Learn how to make overnight guests comfortable when they stay for the holidays, Keep your home safe with fire resistant insulation. Learn about a sensing switch that can help save on your electric bill by automatically turning off when not in use. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, appliance cleaning, houses on slabs, kitchen countertop options, painting paneling, sheetrock, ceiling installation, eliminating rodents, winterization, kitchen remodeling.
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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects, help solve the do-it-yourself dilemmas. Are you getting your house ready for the hordes? It’s just a few days away, folks. Thanksgiving is just about here and if you’ve got some folks coming to visit for the holiday or maybe you’re hitting the road, we can help you get your house ready: either ready to leave or ready to entertain. Pick up the phone and call us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
And if you’re hosting lots of folks, we’ve got some tips this hour on how you can create a cozy guest space in just about any room of your home. And most importantly, you can take it apart just as soon as they leave.
LESLIE: And the trick here is to make it not so cozy where they don’t want to stay forever but cozy enough where they’re comfortable.
TOM: Exactly. Yeah. Now, here’s a good plan: you get one of those Sleep Number beds and you start it off by making it really soft and cozy. And then when they’re not looking, every night you make it harder and harder and harder.
LESLIE: You adjust it.
TOM: And by the third day, they won’t be able to take it anymore and they’ll leave.
LESLIE: That’s a good trick, actually. Or one of those air mattresses suddenly springs a leak.
TOM: Yes, exactly.
LESLIE: You’ve just unplugged it.
TOM: Oh, too bad. [Don’t anymore] (ph).
LESLIE: Well, guys, on a more serious note, this is also the season when the number of house fires really starts to go up. So this hour, we’ve got the tops on new trends in fire-resistant building materials that can slow the spread of fire and help keep your family safe.
TOM: And do you or perhaps your kids ever tend to forget to turn the lights off when you leave a room? Well, we’ve all done it. In this hour, we’re going to tell you a way to make sure that never happens again. We’ve got info on a new sensing switch that will turn the lights on when you walk into a room and off when you leave.
LESLIE: And also this hour, we’re giving away a great item for the holiday season. I mean we’re all away a lot this time of year. So we’ve got up for grabs a wireless home security system from SimpliSafe. And it requires no telephone line and no lengthy contract and it’s a prize worth $330.
TOM: So, give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: We’ve got new homeowner Jane from California on the line who’s owning a different house than usual this time and has some questions. What can we do for you, Jane?
JANE: Hi. Thank you guys so much for taking my call. It’s a real treat to get to talk to you.
JANE: Well, I sold my money pit in the country and I bought a house in town.
TOM: Oh, good for you.
JANE: And it’s built on a slab; you know, it’s built on concrete.
JANE: And I’ve never had a house that way. And I probably should have done some checking before but I’ve got it now. And I just wanted to know, are there particular things that I need to be concerned about or be aware of or to watch out for? And I live in earthquake country. What do you know about houses built on a slab?
TOM: Well, it’s actually a very common way to build a house and here where we live in the Northeast, it’s extremely typical. You either have homes that are built on slabs, on crawlspaces or on full basements. And it’s a perfectly normal way to build a house. It’s completely structurally stable.
Of course, it’s a little inconvenient if you want to run a new set of pipes for a bathroom or something like that if you can’t get …
LESLIE: Or move all of your plumbing systems completely.
TOM: Right. Because you can’t get under it. But it’s a perfectly fine system.
I will say this, Jane: do you have any problems with termites in your area of the country?
JANE: No. Where I live, it’s adobe soil and the termites really don’t like it very much.
TOM: OK. Pretty dry. Yeah. Because in where we live, it’s hard to spot them when they get into the slab and they do get into the slabs. You may be in an area where they have drywood termites and it’s not as much of an issue. So I think you have nothing to worry about living on a slab.
TOM: It’s just the way it’s done in your part of the country and it should be perfectly comfortable and perfectly stable for you for many years to come.
