Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by for your calls at 1-888-MONEY-PIT about your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Have you started a project? Are you stuck in the middle of one? Call us right now. Let us help you get out from under that and get the job done right. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Hey, are you taking a bath on your water bills? Coming up this hour, we’re going to tell you how to save money on those bills and how to keep your kids safe at the same time.
LESLIE: Also, have you been wondering if that project you’re planning right now is really something that you can do yourself? Well, we’ll tell you what you need to ask yourself just to be sure.
TOM: And in just a few minutes, we’re going to talk to our friend Kevin Ireton. He is the editor-in-chief of Fine Homebuilding Magazine. If you want to know how to build a house right, you’ve got to read Fine Homebuilding. And guess what? There’s a brand new kind of plumbing pipe out there; one that is stronger and cheaper than copper. He’s going to tell us all about it.
And one caller we choose this hour is going to win a set of three Ryobi One+ products: a radio, a fan and an inflator. All three charge off the same base. So phone in your home improvement or home repair question right now to us. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Beth in Michigan has a unique problem. Tell us what happened to your grout.
BETH: I spilled nail polish. (chuckling)
TOM: Oh, no. Well, was it a good color?
BETH: No, it wasn’t. (laughing)
LESLIE: Did you get it uniformly in the grout or just in one area?
BETH: It is just in one area and it has sparkles in it. (laughter)
TOM: Oh, boy. (laughing) So that bathroom’s got a whole new look now, doesn’t it?
BETH: Yes, it does.
TOM: Alright. Well, now I suppose that you probably put some nail polish remover on there or tried to mop it up?
BETH: Yes, I did. I tried the nail polish remover.
TOM: It didn’t work so well, did it?
BETH: No, it did not.
TOM: Yeah, because the grout is very absorbent. Unfortunately, Beth, what you’re going to need to do is to remove the grout. There is a little tool called a grout saw which is sort of like a grinder for grout. And it’s a hand tool and you can use it to sort of scrape out the grout because it is fairly soft.
TOM: And once you get the grout out, then you’re going to have to re-grout it. And grouting is really not that difficult to do. It’s something that you can do with very few tools. And it’s going to look good. But unfortunately, you’re probably going to have to do the whole surface because if you try to just re-grout …
LESLIE: It’s never going to match color wise.
TOM: Right, exactly.
TOM: So the thing to do here is to get the grout soft, strip out all the old grout and then simply re-grout it.
LESLIE: But it’s a good time because then that gives you a chance to use a grout that has an antimicrobial in it, so you’re not going to grow any mold or mildew on your grout. And it also gives you an opportunity to seal the grout so you’re not going to have any trouble with stains in the future. Just remember, get a rubber float; put it on at a 45-degree angle. Once you really get it in to all those crevices, go back across it with a 90-degree angle; get rid of all that excess grout. And just keep on top of it. Let it set for about a half hour to an hour and then keep wiping it away with a sponge and clean water and get that cloudiness away.
TOM: Yeah, whenever you re-grout a tile surface, you find that you put on a lot of grout and you spend the next hour just pulling it off. You only need a really tiny amount but, like Leslie said, you let it set. It kind of does the job for you because it’s going to get really hard right at the bottom of the crevice and the top soft stuff will come right off.
BETH: OK. Now is there a sealer that you recommend me use?
TOM: There – a silicone sealer is what you would want to put on top of that. Or what you could also do, Beth, is use an epoxy grout. The epoxy grouts are harder to put on but they don’t require any sealing and they’re not – and they’re not absorbent like the concrete grouts are or like the sand grouts are.
TOM: Alright, Beth? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: So Tom, I just had a major Trading Spaces grouting debacle.
TOM: You did? What happened?
LESLIE: I was doing this like specialized, mosaic tile, starburst art thing for a room.
LESLIE: And I had them send me special silver grout …
LESLIE: … and, like an idiot, did not pay attention to the grout-to-water ratio …
LESLIE: … and ended up putting it in like – you know, those 10 pound bags really only go in – what ? -like a quart of water?
LESLIE: And I probably had like, you know, half of a five-gallon bucket filled. (laughter) And we just like (sound effect), mix, mix, mix, mix.
TOM: So you just slopped it in there?
LESLIE: And I was like, ‘Aw, no. No!’
TOM: Aw, man.
LESLIE: So then I had to sort of mix in a different color. It was a big pain in the butt. In the end, I had enough grout in this bucket to do like all of Providence, Rhode Island.
