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 1 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 right now with your home improvement question. Call us right now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, call us. If you’re a direct-it-yourselfer, call us. If you want to avoid becoming a do-it-to-yourselfer (Leslie chuckles), call us. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888 …
LESLIE: Would that be when you hammer your fingers?
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. (Leslie chuckles) Exactly. You hammer your fingers. You nail your shoe to the floor. You know. All that kind of stuff.
LESLIE: You staple your shirt to the wall. (chuckling)
TOM: Yeah, you trip off the ladder. All those bad things. We can help you avoid that. Call us. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
We’ve got a great show planned for you today. First up, fall is in the air; the weather’s getting cooler; and it’s the perfect time for lots of great outdoor home improvement projects. It’s a great time to take care of outside woodwork, concrete steps, you name it. If it’s outside this is the time to fix it up. So coming up, we’re going to have the complete checklist of things that you can do to get started on those projects today.
LESLIE: Ooh, I love lists. And also this hour, your deck is more than likely made out of pressure-treated lumber. And that’s a great option because it’s going to stand up to those exterior elements a lot better. But the pressure treatment process actually some inherent flaws that can leave your wood vulnerable in some very specific areas. We’re going to tell you what those are and how you can make sure that your deck stands the test of time.
TOM: And we’re going to tell you why mounting a kitchen appliance like your microwave up on the wall might be a good space saver, but it’s probably not the best ergonomic design. You can really get hurt by appliances that are improperly mounted. So find out where to put appliances like microwaves so you can use them without stretching, reaching or bending.
LESLIE: And we’ve got a great prize this hour. It’s perfect for those leaves that are about to be falling from trees in many parts of this country. It is a blower vac from Homelite. It’s worth 99 bucks and it’s all you’re going to need for all of your fall cleanup chores. But you got to be in it to win it.
TOM: You get the answer to your home improvement question and the tools to get some of those projects done. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Toby in Kansas has got a flooring question. What can we do for you?
TOBY: We have hardwood floors in our kitchen hidden under several layers of other things.
TOBY: We’ve got – it’s hardwood floor. I peeled up a corner of it and it’s got that real old, first generation-type linoleum stuck to the hardwood itself.
TOBY: And then – and that’s basically what we’re getting down it. It has like that kitchen carpeting and then a bunch of other stuff on top of that.
LESLIE: Holy cow.
TOBY: I know. The home was built in the 1920s. It looked like all they did was they refloored over everything instead of peeling it up and starting over again.
LESLIE: Toby, if you can get everything off of that floor you’re going to gain at least four inches of ceiling height.
TOM: (laughing) Yeah.
TOBY: (chuckling) Tell me about it. And they’re already nine-foot ceilings, so …
TOM: Toby, what I would do here is I would absolutely try to remove that flooring. And what’s going to happen when you get down to the linoleum, you’ll get the top layer off but there’ll be a lot of glue left behind. And that’s just going to come off through hard work. You’re going to scrape as much off as you can and the last step is you’re going to have that floor professionally sanded with a belt sander; the big floor sanders that they use. They have 12-inch wide belts. You can get a very, very coarse grit on that that can cut right through that adhesive. It’s a little more work than if it didn’t have it on but it absolutely can be saved. And you know, the best thing about this is all of that other flooring material, think of it as a nice drop cloth that’s been protecting that hardwood for years. So you ought to have a lot of life left in it and it’s going to look fabulous.
TOBY: Cool. So, what is the best way, though, to get that – that linoleum’s really stuck on there. I’ve bent several putty knives trying to get some of it up.
TOM: No, you’re going to need – you’re going to need a floor scraper that kind of looks like a shovel …
TOM: … except it has a flat blade.
LESLIE: It’s got a long handle and it has a very, very durable, tough blade on it.
TOBY: OK. And then just come at it as – what? – as flat as I can to get in there?
