Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(Note: The timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show.)
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. The website is moneypit.com; your source for great home improvement advice, great do-it-yourself solutions. Call us right now with your home improvement question. 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, have you had a good week?
LESLIE: Yeah, very good. How about yourself?
TOM: Busy, busy, busy. Swinging the hammer, setting nails, trying to cut back on the energy bills at the old homestead.
LESLIE: Yeah, and it’s pretty amazing just seeing how the prices have gone up and how much money we’re spending this winter. It’s insane.
TOM: Yeah, well fortunately, the government has stepped in with the energy tax credit. I do plan, personally, to take advantage of that. Well, if you would like to take advantage of the energy efficient home improvement tax credit, you have, actually, a couple of years to tackle a home improvement project that could help you actually save some money on your taxes, too.
LESLIE: Yeah, unbeknownst to a lot of people, tax credits are available for all kinds of home improvements; from something as simple as adding insulation to replacement windows and even installing certain high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment.
TOM: For all the details, you can go to the Department of Energy’s website at www.energy.gov.
Now, how about some great tools to get you started on those home improvement projects? If you call us, today, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT …
LESLIE: Yeah, this is a lot of prize, Tom.
TOM: A lot of prize. A lot of tools. A whole like almost mini-workshop full of stuff.
LESLIE: Well, what we’re giving away is a fantastic prize this hour. It’s a tool kit from IRWIN with all kinds of goodies including a saw, level, laser guide and pliers. It’s worth $250 dollars and goes to one of the lucky folks who gets to call in and gets their call answered on air. So do it now.
TOM: Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Winnie from California listens to The Money Pit on KVML and it seems like you have a decorative question regarding your outdoor air conditioning unit. How can we help?
WINNIE: Well, I wouldn’t say it’s decorative; it’s just functional. What I wanted to know was should I cover it? It’s a Carrier air conditioner/heater and it’s outside the house …
WINNIE: (inaudible) weather. And we get a lot of rain and, of course, we get some snow. And I’m wondering … it’s about a three foot square block.
WINNIE: And I’m concerned that if all that rain is coming in it eventually is going to ruin it. Should I cover it during the winter?
TOM: Ah, that’s a great question because you would think – and especially if you want to maintain your property – that something like an outdoor appliance like that you would want to wrap that thing up with some tarps or something, tight as a holiday package, to try to keep the elements out, right?
TOM: Big mistake.
LESLIE: Really? Not even in the winter if you’ve shut down that system completely? If it’s strictly a cooling thing.
TOM: (overlapping) Yep. Big … big mistake. Now, would either of you ladies like to guess why that’s a big mistake?
LESLIE: So, not even those beautiful sort of unit covers that the manufacturer sells to you? You should not use those?
TOM: You know, in the 20 years that I spent in the home inspection business, there was this development where – there must have been a guy that his like specialty sideline was making these metal covers to cover – custom cover – these air conditioning units. He must have gone house to house. I used to see them all over the place. And, inevitably, the houses that had the covers had air conditioners that did not last as long as the ones that had no covers. And the reason is one word: condensation.
If you cover the air conditioning unit, you end up getting a lot more moisture that condenses on the inside of that; as opposed to having those vents open all the time where it can dry out. And that is what rusts out the unit prematurely. So not a good idea to cover the air conditioning compressor.
If you happen to be in areas, say, where there’s a lot of trees and you’re getting a lot of debris in there, I think it’s okay to cover the top of the unit only. But don’t cover the sides; leave it open so that it can breathe.
WINNIE: Oh, good. Now, I was concerned about it. It’s been like that, you know, for the three years that it was new. But I was just thinking what … should I be doing something about it. You know …
TOM: Yeah. You don’t have to do anything but if you do anything at all, just cover the top to keep the leaves and twigs out. But leave the sides open.
WINNIE: Okay, well I’m not near any trees. I know twigs are not a …
TOM: Alright. Well, then, just don’t worry about it. Okay, Winnie?
WINNIE: Appreciate your answer. I appreciate it so much. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So, not even those fabric bag-like ones that fit over it?
TOM: Nope. Nope.
LESLIE: Then why do they sell them to you?
TOM: Because they can. (chuckling) They don’t always know … they do not always need it and they just really should never be used because if you cover that air conditioner compressor up, you’re going to have a lot of moisture collected in the inside of it and that’s going to rust it out and cause premature failure.
LESLIE: Hmm. Interesting.
TOM: You might even find that manufacturer’s will void warranties if you cover those things.
