(Begin Transcript) Paul: Good morning and welcome. It is time for the Redefined Realty Show, NewsTalk 1130 WISN with your host Bob Tarantino. I’m Paul Kronforst. Bob, good morning.
Bob: Hey, Paul.
Paul: We’ve got a full studio full of guests today that we’ll introduce, and we’re going to open up lines and take your calls. But first, crank the music, . . . There’s a big Nebraska game today.
Bob: Yeah, it kicks off in a couple of hours.
Paul: 2:30, Camp Randall could be snow falling toward the end. That would be cool.
Bob: Yeah, that would be good.
Paul: Nebraska is a good team, good test for the Badgers. We’ll see how the Big Ten season winds up here. Bob, we have as I mentioned a studio full of guests. I’ll let you introduce our guests.
Bob: It’s going to be a spectacular show, not just this hour, but hour number two as well. So in the studio right now we have Chris Mancuso from Accurate Basement Repair. How’s it going, Chris?
Chris: It’s going fantastic, I’m looking forward to a lot of football today.
Paul: Welcome back, Chris.
Chris: Thanks, buddy.
Paul: Good to see you.
Chris: Hey buddy.
Bob: And guess who else is here.
Bob: Inspector Gadget. Scott LeMarr is back; Honest Home Inspections.
Paul: Good to see you, Scott, welcome back.
Paul: One thing we do when both Scott and Chris are on, Chris can take calls on basement foundation repair. We have all kinds of things to talk about with Chris. And we always get a lot of phone calls.
Bob: Yeah, in southeast Wisconsin there are a lot of clay soils, and people have basement issues, so it’s an important part of selling your house. It’s an important part of owning a house. You know, what happens a lot of times is you don’t make the repairs until the time comes when you’re ready to sell that property. But it’s not a bad thing to have someone come in while you’re actually living there and make the repairs ahead of time so that they don’t get worse.
Chris, you tell me, but for a lot of people they kind of let the problem just fester for years and years and years, and then they’re forced to make an expensive repair when the sale actually comes around.
Chris: Absolutely. It’s something that people aren’t as proactive as they should be because if you take care of it sooner, then you won’t have these problems that are as large as they become. Just like anything else, you have to clean my gutters, or yeah, that downspout’s off. And you see it, but you never really grab onto it.
Chris: Procrastination, I’m pretty good at that, too.
Paul: Everybody does.
Chris: I’ll be cleaning my gutters today, when its freezing outside.
Bob: The leaves will be frozen in there.
Paul: That’s what I did yesterday. I panicked. I took my garden hoses in finally. I’ve been putting that off and procrastinating like you said. Of course they were frozen. I turned the water off downstairs, Scott, which I think we’re supposed to do.
Scott: Yes, you are. Rarely does that get done. Even those people with the frost-free hose bibs, I still recommend that those be turned off. And certainly disconnect your hoses. When those hoses freeze they can actually back up into the plumbing and they can burst your pipes.
Paul: I think about that, and last night it was 15 degrees overnight, and we’re at 21 right now.
Chris: Yeah, we’re going deep already.
Paul: All right, now I have to ask a question here. Scott, how exactly does a frost-free hose bib even work? What’s different about it?
Scott: What’s different about it is a typical hose bib, the valve inside of that is about three inches into the unit itself. The frost-free actually is 12 inches long, or more, so it’s actually inside of the basement. It’s inside the house. So it’s protected by the heat of the basement versus the other one is very susceptible to the cold air on the outside.
Bob: You may still have a little bit of water that’s in the pipe between the spigot on the outside and the valve on the inside.
Scott: They are supposed to be pitched so that that rolls out of the valve.
Scott: That doesn’t always happen either.
Paul: And aren’t you supposed to bleed that out or let whatever? What I did yesterday is I turned off the water in the basement, went back outside and disconnected the hose all that stuff. And then there is just actually a little bit of ice that built up on the outside. I kind of stuck my finger up there and I knocked off the ice, and then I bled it. In other words, I opened it up and let a little water trickle out, and then I closed it back off.
Scott: What you want to do is you want to close that valve on the inside of the house and make sure that that’s closed. The one on the outside should be open.
Paul: Oh really?
Scott: Because if anything freezes, that allows that to go out through that valve.
Paul: I learned something today.
Scott: But you have to remember to turn that off before you turn your thing back on in the spring.
Paul: So now that I have my water turned off in the basement, I should go back outside and open up those valves.
Scott: They should be open.
Paul: All winter?
Paul: I did not know that.
Scott: Well the frost-free you can still open that up, too. If it’s frost-free you can probably keep that one closed, because that does introduce a lot of cold air into that pipe.
Paul: And definitely unhook the hoses so that there is no hose there and you don’t let that back up.
Scott: Hoses should not be left on in the winter.
Paul: Got it. I’ll be I’m not alone in pushing that.
Scott: Oh, absolutely not. I just saw a few of them.
Paul: And are we going to get a warm-up yet this year? Who knows, right?
Scott: Well we’re in Wisconsin. It could happen in January.
Chris: Well, it didn’t happen last year.
Paul: No it didn’t, remember? We never had a relief at all.
Paul: It just stayed cold and the snow was on the ground the whole year. Well now we’re looking at two inches tonight, and we’re going to wake up tomorrow to some more.
