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: We’re making good homes better every single day. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. What are you working on? Your roof, your floors, your plumbing system? You don’t need a plunger in every room. They’re not a trendy, decorative item.
LESLIE: You mean it’s not good to keep on the side of the couch?
TOM: No, call us now. We’ll give you easy tips for plumbing repairs and marital bliss all in one phone call. (chuckling) 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: We’re really inexpensive therapists and your house will look great.
TOM: That’s right. (laughing) And much, much cheaper than a divorce attorney. (laughing)
Coming up this hour, we’re going to give you some tips on how to keep your tile floors shiny and new with a cleaning solution that’s au naturel. You don’t need those crazy chemicals in your house. There’s stuff in your cupboards right now. You know, think about it. When our grandparents were growing up, they didn’t have all the commercial products that we now have. There are easy, natural, inexpensive solutions for all of the cleaning dilemmas that you have in your house. We’re going to talk about how to help get your floors clean this hour.
LESLIE: Yeah, and you know what? Those natural solutions sometimes clean the best. So it’s not hooey, folks. Give them a try.
Also, and of the many, many calls we get here at The Money Pit every single week, flooring is the number one topic; including questions about the new kid on the block – laminate floors. ‘But what exactly is a laminate floor?’ is what most people ask. ‘Is it wood? Is it plastic? Is it as tough as a real hardwood floor?’ Well, the folks at Consumer Reports say so and we always agree with what they say. And we’re going to have that story later this hour.
TOM: And find out how to get your new wood deck ready to withstand the winter. You know, deck maintenance doesn’t stop when the winter season comes. That’s when it starts. So you have to get it ready. You have to prepare it so it can stand up to that winter weather.
We’re going to have an expert from the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association join us with tips on how to maintain and improve your wood deck so it stands up all winter long.
LESLIE: That’s right. And October is indoor air quality month and Tom and I are still expecting our cards, folks. (chuckling) That means you’ve got to make them, so make them and make them fun.
TOM: (overlapping voices) I checked with Hallmark. They don’t have one (chuckling), so you’re going to have to make your own.
LESLIE: We should have a separate contest for who could ever make the best indoor air quality card. There’s probably going to be a lot of houses with sad faces on them. But that’s right. October is indoor air quality month. And why? Because it’s the month, pretty much everywhere in the United States, where it starts to get a little bit chilly and you’re sealing up your homes for the winter to keep that cold out. Or if you’re in a warmer climate area, keep that cold air in. But by doing so, you’re trapping bad air inside with you. So we’re going to give away a tool that’s going to help keep your indoor air clean all winter long and all year long, as a matter of fact.
If you visit MoneyPit.com, you can register for the Clear the Air sweepstakes and you can win an Aprilaire Model 5000 electronic air cleaner with the installation. Huge prize.
TOM: And if you don’t win that, you might win this. One caller we choose this hour is going to win a set of three Ryobi One+ products: a radio, a fan and an inflator. It’s worth 100 bucks so phone in your home improvement or home fix-up question right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s our first caller?
LESLIE: WJFK Free FM is where Heather listens in the D.C. area. What can we do for you?
HEATHER: I have a concrete slab patio that was poured about four years ago, so it’s already cured. And it’s settled. They did not seam it and so I have one large crack that’s running across the entranceway. And I wanted to know if there was a way that I could fill it or cover it with concrete or what the best solution would be that I wouldn’t have to tear it up.
TOM: Well, do you care that it’s ugly; that you have this crack? Because you talked about filling it. You know, you could put a flowable urethane sealant in there but you’re still going to see it.
HEATHER: Yeah. And see, then I just think it’s going to look gross. Is there a way that I can – I can fill it and then put concrete over it and (chuckling) brush it again?
TOM: No. Well – you know, you could fill it with an epoxy patching compound, but then you’re going to have to use a matching epoxy paint and do the entire surface. How big is this patio?
HEATHER: It’s a pretty good size. It’s probably about – it’s in the shape of a baseball diamond and it’s probably about 20 feet long and about, mm, 12 feet wide.
TOM: OK. You know, the other thing that you could think about doing if you want to make a really cool looking improvement is to put paver bricks on top of it. It would make a great base for paver bricks. And paver bricks are very easy to install. It’s like putting together a puzzle, you know, because they’re exactly – one brick long is two bricks wide. You simply assemble them in whatever pattern you want and you could have a very, very attractive looking patio – paver patio – right on top of the old nasty-looking concrete.
