Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. It’s hot. It’s sticky. It’s uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be. (Leslie chuckles) We can help you cool down your house. We can help you fix your squeaks. We can help you repair those leaks. But you’ve got to help yourself by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, speaking of cooling off, you know, cooling off in your own backyard pool is a great perk if you’re a pool owner.
LESLIE: Yeah. If you’ve got a hose you can cool down in your backyard, too.
TOM: That’ll work too. (Leslie chuckles) But you know, making sure children stay safe is, of course, a top priority. Drowning is actually the number cause of deaths in kids under five; drowning in pools.
LESLIE: You know, and it doesn’t have to be a big, in-ground or above-ground pool.
TOM: Oh gosh, no.
LESLIE: It can be those little kiddie pools.
TOM: Absolutely. And this hour we’re going to be covering just that. We’re going to teach you how to keep your kids safe around the pool. We’re going to go over a concept that we call layers of protection and it’s going to give you the step-by-step tips to keep that area safe so your kids are safe and secure all summer long.
And one caller to our show today is going to win a Solo blower vac. It’s strong enough to get rid of leaves, grass clippings and probably even small pets if you’re not careful. (Leslie chuckles) It’s worth 249 bucks. If you want to win it you’ve got to call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. Well, a lot of this country is seeing a ton of rain but some parts of the country are in heavy drought like Doug in Alabama. What’s going on where you live?
DOUG: Well, we are in a heavy drought and I’ve got a concern. I was looking around right next to my house, you know, and I saw some big cracks in the ground kind of buckling and I’m – I was wondering if this could possibly affect my foundation in any way. It’s on a crawlspace and I was just wanting your opinion on what that – whether maybe I should keep moisture there closer to the house.
TOM: Doug, there are some parts of the country that have expansive soils that are impacted by the amount of moisture. And those foundations have to be properly constructed to stand up to that. But in your part of the country I don’t think that that’s the case. And your home should be doing just fine because the foundation that it’s constructed upon is well down deep in the soil below where, you know, the soil seems to be drying out and cracking, which is going to be on the surface. So I would say that it’s unlikely that that’s going to have any affect on your house whatsoever.
DOUG: OK. Well, that’s good to know. And I guess probably moisture might be a bigger issue; maybe too much rain on the foundation.
TOM: Well, that’s generally the problem we get lots of calls about; you know, too much water. Water, water, everywhere and it never seems to go where you want it. That’s why we speak so frequently about the importance of grading and drainage so that soil slopes away and runs water away from the foundation. Right now you’ve just got to kind of buckle in and wait til you get through this drought and everything will be back to normal.
DOUG: Well, that sounds good. Well, I sure appreciate the information.
TOM: You’re welcome, Doug. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Betty in Ohio, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with?
BETTY: Mildew. I’m looking for something to clean leather that has mildew on it.
LESLIE: It’s not as difficult as you think. There’s a couple of homemade remedies you could try. You want to mix equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water. You really want to dilute this rubbing alcohol. And then you can either spray it onto the leather surface. You know, first even try it in just sort of an unnoticeable spot just in case it reacts in a weird way. This way at least it’s not on the center of your car seat. But just mix equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water and then you can spray it on or rub it on a dampened cloth on top of the area. And then really just keep working at it with clean cloths replacing it every so often so that you really get a chance to remove all of that mold and mildew that’s growing on there. And then you can even put a fan on it to help it dry out so it’s not growing more mold with all that moisture sitting on there.
BETTY: Very good. OK. I’ll certainly try that. Thank you.
LESLIE: You’re so welcome.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ed in Michigan has some unwanted visitors in and outside of his house; some snakes. And they all tune into The Money Pit on WPNW. Hey, Ed. How can we help?
ED: Well, you can help me by getting rid of all these snakes.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Are they – where are they? Everywhere?
ED: Well, I’ve got a – I’ve got a house on – a slab-on-grade house …
ED: … and they’re under the house; I’m assuming. And they come up through the trim and they come out from under the side of the house and (Leslie moans) everywhere and I’m catching them all the time and …
TOM: What kind of snakes are they, Ed?
LESLIE: Yeah, what do they look like?
