TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We are very excited to be here today and to help you get some projects done around your house. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a direct-it-yourselfer, we can help assure that you don’t become a do-it-to-yourselfer and mess up your project. Call us first; we’ll give you the step-by-step. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We are here to talk about you and your house and how you can take care of it on your own. 888-666-3974.
Got a great hour planned for you. Coming up, do you have a major renovation planned? Before you start to make over your home, you very often have to demolish what’s there first. And some say that’s the best part. It certainly is the stress-relieving part of the project. So, in a few minutes, we’re going to give you tips on a brand-new tool that makes the demolishing that much easier.
And it’s a small tool. It’s not for tearing down entire houses but it’s clearly the fastest way to take apart a wall if you’re going to do just some minor remodeling. It’s brand new, just out on the market. It’s got a really fun name, too, so we’ll tell you about that, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? All it really takes is one furniture move or maybe a clumsy kid or relative in your house and you’ve suddenly got a nick or a dent in the wood trim in, say, the pass-through in your living room or right on your beautiful wainscoting. Well, we’ve got an efficient and inexpensive fix for that problem.
TOM: And it can be gross but also very dangerous. We’re talking about mold in your house. Do you know how to keep it at bay? We do. We’ll have that tip, coming up.
LESLIE: And also this hour, we’re giving away a great solution to both your seating and your storage problems. It’s a ClosetMaid bench, along with fabric drawer bins that neatly tuck inside and then they can hide your shoes or whatever kind of clutter you just want to put away. And it’s a prize worth 81 bucks.
TOM: Going out to one caller whose name we’ll draw at random, so pick up the phone and give us a call right now. It might be you. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Rich in Kentucky on the line who’s dealing with a condensation issue.
Rich, how can we help you?
RICH: Went in the crawlspace last year to run some wire and I got all this water. And it’s on the heating and air ducts. And it’s nice, fresh, clean water dripping on the vapor barrier. When I bought the house, the two vents that are down there are blocked. They might have did that when they put in the radon vapor-barrier system.
So, basically, I was mopping it up with a towel and putting it in the bucket to get it out of there and I was just – same thing’s going to happen this summer when I run the air condition, I guess.
TOM: This is a crawlspace that’s unfinished and you have a radon ventilation system in the crawlspace or it’s a basement?
RICH: The radon’s in the basement but I thought there was a tube going into the …
TOM: OK. Because it typically – here’s what you’re going to do. With a radon system, the basement, if it’s finishable, it’s going to be sealed and have a ventilation system installed into it. The crawlspace is usually – you never put a radon system in a crawlspace because a crawlspace is always vented.
And if the crawlspace is open to the basement, then if anything, you might seal off the space between the crawlspace and the basement to create two separate and distinct areas that have their respective levels of ventilation. Does that make sense?
RICH: Yeah, I think it’s pretty much blocked off. I guess the radon doesn’t go in there then.
TOM: So now let’s talk about your moisture problem. Now, what you’re seeing in the ductwork is condensation, because the ducts get cold when you run air conditioning. And you have warm, moist air in the crawlspace area and that condenses on the outside surfaces of the ducts and they drain. Basically, they drip.
So, what can you do about that? Couple of things. First of all, we can take some steps to reduce the amount of humidity that you have in the crawlspace. So how do we do that? Well, number one, I want you to look at your gutters outside. Make sure that the gutters are clean, free-flowing and discharging away from the house. We want no water collecting anywhere near the first 4 to 6 feet away from that foundation.
LESLIE: Because that’s just going to find its way right back into your crawlspace.
TOM: Exactly. Big U-turn.
TOM: Then, look at the slope of the soil and make sure that the soil slopes away. And make sure the gutters are finally clean. So if all that water from the rain is moving away from the house, that’s good.
The next thing that you can do is you can make – that those ventilate – that those vents are open in the crawlspace. And then thirdly, you can add a dehumidifier. Take a look at the Santa Fe dehumidifiers. They’re best in the business; they are Energy Star-rated, so they’re not going to cost you an arm and a leg to operate; and they’re going to totally dry out that crawlspace. And then the fourth thing that you can do is insulate the ducts.
