Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, it’s just about spring so call us now with your spring home improvement projects; your do-it-yourself dilemma. When’s spring? Like next week?
LESLIE: I think it might actually really be next week.
TOM: So call us right now if you’re planning to spring into some home improvement projects of your own. We’ll help you out at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. And we’ll save you some money because coming up on the program today, we’re going to talk about what your washing machine might be costing you. If it’s an older model it could be less efficient than a brand new one and if you can’t afford to replace it, don’t worry, keep your washer; take our tips that will save you money starting with your next wash load. Coming up in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead, are you dreading going barefoot on your deck this summer? I know I am. We have a vacation home, the home family, and the deck needs a major overhaul. But I’m just not feeling it. Well we’re going to tell you what you need to do to make your deck ready for those little barefoot piggies in no time.
TOM: And the time has never been better for you to go green with your garden. We’re going to tell you which plants need less maintenance and will still strive in your yard.
LESLIE: Plus we’re’ giving away a great gift basket that’s going to help make quick work of all of your spring cleaning. You don’t have to officially wait until spring to start cleaning. You can do it as soon as those cleaning wipes arrive. We’re giving away a basket of assorted cleaning wipes from Weiman and they’re going to do everything from stainless steel to leather.
TOM: It’s worth 65 bucks. If you want to win it, pick up the phone right now and ask us your home improvement question. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Bernadette in Delaware has a painting question. What can we do for you?
BERNADETTE: We are about to paint our cabinets.
BERNADETTE: They’re a wood and a fake material of some sort.
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.
BERNADETTE: And I would like to know how do I go about preparing and priming and painting to get a reasonable result?
LESLIE: And the fake material is a laminate. Is that on the doors?
BERNADETTE: Yes, it’s on the panel of the door. The outside of the door is real wood, I believe – oak; but the center panel does not appear to be real wood.
TOM: You think it may be a veneer?
TOM: Same advice.
LESLIE: Yeah, you really want to make sure, first, that you start off with a very clean surface.
LESLIE: So, do everything you can to get rid of all the grease. Do everything to make them as clean as possible.
LESLIE: This way you make sure everything really adheres. Then you want to take off …
BERNADETTE: Something like a TSP?
LESLIE: TSP is an excellent preparatory product. It’s wonderful for cleaning wall surfaces; even sometimes in a kitchen situation, when you’re dealing with a lot of grease, TSP will do the trick but sometimes you might need like an orange cleanser; something to get rid of the grease. But try the TSP first because that generally does the trick.
LESLIE: Then what you want to do is take off all the cabinet doors and I would leave the hinges either on the back of the door or inside the cabinet itself. Leave them attached on one place.
LESLIE: And make sure you label everything.
LESLIE: Because you want to know exactly where everything goes back. Do the same with the drawer fronts as well.
BERNADETTE: Very well.
LESLIE: Then you want to prime everything. Make sure you prime it well and let the primer really dry. Then you want to put a topcoat paint on there that is – I would go for a glossy paint so it’s easier to clean and you want to make sure that it’s, you know, good for kitchens but you want a good high-quality, high-gloss paint.
BERNADETTE: Very well. For the primer, could I use something like KILZ? Just any normal wood primer?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, you can use KILZ; you can use Bin; you can Zinsser. Those are all excellent primers.
BERNADETTE: All excellent primers. OK. Then I would want a high-quality gloss paint and do I need to …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm and I think gloss will be the best.
BERNADETTE: OK, very well. And also, do I need to seal that with anything or is, actually, the gloss paint a sealer all on itself?
TOM: The paint itself will be your last coat and that will do a real good job and because it’s glossy it’ll be easy for you to clean it.
BERNADETTE: I appreciate it so much. Thank you.
LESLIE: You’re so welcome.
TOM: Bernadette, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You know what? If she does it on a not-humid day she’ll have a better shot of everything sticking.
LESLIE: Tai in California is having some termite issues. What’s going on?
TAI: Hello. Hi. Yes, I heard some people mention about a new technique about orange oil to kill the termites besides …
TOM: You want to kill termites with orange oil?
TAI: Yes, I would like to know how effective is this technique. Do you know?
TOM: Yeah well, I think you’d have to have a party and invite the termites because they actually have to contact it for that to happen.
TOM: If you want to eliminate termites from your house, the best thing to do is to use a product called Termidor.
