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. What are you doing? What are you working on? Let us help. Call us right now at 888-666-3974. You have a question? You have an answer? Maybe you have a suggestion on how to tackle a home improvement project. It could be something we haven’t heard of. Share that with us; share that with our listeners. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re looking for a new project to start, we’ve got a great place for you to go and get some ideas. It’s Home Show ’06 and it’s a huge nationwide event from The Home Depot.
TOM: That’s right. We’ll be broadcasting from Atlanta next week; helping to celebrate Home Show ’06. I love this, Leslie. It is a nationwide home show.
LESLIE: It’s the biggest home show ever.
TOM: It’s going to be in every single Home Depot across the country. There’s going to be clinics. There’s going to be product demos. There’s going to be all kinds of information about innovation; products that help make your life easier, safer, faster, save you some money.
LESLIE: And the techniques on how to use them and how to do them and how to redo all of the things in your home that you might be thinking about tackling.
TOM: That’s right. In addition to our broadcast, we’ll also be doing a clinic on innovative paint applications. So if you’re in the Atlanta area, stop by. If you’re not, check out HomeDepotClinics.com. You can find out where the clinics will be held in your local area and definitely a great time to stop by a Home Depot and check out some of the 100 new products they’ll be rolling out as part of Home Show ’06.
Well, speaking of home improvement, Leslie, last week we were talking about some of the home improvement scams that are out there.
LESLIE: There’s always a good side and a bad side to everything.
TOM: There is. Let’s give some folks some tips on some of the things that are going on right now. You know, whenever there’s a bubble or a boom, there’s always unscrupulous folks out there who want to make a fast buck off it. The real estate boom is no different. There are scam artists out there now that are ready, willing and able to rip you off. Here’s what to watch out for.
First – common scams. You’re convinced to take out a home equity loan – this is one of my favorite ones. You can’t afford it because the lender pads your income on the application and when you fail to come up with a payment, the lender forecloses. You’ve got to watch out for these home equity loans that are put forth mostly by contractors. If you want a home equity loan, go to a reliable bank or lending institution and get one on your own.
Also, watch out for the contractors that offer payment plans. After they start the work, you might be asked to sign papers or they’ll walk. Later, you’ll find out that their authorization’s for a home equity loan, so …
LESLIE: I can’t believe that they can even do this.
TOM: People get away with this all the time. I’ll tell you, in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector, I often got asked to inspect some of the work that was done by these unscrupulous contractors and it really was sad to see people that virtually had their entire homes paid off get conned into signing a home equity loan that they didn’t need. So, be very, very careful when you’re financing the home improvement projects. Best not to do it through the contractor. Do it through a reliable financial institution.
LESLIE: Yeah, and if you’re a renter, you’re not totally safe. If you’re renting with a steady income but no way to save for a down payment and no way to qualify for a loan, a landlord might offer you the option to buy. But beware of this; especially if there are upfront costs. Some of these can be up to $10,000 and hundreds more each month; much more than a fair market value. It sounds like a good deal, but if your financial situation doesn’t change, you still won’t qualify for a mortgage and then the landlord has a right to raise the asking price so it might be out of your reach anyway. Lots of scary stuff going on out there.
TOM: So, be careful with your home improvement projects; especially if you’re financing them.
Call us right now with those home improvement questions. We’ll help you tackle them yourselves, perhaps. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And you could win some bling for your kitchen sink because one caller we choose to win is going to get a chrome finish single-handle faucet from Peerless, worth 138 bucks. So call us right now, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Rafael in Pennsylvania is updating the kitchen. How can we help you?
RAFAEL: Well, I actually wasn’t updating a kitchen. I was updating my house.
RAFAEL: I was considering – we have electric heat in our new home and we wanted to supplement that with a pellet stove.
LESLIE: Oh, excellent.
RAFAEL: So, we’re wondering is that a good value and is it going to add any value to our home and how practical it is to actually go that route.
TOM: Well, it may or may not add value to your home, but I’ll tell you this; you’re certainly going to spend a lot less heating your home compared to electric heat which is very expensive. The only issue and the only common complaint that I’ve heard about pellet stoves is the availability of the fuel. So as long as you make sure, Rafael, that wherever you purchase that stove, that you’ve confirmed a solid …
LESLIE: That they’re also a distributor.
TOM: Yeah, and there’s a reliable availability of the types of pellets that you’re going to use to fuel that. And I see no reason not to do that; especially when you have an electric heated house, which is absolutely the most expensive way to heat a house.