Scott: We’re better off than upper Michigan at least.
Paul: Three feet.
Bob: What I heard, too; part of northern Wisconsin I thought got three feet.
Paul: Three feet.
Bob: Or four feet, something crazy like that.
Paul: It’s nuts. So it’s here; winter is here. And if you don’t do these things that we’re suggesting, you may have to call Chris Mancuso at Accurate Basement Repair . . .
Bob: Or a plumber.
Chris: What you can do, you know, people listening today; if you have questions about prepping for winter, Scott and I and the group can definitely answer those. So if you don’t hear something that’s being answered, call in and we’ll definitely answer those questions.
Bob: Because if you’re thinking it, someone else is probably thinking it, too.
Paul: Let’s do that, Bob. Open up the lines right now.
Bob: Sounds good.
Paul: It’s a good hour to call in. Scott LeMarr from Honest Home Inspections is a board certified Master Inspector. And he can also talk about mold, radon. You have all kinds of websites. We’ll give out your main site, Scott; Honest Home Inspections.com. Right?
Scott: That’s the main site. Milwaukee Mold Inspector would be the next one.
Paul: And also Milwaukee Radon Testing.com.
Scott: That’s right. We do a lot of radon testing, and what we’ve heard from a lot of the radon remediators, they are seeing higher numbers than they ever have. We don’t necessarily have a good answer on that, but we are seeing higher numbers in the houses. Part of it is the houses are tighter. We certainly know that’s one of the reasons.
Paul: That’s certainly part of it I’m sure.
Scott: These old leaky farmhouses that some of us older guys grew up in . . .
Bob: They’re the best kind.
Scott: They let in the fresh air, so we didn’t have a lot of these issues that we’re having with the indoor quality.
Scott: Isn’t that funny; you go to what everybody considers more of a greenhouse that’s very energy efficient, yet it causes a certain amount of health risk along with it because of the air quality on the inside of the house.
Paul: Everything’s trapped in there. Now what I do with my house, and I don’t know how tight homes are regardless, I open up a window every now and then just to get some fresh air inside. It’s almost like the natural way, instead of having an indoor or air exchange system, which I don’t have. Is that a good idea in winter?
Scott: You’re doing the same thing as that indoor air exchange does for the most part.
Bob: It does, right.
Scott: A lot of them, the cheaper ones anyway, there’s just an intake on the outside of the house and it brings fresh air into the return system. Some of them have an electric damper on them so it will regulate that. But some of them are just open, so you’re getting that cold air in there all the time, no matter what.
Chris: And we’ve talked about installing radon systems as air handling systems to pull moisture from beneath the concrete wall.
Scott: That does work well.
Chris: That works excellent, and that brings an amount of fresh air into the house, because it creates a negative pressure, which pulls some air in.
Paul: So you’re getting the radon out, and also doing the air as well. Not a bad idea; for that price you’re only spending about a grand, right?
Chris: And even if you don’t have radon, it is a good idea. I put one in my house and I didn’t have radon, but I put it in to control moisture, and I don’t even run a dehumidifier.
Bob: Would you guys recommend for somebody building a new house to just put the radon system in right off the bat?
Chris: I believe a passive system is required now.
Bob: What’s a passive system?
Chris: I think that went in in 2012 or 2011. A passive system is basically a pipe. You’re running a pipe into the basement floor and it runs up through the house and out through the top. There is no fan, so a passive system is based on the air going over the top of it creating a draft, like a chimney and pulling that out. And it gets it out of the house.
Bob: It gets it out of the house.
Chris: But you could put the fan in.
Bob: Yes, that gives you the option to put the fan in. Then you could put the fan in the attic, which is a really great place to put it.
Chris: If you did it through new construction it would be less expensive.
Scott: Well I have a thing, too. A lot of people nowadays, especially here in Wisconsin, you build that new house and maybe not right from the start, but somewhere down the road somebody’s building a rec room or a finished lower level, and if you’ve got that system in place to keep that moisture out of the basement, that’s just one huge step. That’s the biggest problem that we have with houses. You get the first floor, you walk in and everything’s beautiful and they have this beautiful rec room in the lower level. Then you get down there and you can kind of just smell that basement smell.
Chris: Yeah, a musty smell.
Scott: If you get rid of that, all of a sudden that lower level becomes just an extension of the main house, and it just adds that much more pleasure I think to the living space.
Bob: Let’s talk about cost effect a little bit, too, because that radon fan runs all the time. But the fan is a very low cfm fan, and it doesn’t take a lot of power. A dehumidifier has a compressor in it, and that does use a lot of energy to do that. It’s a small refrigerator, is what it is.
Chris: The noise from the dehumidifier . . .
Scott: You don’t even hear the radon system. You’d never know it was operating.
Bob: Because the fan a lot of times isn’t in the house, it’s outside the house or in the garage.
Scott: It has to be outside the building envelope, or outside the living area.
Bob: I’ve seen them in the house.
Scott: Yeah, me too.
Bob: But they’re not supposed to be. What is the reason for that?