So, drainage on the outside, open up the vents, get a Santa Fe dehumidifier and then insulate the ducts. And that will stop the problem.
RICH: OK. That’ll work. Thanks for the answer.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Laurie on the line who needs some help with a kitchen-flooring project. How can we help you?
LAURIE: I am needing to put a new kitchen floor in but I need something that’s going to be easy on my joints.
LESLIE: One of the floors that I like to recommend for kitchens that are soft, forgiving and beautiful is cork. And surprisingly enough, it’s very durable. If sealed properly, it’s great for a kitchen environment. And it’s soft because of the nature of the cork itself, so it does tend to be a little bit easier on your legs.
TOM: And cork also lasts forever. You know, there’s a very famous house that has cork floors. It’s the Fallingwater House that was built by Frank Lloyd Wright back in the late 30s, early 40s. I had a chance to visit it this summer and I was really pleasantly surprised to see that he originally installed cork floors into the bathroom and they still were in good shape.
TOM: It’s a very durable and very eco-friendly product, as well.
LESLIE: And it can be very, very beautiful.
LAURIE: OK. That sounds like something that I will be looking into.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Get this, guys. We are a few, short weeks away from Memorial Day. I cannot even believe it but that is the official kickoff to summer. So if you’ve got things on your to-do list, let’s get them done so you can actually kick back and relax. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, do you have an amazing idea for an open floor plan and perhaps are ready to start that remodel? Well, not so fast. First, you’ve got to demolish the old before you get a chance to bring in the new. And there’s a new tool that can make that super-easy and pretty fun. We’ll have that tip, after this.
MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we want to hear from you, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, we always give you a hand with your home improvement projects but we also like to give away some pretty awesome prizes. And this hour, we’ve got up for grabs a great storage solution that also provides extra seating. It’s a ClosetMaid Cubeical 3-Cube Storage Bench and it comes with 3 fabric bins.
And it’s great for your front entry or your mud room or even at the end of a bed or a kid’s room. I mean it’s super-functional and it’s really cute. It’s worth $81, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win or you can learn more at ClosetMaid.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Roland in North Carolina on the line who needs some help removing some rust. What can we do for you today?
ROLAND: I have some exposed I-beams in my basement that support a poured-floor garage above. And during construction, obviously they experienced some rust. And they’re 20 feet long, 12 inches high, so I’ve got about 400 square feet, if you will, of rusted steel. And I’m looking to paint them or finish them off a little bit.
And I was looking at the Rust-Oleum products and figuring I would go through 15 or 20 cans just to cover that amount of space. So I was wondering if you guys had a better idea and how much prep I should do. Should I just – they haven’t rusted since the house has been finished but it does have a coating of rust on there. Is there a better way? And how should I be concerned about prepping them before painting?
TOM: Well, a light sanding would be important to remove any of that loose rust – that loose surface rust. And it’s not deep; it’s just on the surface.
ROLAND: That’s right.
TOM: And then using a Rust-Oleum primer would be the next step. Not the surface paint but the primer. Now, instead of using individual spray cans, why don’t you buy the gallons of Rust-Oleum and rent a sprayer if you have to: a paint sprayer from a rental yard? It would make it super-easy.
ROLAND: Right. That’s the best way to go?
LESLIE: Yeah. Plus, you’re inside and using a can of spray paint is not going to make you feel very well and it’s certainly going to make the house stink up a storm. While certainly easy for application, it’s not really the best approach for an interior project. If you’re using regular paint through a sprayer – as long as you protect everything and cover up your ceiling from overspray and the floor, et cetera – you’re going to be in great shape.
TOM: What I like to do is to try to depressurize a room when I’m spraying in it. So how would you do that? Very simply. You’d open up a window, stick a window fan in it, make sure it points out and then open up another window or door on the other side of the room and get some cross-ventilation. This way, you’re always moving the air outside the house, replacing it with fresh air.
ROLAND: Sounds good. Is there any concern with the rust coming back through?
TOM: Not if you prime it. If you don’t prime it, it can definitely come right through. But if you prime it, especially with a rust-inhibiting primer like Rust-Oleum, it’s going to kind of lock that in place. And as long as you don’t have any kind of serious leakage or something like that, I don’t expect it to come back through.