ED: They’re garter snakes.
TOM: Oh, garter snakes.
LESLIE: OK. So you know they’re not harmful.
Well, there’s a couple of things you can do because we know you just want to get them away. You want to make sure that you eliminate the places where they like to live around your property. And what they really like when they’re eating and digesting their food is heat. They love dry, rocky locations where they really like to hide. And you want to be careful around wood piles and even large, flat areas of concrete because those tend to get warm under the sun.
ED: Oh. (INAUDIBLE) That makes a lot of sense.
TOM: And you also want to get rid of any of the hiding places that are around your house. For example, wood piles; trash cans; places like that, where snakes can sort of get under and hide and hang out. When they’re not exposed to that warm area they want to head into the cool areas. Flower pots, mulch piles; things like that are areas where snakes love to hide out.
ED: Sure. Sure. Yes.
LESLIE: And then also you want to think about they’re food sources, Ed. They love to eat rodents and they love to eat cockroaches. So you want to make sure that if you’ve got rodents around your house that you control that as well. You want to make sure that you keep all of the food sources that rodents or cockroaches would like away and sealed up. You know, you make sure you keep the pet food in sealable containers; not just in the bags that it came in. Keep your garbage bags tightly sealed. You want to make sure if you’ve got vegetable gardens that you harvest them regularly. Get rid of all the food that the snakes and their food sources like to chew on.
TOM: Have you noticed rodents around the house? Have you noticed mice or rats?
ED: We have quite a few mice and we have quite a few moles. Or actually, shrews (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: So what you need – the only thing that you’re missing here is a mongoose. (Leslie chuckles) That would take care of the snake problem.
ED: Well, that’s what I kept telling my wife. We need to get one.
LESLIE: Rikki-Tikki – it worked in Hawaii. There are no snakes at all.
TOM: Yeah, you know, if you were to – if you were to try to work on that rodent problem that might be the main source of snake food.
TOM: And so what you might want to do is to check the foundation perimeter for the small gaps. Watch the food that’s being left out that the mice get into. Think about putting down some bait pellets because that can take care of them quite quickly. And you know, the last thing you could do is you could think about putting in a snake-proof fence around the house. That is sort of a drastic step but it will help reduce them because snake fences are very, very close to the ground and they can’t get through it.
ED: Sure. What do those consist of? Because we’re in a vast country area here where there’s a lot of grain fields and, you know, getting a food system out of their way is not even an option. So …
TOM: No, I hear you. Well, they’re a couple of feet high and they’re very, very fine mesh so that snakes can’t get through it. I would tell you to work naturally first.
TOM: Eliminate those sources of food. Eliminate the basking places. Eliminate the hiding places and get rid of as many rodents as you can and perhaps they’ll do the right thing and go to the neighbors’ house.
LESLIE: And you know what, Ed (Leslie and Tom chuckle) – you know what, Ed? There’s a couple of old wives’ tale hints that maybe they work. Mothballs, if you put them where you see the snakes sort of coming in or around the house; that’s supposed to deter them. And also marigolds.
ED: Marigolds? Really?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Because they’re kind of stinky.
ED: Alright. Yeah, we’ll try that. We’ll try anything. (chuckling)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Well, good luck.
ED: Alright, 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.
Are you looking for ways to make your home more energy efficient and stay cool? Well, we can help. Call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, having a pool in your backyard is a great way to cool off but making sure you are keeping kids safe is an extra step that is essential. We’re going to tell you exactly how to do that, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Basement and Masonry Waterproofing Paint with advanced NanoGuard Technology. Combined with simple grading and with draining improvements, it helps prevent water penetration and moisture buildup. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, do you know what happens if you give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT? What happens, Tom?
TOM: Hmm, you get the answer to your home improvement question?
LESLIE: That is right. And also you get a fantastic chance to win a wonderful prize. All you’ve got to do is ask your question on air. Not difficult so you’ve got to use that number and ask your home improvement question. And the super prize we’re giving away today …
LESLIE: … is a portable blower vac from Solo. It’s worth almost 250 bucks. It’s only nine-and-a-half pounds but it is so powerful. It’s gas powered. It’s going to help you get rid of leaves, grass clippings, debris, small pets (Tom chuckles); whatever is building up in your yard that you don’t want there. It even has a shredding attachment. This is like it dices, it slices. What a great prize, though.
