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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. What are you working on? We want to help you make a good home better. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Are you working on your roof? Are you working on your floors? Are you redecorating some rooms inside your house?
Hey, you just got done doing a major redecoration as a designer on one of the Trading Spaces episodes that’s coming up.
LESLIE: It’s official. I am now a designer on the show. I get to tell other people what to build for me now, which is …
TOM: That’s nice.
LESLIE: Which is nice. Especially because it was so hot.
TOM: It’s like a promotion, right?
LESLIE: I think it’s a promotion. I had a great …
TOM: I think it is, too.
LESLIE: … a great, fun time; a nice room. I did a two-year-old’s bedroom; a little girl. It’s her big girl room and the parents wanted a shabby chic bedroom which I thought, ‘Shabby chic for a two-year-old, my goodness.’
TOM: (overlapping voices) Good taste starts young.
LESLIE: So – yeah. I really … it was challenging, it was exciting and the room came out so adorably.
TOM: (overlapping voices) What’s next? A Prada lunchbox?
LESLIE: Yeah, right. (laughter) She’s going to be like, ‘But Mommy, I want a crackled headboard.’
TOM: Well, that’s pretty cool.
LESLIE: But it really came out nice. And I was very nervous and I really, really you know, was caring very much how I designed this room to make the family really like it. It’s tough when all of a sudden you’re in charge of creating the living space for somebody else to be in every day.
TOM: Well, that’s right.
Now, if you have a question about maybe how to create a living space for yourself – maybe you were thinking about remodeling a bathroom or a bedroom, like Leslie just did on Trading Spaces – call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Maybe you’re thinking about doing some remodeling to that outdoor room you’ve always wanted to build. Well, that’s great because coming up later this hour, we’re going to have an expert that can give us some tips on how to design the best outdoor rooms and not only to build it, but also some tips for sort of living in it; like what’s the best way to stay warm in an outdoor room. You know, things that are impossible like that. We’ve got a great expert coming up to give some tips on how to do all that.
LESLIE: That’s right. And an outdoor room just doesn’t have to be a lounging area. It could be a kitchen, it could be a living room, it could be an outdoor office or even a bedroom. It depends on what you want to do outside of your house. So if you’re thinking about moving into the outside, call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll give you a hand with that.
TOM: Yeah, guys, the outdoor room is the new doghouse, OK? So, you know, if you’re to going to get thrown out there …
LESLIE: Make it comfy.
TOM: … you might as well have a nice space to sleep in. Keep it comfy, that’s what we say.
Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re also giving away a set of three Ryobi One+ tools this hour. It’s a radio, it’s a fan and an inflator; all three tools. Worth about 100 bucks. Going to go to one caller to 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the air with us so we can help you out.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Toby in South Dakota on the line. What’s going on with your new house?
TOBY: Yeah, we just moved into a new house there and I was wondering – we have that plain, white paint on the walls …
TOBY: … but my wife’s wanting to paint colors and do whatever for like kids’ room and stuff.
TOBY: But we were told that we should wait a year.
TOBY: Is that true?
LESLIE: (chuckling) No. (chuckling) It depends. If you feel that strongly about painting the room a different color, go for it. The only reason why someone might suggest waiting a year is so that you can live in the space, decide how you want to use it and then determine what color works best with how you’ve grown into that space. I like to paint a house before I’ve even moved in.
TOM: Well actually, there’s another reason that you may have gotten that advice, Toby, and that is because the lumber is still fairly green. You’re going to have a lot of expansion and contraction and what you might get is some cracking and some nail pops that happen during the first year more so than in subsequent years. But as long as you’re prepared for that and not afraid to make the occasional patch and touch up and, of course, very important that you save some of that paint, then I don’t see any reason to live with those dull, white walls for all that time.
TOBY: Yeah, we’ve noticed that they mark up really easily. I mean you can just rub up against them and my wife’s getting a little (chuckling) tired of trying to clean the marks.
TOM: Oh, yeah.
LESLIE: I can’t live with a white room.
TOM: And new construction paint is usually absolutely the worst, cheapest junk out there.
LESLIE: And it’s the whitest, it’s the brightest white you’ve ever seen. It’s almost blue.
TOM: Yeah, go ahead and invest in some really good paint. You know, Behr’s got some fabulous paint out there; a lot of cool colors and a lot of high-tech paints; they have this sateen finish which is great for bathrooms and kitchens. It has this nanotechnology that makes it easy to clean. So there’s a lot of good paint out there. Definitely a good time to do it now; you know, before you get so much stuff in that house that it becomes more problematic for you to paint it.
