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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Are you a do-it-to-yourselfer? (laughter) Well, if you’re in the latter category, we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. We’re here to help you solve the do-it-yourself dilemmas. Call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s talk about what you’re doing, what you’re working on in your house right now. You working on the roof? Well, probably not; it’s too hot outside.
LESLIE: It’s darn hot out.
TOM: Maybe you’re trying to figure out how you can make that air conditioning system work a little better; cool your house a little less expensively. We can talk about that. Are you suffering some plumbing problems in the house? You don’t want to waste water right now; we need every drop we have. Whatever you’re working on, no matter how small, how big, how crazy, how wild, call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Hey, we’re going to talk, this hour, about one of my favorite topics – outdoor rooms – and specifically, how to create a lightscape; a beautiful lighting pattern, lighting landscape, so to speak, where you can mix different types of lights. We’re going to talk to a lighting designer on how to do just that.
LESLIE: Yeah, outdoor lighting actually is a wonderful addition to your home; whether for an architectural perspective – maybe you want to make an arbor or the front of the house may be the focus – or you want to look into safety issues; light areas so you don’t make it appealing to an intruder. And, in fact, outdoor lighting can actually add drama to your home’s exterior. And if that’s what you want it to do, it can do it for you.
And lighting can help create any mood that you want; especially with the use of an outdoor lighting designer. We’re going to talk to one in a few minutes and find out how you can plan your own outdoor lighting scheme.
TOM: And boy, does Leslie Segrete know drama.
LESLIE: (laughing) I’m the creator of drama.
TOM: She’s the girl. (laughter)
Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller this hour we choose is going to win a set of three Ryobi One products. They all charge off the same battery and guess what? It includes a radio, a fan and an inflator. So no matter what project you’re doing around the house, you’ll have some tools to get the job done.
So Leslie, who’s our first caller?
LESLIE: Roofing’s on the mind of Steve in Oregon. What can we do for you?
STEVE: Well, hi there. How you doing today?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Hi, there. Tell us about your roof.
STEVE: Well, I’ve got a bar tile roof.
STEVE: And it’s about 30 years old. And I’ve had a few people come out to help me with moss removal and some professionals are saying that I need to have this tile roof replaced.
TOM: Would those be roofing professionals? (laughing)
STEVE: Yeah, roofing professionals. But we have no leaks and I have no …
TOM: I was going to say that a 30-year-old tile roof is a – actually a fairly young roof. Generally, the tiles don’t wear out. Sometimes, if you’re in an area where you have a frost problem, they can expand and crack and deteriorate that way when the glaze sort of breaks down. But generally, the problem with a tile roof is maintenance because while the tiles don’t wear out, the fasteners that hold them in wear out.
Have you ever lost tiles on this roof?
TOM: Well, it sounds to me like you’ve got a great roof, Steve, huh?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It’s a great roof.
TOM: I don’t know that I would be rushing to replace that. You know, tile roofs can last 50 to 100 years.
LESLIE: That’s why they’re so gorgeous.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. I mean they’re expensive but they’re an investment-grade roof.
STEVE: Is there any truth to the fact that bar tile roofs won’t last as long as the normal Spanish style (inaudible).
TOM: Only if you’re a roofer in Oregon that wants to sell a roof to a guy named Steve that has a bar tile roof. (laughter) OK?
STEVE: OK. Alright, well that’s what I was kind of figuring.
TOM: Alright, Steve. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
You know, the roofing contractors aren’t necessarily the best people to give you impartial expert advice when it comes to making a very expensive repair. So, if people that are in the business of selling repairs give you advice that you need to hire them …
LESLIE: Chances are they’re looking for work.
TOM: Well, yeah. Or the least you should be doing is getting a second opinion. And Steve, we’re glad that we could do just that for you.
LESLIE: Tennessee’s on the line and Eddie’s got some leaking bricks. What’s going on?
EDDIE: I have a home that is just absolutely leaking at the foundation and was wondering if you all would know something that would fix this. It’s coming in at where the floor and is the brick outside. It’s exterior brick.
EDDIE: And it’s coming in at the floor. And was wondering if there’s some way to fix that.
TOM: So what’s happening is you have a brick home and the water is getting in between the brick and the wood structure and then coming out and leaking water on the first floor or in the basement?
EDDIE: It is a first floor, yes.
TOM: On the brick exterior wall, Eddie, are there weep holes? Are there places where there are gaps in the brick for the moisture to escape?
