Learn why energy efficient washing machines can cut energy costs, and how you can save money and energy even without a high efficiency washing machine. Find out why plastics help seal out cold air and what steps you can take now to help save on energy bills all winter. Learn how the Jersey Shore is recovering a year after Hurricane Sandy. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, flooring insulation, refinishing wood floors, avoiding mold, odors from well, stuck kitchen drawers, roof coatings, crumbling basement floors
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 projects. We want to solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. We want to help you save money, be more energy-efficient and enjoy your home. So pick up the phone and help yourself first by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Well, we are knee-deep now in fall season, so there’s no time like the present to talk about all the ways you can save money and energy to heat your home all winter. That’s why, this hour, we’re going to have tips for energy efficiency and savings to help you cut costs all season long.
LESLIE: And all year long, too, actually. In fact, we’re going to share some tips to cut costs when doing the wash, something that I tend to do every single day, all day long, all year long.
TOM: You don’t get any days off for that?
LESLIE: No. I feel like the laundry just builds up and builds up and I’m always doing it. But guess what? You don’t always need a high-efficiency washing machine to get the most bang for your buck.
TOM: Also ahead, we’ve got quick and easy and inexpensive ways to insulate and seal those gaps and cracks that let the cold, drafty air into your house.
LESLIE: Plus, one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 prize pack from Concrobium Mold Control so that you can get rid of unsightly mold for good, without the bleach.
TOM: So, let’s get to it. Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Mary in North Dakota needs some help with a concrete floor. What can we do for you?
MARY: We’ve got crumbling concrete on the basement floor after water problems this spring.
TOM: OK. Alright.
MARY: And it’s very crumbly and powdery. And there are places on it that I’d like to paint, if I could.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Do you want to try to stabilize the deterioration of the concrete?
MARY: Yeah. I was wondering if there was some kind of sealant that could be sprayed or poured on it.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, in terms of the water problem, is this a problem that happened after a heavy rainfall?
TOM: Alright. So if you’ve got water that comes in after a heavy rainfall, I want to make sure we try to slow this down so it doesn’t happen again. Adding sump pumps, things of that nature, is not going to stop this from happening again. What stops the heavy rainfall from getting in is outside, looking at your gutters and your grading, making sure the downspouts are discharging away from the house, making sure your gutters are clean, making sure soil slopes away from the house.
We’ve got extensive articles – actually, several of them – on MoneyPit.com. Just search "how to stop a leaking basement" and it’s the same advice. And we talk about the proper drainage improvements. So, do that first.
And then, in terms of the concrete itself, you can use a patching compound. QUIKRETE has a patching compound product. You definitely want to use the patching compound because it’s designed to stick to the old concrete. If you try to put new concrete over it, it’s not going to stick. So, the ready-to-use patching compounds are trowel-applied. They’re latex formulas, so it’s easy to clean up. But that will seal the old concrete.
Now, once that dries, then you can paint it. And what I would look for is an epoxy floor paint. The epoxy paints I like because they’re a chemical cure. When you buy the floor paint, you get the paint in a gallon can that’s about three-quarters filled and then a quart of hardener. You mix them together, stir them up and then you apply the paint. Sometimes, there is an additive that goes in after the fact that gives you some texture to the floor, helps kind of hide the dirt. But patching it first, then adding an epoxy paint will have that looking like new in no time.
MARY: OK. But the name of the sealant was called what?
TOM: QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. It’s QUIKRETE Concrete Patching Compound. Good stuff.
Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Buck in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BUCK: I was calling to ask a question about a built-up roof, about 4,000 square foot. I was thinking about taking and putting a coating on top of it. No insulation in the attic. And was wanting to know if it really would actually defer the heat in the lower floor by putting a brilliant-white roof coating on top.
TOM: Well, those types of roof paints do have UV reflectors in there and they’re designed to make the roof cooler and certainly, it will be a heck of a lot cooler than the black roof that you’re starting with. So I think that that’s probably a good idea in your situation, especially being in such a warm part of the country, Buck.
BUCK: Any particular product brand that you can suggest going on top of tar?