ROLAND: Super. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Sandy in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SANDY: Well, I have a situation where I have a plastic kind of sink that’s in my laundry room.
LESLIE: I’ve got the same one, uh-huh.
SANDY: I made the mistake of taking a pan that had rust on it – kind of a good bit of rust on it at the time – and I soaked it, thinking I was getting some drippings or something off of the pan. And I let it sit there for days. And then I picked the pan up and went, “Oh, cool, that was great.” Now I have a big rust stain in the bottom of my sink from that rusty pan. And I thought, “Oh, my gosh.”
It looks to me like this is going to be the way it is unless – or until I replace that sink. I tried vinegar, soaked rags for a couple of days. I tried CLR. The vinegar-soaked rags helped a little bit.
TOM: Did you try Bon Ami?
SANDY: No, not yet.
TOM: It’s a powder cleaner. And I’ve got a – well, I’ve got a Corian sink that – it’s white and it tends to stain a little bit. And I’ll tell you what, for any type of a synthetic material like that, you sprinkle that Bon Ami in and let it sit for a bit and it comes out really white. It’s almost like bleaching your sink.
LESLIE: It’s like a gentler Comet.
SANDY: Wow, OK.
TOM: Yeah. I would give that a shot. I’m sure you can find it in your supermarket. Bon Ami – B-o-n A-m-i.
SANDY: I certainly will. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, one of the biggest selling points in a home these days is an open floor plan, especially when a kitchen flows right into a living area. You know, it accommodates our modern lifestyles and it takes into consideration the amount of time that most families spend in the kitchen.
Now, opening up closed-in spaces is a very popular project but you’ve got to check which walls are load-bearing. Otherwise, you’re going to knock down a lot more than you bargained for. And once you know that, you can start the demo.
TOM: That’s right.
Now, the pros at Stanley Tools have a great new tool that makes a demolition easy. It’s a new-generation hammer called FuBar and it’s really a four-in-one tool for prying, splitting, bending and striking. And FuBar stands for Functional Utility Bar, for all of you folks that think it may be something else.
LESLIE: Oh, I was thinking something else.
TOM: It’s not. They designed it that way because they know that contractors mostly use hammers to break stuff apart.
And Stanley is a trusted Money Pit sponsor and we’re proud to say that the FuBar won a Popular Science Best Innovation of the Year Award. That is pretty prestigious in the tool category, guys. So if you want to check it out, you can go to StanleyTools.com and see it there. And once you’ve ripped through those old walls, you can start living that modern lifestyle in a brand-new, open floor plan.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Hong in Pennsylvania on the line who is having an issue with carpenter ants. Tell us what’s going on.
HONG: One day – within the front of the house, we have these wooden pillars. And in the round base, I saw there was a neatly-cut hole and the carpenter ants were climbing out of that. What’s an effective way of getting rid of them?
TOM: Well, there’s a product called Phantom – P-h-a-n-t-o-m – that’s a professionally-applied pesticide, Hong. Works very well for carpenter ants and roaches and other types of pests like that.
And the reason it works particularly well is because it’s a non-detectable pesticide. So the ants go through this product and they bring it back to their nest and they pass it from insect to insect. I think of it as germ warfare for insects. And as they pass it from insect to insect, it will very quickly wipe out the entire nest.
And I think a professional product like that is going to be the safest and most effective way to get rid of these ants. Because if you use a lot of over-the-counter products, chances are you’re not going to get all the ants where they live, because you’re not going to find any product that’s non-detectable that’s available as an over-the-counter. And you’ll end up putting more and more pesticide in than you probably really need to.
So I would take a look at PhantonHome.com – P-h-a-n-t-o-mHome.com. You can put in your zip code, find a number of pest-control operators near your house and have them provide you some estimates for controlling this. You really need to get it under control, because carpenter ants are called carpenter ants for a very good reason: they do eat wood. We want to make sure they don’t eat anything that’s structural in your house.
HONG: Yeah. You know that that’s what I was – I thought. OK.
TOM: Good luck, Hong. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: David in Oregon is on the line with an insulation question. Tell us about it.