HEATHER: What do you know about painting concrete?
TOM: Can do it.
LESLIE: Well, there’s a lot of different methods. If you wanted to paint it, make sure you get a concrete floor paint that’s durable for outside; something that’s really going to stand up. You have to make sure that that concrete is clean. Then you can go ahead and just paint it one color, paint a rug on it, paint it a series of different colors; whatever you like.
Or there’s something called acid staining for concrete. And it’s generally not a do-it-yourself project; although some people do look into the science of it and figure out what chemicals cause what colors because that’s how that works. And that can be very interesting because it gives it a very rich and very textural color; or colors, depending on what you like. And it can also be acid stained to look like a checkerboard pattern or to look like a different type of tile.
So there’s a lot of things – generally, you know, do an online search in your area and find a pro who does that and then look at their book and see what type of work it is that they’ll do. A lot of times, they’ll customize a look specifically for your job, but by looking at their reference book, you’ll get an idea of the type of work that they do. And it’s gorgeous.
TOM: I mean painting – you can knock the painting out in a weekend. And really, you know, if you’ve seen any of Leslie’s projects that she does on TV, this idea of painting a design onto the concrete is not that difficult to do.
HEATHER: Great. Thanks so much, guys. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Heather. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jack in Nevada, you’re on the line and you listen on KBZZ. What can we do for you today?
JACK: My chimney goes out through the roof and whenever the rain hits it, it comes down inside.
TOM: Inside. OK, do you have a cap on the chimney?
TOM: Have you examined the crown of the chimney; the concrete crown between the liner and the outside of the chimney from the top?
JACK: Got no concrete. From a gas stove; furnace.
TOM: It’s a metal vent pipe?
JACK: Yes, sir.
TOM: If it’s leaking at the base, then you probably need to replace the flashing. And that’s usually built into a metal chimney. That’s very often called a B vent. It’s a double lined metal vent made out of stainless. And there’s a flashing component to that that will seal against the chimney and put onto the shingles. I suspect that the flashing is breaking down if it’s leaking. You can try to tar it but that usually is very short lived. The best thing to do is to disassemble the chimney -because it’s usually built in sections – and slip over a new piece of chimney flashing. It’s built right into the vent itself; it goes up under the shingles and allows the water to roll over that and then around the chimney and it won’t leak again.
Alright Jack, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, water and electricity never mix, so let’s hope we can help Blake with his dilemma. You want to add an outlet to the bathroom. Let’s help you out. What can we do?
BLAKE: Yes. I have a house that was built in the 60s and when it was built, there was really no electrical outlet put in the bathroom. It was integrated in the light fixture. And I was wanting to put in a new outlet and I was wondering if it was GFCI compatible and also how to wire it in.
TOM: Well, it’s definitely a good idea to put in a ground fault outlet. It is a 1960s house?
TOM: So, what kind of wiring do you have? Do you have three wires that go through that?
BLAKE: There’s three wires in the wall outlets.
TOM: Well, you probably can install it. It’s not sort of Electricity 101 to put a ground fault in because if it’s done improperly, it can appear to trip but not trip. I’ve learned this from years in the home inspection business, actually testing ground faults with an expensive tester. Sometimes it’ll trip on the outlet itself but not when you put a tester in it. So, if you’re unfamiliar with how to install a ground fault, I wouldn’t recommend it as your first project.
Having said that, though, I will commend you on putting one in because a ground fault is much safer than a regular outlet and in fact, as you may know, it’s required in modern construction. But back in the 60s, it wasn’t put in. The reason it’s different than old-fashioned electrical outlets is because it has the ability to detect diversion of current to a ground source. And that’s what happens if you’re getting a shock. If 2/1000 of an amp goes to ground, the ground fault circuit will turn off that outlet.
Now, by the way, it could be installed at the outlet and it could also be installed at the circuit breaker. There’s a way to put a ground fault circuit breaker in that will protect the entire circuit.
But anything that’s a wet location in your house should have one and if you’re going to have an electrician come in and help you with this – because as you say, you’ve never put one in before – do the rest of the house at the same time. I mean the expense is the service call. The outlets are very inexpensive. So put them in the kitchen at the countertop; put them outside – the outlets on the outside of your house; put them in the garage; and of course, in all of the bathrooms. Those are the most appropriate places to have that. That’s going to give you a high degree of safety.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey everybody out there in Money Pit land, now you can call in your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We’re always working. Just call 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll help you out.
