Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We’re the difference between a grounded outlet and an embarrassing trip to the emergency room. (chuckling) Call us with your home improvement questions. Let us help you out. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
We have a great show for you this hour. We are at the height of hurricane season and we have a recipe for homemade storm shutters coming up in the next few minutes. Yes, you can make homemade cookies. (chuckling) You can make homemade cakes. You can also make homemade storm shutters.
LESLIE: Yeah, except this one involves three tablespoons of …
TOM: Plywood. (laughing)
LESLIE: … plywood and a scoop of drywall screws. (chuckling).
And if your kitchen faucet is acting up or maybe perhaps the sprayer has stopped spraying or maybe the flow’s not going, we’re going to give you some simple fix-up tips to get your sink, faucet, whatever’s not working right, working again in no time.
TOM: And finally, are your stairs tripping you up? We’re going to tell you how to take the right steps to make sure your staircase is safe. You would be amazed at how a little defect in the stair design can make a very, very dangerous staircase. We’re going to teach you what to watch out for, coming up.
LESLIE: That’s right. And one caller we choose this hour is going to win a brand new set of tools from the Ryobi One+ line. It’s a fan, a radio and an inflator that all charge off of the same base. It’s very exciting and it’s a sneak preview.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us right now. Let’s get right to the phones. Who’s first?
LESLIE: Paul in Florida listens to The Money Pit on Discovery Radio Network. What can we do for you today?
PAUL: Well, I have a question about some damage I have from a hurricane.
LESLIE: Alright. Tell us what happened.
PAUL: Well, we had Hurricane Katrina come through South Florida and what happened was I have drywall ceilings. The taped seams seemed to get a lot of moisture from the blowing rain. And since then, they’ve started to delaminate from the drywall itself and kind of break free at the edges. And I was curious how I should go about repairing that.
TOM: Is the drywall deformed or water damaged in any way or is it just the seams?
PAUL: No, it seems to be just the seams.
TOM: I think that’s going to be a pretty easy repair. Leslie, I would suggest he takes the paper off and use a fiberglass tape.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Remove whatever tape is on there already. Just try to peel it away as gently as you can. Use a fiberglass tape. We like that best because it’s sort of perforated – almost looks like a bandage – and so it’s open and it’s a netting formation. And you put that over the seam and then you can put the spackle right on top of that. And it’s best to put it on in several thin layers; sanding in between. This way, you’ll cover it all up and you’ll get rid of that seam in no time. And the fiberglass really sticks very well.
TOM: And one more thing, Paul. Before you repaint it, make sure you prime the area that has the new spackle on it because it’s going to make sure that the new paint sticks. I hope that helps you out, Paul. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: James in California listens to The Money Pit on Discovery Radio. How can we help you?
JAMES: Well, OK, I do have a problem with my roof. The add-on part is a two-story and the – somewhere, when it rains, the water is coming down the wall on the inside. It isn’t coming down on the outside. The shingling looks really well. I mean it is fairly old but … I’d say, probably, oh, 20 years old maybe is the shingling on it right now. It’s composition shingles. And somehow, the water is getting in and running down the inside wall.
TOM: OK. Well, let’s talk about the areas of the roof that are typically most vulnerable. That would be, first of all, where anything comes through the roof. So, if you have a plumbing vent pipe, if you have a chimney, if you have the vent for your furnace or for your dryer. Whatever is going through the roof, areas around there are really the first thing to check.
The second thing is you mentioned that your composition shingles are 20 years old. Well, that’s about as old as those shingles are going to last. And the way they deteriorate these days may not be that easy to see. It used to be, in the old days, you would look at the shingle and it would sort of curl up and get very, very brittle. But shingles today don’t curl up anymore. What they do is they fissure and they crack but sometimes you can’t see it until you’re right on top of it. And as they do crack, they will let water get in.
And thirdly, what you want to do is look for any areas where there are roof intersections; where two sections of the roof come together, such as a valley or a place where a low roof and upper roof come together. Those are the areas that generally leak.
Now, the next thing that you could do to try to limit this and identify where it is, is simply do a hose test. See if you can get some water running down the roof in the area of the leak and see if you can actually make it leak without having water go, you know, through all sides of the house. Once you identify where that leak is coming in, you’ll have a better idea of what it’s going to take to fix it.