TOM: Moral of the story, read the directions before you tackle that grout project.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Even if you know what you’re doing.
TOM: Do as we say; not as we do. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Jim in Arizona’s lucky. You get to enjoy your deck all year round in that beautiful weather. What’s wrong with it?
JIM: Well, it’s getting a lot of ultraviolet light. And I’m having to refinish it twice a year.
LESLIE: Whoo, whoo. What’s it made out of?
TOM: Hmm. Good wood but it does need a lot of work.
LESLIE: What is your maintenance program? When you’re refinishing it, do you strip it down to new wood? Are you getting to a fresh surface? Or are you going right on top?
JIM: Well, I’ve been going right on top and I think I’ve reached the end of that.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re putting good stain on top of bad stuff that’s not sticking, you’re not doing anything at all. You really want to make sure you strip it down to some fresh new wood. That’s the only way you’re going to get good adhesion. Because you really have to make sure you have good adhesion. Flood company makes a bunch of great products. They make a great outdoor wood stripper. It is a bit aggressive. You brush it on or roll it on; let it sit; then rinse it away with a power washer. But don’t go too aggressively with your power washer; otherwise, you’re going to damage the wood as well. Get rid of all of that old stuff.
And Flood had a new product that came out this past spring that’s an ultraviolet finish for your deck. So it’s a stain that …
TOM: Is that the CWF product?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. That’s good stuff.
LESLIE: It’s the CWF ultraviolet. It comes in seven or eight different colors. All are sort of very neutral, very natural; really pretty grays and greens and silvers and oranges. Really whatever type that you like. It’s going to allow the grain to show through but it has an ultraviolet protection. It’s UV5 and it’s going to protect that wood as best as it can from that blazing Arizona sun.
JIM: What do think about the synthetic decking material?
TOM: I think it’s great. You know, once you put that decking material down, then your maintenance goes down to almost nothing, James. What you can do is you can do a deck makeover. Is your substructure on the redwood deck made out of pressure-treated lumber?
JIM: No, it’s made out of, basically, fir.
TOM: It is? So it’s not even treated. Are you having any rot on the understructure at all?
JIM: No, because the deck sits up quite a – quite a ways off the ground.
TOM: Well, what I was going to tell you is that what you can do is remove this – the decking materials and put down a product like Veranda …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. Like a composite on top.
TOM: … which is a composite decking material and you don’t have to change the structure. But, generally, I give that advice when the structure is made out of pressure-treated lumber. If you have an untreated structure, it’s got to be in pretty darn good shape and I have to be pretty confident it’s going to stay that way for a long time before I put a composite decking product on top of it.
LESLIE: But if the redwood’s in good condition, I say get it down to a nice good surface and it would last you about five years. If done correctly, you’re going to get five years of good use and good looks out of it on your horizontal surfaces. It really is all about prep.
TOM: This staining that you’re doing every year is not adhering and that’s why you’re doing it every six months. If it’s done properly, I think you’re going to get a lot more life expectancy out of it and it’s going to be the easiest way to get this deck where you want it to be.
James, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Daniel’s got redecorating on the mind. What’s going on out there in Virginia?
DANIEL: Just bought a house. It was built in the 1950’s. It’s got vinyl wallpaper on it and I don’t know what to do. It’s real sticky. And we were thinking about removing it. Do you just go ahead and paint underneath (ph) of it? I was wondering if you knew a trick to getting that off without peeling it and tearing it to pieces.
TOM: Absolutely. There’s really two ways to tackle this. With vinyl, any of the wallpaper strippers that you use are not going to soak through that because of the vinyl surface. So you have to use a tool called a paper tiger which basically puts small holes in the vinyl so the solution can get behind it. But the easiest way to do it – and if I had a lot of paper, this is definitely what I would do – I would rent a wallpaper steamer.
LESLIE: Don’t use the tiger. Rent that steamer and go for it.
TOM: You like that better?
LESLIE: Well, the tiger, it’s like it’s a little round rotary tool with a bunch of blades in the backside. So you’re scratching up the paper and you’re causing it to rip into like a million jillion pieces per small, tiny area. So once it starts to work, you’re going to be dealing with tiny, tiny little pieces, which can be time consuming; especially in a large space. If you rent the steamer, you run that steamer over that wallpaper panel and you should be able to peel it right off. I mean it really is so much more effective.
