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: Call us now with your home improvement question because this is where work and fun meet. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We are here to help you with the do-it-yourself dilemmas; to help you with the decorating questions; with the heating questions. Not with the cooling questions, unless it’s ‘How do I make my house warmer?’ (Tom and Leslie chuckle) But call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Hey, coming up this hour, let’s talk about the indoor air quality in your house. Let’s make it more comfortable. Dry winter air is about to make a big comeback when you really kick on that heating system when it gets super, super cold. And if you have forced air heat that means it’s going to be very, very dry and itchy and scratchy.
LESLIE: Aw, it’s horrible.
TOM: We’re going to tell you how to choose a humidifier that will make that all go away, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also this hour, you know, for those of us living in the chilly parts of this country, we are dealing with heating costs that are higher than ever. But we’ve got one simple step that’s going to help cut those costs by ten percent and you don’t even need any tools, insulation or weatherstripping. Coming up, we’re going to tell you exactly how to do just that.
TOM: Also ahead, if there are roof repairs in your future we’re going to give you some ideas on how to get them done without getting soaked.
LESLIE: And also this hour, one caller to The Money Pit is going to win a brand, spanking new prize. It’s the Ryobi four-piece lithium ion combo kit. It is the cutting edge of technology and it’s worth – get this, kids – 260 bucks.
TOM: Lots of stuff going on, so call us right now and let’s get started. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. The phones are already packed.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Joanne in Virginia is dealing with some walls that are cracking up. Tell us about it.
JOANNE: Hi, I’m really glad that I’m on here. You know, I thought it was a figment of my imagination but it’s wonderful. (Tom and Leslie laugh) It is so wonderful to know that you all are out there willing to help.
So this is the deal. I have a two-story home. It has a family room off of the kitchen and that family room has a skylight. It also has a door that leads out to the back patio. Over the door there is a crack in the wall and it’s where two beams join. I have routinely scraped out the crack, wet it, repatched it, done the plaster thing …
JOANNE: .. sanded it and it looks good for a while and then the creeping crack starts again. A couple of months later it’s the same thing over and over again.
TOM: And Joanne, this is an intersection between the wall and the ceiling, was it?
JOANNE: And somebody said it might be like just the house settling, but how many times does it have to settle?
TOM: Well, it’s not exactly settling but it is the house moving. The house is expanding and contracting and there’s going to be – the wall and the ceiling are going to move at different rates.
TOM: And simply sanding it and spackling it is not addressing the problem. What you want to do is the next time this happens and you get good and ready to do it, sand it down really well and then put …
TOM: … a piece of perforated drywall tape over it.
LESLIE: Fiberglass tape.
TOM: Yeah, the kind that looks like fiberglass. It’s sort of – it’s sticky-backed.
TOM: And then spackle through that and that will bridge the gap between the ceiling and the wall.
LESLIE: And you want to do like three thin coats over it. You want to put a coat on, let it dry, sand it, then go again. And this way you can feather out the edges and you can – really, I know it looks like you’re not going to make that tape disappear, but you will.
TOM: Yeah. The drywall is just not elastic so it doesn’t stretch and, therefore, the next time the house expands and contracts it cracks again.
JOANNE: That’s wonderful news because I was doing all the things you said except for that magic tape. (Leslie chuckles) So if I put the tape in there …
TOM: It’s always one thing. Joanne, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rod in Colorado is dealing with a loud, banging noise whenever he turns on the water. Describe it.
ROD: I had a water heater put in and ever since I had the water heater put in when I turn on my front faucet to water the yard or my washing yard or flush the toilet I have a real loud humming sound that you can’t hear over. It’s horrible.
TOM: It’s a conventional water heater; a tank water heater?
ROD: It’s a regular water heater, yeah.
TOM: And does this happen only at one particular faucet or does it happen throughout the entire house?
ROD: Throughout the entire house.
ROD: And it’s not every time. It’s intermittent. One time it’s – you can hear it a little bit every time you turn the water on and off, but if I water the yard – and it only does it on the cold side.
ROD: And so, when I turn the water on the cold side it makes this real loud – about a 40-degree decibel hum I think it is.
TOM: Do you get the sense that it’s sort of a vibrating sound? Because sometimes when the water goes through pipes – these are copper pipes, I would expect?
ROD: Yes, they are.