EDDIE: Uh-huh. There are. It’s like on a corner of the house.
TOM: Because what I suspect is that there’s some either break down in flashing or there’s some gap in the brick structure. Mortar could be missing or a place where water’s getting in that wall, falling and then leaking before it has a chance to run out the weep holes. And we’ve got to identify where that gap is.
Now if you say it’s near a corner – is this entire home brick or is it just the first floor? Describe the exterior finish to me.
EDDIE: Single floor – it’s one floor – and it’s entirely brick. The house is approximately 29 years old.
TOM: Alright. So what I suspect is that there’s a gap in the brick wall or there’s a crack in the brick wall or a place where mortar is missing. And I would carefully examine, up on a ladder, all of the space around the corner of the house where you see the leaks coming in. And I think you’re going to find that there’s a breakdown there somewhere. Now, once you identify it, it should be easy enough to fix. But it sounds to me like the wall is built correctly because you mentioned it has weep holes. But there’s still a space where the water is getting in and if it’s not coming in the roof area, it’s got to be coming in through a crack or a crevice in the construction of the brick wall itself.
Alright, Eddie. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Let’s talk to Marlene in New Jersey who finds The Money Pit on WCTC. And you’ve got a flooding basement. Tell us what happens.
MARLENE: My brother went away on vacation and he came back and the basement was flooded. We cleaned it up and then it flooded again. But this time it was coming, actually, from the ground and we think that there’s a stream that runs under this house.
LESLIE: Are you finding – or is your brother finding – that the basement floods after a heavy rainfall or does it just seem to happen at certain times of the year?
MARLENE: Well, he’s been in the house for 15 years. This was the first time that actually had experienced, you know, water. He – they just put in two sump pumps. You know? But I don’t know if that’s really – if it’s a stream underneath, is that going to really …
TOM: No, because you know what? The stream didn’t just materialize after 15 years.
LESLIE: It would have been there forever.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. No, I think, Leslie, this is a classic grading and drainage problem.
LESLIE: I mean you never know. You could have a breakdown in your gutter system. We had the same thing with our basement. All of a sudden – everything was fine; all of a sudden we had water in the basement. It was because we had a crack in the gutter 20 feet away from where the water came into the house. This can happen. I mean if your gutter or your drainage system isn’t working properly, water can come in from the outside through the subfloor, through the walls; because it’s all concrete and it’s hydroscopic so it’s pulling that water in.
So have your brother look at his gutter systems. Make sure they’re clean. Make sure the downspouts are clean. If they’re full, that water’s going to back up and over and come in behind the roof, behind the walls. It can deposit from the downspouts right into the foundation, so have him look at the downspouts. Make sure that they’re clean. Make sure that they deposit the water three to six feet away from the house.
And then look at the grading. You want to slope down about four inches over six feet going away from the house. So it’s a gradual slope but it’s effective.
And those – if you do those things, that should really control the water that comes into the basement.
TOM: Marlene, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
I’d like to have just like a nickel (chuckling) for every unnecessary sump pump that is purchased and installed in this country.
LESLIE: Yeah, but in some situations, people really do need them.
TOM: Rarely. Rarely. It all comes down to grading and drainage folks. It’s very easy to fix. Don’t panic over wet basements. We can make them go away. Call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Betty in Wisconsin’s got some unwanted water in the kitchen. Tell us what’s going on with the fridge.
BETTY: Seems like (audio gap) I make ice it creates a lot of ice down in the (audio gap) the freezer part and then it leaks out on the floor. And I don’t know if it’s when it’s defrosting or when I’m making ice.
TOM: Hmm. Betty, where exactly is the water dripping out from?
BETTY: Down on the floor.
TOM: And you have a drip pan underneath this?
TOM: If it’s a self-defrosting refrigerator, there’s usually a tube that comes out and aims towards the drip pan. And what I’m thinking here is that that part of the drain is misaligned or has become jammed or bent or …
LESLIE: The tube could even be clogged.
TOM: (overlapping voices) … or clogged. Exactly. Because it’s not getting to the pan; it’s coming out elsewhere and that’s the issue.