RAFAEL: Wow. Sounds like it’s the way to go, then.
TOM: Definitely, definitely.
LESLIE: Yeah, I have a friend who has one at the house that they keep in Cape Cod. And they go out there all season long and this is the primary way that the home is heated and they love it.
TOM: Yeah, is your electric heat radiant baseboards or is it through forced hot air?
RAFAEL: It’s radiant baseboard …
RAFAEL: … with individual thermostats in each room.
TOM: Oh, man. Is this is a vacation home?
RAFAEL: No, it’s our primary home.
TOM: I’m telling you man, it’s going to cost you a ton of money to heat that house. So, this is a really smart thing for you to do; very, very smart. Also, look at all the other things that could be adding to the heating bill. You know, make sure you have plenty of insulation; check your windows; weather stripping; stuff like that because radiant baseboard electric heat is absolutely, number one, the most expensive and this is going to save you a lot of money. OK, Rafael?
RAFAEL: Wow, great. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alabama’s on the line and Ray listens to The Money Pit on WJRM. And you have a plumbing situation. What happened?
RAY: Well, we removed a shower out of a half bath and we put a vanity in there and left the vent pipe underneath the sink. But now the toilet that that drain feeds into does not flush properly and I’m not sure if it’s an air problem, getting behind the flow of the water, or maybe an angle problem.
TOM: Are you certain that there’s no obstruction? Let’s cover the basics.
RAY: Yes, sir. They have run about an eight foot snake down the toilet drain line.
TOM: OK. Have you taken the toilet off and checked for an obstruction inside of the toilet?
RAY: I have not.
TOM: I speak from experience telling you that could happen.
TOM: Do you have kids in the house?
RAY: Yes, I do and there’s a 10-year-old daughter that uses that restroom.
TOM: OK. Yeah, I had a situation where I had a …
LESLIE: You’d be surprised what children’s toys can fit down that drain.
TOM: Yeah. (laughter) You have to eliminate that as a possibility; there’s no obstruction in the unit itself. Because it wouldn’t make sense that taking off – you said you removed a shower and put in a vanity?
RAY: Correct. And underneath where the p trap is, there is a T valve and an extra drain or a behind the water air drain.
TOM: Right, but it’s all going down to the same drainway’s (ph) vent.
TOM: So it wouldn’t make sense that just adding that would obstruct it, unless there is something either blocking it on the top or the bottom.
You know, another thing that you could do to kind of figure out where this is obstructed – if you have, in fact, checked the toilet and you’ve checked the line, you could have a camera run down that line. The Roto-Rooter guys have a drain camera which I’ve seen demonstrated, which is pretty cool; I’m sure all the drain cleaning services have similar devices. They can actually inspect the line and see where the obstruction is. Because it shouldn’t have anything to do with the toilet if the toilet flushed properly before. So there’s either an obstruction in the toilet itself – because there’s a built-in trap there where there could be an obstruction – or something with the line is obstructed. It has to be one place or the other. Nothing else would, frankly, make any sense.
RAY: Well, we’ll definitely look into that.
TOM: Well, give it a shot. Take it off. It’s pretty easy. You know, take the two bolts off and flip it upside down and take a look underneath and see if something worked its way into just the wrong spot.
RAY: And then put a new wax ring on and make sure you don’t slide it when you put it back on.
TOM: Yeah, drop it on and you know, just be in the reasonably same area and you should be fine.
RAY: Thank you so much for the help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ray. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Boris in Texas has an unwanted problem – sweating floors. Tell us about it. What type of floors do you have?
BORIS: I have a home that has a concrete slab and I have inlaid linoleum inside – in a closet. And the closet area is the only area that I’m getting the sweating floors.
TOM: Well, it sounds like condensation, Boris, and that’s actually …
LESLIE: Yeah, is there an air conditioning vent in that room?
LESLIE: In that closet?
BORIS: Well, now when the closet doors are closed it’s not air conditioned, but the room does – the whole house is air conditioned.
TOM: What happens is you get a lot of humidity inside the closet space and the walls or the door gets very cold. And the moisture condenses and that’s where it comes from. The solution here is to vent the closet. What you might want to do is if it doesn’t have a louvered door on it, you could use, for example, a regular heating register. And you could cut a hole in the outside wall of the closets and make it look as if there was a duct there but, really, all it is, is just a register opening up an airflow into that closet. If you ventilate the closet space, you won’t get the condensation. Fairly common problem and if it gets particularly bad, we’ve had situations where stachybotrys has grown, toxic mold has grown; not only on the walls but even on the clothes and boxes and things that are stored there. So important to make sure the closet’s well ventilated if you’re getting moisture there because it’s only going to get worse. OK, Boris?