TOM: The pipes start to vibrate and oscillate and that can actually create quite a loud noise. The other possibility is that in the supply valve that the water is coming out from the water heater to the rest of the house, that the valve could be partially closed or partially open even though it feels like it’s fully open. And that is, again, forcing some slow-down at that area, which can cause that type of a sound.
It shouldn’t be that hard to track down. Once you hear it happening I would start at the water heater and work out from there. For example, if the pipe’s vibrating, if you grab the pipe it’ll stop vibrating.
ROD: Well, the problem is that the guys who put the water heater in said, ‘Oh, it’s not our fault.’
TOM: It may not be their fault. It could be just a breakdown in the pipe. We don’t know. Or in the valve.
TOM: But you’re going to have to sort of track it down to figure out what’s causing it.
ROD: I see.
TOM: And if it didn’t happen before, then my thought is that it has something to do with the valve that connects the cold water supply to the water heater.
ROD: Oh, I see. Yeah, well they put a new meter in also at the same time.
TOM: That could be something else. Have you asked the water company to take a look?
ROD: No, I hadn’t. I just thought about that.
TOM: Well, if they put the water meter in that may not be a bad idea.
ROD: Yeah, they did. Yeah, I will do that. I can call them tomorrow and ask them to make an appointment.
TOM: It could be a defect in the water meter as well.
TOM: You know, that’s a very mechanical device. There could be something grinding in there.
ROD: Yeah. Yeah, because now these are all remote billing type things, you know.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
ROD: (INAUDIBLE) you know, so they don’t have to go in my backyard anymore.
TOM: Before you have them replace it, find out if they’re under-billing you or over-billing you. (chuckling)
ROD: Yeah. Very good idea. Well, I sure appreciate and I’ll give them a call and we’ll see what happens.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Rod. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit and it is still – I know, it’s going on forever – the ho-ho-home improvement season. So give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, would you like to cut heating costs this winter?
TOM: Stay tuned to find out how just two degrees can save you ten percent. We’ll do that money pit math, after this.
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: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we talk to you on the air today, you are automatically entered into our random prize drawing, which is pretty important this hour …
TOM: … because we’re going to give away a four-piece lithium ion combo kit from Ryobi worth 260 bucks. So, if you didn’t get all the cool tools you wanted this holiday season, no problem.
LESLIE: You can win one.
TOM: You can win one. And if you owe somebody a cool holiday gift you can regift it.
LESLIE: (chuckling) You won’t want to though.
TOM: This includes a drill and a circular saw and it’s compatible with all of the other Ryobi One+ tools. So call us right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you’re looking to earn an extra few bucks here and there by saving some money in your house so you can buy those lithium ion tools yourself, here is a money-saving tip. If you lower your thermostat two degrees in the winter and raise it two degrees in the summer, it can cut your annual heating and cooling bills by more than 10 percent. You will have those tools in no time if you start saving all this money this way. That’s right, folks. Two degrees for 10 percent. That’s an energy saving idea that really adds up, so start applying it today.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Richard in Alaska has a question about a driveway. What can we help you with?
RICHARD: Well, I want to make my driveway look nice and I was thinking, you know, when they do highway projects they tear up the blacktop and a lot of it is left lying around. Sometimes they recycle it. What I was thinking, if I could – what would I need to do to lay it down. I was thinking of laying it down like tile and putting some sand or gravel in between and make it look, you know, mosaic type.
LESLIE: Yeah, yeah. I think that’s actually a great idea. The one thing that you do need to make sure is that the base that you’re going to use for these chunks of recycled asphalt is compacted properly. You want to make sure that you dig down a couple of inches; get a nice, level surface. Then you want to lay down some aggregate, some chunky rock, and make sure that’s sort of tamped evenly then cover that with sand. And then, you know, rent a tamper from your home center …
LESLIE: … and then go ahead and place out those chunks of the recycled asphalt however you like them; however it sort of feels organic and beautiful to you. And then go ahead and fill with sand. You know, the closer that you butt them together so that you’re not really getting a sand grout line because that’s going to – you guys get tremendous amount of weather up there, so you want to make sure that you butt them as close together so that you’re really just filling in the space with sand and then brush the sand over and it should be good.
RICHARD: OK. So I have to make sure I get the preparation and the ground work done right.
LESLIE: That’s the most important part because if you don’t tamp it correctly it’s going to settle over time and everything’s going to shift.
TOM: Richard, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Anita in Virginia has an interesting question. Usually people call in to The Money Pit they want to fix a hole in a wall. Anita wants to put one in. What’s going on?