So what you’re going to have to do is pull that pan out, look under there with a strong flashlight, identify where that tube is and try to figure out if it’s blocked or it’s clogged or perhaps it’s missing. I don’t think that it’s a major deal. I think you’re just going to have to be a bit of a detective here. And if you can’t see under there, I’ll give you a little trick of the trade from my years as a home inspector. And that is you can take a small mirror – like the kind that you use for a compact; like a makeup mirror –
TOM: – and shine the flashlight against that and that will light up the underside of the refrigerator and you can see where you’re going with the mirror.
BETTY: Oh, OK.
TOM: Now, I don’t want you guys to get the idea that I carried my makeup with me on my years as a home inspector. (laughter) We actually used a folding mirror for that but I’m not suggesting you go out and buy one. But a compact works fine.
TOM: Alright, Betty. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
So, it’s hot, hot, hot. Your air conditioning is acting up. Of course it is because this is when you need it. Well, if it is, we’ve got a solution.
LESLIE: Up next, we’re going to tell you how to troubleshoot a common problem with your air conditioning and fix it.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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 (audio gap) …
TOM: … 888-MONEY-PIT, waiting for your calls. We want to hear about your home improvement projects. We want to hear about your do-it-yourself dilemmas. We want to help you avoid becoming a do-it-to-yourselfer. (chuckling) So call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Here is a quick tip to help you get that air conditioning system working well.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. You’re probably sweating it up out there and putting those window units through every ounce of energy they’ve got. But here are some things to look for if you’re having some problems with that window air conditioning unit.
If it seems to be running but there’s no air blowing, here’s what you need to know. Every air conditioner is equipped with at least two motors; the compressor and the fan motor. It’s possible for a fan motor to be defective and the compressor to be running. If this is the case, the unit’s going to appear to be running and might even sound normal but no air is blowing out of the front or the back of the unit. If, after removing the cover of the unit, you discover the fan blade is very stiff and difficult to rotate, the fan motor may need some oiling or it might need to be replaced.
TOM: Want some more great AC tips to keep you cool all summer long? Sign up for the free Money Pit e-newsletter. Wondering what the optimum temperature is to keep your air conditioning system running properly? Wondering how to eliminate that puddle of water that sometimes mysteriously appears under your central air conditioning? All of that included in next weeks edition of The Money Pit free e-newsletter. Sign up today at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Another thing that’s free around here at The Money Pit is our free prize to one lucky caller this hour who gets their questioned answered on The Money Pit. We’re giving away now the Ryobi One+ system. They’ve got three new tools for their 18-volt power tool platform and it works all with their 20 different tools. Four million homeowners are out there using it and Ryobi has got some fun ones.
TOM: And one caller we choose this hour is going to get a sneak preview of the new One+ inflator, One+ radio and the One+ personal fan. These are items that’ll come in handy for camping, boating or just hanging out by the pool and they’re all compatible with the 18-volt platform you may already own. So if you’ve got some Ryobi 18-volt batteries, you can use them in these new tools. Or you can buy new ones. You’ll also get two batteries and a charger with this prize package. To qualify, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Bill in Michigan, what’s going on in your kitchen?
BILL: I’ve got a Formica counter with the Formica splash drywall. The counter fits into the exterior wall of the house and in the winter time the backsplash separates from the drywall by about a quarter of an inch, so the caulking is all pulled away from the drywall. And it was one of those projects that I kept putting off and putting off and then, this late spring, I went to re-caulk it and it had sealed back up.
TOM: (laughing) The mysteriously moving countertop.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Interesting. (chuckling)
TOM: Well, you know, what’s happening here is, you know, in the winter, things dry out and you get a lot of expansion and so it’s just pulled away. So I think timing here is key. (chuckling) But a …
LESLIE: (chuckling) Do it in the winter when it’s got the space.
TOM: Yeah, and then it’ll compress in the summer and you won’t have to worry about it.
When you do this caulking, one thing to keep in mind is because this is in a kitchen area, you want to use a caulk that has a mildicide in it. DAP makes a caulk, for example, that has Microban, an antimicrobial additive. It’s sort of like the Intel Inside in the caulk. And it’s smart in that it doesn’t grow any mold because, once that area gets wet, it’ll turn nasty looking.
LESLIE: And make sure, when you’re going to put that caulk in there, that you clean that area and the space with a bleach and water solution just to get rid of any mold or mildew that might be growing in there. And then, let it dry really, really well before you go ahead and put that caulk in there because you don’t want any mold to grow behind it. This way, it’ll get a nice clean seal.
