Make sure your mobile devices aren’t driving up your electric bill. Get a beautiful garden without breaking the bank. Learn about all the options available in vinyl fencing. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about , carpet replacement, chimney repair, woodpecker problems, wall and floor cracks, collecting rain water, exhaust venting, water hammer, trash disposals, attic storage
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: Standing by to help you with your home improvement project. Let’s take on that do-it-yourself dilemma. Pick up the phone; we will help you get started. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
We’ve got a great show planned for you this hour. First up, did you know that you might be making a common mistake that could cause your electric bill to spike? We’re going to have a green home tip you’re going to want to hear, in just a minute, to help cut those costs.
LESLIE: And having a great lawn and garden is really a must this time of year. But if you’re not careful, it can also blow your budget. Stay with us for money-saving advice for a great yard.
TOM: And once you have that great yard and garden, you might want to protect it with a fence. So we’re going to sort out the options in fencing and talk to you about the pros and the cons of the different materials so you’ll know which one is right for you.
LESLIE: Also this hour, we’re giving away some absolute must-have tools from Stanley. It’s a prize pack that’s going to help you stay organized, with a four-in-one mobile work station, a sturdy toolbox on wheels and eight other tools to go in it.
TOM: It’s worth $300. Going out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question, so let’s get started. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974 for all those of you that just hate dialing those letters on the telephone. I know I do. So let’s get going.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Twyla in Nebraska is on the line with a carpeting question. How can we help you today?
TWYLA: Well, I have a cement-slab house and I need to replace the carpet in it that is – currently, I have carpet in all the bedrooms and the hallway. And I was wondering whether I should go with laminate or whether I should go ahead and remain with carpet.
TOM: Well, if you like the comfort of the carpet underfoot, you know, the hard thing to deal with when it comes to those concrete slabs is that they’re super-cold. So while you could replace them with laminate floor, the problem with the laminate is that it might be a bit chillier. You’d have to probably use area rugs. So if you’re comfortable with the carpet, there’s no reason not to replace it with new carpet.
There is a trade-off, though. Because, of course, carpet needs a little bit more maintenance than laminate but it certainly is a lot warmer underfoot. Does that make sense, Twyla?
TWYLA: But you have to put something underneath the laminate, right?
LESLIE: You’ll see. Depending on the brand of laminate flooring that you select, there’s a different kind of underlayment that that manufacturer will recommend. And by underlayment, usually it’s a thin roll of foam. Sometimes the underlayment is attached directly to the back side of the laminate flooring. It really varies per manufacturer. But there is something that you’ll put in between the concrete and the flooring itself.
TWYLA: OK. Do you have a recommendation on brand of laminate?
TOM: There are lots of great brands out there. I would look for a name brand. You could look at Lumber Liquidators, you could look at Armstrong. Those are all good places to start. And just check out their websites. Get a sense as to the options and you can narrow it down from there. OK, Twyla?
TWYLA: OK. I thank you very, very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mike in Illinois on the line with a fireplace question. How can we help you today?
MIKE: OK. We’re getting ready to move into a home that has two fireplaces: one on the first floor and one in the basement. The first floor is a stove insert and there’s two separate chimneys that terminate next to each other. And the previous owner is telling us that when they’re burning a fire in the stove, sometimes you get smoke out of the basement fireplace, even with the damper closed. Sometimes a little smoke, sometimes a lot of smoke. So just wondering what’s going on there and how to solve that.
TOM: Well, the reason it happens is because the chimney is cold. Generally, when a chimney is cold, you get condensation of the smoke inside the chimney. And that makes it heavy and it could push it down. So if a chimney does not have good draft, then you’re not going to evacuate the smoke from the chimney through the outside.
So the question is: how do you make that chimney improve the draft? And there’s a number of ways that that’s done. Sometimes the chimney is raised, so we make it taller. Sometimes, on the fireplace itself, you build in what’s called a “smoke shield,” which is usually a piece of metal that’s across the front of the fireplace, that’s maybe 6 or 8 inches deep so that it improves the draft right at the front of the fireplace. And that can speed it up. But it’s the kind of project that you really need to have a chimney expert look at.
And I would not go to a mason for this; I would go to a shop that sells wood stoves and fireplaces, because they’re going to have the expertise that you need here. But the reason it’s happening is because the chimney is not drafting properly.