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Get as much of it off as you can. You may use a scraper after that to pull any of the big chunks of glue off. But really, those belt sanders; we often caution people against them because they are so aggressive. This is one of those situations where you want a belt sander that’s going to take a good bite out of that floor to get rid of that glue for you.
TOM: It can definitely be your friend.
LESLIE: But monitor it. You know, when you’re using it you want to make sure that you get all that adhesive off but you don’t sort of dip down into the wood. Because if you leave it in one spot too long you can really create a divot. So be cautious.
TOM: Yeah, Toby, I would not recommend you do this belt sanding yourself. I’d do everything else but that. In the hands of a pro that floor’s going to be beautiful.
TOBY: So, it’d be better to have the pro take care of the last step?
TOM: Just the last step, that’s right. You do all the – you do all the grunt work. Let them do the finish work. OK?
TOBY: That sounds great.
TOM: Toby, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Taking a call from Michigan, Sandra, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
SANDRA: Well, I have a question about my gutters. They’re – it’s really hard to get them clean and I do it twice a year and it needs to be done twice a year. But they’re rather high. They’re about 20 feet up and it’s scary and I’ve got the electric lines going and you got to try to dodge those and trust somebody to hold the ladder. (Leslie chuckles) And I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do that would just kind of ease that up or help with not having to do it so often or – I mean twice a year is not extremely often but it’s scary. (chuckling)
LESLIE: No, no. And it’s totally understandable because you’re getting up into the heights, like you mentioned. And if you feel uncomfortable it’s easy to be nervous up there. There’s a couple of options.
One – you can hire a gutter cleaning service. They’ll come to your house four times a year. That’s how much – you know, it costs anywhere between 200 to 600 bucks, depending on your area. And they’ll come in and they’ll just do it for you so you don’t have to worry about it.
Or clean them out and then go ahead and get a gutter guard system. Don’t go for those screen-y type ones because they tend to just sort of macerate all of the leaves and then that can get stuck and mushed down into the downspouts and that is a whole other mess. The ones that sort of look like – Tom, are they like a louver that comes over and like lifts over the edge?
TOM: Yeah. They work on the principal of surface tension. So the gutter cover goes over the gutter up under the roof shingles and what happens is as the water comes down the roof it sort of hangs on the gutter cover and then falls into the gutter, but the leaves wash over the top. There’s different models of it. Some of them are flat. Some of them are louvered. But they work the same way. And they actually work very, very well. The only time I see a problem with that type of gutter cover is if you have a very, very tall pitch on your roof it gets a lot of velocity and that water coming down, it could wash over the top. But for the most part it works very, very well.
SANDRA: Sounds like that’s something I might need to look into.
TOM: Yeah, well if you do it once and do it right you don’t have to do it again. OK?
SANDRA: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, now that your kids are heading back to school you’ve got plenty of time for home improvement and we can help you think of some things to do around your house. Just call in your home repair or your home improvement, even design questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, your deck is probably built with pressure-treated wood and that’s a good thing. Most decks are. But this type of wood, while it’s protected from rot and decay, it may not be protecting your fasteners from rotting away. And that could be very unsafe. We’ll give you the details, 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: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’re here to make your home improvement projects just a little bit easier. But you’ve got to help yourself first. Pick up the phone. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Another great reason to call us right now is that one caller to today’s show is going to win one of three new blowers from Homelite. It’s the MightyLite blower vac worth 99 bucks. It’s got an easy start Rotochoke design and uses 20 percent less gas than its predecessors.
LESLIE: Ooh, that’s a good thing.
TOM: Yeah, this mulcher can actually compact the equivalent of 12 bags of leaves into one bag of mulch. And I bet you if you spread that mulch around your house you won’t have any artillery fungus either, which we get calls on all the time.
LESLIE: (chuckling) All the time.
