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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. So perhaps you are tinkering with a home improvement project and maybe you got kind of stuck in the middle. Or maybe you’re thinking about tackling one; you don’t know where to begin. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie and I will have our combined expertise of all of the time that I spent in crawl spaces or all the time that you’ve spent working backstage building sets and decorating homes.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s true.
TOM: We kind of combine …
LESLIE: Mine isn’t as messy as yours but …
TOM: Yeah, you know, you kind of worked behind the TV and I sort of worked in front of the TV. Or, more accurately, under the TV (inaudible) …
LESLIE: Under the TV. (laughing)
TOM: … (inaudible) all those years I was a home inspector working in basements, crawl spaces and attics across the country. But the bottom line is we have a little bit of knowledge. We’re willing to share it with you. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let us show you a bit of that knowledge right now.
Do you know that your windows account for roughly 10 percent of the skin of your house? That’s the outside …
TOM: … surface of your home. Yeah, 10 percent. But they’re often responsible for 40 to 50 percent of the heat loss.
LESLIE: I’m surprised it’s not more.
TOM: Yeah, well. You know, that really depends on the windows. You can increase the energy efficiency of your home by two to three times just by replacing those with new energy efficient windows.
LESLIE: And actually, there has never been a better time to replace your windows than now.
TOM: Good point.
LESLIE: For the first time, there are tax credits, folks, tax credits for replacing your current windows with energy efficient windows. Almost any window or skylight with Energy Star labels qualifies for your tax credit. But you can double-check at www.energystar.gov to find out if the windows you’re interested in will work for this refund.
TOM: And speaking of windows, later on in this hour we’re going to talk to a windows expert from JELD-WEN about the different types of replacement windows that are available and, more importantly, how you can shop for the best one for your particular situation.
LESLIE: Alright. And also, this hour, did you ever wish that you had a third hand when you’re working on a project around the house? Well, you don’t need a friend to be there to have that third hand. We’ve got a great prize for you. It’s the Ryobi multiTASKit and it’s like having an extra hand to hold your tools or a light or any sort of bits and bobs. It’s a great tool. It’s worth $49.97 and if we answer your call on the air, you’re automatically entered into our random drawing. So call in now.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Patty in Minnesota listens to The Money Pit on KDUZ. And you want to know what kind of paint to use on the bathroom floor. So, why do you want to paint the bathroom floor?
PATTY: Well, we have… we bought an old house and it has … it has a wooden floor in the bathroom.
PATTY: And we want to paint it and we want to make sure that we have the right paint to put on it that, you know, like when they take showers and stuff that …
LESLIE: What condition is the wood floor in? Because that’s a really moist environment.
PATTY: It’s not too bad, actually. Yeah, it was covered up with tar paper and linoleum. And so it’s in pretty good shape.
TOM: Is it a … is it like a tongue and groove floor? Would it look decent painted as … or is it plywood? I mean what are you looking at?
PATTY: Yeah, it’s a tongue and groove floor.
TOM: Alright. Well here’s … let me give you a trick of the trade for this. This is where we sometimes take a material that’s not necessarily designed for the space but makes a whole lot of sense.
LESLIE: (overlapping) And make it work.
TOM: Yeah. I’m thinking porch floor paint here, Leslie.
TOM: Because porch floor paint is designed to be incredibly durable. It’s oil-based, by the way; it’s not latex paint.
LESLIE: (overlapping) Mm-hmm. You’re going to want an oil base; otherwise, if you ever … even if you use a high-gloss latex paint in a bathroom, which is supposed to be good for moist environments, you get that running color … like discoloration on it. It’s because it still has the condensation rolling on it. But if you use an oil base, it will really stand up to it.
TOM: Yeah, and with all of the technology and all the improvements to latex paint, the one thing that oil based paint is still better at is abrasion. It’s just a harder surface. So I would recommend that you sand down that floor – you know, you can sand it by hand so you get rid of all the loose paint. Then use an oil based primer; like a KILZ primer. And then use a porch floor paint; oil based. And you can get any color you want; you can have them mix any color you want.
LESLIE: I think you should do a checkerboard.
TOM: You can a checkerboard. Yep. You can do something really fancy.