TOM: T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r. Has to be professionally applied. Basically, it goes in the soil around the house. It’s undetectable to termites. They pass through it. They get it on their bodies. They take it back to the rest of the nest and it’s sort of like biological warfare for termites. It wipes out the entire nest and you don’t have to worry about them coming back.
Well, the natural remedies are not going to be effective and your house is too important an investment …
TOM: … to waste on something like that. So if you have a termite problem, get the right professionals in there to put down the right product and don’t have to worry about it again.
LESLIE: Well and I think all the talk about orange oil is that it’s a contact killer. So it has to come into contact with every, single termite and every, single infested area and there’s no way that you can cover that much ground. I mean it’s shown to work but it’s not very effective because you really have to go crazy with it.
TAI: I see, I see. Yes, so that answer my questions and thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tai. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a all right now with your home repair or your home improvement question. Can’t get to the phone? Wait. We’ve got 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Folks are standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, tips for running your washing machine more efficiently so your energy bills don’t take you to the cleaners.
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: Well, if the sign says ‘Call before you dig’ and you’ve already dug (Leslie chuckles), call us quick. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and that number to call in the event of a digging emergency or any other home improvement debacle is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to this hour who asks their question on the air is going to have the chance to win a basket full of cleaning wipes from our friends over at Weiman and included are E-Tronic wipes which are perfect for cleaning your computer monitors and your flatscreen TVs because you do need to use special things; as my husband tells me. You can’t just put any sort of cleanser on those fancy flatscreens. There’s a ton of other wipes in there for all types of things including natural stone surfaces. It’s worth 65 bucks. It could be yours for free, so pick up the phone.
TOM: So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Well, getting the best energy value from any washing machine really depends on several energy-saving wash-day practices. Here is what you need to know.
If possible, you always want to wash one big load rather than two smaller ones. Load the washer to capacity and, if you must wash smaller loads, use lower water levels. You don’t have to fill the machine up if you’re not filling it up with clothes. Also, use cold water rinses and use a lower temperature setting and pretreat or presoak stains and anything that’s really, really soiled. Also, use the recommended amount and type of detergent and set the thermostat on your water heater to no higher than 120 degrees. You know, these new laundry detergents today work really, really well; amazingly well …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, even in the coldest of water.
TOM: Cold water. Exactly. So you can really save some money while you do the wash.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Going over to Maryland to talk to Victor about a pellet stove. What can we do for you?
VICTOR: Yeah, I’m calling – I have a question about a pellet stove. I have an existing heat pump and in the winter time the heat pump doesn’t seem like it does a very good job of heating up the house. I was wondering if I bought a pellet stove and had it put in my basement if I could run the ductwork into my existing ductwork for my heat pump unit.
TOM: Not a pellet stove but a wood furnace. There are actually appliances that are designed to run – I don’t know that a pellet furnace is available but wood furnaces are available and they could be hooked up side by side with heat pumps. Now, the reason that the heat pump doesn’t seem to do a good job – and it’s very common to have them in Maryland and south of this, is because they don’t heat air to the same temperature that a fossil-fueled furnace would heat it. A heat pump only heats air to somewhere around 100 to 110 degrees, but a regular, say, gas furnace is going to heat it up to like around 120 to 140 degrees. And what happens is that fairly low-temperature air comes out of the registers. If you put your hand in front of it or your arm in front of it or you sit in a chair near by, it actually feels cold …
TOM: … because it forces – this is what we call the evaporative cooling effect; as moisture evaporates off your skin it feels cold.
Now, the other thing about a heat pump is it’s only designed to maintain the temperature of a difference of about two degrees between what it actually is and what it’s set at. So, if you set your thermostat at 65 degrees and it falls to 64 or 63, the heat pump’s going to run. If it falls to 62 it’s going to stop running and the electric furnace backup which is built into the heat pump will come on and that’s straight resistance heat. And you probably know by now that’s pretty darn expensive.
TOM: So, you know, I think that either putting in a regular pellet stove into the main floor of your house …
LESLIE: There actually are hot-air pellet furnaces and a company that makes them is Harmon Stove Company and their website is HarmonStoves.com and you can look up a bunch of different models that make their. They’re, you know, on the pricy end – like 2,500; sometimes more, depending on the model – but they’re highly efficient.