JAMES: Oh, that’s a good idea. I didn’t think about doing that. Yeah, it’s an open beam ceiling and it just seems to be strictly coming down the inside wall. I just cannot figure out how to … but I’ll give that a try.
TOM: Terrific. James, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lea in California’s up next, from Santa Rosa. And you’re looking for a vacuum recommendation. What are trying to clean?
LEA: What am I trying to clean?
LESLIE: Yeah. Everything.
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah.
LEA: (laughing) Yeah, my floors, my upholstery. And I went to my … the guy that fixes my vacuum – which has broken twice now (chuckling) – and he … I asked him what to look for so I could get a good vacuum. And he said it didn’t really matter. (laughing)
TOM: It doesn’t matter.
LEA: Yeah, he said, ‘It doesn’t really matter.’ I said, ‘Well, what about the horsepower or should I get one with a bag or without a bag’ and you know, all this stuff. And he said, you know … I said, ‘What’s the best suction?’ and he said, ‘Well, it doesn’t really matter. Horsepower just means it’s going to have a little more power …’
TOM: He’s just upset because you’re going to buy a better vacuum and you won’t need him anymore.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And not bring it in.
LEA: (laughing) I won’t need him. Yeah.
TOM: There’s a new vacuum that we’re using in the studio now which we really like. It’s called Vax – V-a-x. And it’s nice because it has a retractable cord; it’s got an integrated hand wand … like a wand handle, so you don’t have to have an extra part around; and it’s got a dirt cup so it’s very easy to empty. And it’s a lot stronger than some of the comparable vacuums. So, that’s just one that’s brand new that we’ve had some good luck with. Their website is VaxUSA.com. V-a-x-USA.com.
LESLIE: Yeah, and I prefer the bagless ones only because it’s really easy to empty quite quickly. Also, sometimes you have a really hard time finding the replacement bags. And if you don’t have the exact right one, it’s not going to work. And also, you want to think about HEPA filters and that makes sure that as you’re vacuuming up the dust, the air that’s coming back out of the vacuum is not recirculating any of that dust back into the air. But it’s really important.
On my vacuum, I didn’t realize every six months I’m supposed to pop that filter out and clean it out. And I probably had the vacuum about a year and one day, it just wasn’t working anymore. So I started fussing with it and taking it apart. And as soon as I rinsed out that filter and let it dry – and that’s easy; you just wash it out in the sink and dry it out – and it works fantastic again. So, always look for a HEPA filter; it’s very helpful.
LEA: Oh, OK. So … because you can use it over and over.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, same one. It’s like a sponge.
LEA: (overlapping voices) Yeah, because that’s one of the things I was told. That … you know, not to get a bagless because the filters break and then you … it’s really expensive to replace.
LESLIE: It’s just about making sure they’re clean.
TOM: But Lea, don’t forget to send your poor vacuum cleaner repairman, who will now be lonely, a card, maybe, at the holidays. OK? (laughing)
Lea, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: On our way, now, to Virginia, where Scott’s got some moaning pipes under the house. Tell us about the noise, when you hear it.
SCOTT: It started about six months ago. Seems like when the – me and the wife use the upstairs bedroom late at night – or bathroom, rather – late at night, go to bed, 10 or 15 minutes later after we take a shower and everything, sounds like the pipes start moaning for about 10 or 15 seconds then they quit for the rest of the night. Well, I’m hoping it’s the pipes.
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah.
SCOTT: No ghost or something.
TOM: Unless you have a stalker under there. That would be very scary. Well, Scott, I’ll tell you exactly what’s causing that. In the situation you describe, this makes perfect sense. What happens is, when you’re using that bathroom and you’re running the hot and the cold water – especially the hot water – the pipes that feed that expand and they’re probably fed up from under the house somewhere. And as they expand, they stretch. And then, when you turn the water off, they contract. And that sound is the pipes rubbing against the wood frame of the home. And it’s very, very common. The way to correct it is to tighten up the connectors where the pipes are strapped to the beams. So is this house on a crawl space?