LESLIE: They even have scrubbable matte finishes. So if you’re looking for a non-sheen in your finish, you can get a scrubbable matte which will be great to clean and even you’ll be able to get crayon off the wall with one of those dry erasers that you can get from the supermarket.
TOM: Alright, Toby, good luck with that new house. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Robert in Ohio who’s doing some refinishing. Tell us about this dresser you’re working on.
ROBERT: Yeah, I actually built a dresser and was wondering what type of finish I should use; like a polyurethane or a lacquer for a durable finish.
LESLIE: Well, how would you like it to look? Do you want to see a solid color? Do you want to see a hint of the grain to come through? Do you want to just keep it the natural wood color?
ROBERT: That’s what – I’m just looking for the natural wood color.
LESLIE: Then I think definitely a polyurethane coating. What do you think, Tom?
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Either that or if you don’t want to have that level of sheen, you could use something like a Danish oil finish which has more of sort of a hand-rubbed look; although it does have a polyurethane component to it.
LESLIE: Because you want to seal the wood and you want to give it a good, durable finish and both of those will do that. It just depends on the level of shininess, like Tom said; you know, the sheen.
ROBERT: Alright. Well, thank you.
LESLIE: Man, there are so many things Robert could do with that blank canvas.
LESLIE: I’m like, ‘You could decoupage it. You could use a colored stain. You could use a gel stain.’ I’m like, ‘What do you want to do. Let’s crackle it.’
TOM: I know. People don’t understand how many options there are today. And you do a lot of neat things with these on some of the TV shows that you’re in.
LESLIE: Well, you know, a lot of the times, because you’re working on such a limited budget, you’re forced to repurpose furnishings that are already in the space. And sometimes going with straight-forward color, though interesting, you know, doesn’t really offer a lot of opportunities. You can do a chalkboard paint in a kid’s room on the drawer fronts. You can decoupage with fabric scraps or interesting paper. There are so many, many things you could do.
Now we’re talking to Glynn in Florida. What’s going on with your ceiling?
GLYNN: Well, I’m trying to remodel a house and it has a popcorn plaster ceiling.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah, a lot of people don’t like those.
GLYNN: What I’d like to do is get some advice on how to make the ceiling level and have a smoother finish on it.
TOM: Well, removing popcorn ceiling is a pretty messy job but, generally, the way it’s done is you want to spray it down – and you have to get it pretty wet – and then you’re going to have to take a spackle knife and you’re going to have to very slowly but surely scrape that away. The problem is, Glynn, that when you do this, what you’re going to find is that even when you get all that popcorn away, it’s still going to be fairly uneven. So you’re not going to be able to get so much away that you could paint it flush and have it be, you know, perfectly smooth. So what you might want to do is use a textured paint after that but one that’s not quite as bumpy and lumpy as the popcorn was.
GLYNN: I was thinking about using quarter-inch gyp board over it after the popcorn is off? Would that work?
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, that’s a good idea.
LESLIE: Or it doesn’t have to be textured at all if you’re going to go with the fresh gyp board, which would be a new drywall, really. You know, once you plaster over everything, you could have a nice, smooth surface and go with just a paint.
GLYNN: Well, that’s a good thought.
LESLIE: Doesn’t always have to be textured.
Arkansas’s on the line. We’re going to talk with Tim about heating systems. What can we do for you?
TIM: Hi. I’d just like to know what your (inaudible) is and opinions of the most energy efficiency heating and cooling system on the market today. Because I’ve been doing some research and just so much information out there. I just don’t know which way to turn.
TOM: Well, let’s start by talking about the fuel, Tim. What are we talking about here? Are we talking about gas, electric, oil, propane? What?
TOM: Gas? Good. Well, I think gas is definitely going to be the most efficient way to go. Beyond that, you’re going to have to decide whether or not you want an average efficiency furnace or a high efficiency furnace. The higher the efficiency of the furnace, the less it costs to operate but also, the more it costs to buy. Higher efficiency furnaces are more expensive than lower efficiency furnaces. So that’s a tradeoff there.
Now, generally speaking, if you’re going to be in your house for the long haul, I would always spend the extra money and go high efficiency. Now, when you’re talking about high efficiency furnaces, what you’re going to be looking for is something called a condensing furnace. The reason it’s called a condensing furnace is because it takes so much heat out of that gas as it burns that what’s left is very low temperature. The exhaust gases out of a high efficiency furnace are fairly warm; they’re not super hot. And because they’re fairly warm, they also have a lot of water in them and that’s where the condensing part comes through. The water’s condensing out of the exhaust gases. It runs back through a plastic pipe, by the way; not a metal pipe. The temperature of the exhaust gas is so low, you don’t need a metal pipe to shoot it out of your house.
