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: And this is where work and fun meet because we’re here to help you get your home improvement projects done. We’re here to help you tackle the do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to hold the nail for you. But it’s a good thing it’s on the radio because we know how you swing a hammer. (Leslie chuckles) Call us right now, though. We’ll help you out at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
We’ve got a great hour planned for you, starting with this. The folks at Habitat for Humanity are getting some help in making their low-cost homes more attractive. And we’ve always said that you can have a very attractive house without spending a boatload of money and these guys are getting together with some pretty important architects to develop some plans that can help deliver those really good-looking houses on a tight budget.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, we’ve got the right warm-up for you before you go ahead and install that vinyl flooring. Vinyl floors, they look great; they’re really durable, but you do have to know a few tips to make sure that they’re properly installed. We’ll tell you those in just a bit.
TOM: And speaking of floors, you use your staircase to get from one to the next. If yours is giving you a hard time it might not be designed correctly. We’re going to tell you how to inspect it for safety in just a bit.
LESLIE: And we’re giving away a great prize this hour. It’s an electronic pet door from our friends over at PetSafe and it works like an automatic garage door opener, only your pet wears the teeny, tiny little mechanism that’s going to open up their pet door. It’s on their collar, it’s super high-tech, it’s a great chore-saver for you on those chilly winter nights. It’s worth as much as $229 but it could be yours for free.
TOM: So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller to the show this hour is going to win that great prize. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Randall in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
RANDALL: I’ve been wanting to treat my house for termites.
RANDALL: That’s a big issue here in South Carolina. And I’ve checked around and there’s just so many different options and their prices vary from $350 to $1,600.
RANDALL: And then I started thinking about maybe treating my house myself.
TOM: Well, I think you should treat your termites nicely because they can do a lot of damage.
TOM: (chuckling) It’s a joke. (Randall laughs) Kidding. Listen, it’s not a do-it-yourself …
RANDALL: I got that.
TOM: It’s not a do-it-yourself project. Alright?
LESLIE: Because you can’t get your hands on the materials that you need to really be effective.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
RANDALL: Oh, OK.
TOM: There’s some over-the-counter, so to speak, products but they’re not nearly as effective as the chemicals that the pros can use. The product that I would recommend is called Termidor.
TOM: It’s a product that’s manufactured by BASF. It’s applied by pest control operators and this is a type of insecticide that’s not detectable. And because it’s not detectable by the insects – typically the old termite treatments we would put these products in around the soil. The termites would figure out that they were there and didn’t like them so much and would try to sort of drill around it.
TOM: These new products are undetectable, so the termites plow right through and they get it on their bodies and take it back to the nest and it wipes out the whole colony that way.
RANDALL: Oh, OK.
TOM: And you can’t buy this stuff but a pest control operator can. Their website is TermidorHome.com and I think there’s a locator there where you can find an operator in your area that’s been trained in the use of the product. TermidorHome.com.
RANDALL: I appreciate. And the other thing, the question I had is – you know, they talk about these little things they put in the yard so that they can check and see if the termites are –
TOM: Yeah. (clears throat)
RANDALL: – if you have termites.
RANDALL: Is that just – is that important or is that just …
TOM: Waste of money.
RANDALL: You know, that’s why I think it was between $350 and $1,600. It just blew my mind the range of –
RANDALL: – and all the stories I got.
LESLIE: Those little units, they’re going to be so tightly congested across your yard. I mean like in the middle of your lawn.
LESLIE: So they’re going to be things that you’re apparently obvious to. You’re going to see them.
TOM: I think you’re talking about bait stations.
LESLIE: Yeah, those bait stations.
RANDALL: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
TOM: Yeah, Termidor is far more effective than any bait station. The bait station technology is antiquated at this point.
LESLIE: And Termidor was seeing, you know, 10-year results with no return of termites in southern states in the U.S., so …
RANDALL: Well, I’m going to go ahead and get online right now. And listen, love your show. You guys have helped me through so many things.
TOM: Well, it’s our pleasure.
RANDALL: And – well, I appreciate it and thanks again.
TOM: OK, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Patricia in Hawaii about a green countertop choice. What’s going on at your house?