VICTOR: OK. HarmonStoves.com.
VICTOR: OK. Sounds good. I’ll look into that. You said it’s a woodburning furnace.
TOM: Well, it’s either a woodburning furnace or it’s a pellet-burning furnace but these are furnaces – because that’s the appliance that heats air. It’s designed …
TOM: … to fit into the duct system. I don’t want you to retrofit a standard pellet stove to try to heat a duct system because that’s not going to work right.
TOM: And it could be dangerous.
VICTOR: OK. That was …
TOM: Alright, Victor?
VICTOR: That was the question I had. I appreciate all your information.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Margie in Connecticut is looking for a relaxing bath. How can we help you do that?
MARGIE: Hi, how are you?
LESLIE: Good and you?
MARGIE: Great, thank you. I have a tub in my bathroom and I want to convert that into a hot tub as well. But I don’t have the room to put a separate hot tub and then have a shower, so I wanted the tub to be part used as a shower and a hot tub. Can that be done?
TOM: Well, when you say hot tub, you mean a jetted tub, correct?
TOM: Because a hot tub is like a warm pool. (Leslie chuckles)
MARGIE: No, that’s not what I meant. (chuckles)
TOM: No. And that would be a really nice bathroom.
LESLIE: Which would be really nice.
TOM: Yeah, it would be pretty super-nice. Well, they have jetted tubs in all sizes, shapes and colors. They have jetted tubs that are the size of laundry tubs and they have jetted tubs that are enormous.
LESLIE: That are the size of small pools. (chuckling)
TOM: Yeah, so I mean you may – you certainly can find a jetted tub to fit in the space that once held the old, standard bathtub. Should not be a problem.
MARGIE: Well, my concern is that when I went to Home Depot I was told by one of the people there that I wouldn’t be able to do that because of the soap and that the soap may ruin the jets.
TOM: No, no. Not true. And I would recommend you go to a good bath and kitchen supply house; good plumbing supply house. Because you’re not going to be able to find something sort of over the counter in a large retail establishment. You’re going to need to have one specially ordered that fits the space. And I’d also arrange for the salesperson from the bath and kitchen supply house to come to your home and measure what you have so that they can compare it to the specifications and make sure it’s going to fit.
Now remember, you’re also going to need some electrical work for that and, of course, some new plumbing work to make sure it all fits in.
LESLIE: Well, you know, I think, Margie, you might want to think about – there’s something that’s called a SANIJET and that’s just one brand; there are other manufacturers that make them. And these are air jets rather than water recirculating and the benefits of going air over the water recirculating is that when you actually bath, you know, obviously skin and other things come off of you and sometimes those go back into the water pipes and then once the water drains the water and some of this bacteria sit in there. So then you go take another bath and you turn it on and now you’re recirculating all that yuck and air with the air jets it doesn’t do that. So it’s a lot more sanitary for you and I think the prices are comparable and you do get a really nice, relaxing bath as well.
Now as far as models out there and makers, is there one that wouldn’t break my bank?
TOM: Well, there’s all sorts of manufacturers that make these and we’re not going to recommend a specific one. I think the first issue is size and you can talk about features and benefits after that. You know, the more bells and whistles the more expensive it’s going to become.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) The more expensive it’ll be.
TOM: You know, it it’s one that’s air-powered versus water-powered; there’s some that high – what’s it called; chromatherapy?
LESLIE: Yeah, with the lights.
TOM: The light therapy. And you know, there’s all different types of features and benefits to these. You’ve just got to find one that actually fits what you’re looking for.
MARGIE: OK. Alright, well thanks a lot for your help. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Margie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: David in Iowa is dealing with a chilly situation. What’s going on over there?
DAVID: Well, I’ve got a laminate floor at the base of my front entry door. It gets extremely cold and we did have a bad cold spell but it’s cold all the way through the winter months and cold to the point that, in some instances, when we run our humidifier, I actually get frost down at the base of the door and at the laminate floor area.
TOM: What kind of floor is under this? Is this a basement? Is there an area that you can insulate between the floor joists?
DAVID: There is a floor. There is a basement under it, yes, and it has insulation put all around at the plates up around – you know, above the foundation. It’s been all insulated there. It seems like it’s coming in more …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, do you have insulation – do you have insulation in between the floor joists?