TOM: And Bill, if you have any areas that have large gaps in it, you want to stuff those gaps first. If you can get some of the flexible foam rod you can shove it in there or just take newspaper and roll it in there because you don’t want to have a really, really thick wad of caulk. You just want to have about – caulk that’s about a quarter of an inch thick; not any – not any thicker than that or it’s not going to dry properly.
You know, for years I worked in new construction while I was growing up and I put a lot of kitchens in and, of course, the last thing you do is caulk that countertop. And man, we had to caulk some pretty wide gaps. I think that I daresay I used a (chuckling) spackling knife and a caulk gun together more than once. (laughter)
Bill, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Laura in Florida’s got a floor situation going on. Tell us about it.
LAURA: Yes. I have terrazzo floors and my house is older and they have carpet laying over it now but there’s terrazzos underneath it. And I would like to know how to make them brand new again.
LESLIE: So, you want to take the carpet away and see the condition of the terrazzo floor?
LAURA: Yes, ma’am.
LESLIE: Have you seen it? Do – can you tell us what it looks like? Or are you just guessing?
LAURA: Well, in the two bathrooms the (audio gap) floor is visible where you can see it right now and in the storage room. And they look sort of dull. I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried every single cleaner I could possibly imagine on them to try to get them to look right but still haven’t …
TOM: No, they need to be rebuffed.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm.
TOM: You know, terrazzo’s just gorgeous. I’ve actually seen terrazzo made and it’s a lot of work to make that and there’s a lot of steps involved. And if the finishes are getting worn and grimy and dirty, it has to be abraded and then it has to be rebuffed. So this is something that you might not want to do yourself because you’ve already seen how frustrating it can be. But if it’s done right, it’s going to come up and it’s going to look gorgeous. And you basically need to have the right tools and the right equipment to sort of grind down or abrade down or sand down the surface until you can get to some new material and then kind of bring it back up again. But if it’s structurally in good shape, then I see no reason to do that.
LESLIE: Oh and it would be such an addition to the price of your home …
TOM: Oh, yeah.
LESLIE: … because terrazzo floors are gorgeous.
LESLIE: And if you’ve got them protected underneath that carpet pad and under that rug, it really should just be the buffing to restore it.
TOM: So Laura, it’s not cleaning; it’s buffing and it’s bringing it back up that way. OK?
LAURA: Sounds great.
TOM: Alright, Laura. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Roger in West Virginia’s up next and you’ve got a retaining wall that’s falling apart. Tell us what’s going on.
ROGER: Hi, folks. Hey.
LESLIE: Hi there.
ROGER: Hey, I need your help with this – one wall is not a retaining wall, OK? It’s a concrete block but it’s more like a fence than anything else. It doesn’t hold back dirt.
TOM: It just holds back the neighbors. (laughter)
ROGER: Yeah. Yeah.
LESLIE: Sometimes they’re worse than dirt. (laughter)
ROGER: The top of it is disintegrating and I’m sure it’s because of water being in it. A couple of the caps have fallen to pieces and I’ve replaced a couple of them but I’m going to have to do more. This is what I want to know with that particular wall. Which would be better? To seal the wall in with concrete or to drill holes in the back of it to let the water out and how far apart would you have to do that?
TOM: You know, the thing is, the concrete wall or the block wall is pretty hydroscopic. So I think the water’s going to get out one way or the other. I don’t necessarily feel like you have to drill holes in it. Because it is an exposed block wall, it’s going to be subject to frost heave. You’re going to get moisture in there and it’s going to get cold, it’s going to crack and deteriorate. So the most important thing is that cap. So any improvement you can make to the cap would be the smart thing to do. I don’t feel it’s necessary at all to fill the whole thing with concrete.
If you see water being trapped inside of it and you wanted to put some weep holes in it, I see, also, no problem doing that. I just don’t think it’s necessarily required. If you’re trying to paint the wall and you get it very wet, the paint’s not going to stick and the holes could let the water kind of weep out, perhaps a little quicker.
But I think the key to keeping this intact is to make sure the cap is in good shape. So I would concentrate your maintenance work on that cap and not so much on the walls because if the cap is intact, the water’s not going to get in there and the wall’s going to stand up.
ROGER: Is there some kind of a sealer coat that I should put on the top of it?