So, if I was starting from scratch, I would buy a high efficiency, condensing gas furnace and I would make sure that it’s hooked up properly because insulation is very, very important it be done right with these types of furnaces. They have very little room for mistakes. So you make sure it’s done by a pro, it’s done right, that the pipes come out of the house at the right place. Because it’s a plastic pipe, some people will bring them out side walls instead of roofs. And then, you have to make sure that they’re so many feet off the ground and that they’re not in your windows. A lot of little intricacies. So make sure you do it right. But really, dollar for dollar, I’d go high efficiency every time.
Well, it is hot, hot, hot. So up next, the best way to care for your landscaping and still save water in the process.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Peerless. If you’re putting in a new bathroom or kitchen faucet, Peerless can help you with every step including the hardest one – getting that old faucet out. For a complete undo-it-yourself guide, visit the Peerless faucet coach at faucetcoach.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: OK, guys, here’s some yard care tips for water conservation.
First of all, think about aerating your soil; especially if you happen to be unlucky and have clay soils. They’re very dense and they need to be aerated if …
LESLIE: And hard to dig.
TOM: And they’re very hard to dig. And I know that you’ve dug a few in your career.
LESLIE: Ah. All I have to say is, ‘Texas.’
TOM: Aw, Texas. (laughter) That brings back painful memories, right?
LESLIE: Aw, my back. (chuckling)
TOM: I had to dig out some clay soils that had some bedrock installed in them once.
LESLIE: Yeah, Texas.
TOM: And – oh, is that right? You, too?
LESLIE: Yeah. (laughing)
TOM: Well, listen to this. Mine was for a deck segment for – I think it was for CNN. And as we dug down, we hit bedrock and the hole for the footing was not deep enough. But we absolutely – I mean if we were going to get any lower than this, we would have to have gotten dynamite. (laughter) So I figure let’s call the building inspector …
LESLIE: Well, that could be fun.
TOM: Yeah, right? Let – yeah. Good news: the hole’s deep enough. Bad news: we blew up your house. (laughing) So we call the building inspector and this is – this is a true story. The guy shows up direct from his dentist’s office after having a root canal.
LESLIE: Oh, my God.
TOM: And the – and the anesthesia was wearing off. So he wouldn’t let us out of this. He wanted us to find a way to do it, so – actually, I don’t think we did much; but he came back the next day and he approved it. (laughing) But it was crazy.
So, if you have clay soils – really tough soils – you have to aerate them. It’s really important for better water penetration. So think about that.
LESLIE: And also, make sure you mulch your plants and your bushes and your trees. This is going to help retain soil moisture. It also discourages weed growth and it provides nutrients and prevents soil underneath from compacting. And make sure you fertilize twice a year; once in the spring with a slow-release nitrogen and once in the fall with quick-release. Those will really serve the ground around the areas really well for the seasons that are about to come.
TOM: And that’ll have you looking green all year long.
OK, folks. By now you know the Ryobi One+ system. It’s very popular. It’s an 18-volt power tool platform that works with more than 20 different tools and is used by more than four million homeowners. Well, Ryobi is introducing some new additions to the lineup this fall.
LESLIE: And one lucky caller this hour is going to see a sneak preview. Not just see – win …
TOM: Ooh, it’s a secret.
LESLIE: … a preview of the new One+ inflator, the One+ radio and the One+ personal fan. These don’t even come out until the fall, folks. You’re going to get them before anybody else and be the envy of your neighborhood. And these items come in handy for camping, boating, hanging out by the pool. They’re all compatible with the 18-volt platform you may already have. You’ll also receive two batteries and a charger with this prize package. If you want more information on the Ryobi tools, you can visit RyobiTools.com and learn all about the One+ system. But for one lucky caller, it’s going to be free at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Listening on the Discovery Radio Network is Michelle in Georgia. And you’ve moved into the garage; literally. Tell us about your new room.
MICHELLE: We wanted a nice sized playroom for both children, where they could spread out (inaudible) and it had already been nicely sheet-rocked and has the ceiling and closets and stuff.
MICHELLE: And we had put down a nice quality of carpet to pad their knees and stuff like that while they play. We want to leave the garage doors so that it’ll be easier to bring larger toys – like bicycles and things – in and out. But we need to get some advice about weatherproofing right where the garage door comes down. Rain doesn’t actually come in but sometimes a little – the water will trickle down. And I got the best carpet pad …
MICHELLE: … with the moisture barrier and I’m afraid if water gets under it …
TOM: Hey, Michelle? Are you ever considering bringing this room back to being a garage?