SCOTT: [Sounds like it, yes.] (ph)
TOM: Alright, well what you need to do is go down to the crawl space, find the plumbing pipes that feed the bathroom and put some additional strapping on it so that they’re tighter to the beams and they don’t expand and contract and stretch across the beam. Because that plumbing pipe being drawn across the beam, as it shrinks or as it expands, is what’s making that cricking sound and also sort of that moaning sound. It’s not ghosts or goblins. It’s simply your plumbing system expanding and contracting.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Well, now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call that magical number. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Up next, right now we are at the most active part of the hurricane season, folks. But proper prep can mean the difference between major and minor damage. We’re going to tell you a recipe for homemade storm shutters that’ll keep you safe, next.
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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974, where we make good homes better.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. Well, if your area is prone to severe storms or hurricanes, homemade storm shutters can help you avoid serious damage from Mother Nature. To make them, cut one half-inch plywood to the size of each window, being sure to cover the outside trim. Then you want to pre-drill holes so that both installation and take down of the shutters is quick and easy. Lastly, mark each shutter clearly so that you’ll know which window it fits so it’ll be really easy to put them in quickly. This way, the next time a storm blows through, it’s not going to blow in your windows.
TOM: Need more severe weather preparedness tips? You can find them right now at MoneyPit.com. You can even have a new tip come up every day on your own website. We’ve got the programming there on MoneyPit.com. A little piece of code will put tip of the day right on your home page and it is absolutely free. Find out more at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Well, four million homeowners out there know the Ryobi One+ line of 18-volt power tools. It’s a platform that operates with 20 different tools on the same battery system. And this fall, Ryobi is introducing some new additions to the fall lineup.
TOM: That’s right. One caller this hour is going to win a sneak preview of the new One+ inflator, the One+ radio and the One+ personal fan. You also get two batteries and a charger in the prize package. It’s worth 100 bucks. For more information, log onto RyobiTools.com and call us right now with your home improvement question to qualify. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Bill in California’s got an unwanted stain. What happened? Something leaked in the bathroom?
BILL: One of the water pipes busted in the bathroom and it flooded throughout the house. We weren’t there at the time. And it lifted the – discolored the tiles; they were Spanish (ph) tiles and just lifted some of the sealer and stuff of them and they’re kind of discolored now.
TOM: Yeah, because you probably got water trapped in between the sealer and the tile.
LESLIE: And the tile itself.
TOM: I think what you’re probably going to have to do, Bill, is strip the old sealer off – you’re going to need a stripper for that – and pull the sealer off and try to get down to as much of the original clay as you can and then reseal them. Now, if you can’t get a stripper to work, the other thing that you could try to do with some of the tiles that are stained is consider using a concrete stain and actually staining all the tiles …
TOM: … darker to match it.
LESLIE: Well no, you can also take the areas that have the damage on them and if you get it down to a fresh surface on the tile, whether by using a stripper or even mildly sanding them – but don’t go crazy with it; just use a very fine sandpaper to try to rough up that surface – you can use a concrete stain. Like Tom said, have them tint them – you know, get two tinted to a lighter shade and a darker shade of the color that the tiles are – and sort of brush them on together to create that same look and that same texture and color of the tiles that weren’t damaged and then reseal them once it’s dry. But you should be able to redo that exact coloration of the tile with just some stain.
BILL: Yeah, I don’t know because quite a — quite a large area. You know, the house is like 3,500 square foot and it pretty much flooded, you know, a lot of the rooms. I think there’s two rooms that weren’t – that the tiles weren’t discolored or anything.
LESLIE: Well, it might be time to put a laminate floor on top of that.
BILL: Yeah, it might be. I don’t know.
TOM: Alright, Bill. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Roger in California finds The Money Pit on the Quake – KQKE. And you’ve got a bathroom situation and you’re looking for a new toilet. Tell us about it.
ROGER: Well, the toilet sometimes clogs up when a person uses the toilet very hard and it seems to jam up. And then the toilet overflows.
TOM: Is it a newer toilet, Roger?
ROGER: No, it’s not a newer toilet. It’s been … I’ve had it for 20 years.
TOM: Oh, really? Hmm. So, it sounds to me like it’s not, then, one of the newer low-flow toilets. It might be one of the toilets that is a four or five-gallon toilet. Is that correct?
ROGER: I’m not sure. I think it … yes, I think it … it’s not a real low flow.