TOM: So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air with us to ask it to qualify for this drawing for the drawing for the MightyLite blower vac from Homelite.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, just because it’s almost fall, that doesn’t mean that you just stop thinking about your deck. It could also be a great time to build a new deck. And most decks across the country, if you’re going for a new one or moving into a house with one, they’re usually built of pressure-treated lumber. And to do that, creating the pressure-treated lumber, that wood is put in a vacuum sealed container and then it’s filled with chemical preservatives. So, basically, all of those chemicals are then forced into that wood. The downside is that these chemicals don’t always completely saturate the wood and these areas, generally the ones found near the center and the cut ends, are really a high-risk spot for rot.
TOM: That’s right. And no matter how small those areas are the wood can easily absorb moisture and allow decay organisms to enter in those areas. And once that happens, the wood can start to rot, actually, from the inside out. But it doesn’t have to happen to your deck if you build it correctly. You can protect it with a weather-resistant, self-adhering membrane. For example, there are membranes from the Grace Construction Products Company. They have one called Vycor Deck Protector and didn’t you just tell me you were using that on one of your Country Home Magazine shoots?
LESLIE: Yeah, actually you know, over the summer I did a big giveaway with Reynolds Wrap. And one of the winners wants to put in a new deck and they live in the Chicago area and we’re trying to do it for a cost-effective way and pressure-treated lumber really is the way to do it. And I want to make sure that, you know, all this money that we invest to create this beautiful yard really stands up and I want this deck to be perfect. That’s why I would always recommend this product. That Vycor Deck Protector is going to make sure that all of those galvanized components don’t just fall apart.
TOM: If you want more information on that product or how to build a deck in general you could go to Grace’s website at GraceAtHome.com. That’s GraceAtHome.com.
Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Reuben in Virginia tunes in to The Money Pit on WJFK and you’ve got a flooring question. How can we help you?
REUBEN: Yeah, I was just interested in knowing how well does manufactured flooring handle like a wet basement?
TOM: When you say manufactured flooring what kind are you talking about?
REUBEN: The Pergo or the other snap-together flooring.
TOM: Perfect choice for the basement. Perfect.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Laminate flooring is a perfect choice because it’s manufactured from plastic to look like anything under the sun from wood to tile to ceramics; I mean a ton of different choices; even natural stone. And because they’re made from plastic they’re perfect for high moisture areas like the basement; anything below grade like that; a bathroom; a kitchen. I mean they really are. That’s what they’re made for.
REUBEN: I thought that since it looks like particleboard on the back it wouldn’t handle that well.
TOM: Well, it’s actually medium-density fiberboard. And I’ve got to tell you, I took some of that laminate floor when I was doing a television show once and I soaked it in a vat of water overnight. It had absolutely no impact on it. So it really is durable stuff. I’ve had it down in my kitchen for probably close to 10 years now and it’s just stood up incredibly well. So we’re big fans of laminate.
TOM: I think it’s a perfect choice for your basement or a bath.
LESLIE: And with some of the laminate flooring options that are out there some might have an underlayment already attached to the backside; some you’re going to need to buy a separate underlayment and roll that out on top of whatever your floor is in the basement. I mean they really are a good choice and a lot of the ones where you go for an option that looks more like a natural material – maybe a stone – when they’re produced they use a photograph of that natural image and then that picture is sort of etched and put onto that new flooring piece itself. So it really does emulate whatever it’s trying to mimic very, very well.
REUBEN: Oh, thank you very much. That’s good to know.
TOM: You’re welcome, Reuben. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, next up is Jenny from New Jersey who tunes in on WABC looking to clean a driveway. How can we help you?
JENNY: Hi, how are you guys?
JENNY: I was wondering how I can get rust off of a paver driveway.
TOM: Off of a paver driveway.
TOM: Well, first of all, the rust that you’re seeing, where did that come from? Did it come from your sprinkler system; your lawn sprinklers?
TOM: Well, let’s aim those sprinklers away from the driveway.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Save all that water and [those money] (ph).
TOM: And then in terms of the paver brick itself, what we’d like you to do is to go out and pick up some TSP; stands for trisodium phosphate.
LESLIE: You’ll find it in the painting aisle at most home centers.
