Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Time to pick up the hammer, pick up the nails and pick up the phone and call us and let’s talk home improvement. What are you working on? Is it a roof? Is it a deck? Is it a pergola?
LESLIE: Ah. You know, pergolas make a really great addition to an outdoor space. And you might be thinking what’s a pergola? I know it’s confusing. There’s a lot of outdoor structures. Pergolas, arbors, trellises. What’s what? Well, here’s the actual definition for pergola. Let me read it to you. ‘A passageway of columns supporting a roof of trellis work for climbing plants that creates shade.’ That’s the actual definition. But it …
TOM: That was very instructive. I didn’t know that. (laughing)
LESLIE: Yes, you know I wanted to give you the right definition. Because when I think pergola, I would think, oh, a structure with sort of a roof-like part. You know, you can put plants or fabric up there. That doesn’t really explain it. And outdoor spaces are really sort of the hot topic now and going forward in design. On While You Were Out, we do a lot of outdoor spaces and they can be a lot more difficult than indoor spaces, I think. Number one, because everything weighs a ton and you’re digging and you’re moving stuff and there’s sand and that pressure-treated lumber weighs a ton.
TOM: You know what I think a pergola is?
LESLIE: What do you think? Let me hear it?
TOM: A roof … a roof of weeds. (laughing)
LESLIE: (laughing) Well, if you don’t take care of it, it might grow into one. But at least you’re in the shade.
TOM: Actually, they can help you block a bad view or offer a focal point in your yard. They’re a pretty cool project. You don’t have to be an expert to build one. We’re going to prove it because later this house we’re going to interview Kevin Ireton. He’s the editor of Fine Homebuilding Magazine. He’ll have some tips on how to build a beautiful pergola in your own backyard.
LESLIE: Yeah. And once you’re done building that pergola, if you drag any mud or grass clippings into the house, we’ve got a free prize, this hour, to give away that will help you clean up all of that mess you might track inside. It’s the VAX X5 vacuum. It’s designed to take the chore out of vacuuming and actually make it fun. And it’s got a really nice, long wand that extends 11 feet; so you don’t have to bend over or climb up on that chair to reach all of those hard-to-vacuum places.
TOM: That’s all coming up, this hour, on The Money Pit. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: James in Rhode Island finds The Money Pit on WPRO. And you’ve got a roofing question. What can we do for you?
JAMES: My question is I’ve got a five-year-old house – brand new, obviously. And recently, I had some roof shingles blow off with a mild windstorm that we had. It’s happened twice. And I’m thinking is that … it’s not normal for that to happen on such a young house. I figured that either improper installation or a defect in the materials and I was wondering if there are any other possible causes that could create roof shingles from flying off.
LESLIE: Well, it could be two things. It could be that they weren’t attached properly or they weren’t using the right adhesive to sort of help them attach. Or that they’re not the right shingles for your location, maybe.
TOM: Yeah, you know, there’s a … there’s a nailing guide on the bag of every shingles – or on the package of every shingles. And generally, it’s four nails per shingles. So, the first thing, I would check to make sure they’re nailed correctly. The second thing is, James, that there are different kinds of roofing shingles and some are meant for high wind areas. So if you happen to have an area where you’re picking up a lot of wind, you might have been better off using a different shingles. There are actually shingles out there that can stand up to 100-mile-an-hour wind storms.
JAMES: Well, I’m in an area where all the homes are new. And a couple of homes also lost some shingles but a whole lot of them. So …
TOM: Well …
JAMES: … the same shingles were supposedly used on all the homes in the whole neighborhood.
TOM: Well, and they probably were. And they probably were made very similarly. There’s another possibility and that is that sometimes when a roof is shingled in cooler weather, the shingles don’t really have a chance to set because they don’t get enough sun, right off. And so the glue …
LESLIE: Yeah, because the sun sort of helps adhere them to each other.
TOM: Yeah, because there’s like a glue strip between each layer of shingles. And it takes a lot of heat of the sun to actually make that stick. So sometimes I’ve seen roof shingles blow off a lot when the roof was put on in the cooler weather.
JAMES: Now is there a strip you’re supposed to peel off of that …?
JAMES: Oh, OK. I saw the glue strip on it and there’s like a film over it that I thought maybe they should pull that away, then put it onto the roof and nail it.
TOM: There’d be no reason to do that. Yeah. So, James, what I would suggest is that, for right now, you simply keep replacing those shingles. And when you do, you want to put a little tab of glue – a little tab of roof cement – under each edge of a shingle before you put it down.