LESLIE: If you are looking at changing any of the flooring that is on top of the slab, directly on your first floor, there are certain things you need to keep in mind: that you can’t use a traditional hardwood because it will warp and twist. So, laminates or engineered hardwoods are best for you or stone or tile: anything that’s not going to react with the moisture that’s just naturally inherent with a concrete slab.
JANE: What kind of wood did you say?
LESLIE: Engineered hardwood or a laminate. An engineered hardwood is sort of like a plywood base where it’s built up in layers of opposing grain and then the top is the actual hardwood veneer. And that’s structurally stable.
JANE: OK. OK. Well, that’s good to know. Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate your show a lot. I learn so much from you.
TOM: Oh, you’re very welcome, Jane. Good luck with that new house and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Charles in Iowa needs some help in the laundry room, like most men do. Charles, what’s going on?
CHARLES: Hey. About a year ago, I bought my wife a front-loading washer and dryer and thought I was doing something really good after the kind of the Thanksgiving sale, Black Friday event. And ever since then, our clothes and the washer just smells really musty.
And I have done a lot of research on the internet and I quit using the liquid fabric softener. I’ve cut our utilities back a whole lot. I’ve used the little pills: the thing that you’re supposed to put in there. I’ve used Borax, I’ve used Simple Green. I’ve done it every month, I’ve tried it every week and my wife is ready for me just to get rid of these things and go back to a top-load washing machine. And I’m wanting to know, is there anything I can do to get this smell out of the washer and off the clothes?
LESLIE: Now, when you’re washing the clothes, are you immediately putting them in the dryer or are they sort of sitting for a little bit?
CHARLES: They’re probably sitting sometimes for a bit but even when they don’t sit, the towels are always smelling like that and the drum smells like that. I mean I even saw one place that I was researching that the kind of the answer from the manufacturer was when you’re not using your washer, leave your door open.
TOM: Now, most of the time when you have odors with front-load washing machines, it’s the door seal itself. Now, have you attempted to thoroughly clean the door seal using a bleach-based product, turning it inside out and cleaning the seal?
LESLIE: And getting in all of those different layers and nooks and crannies.
TOM: Nooks and crannies.
LESLIE: Because that’s what happens: the water and the detergent all sit in that seal and then it just stinks to high heaven.
CHARLES: No, I haven’t done the seal. I did take it apart and clean the filter out and so – and there really wasn’t anything in there. I haven’t – no, I haven’t cleaned the door seal or anything like that.
TOM: Well, I suspect that the newer seals are addressing this. It’s sort of like the worst-kept secret of the appliance-manufacturing business, that these front-loading machines do smell. But they’re also very, very efficient, so the way they’re built is quite different than what you would see in a typical laundromat.
LESLIE: And I think with a laundromat, they’re used so frequently. And having lived in Manhattan and Queens for many, many, many years, if you walk by when a laundromat’s closed, every washing machine’s door is wide open.
CHARLES: It just sounds like a whole lot more work. And I know that I’m saving some money on electricity and water and all that stuff but …
LESLIE: Oh, completely.
TOM: Definitely. So I think this is all going to come out well. You’re just going to have a bit more maintenance to do than what you anticipated. But what we’re going to try to do is get you doing the right maintenance steps to make that odor go away and keeping you and your wife happy.
CHARLES: Alright. Thank you, guys, for all your help.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, learn how to create a holiday guest space that will keep family and friends comfortable during their visit. We’ll be back with more of your calls, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron 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 takes only about 15 minutes to install. For easy upgrades with big impact, choose Lutron. Visit ChooseLutron.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement questions. You know, Thanksgiving is next week. It begins the holiday madness. You’re going to have lots of guests, you’re going to be traveling a lot, so we’ve got a great prize up for grabs.
It’s a home security system from SimpliSafe. It actually requires no contract, no monthly fees and it costs less than half of what most alarm companies charge. It’s a great prize.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s actually wireless and customizable to any house or apartment. You’re going to get a base, a keypad, two entry sensors and a motion sensor and more. It’s worth 330 bucks. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random at the end of today’s program. So the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us right now with your home improvement question and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Kim in Michigan is on the line with a countertop question. How can we help you?