LESLIE: And a checkerboard looks really fun in bathrooms; especially if you leave the opposite part of the checkerboard … paint some squares and leave some squares the wood grain. And then, when you put like an acrylic top coat on it, that wood will become really glossy and pretty. So then, you have this nice contrast between the paint and the wood.
TOM: There you go.
PATTY: That’d be cool. That’s a good idea. Thanks.
TOM: Alright. Well, that’s what we do. We’re the good idea people. (laughing) Patty, good luck with it.
PATTY: Oh, well thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, David in Indiana is doing some decorative refinishing. You want to do the floors. Tell us about the floors you have now.
DAVID: Well, right now we’ve got carpet and we’re going to get rid of the carpet in the living room and the dining room and we’re going to go with either hardwood or laminated. My wife wants hard wood, because of the realism of hardwood, and I want laminated because of the cost. So I just wanted y’all’s opinion on it.
TOM: How about if we negotiate an amicable settlement between those two choices?
DAVID: That would work.
TOM: Yeah. Leslie, what do you think? Engineered hardwood?
LESLIE: Well, engineered hardwood is a great choice. But how does it fit in with cost between laminate and hardwood?
TOM: I think it’s right in the middle. Because engineered hardwood is basically … think of plywood, the way it’s made with different, alternating layers where the wood grain alternates; it goes one way and then it goes 90 degrees to the other way. But the top layer is solid hardwood and it’s as easy to install as a laminate floor because most of the installations today are just simply click together …
LESLIE: And …
TOM: … and it’s super durable.
LESLIE: And because it’s engineered, it’s more stable if there’s ever a moisture situation. So it’s good even if you wanted to put it in a bathroom.
DAVID: So anything I can get … my wife is a knotty pine fanatic. So I can get it in that kind of a finish also?
TOM: Yes, you can. But I would recommend that if you’re going to buy one in a soft wood finish like that, that you get one that has the toughest surface possible.
LESLIE: (overlapping) Top coating.
TOM: It comes in different … different grades. Because remember, knotty pine is a soft wood.
LESLIE: Is going to dent and ding and scratch.
TOM: Yeah. I mean if she really wants a knotty pine look, I’m glad you told us that. I would … I might recommend the laminate floor over that because …
LESLIE: Because you can’t ruin that.
TOM: Yeah. Especially if she likes a soft wood. You know, if you want a hardwood like oak or, say, a birch or a walnut or something like that, then, perhaps the engineered. But I don’t know about one with a pine finish. That might be a bit soft. That might really take a lot of dents and dings; even if it has a hard surface and a good wear surface. It could take a lot of abuse in a living room or in a dining room.
DAVID: Okay, well you gave us other options. So I’ll go on the net and find it and …
LESLIE: And if you do some research, Armstrong has some beautiful laminate flooring. And I bet they have a really nice knotty pine one that you could show your wife and convince her that it’s just as nice.
TOM: There you go.
DAVID: Alright. Well, appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tom in Oregon is looking to paint his basement floor. Tell us what the floor is now.
TOM IN OREGON: It’s a concrete basement floor. And I cleaned it up pretty well. And I’m just trying to figure out what kind of paint I should use. I was going to stain it but I think there’s just too many marks on the floor to really stain it and have it look nice. Because I thought stain might hold up better. But I just want an idea of what kind of paint to use, really.
LESLIE: Well, it depends … are you looking for something that has more of a stain look effect? Because you can get a lot of interesting looks whether you use a concrete stain or whether you use something that has more of a chemical reaction, like an acid stain.
TOM IN OREGON: Oh, well, I … there’s a fair amount of like marks and there’s a little bit of paint on the floor. And I’m just thinking that it might not …
LESLIE: It might make it more pronounced.
TOM IN OREGON: Right. Yeah.
TOM: Well, you know what, Tom. You can … the nice thing about stain is what’s the worse thing that could happen? You decide you don’t like it and then you’re back to paint. (chuckling) If you go paint first, and you can’t go the stain route.
TOM IN OREGON: Right. And stain will hold up better, won’t it? Generally?
TOM: Well, I don’t know. What do you think, Leslie? I mean I think because it sort of fades, it doesn’t really break down. That it probably will hold out better; as opposed to paint, which is a surface that abrades.
