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. We’re here to help you get those projects done around your house. What are you doing? What are you working on? What would you like to get done before you start paying those super-high energy bills? Maybe you want to insulate. Maybe you want to weatherstrip. Maybe you want to get rid of that front door that’s been leaking and drafty and blowing wind right through your house. We can help you with all those projects and much, much more if you pick up the phone and call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Now, maybe you’ve already done all those projects and your house is really sealed up and nice and tight. Well, if that’s the case, we’re going to tell you about radon gas (Leslie chuckles), because that’s the kind of people we are. We love to spread happy news. You know, it’s a bad gas …
LESLIE: We like to scare you stiff.
TOM: … this radon stuff and if you do have a particularly tight house or if you do happen to have a high radon level in your house, it can be very unsafe. So coming up this hour, we’re going to tell you how to get to the bottom of that home improvement project and get rid of it once and for all.
LESLIE: Yeah, and I think it’s also a really important test that you should be doing if you spend a lot of time in your home’s basement. You know, you’re taking over extra space because you’re certainly not moving; you’re staying where you are. So if you spend a lot of time in the underground area of your house, you definitely want to look into the radon level of your home.
And while we’re on the topic of home safety, we’re going to be talking about fall prevention, a little later this hour, with the president of the Home Safety Council because falls at home are the number one reason that people end up in the emergency room. We’re going to hear about some solutions for these potentially dangerous areas in your home.
TOM: And one of those areas is carpeting, which can be a super trip hazard. So if you want to go in a different way, we’ve got a great idea for you: wood floors that you paint. This is actually a really cool look. You know I’ve got a hundred-year-old home here and we painted the wood floors upstairs and they stayed that way for years and they looked fantastic.
LESLIE: It really looks great.
TOM: We’re going to tell you exactly how to tackle that project so that the paint will stay on for as long as you need it to. It looks really good. In fact, you can actually paint on some pretty cool effects to make it even look like it has a carpet or an area rug, using some of those stencils that I know I’ve seen you use on some of your television shows.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, it’s a great project and it really does look fantastic on any floor anywhere in your house. And here at The Money Pit, we love to give away prizes; and so this hour, we’re giving away some GE Caulk Singles. They’re worth 50 bucks and they are a quick and easy way to use caulk without that pesky old gun that ends up wasting every bit that’s left in that tube.
TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Well, if you’re thinking about finishing your basement, you’re like our friend Robin in New Hampshire. What can we do for you?
ROBIN: Hi, we are going to be finishing the basement – probably most of the work ourselves – and I thought I heard you talk about not doing a treatment for waterproofing. We had about six inches of water in our basement a couple of years ago when everybody was getting wet basements. What would you recommend? Because it was coming right through the cement walls.
TOM: Yeah, what we would recommend is a multistep process. First of all, when your basement floods consistent with heavy rainfall, which is generally what’s happening when everybody is getting wet basements, you want to look outside your house first. Look at the grading and the drainage at the foundation perimeter; the immediate four to six feet around the outside of your house. Start at the roof. Look at the gutter system – make sure it’s clean; make sure the downspouts …
ROBIN: We have no gutters.
LESLIE: That’s part of the problem.
TOM: Well, therein lies the big problem, OK.
ROBIN: (chuckling) OK, we’ve got to get them.
TOM: You need to have gutters because otherwise you’re dumping all the water off the roof edge …
LESLIE: Directly on the foundation.
TOM: … at that backfill perimeter where the house was once dug up and then the foundation built and then the dirt pushed back in. Well, that’s very, very absorbent and if that water is being dropped off the roof onto the foundation perimeter, it’s going to go right through the walls. No wonder your basement’s leaking. If I wanted to make a basement leak, I would take the gutters off the house. (Leslie chuckles)
ROBIN: Oh, OK. (chuckles) (inaudible 0:04:22.8)
LESLIE: Or you would take gutters that are on the house and fill them up with a lot of junk …
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: … so that nothing can get through it.