And you can minimize it, by the way, by always building a very small fire and then building it up from there. You don’t want to kind of go with a big fire right off, because the chimney doesn’t have a chance to warm up and you’ll get more smoke that way. But when you do build a fire, if you start small and then let the chimney warm up and then before you go a little bigger, that can minimize it. But I really think you need to have an expert look at it, because that can be quite a nasty problem, especially if somebody else builds the fire besides you and fills the house with smoke.
MIKE: OK. Thanks a lot.
TOM: You’re welcome, Mike. 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. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, if you gasp out loud every time you get your smartphone bill, you might be surprised to learn it could be driving up your electric bill, as well. We’ll show you how to avoid a common mistake when charging it, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Arrow Sheds, the leader in steel storage sheds and buildings. Steel sheds are durable, secure and a great value. Arrow Storage Products, available at national home centers, hardware stores and online. See a complete line of products at Sheds.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: Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, two things will happen: we will do our best to give you the answer to your home improvement question and one caller drawn at random is going to win a great prize package from Stanley. It includes the FatMax 4-in-1 Mobile Work Station and 8 other tools and tool sets, including Stanley’s 201-Piece Mechanics Set.
It’s worth 300 bucks altogether. You can see all the great tools at Stanley.com. But pick up the phone right now and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Terry in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with some woodpeckers. Tell us what’s going on.
TERRY: We have a small woodpecker; it’s about the size of a sparrow. It’s dark gray or black with white speckles on its chest. And it actually pecks holes in the corners of my chimney, on the 1x4s. And then the guy next door actually redid his chimney with stuff that’s similar to Sto stucco-type stuff. And they actually peck holes in that stuff.
TERRY: He fills them and they peck more holes.
TOM: Well, look, there’s a couple of things that you can do. One real easy thing to do is to try to dissuade them from landing on your chimney. You can – temporarily, by the way, on this is what I might suggest, just only temporarily – hang tin pie plates on the chimney. Because the silvery pie plates kind of drifting in the wind totally freak out woodpeckers.
Another thing that you can do is you could take a Hefty bag and if you were to cut a Hefty bag – like a black Hefty bag? – and cut strips of plastic for the same thing – in other words, have them sort of flopping in the breeze around the top of the chimney, that also is very intimidating to woodpeckers and they will leave it alone.
TERRY: Oh, OK.
TOM: And if you do this maybe for a month or so, they might just forget about your house and go attack somebody else’s.
TERRY: Fantastic. Alright. Thanks a lot.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Donna in Tennessee has got a funky guest house. Let’s just call it that.
What’s going on, Donna?
DONNA: We have been in this property – on this property – for two-and-a-half years. And when we purchased the property, the guest house had tenants. And they moved out a little over a year-and-a-half ago. However, there’s a very funky odor in the house that instead of fading over time is becoming more and more prevalent. The odor is best described, perhaps, as a stale cologne, so it’s not very pleasant.
LESLIE: Stale cologne. That’s interesting because, generally, when you get a funky odor in a space that’s not used that often, it usually has something to do with a sink not getting water down it and the trap drying out and sewer gases coming back up. So you could get a funky sewer smell but cologne? Are you sure the house isn’t haunted?
DONNA: We did pull up any carpeting that was in the house. And there wasn’t that much; it was just in the bedroom and the bathroom. The rest of the floors are wood and tile.
TOM: Have you done any painting yet?
DONNA: No. It had been – it was fairly recently painted, you know, prior to our purchasing the house and so I didn’t. However, after the tenants moved out, I really thoroughly cleaned the house. Actually, we moved all the appliances, everything like that. But I haven’t repainted.
TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you that sometimes when a house is empty, it tends to get a little dank sometimes. Are you running the heating system the way you would if somebody was living there?
TOM: Yeah. So you get more moisture and sometimes there can be odors associated with that. So unless it’s really pervasive, I don’t think I would worry too much about it. You’re doing the right things. You pulled up the carpet. If you haven’t painted and you’re going to paint, I would suggest one additional step and that is to make sure you prime the walls. Because if there’s anything in the walls, that will block it.
DONNA: Mm-hmm. What type of primer?
TOM: Well, you could use an alkyd primer, which is a water-based primer, or you could use an oil-based primer: something like KILZ or B-I-N or one of the Behr products. But the primer is kind of the glue that makes the paint stick and will also seal in any stains that have absorbed into the walls themselves.