Scott: The idea behind it is inside of that fan is concentrated radon. And when we measure radon we’re measuring maybe seven to twelve in the house, or something like that. When we’re pulling all of the radon into a concentrated area, you could be looking at 500 picocuries per liter of air in the system. If you get a crack in that fan now it’s pushing that into the living area. So short of the fan there’s something cracking it’s not really hurting anything to have the fan inside the house, but you theoretically could run into a problem. There have been issues with that, and that’s why they decided that the fan cannot be in the living area. Now if you keep it in the garage or if you keep it in the attic the fan will last longer, because we are outside. We do live in Wisconsin. The attics are cold, but at least it’s a little more protected in the attic or the garage.
Bob: The outdoor elements aren’t hitting it.
Scott: Right, the outdoor elements aren’t hitting it.
Paul: Scott, I was going to mention, besides everything we’ve mentioned, too, you are a home inspector, so anything that mechanical in the house that people have questions with from the furnace to whatever, electrical, plumbing. You look at everything, the roof, you look at the foundation. They can call in right now, our listeners, with questions. Chris Mancuso with Accurate Basement Repair, I think that’s your website, too, Chris.
[11:08] Chris: Absolutely, Accurate Basement Repair.com.
Paul: Everything from foundation . . .
Chris: Restoration, waterproofing.
Paul: Waterproofing can be . . .
Chris: Steel beam installation, that kind of thing. Today is a good time and we’ll talk a little bit about how to look at your sump pump discharge if you have one, and how to be . . .
Scott: Those things freeze in the winter, too.
Chris: Absolutely, Scott, and those are things you should look for right now, before it gets even colder and it does freeze. Because once it freezes, it’s very challenging to thaw that out. And what would really stink is that if your house is for sale and they’re doing the walk through and all of a sudden there’s the sound of water falling, it’s because the pipes and hoses are frozen.
Paul: Bad timing.
Bob: Yeah, it’s not good.
Paul: I’m sure Bob’s been in those tourism homes as an example.
Bob: Yeah, I’ve seen just about everything.
Paul: A pile of dog poop lying there.
Bob: As soon as I say I’ve seen everything I see something else, so I’ll never say that.
Paul: Someday you’ll write a book, and we can read all these stories.
Bob: I am writing a book.
Paul: Are you really? On home repairs?
Bob: No, it’s actually more based on I had some guy call up and used some words that I can’t use on the radio, something about one of my repairs, left fingerprints on his attic hatch, and that was the whole of it. He was very upset about that, and that kind of started the whole . . . all these customers are calling up with these ridiculous things, so that’s really what started it.
Paul: You said yourself, “I should write a book someday.”
Bob: I am.
Paul: So now you are. Is it going to be done soon?
Bob: Well, who knows on that one? But I’ve been actively working on it.
Paul: We’ll promote that on the air when you’re done.
Bob: We’ll do that.
Paul: We’ll give copies away, or sell them; whatever you want to do.
Bob: Preferably sell them.
Paul: All right, let’s get some callers fired up now. The lines are wide open. Here’s the number to call WISN, Chris Mancuso is here from Accurate Basement Repair. All of those foundations and basement waterproofing questions, drain tiles, sump pumps, along with Scott LeMarr from Honest Home Inspections. Bob is here from Redefined Realty to answer questions on how all of this affects your home sale, or if you’re a buyer and you have a question. Any real estate question is welcome. Give us a call at 799-1130. The Accurate, Accunet Mortgage; I butchered that name.
Bob: The Accurate . . .
Paul: I’m combining your company with theirs. It’s the Accunet Mortgage toll free line at 800-838-WISN. So we have lines wide open; you can call in right now with questions on your home and let’s tackle some of these questions when we come back.
How did you like that Bears game, Bob?
Bob: Oh, wasn’t that wonderful?
Paul: It got better . . .
Bob: 42 to 0 at halftime; what more could you dream?
Paul: That’s part of the game.
Chris: Actually, I dozed off before that.
Paul: Well at halftime I was kind of feeling . . .
Bob: And I watched it at my favorite Bear’s fans house, too, so it was even better.
Paul: It was brutal. It was just brutal. The thing is when it all hit home with me, that camera shot of Rodgers when they were kind of laughing. Did you notice that? And you want the other team laughing at you, you know; that’s when you’ve hit an all-time low. And it wasn’t like a laugh as in like this, it’s just like oh my gosh, I can’t believe we’re killing them like this. I think that was after Clay Matthews just killed that reverse, eight yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Bob: That’s beautiful.
Paul: That was a thing of beauty. We will talk Packers at the end of the show as we always do. For now, a quick break, and we’re going to come back and tackle some of your questions on NewsTalk 1130 WISN. It’s a Remodeling show, and I’m your host, Paul Kronforst. It is warming up a little bit. Sunshine and 21 degrees; we’re getting snow tonight. We’ll be right back on WISN.
Welcome back to the Redefined Realty Show. Do you want to be the expert in your neighborhood? Visit Redefined Realty.com and click on the red “my neighborhood” button. Tell us where you live and we’ll send you real time market updates straight to your email. You’ll be the expert in your neighborhood.
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[15:44] Paul: Back on NewsTalk 1130 WISN, let’s get to the phones and take a couple of phone calls. Bob Tarantino here from Redefined Realty as we continue the program with our guests Scott LeMarr from Honest Home Inspections, and Chris Mancuso joins us today as well, with Accurate Basement Repair. This is your chance to call in and get your home improvement questions answered here at WISN, as Gary is first up from Milwaukee. Good morning.