TOM: Now Daniel, after you get the wallpaper off, it will be important that the wall is clean and then also primed. You want to use a good quality primer when you’re going to paint over a wall that had wallpaper on it because you’ve had paste and other things on that wall surface and you don’t really want to put the top coat of paint on top of that. So use a good quality primer. Paint the wall with the primer first, let it dry and then put the top coat on top of it and you’ll be sure that the top color coat is going to stick properly and look really nice.
DANIEL: OK, that sounds great.
TOM: Daniel, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, well now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, are you in some hot water? Have you been taking a bath on those energy bills? We’re going to show you how to use less water and spend less money 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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Like one question might be, ‘How do I lower my energy bills for all of that money I’m spending heating the water around my house?’
LESLIE: I’m sure it’s a question that everyone is asking themselves right now and will be asking themselves much more as the weather continues to cool. So if you would like to lower the cost of your heating hot water bills all year long, here’s a quick tip to help you do just that.
By simply lowering the temperature of your water heater from the average 140 degrees to 120 degrees, you’ll have plenty of hot water for showers while saving energy costs and it will help protect your children from the accidental scalding that might occur, as well, with those high temperatures.
TOM: Want to know where to find some more great tips like the one you just heard? Log onto MoneyPit.com. There is a new tip on our website every single day. And if you have your own website, we actually have a piece of free programming that will allow you to have The Money Pit’s tip of the day lodged on your home page. So check it out. It’s all at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. Well you know Tom and I both love the Ryobi One+ system and I’m sure many of you out there do as well. It’s that popular 18-volt power tool platform that works with more than 20 different tools. And it’s used by more than four million of you homeowners out there. And Ryobi is introducing some new additions to that fantastic lineup this fall.
TOM: That’s right. And one caller we choose this hour is going to win a sneak preview of the new One+ inflator, One+ radio and the One+ personal fan. You’ll also get two batteries and a charger with this prize package. It’s worth 100 bucks. For more information on Ryobi tools and these newest One+ line additions, visit RyobiTools.com.
And for answers to your home improvement and home repair questions, call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Ron in Kansas, you find The Money Pit on KFRM. And you’ve got brown recluse spiders in your house. Are you OK?
RON: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, we’re OK. We haven’t gotten bit. I don’t think I’ve – I don’t think I’ve gotten bit yet, anyway. But …
LESLIE: I think you would know. (chuckles)
RON: We sure have them and they – they’re not so much in the house but they are in the garage area.
LESLIE: Yeah, they love any sort of areas where they can find nice, dark places to hide. If you’re storing cardboard boxes or even golf clubs; anything that has a nice nook for them to get into – especially in your part of the country – you’re going to find them.
RON: Is there a way to get rid of them?
TOM: Ron, you know, something that’s interesting about the brown recluse spider is that these things can live for months without food. So, eliminating food or water is not something that will actually control them. The best way to control them is to remove their habitat. And in a house, you know, that can be loose boards, old furniture, other junk, storage, boxes, things of this nature. And …
TOM: Clutter. And also, whenever you find the web of a recluse spider, which has – it doesn’t have the normal sort of symmetrical web shape. It’s more like a tacky cloth sort of looking stuff. If you see the web start to form them, you want to vacuum them up. But removing the clutter and the environment that gives them a place to hide and to survive is what most of the experts – the entomologists – recommend as a solution for this.
Now, you can also have an exterminator spray a pesticide that will keep them under control if you have a real severe infestation. But kind of staying on top of the clutter and removing the webs is the most important way to control them.
LESLIE: Also Ron, since yours seem to be limited to the garage, to the outdoor area, if you install yellow light bulbs in your outdoor fixtures which are attracting insects to the area where you’re finding the brown recluse, if you can reduce the amount of food, maybe they’ll start going elsewhere to try to find places to eat. So it’s really about get in their environment and stopping their food source.
TOM: And lastly, Ron, you could also trap them using sticky traps. They’re effective at capturing brown recluse. But be careful. These are poisonous spiders and they can have nasty, nasty bites; they can cause nasty, nasty bites. So you want to be careful about handling them. If they get on a sticky trap, make sure they’re dead because the other thing you should know is that they’re very, very fast (chuckling) and if they’re not stuck, they can easily jump over and bite you.
LESLIE: Bill in Illinois listens to The Money Pit on Discovery Radio network. What can we do for you?