ANITA: Hi, I just bought a new house and we have an internet connection and one other spare bedroom. And we’re trying to – we have the internet by a phone jack and we’re trying to run that cable through another room which is a smaller room; would be perfect for an office. So I’m basically trying to find a way to run a cable to make internet connections through a room that does not have it.
LESLIE: Are the rooms right next to one another? Like is it sharing a wall?
ANITA: In between is a closet. There are two closets in between.
TOM: OK, and what’s underneath? Are you over a basement?
ANITA: This is actually the upper level. Underneath …
TOM: OK. Oh, OK. So you don’t have access to that. Well, alright. So you want to get the wire through one wall, through a closet and then to the opposite side of that closet wall?
TOM: Well, what I would do is this. I would take the baseboard moulding off of the wall on both sides and I would drill a hole to try to get up into the closet wall. Now, it may be, since this is just an internet connection, you can simply – you don’t have to put this inside the wall. Once it gets in the closet you could run it sort of along where the baseboard moulding is of the closet and then bring it out through the other side; again, with another hole in the wall. Try to keep everything behind where the baseboard moulding is and then once you bring it out you could replace the moulding and even if your hole was a little bigger than you wanted it to be it can be hidden quite neatly there.
LESLIE: What about can you not hook up a wireless router to where that first connection is? This way the whole house then has internet?
TOM: Certainly that’s another possibility.
ANITA: Yes, because I was trying to avoid doing …
LESLIE: Having anything in there.
TOM: You know, a lot of the ISP suppliers will help you put in wireless routers these days so that the whole house can have wireless capability. So that’s another option.
TOM: Yeah, the internet service providers.
ANITA: Oh, OK. Sounds great. I’ll probably go through them before I open any walls.
TOM: OK. Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Yeah, probably not a good idea to tear open your wall unless you really are comfortable doing just that.
Steve in Rhode Island, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
STEVE: I’ve got a question about a living room roof.
STEVE: On the outside, looking at the house, there’s a little dip in the shingles. And I was told by a couple different people that you can take the sheetrock out of the living room and actually jack it up and rebrace it. But I don’t know if that would affect the shingles to where, you know, they may leak.
TOM: Well, the first question is why is your roof sagging. There could be a structural issue here. Tell me a little bit about the house. First of all, how old is the house and how is the roof?
STEVE: The house is like 30 years old …
STEVE: … and it was reshingled right before I bought it; about five years ago.
STEVE: And I don’t know – I don’t know why it wasn’t fixed when they reshingled it. I think they went – the previous owner went the cheap way out.
TOM: Do you think that this sag that you’re seeing could be the plywood sagging between two roof rafters, for example?
STEVE: It’s probably about a six-foot span.
TOM: In a 30-year-old house, very typically the roof sheathing is thinner than in a more modern house. Typically the roof sheathing is about three-eighths of an inch thick. And in a 30-year-old house you tend to not have very much ventilation. So what happens with those elements is that you get more sagging and delamination of the roof sheathing. The other thing that causes this type of sag is an excessively long roof rafter without proper bracing and in old house that’s not so unusual. So just, you know, doing some surgical cutting of the drywall may not get you to a solution here.
I would suggest that you have this inspected by an expert – not necessarily a roofer either. I would tend to hire a professional home inspector so I know I’m going to get good, impartial advice – and determine what’s causing this. Is it a problem with the roof rafters? Is it a problem with the roof sheathing? Because both problems have different solutions. So I wouldn’t want you to just sort of cut it open and try to do some bracing from the underside because that may not be what you need.
TOM: You need more information. It’s not that uncommon but you need more information before you can take some action on it, Steve.
Alright, well thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Wendy in Michigan has some questions about heating. I bet it’s chilly up there. So good question.
WENDY: Yes, it sure is. We’re about four miles from Lake Michigan and it’s really cold here.
TOM: Oh, boy.
WENDY: I do have a question for you regarding geothermal heating and the maintenance of it.
WENDY: Could you tell us how reliable they are? We’ve had this home for about two years …
WENDY: … and it just seems to be working like a dream. It’s very inexpensive. We don’t have to take care of that air conditioning evaporator unit outside.
WENDY: But we are wondering if there should be a special filtering system or how we maintain – we’re worried about the water coming out of the ground into the furnace. How do we keep that clean?