[16:10] Gary: Hi, this is Gary.
Paul: Hi, Gary.
Gary: I have a question; we have a big old farmhouse out in the country, and we don’t particularly use the basement, but this year we’re going to be doing some work down there. I want to determine if there’s any chance we have radon in there. Are those test kits you get from the big box stores accurate enough to determine if you have a problem and then go from there?
Scott: Those kits are not bad. The biggest issue with why we use the digital equipment is because the digital equipment is more accurate. However those kits will still work. They just can’t be used in a real estate transaction. So for your purposes, yes, I would get that. And then if you’re right on the edge or whether or not it’s close to that four number or not, we can come out and do the digital. But they are pretty accurate.
Bob: The reason that the kits that you buy don’t work so well in real estate transactions is because often times the person doing the radon testing would put it down in the basement where they want it, and we’d find it out on the back patio the next day.
Paul: Like cheating the system?
Scott: Yeah, these electronic digital machines now, they know if you move the machine or any kind of air and humidity changes and all that stuff, so you can’t cheat them.
Chris: Yeah, and make sure you keep your doors and windows closed in there.
Scott: You know, that’s a really good point and we’ll bring up the fact that some people have tried to thwart the test by opening the windows, and if you open the right windows what happens is you create a vacuum inside that house and you’re numbers are higher. And a lot of people think that you’re numbers are going to be lower.
Paul: Backfires on you.
Scott: But for your purposes, certainly you can use those kits and if you end up with high radon give our office a call and we’re happy to get you to the right people to be able to put a system in for you.
Gary: Sounds good, thanks a lot.
Scott: Thanks, Gary.
Paul: Gary, we appreciate your phone call, and remember Chris is here to talk about foundations and your basement as we enter into the cold months, Chris.
[18:03] Chris: Absolutely.
Paul: Any advice for homeowners, things that they should be doing?
Chris: Well we’re going to talk about the sump pump discharger, and we were talking about it on break a little bit. And today is a great day to go out and take a look at your sump pump discharge if you have one. And make sure that it is extended away from the house, and that should be at all times of the year. And the tube that you use to extend it should be at least four inches in diameter, because if it’s too narrow a tube, it will freeze over winter and that’s when you’ll get that backup and your pump just won’t run.
Paul: Yeah, I always see those, maybe a two-inch tube that’s sticking out a couple of feet from the house and that’s about 99% of them out there it seems.
Scott: Well, people will add that two-inch pipe onto that and they’ll go out twenty feet away from the house. That two-inch pipe will freeze, and it will back up when you have that four-inch pipe that Chris is talking about. Now you’ve got a scenario there where if it does freeze, which is highly won’t because of the size of the pipe; but if it does then it’s got a place to go.
Chris: Remember, you’re sliding or looking to do a slide up like a four inch pipe over that two inch that sticks out of your house. Because if you go out there now, you’ll probably have a two-inch pipe that sticks out maybe two feet or so.
Paul: I do, that’s exactly what my house has, Chris.
Chris: And then you would slide the larger four-inch pipe over that, and it helps insulate that small section of pipe and gives the chance for the water to be extended out further.
Paul: You can buy those at home improvement stores. And it’s not the black hose thing that we see like extensions for downspouts, right?
Chris: Well you can use the black stuff. You have to make sure that it is not perforated with holes at all.
Paul: I just saw that, yeah. Why are you chuckling over there?
Chris: Those are easier to get in your car, because you can kind of bend them and roll them and throw them in your car. But the best one is a rigid-type pipe, which would be called a schedule 30 or 40. It’s going to be either a light green, which is a little thinner tube, or it’s going to be the white stuff that you would see underneath the ground sometimes.
Paul: Like a PVC pipe, basically, and it fits snugly over that two-inch pipe, you’re saying.
Chris: It doesn’t fit snug, but it slides right over it.
Paul: Oh, it does.
Chris: It’s not the prettiest, Paul, but it really will help tremendously at keeping that from freezing.
Bob: Chris, what about a heating coil kind of thing, like you’d use in your rain gutters?
Chris: That does work, but they’ll take a tremendous amount of energy, and then you still have to be conscientious enough to plug it in.
Chris: And then it needs to be turned on. They do have something you can run off a thermostat which does work fairly well. And if you have a problem where it’s still freezing after you have put on that extension, then you should look at putting on that power type assisted, because a lot of times you don’t even know that it’s frozen.
Chris: All of a sudden it’s spring and you’re like, man, I had some water over winter during the spring thaw. The pipe was frozen.
Paul: So that pipe freezes; it goes into the house backed onto the sump pump. At some point the freezing stops, right?
Bob: At some point the sump can no longer push that ice out.
Paul: So it’s trying to check the water and then it just backs up, and that’s where the problem has started.
Chris: And the pump will burn out.
Paul: And all this takes is putting on that extension.
Chris M: The pump will burn out and then you’ll have your spring thaws and now you’re really in trouble.
Scott: At this time of year, though, we’re not really going to get rain probably anymore, so you have snow that’s going to come eventually. Is it more like water from ground thaw that’s coming down at this time of year, or is it water coming up from beneath the surface?