LESLIE: Right. And the stain, you can go as translucent or as opaque as you like. Because concrete stain comes in a variety of opacities. So you can go with something that’s as heavy, almost, as a paint. Or you can go with something that’s a little bit more sheer – like a wood stain – even though it’s a concrete stain. And you can get that tinted to just about any color.
TOM IN OREGON: Okay, great. Yeah, I think I’ll … maybe I’ll give it a try with the stain first; maybe on a small area and see how it looks and if it doesn’t look right (inaudible).
LESLIE: (overlapping) Yeah, and there’s also another interesting choice for a flooring covering; especially for a basement or even an outdoor area. It’s something that Tom and I love. It’s called EPOXYShield.
TOM: It’s a paint that is specifically designed for concrete. And it’s epoxy-based. There’s two parts that you mix together and then it hardens. And it’s really tough stuff. And it has sort of like a decorative sort of a sprinkly coating that you put on, when you’re done, that gives it some …
LESLIE: Kind of like 1950’s but it’s really cute.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. But it’s really tough stuff.
TOM IN OREGON: So it sort of looks like linoleum or something like that?
TOM: A little bit. Yeah, a little bit like the old-fashioned linoleum. You know, we painted … my son has a Boy Scout troop here – it’s very active – and we needed to redo their kitchen and painted the whole floor with this stuff and … and it was an old, nasty floor and we cleaned it up really good and put the EPOXYShield down. And it really is standing up well. And boy, take it from me, those kids can really abrade that surface and …
TOM IN OREGON: Yeah, right.
TOM: … wear and tear the surface. So that’s a good product, too. But again, as we were saying, you can start with a concrete stain because I think you may be pleasantly surprised, Tom, at the colorful effects that can come from a concrete stain or an acid stain. And maybe that’s something you’ll just do and be very happy with.
TOM IN OREGON: Okay, great. I’ll give that a try. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. You’ve heard the saying, ‘Step on a crack and break your mama’s back.’ Well, did you know that porch and sidewalk cracks could actually be a dangerous tripping hazard around your home? Well, we’re going to tell you how to repair them, after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is sponsored by John Deere. John Deere has a whole new line of riding lawn mowers called the 100 Series. Every 100 Series comes with an exclusive John Deere engine, powered by Briggs & Stratton, and can be purchased at The Home Depot.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us right now with your home improvement question. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: You need to be very, very careful, around your home, if you’ve got some cracking sidewalks. They can cause …
LESLIE: Please, I trip over my own two feet. (laughing)
TOM: Yeah, you don’t even need a crack to trip. Right? If we put a crack around your house, you’d really be a big mess. (laughing) There’d be blood involved. But actually, you don’t have to trip. It’s an easy repair project. Here’s what you need to know, guys.
What you need to go out and pick up is something called a flowable urethane sealer. It’s like a caulk but it flows; it has sort of a lower viscosity so it sort of runs and seals up that crack really, really well. It’s available in home centers or hardware stores. It is a very easy do-it-yourself job and can prevent further damage from slips and falls as well as cracks.
You know, if the water gets into those cracks, what’s going to happen is it’s going to freeze and lift those pieces of the sidewalk and that makes it even worse. So all you need to do is clean out any dirt or stuff that’s in there and then add this flowable urethane sealer and it will stabilize that crack and it, hopefully, won’t open anymore.
LESLIE: Yeah, and it makes things look pretty. So think about it as a cosmetic issue as well, folks. Even if somebody’s …
TOM: Most importantly, your home improvements must look pretty.
LESLIE: Exactly. You know, curb appeal, curb appeal, curb appeal.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: How many times do we have to say it?
Alright. Well, this has nothing to do with curb appeal but we’ve got a great prize for you. It’s free. You’re going to love it. It’s fantastic. We’re giving away this …
TOM: And it will keep you on the level.
LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. Pretty much. And it will suck you to the wall? No. Hmm. It’s the Ryobi multiTASKit and, basically, what it does, it’s a … it uses their AIRgrip vacuum technology. So it will seal itself to your wall without leaving any marks. It will give you a laser attachment so you can tell if you’ve got a level or a plumb line anywhere to hang pictures or lay flooring or hang molding. It’s got a work light. It’s got an extra hand so if you’re hanging something it can hold the long end of it. It’s really great. It also has a magnetic tray which you can put any sort of nuts and bolts or screws in it so you don’t have to go reaching around or fumbling in your tool belt pocket. It’s always there for you. It’s worth $49.97 but it could be yours if we pick you out of the Money Pit hardhat.