TOM: Exactly. And mix up a paste of that and then wash down the rusty bricks with that solution. That does a pretty good job; usually lifts out most of the rust.
JENNY: Very good. And I actually – just if I could add to that a little bit – what about, you know, like from your vehicle? Because I have it underneath where my vehicles are parked, too? Any solutions for that one?
TOM: Usually vehicles, the calls that we get about that, they’re usually oil leaks.
LESLIE: Oil-based, yeah.
TOM: But if it’s rust …
TOM: … and you have a sprinkler system that’s getting on there, very often it’ll pull up groundwater – that’s rusty water – and that will react with the pavers. Happens with concrete sidewalks all the time. And that’s what’s causing it. You need to clean it.
JENNY: Great. TSP. I’ll look for it.
TOM: TSP will do it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now Tom, in Florida they get a lot of those red stains as well …
LESLIE: … on siding and sidewalks from the sprinkler system. But I’ve been told that down there it’s actually from the decaying plants that filters down into the groundwater and then comes back up through the sprinkler system.
TOM: Well, you know, every area’s going to have it slightly differently but it definitely is the groundwater that’s …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Aw, but it does make a big mess.
TOM: Yeah, it really does.
LESLIE: Easily cleanable, though.
LESLIE: Rick in North Dakota, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
RICK: On my kitchen cabinets the varnish is starting to get waxy in spots, especially where the drawer pulls are and the door pulls are. And the rest of the varnish is starting to crack a little bit. Is there anything I can do to revive them?
LESLIE: Hmm. Well, are you finding that waxy deposit around the knobs and pulls – does it seem like it’s just, you know, dirt and grease from your hands from usage?
RICK: Somewhat. We’ve tried, you know, Liquid Gold and things like that. Doesn’t seem to do much good.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So even those orange-based cleansers that are really made to get rid of grease aren’t – isn’t doing a thing?
TOM: Yeah, it sounds like this is more of a heat damage issue.
RICK: Yeah, I think you’re probably right with the heat damage because where we did have the coffee pot it’s probably worse than any other place.
TOM: Well, I think he’s going to have to refinish.
LESLIE: Yeah, I mean are you thinking about taking them to a point where you’re restaining them in sort of a natural finish or do you want to get to a point where you just want to paint them?
RICK: I would like to just strip the varnish off if I could get by with that and just revarnish.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. You can absolutely do that. There’s a bunch of products on the market that’ll help you strip off the existing finish. First off, you want to make sure that you pull all of those cabinet drawer fronts off; the drawer fronts and the doors themselves. Get them off so you can work on a flat surface. You want to make sure that you keep the hinges on either the door or in the cabinet themselves. This way you’re not trying to reset things later on by adjusting things back and forth. And label everything where it came from; which door came from where and which door front came from where. This way, again, things are going exactly right. Put them on a flat surface.
A good stripper that I like is one called Rock Miracle. It’s a good consistency. You can see it working. It works easily, efficiently. You might have to do it a couple of times but if it’s just a clear varnish it’s probably not going to be that problematic. Follow the directions. Clean it off really well. Go ahead and apply your new varnish and then put it all back together.
RICK: I will do that. Thank you very much. Bye-bye.
LESLIE: Liz in Delaware wants to talk about flooring. What can I help you with?
LIZ: I have a kitchen floor that has vinyl. Can I put that Pergo or something on top of it without pulling it up?
LESLIE: Well, what condition is the vinyl flooring in? Is it level? Is it straight? Is it even? Is it buckling up?
LIZ: It’s fine.
TOM: Yeah, then I think there’s no reason you can’t go right on top of that. The only area you want to be careful of, Liz, is where the – do you have a dishwasher?