TOM: It chips, it peels.
LESLIE: (chuckling) All you’ve got to do is call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. And our screeners will thank us for reminding you that you must have a home improvement question to qualify for winning this great prize from Solo.
Alright, we were talking about pools. Now we want to address pool safety. You know, drowning is the number one cause of death for young children and a properly designed pool fence is really the most effective way to keep kids safe.
First, the fence needs to be at least 48 inches tall and the gate latches have to be mounted at least 42 inches off the ground so that they can’t reach it. The spacing between the chain links or the slats has to be small. A chain link spacing is only one-and-a-quarter inch. Now, remember that the standard chain link spacing is two inches.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Is pretty big.
TOM: Right. And the reason you want to have it smaller is so you can’t get a toe hold in it. And the thing about kids is, you know, even though a kid couldn’t climb a fence one day, he can easily learn to climb – or she could easily learn to climb the fence the next.
LESLIE: Yeah. And when I was a kid a fence was not keeping me out of a pool.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. So, fences are very important.
Couple of other things that you should do besides the fences. You want to have gate alarms and you want to have door alarms; especially if your house is sort of one side of the fence. And so many homes that have pools have it set up. The fence really only covers sort of three sides of the yard and the house really is sort of the fourth side. Now, if that’s the case, you want to make sure you have door alarms. And these are mounted up high on the door so you have to push a button before you open the door and then close it behind you. And if you don’t push that button first, the alarm goes off and that tells you, the parent, that the kid may be trying to slip out.
So these, if they’re properly installed and maintained, create what, in effect, is a layer of protection …
TOM: … around the pool. Multiple layers of protections because, you know, how many times do we hear about kids that drown in pools and the parent usually has a comment to the effect of, ‘Well, I only looked away …’
LESLIE: ‘It happened so quickly.’
TOM: Yeah, ‘I looked away for two seconds.’ I mean two seconds is too late when it comes to pool safety. So, create these layers of protection; make sure you get proper fencing; the proper alarms; proper covers on your pool and keep those kids safe this summer.
Leslie, let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Dawn in California has had it with a natural lawn and is looking for advice to install an artificial lawn. What’s the matter? Too many droughts got your lawn looking brown?
DAWN: I had rock, actually.
LESLIE: So this is a step up.
LESLIE: So tell us about the product that you’re looking at. Have you chosen something or not yet?
DAWN: Not yet. I’ve just heard about them and I’d like to go green, basically. So I want to know what’s the best way to install them.
LESLIE: I have seen artificial lawns that are sort of in fashion. We did one once on While You Were Out. We had a company come in and do it. And it was in large tiles. I want to say they were like 24×24. And they did a sand base and then they put down these lawn tiles. And then they took a granulated rubber and they spread it in between the fibers of this artificial lawn just to give it that cushy feel and to make the grass sort of stand up and give it a dark base so it really was prominent. You didn’t notice the sand. You didn’t notice the rubber. But it was definitely something that a pro had to do because there were so many odd materials.
TOM: And I’ve seen artificial lawn that has been used in stadiums that is sort of – I won’t say it’s an Astroturf but it looks very much like grass. And it’s created in the same way. It has sort of a solid rubber base. It’s – you know, it probably would be a great product, especially if you had kids, because you wouldn’t have to worry about them, you know, falling on a hard surface.
But I think the issue is maintenance. You know, if you have a product where you have to spread rubber pebbles in there or, you know, one that’s going to be subjected to the wear and tear of any yard, my main question would be what is it going to take to maintain it. Because that’s where the rubber meets the road and that’s what’s going to make the difference between a lawn that always looks good and one that sort of wears out and is hard to keep looking good.
DAWN: Right. Well I’ve heard you just have to wash it off.
TOM: Well, if it’s that simple. You know? Maybe that’s fine. But you know, I’ve just not seen that.