TOM: Well, first of all, structurally, make sure you’re using the right products. And then, secondly, you can put a masonry sealer on there but make sure you choose one that’s vapor permeable; that’s very, very important and it’ll say so on the sealer that you buy. Because if it’s not vapor permeable, what happens is the moisture gets in but it can’t get out. Even though it’s a sealer, there will be some moisture that will eventually weep in and if that happens, you want to make sure it can get out because, if not, it stays in there and then it freezes and cracks.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, OK, Money Pit listeners. Up next, landscape lighting. It adds safety, it adds security and it adds beauty to your outside.
LESLIE: Find out what you need to know about your outdoor lighting, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Leslie, I don’t know if I’ve ever shared with you one of my favorite made up words. I call it lightscape.
LESLIE: I love that word.
TOM: The idea of, you know, creating sort of a landscape with light around your property, it’s such a smart thing to do. First of all, it makes your place look really snappy. Secondly, it can improve the safety and the security of your home as well. So, it’s beautiful and it’s functional.
LESLIE: Yeah, but it’s more than just functional. The right outdoor lighting can transform a space and you know, create any mood that you want to convey; whether it’s romance or relaxation, whatever you want to do.
TOM: And it takes the right pro to get that job done. Right now we’re going to speak with Tom Bevilacqua. He is an expert with 20 years of landscape lighting design experience. He is the design principal for a company called After Dark Landscape Lighting.
Hey, Tom. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM BEVILACQUA: Hi, how are you? Thank you both for having me today.
TOM: It is our pleasure.
I hear that you reside in New York and you’ve got six kids.
TOM BEVILACQUA: Long Island, New York and yes, I do.
LESLIE: He’s my neighbor.
TOM: You must be a hard-working guy.
TOM BEVILACQUA: Yeah, we try. (chuckling) We have to keep going.
TOM: So, Tom, do you think that landscape lighting is something that most people will overlook in the overall landscape of their home?
TOM BEVILACQUA: I think years ago it used to be overlooked quite a bit. But now, with a lot of people spending a lot of time at home and enjoying their property, creating outdoor living environments, landscape lighting is becoming a very important part of the – of the job itself.
LESLIE: Yeah, but does landscape lighting just have to be lighting up any of your gardens? Or can it be structural as well?
TOM BEVILACQUA: Nope. Landscape lighting is both for the garden – the landscape – and the architectural features of the home and the house.
TOM: When you think about landscape lighting and just outdoor lighting in general, Tom, it seems to intimidate people. I mean it intimidates me somewhat with the thought of having to dig up my yard and run wires and run electricity. And we know electricity and water doesn’t mix. (chuckling) How do you install landscape lighting so that it’s safe and convenient?
TOM BEVILACQUA: Well, first of all, when you’re dealing with landscape lighting, there’s two ways to go and you can go with low-voltage lighting or line-voltage. A majority of the service that we provide is all in low-voltage lighting and it’s just a much safer environment for exactly what you said. Because it’s typically running on a 12-volt system versus 120-volt system, mixing that with the elements – being rain, you know corrosive weather – it just creates a safer environment, you know, for our families and our pets.
LESLIE: But what’s the benefit, as far as aesthetically, between low voltage and line voltage?
TOM: Yeah, that’s a good question. Can you get the same level of illumination even though it’s a low-voltage circuit?
TOM BEVILACQUA: You can actually get much better illumination. With low voltage, you’re able to focus the fixtures and be more directional. So you’re able to create a lot of different moods, ambiences and different effects; being uplighting or downlighting and shadow lighting. Whereas high-intensity lighting creates a lot of shadows and it makes it very flat. So, using low-voltage lighting fixtures, you’re able to create a lot of depth and dimension to the property; giving it an overall – a much more elegant scene.
TOM: We’re talking to Tom Bevilacqua. He is a design principal with After Dark Landscape Lighting and really an expert in lighting design.
So, Tom, as we – say we’re standing in our backyard at night and we’re looking at the property. Where do you sort of start building this lighting plan for yourself? What’s the first thing that a homeowner should think about?
TOM BEVILACQUA: Really all depends on what your focus is and what your goal is. There’s a lot of people, you know, who are looking to create that ambience or the mood, you know, that a dramatic landscape and home will provide. Other people are looking for the feeling of security that they get; that an adequately lit property provides. And then you have other people that are just wishing to extend their outdoor usability of their property; you know, late into the evening hours.