JAMES: Thank you.
TOM: You’ve very welcome.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Enjoy your new house.
JAMES: Thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Interesting the way people consider their homes … when somebody considers his house new. Is it new when it’s …?
LESLIE: Well, you consider your house new if it’s new to you.
TOM: That’s right. Is it new if it’s like brand new? Is it new if it’s five years old?
LESLIE: I think it’s new if it’s new to you.
TOM: That’s a good point.
LESLIE: Regardless of if it’s 100 years old or brand, spanking new.
TOM: Right. But there’s an expectation that as a newer house, you’re not going to have problems. That’s like the new car …
LESLIE: Yeah, but you might have more problems with a newer house than you would with something that’s already built.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Absolutely. I think a five-year-old house is a great age for a house. Because most of the …
LESLIE: Because it’s already …
TOM: … most of the kinks have been worked out.
LESLIE: It’s already lost some of its teeth.
TOM: If you buy James’ house, you’ll already have a few new roof shingles, too. (laughing)
LESLIE: Thomas in Virginia finds The Money Pit on WJFK. And you’ve got a remodeling project at hand. What’s going on?
THOMAS: Well, I’m looking to make a big hole in the wall is what I’m trying to do.
LESLIE: (laughing) OK.
TOM: (laughing) OK.
THOMAS: I guess most remodeling projects start that way. I have a wall that has two doorways right next to each other. And there’s about a foot of wall between the two doors. And what I would like to do is to combine those two doorways into one or perhaps even open the doorway wide enough to create pocket doors there. And what I’m concerned about, though, is I can’t tell if that’s a load-bearing wall. So I’m hoping to get a rule of thumb on how to figure out if a wall is load-bearing or not.
TOM: Alright, well, first of all, Tom, how old is your house?
THOMAS: It’s about 10 years old.
TOM: OK. And the wall that is … that has these two doors in it, is it parallel to the front and rear wall of the house?
THOMAS: No. It’s perpendicular to that. But it is …
TOM: That’s good.
THOMAS: … an external wall.
TOM: Because …
THOMAS: Or it used to be, anyway.
TOM: Oh, it is an external wall?
THOMAS: Well, it’s … I believe I’m standing in a new wing to the house. Obviously, I didn’t build the house; I bought it the way it is now.
THOMAS: So, it is not the front or the back wall. It’s a side wall but I believe it used to be external and then they added a wing on and that became the room that I’m …
TOM: What happened to the roof on top of that area?
THOMAS: A new roof was built on the … it basically was a rectangular wing that was just sort of …
THOMAS: … stuck onto the side of the house.
TOM: OK. Because generally speaking, certainly all exterior walls are load-bearing. However, the front and the rear walls are more load-bearing than the end walls.
TOM: Because the end walls are only holding the triangular section of the gable roof above it.
TOM: But the front and the rear walls are taking the weight of every roofing rafter. So …
THOMAS: OK. Does it matter if it’s a two-story house?
TOM: Well, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. Because … I mean, certainly you’re going to have more weight if it’s a first floor wall on it.
THOMAS: Right. OK.
TOM: Now, even if it is load-bearing, though, you can rebuild that and make it bigger.
TOM: And by the way, the biggest job you just described was the pocket doors.
TOM: Because to do the pocket doors, you have to open it up like twice the size …
LESLIE: Even more.
TOM: Yeah, twice the size of the actual door itself.
TOM: Because you need the space to run in there. But conceptually, here’s what happens. You build reinforcing walls next to the wall you’re going to take apart.
TOM: Which is, basically, like a temporary wall right sort of in the middle of the room; like within a foot or two of the wall that you’re actually going to do the wall surgery on.
TOM: And that stands to hold that wall while you take the … take the doorways apart.
TOM: And then, after you rebuild those doors with new headers that are going all the way across, you can pull out the temporary walls and you’ve basically temporarily supported it while you’ve created the new header.
THOMAS: OK. Is there a rule of thumb for the header, in terms of thickness and … thickness based on distance covered?
TOM: Yes. And it has to do with the span tables.
TOM: And I would recommend that before you do this, you trot on down to your local building official and ask him to pull out the span table and tell you what’s acceptable in your part of the country.
THOMAS: OK. That makes sense.
TOM: OK? But it definitely can be done. And I would treat it … if you’re not sure, treat it as a load-bearing wall and just rebuild it that way.
THOMAS: OK. Just to be on the safe side.
THOMAS: Alright. That makes a lot of sense.