Up next, a quick tip to keep tile floors shining like new. It costs pennies and it’s chemical free.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Roto-Rooter, for all your plumbing and drain cleaning needs. Whether it’s a small job or a big repair, request the experts from Roto-Rooter. That’s the name and away go troubles down the drain. Call 1-800-GET-ROTO or visit Roto-Rooter.com.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Making good homes better. You know, you can listen to The Money Pit and do home improvements at the same time; which is something you can’t do when you’re watching TV.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And it’s good because you know, you can also podcast The Money Pit as well. So if there’s something that you missed the first time, you can go back and listen to it over and over again. I know Tom’s voice gets a little annoying (laughing), but bear with it. You’ll really follow the drill. (laughing)
TOM: That’s funny; that’s what my wife says, too.
LESLIE: You’re so funny. Alright …
TOM: Sync ‘n’ go at MoneyPit.com. You know, I’ve been looking at the podcast numbers. They’re getting crazy.
LESLIE: How’re we doing?
TOM: Let’s see, last month it was 65,000 people (chuckling); downloaded the podcast.
LESLIE: That’s huge.
TOM: It’s amazing. It’s amazing. It’s such a convenient way.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And I only downloaded 64,000, so (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: That’s right. That’s right. You got one of those dipping ducks like hitting the button on your mouse (laughter); just giving us like hits on the website? (laughing)
LESLIE: So Tom, you were talking about inexpensive, natural cleaning remedies.
TOM: I was.
LESLIE: And I really like this suggestion because I was looking in October’s issue of House and Garden and they were saying in this story – called ‘Living Well: The Enemy Within,’ which is about cleaning products for your house; dish soap, shampoo, hair gel; all this stuff – the EPA is saying that these are causing five times the level of common pollutants outside to be inside and that if things keep going the way they’re going with the way people use soaps and detergents and not really paying attention – because if you look at that detergent bottle, there is not one ingredient listed, which means what are these folks hiding from you. And the article states that in L.A. and the adjoining counties, the approximately 108 tons of VOCs – which are offgassing that occurs from a bunch of different things in your house …
TOM: Volatile (ph) organic compounds.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You – from household cleansers …
LESLIE: … personal grooming products, paints – will soon overtake car exhaust as the primary source of air pollution.
LESLIE: That’s L.A. folks.
LESLIE: Smog-ridden L.A. is soon going to be overrun by hair gel usage. (laughter) So – seriously. I know it sounds funny but think about it.
TOM: There are other ways to clean your house. And I was saying in the beginning of the program that, you know, years and years ago, all of our – all our ancestors had were natural products. They had vinegar; they had water; they had things like that. And actually, it works pretty good.
LESLIE: Yeah. And the vinegar and water, if you make a solution of that, you can use it to wash just about any flooring in your house. It doesn’t leave streaks. It costs about half of any of those expensive and toxic cleaners that you can find on the market. And it’s safe and natural. So give it a try and help save your indoor air quality.
TOM: One tip – white vinegar. OK? (chuckling)
LESLIE: Yeah, not salad dressing vinegar. We’re not talking balsamic.
TOM: Not red vinegar. (chuckling) Speaking of white vinegar, you know, white vinegar and a bit of water is also a great window cleaner. You can spray it on them because think about it. If you use a commercial window cleaner, you spray it, you stick your nose in it. It’s – you know, you’re breathing that stuff. But if you do white vinegar and water, just about a tablespoon in a little spray bottle full of water, you can clean the window with that. And you know what else is a good product to use to clean the window? Old …
TOM: Newspaper. Yeah, it works great.
LESLIE: Yeah, just make sure – because I just did it to the outsides of my windows – make sure you use pages that don’t have any color on them. (laughing)
TOM: (chuckling) Is that right? It started to run?
LESLIE: When you get like really close to the trim work, there’s like several streaks of it. I was like, ‘Aw, bad page. Lots of color, lots of color.’ (laughing)
TOM: Do as we say, not as we do. 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Hey, if you’re heading back inside because it’s getting chilly in your part of the country, we have got a solution for you to make it easier for you to breathe.
LESLIE: Yeah, because sometimes the way we’re building our houses these days …
LESLIE: … the houses don’t even breathe.