KIM: We just got a house that we bought and we’re remodeling the kitchen. And I’d like to know what a good, inexpensive countertop would be that is durable and is pretty inexpensive if we’re remodeling on a budget.
TOM: And you have an existing countertop there?
KIM: I do.
TOM: It’s laminate?
KIM: It is.
TOM: Is it structurally in good shape, Kim? Is it – does it have any water damage?
KIM: No, no water damage.
TOM: OK. So, a couple of things come to mind.
First of all, you can relaminate the old laminate. So in other words, you can put another layer of laminate on top of what you have. And there’s more colors and designs than ever before.
So, a carpenter can do that. It has to be a good trim carpenter or a cabinet maker that knows how to glue laminates together. It’s not really hard to do; I’ve done it on a number of countertops myself. Works well.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But you have to take out the sink and …
TOM: Yeah, it’s best if you do it by – like I would – if I was doing it, I would pull the countertop off the cabinets and do it kind of like on a couple of sawhorses.
KIM: OK. Oh, OK.
TOM: It’s just a lot easier to work on it because you can get all the way around it.
The other thing that you could do is think about tiling the countertop. And there’s a product out called Bondera Tile MatSet, which is an adhesive sheet with an adhesive on both sides. And it prevents you from having to use the tile adhesive. You just roll the sheet down, it sticks to the countertop, pull the other side of the protective backing off and you can stick the tiles right on and then grout immediately.
KIM: Well, thank you.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. And by the way, don’t forget the other inexpensive things that you can do in the kitchen, like lighting and changing hardware on cabinets and painting. We’ve got a great article online at MoneyPit.com that gives you all of the inexpensive ways that you need to know to remodel a kitchen on a budget.
KIM: Oh, great. I’ll look that up.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Kim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Roger in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ROGER: I have a home and it has a lot of paneling in it. That is a product called luan.
TOM: Yes, mm-hmm.
ROGER: And at one time, I had some remodeling done and there was a divider between living room, dining room and kitchen. And they took that off and we put sheetrock and sprayed it and then painted it. But there’s still quite a bit in. It’s a split-level entryway, a hallway and then two of the bedrooms. And I was wondering if there was any other application could do instead of having it all taken off and sheetrock put on and …
TOM: Have you considered painting the paneling?
ROGER: Yeah, well, that was my question.
ROGER: Before, I thought – I listen to your program and I thought it’d be a good question to ask somebody.
TOM: It is a good question and it’s definitely a doable project.
TOM: And so many of us are stuck with paneling that’s been put up over the last decades.
TOM: And there’s no reason you can’t paint it. The key is to make sure that you get a good, even coat and so priming is especially important, even though there’s a finished surface and it’s not the kind of material that’s going to absorb. But if you prime it first, then you can paint it.
And I think that we’ve even seen some folks, depending on the style of the paneling, do it with …
LESLIE: And the room.
TOM: And the room. Do it with multiple colors or complementary colors, right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean it really depends. You can make it work. Obviously, there’s a built-in stripe for you. It depends on how you use the space and what your style is, whether you’re going to go with that or not.
Generally, I find that the crispest, cleanest look when you’re painting over paneling is a glossy white.
LESLIE: For some reason, that just gives you a good, neutral base. It really pops. It makes the paneling look not offensive.
LESLIE: And it’s wearable, if you will. It’s something that’ll work with any sort of décor.
ROGER: Mm-hmm. And now, between the paneling – each panel – there is a wooden strip, which would probably – I would take off but – and then that would have to be probably a little gap in there and would have to be filled?
LESLIE: Yeah. If you fill it, though, on a wall surface, that’s never going to stick.
TOM: Why don’t you work the strip into the design? It’ll give you a little depth to it, a little texture to it.
ROGER: OK, we can do that, too. Sure.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Once everything goes white, it sort of just becomes one.
ROGER: Blends right in. Right, right.
ROGER: Well, I appreciate your input. Any particular brand or type of primer you would use?
TOM: I would use a KILZ oil-based primer on the wood.