TOM: Across the whole foyer area?
DAVID: Yes, there is.
TOM: OK. Is the door tight? Are you getting any air infiltration at the sweep; at the sill; the bottom of the door?
DAVID: (overlapping voices) No, I am not.
TOM: You are not. OK.
DAVID: So, it seems to be – the worst areas are on each side of the front door where the lights are.
TOM: Right. Because that’s the least insulated area.
TOM: So, you know, there’s only a couple of things you can do here and you’ve done most of them. If the door is that poorly insulated that it’s letting that kind of cold temperature in, the only thing you can do is add more heat to overcome it. Now, I don’t know if that’s the smartest thing for you to do because it’s kind of like throwing good money after bad, but if you wanted to add more heat – and one of the things that we could recommend would be an electric radiant system that goes under the laminate floor and that would keep that nice and …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And will keep that nice and warm.
TOM: Nice and toasty and warm and you can run it on a thermostat so it only comes on when it’s super cold out. But the problem here is that you’re getting too much cold air into the front of the house; you don’t have enough heat to overwhelm it, to warm it back up, and that’s why you have this really cold floor.
TOM: The other thing that you might want to try is just putting down a throw rug there so you don’t have to expose your feet to it.
TOM: And if you’re really feeling cold air come through those sidelights on either side of the door, what if you added just a heavy drape for the winter months?
DAVID: Well, it’s where the sidelight – not where the window area is but below the actual window area. It’s right at the base of the floor. It’s almost like there’s a cold breeze coming underneath there and I’m wondering if maybe they missed putting insulation or sealing that area where those lights went in next to the front door.
TOM: Well, can you see underneath that area?
DAVID: No, because the …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Why don’t you do this? Pull the insulation out and look at the box beam and the floor joist and that whole area there. You may notice some gaps where air is coming in. If you see gaps, squirt some insulating foam sealant – expandable foam sealant – in that area. That’s a really good area for an expandable foam sealant. Seal all of those gaps up; put the insulation back. If that doesn’t work, you need a new door. Your door is just not doing the job and that’s the only thing that’s going to really, really make you comfortable here.
David, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and it is just about time to get decked out for summer. Now, how does your deck look right now? Is it looking like it’s seen maybe a few too many summers? (Leslie chuckles) Well, coming up, we’re going to teach you how you can clean it and seal it and how to nail down the finishing touches so your deck will look great.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Alright, Money Pit fans. Well, spring is springing and summer is around the corner is exactly what that means. And we know that you’re going to love to have all of your friends over; big barbecues; summer parties. But as soon as the summer rolls around you are not going to want to do that maintenance to the deck.
So, if you find that you’re looking at your deck now and it looks kind of blistery and yucky and boards are popping up, you know, look around; take a look at what’s going on. If you see that the deck has nails that are slowing working loose you can pound them back in but that’s only a temporary fix. A better solution is to pull up those loose nails and replace them with deck screws. This is really going to suck that board down to those joists and really hold it in place and it’s not going to back out because it’s screwed in place. And those deck screws are easily installed with an inexpensive attachment to your power drill and most of the times the little blue bit comes right in that box of deck screws. And this is going to ensure you smooth sailing for your entire summer of those wild, raucous parties that we know are about to happen.
TOM: If you’re one of the 12 people in America that have never driven in a screw with a power drill, you don’t know what you’re missing. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
LESLIE: You’ll be hooked.
TOM: It’ll change the way you do it forever and it really is an easy way to make sure that the deck is repaired once right and never have to worry about it again.
Well, if you like that tip there are hundreds more on our website at MoneyPit.com. It is free. It’s guaranteed to save you money and time or perhaps even both. You can even have our tips pop up on your website daily for free. Visit MoneyPit.com and click on Tip of the Day for more information and while you’re there, sign up for the free Money Pit e-newsletter. We’ll shoot you some great home improvement tips just in time for your weekend projects every Friday morning.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Alright, now I’ve heard of the south making good barbecue but Pennsylvania’s not that far south and John’s looking to work on a barbecue pit. What can we help you with?
JOHN: Yes, I have a barbecue pit. It’s about 16-foot long and probably about 3-foot high and I have developed – it’s sort of cracked; about like an inch-and-a-half crack all the way down through it. I didn’t want to tear it apart and I was trying to figure out how I could fill that crack. It’s like a snake. And I was wondering what’s the best way to concrete it or what we have to do to it.