PATRICIA: I’m wondering – I was in Mendocino this year and someone had a countertop and it was made out of recycled newspapers. And it was the most beautiful countertop. It was as beautiful as my engineered stone that I have and …
PATRICIA: … and they said you could – they said you could cut right through it and then just sand it when you were done. And I’ve been asking people about where to find it and nobody’s heard of it. So I was hoping that you might have heard of it.
LESLIE: Well now, I don’t know about cutting right through it and then sanding through it. I know of a company that does a countertop and they call it PaperStone. And I’m not exactly sure what it’s fabricated out of. It might be newspapers but it’s definitely a paper pulp source. And the company is called Kliptech and it looks like soapstone. I mean this is a gorgeous countertop. It’s very durable. It’s extremely heat resistant. It’s easy to install on your own. And their website is Kliptech.com and you can find out a lot about their counter options there.
PATRICIA: Oh, wonderful.
LESLIE: Yeah, you know I’ve been working on a green issue for Country Home magazine for our April issue and you know we produce our magazines really far in advance and it’s been a challenge to try to find these interesting new materials. But this Kliptech company, they do a bunch of different products and this counter, this PaperStone, really jumped out at me. So that’s why it was on the tip of my tongue when we got your call.
PATRICIA: Thank you very much for answering. Bye-bye.
LESLIE: It’s a new year and you’ve got New Year’s resolutions and maybe a lot of those involve projects around your house. Well, look no further than your phone. Pick it up, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question or your home improvement debacle, whatever’s going on right now, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Up next, proper stairs are an important first step to safety. How to know if your stairs are correctly designed and what to do about it if they’re not, 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. That’s what we do. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and if you’ve got a do-it-yourself dilemma and you need some direction, well give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because if we talk to you on the air today, we’re not only going to answer your question. We will also throw your name into the Money Pit hardhat for your chance to win a prize that’s worth up to $229 this hour. It’s the PetSafe Electronic Smart Door and it’s a really cool idea. It works just like your automatic garage door opener except your pet wears that opener on their collar and it’s going to trigger that little doggy door to open up whenever he wants to go out. So you can stay; he or she goes out; you never have to step outside into the cold. It is the best prize for you. It’s a great chore-saver. Give us a call now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and it could be yours for free.
Alright, let’s talk about stairs. You know, they can be tricky to navigate any time but when they don’t have the right hardware it could be very dangerous. Stairs with more than two steps need to have a handrail securely mounted to the wall. Now, if your staircase is open, the spindles need to be installed no more than six inches apart and that’s to prevent a small child from squeezing their head through. You know how curious kids can be. And lastly, be especially careful when steps are an uneven height.
Now, if I’ve ever tripped going up and down a staircase, I always look down at them and it turns out that one tread to the next is maybe a half-inch or an inch different. Because your body sort of gets programmed to the height of steps and when one is slightly different than the next, that can be a tripping hazard. So, while you might get used to them yourself, your guests certainly wouldn’t and that’s why it’s real important that every step be of the same height.
Hey, you got a home safety question? We’re here to help you out at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get back to the phones. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Now we’re going to take a call from Jim in Ohio who’s dealing with some vinyl siding issues. What’s going on?
JIM: My kids were having an iceball fight and, you know, by all means don’t do it away from the house. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) Do it right against the house.
JIM: And it was obviously very cold, being an iceball fight, and I have cracked vinyl siding.
TOM: OK. Is it possible that you can get some more vinyl siding, Jim?
JIM: I have some scraps, actually …
JIM: … from when it was installed.
JIM: I just don’t know how to go about it because it looks like it’s like Z-shaped and it’s very confusing.
TOM: Well …
LESLIE: Ah, there’s a fantastic tool that’s going to save you a lot of heartache and hand ache as well.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a tool that helps you sort of unzip the old panels of vinyl out. So you would want to remove the cracked panel and you want to put in a new one. Now you mentioned you have some scraps. If you happen to have a piece that’s the same size, great. If you don’t, you might end up sort of piecing this in. Now, one thing that you may be – that may be unexpected, you need to watch out for, is that the color of the vinyl scraps, which is the original color, may not match the color of the siding now because of the exposure to the sun.
TOM: And so, if that’s the case, what you might want to do is go to one of the least obvious places in your house and take a piece from there; use that for the repair and then put the new piece back there where it’s not so noticeable.
JIM: Ah, brilliant.
LESLIE: This way everything will be matchy-matchy.