TOM: Mm-hmm. It’s a little bit more of a hassle to put on but I think it’s going to dry nice, flow well and you’ll be really pleased with the top coat – with the condition of the top coat – after you put the paint on.
ROGER: And then latex would go over that?
TOM: Latex can go on top of that, yep. Mm-hmm.
ROGER: OK. OK.
ROGER: Well, listen, thank you very much. I appreciate your answer.
TOM: You’re welcome, Roger. Good luck with that project in Chippewa Falls. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, the holiday season officially kicks off next week and if you’re preparing for guests, here are a few easy ways to get your house ready.
Now, if you’re going to have overnight visitors, a new mattress set can really help welcome visitors into your home. But if that’s not in your budget right now, you can simply add a mattress topper to the bed. They come in a variety of materials from feather down to cotton. I mean really a lot of choices at a lot of price points. They’re really comfortable and you can get them at any bed-and-bath center.
And if you’ve got one of those bed-and-bath centers near you like I have, look for the coupons in the mail. You can save 20 percent right away.
Now, another option is to pick up an air mattress. These work just as well, especially if you really don’t have a true guest room. Whatever way you do go, you want to make sure that this comfy place to sleep includes plenty of pillows, as well as an extra blanket or comforter because you never know: some people are hot, some people run cold. This way, you’ve got everything just in case they’re chilly.
TOM: Then just add to that maybe a side table or a cabinet with a reading light on and maybe some storage space, a clock and perhaps even a bottle of water and you will really make them feel like they’re at home. But perhaps not too much at home or they won’t want to leave.
Hey, for more tips, head on over to MoneyPit.com and search on “holiday guest spaces.”
LESLIE: Steven in Washington needs some help creating a basement apartment. How can we help you with this project?
STEVEN: I’m converting the basement into an apartment and about half of the wall up is concrete. And I was wondering how to attach the sheetrock to the concrete.
TOM: So you want it to be completely flush when you’re done? In other words, we don’t want to see the concrete when we’re all finished, correct?
TOM: OK. So, first of all, we don’t recommend that you use sheetrock or drywall, because it’s paper-faced. And whenever you do this in a basement situation, you really want to minimize the amount of paper-faced drywall. There’s another product called DensArmor, which is a fiberglass-faced drywall product. And because it’s fiberglass-faced, it can’t grow mold.
You can get that at home centers or lumber yards. You may have to order it but it’s a little more expensive than drywall but definitely, definitely worth using that.
LESLIE: Yeah and it’s made by Georgia Pacific, so if you have any questions about it, head on over to their website. It’s DensArmor and it’s a great product. It’s definitely worth it for a basement space.
TOM: As far as attaching it is concerned, what we would recommend you do is frame the interior of the wall in front of that concrete. You could use metal studs for this and you would attach the drywall right to that surface and not attach it to the concrete itself. This helps minimize the amount of moisture transfer from – through the concrete and into the wall surface.
Many folks will attach wood strips to the wall and then attach the concrete to the wood strips but now you have a direct moisture connection with the outside. We’d much rather see you put up a frame wall – metal studs or wood studs – and then attach the DensArmor product to that wall structure. You are going to give up just a few inches of floor space but I think it makes for a much neater, better job and one that really is going to have no chance of turning into a mold problem.
STEVEN: Oh, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Steve. Good luck with that project. It sounds like fun. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ann on the line who’s got a ceiling issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
ANN: Well, what happened is I have a large living room. At one time, it had been two rooms and they combined it into one.
ANN: On one of the sections, it has a metal or a tin ceiling. And what I want to do is install a ceiling to match in the other section. I located the manufacturer of the ceiling tile. However, I don’t know who to call to do the installation, because they could not provide me with any ideas. So, should I be looking for a sheet-metal person? Should I look for a tinsmith or a …?
TOM: So you can’t find a tin-ceiling installer in the phone book? Is that what you’re trying to tell us?
ANN: Right. There’s no one listed.
TOM: Listen, it’s not a hard project, Linda. It’s really a job for a carpenter. It’s not a difficult project. A carpenter with a little bit of metalworking experience can handle this. And I’m very impressed that you actually found the product, because it’s a little tough to find.