TOM: Yeah. Robin, get gutters on the house and make sure the downspouts are extended away from the foundation perimeter. And the fact that you had no gutters and only had one wet basement in all this time, that’s not so bad. That actually is very surprising. So I suspect that just having a gutter system on your house is going to fix this once and for all.
The other things to do, while you’re at it, are to make sure that the soil slopes away from the wall at the outside; it’s not too flat. You don’t want the soil to slope into it. If you’ve got to improve it, you add clean fill dirt and slope that away. But those two things will solve the majority of wet basement problems and you’re right, you don’t need to put in basement waterproofing systems; you don’t need to dig up foundations; you don’t need to break up slab floors in basements and put in drains and sump pumps and all that. That is all a waste of money, in our opinion. You can solve most wet basements just by cleaning your gutters and regrading the foundation perimeter.
ROBIN: Great, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Robin. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill in Texas needs some help with a cracked tile. What’s going on at your money pit?
BILL: About six years ago I added a 15×15-foot room to my house and the concrete slab of that room is attached to the slab of the house. And then we laid one foot-square ceramic tiles on both the floors and the tiles went right across that joint. And then about three years later or three years ago, a hairline appeared in those tiles right over that joint …
BILL: … and over the three years, that crack has increased about 1/32 of an inch; which doesn’t sound large but it looks big.
TOM: (chuckles) Yeah, and it’s annoying I bet, too.
BILL: Yeah, I plan to take those tiles out and cut them – cut new tiles – and put them in so that the grout joint between the tiles is right over that slab joint. Is that the right thing to do? Is there something else that I should do to help that situation so I don’t have trouble?
TOM: No, you’re absolutely right. Because you’re getting some movement between the old and the new parts of the building and you’re always going to have that movement. That’s a very normal thing to happen, Bill. So you want to work with it. Your idea of taking the old tiles out and perhaps doing a different tile pattern there, where you do have a grout joint over that seam, will help. You are going to have some movement there still and you are going to get, still, a bit of a crack there. There’s pretty much nothing that you can do about that that’s going to stop that …
TOM: … you know unless you did some real major work, which we wouldn’t recommend.
TOM: But putting the seam there would make a difference.
BILL: OK, well that sounds good. Thirty-secondth of an inch isn’t too terrible in three years, so I guess maybe I’m going to come out OK.
TOM: There are people – as hard as this may be to believe, there are people in America that have bigger home improvement problems than you, Bill. (Tom and Leslie laugh)
BILL: Oh, I – oh no, I hear what you’re saying. Listen, I appreciate you all so much. Listen to your show every Sunday and really do love it.
LESLIE: Thanks, Bill.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and let us know what you are working on because you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whenever you happen to encounter that debacle or something breaks or you suddenly get an idea. Well, we are here to help you sort through it all at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, we’re going to talk about radon. It’s a gas that makes its way into your home from the soil underneath it and it can be very dangerous. So how do you know if you need to be worried? We’re going to tell you how to get to the bottom of that home improvement challenge, after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Besides getting the answer to your home improvement question, one caller we talk to this hour is going to win a $50 prize package from GE Caulk Singles. These are those single-use squeeze packs of caulk. They’re going to make your caulking jobs easier around the house. It’s as easy as tear, squeeze and toss and you won’t need to struggle with a caulking gun. Lots of projects that you can use that for; bathroom, windows, doors, you name it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, well we here at team Money Pit, we always think about doing things that are safe for you and your home and making important decisions and adjustments to your house that keep you and your family in good health and in good situations. And if you spend any time in your home’s basement, you need to make sure that you test for radon. I’m sort of in denial about this; I, who spend a majority of my lifetime in my basement – my money pit – because that’s where my home office is and I do work from home and I’m down there all the time and it’s just sort of something that I’m afraid of. And it’s a gas, this radon, that forms naturally in the soil and it’s known to cause cancer. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing. All you have to do is pay 15 bucks for a do-it-yourself test kit. Now is the perfect time of year to do it because you close all the windows and you sort of open this canister and then it does its magic as long as you’re just opening doors for entrances and exits; it’s not like you want to do it in the summer when you’ve got windows open.