TOM: Well, first of all, geothermal systems are great when they don’t break down and when the coil does not break down that’s underground. That’s the only concern I have on them. Once they’re installed, they work very, very well and, as you have experienced, they don’t cost a whole lot of money in energy bills.
Now, in terms of the maintenance, I would only tell you, at this point, to make sure that you have it serviced twice a year by a service contractor that’s very experienced with geothermal. Other than that, I wouldn’t worry about it because the hard part is done. It’s already installed. So I would just maintain it and continue to enjoy it.
WENDY: OK, well thank you so very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Wendy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lonny in California has a question about plumbing. What can we help you with?
LONNY: Yeah, copper versus PVC. OK, I’m up in the Nevada City area. A lot of iron in the water. I have a well. And what makes the – it’s acidic with your iron in there. Well, I have a filtration system. I have a water softener and all that. But I add the chemicals into my filtration system to compensate for the acidity of the iron, but what happens, when it gets to the point where it gets too acid, it actually attacks the copper.
TOM: Yeah, and you start getting sort of pit holes in the copper.
LONNY: Well, what happens is I get this green in my sink and stuff like that …
LONNY: … and stuff like I’ve said; (INAUDIBLE). You know, it’s good for three or four months. And my question is copper versus PVC. Would I be better off with PVC instead of copper in that situation?
TOM: You know what I think the best choice is, Lonny, is neither copper nor PVC but something called PEX, which is cross-linked polyethylene. And that’s a new type of pipe that’s getting a lot of rave reviews right now, both for domestic hot water and for heating systems.
LONNY: You buy that through regular – what? – plumbing outlets?
TOM: Plumbing supply houses, yes. Yep, absolutely.
LONNY: OK, well I appreciate that. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Lonny. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Up next, want to avoid winter colds as much as possible? Well, one way to do just that is to make sure that your home’s air is a little more humid during the colder months. We’re going to have some tips to help you do just that, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem tankless water heaters, which qualify for a $300 energy efficient tax credit if purchased before the end of this year. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we make good homes better. Call us right now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
If you have not been enjoying the dry winter air because it’s just so dry inside the house when the heat kicks on …
LESLIE: Aw, I’m already like sniffly.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. You know, that’s because when you kick on your furnace it pulls moisture out of the house. Now, in the summer we have too much moisture. In the winter we have not enough moisture and so we have to mechanically sort of rebuild the air quality in our house. How do we do that? With humidification.
With us to talk about that topic is our indoor air quality expert, Sean McCarthy. He is with Aprilaire and deals with this stuff everyday.
So Sean, it seems like a push-pull situation where too much or not enough. How do we get the right balance?
SEAN: It really is and any time you have either air conditioning or your furnace, you either have too much or not enough relative humidity inside the home and that can really do a lot of damage, both to our bodies and to our furniture.
SEAN: And in the winter it is absolutely too dry inside the home and we’re going to have to add some moisture to make it comfortable.
LESLIE: I mean you’re so right. I find myself waking up on winter mornings, you know, stuffy nose; dry throat; almost even feeling as if I were getting sick but by the time I rehydrate myself, you know, I’m feeling better. So how do we know what a good moisture balance is for the winter months?
SEAN: Everybody’s home is going to be a little bit different as to how much moisture it can hold. A pretty good guideline is somewhere between 35 and 50 percent relative humidity. But it’s really going to be dependent on what the outdoor temperature is because as it gets colder outside our windows get colder and then also we can start – if we have too much moisture in the home we can start to see condensation appear on the bottom of those windows …
SEAN: … and that’s really a sign that says, OK, the home has got as much – a little bit too much moisture in it and we’ve got to dial it back.
TOM: Now Sean, I spent many years as a home inspector – over 20 years – and I would say that the humidifier was probably the most common broken-down appliance I’d find in a heating and cooling system. And there were a lot of reasons for this but mostly the reason is that the process of humidification, when you get water to evaporate off whatever it is – a coil, a pad or whatever – it leaves those mineral salts behind and that can really wreak havoc with the equipment. How do you choose a humidifier that’s not going to be impacted by its very function of letting water evaporate back into the heating system?
SEAN: Well, and you’re right, Tom. Those minerals are a by-product of evaporation and they can wreak havoc on a humidifier. And there are a number of different ways to humidifier but the best way and the most low-maintenance way is what’s called a drain-through humidifier. It’s a humidifier that’ll have a drain on the bottom of it so water will be flowing through a pad that gets wet and the evaporation takes place inside the humidifier. But a portion of that water continues down the drain and it carries those minerals down with it so it doesn’t gunk up inside the humidifier and stop a wheel from turning or an element from turning on. So …
TOM: So it’s sort of self-rinsing in a way.