LESLIE: A national company that has a lot of local dealers is Waterless Grass. And their website is WaterlessGrass.com. There’s also another company called SynLawn; S-y-n-L-a-w-n.com. And they have a lot of national representatives. I mean I would definitely go with a national company that has a lot of experience in it just so that you know you’re getting the right stuff and the best stuff for your budget.
TOM: And a good, solid warranty to boot.
DAWN: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Dawn. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Listening in on WJFK we’ve got Bob in Virginia. What can we do for you?
BOB: Oh yes, hi. I was wondering if you could help me with crown moulding that cracks whenever the heat comes on.
LESLIE: Cracks how so?
BOB: It’s actually, I guess, the caulk or the paint between the ceiling and crown moulding.
TOM: It’s probably the paint and the solution is the caulk. Because what happens is the walls expand and contract and if it’s just painted there’s going to be a seam that forms there. What you want to do is the next time that happens hit it with some latex caulk.
LESLIE: Paintable caulk.
TOM: Yeah, paintable, acrylic, latex caulk. That will expand and contract with the wall and the moulding and you won’t see the gap anymore.
BOB: OK, I’ll give that a try.
TOM: Little trick of the trade. You know, caulk goes – is good for many, many things.
LESLIE: Caulk and wood filler. They are a carpenter’s best friend.
TOM: Sealing drafts out is only one small use for caulk. You know, if the people in this country only used caulk for like weatherstripping things, weatherproofing things, they would sell like a quarter of the caulk that they sell today. It’s so forgiving for all sorts of painting projects inside and out. So that’s all you need.
BOB: OK, well thank you and I’ll cover up some carpenters’ mistakes. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Alright, Bob. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tuning in on KTKK from Utah, Sydna (sp), welcome to The Money Pit. What’s going on and how can we help?
SYDNA (sp): I need to take off some paneling that’s been in my TV room for 30 years now. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: OK. You’re tired of it, huh?
SYDNA (sp): Really tired of it.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
SYDNA (sp): And I just don’t know how to go about it. I’ve had people tell me, ‘Oh, you just pull it off and then you paint under it.’ Then I’ve had people say, ‘You might pull that off and if you don’t know what the builder did under it there might be nothing but the frame of the house.’
SYDNA (sp): I don’t know. And then I’ve have had others say, ‘Don’t bother to take it off. Just paint it.’
TOM: And there’s yet one third possibility, Sydna (sp), and that is that it was glued on to drywall and if you pull it off you end up ruining the drywall underneath. I know it’s not what you want to hear but that is a possibility. And the solution here, I think, Leslie, is just a little – do a little bit of exploratory surgery.
LESLIE: Yeah, I would say find an edge or a seam between two where you can get into it and see how it’s attached. You might be able to pry a little part off on the edge and see, ‘Oh, it’s just attached to studs’; in which case you can pull off the paneling and add drywall. Not a big deal. Or you might start to see that it’s glued to some drywall and it can be a huge mess and a lot of repair work, which would mean eventually pulling it all off and then putting new drywall on again because it would just ruin it. Or you can cover what’s there. Leave the wood paneling and just put drywall right on top of it. Just get a thinner profile drywall rather than the super thick one you would use normally. You can paint it also but then don’t forget; you’re stuck with the vertical groove lines of your paneling. So you still have the paneling feel but now it’s a different color.
TOM: And the other thing, Sydna (sp), is you may very well find that it was simply nailed on over drywall, which would be, really, the best case scenario.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) The best case scenario.
TOM: Because now you’re just going to have a bunch of little nail holes to fix and then you could prime all the drywall and paint it like it was never there in the first place.
But to find out what’s involved you need to find a section. You know, the paneling is going to be four feet wide. Try to find one piece that’s maybe, you know, less than four feet wide – maybe you find a strip somewhere where it was filled in – and see if you can get a small, flat pry bar under one edge – you may have to pull of a piece of molding to do this – and see how easy it is or how hard it is to take off. And if it turns out it’s just nailed over drywall then just go for it. Pull it all off, fill the holes, prime the wall, paint it and you’re good to go. Total new look in the living room.