TOM: Call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Tony in Ohio finds The Money Pit on WLOH. And you’ve got a question about exterior paint. What can we do for you?
TONY: Well, I bought this new house and it has an addition on the back. And it has windows … really, it’s a 24 x 39 foot room. So it’s a big room and it’s got windows all around it. Okay? And they’re good windows; they’re Pella windows. But the paint’s starting to flake and I’ve got a guy that’s going to come and paint it, I believe. I’m going to get another estimate. And I’m just wondering how long … how long is it realistic for paint to last on an exterior surface?
LESLIE: Well, when was the last time they were painted?
TONY: Well, I don’t know. We just bought the house in November and I never got to ask the previous owner that. It looks like the … the guy that gave me the estimate said maybe … he said four years ago, maybe.
LESLIE: Well then, you’re almost about there. Because, generally, exterior paint tends to start breaking down in around five to seven years. And if it’s the south side of your house, it’s going to really take a lot of abuse.
TONY: Yeah, it’s … well, it’s on the south, the north and also the east side. So … but it’s … you know, it’s going to be quite a bill. And it’s not that big of a problem but I was just thinking about that and a little bit curious.
TOM: Yeah. Normally, five to seven years. The most important thing is going to be the preparation of that surface. Make sure that this contractor is going to use a primer.
LESLIE: Make sure they remove all the old caulk around the window, replace it with new caulk.
TOM: Yep. Make sure you get … when you get these estimates, have them spec out exactly what they’re due. It’s not just … you know, the estimate shouldn’t be …
LESLIE: Slapping on paint.
TOM: … ‘Tony, we’re going to paint your windows. It’ll be x dollars.’ You know? It’ll be ‘We’re going to remove the old caulk. We use a caulk softener to do that. We’re going to strip off the old paint – all the loose paint – and we’re going to apply one coat of primer and two coats of top coat.’ And what the kind of paint is that they’re going to use and so on. But if it’s done properly, you can … you can get five to seven, maybe even up to 10 years on a properly painted wood surface. It’s going to vary on … with exposure, like Leslie said. The sun, of course, being worse on the south, tends to break down the paint quicker but if you paint it properly, you definitely want to put the money into the labor so that you don’t have to replace it. Because, remember, with painting, the materials are the cheap part; it’s the labor that’s the expensive part. So make sure it’s done …
LESLIE: Mmm. And if you do good prep work, it’s going to last longer.
TONY: Okay. So make sure I’ve got a good, reputable painter that’s going to do all that. Is there a certain type of paint that I’d want to use that – not a brand name, but do I want a latex or an enamel?
TOM: Well, you can use a latex exterior house paint. And the latex paint has more … the exterior paint has more titanium dioxide in it, which makes it last longer. In fact, sometimes, when we have a touch surface to paint on the inside of a house, I will often tell people to use an exterior paint because it simply has more pigment in it.
TONY: Okay. Well, I appreciate …
TOM: Just stick with the same brand of primer as top coat because they work well together. They’re engineered to work together. Alright, Tony?
TONY: Thank you very much, guys. You’ve been a big help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
And that’s how you can call us, too. 1-888-666-3974. And you can also log on our website at moneypit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie and get a question to us that way.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re in New Jersey, you can find The Money Pit on WCTC, like Nate does. And Nate, you’ve got some electrical questions. How can we help?
NATE: Well, I have an older home and it has two-prong outlets. And I know I can purchase an adapter that has the little tail; just take the center screw out of the plate.
NATE: Right. Well, is there a way I can change these plates over to a three-prong?
TOM: Yes, there’s a way to do it. You can install a ground fault outlet, yeah, on a two-wire system. It should only be done by a qualified electrician. It should not be done by a do-it-yourselfer because if it’s done wrong, it could be dangerous. But basically, what a ground fault outlet does is it detects any diversion of current to a ground source … through a ground source … and then it turns the outlet off. So, in that way, you can get ground protection without having a three-wire house. What you have is a BX cable; probably the armor clad cable.