BILL: I’ve got an 80 year old house that has wood lath and plaster walls and it has some water damage. I was wondering if you think it would be more prudent to take the wood lath and plaster out; replace it with drywall; or just try and repair the wood lath and plaster.
TOM: There’s actually a third way to do that, Bill, and that is to put drywall on top of the plaster; sort of skin the plaster. How big of an area are we talking about?
BILL: Well, it’s a ceiling probably about 15 by 15. I also have another problem. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it before; I’m sure you have. There’s a material on the outside of the plaster itself that looks like somebody just took their fingers and made designs …
TOM: Like a textured ceiling. Well, do you want a smooth ceiling, Bill?
TOM: Alright. Well, I’ll tell you, if you take that old plaster down, you can do it but it’s a big stinking, dirty job. I’ve got to tell you. It’s really a dirty job. So what you might want to do is simply take some half-inch drywall and then apply it on top of the plaster. What you’re going to want to do is use drywall screws; find all the ceiling joists ahead of time; and then attach it right to the ceiling by going right through the old plaster. This is going to sort of sandwich that plaster in, which will also help it become safer and more reinforced. Because sometimes, when plaster gets wet, the plaster that goes through the wood lath and sort of has little fingers that sort of grab the back of it, gets weak and that can fall down and hurt somebody. But if you put drywall up there, it’ll make a nice and tight and clean and even surface. You can simply spackle the joints and the drywall and you’ll be good to go. In your case, I think that’s going to be the easiest way. You’ll get rid of that texture you don’t like; you’ll secure the ceiling; and it’ll be the least disruptive.
BILL: OK, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bill. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Pennsylvania, you’re on the line. Sherry, how can we help?
SHERRY: I have a house that’s 100 years old and we – my children live in it during college. And we are finding that we have water that’s coming in to the basement area. And we’ve tried to re-grade away from the house. We redid our drains that are all – so the pipes are going away from the house.
SHERRY: And we’re still getting water that’s showing up in the basement.
TOM: Did the re-grading and the gutter work reduce the amount of water?
SHERRY: That it did do. Yes. And it seems like we have some high ground; even though I don’t call it really high. But there is somewhat of a hill from the back of the house. And in the backyard, when it rains hard, that’ll kind of be very wet.
TOM: Alright. Well, what you might need to do here is if you have a lot of water that’s running off into this area, simply re-grading the first four feet is not going to be enough to get the water far enough away. What you might have to do is something called a curtain drain. And it’s not that difficult to do but, essentially, what it is, is a trench that would be going across the bottom of the hill. And you would dig a trench maybe 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep or so; you put a couple of inches of gravel and then some PVC pipe that’s perforated. And you would want to pitch that towards the low end so it could drain somewhere. And then, cover the rest of the pipe with more gravel; put a little bit of filter cloth over that; and then soil and you could plant grass. So once it’s installed, it’s invisible.
What this type of thing will do is it’ll take the water that runs down the hill, it’ll fall into the curtain drain and it’ll come up into the pipe and then it’ll run out the other end. I think this is a matter of managing the amount of water that’s getting anywhere near that basement wall. And Sherry, if you can keep some of that hill water from running off and getting that close, I think that’s going to be the last thing you’ll need to do to straighten out that leak.
LESLIE: Mike in Vermont, what’s happening at your house?
MIKE: I’ve got a mole problem I’d like to get rid of.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Well, you don’t like the trails in your yard; falling down; unwanted visitors?
MIKE: Yes, I’d like to get rid of them. I …
TOM: Well, Mike, the first step is to control the grubs that are beneath the dirt because that’s the protein that the moles are feeding on. So you need to use grub control; you know, something like GrubEx or a product like that to reduce the grubs. I used to have a very, very severe mole problem and once I got rid of the grubs, the moles went away.
The other thing that you could do is you could try to eradicate them through different forms of pesticides. For example, there’s a product out there called Ramik Green that’s very good. You break a hole in the top of the mole tunnel, drop a few of these pellets in, the moles chew them and then they die. So there’s …
LESLIE: Yeah, but keep kids and pets out of the yard for a few days.
TOM: Yeah, that’s why we don’t like to recommend the poison; because you can’t really control who else gets to it. There could be a beneficial animal that you may like to have around the house, like perhaps a squirrel or something like that.
LESLIE: And we’ve also heard that moles are very adverse to sound waves. And if you can buy a cheap transistor radio – some battery operated ones – throw it down into the mole hole blaring some loud like 80s rock hair band music and they will go running.
