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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You got a question about your home improvement project, need some help solving the do-it-yourself dilemma, pick up the phone right now and call us. 888-666-3974.
So Leslie, as a father of three, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Dads need no more ties for Father’s Day. (laughing) We love them, they’re cute. We don’t need ties, we don’t need mugs.
LESLIE: What about a t-shirt that says ‘World’s Best Dad’?
TOM: Well, that’s OK. I have one of those and I do cherish it.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) I’m sure you do. (laughing)
TOM: I do. With the three little cute handprints of my kiddies on it. But what they definitely need and what they won’t return, what they’ll definitely use with love, thinking of the children that gave it to them, is power tools.
LESLIE: Yeah, and actually power tools make a great gift for any handy dad. And there’s some new tools out there that pack more power than even ever before. So they’re more important as a gift than ever. So dear old dad can take on projects that can bring a little added bonus to their houses. You know, return on investment.
TOM: You know, it’s also a good family activity. We built a shed – my son and I – with some battery-operated power tools. And mind you, I figured out, when I was all done, I could have bought the shed three times over prefabricated with the cost of doing this. But it was … but the experience of doing this was absolutely irreplaceable. So, tools are always a good thing for a Father’s Day gift for your dad.
LESLIE: That’s right. That’s why, this hour, we’re going to talk about projects and tools and including how to find those tools to fit any budget. So stay with us. And if your dad or mom or any other relative, for any reason, or even the pet around the house has a question about home improvement or even a repair question, you can give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The operators are standing by all the time. We never let them go home.
TOM: 888-666-3974. And if you get on the air today, we might choose you to win our Vigoro prize package; $50 worth of lawn care products, including Weed and Feed, plant food and grass seed. So call us right now. 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s our first caller?
LESLIE: Marty in Florida is looking to expand her living space out of doors. And you want to add a deck. Where do you start? Hopefully, we can help you. What’s on your mind?
MARTY: Well, I’m interested in adding a wooden deck to the back of our Florida room and my husband’s not convinced that that’s a good feature; that it’s not an item that would sell when we get ready to sell our home in the future. But I’m wondering how much value it does add to a home.
TOM: Adding a deck?
TOM: Oh, it adds tremendous value. You know, Remodeling Online does a cost versus value survey every year, where they look at projects and try to figure out what the return on investment is. And decks usually fair pretty well. In fact, I don’t think it was this year but last year I think the number was 102 percent. Which basically means you’d get all your money back when it came time to sell the house if you sold the house within a year of completing the deck; which is how they do their standard.
But generally, a deck is a great investment and it’s a very inexpensive way of increasing your outdoor living space. And Leslie, we’ve seen a lot of that. We were at the National Hardware Show not too long ago and they had an entire convention hall just dedicated to lawn and garden and outdoor rooms and things like that. People are really going crazy.
LESLIE: You know, it’s a hot topic right now and I think because people are over-expanding and outgrowing the indoor spaces and they’re just looking to enjoy the outdoors in the same way that they would indoors. We’re seeing weatherproof carpeting and weatherproof lighting; like a lamp – a table lamp – that you can leave outside. And advancements in outdoor fabrics and even materials that furnitures are being made out of. You know, a synthetic wicker that you can just leave out there and forget about.
So I think it’s nice and I think it really encourages people to want to look into your house a little bit more, if they see that you’ve gone that extra step and created an exterior room, if you want to call it that. And I think if you even thought about using a composite decking material, rather than a pressure-treated lumber, you’ll tend to see that they wear better, they look fantastic and they require far less maintenance. So I think that even ups the value a bunch more.
MARTY: Well, thank you. I was going to ask about the composite material.
LESLIE: And it doesn’t have to be just gray. There’s many companies – Veranda or Trex – that manufacture a composite decking that even have planks that look like exotic lumbers and in beautiful colors. So it doesn’t just have to be the gray that you think it is.
TOM: And you can even extend that to the railing system as well. OK, Marty?
MARTY: Certainly. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Ron in Iowa has a question about wood flooring. What can we do for you?
RON: OK. What I have is a wood laminate floor …
RON: … in the … in my basement. And I walk across it with my boots on or my socks on and I go to turn a light switch on – I don’t touch any metal – I get a heck of a static charge from it.
TOM: Wow, really?
RON: A big zap.
RON: And I’m an electrician, so I’m used to getting a big zap. (laughing)
TOM: I thought that … well, I thought that static electricity built up more in carpet than it did in hard surfaces.
RON: Yeah, this is worse on the wood floor than it is …
RON: … on the carpet.
