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: If you believe you can never have too many power tools; if you think it’s OK to fix stuff that’s not broken; if you believe it’s a good idea to measure twice, cut once and always keep a fire extinguisher handy (Leslie chuckles), you are in the right place.
LESLIE: Yeah, you fit right in over here.
TOM: Call us now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Maybe you’re trying to figure out whether or not a home improvement project makes sense for your house; whether it’s going to give you a good return on investment; whether you can do it yourself or you need a pro. Those are all great questions. Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, would you rather be outdoors (inaudible) this time of year? Well, I certainly would. But before you start grilling, you need to make sure that your gas grill is good to go. It’s amazing, Leslie. You can have a gas grill that works fine last year and 12 months later it can become a real danger. So we’re going to tell you how to make sure your gas grill is safe for a summer of sizzling barbecue fun.
LESLIE: And if you’ve noticed a leak overhead in your home, there’s most likely one major reason for it and it might be something that you don’t have underneath your shingles. We’re going to talk about what you should have under there a little bit later this hour.
TOM: And if you think you need to crank up your air conditioning to keep cool this summer, well perhaps you don’t. It’s not a good idea. It’s going to waste a lot of energy. We’re going to talk about some new technology. It’s called whole-home dehumidification. Not that the humidifier that you have in your basement. No, this one covers the entire house and …
LESLIE: Oh, you mean I don’t have to drag my portable unit to every room?
TOM: And you don’t have to dump it (Leslie chuckles) every hour either.
TOM: This is a system that basically will take the humidity out of the entire house and it costs less to operate than your air conditioning system. That’s coming up in just a bit.
LESLIE: Ooh, and I love it. And still keeping costs down, we’ve got a great prize this hour that’s going to cost you nothing. It’s from the folks at Loggerhead Tools. It’s the ImmIX Multitool and it’s worth 75 bucks so call in now.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Call us now for the answer to your home improvement question and, perhaps, the tools to get the job done.
Leslie, who’s first?
TOM: We’re going to a hair-raising topic with Marty in Iowa. Electric, huh? What’s going on at your house?
MARTY: My house was originally built in 1906. And it’s had some additions done on it and the wiring is a mess and we’re still using those screw-in fuses. So I was – I guess my question is how many outlets do you have on a fuse and how many lamp fixtures do you have on, say, a 20-amp breaker?
TOM: OK, well it’s not a question of how many outlets or how many lights. It’s how much power is going through that circuit. Now Marty, do you still have knob and tube wiring?
MARTY: No, that’s been eliminated. I mean it’s up in the attic but it’s not being used.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright, good. OK. You’re sure that it’s all been disconnected? I mean it may still be physically in the walls and in the ceiling but you’re – it’s been completely disconnected? You didn’t just replace a panel somewhere down the line?
MARTY: Well, you know what, I didn’t do that. I know the wiring’s up there and I’m pretty sure it’s been disconnected.
TOM: OK, well I wouldn’t be quite so sure. Because I spent 20 years as a home inspector and I can tell you there were an awful lot of times when I was the first guy to tell a homeowner that they’ve been living with a dangerous wiring system. What you can do is you can get a continuity tester from a home center; the kind that detects a magnetic field. And you go up near those wires and one’s going to be hot and one’s going to be neutral and bring the tester near it and it’ll beep if the wire’s hot. And it’s a good idea to determine this; especially in the attic. Because knob and tube wiring is the type of wiring that’s supported by these ceramic knobs and then ceramic tubes. And in the attic, especially, it’s …
LESLIE: Where you have insulation.
TOM: Well, the interesting thing about this is that it’s designed to be an air cooled system. So you take a 1906 that’s got no insulation; everything’s fine. You move that up to 2007 when we want to have lots of insulation in the attic; now you’re taking insulation and you’re burying this knob and tube wiring which was never designed to be insulated like that and it makes it very unsafe. So you need to find out if the knob and tube is still active and replace that.