BORIS: OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Boris.
LESLIE: Alright folks, well now you can call in your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We are always here for you at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Up next, you’ve tackled a big painting project but now, what are you going to do with that leftover paint? We’re going to tell you how to store it, 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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: OK, so we need some tips on what to do with all that leftover paint. Leslie, why don’t you start?
LESLIE: Well, what I like to do is I like to, you know, keep those Tupperwares that you get when you bring home some takeout.
TOM: Yeah, like from the wonton soup and that sort of thing?
LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. If you get the large soup, even better. Just wash them out, store them aside because someday you’re going to do a paint job and they’ll be standing by. Pour your paint in there; seal it up nice and tight; take some masking tape; put allover markings on it saying ‘living room trim.’ Label it all out. This way, you’re not confused over painted over labels. If you’re going to hold on to the can, make sure you clean the rim and the lid of any excess paint. And then you want to make sure you tightly secure that lid. Hammer it into place and store the can upside down. Or you can use plastic wrap over the opening, then hammer the lid on and then make sure you store the can upright. Either way, you’re going to be able to use it again.
TOM: You know, that is such a great tip. One time, we were doing some touchup paint in our kitchen. And it was in the winter so, you know, it was kind of dark and I’d just been meaning to get to these spots that needed to be touched up.
LESLIE: Oh, no. (chuckling)
TOM: So, I got the paint out – the same paint that I’d used. Of course, it was a couple of years old but I shook it up good and started it up and it looked fine. And I started to paint and the next morning I looked and it seemed like I had missed like all of these spots.
TOM: And I said, ‘How could I have missed all of these spots?’ So later that afternoon, you know, again it was getting dark again. I went over all the spots again. The next morning I got up with the bright sunshine from the winter morning and guess what? I had all of these spots I missed.
LESLIE: Completely different colors.
TOM: And then I figured it out. There was some rust that formed in the lid; inside the lid edge and the rust had actually mixed with the white paint just enough to make it sort of very off-white. So I was actually repainting over the same spots with a darker color and I didn’t realize it.
LESLIE: Aye, aye, aye. My second apartment that I had in New York City, all my friends were very eager to help me with the paint job. And I was using two colors. I was using the dreaded sand finish above the wainscoting and then the lower part of the wall I was doing like a different sort of a tan.
LESLIE: But they were similar enough when wet. And I knew it was going to happen. I turned around and people had started just rolling whatever willy-nilly. I was like, ‘Everybody out. Paint cans down. Brushes down. Rollers down. I’m doing it myself.’
TOM: (chuckling) You know, having a paint party’s always a bad idea.
LESLIE: Yeah, especially when beer’s involved.
TOM: Definitely too many cooks spoil the broth for sure. (chuckling)
Well, you need some more great painting tips? They’re going to be in our next issue of our free e-newsletter available right now at MoneyPit.com. We’re going to troubleshoot some common painting problems like why paint won’t stick to your walls, how much paint you need to buy and how to avoid cracking paint. That’s coming up next week in the Money Pit free e-newsletter. Sign up today at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Yeah, here at The Money Pit, Tom and I love to give things away. That’s why we’re giving away a great prize this week. It’s some bling for your kitchen sink. It’s a fantastic new faucet. It’s a chrome finish single-handle faucet from the folks at Peerless. It’s worth 138 bucks. It features a pull-out spray spout which can make any kitchen job easier. And like all Peerless products, this faucet is engineered for durability. And when it arrives and you’re like ‘How the heck do I install this?’, well you can go to FaucetCoach.com and they will talk you through every step of the way. So you’re not alone on this.
TOM: So call in now. 888-MONEY-PIT. Let us help you make your good home better.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Art in New Jersey, what’s on your mind?
ART: I recently bought a home and the gentleman I bought the home from was an old car collector. And in the garage floor, we have some stains; grease stains and other cleaning stains – some solvents he used. And I was wanting to find out what was the best way of getting them off the floor.
LESLIE: Oh, there’s a great product that you can use which works very well for concrete floors and garages. It’s called TSP, which is trisodium phosphate. And if you take it and add a little bit of water to it and make a paste out of the TSP, you can set it on the stain. And let it sit there for about 10 to 15 minutes and do its job and then you can rinse it away and scrub it out a little bit. And that should do the trick.