JIM: Thanks, guys. Love your show.
LESLIE: Paulette in Illinois has a question about a Wayne Smart Pump. Tell us what your project is. What are you working on?
PAULETTE: Well, the sump pump – I was recommended the Wayne Smart and I cannot find it.
TOM: The Wayne Smart Pump is a pretty cool pump because it actually has the ability to reverse itself and clear any clogs. Their website is WaynePumps.com. WaynePumps.com.
TOM: Or you can call them. They’re out of Ohio. The phone number is 800-237-0987. And you should be able to find a distributor for those pumps by contacting the manufacturer.
PAULETTE: Oh, very good.
TOM: I saw those demonstrated some time ago. They’re pretty cool because they – if they get clogged with dirt or debris or rocks …
LESLIE: They correct themselves.
TOM: … they’re smart enough to know that and they correct themselves. They reverse themselves to clear the clog.
LESLIE: John in Rhode Island has a flooring question. What’s going on at your money pit?
JOHN: The floor in the kitchen is hardwood. The house was built around 1930.
JOHN: The hardwood boards, you know, four inches wide approximately?
TOM: Yes, uh-huh.
JOHN: But there’s a seam every four inches.
JOHN: Now, I’m thinking of putting down quarter-inch plywood on top of that …
JOHN: … before I put down the vinyl tiles.
TOM: So you want to put vinyl tiles on top of a hardwood floor?
JOHN: Right. But not on top of the hardwood floor. First, quarter-inch plywood; 4×8 sheets.
TOM: Yeah, I know but I’m just saying why don’t you want to refinish the hardwood that’s there?
JOHN: It’s in the kitchen.
JOHN: And you know, the spillage and all that. You know?
TOM: Hmm. Alright. There’s a lot of very expensive houses out there, John, that have gorgeous hardwood floors in the kitchen. They just put good finishes on top of them.
JOHN: Yes, I’ve seen them and, you know, they’re – I agree with that. They look gorgeous. But over the long run, you know?
LESLIE: A better choice, John, over vinyl might be a laminate. This way you can choose a flooring product that looks like wood or tile or whatever it is that you want it to look like but it’s made, really, for moist situations like a kitchen.
LESLIE: So it could work far better. And those are in a floating situation, so you could put that directly on top of this without damaging the hardwood.
TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. You could eventually go back to it if you decide you want to have hardwood floors in your future.
JOHN: Hmm, now – oh, you could undo that, so to speak?
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: Yes, you could undo it because it floats on top of it.
LESLIE: Because you don’t glue it down.
JOHN: Oh, alright. Now, what about the – you know, a kitchen has quite a bit of foot traffic.
JOHN: What about that flooring?
TOM: It’s incredibly durable stuff. I’ve had laminate floor down in my kitchen for like 10 years now and you can’t wear it out.
JOHN: Hmm. It sounds good. Maybe I’ll just forget about the plywood.
TOM: Alright, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Seems like such a shame to cover a hardwood floor. I can’t imagine – I’d have a hard time bringing myself to do that.
LESLIE: Well and especially if he’s going to put a plywood, you know, subfloor, essentially, on top of that. You’re going to have to drill it down. Screw it down.
TOM: Right. Plus he would run the risk of sort of flooring in his dishwasher and his refrigerator and things like that. (Leslie moans) Just not worth it. I think a laminate’s a good solution if you really don’t want to go hardwood, John.
LESLIE: Paul in Florida has a question about granite countertops. How can we help you with your project?
PAUL: I’ve got countertops here that are covered with Formica, but I’ve seen advertisements for a skinning of the countertops with [granites in] (ph) and they just come in and put over it. I was just trying to find out whether this sounds like a good idea or not.
TOM: Well, you could certainly have it covered with a granite tile; like a granite floor tile. That can be used for a slightly expensive way to come up with a stone countertop, Paul.
TOM: As long as the substrate, which is the old countertop in this case, is solid enough to …
LESLIE: Is in good shape.
TOM: … prevent movement, then it will be OK. If you have any movement, remember, the granite doesn’t bend; it cracks.
PAUL: That’s correct. OK, well thank you very much. You’ve given me what I needed to know.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kinea (sp) in California is dealing with some mold issues. Tell us about the problem.