NATE: Old BX. Right.
TOM: Yeah, the metal clad cable.
TOM: And the actual sheathing of that cable serves as the ground. But if you were to replace those two-prongs with three-prong ground fault outlets, it could be done. But again, do not do this yourself because if its done wrong, you’re going to defeat the purpose and you’ll think you have a grounded outlet and you won’t. And then, you’ll plug something in that has a short and you will take the brunt of the electricity.
TOM: You know why they call it a ground? Because it is the connection to ground.
TOM: It’s the connection to the soil. And electricity seeks the path of least resistance. And if you are (chuckling) a better conductor than the frame of your house, the electricity’s going to go into you because you are the path of least resistance. And we don’t want that to happen. So that’s why I say have only … have that repair done by a professional.
TOM: Okay, Nate?
NATE: Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey there, Money Pit listeners. You know, although the windows of your house comprise about 10 percent of the outside surface, do you know that they’re responsible for 40 to 50 percent of your heat loss or gain in the summer?
LESLIE: Well, and there’s never been a better time to install replacement windows. Because Uncle Sam will actually help you keep some tax money if you install the right windows. But which windows are the right windows? We’ll clear up the window confusion, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Peerless. If you’re putting in a new bathroom or kitchen faucet, Peerless can help you with every step including the hardest one – getting that old faucet out. For a complete undo-it-yourself guide, visit the Peerless faucet coach at faucetcoach.com.
TOM: Welcome back to this hour of 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? Looking for some ways to save some money this year? Call us right now with your question, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’re thinking of taking advantage of that new energy efficient tax credit, replacing your worn out windows is a great way to do just that. They can update your home’s appearance and save you some money at the same time.
LESLIE: But Tom, how are you supposed to decide whether your windows really need replacing? So we’ve got a great guest. Joining us to help figure that out is Rod Clark, the windows product marketing manager for JELD-WEN. Welcome.
ROD: Thank you.
LESLIE: So, really, what are some of the options that are available, right now, for someone who’s thinking about replacing their windows? Or in the market for new windows?
ROD: Boy, it just goes almost anywhere you want to. Everything from the type of product; meaning vinyl, aluminum, wood, type of glass, color options, energy saving devices. All those things are part of the decision process that the average homeowner has to go through.
TOM: Well let’s start with a little, maybe, a little history lesson on kind of where windows have come from. You know, we started with single pane wood windows that were around for many, many years; probably …
LESLIE: And some places still have them.
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, exactly. And some houses still do. I think I finally excised every single one of those out of my 1886 farmhouse. But there was one that hung on for the longest time; I think it was the basement window.
But we had single pane windows and I think, probably, one of the biggest jumps in window technology is when we started getting into replacement windows, which were wonderful because you didn’t have to rip out your entire frame.
Some of the earliest replacement windows, that I saw, were aluminum. And they seemed to be good, when they came out, because they were convenient. But they did not seem to be nearly as warm as the vinyl and wood products we have today. There’s also a lot of advances in glass, you know, from single pane to double pane to low-e to high performance Energy Star …
LESLIE: Even triple pane.
TOM: And even triple pane. Right. So with all that’s happened in the window business, Rod, how would a homeowner start sorting out what really makes the most sense for their particular situation?
ROD: I think the first step is to look at what they have today and are they trying to update the appearance, first of all. So I think they first look at aesthetics. Because there are many people that would go from an old aluminum window, let’s say, to a wood product because they like the aesthetics of wood; they like the warmth of that. That’s going to relate into the budget area pretty good. Because I think one of the first things you have to look at is what is the budget for the project. And in the budget, don’t forget, there’s installation budget as well as just not the product itself. So I think you start there, with the budget constraints, and then begin looking at those options that appeal to you.
LESLIE: Well …
ROD: Including energy and color and things like that.
LESLIE: Well, it’s really interesting because we get a lot of questions about windows. And particularly, a lot of our listeners have aluminum frame windows and they’re finding that they get a condensation problem because of the temperature differences because the frame just doesn’t give any warmth to the glass itself. Would you recommend folks holding on to these? Because we always say time to replace. What’s your feeling?