LESLIE: Is it all concrete?
JOHN: It’s decorative bricks from the outside and where the – I guess the decorative bricks come apart all the way through. It’s separated …
TOM: So the decorative bricks are not full-thickness bricks, John?
JOHN: Yeah, it’s a full brick and then it has a fancy, decorative brick on the front.
TOM: The inside is made of fire bricks?
JOHN: Yeah, it’s a regular brick that’s concrete block.
TOM: Alright, where’s the crack?
JOHN: It’s coming down – it’s like a snake – on both sides of the pit. I guess the pit has settled.
TOM: (overlapping voices) On the outside of it?
JOHN: Yeah, on the outside and on the …
JOHN: It’s cracked all the way through.
TOM: Alright, what I would use is an epoxy patching compound. I would not try to use mortar because what’s going to happen is it’s going to freeze and crack and fall out again. I would use a good quality epoxy patching compound. There is a product called AboCast that is available online and I’m sure there are others. But the epoxies adhere very, very well to the concrete surfaces and they’re not going to fall out. And that’s how you fix that.
JOHN: OK. And that was – need a piece of paper here. What was the name of that one?
TOM: The product is called AboCast and it’s available online. I think their website is Abatron.com.
TOM: John, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Going to the Lone Star state. Talking to Jerry. What can we do for you?
JERRY: I’ve got one little problem here. I just built a house about four years ago and we put a solid, really very thick, mahogany door on the front of our home. It’s really nice and everything, but …
LESLIE: I have one, too. They’re gorgeous.
JERRY: Except when you have to take them off because they weigh like a million pounds.
LESLIE: I know. It’s so heavy.
JERRY: But my problem is it faces west and when we built the home it actually had a little – kind of a tunnel that you walked into before you get into the house; like maybe five or six feet long. I didn’t think it’d be a big deal. But the sun is just – is really damaging that door and I was going to sand it back down and paint it. Not paint it but stain it with something. They did some kind of clear stain. On the inside it’s beautiful, but the outside is like this yellowy, almost chalky look to it.
TOM: You know what I would do? I would use a marine varnish on that. Marine varnishes are really good at standing up to ultraviolet radiation, which is what’s going on.
JERRY: Oh, OK. And I can get that a Home Depot or wherever?
TOM: Yeah, you probably can or you can get it in a marine store.
JERRY: Oh, a marine store. OK, any …
TOM: Marine supply, mm-hmm.
JERRY: Is that the same thing as Valspar or something …?
TOM: Oh, Valspar is one of the manufacturers and, yes, they make a very good-quality varnish.
JERRY: OK, and I just sand it and prep it like I would normally?
JERRY: Just get a clear and just go for it and put a bunch of coats on it?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Exactly. Yep, two to three – two to three good-quality coats and remember, don’t – you know, don’t do it in full sun. Try to do it in sort of cloudy weather or shady and just give it plenty of time to dry.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and you want it to thoroughly dry between coats; otherwise it just gets sticky and will never dry.
JERRY: What about temperature. Like right now, I mean would it – if it was like 40 degrees outside, would that be too cold to paint it?
TOM: That might be a bit cold. Generally you want to be sort of in the 50 to 70 degrees …
TOM: … is good painting temperature.
JERRY: Now do you have any idea how long that can last?
TOM: Several years.
JERRY: OK. I just wondered if it’d be something I could do once and never have to worry about it again.
TOM: Not when you’re dealing with a wood door. You’re always going to have to stay on top of that, Jerry.
JERRY: OK. Well, I sure appreciate it today.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you want a door you never have to paint, get a fiberglass door. Looks like wood; never, ever needs paint.
LESLIE: Yeah, but the mahogany doors are gorgeous.
TOM: They are gorgeous.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit.
Are you looking for a low-maintenance garden? Well, going native can pay off big. Coming up, we’ve got a green tip for a luscious garden.
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: Well, if every home improvement project you start begins with maxing out the credit cards and ends with the smoke alarm going off …
LESLIE: (chuckling) That’s bad.