TOM: Alright, Tom. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Floor questions. We get more of those than anything else on this program. One of them has to do with vinyl flooring and how to fix those nasty seams that are always peeling away at your patience. You know, they can gather grime; they can become loose over the years. But you can fix them and we’re going to help you lay down that answer, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is sponsored by The Home Depot with a guaranteed low price and the know-how to make every dollar work harder. You can do it, we can help.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
So, you’re having a problem with that vinyl flooring. Alright, folks. Here’s the answer. Vinyl flooring. It comes in sheets. It’s easy to install. It’s inexpensive. And it actually looks a lot better than you might think. But seams in the flooring can lift over time. Fortunately, we have an answer for that.
TOM: That’s right. There are special sealers that can be applied to the seams. And they can hide a repair or even prevent a loose seam from getting worse and tearing the floor. You need to glue down those seams with seam sealer. Then you apply it to prevent the dirt from getting underneath of it.
LESLIE: That’s excellent. Because that can be really annoying when that happens. And it really just starts the floor to deteriorate and it looks terrible.
Alright, folks. Do you like those quick fixes? Well, we’ve got more of them in this week’s e-newsletter. What is that you say? Are you not a subscriber? Well, why not? Sign up right now?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Big mistake. (laughing)
LESLIE: I know, exactly. It’s free. Come on, you guys. Sign up right now at MoneyPit.com and you’re going to get the newsletter every week in your inbox every Friday. And it’s full of great tips and ideas. And this week, we’re featuring restoring ceramic tile, patching wood floors and fixing split drywall tape.
TOM: And to keep your carpets clean, we’ve got a great prize that we’re giving away, this hour. It’s the VAX X5. It’s designed to take the chore out of vacuuming. It’s worth about 300 bucks so call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mandy in Alabama finds The Money Pit on WRJM. And you’ve got a shower question. What’s going on?
MANDY: Yes. My husband and I remodeled a bathroom ourselves and we installed a new shower and fixtures and everything. And when you turn the bathtub portion on, the shower part drips. Even without turning it on for just the shower. If you get it beyond a certain pressure point … you know, like if you turn it on strong …
MANDY: … it drips and it’s very annoying. When you’re trying to bathe your children, you get a shower at the same time.
LESLIE: Sounds like a valve problem.
TOM: Yeah, it sounds like the diverter has gone bad on that shower. It’s basically a valve that controls the flow between the faucet and the shower head. And that valve has … is leaking on you and you need a new diverter.
MANDY: OK. Because this is a brand new set. You know, we bought it ourselves and installed it (inaudible).
TOM: Well, then, I would go out and … I would go out and take it back to the store if it’s not working. It sounds to me like it’s not …
MANDY: The diverter.
TOM: The diverter’s not working properly. Definitely should not be allowing water to pass up to the shower head.
MANDY: OK. So take the diverter. And (chuckling) my husband wanted to ask … wanted me to ask another very quick plumbing question.
TOM: OK, sure.
MANDY: Our two-year-old, at some point, flushed something down the toilet. (laughing) Same bathroom. And he … we’ve tried … you know, every time we use the bathroom, in any capacity, we have to plunge it. And it’s very slow to drain. And he was wanting to know does this sound like something that is like a do-it-yourself thing or should we try to get somebody professional in to … are we probably going to have to take the toilet completely off?
TOM: Well, Mandy, you know, being a home improvement expert, I feel your pain. Because one time, I had a toilet back up in my house before … I think it was before my daughter’s christening. So the next morning, before we go to church, I go outside because I knew – because I am a home improvement expert – that the cause was the clogged waste pipe that was going out to the street. I had a big willow tree and I was absolutely convinced that that was the problem with the toilet. So I dug a big hole in the yard before church that morning and I found the pipe and I broke the pipe open and I snaked it one way and I snaked it the other way. And that didn’t do it. So, finally, out of total frustration, with hours to go before the service and the big party and everybody’s coming over, I finally figured I had to access this thing from the toilet itself. So I pulled the toilet out and I snaked it down from the top. And guess what? I couldn’t find anything. But as I went to put the toilet back on, I noticed something blue in the bottom of the toilet.
LESLIE: Oh, God. What was it?
TOM: It was a toy phone. (laughing) It was a toy phone that my son had stuffed into the toilet.
TOM: And so, that’s how much I know. (laughing) If your question is is it …?