In terms of the fuses themselves, believe it or not there’s nothing wrong with having a fuse box. A fuse, as long as it’s properly sized, is actually very, very safe because it’s going to blow when the circuit pulls more power than what it’s rated for: 15 amps for a branch circuit; 20 amps, typically, for the circuits that are in the garage and the kitchen and that sort of thing.
So the first thing you need to do, Marty, is to figure out if the knob and tube wiring is active; replace what’s remaining that’s still active. The second thing is if you want to replace the fuse box with a circuit breaker panel, it will be more convenient but it won’t necessarily be safer.
MARTY: OK. Alright. Sounds like you answered my question.
TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ottie (sp) in Illinois is having a plumbing problem. What’s going on?
OTTIE (sp): Well, I’m redoing a bathroom and there are three plumbing fixtures in the bathroom. On side of the wall there is a toilet and a sink. On the opposite side of the wall there is a bathtub. When we opened the wall up what we found out was that the toilet is vented to a pipe but the sink is a pipe that goes up; it’s capped off but it’s not vented into any type of vent pipe. And sometimes when you have the water going you heard the gurgling sound when the water goes down in the sink.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
OTTIE (sp): And I’m trying to figure out must that pipe that – it goes up, it’s capped off; should be vented to a stack (ph) pipe also like the toilet is?
TOM: Yeah, it should. That’s why you’re hearing that gurgling because the sink is basically gasping for air …
OTTIE (sp): OK.
TOM: … is what that sound is. So it should be connected up to the main vent pipe. Or, you know, it ought to have – there’s a type of a valve that can go on top of that vent pipe that basically lets air in but doesn’t let sewage gas out.
OTTIE (sp): OK.
TOM: But either way, whatever the easiest way is to vent that, it should definitely be vented. Otherwise you’re going to have a slow, gurgly sink for as long as you have that house.
OTTIE (sp): OK. OK, so it must be vented. OK.
TOM: Yep. OK, Ottie (sp)?
OTTIE (sp): Thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Adrian in Florida, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with?
ADRIAN: Yes, ma’am. I was wondering – I’ve got a problem with my cold water. It seems like I get spurts of high pressure at times. And I’ve got a filter system on my house and I just wanted to know what can I do about it or how do I fix that?
TOM: Alright, well Adrian, what you’re probably going to want to do is this. You’re going to have to check the pressure when it comes into the house. Are you – do you have domestic water or is this well water?
ADRIAN: Domestic. City water.
TOM: Alright. You’re going to want to have the plumber check the pressure at the main valve of the house. See what kind of water pressure you’re coming in with. It might be that you have excessively high pressure and you need to put a pressure reducer on the main water line. That’ll solve the problem.
ADRIAN: Oh, where would I put that? Is that like something a plumber would have to do?
TOM: Yes, because it’s going to have to go right on the main water line; probably right after or right before the main water valve.
ADRIAN: Oh, OK. OK.
TOM: And that’ll solve it.
ADRIAN: Well, I sure appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Well, summer is just around the corner and we can help you create the perfect backyard escape. Call in your home repair, home improvement, even backyard decorating question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Now, that number’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it’s staffed by live Money Pit screeners. And we take the liberty of sort of keeping track of what the questions are that people are asking and one of the top 10 topics is roofs and how do I stop them from leaking. It may surprise you that shingles are not the part of your roof that actually stops the leaks. You want to know what it is? We’ll tell you, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Plus Ultra exterior paint and primer in one with advanced NanoGuard technology to help save time and money while preserving your home’s exterior finish. For more information visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re going to give you helpful advice; we’re going to talk you up and you might even win a great prize. This hour we’re giving away the ImmIX Multitool. It’s from the folks at Loggerhead. It’s got a bionic wrench head, 10 screwdriver bits and two stainless steel knife blades. You can really tackle a ton of things with this.
TOM: Yeah, and it’s worth 75 bucks and the bonus is Loggerhead is even going to ship this as a gift to anyone on your gift list; with all the matching gift packaging so you can regift this. Perhaps if you need a Father’s Day gift this would be perfect.