TOM: And then, Art, after you get it clean, what you might want to think about doing is using an epoxy garage floor coating kit. The epoxy floor kits are very cool. Basically, what happens is you mix the epoxy paint with a hardener and then you apply it with a roller. And it dries fairly quickly. There’s usually like a color flake or something of that nature you can put on top of it to give it some texture. And once the epoxy dries, I tell you, it’s incredibly tough stuff and that place will look like a million dollars in no time.
LESLIE: Rod in Virginia’s got some noisy pipes. Tell us when this happens and where you’re hearing it.
ROD: Well, what happened is that when I go like into the bathroom or any of the sinks and I run water through the faucet and then after I turn the water off – I guess when it’s draining …
ROD: … I hear all this noise. And I’m trying to figure out where this noise comes …
TOM: Is it like a gurgly noise?
ROD: Oh, not gurgling but like …
LESLIE: Like pounding? Like a hammering?
ROD: Similar to that, yes.
TOM: So when you run the water then turn the faucet off, you hear like a bang?
TOM: That’s called water hammer. And what’s happening is, as the water runs through the pipes, it picks up sort of centrifugal force. And then when you shut the water off, the water wants to keep going and it shakes the pipes. And the reason this is happening is because you’ve got pipes that are loosely attached somewhere, so they’re kind of wiggling.
The two ways to fix this – it really depends on how much access you have to the pipes. You could secure the pipes to the framing of the house; which is convenient if they’re accessible. Or you could put in a device called a water hammer arrestor, which is like a shock absorber that takes the centrifugal force of the water running through those pipes and gives it a place …
LESLIE: Where does that device go?
TOM: Well, it kind of goes wherever you can get it. So, if we’re talking about like a bathroom sink, it might end up being connected to the cold water line or the hot water line right under the sink.
ROD: But see, the problem in having it, too, I’ve got a water softening unit connected to my house.
TOM: OK. Well, when they connected the water softener, they had to reroute the plumbing. I wonder if right in that very area, the pipes are loose. Perhaps they’re not attached properly. But it definitely sounds like water hammer by the way you describe it, Rod.
ROD: OK, then.
LESLIE: Richard in Colorado’s got some noisy toilets. Tell us what’s going on.
RICHARD: Well, it started a few weeks ago in one of the toilets; the bathroom that’s on ground level. It flushed and it made a little ‘rrr’ and now – it increases; now it’s really sounding pretty sad – ‘Rrrrrr!’
LESLIE: And that’s after you flush it or is it happening during the flush or just on its own?
RICHARD: Immediately upon flushing.
TOM: That’s the fill valve, Richard.
TOM: The fill valve has – is going bad. Now that’s what refills the tank after you let the water out. And that’s good news because it’s a very easy job to replace your fill valve in a toilet. What you do is you open the tank lid; you shut off the water supply to the toilet; and then you flush it and hold the flusher down so all of the water goes out. You’ll end up with, you know, an inch to a half inch of water in the bottom of the tank and you may have to mop up the rest of it. But once you have it out of there, then you look under the tank; you simply remove the water line, which is very easy to do, and then remove the whole fill valve from the tank itself and replace it with a new one. Fill valves are like less than 10 bucks. Fluidmaster makes the best ones out there; they fit the biggest number of different types of toilets out there.
I would also replace the flush valve at the same time. Toilet maintenance is very, very easy to do. If you want some good diagrams …
RICHARD: I’ve done it, actually.
TOM: Oh, you have? Well, then …
RICHARD: I have in the past in other toilets. I just didn’t know – the other ones didn’t cry. (laughter)
LESLIE: It’s saying, ‘Fix me!’
RICHARD: Exactly. I thought it was the vent, you know, so I was …
TOM: No, it’s just the fill valve, Rich. So don’t cry over noisy toilets and (chuckling) …
RICHARD: Alright. (chuckling)
TOM: Replace the fill, replace the flush and you’ll be good to go.
RICHARD: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: If you’re listening to The Money Pit on WNEM, you could be from Michigan like Angela is. And you’re thinking about taking on a tiling project. So how can we help?
ANGELA: Well, we’re wondering if we can tile on top of an existing linoleum floor.
LESLIE: And is – where is this? In your kitchen?
LESLIE: How is the linoleum? What kind of condition is it in?
ANGELA: It’s not in very good condition. There’s pieces that are ripped up from it and there’s a few places that have gouges in it.
LESLIE: OK, so it’s not a very level surface you’re dealing with.