TOM: Because if it’s a low-flow toilet and one of the older low-flow toilets, they tended to clog up a lot.
TOM: And if it’s one of the newer toilets that’s better designed – for example, American Standard has one called The Champ and it has a totally new throat design to it so it doesn’t clog up and it has a new flush tower design so it doesn’t run – those work very effectively and don’t clog nearly as often as the original low-flow toilets did.
TOM: The other thing to check is simply for obstructions. And it could be that you have a partial obstruction somewhere in the … in the toilet itself or right under the toilet that’s slowing down the flow of water out of it.
ROGER: Well, I tested that. I took the toilet off and I, you know, checked and then I ran a snake down and there was nothing clogging it up.
ROGER: And since it doesn’t happen constantly, I figured it must be that somehow it just … things aren’t getting through the way they are.
TOM: Yeah, it’s … the physical design of the toilet is what’s causing it if it’s not clogged. And you might just not have a good toilet there. You may … it may be time to think about a new one. Take a look at that American Standard one. I put one in my house and it’s been great. It hasn’t … it’s never clogged since I put it in (audio gap).
LESLIE: Jerry in Las Vegas is a gambling man. You want to paint something without priming. What can we do for you?
JERRY: I bought a whole bunch of siding. It’s been primed. But my question is it’s been sitting now – but it’s been covered. And am I running into a situation where I should re-prime it? Because, you know, that’s a lot of expense.
TOM: Yeah. Well, if it’s been primed once, I think that you’re probably OK; as long as that priming hasn’t been exposed and has worn off. You know, the nice thing about primer is that it’s designed to stick really well; but it doesn’t stand up to any kind of UV deterioration. So as long as it’s not been exposed to the sun and that siding is, you know, dried out before you paint it, I think the fact that it’s primed already is great. And I don’t think you have to put a second primer coat on it.
JERRY: Yeah, it’s been under heavy tarps.
TOM: Yeah, I think you’re good to go.
LESLIE: Oh, it’s good, I think.
JERRY: OK, I should be alright then.
TOM: Yep. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Eric in Alabama, you’re up next. What can we do for you?
ERIC: Hi. I wanted to ask a question about under-cabinet lighting.
ERIC: I bought a – I don’t know – about five plug (ph) lights on a string …
ERIC: … that you’re supposed to mount underneath the cabinet. But I’m kind of a little intimidated on where to start with that and how to tap into like electrical outlets and so forth.
TOM: Is this a low-voltage lighting kit that you purchased, Eric?
TOM: For under-cabinet lighting? Yeah, those are great. I mean you basically have to hook the lights up. They – then they go into a transformer and then the transformer gets plugged into the outlet. So it’s really a fairly easy thing to do. Basically, what the transformer does is it takes the 120-volt power and it drops it down substantially to a very, very low power. And then those wires you can surface mount on the bottom of the cabinets. And if you’re careful, you sort of hide them up in the underside of the frame so that nobody can see them. But it’s really a fairly easy project to do if you follow the instructions and assemble the lights. It’s very safe.
LESLIE: It’s a great addition to the kitchen, Eric; especially if your kitchen doesn’t get a lot of natural lighting or if your ceiling cans aren’t functional for your work spaces. So it’s very helpful and it’s a great safety feature as well.
TOM: And lighting that area of the countertop’s important because that’s the task area; that’s where you have to really be able to see what you’re doing.
ERIC: Do I need to tap in – somebody told me I need to tap into an electrical outlet.
TOM: Well, if it’s the kind of system I’m thinking about, Eric, you simply plug the transformer into the outlet. So you’re not actually tapping into anything; you’re not doing any hardwiring at all. You’re simply plugging in the transformer, which should have a regular power cord and a regular outlet coming out of the back of it. And then, the low-voltage side goes from the transformer through the light string. If it’s any more complicated than that, if you have to actually hardwire this into the house, then it’s probably not a job for a do-it-yourselfer and you should call a pro.
Eric, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You know, a quick and easy sort of task lighting under your kitchen cabinets are those rope lights that you can buy at the home center; not just at Christmas time. You know, they’re great. They come in a variety of colors and a variety of lengths and you could easily hide that on the underside of your cabinets. And those also just plug directly into the outlet and they’ll give a continuous stream on a rope of lights, so you can do the entire under-cabinet area and give a ton of light to a task area.