TOM: Well, you need to ground yourself, man.
RON: That’s what I’m doing when I hit the switch. (laughing)
LESLIE: Well, and I would think when you have shoes on, this wouldn’t happen.
TOM: Yeah, I would think that your rubber soles on your boots would stop that from happening.
RON: I would think. And I mean it’s … the boots I have are kind of like a Redwing type of boot and …
TOM: Yeah, that’s a good boot.
RON: Yeah, good boot. And boy, oh boy.
TOM: You sure it’s not just the electricity you’ve collected through the day (laughing) as you’ve worked as an electrician.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Looking for an outlet.
RON: (overlapping voices) (INAUDIBLE) You know, it happens, weekly, that I get a … get a jolt. But wow, I mean this is … this is … I mean, it’s a good static charge and it’s …
TOM: Now, is it only when you hit the light switch? Or can you hit anything metal?
RON: No, you can hit anything metal – the sink, anything – and woo-hoo! A good jolt. And I’m not sure … you know, and I’m an electrician and I’m not sure how to stop the …
TOM: You know what would be interesting? I wonder what would happen, Ron, if you ground your floor to your … to your ground rod where your panel is?
RON: That’s what I was thinking too, I really was.
TOM: You know, put a strap on it and see if that changes anything. I can’t imagine …
LESLIE: And where is this room in your house?
TOM: The basement.
RON: (overlapping voices) It’s in the basement and …
LESLIE: The basement. What …?
RON: … it’s actually in the middle of the basement between two carpeted floors, so …
LESLIE: Now, what is the moisture level in the basement?
RON: I’m thinking it must be pretty low.
LESLIE: Because I’ve learned through, you know, doing some search on static shocks because when I was a kid, I always tried to make getting shocks, you know, better, so I could get my brothers and sisters. So actually, if you have a drier space … if you find that it’s not as humid as you’d like it to be – which is, you know, around 40 percent humidity – it tends to cause a lot more shocking.
TOM: You know, that’s a good point. You might want to try adding some humidification if you happen to be a particularly dry basement. But I mean, in Iowa, usually that’s not the problem. Normally you have dampness.
RON: No, usually it’s the other way around.
RON: Evidently, it must be fairly dry. I haven’t really ever tested it, so …
TOM: Hmm. Well, we gave you a couple of ideas. Grounding your floor or adding humidification.
LESLIE: Adding humidity, put some moisturizer on your hands. Because dryness really does help to conduct the shocking. So use some hand lotion.
RON: I’ll try it all.
LESLIE: Good luck. And heck, you know, grab the kids and like shock each other.
TOM: Figure out how to tap that electricity and save some money on your … on your bills.
RON: If it was only that easy.
TOM: Ron, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Jack in Florida’s having a situation with the deck. What’s happening?
JACK: Hey. After the wear and tear that has occurred on my deck over a period of years, the boards are uneven. They’re not … you know, like a nice, flat deck. They’re coming up at the ends or they’re one side is higher than the other. What can I do, short of replacing the entire board to fix that? Is there anything I can do?
TOM: That happens because, you know, the boards are cupping. And an easy way to fix that is to pull the board up and flip it over and put it back down again. Have you thought about that?
LESLIE: Because, that way, it’s crowning.
TOM: Yeah, they’ll be crowning in the right direction.
TOM: Is this deck screwed together or nailed together?
JACK: A lot of it was nailed together.
TOM: Alright, well, it doesn’t matter because you’re not going to see the holes. But what you want to do is you can use a nail remover – it’s called a cat’s paw – and you basically …
JACK: A cat’s puller.
TOM: Yeah, a cat’s paw. And basically, you drive it in around the nail head and start pulling the board up. And after you get a few up, you can get a crowbar in there or a flat bar and lift it up, take the nails out, flip it upside down and put it back down again with the … with the crown …
LESLIE: And this time, use screws.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. And this way, with the crown facing down.
TOM: And the underside of the deck board is probably going to be in perfect condition. It’ll look great.
JACK: I’ll be darned. (laughing) Well, that’s a simple solution to a … to a terrible looking problem. (laughing)
TOM: Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you that there wasn’t a more complicated answer.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) We could make it harder.
TOM: Yeah, we’re good at making things more complicated than they have to be. (laughing)
JACK: I do appreciate that.
TOM: Alright, Jack. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. What is better than a nice soak in the tub after a day of doing-it-yourself projects around the house? How about a nice soak in a hot tub or a spa? Mmm, I love it.
TOM: Well, having your own hot tub is very nice. But maintaining a hot tub or a spa can be tricky. If it’s not done right, you could be at a serious health risk. Up next, some hot tips on how to maintain your hot tub.