TOM: Up next, you know, copper pipes have always been the gold standard when it comes to residential plumbing. But, there’s a new plumbing material out there that is cheaper and it lasts longer. Is it going to convince these copper connoisseurs, Leslie?
LESLIE: Well, Kevin Ireton from Fine Homebuilding magazine is sure going to do his best to do just that and you’ll have that interview, up next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Plus Interior Sateen Kitchen and Bath Enamel with advanced NanoGuard technology to help consumers protect these areas, keeping them looking new longer. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.
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, it is one of the top ten topics on this program; it’s plumbing. And mostly how to make it work like it’s supposed to. And you know, we’ve gotten asked this question many times on this show and that is what is better? The old fashioned reliable copper plumbing or this new fangled plastic stuff?
Well, we’ve got an expert on the line that’s going to help us sort that out. He is Kevin Ireton. He’s our resident Phi Beta Kappa carpenter and editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine.
LESLIE: Hi, Kevin. Welcome.
KEVIN: Hi, Tom. Hi, Leslie. How are you guys?
TOM: Terrific. And you know, we have gotten more and more calls about the benefits versus detriments of plastic pipes. And I think the fact that there was a whole bunch of plastic pipes out there that went bad not so long ago, Kevin …
KEVIN: It was polybutylene that caused all the problems back in the 90s.
TOM: Yeah, and how is the new plastic piping different than the polybutylene that caused all those issues?
KEVIN: I’d have to be a chemist to really explain it. The bottom line is that it’s made from a different chemical compound. And the earlier pipe – the polybutylene – was susceptible to degrading when it came into contact with chlorine so that, after a number of years, the fitting started to fail. But that’s not an issue with this new pipe, which is referred to as PEX – P-E-X.
LESLIE: And what does that stand for?
KEVIN: Oh, it’s – basically, it stands for cross-linked polyethylene.
TOM: Alright, so plastic is not plastic is not plastic. This is a new form of plastic piping. And why should we even consider using this over traditional copper which has been around and …
LESLIE: Yeah, and anybody …
TOM: … reliably serving us for so long?
LESLIE: And anybody who’s seen Moonstruck knows that, supposedly, copper is the best.
KEVIN: I mean copper works great. Unfortunately, it’s getting more and more expensive. Even since this article that we did came out, the price of copper has continued to skyrocket. But the chief advantages of polybutylene are that it’s less expensive, initially, to purchase; 50 cents per foot versus 85 cents per foot. But it’s also – because this is flexible pipe and comes in hundreds of foot rolls, its’ much easier to install. So we’ve heard from plumbers …
LESLIE: Oh, and far less joining.
KEVIN: Exactly. So far less joints to leak and far less joints that you have to make; which are, of course, time consuming.
TOM: Have plumbers been accepting this new fangled pipe known as PEX? Or do you still have a lot of old dogs out there that don’t want to be taught new tricks?
KEVIN: That’s a good question, Tom. The answer is both. There are – there are some markets – I know you guys were recently out in Las Vegas. I’m told that out in Las Vegas, almost all the new construction is plumbed with PEX pipe. There are other places, I’m afraid that – my home in New England is one of them – where PEX has not been as widely accepted. Interestingly though, I think PEX has gained ground because it’s become the pipe of choice for radiant floor installations and people started seeing it and getting more used to it. So I think it’s definitely gaining acceptance.
LESLIE: Now, are you seeing that it’s really only going into new construction or can you retrofit it into an existing home that may need to be re-plumbed? How does it play along with other types of pipes?
KEVIN: PEX has a couple of advantages for remodeling. I mean, first of all, anybody who’s done any remodeling – and I’ve got an old house and this happens to me all the time – means you have to try to snake things through walls. I mean it’s more common to try to do that with wires because you can. But the truth is, trying to insert rigid copper and snake it through existing walls is pretty tough. Imagine having a flexible pipe that’s, you know, hundreds of feet long; it’s a lot easier to do and you then also don’t have to solder in these awkward locations that you snake the pipe through. So it has some real advantages for remodeling. And they also have lots of different fittings available for tying it in with other types of plumbing systems. So you can connect PEX pipe to copper pipe.
TOM: So it works well for new construction; it works well for remodeling; for all those reasons. So the bottom line, that in the opinion of the research you guys did at Fine Homebuilding, this is a fine technology and one that we should definitely be looking at to make the job easier and less expensive moving forward.