TOM: No. But make sure it’s a roof paint. I mean typically, you use a fibrous aluminum paint for something like that. What you really want to look for is the UV reflectivity of it because the more UV it reflects, the better the job it’s going to do.
And by the way, it will also extend the roof life, as well, because the cooler the roof is, that means less of the oil is going to evaporate out of the asphalt and it’ll last a lot longer.
BUCK: OK. Good.
TOM: Buck, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Laura is up next with a lot of erosion going on at her money pit. Tell us what’s going on.
LAURA: Our yard slopes downward from the front to the back, probably close to – well, it’s a pretty good angle. I don’t actually know it’s 45 degrees. But when we have a hard rain, the rain comes off of the roadway and just a river flows down the back to the back corner of the house.
LAURA: And we’re seeing trees – like the roots. Real bad erosion. And I was wondering, what’s the best type of, I guess – I don’t know – like a retaining-type wall? Or is a flower bed – like a large flower bed – something to stop the flow? Or just a natural – like if we put bushes down – what’s the best would you suggest to (inaudible at 0:06:25) that erosion to stop.
TOM: Well, the best thing to do is to interrupt that flow by catching the runoff and running it around the house. And an easy way to do that is with something called a "curtain drain."
Now, a curtain drain is dug into that sloped area at some point and I can’t tell you where; it depends on how the soil is sloped and shaped that makes the most sense. But basically, think of it this way: it’s a trench that you would dig in front of the house where all the water is collecting.
And that trench, in it you would lay a perforated pipe. And the idea is that the trench has about 4 inches of stone, then it’s got a pipe. Stone continues to move up around the pipe and then a little more stone on top. And you put a piece of filter cloth and then you landscape over it or put dirt and grass over it, so you don’t see it when it’s done. But conceptually, the water shoots down the hill, falls into that invisible trench now, fills up the pipe and then runs out the other end of the pipe – the low end of the pipe – somewhere to daylight.
So, to do this, you need to be able to get the pipe in place and then have the end of it run out somewhere where you want to dump that water. Does that sound like it’s possible with your yard, the way it’s configured?
LAURA: Yeah. No, that’s very doable. I didn’t know they make stuff like that. So, no, that’s very doable.
TOM: Well, it’s kind of like – you know, it’s not like you can go to the curtain-drain aisle at the local home center. You have to kind of build it yourself but it’s a very common technique called a "curtain drain" or a "footer drain." So take a look at that and you can find instructions on MoneyPit.com.
LAURA: Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Laura. Thanks again 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 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, we’ve got easy tips to help you cut those laundry costs and they don’t involve you purchasing a very expensive, high-end washing machine, either. Learn more, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Diamond Crystal Salt. The benefits are bigger than you expected. After all, you’re worth your salt. Diamond Crystal Salt. A brilliant choice since 1886.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain MyQ Garage. When you forget, it alerts your smartphone so you can close your garage door from anywhere, on most garage-door openers. Coming soon. For more information, go to Chamberlain.com.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. We are here to help you with your home improvement questions. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.
And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 prize package from Concrobium to help you win the battle against mold.
LESLIE: That’s right. The package includes Concrobium Mold Stain Eraser, House & Deck Wash and Mold Control, which will eliminate mold and prevent it from coming back, all without the use of harmful chemicals.
TOM: Learn more about Concrobium at CureMyMold.com. And pick up the phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement question, for your chance to win, at 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Dorothy from Alaska on the line who’s got a sticky drawer. Tell us what’s going on.
DOROTHY: Well, I have a kitchen drawer that’s the top drawer, which holds the silverware. The most used drawer in the whole house, I think, going in and out.
DOROTHY: For years, it was giving me trouble just by not catching right and I have to push down on it a little bit to put it in, to close it. Well, it’s closed and it won’t open and I can’t get it open. I don’t know what my alternatives are.
DOROTHY: Nobody is strong enough to pull it open. Even if they did, I think they would break it.
TOM: OK. So, how old are these cabinets?
DOROTHY: Oh, they’re old. They’re 35 years old.
TOM: OK. Do you have any other drawers in the kitchen that are the same size as the kitchen drawer?