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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: You know, Tom?
LESLIE: You were talking about spas …
LESLIE: … and I think what’s so fantastic about you know, working on shows like While You Were Out and Trading Spaces, I spend a lot of time in hotels. And being that I hate my own bathtub at home, I get the opportunity to go back to the hotel and soak in their hot tubs. But some of them are questionable.
TOM: Well, especially in a public place like that. I think what many people don’t realize, they usually think of hot – anything being warm – as being equitable to clean.
LESLIE: A germ killer. But I think it harbors germ growth, doesn’t it?
TOM: Well, it does because there’s a lot of plumbing, internally, to those hot tubs and those spas that have to be properly maintained. So, if you guys have a hot tub, what you need to do is drag out the book that came with the hot tub – and I know … we know this is not just about read the owner’s manual. You don’t … you don’t need me to tell you that.
But what you want to look for, specifically, is this. There’s a desanitizing procedure that you have to go through. Usually, there’s certain chemicals – they’re usually chlorine based – and they have to be run through the plumbing system; all those hot water pipes that circulate the water around. Because what happens is bacteria lands in those pipes and it sits in those pipes because they never really dry out. And the results can be really disgusting. So just remember that a hot tub has to be clean or it could make you really, really sick.
You know, we had a friend that got very sick from a hot tub because it wasn’t cleaned properly. And it’s definitely something that needs to be done regularly. So drag out the dusty old owner’s manual. Find out what chemicals are recommended for your …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (chuckling) If you can find it. (laughing)
TOM: Yeah, what chemicals are recommended for your spa. And go ahead and get it done.
LESLIE: And if you can’t find that manual, find out who the manufacturer is – I’m sure it says it right there on it – call them up and ask them for their recommendations or even look it up online. Because you want to make sure you do it right for the exact pieces that you own.
Alright, folks. Well, if you want more tips, in our next e-newsletter, we’re going to have a whole bunch about hot tubs, including the three things every hot tub or spa owner should do before getting in the tub and the one thing that you have to do right after you get out.
So sign up for our free e-newsletter, right now, at MoneyPit.com and get the answers to those tantalizing tips.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us, right now, with your home improvement question. We’ll toss your name in the Money Pit hardhat because we’re giving away 50 bucks of Vigoro products to help you keep your lawn and your garden looking snappy all summer long. Call us right now. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Richard in Delaware’s got some mold on the roof. It might actually be moss. But why don’t you tell us about it, Richard.
RICHARD: Hi. Yeah, I have a white shingled asphalt roof. And I have these black streaks and they’re maybe about 12, 14 inches wide. And they’re only on one side of my house, though. But it … I was …
LESLIE: Is it the north side?
RICHARD: The north side, exactly. And I went into a local store and they told me … I thought there was something that I could spray on it to get it off and there’s nothing I can spray on it. They told me it’s mold and I was surprised to even know that.
TOM: It’s probably not mold, Richard. As Leslie said, it’s probably moss. And moss will adhere … you know, the plant growth – the little seedlings that are out there – basically stick to the roof and they start to grow and that’s what forms those … the staining on the shingles. There are cleaning solutions that you can use for that. It’s a bit of a tricky job, only because the roof is, you know, up high and it’s pitched. So you have to be careful about what you use to …
LESLIE: Yeah, have to make sure you really feel comfortable up there.
TOM: Yeah, what you wash it down with.
TOM: One thing that you could use is a product by Zinsser called Jomax – J-o-m-a-x – which is a solution that you mix with bleach and does a good job cleaning. And once you get the roof cleaned – and you can do it, you know, by hand with a scrub brush if you can reach it or with a pressure washer set very gently so you don’t like blast the shingles off.
RICHARD: Right, mm-hmm.
TOM: But here’s a little trick of the trade. After you get it clean, what you might want to do is take a strip of copper flashing and put it across the entire ridge – the entire cap of the roof. What that does is it causes … once the water – the rain water – hits it, it releases some of that copper and that becomes sort of a natural mildicide that goes down the roof and keeps it clean. A little bit of a …
LESLIE: Tom, is nickel also another option?
TOM: Yes. Yes. And in fact, you can buy nickel ridge vents and copper ridge vents, too, or you can just by the metal itself and just tack it up there along the peak of the roof so that the water – the rain water – hits it and just washes right down. And you know, if you’re wondering how this works, next time you’re by one of these copper flashed chimneys, take a look at the shingles underneath that copper flashing. You’ll notice they’re the cleanest shingles on the roof. Because the water hits the copper, it releases some of the copper, it runs down the roof and it cleans it.
