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: And your home improvement projects just got easier. Pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because we can help. 888-666-3974 is the number you need to call for the answers to your home improvement questions. Let us help solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. We know, as you look around the house, there’s got to be one project you’d like to tangle this weekend. It doesn’t have to be terribly hard.
LESLIE: One or nine. (chuckling)
TOM: One or nine or, you know, the three most expensive words in home improvement: might as well. (Leslie chuckles) So it kind of has this viral quality when you start a home improvement project but that’s OK. I know in my house it’s like when I get going, just get out of my way.
TOM: Because it takes a while to kind of get the family in sort of the home improvement mode and once I do …
LESLIE: And if you’re going to disrupt their lives you might as well do everything at once.
TOM: I literally started in the livingroom, went to the staircase, to the second floor hall and before we were done I’d hit three of the bedrooms. Complete.
LESLIE: (chuckling) It’s good though.
TOM: Had a head of steam. Didn’t want to stop. If that’s you we’ll help you get started. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it’s been a difficult year for folks that want to sell their homes and if that’s you, you are certainly not alone. Not too long ago homes were being snatched up sometimes on the same day they were put on the market. Not so anymore. It’s taking sellers months and months to get their homes to sell. So this hour we’re going to have a few tips that could give your home a jumpstart if you’re planning on putting it on the market.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, our green scene reporter is on the case again. We’ve got Aimee Oscamou and she’s got some great ideas and advice to help you save some water.
TOM: And one big water waster in your home can be a leaky toilet. Did you know that one leaky toilet in your house can waste enough water to fill a backyard swimming pool?
LESLIE: That’s insane.
TOM: We’re going to tell you how to fix that leak and save water and money in just a bit.
LESLIE: And as always here at The Money Pit, we’re giving away a great prize this hour. It’s a basket full of cleaning wipes that are going to work on all kinds of surfaces all around your home from granite to stainless steel to leather. They’re super easy to use. You just wipe and go. You might even get your husband or Tom to do some of the cleaning. (laughing)
TOM: (laughing) You could hope. You could hope.
LESLIE: (laughing) Yeah.
TOM: You know, when you call me over to help you with your home improvement projects, I don’t mind installing the dimmers and the light fixtures and things like that, but …
LESLIE: Hey, it’s electric. I’m afraid of electrics.
TOM: And I don’t mind you doing that because I don’t want you to get hurt. We need you here every weekend. (laughing)
LESLIE: I would clean your house if you asked me to. If you said, ‘Hey Leslie, come on over. I need help painting or cleaning or landscaping,’ I’d be your gal.
TOM: Great, because I have a backyard I need to redesign this summer and I’m going to take you up on that. (chuckling)
LESLIE: Crap, I spoke to soon.
TOM: It’s a prize pack worth 65 bucks. Going to go to one caller that reaches us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Ann in North Carolina, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
ANN: I have an upstairs and a downstairs basement that’s about almost the full length of the house but it’s about 60 feet. And throughout the house, when you make certain steps, it just squeaks. Like there might be settling. I’m not really sure what’s going on.
TOM: Ann, what kind of floor covering do you have on that first floor?
ANN: There is part linoleum and part carpet.
TOM: OK. The carpet is a little bit easier to straighten out than the linoleum, but here’s the reason you have squeaks. How old is the house?
ANN: Twenty years.
TOM: OK, and that’s perfect timing for this. When your house was built you probably have a plywood subfloor. The plywood subfloor would have been nailed in place with a type of nail that is known in the business as a cooler. It’s a seven-penny common nail. It’s called a cooler because it’s rosin-coated with like glue and as – the theory goes that as you drive the nails through the plywood into the floor joist, the glue melts because of the friction and then helps the nail stick in place. Unfortunately, what happens is it doesn’t stick in place but because it’s rosin-coated, whenever the boards get loose they make a terrible noise because of the friction.