SYDNA (sp): I’ll just cross my fingers. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Yeah, we will too, Sydna (sp). Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. There’s a positive thought, huh? Just cross your fingers and go in.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And it’s so funny. You said it’s the best case scenario. It’s probably not likely. (Tom chuckles) Aw.
TOM: I know. I know. But it would be the best case scenario.
LESLIE: It would be. Let’s hope.
TOM: I didn’t say it’s the most common. (Leslie laughs) I did say it would be the best. (chuckling)
LESLIE: Aw, let’s hope.
TOM: You know, there’s lots of construction going on out there where the homes are getting smaller and smaller and smaller. But you know what? You don’t have to be short on style. These homes are affectionately known as McMansions. And we’re going to teach you how they can save you energy and money by building small without having to scrimp on style. That’s next on The Money Pit.
ANNOUNCER: This segment of The Money Pit is sponsored by Angie’s List. Need work done around your house and don’t know who to call? You don’t have to guess who’s good and who’s not. Angie’s List has thousands of unbiased reports on local service companies with details from real member experience. Call 888-944-5478. Or visit AngiesList.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And sometimes making a good home better means making it bigger. But what if you have a small house and you can’t make it bigger? Well, the trend toward sprawling McMansions may soon be coming to an end as many of us are deciding to build green and save money and resources.
LESLIE: Yeah, but if you make the choice in going with lesser or smaller square footage, how do you make that house appear to be big? Well, here with some tips is our resident Phi Beta Kappa carpenter, Kevin Ireton, the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine.
Kevin, help everybody out there with those small houses. What do we do?
KEVIN: Well, there’s a bunch of things that you can do. And let’s just take them point by point.
First one is take advantage of outdoor space and include an outdoor room, or several, around the house. And make it so the connection between indoors and out is blurred. And you can do this by, in some cases, using the same flooring material inside, say, a living room and out on a patio or even by orienting the floorboards in the same direction inside and out to sort of draw the eye outside.
LESLIE: Interesting idea. So even with a decking material make it go along the same direction to make it appear bigger. Very smart.
KEVIN: Many of the tricks for dealing with a small house really are to make it so that it doesn’t feel cramped and to kind of fool the eye. So another is to exploit any long sight lines that you have in the house. Sometimes that’s from inside to out. Other times it’s diagonal views across a room.
LESLIE: What about pass-throughs to rooms? Does it make more sense to have a doorway to block it off so that each room seems contained or is it better to just sort of open up that space between the two rooms?
KEVIN: Often times it’s better to have the space open in a small house. However, you still need to create – you know, to define distinct areas. This is the dining area or this is the kitchen. And you can do that with slight changes in floor elevation or ceiling height.
TOM: How about color, Kevin? Can we use color to kind of divide these spaces up? You know, it used to be that no one wanted to put a color on their walls for fear that it would make the house seem smaller. But today, homes are much, much more colorful and, in fact, we’re seeing a lot of homes that use accent walls to kind of punch out visually different spaces.
KEVIN: That’s an excellent point and I think, you know, one that really works well in a small house. You don’t want a color scheme to be too complicated but, at the same time, those contrasts go a long way. And a lot of times what you want is bright – you know, bright colors in the foreground and dark colors more in the distance to create a kind of, you know, visual perspective.
LESLIE: And even mirrors do a great deal of enhancing a space; especially if you can put one opposite a window. Even in the smallest rooms it just tends to open up that view and make it appear as if it was bigger.
KEVIN: Exactly. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in a restaurant where, you know, I really felt the room was twice as big as it was because they had used a mirror to that effect.
TOM: Kevin Ireton, editor for Fine Homebuilding magazine. The article’s called Big Ideas for Small Houses. It’s in this month’s issue of Fine Homebuilding available online right now at FineHomebuilding.com.
Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: My pleasure.