KEVIN: Absolutely. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of it in the future.
TOM: Kevin Ireton from Fine Homebuilding magazine. Thanks again for stopping by The Money Pit. The current issue of the magazine is on newsstands now or it’s online at Fine Homebuilding.com.
LESLIE: So are you listening to us and thinking, ‘Sure, you guys make those jobs sound easy but I’m still not so sure if I could do it myself or if I should do it myself.’ Well, there are two equally important things you should consider when you’re trying to decide. Find out what they are, after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Peerless. If you’re putting in a new bathroom or kitchen faucet, Peerless can help you with every step including the hardest one – getting that old faucet out. For a complete undo-it-yourself guide, visit the Peerless faucet coach at faucetcoach.com.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show because you can’t watch television while doing home improvement. (laughter) It’s just not safe. Call us right now with your home improvement question. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, to do it yourself or not. That certainly is the question and here’s what you need to think about when making that decision.
First, by doing the project yourself, you’re likely going to save money. But if you’re not experienced or if you’re short on time, chances are you’re not going to save any dough. Secondly, consider the safety factors. Patching sheetrock is way different than patching a roof. So if you don’t have the right tools or the know-how, the services of a professional might be worth every penny you spend; not to mention save you from that broken arm.
TOM: Yeah, you’ve got to add in the cost of the hospital bill (laughter) to the home repair project you do yourself if you’re not totally qualified.
LESLIE: Yeah, and then if you’re not really experienced with the project, think about how many times you’re running back and forth from the home store; the gas cost. Please, you’re going to be spending so much more money.
TOM: Well, coming up in our next e-newsletter, three home improvement projects you can do yourself even though they sound very difficult. Like installing flooring. If you haven’t subscribed yet, sign up right now for our free e-newsletter at MoneyPit.com.
Well, four million Americans own the One+ power tool system from Ryobi. It’s the popular 18-volt tool platform that works with 20 different tools. And we’ve got some Ryobi tools to give away right now on The Money Pit.
LESLIE: That’s right. And one caller we choose this hour will win a sneak preview of those fantastic new items Ryobi is introducing this fall. They’re the new One+ inflator, the One+ radio and the One+ personal fan. You’re also going to get two batteries and a charger with this prize package. It’s worth 100 bucks. And for more information on the Ryobi tools and these newest One+ line additions, be sure to visit RyobiTools.com. And for answers to your home improvement or home repair questions, call 888-MONEY-PIT anytime.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Jim in Indiana, you’re on the line. What can we do for you?
JIM: Yeah, I’ve got a house that’s got a leaky basement. I mean it’s like almost a river flowing across it. I’ve got a sump pump in it that pumps all the time. I was wondering if there was any way to keep it from, you know – would it be best to dig the dirt all the way from the outside of the basement to some kind of a membrane on it or something like that to stop it?
TOM: Probably not, Jim. Does it get worse when you have heavy rain?
JIM: All the time the same.
TOM: Well, if it leaks all the time and it doesn’t get any worse with a heavy rain, then and only then it might be a rising water table. And that’s a rare situation, Jim; it doesn’t happen very often. Most of the time you can control or reduce water flow into a basement by improving the grading and the drainage around the foundation perimeter. But if the sump pump is running all the time – it’s truly running all the time – and it does not get worse when you have heavy rainfalls, you could have a high water table.
In a situation like that, then you have to put in a sub-slab surface drainage system. There’s two ways you can do that: either inside the house, by breaking up the concrete on the inside perimeter; or digging around the outside of the house, getting down below the floor level and putting in a perforated pipe which is covered by stone and basically leads to either an area that’s lower with gravity so the water can run off or leads to a pumping system and carts it away.
But before you do that, Jim, I do think it’s a good idea for you – just in case this is not – it’s not a rising water table – for you to address all of the exterior drainage conditions first. That includes making sure your gutters are clean, your downspouts are extended four to six feet away from the house and that all the soil on the foundation perimeter slopes away from the house. If all of those things are letter perfect and you still have the problem, then you could look at some of the more drastic ways to get rid of water in the basement that involve excavation.
Jim, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Out in Oklahoma, Linda listens to The Money Pit on KWON. And Linda, tell us what’s going on at your house.
LINDA: Well, I’ve been trying to fight some fleas.