TOM: So you’ll get noises as the nails pull in and out of the wood. You’ll also get noises as the tongue and groove of the plywood subfloor rub together. No matter where the noise is though it’s always fixed the same way and that’s by securing the subfloor to the floor joist better.
Now, if you have carpet and it really, really bothers you, the best way to do this is to pull the carpet up and then screw the floor down with case hardened screws. It’s a very easy thing to do once the carpet is pulled up because these screws can be put in with a power drill and a power driver and zip, zip, zip – you know, about every 24 inches – that’s …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, that’s if you’re wanting to pull up the carpet.
TOM: Yeah, that floor will never, ever move again.
Now, if you don’t want to pull the carpet up I’ll give you a little trick of the trade. You can take a #10 galvanized finish nail and you can find the floor joist below the carpet by using a stud finder.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) A stud finder.
TOM: Electronic stud finder. And you can drive the nail through the carpet, through the subfloor into the floor joist and as you do that the carpet will sort of look like it’s nailed down. Then you grab the nap of the carpet and pull it back up through the tiny head of the finish nail and you don’t see it again. Now, that will work but not as well as screwing it down and I wouldn’t do it in the entire house. I would do it in a couple of spots. But that’s the way that you deal with this. You’ve got to secure the subfloor down.
Now in the places where you have linoleum, the easiest thing to do there might be to work this from the basement and see if there are gaps between the subfloor and the top of the floor joist. In those cases I would take a block of 2×4 material and I would use construction adhesive and I would glue it to the bottom of the subfloor and the side of the floor joist and I would screw those blocks in place in the area where the noise is and that will tighten that up and hopefully take the sound away because you can’t work on that from the top, obviously.
ANN: Oh, OK. So …
TOM: And that’s all. That’s all there is to it.
ANN: (chuckling) Sounds like a big project there.
LESLIE: Not too bad.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, you’ve got loose floors. Listen, if you’re ever going to replace that carpet that’s the time to do this. If you’re ever going to pull the carpet up and get new carpet down, I would screw all the subfloor down in the whole house at that time and you’ll never have a squeak again.
ANN: Well, we have been thinking about hardwood floors. This would be a good time.
TOM: Yeah, it would be and …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It would be a perfect time.
TOM: And believe me, the squeaks will happen through the hardwood floor so make sure you pull that carpet up; you get all that subfloor screwed down nice and tight before you put the hardwood down, Ann.
ANN: OK. I appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Hopefully it’s a little quieter now in North Carolina at Ann’s house.
LESLIE: (chuckling) This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
If you’ve got spring on the mind and projects ahead, give us a call. We can help you make it a lot easier. Call us with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
If this is a year in which you tried to sell your house, it may have been on the market for quite a while and you’re not alone. So coming up, we’re going to have some tips that could result in a faster sale.
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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you should give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that we talk to on the air this hour as we answer their home improvement question is going to be entered into the Money Pit hardhat to win a great prize and we’re giving away a basket full of cleaning wipes from our friends over at Weiman and in includes some E-Tronic wipes which are perfect for cleaning computers; flatscreen TVs, which my husband is always saying, ‘Don’t use any cleanser on the flatscreen TV’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know anything about flat screens.’ So that’s awesome to have these. You’re also going to get great wipes designed specifically for natural stone surfaces. It’s worth $65 so give us a call now for your chance to win.
Are you one of the millions of Americans that has had their home on the market over the last 12 months?
TOM: Well, you’re not alone. If there doesn’t seem to be much interest in your home one thing that you can do is to hire an aggressive, well-connected real estate agent, of course; finding an experienced agent with a proven track record and know-how to pound the pavement. In this market, name recognition is important so find the go-to person for buyers and their agents in your community. You might also consider offering incentives that put money in the buyer’s pocket; such as buying down the interest rate, absorbing more of the closing cost or offering seller financing.