SEAN: Exactly. It’s a cleansing. And there’s still some maintenance. All of the Aprilaire humidifiers are designed with that flow-through function and they still require maintenance but by flowing – by using that water flowing down the drain, it can limit the maintenance to once a heating season versus trying to have to clean something out every month.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now Sean, you mentioned that, obviously, outdoor temperatures and moisture conditions that exist within the house already are sort of going to create this balancing act to find the proper level. Would a whole-home dehumidifier or even – I mean would a whole-home humidifier or even a free-standing humidifier sort of regulate that themselves or is that up the homeowner to pay attention to and set dials accordingly?
SEAN: Well, there’s a couple of different ways to do it. In the past, the technology was such that some of the humidifiers – either portables or whole-home humidifiers – will have what’s called a manual humidistat which would turn on when the home got too dry and rely on the homeowner to adjust that. As the temperature fell outside the homeowner would have to turn that dial down and then when it warmed back up a little bit they could turn it back up and sometimes it actually needed to be adjusted twice a day all winter long.
SEAN: The Aprilaire humidifiers – yeah, lot of maintenance.
TOM: Lot of back and forth.
SEAN: Not maintenance but a lot of interaction. Now the Aprilaire humidifiers come with a humidistat that measures the outdoor temperature constantly throughout the day and actually will adjust that humidistat 86,000 times a day to make sure that it …
TOM: So there’s a probe outside and it measures …
SEAN: Yeah, there’s a probe outside …
TOM: Oh, very cool.
SEAN: … that’s measuring the outdoor temperature and it’s constantly changing the humidity setting inside the home to optimize and give you just the optimum amount of humidity; just enough but not enough to get condensation on your windows.
TOM: Very interesting. Sean McCarthy from Aprilaire. Great advice on choosing a humidifier. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
Very informative, Sean. Good job.
SEAN: Thanks for having me.
TOM: If you’d like more information on Aprilaire’s products you can go to their website at Aprilaire.com. That’s Aprilaire.com.
LESLIE: Alright, good advice, Sean. Hopefully everybody will be feeling the relief from those scratchy throats soon. You know, moisture in the air, it’s a good thing. But moisture leaking through your roof is definitely not.
TOM: Bad thing.
LESLIE: Coming up – no, definitely not. Coming up, we are going to have tips for a moisture-free roof installation, so stick around.
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 and you know the magic number and if you don’t I’m going to tell it to you anyway so write it down. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we talk to you – that’s right, you – on the air today, you could win a four-piece lithium ion combo kit from Ryobi. It’s worth 260 bucks. And this kit, it’s a brand new addition to Ryobi’s One+ line. The batteries and the charger are completely compatible with all the existing and all of the future Ryobi One+ tools to come, so call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
TOM: Soup to nuts, floorboards to shingles. Call us right now at 888-666-3974. And speaking of shingles, you know, if there is one thing that will go a long way to making your home watertight it is the roofing underlayment. What is roofing underlayment? Well, it’s those sheets of material that go underneath the roof shingles and, typically, you think of this only as tar paper but that’s actually not the best product to use because tar paper breaks down; it rips; it tears and it doesn’t bend so well around things that come through your roof. You really do need a bit of extra protection.
LESLIE: Yeah, and Tom and I are really lucky because we get to go to a lot of these trade shows that are only for the pros, so we get to see a lot of new products on the market. And one that just totally blew our minds at the builders show was the Grace Tri-Flex Xtreme. And it’s a synthetic material that’s slip-resistant wet or dry. So it’s great for the installers but, best of all, it can be left exposed to the elements for up to six months without rotting or cracking or drying out. And you wouldn’t ever want to try that with traditional tarpaper, which most roofers are using. In fact, the Tri-Flex Xtreme is also super-duper strong. It’s not going to tear away from nails or other fasteners even in the highest of winds.
If you want some more information on Grace’s family of weather barriers for your roof; for your windows; even doors and decks, go to their great website at GraceAtHome.com.
TOM: That’s GraceAtHome.com or call us right now with your roofing question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Tom in New York has a question about flooring in the basement. How can we help you?