TOM: OK, well then there’s no reason not to. I was going to say if you had a dishwasher you have to be careful not to block it in. I would remove the refrigerator …
TOM: … and go ahead and put the new floor right under the whole thing. When you put down the laminate there’s going to be an underlayment that goes under it; very, very thin stuff. Put the underlayment down then put the laminate on top of it. It all locks together. It doesn’t have to be glued down. You trim it out against the edges, against the baseboard moulding; perhaps put some shoe moulding or something like and you’re good to go. No reason to pull that old floor up.
LIZ: But what kind should I get? The one that glues together or the lock?
TOM: No, the lock-together. They’re pretty much all locked together today. Laminate floors, they pretty much don’t make them where they simply glue together. They were just too hard to do.
LESLIE: The only reason they would say glue them together is if you’re putting them in a below-grade situation where there tends to be a lot of moisture. Then they would recommend. But for the kitchen, no glue necessary.
LIZ: I have some, in my main entrance, those stick-on tiles.
LIZ: How can I take them off of hardwood floors?
TOM: The hard way. You’ve got to scrape them off. You’ll need a floor scraper for that. And once it comes off the hardwood floor the hardwood floor will have to be resanded. And that’s a job best left to a professional. You’re going to want to use a big floor belt sander. They have 12-inch wide belts. Belts are available in, you know, grits as low as like 40 grit. And that can cut through the rest of the glue that’s left behind then the floor will have to be resanded with a finer grit and then refinished. But that’s the best way to handle that. It’s a lot of work but you can get it done.
Liz, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LIZ: OK, thank you.
LESLIE: Tuning in on WJFK we’ve got John in Virginia who wants to talk epoxy grout. What can we do for you?
JOHN: I’m putting in a brand new ceramic floor down in my new bathroom. And I heard about epoxy grout on your show and I didn’t know anything about it. And I was wondering if it cleans up like regular grout and where you purchase it.
TOM: Actually, it cleans up better than sand grout because it’s a lot harder. It’s a lot harder surface and it doesn’t absorb stains as well. So it’s probably a good choice.
JOHN: OK. When you’re applying it, though, does it clean up well also?
TOM: It’s a little harder to apply, for sure, than sand grout. But you know, once it dries and you get it in there, for a floor, I think it’s a great choice.
JOHN: OK. Well, I’m going to try it, I guess. Thank you.
TOM: Yeah, give it a shot, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
JOHN: Thank you.
LESLIE: More great home improvement advice coming up after the break. But first, Tom, do you smell that?
TOM: Are those your leftovers from last night?
LESLIE: No! No. (Tom chuckles) It’s that wonderful, crisp scent of fall.
TOM: Of course.
LESLIE: It’s my favorite. It’s that wonderful time of year. It just smells so fresh and cool and I love it. And in most of the country this change of season is going to bring around much cooler weather, an earlier sunset and way more time inside. So what do you need to do to get your house ready for the fall? We’ll tell you, next.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
And it is almost my favorite time of year – autumn. I love it so much. It’s cool, it’s crisp. I love the changing leaves. And luckily those autumn days are almost with us. And it really is the best time of year for several important home improvement projects. You want to look at things all around the exterior. For example, your exterior woodwork – the finishes are best applied when the temperature is between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. And Tom loves to call the fall – what do you call it?
TOM: The Goldilocks season.
TOM: Not too hot, not too cold. (Leslie chuckles) Just right for all sorts of home improvement projects. And painting is really a good one and this is the season for painting.
LESLIE: Yeah, and it’s good. And you’ll find that paints and stains are going to dry a lot quicker, especially when it’s far less humid out. Again, fall is awesome for that. And it’s important to remember that the UV rays of winter can be just as damaging to unprotected wood as the summer sun. And winter moisture can cause unprotected wood to crack, blister, flake and peel. So you really want to take this time to do any of those repairs to your exterior wood. Also take this time to patch up any cracks you see in your foundation; touch up any peeling or cracking outdoor paint on all surfaces; clean your gutters one last time so that the melting snow and ice isn’t going to get trapped up there causing ice damming and leaks into your foundation. Lots of things to do.