TOM: Yep. They might find that out. I’d have to look into that for sure but I know I’ve seen them rusted out, more times than I can count, by the people that just religiously wrap them up really tight.
LESLIE: I feel like a light bulb has been turned on in my head.
TOM: That’s what we do here on The Money Pit. We illuminate those ideas.
LESLIE: Hmm. Thank you, Tom.
TOM: You’re welcome. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Robert in Alabama listens to The Money Pit on WRJM and you have a question about mudjacking. What can we do for you?
ROBERT: Well, when I was in California, before I moved here, I had some specific applications but … and because I wanted to use it there, I wanted to find out more about how to find someone who does it and who regulates it and whether there are any conventions where you can kind of learn about it where they might go.
TOM: Now, is there a specific problem that you’re having with your house that’s causing you to investigate this?
ROBERT: Well, I made the mistake of digging underneath a footing, one time. And the city told me, ‘Okay, you’ve got to bring the footing down to the ‘underskirt girth’ and somehow seal in the dirt on the inside.’ And I used some plastic things to push the dirt up underneath the house and then made the footing sound. But there was still a void in there; I knew there was a void. And I wondered if I should drill through the hole in my bathroom and pump some clay in to fill that void; because I knew that, even though the footing was sound, now, on the edge of the house that that void was (inaudible) out there.
TOM: Well, how much of an area of the house that is not supported are you concerned about?
ROBERT: Well, I think it would have been anywhere from 10 square feet at most.
TOM: That’s a pretty big area. Okay. Well, I mean mudjacking is a technique and, usually, what happens is the mudjacker will use like a sandy loam soil; sometimes there’s an epoxy mix. They basically get an access point and then use a pressurized delivery mechanism, like a hydraulic hose, to fill in the area and, hopefully, lift the house. Now, in your case, it sounds like you don’t need to lift it; you just need to stabilize it.
In terms of how do you find the right pro for that, well, there are specialists that do this around the country. If I had a serious structural problem and I was going to rely on this as a repair mechanism, I would probably hire a structural engineer that would specify exactly what kind of material needs to be used and where it needs to be placed and certify that it was supported properly.
And, if you have a building code dispute, that is probably one of the only ways that you will satisfy your code official is to have a design professional certify that the correct material was used and that it was installed properly. Because the contractor – unless he has that kind of design expertise and the license to go with it – his word, even though he may be an experienced pro, is just not going to cut it when it comes to code officials. Typically, you’re going to want to have an architect or an engineer specify that repair.
And also, if you ever decide to sell the house, if you have a report from that design pro, that can be very valuable if the issue ever comes up in the transaction in terms of …
LESLIE: Well, it gives you a pedigree on what’s exactly happened to maintain the stability of the house, so that when you do go to sell and the person says, ‘Hey, my inspectors noticed something weird,’ you can say, ‘I have all the documentation and it was done properly to code.’
TOM: As opposed to, ‘This guy Joe squirted some stuff in there and it’s okay.’ (laughing)
TOM: You know what I mean? So that’s the best way to do it. I commend you for trying to find the school of certified mudjackers. I’m not aware that that exists. But a design engineer, a structural engineer or an architect could specify that repair for you and make sure it’s done right. And those guys are probably going to know …
LESLIE: (overlapping) Well, and the structural engineer would know someone.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. They’re probably going to know who can … who can do that job in your area. I hope that helps.
ROBERT: It certainly does.
TOM: Okay, Robert. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Did you miss a great product we recommended or want to hear that guest that had advice about your current DIY project? You can now listen to all of our past shows and even search our archives. It’s all at moneypit.com; so check it out.
TOM: And if you love to cook, you might be surprised to know that one false move is all it takes to cause your oven to lose over 25 degrees. Learn how to avoid losing all that energy – energy that you paid for – after this.
(theme song, commercials)
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being 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 prices. 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. 888-666-3974. Our tip: when you’re cooking, no peeking. Every time you open your oven door to check on food, your oven temperature drops 25 degrees. Now, think about it. If you keep doing that a lot, your gas has to kick on, your electricity has to kick on and you’ve got to pay to heat the oven back up to speed. This …
LESLIE: I didn’t realize it dropped that drastically.
TOM: It does. Well, that big waft of warm air has to be replaced. And that’s why it has to run even farther. So use a little common sense there, folks, to save energy. Use the window.
LESLIE: And use that oven light.