So Richard, we hope that helps you out and leaves your roof sparkly clean. Thanks again for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Beth in Georgia’s up next and she finds The Money Pit on the Discovery Radio network. And you’ve got a floor issue. What’s happening?
BETH: Well, my husband and I just moved into a new house and we have linoleum floors in the kitchen. And we noticed a tear in a pretty high-traffic area and we’d like to figure out how to repair it that it’ll hold until we can decide what kind of new floors we want to get.
TOM: Yeah, you know, fixing tears in linoleum is tough. There are glues that are available at flooring stores for this. But usually what happens is a little piece of the linoleum sticks up higher than the piece next to it and then you catch it with your feet or with furniture and things like that. And if you cut it out, even if you have a perfect repair – and I’ve seen professional linoleum repairers where they’re absolutely letter perfect – but still, you end up having that seam that collects dirt in the seam.
So I guess the question here is, Beth, is how long are you fixing to get by this … with this linoleum being torn.
BETH: I’d say at least six months. I don’t see us changing the floors in, you know, in a new house, in the first six months.
TOM: Is a throw rug an option?
BETH: Could be. Yeah, I mean you know, we could … we could put a throw rug … we do have a dog who’s pretty active and likes to slide around the floor. That’s kind of an issue.
LESLIE: O, ha! So he could easily cut his paw.
BETH: So is there some … are there some glues that could hold it down so that if we wanted to put a throw rug over it or something, that could hold that piece down?
TOM: Yeah, Beth. It’s called repair adhesive and it’s available at most hardware stores. The secret to making this work, though, is to first of all clean the surface as best you can, work the adhesive under the entire space, and then weight it for about 24 hours as it’s drying so it really holds that seam as flat as absolutely possible. And then, once it’s dry, you know, if you want to add a throw rug over it just to keep the direct traffic off of it, with all of those things that you’re doing, you should be able to buy yourself that six months you need to get to putting that new floor down. OK?
LESLIE: And then get one of those anti-skid mats so that your dog doesn’t come flying in and skid across that rug.
BETH: Exactly. Well, thank you guys so much. I appreciate it. I love the show.
TOM: You’re welcome, Beth. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dale in Virginia’s next who finds The Money Pit on WJFK, Free FM. And you’ve got a question about geothermal heat pumps. What can we do for you?
DALE: Well, I’m in the process of building a house. Just kind of started and we’re at a point where we need to select a regular heat pump or geothermal. And I’ve, you know, heard all the claims and kind of curious what your thoughts are on the efficiency and if they’re really worth it, you know, to put one in.
TOM: Do you have the option to put oil or gas in?
DALE: I can put gas. Oil is really kind of a … and I’m not real fond of the thought of oil and I’ve had gas in the past.
TOM: Alright, so what you’re really comparing here, Dale, is gas heat – natural gas heat – to geothermal heat pumps?
DALE: Either that or just a regular heat pump.
TOM: Right, regular electric heat pump. Well, I would suggest that, if you have the ability to put natural gas in, that you definitely put natural gas in over any electrical system for heating your home; whether it’s geothermal or a straight resistance heat pump. Because I think that natural gas is going to be less expensive; even though it’s perhaps a little more pricey this past year, in the long run …
LESLIE: Electric is always going to be pricey.
TOM: Yeah. And the other thing about geothermal is that you’ve got this big loop of pipe that has to go through the soil. And while the piping materials themselves are warranteed for a long time, generally it’s only the material, not the labor; which, of course, is the biggest part of the repair. And so, for those reasons, I think that my choices would be … if I had all the fuel choices lined up, I would put in a gas system first, followed by oil, followed by propane, followed by geothermal, followed by regular heat pump.
TOM: (INAUDIBLE) put them in that order.
DALE: (laughing) OK.
TOM: Alright, Dale? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Attention, children. If you’re listening right now, I have enough ties, I have enough coffee mugs, (laughing) for Father’s Day. So please ask Mom to take you to the home improvement center and buy me some power tools!
LESLIE: That’s right, Kraeutler children. Stay away from the radio. Get Mom. Go to the store. And if you don’t know what to get, get a gift card. Get gift cards. Power tools are a good gift. In fact, they’re a great gift for any dad in your life.