LESLIE: (chuckling) That’s excellent.
TOM: You need a graduation gift. All taken care of care of the folks at Loggerhead Tools. Call us right now if you want to qualify. That’s 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You must be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question which could be, ‘Hey, how do I stop my roof from leaking?’
LESLIE: That’s right. Well when it comes to roofs, if you’ve got a leak chances are your roof is missing one key ingredient: a durable underlayment. Well, what’s a roofing underlayment? It’s typically those sheets of material that’s installed underneath your roof coverings; you know, shingles or tiles. It’s added there for protection from water infiltration because shingles or your other roof covering options are not enough to prevent water from penetrating your roof and creating extensive damage to your home. You really do need that extra layer of protection.
TOM: Yeah, that’s why you should have a premium roofing underlayment. For example, Grace Construction Products makes several different types that are all very good. One that we like is called Tri-Flex 30. It’s a synthetic material that’s installed with cap nails or staples and it provides really optimal water shedding.
If you want more information on the right kind of underlayment for your roof, you can log onto Grace’s website. It’s GraceAtHome.com. There’s information on Grace’s total family of weatherproofing barriers for roofs, for windows, for doors, for decks. It’s all there online at GraceAtHome.com.
Or you can call us right now with your roof leakage question or your floor squeaking or your toilet leaking question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Peggy in Utah, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PEGGY: Hi. I have a home that was built in the 70s and the bathrooms have toilets that are attached to the wall instead of the floor.
PEGGY: And I am going to be having some plumbing work done and I’m wondering if I should have those replaced because, frankly, it’s a little nervous. I have very someone very heavy that comes over to the house and I’m afraid if he sits on the toilet it’s going to fall right off the wall.
TOM: Well, those are usually put in very, very well as they’re attached to the wall. Now, do you see any weakness? Is there any bulging or looseness in the toilet at all?
PEGGY: Doesn’t seem to be any bulging or looseness but the toilet seems to be tipped slightly forward in both bathrooms. It just doesn’t feel like it’s quite horizontal anymore.
TOM: Alright. You mentioned you were going to have some plumbing done. When the plumber comes over have the plumber take a look at those toilets and tell the plumber you’re concerned about their security. And the plumber will be able to detect whether or not there’s any weakness. It may be that that thing hasn’t moved since the day it was put in 1970. Those toilets are usually bolted to the wood framing on the wall and they really don’t move whatsoever. So I wouldn’t worry too much about it unless there’s some evidence that it’s actually moving now, Peggy.
PEGGY: OK. And I had a second question.
TOM: Alright, go ahead. Two for one special today. (Leslie chuckles)
PEGGY: OK, great. I have a guest cottage that has been winterized. And there’s not going to be anyone coming during the summer.
PEGGY: Is there any problem with just leaving it indefinitely winterized or is that bad for the pipes?
TOM: No, there’s nothing – no reason that you can’t leave it winterized. The only thing to remember is that if you have …
LESLIE: You might have to worry about moisture, though, conditions for the summer.
TOM: Yeah. If you have no heating and no cooling there you could get swelling of the walls, swelling of the doors; you could get mold that forms. So it’s good to have the HVAC system working even if it’s not, you know, keeping it super cool or super warm in the winter; just to have it moving some air and conditioning that air so you don’t have a humidity issue.
PEGGY: OK, I see. So if – you suppose if I just opened the windows.
TOM: Well, in the summertime? Well sure, if it’s very dry. But I do think …
LESLIE: But what about a security issue? Especially if the home is not …
LESLIE: … going to be attended to all summer.
PEGGY: Well, it’s on the second floor of a very large garage. So there really …
TOM: Alright, well just keep an eye on it. We don’t want to have any – a lot of times when you have a vacation property or a home that’s been winterized you get a lot of condensation and then mold issues. So just keep an eye on it. Don’t, you know, not check it for six months because you might be surprised by the fuzzy stuff on the walls the next time you do.