TOM: Exactly. According to the EPA, the indoor air can actually be 25 times more polluted than outdoor air. So, if you’ve got a forced air heating system, we’re going to help because October is indoor air quality month and The Money Pit has your chance to win an Aprilaire Model 5000 electronic air cleaner. This is the best air cleaner in the country, folks. It is rated number one by Consumer Reports. We have one. We’re going to give it away and we are going to pay for installation in your house. So to qualify, you’ve got to go to MoneyPit.com and register. It’s called the Clear the Air sweepstakes at MoneyPit.com. You get the air cleaner and you get the installation.
LESLIE: Huge prize. And remember, no purchase necessary. We’re just going to give it to you if we pick your name. And your deadline to enter is October 31st, so don’t be scared by the goblins on Halloween. Make sure you enter before that day.
TOM: Do it right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Dale in Mississippi, you’re on with The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
DALE: Hi. I have a summer home that had a leaking toilet on the second floor and – or a leaking pipe. And it leaked into the ceiling of the bathroom below. Had the plumbers come in and fix all that. But it left a lot of mold and all. And turned out it was particleboard; the ceiling of the lower bathroom …
DALE: … and it had mold and all. And at night, went in with my hazmat outfit on –
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
DALE: – mask and hair cover and gloves and everything else – and I just sort of spritzed diluted bleach in there to kill off all the stuff and I gradually pulled out the rest of the particleboard that the plumbers didn’t pull out. But it still has left out – left some bands of black-looking stuff on some of the studs and all up in there. And I’m just wondering to what extent I should go and clean all the rest of that stuff up before I put a new ceiling in there and paint it over. It is a very damp area in the summer. It’s right near the ocean.
TOM: Well, if you’ve actually removed all of the old wet, damp, rotted particleboard and now you’re just looking at the black stains that are left behind from the – from the moisture damage, what I would suggest you do is take a bleach solution and with safety glasses – because you are working above your head – you want to probably use about one-third bleach, two-thirds water and just spray that area down. And let it dry and then you’ll – you’re going to be fine. And then you can go ahead and put the ceiling back up or put a drywall ceiling back up.
By the way, you mentioned this is a – is this a bathroom below as well?
DALE: Yeah, the bathroom below is the one where it was up in the ceiling.
TOM: OK. Now, do you have a fan in that ceiling to help dehumidify that bathroom?
DALE: No, actually it’s just a half – it’s just a toilet and a sink, actually; it’s not a full bath. (INAUDIBLE)
TOM: Oh, OK. Because you said it was moist and I was going to say this is the time to do it; with the ceiling torn open like that, this is the time to put an exhaust fan in.
DALE: That’s true.
LESLIE: Heck, even with just a toilet, an exhaust fan isn’t that bad of an idea. (chuckling)
TOM: Yeah exactly. Yeah, be polite. (laughter) Put an exhaust fan in.
LESLIE: Hey, run that fan.
DALE: (laughing) Right.
TOM: Dale, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: We’re on our way to Texas now where Eddie’s got a signing – a siding question. Sorry, Eddie. What can we do for you?
EDDIE: I’m working on a house. Got a 19 – it’s an, oh, 55 model home …
EDDIE: … that the oil company built and it’s got these asbestos – well, I’m thinking they’re asbestos; I’m not real sure. But it’s those little shingle like siding that’s on it.
EDDIE: And I’m wondering I need to try to take that off or if I can just overlay over top of it.
TOM: What kind of siding do you want to put on, Eddie?
EDDIE: That lap siding like stuff that …
TOM: Vinyl siding?
EDDIE: No, it’s not vinyl. It’s the old permaboard type.
TOM: It’s a – is it composite siding?
TOM: I would steer away from composite siding; frankly. It doesn’t have a good history in terms of durability.
TOM: What you might want to look at is hardy plank siding, which is a cement – it’s like the asbestos siding but it looks like clapboard, except it’s not made of asbestos; it’s made of concrete. And that’s incredibly durable stuff. I would – I would not recommend a composition siding. There’s been a long history of problems associated with that in this country.
In terms of whether you take it off or go over it, it’s always better to take it off. You should know that when you’re talking about asbestos tile, the risk of exposure is fairly small. Generally, you wet that stuff down before you take it off; use breathing protection. And you try to take it off with as little breakage as possible. You can, by the way, take a big nail set and punch the nails through after you get started with it and they’ll come right off. You don’t even have to break them into a lot of pieces because the nails can drive right through the stuff because it’s fairly soft. And that’ll loosen them up and you’ll be able to pull it out. But I think you’re better off taking it all off.