TOM: Good point. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: A sprayer hose attachment on your kitchen sink or even your kitchen faucet is a great feature. It helps you clean off any stuck on, dirty things on your dishes or pots and pans. It also is a fun game if you’re having a water fight in the kitchen; which is sometimes allowed. And they’re great when they’re working, but sometimes they don’t always work so well.
We’re going to give you tips on getting things flowing again, next.
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. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question and for a chance at winning a great prize from Ryobi.
Well, when your kitchen sink spray attachment isn’t working, the problem is usually caused by the dreaded mineral salt deposits. They get stuck in the sprayer. And guess what? They’re easy to take out. All you need is a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. Let it soak for several hours and it will spray full force once again.
Another common cause could be, though, a kinked hose under the sink. And if that happens, simply get under there and unkink it. It’s as simple as that, folks. It doesn’t have to be complicated to get the faucet working once again.
LESLIE: And if either of those tricks don’t get your kitchen spray attachment working, you might have a blocked or a damaged diverter assembly. And for tips on how to fix that, step by step, visit FaucetCoach.com and they’ll talk you through it. It’s a great website by the folks at Peerless.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Texas, you’re next. Viola, what can we do for you?
VIOLA: We have a two-story house and on the bottom part it’s brick and on the top it’s stucco. And we had somebody put structure (ph) stucco on it and it was colored stucco that he used and it started splashing on the brick.
VIOLA: How do I get the stucco – the colored stucco – off the brick?
TOM: Can’t you get the guy that put the stucco on the brick to get it off for you, Viola?
TOM: OK, he’s long gone, huh?
TOM: Well, a lot or a little?
VIOLA: A lot – well, it’s little splashes that they have to come off. It’s pretty ugly.
TOM: The first step would be to take a wire brush and see if it will abrade off.
VIOLA: I tried that already. That didn’t work. (chuckling)
TOM: Alright, the next thing that you might need to try is muriatic acid, but that’s dangerous to work with. You have to use rubber gloves and safety goggles and a long-sleeve shirt and that’s one thing that will clean bricks.
The third thing that you could try, if it’s just a little – like little areas – you could actually try taking some concrete stain and staining the lighter color of the stucco against the brick; sort of match it.
So there’s three ideas for getting rid of that.
LESLIE: Peggy in Texas, you find The Money Pit on KFYO and you’re painting. How can we help?
PEGGY: Well, I have a front porch; a large – what we call in Texas a country porch. It’s has a fence around it and the fence has to be painted every other year.
TOM: Fence. You mean a railing.
PEGGY: Yes, a railing. There you go.
TOM: (laughing) I’m trying to imagine what Peggy’s porch looks like surrounded by a fence. It’s kind of odd. (chuckling)
PEGGY: (chuckling) OK.
TOM: Alright. So you’ve got a – you’ve got a nice, big, open, wraparound porch and you’ve got a railing that requires a lot of maintenance.
PEGGY: Yes. And like I say, every other year; it’s just getting costly. I’m wondering is there something else that I can do.
TOM: Sure, there’s synthetic railings that are out there that are awesome. There’s railings that are made out of [errant trained] (ph) PVC. It’s basically …
LESLIE: It’s extruded, right.
TOM: Yeah, it’s extruded PVC. It’s PVC – which is the same material that plumbing pipes are made out of – but they can make different types of moldings out of them and they cut and they shape just like wood. So that’s one option. The other option is to replace it with a composite. Like for example, the composite decking products that are out there have railing systems that work very well and you could replace the wood railing with a composite railing. Or you could use a vinyl product. There are vinyl railing products as well.
So there are a lot of options if you don’t want to paint the railing. But you say you’re painting it every year?
PEGGY: Every other year.
TOM: You know, a paint job should last you five to seven years …
TOM: … if it’s done right.
LESLIE: Yeah, with proper, proper prep – meaning get it down to a natural surface; get rid of all of that buildup of paint, stain, whatever it is you’re using; use a professional stain or a paint remover and get down to some fresh wood and it’ll stick.