DAVID: Hi. I have a 1957-model house and it’s a ranch style. And we noticed this winter, when we had a little bit of snow, well, our snow left before all of our neighbors’ did. And we live in – around Salem, Oregon there in a valley, so it’s pretty mild winters and not too bad in the summer. I’ve got a half-a-dozen vents up on the – up there on the top of the roof. And those have been blocked off and there’s a fan – an exhaust fan – been put in there that’s on a thermostat.
DAVID: I want to know if I need to take those out, open those back up, turn the fan off and about how much insulation I need to put in. I think about 9 inches or a foot?
LESLIE: And you say you have 9 inches or a foot right now?
DAVID: It doesn’t have – it has like maybe three right now.
TOM: You know what, Leslie? It sounds like nothing he has is working correctly.
LESLIE: Is the right thing.
TOM: Or was installed right. That’s right, exactly. So …
LESLIE: Generally, with insulation, regardless of where you are in the country, you want anywhere between 19 and 22 inches and that depends on if you use the fiberglass batt or the blown-in. But that’s how much you need, whether you live in a hot climate or a cold climate, just to keep your home operating efficiently and keep the temperatures the way they’re supposed to be inside.
Now, with your venting, you really need a continuous ridge vent and you need soffit vents. Because with insulation, you need ventilation to make sure that it works properly. So those are really the ideal situations. And a lot of times what happens is you may have a soffit vent but you’ve put insulation right over it or if you stored things – and you can’t even get the airflow in there. So if you have soffit vents, you need to expose them and allow them to do their job.
And exhaust fans are never a good idea.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right because they depressurize the attic space and they actually reach down into the house and they’ll steal air-conditioned air. So we say get rid of the exhaust fan, get in continuous ridge vents, continuous soffit vents. Add that 19 to 22 inches of fiberglass insulation and finally, you will have an energy-efficient attic and that’s going to really impact both your heating and your cooling bills in a very positive way.
DAVID: OK. That sounds like a good idea and I really enjoy you guys’ show. I listen to you every weekend.
TOM: Alright, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, it’s been linked to asthma, skin disease and allergies and we’re talking about mold. We’re going to tell you how to get rid of it, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, do you want to learn how you can save money, energy and maybe do just your small part to save the planet, as well? Well, just in time for Earth Day, take a look at our green product guide right now at MoneyPit.com, which is presented, in part, by Lutron.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, with a C?L Dimmer from Lutron, you can dim incandescent and halogen bulbs, as well as compact fluorescents and LEDs. I mean it really covers every type of bulb out there. So you know that the dimmer that you are installing today is going to work with whatever tomorrow’s energy-efficient bulb is going to be, because there is always a ton of them and they keep coming out.
So choose Lutron and visit Lutron.com today.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. We will help shed some light on your home improvement project.
LESLIE: Well, moisture might be great for your skin and giving you a youthful appearance. Heck, it’s even good when you go grocery shopping for fruit and produce. But when it comes to your home, it is the last thing that you want on the inside.
TOM: That’s right. Too much moisture can cause paint to peel and mold to grow but there are ways to prevent it. Here to tell us how is the plumbing and heating expert from TV’s This Old House, Richard Trethewey.
RICHARD: Nice to be here.
TOM: Now, we often think of mold being a basement problem but mold is actually more common in the bathroom, isn’t it?
RICHARD: Well, anywhere you combine moisture, air and some food source – drywall or a paper – you’re going to get a mold problem. And the bathroom is a perfect candidate for that.
TOM: And one of the best ways to prevent that is to have good bath ventilation. What are some of the options to choose from?
RICHARD: Well, I think there’s really three. The most common one that we all know is that bath fan. Sometimes, it has an integra (ph) light in it and it sits right in the center of the bathroom. And it turns it on and you exhaust it to outside.
RICHARD: They also make a remote fan now, which you could put a – as the name suggests, you could put a fan up in an attic and it could be the fan for more than one bathroom. And that can be quieter and it can be energy-saving.
TOM: So it’s ducted to the individual bathrooms then but really one motor can basically run everything.
RICHARD: That’s right. And the motor’s efficient and quiet.
RICHARD: And the other thing that you see more and more in these tighter houses is a thing called an energy-recovery ventilator or a heat-recovery ventilator.