Chris: Unless you have a high water table, you won’t be experiencing a lot of water continually for the next few months. But you want to be prepared for that spring thaw, and sometimes you don’t realistically, in Wisconsin we’ve had spring thaws in December . . .
Paul: Oh, December and January, and all of a sudden it gets up to 55 one day.
Chris: Or for a week and then you’re like, oh boy, and then in a couple of days. It only takes a day of so . . .
Paul: Well, I have golfed on Christmas Day, it was a long time ago, but I remember it got up to about 52.
Bob: What I’ve heard, too, and I don’t know maybe I’m wrong about this, but as we get into winter here the ground kind of dries out a little bit, and then it freezes. And if we do get one of those thaws, isn’t it easier for the water to kind of just slide right down the side of the house, because sometimes there’s just more space in between?
Chris: That is true, and why we talk all the time about creating a lot, about keeping the water away, and that’s why when Scott goes out for a home inspection, they are always bringing that up, because when that ground is frozen, like you mentioned, Bob, it’ll just slide right back toward the house. And then you hope that slides down the side of the wall that’s waterproofed and then into your drain tile system.
Paul: The good news there, that’s an easy fix as a home owner. The grade can be corrected.
Chris: It can be corrected.
Scott: It can be. It’s just a lot of people are careful not to get too close to the siding; we’re supposed to have that 6 to 8 inches from siding to soil as well.
Bob: If you do get too close to the siding, what happens?
Scott: There are a lot of different things that happen at that point. But what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to protect the sill plate, the sill plate is what the house is on. That’s the first board that goes in between the foundation and the house, and if you rot out that sill plate the only way to fix that is to jack up the house and replace that. So it’s kind of an expensive endeavor. But aside from that there are actually a lot of insects that can’t climb those six to eight inches. Well, if you bring the soil right up to the sill plate, you’re giving them a ride . . .
Paul: You’re giving them a little ramp into the house. What about mice, too?
Scott: Well mice can climb those six to eight inches without a problem.
Paul: And they can find a narrow opening and get in.
Scott: We have gotten a lot of complaints about mice right now, too. People are calling me up and saying, “Well there weren’t any mice when I bought the house and now I have mice. What are you going to do about it?”
Chris: And remember, as a home inspector you’re responsible for that house for the next 38 years.
Scott: And you know, we just had somebody, too, in regards to mice. You know they put the Decon pellets out or whatever the mouse poison stuff is. You have to make sure you don’t get that anywhere pets can get at it. One of our employees actually had a bit of a pet problem with the dog getting into some of that poison. That was an ER visit for the dog.
Scott: If you put that mouse poison out and you have pets or kids or anybody what can get close to it, change that situation. Put it somewhere else.
Paul: Cats are fine, right? I know we have a lot of cats, and I thought I’d throw that in there. If cats get in it that’s not a problem, that’s a joke.
Bob: All the cat lovers are going to call.
Paul: I’m just joking, but you can tell I’m not a fan of cats. Hey, speaking of Decon pellets, what I found with those, they work. The mice eat them and they go off and they die somewhere. And I can smell them. That decaying dying body corpse smell is awful. It’s horrible.
Chris: You go get them and they’ll die in the walls and you’ll be dealing with that for quite a while.
Paul: The sticky trap has given me tremendous success in the last couple of months, by the way.
Chris: Most of the mice that come in come in through the sill plate that Scott talked about. It’s a very convenient area for them to go up, in between that siding.
Paul: So where do they actually get in, Chris?
Chris: Well sometimes there’s a gap, especially if there’s wall movement. If your wall moves in, if your wall displaces, sometimes it’ll buckle and it will cantilever out the siding that’s above it, or wood or whatever it might be.
Paul: So they find that little narrow gap and they just squeeze into your basement.
Scott: You know, one of the things that a home owner can do is typically down in the basement; there’s an area between the floor and the foundation called the sill box. And if you pull the insulation out of that and the insulation has some black in there, that’s air coming in from the outside and it’s carrying the dirt with it. So it’s a good place for you to see that there’s air coming in there. What I did with my house is I caulked all those areas.
Paul: From the inside or outside?
Scott: From the inside, and then I put the insulation back.
Paul: So get up in that little, what’s it called, a sill box?
Scott: Yeah, that’s where your box sill . . .
Paul: A box sill. I just reversed it. And I know exactly what you’re talking about, so take it out and go up there and caulk. That might help keep the mice out.
Scott: That’s actually where the mice are going to hang out, too. If you put poison, don’t put the poison down on the floor. You have to put it up in those box sills.
Paul: That’s where there’s water, too, for them. I suppose that insulation keeps them warm, like a little bed.
Scott: Absolutely. A lot of times you’ll look in that insulation and you’ll see a little round quarter-sized hole. That’s telling you that that’s where the mice are.
Paul: Digging some trails.
Scott: I see that in attics a lot. We see these little perfectly round quarter-sized holes.
Paul: Well mice can do damage, wiring and electrical stuff, right?
Scott: Most of the time they’re really not doing anything, just hanging out and leaving their excrement behind.
Paul: Can I tell a cool sticky trap story, and then we’ll take a break. I had the Mom up on top, and about six little ones right behind her, and all just squirming. I felt horrible.
Scott: The women are being repulsed.
Paul: I’m sorry. It’s never me, but I don’t want to live with mice. Chris is next from Muskego. Chris, good morning.