TOM: Up next, we’re going to tell you why a window can be the weakest spot in your home for moisture infiltration. We’ll stop those leaks, 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. And not only do we make good homes better; we make your tool shed far better as well. If you …
TOM: That’s right, we stock it up.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. And we give away things for free. Because if you call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT we might answer your question on the air. But if you ask your question on the air and you do get to speak to us, we enter your name into the Money Pit hardhat where you could win a Solo 440 portable blower vac. It’s worth $250. This is a great prize. It’s lightweight. It’s powerful. It’s perfect for all of your yard work and your projects around the exterior of your house this summer. But you’ve got to be in it to win it. That number – 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
OK, let’s talk about windows. How well you install your windows in your home will greatly affect how well they perform. That makes sense, right? If you do a sloppy job they’re not going to perform that well.
LESLIE: Even if you buy the best windows.
TOM: Exactly. Well, most importantly, during installation you need to ensure a waterproof seal is created to guide moisture around the window opening and keep it from the interior wall. If you don’t do that it’s going to leak in. It’s going to cause rot. It’s going to cause mold. It’s going to be a mess. You know, while many people have traditionally chosen such products as caulk to do this with, there’s a better way. It’s a premium waterproof flashing. It offers a more reliable solution with a lot more benefits than the old standard caulk.
LESLIE: Yeah, and most of the time the contractor’s grade caulk is used to weatherproof around the window sill, the header and the jambs. But when your windows expand and contract because of changes in the weather, that caulk is going to deteriorate and eventually it’s going to separate from the wall. And it’s really not going to do anything then at that point. That’s where you’re always replacing it and repairing it. I mean the best practice, really, for installing windows includes the use of a peel-and-stick window flashing; something like Vycor Plus self-adhere flashing from Grace. And really the great thing about products like that is it’s going to form a watertight seal around your window; including over nails and staples, which really blows caulk out of the water. So it’s really important to use the right products.
If you want some more information on peel-and-stick window flashings you can visit the folks at GraceAtHome.com and learn all about your windows and roofs there.
TOM: Or call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Talking to Joyce in Montana where the roof is getting kind of off of things. What’s going on over there? Your shingles are falling off?
JOYCE: Yes, they’re falling off and they’re curling up.
JOYCE: And the roof is only about 12 years old.
JOYCE: So I …
TOM: Is it a second layer, Joyce?
JOYCE: No, this is a – the house was built new and this roof is the original roof.
TOM: Oh, OK. Well, that’s very unusual. But if they’re falling off they’re telling you something and obviously you’re going to need to replace the roof.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s a sure sign that it needs replacing.
TOM: And I suspect, Joyce, that your roof is not ventilated properly and it’s overheating. Because 15 years is not very long for an asphalt shingle roof to last. If the roof is – if the attic space is overheating; it’s not vented properly, that can cause this exact condition because the shingles dry out a lot quicker than they normally would if it had correct ventilation.
JOYCE: OK. OK, that makes sense because it does – there is a bedroom above the garage and it gets so hot in that bedroom that my daughter can’t sleep in it in the summertime.
TOM: Yeah. Let’s talk about proper roof ventilation because I think we’re talking, obviously, about a new roof here.
LESLIE: And this would be the perfect time to fix all these things.
TOM: The correct roof ventilation would be a combination of ridge vents, which go down the peak of the roof, and then soffit vents at the overhang. And even if it looks like you may have perforated soffit vents you need to make sure that the soffits are not blocked by insulation. If you have these two vents together what happens is as the wind blows over your roof structure it sort of depressurizes in the area of the ridge at the peak of the roof and that will draw hot air out of that space and it will go in or pressurize at the area of the soffit. So you get this flow that goes in the soffit, under the roof sheathing and out at the ridge. And that’s a cycle that repeats 24/7/365. So in the summertime it takes heat out. In the wintertime it takes moisture out. You’ve got to get this flow working properly; otherwise, when you put your next roof layer on it, again, is not going to last that long.
Now, if you plan on staying in this roof for the long haul, we would recommend that you remove the first layer. Because especially in a situation where you’re overheating, if you have two layers of roof the first layer acts as a heat sink and will sort of store additional heat and that will force the second layer to wear out that much quicker. It usually cuts about a third to a quarter of the roof life off the second layer. So strip the first layer, improve the ventilation, put a new layer of roof shingles on and then you should get a roof that lasts you 20 or 25 years.
JOYCE: Right. Does it matter what type of shingle I use?