If you want to do it by a pro, it’s about 100 bucks. When you get the results, if you find that you’ve got a four or more picocuries-per-liter of air, you’re going to need to install a radon mitigation system and that’s going to vent the radon under your home to the outside safely and make it safe for you and your family to spend time in your home’s basement.
TOM: Yeah, and those systems are actually not too expensive. You wouldn’t see your home’s value drop, either; because potential buyers will see that the mitigation system is a good thing because it’s in, it’s working and it’s protecting the house.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Jeff in Minnesota about a plumbing situation at his home.
JEFF: Yeah, I’ve got an older house. My water out of the sink runs really slow but the water in the tub …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Now is it just the one sink?
TOM: Is it just the one sink or is it all of the fixtures in the house?
JEFF: No, just one sink.
TOM: OK, what kind of water lines do you have? How old is your house?
TOM: Ah. So you probably have steel water lines. Is that correct?
JEFF: Yes, sir.
TOM: And have you replaced any of those steel pipes?
TOM: Hmm. You know, 80-year-old pipes tend to rust internally and they sort of shut down, like a clogged artery. And typically, it’s the horizontal ones that go first and the vertical ones that go second. So I hate to kind of go right to the most expensive possible problem here but that may very well be it if you’ve got 80-year-old pipes in the house that are steel. If you had copper, we wouldn’t be talking about this.
One of the things I’d like you to try at this particular – is it just a sink or is it a sink and a tub? What is it?
TOM: Just a sink? OK. Have you tried taking the aerator off of the faucet?
TOM: And that doesn’t change anything?
TOM: OK. And have you made sure that the water lines are fully open at the supply line into the sink itself?
JEFF: Right, and it’s only the hot water; not the cold water.
TOM: It’s only the …
JEFF: The cold water runs fine.
JEFF: Hot water is slow.
TOM: Alright. So you made sure that the line was fully open?
JEFF: Right, yes.
TOM: And the nearest bathroom to this particular – the nearest other place that hot water is used to the one where it’s very, very slow coming out of the pipes; does that seem to be fine and how far away is that?
JEFF: Five feet.
TOM: Ah. OK. Good chance you have a bad valve here. If you’ve got another faucet five feet away that’s working fine, good chance you have a bad valve that’s just not opening up. Sometimes when you have older plumbing, you think that the valve is opened all the way up and really it’s kind of stuck halfway open or something like that. I’d take a look at that next; perhaps replace the valve and see if that does it.
JEFF: OK. OK, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that home improvement project, Jeff. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jeanette in Utah needs some help putting up some wallpaper. Tell us about your project.
JEANETTE: First of all, it’s an eight-foot – I mean a ten-foot ceiling. And the house is over 100 years old and it has layers and layers of wallpaper already. And so I’m not sure how to, first of all, get it straight with that tall of a ceiling and do I need to peel off the layers and layers of wallpaper.
LESLIE: Hmm. In what condition is the wallpaper that is currently on your wall? Is it really super-duper-duper stuck there and there’s like nothing peeling or falling away?
JEANETTE: It’s dated and it’s starting to peel.
LESLIE: In my own home, I wallpapered over wallpaper. I made sure I got a super-sticky adhesive and it’s worked fantastically well; knock on wood. I haven’t seen anything peeling up; I haven’t seen any changes; I haven’t seen anything. And that wallpaper was in very good condition. It was stuck on there very, very well. We had a couple of places where there were tears and peels only because of moving incidents or the previous owners had some children that may have peeled at a seam here and there and it is currently adhering very well and we’ve had it for a year now.
So I say if the base is sturdy and adhered well, you can absolutely wallpaper over it. Because especially dealing with so many layers; if you try to strip, it’s going to take ages and ages and ages.
JEANETTE: OK. Well, that’s great.