So, coming up, we’re going to tell you how to find the right tools that will fit any budget, along with some cool do-it-yourself projects that you can do with your kids. So you’ve got a tool and a memory. It’s a win-win situation, folks.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Metal Roofing Alliance. We call metal roofing investment-grade roofing. Because in your lifetime, a metal roof will save you money and add value to your home. To find a Metal Roofing Alliance contractor or to learn more about investment-grade roofing, visit www.metalroofing.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Well, if you are thinking about putting together a tool collection and wondering what the essential tools that you might need are, what tools can give you the most ability to do the biggest number of projects, our next guest is an expert on that topic. Her name is Angie Shelton (sp). She’s the Director of Marketing for Ryobi power tools, sold at Home Depot.
Angie, I notice that power tools today are coming out in different sets of combo kits and things of this nature. You guys must do a lot of research on what people really need to get the most out of their power tools. Where do you think a good place is to start?
ANGIE: I think that anybody that’s looking to start out, if you’ve got somebody that’s just starting out, the number one tool, hands down, in our research, of course, is a cordless drill.
LESLIE: Well, there’s so many things you can accomplish, from just hanging something to completely building something.
ANGIE: Absolutely. So the cordless drill is absolutely the jumping off point. Another great tool is a circular saw. It’s just a great, versatile tool for, you know, any type of outdoor projects. If you’re doing decking, if you’re doing framing, if you’re doing … you know, anything starting out – like that rough cutting – it’s a great tool to have. So those are … those are our top two, by far.
TOM: So, Angie, with a One Plus System, can you use the same battery across many different tools?
ANGIE: Yes you can, Tom. We have a whole lineup of tools that you can use the One Plus battery across the entire lineup.
LESLIE: And – Angie, I’m sorry to interrupt – but the charging technology has kind of really advanced as well. So, instead of having a plethora of batteries – especially with your One Plus system – you can probably just get away with two.
ANGIE: That’s exactly right, Leslie. The benefit of the One Plus … you know, the chargers … the battery technology like you’re talking about has come so far. It takes much less time to charge up the battery. The battery stays charged longer. And another benefit of our 18 volt system is that if you’ve got a Ryobi tool that you purchased five years ago, that brand new battery is going to work just as well with that old tool. It’s not a different size. It still runs that tool. Or if you’ve got, you know, a new battery or if you’ve got … you know, you can retrofit those easily. We don’t … we don’t obsolete our own tools.
TOM: We’re talking to Angie Shelton (ph). She’s the Director of Marketing for Ryobi Power Tools.
So Angie, you say that your research shows that the cord … the cordless drill is certainly the number one place to start, if you don’t have tools and you’re putting together, followed by the circular saw. Do you also research what projects people are doing most commonly? For the DIYers that are out there?
ANGIE: You know what? We get all types. I mean I think that, with the information that we get, the most common types are, you know, building a deck. That’s a pretty common one. You know, they want to … they want to build a storage unit to go in their garage or they want to put shelves up to go in their garage. Those are kind of the most common projects. And then you have kind of the household chore projects, if you will. Like myself, who’s maybe hanging pictures or putting up curtains. You know, chair railing; very, very common project that a DIYer will tackle.
LESLIE: You know, it’s so funny. When you start working on any sort of carpentry project and your power driver, your drill, you … I always go to that first and I always think to myself, ‘What would I have done, building all of these projects, if I still had to just use hand-powered tools?’
TOM: You wouldn’t be getting quite as much done. (laughing)
ANGIE: That is so true. And it would be much more frustrating, I’m quite sure. (laughing)
LESLIE: So what’s new to the One Plus system, coming out?
ANGIE: Well, we’ve got a … we’ve got … our newest tool that we’ve got coming out on the One Plus is the 18 volt hand planter (ph); the One Plus 18-volt hand planter (ph). That’s going to … that’s going to be out. Less than $70. It’s a great addition to your One Plus system. And then we’ve got some really, really cool things coming out between July and December that are kind of an extension of the One Plus family, but that most of our users would find helpful around the house or outdoors. And it’s kind of a … I’m kind of trying to whet your appetite because we can’t …
TOM: But you can’t tell us. (laughing)
ANGIE: I can’t tell you yet but you’re going to love it.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) That’s terrible!
ANGIE: It’s a great addition to our One Plus lineup.
LESLIE: What a tease you are.
TOM: Angie Shelton (sp) from Ryobi. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit and sharing some great Father’s Day tool ideas. Ideas for great projects, great tools and great memories that you can build with your kids. If you want more information, you can go to their website at RyobiTools.com.
Well, are you ready to plant the garden of your dreams? Up next, we’ll give you the dirt on where to start.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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. 1-888-MONEY-PIT is the phone number. 888-666-3974. We like to give the digits because it’s hard to look up those little (chuckling) digits on the phone. And you know what …?