PEGGY: OK, great. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Sander in Kentucky, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with?
SANDER: Hi. I have a CBS (ph) basement. And in the one corner of the basement it looks like they’ve used some kind of a waterproofing material …
SANDER: … on the brick. And it’s like flaking off in one corner.
SANDER: Now there’s no actual moisture or there’s no real sign that there’s wet there. But like there were boxes up against the wall and they got kind of destroyed.
TOM: Does it look sort of white and crusty?
TOM: Well, what you’re seeing is mineral salt deposits. So what this means is you have moisture that’s getting into that foundation wall and then as the moisture kind of wicks through the foundation wall and then evaporates into the air it leaves behind its mineral salt; its mineral deposits. So you have to do a couple of things here. First of all, to clean what you have I want you to mix up white vinegar and water. That will sort of melt those salts away.
LESLIE: It makes it disappear like immediately.
TOM: Yeah, it works really well. And you may have to go over it with a bit of a wire brush to kind of get it all nice and clean.
SANDER: No, I tried using a wire brush down there because I was thinking of just trying to sand it down and then recoat it with the waterproofing material. (inaudible)
TOM: Yeah, but that’s only part of the problem here, OK?
TOM: We want you to clean up what you have but the more important step for you to do is to stop the moisture from getting there in the first place. The two areas to look are grading and drainage.
LESLIE: Yeah, and they’re really easy to fix. You want to make sure that you stay on top of maintaining your gutter system on your house. You want to make sure that the gutters are clean and not overflowing because if they’re full, that moisture’s just going to fill up and over the gutter itself and then end up right at your foundation wall. So make sure they’re clean. Make sure those downspouts are running smoothly because if you don’t have any screening on top of that downspout, branches and all sort of yuck can get down there and just really clog it up.
Well, you want to also then look at to where your downspouts are depositing the water. They don’t want to be just dropping that water right against your foundation wall, which a lot of people do. You want them to come out.
SANDER: They’re going into like the drain tiles, which takes it to the back corner of my yard into a little creek.
TOM: OK, then you need to make sure that the drain tile does not have a break in it. Because that’s actually a very common condition, where you get a break underground. That moisture that you’re seeing in that corner is coming from your roof or it’s coming from the surface grade. Now, if your downspouts are clean; if they’re free flowing and if they’re going into an underground pipe, I bet that you have a break in that pipe somewhere that’s allowing the water to leak out. That’s the only possible solution. It’s not going to come from any place else. It’s going to be coming from drainage above that’s leaking into the wall and you’ve got to figure out where that’s happening and dry it out. The grading and the gutters.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, and then you can recoat the interior of the basement.
LESLIE: But until you fix what’s going on outside it’s just going to keep happening over and over again.
TOM: That’s right. That’s the last thing you need to do. OK?
SANDER: Unfortunately it’s not a really good spot to go looking at because I think it’s underneath my deck, right where the stairs come down. So there’s no clearance.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
SANDER: (inaudible) house and driveway. But I’ll go looking (inaudible)
TOM: There is one – there is one other thing you can do. If it’s really an issue that you want to get to the bottom of, you can hire a drain cleaning service with a drain cleaning camera. They actually have a camera that can go through that pipe and see the inside of it and pick up …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And tell you exactly where this problem is.
TOM: Yep, exactly. (Sander chuckles) They do it for sewer pipes all the time.
SANDER: It might be simpler just to run another drainage pipe away from the house right there. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Perhaps. But that’s going to be the source of the trouble. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: If you’re in Washington like Margaret you can find The Money Pit on KSBN. What can we do for you today?
MARGARET: What I need to know is what kind of a process do I need to go through to take vines off of a front of a house. And they’re around quite an area. And the (inaudible).
TOM: Well, there’s a couple of things that you need to do. First of all, if it’s very thick it’s probably a good idea to spray it with a product like Roundup first. Because that’s going to kill it and make it wither around and sort of release …
LESLIE: Well, it’ll also dry up its grip that it’s got on it.