TOM: Alright, Jeanette. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to Illinois; Theresa, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
THERESA: We have a problem with ants and recently we’ve had a lot of rain and we just see them coming into our house and I’ve sprayed and in the past that seemed to take care of them but now they just keep finding different ways to come in and I don’t know if we should start looking at getting someone in here to take care of that professionally or if it might just be the weather is driving them in or if you have any suggestions.
TOM: You know, it sounds like the ants really like your house, Theresa. (Leslie chuckles) What are you serving there?
THERESA: (inaudible at 0:14:31.3)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Stop making it so inviting.
THERESA: Yeah. (chuckles) Not good.
TOM: If you’re really being overrun with them, the best thing for you to do is to have a professional come in and put the appropriate product down. Because if you continue to use over-the-counter products, you’re going to probably over-apply them and that actually can be less safe than having a pro come in that knows just the right product, to put it down once, put it down right and not put it down again. And that’s the best way to get long-term satisfaction. Plus, many of the insecticides that go down today basically create barriers where these things won’t come back. I mean they affect just the insect they’re designed to affect and they’re very social systems, in the sense that once they get on one insect they pass to the other and pretty much wipes out the entire infestation.
LESLIE: Yeah, and a pro is going to know exactly where to look for wherever this ant nest might be; where they’re coming from; where they’re coming into. So they’re going to know the tricks of the trade to sort of help you stop it once and for all.
THERESA: OK, and so like this time of year would be a good time to do that? I didn’t know if in the spring would be better or just as soon as possible might be good.
TOM: It depends. Do you want to live with them all winter long? (Leslie chuckles)
THERESA: So as soon as possible is what you’re saying? OK. (Theresa chuckles)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Yes.
TOM: (laughs) I’d get right to it. Theresa, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dean in Idaho needs some help with a project in the bathroom. What’s going on?
DEAN: Yeah, I have a manufactured home and I had to replace the shower manifold. And it got some like wallpaper on 3/8-inch drywall board and it’s been discontinued and I can no longer get it but the drywall has been ruined.
TOM: Well, so you had a prefinished wallboard, essentially is what you’re saying and had a wallpaper attached to the drywall. Is that correct?
DEAN: Yes, yes.
TOM: And the drywall – I mean the wallpaper surface is in bad condition, correct?
TOM: So what you can do is think about actually putting a second layer of new drywall over that. You can use some very thin drywall – the 3/8-inch material is fine – essentially sandwiching the old stuff. Then you can tape and spackle and pretty much start from scratch right there; add wallpaper, paint it – you know, whatever you want to do.
The other thing that you might want to look at is some of the high-tech panelings that are out today because they’re actually quite attractive. And again, they could go right on top. They have cool, new finishes; they’re not that expensive. And that’s two ways that you could dress up that space.
LESLIE: You know, there’s also something interesting. When you spoke about textured wallpaper and the texture already being on the wallboard in this manufactured home, there’s a product called Anaglypta paper, which is essentially a textured wallpaper (audio gap) walls.com. And Anaglypta is spelled A-n-a-g-l-y-p-t-a and there might be something there that matches.
TOM: Was that the word you used when you won that spelling bee?
TOM: (chuckles) There you go, Dean; three options to help you out. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Ginny in Pennsylvania, welcome to The Money Pit. How are you today?
GINNY: Fine, thank you, and you?
LESLIE: Great. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit?
GINNY: I have a concrete breezeway and there’s a damaged place in it and I need to kind of fill it and then I want to paint the breezeway.
GINNY: What can I fill that with?
TOM: You’re going to want to use an epoxy patching compound; available at a home center or a hardware store. It will stick properly to the concrete. Then, after it dries, then you can paint the whole concrete surface again with an epoxy paint.
GINNY: And it’s not going to chip out or …?
TOM: It will not chip out.
GINNY: Oh, that’s great.
TOM: As opposed to using a concrete patch, which could chip out. You want to make sure it’s an epoxy-based patching compound. It’s designed specifically to stick to the old concrete.