[26:45] Chris from Muskego: How you doing?
Chris from Muskego: Very good. I have a question; I’m getting water coming in my basement and it’s looking like it’s coming from the cracks in the floor. My father-in-law who knows everything is telling me we open a crack and we’re getting a smell like sewage smell, so I’m kind of confused, because it’s not really coming from the drain tile area, but we have this smell. Any ideas what it could be?
Chris: Well, is the water clear or is it a little cloudy?
Chris from Muskego: Yeah, it looks a little cloudy.
Chris: My guess is you probably have a broken sewer lateral beneath your floor somewhere. Maybe your father-in-law isn’t too far off. When you get that kind of smell, water from your drain tile system usually won’t be the culprit. That water is clean. So it’s just either ground water or water that comes from the surface, so there really shouldn’t be any smell to it. The only other tie you’ll get a smell in there, which you should look for and I hate to bring this up again about mice, but . . .
Paul: I was just going to ask if rodents get in the water.
Chris: But take a good look in there and see if there are mice in there. And that’ll give off a smell. But if it’s not, and this discolors the water also, but if not you’re getting kind of a sewage type of smell or anything like that, it is probably a sewer lateral beneath the floor. And that’s something that we don’t do, but the best suggestion is you want to get a company that can go in and check that sewer lateral and maybe snake it out first and scope it out. There are a couple of good reliable companies. We usually go to a company called Twenty-four Seven. That’s the name of the company that we use pretty regularly, because we don’t do in house. I would seek out their advice and you can find them on the Internet or what have you.
Paul: Not to get too gross, Chris, but do you think the smell is a sewage smell. Everybody knows how sewage smells, right? Is that where you’re going, Chris? I’m talking to Chris, our caller, because we have two Chrises here. But do you think that’s what it is, Chris, when you smell it?
Chris from Muskego: Yeah, there’s a possibility, you know, it’s kind of confusing because it’s not coming up by the drain tile, but it is coming up by the floor area, so that kind of does make more sense. It could be a sewer backup, because when we’re getting rain I know that would cause our drain tile too.
Paul: Chris, if that’s the case, is that something he needs to have looked at right away?
Chris: Yes, you should have that looked at right away. I would call Twenty-four Seven, they do a nice job. And they’ll come out and take a look at it. Because if it’s sewage, you know, especially coming up from the center of the floor, if you look in your house, too, you’ll see where your stack comes down and then you can see where your sewer cleanout is. If it’s coming out of cracks like in between those two, then you know, it depends, because if it’s bath water it doesn’t smell as bad.
Scott: That’s called gray water, but when you add toilets, now you’re looking at a whole different type of material that’s going in there. There are several plumbers that can run a camera down in there, and they can tell you where the break is, if there is a break. And that probably would be your next step.
Chris: Yeah, definitely you need to have someone come out.
Chris from Muskego: I’ll start with this Twenty-four Seven drain cleaning.
Paul: Are they in Milwaukee, Chris?
Chris: Yes, they are in Milwaukee. They do Milwaukee, Oak Creek.
Bob: Roscoe Plumbing, Rotorooter; they all have cameras as well, too, and they’re very good.
Paul: Good luck, Chris, and thank you for calling.
Chris from Muskego: Thanks.
Paul: You bet; we appreciate the question. We’re going to be right back on WISN; another segment with our guests, Chris Mancuso from Accurate Basement Repair, and of course, Inspector Gadget. Spencer, do we have some gadget bumper music cued up here? You’re all over that, huh? Coming up? Don’t forget about that. Honest Home Inspections.com is Scott’s website. Bob is here from Redefined Realty, and his site is Redefined Realty.com. We’ll talk more about the 3.99%. And we have a guest, a new guest to talk about next hour. We’ll cover all that when we come back on WISN. If you have questions, call us quickly and we’ll get to those right after this.
Man: Welcome back to the Redefined Realty Show. We have 15 experienced full-time agents waiting to meet you. Just click the green “List Now” button at Redefined Realty.com or call our office for an appointment at 262-732-5800. It’s a hot market like this, and a 3.99% closing commission makes a ton of sense. Stay tuned the guys are coming back on right now.
[31:45] Paul: The Inspector Gadget theme; that’s just for you, Scott, by request, Scott LeMarr from Honest Home Inspections. Joining us from Accurate Basement Repair is Chris Mancuso, and of course Bob Tarantino from Redefined Realty. Bob, we have a lot of questions focused today, kind of the theme of it’s now winter. I know it’s officially fall, but come on, it was 14 when I woke up today.
Bob: It’s cold.
Paul: It’s 21, so we’re in it.
Bob: Yeah, we’re in it. It’s here for the next couple of months for sure. And we’re going to have people ask us about what they should do with their house being for sale this winter. Should they take it off the market or leave it on the market? I can tell you that up to this point we’ve never been so busy in November. It’s absolutely been crazy so far this year.
I know Colleen, my wife, just took on I think four new listings just in the past week. So that’s good. We’re running around with buyers like crazy still, so you know, sometimes what happens, if you guys remember, the first three months of this year was like 20 below zero every single day. Well, people kind of waited and delayed their home sales, and their buying and all that. And maybe what’s going to happen is that delay is going to kind of carry through now into November, December, and January, until at some point we’ll get smacked. But until that point it seems like it’s really busy still. And I think that’s good for everybody that’s still got their house on the market and still wants to try to get that property sold.