TOM: If you put a primer on after you get as much of the old paint off as possible, then the paint job will last you five to seven years. If you keep putting just topcoats on, I can see why it’s not sticking. Because what happens is when you put multiple layers on, they start to delaminate after a while with the moisture that gets in and out of the wood. So, if you take off as much of the paint as you can next time, Peggy, and use a primer and then put the topcoat on, you should get a paint job that lasts you several years. Does that help?
PEGGY: Yes, and I appreciate that.
TOM: Alright, Peggy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Have you ever tripped going up or down the stairs? For me …
TOM: All the time.
LESLIE: For me it’s a daily occurrence. (chuckling) Well, it’s time to get a handle on that situation. We’ll give you the solution, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: 888-666-3974. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: So, have you ever tripped on a staircase? It can be very easy to do. Happens all the time. Here’s how to keep safe, Leslie. First of all, proper stair railings are an important first step. Stairs with more than two steps should have a handrail securely mounted to the wall. Many, many stairs that are only two steps don’t have handrails. You really need to have one folks; otherwise, you’ll tumble down the stairs.
Now, for open staircases, spindles should be installed no more than six inches apart. This prevents a small child from squeezing through. And lastly, be very careful when steps are of an uneven height.
Now, what happens to me, Leslie, is if I’m going up a staircase and I do slip, I inevitably will look at that staircase and one of the steps …
LESLIE: And think something’s broken on it? (chuckling)
TOM: No, one of the steps will be a different height. If the steps are an uneven height, it’s very easy to trip. Haven’t you ever gone to somebody’s house and found like the first step was like six inches and every other one was eight inches and it feels weird?
LESLIE: Yeah, but I trip on the steps I go up and down in my house every day. There’s something wrong with my feet.
TOM: Well, that’s just because you’re completely uncoordinated (chuckling) and we can’t help you. But for everyone else, check the railings; check the steps; and be careful out there.
LESLIE: And keep your eyes on them while you’re walking on them. Don’t be like me and try to have 8,000 things in your hand and then go flying up and down the stairs. Be careful, folks.
Well, in our very free Money Pit e-newsletter, we’re going to have even more ways to prevent falls at home. Accidents in the house are a major cause of emergency room visits every day. So keep your family safe with the tips you’ll find in our next e-newsletter and if you don’t subscribe yet, sign up. It’s free, folks, at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: 888-666-3974. We are giving away a whole slew of One+ products from Ryobi this hour. It’s the One+ inflator, the One+ radio and the One+ personal fan. You’re also going to get two batteries and a charger. The package is worth 100 bucks from the fine folks at Ryobi Tools. Learn more at RyobiTools.com. One caller this hour is going to win that entire package, so call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: John in Montana, you’re on the line. What can we do for you?
JOHN: Oh well, I have a problem with some plumbing in a basement apartment. It’s kind of in a split level house and their shop is attached to the front of the basement.
JOHN: We’ve got a rental down there and when you turn on the faucet in their rental, the pipes just make a ‘bbbrrrrr’ like they’re vibrating really hard.
LESLIE: And it’s when you turn it on or when you turn it off?
JOHN: When you turn it on.
LESLIE: Does it stay rattling for the entire duration while you’re using the sink?
JOHN: No, not the entire duration. It’s just when you first turn it on about halfway and it’s a kitchen sink that has one handle, you know, you swing for hot and cold.
TOM: That’s a diverter valve that’s gone bad on that. You need to replace that faucet. You know, a good website for that is FaucetCoach.com. It’s put together by the folks at Peerless. They have step-by-step instructions on how exactly to tackle that home improvement project. What’s happening is the diverter valve is going bad in your old faucet and that’s what’s making that very loud vibrating sound. And of course, when you have a situation where you have common walls like that, that’s going to vibrate and make a big racket all the way up and down the plumbing line. So, what you need here, John, is a new faucet. It’s not worth repairing it. It’s an easy do-it-yourself replacement project and you can learn how to do that with that website; FaucetCoach.com.
TOM: John, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Talking to Sue in Florida, who listens on WCCF. What can we do for you?
SUE: Well, I have a house with terrazzo floors. And it’s a very, very old house and the floors have been scrubbed and mopped and cleaned and I suspect even muriatic acid put on them.
SUE: And I wondered if there’s any way that I can bring them back to life, short of hiring a professional.