MANDY: Well, he was going to just like take the toilet off and see, you know, at that point.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, take the toilet off. Turn the valve off. Take the toilet off. Turn it on its side. Carefully drain the water out and you know, look from the bottom, look from the top. If it’s obstructed, you’re going to find it.
LESLIE: Oh, gosh.
TOM: It’s not that hard to do. And then put a new wax … put a new wax seal on.
MANDY: That’s the whole reason we remodeled and we’ve got two bathrooms now. But we’re basically down to using just one when we have company. (laughing) It’s really embarrassing. OK. Well, great. So take the diverter on the shower and then just look for objects – which we know are in there – (audio gap) toilet.
TOM: That’s right. Because, remember, there’s nothing supposed to be blue inside of a toilet, OK? Alright, thanks very much.
MANDY: (laughing) OK. OK, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Mandy. Thanks for calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jody in Texas is building a new home and looking for some advice. What can we do for you?
JODY: I’m planning on building a concrete home. I live in hurricane territory in Corpus Christi, Texas. And I wanted to build a home either out of concrete block or just concrete walls. But I had no idea if you could do it and where to start.
TOM: Oh, I have a third option for you, Jody, which is even better. Have you heard of insulated concrete forms?
JODY: I have, yes.
TOM: That is really an awesome technology. What these are, are they look like foam blocks; like large, foam blocks. Think of huge LEGO blocks.
TOM: That’s what they look like. Except, Leslie, they’re hollow …
LESLIE: They’re hollow on the inside.
TOM: You know, hollow on the inside. So what you do is you stack them up to form the wall. And then, inside of them, you snap in rebar – the reinforcing steel bar – and then once it’s all in place and it’s exactly where you want it to be and it’s all braced in place, then the concrete truck comes in and it pours a fairly loose mixture of concrete in between the insulated foam blocks. So what happens is that hardens and then you get this like super-insulated, super-tough wall. So I really like insulated concrete forms. And I’ll tell you, if I was building a house today, Jody, that is definitely the technology that I would take advantage of.
JODY: How does the price differ from a wood house? Is it more expensive?
TOM: No, it’s about the same price as a wood house, to do this. But the advantages are you get the storm resistance; you can’t have a … the walls are absolutely rock solid. They’re also quieter homes.
LESLIE: It’s good at insulation value, as well.
TOM: They’re super-insulated. In fact, if you build an insulated concrete form home, you can downsize the heating and cooling system by a third. So you’ll actually realize some savings on the flip side there, as well. You know, a good website for those, Jody, is ConcreteHomes.com. It’s a … it’s a website that’s managed by the Portland Cement Association. Got great ideas, lots of great photos and you get more information on it. And there’s a whole bunch of manufacturers, out there, that make ICF blocks today.
JODY: OK. Do they have any kind of plans? Like house plans (inaudible)?
TOM: Well, I will say this. I don’t think that building a concrete form house is a do-it-yourself project. (chuckling)
TOM: It’s a little … you have to work with the stuff.
LESLIE: But you can incorporate it into any style of home being built.
TOM: Well, you certainly can.
LESLIE: It just replaces the wood framing.
TOM: Yeah, you certainly can incorporate it. But I would hire a crew that’s used to doing this. I would not do it myself. If I was doing it, as much as I know, I’d hire people that work with these blocks everyday to get the walls up in place. I might take it over from there. But, you know, it’s just like anything that you work with it everyday, you get pretty good at it.
JODY: Right. And what about the roofing? Would you use like wood to do the top roof or steel or …?
TOM: Correct. The roofing … the roofing would be standard and as long as it was tied down to the walls properly, then it’s going to be secure. And if you’re in a hurricane area, you’re probably not going to want to do a gable roof. You’re going to want to do a hip roof because they have the best hurricane resistance. It doesn’t have that flat end wall for a hurricane to sort of grab onto.
JODY: What’s it called?
TOM: A hip roof. Where all sides slope up, like a triangle. Or like a pyramid, I should say.
JODY: Oh, OK. A hip roof?
TOM: A hip roof. Yep. H-i-p.
TOM: OK? Think pyramid.
JODY: OK, thank you.
TOM: Jody, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
A pergola can really give your yard character. They’re great for vines and other climbing plants.
LESLIE: What? You don’t have a green thumb? Well, don’t let that stop you. Imagine your pergola with a string of lights or some fabric draped over it.
TOM: You know, that is exactly what I would imagine you doing with a pergola. (laughing)
LESLIE: (laughing) I’ve got lots of ideas for pergolas.