So basically, when I meet with my clients on our initial design consultation, it’s really finding out what their goals are, what they’re trying to accomplish. Then I pick certain focal points in the backyard to draw your eye to certain different areas and then we start to build the lighting design around that; to create your guests and your family to look at those certain areas that you’re trying to bring out as your focal point.
LESLIE: Tommy, do you think it’s important to hire a pro to sort of help you map out this entire plan or is it something that people can do on their own?
TOM BEVILACQUA: You know, there are quite a bit of people that do the lighting on their own and it’s – you know, it’s artistic and you know, people get a lot of benefits from it as well as any home improvement; as far as self gratification.
But really, I believe that, in any job, you should really hire a professional to do that job. And there are quite a bit of benefits from it. First of all, again, as I mentioned, a lighting designer has the artistic abilities to create that design and satisfy your goal. Whether there for the beauty of the property, the security or the safety, he’s able – a properly executed design, that designer is able to make that reflection of your property your own personality.
TOM: I think, also, there’s a lot of new technologies that are out there, the controls that are available. You know, I understand that there’s wireless controls and there’s wired controls and then the timing circuits and all that. So I guess if it’s a very complicated installation, probably it’s best to have a pro. But as you say, you can do a very simple landscape lighting design just by yourself.
Tom Bevilacqua, thanks again for joining us.
If you want more information on After Dark Lighting, go to www.AfterDark-Lighting.com for more information.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Do you have some crumbling vintage steps out the front of your house?
TOM: If it’s vintage, is that a good thing?
LESLIE: It depends. In this installation, I wouldn’t really think a vintage step would be an ideal thing.
TOM: (overlapping voices) (chuckling) Probably not. (laughing)
LESLIE: Alright, well don’t just consider replacing it; consider redoing them. It’s a great idea for a new look for your home, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. What are you working on? Is your roof leaking? Is your floor squeaking? Has your toilet become a run-on sentence? (chuckling) Call us now. 888-MONEY-PIT.
And if you have crumbling, cracking steps leading to your front door, you should consider changing the entire look instead of just replacing the steps. What about this? A winding, gradually lifted walkway? That’ll eliminate some steps. This concrete path would offer easier access for older or disabled visitors and also makes for a smooth transport of groceries, strollers and small children.
LESLIE: Hey, that’s a great idea, Tom. And I bet it would really make the front of your house look a little bit more grand and also boost that resale value, if you’re thinking of putting the house on the market.
Well, everybody out there, you got a home improvement or a home repair question? Fire away. In addition to the information you’re after, you might come away with a great prize.
TOM: That’s right because right now we’re giving away a sneak preview of the new One+ inflator, One+ radio and One+ personal fan; all from Ryobi. These items will come in handy for camping, boating or just hanging out by the pool and they’re all compatible with the existing 18-volt batteries you might already own. Or you’re going to get two new batteries with this package. For more information, you can check them out at RyobiTools.com. Now, that inflator comes with high and low pressure, allows users to inflate a variety of items. It’s got a lock-on switch. It allows for automatic inflation of up to 40 psi and manual inflation for up to 115 psi, which basically means it’ll do your bike tires, it’ll do your car tires, it’ll do your boats …
LESLIE: Ooh, just in time to do all of those floaties that your kids want to inflate in the yard.
TOM: (overlapping voices) And the floaties. That’s right because you get (laughter) winded pretty quickly blowing them up without it.
So that’s just one of the great prizes. You also get the radio and the fan. It’s worth over 100 bucks. You want to qualify, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And you must, you must, you must be willing to come on the air and ask us your home improvement question.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: We’re going out to Florida next with Jim who’s putting a laminate floor in the bathroom. And Jim, might I say what a wonderful choice. Laminate is beautiful. So what’s your question?
JIM: Well, the question was I’m putting a laminate floor in a mobile home we’re remodeling. And what I was concerned about was the moisture in the bathroom; how it would affect the laminate floor, you know, being a wood …
TOM: Jim, laminate floor is great choice for the bathroom. There’s two things you need to do different when installing it in the bathroom versus, say, a family room or a living room. The first thing you want to do is glue the laminate boards together. So when you assemble them, you want to run a thin bead of yellow carpenter’s glue between the boards where it comes together. And secondly, you want to caulk the gap between the laminate floor and the wall. And I would use a good quality silicone caulk. Now you can still put, say, a baseboard moulding on top of that, but you need to caulk that.
Those are the only two things that manufacturers recommend be done differently in a wet location like a bathroom, as compared to, say, a living room or a bedroom. But laminate floors are …
LESLIE: But the laminate is a great choice.