TOM: You know, there are also some important steps to take when it comes to your lawn and garden and your outdoor furniture. We’re going to spell it out for you in our next Money Pit e-newsletter coming out next Friday. It’s free. It comes to your Money Pit inbox every Friday morning. Sign up right now at MoneyPit.com. That’s MoneyPit.com. Or call us right now with your fall fix-up question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tim in Alabama is looking to reclaim some space at his house with an addition. What can we help?
TIM: Well, we are adding an addition to our home and sometime in the past a 220-volt electric line was run through the attic but never hooked up to anything. It was just laying there. And the electrician told me that this can not be (INAUDIBLE) so I thought I would ask you. Can I not take that – somehow take that 220-volt line and use it to run the outlets and lighting in that new addition by hooking it up to a different breaker box or something?
TOM: Well, there’s a couple of things. First of all, it’s not 220; it’s 240. If the wire is thick enough it can be used to feed a subpanel. Depends on the wire size. Do you know what the wire size is on the line that’s laying in the attic not being used right now?
TIM: No, I don’t. I know it’s thick. But other than that I don’t …
TOM: Well, if it’s a thick – if it’s a thick wire – I mean like quarter-inch thick or like eighth-inch thick?
TIM: Right. Quarter-inch.
TOM: Yeah? Well, it may be big enough for like a 60-amp subpanel. You know a number 10 wire – copper wire – is for 30 amps, so anything that’s bigger than that is probably going to be suitable enough for a small subpanel like a 60-amp subpanel. And if that was the case you would use that simply to feed the subpanel and then the wiring in the addition would be connected to the subpanel itself. So that 240-volt line would not be used as the branch line that everything’s connected to because that wouldn’t be proper. But you could use it to feed the subpanel and then all of the outlets and the lights and the switches in the addition would go into the new subpanel.
TIM: OK. That’s sort of what I – what I thought. But like I say, he had said it couldn’t be done, so I …
TOM: Well, I mean there may be another reason that he doesn’t want to use that wire. It’s – you’re not saving a whole lot of money here just because there’s a piece of cable that happens to be running through your house. It might be more cost-effective and safer for him to run a new line. Just because it’s there, you know, may not be the right thing to do. So I would just ask a few more questions as to what the problem is with that wire. Because it’s not going to make a big difference in the price.
TIM: Alright, well I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Tim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, Keith in Virginia’s looking to do a tiling project. What can we help you with?
KEITH: Hi, basically my front door – the hallway from my front door to my kitchen is laminate and my kitchen is laminate. Well …
KEITH: … it turns out that it’s not the most interactive space. It’s not the best space for traffic and for water and stuff like that. So, I would like to put tile in the kitchen.
KEITH: I was wondering how would I transition from that hallway to the kitchen. Like what – is it just a matter of having just a breakpoint or …
TOM: Yeah, is there a doorway between the hallway and the kitchen?
KEITH: No, there isn’t. There isn’t.
TOM: OK. Well, at some point you’re going to have a saddle.
TOM: And the saddle is going to define the edge of the tile and the tile will come up to the saddle and then on the other side you’d have the laminate.
LESLIE: And what you would do is you would make sure that the saddle you purchase – make sure you look for one that says laminate to tile or wood floor to tile.
LESLIE: Because it’ll give you that exact adjustment so you know what your measurements are and it’ll make that transition for you.
KEITH: Oh, OK. OK, great. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright. Lots of great calls this hour.
LESLIE: Yeah, but first I really want to talk to you about, you know, how your kitchen is laid out. In my house we’ve got one of those microwave/vent hoods …
LESLIE: … and I find that I’ve got to reach up to get into my microwave. And sometimes I’m pulling really hot things out of there and thankfully, you know, I’m able to take it out incident-free. But some folks might have a tough time reaching up. In fact, AARP says that after a while reaching up to your microwave could take a toll on your shoulders, your arms and your back. Up next we’re going to have some great tips on how to avoid stretching and straining for your supper. So stay with us.