TOM: Yeah, you would. You’d have all those drapes like hanging out of it, you know. You’d be building this outside room with this thing.
LESLIE: It can be really gorgeous. Fabric outside is a nice addition.
TOM: Well, if you’re thinking about building a pergola, we’ve got an expert standing by. Kevin Ireton, the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, is going to tell us how to build a perfect craftsman-style pergola, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: 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. Well, Leslie, spring has sprung and the first daffodils have just poked their heads through the soil in the northeast. And that can mean one thing for us that have these home improvement checklists tucked in our back pockets. Time to get out and get the yard in order.
LESLIE: Well, while outdoor entertainment season is just on the horizon, there’s still time to turn that barren backyard into a welcoming showpiece. Fine Homebuilding recommends that one of the best ways to carve out and define an outdoor living space is with a pergola. And joining us, to talk about just that, is Kevin Ireton, the editor of Taunton’s Fine Homebuilding magazine.
KEVIN: Hi, guys. Your first question is going to be what the heck’s a pergola.
TOM: That’s right. You beat us to it. (laughing) What is a pergola?
KEVIN: We … I mean, this is a thing that editors have to care about. We argued about this in our office, you know? What’s the difference between a pergola, a trellis and an arbor?
LESLIE: Interchangeable. Because people do that.
KEVIN: People use them interchangeably. We’ve driven a stake in the ground and said that a trellis is typically a flat panel – either attached to a house; it can be free-standing – designed for supporting climbing vines.
KEVIN: An arbor is typically an archway … an arched shape over a gate. It often has a trellis incorporated into it, also designed to carry vines. But it’s more of a passageway at a gate. Whereas a pergola is a larger structure; typically supported on posts and often with a roof-like structure over it.
TOM: But it’s not really a roof. It’s really an open-air structure.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, it doesn’t give you shelter.
KEVIN: Well, it doesn’t in the sense that you can … there’s light in there moving through it. But if you grow, say, wisteria vines on top of it, you can tuck a barbecue under it and maybe not get too wet in the rain.
TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. Well, how do you … where’s the first … what’s the first step in trying to decide if you want to do a pergola? I mean, it seems like it’s a fairly big structure and there are some structural considerations; one of which being making sure it doesn’t blow away.
KEVIN: Absolutely. It’s pretty much … if you think of it as being kind of anchored like the same way a backyard deck would be. So they’re typically supported on concrete piers with metal anchors cast into the piers to support and anchor the base of the pergola. And then, from there, what you build depends a lot upon your house, where you’re going to put it and kind of what sort of purpose it’s serving.
LESLIE: And Kevin, I bet that anchor system sort of varies as to where you live in the country and what type of weather you experience, correct?
KEVIN: Oh, it sure does. Although, you know, I’m … you know, I’m one of those typical carpenters who tends to overbuild things. (laughing) So a little … you know, a little extra concrete …
TOM: Never hurts.
KEVIN: … and a few stud bolts is cheap insurance wherever you live, I think.
TOM: Now, Kevin, you mentioned that if a pergola is properly constructed it could support plants all the way across. How exactly do you plant that roof?
KEVIN: Well, the main thing to think about in designing a pergola, is to think like a tree.
TOM: You know, that is something that could only happen in the offices of Fine Homebuilding. (laughing)
KEVIN: Thinking like a tree.
TOM: Let’s think like a tree today. (laughing)
KEVIN: What you want is a heavy base – and I would encourage people to use something bigger than a 4×4. I mean, 4x4s are real common and easy to carry but a good 6×6 is, I think, a more appropriate size for …
LESLIE: Yeah, but a 4×4 you’re building by yourself. A 6×6, you need like two buddies.
KEVIN: Well, you know, buy some beer and invite your buddies over. (laughing)
TOM: But don’t serve the beer until you’re done.
LESLIE: You’re like, ‘Oh, I have these building materials. They’re nice and light. Don’t worry.’
KEVIN: Exactly. But the thing is that a pergola is a kind of a layered structure so that, as you go higher, the members, if you will – the wooden members – are getting smaller as you go up. And that’s what I mean when I say think like a tree. You’ve got a trunk and you’ve got branches and, finally, you come to fairly delicate twigs.
TOM: It would seem to me, Kevin, that the key to building a pergola is to make sure that you incorporate it in with your landscaping so it doesn’t overpower the yard but seems to connect the house to the landscaping that surrounds it. Would you agree with that?
KEVIN: Tom, you’re exactly right. It’s really trying to … trying to connect the yard to the house. I mean, you know, the clich