Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us now with your home improvement question. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We know, as you look around your money pit, there’s a project that you want to tackle today or tomorrow or next week. Let us help you get it started by picking up the phone right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Because we are here to help you. We’re your how-to coaches for all of those projects.
We have a great show in store for you today. First up, are you suffering from leaky wallet disease? What’s that? (Leslie chuckles) Well, that’s what happens when you start paying high heating bills. And if your home isn’t sealed properly this winter, you probably definitely are. So this hour we’re going to give you some top tips that you need to keep the cold air out and the warm air in.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, since you’re about to be spending so much more time indoors with the chillier seasons across the U.S. upon us, you might be doing a bit of furniture polishing. And we’ve got an item that you should really think about including in your toolkit. It’s toothpaste. Ah, toothpaste. That’s right. We are going to teach you a brand new way to use this medicine chest staple to keep your furniture in tiptop shape in just a few minutes.
TOM: And laminate countertops are a great and inexpensive choice for kitchen countertops, but they do take a beating. So if yours are looking a bit worse for wear, we’re going to have some tips that you need to get your counters back into tiptop shape.
LESLIE: And of course we’ve got a terrific prize for you this hour. It’s a Ryobi AIRgrip ProCross laser level. Say that 15 times fast. It’s worth 70 bucks and it’s going to one caller chosen at total random who ask their question on the air at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Pick up the hammer, pick up the nail but pick up the phone first and call us. Let’s get right to the phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Mary in New Jersey has a question about radon. What’s going on at your house?
MARY: I have a dirt crawlspace like under my house.
MARY: And it’s under – we have a full basement under part of the house and then a crawlspace. And the crawlspace, I was worried about that. Like are we losing feet there? Should we be putting like plastic on the floor and do we have to worry about radon?
TOM: Well, a couple of things. First of all, let’s talk about the plastic vapor barrier on the floor of the crawlspace. That’s always a good idea because that stops the moisture from evaporating up off the soil and getting into the house space.
In terms of radon, radon is tested in the lowest living space of the house. So in your case that would be the basement. If you’ve never tested for radon it’s a good idea. The fact that you have a crawlspace is not going to increase or decrease the risk of having a radon problem. You could have it regardless because, as far as the radon is concerned, it’s going to go right through your concrete floor just as fast as it’ll go through your dirt floor.
TOM: So if you’ve never tested for it I would encourage you to do that. Northern New Jersey, some parts of it are certainly known for having high radon levels. If you did test it and it came out high you could install a radon mitigation system which, again, is not incredibly expensive – I mean it’s not cheap but it’s probably in the $5,000 range – and that would draw off the radon gas before it gets into the house.
MARY: Oh, OK. And as far as the vapor barrier, is that just like plastic that you just roll out in …?
TOM: Yes, plastic. Yep. Yeah, go ahead and put …
MARY: How far up the sides? Do you go up the sides or just right …
TOM: You don’t necessarily have to go up the sides. What you can do is roll it out across the entire dirt floor. Try to use as few seams as possible. If you have to use multiple pieces of plastic viscuine then overlap it about three feet.
MARY: OK, thank you – what about insulation of the beams above the crawlspace? That …
TOM: Good idea to insulate the floor above an unfinished crawlspace. Use unfaced fiberglass bats. They can be …
TOM: Unfaced, that’s right. No paper. No foil face. They can be supported in between the floor joists with wire insulation hangers. They’re like long pieces of wire that sort of get sprung, bent and sort of stick in between the two floor joists to support the bats in place.
MARY: Oh, OK. Very good. Well thank you so much.
TOM: Alright, Mary. Hopefully that warms you up this winter. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Neil in Kansas, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
NEIL: Yeah, we’ve got a house that’s a little over 100 years old and I mean I’ve noticed a little bit of settling on it. But this winter there was a draft coming off the one side of the house and then down on the floor I noticed the gaps between the floorboard and the walls. Is that normal or is that (INAUDIBLE) a worse problem (INAUDIBLE)?
TOM: Sometimes you get settlement where there’s separation between the floor and the wall. You know, a good product to seal that up is called Great Stuff. It’s an expandable foam sealant. You spray it in that area and then walk away. Don’t touch it. Let it dry. Then you can trim off the excess. And once you trim off the excess you can actually paint it. If it’s a painted baseboard moulding it’ll sort of be camouflaged right in with it. You won’t see it anymore.
NEIL: Yeah, you can’t see it unless you pull the carpet up. I was just wondering what – if that just (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: Well, if you have carpet, now you’re going to have to – you want to use that expandable foam sealant you’re going to have to mask off the carpet because it will get on there.