Some other things that you can do to your house is to do what relocation companies do when they decide to put their homes on the market. These are the pros that often take over homes that can’t be sold while executives move over to a new job in some other part of the country. What they’ll generally do is have a home inspector go through and do an inspection of the complete property. They’ll fix any major repairs. They usually don’t spend a lot of money on the minor stuff but they’ll fix the major repairs. But here’s something they will invest money in: on the outside, making sure to fix up any rotted wood, making sure the home is presentable; on the landscaping, making sure it’s trimmed back away from the house; on the lighting … [0:10:09.4] (AUDIO GAP)
TOM: … and on the inside look for the WaterSense label.
AIMEE: That’s correct.
LESLIE: And what about with the warmer weather; you know, spring being around the corner; summer right behind that; droughts and what-not? What about irrigation for the outside? I mean without the town sort of instituting that you have to water on certain days, you know, everybody likes to keep a green lawn so what can we do outside?
AIMEE: Well, now is a great time to think of what you’re going to do in the spring and summer. You should really think about your yard layout and landscaping and see what adjustments you can make there; maybe a little less turf, more plantings of native plants and water-wise plants and you’ll still have a great look without using so much water. But updating or installing a great irrigation system is another important way to go and the WaterSense folks are involved there, too. They’re certifying professionals who can help you design a very water-wise irrigation system and install it.
TOM: Great advice. Aimee Oscamou, our green scene reporter. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Aimee.
AIMEE: Thanks a lot, guys.
TOM: You want more tips on how to conserve water in your house you can go to the website for WaterSense at EPA.gov/WaterSense.
LESLIE: Alright, Aimee. Thanks so much.
Hey, you know, speaking of water conservation, does your house have a jiggler? You know, you have to jiggle the handle on one of your toilets to stop that water from running and running and running. Well, you’re not alone. Find out why toilet repairs are one of the most common DIY projects, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement or repair question and we will toss your name in the Money Pit hardhat. You might just win a $65 gift basket of cleaning wipes from Weiman. It’s going to one caller this hour. The wipes are the perfect solution for busy folks who like a clean home. They actually sent us a basket full of these wipes and they were great. The basket was very attractive (Leslie chuckles) and the wipes actually worked quite well; especially the ones that they call the E-Tronic wipes. We use them on the flatscreens on the computer monitors here in the office and they worked really, really well and they didn’t leave any streaks and they didn’t damage the monitors. So, we’re going to give those away this hour, 65 bucks worth, to one caller to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, well if your question for us here at The Money Pit is something to do with what’s going on with your toilet and why it’s running, you’re not alone because toilet repairs are the most common do-it-yourself plumbing problem and while toilets themselves don’t wear out, the working parts inside do and do need to be replaced. And you know, Tom, we touched a little bit about this with Aimee earlier in our interview and we talked about flush valves and fill valves. But really, what are the parts and what are the step-by-steps? How difficult is it?
TOM: It’s really not that hard and those are the two major assemblies; the flush valve and this fill valve. And the instructions for replacing them are on the packages and they really are that simple to follow. The first thing is you need to turn off the water supply to the toilet, which is down near the floor, and if that valve goes off you’ll know because you’ll flush the toilet and it won’t fill back up again. If that looks good then that’s probably the only part that gets a bit tricky because if sometimes those valves get stuck, they don’t turn off, then you’re going to have a big mess. But if it does turn off you can go ahead and follow the instructions.
Essentially, you’re disconnecting the water line which is connected to the fill valve. That comes apart and you don’t even need a lot of tools for this because generally the fill valves today have like a thumb nut to keep them on, so they’re very, very easy to replace. The flush valve, as well, is at the bottom of the tank. Those two parts together cost maybe $15 or so in the average hardware store. You can do the project in about a half-hour and the toilets won’t leak anymore. If you’ll do this every maybe three or four years you’ll maintain a perfectly leak-free toilet.
If you have a plumbing question like that pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Sherry in Arkansas has a question about cleaning air ducts. What can we do for you?
SHERRY: Yes, ma’am. We have an older mobile home and I was wondering about how we would go about cleaning the air ducts because we’ve possibly gotten some leaks in them that possibly need to be repaired.