LESLIE: Well, I would say what you can do is you can take a quarter-inch plywood or a luan and put down a new subfloor on top of that linoleum, which should give you a nice even surface. And then you can go ahead and tile over that. The only thing you need to make sure is that any appliances – you know, you don’t want to lock them in by building up the surface in front of it. So make sure you pull things out and then adjust the legs on your dishwasher so that everything will fit back in nicely.
ANGELA: We’ve been told you have to put like a cement subfloor in. That’s not true? You don’t have to do that?
TOM: Well, it depends on how wide the tile is, really. What kind of tile are you thinking about putting down, Angela?
ANGELA: You know, regular quarter-inch thick …
TOM: But what’s the width? 12×12? 6×6?
ANGELA: Yeah, 12×12.
TOM: Well, the bigger the tile, the more solid the floor needs to be. And if you want to sort of do it the old-fashioned way, you would put in what’s called a mud floor. And to do that you’d have to put woven wire mesh down and then a thin coat of cement on top of that. That makes it very thick. But the downside of this is it’s going to be very thick and you may not be able to fit your dishwasher in, like Leslie was talking about, after it’s all done. So you have to sort of weigh the tradeoffs on it. But the wider the tile, the more important it is to have it be absolutely solid.
Well, it’s been a long, hot summer. Is your lawn looking kind of dead? Is it time for new grass? Well, now is the perfect time to lay down some new seed. We’re going to tell you how to do it, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored 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, making good homes better. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
So Tom, you’ve got some good tips to help my neighbor? You know who you are, dude, with the dead lawn.
TOM: Absolutely. Well, late summer or early fall is an excellent time to fix that grass that’s not looking so sharp. Here’s what you need to do.
First of all, pull up the old grass or use a herbicide to kill it along with any weeds. Now, in our case, when we first moved into our house, the lawn was so bad off, we did something called a Roundup restoration where we killed off the entire lawn in the fall. It all turned dead.
LESLIE: Oh, I bet your neighbors loved you for that.
TOM: They did. They were wondering what happened and whether it was going to affect them, too.
LESLIE: (chuckling) They’re like, ‘Ooh.’
TOM: But then, while – after it was dead, you can like seed right through and it comes back up. So, that’s the key. Preparation. If you want to kill it off this way, you rake it and you put the seed down and it comes back up. But if you just want to do a smaller area, prep is also key. Use a tiller to break up the soil. You can rent one of those if you don’t have one. Add a starter fertilizer and some sort of compost or soil conditioner to till into the soil to make sure you give that seed a really good start. Then rake the soil until it’s level; remove all the junk – you know, the debris, the rocks, stuff like that; lightly water and use a seed spreader and you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: Yeah, once you’ve spread that seed all around the yard, you want to rake it lightly so that the seed is going to get into all the layers of the soil. And then you can also use a roller to lightly press down that soil. And here’s something that’s really important. You have to keep the lawn – well, the potential lawn – very, very moist. It may mean watering several times a day, depending on your climate. Don’t over-water; just mist. And after the grass starts to sprout, continue to water it well. And then you can just sit back and watch that grass grow.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let us help you grow your home improvement projects. Call us right now.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Lubbock, Texas finds The Money Pit on KFYO. And Cathy’s on the line. How can we help you?
CATHY: Yes, I have a dog in my backyard; fairly large backyard. It has a cyclone fence around and I have – my neighbors have pets on both sides of me.
CATHY: My dog has ticks and fleas. It doesn’t seem that theirs do. And I’ve tried everything from putting down the ground treatment to the Sevin dust – everything that I can think of – and they won’t go away.
TOM: What about the dog? Is the dog being treated? I mean do you use Frontline on the dog or something …
CATHY: I’ve used the ointment on his neck ….
TOM: Right, the Frontline.
CATHY: … that’s supposed to be for the skin.
CATHY: I’ve dusted him in Sevin dust. I’ve …
TOM: Oh, no. I don’t think you’re supposed to do that.
LESLIE: (chuckling) You know what you can also do is you can also actually get a vaccine from your vet. We actually did that for our dog because we have ticks in our area as well. And it’s two shots over a one-month period and that keeps them lyme disease-free. It doesn’t stop the ticks from going on them, but it prevents them from getting sick from the ticks themselves. And so, ask your vet about that.
But what you can also do is keep your yard really clean. Make sure you rake any leaves or small brush …
LESLIE: … because they like to burrow into those areas. So keep that area nice and clean. If you have a pile of wood, make sure it’s neat and dry. Make sure you clean your gardens every fall. You can make sure that your lawns are mowed short and keep the edges trimmed. And keep the ground around any bird feeders – you know, to limit the availability of rodent food because rodents will bring ticks to an area as well. So if you’ve got bird feeders, keep them clean and make sure you keep that area, as well, nice and tidy.