LINDA: (laughing) And they’re not from my husband. They’re from my cat.
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.
LINDA: And you all always have a remedy. I mean I listen to you when I travel from Ponca City to Bartlesville and I love your show.
LESLIE: Thank you so much.
TOM: Thank you.
LINDA: And I thought maybe you could help me.
LESLIE: Have you tried to get rid of the fleas from the cats first? Have you taken them to a vet, gotten a flea and tick collar; any of those remedies?
LINDA: And it just – like the fleas just kept appearing and it’s an inside cat. And I tried bombing. Not in like Iran bombing but … (chuckling).
LESLIE: (laughing) OK. Like you’ve had an exterminator come to the house. You were banned from the property. Well, exterminators are really going to be exposed to a variety of treatments that you can’t buy yourself in a store. So I say calling a pro is probably the best and most effective thing you can do. For a natural remedy for your cats, you can try feeding them brewer’s yeast or garlic. That should deter the fleas from coming to the cats. But you really should see a vet, also, for a treatment because those bites can really be a pain in the butt to the cat and to you if they start getting on you; not to mention super itchy.
LINDA: Oh, you’re right. But that brewer’s yeast and that garlic. See, you always have these little (inaudible) …
LESLIE: Thanks so much. Also find you can put little fennel plants or rosemary plants around your house. Those tend to naturally eliminate them as well. But I say go with a pro exterminator and do it once and do it right.
TOM: Absolutely. Because you know, those are disgusting to live with. And like you say, all the over-the-counter products like the bombs and things like that, you know, they’re not going to work if you have a serious problem. I think that once you get the home properly exterminated, maintaining and preventing fleas from coming back in such a large degree that they are now is going to be a lot easier. But at least initially, you need to get them all out of there once and for all so you can kind of start clean once again. OK?
LINDA: That sounds good. And you guys, like I say, you do a terrific job. Are you all married? (laughter)
TOM: No, we get along far too well for that. (laughing)
LESLIE: Yeah, we’d be fighting way more.
LINDA: That’s what I thought. I bet – I mean you just work together really awesome.
LESLIE: Thanks, Linda.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling …
LINDA: And I love your show.
LESLIE: Thank you.
TOM: Thanks, Linda. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
If we were married, I couldn’t stand you.
LESLIE: Honey, they’re on to us. (laughter)
TOM: I think so. (laughter)
Alright, who’s next?
LESLIE: Vivian in Colorado’s got some unwanted visitors in the backyard. How can we help?
VIVIAN: I do. I have them in the front yard, too.
TOM: Uh oh. (chuckling)
VIVIAN: I have a new neighbor and she has several cats and they’re all roamers.
TOM: (chuckling) I thought she was going to say, ‘I have a new neighbor and she has several children.’
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, they’re not strangers.
VIVIAN: (chuckling) No, she has – well, she has grown children but she has cats.
TOM: (laughing) OK.
VIVIAN: And they are roamers and they’ve been relieving themselves on my front and my back lawn.
TOM: Oh, very nice.
VIVIAN: And there could be dogs involved, too; although I can’t swear to that. I have seen the cats. I like all my neighbors; including my new neighbor. I like cats. I just don’t want the extracurricular activity. (laughter) I wondered what I can do.
TOM: Oh, I have a very devious idea for you.
VIVIAN: (chuckling) I don’t want to be too devious.
TOM: This is something that – this is something that will not hurt the cats but it will totally freak them out.
TOM: Get a sprinkler and hook it up to a motion sensor. When the cats come into your yard …
LESLIE: Oh, that’s smart.
TOM: … the sprinklers kick on and spray water. I tell you, after a couple of days, they’ll never want to step foot in your yard again.
VIVIAN: OK, that’s a great idea.
LESLIE: Also, you can take some lengths of hose pipe and just sort of sprinkle them around your yard in places where they seem to enter the property, because they might mistake it for a snake and get all freaked out and run away. Or you can also try to use prunings from rose bushes or anything else that might be a little bit thorny …
LESLIE: … and just sprinkle those, also, around the places you think they’re coming over. And that might scare them away, too.
TOM: Or buy a big honking dog. (chuckling)
VIVIAN: (laughing) I know I’m not home enough to have my own pets, so …
TOM: I think the sprinkler idea is a good one and it works very, very well.
VIVIAN: OK, with a motion sensor. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. So, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Vivian.