TOM: The window and the light, you know? Use the oven light. Save some energy; don’t open the door and you’ll cook up some energy savings to boot.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, we’re giving away a great prize that’ll save some energy savings on your physical energy; your body, how much work you’re doing. We’re giving away a whole kit of tools to add to your DIY arsenal, this hour, from IRWIN and Strait-Line. The prize package comes with more than two dozen tools including vise grip groove lock pliers, fast release pliers, a MARATHON carpenter saw, a Pro Touch utility knife with extra blades, work site gloves, Strait-Line grip light, a torpedo level, an entire set of vise grip pliers and a soft-sided bag to keep everything in. It’s worth $250. It’s a huge prize. It’ll pretty much set you up for just about any task and we mean it. So call in, get your call answered on air, and it could be yours.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Sam in California just bought a house and found something you didn’t quite expect to be there. Tell us about it, Sam.
SAM: There was a … I removed a carpet and there was a crack, in the living room, in the slab.
TOM: The old carpet-covering-the-crack trick. (laughing)
SAM: Yes. Yes. And I didn’t know what the best remedy is for it but what I did was just fill it up with foam and put a little bit of … like a layer of concrete on top of it. Just like a thin layer.
TOM: Well, let’s talk about what the crack looked like, Sam. When you pulled the carpet up, was it very wide and was it very deep? Explain it to us.
SAM: It was about half an inch at the widest point.
SAM: And it started from the fireplace all the way … almost to the other side of the house (inaudible).
TOM: Okay. How old is your house, Sam?
SAM: It’s thirteen years old.
TOM: Okay. Well, with that age house, I wouldn’t be terribly concerned about it. I’m suspecting that it was, most likely, a shrinkage crack. It could have been there for a very long time. Sealing it up is a good idea. It really is just to stop any moisture or dirt from getting up through there, any soil gas …
LESLIE: And causing any further damage.
TOM: Yeah. It probably is a fairly static situation and it probably won’t get any worse. So what you did was the right thing. I will caution you, though. You said that you sealed it and then you put concrete on top. The concrete you put on top, unless it happened to be an epoxy patching compound, probably won’t stick. Because just using a simple concrete mix – or cement mix, I should say – or mortar mix on top of an existing slab does not have enough adhesion for it to stick. And that might crack and chip off. But that wouldn’t be indicative of movement in the slab. That’s just kind of that that’s just not going to work. But as long as it’s smooth, now – and, I presume, you’ve re-carpeted that area.
SAM: I put laminate floor on top of it.
TOM: Oh, you put laminate floor. Well, then, that’s fine. As long as it’s smooth like that, then it should be okay. If you see any other evidence of structural movement – like a crack in the wall or something of that nature – then we need to have another conversation. But one static crack like that is fairly common. And the fact that you found it under the carpet is not the least bit unusual. Obviously, that’s not something you can do when you buy a house; it’s something you do after you own the house. But whether or not it was covered on purpose or not we don’t know; but the fact that it was there doesn’t give me a lot of concern at this point in time.
SAM: Yeah, the carpet wasn’t wet or anything like that. It was in okay condition, I guess, so …
TOM: Yeah, probably just a shrinkage crack. Okay, Sam?
SAM: Thank you very much, guys. I enjoy your show very much.
LESLIE: Thanks, Sam.
TOM: Thank you for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Bob in Florida listens to The Money Pit on WGUF. Hey, Bob, how can we help you?
BOB: Well, I’ve got a problem with my well system. I have a water softener – I’m on a well, obviously – so that … so what happens is my aerator tank fills up past where it’s supposed to. And I had … a year ago, I had irrigation put in; everything’s fine, running good. All of a sudden my pressure switch went bad, I thought, so I changed the pressure switch, changed my flow switch. And my aerator tank keeps – every once in a while, with no one in the house; I live by myself – the pump turns on, the well pump turns on; something makes it turn on and it overfills and then it shuts off. But it’s always like overfilling to a point and like weeping out the side holes and stuff like that. And I’ve replaced – like I said – the flow switch; I replaced … there’s a little cellunoid switch on a valve on the side, because I have irrigation, it works in conjunction with my load switch.
So I replace this … the cellunoid that’s inside this valve, but the thing still does it. The only thing I … and I check my bladder tank (laughing).
LESLIE: You like that word; it made you laugh. (laughing)
BOB: No, it’s just I’ve checked … I’m laughing because it’s … everything’s been almost changed, except for the system, but …
TOM: Yeah, everything except for the well itself, right?
BOB: (chuckling) Yeah, yeah. Right. Everything except for that.