Paul: Those furnaces, Scott, are working overtime with this cold weather. Any suggestions along the lines of looking at your furnace? I know the recommendation is once a year typically, to have it looked at, right, and tuned up?
Scott: I usually say based on the age of the furnace. I usually say about every two to three years is good, but once you reach that 15-year mark, you should have that done every year. And there are some furnaces out there that are better than others, and some need a little more attention. And there’s no way for the furnace guy to even tell you; he’s going to look at it and say, “Everything looks good.” And then Christmas Eve hits and you don’t have any heat, and you’re going to be upset with him. But it’s like your car; there are a lot of things that you just can’t predict. And the furnaces are so complicated anymore. Typically you look at a furnace and you think of gas and flame, and they are so computerized. There are so many safety issues in these things. There’s a board in there, there’s a computer board. There’s a chip.
Chris M: I this something that we could do, like you know, Bob, Paul or myself? Is there something that we could do as homeowners, the filters?
Scott: Filters are huge, and I was just going to say that. Make sure those filters are clean. That furnace works so hard when that filter’s dirty. And the little one-inch filter is typically a 30-day filter. In my Mom’s apartment I can get away with about 90 days for that filter. Pull the filter out and if it’s white, then it’s good. If it’s gray, then it needs to be replaced. The four-inch filters will typically last anywhere between six months to a year, based on whether you have kids or pets, shedding dogs, shedding cats. They do make a big difference in a filter and how often you replace that filter.
Bob: I have a filter question for you.
Paul: All right, so the older furnaces that are still around, remember those blue filters where it was just like fishing line kind of looking stuff in there?
Scott: Yeah, the stuff that you can see through?
Paul: Yeah. Does it do anything?
Scott: You know, the manufacturers prefer those filters because of performance of the furnace is higher, because it doesn’t have air restriction. When I took a furnace class at WCTC my instructor said that the only thing that stops is elephants.
Bob: Right. So if you have those, depending on your furnace I suppose, you should probably consider changing to the white ones.
Scott: I use the MERV 7 or MERV 8 type of thing, and that’s the amount of filtration that goes through that.
Paul: You know there are a lot of people listening right now that haven’t changed it in well over a year.
Scott: Yes, change that filter. And another thing that a lot of people do is they’ll get these pollen filters, the really heavy filtration filter, the MERV 30 or something like that.
Chris: They’re the ones with the pleats in it?
Scott: Well, most of them have pleats. All of them should have pleats. If you’re not using a pleated filter, that’s one of the first things to start with. But don’t put a filter in that’s too restrictive to the furnace. Again, that furnace is going to work just as hard as if it’s a plugged filter.
Paul: Costing more money, because it’s not as efficient?
Scott: I would rather see you buy the $6 or $7 filter and replace it more often.
Paul: WE Energy is just announced a general rate hike across the board, right, just $7 or $8 a month, something like that? So we’re fighting that, of course, and then the general prices of heating the home going up. So you want it to be operating as efficiently as possible.
Chris: How do you know which one to take? I change my filter regularly, because I have allergies pretty bad.
Bob: Same here.
Chris: I usually buy the best filter I can when I go buy those.
Scott: You can be restricting your furnace when you do that.
Chris: Is there a rating on that furnace?
Paul: You’re spending too much money, Chris.
Chris: We’ll eat macaroni and cheese.
Scott: It’s called a MERV rating, and what that does is that’s the amount of filtration that the filter picks up. There’s a really unique product that one of my furnace guys is putting in that I like real well and that’s a UV light that you can put into your plenum. And that will kill mold spores and some pollen, too, I think. But that’s a pretty slick product. It’s not cheap, but it works really well for those types of situations. But I would rather see you put in the cheaper filter and change it more often. I’m sure there are going to be someone that’s going to call me and tell me that I’m wrong on that one, but this is just my opinion in what I see and what I know about furnaces. I would rather see this. I’m an indoor air quality guy, so I’ve studied a certain amount of this, too.
Paul: That’s what Chris said, with those allergies, I’ve got allergies and asthma, too. If you have pets, even more so you need to replace that filter.
Scott: Yes, because they will plug up faster, as well as your ducts. Having your ducts clean is another one. We’re going to start running humidifiers pretty soon here, too, and if you kick that humidifier on because it’s going to get dry, and what that humidifier is doing is dumping moist air into your ducts. Well ducts are typically made out of galvanized material, and mold doesn’t grow on galvanized. What’s inside of that duct? Dust is for the most part human skin. You know, we have hair and dander and all this other stuff.
Paul: Dead skin?
Scott: And we’re going to run warm moist air into a dark area, and what do you think is going to happen then? We’re going to grow things, and then people are getting sick in the house. So having those ducts cleaned is really important.
Paul: And that air is blowing over that, so those spores are coming right into our house, and we’re bringing it in.
Paul: And you can have those looked at with cameras, too, right? They can take a peek?
Scott: Yeah, both of the guys that we work with have cameras, and they’ll give you a before and after. They’ll run it through before and then they’ll give you an after so you know how clean that duct is when you’re done.