TOM: Alright. Now, how does that work?
RICHARD: Well, just imagine that all the places where you could get air that was both highly humid and filled with odor – that would be bathrooms and kitchens – that leaves through an exhaust duct through this box.
RICHARD: And as that air leaves, it will pass through this energy-recovery ventilator while at the same time, fresh air from outside will pass in the opposite direction across that stale, heated air.
Now, the air doesn’t touch it directly but the heat is transferred to that new air that’s coming in.
TOM: Ah, so we actually take some of that heat that we paid to create – in that smelly, damp, moist air – and we transfer it through this sort of heat-exchange mechanism to the fresh air coming in.
RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, we get the best of both worlds. We get preheated, fresh air into the building while we’re exhausting the stale air out. And with an energy-recovery ventilator, we also can transfer humidity, so we’re not going to be bringing in dry, dry air in the winter. We’ll get some of the humidity that was in the house to stay in the house.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about the switching mechanisms for these, because I think that one of the easiest ways to try to keep mold down in your bathroom and reduce that humidity is to make sure not only that you have the ventilator of your choice but that it runs long enough to do the job. Timers can play an important part there, couldn’t they?
RICHARD: Right. You need enough fresh air in a building and as the building gets tighter, as fuel goes up, people are insulating more and doing all sorts of things to keep the heat and the air in. So putting a timer for 20 or 25 minutes of every hour, to just bring some fresh air in, is actually good to keep ahead of that mold issue.
TOM: And probably the more that you can do this with occupancy sensors and things like that – where you don’t have to depend on your kid, for example, to set a timer when they step out of the shower – makes the most sense, because it’s more of a chance it’s going to actually get used.
RICHARD: I think that’s part of the future, Tom, is this remote-proximity sensor. I think in a bathroom, it should bring on the fan to bring fresh air in, it should bring on a recirc line to bring hot water to the hot-water faucet. And then more and more of that’s being done now with some of these cool home-automation systems.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about venting. Once you take that humid air out of the bathroom, it’s real important that you don’t put it somewhere else where it can do damage, like the attic.
RICHARD: We’ve seen on Ask This Old House all these years, so many times the attic is so filled with mold because the vent pipe has come off of the exhaust fan. You’ve just been dumping highly humid air into this wooden …
TOM: Which is cold and condenses and it’s wet all the time.
RICHARD: Perfect condition for mold, yeah.
TOM: Not to mention the fact that that insulation getting wet really doesn’t do its job very well, either.
RICHARD: That’s right. We often see that flexible ducting that’s used on these bath fans also can – if it’s not supported, can provide sag points where moisture will sit in it and that really becomes a mold place.
TOM: Interesting. So it becomes almost a trap, just a plumbing trap, but it’s collecting condensation.
RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right. That’s right.
TOM: Now, what are some other things that you can do to reduce mold in the bathroom?
Specifically, let’s talk about grout or caulk, for example. That’s that one dirty area of the house that you wish you’d get cleaned but sometimes you just can’t.
RICHARD: Well, they have mildew-resistant caulking and that can do a good job. It’s not going to stop every bit of mildew if you’ve got high, high humidity levels. You can use paperless, mold-resistant drywall in the bathroom. You’ve got to really get rid of that food source, which is any paper or cellulose, where mold wants to grow.
TOM: And always make sure you have a paint that has a mildew-resistant additive to it, as well?
RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right.
TOM: Yeah. So, essentially, if we want to stop mold growth in our bathroom, we need to attack it on all fronts: we need to make sure we keep the humidity down; we ventilate all that warm, moist air; and then any other opportunity we have to choose something that’s mold-resistant, then definitely take that step.
RICHARD: Yeah. Water is the active ingredient that you’ve got to stay ahead of, most importantly, Tom.
TOM: Unfortunately, we need a lot of that in the bathroom.
RICHARD: That’s right.
TOM: Richard Trethewey, the plumbing and heating contractor from TV’s This Old House, great advice, as always. Thanks for stopping by.
RICHARD: Great to be here.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some great step-by-step videos on home improvement projects you can tackle this weekend, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.