NEIL: OK, (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and if you’ve got a problem at home that you just can’t figure out in the home improvement department, then pick up the phone and give us a call 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, what’s the one room in the house that everybody hangs out in when you have a party? It’s the kitchen.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, the kitchen.
TOM: That’s right. And if you have kitchen countertops that are made out of laminate and they’ve been scarred and burned and dirtied and dulled by all of the traffic that goes through your kitchen, we’re going to give you some tips to get them back in tiptop shape, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer. And add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information, visit ThermaTru.com.
TOM: Making good homes better. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where our motto is measure twice, cut once and always paint over your mistakes. (Leslie chuckles) I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And if you give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT we are giving away a great prize this hour to one caller who calls into the Money Pit at 888-MONEY-PIT, asks their question on the air. Then we’re going to put your name in the Money Pit hardhat and we’re going to choose one name at random and the prize this hour is the Ryobi ProCross self-leveling laser level with AIRgrip. Man, that is a mouthful. And it’s so cool because the AIRgrip, it allows your laser level to cling to the walls, any surfaces that you’re working on and it’s not going to leave a mark anywhere. It’s got no marring. It’s pretty amazing. And it’s got a lot of great features, including horizontal, vertical and even intersecting laser beams as well as a self-leveling mechanism and a fine adjustment knob. So this is great for laying tile, putting up moulding. It will really help you get a job that’s really on the straight and narrow. It’s worth 70 bucks but it could be yours for free if we talk to you on the air this hour. Again, the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s talk about that kitchen. If your laminate countertop has cracks, burns or knife scars, a plastic filler made for the purpose can actually help smooth things out. Now, before you begin the repair you need to make sure that the surface is prepared and this is one of those situations where you do need to read the directions. Because basically you’re trying to bind two different materials here. These plastic fillers, they work great but only if you put them on properly and sometimes you have to do a bit of sanding and a special topcoat and your countertop will look just like new, but only if you follow those step-by-step instructions.
Do you need some step-by-step instructions to help you with another home improvement project? Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ann in Connecticut, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ANN: Hi, we put in a pearl hot tub, oh, probably a couple of years ago when we were building our house. And unfortunately, when I did the painting, I missed some spackles of paint on the tub itself. It’s baby blue and I got most of it but I’ve got little, tiny specks that have been on there now for quite a while. Is there any way to get them off?
LESLIE: And this is a fiberglass hot tub?
LESLIE: What about – have you tried using a rubbing compound? Like very, very delicately. You know, don’t be too aggressive with it. If you just carefully take a little bit of the rubbing compound on a damp cloth and then just sort of, in a circular motion, quickly go over the paint area, it should lift it right off. Then you can go ahead and wax that area.
ANN: OK. Well, so it’s a rubbing compound for like an auto or is there a special thing that I should look for?
TOM: The kind of rubbing compound that you use for your car. It’s available at, you know, Pep Boys and other auto part stores and places like that.
ANN: Fabulous. Well, I’ll give it a try. Thanks.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Harold in Arkansas has a roofing question. What’s going on?
HAROLD: I have a metal roof on my house. It’s been on there – it’s one of these painted, rib panel roofs. It’s been on my house about 30 years …
HAROLD: … and the enamel paint is coming off and the galvanize is starting to show through. And I was wondering what y’all would recommend; what kind of paint to put on it. I’d rather put paint on it than cool seal because it’s painted a sand color and I’d like it to look like it did before – when it was new.
TOM: So what I would recommend that you do is to scrape, prime and paint. So you’re going to want to abrade it to get rid of all of the loose, flaky paint. Then you’re going to want to prime it with a good quality, metal primer and then I would use an oil-based topcoat. And a couple of layers of that should last you quite a long time. Now paint on a metal roof actually lasts a lot longer than paint, say, on the outside of your house and the reason is this: with a metal roof you don’t have the expansion and contraction; you don’t have the moisture that gets into it. So if it adheres correctly, that paint job can last you 20, 25 years.
LESLIE: There’s actually a great website. There’s a company called Calbar. Calbar Inc. is their website and they make acrylic elastameric roof paint, primers, sealers specifically for metal roofs and siding and they’ve been in the business 85 years. They’re website is very user-friendly. They offer a lot of colors. They sell the products. They also offer the services to do it. So it might be something you want to look into there.
TOM: Harold, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ron in Michigan, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RON: Leslie, I’m trying to find out how to work on a landscape during the winter time in Michigan and I’m a novice at this and I …
LESLIE: So are you looking to start from scratch or are you looking to work with what you have or are you trying to preserve what you’ve got through the winter season?
RON: Starting from scratch?
LESLIE: Whoo. All new plants or sort of trimming back what’s there and adding to it?