TOM: See, I was going to kind of let you go and sort of have you come up with your own solution to this question, Bob. Because it sounds to me like it’s definitely a control circuit problem and you worked your way around all the easily accessible parts of that control circuit. And it sounds to me like, for whatever reason, the well is not getting the point. (laughing) You know, the pump is not getting the point. And it’s not listening, it’s not behaving properly and it’s, basically, running with a mind of it’s own and it’s overfilling and overpressurizing.
I mean you have the opposite problem of what most people complain about with wells; and that is that they don’t have enough pressure. You’ve got too much pressure and you’ve got pressure there when you don’t need it; to the point where it’s causing an issue.
Now, is your well … is your pump submerged?
BOB: Yes, submerged in the well.
TOM: Aw, man. Well, you may need to replace the pump. That is probably …
LESLIE: How difficult of a job is that?
TOM: Well, you know, it’s not … it’s not hard but it’s costly. They basically have to fish the pump up out of the well. And that is most likely what’s causing this. It’s just not behaving properly. Everything you’re explaining to me means the control circuit has got an issue.
BOB: What about that valve on the side … on the side of … that goes in. It’s a pipe that comes from my well, comes into the pressure switch that obviously turns it on, and then there’s a valve with a … with a cellunoid on it that goes into the aerator. Would that valve have something to do with it?
TOM: No, I don’t think so. Not based on what you’re explaining to me. Because you’ve worked your way through the pressure side of that and that seems to have all been updated. So I go back to my original theory which is that there’s something not right … working right with the pump itself. How old is that pump?
BOB: My house is four years old.
TOM: You know, check it. It might be under a five-year warranty. Are you the original owner?
TOM: Worth looking into.
BOB: Yes. I guess you’re right. I think I’ll do that.
TOM: Thank you very much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Yeah, you know, a submersible well pump is not something that’s easily accessible because it’s down in the well. But it can be brought up and perhaps it could be tested. I mean there may be a way to check it and find out what’s going on with the pump. But if you’ve worked on everything on the top side, that’s all that left.
LESLIE: And it’s good because, since he’s the original owner … generally these warranties don’t transfer with ownership transfer.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: So it’s good he’s the original owner. There’s a good chance it could still work for him. And, heck, it’s the only thing he hasn’t tried to fix.
TOM: That’s right. Yeah, good luck trying that out, Bob. Thanks again for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So, Tom, your house is full of kids. What have you got, like 12?
TOM: (laughing) No. But it does sound that way, doesn’t it, sometimes when you call? (laughing) They’re all like radio children; they have loud, boisterous voices. No microphones required.
LESLIE: Well, we know where they get that from. But are you always yelling at them, ‘Shut that door!’?
TOM: Absolutely. You know, just like my father yelled at me to shut the door, I yell at my kids to shut that door to help keep my energy bills from leaking out. But did you know that there is one kind of door – think about it – you can actually prop open and save some energy? Learn what it is …
LESLIE: That sounds like a trick.
TOM: Learn what it is, after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed smart humidifiers. Aprilaire’s computer-equipped, completely automated, no-touch humidifiers never need manual adjustments. Advanced computer technology measures the outdoor temperature and indoor humidity over 86,000 times a day and continually adjusts your home’s indoor humidity for maximum comfort. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. So, Leslie, you thought it was a trick question?
LESLIE: Yeah, I think you’re trying to set up your kids.
TOM: Well, it sort of is. There is actually a door in your house that you can leave open to help you save some money. It’s your dishwasher door. You know, air drying your dishes is a great way to save money and energy. So if your dishwasher doesn’t have an automatic air dry switch, simply turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little. The air will dry out your dishes without soaking your energy bill.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s also a great tip if you run your dishwasher at night, which saves energy costs. But then, once the cycle is done you can prop that door open so it has all night to dry out so it’ll be ready for the morning.
TOM: You know, the only time to use the power dry setting – the electric dry – is really if you have to run successive loads.
LESLIE: Like Thanksgiving.
TOM: Yeah, like Thanksgiving or Christmas or something like that. Otherwise, you can simply air dry them and save a ton of cash in the process.
1-888-MONEY-PIT. You got a home improvement question? You got an energy efficiency question? Call us right now. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Reggie in Montana listens to The Money Pit on KGEZ. And Reggie, what’s your question? How can we help?
REGGIE: How best to manage in-floor heating. My mother-in-law moved into a new condo, recently, and she’s of the old school where when you go to bed at night you turn down your heat, turn it back up in the morning or (inaudible) …
LESLIE: Well, you should be, too, to save some energy dollars.