GINNY: Can you do the same thing with a crack in the concrete, like in the sidewalk?
TOM: Yes, you certainly can do the same thing to a sidewalk crack as well.
GINNY: OK, well I thank you very much and I enjoy your program.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, it’s the number one home accident. It sends Americans to emergency rooms every year. What are we talking about? It’s falls.
LESLIE: And to prevent falling, you know there are so many places in your home that you could make safer. We’re going to tell you all of those, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. Discover western red cedar’s unique beauty, performance and environmental benefits at RealCedar.org.
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 and now that the cooler weather is upon us and we’re spending a lot more time indoors, you need to be cautious about a potential injury that could occur. You know, there’s one home injury that sends more people to the emergency room than any other each year. And would you believe that it’s accidental falls? More than five million Americans are hurt during falls at home every, single year and falls kill 6,000 Americans a year in their own homes.
TOM: If you’re wondering if your home has trip-and-fall hazards, it most likely does. But being aware of the most vulnerable spots can help increase the safety in your own house. Joining us to tell us what to look out for is Meri-K Appy. She’s president of the Home Safety Council.
MERI-K: Hi, guys. Thank you so much for having me back.
TOM: Some of this research always seems so obvious after the fact but why is that we still continue to have these staggering number of fall injuries every year?
MERI-K: Well, I think people like to think of their homes as the very safest place they can be but, as I’ve shared with your listeners before, every year there are some 20,000 deaths and more than 21 million medical visits that occur because of accidents. This happens, obviously, when people are distracted, rushing around, doing what we do at home and not really thinking that something as simple as clutter on the stairwell could result in a really serious fall.
MERI-K: So part of it has to do with putting things on the radar screen so folks know where to look to find the leading culprits and then just taking a few minutes to fix them.
LESLIE: Well, and also I find things that perhaps I’m used to in my home – like I know the area rug by my front door; I don’t have an antiskid mat underneath it but I know that it’s slippery and I pay extra attention. But I forget that people coming in, who aren’t aware, might not see it. And now that I have the newborn, you know when I’m holding him and walking around, suddenly I have a whole new perspective of things that …
MERI-K: That’s right. It’s a brand new world for you.
LESLIE: It really is. So I’m really starting to really take a look at what I can do.
Now where should I start, regardless? Is it more important if you have young children or older adults in the house or is it really all-encompassing for every member of the home to make things safe?
MERI-K: Falls are something that can happen to anybody, but you’ve named the two highest-risk groups; the very young and the very old. For babies, when you’re talking about your newborn, it’s one thing when they’re not moving around very much but as soon as they start to crawl or even begin to kind of teeter, you want to get ahead of things. So now would be a great time for you to look around your home and if you have stairwell areas, invest in really good baby gates. We like the kind that actually screw into the wall to make them sturdier. And you need them at both the top and the bottom of your stairs.
MERI-K: And make sure, too, that if you’ve got open rungs – you know, some stairwells there’s more of an open design – you may actually need to invest in some sort of plastic to ensure that – acrylic plastic – that your baby can’t kind of sneak right through the rungs at the top of the stairs. But sometimes it’s even more simple than that and folks tend to fall on stairs when they don’t see them. And so, making sure that you’ve got good lighting at both the top and the bottom of the stairs is an easy way to prevent a fall and just making sure that members of your household resist the temptation to make the stairs your storage area; you know you’re putting it there then you’re going to carry it up later or carry it down.
LESLIE: That’s exactly what I do.
MERI-K: Folks – everybody does, but …
TOM: Talking to Meri-K Appy. She’s the president of the Home Safety Council.
Meri-K, similar to what Leslie’s going on with a new baby in the house, I think change of routine is probably the reason that many of us create dangerous situations; especially when it comes to home repair. You know if you move your furniture around; you’ve got things torn up; you’ve got ladders set up all over the place, aside from the normal day-to-day lack of lighting and stuff that you can trip on, I think you have to be extra careful when it comes to tackling those projects around your house.