You can also spray garlic juice – I know it sounds crazy. You won’t notice the smell after a few minutes, but garlic fields have no ticks and have no fleas. So if you can spray garlic juice around the yard, that will also help tremendously.
CATHY: Have you heard about sulfur? Putting sulfur in the yard?
LESLIE: I’ve heard sulfur as well. And it’s – the reason why garlic works is because garlic has sulfur in it.
CATHY: Oh, OK. OK.
OK, and my second question – red ants.
TOM: Well, the pesticides that are used to control ants have changed a lot. The best ones, now, are what’s known as undetectables. And this class of insecticides, the ants don’t know it’s there so they sort of march through it and they get it on their bodies and then they bring it back to the nest and they pass it to each of the other ants in the nest and that’s how you get rid of them. One of the good ones is called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r. You can get more information at TermidorHome.com. And that’s a product that is professionally applied and works very, very well at controlling ant populations around the house.
CATHY: Hey, is your disposal jammed? Well, don’t call the plumber just yet. Find out how you might be able to fix it yourself – how do you like that idea? – next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Roto-Rooter, for all your plumbing and drain cleaning needs. Whether it’s a small job or a big repair, request the experts from Roto-Rooter. That’s the name and away go troubles down the drain. Call 1-800-GET-ROTO or visit Roto-Rooter.com.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Let us help solve your do-it-yourself dilemma, like a broken garbage disposer.
LESLIE: Ah, alright. So you’ve reached in there – of course it was off when you did that – and you found that spoon that’s been jamming up your garbage disposal. And now it won’t turn back on. Well, don’t get all crazy just yet. Sometimes when your disposal jams, it often automatically shuts off and it might not restart by just using the wall switch alone. And most homeowners don’t know that there’s actually a reset button and it’s located at the bottom of the unit itself. So, after you safely remove any of the foreign objects – retainer, spoon, whatever that might have gotten it’s way down the disposal – one touch of this reset button could save you an unnecessary repair bill. So keep an eye out for that.
Hey, we’ve got a very special show coming up next week. We’re going to be broadcasting from Atlanta to celebrate Home Show ’06. This is a – an event that’s put on nationwide by The Home Depot. It’s happening simultaneously in every Home Depot in America right now through September 24th.
LESLIE: So whatever you’re learning at your Home Depot, somebody else is learning at their Home Depot completely across the country. It’s very exciting and it’s huge.
TOM: That’s right. It’s all about innovation. They’re going to have over 100 new products they’ll be featuring; products that can make your life simpler, save you some money, make it more efficient around your house, save you some time.
LESLIE: And even about innovative techniques; you know, new ideas for painting, new ideas for remodeling; just lots of good ideas.
TOM: There’s going to be a lot of displays and a lot of demos, inside the store, about how these products work. And we are even going to be doing a demo in Atlanta next week. So if you’re in the area, stop by. If not, you can catch a clinic no matter where you are in the country. Simply log onto HomeDepotClinics.com and you can find out where the clinics are going to be held locally and they even have virtual clinics that you can participate in via an 800 number. So a very fun event – Home Show ’06 – going on all this month through September 24th. Check it out at HomeDepotClinics.com.
LESLIE: Alright, hopefully we’ll see you at that great event and if not, go check one out in your area.
We’ve got a great prize to give away this hour. It’s the Peerless single-handle pull-out faucet in a chrome finish. It’s worth $138. It features a pull-out spray spout; which, you know, makes any kitchen job easier, not to mention the indoor water fight that may occur occasionally – look out with the kids. And Peerless is a great company because they’re going to stay with you through every step of the installation. So if you can’t do it yourself, they’re going to help you to do it and you’ll feel so confident at that. It’s a great prize. It’s yours for free, so call in now.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: James in Alaska listens to The Money Pit on KENI. And you’re refinishing some floors. Tell us what their made of.
JAMES: Yeah, I had called and just wanted to get some advice on some hardwood floors that I have. They’re originally – I installed them about 20 years ago. They’re Bruce hardwood oak.
JAMES: Think they were red oak. But they came with something that said they had this permanent finish and I believe they used the word ‘epoxy.’ And they’ve actually lasted very, very well but they’re kind of getting old and scratched and I was wondering if you had some recommendations on a refinish.
TOM: Were these floors that were prefinished – do they have sort of like a V joint in between the boards?