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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
And you should call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only are we going to answer your home improvement question on the air, one caller that we talk to today is going to win a Homelite blower vac. It’s worth $99 and this prize is perfect for your fall leaf cleanup. It’s got an easy-start Rotochoke design and uses 20 percent less gas than its predecessors, so it’s going to keep that gas energy cost down. And it’s very lightweight so it’s really easy to use but you’ve got to give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
If you’re thinking about doing some home improvements to the kitchen, one of the things you might want to think about is your appliances; specifically a microwave. Because most of us have microwaves in the kitchen but builders, they love to mount them above the stove or high on a wall. And these ovens are hard to reach and they can be very hazardous. They can be hazardous if you’re an older person. It can also be hazardous if you have kids. You know, we keep our microwave down low because the kids just love to use it. Whether it’s for popcorn or something else …
LESLIE: Well, it’s easy.
TOM: … you know, you don’t want them reaching up to grab hot stuff out of the microwave. They definitely can be a hazard because it forces you to put your hands above your head to get those hot foods out. If you lose your balance or if you spill a hot dish or the steam is coming out you could get hurt.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. AARP really wants you to get the most from your microwave, so they’ve put together a list of some tips to help you use it safely. You should make sure that your microwave oven is no higher than 48 inches above the floor. If your microwave is on the wall then install a shelf underneath the oven where you can rest hot foods after they finish cooking so you can pull them down safely. Better yet, go ahead and put your microwave right on your countertop; as long as your counter is one that’s not going to melt if it gets too hot. You want to make sure you leave plenty of room on the counter to place those hot dishes. We want to keep you safe.
If you want some smart ideas you can visit our friends at AARP.org/HomeDesign.
TOM: That’s AARP.org/HomeDesign. Or pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
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: Kind of like those LEGOs we had when we were a kid 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 oversize 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 – it 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-framed 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’ve actually 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: In Rhode Island Dolores has some squeaky situations happening on the floors. What can we help you with? Tell us about it.
DOLORES: Hi there, Leslie and Tom.
DOLORES: I have the squeaks like on the steps even though they’re carpeting. The house is old but I realize – in other words, there’s nothing I can do with the carpeting there, correct?
TOM: No, that’s not true at all.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) No, no, no.
TOM: No, we can fix that.
DOLORES: Oh, great.
TOM: What you need to do, Dolores, is the floor joists under the carpet have to be located and that could be found with a stud finder.
LESLIE: A deep scanning stud finder.
TOM: Deep scanning stud finder. And once you locate those floor joists here’s a little trick of the trade. You can take a finish nail – like a #10 or a #12 finish nail – and nail through the carpet, through the subfloor and into the floor joist. Because the subfloor is loose and that’s what’s causing this. You can do that in two or three spots right through the carpet. And then the last thing you do is grab the carpet and sort of pull it up through the head of the nail. Because it’s a finish nail the carpet will sort of pop right through the head of the nail and you can brush the carpet and the little dimples that you created will be – sort of disappear. And that will stop the squeaks. When you drive the nail you put it on a very slight angle because it has better holding power that way.
DOLORES: I appreciate it. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Paula in Virginia’s got a freezing farmhouse. What can we do for you?
PAULA: And the farmhouse is truly freezing. We have – 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 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 some of the …
LESLIE: Similar to how electrical wiring 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 – 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. Then you’ll have no choice about having to get in. 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 pipes and how bad they were. So, it’s going to be more than a weekend project. (laughing)
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: Yeah, that’s for sure. That’s for sure.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Up next, here’s a question that we are often asked on the program. When putting on a new roof, do you remove the old shingles or do you put new ones right on top? It’s actually an economic question that has a lot to do with how long you intend to stay in that house. We’ll tell you why, next.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. Who are we? Why, I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
And you, Money Pit fans, can show off your team colors. That’s right. We have Money Pit fanwear available right now at MoneyPit.com. You can get logo hats, t-shirts, tote bags. You can even get some really funny home improvement humor-wear. I have one. I love it. It’s a hose; like a photo of a hose.