DONNA: OK. So if it is the paint, then the primer could actually …
TOM: Right, exactly. In fact, sometimes we tell people that when they have carpets that are very odorous, to also prime the plywood floor before they put new carpet back down again.
DONNA: Hmm. OK.
TOM: Because if anything kind of soaked through the carpet and got into the floor, that’s a way to kind of seal it off.
DONNA: OK. Very good.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Donna. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it’s time now for today’s Green Home Tip, which is presented by Lutron.
We all love our smartphones and laptops but you might not love what they can do to your electric bill if you’re not mindful when you charge those devices.
LESLIE: That’s right. Believe it or not, 40 percent of the electricity used to power mobile devices and other home electronics is consumed after those devices are switched off. So when you’ve charged up a device, don’t just unplug it from the charger, unplug the charger from the wall socket, as well. If you have a hard time remembering, why not try a power strip? Some of them are going to sense when the power is flowing below 30 watts and then go ahead and shut off the power to the whole strip. So it’s pretty great; if you can’t remember, it’ll do it for you.
TOM: Making that change to your charging routine this season, you will also see a change in your energy bill. And that’s today’s Green Home Tip, which is presented by Lutron, makers of the Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never be asking “Who left the lights on?” again, with that Lutron Maestro Occupancy Switch. It senses when there’s activity in the room. Keeps the lights on when there is someone in the room and turns it off when the room is empty, like my kids when they like to leave the lights on after they head off for school in the morning. Never a problem with the Lutron Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch.
Lutron products are available from your local home center, lighting showroom or electrical professional. For more green, energy-saving ideas, check out our online Green Home Guide or visit ChooseLutron.com.
LESLIE: Steve in Arizona, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVE: Yeah, we’ve got a square fire pit out in the backyard. It’s really nice. We bought it about a year ago. It’s got nice, Southern tile on top. And in the middle of it, it’s got a round Lazy Susan. And you take off the Lazy Susan and it’s a fire pit with a stainless-steel fire ring. And we’ve got a bunch of fire glass in there. It’s really nice.
And the – one of the things that we’re disappointed in somewhat is that the flame isn’t really very high on the thing. It’s really a nice kind of romantic, low fire but we’d like to figure out if we could find some way to make that a little more robust. And I’m thinking about just drilling out the holes in the fire ring to – and I’m wondering if that might solve the problem or if I’d be creating more problems than solving.
TOM: Generally, you don’t want to modify a gas burner like that. Was this a manufactured unit that you purchased and installed?
STEVE: Yes. Yeah, it was – it all just came – all we really had to do was just pretty much plunk the thing down and hook up the gas.
TOM: Well, you certainly don’t want to mess with the manufacturer’s design, because that was very specifically designed to do a certain job. And if you start drilling bigger holes in it, you could create something that’s very dangerous.
But let me just ask you this: is this natural gas or propane?
STEVE: It’s natural gas. Yeah, when we landscaped the yard, we had a natural gas line run out to the area of the yard. Then we poured a really nice, big, oh, 18-circular-foot pad out there. And then the – and then stubbed it right in the middle, so that’s where the fire pit is.
TOM: Alright. Have you checked the gas pressure to make sure that it’s where you expect it to be?
STEVE: No. I’m not really sure, no.
TOM: I would have a plumber check the gas pressure to make sure that the gas pressure is correct. If you have low gas pressure, that could account for the low flame.
The other thing I would do is contact the manufacturer to find out what flame level that’s designed for, because it might be doing exactly what it’s intended to do. And if you add more – if you try to modify that, it could be, certainly, dangerous. So we’d not encourage you to drill out the burner or anything of that nature. I would encourage you to check the gas level – the gas pressure level – as well as the valves that service it, because something is partially closed or you just don’t have enough pressure coming through that line, for whatever reason. That could also be the solution, as well.
Steve, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Peter in Maryland, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PETER: When we had first moved in, everything was cosmetically perfect. And now, all of a sudden, we’ve got cracks everywhere in our hardwood flooring and our crown molding. Now, certainly, we could live with a little cosmetic shifting but it’s so drastic, I’m wondering if there is a greater underlying problem here.
TOM: So the cracks in the molding, where are you seeing those cracks? Corners? Is the top and the bottom of the molding separating from the wall? What are you seeing?
PETER: All in the bottom of the molding.
PETER: However, it could be anywhere: corners, middle, anywhere.