TOM: No. A standard asphalt shingle is going to be fine. You know, lighter colors perhaps reflect a little bit better. But it’s more important that you get your ventilation straightened out.
JOYCE: OK. OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Joyce. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Judy in Iowa, welcome to The Money Pit. What’s going on with your house?
JUDY: Well, I have this really pretty deck and it has a colored cement in it.
JUDY: And I’m having a problem just by my front step area. I think they used a different batch or something or other and some of the cement is – like little pebbles are working their way up. And so then I have a pitted area …
LESLIE: Oh, you see the aggregate coming through.
TOM: That sounds like it wasn’t troweled properly. It wasn’t finished correctly. If they don’t shake the concrete enough you’ll get the aggregate that comes up too close to the surface. Also, if you use something that’s very abrasive – like in the winter a lot of people put sodium chloride, rock salt – on patios and that will cause it to deteriorate and sort of wear off the surface. So what you’re describing here is a physical breakdown of the concrete.
JUDY: Oh. So can I just fill those holes or …
TOM: I think probably the best thing is some sort of a finish treatment. Leslie, would you suggest, perhaps, an epoxy coating?
LESLIE: Hmm, an epoxy coating’s going to do the trick plus you can custom mix those. A lot of the brands will allow you to custom color the epoxy paints and the kits themselves. So you’ll probably be able to match something close enough to this sort of etched and stained concrete that you already have there. And you might have to get one or two different colors to sort of help create that blend. I’m not really sure what yours looks like. So you have to sort of determine if you can do it with one color or maybe you need to sort of washy blend two different colors.
Have you tried contacting the installer? Because if it wasn’t poured right they might be able to just come in and fix this one part.
JUDY: Oh, no, I have not tried to call him. It’s because he did it like – hmm, I’d say 10 years ago. But it’s …
JUDY: … very good everywhere else but right at my front door. (chuckling)
TOM: Yeah, and that’s also where, of course, like I say, you’re getting all the wear and tear and I’m sure there’s been some salt there over the years and that might have worn it out.
LESLIE: And in the future the good salt that you want to use – is it potassium chloride? I’ve always …
TOM: Calcium chloride.
JUDY: Calcium chloride.
TOM: Yep. And safety salt.
LESLIE: Because that’s not going to, you know, be harmful to the concrete.
JUDY: OK. And that might be the case.
TOM: Alright, Judy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, well Ann in Utah is considering something interesting; changing the exterior of a home before she’s even purchased it. Alright Ann, what’s going on?
ANN: Well, my husband and I looked at a home. It’s 100 years old.
ANN: And it’s originally a brick home with some, you know, wood on the eaves and all of that. And somebody has just gone and sprayed it with white stucco everywhere.
ANN: Under the eaves, everything. And we were wondering if there was a safe way to get the stucco off.
TOM: Gosh, I can’t think of one because – you know, if you use anything that’s abrasive you’ll damage the bricks and you’ll damage the mortar that’s underneath that; especially in an older home because the bricks tend to be fairly soft, as does the mortar.
TOM: That’s really unfortunate that they’ve, essentially, painted the whole thing with a stucco-like material.
LESLIE: And there’s no way to sandblast it or, well, have a pro sandblast it to try to …
TOM: The problem with sandblasting is that’s the worst thing you can do to an historic building.
TOM: Because it will definitely cut into the brick surface and it’s not going to be pretty. So, it’s very difficult to remove that. You may just have to put more of it on there if you don’t like the color or something. Or maybe it’s just not the right house for you.
ANN: Tom, I don’t think it is.
LESLIE: I mean you know what you can do, Ann, is you can find somebody locally who’s into brick restoration who does this as a service and just bring him over there as a consultant and ask them their opinion. Because, you know, they’ll see it firsthand and understand it. And since it’s not your home yet, you know, they’re not really looking to make a buck because you don’t own it yet.
TOM: It depends on what this stucco material is. I mean I guess it’s possible that there could be like a paint stripping type of a chemical that might be able to loosen it up. So it might be worth a little bit of investigation. But my initial gut reaction is it’s going to be a tough job.
ANN: Yeah, that’s what I thought. And it probably would be expensive, wouldn’t it?