LESLIE: And some phones don’t list them.
TOM: You’re right because where were we last week, where I needed to look at your phone to see what the letters were?
LESLIE: And I’m all like, ‘Why do you want to use my phone?’ (laughing)
TOM: Because I have a Blackberry and it … and it doesn’t have the ABC over the 1 and stuff like that, so I couldn’t figure out …
LESLIE: Well, that’s because the 1 doesn’t have any letters.
TOM: I know.
LESLIE: 2 starts the alphabet.
TOM: Well, so whatever. I didn’t have it over the 2. See, I don’t even know that because I … it’s been so long since I had a traditional phone. (laughing)
LESLIE: Well, see, and my problem is whenever I text message somebody, the 7 is the PQRS …
LESLIE: … and I always forget that they actually include the Q, because I’m like, ‘Who needs a Q?’ (laughing) So every time I text, everything is like instead of an S it’s an R. So it’s like RRR-RRR-RRR. (laughing)
TOM: You’re one letter off the whole time. (laughing)
TOM: Well, you don’t have to be one letter off your home improvement projects if you call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. We are standing by and waiting to help you.
Such as this tip. Your flower garden. It can be a bloom or a bust. But you need to keep these things in mind. The seeds are actually less expensive but it can take several seasons for perennials to reach their potential. Transplants cost a bit more but provide instant results. But if you choose transplants, space the plants at least a foot apart so they can stretch out as they grow. That’s Tom’s gardening tip for today.
LESLIE: It looks stark in the beginning, but they fill in quickly. So give them the space that they need. And we really want to help you get your garden off on the right foot. And we’ve got a great prize this hour. It’s from our friends at Vigoro. It’s worth about $50 and it’s an entire kit that has self-repairing grass seed, Weed and Feed, all purpose plant food. It’s really everything to just tackle about every situation you might have in your garden. And we promise it will be beautiful. So call in now at 888-MONEY-PIT to be eligible to win.
TOM: 888-666-3974. And if you ever want to see who’s winning all of these cool prizes, all you’ve got to do is log onto our website at MoneyPit.com, where new winners are added every single week.
LESLIE: Next up, from California, is Kevin, who finds The Money Pit on the QUAKE. And you’ve got a crawlspace situation. What’s going on?
KEVIN: Well, I’ve … I noticed that there’s a … a kind of a dampness under the crawlspace that doesn’t go away during the year. The house does have downspouts. I’ve listened to your show many times and I know the first question is (chuckling), ‘Are there downspouts?’ So, yeah, it does have downspouts. And … but the crawlspace just seems moist. And so like, where I pick up some whiffs of … through the vents and stuff that are under the house, whatever, I can occasionally smell some of that wetness.
KEVIN: Yeah, that wet smell that kind of comes up from underneath the house. And I’m just wondering what I should.
TOM: Alright. A couple of things, Kevin. Of course, you know, from listening to the show, that we always recommend good grading and drainage so that’s making sure the soil’s sloping away from the walls and the downspouts are extended out away from house. You got that covered. So let’s look inside the crawlspace. Do you have a vapor barrier down across the surface of the floor?
KEVIN: No, that’s one of the things I was thinking about putting down.
TOM: Yeah, I would … I would put a vapor barrier down. You want to put that down with as few seams as possible across the entire dirt surface of the floor. And then, if the moisture continues, there’s one other thing that you can do and that is that you could put a ventilation fan in that crawlspace. Mount it in the crawlspace vents, in the foundation wall. And have that wired to a humidistat so it only comes on when it gets super damp in the crawlspace and helps pull some dry air across the floor and evaporate any remaining moisture. But all of those things working together should do a good job of slowing down that humidity.
KEVIN: So if I put the vapor barrier down and it’s still a little moist underneath that …
TOM: I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
KEVIN: OK, OK, great.
TOM: That’s OK. You know, I’ve crawled through crawlspaces on vapor barrier and had puddles of water underneath and I don’t get too worried about that, as long as it’s not a lot. Because what that vapor barrier’s doing is it’s basically stopping that vapor from evaporating up into the crawlspace air zone and potentially causing mold and rot to form on the floor joist or getting the insulation wet, which makes it very ineffective. So that’s the purpose of the vapor barrier. If you get a little water underneath it, I wouldn’t sweat it.
KEVIN: OK, great. Yeah, because there’s no pooling of water. It’s just moist.
TOM: Yeah, that’s not so bad, Kevin. I think you’re going to be OK with a vapor barrier.