VIVIAN: Have a great day.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
I’m so glad she wasn’t trying to keep the kids away. (laughter)
LESLIE: Well, you’ve seen them on your walls; you’ve seen them on your ceilings; they’re in the bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen; they’re everywhere! What are we talking about?
LESLIE: No, no, no, Tom.
TOM: (chuckling) What?
LESLIE: It’s nail pops, of course.
TOM: Oh, of course. (chuckling)
LESLIE: You know, they’re everywhere and they pop up, literally, when you least expect it. So when we come back, we’re going to tell you how to rid your house of them once and for all.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: 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, where we like to remind you that home improvement is kind of like moving a refrigerator into a third floor apartment. (chuckling) It can be done, but it’s easier if you have professional help.
LESLIE: And sometimes it takes bribery.
TOM: That’s right. (laughter) Call us – and you cause damage to your walls on the way.
Speaking of walls (chuckling), we’ve got an email to get to, right now, on a problem that I’m sure impacts many, many people in this country. It’s very frustrating. It’s something that appears everywhere; on the walls, on the ceilings, everywhere you look. It’s the dreaded nail pop. How to fix it.
LESLIE: Cathy from Indianapolis writes: ‘I’m worried about my house falling down around me. I have a structural question. What are nail pops and, more importantly, what happens if you don’t fix them? Can my walls fall down?’ She sounds like she’s overreacting a little bit on this. Just a tad.
TOM: Just a tad.
LESLIE: I can imagine they’re scary.
TOM: It is scary. And I have to say that many, many, many years ago, when I was a young carpenter and building new houses, I was sort of in the service department. So I used to have to deal with the homeowner’s that were totally freaked out by nail pops.
TOM: People do think their homes are falling down.
LESLIE: Well, because you know what? It doesn’t just look like the head of a nail popping through. It lifts up that paper on your sheetrock. This is what a nail pop is; it’s the nail popping through the backside of the sheetrock so that paper starts to lift out, plus then, the paint or the wallcovering and then it just looks like this weird growth.
TOM: You think all the walls are going to fall in.
TOM: Well, basically – here’s nail pop 101 folks – the reason a nail pop occurs is those nails that are used to attach the drywall to the studs set themselves in the wood. And even though they have a rosin coating to them that makes them sort of sticky, what happens is as the wood expands and contracts, it pushes the nail out and it pushes out with it the piece of spackle that was hiding it. So that’s the nail pop. It’s not a big deal. It generally happens the first heating season after you get into a new house the most and then less, as time goes on, after that.
Now, to fix it, couple of ways to do it. Number one – you could take another drywall nail and cover the head of the loose one; smack it into the drywall, so you’re basically putting it in a new space in the wood, and then spackle that. Or Leslie, I think you could use a screw as well.
LESLIE: Yeah, sometimes you can back out that nail and drive a screw right back in where you’ve replaced it. But remember, when driving a screw into drywall, don’t let it puncture too deeply into that paper. Let it just bite down into it but don’t go further than that.
TOM: Well, if an appliance breaks down, what is the absolute worse part of that experience? Well, it’s waiting for the repairman, of course. (chuckling) With some tips on how to make that repair time wait for you, here is Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: So, if your fridge is on the fritz – and it might be and it might not be the fridge; it might be the dishwasher or the stove – if any of those items aren’t working properly, you should check out your washing machine or your dishwasher or any other appliance also. Because if you’re calling a professional to repair one appliance, have them take the time to check out all of your appliances so any repairs can be handled all in that one visit. This is going to save you time and money. So pay attention to appliance lights and door seals and hoses and have the make and model numbers handy so you can be efficient and save time and money at your next repairman visit.
TOM: You know, that’s a good tip. And that also applies to tradesmen like electricians and plumbers. If you have a bunch of little things to be done around the house, save them up if they’re not emergencies and have the pros come in once …
LESLIE: For a repair rainy day, if you will.
TOM: Yeah, exactly, and get it all done once. Think about how much better you’ll feel with all of those things straightened out.
LESLIE: Ah, but the wait would make you crazy. (chuckling) I know it would make me crazy.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t doubt that. (chuckling) Well, if you’re thinking about tackling a major home improvement or renovation to keep up the value of your home but you don’t know where you’re going to get that money, we’re going to help you out. Next week, we’re going to have some tips on home equity loans and how to make them work for you. Should you cash in some of your assets? Are there some other places you can find money? We’re going to tell you 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.
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(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.)