TOM: OK. And so you have cracks up at the crown molding, which is between the ceiling and the wall, but you also mentioned you had cracks at the floor. What are we seeing at the floor?
PETER: Yeah, it’s more drastic. On the first floor is all hardwood flooring.
PETER: And like I said, it was seamless when we had moved in. Now, over the past two months, I’d say every third board has a gap in it. And the gap may be very slight but some are as large as an 1/8-inch now.
TOM: OK. So you’ve got some shrinkage in the floor and you’ve got some gaps in the wall. I mean the entire house could be shrinking. What kind of heating system do you have, Peter?
PETER: It’s electric heat.
TOM: OK. Electric heat. Forced air or radiators? What do you have?
PETER: Oh, it’s forced air.
TOM: It’s a very dry heating system.
Well, I will say this: gaps around molding and gaps around floor and gaps in the crown molding, especially along the walls, that’s generally not the kind of crack that indicates structural movement. When you see walls – that looks like – that sounds like shrinkage. When you see walls that are cracking at the corners or cracking above doorways, physically cracking inside the drywall itself, that’s usually more of a concern. What you’re describing to me sounds a lot more like shrinkage.
That said, I would keep an eye on it. We’re coming off of cold months. If you had the heating system on, you’re going to get a lot of shrinkage then and you’ll get more swelling in the summer as it gets more moist and humid out.
So, you can either keep an eye on it, see what happens or if you want to get a structural opinion, what I would do is I would suggest that you go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s ASHI – A-S-H-I.o-r-g. And look for a certified professional home inspector – an ASHI-certified inspector – in your area. These guys don’t work on houses, so they’d have nothing to gain by finding things that need to be fixed. They’re just there to diagnose. And I would say an ASHI-certified inspector, because they are clearly the best.
In fact, my nephew was buying a house last week and he’s in the Air Force in Florida. And I helped him find an ASHI-certified inspector there and I saw the report and I’ve got to tell you, I said to him – I said, “You know what the name of my show is?” He goes, “Money Pit?” I said, “You got one,” because there was so much wrong with it.
PETER: Mm-hmm. Right.
TOM: So, I would definitely suggest monitoring it and if you wanted to get an opinion on the structural aspects, bring in a professional home inspector and see what they have to say, OK?
PETER: Alright. Great. I appreciate your time, Tom and Leslie. Enjoy the show all the time.
TOM: Thanks very much, Peter. Have a great day.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, you want a gorgeous yard but don’t want to blow your child’s college tuition getting one. We’re going to have the dirt on money-saving tips to beautify your lawn and garden, 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 add more space to your kitchen? Well, you can do it without knocking out walls. Just head on over to MoneyPit.com and search “small kitchens.” We have a whole bunch of tips. For example, did you know that there’s a type of skylight called a “sun tunnel” that you can install in as little as a couple of hours? And it’ll make your room look so much bigger by bringing in natural sunlight to that space. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Joe in Texas is looking to collect some rainwater. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
JOE: Alright. Well, we have a ranch near Stephenville, about an hour-and-a-half southwest of Dallas/Fort Worth. And it can get pretty arid out here. So, we have some rain barrels – or some black, large barrels – hooked up to our rain gutters. And we’re trying to get it to where it’s actual potable water that we can use and drink in – just in our ordinary, daily lives. So we were kind of wondering what type of filtration system to put on to run the water through and also how to keep the junk from our gutters blowing in there.
TOM: Well, rainwater harvesting is something that’s actually gone on for centuries. And there are modern systems that are available to help you both collect the rainwater and purify it, because that’s the key and you want to make sure it’s safe.
A good place to start is RainHarvest.com. That’s a website for a company that has specialized in this area for many, many years. And they have everything from small, home-size systems up to industrial-size systems. And they also have the specialty filters you asked about keeping the gunk out of the water. There are special filters to keep out the leaves and the tree droppings and things like that from getting down in there.
So it sounds like you’re kind of well on your way but what you’re going to need to pick up is a purification system. And that’s a good place to start: RainHarvest.com.
LESLIE: You know, another good site that’s out there is HarvestH2O.com. A lot of articles on there about filtration, purification, some products. Good list to resources and inventors, as well, there.
JOE: Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: A beautiful lawn and garden really is the envy of every neighborhood. And while you might think an expensive landscaping service is the only way to get that lush, green look, you can have that great-looking yard while being thrifty at the same time.