KINEA (sp): Well, in my closet – in my master bedroom closet in the middle of the wall, I noticed a small spot; maybe about two inches wide and long. And I’m just wondering what could I do to get rid of it.
TOM: Well, that’s a very common condition because in master bedroom closets you don’t have a lot of airflow in there and sometimes you’ll get mold that’ll start there. And what you should do, Kinea (sp), is you should pull out all your clothes that are in that closet and you should spray that with a bleach and water solution.
KINEA (sp): OK.
TOM: And then after it dries for a few minutes, then you can go ahead and wipe it off.
Now, if you want to stop it from coming back you might want to think about getting a little more air into that closet space. That could happen if you were to undercut the closet door just so there was a little bit bigger gap underneath it so it would move some air through.
KINEA (sp): Oh, OK.
LESLIE: Or you can put in a louvered door or some sort of fabric door for your closet, but you have to get air in there.
KINEA (sp): Mm-hmm. OK, well thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kinea (sp). Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Or she could just do what my kids do; just leave the doors open all the time. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Gene in Alabama has a question about heating and cooling. What can we help you with?
GENE: Yes, I was wondering is it more efficient to run a heat pump with the electric strips or I was looking at using a quartz infrared heater.
TOM: Well, that’s – you’re asking about the difference between a central heating system and a space heater, correct?
GENE: Yes, but the space heater covers up to like 1,000 square feet.
TOM: As a rule of thumb, the central heating system is going to be more efficient than a space heater.
LESLIE: Well and space heaters, you know, are kind of dangerous.
TOM: Well, they potentially could be; although …
LESLIE: Well, you know, you have to be careful and monitor how you use them.
GENE: This particular one is cool to the touch. It’s – it uses tubes to heat …
TOM: Your question is whether you should use a space heater or a central heating system and a heat pump central heating system is going to be more efficient than a space heater; especially one that runs on electric resistance heat. So I think you’re better off extending the heat pump system if you can.
GENE: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Talking to Ed in Kansas about gutters. Not dirty talk. The gutters on the house. Ed, what happened?
ED: Noticed that there were places in my gutter where water is standing. So obviously they’re not draining to the drains and I don’t know how to adjust the gutters to allow them to properly drain.
TOM: Well, what you need to do is – probably they sag over time, so what you need to do is probably pull out the gutter spikes; start in the middle of the gutter – assuming you have a drain on either end; put the gutter up as high as you can under the roof there and then work it down a little bit at a time until you get to the downspout side. Now, what I would recommend is not using the gutter spikes, the long nails. There are special bolts for gutters. They look like long lag bolts. They’re about seven or eight inches long. And those are much more effective because once you put them in they don’t loosen and they don’t pull out.
LESLIE: They never back out.
TOM: And they’re very inexpensive. They come in brown and white. I see them at the home centers all the time.
ED: OK. OK.
TOM: You drive them in with a little Allen head bit inside your drill and you just put them in and they go in pretty quickly and they work well.
ED: Alright, well thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned in to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and you have no doubt heard of the Habitat for Humanity. You know, they do great work. They’re giving people in need homes of their very own and sometimes people think of this affordable housing as sticking out like a sore thumb.
TOM: But now Habitat is going to be building homes to match the architecture and style of the community they’re in. We’re going to tell you how you can benefit, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to 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 with your home improvement question, your design dilemma. We’re here to help you get the job done at 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Well you know, Tom, I think it’s so interesting this time of year. Everybody is so interested in giving to the community and really thinking about their fellow neighbors and, you know, you’ve really, I’m sure, heard about Habitat for Humanity. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a worldwide organization that builds houses from the ground up for families who are in need. It’s a great cause, but the only bad rap that these homes may sometimes get is that they can be kind of basic looking; you know, very cookie cutter-type designs. But that really has been changing lately.
TOM: Absolutely. Now armed with the best architects out there and some new funding from the National Endowment of the Arts, Habitat for Humanity is building beautifully designed homes on a Habitat budget. And why not? This way we can match the character and style of the neighborhood that the house appears in.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s so great and joining us to tell us more about this fantastic new project and to give us some great design ideas for your house is Eric Osth who is the architecture studio director at Urban Design Associates and author of the pattern book for the new Habitat homes.
ERIC: Well thank you for having me on the show.
LESLIE: Well geez, Eric, this is such a wonderful program. I mean it really is nice to see, finally, a wonderfully gifted architecture firm designed with Habitat. What really is this program that you’re working on with them?