ROD: Well, condensation is a huge issue, these days. And, as you mentioned, the thermal conductance from the outside to the inside does cause some problems. There are certainly options available to take care of that. You can, again, walk up the scale as far as price goes but, certainly, if you have a significant condensation problem, there’s two things to look for.
One is a different substrate; meaning go to a different type of material other than aluminum. Or two – and I think this is good for anything you’re doing – is check the humidity inside your house. Condensation is a matter of water vapor forming in the form of droplets because of humidity. And there are some things you can do, inside your home, to take care of that as well. And it may not be a window issue.
TOM: Well, let’s talk about Energy Star windows because I think that they are a great investment …
LESLIE: Yeah, energy is the hot button topic.
TOM: Exactly. And this energy tax credit. Can you talk to us a little bit about the tax credit and how it applies to windows?
ROD: The tax credit was put into law – I believe it was October of last year – and, of course, all the forms available from your local IRS department. But, basically, it provides up to a $200 credit for replacement of energy efficient windows. And by definition, it looks – at this point, anyway – like energy efficient windows is going to mean an Energy Star type product. And of course, there’s lots of them on the market. We have a bunch of them. But if you look for the Energy Star label, that’s a good place to start. And then, it’s a matter of filling out some forms and getting some money back.
LESLIE: Excellent. And I know you guys have actually come out with something that you’re calling a worry-free wood. Can you talk about that a little bit?
ROD: Worry-free wood is a product called AuraLast. And the typical way to protect wood from things like mold and moisture and things like that, in the past anyway, has been what’s called a dip process; where you actually take a wood part and dip it into a solution. The new process actually infuses the same material into the wood itself, under pressure. So now you’ve got the protectant all the way into the wood part; all the way down to the core. Whereas in the old method, you were just protecting the outside of it. So it makes for a long lasting product and we’re now able to offer a 20-year warranty against any kind of wood rot.
TOM: That’s great. We’re talking to Rod Clark. He’s the windows product manager for JELD-WEN. Rod, one more question before we let you go. Double pane, triple pane. Does it make a difference?
ROD: It can. In severe, cold climates it can make a difference. The coatings, today, that are available on the … on the low-e product, are approaching those of triple pane. But when you get into situations where it’s significantly below zero a lot – I’m thinking of northern Alaska, as an example; where it’s going to be 45 or 50 below – triple pane can make a difference. But in most places in the United States today – even in what I’ll call the major part of North America – the low-e product works just fine. And that’s only a double pane product.
TOM: And that’s a good point. You know, the more extreme your climate, the more extreme your return on investment is going to be for those windows. You’re going to save more heat if you’re spending more on heat and, therefore, the ROI is quicker.
LESLIE: While Tom and I both know what low-e glass is. Maybe you can explain it a little bit for our listeners.
ROD: Low-e is a coating that’s applied to the glass during manufacturer. And the basics of it are it reflects radiant heat. So, in the winter time, it’s going to reflect heat back into your home. And in the summer time, it’s going to keep the heat that’s outside, outside; it reflects it back to the outside. So it’s a reflectant property that’s applied to the glass but it’s nearly absolutely clear. You can’t really tell it’s there.
TOM: Rod Clark with JELD-WEN. Thanks again for stopping by The Money Pit.
So Leslie, you know, homes with concrete slabs can be at the highest risk of a termite infestation. Do you know why?
LESLIE: No. And it seems weird because they don’t want to eat the concrete.
TOM: Well, that’s true. But you know, the reason is that it’s the hardest kind of infestation to detect. By the time you know they’re there, they’ve already kind of destroyed your walls or your baseboard molding. But there is a way to protect your house from termites that get in; no matter it’s through the concrete foundation or the concrete slab. We’ll talk about that, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. Study after study shows that as homes become tighter and more energy efficient, more contaminants become trapped inside. Aprilaire’s technologically-advanced electronic and media air cleaners are the best choice for maintaining healthy indoor air. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, they’re tiny and they have very big appetites.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Are you talking about me?
TOM: Small children? No. (laughing)
LESLIE: Your pets?