LESLIE: Yeah, exactly what you’re looking for.
TOM: So I would handle – a good carpenter or a good handyman. Really easy job to install that. And so that’s the way I would take it.
ANN: Oh, thank you ever so much. I really appreciate all your help.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, when building, improving or remodeling, it is always a good idea to consider the fire resistance of the materials you choose. We’re going to have tips on one type of insulation that is guaranteed not to burn, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Roxul, manufacturer of fire-resistant, water-repellent and sound-absorbent home insulation products. Keep your home efficient and comfortable this winter and all year long with Roxul ComfortBatt and Roxul Safe’n’Sound insulations. www.DIYWithRoxul.com. Roxul. That’s R-o-x-u-l.
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.
Well, fall is the perfect time of year to check the energy efficiency of your home. And one place to start is your insulation.
Now, if you’ve got regular fiberglass-batt insulation, that can settle over time and that’s going to lend you to have to add more.
TOM: A better option is Roxul, a stone-wool insulation that doesn’t sag, so it retains its R-value indefinitely. It’s also fire-resistant, sound-absorbent and very energy-efficient. Here to tell us more is Bob Toller from Roxul.
Bob, how does this product really differ from what consumers are used to on the market today?
BOB: When you start comparing us to some of our competition, there’s really three or four things that really set us apart. Number one, being in the unfortunate case that you may have a fire in the house, obviously the number-one goal is to get yourself and your family out safely. And with Roxul insulation between the walls, we provide that added time to get you out of the house safely.
Also, with the materials that were made from – being the basalt rock and the recycled slag, we don’t absorb water and we’re actually water-repellent. And if there is a leak behind the wall – say you have a pipe leak or something like that – you can actually take the sheetrock off, pull the Roxul insulation out of the wall, let it dry and put it right back in the wall. Obviously, if you don’t absorb water, therefore you don’t promote the growth of mold or mildew. You don’t have that going on behind the wall with Roxul insulation.
TOM: Now, one thing that’s interesting about Roxul is that also it is very sound-absorbent. In fact, I found out before we went on the air today that our engineer actually used Roxul when they built out the studio, because it was such a great sound-resistant material. Is this something that you might want to consider if you’ve got – you know, if your kids decide they were going to join a rock band and practice in your basement?
BOB: Number one, that’d be an excellent place to start with it. But with our Safe’n’Sound product, which is our interior-wall, sound-deadening product – excellent for, as you mentioned, the kids putting together the music basement down underneath the main floor of the house, around bathrooms and bedrooms and laundry rooms, et cetera. With the Safe’n’Sound product, made from the exact same thing that the ComfortBatt product is that we just talked about – therefore you’re getting the fire resistance, water resistance but you’re incorporating the sound-deadening properties.
And the difference in the product is Safe’n’Sound is only 3 inches thick, a little more dense than the ComfortBatt product. Therefore, that’s going to give you the end result that you’re looking for from a sound-deadening aspect.
TOM: We’re talking to Bob Toller. He is with Roxul, a type of insulation that’s made from stone wool, that has lots of very attractive qualities: one of the most important of which is that it saves you energy.
How much more energy-efficient is Roxul stone-wool insulation compared to other types of insulations, Bob?
BOB: Well, as you know, all insulation for exterior walls is measured, really, on – from an R-value standpoint; the higher R-value providing the better result for you. When you compare our product to other products, we are a higher-performing product and we do deliver higher R-values.
For example, on a 2x4 wall, we do deliver an R-15, which – what is common out there right now is usually a 13 or possibly an 11. And for a 2x6 wall, we deliver a 23 and for a 2x8, we deliver an R-30. So we are delivering higher R-values across the board on 2x4, 2x6 and 2x8 applications.
LESLIE: Now, Bob, does the makeup of it, being the basalt rock and the metal, does it keep it more rigid? Is it more difficult to install or is it still kind of like a flexible batt and it’s an easy do-it-yourself project?