TOM: When you say leaks do you mean air leaks?
SHERRY: Yes, and it’s an older mobile home that’s got – it’s got central heat and air and some of the ductwork in the floor is – I guess it’s got some leaks in it because we can feel the cool air underneath the mobile home.
TOM: Alright, well that would be the weatherstripping between the ducts and where it attaches to the house. So, the first thing to do is you’ll need to have a duct-cleaning company – because there’s special gear involved here, Sherry. There are special vacuums and brushes that get inside the ducts and scrub them out. But the other thing that has to be done here is you may have to do some repair to that, so you might have to have an HVAC contractor go inside or underneath the mobile home and try to find the place where the gaps are.
Now, I will warn you that most of the time, contractors will seal ducts with duct tape but that’s not the right product to use.
LESLIE: It dries out.
TOM: It dries out and falls out and that’s why you get these gaps. You want something called UL-181 tape which is not going to dry out based on the heat. It’s a silver, foil-face tape that’s much more permanent than the standard duct tape.
SHERRY: OK, thank you.
TOM: That ought to do it. You’re so welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sal in New Jersey is dealing with the inevitable side effects of winter: holes in the concrete from the salt. Tell us about the problem, where you see it, how bad is it.
SAL: Yeah, hi. I guess – the house is only five years old and I started throwing salt – this was last year – on the concrete to melt the ice and now it’s chipping away; it’s flaking off. Do I have to replace the whole thing? Is there something I can put over it?
TOM: Well, it is reparable but first of all let’s deal with the kind of salt that you put down. I suspect you put rock salt down, which is extremely corrosive. There’s another type of salt that’s either potassium chloride or magnesium chloride that’s usually sold under a brand name like Safe-T-Salt or something like that and you want to buy these salts that are safe for concrete; otherwise, you’re going to continue to deteriorate the concrete surfaces next winter.
In terms of repair, you want to look for an epoxy patching compound. The thing is, if you patch it it’s going to look patched. It looks fairly spotted so you’re going to end up patching the holes but then sort of recoating the whole thing with epoxy, so it almost looks like it’s a painted walk. But that’s the only way you can really fix this. You cannot put more concrete on top of this because it won’t actually bind to the old stuff and it’ll chip right off the next winter for sure.
TOM: So be careful about the salt that you choose, OK?
SAL: OK, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sal. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jacob in Georgia needs some help with a plumbing project. What can we do for you?
JACOB: Hi. I’ve got a shower stall in an old apartment – well, it’s not that old; 1991. But I cannot figure out how to turn off the water supply so I can change the faucet.
TOM: That would be the main water valve, Jacob. Do you know where that is?
JACOB: Well, I know where the one outside is. Is that what I’m going to end up doing?
TOM: Well, the one outside – does the one outside control all the water flow into the entire house?
JACOB: Yes, sir.
TOM: Well, that would probably be the easiest way to do this. Yeah, just turn the water off at the main while you make that repair. You know, if you’re so fortunate that there are shutoff valves in line on the way to the shower, you can always turn it off there. But chances are in an apartment that’s going to be difficult to find. So the easiest, most positive thing to do is to turn off the main water valve and then replace the faucet.
LESLIE: Yeah, but don’t you need to get approval from everybody else in the building since you’re going to be cutting all their water?
TOM: No, I’m presuming that it only impacts this one apartment.
LESLIE: That’s just for his apartment. OK. (chuckling)
JACOB: That’s correct.
TOM: That would probably be a good thing to know before you do that. (chuckling)
LESLIE: Before you go turning it off.
JACOB: I have one more question. What’s the value of – for adding like a tankless water heater to a rental property?
TOM: If it’s a rental property I would recommend it to your landlord but I would not do it yourself.
JACOB: No, as …
TOM: I would not pay for it yourself.