TOM: … you are tuned to the right place because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement question; your do-it-yourself dilemma. We’re here to help you out. Let’s make your home better. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you call right now we’re also giving away a $65 gift basket of cleaning wipes from Weiman to one caller that reaches us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. They’re the perfect solution for all sorts of cleaning projects around your house. But you’ve got to call to win – the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT – and ask your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Hey, give us a call because spring is springing and maybe you’ve got some questions about how to keep your yard looking fantastic and your garden looking lush and green all summer long and we’ve got a great tip for folks who love the look of a lush yard but really don’t necessarily have the time or the resources for one. Well, here’s the tip.
Native plants – grasses, trees, flowers and shrubs; those that are naturally found in your region where you live – they are going to grow much better than their imported cousins or aunts and uncles who are going to cost far more and not really thrive where you live. So don’t go planting a bird of paradise if you live in Minnesota because it’s not going to do that great. It probably won’t do well at all unless you keep bringing it in, bringing it out and there’s a lot of maintenance. So we want to keep it easy because native plants and grasses, they need far less water, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides. They really just need far less work. So if you go native in your landscape it’s better for both your wallet and the environment, too.
TOM: Excellent advice. Call us if you need a landscaping tip or a home improvement tip or a home repair tip, the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Debbie in Indiana needs some help with a leaky ceiling. Tell us what’s going on and how much water is coming in.
DEBBIE: It’s not a lot of water. It’s like drips of water, but it’s from my ceiling, which I have a small, maybe six-inch crack in it; in the plaster area. And I’m wondering if like the heat from the house, when it goes up to the attic is causing moisture in the attic and then it thaws out and comes right back down; if that’s what it is. Because we just had a new ceiling – or not a new ceiling – a new roof put on it like three years ago and around the stink pipe or whatever, there’s a new boot on it which my grandson put tar around it and everything so I know it’s not the roof. But …
TOM: Well, does it leak consistent with rainfall, Debbie?
DEBBIE: No, not too much. It’s like in the winter time, no. No. You know, when it gets cold and then it’ll like – it’ll warm up and then all of a sudden it comes down again. So, I was wondering – they went up there last year and the insulation was wet. So they …
TOM: Hmm. Well, obviously – it sounds to me like there’s a leak there somewhere.
DEBBIE: In the ceiling?
TOM: And I don’t – if you told me that this was leaking in the summertime and you had ducts up there I might recommend that you take a look at the condensation that could be forming on those ducts. But that’s not …
LESLIE: Is it possible that a bathroom vent fan would be vented into the attic and that could produce enough moisture?
TOM: Not likely. I don’t think so. I think you’ve got a roof leak. And the thing is about roof leaks is that you have to remember that they can leak and then run over 10, 15 feet before they show up.
TOM: So I think you’ve got to get up there and take a real careful look with a real strong flashlight the next time you get these conditions.
DEBBIE: OK. So I need …
TOM: Because I don’t think this is happening by condensation. I think it’s, pure and simple, a roof leak.
DEBBIE: OK. That’s what I was wondering because I didn’t want to put a lot of money into it and then – or have somebody tell me, ‘No, it’s not that,’ and you know.
TOM: No, I think that’s what’s going on and Debbie, listen, when you get it fixed then you can use some fiberglass tape across that crack and a couple of layers of spackle; then prime it and paint the whole ceiling and you’ll be good to go.
Debbie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Tennessee has some questions about energy efficiency. What can we help you with?
BOB: Yes, my wife and I are going to scale down. The kids have left the nest now and …
LESLIE: (chuckles) Freedom, whoo!
BOB: Yeah, right. (chuckles) Got grandkids coming, though. But I’ve been trying to figure out where I can find information to build an energy-efficient home for our area because, you know, in the future I feel like energy is going to be our biggest cost in a home and we just want to, you know, be comfortable as we grow older and have a good, warm home.
TOM: Well, Bob, that’s a big question and the best way to narrow it down is probably to start with a really good website and that is the Energy Star website.
TOM: EnergyStar.gov. And you can find out what it takes to build an Energy Star-rated home there. There are programs that will help you or the builders in your area do just that. In terms …
LESLIE: And it breaks it down region by region so you really understand what is a beneficial build in your area over another area so you’re not doing something that’s not going to help you where you live in Tennessee.
TOM: I’ll also recommend a specific type of building technology called insulated concrete forms or ICFs. Basically, instead of using a wood frame wall, what these walls are is they’re stacked-up, hollow, foam blocks. They kind of look like big LEGO blocks.