The one thing that you might want to look into before you do that though, Eddie, is – if there’s any special requirements in terms of disposal of that in your part of Texas. Because in some parts of the country, you have to bag it and take it to a special disposal area. You should find out if you have to do that or your town will take it away for you so that you don’t – you’re not going to end up with this pile of asbestos you don’t know what to do with.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you dispose of it improperly, you could end up getting fined by your community.
LESLIE: So it’s always better to make a call.
TOM: Yeah, but if you take it off, you’re going to get a much cleaner job. You know, you’re not going to have excessive thickness at the windows. You’ll be able to get a very water-tight seal. And that’s definitely the best way to do it. I don’t like going on top of siding. It’s generally a very sloppy thing to do.
LESLIE: Well, are you thinking of adding a deck to your house? It’s a great way to add square footage to your home without a huge renovation.
TOM: Up next, we’re going to talk about a decking material that’s durable and low maintenance – cedar – and how to make sure your deck makes it through the winter.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We’re like your handy neighbor that knows everything about home improvement except (chuckling) we won’t loan you our power tools.
LESLIE: Yeah, we know better. (chuckling)
TOM: Well you know, a deck is the fastest and most inexpensive way to increase square footage without actually doing a renovation. You get to extend that living space outside in a very inexpensive, very affordable way.
LESLIE: That’s why Paul Mackie is the western area manager of the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association.
So Paul, welcome. Why red cedar over other lumber choices when building a deck?
PAUL: Well Leslie, western red cedar is naturally durable; which means it resists rot and decay with ingrown preservatives, so you don’t have to add potentially harmful chemicals to the wood to make it last a long time outside.
TOM: Do you need to actually treat cedar, Paul? Is it smart to do that to prevent – we know that it won’t rot, but is it smart to treat cedar to prevent it checking and cracking over the years?
PAUL: Yes. The short answer is you can – there are two ways to do this. You can let cedar turn gray and you will get some surface checking – or you can; certainly not as severe as pressure treated lumber, because of cedar’s great stability. But most people, when they have a cedar deck, they want to maintain the natural look of the wood because of its natural beauty. So they will – they will use – they will use water repellent stain products – usually with a little pigment in them – to help the wood repel moisture and to protect it from ultraviolet damage.
LESLIE: Now, before you even think about going and putting on any of this clear coating or even a tinted stain to help preserve it, what do you need to do -? Because I know it’s certain lumbers when you take fresh wood and you build a deck, you have to let it sit a certain amount of time; you know, pressure treated is a year. What do you do with cedar? What’s the proper prep work; especially if it’s new?
PAUL: That’s a great question, Leslie, and there are a lot of myths out there regarding cedar. Most decking that’s sold – western red cedar decking that’s sold – is wood that’s unseasoned; it hasn’t been kiln dried. So the wood needs to be acclimatized. It needs to be allowed to lose enough moisture so that it will absorb the kinds of stains that we’re talking about. So, most decks are installed oftentimes in the spring. And so, people need to let them sit for – oh, arguably – maybe a week or so to allow it to dry enough so that it will absorb the stain. We certainly would like to see, if possible, the deck stained on all sides prior to installation, which takes more time. You’d have to put the – put the decking material in a – in a well-ventilated covered area to allow it to dry. But most decks are constructed with green material without allowing that to be done. So, people will have the deck stained a week or so after it’s been installed.
LESLIE: That seems like a short amount of time.
TOM: Paul, it’s funny you mentioned that. You know, some weeks ago, I was at a party at a friend of mine’s house in New York City. And I met a friend of his who actually had moved into a town very close to mine. So we got talking. It turns out that this guy bought a house that I worked on over 30 years ago as a young carpenter. And I built a deck at this house, out of cedar. And it turns out the deck was still standing 30 years later and I was just amazed. You probably are not surprised by that but I was.
PAUL: That doesn’t surprise me at all. A deck properly installed and well maintained, you’re going to get tremendous service life out of it.
LESLIE: What about warranties? I mean we’re seeing Tom’s deck that he built out of red cedar last 30 years. But what do you generally expect and what are the recourses that a homeowner might have should they encounter a problem?
PAUL: Well, western red cedar relies on the centuries of proven performance. We encourage homeowners to take long looks at these warranties that are being provided by the supposed maintenance or low-maintenance composite products. Cedar doesn’t have a warranty. It doesn’t need one because of the – its great proven longevity. Certainly, 30 years is something that I would expect anyone to get out of a cedar deck, or longer.