BOB: It’s actually very, very easy to install, very user-friendly. And the way we manufacture this product, we don’t roll our product, we don’t fold it or bend it. We compress it about 50 percent for packaging and shipment. So therefore, everything comes in a rigid batt, 47 inches tall, either 16 or 24 inch on center depending on what your project is.
And it’s a friction-fit product. So just picture, if you will, you take the product, you place it in between the studs, compress it slightly and slide it in between the studs. When you let go of the product, it’s going to expand and it’s going to remain where you put it for years – for year after year. You can actually pull the sheetrock off of a wall in 10, 15 years and you’ll have no sag at the top of the wall. And as we all know, having just a little bit of sag in a wall from insulation settling or air gaps or that type of thing, you will not receive the end use of the product – or of the project that you’re looking for. You will not receive the R-value; you will not receive the sound-deadening.
So with a friction fit, it’s virtually impossible to install it incorrectly. And it’s very easy to cut and it’s very easy to install.
TOM: Great product. Bob Toller from Roxul, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Interesting product that’s fire-resistant, water-repellent, sound-absorbent and saves you energy at the same time.
If you’d like more information, you can head on over to the Roxul website, which is DIYWithRoxul.com. And Roxul is spelled R-o-x-u-l. That’s DIYWithRoxul.com.
BOB: Thanks, guys. Have a great day.
LESLIE: Alright. Coming up, have you ever returned home from a long day at work only to realize that you left the lights on the entire time you were gone? Well, a simple, new switch can actually make sure that this never happens again. We’re going to tell you all about it, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and to find the perfect holiday gift, visit StanleyTools.com.
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: Taking your calls right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And one caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to win a home security system that comes with no fine print and no expensive service contracts. It’s a wireless system from SimpliSafe. Easy to install, pretty much as easy to use as a car alarm and it’s worth $330. Going to draw one name at random from those that reach us for today’s program by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to it.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Kelly in West Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you with your winterization project?
KELLY: Well, I guess my biggest thing is I am hoping to live with my son during the winter months. And so, what I need to do to make sure my home is winterized – my pipes aren’t going to freeze and that kind of stuff when I’m gone.
TOM: So, Kelly, are you going to turn the heat off?
KELLY: I would think I would turn it down; I don’t think I’d turn it off. Here in West Virginia, easy to …
TOM: Right. Well, I’m trying to determine what level of winterization advice you need. If you’re going to turn the heat down, there are a few things that you’re going to want to do.
First of all, you’re obviously going to turn the water off to the building. You would do that at the main. The second thing that you would do is you would be sure to close off any hose bibs that go through the wall so that those pipes don’t freeze and break. You’re also going to want to add antifreeze to all of the fixtures. So you would put some in the tank of the toilet and in the bowl of the toilet and a little bit in all of the drains of the house. This is why – the reason we do this is because if you did lose heat and everything froze, at least those fixtures would not crack.
Now, you may want to look into a freeze-alert system. There are different types of monitors out there that can monitor your house for a temperature differential and if it drops below a certain temperature, actually alerts you.
Is there going to be somebody that can kind of keep an eye on your house every once in a while for you while you’re away?
KELLY: Yeah, there – I have friends that could pop in.
TOM: OK. I think it’s a real good idea for somebody to check it every once in a while. But turning the water off before you leave is going to make sure that if anything happens to those pipes and you get a burst, that the only water that’s going to leak out is what’s actually contained in the pipe; it’s not just going to run and run and run and run. You understand?
KELLY: Mm-hmm. Should I – when I close off the water at the main, should I run the water through the sink and stuff to get out as much out of the lines as possible?
TOM: Well, certainly, you could open up all of the faucets. You know, the best way to do this is to actually have all the pipes drained.
In our part of the country, there’s a lot of folks that have homes that they close up for the winter. And what they’ll do is they’ll drain all the water out of the pipes, a plumber will come in and usually blow compressed air through the plumbing system so that all the water gets out of the house. And then they completely turn the heat off for the whole season.
Now, there is a risk in doing that and that is that you’re going to have moisture that kind of builds up in the house. And you will find that sometimes, wallpaper can fall off the walls or doors can swell or that sort of thing can happen. So I do think it’s a good idea to keep the heat on at a minimum. But if you want to be super-conservative, you could have all the water drained from the pipes.