Up next, wooden trim can add drama and beauty to a room, that is, until you get a nick in it. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to fix it and we’ll share that tip with you, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron Dimmers and Sensors. Tired of reminding your family to turn off the lights? Install a Lutron Maestro Occupancy Sensor and you’ll never have to remind them again. It works with all bulb types and only takes about 15 minutes to install. For easy upgrades with big impact, choose Lutron. Visit ChooseLutron.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And why don’t you pick up the phone and be on The Money Pit today? Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
We are giving away a great prize this hour to one lucky caller who gets on the air with us. And it’s really a great solution to any seating and storage problems that you might have at your money pit. Because we are giving away a ClosetMaid Cubeical 3-Cube Bench with 3 neat, little fabric bins that fit underneath in these little cubes, to stash things completely out of sight. I mean I don’t care if you keep that little bin messy, as long as it’s pushed in and closed, it looks super-tidy from the outside.
It’s perfect for a closet or an entryway, garage, bedroom, kid’s room, even a mud room. And it’s worth 81 bucks, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your home improvement project and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Dorothy in California is on the line and she needs some help with a wall texture. Tell us what you’re working on.
DOROTHY: Well, what we had – we have the wall and it was a heater there that we took the heater out; it was – it’s in the hallway. And then we finished everything and now we’re trying to find a way to kind of match the texture that was there originally.
TOM: And what kind of texture would you – how would you describe this texture, Dorothy?
DOROTHY: Well, it would have – like some of them will be a round shape and the other ones like an oval shape. And then they would have little, tiny circles. And then, in some cases, you would have – like they went over with a brush or something. So they’re kind of a different type of shape and sizes of circles or oval shape.
TOM: OK. So, one of the things that you can do is you could – once that’s all patched and repaired – is you can apply some spackle to the surface of the drywall, like we used to do when it was Plaster of Paris?
TOM: And then you can take a wallpaper brush – which is a big, heavy, bristled brush – and twist that brush with your hand. Twist it and it makes circles in that wet spackle. And if it’s a big circle, use a bigger brush. If it’s a smaller circle, use a smaller brush. And you can twist it and try to sort of match the pattern as closely as you can to what was there before. And then just paint the whole thing the same color and it’ll probably blend in pretty nicely.
DOROTHY: Alright. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: Well, adding some wood trim to your doors or your windows can take what might have been a plain and boxy-looking room and turn it into a very warm and stylish space with a lot of detail. But once you’ve mastered the art of cutting all of those miters and making it look just right, what do you do if you get a big nick or gouge in the trim pieces once it’s up? Well, the experts at Elmer’s have a good solution.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, it’s as simple as using a wood filler, if you pick the right kind.
Now, Elmer’s makes a professional-grade wood filler that’s perfect for trim work. And what’s really great about it is that once it dries, you can sand it smooth and then you can also stain it to match your wood. Or you can even buy it prestained. You just put the filler in with a putty knife but don’t apply it flush; you want to put in a little more so that you can sand it down to a really nice, smooth finish.
And Elmer’s is a sponsor of our program and they always have great info to go along with their products. So if you want to learn some more, head on over to their website at Elmers.com. They’ll help you with all of your adhesive needs.
TOM: And if there’s a project on your to-do list, pick up the phone and call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Virginia in North Carolina has a gardening question for us. How can we help you today?
VIRGINIA: Yes. Can you tell me if automatic sprinklers in the lawn are cost-effective in this area in …?
LESLIE: In North Carolina?
VIRGINIA: That’s right.
LESLIE: Now, do you have a sprinkler system already or you’re thinking about it?
VIRGINIA: No, we do not.
LESLIE: Now, it’s kind of interesting because sprinkler systems, they help you absolutely to have a beautiful lawn and really make it easy to water your lawn and keep things lush and green without forgetting, which was our problem before we actually got a sprinkler system. But if you want an efficient system, you can actually get sprinkler heads that are part of the WaterSense rating program.
And what that is – it’s something very similar to Energy Star, where they take the sprinkler head and make sure that it only uses a certain amount of water and really cuts down on your water usage, which is going to save you money and of course, save the environment by using less water. So that’s one way to create an efficient system.