DOROTHY: Oh, I think so.
TOM: What you might want to think about doing is if you have other drawers in the kitchen that are the same size as the kitchen drawer, you might want to think about replacing the kitchen drawer with one of those less-used drawers. Because it sounds to me like some of the hardware is worn out.
Now, to get it unstuck, the easy way to do that is to go at the drawer from underneath the cabinet below it. I presume it’s on a standard cabinet with doors that are open? And what you would do is go underneath and lift – put your arm in there and push up on the drawer and unstick it and get it moving out. So, somebody should be able to help you with that; just get that drawer moving again.
But you might want to think about replacing it with another drawer of the same size somewhere in the kitchen and just rotate them that way. If it’s the silverware drawer, obviously that’s probably the most used drawer in the whole house.
DOROTHY: Yes, it is.
TOM: And by replacing it with one that’s less used, you’ll be able to have some fresh hardware there for a while. Does that make sense?
DOROTHY: It makes sense.
TOM: Alright, Dorothy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jason in Louisiana, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JASON: I just have a problem with my well pump that I have here. From my knowledge of talking to a few people, they dig the wells pretty shallow here in Louisiana because they don’t have to dig any deeper than 40, 60 foot.
JASON: And I had a well-pump guy come out because I had a pressure problem.
JASON: He rebuilt my well pump itself. Got great pressure after but then the next, few following days, I started getting a gray silt that started being pumped into my home.
JASON: And I flushed out the system, restarted it. It clears up for a few days and then problems persist again. What do you think could be the problem with that? He told me I may need to dig a new well and go down a few hundred foot but other people say they’re all shallow wells.
TOM: What kind of filtration system do you have on the home? Because it seems to me like if you’ve just got a fine-grade silt, that that could be dealt with by a filter rather than replacing the well.
JASON: I recently have installed a whole-house filter out there since.
JASON: That seems to be aiding in fixing the problem. I noticed a significant difference in my water.
TOM: OK. So this is progress then.
JASON: I think that could have potentially fixed it but that filter seems to be getting pretty dark pretty quick.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, they always get dark pretty quick but that doesn’t mean that they’re totally blocked. Usually, they’ll discolor pretty quickly because they look so pretty and clean coming out of the box. I wouldn’t – yeah, I wouldn’t run out and replace the well right away. I mean it might be that the increased pressure is causing a little more debris in that water than what you’re accustomed to. But if the filter is holding it, I would just live with that.
JASON: OK. Yeah, because I have the whole-house filter and I also put a filter on my sink water in my kitchen, so whenever I cook …
TOM: Yeah. Just make sure that you replace it per the manufacturer’s instructions. In other words, don’t let it go for an extensive period of time, because then it could get worse and it could affect your water pressure.
JASON: Right. I think there are recommendations every three months on this filter that I bought.
TOM: There you go.
JASON: OK. So you think that – yeah, because the guy was quick to jump to want to charge me $2,800 to redrill me a well.
TOM: Of course. He needs the job.
JASON: And I just said, "No, I don’t foresee that happening."
TOM: Yeah. Proceed slowly, my friend. Jason, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
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. High-efficiency washing machines, you know, they use about a third of the energy of older washing machines. But even if you still have an older washer and dryer, you can still save some money with a few changes in the way that you use those machines.
TOM: First, you want to use lower settings. In most cases, your clothes will get just as clean in cold water and they’re going to dry just as well when you set the heat to the lower settings. Now, there are specific cold-water detergents on the market that will do the job. And also make sure that the thermostat on your water heater is set to about 120 degrees and not higher. And don’t do laundry unless you’ve got a full load. Small loads waste power and water because pretty much they use the same amount of water and electricity to wash fewer clothes.
LESLIE: Now, when it’s time to dry the clothing, you want to make sure you separate the clothes by fabrics. Synthetics are going to dry faster, so you can use a shorter cycle.
Also, don’t over-dry your clothes. Now, over-drying can actually wear out your clothing faster. Plus, if you remove clothes when they’re slightly damp, you can actually smooth out those wrinkles by hand and hang-dry the rest of the way. This way, you skip that ironing, which I hate to do.