TOM IN NEW YORK: Yeah, I’ll be moving into a house that has asbestos floor tiles in the basement and I wanted – and some of them are loose; a few. But I want to know the best way to cover that so I can put on a new floor. And should I remove that asbestos tile? I’ve been told not to do that.
TOM: What kind of floor do you want to put down, Tom?
TOM IN NEW YORK: I would go, perhaps, with a ceramic floor.
TOM: Have you considered a laminate floor? Like – do you know what laminate flooring is?
TOM IN NEW YORK: Yes, I have one in my present house in the kitchen …
TOM: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
TOM IN NEW YORK: … and it’s done very well. I was concerned about putting that below grade.
TOM: No. No concern whatsoever. That’s one of the flooring types that we would definitely recommend as a below-grade product and, believe it or not, you can also put in hardwood floor below grade if it’s a type …
LESLIE: As long as it’s a certain kind called engineered. You don’t want to put a solid wood floor down in a super-moist situation. It’s not going to last. It’s going to warp and twist and be a giant mess.
TOM IN NEW YORK: Yes.
TOM: Engineered hardwood is made up of different layers, much like plywood, except it looks like it is hardwood on the top surface. And either engineered hardwood or a laminate floor are going to lock together and have a soft underlayment underneath, which takes up any imperfections in the floor.
So I think those would be great choices and, frankly, the easiest way to get a floor down in your basement. This way you don’t have to worry about the poorly adhered tiles. If they’re really loose and floppy I’d take them out, lift them out and dispose of them. But if they’re stuck and flat I would just go right on top of them. I don’t think you should stir that hive, so to speak, by taking up those tiles if you don’t have to.
TOM IN NEW YORK: Yes.
TOM: You can put the underlayment down, assemble the laminate or the hardwood floor on top of that and you’ll be good to go.
TOM IN NEW YORK: OK, great. What’s the underlayment made of?
TOM: It depends. Each manufacturer has a different one. The Formica one looks a little bit like a thin foam. Armstrong has one that’s a little more sort of woolly looking. They come on rolls. Some of the manufacturers have the underlayment actually attached to the underside of the laminate itself.
TOM IN NEW YORK: Ah. OK.
TOM: So it varies by product but it’s about an eighth-of-an-inch thick and it gives you a little coverage of the uneven areas; helps smooth everything out.
TOM IN NEW YORK: Excellent. And they’re not affected by any moisture that might be coming through the concrete?
TOM: No. No problem whatsoever.
TOM IN NEW YORK: No problem?
TOM: I’ve taken laminate floors and actually immersed them in tubs of water. It has absolutely no effect on it.
TOM IN NEW YORK: Excellent. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome …
TOM IN NEW YORK: Great show. I listen every week.
TOM: Great. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Grace in Alabama’s next up on The Money Pit, who’s got a leaky sunroom by the fireplace. Tell us about what’s going on.
GRACE: I had a SolaGuard (ph) energy glass sunroom built in August ’07.
GRACE: And it’s leaking around the fireplace. The sunroof was built around the fireplace.
GRACE: And the sunroof people have been out about five times trying to fix it and it’s still leaking.
TOM: Well, the problem is that they’re not doing the right flashing job. You know, the trick here is wherever the sunroof is intersecting with the fireplace there has to be two types of flashing. There has to be a base flashing and a counter flashing and if they’re not installing this correctly the water’s going to find it’s way around there.
Now, does this only leak when it’s really heavy or does it leak all the time?
GRACE: Only when it’s heavy rain.
TOM: Well, do you have a roof that sort of pours water down towards the fireplace?
TOM: Alright. Well here’s another little trick of the trade. You can install a diverter on the roof, up a bit higher. It’s like an angled piece of metal that is sort of tacked on to the roof and sealed down. So it takes that big wave of water coming down the roof and sort of pushes it around the fireplace area. There should be, behind your fireplace, something called a cricket, which is a little part where the roof sort of peaks up into sort of a triangle point and that’s designed to divert water around the fireplace. You can further that action of the water washing around the fireplace by adding a diverter higher up. So suggest to the roofer that they consider doing the diverter.
However, this does not excuse their failure to do proper flashing there and that’s what’s causing that problem. One more tip and that is Grace makes a product called Roof Detail Membrane, which is a flexible product. And sometimes, in those tricky situations where you have a lot of intersecting lines, you can use a flexible flashing and kind of stretch it around there. That might also help seal it up.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You know and it also works really well where you get sort of joining of odd materials and, in this case, you’ve got stone and metal, which could be hard to flash in the first place. So this could really save you a whole lot of headaches there.