TOM: And the walls are stacked up and then the inside of it is – there’s poured concrete …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Poured concrete.
TOM: … and rebar put inside of it and when the home is done it uses two-thirds the amount of energy of a standard home and it’s also very quiet and completely storm resistant. I really like that technology and it doesn’t have to look like a concrete house. It can look wood-sided or whatever way you want it to look.
BOB: Well, I appreciate it. I’ll check it out.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we’re going to jump into our e-mail bag and answer a question that perhaps you have. Have you ever purchased a flatscreen TV and wondered how you can get that big old, heavy appliance to hang on your wall properly? We’ll tell you how to do just that, after this.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Your two friends just trying to keep you from another trip to the emergency room (Leslie chuckles) when you tackle your home improvement project, so call us right now first at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Now, if you’re in the middle of a home improvement project, one of the reasons that that could be unsafe is because you’re trying to call us, too. Don’t do that. (Leslie chuckles) Wait til later on in the day and shoot us an e-mail by jumping onto our website at MoneyPit.com and clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie; just like our safe friend, Kevin, from Tucson, Arizona.
LESLIE: Alright. Kevin writes: ‘What is a reasonable limit for stud spacing in a residential interior wall?’ I’d like to hang my LCD panel …’ – I’m assuming he means a fancy television – ‘… on the wall of my 1972 home but the only studs I can find in the wall of interest are spaced 50 inches apart.’
TOM: No way.
LESLIE: ‘That seems absurdly far to me,’ and to me too, Kevin. I understand the typical distance is 16 to 24 but I can’t find anything between the 50 inches. I’ve used a variety of methods – tapping, stud finder, magnets. Is 50 inches between the studs at all reasonable and if not, how come I keep missing this missing stud?
TOM: I don’t know. It is a mystery to us and I think that it is time for some exploratory surgery, Kevin, and let me tell you how to do this while creating an area that will not need further repair. Now we know that eventually the bigscreen TV is going to end up on that wall and probably for a very long time. So, what I would do is I would figure out exactly on that wall where the flatscreen television is going to go. I would measure in maybe about four inches from that outside perimeter of the screen all the way around and within the space that’s left, I would actually slice out a piece of the drywall. And this way you can look inside the wall, see where the studs are. You may need to do some repair work, whatever, but keep it behind where the TV is going to hang.
LESLIE: And you know what? You can hide all the wires through there. I mean make another hole in the bottom and suddenly you’ve got a place to run all the cable wires, the power cords. This way you don’t have to sort of disguise it or dress it up after it’s already hanging.
TOM: Yeah, and you know what? If you ever have to replace the TV, you can fix the wall then (Leslie chuckles) if you have to; it not, buy one that’s the same size.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got one here from Ellen in Concord, New Hampshire who writes: ‘I love the look of painted cabinets but don’t want the problem of chipping or the paint wearing off. What do you think of thermafoil cabinets?’
TOM: Hmm, if you heard all the complaints we get about thermafoil cabinets, Ellen …
TOM: … I would not do that. I think …
LESLIE: They’re reasonably priced but they yellow and change color quite quickly I’ve heard; even as early as a year.
TOM: Yeah. So you know what probably a better idea to do would be to use a good,-quality paint. Oil-base paint on kitchen cabinets is actually a little more durable in terms of the abrasion resistance than latex paint and I would just go back to a good, old-fashioned enamel.
LESLIE: Yeah, and Ellen, prep work is key. Make sure you really clean those surfaces very, very well. If you find that you just can’t get grease off or they’re just not giving you a fresh surface, sand them up a little bit; then you want to prime them and then go ahead and use that good, quality oil-base paint on top because it really will stick and it’ll look nice and shiny and well done.
And then, Ellen, you know what you can do? If you’re really looking for a brand, spanking new look, go ahead and change out the hardware and get some bling for those cabinets and look for some new knobs and pulls. You’ll be so happy with the new look.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
You can reach us 24 hours a day, seven days a week by picking up the telephone and calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. If we’re not in the studio we will call you back the next time we are. And the show does continue online at MoneyPit.com and please also visit my blog on AOL real estate at RealEstate.AOL.com where, daily, we will tackle a home improvement problem and solve it for you.
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 1 TEXT
(Copyright 2008 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.)