MERI-K: Well, you and I have talked, Tom, about ladder safety because I know that that’s a tool near and dear to your heart; and to us, too. We like it when people use ladders. We would much rather have people, if they’re going to need to climb to a high altitude of any kind, to use a ladder rather than teeter on a chair or shimmy up on the counter. But it’s important to know that about 150,000 injuries are reported in emergency rooms every year because of improper use of ladders.
So here again, it’s a matter of knowing that your equipment is in really good shape; you’ve positioned it well; it’s fully deployed; all the locks in place; and that you’re observing – if you’re using an extension ladder you want to observe what we call the four-to-one rule which means for every four feet up the side of your home, you position your ladder – the base of the ladder comes out one foot, four-to-one, and that gives your ladder stability. But really important is just to kind of think about your belt buckle and keep it within the frame of the ladder. Folks tend to get into trouble when they just lean over a little bit …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Just a little bit (chuckling), til you fall.
MERI-K: Just want to finish that one more inch of painting or they’re carrying something and that’s when balance issues come into play and folks tend to topple.
TOM: Well, you’ve got a brand new website with all sorts of tips on how to stay safe.
LESLIE: Great tips.
TOM: It’s called MySafeHome.org. Check it out.
Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
MERI-K: Oh, it was so fun to be with you and hope to be back again soon.
LESLIE: Well, Meri-K, if there were any way that you could help me from tripping over my own feet (chuckling), then I would be very, very grateful.
TOM: Are you skewing those fall stat results again?
LESLIE: I swear to you, it’s like I have two left feet. I trip over them all the time.
Well, we learned from Meri-K that carpets are one of those fall hazards, in addition to my own feet, that we just learned about. And if you want to go another way, as far as flooring, we’ve got a great idea to create a new look for your wood floors at home. All you need is a little paint and some creativity, so stick around.
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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 and if on your fall to-do list you’ve got sealing up those gaps and cracks around your house before the winter chill sets in, then (audio gap) of GE Caulk Singles. And these are the ones that are in those little silver packets that look like those juice boxes that the kids drink. All you do is tear it open, squeeze out the caulk and then throw it all away. No caulking gun, no leftovers to become petrified in your garage while you’re waiting for your next project. So give us a call for your chance to win. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Alright, before the break we were talking about falls at home and we talked about carpets being one of the culprits. You know, many mid-century homes have wood floors under that wall-to-wall carpeting which, by the way, makes a really good dropcloth.
LESLIE: It’s true.
TOM: And if you want to refinish them, you could actually paint them, instead, for a great look. Now we did this in our house, upstairs, and it looked fantastic.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you’re looking for some ideas on what kind of painting you should be doing on a wood floor, you can really do just about anything. You can paint on a beautiful sort of faux carpet. You can do a diamond pattern. You can do stripes. You can do checkerboard. You name it; you just need the imagination to dream it up. And if you go with a diamond pattern, it doesn’t have to be two colors; you can do, say, a white with the natural wood flooring. It really does a nice contrast. And if you go this route, you want to make sure, first things first, that you prime the area of the floor that you’re going to be painting. Latex paint; it works the best. All you need to do is add two coats of clear topcoat, once you’re done, to protect your artwork. And porches and your outdoor rooms; they’re also a great place for this application. Best of all, paint and everything, it costs less than 50 bucks.
And this is one of the ideas from our new book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. We’ve got a whole section called ’50 Under 50.’ It’s about decorating ideas. It’s in chapter nine. If you want to go out and buy the book, all you need to do is go to MoneyPit.com and we’ll direct you to where you can do so.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Going down to Florida to chat with Robert. What’s going on? Your floor is buckling?
ROBERT: My son and daughter just built their home – 4,000-square-foot home – and they put those floating floors down. OK?
ROBERT: And they did a really good job but I was over there the other day and I was looking at it and not all of it but some of it; it looked like where they butted up together – you know, when they put them together; it was those snap kind, you know –
ROBERT: – where the ends butt up together, it looks like they’re peaked up; like they’ve been pushed up.