TOM: This Old House general contractor Roger Cook is a guy that knows how to build and maintain a landscape on a budget and he joins us right now.
And Roger, one of the simplest tips that you have is just to create a smaller lawn. I mean you’re not an advocate of blacktopping the yard, I’m sure, but what else can we do?
ROGER: No. Well, it depends on the use of the lawn. If you’re having football games in the backyard, then you need a big area. If it’s just for social gatherings and your own enjoyment, you don’t need that much lawn. So, a great thing to do is create beds and add more plant material for added attraction and not have the maintenance you would of a lawn.
TOM: Yeah. Less lawn, less maintenance.
ROGER: That’s right. Plant beds go in and they’re pretty well – grow in and they don’t need a lot of fertilizer or water, where the lawn does need that extra care, plus mowing.
LESLIE: Yeah. But I think when people sort of have this American dream of what the perfect house and property looks like, you imagine this big, green, lush lawn. So if that’s something you want, can I do something with the watering to help?
ROGER: Absolutely. The first thing you can do is water it on a not-every-day schedule. People have an expensive irrigation system, they think it has to run every day. It doesn’t.
ROGER: A lawn can exist on 1 inch of water a week here in the Northeast. And I usually do that in two applications so that the water is getting on the lawn, soaking down into the ground where the roots will go get it.
TOM: Now, a little trick of the trade for figuring out what 1 inch of water a week is – can you put a can out or something like that?
ROGER: Simplest thing is just put a can out on the lawn and run your sprinkler system and then measure the amount of water. If you have a ½-inch after 15 minutes, that means you want to water the lawn for a half-an-hour; it’ll give you an inch.
So you split it up. Water one day, skip three and then water a fourth day.
TOM: Now, another thing I think that’s counterintuitive: people try to save money by – when they cut the grass, they cut it right down to the nubs, figuring, “Ah, I won’t have to cut it nearly as frequently. I won’t have to pay to have it cut nearly as frequently.” But if you do that to the grass, the grass doesn’t survive very long or at least it doesn’t look very good, does it?
ROGER: Well, you have to remember that grass is one – the one plant that grows from the tip.
ROGER: So that keeps growing up and up and up. But when you cut it back that low, you’re cutting back past the green part: the good growing part. And the lawn sometimes can get diseased or it’ll take a really long time to bounce back and look good. So, no, a great height is 2 to 3 inches.
LESLIE: What about the clippings? Do you want to leave them in there to sort of help thatch anything with the lawn itself or get rid of them?
ROGER: They found that if you leave the clippings on the lawn, that it takes away one fertilization a year you have to do. So that’s actually saving some money and helping the soil.
TOM: Oh, interesting. And today’s mowers can actually sort of mulch those clippings to the point where you’re not really seeing them around, right?
ROGER: Right. A lot of them have either a door that opens if it’s going to get bagged. You shut the door and that way, the clippings get recycled underneath and cut into a really small particle so that they break down. The one thing you have to remember: that is the grass is really long and really wet, it’s going to be hard to mulch it.
TOM: Now, one other point that you make is about fertilization. You really don’t want to over-fertilize, because that’s going to make the grass grow really excessively and you’re not really helping the plant, are you?
ROGER: No, not at all. You’re forcing it to grow artificially fast. That’s why I’m not a big proponent of putting down fertilizer early in the spring.
ROGER: That grass is going to grow fast enough from the fertilizer you put down late fall. And if you put more down, you could have 6 to 8 inches of growth in a week and that’s just bad for the grass and bad for you mowing it.
TOM: And bad for your back, for sure.
LESLIE: And I think there’s so much confusion over which fertilizer is right for the type of lawn. How do you sort of make that easy decision when you’re in the home center?
ROGER: Well, the first thing you need to do is do a soil test on your soil and find out what your soil is and how much fertilizer it needs. Many times, we just go grab a bag of product and bring it in and throw it on the lawn. And it may have too much nitrogen for the soil and not enough phosphorus and things like that.
And it’s very easy to do a soil test. Send it off to a state lab and they’ll come back with recommendations on exactly what type of fertilizer and how much you should be putting down.
TOM: Absolutely. Now, Roger, we’re talking about ways to save money on a lawn. What about other plants that really can help you cut costs if you’re not doing grass? Are there any types of plants that you might recommend?