MICHELLE: Not while I own the house, but there – we may sell the house in a few years.
TOM: Because I’ve got to tell you – I mean a garage door is not designed the same as a standard entry door. And so, it’s going to be difficult to get the level of weather integrity that you want out of this door, to make that space completely livable. You’re almost always going to have some moisture issues. It doesn’t have weather stripping on the sides that prevent water. It doesn’t have a saddle that a regular entry door would have. And so, it’s very difficult to make it as tight as you want. Everything that you do short of that’s going to kind of be stop-gap measure. So you know, you could buy stick-on weather stripping and you could, you know, tack some strips around it and you could buy a soft weather stripping for the bottom of the door. But it’s never going to be as good as just having a regular entry door.
And so, if you’re ever considering, you know, putting the garage back to a regular garage, then fine; you know, leave it. But if not, I would recommend that you take the door out, frame the wall, make it look like it never had a garage and put a wide door in somewhere, if that’s what you’re concerned about in terms of getting stuff in and out.
You know, Leslie, all the years I spent as a home inspector, I’ve been in a lot of, lot of houses and I inspected over 6,000 homes. And sometimes I would see this converted garage room where they leave the garage door in place. But I really don’t think it’s a good idea to leave that garage door because it’s just – it’s not as good as a real finished room. You can’t heat it as well, you can’t cool it as well and you can’t keep the water out as well.
So – I mean I would survey the neighborhood. If that garage is really adding a lot of value to the home, then maybe you need to keep it for the time to resale. But if not, I say get rid of the garage door and frame up the wall so it looks like the rest of the house and go with that and just accept it the way it is. But I don’t think – I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to take an existing garage door and just sort of weather strip it and seal it and caulk it in the best you can because …
LESLIE: Well, especially since so many new builds – new developments – are putting the garages in the front of the house. So when you look at the house from the street, the first thing you see is the garage. So I think definitely, if you have a home that’s situated in that way, if you’re moving into the garage and making it a permanent room, definitely get rid of that door. Because think of how beautiful the house will look if the first thing you see is not the garage door.
TOM: And I’ve seen it done very, very well, too; you know, where it’s all been landscaped. Maybe you keep the driveway, but you cut back four or six feet of it and you put some mulch and bushes against it and you put a short foundation wall in between where the old opening was and then you frame on top of that and then you side it. And it really can look terrific. But when it’s done poorly, everybody knows it. I mean it doesn’t look good inside the house and it doesn’t look good outside of the house.
So, Michelle, it may not be the advice you wanted but that’s what we think and that’s why we have The Money Pit Radio Show.
LESLIE: Now we’re talking to David in California who has some problems with the manufactured home he’s living in. Tell us what’s going on.
DAVID: Well, I have a 1980 manufactured home and I have about a 10-foot by four-foot section of the roof that’s sagging.
TOM: Is it a pitched roof or is it a flat roof?
DAVID: Well, it’s a – it’s got a little angle to it.
TOM: OK, so it’s sort of a low slope.
TOM: Well, the first question I would have is why is it sagging. Is there any chance that there’s been a leak there?
DAVID: It doesn’t appear to be.
TOM: We want to eliminate the obvious, which would be, you know, a leak that could be weakening the structure. If you have no leak, this may be a situation where you have to do a little bit of exploratory surgery; perhaps in the area that’s the worse. I would work on this from the inside so we’re dealing with drywall and not roofing membrane. But you might want to open it up in an area and just make sure the condition of the lumber is solid.
If the lumber is solid and there’s no water, there’s no moisture, there’s no mold growing in there in this humid space …
LESLIE: Then it could be that one of the rafters is rotting.
TOM: Yeah, or more than one is what I’m thinking. Well, I would do some exploratory surgery here and try to find out what’s going on. If it turns out that they seem to be solid, they’re just sagging, then I wouldn’t worry about it so much. But if it turns out that you’ve got humidity and moisture in there, which is what I think Leslie and I are both suspecting is going on, then you’re going to have to do some major repairs. You’ll probably have to open that up from the bottom. You’ll probably have to sister each rafter by putting a new beam next to it.
LESLIE: Yeah, I was going to say.
TOM: And then you’re going to have to make sure you have proper ventilation because it’s the only way you’re going to keep it from happening again.
LESLIE: In addition to sistering the rafters, would you want to put a sort of beam perpendicular in between the rafters to just sort of join them together more than might already be there?
TOM: You talking about blocking?
LESLIE: Yeah, maybe.