LESLIE: Terrazzo flooring is tricky. Almost anyplace you do any research about prepping or repairing or doing any work to terrazzo flooring starts with ‘This should only be done by a pro.’
TOM: That’s right. Because what has to happen, in order to bring back the luster of that original surface, is you have to grind it. And grinding a terrazzo floor is not something that you could do yourself, Sue. You definitely need a pro with the right equipment to grind down that worn surface; to strip out the years and years and years of cleaning chemicals and waxes and everything else that’s on top of that. It’s not a matter of cleaning; it’s a matter of abrading the surface. Think of it …
LESLIE: To get to a fresh surface.
TOM: Right. Think of it the way you might think of sanding hardwood floors. You can’t just – no matter what you put on top of them, it’s not going to make them any shinier. You have to sand off the old finish. And in essence, that’s what you’re doing with terrazzo. You have to grind it down so you get down to some of the original materials and then sort of repolish it; bring it back up again. The good news is that the floors are incredibly durable and absolutely gorgeous. So when you do get ready to do it, it’s definitely going to be worth the investment and what it takes to get it done.
SUE: And when you say ‘investment,’ I take it that means it’s pretty expensive.
TOM: Well, you’re going to have to hire a pro. How big of the area of your home do you have terrazzo in, Sue?
SUE: Oh, probably 900 square feet.
TOM: Oh, well this is going to be a project you’re going to do once, do right and you’re going to be just absolutely psyched at how good it’s going to look. But hire a pro for this because it’s not a do-it-yourself job.
Sue, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kenny in Iowa, you’re on the line. What can we do for you?
KENNY: Well, I got a problem with a drain in my basement and I’ve owned a house before and I’ve never run into a basement drain that looked like this one.
LESLIE: Well, what does it look like?
KENNY: Well, it’s got the center drain in the middle; about a two-inch pipe going straight down. And then, on the rim of the basin, it’s got another drain running parallel to that one going straight down about an inch in diameter. And then, running underneath the floor, on an angle towards another floor drain, is another pipe. And – which one do I snake? (chuckling)
TOM: What are these drains draining? Is this for the plumbing system or is this a basement floor drain that you’re talking about?
KENNY: It’s a basement floor drain that’s for my washer. The person who built the house had built about a – oh, a foot-high basin around it with cinder blocks and sealed it to the floor …
KENNY: … and the washer sits on top of that. And then, it drains into that when it drains.
TOM: And the basin is being drained by this pipe?
KENNY: Right. It goes down into one of the three holes. (chuckling)
TOM: Well, it sounds to me like it’s not a proper drain for this particular sink that’s draining the washer. It sounds to me like it’s probably draining back into the soil somewhere. Is that what you expect is happening to this water?
KENNY: Oh, I’m not sure. I do have some awfully green grass out near the …
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, it doesn’t sound right to me. You know what you might want to think about, because this is what’s known as gray water – in other words, there’s no sewage in this – you could install a very inexpensive lift pump, which looks like a plastic bucket with a float in it and a pump that, when it fills up with water from the washing machine, it simply kicks on and then it pumps the water up and drops it into the regular drain. It’s about the size of a five-gallon bucket. It’s not very noisy. It works off a regular outlet and it’ll eliminate this problem. Because it sounds to me like this was never plumbed right to begin with.
KENNY: Alright. Yeah, I just never seen a drain quite …
TOM: Well, floor drains can do that. Floor drains can start in different parts of the basement floor and usually they’re going to go out somewhere; we don’t know where. They could go into a dry well and if you don’t see them coming out to daylight somewhere, that’s probably where they’re ending up. And again, that’s not the right place to drain this water because if it’s draining too close to the foundation, it could undermine the footing or do some damage like that. So I would suggest you simply get a lift pump and have one installed and pick the water up to where it’s high enough where you can get into the drain waste vent pipe coming out of your plumbing systems in your house and drop it right back into the municipal system that way.
KENNY: Cool. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kenny. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So when does an automobile breakdown become a home improvement project?
TOM: When it crashes through your garage?
LESLIE: (chuckling) That’s one way. (laughing) But another way happens to be when oil leaks all over your beautiful concrete driveway. We’re going to have the surefire clean up solution, 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: 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. You can also log onto our website at MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie to shoot us an email question. Let’s get right to those questions.