TOM: Yeah, because those grips are really, really strong. And then once you – then when you spray that on you’re going to have to wait a couple of weeks and then you pull it down. It comes down quite easily. Then once you have it down then you could really start to dig out the root area around the bottom of the foundation where it’s starting to really get its water. And if you hit those areas I think that you’ll clean it up quite nicely. You don’t want to use anything like a pressure washer or something like that strong because you’re apt to damage it. I think if you spray it with Roundup, pull it off – if there’s any vines that are still sort of stuck on there, just like the little fingers of the vine, you could brush that off with a wire brush.
Margaret, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, if you think just lowering your air conditioning is going to beat that summer heat, well guess again. Coming up, feel cooler in your house without actually cranking up that AC. That’s all next. Stick around.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974, with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Yeah, we’ve got a great interview coming up for you, folks. What is the one thing that can make your home feel too warm in the summer and too cool in the winter and contribute to unhealthy air in your home? The answer, Tom?
TOM: The answer, of course, is humidity. Moisture. You know, taking the humidity out of the air in your house can actually help in a number of ways. But sometimes it takes the whole house humidifier to make a significant difference in the humidity level. Sean McCarthy is with us. He is an expert from Aprilaire. And they’ve got a brand new product out that does just that.
SEAN: Thanks for having me.
TOM: Our pleasure.
So, talk to us about a whole-home dehumidifier. Now, just to kind of like do the clarification here right up front, we need to kind of get the vocabulary straight. A humidifier puts moisture in; a dehumidifier takes moisture out. Most of us are very familiar with humidifiers because we like to put moisture in in the winter. But this is not a winter product. This is a product that actually helps lower that humidity in the summer. How does it work?
SEAN: Well, that’s exactly right. In the wintertime you’ve got to add moisture, but the rest of the year – actually spring through fall – many times the relative humidity in the home is too high, making you uncomfortable; giving you kind of that sticky feeling. And most people try to address that by running their air conditioner more than they actually have to – what we call overcooling; lowering that thermostat down because they need that extra run time to pull the moisture out of the air. They really don’t have to cool their house down to 72 or 75 degrees. If they have a whole-home dehumidifier that will control the humidity inside their home, they can keep their thermostat up higher and be just as comfortable.
LESLIE: Do you see a big difference in your energy costs if you’re then lowering that air conditioning, you know, amount of usage? But still you’re cranking up the humidifier. So does it balance out or will you see savings?
SEAN: There’s – it will depend on how you use your air conditioner and your dehumidifier. But your dehumidifier is a much less expensive appliance to operate to remove moisture than an air conditioner is. So if you’re overcooling your home by, you know, anywhere from one to three degrees, you definitely will lower your utility bill. Every degree – every extra degree that you lower your thermostat set point adds about – typically about 10 percent to your electric bill.
TOM: So that could really add up.
TOM: You know, when it comes to sizing air conditioners, people always think that bigger is better. I used to get this question all the time when I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector. But the trick of the trade is getting an air conditioning system that’s sized correctly because, as you say, many people try to use a unit that’s too big or they run it too often. And what happens is it does lower the temperature in the house but it leaves you feeling very sort of cold and clammy because it does not take out the humidity. So what you basically have is cold, moist air blowing around the house instead of cold, drier air which is the only thing that’s really going to make you comfortable.
SEAN: That’s true. And actually, the air conditioning manufacturers have done – have gone so far and done such a great job making their products so much more energy efficient, that problem is only magnified today with a higher what they call SEER ratings or the energy efficiency of an air conditioner. It does such a great job at reducing the temperature. It actually doesn’t do as good a job at pulling moisture out of the home, making the problem even worse. And so, you get that kind of clammy or sticky feeling even though the temperature inside the home is just fine. And that’s where a whole-home dehumidifier will pull that moisture out, keeping the humidity level below 50 percent inside the home; comfortable no matter what the temperature is.