TOM: Possibly, but I’d have to know more about the roof before I decided to do that or not. I mean you’re not going to put a midspan girder in unless it called for that, but you could put solid blocking, which tends to stiffen it up. The repair’s going to really depend on how much damage there is and how much area you have to work. But really, you need to open this up and figure out what’s going on, David. It does sound like something to be concerned about. So, you know, take it in small steps. Open up the ceiling from the drywall below – drywall’s easy to fix – and you’ll know exactly what’s going on. OK?
DAVID: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, using a dehumidifier could help keep your house cooler in the summer and help prevent mold growth in damp areas like your basement.
TOM: Proper maintenance is the key to having a dehumidifier that’s working properly. Up next, we’ll give you some tips to make sure your dehumidifier is firing on all cylinders.
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 at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That number is important because you can call it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and you will reach a live representative of The Money Pit. Our screeners never sleep. So, why do we do this? Because if we’re not in the studio, you can talk to a real person that’s willing to take your home improvement question and then, we’ll call you back the next time we are. So remember to call us 24/7 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because everybody’s got home improvement questions; including how do I take care of those dehumidifiers that are just starting to really crank up with all the moisture and all the rain that we’ve had.
LESLIE: And they are helping you so much in your homes right now, folks. They’re keeping you healthy, they’re keeping your comfortable, they’re protecting anything that’s made out of wood in your house and they’re preventing mold growth. So show them some love and give your dehumidifier some maintenance.
You want to make sure to dust and vacuum those dehumidifier coils at least once a year and make sure it’s unplugged when you’re doing so. And also, check your owner’s manual for your specific dehumidifier to make sure that they don’t have any cleaning tips that they might offer; especially if yours is a little bit difficult to clean.
TOM: And here’s a tip if you’re tired of dumping that water bucket that always fills up in the bottom. You can purchase a dehumidifier condensate pump. What is that? Well, it’s a small pump that sits next to the dehumidifier that takes all of the water and pumps it up and out and away from your house.
LESLIE: I love that.
TOM: You simply plug it in, you run the little rubber hose that comes up with it up through – up the basement wall – and then drill just a tiny hole in the outside box joist of your house and stick it through there and all that water will roll out of the house. So you don’t have to dump it all the time because …
LESLIE: And then it works all day long. You don’t ever have to worry about dumping it.
TOM: Yeah, because you know what happens. Most of them have floats that shut them off; so as soon as you get a pan of water – which takes like, you know, sometimes just an hour if the basement’s really humid – it will automatically just be drained all the time.
LESLIE: And ours, sometimes the float – if I don’t put the little basket in correctly …
LESLIE: … the float doesn’t quite adjust properly …
TOM: Oh, so it just – it floods.
LESLIE: … and it overflows.
TOM: Ugh, yuck.
LESLIE: And then I’m afraid we’re all going to get electrocuted.
TOM: Alright, I’m going to have to get you one of these pumps. That’s it. That’s going to be your next birthday present from me.
TOM: ‘What did Tom get you for your birthday?’ ‘Oh, I got her a (chuckling) …’
LESLIE: A dehumidifier pump.
TOM: ‘… dehumidifier pump and I love it.’
LESLIE: Come on, February. Come on, February.
TOM: (overlapping voices) (chuckling) 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Those of you out there using a portable dehumidifier, you might not be aware of this, but there’s another option out there for you. There’s such a thing called a whole-house dehumidifier. What it does is it dehumidifies every room in the house without you ever having to empty a bucket. And it can really help your AC system run a lot more efficiently.
If this sounds like a good idea for you, we’ve got some tips on choosing a whole-house system. All you have to do is sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter and The Money Pit e-newsletter’s got great advice and info. Make sure you go to MoneyPit.com now and sign up. Get your free weekly e-newsletter and look into getting a dehumidifier in your house.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Now we’re going to Kevin in Montana who finds The Money Pit on KGEZ. And you’re looking for a laser level. What are you working on?
KEVIN: Yes, ma’am. Right now, I am putting in a French drain around the house basement that didn’t have one before. And I’m also going to be doing some timber framing with it. So I would like to get the best one out there but I know that the industry’s changing so much that it would be a shame to, you know, get something that’s behind the time.
TOM: Well, Kevin, there’s been a lot of changes in the laser level market. And generally, what’s changing is the intensity of the laser – the brightness – and that makes a big, big difference. Because the brighter it is, the longer the line is.
You know, Leslie, I was trying to use a laser level that was an older one not too long ago and it was outside in daylight and it was impossible to see; just impossible. You couldn’t see a thing with it. So, the intensity of the laser level is really, really important.
Secondly, I would consider the task that you’re going to do. You mentioned a couple of projects. You know, there are laser levels that come different types. There are some that do straight lines; there are some that do vertical lines; there are some that will do plumb lines. You need to decide what projects you’re going to use it for and buy one to match that. As far as brands, we like Ryobi. They make a good product, it’s inexpensive and it really stands up well.