LESLIE: I mean it’s made from plastic; it looks like just about anything you want it to, from a tile to a wood plank; it’s structurally stable; it’s durable; and it looks great and it’s a great choice. Well done, Jim.
TOM: Jim, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, up next in Michigan, we’ve got Kurt who listens to The Money Pit on WHAM. Tell us about your kitchen countertop debate.
KURT: Bought a house about three years ago and it’s got the original Formica countertop. And we’ve contemplated doing the upgrade. Just wanted to get your opinion on the granite tile countertops; you know, with the tight fitting …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, versus the slab.
TOM: Right, mm-hmm.
LESLIE: Well, I think it’s a matter of budget, Kurt, and personal taste. I mean I think if you can afford the solid slab – and of course it depends on which type you choose, how much linear feet you have on your countertops; you know, that’s really going to vary the cost of the granite because you can choose a granite that’s $60 a square and you can choose a granite that’s hundreds of dollars a square. So it’s really up to you and your budget. I think the solid looks amazing, only because it’s a uniform piece. If you go with the granite tile, you’re going to save a bunch of money but then you’re going to have seams; even though they do join them and then do grout that as well. It’s really a personal taste, I think.
TOM: Yeah. And you know, Kurt, it’s also, of course, very important that you have it professionally installed because handling that stuff, there are some real tricks of the trade on how you handle that. And it’s important that the cabinets that they go on be absolutely flush and level because you don’t want to …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. They might need some reinforcement.
TOM: Yeah, you may have to do some structural reinforcement. And that’s why it’s so much more expensive. But you know, it definitely is a great improvement for your house and it’s something that’s going to give you a good return on investment.
OK, Kurt? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: We’re going to talk to Ed in New York who’s building a foundation. What can we do for you?
ED: Hi. I have a question. We purchased a house – a small house – in Northern Washington County in New York, right on the Vermont border. And we’re situated …
ED: … on kind of a hillside. And …
ED: … when we – when we originally looked at the house, we knew that it was – we were going to need to do some work on the foundation and …
TOM: OK, how come?
ED: The house – it actually was added on to. So, the front part of the house, which is more on the hillside, is built on a concrete – a poured concrete foundation. OK?
ED: But the addition was built on concrete block. And that block …
ED: … we knew was starting to buckle.
TOM: Well, obviously, a solid poured concrete foundation is the best, Ed.
TOM: First of all, let me say this is not a do-it-yourself project.
ED: Oh, absolutely. I know that.
TOM: Right. Because if you have one that’s seriously buckled, you’re going to have to temporarily support the wall while this is being done. And generally, they do something called needle beaming, to do this; which is where you sort of take steel beams and thread them through the wall that has to be supported and then they’re supported on either side with some sort of jacks or blocking to take the pressure off.
In a repair situation like this, probably the best thing is going to be to rebuild the concrete block wall. If it’s the addition and it’s buckling, it sounds to me like it wasn’t done right to begin with.
ED: Yeah, I think that’s probably true. I think …
TOM: It probably wasn’t reinforced properly or they didn’t use the right width block or something. And so, I think probably what you’re going to end up doing is supporting the home in place, taking out those portions of the wall or perhaps all the wall, and then bringing it back up to speed.
Let me give you this recommendation, Ed. What I think you should do here is not go straight to a contractor. I think you should go to a structural engineer or an architect and let them design the repair and give you a set of plans. It might cost you a thousand, 1,500 bucks, maybe a little bit more. But have them actually spec out the repair because they’ll be able to tell you exactly the best way to fix this. They’re going to give you a set of drawings which you’ll need to get your building permit. And then, with these drawings in hand, you can go ahead out to several contractors and get bids on having it repaired.
And there’s another reason you want to do this. Because it’s sort of like a pedigree on the condition of the repair; the quality of the repair. Because if you go to sell this house in the future, you have a professional home inspector come in and they see that, obviously, there’s been work done on this wall, um, if I was the inspector, I would ask you about it and if you said, ‘Yeah, I had some mason come in and fix it,’ that would not be good. But if you said to me, ‘I hired a structural engineer or an architect to take a look at this. The architect designed the repair. Here’s the plan. We hired contractors to follow this particular plan and make the repair,’ and then – and this is an important final step – have the architect or engineer come back and certify that it was done consistent with their design – now, you can see what I mean by pedigree. You have all your ducks in a row and it looks good; it was done right and it won’t impact negatively the value of your home.