REGGIE: Well, yes, but what we’ve noticed is that it seems like when she turns the heat back up again in the morning …
REGGIE: That it takes a long time for the room temperature to come up and by the time it gets up to where it’s triggering the thermostat, that giant concrete rock that is her floor is now giving off too much heat for too long and it overheats the room and such. And so we were trying to decide is it better off to manage it by just maintaining a constant temperature all the time? Or, if you do make adjustments, just make it in one or two degrees until you’re comfortable?
TOM: Well, I think that’s a great question. And you do point out one of the downsides of radiant heat; and there are not very many. But one of the downsides is the radiator itself is essentially the entire floor of your house. And so, unlike say, a cast iron radiator or a sheet metal radiator – either of which will heat up the house very, very quickly – the radiant floor does take a little bit of time.
Leslie, I agree that he should continue to use a clock setback thermostat but, perhaps, the dropping of the temperature might not be as much as you would normally do with, say, a cast iron system; perhaps only 10 degrees or so.
LESLIE: Well, what kind of setback do you recommend? Like during the day, we’ll operate our house on 71 and 72 and at night we’ll drop it to like 68. I mean we’re not dropping it to 60.
TOM: Yeah, what are you dropping it to?
REGGIE: Oh, she would be … she would be dropping her temperature down to like 60 degrees at night and then turning it back up to 71 or 72 in the morning. And it takes a long time to get that rock warmed up.
LESLIE: Well, especially with the concrete flooring.
TOM: You know what you might want to do? It takes a long time for the slab to cool off, too. So let’s say if she goes to bed at ten o’clock, I would set the thermostat to go down at 9:00; see, because you still have some heat left in the slab, right? And then, if she’s going to wake up at 6:00 in the morning, I’d bring that thermostat up at 5:00 to give it an hour to bring up. So, whereas if it was not a radiant slab, you might be using shorter periods of time to go it off and on – because it is a radiant slab and it holds heat longer but, conversely, takes longer to heat up – I would just adjust the times accordingly.
LESLIE: Right. So instead of having your mom operate the thermostat, replace that thermostat with one where you can put a timer control to bring the temperature up and down so she won’t even have to worry about it.
TOM: Oh, yeah, you definitely don’t want to have her do this manually. You definitely want to do it with a clock thermostat and take that decision away from her. It’s really not necessary for us to do … for her to do that. Because, then, she will overheat the house. She’ll just crank it up until she’s comfortable and then it’ll be too hot. And like you say, you’ll drop it down. But the idea of saving energy is really moot at that point.
REGGIE: Okay. Thanks a bunch.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Beth in California who listens to The Money Pit on KQKE and you’re talking about gas or electric – which is more efficient? We both have a pretty strong opinion about this but let’s hear your question.
BETH: Okay. So we are building a new house in California and … so we can pick whether we want electric or gas appliances. And I’ll say washers and dryers are what we’re kind of focusing on right now.
BETH: And we were wondering what opinion you had.
TOM: Well, is this … what about the heating system? What kind of heat do you have?
BETH: It’s going to be forced, steam heat.
LESLIE: That’s good.
TOM: But it’s going … it’s going to be gas?
BETH: I believe so.
TOM: Yeah, probably. Well, I mean if you have gas appliances … I mean if you have a gas heating system, I would use a gas dryer.
TOM: I wouldn’t use … an electric dryer’s going to be more expensive to use.
BETH: Well, and that’s what they were saying but I didn’t know what’s going on now with the new kind of …
TOM: You know, Beth, a lot of people have asked us that question. But the bottom line is as expensive as gas is, gas is always going to be cheaper than electric. Because per BTU, electric is always much more costly.
BETH: Alright. Well, thank you for your … for your time. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re considering replacement windows but don’t have the budget for the whole house, don’t completely write off that idea just yet. We’ll tell you how to keep your options open, in just a moment.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by the amazing Telesteps Telescoping Ladder which extends from 30 inches to 12-and-a-half feet in a matter of seconds. Available online at rewci.com or by calling, toll-free, 888-845-6597. Take advantage of free shipping now. And don’t forget to mention coupon code ‘Money Pit’ and receive five percent off your purchase today.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Well, replacement windows are a great way to improve your home’s appearance and energy efficiency. But they can be costly. If your budget is limited, begin by replacing windows on the side of your house that takes the worst seasonal impact. Easterners, you should start with the northeastern windows. Southerners, replace southeast windows first and so on. You can then replace the rest as your budget allows.
