project, say, involve getting a new refrigerator? Well, if it does, before you go about tossing your old refrigerator, ask your utility company about rebate programs. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask. And by federal law, utility companies must offer programs that encourage energy efficiency. And trading in your old icebox for an energy efficient model may just help you unfreeze some cash in the process. So it pays to ask those questions, folks.
TOM: Yeah, good point. And coming up in our next e-newsletter, we’re going to give you five tips on how you can keep your fridge running efficiently. Whether you’re tossing it out or not, you’ll want to sign up for our free e-newsletter at MoneyPit.com to get our next set of energy efficiency tips.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you are there, folks, remember there is that little icon that says Ask Tom and Leslie. And we will answer your e-mail questions on air or write back to you in your inbox. So, we’ve got one here from Kayla in Springfield, Minnesota who writes: ‘My daughter recently purchased an older home that has lots of character, until you get to the basement. The walls are crumbling. Under the crumbling cement is clay brick. What is the best way to take care of this problem.’
TOM: No, it’s actually not bad. Clay – structural clay brick is actually – or structural clay tile, I should say – is actually a very good wall system. It was used in the 30s predominantly. It looks like terra cotta tile. I mean it actually is a type …
TOM: … of tile but it’s a structural clay tile. Just the way – the same way you have concrete blocks that are concrete masonry blocks, these are tiles that are built in a structural way.
LESLIE: So the cement that’s on the outside is crumbling is really just a decorative element.
TOM: Correct. Correct. And sometimes these are also parged on the inside and the outside and again, doesn’t impact the structure. So our advice here, Kayla, is to simply remove the loose material. I would, though, give you this one caution and that is sometimes the mortar joints get soft and have to be repointed just like they do with old brick walls.
TOM: And that means that’s when you carve out the old mortar and actually replace it. So don’t get too aggressive on this. You know, on the outside, if you want to use a pressure washer, take it easy. On the inside, you want to remove only the loose stuff. If you want to use an epoxy patching compound as the repair here to give yourself a smooth, good-looking finish when you’re done, that’s going to have the best adhesion to this old, terra cotta clay tile. But it’s actually a classic foundation wall from homes that were constructed in the 1930s. It’s actually good stuff.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got another here; Gail from Harrisonburg, Virginia. ‘How do you fix a laminate floor squeak that was installed a year ago?’ They installed a squeak? (Tom and Leslie laugh) I know that’s (inaudible).
TOM: A little bit difficult to do this. But if you can get underneath and using a hole saw, if you can remove the subfloor without going through the laminate floor, you can squeeze some liquid nails up into there – some construction adhesive – and then replace the little piece of wood that you hole-sawed out. And that will usually put enough residual glue in that space to stop that squeak from getting any worse.
LESLIE: Alright. That’s a problem solved from the bottom up.
TOM: Well, it’s been a great hour and Leslie, now it is time, once again, to pack our bags because next week we hit the road.
TOM: It’s a Money Pit road trip.
TOM: We’re going to be going to the 2007 National Hardware Show in Orlando, Florida.
LESLIE: I love field trips.
TOM: It really is a work trip. Really. We’re not just going to hang out with the mouse.
LESLIE: No, but it’s so much fun because we get to see the coolest, the newest in everything that is at the National Hardware Show. When you think hardware, we’re not talking hinges or knobs or pulls; although they are there.
TOM: Yeah, people are like, ‘How many nuts and bolts can you see in like four days?’
LESLIE: A million square feet of nuts and bolts. (Tom chuckles) Interesting. No. Everything is new and exciting and as soon as we get there, we’re going to tell you everything we see.
TOM: It’s all the stuff that goes into your house from the shingles on down. It’s all the latest materials, tools, techniques, advice and trends. We’ll be covering it next week from Orlando, Florida. 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.
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(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.)