You are tuned in to The Money Pit and you might be wondering right now, like one of our homeowners, what those mysterious black lines are that are plaguing your ceiling. Well, it’s not that much of a mystery. We are going to explain exactly what’s happening, so stick around.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by – well, by us. Save hundreds a month on groceries, not to mention significant savings on home improvement products and services with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That’s 866-REAL-HOME. 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 and I bet you out there in Money Pit land have a question but you might be feeling a little bit too shy to call it in. So why not go to MoneyPit.com, click on that big icon that says Ask Tom and Leslie and we will answer it on the air like we are doing right now. In fact, we’ve got one here from Jeff in Austin, Texas who writes: ‘My house has three exterior sides constructed of stone. Every few feet there are holes that I understand let the water out, but I’m concerned about letting critters in. I’ve heard that I can plug the holes with copper wool that’s going to keep those critters out and let the water out, too. Is this a good solution or is there a better one? Or should I not even be concerned with this?’
TOM: You have better things to think about, Jeff. I wouldn’t worry about that because the critters, if they want to find a way into your house, they’re going to do …
LESLIE: There are other ways. (chuckling)
TOM: There are other ways. There are lots of little peaks and valleys and holes and cracks and gaps where critters can find their way in, so I wouldn’t worry about that. Those holes are weep holes and they let air in behind the stone so that your house doesn’t rot, so I would be hesitant to plug that up with anything whatsoever. Even if you think it’s something that’s perforated like steel wool, I just – I wouldn’t do it.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got another here from Phil in Brick, New Jersey who writes: ‘I’ve noticed on my ceiling something like black soot lines coming up from the edge of the wall about two feet up along the ceiling rafters. I notice black from my vents higher in the ceiling but there are air conditioning vents there. Any clue what these might be?’
TOM: You know what Phil is seeing? It’s simply dirt …
TOM: … and here’s why he’s seeing it in that area. Because, if you think about it, where the wall and the ceiling come together there’s a lot of framing there and where there’s framing there’s no room for insulation. So what does that mean? It means that that junction is a colder spot. The surface temperature of that area of the wall and the ceiling is colder than the spaces around it and, because of that, as the warm air from your house sort of circulates around and sort of washes against that area, you get more condensation and, hence, more dirt deposits in those spaces. So you will see those sort of soot-looking marks around the wall and ceiling where it comes together; also around where those vents come through because, of course, there’s air leakage there. And in the worst-case scenario, sometimes you can actually see the underside of the floor joist on the ceiling. You can actually see sort of striping. So that’s a fairly common …
LESLIE: It could be a design choice.
TOM: It could be, but we’d recommend priming first. (chuckling) Because it doesn’t look so hot. But that’s dirt fill. It’s nothing to worry about. It’s pretty typical. I’ve also found that if you tend to burn a lot of candles or create a lot of soot in the house that gets worse.
TOM: But for the most part, that is not a problem and it’s just a bit of dirt.
Well, it’s definitely getting cold enough for relaxing with the family by a roaring fire, but before you get those embers crackling you want to make sure that the fireplace is safe. And that is the topic of today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, fireplace safety. It is major, major important. In fact, it is crucial to inspect your flue, your damper and the firebox because a buildup of creosote can lead to a very dangerous chimney fire and creosote is basically a remnant of burning those fires in your fireplace that builds up all along the chimney going outside. And you might not even know it’s there so it’s really important that you do have it cleaned.
If you don’t already have chimney caps, have them installed at the time of service and it’s going to keep any wayward wildlife from using your chimney as a convenient into your home. Now, the only unexpected visitor that you get in your house is the one you want, folks; Santa Claus.
And remember, when you’re storing your firewood outside, make sure it’s not directly up against the house because that’s exactly where mice and termites love to hang out and then they whittle their way into your home. So find a certified chimney sweep. If you don’t know how to do that, go to the website for the Chimney Safety Institute of America at www.CSIA.org and find a reputable person to come over and service that chimney. You want to do it every time you burn a cord of wood. So, assess how many fires you have and do so accordingly.
TOM: 888-666-3974. The show continues online 24 hours a day, seven days a week at MoneyPit.com.
Hey, coming up next week on the program, we’re going to have some advice for new homebuyers in the current real estate market from our pal, Bob Vila. There’s always great opportunities out there and Bob’s going to tell you how to do just that.
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.)