TOM: Yeah, they’re very difficult to refinish. The finishes have gotten a lot better today. There are aluminum oxide finishes now that are more durable than the finishes that were put on when these floors were first manufactured. And I have, unfortunately, not seen a very successful job at refinishing one of those old hardwood floors. You could have it sanded down all the way to …
LESLIE: To some raw wood.
TOM: … to the raw wood and refinish it. But with all those channels and grooves in there, it’s going to be impossible to get all of the old finish off. And what’s going to happen is when the new finish goes on top of that old finish, I’ve seen it delaminate and chip off. So, unfortunately, I’ve never seen an easy way to refinish a prefinished floor of that particular era.
TOM: (chuckling) Not so great.
JAMES: So, in other words, just urethane on top is not going to do it.
TOM: No, I think if you urethane on top, you’re going to find that it’s going to delaminate. The best shot is to sand it down to raw wood and professionally refinish it, but you might get into some areas of these joints where it starts to chip off in that area.
JAMES: Oh, one can always use one of those tow (sp) sanders.
TOM: Well yeah, you could. I mean if you have a lot of patience. (chuckling) But you have to get it all out of there.
You know, the other thing that you could think about doing is putting an engineered hardwood floor on top of this, which is a very thin engineered product that’s incredibly durable. So that’s another option for you.
Alright, James. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you can listen to The Money Pit on the internet, just like Scott in California does. And what can we do for you today?
SCOTT: I have a refrigerator that was way too full (chuckling) and a jar of pickles fell out of the refrigerator …
TOM: Just jumped right out of that refrigerator door.
SCOTT: … and left a big spot on the floor and we can’t get it up.
LESLIE: And what kind of floor is it, Scott?
SCOTT: It’s a travertine floor.
TOM: Oh, a travertine floor. Have you tried TSP; trisodium phosphate?
SCOTT: No, I haven’t.
TOM: You might want to try that. That’s pretty powerful stuff for lifting stains out. We often recommend that for something like an oil stain or something of that nature. I would try it in a very small area. I would make a paste of it. TSP is available in most paint stores and you make a paste of it and apply it to some of the edge of the stain; let it sit for awhile; and then scrub it off. And see if that does the trick. We’ve been very successful with TSP in removing difficult stains from porous material.
SCOTT: OK. Awesome. I will give that a try.
TOM: And once you get off, then you’re going to have to reseal that floor though, OK? Just be mindful of that; otherwise, it’ll start picking up a lot of dirt.
SCOTT: I’ve got you. OK, super. I appreciate it. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: In New Jersey, Marlene’s looking for the sound of silence. Tell us what’s annoying you.
MARLENE: We have a water heater in a closet next to my daughter’s room.
MARLENE: You know, it has the louvered type doors.
MARLENE: And every time it goes on, it’s just very noisy.
TOM: Is it a gas water heater?
MARLENE: Yes, it is. And it’s only two years old.
TOM: Yeah, unfortunately, you cannot enclose that any further and the reason …
LESLIE: Because you need the ventilation.
TOM: Exactly. Those louvered doors are there to supply combustion air so that when the gas comes on, it has some air that it can burn and then work it’s way up the vent pipe. If you …
LESLIE: Well, what about putting in a door but trimming up the bottom two or three inches?
TOM: It depends on what else is in that closet. But there are some rules of thumb in terms of how much air you need. And I would recommend a louvered door in a situation like that. I just think that’s it’s dangerous to do anything but try to – because I mean if you put a door in and you have some space on the bottom and then, you know, you get toys or you get clothes or blankets that happen to block that, now the water heater is really starving for air. But what happens with natural gas if it doesn’t have enough air, it can burn into a very toxic carbon monoxide. And if that chimney gets blocked, that’ll leak into the house and that could be very, very bad. So, unfortunately, there’s nothing that we can recommend that will quiet a natural gas water heater.
There are other types that have sealed combustion chambers. I suspect this one does not. They may be a bit quieter. But it’s very important to keep those louvers open, Marlene. Because if you close them, it could be very dangerous.
LESLIE: Bob in Washington has a question about refinishing a shower. What can we do for you?
BOB: Well, I have a shower stall pan that looks like it’s deteriorating. It’s a fiberglass pan. And it’s deteriorating a little bit and I wondered if there was some kind of a process that I could put on it that would seal it up and make it look like it did before.
TOM: Is it like sort of crackling?