TOM: We’re talking about termites. They are big fans of moisture but they hate sunlight and they live in the soil under your house and they come up and feed. And they’re hard to detect; especially if you have a slab home. Because by the time they get up there, they’re hard to … they do a lot of damage before you know that they’re there. I’ve had people find them by simply kicking the baseboard molding sort of in error and having their foot go right through it. So a good way to find termites if they’re … if you have a slab-on-grade house … by the way, a little trick of the trade is to take a very bright flashlight, like one of these Mag Lights, and hold it sort of sideways; so parallel to the wall. Not directly on the wall but so the light sort of washes across the wall. And you can actually see the tunnels that the termites will build.
LESLIE: Oh, that sounds terrible.
TOM: They get up into your house. And they’re really pretty crafty because what they’ll do is they’ll eat the paper off of the drywall but they’ll leave the paint. So …
TOM: … so the surface looks solid, but right behind it is this termite tunnel. And if you want to get rid of them once and for all and avoid issues in the future, you want to have your house treated with an undetectable termidicide. A new class of termite treatments out there can’t be detected by termites and that’s good because that means they plow right through this stuff after it’s applied to your property. And as they do that, they get it on their little bodies and they take it back to the nest. And then they share it with all of their friends and then they go away and they never come back. And it lasts for years and years and years.
So it’s always a good idea to think about protecting your house in advance of having this unfortunate discovery that your windows or your doors or your walls or your floors have been part of the termite diet for quite a number of years. Good idea to take some …
LESLIE: I have to say, Tom …
LESLIE: … they say with knowledge comes power.
LESLIE: But I say with knowledge comes supreme paranoia. (laughing) I swear. I’m going to have the flashlights and be looking at the basement walls.
TOM: You’re going to be searching around your house, right?
LESLIE: Ever since I have known you, I swear I’m almost afraid to be in my house. (laughing) (inaudible) the bugs, the mold.
TOM: (overlapping) (laughing) Right. The longer you have this job, the more things you know that can go wrong with your house.
LESLIE: I’m going to sleep in the car. Alright.
TOM: (laughing) Well, don’t panic. That’s why we’re here. We’re here to give you some advance warning.
LESLIE: (laughing) And thankfully, I have your home phone number …
TOM: Yes, you do.
LESLIE: … so when I freak out in the middle of the night. Tom, I think there’s termites; they’re calling my name.
TOM: And I have caller ID.
LESLIE: (laughing) Alright, folks. But we don’t have caller ID and we accept every call that comes into The Money Pit call center. And one of you lucky callers who gets to ask your question on air has the opportunity to win the Ryobi multiTASKit. It’s a super prize. It’s worth $49.97. And what it has is the AIRgrip vacuum technology. So it will suck itself to the wall without leaving a mark or a scratch; you will never know it was there. And once it’s there, you can use it as a laser level; you can use it as a work light; you can use it as an extra hand – it’s got this cool little yellow hand that clips on it so if you’re hanging something or if you’re working with a long board it can hold that for you. And it also can even be used with a magnetic tray to hold all your nuts, bolts, screws; whatever it is you’re working with, they’ll be right there next to you. It’s worth 50 bucks but it’s yours for free if we ask your question on the air and pull your name out of the Money Pit hardhat.
TOM: Or if you ask your question on the air.
LESLIE: Yeah, I got confused.
TOM: (chuckling) 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us now. We will toss your name in The Money Pit hardhat. You’ll be eligible for this hour’s prize. 1-888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Our next caller takes us to Wisconsin, where Joy listens to The Money Pit on WDKM. Joy, something about smoothing a toilet bowl?
JOY: Yes, the inside of the bowl is scratched and so it’s constantly dirty. And I was wondering if there’s anything we can do to repair it or do we have to replace the …
TOM: How did the inside of your toilet bowl get scratched? (chuckling)
JOY: Well, I had my young son clean it and he wasn’t too happy about it and he used an old brush and he just scraped it with the metal that was on the brush.
TOM: Oh, no. (laughing)
LESLIE: But he was helping. (laughing)
TOM: That’s right. That’s right.
LESLIE: As far, you know, from getting it reglazed by a professional, I don’t think you have very many options.
TOM: And I don’t think it’s going to be worth the money to do that. I would just replace the toilet.
JOY: Oh, really?