KEVIN: Great. Well, thanks. I love you guys’ show. It’s really a lot of fun to listen to.
TOM: Thanks, Kevin. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, some E.T.s phone home, but this E.T. phoned The Money Pit from Tennessee. And what can we do for you?
E.T.: My daughter has got some mold in her house. They had an outside faucet that actually, I think, exploded in the winter and then they didn’t realize it. So it eventually soaked under the house pretty good. And it’s just a crawlspace; it was dirt, you know?
E.T.: And I was wondering what the best way … I was thinking about crawling under there with bleach, you know, with like a … I’ve got a yard sprayer where you can set so many teaspoons per gallon and that kind of thing.
E.T.: And I just wondered if that would be a solution to that problem.
TOM: Well, a pest (ph) management professional can spray something down there called Tibor – T-i-b-o-r – that’s often used to combat mold growths that have attached themselves to the wood framing in crawlspaces. Or you could use a bleach solution. But you have to be very careful because, you know, you’re going to have a lot of mold spores in the air and you start blowing that stuff around, E.T., you might find yourself breathing some of it; which couldn’t be … wouldn’t be very pleasant.
The good news about any type of moisture or mold growth or decay or rot – which is what you’re really guarding against, here, with all that lumber – is that when you take the moisture source away, it stops growing. You’re only going to get decay when the moisture source in the lumber gets above 25 percent. So as long as that broken hose bib has been fixed, then you’re probably OK; as long as you keep that moisture down.
Do you know that there’s a decay problem down there right now? Do you see something?
E.T.: No. No, I don’t think there’s a decay problem. I was concerned with the mold and it’s strictly conjecture at this point because I haven’t really crawled up in there and looked. But …
TOM: Alright, well then I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Just get it fixed. Take all of the normal steps to control moisture in a crawlspace: make sure you have a vapor barrier down, make sure your drainage is set right at the foundation perimeter, make sure that the downspouts are clean and extended out away from the wall. I wouldn’t go down there and start messing bleach or any type of chemicals unless I knew I had a problem.
But by the way, when you get down there – when you do get down there – give you a home inspector’s trick of the trade. Take a screwdriver – a pretty long screwdriver; straight screwdriver – and poke and prod the floor joists right above the damp area and check them for decay. Because they could look perfect from the outside. But I’ve had situations where I’ve stuck a screwdriver right through them and almost lost my balance.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You could go right through it.
TOM: Yeah, and if that’s the case, then you have to repair them; usually by sistering them with a good floor joist right next to the bad one. OK?
E.T.: OK. Well, listen, I appreciate it so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, E.T. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Do you think he grew up with a lot of jokes about E.T. phone home?
LESLIE: (laughing) Probably.
TOM: Poor guy. (laughing)
LESLIE: Or his kids gave it to him real bad.
TOM: Alright. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Do you have a home improvement question? Pick up the phone and dial in right now. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Russell’s next up on The Money Pit, from Ohio. And you’ve got a question about your chimney. What’s going on?
RUSSELL: What I have is, I have some moss growing on the shingles around the chimney. On the … like I … I think it’s on the north side of the chimney. And the other problem with the chimney is some of the mortar between the bricks looks like water may have gotten behind it, froze it out, broke it out. I was wondering if that mortar is a job that I can handle myself or do I need to get a pro to retouch point (ph) that.
TOM: You know, a chimney sticking up off the roof there into the environment do really take a lot of abuse. So the things that you’re talking about here, Russ, are not unusual. It definitely is totally a do-it-yourself job. What you need to do is this …
LESLIE: Well, as long as you feel comfortable up on the roof.
TOM: Well, good point. You need to get up there and scrape out the loose mortar. Now, if the bricks are coming loose, you’re going to have to make a judgment as to how comfortable you feel taking apart part of this chimney. But you simply mix up a new mortar mix. You can buy some QUIKRETE at the store – premixed mortar – add some water and go ahead and just put that back together.
LESLIE: You want the consistency of peanut butter.
TOM: Yes. The consistency of peanut butter.
LESLIE: Don’t make it too runny.
TOM: Not the consistency of jelly. (chuckling) The consistency of peanut butter.
Now, in terms of the moss that’s growing around the shingles, what you want to use there is a bleach solution – some water and bleach – and spray it on there, let it sit and then scrub it away. That’s very common to grow on the north …
LESLIE: Especially on the north side.
TOM: … on the north side. Exactly.
RUSSELL: Oh, OK. And that QUIKRETE, is that just the regular stuff I’d use to patch my driveway or a particular …?