Kevin, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
OK, so here’s a situation that many of us find ourselves in. We decide to build a project out of wood and it comes out OK but because it’s an outdoor project and perhaps we’ve used green lumber, it’s soaking, sopping wet; like, for example, when you first build a deck. Well, can you paint green lumber? Is there a way to do it? Is there a way to protect it? Can you do it once, do it right and not have to do it again? There is. That’s next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Metal Roofing Alliance. We call metal roofing investment-grade roofing. Because in your lifetime, a metal roof will save you money and add value to your home. To find a Metal Roofing Alliance contractor or to learn more about investment-grade roofing, visit www.metalroofing.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
So say that you’ve decided to build an outdoor project – maybe a picnic table, maybe a bench – and you’re using construction grade lumber. The lumber’s less expensive when it’s construction grade but it comes very, very wet. So you have to take some special precautions before you finish it.
The first thing you want to do is scrape away any of the dried pitch that gets stuck to it. Then you want to wipe the wood down with a rag soaked in acetone or lacquer thinner and then sand. Make sure you vacuum it off and you have to use a primer when you’re painting untreated wood outside. If you don’t use a primer, the paint is not going to stick.
Now, if you’re building this with pressure-treated lumber, there’s probably a few additional steps you might want to take.
LESLIE: Well, with pressure-treated lumber, because it’s so heavily saturated in whatever it is they’re using these days – they used to use an arsenic-based compound; not any more because of the hazards of working with it – but it still comes so heavily saturated so it can stand up to the outdoor conditions, you have to be – it’s very important – you have to let it dry out. And you need to let it dry out for about a year’s time before you can think about conditioning, staining, painting. Otherwise, nothing is going to stick and you’re going to find your …
TOM: Yeah, and nothing’s going to happen to that in that year. You know, the pressure-treated is good enough to protect the wood for a full year. You’re not going to get much cracking or checking; you’re just getting a lot of evaporation. So it’s OK to wait that year.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you don’t wait that year, you’re going to be so sorry because you’re going to find you’re going to be redoing your deck; whatever it is that you built over and over and over again because nothing will adhere properly. So be patient. Enjoy it. It actually looks quite nice in that nice neutral color. So live with it and love it.
Well, folks, if you’ve got a home improvement question – perhaps something about that deck you’re working on outside or even a home repair question – fire away. We’re here for you. In addition to the information you’re after, you might come away with a super sneak preview of a great prize.
TOM: That’s right, because we’re giving away a sneak preview of the new One+ inflator, One+ radio and One+ personal fan; all from Ryobi. Now these are not going to be out until the fall but we’ve got them first. We’re going to give one away – actually one of each away – on today’s program to one caller to 1-888-MONEY-PIT. They’re made by Ryobi. If you want more information, you can go to their website at RyobiTools.com.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Next up, Chris in Utah with a crack in the basement. What’s going on?
CHRIS: Well, I’ve got a crack in the basement wall. The area I’m in has a very high water table. We do have a sump pump installed. However, if the sump pump fails for any reason, the water starts leaking through the basement wall, causing a fair amount of flooding damage. This happens on a fairly regular basis. So I was wondering if there’s any way that we can seal the concrete in some way so that we don’t have a problem with flooding anymore.
LESLIE: Chris, are you from Australia?
CHRIS: I am indeed. (laughter)
LESLIE: I love that accent. ‘Aw, yee-ah, Chris has got a crack in the basement wall.’ (laughter) Alright, Chris, so tell us; is it vertical, horizontal, is it deep? Tell us about the crack.
CHRIS: There are also little cracks in the floor and the water comes up through that as well. The crack kind of runs horizontal then slopes down towards the floor.
TOM: Chris, does it seem to leak more after a heavy rainfall?
CHRIS: It’s out towards a bird refuge and it’s a wetlands area. So, whenever there’s heavy runoff during the spring, the water table comes up and that’s when the water pressure from the water table starts forcing it in through.
TOM: What I would recommend here is a multi-step approach, Chris. First of all, we want to take every step possible to reduce the volume of water that’s getting close to that foundation wall. So I want you to look outside your house first at the gutter system to make sure that you’re collecting as much water as you can off that roof, that all of the gutters are free flowing and that the downspouts are discharging away from the foundation at least – at least four to six feet. The next thing I want you to look at is your grading. The angle of the soil around the house has got to drop away four inches to six inches over four feet. If it’s flat, the water’s going to stay right against the foundation. Also, look at the kind of dirt that you have around. If you happen to have a lot of mulch, if you have any kind of a landscaping edge that’s holding water against the foundation, that can trap water as well and that’s a problem.