LESLIE: That’s really great to know.
TOM: Paul Mackie’s the western area manager for the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. Paul, before we let you go, what are the most – what is the most common mistake that people make when building with cedar and especially a cedar deck?
PAUL: One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they don’t keep ahead of mold and mildew growth and they attack the surface of the wood with high pressure power washers which can damage it, thinking that that makes the mold and mildew go away; and it doesn’t. Any flat surface, any deck is going to need some regular maintenance. And one of the mistakes people make is that they don’t stay ahead of mold and mildew growth, which you’re going to get in most climates.
TOM: Yeah, and frankly, you get that with any material; composites or pressure treated, you know, or redwood. You’re always going to have some mildew growth that really just needs maintenance. And that doesn’t have to be difficult if you stay on top of it on a regular basis. And you know, there’s a lot of ways to do that. There are washers that you can use and also, sometimes it’s just an important idea to try to trim some of the trees back. We want shade over the deck, but if it’s completely buried in shade, the sunlight doesn’t really get to that deck surface. And if it does, it will keep it reasonably mildew free.
PAUL: That’s absolutely true. The sunlight will help control mold and mildew. Keeping the deck clean will help control mold and mildew as well. You want to keep the debris off of the deck in the winter. You want to keep it out from in between the deck boards. Because dirt’s food for mold and mildew …
PAUL: … and it can actually encourage it’s growth.
TOM: Good point.
LESLIE: So, even do it before you close up for the winter season, if you have one in your area. Don’t let it sit there all winter.
LESLIE: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we want – we want folks to use the mildest solution that you can to kill mold and mildew. We prefer the use of oxygen bleach with a little bit of non-phosphate-based detergent; a mild solution. Spray it on the deck and allow it to sit 15 to 30 minutes to keep that under control.
TOM: Good advice.
Paul Mackie from the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
If you want more information, you could log onto their website at Cedar-Decking.org.
LESLIE: Well, up next, of the many, many, many calls we get here at The Money Pit every week, flooring is the number one topic; including questions about the new kid on the block – that laminate flooring product we keep hearing about. But everybody wants to know what is laminate flooring exactly? Is it wood? Is it plastic? Is it as tough as a real hardwood floor? Well, the folks at Consumer Reports say so, so we’ve got to believe them. We’re going to have that story, after this.
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, making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Think of us as your home improvement safety net. (chuckling) We’re like the difference between a grounded outlet and embarrassing trip to the emergency room. So call us right now with your home improvement projects. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemmas. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website is MoneyPit.com.
Leslie, let’s talk about flooring.
LESLIE: Yeah, you guys keep asking us all sorts of questions about laminate flooring, so we’re here to clear up the whole situation.
OK. Laminate floors. They look just like real hardwood. They look like real stone. They even look like real ceramic. But they’re not the real material at all. Laminate flooring is actually a high-tech material that’s constructed by taking a photograph of the real thing that they’re mimicking, and then laminating that onto fiberboard and sealing it with an incredibly durable, protective coating. The result is flooring that looks just like the real thing, but in some ways it’s even better; more durable. For example, research done by the folks at the Consumer Report showed that certain laminate floors that look like hardwoods were sometimes even tougher than the real hardwood floors themselves.
TOM: I believe that.
LESLIE: I mean that’s a huge thing. I believe it, too. And more durable and better to put in different locations in the house. And other benefits of the laminate flooring include the fact that they’re easy to install, so it’s a do-it-yourself project if you feel capable; and they’re also going to stand up to wear and tear and your kids and your pets. So it’s a good thing.
TOM: I can also testify to that because I was one of the first kids on my block to put laminate floor down and the kids have not been able to kill it. They’ve been trying for like eight years now. (chuckling) And it’s really standing up pretty well.
You know, there’s also – the other question that we often get about floors is the difference between engineered flooring and laminate flooring. Is engineered flooring/laminate real hardwood? Well, there are actually two types of hardwood. There’s solid hardwood and then there’s engineered. Solid is, of course, 100 percent solid. It can be sanded; it can be refinished. Engineered hardwood is also 100 percent wood, but it’s sometimes able to be sanded and refinished and it’s manufactured by permanently bonding together multiple layers of solid wood in a cross-ply construction. Think plywood but with really, really good wood. The …
LESLIE: And really thin, too.