ROGER: There’s all sorts of groundcovers and they range from the things you see every day, like Vinca and ivy and Pachysandra. But there’s a whole bunch of native groundcovers that when they grow in will perform splendidly with little or no water or fertilizer.
TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks for helping us save some money on our landscape.
ROGER: My pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.
Up next, are you thinking about adding a fence this year? There are a lot of options available. We’ll tell you how to figure out which one is right for you, after this.
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TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we are taking your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one caller is going to get a great prize package from Stanley Tools this hour. It’s a FatMax 4-in-1 Mobile Work Station, which is an awesome, sturdy tool box on wheels. But then you also get some of Stanley’s great tools and tool sets to go in it, like a 10-piece screwdriver set, the AntiVibe Hammer and 6 others.
It’s a prize package worth $300, so go to Stanley.com, check it out, see all the great tools. And pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
LESLIE: Diane in Minnesota has got a steamy bathroom. Tell us what’s going on.
DIANE: Yes. The exhaust fan, it just does not seem to take the steam out of the bathroom at all. It just doesn’t work, for some reason.
TOM: Well, where is the exhaust fan mounted? It’s on the ceiling and goes into an attic? Is that correct?
DIANE: Yeah, it’s in the ceiling. I just live in an apartment, so I’m not exactly sure where it goes but …
TOM: OK. Well, see, that would be a good place to start. Because you want to make sure when you turn on an exhaust fan that you can see it actually exhaust somewhere. And generally, it’s going to be a vent outside the building somewhere. And you can turn on the exhaust fan and see that vent open. So you need to figure out – or if it’s an apartment, you need to have a super figure out where it’s exhausting. Because it could be obstructed, it could be crushed, it could be blocked, it could be terminated. There could be a lot of things wrong with it.
And the other thing that you might want to think about – and you may or may not want to do this, because it’s an apartment and not a condominium that you own, but there’s a different type of exhaust fan that’s out now. Broan and NuTone make it. Same company. It’s called ULTRA. And what’s cool about it is it has a moisture-sensing switch built into it – a humidistat – so it runs whenever the room gets moist. So, you can kind of set it and forget it. And you take a shower, it’ll just stay on until all the moisture is evacuated out of the room and then go off again.
DIANE: OK. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: Alright, Diane. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, a nice-looking fence can add curb appeal and privacy to your home. And this is a great time of year to do that. When it comes to choosing fencing, though, you’ve got several options to go with. You can choose wood, metal, vinyl or even composite.
Now, wood does require the most maintenance but there are treated options. And wood can also be very sturdy and last quite a long time but it can also be susceptible to termites and rot.
With metal, you’ve got options: you can go with chain-link or fence panels that are available in coated aluminum, iron or steel. Metal can rust and some people don’t like the look of chain-link.
LESLIE: Vinyl and composite fencing are both very good choices for a strong, long-lasting and good-looking fence. The Home Depot is one of the sponsors of our program and they have some great options with their Veranda line of fencing.
Veranda offers a low-maintenance, durable fence solution that’s available in pro-grade and do-it-yourself-friendly designs. The fencing comes with a transferable lifetime warranty and you can get it installed with Home Depot dealer-approved providers, all available to you at 800-HOME-DEPOT.
TOM: Now, if you’re not partial to white vinyl, which does have a very clean look, you can also get other colors and even a natural wood grain. And if you purchase your fencing or decking using your Home Depot consumer credit card between now and April 10th, you’ll also get special 24-month financing.
So, what are you waiting for? Get going on your outdoor projects today. Visit HomeDepot.com for all the details.
Give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT to talk though the details of your next home improvement project.
LESLIE: Tony in Florida is on the line with some noisy plumbing. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
TONY: It’s in the walls. It seems like the clanking is going on in the walls. And I can’t get to the pipes because they’re hidden – they’re all covered by the walls. So every time I put the faucet on, hot or cold, bang, it’s one slam and that’s it. That’s what I get. And I’m just wondering, is there some easy, quick fix for something like that, you know?
TOM: Yeah. So does this happen, Tony, when you open and close the faucets? Is that when it’s worst?
TOM: Alright. That’s called “water hammer.” And what water hammer is – you have to remember that water is very heavy; it weighs, actually, 8 pounds per gallon. And so, as the water is traveling through the plumbing line and you open or close a faucet, the inertia of that water just keeps moving. And it’ll shake the pipe and that’s what makes the banging sound. And of course, pipes transmit sound like crazy and so you’re getting that kind of sound to it.