LESLIE: And then next to it it says, ‘ed’; like hosed. (Tom chuckles) And I love it! I love that kind of humor and you can find some really great items that show off some funny sayings that just bring light to home improvement topics. And you know, you never know when you need a laugh; especially if you’ve got a project that goes wrong.
TOM: And while you’re there you can click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question just like Pat did from Fargo, North Dakota.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. Pat writes: ‘I have removed the weight bells from the double-hung windows. What can I incorporate into the windows to still hold them up without a stick? Did so for insulation of the windows.’ Yeah, it gets pretty cold there.
TOM: Is that – are those things called weight bells? (chuckling) I always called them window weights.
LESLIE: I don’t know.
TOM: Because I don’t think you can ring them. (chuckling)
LESLIE: No, you can’t. And they look like kind of like mini scuba tanks.
TOM: Yeah, they really do and, boy, they are heavy.
Yes, Pat. What you can do is this. Once you remove the ropes and the old window weights, you can pull out the window stop that’s holding the sashes in place. And what you’re going to do is buy some new adjustable window jambs. These are inserts that fit on either side of the window …
TOM: … and they, with a spring closure, sort of hold that window in place and eliminate the need for the weight and the sash.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh. So like pressurizes them into their spot.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Kind of grabs the side of them and it’s designed to fit the old wood windows. So that’s the way you would correct that and that will definitely be a lot tighter than what you had before and that will be – and then take the cavity, by the way, which is to the left and right where you had those weights moving up and down, and fill that cavity with insulation. That’ll make that whole wall, the whole window a lot more warm.
LESLIE: Like an expandable foam or more of like a – like a fiberglass one?
TOM: Yeah, either way. I would say fiberglass would be the easiest thing to do.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got another one here from a guy named Mark who actually posted this question on your AOL blog, Tom. Alright, here we go. This is from Mark. ‘I’m going to reshingle my roof. I have one layer of shingles down and was going to reshingle over the top of them. Someone told me that when you put new shingles over old ones that it lessens the life of the new roof. Is this true? Also, is the cost between the shingles that last 25 years and those that last, say, 50 years – asphalt fiberglass – worth the cost difference and will they even last that much longer?’
TOM: Oh, good question. Well, first of all, when replacing your roof it’s usually a good idea to remove the original layer but only if you intend to live in the home for most of the life of that second roof.
TOM: And here’s why. Asphalt shingles remain waterproof until they dry out and if you put a second layer on the roof it’s going to advance the deterioration …
LESLIE: Because it’s going to get hotter?
TOM: It’ll get hotter, right. And what I found was that second layer lasts about a third less than the first layer.
LESLIE: That’s big.
TOM: Now, why is that an economic question that depends on how you’re going to live in that house? Because if you’re going to live in that house for most of the life of the roof, you’re going to make a good return on investment for the added cost of removing that first layer. But if you’re going to be in that house for maybe only five to ten years, who cares? (Leslie gasps) Let the next guy worry about it.
LESLIE: That’s not fair. (chuckling)
TOM: Put the second layer on and then – and move on. Because you’re not going to get a return on investment. Nobody’s going to pay you more money for the house because it has one layer versus two.
LESLIE: True. And if you’re going with a metal roof – which is a great option environmentally and, you know, for it’s life span – that can go right over whatever’s there because it’s so lightweight.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
We know that home improvement questions don’t always pop into your mind at the most convenient time like when we’re here to answer them. That’s why you can call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if we are not in the studio when that call comes in we will call you back the next time we are. You can also go to our website at MoneyPit.com; click on Ask Tom and Leslie and send us a question there. Or search the archives for the answers to your home improvement question. For example, we were just talking about …
LESLIE: Ooh, a little home improvement investigation.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. We were just talking about roofs. We’ve got a great story called Roof Repair 101 if you’re thinking about replacing your roof and that also is on MoneyPit.com.
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.)