The other thing with the oversize is air conditioners are sized for the hottest day of the year. So, many times, when what’s known as a partial load condition – where the temperature’s actually lower than the extreme highs – the air conditioner is automatically oversized even if it was properly sized to begin with.
LESLIE: Now, what about addressing moisture situations, say, in the bath or in the kitchen? Would a whole-home dehumidifier tackle that as well or would you still need specialty venting?
SEAN: You would still want to have specialty venting; especially in a bathroom and a kitchen where you have real dramatic peaks in moisture. Obviously, after a shower or when you’re cooking pasta, you want to get that air immediately exhausted outside your home. What the whole-home dehumidifier will do is make it comfortable throughout the home kind of everyday throughout the year. Or really spring through fall.
TOM: We’re talking to Sean McCarthy – he’s an expert with Aprilaire – about whole-home dehumidification. And Sean, we should emphasize that this is something that’s installed into the central ducting system for the house. So if you have a central air conditioning system it would use the same ducts; central heating system – that’s forced air – it would use the same ducts. Is this possible on a room-by-room basis or not?
SEAN: No, you would utilize this – actually it works in conjunction with your air conditioner; really in tandem. They work to deliver comfort; what we really call total comfort – perfect humidity and perfect temperature – utilizing the ductwork throughout your home. If you get a portable dehumidifier, that’s only going to take care of the relative humidity in one particular space in the house.
TOM: Plus you have all the maintenance associated with dumping the water all the time.
LESLIE: What about, Sean, in rooms like, say, your basement? If everything is ducted together into your AC unit for the entire house, how does the whole-home dehumidifier then sense, perhaps, that the rooms below grade need that extra oomph of moisture removal?
SEAN: Well, one of the real beauties of the Aprilaire unit is it can be installed on what we call a convertible feature, which means it basically can toggle between doing your entire house, and then when your home is fine, taking care of the basement separately. So, no question that a basement presents a greater need for humidity control and the Aprilaire unit, in its convertible mode, can actually take care of both spaces separately.
LESLIE: And that’s something you just set and it does it on its own? You don’t have to be on top of that all the time?
SEAN: It does it completely automatically.
SEAN: And again, all the water goes down the drain; so the homeowner doesn’t have to touch it all season long.
TOM: It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity. And this is the product that will help you keep both cool and comfortable all summer long.
Sean McCarthy from Aprilaire, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
SEAN: Thanks for having me.
TOM: If you want more information about Aprilaire’s whole-home dehumidifier, you can visit them online at Aprilaire.com.
LESLIE: Well, I bet you can’t wait to fire up that grill, Tom.
TOM: Can’t wait.
LESLIE: I know. I love it. I’ve been using my grill all winter long. But folks, you know, you really need to make sure that your barbecue is operating safely; especially for an entire season of sizzling up wonderful steaks on that grill. We’re going to give you some smoking tips, right after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re going to help you with your do-it-yourself dilemma and you might even win a great prize. We’re giving away this hour, to one caller who asks their question on air, a $75 ImmIX Multitool from our friends at Loggerhead. It can be used as a wrench, a full-function screwdriver, even with a pistol-grip and a work knife. And an added bonus to the caller who wins this prize today is Loggerhead Tools is going to ship this prize to you or they can gift wrap it and ship it to anyone you want. That’s right; regifting at its ultimate best. You can give it as a wedding gift, a Father’s Day present, a graduation gift. Perfect for this time of year. To be in it to win it you’ve got to call now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: A wedding gift?
LESLIE: Well, maybe. (Tom laughs) Hey, I would’ve loved it if someone gave us home improvement stuff for our wedding.
TOM: I guess so. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
OK, here is a tip that’s going to help you make sure that your grill is safe. Now, if you used your grill last year and you’re thinking, ‘Well, I’m just going to fire it up. It’ll probably work OK,’ it may not.
LESLIE: It might.