JACOB: As I’m renting. (chuckling)
TOM: I know. You’re renting so, no, it’s not the kind of thing because you can’t take it with you and it’s a great thing – it’s a great product but it’s going to last you 15 or 20 years and so, unless you somehow are going to earn the payback for that then I definitely wouldn’t do it if I was a renter. If I was a landlord I would do it immediately because I would have no more complaints of running out of hot water from any of my tenants and I would save lots and lots of money.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. When we come back we’re going to help one listener decide on the best roofing material for a harsh climate.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators; America’s choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.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.
TOM: And we’re here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT to answer your home improvement questions. If you can’t get through and need an answer right away, visit us at MoneyPit.com. Right on our homepage is the new project finder button. You can look up everything we’ve ever written or said about the project you’re working on right now. It’s all free at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And while you’re at our super fabulous website you can click on a little flashing purple icon – sometimes it’s blue – that says Ask Tom and Leslie. This way, if you’re feeling a little shy and don’t feel like picking up the phone you can e-mail us your home improvement question and we will answer it on the air like we do every hour at this time in the show and we’ve got one here from Bradley in Cranston, Rhode Island who writes: ‘I’m planning to build a house near the ocean and would like to use cedar shingles on the outside. Is there a synthetic shingle that looks like the real thing? My hope is to find something that will stand up to strong winds and salt water and not require any maintenance.’
TOM: Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it looks like, you know, a duplicate of the real thing but if I was in your shoes, Bradley, I would be using probably a hardy plank shingle which is a cementicious shingle. It’s a cement shingle.
LESLIE: That’s a good word, Tom.
TOM: It’s a true word. It’s …
LESLIE: I know. I like it.
TOM: You like that? Cementicious. It was an SAT word that I remembered.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And you know what? Hardy plank, they have an excellent website. They really do. It’s very serviceable and it really has all of the products and photos of the products so that you know exactly what you’re looking at.
TOM: And what’s good about it is it can really take a beating weather wise. It’s not an organic product so it doesn’t sort of rot or twist or warp and if you have any storms that you’re worried about, you know, things flying around striking the house, really tough stuff. So, I would definitely go for a hardy plank.
I have cedar shingles on my house, Bradley, and we built a garage and I decided to put the hardy plank on the garage and really happy that I did because the finish was put on at the factory and so we haven’t had to paint it now in many, many years and it really hasn’t faded whatsoever. So that would be the way to go.
LESLIE: Alright, Linda in Michigan writes: ‘I want to refinish my kitchen faucets from a brushed nickel to a bronze color. What’s the best option? Can I stain or paint them without spending the money on a new fixture?’
You know, Linda, you need to do some research online. There’s something called electroplating; where they dip your faucets, light fixtures, what have you, in metal to take on a different metal finish. I’m not sure how much that costs but it could be far less than the cost of a new faucet itself.
TOM: Well, Leslie, as you know, I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector before taking to the airways and in that time I discovered that there were three things that cause problems to homes.
LESLIE: Yeah, and they are?
TOM: Water, water and water. (chuckling) Get that under control, it’s all smooth sailing and that’s why that is the topic of today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. If you’ve got a half-an-hour you can easily check for leaks in and under all of the sinks in your home and here’s the best way to do that. You want to turn each faucet on and run it full blast for a minute or two. Then, with a bright flashlight you want to inspect the drain under the sink. If no leak is spotted, close the stopper and let the sink fill up until it hits the overflow and don’t walk away here (Tom laughs) because some faucets can fill a sink faster than the flow can drain it so make sure you stick around.
TOM: How do you know that, Leslie? (laughing)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Maybe I’ve had experience and that’s why we have new sinks and faucets. (laughing) So after the water has been running through the overflow for another minute or two you want to check the drain under the sink again. If no leak is spotted your sink is good to go. Move on to the next sink and repeat until you’ve done it all around the house.
TOM: Great advice.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. That’s all the time we have. In just a few weeks, though, you’re going to be getting ready for your green thumb again. So coming up next week on the program we’re going to give you some tips on plants that may be native to your area that will actually help you cut back on water usage and the maintenance it takes to keep a garden green all spring and summer long.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(Copyright 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.)