ERIC: Well thanks. It’s a pattern book which is really a book that details techniques for building and renovating neighborly houses and, as you mentioned, it’s a – it was made possible by an NEA grant to Habitat for Humanity and Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America. And the direction of the book was really based on a number of national research studies that told us that a large percentage of Americans would actually accept affordable housing in their neighborhood if it fit in. So really, this document is really kind of a vehicle to help transform the existing habitat designs and help create new ones to fit into our existing neighborhoods where – and these are neighborhoods that it may never have been imaginable for Habitat to actually be working in prior to this document.
So, there’s really an underlying social mission here to change the perception of affordable housing from what some may consider as an ugly necessity to something that’s seen as a tool to help rebuild neighbors and rebuilding people’s lives.
TOM: So Eric, you guys have created something that you call a pattern book that’s going to help Habitat create homes that are more stylish and have a better design and can fit into more areas. Can you just tell us what a pattern book is and how it’s going to be helpful to the projects?
ERIC: Sure. A pattern book, it’s really a book that details techniques to help people bring people together in a design process. So it really starts with the kind of – the general structure in a community pattern, how a building is oriented towards the street, and then it goes all the way into what style your house may be and then helps you select details and materials and windows and doors to help you put your house together in a way that follows a general structure.
TOM: So rather than have just a set of plans that kind of works for everybody, it’s more of a process that gives you choices and the end result is kind of drilling down to the design that’s going to make both the homeowner happy and the community happy. Is that correct?
LESLIE: Well that’s really interesting because, generally, I mean you’re right. Previously these low-budget homes have really stood out like a sore thumb and now, being involved in the design process, you’re giving the homeowner an opportunity to really choose details that work with the neighborhood. And now all of a sudden everybody sort of fits in better and feels more like a team and you’re right; I love what Habitat does in the way that the homeowner has to work a certain amount of hours on their own home and a certain amount of hours on someone else’s home. So it really is such a nice concept to finally make it work, you know, on so many levels.
TOM: We’re talking to Eric Osth. He’s the principal and architecture studio director at the Urban Design Associates and the author of A Pattern Book for Neighborly Houses: Details and Techniques for Rebuilding Neighborly Houses.
Eric, is green construction and green remodeling projects part of what this book is all about? Are your – are the folks that are going to be using this tool going to be focusing on ways to make their homes a bit greener in the process?
ERIC: Yes, and I think that’s one of the sections that everybody is very proud of; is that we’ve assembled a set of easy-to-follow instructions that introduces people to green building. And there’s two – there’s obviously two characteristics that we feel are important. Obviously there’s a social responsibility about creating sustainable construction on a large scale, but the second is really that it gives the ability for a Habitat family to save money in the long run in the operations cost of their home.
And I think that one thing that’s important to mention is that I know that there’s a lot of people out there that may think that when you say green or say sustainable that automatically means that it’s going to cost more money upfront and what we’ve put in this book is a couple of – several opportunities where you don’t need to do that. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to cost money on the – immediately and that will – and a couple of ways we can do that is you can handle – you can use it to your ideal building orientation; longer walls facing north and south to maximize solar energy; and minimizing solar heat gain in the summer months and using your landscaping the appropriate way to shed yourself from winter winds and locating porches where you can enjoy cool breezes.
TOM: Great idea.
LESLIE: That’s really nice, yeah. Because these are all ideas that you can incorporate, you know, whether you’re doing a new construction at any budget or just rehabbing your own home.
Eric Osth, author of A Pattern Book for Neighborly Houses: Details and Techniques for Building and Renovating Neighborly Houses.
Eric, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit. Where can we go for more information?
ERIC: Thanks. You can access it online at www.ClassAssisted.org which is the website for the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America or you could reach them by phone at 212-730-9646 to buy a hard copy for $30.
TOM: Thanks, Eric.
LESLIE: Alright, well here at The Money Pit we get tons of questions and you know, the number one topic people are always asking us about is flooring. Well, if there’s some flooring in your future and maybe you’re getting ready to install vinyl flooring, don’t start yet. We’re going to give you a very important warm-up tip, after this.