And in fact, if you’re going to take that step with a plumber, you may ask the plumber, while they’re there, if there’s a possibility that they could put in a drain valve to the plumbing system. Because, typically, what they’ll do is at the lowest part of the plumbing arrangement, they’ll tap in a new valve so that it – basically, if you open up all the faucets in the house and then open up that valve, that any water that’s in those lines will completely drain out due to gravity.
KELLY: OK. That’s real helpful. I thank you.
TOM: Well, it’s time now for today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron, makers of the Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch.
LESLIE: That’s right. Imagine how much energy you could save if you never left the lights on again. There’s a way to do that without tying a string around your finger to help you remember.
Lutron makes an occupancy-sensing switch called Maestro. Now, it goes on your wall and it can actually tell when somebody enters and exits the room.
TOM: Yeah, this is like my new favorite gadget in my house, because it automatically switches the lights on and then turns them off when there’s no movement in the room.
LESLIE: Oh, God, your youngest son is the light leaver-onner.
TOM: Oh, he totally is and so is my daughter; they both do the same thing.
And it’s perfect for rooms that you walk into, as well, with your hands full, like the laundry room or the basement or we have – even have one in a kind of a walk-in pantry. And the kids always used to leave the light on in there and now they just can’t do it.
And the other thing that you can do with this is change it to what’s called the “vacancy mode.” And this is how you would use it in a bedroom, because that means that the kids still have to manually turn the lights on but when they leave and there’s no more motion in the room, they go off. So, you can’t come home at the end of a long day and find out that somebody left the lights on; it just can’t happen with this product.
Really good invention. I’m really enjoying having it in the house and I know it’s saving us lots of energy dollars.
LESLIE: You know what else is cool is that the Maestro will also sense when there’s plenty of natural light in the room. And it’s going to remain off during the day, so you’re not wasting energy that way, as well.
And it also works with all types of light bulbs, which is really important because there’s so many on the market: different bulbs, different energy efficiencies. So that’s really great that it will work across the board.
And Lutron Maestro sensing switches, they’re really affordable. They start at about 19.99. They’re available at The Home Depot, so they’re available and they’re affordable.
TOM: And that’s today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron. Easy upgrades, big impact. Choose Lutron. Learn more at ChooseLutron.com.
LESLIE: Erica in Pennsylvania is on the line looking to renovate a kitchen. How can we help you with that project?
ERICA: Well, the kitchen is here now. When we first bought this place, I had moved the refrigerator from where it was at to a different location. And I noticed that the tile – there was no tile on the floor underneath the refrigerator. And now I’m ready to continue with the renovation – putting new cabinets in and a new floor in – but I’m thinking, “Do I want to put the floor in first or do I want to put the cabinets in first?”
TOM: That’s a good question. So, I – what kind of floor, first of all. What kind of floor are you putting in?
ERICA: Well, what’s down there now is a tile – a linoleum-type tile. What we’re …
TOM: Right. And we’re talking – so were we talking about ceramic tile?
ERICA: No, we’re talking about linoleum. But what I want to replace it with is with some of that laminate …
TOM: Laminate? OK. Well, laminate isn’t terribly expensive, so I would tend to probably, if I was you, do the whole floor first.
And I mean you can save yourself a foot or two against the wall but frankly, I’d just do the entire room, throw the cabinets on top and call it a day.
ERICA: That’s what I was wondering. I thought that would make a nicer finish but I got to thinking, “Was that the way I should go?”
TOM: Yeah. I would do it first. It’s just – it’s a lot less cutting because, otherwise, you have to cut around all of those cabinets.
ERICA: You’re absolutely …
TOM: It’s easier to put the cabinets on top and just drop them down on the floor.
TOM: Alright? Well, good luck with that project. And take a look at LumberLiquidators.com. They have great prices on that laminate floor.