So we want to manage the water around the outside of the house so that we have less water that gets against that wall, has the opportunity to sort of push through the wall or push under the wall coming (audio gap) the floor. Because it sounds to me like what’s happening is very consistent with this spring runoff and it may not totally be a high water table issue that you’re seeing. Even though water’s pushing up through the basement floor, that could happen when water kind of works its way around the outside wall and has no place else to go.
Now, in terms of that crack, you certainly should seal the crack. And by the way, that crack is probably the direct result of the water that’s collecting around the outside wall, freezing in the winter time and pushing on the wall. And that sort of ratcheting effect can move the wall a little bit every winter and that could be a big problem because eventually it might get so big that the wall could become unstable. So another good reason to manage the water on the outside of the house.
In terms of the crack on the inside, you want to caulk it with a paintable caulk and then you’re going to want to damp-proof the walls. But that’s the last thing you should do. The first thing you should do is really address the drainage issues outside. Because what we have found is that in most cases, you can keep a lot of that water away from the walls and this other problem inside just goes away on its own. So even though you think it’s high water table, I want you to look at the grading and the drainage first. And I think that’s probably the best way to handle this situation.
Chris, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
I wonder if they have basements in Australia.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Except they’re upside down and the toilets flush backwards. (laughter)
You know, I have a friend who was down there for work and it’s been a dream to go to Australia because when you flush the toilets, because they’re in the southern hemisphere, they flush counter-clockwise.
TOM: So that was the – that was the dream? Is that a tourist spot? I mean the first thing you do is you check in and …
LESLIE: No, no.
TOM: … check the flow of the toilet?
LESLIE: She recorded video …
TOM: Going backwards?
LESLIE: … of the toilet flushing …
LESLIE: … just for me. And she was like, ‘It really does go backwards.’
TOM: Yeah, that seems like something you would appreciate. (laughing)
LESLIE: I thought it was fun.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Let’s talk to Susan in Michigan who’s got a toilet that’s not functioning properly. Tell us what’s going on with it.
SUSAN: Yeah, it – this (chuckling) has never functioned properly.
TOM: Never functioned properly.
SUSAN: It has never, since I had in installed.
TOM: How long ago did you have it installed, Susan?
SUSAN: Oh, 10 years.
TOM: Is it a low-flow toilet?
SUSAN: You mean one of those that only takes a couple of cups to flush? (chuckling)
TOM: (chuckling) Pretty much, yeah.
SUSAN: (laughing) Yes.
SUSAN: And I hate it and I …
TOM: And you know why? Because that’s about when they were hitting the marketplace for the first time and the technology in low-flow toilets has changed dramatically from the very first ones that came out, which really didn’t work well at all. And I can’t believe you …
LESLIE: For 10 years.
TOM: … put up with it for all these years.
SUSAN: Well, if you don’t have the money to – you know, borrowed money to do the house and I’ve replaced the insides once and it still didn’t help any and …
TOM: No, that’s not going to help. You know why? Because it’s not the flush valves. It’s the design of the trap which is built into the toilet. When the water goes through a toilet – and the waste – it goes through a trap, a U-shaped structure that’s sort of part of the porcelain. And in the original low-flow toilets, those traps were too narrow. Because the toilet used to have, say, four or five gallons of water. So if you had five gallons of water at eight pounds a gallon, that was 40 pounds of water. That was enough pressure to push that waste through that narrow trap. To just make the tanks now only hold 1.6 gallons of water, it’s not working the same. So what you need to do is to replace the toilet.
Now, there are new toilets out that have different trap designs so they have – they have very little restriction. Or you can get one that’s pressure-assisted. And it’s sort of like a commercial toilet in the sense that you have that whooshing sound, but it’s not nearly as loud.
TOM: But you will see a world of difference if you use a low-flow toilet that’s built today as opposed to the one that was built 10 years ago when, frankly, none of them worked very well. You know, there was an effort to conserve water in this country – which we salute – but the technology was just not there and it really has taken the plumbing manufacturers practically a decade to kind of figure that out and redesign the toilet from the bottom up, literally, and make it work. And that’s what they’ve done now.
So, that’s what you need to do. There’s nothing that you can add. You can’t replace the valves or anything to make this thing better. You’ve got to replace the toilet with a new one.
SUSAN: Yeah, I couldn’t figure out why they said this took less water when it took three times to flush it every time. (laughter)
TOM: Yeah, right. (chuckling) Flush twice, flush three times, but – yeah, right. So then you’re still putting the 40 gallons of water down there.