TOM: Yeah, and very, very thin. The result is you get incredible strength; you get moisture and humidity resistance; and you can put it in some places that you perhaps can’t put solid hardwood. For example, you may be able to put it in the basement if your moisture’s not too high.
LESLIE: Or a bathroom even.
TOM: Or a bathroom. That’s right.
Now if you want more information on the differences between engineered hardwood, real hardwood or laminate floor, there’s a great guidebook online at the website for Armstrong floors. So you go to Armstrong.com and you click on The Complete Guide to Flooring. That, again, is at Armstrong.com. Great book if you’re thinking about tackling a flooring project this time of year. Check it out at Armstrong.com.
LESLIE: Yeah, that website is so great. Armstrong.com did a great job. So if you’re thinking about spending some money on flooring, do your research first and get the right product for the right place in your house. Definitely worth checking out.
Coming up in our next e-newsletter, we’re going to tell you how to avoid cold air infiltration. It’s the number one way you lose energy dollars in your home. You can sign up for our free e-newsletter right now at MoneyPit.com and it’s delivered every week to you in your inbox, absolutely free of charge.
Well, four million Americans own the One+ power tool system. It’s from Ryobi. You’re all very familiar with it. It’s that popular 18-volt power tool platform. It works with more than 20 different tools, so it’s very, very useful. And Ryobi, in fact, is introducing some new additions to that lineup this fall. So it’s a big sneak peek we’re letting you in on.
TOM: And we’ve got three of those tools. It’s the One+ inflator, the One+ radio and the one+ personal fan. You’re also going to get two batteries and a charger. We’re giving away this package of prizes worth 100 bucks to one caller this hour. To qualify, you have to call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You must be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question to qualify for that One+ Ryobi prize package worth 100 bucks.
888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: We’re on our way to Texas with Claude. What’s on your mind?
CLAUDE: Just had questions on the tankless water heater versus the standard, you know, gas heater.
CLAUDE: And also the PEX type plumbing system; in particular, the (INAUDIBLE) system.
TOM: Well, let’s start with the PEX plumbing system. That was recently reviewed by the experts at Fine Homebuilding magazine. In fact, we had …
LESLIE: PEX is a new type of piping, correct?
TOM: Yeah. We had Kevin Ireton on; the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine. They actually had done some research on that and were very, very positive with the results. So they were kind of excited about it. I personally had been afraid to try any new-fangled plastic pipes because of what happened with all the recalls with the other types of plastic pipes. But the PEX has been getting a pretty good reputation as being a great option. So it’s interesting to see that the builders in the Houston area are starting to use that stuff.
Now, as far as the water heater is concerned, you know, your question is do you want a smart water heater or a dumb one. The standard water heaters, I always say that they’re dumb because they heat the water to the 120 degrees 24/7/365 whether you need it or not. The tankless water heaters do it on demand, which is the best way to go. Because this way, you’re only heating water that you actually need to use. Plus you have some additional functionality. For example, you could control the temperature of the water simply by adjusting a dial on the unit. So, let’s say if you have kids in the house and they’re taking a shower, you can dial it down 10, 15 degrees. If you want to do a real tough cleaning job, you can dial it up a little bit. And so on. So you have total control over it that way. So I really like tankless and I think that’s the way to go.
CLAUDE: Well, great. I really appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kathleen in Rhode Island’s on the line. And apparently, she’s quite tall. How can we help you today?
KATHLEEN: Yeah. I think everybody is getting taller and taller.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
KATHLEEN: Yeah. But we still have a standard shelf height. My question is why hasn’t it changed?
LESLIE: (chuckling) Why hasn’t it changed? I think, generally, shelf height has just been standardized for so many years that it just hasn’t adjusted. I think what you should look into, as far as putting in shelving in your house, is things that you can control the installation; control the height of where they go. Even if you’re installing your own cabinets – your upper cabinets in the kitchen – have your contractor or yourself, whoever’s doing the work, put them up at a higher location to be more accommodating for you.
TOM: You know, for years, I used to work in construction and I got sick and tired of the short sawhorses that all my coworkers had. So when I built my own, I made them about six inches higher so that I didn’t have to bend over all the time and, you know, put all that wear and tear on my back. So …
LESLIE: And you know what I like to do on my work tables – you know, if you just have a plastic folding table, I take a length of PVC pipe – you know, maybe …
LESLIE: … four inches, six inches; that’s the same diameter as that leg of the table – and then I put a little cap on the bottom and I just slap the four of them on the bottoms of the legs. And that lifts the table up so when I’m leaning over doing my sewing work, it doesn’t put a lot of strain on my back.