RON: I’m going to develop a new plot; probably, I was thinking, something four feet wide. I didn’t know if it was going to go in a circle. I guess it depends on what designs I run across and, as far as being in Michigan, what type of plants would I get, you know, or what ideas could I get from that. So you can see I’m kind of struggling where to start.
LESLIE: Well, I think your best bet, Ron, is number one, head to the magazine stand and look at a ton of exterior garden design magazines and just start taking a look at what sort of layout, what type of plants, what colors, what sort of feel or motivation or movement inspires you in what you see and might work for what you’ve got in your yard. And then I think, you know, March/April is a good time to start thinking about actually planting things.
And I think at that point you might want to sit down with a landscape designer or a garden designer because, number one, they’re going to know the best plants for your region since you and I both don’t know that answer. They’re going to know what’s going to work well, what’s going to require a minimum amount of water, less maintenance; especially if you’re not so skilled in the garden area at this point. And I think if you work with a pro initially and learn about the process, learn about the plants, learn about the maintenance and then go ahead and take it on your own after that.
You know, the start-off point is the hardest and, really, the biggest problem is soil cultivation. You want to make sure that the soil is prepped and ready to, you know, take all of those plantings because you don’t want to put a plant into, you know, non-nourished soil that’s not going to thrive and then you’ll end up wasting your investment. Plus, a lot of these garden centers and a lot of these pros will ensure the plantings. So if you go to the store and buy a plant and plant it yourself and it dies, you’re out whatever the money it was to do that. If a pro comes in and does it and it doesn’t stand up so well, even up to a year a lot of these folks will replace it. So it might make sense to do that initial investment with someone who can help you get the best results and then take it from there.
RON: What if you really didn’t want to, you know, involve a professional? Is there another way to, you know, scour the web or someplace to that would show, for my area, what’s available?
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely. Do you have a favorite local garden center that you know of in your area? Find somebody locally. Like we have one in my neighborhood called Hicks and when everything is going all completely blooey in my backyard I head over there. I say, you know, ‘We’ve got this shady area. It’s not working out. What can I do?’ They know where I live. They know what type of plants work well for the region. So they really can help me through the process and through all of that, you know, in the few years that we’ve owned the house, we’ve cultivated quite a nice little garden back there; really based on the knowledge of all the folks at the garden center. So they really are a good resource and in the winter it’s kind of slow over there so you can head over and spend a lot of time brain picking.
RON: OK. That’s an idea.
TOM: There’s a good place to start.
Ron, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jeff in New York has a question about a water pump. What’s going on?
JEFF: I have a two-story house in the country and I have a water pump in the basement …
JEFF: … and every time I turn the water on either, wherever it is – on the first floor or the second floor – I hear this rumbling that goes on for, I don’t know, 60 seconds, two minutes, three minutes.
JEFF: And I’m not sure how to quiet that down; if there’s some kind of enclosure you can put on it or is that more than just a pump, is that the water heater itself.
TOM: Sounds like air in the system. You have a well water system?
TOM: Alright, so when you turn it on you get all this noise, all this rumbling as the system pressurizes.
TOM: Yeah, well that’s probably the air sort of moving through the system and that’s not unusual. You know, in most cases you leave the pump on all the time. Since you are turning yours on and off, you are going to get some air and some noise on startup. That’s not unusual and shouldn’t have any effect on the function of the system whatsoever.
JEFF: But is there any way to quiet that down? It’s sort of an annoyance to have that rumbling going on. Or is that part of – is that also part of it’s heating the water?
TOM: Yes, when it’s real cold like that and the heaters come on, sometimes you get some, you know, expansion and contraction in the tank that can make sort of a rumbling, buckling kind of a sound.
TOM: And again, that’s not that unusual. When you have a vacation house like that where you’re turning the water completely off and then reheating it and repressurizing your entire house you’re going to get some noise in the plumbing system. You’re saying it only lasts you a few minutes so I wouldn’t – you know, listen. Walk back out of the house for five minutes, you know (Leslie chuckles), and turn it on.
TOM: I don’t think it’s a terrible problem and certainly not one worth correcting.
JEFF: So it has nothing to do with enclosing the pump itself?
TOM: No. That would – you know, all that would do would be – you know, it might soften it a little bit but seems like kind of an extreme solution.
LESLIE: We’re going to talk to drafty Dan in Rhode Island. What’s going on?
DAN: I have an older home that I purchased back in March. So I’m finding out new things all the time. Of all places, I’m getting drafts through wall outlets.
TOM: That’s not unusual at all and there’s a simple solution for that, Dan.
TOM: What you need to do is get some wall outlet gaskets. There’s actually a foam gasket that’s specifically designed to fit around an outlet – like a two-plugged outlet. They also have them to fit around light switches; either a single light switch or a double light switch; a small narrow one or the big d