So, what can you do? There’s two things that you can do. All the piping that you could possibly access – so that would be like in the basement or crawlspace or attic. Any place that you can see a pipe, you want to add some additional strapping to the wall so that takes some of the bounce out of it.
The second thing that you can do is you can install – or have a plumber install – something called a “water-hammer arrestor,” which is, essentially, a shock absorber for a plumbing system. And it will take that inertia from the water and absorb it slowly so it doesn’t bang the pipe.
But what you’re describing is a very typical, very normal condition in an older house. Generally, unless it’s really super-bad, doesn’t cause damage. But it’s more of an annoyance than anything else.
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, if you’ve got a septic tank, can you have a garbage disposer? We’re going to tell you, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.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.
TOM: Hey, are you ready to make some money-saving and Earth-saving changes at your money pit? Well, we can help, because you can enter The Money Pit’s Green My House Sweepstakes, which is on our Facebook page. Just go to MoneyPit.com, click on the Facebook icon, then “like” us and you’ll be eligible to enter.
LESLIE: That’s right. And the grand prize is an Amana ENERGY STAR-rated fridge worth $1,449. It’s got some great features, including four adjustable Spillsaver glass shelves and an easy-close freezer drawer system.
TOM: We’re also giving away lots of additional prizes, all guaranteed to make your house eco-friendly, just in time for Earth Day. If you share the contest after you enter, you’ll also get five bonus entries for every one of your friends that you refer. So don’t delay; enter The Money Pit Green My House Sweepstakes today.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can head on over to the Community section of MoneyPit.com and you can post your question there, just like Bradley in Tennessee did. And he writes: “I want to install a garbage disposer but I have a septic tank. Are the two compatible?”
TOM: That’s a great question and we’ve gotten that question many times in the past. And there’s two schools of thought on it. There’s a whole group of people that say, “No, no big deal.” But generally, when you talk to septic contractors and plumbers, they’re very cautious about putting standard disposers on septic fields. Because of the time it takes for the material to decompose in the tank, the concern is that it could clog the tank up.
So that problem is solved, though, if you select a disposer that’s rated for septic systems. The difference between those septic-rated disposers is that they grind the food to a much greater pulp, so to speak, so it doesn’t impact the system. So you can use it. You need to choose the right disposer and you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Mort in Illinois who writes: “My house was built in the 80s. It’s got prefabricated trusses in the attic. I wanted to move some of the old kids’ toys up there to store them but I’ve been told that that’s not such a good idea. Is that the case?”
TOM: Potentially, Mort, and here’s why: with a trussed attic, you have a 2x4 bottom beam; it’s called a “chord.” And that chord is obviously much smaller than the insulation that’s around it. So by putting stuff up there, you’re going to squish the insulation and if you compress it, it’s not going to insulate.
So, what’s a work-around? I can tell you, in one of the homes that I owned over the years, I had a trussed attic like that. And what I did was I sort of built a platform a bit up higher on the trusses. I took 2x4s and I put them across the truss, just above the level of the insulation, on 4 or 5 of the trusses. And I was able to put some storage boards across that way to have some storage but again, have it above the insulation so you don’t squish it.
So, if you modify it a little bit, you could sort of build a platform up there and have some space for those kids’ toys. And gosh, I know how much space you need for that because when you have kids, it always amazes me that the smaller the kid, the bigger the box, you know?
LESLIE: Yeah, that is so true. Luckily, we saved everything from Henry in our attic so now that Charlie needs it, it’s easy to sort of go up there and get things and use them again. But there are an awful lot of toys that sort of come through the house, I’ve got to say. And if it’s something that your kids are playing with, when they’re in the attic, that’s not really going to work.
But under-bed storage is always super-creative, as long as you keep it neat and tidy. Look for some great seating options, as well, that open up, like cute poofs (ph) or sort of ottomans or even an openable coffee table. Those are great for board games. Think creatively when it comes to unused spaces and you might find some interesting places to stash away a toy or two.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Happy Spring Home Improving, everybody. Hope you’re getting lots of stuff done inside and outside your house. Remember, you can turn to us 24-7 if you need help with a spring home improvement project, by picking up the phone and calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT or heading on over to The Money Pit’s Community section on MoneyPit.com.
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.
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(Copyright 2013 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.)