TOM: If you want more step by step instructions on what to ask for when you’re buying replacement windows, sign up for the free money e-newsletter. Because, check this out, in our next issue we’ll feature three money-saving secrets to replacement window shopping. So sign up today at moneypit.com.
LESLIE: Still up for grabs, if your budget is not allowing you to get more tools, we’ve got a great prize. You’re in such super-duper luck today. We’re giving away a whole kit of tools to add to your DIY arsenal, this hour, from IRWIN and Strait-Line. The prize package comes with more than two dozen tools including vise grip groove lock pliers, fast release pliers, a MARATHON carpenter saw, a Pro Touch utility knife with blades, work site gloves, Strait-Line grip light, a torpedo level, an entire set of vise grip pliers and a fantastic soft-sided bag to keep all of those great tools in. It’s worth about 250 bucks but it only goes to one lucky caller. So call in now.
TOM: 1-888-666-3974. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Alright. Brian in Maryland has some squeaky, creaky floors. Brian, how can we help?
BRIAN: Yeah, hi. Thanks. I have a 51-year-old house and it has original hardwood floors and we had them redone. And they squeak really bad. And we don’t have access underneath to do it. So I’d rather not … I’d rather avoid nailing them, if possible. Is there any way to stop them from squeaking?
TOM: Do you have children?
BRIAN: I do.
TOM: (laughing) Those may come in handy, those squeaky floors.
LESLIE: (chuckling) As they get older.
TOM: It’s kind of like your early warning system when they come, you know?
BRIAN: Well, she’s six months old now so it’s really bad because it wakes her up.
TOM: Oh, okay. It’s working against you. Alright, let’s see if we can quiet them down. Now, the reason that floors squeak is because of movement. So the floorboards are loose and, in the case of hardwood floors, usually the tongues and the grooves that are in between those boards rub together or the nails that are holding the boards down can pull in and out of what they’re nailed to and make noise there.
The solution involves securing the floor to the subfloor and to the floor joist below. Now, you said you don’t want to nail it. Let me tell you how you can nail it strategically, though, so that you won’t see the nails and quiet down the floors. What you need to do is first, you need to identify where the floor joists are under the floors. And you would say, ‘Well, Tom, that sounds like a good idea but how exactly do I see through my floors, not having x-ray vision?’
LESLIE: With a stud finder.
TOM: With a stud finder. Because the stud finders, today, have the ability to see through floors and show you exactly where those joists are.
LESLIE: They’ll even show you where the joist begins, where the middle is and where the end is.
TOM: Exactly. Now, having identified those floor joists, what you want to do is to nail through those floors. But before you do, let me give you a little trick of the trade. Get a finish nail the size that you’re going to use – and, of course, we are talking about finish nails here; with small heads on them. Take that finish nail and insert it into your power drill as if it was a drill bit and use that finish nail as the drill bit to pre-drill the hole where the nail is going to go. The reason you’re using this and not a twist bit is because it tends to separate the fibers and not cut the fibers of the wood, making the nail a lot tighter when it goes in. Then you drive the nail in that hole that you just pre-drilled – at a slight angle, by the way; you don’t want to put it in completely straight. Put it at an angle because it holds better. Two or three of those in the area of the loose floorboard on each joist ought to make a huge difference.
Now, you’re … after you put the nails in – and you have to set the nail head, of course, below the surface – you can use any one of a number of different good wood fillers to fill that. I like the wax wood fillers that Minwax makes; they look like freezer pencils, where you peel the paper off.
LESLIE: China markers.
TOM: And … yeah, China markers. And you simply rub those into the holes until they fill up. And it becomes absolutely invisible; nobody will ever spot that when it’s done.
BRIAN: Excellent. Thank you. And, hopefully, now my wife will stop yelling at me for waking up our daughter.
TOM: (laughing) Alright. Yeah, you can stay out later now. (laughing)
LESLIE: Or you can learn to levitate. Either way.
BRIAN: Oh, thank you guys very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Brian. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Glen in Florida listens to The Money Pit on WCOA. And Glen, you have an interesting question. You want to add a chimney to your house in Florida?
GLEN: Yes. We have a slab ‘on grade’ brick veneer house that has a package fireplace that’s surrounded … it’s in brick until it gets to the roof line. And at that point, then the … it’s just a stovepipe in the package fireplace that goes up about four feet and that’s it. What we would like to do is to encase that in brick all the way up.
TOM: Okay. That’s, basically, a brick … a fa