LESLIE: Alright. The first one is Lee from Danville, California who writes: ‘I’m trying to improve the appearance of the driveway. How do I remove metal rust stains and, more importantly, the oil that has permeated the concrete? I’ve tried many things but nothing seems to work.’
TOM: Step one – fix the car.
LESLIE: Yeah, totally. Stop the leak.
TOM: We don’t want to put new oil on top of old oil. I’ll tell you what has worked very, very well for me and that is a solution of TSP; that’s trisodium phosphate. Sounds complicated but it’s really a very common product; available at most home centers.
LESLIE: It’s usually in the paint section, right?
TOM: In the paint section, right. It’s a very concentrated, soapy solution that’s great for prepping walls and things like that before you paint. Now, what you want to do is mix it up to be sort of a paste consistency and almost trowel it on the stained area. What’s going to happen is the oil will sort of be drawn out of that …
LESLIE: Do I want to take a little wire brush and give it a little whirl?
TOM: A little bit of a whirl but sort of let it sit there; let it dry on there. And then, after it’s dry, you can go ahead and rinse it off and it should be a lot lighter; if not completely eliminated.
Now, if you happen to be so lucky as to catch the oil stain when it first happens, you want to make sure you soak up as much as you can. Because the more that gets in, the more you have to try to get out.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got another from Anthony in Merrick, New York; not far from me. ‘I want to replace my baseboard heater shell. How do I go about doing that?’
TOM: That’s actually pretty easy. The – and I’m going to presume that we’re not talking about electric baseboard heaters here; probably hot water baseboard.
TOM: The metal shells are actually (inaudible) …
LESLIE: These are the aluminum ones, correct?
TOM: Yeah, they’re – and they’re separate from the actual piping. Usually what happens is there’s a louver on the front and you have to lift the louver out so that you can look into this shell and you will just find screws that are used behind the back of that shell right into the wall. Simply remove those screws and you can take that part of the shell off. And actually, this is a good idea if you’re painting a room that has hot water baseboards. Remove those shells. You can actually paint them separately; get the wall paint down behind them.
LESLIE: Instead of having that dreaded line …
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: … of dirty, old paint (chuckling) where the fresh paint starts.
TOM: Exactly. It’s a lot easier. It’s not that hard to do and you can sort of put them back together. But remember, when you take them apart, number them so that you know the order in which you want to put them back together. Otherwise, you’ll be looking at a big like puzzle at the end of your painting project and it probably won’t go back together the same way it came apart.
LESLIE: Now, you know, when you replace that aluminum baseboard heating shell, do they make less noise if it’s newer?
TOM: No, I think the newer it is, the noisier it is. (laughing) The old ones that are like, you know, old-fashioned stainless steel or …
LESLIE: The cast iron ones.
TOM: … or the cast iron ones or the sheet metal ones. Those are very, very quiet.
Well, OK. Let’s talk a little bit about kitchens; you know, kitchens that are full of gleaming stainless steel. It is still the absolute coolest look going. But there’s a new material in town and Leslie has more on that in this edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. A major appliance manufacturer thinks that they may have struck gold with a brand, spanking new look for your kitchen. Well, if you think stainless steel is past its prime and you’re looking for a more unique look, how about bronze?
TOM: Hmm. The bronze (ph) age.
LESLIE: Yeah, exactly; it’s the bronze age. 2006 is the bronze age. Jenn-Air is going to be bringing a whole line of bronze-looking appliances to the market. The company says it’s warmer than steel and it’s easier to keep looking clean because the faux bronze finish resists fingerprints and smudges. So it saves you some time in cleaning and making sure it’s shiny and sparkly new. It’s going to cost you, though. It’s even more pricey than stainless. So keep your eyes out for it.
TOM: Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to hire a cleaning crew (chuckling) to clean your house (inaudible)?
LESLIE: Any time I touch anything stainless, polish it right behind me. (chuckling) And I don’t want to know that you’re there.
1-888-MONEY-PIT. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
You know, as the temperature drops outside, millions of Americans are struck with the dreaded leaky-wallet disease (chuckling) as they struggle to pay those energy bills. So, coming up next week on the program, we’re going to have some tips on how to save on some of that water heating cost.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(Copyright 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.)