Bob: A little bit of money-saving advice for everybody, too, probably the last ten years now I’ve been buying my furnace filters online, delivered right to the house and they’re cheaper than you can even get them at any big box store.
Chris: You can get them and save money now.
Paul: Good idea, that’s a good one. I like that.
Bob: I usually buy a case at a time anyway.
Paul: And if you change them every month, you go through 12 in a year.
Paul: It makes sense. Good advice today. We’re going to give the websites and phone numbers for both Honest Home Inspections, Scott LeMarr’s company, and Chris Mancuso is here with Accurate Basement Repair. We’ll give out some phone numbers and web information and then tell you about next hour on WISN.
Man: Good morning, this is the Redefined Realty Show. Join us every Saturday at 9:00 a.m. to get critical market updates and find out where interest rates are heading and talk to our industry experts about things happening right here in your neighborhood. This show is live and your phone calls are not just welcomed, but appreciated, at 414-799-1130. Before we get started, just a quick message from our sponsors.
Woman: Landmark Credit Union is one of Wisconsin’s leading mortgage lenders with low rates and no closing costs for first-time home buyers. Visit Landmark CU.com or call 262-796-4500. Landmark Credit Union, you’re worth more here.
[39:50] Chris: Hi, Chris Mancuso here at Accurate Basement Repair. At Accurate Basement Repair we fix your basement issues. Take a good look at your basement, check the walls for cracking, and look down low for any signs of seepage. Don’t risk your biggest investment. Accurate Basement Repair is your resource for foundation restoration and waterproofing. Call Accurate Basement Repair at 414-744-6900, that’s 414-744-6900. Estimates are always free.
John: Are you ready to start raking and doing fall cleanup? If you are in the Cornerstone Development ranch-style condominium neighborhood you’d be doing be living a lifestyle without those hassles. John Weyland here, inviting you to stop by and tour our clubhouse and models at any of our locations, including Sussex, and Mukwonago. Open every day of the week. You can find the directions on our website, Cornerstone Development.com. It’s time for you to enjoy that new lifestyle.
[41:07] Paul: We are back on NewsTalk 1130 WISN. Quickly before the news here, Bob, you wanted to pass along some current interest rates that we do once a show every week.
Bob: I’m on the Landmark Credit Union.com website here, the 30-year fixed rate as they are showing right now remains at 3.99%.
Paul: Wow, it’s still under 4%.
Bob: Isn’t that unbelievable?
Paul: And we don’t know when it’s going up, we say that every time. They continue to remain under 4% for 30-year fixed. What’s the 15-year fixed?
Bob: 2.99 on a 15 year fixed. It’s darned near free money. You can go out to the adjustable rates, and even so, it’s Landmark Credit Union on a 7 year ARM 3.375%; on a five-year ARM 2.99%. And for a lot of people it makes sense, you know, if you’re going to buy a house and you know full well you’re only going to stay there a couple of years, there’s no point in taking out a fixed-rate mortgage. With an adjustable rate they’ll still amortize it over 30 years, but you only have a rate lock for seven years. Well if you know you’re moving in less than seven years, why take out the fixed?
Paul: That’s the benchmark, seven years.
Bob: Yeah. Well for most people they don’t know for sure; they don’t have a game plan as to when they’re going to move next. But there are a lot of people that are buying their first house and they’re, “Okay, we’re going to stay here three, four, five years and then buy another one,” so they’ll take out the adjustable rate.
Paul: Before we’re done with hour one, I want to mention we have a new guest next hour, Bob. You’re excited about this?
Bob: Oh yeah, it’ll be a lot of fun. Rob Frey from Guthrie and Frey. We’re going to talk well inspections and water testing, and there are some new things that just happened in the state of Wisconsin as of October 1st that if you’re selling a house you’re going to want to know, so Rob’s going to be here next hour to talk about it.
Paul: The first time on the show, so we’re looking forward to next hour with Rob in the studio. We want to thank our guests this hour, Scott LeMarr, Inspector Gadget. It’s been great having you back on.
Scott: I’m always happy to be here, and have a great time.
Paul: You have your main website, which is Honest Home Inspections.com.
Paul: Now on there I’ll find the other links, but you can also check out Milwaukee Mold Inspector.com, and Milwaukee Radon Testing.com. We’ve even had a couple of calls on radon today.
Scott: We did. And it’s a big thing here in southeast Wisconsin.
Paul: Scott, we thank you for your time. What’s your phone number if we want to call?
Scott: 262-424-5587, 262-424-5587. We usually answer the phone until 8:00 p.m.
Paul: Thank you, Scott.
Scott: Thank you.
Paul: Once again we thank Chris Mancuso, Accurate Basement Repair.com is your website, Chris.
Paul: You’re located right down by the airport.
Chris: Right by the airport. You can come window shop if you’d like. Not too many people window shop for basement repair, but feel free.
Paul: That sounds like fun.
Chris: We can eat lunch or something over there.
Paul: What’s your phone number?
Chris: It’s 414-744-6900, and don’t forget to check your sump pumps today, the discharges. That’s the tip of the day.
Paul: A good time to do it. Thanks for your time. Accurate Basement Repair.com.
Now a quick break for news and your weekend forecast which includes a little snow coming tonight. Right now sunshine and 21 degrees.