ROBERT: And I’m fixing to do my house because I was so impressed with the floor and I said, ‘Oh, God.’ I asked John, I said, ‘What happened there?’
TOM: Well, what kind of floating floor did they put down, Robert? Was it a laminate floor or was it a hardwood floor?
ROBERT: It’s a laminate floor …
ROBERT: … and it’s one of those floating floors, you know.
TOM: Well, all the laminate floors are floating today and they do essentially lock together. I’m not quite sure what the product was that they used but we’ve had good success with a number of manufacturers. I’ve used Formica in my home; their laminate floor. We’ve done a lot of work with the folks at Armstrong and they have a good locking floor. So if you have a good-quality locking floor, you should not see that raised edge between the different sections. It really should be completely flat and flush.
ROBERT: OK, so you think – you know I’m a pretty good carpenter but …
TOM: I think you can do it yourself then. It’s pretty easy to put down.
LESLIE: They go in very easily. You don’t need an extra subfloor or an underlayment. Most of them are attached to the backside. Or you can buy a roll of it that goes out. And all you need to do is cover it with a moulding as you get to the edges. You can do like a quarter-round or a shoe moulding just to cover where the floor meets your wall.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
And Leslie, I want to take a moment and thank everyone for entering the My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes that just wrapped up last week.
LESLIE: Yeah, and enter you guys did. How many did we end up with, Tom?
TOM: Over 100,000 entries …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Whoo! That’s amazing.
TOM: … in the adventure game and I got all sorts of e-mails from folks that enjoyed playing the game and learned so much about their homes. We’re going to do this every year. Maybe next fall we’ll do another one. And it was just a lot of fun and we’re so glad that everyone had a great time. And we’ve got a lot of prizes going out the door and we want to thank all the sponsors that made that possible. We want to thank Rinnai; they make a fantastic tankless water heater. The folks from Monkey Hook who have a brand new product out; it’s called the Gorilla Grade Monkey Hook. Holds up to 75 pounds. It’s sort of the new, bigger version of the Monkey Hook. We have over 100 packages of Gorilla Grade Monkey Hooks going out to some of the winners.
LESLIE: And also our friends over at EasyWater Water Softening Systems, which is the no-plumbing water softener which is fantastic. It’s really helped a lot of our listeners. You guys, you know you need it. It helps to fix the water situation in your house and it’s certainly easy to install.
TOM: And five of the winners are going to receive an EasyWater system and also Lifetime Products. They’ve got a beautiful Lifetime fold-up utility trailer that we’re giving away to one lucky listener and two …
LESLIE: Two storage sheds.
TOM: Two sheds. Right. And complete – just in time to get all your stuff stuck in there for the long, cold winter ahead.
So we’re glad you enjoyed the game and we’re going to do it again.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Everybody loves their stuff and now Beverly in New York is looking for someplace to store some extra items; like the attic. How can we help you?
BEVERLY: Yes, I have blown-in insulation in my attic and I want to know if I can put a floor on top of that blown-in insulation.
TOM: Probably not, Beverly. The insulation is probably much higher than the floor joist; am I correct?
BEVERLY: Yes, yes. Way above.
TOM: Yeah, you see, you can’t do that because what happens is the insulation insulates by trapping air. And if you compress it by sort of squishing it down by trying to put a floor on it, you’re basically going to render it ineffective. And if you try to squish it too much, you’ll actually push the drywall off the ceiling below.
Probably the best thing for you to do here is – do you have an attic stair that goes up into one area where you want to store?
BEVERLY: Yes. Yes, I have …
TOM: Alright, so what I would do is this. I would try to push away the insulation in that immediate area – maybe make it a little thicker on the other areas of the attic – so you’re sort of carving out a small space around the opening that you could use for storage. And then use that for storage but understand that you’re not going to have as much insulation ability there as you would in other parts of the attic. But just reserve a little bit of an area around that opening for your storage; but don’t compress the insulation because if you do, it’s not going to work out so well.