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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And is it too chilly to take Fido out for a walk? We can fix that if you call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT because we’re giving away the PetSafe Electronic Smart Door worth 229 bucks. It allows Fido or Fifi to let him or herself right out the door. Because the dog would wear a special collar it opens up the door. It’s a great thing and if you want to win it, you’ve got to call us right now with your home improvement question because we want to help you get the job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and one caller to the program this hour is going to win that great prize from the folks at PetSafe.
LESLIE: Alright, well if you’re thinking it’s too chilly to take your dog out for a walk it might just be too chilly to go ahead and install that vinyl flooring you’ve been dreaming about. You’re like, ‘Huh? What are you talking about?’
Well, we know that vinyl flooring has come a long way. There’s a ton of colors, patterns, textures, lots of options out there. It can look like everything from stone to wood, even concrete or metal and it’s a pretty tame do-it-yourself project. But one thing that you should know before you even start trying to lay it down: vinyl flooring, it is easiest to work with at room temperature. So before you go and install it, be sure you take it out of your car or your garage, anywhere that’s really cold, and give it some time to come to the room temperature that you’re going to install it in. The material is going to be far easier to work with; the glue is going to adhere better and you will be floored by the quick difference it is going to make in your home.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Barbara in Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
BARBARA: Hi. I have a house that’s 20 years old and in the last couple of years I’ve started to see, just on one side of the house – actually, in one corner of the house – some cracks in the drywall. Most of them are horizontal cracks. There are a couple that go from like a door frame and then at an angle. They’re not huge. In exploring I found that there’s also a small crack in the crawlspace, the brick fascia on the crawlspace, and I’m wondering if – first of all, if that could be – if it could somehow be connected and what I should do about these cracks. I’ve tried to patch them and it’s not working. They come back.
TOM: How are you patching them exactly?
BARBARA: I was using screen – you know, the mesh screen?
BARBARA: And then spackle and sand and spackle and sand.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Are the cracks – how long are the cracks?
BARBARA: Some of them are not very long. Others are, you know, like a foot long.
TOM: Because, generally, what we recommend is fiberglass tape for that.
BARBARA: Fiberglass tape.
BARBARA: Is that the mesh that …
LESLIE: Exactly. It’s like the sticky mesh.
TOM: We have to sand the wall first then apply the tape on top of that and then put two to three coats of spackle and that usually is adhesive enough that it can expand and contract with the wall.
BARBARA: OK. Alright, I’ll give it – maybe I’m just not doing enough spackling and sanding.
TOM: It sounds to me like you’re not because that would actually be enough. Because what happens is the house is always moving; it’s expanding and contracting and if you don’t really bind it very well then it’s going to open up again.
BARBARA: Is there anything for me to be concerned about in that – it’s not a wide crack; it’s just a little crack on the brick in the crawlspace?
TOM: I don’t think so. It’s probably just expansion and contraction and if you have a little bit of brick like that you’re going to want to seal that with some caulk. And if it’s just the foundation of the crawlspace use some silicone caulk and it’ll go in there; prevent water from getting in and making it any worse.
BARBARA: OK, great. Excellent. You’ve answered my questions.
TOM: Alright, Barbara. That’s what we do. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
BARBARA: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: In Rhode Island, Delores has some squeaky situations happening on the floors. What can we help you with? Tell us about it.
DELORES: Hi there, Leslie and Tom.
DELORES: I have the squeaks like on the steps even though they’re carpeting. The house is old but I realize – in other words, there’s nothing I can do with the carpeting there, correct?
LESLIE: No, no, no.
TOM: No, that’s not true at all.
TOM: No, we can fix that.
DELORES: Oh, great.
TOM: What you need to do, Delores, is – the floor joists under the carpet have to be located and that could be found with a stud finder.
LESLIE: A deep scanning stud finder.
TOM: Deep scanning stud finder. And once you locate those floor joists, here’s a little trick of the trade. You can take a finish nail – like a number 10 or a number 12 finish nail – and nail through the carpet, through the subfloor and into the floor joist. Because the subfloor is loose and that’s what’s causing this. You can do that in two or three spots right through the carpet. And then the last thing you do is grab the carpet and sort of pull it up through the head of the nail. Because it’s a finish nail, the carpet will sort of pop right through the head of the nail and you can brush the carpet and the little dimples that you created will sort of disappear. And that will stop the squeaks. When you drive the nail you put it on a very slight angle because it has better holding power that way.