ED: Uh-huh. OK.
TOM: That’s the way I would approach it, Ed. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Are you looking for the best way to repair a concrete floor that’s cracking and crumbling? Well, we’ll give you those tips, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by BEHR From Home, where you can select from over 3,700 paint colors and order samples online for home delivery. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Another way to reach us is to go to our website at MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie. We get lots of email messages all week long. We do our best to get back to as many of you as we possibly can, including on this program. So why don’t we jump right into the email bag.
LESLIE: This one is from James of Framingham, Massachusetts who writes: ‘My garage floor has several huge cracks and gaps. It’s a concrete floor. What’s the best way to fix it? Will I need to rent a jackhammer and dig it all up or is there a better, less expensive way?’ I think he just wants a jackhammer.
TOM: Hmm, yeah, because that is a fun project, you know?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, and noisy.
TOM: It’s noisy, it’s fun, it’s a stress-relieving project, you know? I think really, James, it depends on how bad this floor is. Now, when you talk about huge cracks and gaps, you know, if you’ve got a cement floor, you’re always going to have, in that concrete floor, some cracks and some gaps. I’ve hardly ever seen a crack-free concrete floor. There’s always something. But if these are big slabs and they seem to be almost moving or they’re heaved – where one is like lifted up higher than the other – in that case, then you might want to think about replacing it and, of course, you’ll get a chance to use that fun tool, the jackhammer.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Your neighbor’s aren’t going to be happy.
TOM: Yeah, it’s actually surprisingly easy to use, though. I mean, once you get started with that, it comes apart pretty quickly. But then, you know, you’re going to be tied into having to replace it and doing it properly. And by the way, you can pour a cement floor or a concrete floor that will not crack if you reinforce it properly; which almost never happens. (chuckling) So make sure you get a good mason; uses woven wire mesh and reinforces it correctly.
If you have minor cracks, you can fill the cracks up with an epoxy caulking compound. And then, I would recommend an epoxy paint on top and all of those things will give you a very usable, very durable garage floor.
LESLIE: Alright, here’s another one from Felix in Alexandria, Virginia, who writes: ‘I’m having problems with my icemaker. The supply line inside the freezer froze. I was able to unclog it but the icemaker still doesn’t work correctly. The supply line outside the refrigerator leaks now.’ Yikes, that’s a mess.
TOM: Well, you did the right thing with unfreezing that water line that drips the water into the icemaker with the hair dryer. That was a fine way to do it. What you also should do though, when that happens, is you need to replace the water shutoff valve or the water inlet valve or both of them if necessary. Because, generally, when that happens, you’re going to get a leak again.
Well, OK, Money Pit listeners. It’s about time to start thinking about some treatment that you might be doing to your lawn this fall. And before you tackle that, you might want to think about how you need to safely dispose of those pesticides. That’s the topic of today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. And it’s not just wrapping those containers up in a plastic bag and shoving them within your garbage. You actually have to dispose of them in a proper way.
You know, keeping your lawn green and healthy usually means using some sort of chemical product on it; whether it’s a fertilizer or a weed killer or a pesticide. And you may have some of those empty containers lying around your garage or shed. And here is what you need to do to get rid of those properly. If the label on your empty pesticide container tells you to rinse the container, use the rinse water on your target site. Don’t pour the rinse water down your drain or on the ground or into a gutter or storm drain because you don’t want to contaminate those systems. In most communities, these containers are not recyclable. Find out how to dispose of those through your own local waste management office. They’ll tell you exactly what to do. Some of them have special days where you’re supposed to bring certain, you know, containers or paint or whatever …
LESLIE: … to a certain site and they usually do it …
LESLIE: … about once a month. Remember that aerosol containers should be capped and thrown in with your trash. Fertilizer bags should be wrapped in newspaper and thrown into your trash. And remember, don’t reuse any of these containers. Any unused product should also be disposed of through your local hazardous waste program.
If you do these properly, you’re going to keep your family safe and the environment’s going to thank you for it.
TOM: Safe home improvement is what we are all about.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
Hey, coming up next week on the program, it’s a cordless revolution. We’re going to talk power tools with Fine Homebuilding’s editor, Kevin Ireton, and talk about why the new type of batteries are taking cordless to a whole new level.
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 2006 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.)