LESLIE: Well, because then the weight of the plywood is sitting on the joist rather than on the insulation overall.
BEVERLY: Oh, fine. Oh, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, clearing up the myths and facts of compact fluorescent lamp safety. I know a lot of people are confused out there and we will sort it all out.
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.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, take a little Tom and Leslie to go. When you download The Money Pit podcast at MoneyPit.com, it is absolutely free, which we love, and you can choose from a year’s worth of our past shows and even search through them by topic so you’re getting exactly what you want to listen to when you need to know that information. All you need to do is go to MoneyPit.com/Listen and while you’re on Money Pit’s website you can e-mail us your question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon. And I’ve got one here from Myrna in Idaho who writes: ‘We used CFLs and they are lasting tremendously longer than traditional light bulbs.’ Those are compact fluorescent light bulbs. ‘But we have heard there is mercury in them and they must be disposed as toxic waste. What happens if one breaks?’
TOM: Well, there actually is a very, very small amount of mercury in a CFL. It’s about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen; so that’s really, really tiny. If you do break one, you need to be very careful to clean it up. You want to, first off, sweep up all of the broken glass and then you want to use a damp mop to try to get anything that’s left behind. Don’t just sweep it all dry but use a damp mop and make sure you get all that dust that might come out of that.
And when those CFLs eventually wear out, well, many of the retailers actually have recovery programs where you can bring them right back to the store where you bought them.
LESLIE: Alright. Quickly, we’ve got CJ in New York who writes: ‘How do I keep the lawn healthy for fall?’
TOM: Good question. Fall is an important time of year to do some winter maintenance. You want to add a fertilizer at this time. You want to make sure you get rid of the weeds right now. You actually want to treat for bugs. And then you want to reseed. If you reseed in the fall, you will have a very lush, healthy lawn come spring.
LESLIE: Yeah, and by reseeding, you’re going to patch up all of those bare spots. If you use a good-quality weed-free grass seed, you will have a beautiful lawn come springtime.
TOM: Well, if you’ve ever tackled an overdue outside home improvement maintenance project around your house, you know the look of rot. Rotted wood that actually has perhaps gone a little bit too long without proper care and maintenance can be a real mess. What you might not realize, though, is it’s not just a condition of the wood; it’s actually a living, breathing pack of organisms that makes that up. And Leslie’s got the lowdown on how to keep them at bay in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you certainly can’t recognize rot by the look of it, you will know it once you touch that piece of wood when it crumbles in your hand and it’s all squishy and disgusting. In fact, did you know that your home’s exterior – even your landscaping – can invite rot inside? Now, rot develops when wood becomes way too wet. If you want to keep rot at bay, which I think you would want to, you need to watch out for any roof leaks and all of your overflowing gutters and you want to make sure that your lawn sprinklers point away from your house. Keep all that water away.
Also, you want to keep your shrubs and your bushes trimmed back away from the house so you’re not getting any contact between the house and this living organism in your plants. You want to make sure that you keep all that excess water away. And you want to avoid earth-to-wood contact around decks and fencing to keep your home safe from the structural predator. If you do that with your fencing and your decks, you’re also going to see that you have far less of an inviting area for termites and other creepy, crawly creatures to make themselves at home.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number for the program; available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even if you wake up in the middle of the night with a pressing home improvement problem, you can pick up the phone and call us. Leslie will pick it up. (Leslie chuckles) She’ll answer. I may be snoozing. But one way or the other, we will get you your answer. If we are not in the studio when you do call, we will get back to you the next time we are.
Coming up next week on the program, one of the more persnickety problems we get asked about is how to take care of your walls, especially when you get those dreaded nail pops; you get the dings; you get the dents; wondering what material you need to fix it. What if you get a big, old hole in the wall like from a doorknob or something like that? We’re going to have the ins and outs of wall repair next week on The Money Pit.
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 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.)