TOM: Yeah, it makes a – it makes a big difference.
Kathleen, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Coming up next on The Money Pit, we’re going to answer an email question about water filters and how to stop odors coming from your water supply. So stay with us.
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.
TOM: You can call us 24/7/365 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can log onto our website and shoot us an email by clicking on Ask Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: And check it out because it’s a beautiful new site, folks.
TOM: It’s brand spanky new. Check it out.
So Leslie, why don’t we jump in to the email bag. We got a lot came in this week.
LESLIE: Alright, here we go. This is from Bruce in Washington, D.C. who writes: ‘Our vacation home has a terrible iron odor. I really need a filter of some sort to attach to the incoming water supply; however, I know as much about that as I do about rocket science.’ I’m assuming he’s not a rocket scientist.
TOM: Apparently not and I’m sure the rocket scientists will be offended out there as well. (chuckling)
Well, let’s see, Bruce, iron odors. Now, you could put a filter in the water line. Most of the filters contain magnesium dioxide or hydrogen sulfide. And you basically are going to have to have a professional plumber install one. I would contact a company like …
LESLIE: How disruptive is that to your plumbing system; to get into that?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, it’s just an investment. You’re going to need to call somebody like a Culligan company and have them install a filter.
The other thing, though, if it’s just odor that you’re dealing with – it’s entirely possible that that could be stemming, not from your water supply but from the hot water. Because if you don’t have a lined water heater – usually water heaters have to be glass lined but there are some that are not – if it’s not glass lined, you can get a reaction between the water and the metal of the water heater tank and that can cause the odor as well.
LESLIE: Would that happen right off the bat with a new water heater? Or does that sort of happen over time and then gets worse towards the end of its life?
TOM: If it was a new water heater it could happen right off the bat if it wasn’t lined. It depends on whether or not it’s glass lined or not. New – the most modern ones are glass lined. If you have a glass lined water heater then you’re probably going to have to use the filter on the line.
LESLIE: Alright. Here’s one from Barbara in Greensboro, North Carolina. ‘I have an old frame cabin in a harsh mountain climate in Virginia. The old plywood porch is badly in need of repainting. What kind of paint should I use on the floor? It is screened and roofed but sun and wind and some rain do come in. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter and the dirt is always tracked on it.’
TOM: Well you know, plywood is not designed to be an exterior product. It’s – it may have exterior glue but the wood will still rot. The type of paint that you use – probably on a floor, the best paint to use would be one that’s epoxy based. I would think about using one of the air-cured epoxies or the chemical cured epoxy paints such as those that are sold for garage floors or basements because they’re very, very tough and they do a really good job standing up to that kind of harsh climate.
LESLIE: But Barbara, remember, make sure that that plywood flooring is very, very dry before you apply any product – paint, whatever – onto it; otherwise, it’s not going to adhere. So if it’s been raining, let it dry out for a good two or three days.
TOM: OK, so you like natural products like natural stone floors, natural wood, natural countertops? They look great. But maintaining their beauty takes a little caution and some preparation. On today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word, she’s got the solution.
LESLIE: You know, that’s right, Tom. Cleaning a natural stone surface – I mean, generally, you want to make sure you want to be careful because you’re going to be spending quite a bit of money on whether it’s granite or tile or marble, so you want to make sure you clean it right. Because if you use the wrong product, you can actually remove it’s natural beauty. You could actually shorten the stone’s life or even alter it’s color by using the wrong chemicals and the wrong tools. There’s both water-based and solvent-based cleansers available on the market, but the hardness and the absorbency of the stone that you have in your house is going to determine which type you should use. So make sure you choose carefully and be sure to test an inconspicuous area first before you roll up your sleeves and tackle that job. You know, try to get a sample. When you went shopping for that surface – whatever it is you used – you probably have a sample tile or a slab of that piece of granite. Try cleaning that first before you tackle that huge countertop and it’s going to be a big bunch of money to repair it or replace it. So listen to our advice and you’ll be happy.
TOM: It’s beautiful stuff but it does need some TLC to make sure that it doesn’t get messed up while you’re trying to keep it as clean and pretty as it started.
Well, coming up next week on The Money Pit, you probably have smoke detectors in your home but are you using them correctly? Do you even know if they are in proper working order? Are they in the right places? Find out what you’re doing right and wrong when it comes to your smoke detectors next week on the program.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2006 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)