VIRGINIA: Well, is that something that the local lawn people would know about?
LESLIE: Virginia, if you want some more specifics on irrigation specialists in your area that might actually use those WaterSense-rated sprinkler systems, go to the EPA.gov website. It’s EPA.gov/WaterSense. And when you’re there, you can actually search for certified irrigation partners of the WaterSense program.
And there’s actually 65 listed for North Carolina alone. I’m not sure where in North Carolina these folks are but I’m sure someone is where you live and you could actually get to work today.
VIRGINIA: Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, are your floorboards squeaking louder than maybe your teenager’s music? We’re going to tell you how to fix that problem – the boards, not the teenager – next.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
And it’s Allergy Awareness Month and boy, am I feeling the allergies this time of year. It is just terrible. And it’s really a great time to test your allergy IQ and actually learn how to make your home a free-breathing zone.
For example, did you know getting rid of wall-to-wall carpet banishes 90 percent of dust mites? Ugh. I can’t even think about dust mites; it just grosses me out. But it gets rid of 90 percent of dust mites from any space.
If you want to learn other allergy-battling tips, log on to MoneyPit.com and search “allergy relief” and you and your itchy eyes and runny nose and phlegmy throat will be so super-glad you did. You can tell that I am an allergy sufferer.
TOM: And while you’re online, you can head on over to MoneyPit.com and post your home improvement question, which is what James in Connecticut did.
LESLIE: That’s right. And James wrote: “I love my old, mostly-restored Colonial home but the floor is showing its age. The floorboards squeak. Why does this happen? Do I have to call in a pro or is there a way I can fix it myself?”
TOM: You know what? It doesn’t matter if it’s an old house or a new house, floorboards always squeak. I mean I’ve fixed squeaky floorboards in homes that were, literally, months old and homes that were 200 years old. So floorboards are always going to squeak.
And there’s a number of ways to fix them and it really starts with what kind of floors you have. I’d say the average person in America has a plywood subfloor. And for plywood subfloors, it depends on whether – what kind of floor is on top. But let’s just say it’s average plywood subfloor, perhaps with some carpet on top. I’ll give you a little trick of the trade on that and that is that you’ve got to secure the floorboard – in this case, the subfloor – to the floor joists below.
So if you can locate stud finder – one of these electronic devices that will help you identify where the beam is below the floor – if you drive a Number 10 or Number 12 finish nail – and the hot-dipped, galvanized nails work the best because they’re rough and they have more holding power – on a slight angle, you can actually drive that right through the carpet, set the nail through the carpet and it’ll be invisible once you sort of pop carpet back up through the head. If you do it in a couple of places right around where that squeak is, it will tighten that subfloor to the floor joists and that will stop the squeak once and for all.
Now, if that’s not possible but you can get under it, you could also add blocks – wood blocks – between the floor joists and the subfloor and use some construction adhesive there. And then screw and attach those to help stabilize the movement.
When floors squeak, it’s because of movement in the floorboards. And if you can stabilize them from the top down or the bottom up, that will quiet them.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s a good point. And it really does make a huge difference.
Alright. Now I’ve got a post from Tildy in Texas who’s writing: “I’m going to paint my son’s room. My husband wants to use non-toxic paint. Is it worth the price difference? What’s the problem with traditional paint?”
Well, it really varies, Tildy. You know, when you want to go for an eco- or environmentally-friendly paint, you’re looking at paints that are low in VOC, which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, which is like a benzene or a formaldehyde. And what happens is they off-gas out of the paint for years. And that causes all kinds of problems, including asthma, possibly even cancer.
So VOC paints, it’s really what you want to look for. You want low odor, no carcinogens. They come in better colors than they used to, custom colors. They’re easy to apply. Almost every manufacturer has got one. I feel it’s worth it just for a health benefit and it really is a great paint, so definitely take the time and search those out.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hope you are enjoying this hour’s program and that we’ve given you a few tips and advice on how do you get some stuff done around your house. It’s a great time to get outside; it’s the spring season. It doesn’t get any better than this to tackle a home improvement project in or around your house. And we are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can always reach us at MoneyPit.com or by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That’s all the time we have for today’s program.
Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2012 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.)