TOM: Bob, that crackling that you’re seeing is the gel coat on the fiberglass surface and it probably needs to be restored. What you’re most likely going to do is you’re going to get some very fine wet/dry sandpaper – we’re probably talking around 300 grit – and you’re going to lightly sand that to get a clean surface. And then you’re going to reapply a new layer of gel coat. I will warn you, if you ever work with fiberglass, it’s a very stinky job; so make sure that that space is well ventilated. You may need to put a fan in the room with you if it’s a small bathroom so that you don’t become affected by the fumes. But that’s what’s happening. It’s not unusual. And although it’s a bit of work, it can be successfully repaired.
BOB: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bob. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, has this ever happened to you? You try to remove a family picture from a frame only to find out that the precious photo is stuck to the glass? It is just a horrible moment and you’re wondering what the heck do I do about it.
Up next, we’re going to teach you a pro’s trick of the trade for loosening those pictures up and cherishing those memories forever.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Metal Roofing Alliance. We call metal roofing investment-grade roofing. Because in your lifetime, a metal roof will save you money and add value to your home. To find a Metal Roofing Alliance contractor or to learn more about investment-grade roofing, visit www.metalroofing.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number, 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website, MoneyPit.com, where you can read almost everything we’ve ever written about the home improvement project. I guess if you were really bored and needed a long read, you could probably go there for days and never come out. But …
LESLIE: (chuckling) And always find new content.
TOM: And you would find the answer. Now, we do guarantee you that. And you’ll also find a place to email us. You can click on Ask Tom and Leslie. We get lots and lots of emails every single week. We do our best to get back to as many folks as we can; either directly or through our free e-newsletter or through this program.
So let’s jump right to the email bag.
LESLIE: Alright. This one’s from Linda in Grayling, Michigan who writes: ‘I have photos of my children’s baby pictures that have stuck to the glass of the frame. How can I get the photo out without ruining it?’
TOM: This is tricky stuff, Linda, I’ve got to tell you. You’ve got to be careful because, obviously, you have a precious possession there. The answer really depends on what type of photo you’re trying to remove. Surprisingly, the older the photo, the easier it might be to get it out. The reason is because older black and white photos were made using a porous process. They have silver gelatin on them and the papers are porous. And so, if you immerse it in a chemical like – that you might find at a photo store – like Kodak has a product called Photo-Flo 200 – that may loosen the photo and help it lift off the glass. If it’s porous, that will happen. However, if it’s a newer photo – like one that might have been taken in the last several years – they use a resin finish. And if it’s a resin finish, then it’s going to be extremely difficult to get it off of the picture because the resin is almost like a glue. And it really sticks hard to the glass.
LESLIE: Oh, but don’t fret, Linda, because you can easily take that picture – stuck to the glass – and go to any sort of, you know, drug store or center – places where they have those photo scanners – and just scan that picture and just print up a bunch of new copies. It might not be the original but it’s still the same memory.
TOM: And there you go. So a couple of ways to do it or you know, you could just get a new piece of glass and make the old glass a permanent …
LESLIE: (chuckling) A part of it.
TOM: (chuckling) That’s right, you know? Make it special.
LESLIE: Alright, here’s another one from Lar (sp) who writes: ‘We have a driveway that slopes to the garage. The drain is constantly getting plugged and then floods the garage. Is there a water proofing company that we could call?’
Do you think that’s a bad idea?
TOM: Yeah. Definitely a bad idea. What you need, Larry, is something called a curtain drain. And it can be cut in between the driveway and the garage apron …
LESLIE: Is that also called a French drain?
TOM: Perhaps. It’s a slot. Basically, it’s cut in. And then, that actually drains to a drain pipe and you’d drain that away somewhere where the water can escape and run to the curb. And that will solve that problem once and for all.
LESLIE: Alright, good to know.
TOM: Well, does your face need tightening? (chuckling) Skin feeling a little saggy? Well not you, of course. I’m talking about your kitchen cabinets. How to give those a facelift is the subject of today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Well, it’s not just kitchen cabinets. It can be any room in your house that might be ready for a facelift. And it’s actually easy enough to transform the look of a room inexpensively by adding a splash of color with simply a new coat of paint. In fact, many paints on the market today offer the ease of one-coat coverage at an economical price; so you’re really getting some great paint at a really cost-effective value. And once that room is freshened up with that new coat of paint, you can add a few inexpensive accessories; whether it’s a couple of well-placed coordinating pillows, some new bedding, some new dish towels; things that will suit the room you’re working on. A new vase, some candles; they’re all great options to really freshen up that space.
Think about outlet and switch plate covers. They can really enhance the new d