DELORES: I appreciate it. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned in to The Money Pit and we here often tell you to go ahead and caulk and seal up all those leaks and gaps and cracks in your home. When we come back we’re going to answer an e-mail question from one listener who wants us to really help him out with where to start, what to do and how to get the job done right. 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: 888-666-3974. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and has winter weather got you worried about a potential power outage? Well, you can have backup power ready to go in a jiffy because in our very next e-newsletter we’re going to tell you about what type of generator is going to best suit your specific needs. If you’re not a member, subscribe now. Go to MoneyPit.com and you will learn everything you need to know about generators for free. It comes right into your inbox every Friday. So go there and sign up today.
TOM: 888-666-3974. And while you’re there, why not click on Ask Tom and Leslie, just like Diana did from Hamilton, Illinois.
LESLIE: Alright, Diana writes: ‘I live in a very old house and I’m trying to do some things on my own but I need some help. Caulking. Where exactly do you recommend doing so? Wherever the cold air is coming in or does it just depend on what surface I’m dealing with?’
TOM: Well, when it comes to sealing up your house caulk is certainly an easy thing to do, but how do you figure out where the worst leaks are? I would say the best way to do that is to check around the windows and on the inside of the house; not the outside. The inside because you can take the back of your hand and sort of run it around the outside sash of the window and very often you’ll feel wind whistling through there. I like to caulk windows on the inside and also on the outside.
Now, if it turns out that your windows are super leaky and you can’t fix the weatherstripping to tighten them up, one thing that you could do is use a product called temporary caulk. It is clear. It looks like clear silicone but it peels off at the end of the winter and you can open the windows again. I just don’t recommend you do that with a bedroom window that you may have to get emergency egress through. But using the back of your hand is a nice way to find those drafts.
Now, another thing you can do: check the outlets and the light switches on the exterior wall. Now for those, don’t caulk but use a piece of weatherstripping designed to fit behind the light switch.
LESLIE: Yeah, they look exactly like the outlet cover.
TOM: Yeah, exactly, and they will seal out those drafts from there, too.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you really are concerned about where you’ve got drafts coming in, go ahead and take an incense stick and light it and go around your windows and if you see that smoke waver, that’s a good indication that you’ve got a draft coming in and then you can address it with caulk or weatherstripping; whatever is appropriate. But if you take those steps you should see a big difference in your energy bills.
Alright, we’ve got one here from Nancy in Mount Kisco, New York who writes: ‘I need to soundproof a room that has already existing walls. Putting up a double wall will make the room too small. Is there something that can be hung around the room? Thanks so very much for your time and your knowledge.’
TOM: Well, putting up a double room, you mean framing a second wall. What you could do is put a second layer of drywall on top of that and you’re going to want to use a glue in between that called green glue which will isolate those pieces of drywall and give you some level of soundproofing. The other thing that you could do is you could use spray insulation and spray it into the space between the stud bays. Blown-in insulation will help deaden that wall as well.
LESLIE: Yeah, you can also even hang a curtain rod the entire length of that wall – you know, maybe a nice wrought-iron one – and then hang a drape – maybe a heavy velvet or a chenille; something that’s really weighty – because that’ll deaden the sound as well and sort of add a design twist into the space as well. Something new.
Alright, we’ve got time for one more. Lori in Bloomsbury, New Jersey writes: ‘Our range hood, which is vented into the attic, drips water onto the stove during the winter months. What’s going on here and how can we fix it?’
TOM: It sounds like condensation to me because you have warm, moist air that goes up inside of the duct – the vent hood duct – and then it condenses and dribbles back down to the top of the stove. So, what can you do about that? Well, you could insulate that vent hood if you can get into the attic space above it. If you insulate the outside of it it’ll stay warmer. It won’t be as cold and that will stop the condensation from occurring.
LESLIE: You know, Lori, another option for you, if it’s possible, is maybe you can reroute that vent so instead of it having to go all the way up to the attic and then outside, maybe you can find a shorter route just to get it more directly to the outside situation to help it get the air outside more quickly.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that we’ve helped you solve some of your do-it-yourself dilemmas.
Hey, coming up next week on the program, we’re going to help you get a jump on spring with some tips on container gardening. It’s something that you can actually do all winter long. We’ll help you get started right here on the next Money Pit.
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.)