TOM: Well, it might or it might fire up in a very explosive way. (Leslie chuckles) Because what happens is the gas hoses sometimes get blocked or the venturis get blocked; especially with spider webs. So what you need to do is first take out the cooking grids and remove all the lava rock. You want to pull out the burner. You want to check the burner for any rust outs because remember, that propane gas or the natural gas is very corrosive. It can easily rust out a burner and it’s got to be in good, solid shape to work safely.
Now, this is very important. Pull the venturi out – that’s under the burner – and check it to make sure that it’s not obstructed. Get a pipe cleaner and run it through all the little ports to make sure there’s no spider webs. It takes the smallest spider web across that venturi port to block out the gas.
LESLIE: That’s a fancy name for the gas emitting hole. (chuckles)
TOM: That’s right. The gas emitting hole. It takes a very thin spider web to make that not work. What’ll happen is the gas will build up behind it and it won’t flow through to the burner and then it’ll explode. So, you really need to make sure that that is clear. Finally, check all of the hoses for leaks or cracks. A safe way to do that is to take some dishwashing solution and brush it across all the hoses and all the valves. If you see anything bubble up, that means that you have a leak or a crack there. If you do, tighten it up or replace the hoses. They’re not that expensive. If you do that your gas grill will be good to go for the entire summer and you will be firing up some delicious sizzling steaks with safety.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: In Alabama you can find The Money Pit on WANI like Nick does. What can we help you with?
NICK: Well, I have a home that was built in the 50s. It’s hardwood with – floors. It’s got crawl space but uninsulated. And I am considering what I’m going to insulate and I just wanted to know what your guys – what you – you guys have a take on the spray foam insulation or the bat. Because I do plan on keeping this house a long time. It’s a cute little house.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Well, we’re glad you like it so much.
TOM: Well, I think that, you know, any type of insulation you put in that crawlspace is going to be a good thing. The spray foam insulation – you’re probably talking about polyisonene –
TOM: – is, you know, more expensive to do. It’s going to seal a lot better than fiberglass would. But having said that, fiberglass insulation is going to do a good job as well. I think it’s important for you to consider that in terms of heat loss only about 15 percent of the heat loss is going to be through the floor. So I think that it’s probably OK for you to save a few dollars on that floor and maybe not put the spray foam in there but simply to use eight-inch, unfaced fiberglass bats. But I would …
NICK: I used unfaced.
TOM: Unfaced. But I would also tell you to make sure that you put a vapor barrier down over the dirt floor of the crawlspace because …
NICK: That’s already there.
TOM: OK, good. Because you want to prevent humidity from coming up into the insulation because that will make it very ineffective. So this is …
LESLIE: Yeah, once the moisture affects the batting on the insulation you can really lose a huge percentage of the r value. So you want to control the moisture that’s getting to that batting.
TOM: And while you’re at it, take a look at your exterior drainage conditions and make sure your gutters are clean and free flowing and downspouts are extended well away from the foundation. And also look at the grade at the perimeter and make sure you have vents that are open.
NICK: Right. OK.
TOM: So all of those things will give you a far more efficient crawlspace and you’re going to feel it in your feet; especially in the winter.
NICK: I thank you then.
LESLIE: Going to NYC to Robert. Talking about grout. What can we do for you?
ROBERT: Yes, I’ve been trying to clean the grout in my bathroom and I’m having problems. I use bleach and all. Won’t come clean.
TOM: Have you tried to use a grout stripper? Not a grout cleaner but a grout stripper.
TOM: Yeah, that’s the big guns, Robert. And it’s available at home centers. When the grout cleaners don’t work; when the cleaning chemicals don’t work you go for the grout stripper. It’s more caustic. You have to put it on with rubber gloves. You should wear safety glasses and long sleeves. But you put it on the grout. You let it sit for 10, 15 minutes. Follow the label directions. And that really does a really good job of eating through the soap scum and everything else that discolors grout.
LESLIE: That discolors it. And then once you’ve got it clean to a point where you like it, Robert, then go ahead and put a grout sealer on top of it. Because then it won’t get dirty anymore.