SUSAN: Right. And I could never afford to have another plumber come back in here and do that.
TOM: Well, that’s what you need to do, OK, Susan? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
So, you’ve had a flood and the water’s receded. But now you’re left with a stinky, smelly mess. How do you diagnose those odors and get them to go away? We’re going to give the answer to one of our e-mailers, 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. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. To send us an email, go to our website at MoneyPit.com, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and we do our best to get back to all of our e-mailers every single week.
Right now, let’s jump into that email bag and tackle a question about a very stinky garage. This may have happened to you.
LESLIE: This one comes from an e-mailer in Bethesda, Maryland, who writes: ‘A few years ago, we had a fire in our garage. The fire department came – water was everywhere – and then, professional cleanup crew. Now the garage has a peculiar smell. We’ve got lots of boxes stored around the sides: seasonal decorations, beach stuff, etc.’ – you know what you’ve got in your garage – ‘ … and these absorb the smell also. What do you think the problem is? What should we do? And will the professional cleanup folks come back and fix this problem?’
Ooh, who’s liable?
TOM: Not likely. Do you know any cleanup crew that will warrant their work for years?
LESLIE: (chuckling) ‘I’m sorry. It didn’t stay neat and clean?’
TOM: ‘I’m sorry. You cleaned my house two years ago and it’s dirty again.’
LESLIE: That’s a good idea, though.
TOM: ‘You know, you’ve got to come back and … can I file a warranty claim?’
Come on, you can’t have them come back, but let’s talk about what – where the stink is coming from.
First of all, if you’re storing boxes on your garage floor and around your garage, that’s going to hold a lot of moisture and you’ve got nice, organic paper there which is a terrific mold food and you’ve got moisture, you’ve got lots of oxygen. What I’m concerned about is that this could be stemming from mold. I would suggest that you – if you have all of these stinky packages around your house, you might want to go out and buy some of these nice rubber or plastic containers and transfer everything that’s stored in boxes into nice rubber or plastic like Tupperware bins and …
LESLIE: Yeah, and while you’re putting them in the new boxes, make sure you look to see that those items that you’re re-storing don’t have mold growing on them themselves. If they do, pitch them; otherwise, it’s going to spread to the other stuff.
TOM: Yeah, if it’s anything that’s cloth or material-like or paper-like – tablecloths, anything like that – and if it’s got mold in it, get rid of it. If it’s hard surface, you can clean it, which I think is probably what you ought to do, as a next step, to this entire garage floor and the wall.
LESLIE: Yeah, make sure that you give everything a good scrub down with a bleach and water solution. And you want to use bleach and water because that’s pretty much the only thing that’s going to kill that mold that’s already there and prevent it from coming back and regrowing; especially if you do a really good job. Give it some time. If you can, let some sunshine into that garage. If it gets any light in there at all, it’ll help get rid of that mold as well. But the bleach and water should do the trick.
Now, if you need more information on how to deal with mold cleanup, I want to encourage you to go to our website at MoneyPit.com. There’s a couple of great resources there. First of all, we have the entire mold resource center with all of the questions, all of the answers about all of the most common types of mold problems. And secondly, in our link section, there’s a link to the New York State Department of Health guide for cleaning up mold; step by step, exactly what you need to do to get rid of mold in your house.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you follow all of these things, that smell should go away. And remember, this is about maintenance; so just doing it once really isn’t going to keep it away forever and ever. Just because there’s a ton of moisture in that concrete, you’ve got to stay on top of the situation.
TOM: Well, on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, we always love to give you tips on how to save money with your home improvement projects. And here’s a cleaning tip that will help you save money in the long run vis-a-vis Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. Although it’s crucial to properly clean and disinfect your toilet – I know it’s a gross job but someone’s got to do it, folks – the type of cleaning supplies you use needs careful consideration. If you’re using those drop-in cleaning tablets, they contain bleach or chlorine and if you use them over a long period of time, they’re going to reduce the lifetime and the effectiveness of all of those toilet tank parts and, over time, might even cause a catastrophic failure which will cost a ton of money to fix. So instead of spending all that money on a future potential repair, use a bleach bowl cleaner that does not come in contact with the tank water and you will be so happy, not to mention saved from the embarrassment of what a giant mess it could be.
TOM: Well, there may be lots of water inside your house but not so much outside your house and, as a result, your grass may be looking a little worse for wear. Is it turning into a brown hayfield from the luscious lawn that you like to look at? Well, no worries. Next week on The Money Pit, we’re going to have some great late summer lawn tips to help you stay green throughout the entire fall.
That’s all the time we have for this hour, though. 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.)