TOM: Well, it’s a … it’s a different formulation. The mortar formulation might be different than the concrete formulation. Usually the stuff that you use for driveways has an epoxy component to it which makes it stickier.
RUSSELL: Oh, OK.
TOM: So you want to buy the mortar mix.
RUSSELL: Mortar mix. OK.
RUSSELL: Alright, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Russ. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
So has a furry friend made himself at home in your house? It is a common problem for many homeowners.
LESLIE: That’s right. Coming up, how to keep those critters away the humane way.
TOM: And check this out, Leslie. We’re going to read a rare of hate email from a dissatisfied listener.
LESLIE: Oh. I hate them.
TOM: Which I think we should happily toss the topic of this email to the jury of our audience for a decision as to whether or not we owe an apology. Coming up.
LESLIE: Because we’ll give one.
TOM: If we do, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is sponsored by The Home Depot with a guaranteed low price and the know-how to make every dollar work harder. You can do it, we can help.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, let’s jump right into the email bag.
LESLIE: Alright. Here’s one from Clayton in Alabama who writes: ‘I have ‘critters’ crawling in my walls and in the space between the ceiling and roof. It’s probably squirrels and it might be rats. We see no sign of them indoors. And what’s a pretty good method to get rid of them without stinky poison? Please help.’
TOM: Well, a couple of things. First of all, a Have-a-Heart trap works very well if it is a squirrel, where you can trap them safely and then remember to …
LESLIE: Drop them at your neighbor’s house.
TOM: … check the trap and pull it outside. The other thing is if there’s a place you think they’re getting in and out of your house, you want to put what’s called a one-way door in; which is, basically, a flap on the outside of that hole where they’re getting in and out of. That basically opens when they go out but it makes them hard for them to get back in. And the other thing to throw around in an attic, which is very helpful, is moth balls. It does a good job of scaring away those critters.
LESLIE: And it helps preserve your clothes. So it’s two in one, really.
TOM: There you go.
LESLIE: Alright. Here is our promised hate mail. (laughing) It’s from John W. and he writes: ‘I am sick and tired of journalists writing authoritatively on home improvement. Your answer about basement waterproofing could not be more wrong. Yes, good drainage and downspouts are the first line of defense, but that is not the whole solution. There are many factors involved. In older homes, the traditional exterior tar-based waterproofing has worn off, allowing water to absorb into the walls and leak into the house. It also allows water to build up and under the floor, creating hydrostatic pressure which causes the water to come in. There are tens of thousands of people who depend upon sump pumps, drain tiles inside the footer, waterproofing paint inside the walls, cutting weep holes in the bottom block and installing false hollow baseboards to trap water and drain it into the sump pump.’
TOM: John says: ‘How utterly, completely arrogant of you to slam legitimate waterproofing contractors. There are dangers to untreated water problems.’
Well, John, we would agree that there are dangers to untreated waterproofing problems. However – and I might add, you sign your letter as ‘An award-winning and published contractor with a list of satisfied customers over the years, including – what a surprise – basement waterproofing – the truth is that most of the time, the severe repairs – such as drilling open foundation walls and breaking open floors and putting drain tile systems – are generally not needed. You can solve most waterproofing problems simply by improving the grading and the drainage at the foundation perimeter of your house. Extend your gutters, extend your downspouts, clean them out and make sure the soil slopes away from the wall. In my experience – 20 years of solving water infiltration problems as a home inspector – that is what I have found to work time and time and time again. And I have rarely seen a case where an underground drainage system – a sub-surface drainage system – is completely necessary.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. Let us know how you feel. You can email us or you can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. And we’re anxious to hear what you think.
TOM: Alright, Money Pit listeners. We are just about out of time. But before we go, it’s time, once again, for Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Alright. Here’s a quick design tip that can change your bedroom for less than $50. That’s right; 50 bucks or less.
Your bedroom is your sanctuary so you should decorate it that way, folks. Make it your haven. Take that TV out, put in a reading chair. Relax. Unwind. Use soft and neutral tones for a soothing atmosphere. Try to use lots of fabrics. Double up on your curtains. And add lots of extra pillows on your bed. Just make it look lush and comfy and cozy. And remember, folks, that fabric absorbs sound. So it’ll help you keep the noises out from the outside and help keep it nice and quiet so you get a beautiful and restful sleep. Make those bedrooms lovely, folks.
TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, does your house remind you of a famous abode? Perhaps your house looks a little bit like Monticello or the Biltmore. Well, Fine Homebuilding magazine was wondering that and they’ve come up with a list of the 25 most important house designs in America. Find out which one your house might take after, next week, on The 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 2006 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.)