TOM: Yeah, I mean you’ve damaged the glazed surface. You can’t polish it. We’re not going to tell you to drain the water out and wax the inside of your toilet or anything like that. (laughing) But if you’ve damaged that porcelain surface, it’s not worth fixing it.
JOY: Oh. Because that’s what my husband told me. So this means he’s right. That’s not good.
TOM: He is right.
TOM: Well, a man screwed it up and a man’s going to fix it for you.
LESLIE: No. I say put plastic wrap on the inside. Wait, let’s come up with a creative answer so that she can be right. (laughing) Oh. Take a picture of a smoothly polished toilet and put it on the inside. (laughing)
TOM: So say, ‘Tom and Leslie said you should drain the water out of there and get out some Simonize wax and polish it.’
JOY: Okay. And it’s a man’s job, right?
TOM: It’s a man’s job. Right. And you have to do it every week, honey.
LESLIE: (overlapping) Yeah, but you know what you should do?
TOM: So every Friday say, ‘Honey, have you polished the toilet, today yet?’
JOY: (laughing) Okay. Well, thank you for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks, Joy. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: On the first day that she has her husband use that new toilet, she should put Saran Wrap underneath that seat; play a trick on him.
TOM: (laughing) You mean kind of like short sheet the toilet? Like you do when you’re playing tricks on your friends? (laughing)
LESLIE: (overlapping) Yeah, kind of. That would be like short-sheeting the toilet. That’s what I would say. Good April Fool’s Day joke. Put it in your pocket; save it for later.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Give us a call with your home improvement questions. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Is your basement plagued by water problems? Well, it’s a common concern for a lot of our listeners. And coming up, we’ll answer an email question about a wet basement and give advice on how to fix their problem.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being 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 prices. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Perhaps you don’t want to pick up the phone. Perhaps you’re driving down the road and need to keep both hands on the wheel. Please continue in your quest (chuckling) to arrive at your destination safely. But remember, when you get home, you can log onto moneypit.com, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and send us an email. And right now, we’re going to tackle one of those emails from Wanda in Eureka, California. Boy, does Wanda have an issue.
LESLIE: Alright. She writes: ‘I purchased a home with a 30-year-old headache. A basement with cracks across the floor.’
TOM: Oh, I thought maybe it came with a husband.
LESLIE: No. (chuckling) Oh. (laughing) (sounds) ‘This year, with so much rain, the water was coming up like an Artesian well and flooded my basement. There is nothing I can do to change the outside grade as there is a lot of concrete surrounding the outside perimeter. I have eliminated the water seeping through the walls’ – man, this sounds terrible – ‘but I would like to know if there is a product that I can use to fill the cracks in the concrete floor that will go in and expand into all the crevices, sealing them completely.’ Aye aye aye.
TOM: Wanda, do you remember the story of the … of the little Dutch boy with the finger in the dike? (chuckling) You can seal every crack in that house. It’s not going to float. (chuckling) Okay? The water will still find a way in.
LESLIE: (overlapping) Find it’s way.
TOM: It’s going to do it. Now, it sounds to me like, for whatever reason, this may be a situation where your home is close to other homes. You mentioned that you have concrete around the foundation. If you don’t have the ability to regrade that foundation, there’s only a couple of things that you can do.
Number one, I would say, is to look up at the roofing system. You need to make sure that the gutter system is clean, the water’s being properly collected and diverting out as far away from that foundation as possible. The secret here is that you said your basement is only leaking when it rains. If that’s the case, it’s not a high water table; it’s water that is simply sinking in around the foundation and you’ve got to manage that better. So I would say, if you don’t have a gutter system, get one. If you have downspouts, they’ve got to be extended out well away from that foundation; four to six feet.
And if you still need more help after that, you’re going to have to break out that concrete at the foundation perimeter and put in something called a curtain drain, which collects the water and doesn’t allow it to soak in. The fact that it’s coming up under the slab, doesn’t really change the fact that it’s originating in the foundation perimeter. And that’s where you need to pay most of the attention.
Well, from the basement to the first floor to the second floor. No matter which floor of your house you want to concentrate your home improvement on, it probably is going to involve paint. And picking the right paint is more than just picking the right color. It’s picking the right quality. That is the topic of today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Alright, Tom.
Well, painting a room in your home can work wonders and add to the d