ROBERT: OK. I thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Robert. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Simple as that. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Well, are you wondering what’s in that water coming out of your faucet? Well, you better hope it’s not lead. That is the problem that one of our listeners is having and we’re going to help them out, after this.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show standing by for your call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. But perhaps you’re too shy to do that. You can jump on our website at MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie. We answer many of the e-mail questions that we receive including doing so right here on the air. So let’s get to the e-mail bag.
LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got one here from Clifford in Boonton, New Jersey who writes: ‘We get water from a well that’s about 180 feet deep. It’s 27 years old and we replaced the pump three years ago. Water testing is showing that everything is fine except lead.’ Well then, everything is certainly not fine. (chuckling)
TOM: (chuckling) That’s not good.
LESLIE: ‘It is .50. Needless to say, we’re not drinking from it. But we want to solve it. We’ve got copper pipes, lead solder and neither neighbor has got a problem. Please help.
TOM: This doesn’t sound good.
TOM: Well, OK. You say you have copper pipes with lead solder. You know, that’s a fairly modern piping system. I would want to know what the main water line is that’s underground going to the well. Because if you have …
LESLIE: Would that be the main contaminant?
TOM: Well, if it’s a lead pipe. It it’s an old lead pipe. He’s not telling us how old his house is, but if it’s an old house it could have a lead service entry pipe. Some of them still do.
The action level for lead is .015. If you have .5 …
LESLIE: Ooh, that’s greatly below.
TOM: … that’s huge and you need to get a system on this to clean the lead out. It’s very, very unsafe. Lead can cause all kinds of problems; especially in kids. You’ve got to be in your plumbing pipes – and get a treatment system to straighten it out. Or replace those pipes.
LESLIE: So a pro’s got to do that, right?
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Dan from New York who writes: ‘You spoke about hot water heaters versus the forever hot water system on a recent show. I have a gas hot water heating system with an internal coil that heats the hot water. I thought this was OK for the winter but it might not be efficient for the summer since the burner has got to go on to produce the hot water. What’s your opinion? The burner’s about five years old.’
TOM: Well, that’s called a tankless coil. And basically, it uses the boiler to supply domestic hot water as well as hot water for your hydronic heating system. And you’re right. It’s not terribly efficient because the burner is quite large. There are a couple of ways that you can do that. You can put on what’s called an AMTROL tank, which does help keep the water hot and stops the boiler from having to run every time that it comes on. Or you could replace it with a standalone water heater. And you’re speaking about a tankless water heater, which is the most efficient.
A tankless water heater basically heats water on demand and that is actually going to be a far more efficient way of giving yourself domestic hot water than forcing your boiler to come on every single time you need it.
LESLIE: Can you adapt the existing boiler to work with the tankless heater or do you have to completely replace your boiler as well?
TOM: The boiler would continue to be the boiler and supply the heating hot water but you need, but the domestic hot water would come from the tankless water heater. That’s going to be the most efficient way to do that; especially if you ever develop a leak. What tends to happen with these boilers is the tankless coils will leak before the boiler does and you’ll find, many times, that that leak is very expensive to fix and not worth fixing. So the cheaper alternative is to add the tankless water heater to it. And that’s going to be much more efficient because, this way, you’re only heating water as you need it. And they’re a little more expensive but they last a long time and it’s definitely the most cost effective way to give yourself domestic hot water.
LESLIE: Alright, Dan. Good question. Tom loves these tankless systems. They really are super efficient and you’re going to see a big change in your energy efficiency bills coming after that improvement.
TOM: Well, as we near the end of another exciting hour of home improvement broadcasting, we want to thank you so much for being a part of us and promise you that next week on the program we’ll have even more great home improvement tips to help you get through your home improvement day. Especially we’re going to talk next week about electrical outlets.
Now, you usually don’t have enough of these in the house and it’s not that hard to add more if you know how to do the job. We’re going to give you some tips, coming up next week on the program.
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.
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(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.)