ERICA: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, do you want to win some cool tools, just in time for a new year of home improvement projects? We’ve got a great giveaway starting next week on our Facebook page. It’s our Santa Home Improvement Sweepstakes. It’s kicking off next weekend at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, if you’ve ever suffered damage to your home, you know it can be made worse by trying to figure out how to file a homeowners insurance claim. We can help you with that if you to go MoneyPit.com and search just that: “how to file a homeowners insurance claim properly.” We’ll help you get it solved and settled and cash back in your pocket very quickly.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, guys, you can post your question in the Community section, like Dave from Colorado did: “I’ve heard what I can only describe as scampering in my walls. Either I have the biggest rats ever or squirrels are getting in there. How do I get rid of them humanely?”
TOM: Ah, best option is a product called Havahart; it’s a Havahart trap. It’s a trap that will – it’s a live trap so that the animals will get in there but they can’t get out. And then you can take them off to the woods somewhere and release them back to a natural habitat.
One tip for using that: fruit works great as a bait – like an apple – but wire it to the edge of the trap, because it won’t stay there otherwise. They’re pretty crafty, those squirrels.
LESLIE: Alright, Dave. I hope you get those holiday guests out.
TOM: Well, there’s no one who loves decorating for Thanksgiving more than my friend, Leslie. And there’s no better place to decorate for the season than your entryway. And as luck would have it, that is the topic for today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, I put up decorations starting in Halloween and they just stay up through Christmas. All different seasons. It’s my favorite. And I always say to my husband – as soon as Christmas ends, I’m like, “Man” – I’m like, “Now it’s boring. We’ve got to wait a whole nine months for more holiday decoration.”
TOM: Well, this year, you’ve got it covered because you’ve got the whole family dressing up like Santa Claus and Christmas trees and all of that, so you really can stay decorated from Halloween right through the end of the year.
LESLIE: Yeah, why not?
Well, you know what? When it comes to holiday decorating, guys, your entryway, it really serves as a perfect place to show off your love of this season and really, any season.
Now, I’ve got a few ideas that will hopefully inspire you. Fall wreaths, they’re a beautiful touch. You can buy some basic Styrofoam or even a grapevine wreath from a craft store and then gather things from your own yard and glue it to it, wire it to the form, pin it, however you want to attach it. You want to look for leaves, pine cones, acorns, whatever says “fall” to you.
Now, for hanging, avoid putting a hole in your front door. It could really damage it; it could void the warranty. You can get a small easel and prop a wreath up on your porch or you can use fishing line or a suction cup or one of those over-the-door hanging hooks. Lots of great ways that you can hang something on your door without actually putting a nail in it.
And speaking of your door, have you ever thought about framing it with garland? Garland really isn’t just a Christmas or a wintery thing; you can use something as simple as rope to attach fall décor items to it. You can frame your door by using tall corn husks on either side. You can put pumpkins next to them. You can use an artificial leaf garland or even orange lights. It really only takes a few seconds to create a lasting impression.
Now, when you’re choosing your décor, you want to plan for items that will take you all the way through the wintertime with decorations like corn, squash, pumpkins, even planters of purple cabbage. That’s a great, wintery green. It looks beautiful in a planter and it will last through the winter season.
And if you get a head start next year, you could actually have Thanksgiving-themed décor up from late September all the way through the end of November. You know what we do with our Halloween décor is we’ve got this cute, little tree in our – on our front porch and I put lights on it that have orange but purple and white for Halloween. And then when it gets to Thanksgiving, I take off the purple and white so it’s just orange. And I take away the scary stuff and I just leave my stacks of pumpkins and hay and corn.
So it really does last throughout the season, so I’m not buying and rebuying. It’s a great way to show your love of the holiday and it’s a great way to spruce up your house, too, for your guests.
TOM: And it’s a very green way to do décor, as well, don’t you think?
LESLIE: It is. It really saves a ton of money and if you buy some good, artificial stuff when they’re on sale at the craft stores, you can use it year after year.
TOM: And speaking of going green, don’t miss out on a chance to go green when it comes to selecting flooring. We’re going to have solutions for green flooring options, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone. Have a great Thanksgiving, everybody. Happy Holiday.
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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.)