TOM: Yeah, a lot of labor which means a lot of money.
ANN: OK. Alright, well thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ann. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
You know, Leslie, it’s nice when friends and family come knocking at your front door. It’s not so nice when Mother Nature comes knocking at your front door and causes leaks and stuff like that. So up next, we’ll have the solution to one of our e-mailers who has a problem keeping water out of the front door.
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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
You know, we want to remind you that if you missed anything today when you’re listening to The Money Pit or maybe you were too slow getting that pencil or you were driving your car, you can listen to The Money Pit at your leisure at our website; MoneyPit.com. When you’re there you can download our free podcast. You can read transcripts of the show so you don’t even have to write anything down. You can just print it up off your computer and you can even search a year’s worth of past shows by topic. It’s all at MoneyPit.com and it’s all the information you’ll ever need.
TOM: And while you’re there, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question. We’ve got one here from Mike in Waldorf, Maryland.
LESLIE: Alright, Mike writes: ‘Our house is nine years old and over the past summer the front entry door is showing signs of dampness at the bottom frame. And the dampness is creeping up the bottom of the wood side panels. Can you provide any info on how to correct this condition or how to replace? We feel the builder did not install adequate weatherstripping around the framing to help repel that moisture.’
TOM: Well, you may very well be right, Mike. The problem is to do this properly you’d have to take the entire door out. Because we really don’t know if at some point the weatherstripping was not correctly installed without doing that. Short of that, what you’re going to be forced to do is to just do two things.
First of all, examine the strikes of the door all the way around. Close the door. Make sure it’s closing evenly against all of the weatherstripping. Check the spot at the bottom of the hinge side of the door. Sometimes in the more modern doors there’s a rubber pad that has to go in there. If the pad is missing you’ll get water that leaks in there.
The other thing that you should be doing is adjusting the sill plate so it’s up tight under the door. And then, with a silicone caulk, you can caulk all of the seams. Caulk the saddle to the concrete stoop, if that’s what you have. Caulk the joints. Caulk around the trim, the moulding. Check the flashing above. All of those things working together could help you keep this door dry once and for all.
LESLIE: Yeah, with a new door like that you want to protect your investment. So do all you can.
TOM: Well, building an outdoor room is a big trend right now. Whether it’s a deck or a patio it’s a great place to spend a lot of extra hours when the weather is pleasant. Now at our house we like to stay their well into the evening and we illuminate that space via the use of a woodburning fireplace; actually sort of a standalone firepit. But it occurs to me that there may be …
LESLIE: So you wait for the heat to go away all day and then you go outside and sit by a fire? (chuckling)
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, we bring it back at night. But it’s fun that way. You know, but it occurs to me that there are certain places – like if you live in a condo, maybe? – that you can’t use a fireplace like that; an outdoor firepit. You’ve got a safer solution in today’s edition, though, of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That is true. You really want to take full advantage of what your outdoor escape has to offer you by adding some lighting. And low-voltage lighting has made it truly easy to create beautiful areas of light on your garden or even to highlight architectural details of your home.
You know, the fixtures are available in many styles so you can find ones that’s going to work with your taste and your styling. And low-voltage is a great choice for outdoor lighting because it casts an even glow, which is great for highlighting flowerbeds or walkways. You can even attach a fixture high up into a tree to cast a moonlit glow or use the lights to highlight your favorite tree or arbor or a column or an architectural detail on your house. It really just showcases a lot of beauty around your property that really is just falling into the dark.
And many of these low-voltage items are sold as kits as your local home center and are the perfect weekend do-it-yourself project. Not only does the lighting help to enhance your escape but it also adds value to your home and helps keep everyone safe on those newly lit pathways. So get out there after dark and enjoy it.
TOM: Great tip.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We’re just about out of time but before we go, coming up next week on the program we’re going to have the answer to one of the most common questions that we get on this program. You know what that is? How do I find a good contractor? There’s a new service out there that’s sort of part of the – sort of the social networking; sort of the web 2.0 version of a contractor locator service. It’s called Angie’s List. Really interesting what these folks are doing. We’re going to talk about that next week on the show.
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.)
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