TOM: And that’s today Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron. Easy upgrades, big impact. Choose Lutron. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.
LESLIE: Doris in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DORIS: What kind of paint would you use to keep mold away?
TOM: Well, paint is not the solution for mold. If you’ve got mold, there’s other causes for it. We can talk about how to paint to cover a mold stain but if you’ve got mold, you’ve got to address the reason for that. What room are we talking about? Are we talking about an interior room?
TOM: OK. And is there any leak that’s causing this mold?
DORIS: No. Everything’s all in one room and it’s got an A/C. There’s no ventilation.
TOM: Mm-hmm. So you have a lot of humidity, yeah.
OK. So here’s what I would do. First of all, I would wash the surfaces down with TSP – trisodium phosphate. You’ll find that in a paint aisle of a home center or hardware store. And that’s a good way to clean the walls and get them ready for the paint.
The next step is I would prime the walls. And you can use a latex-based or an alkyd primer. And you apply the primer and that’s going to kind of seal in any imperfections in the wall and give you a good, neutral surface upon which to apply your paint. And then you could paint the walls after that.
And you want to use a very good-quality paint; don’t buy cheap paint because it’s just not going to cover well. So a good-quality paint will do the trick. And I think those steps, in that order, will address that concern.
DORIS: OK. Thank you very much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Doris. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill in New Mexico is working on a bathroom remodel. How can we help you with that project?
BILL: Well, thank you for taking my call. I have a project in my bathroom. We have cork flooring and it was installed professionally.
BILL: And with the cork, you can still see the seams and such and I’m concerned about getting out of the tub, out of the shower and the water landing on the cork flooring.
TOM: Well, first of all, cork was a very, very good choice for a bathroom. I mean it lasts indefinitely. I’ve seen cork in homes that are 40 or 50 years old and still in good shape. Cork stands up very well to water, so that’s why it makes a great choice for bathrooms.
In terms of finishing the cork, it’s really quite simple. Today, we just use polyurethane. So, a light sanding and then a couple of coats of polyurethane is really all of the refinishing that needs to be done to that floor.
BILL: So when I do a light sanding, the color in the cork, is it going to change? Is it going to get lighter? Is it going to …?
TOM: It may, depending on how much of that color is dirt and grime and how much of it is the original cork.
TOM: So, I would just do a little bit at a time and do it evenly and just kind of watch what’s happening and monitor as you go.
BILL: A brush? Roller? Spray?
TOM: Actually, the easiest way to put on polyurethane is with something called a "lambswool applicator."
BILL: Oh, yes. I see. Uh-huh.
TOM: Yeah, it’s kind of like a mop. But in a bathroom, it’s so small that you might just find it easier to brush on. I don’t know how big your bathroom is but if it’s your standard 5-foot-by-8-foot bathroom space and you have to go around all the fixtures and cabinetry, if it was me I’d probably just use a 2½- or 3-inch brush.
LESLIE: Up next, when Hurricane Sandy hit almost a year ago, one community along the Jersey Shore was nearly wiped off the map. We’re going to find out what happened, when our exclusive, behind-the-scenes coverage of This Old House: Jersey Shore Rebuilds continues, presented by Red Devil.
TOM: Red Devil’s ONETIME Patch & Prime is great for painting prep. There’s no sanding or priming required. It dries fast and is ready to paint in just minutes. For special offers and the latest in Red Devil’s innovative products, visit SaveOnRedDevil.com.
Back with more, after this.
NORM: Hi. I’m Norm Abram from This Old House and when we’re working on our projects, we listen to The Money Pit.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Owens Corning and The Home Depot. Insulate right, from the start, for a lifetime of comfort and savings. What’s your insulation project? Learn more. Visit HomeDepot.OwensCorning.com today.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
When Hurricane Sandy made the Jersey Shore its direct target, the damage was devastating. Now, almost a year later, This Old House is documenting the renovation of three uninhabitable homes in three iconic New Jersey Shore towns.
TOM: And The Money Pit has been given exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to bring the stories of these renovations, and the victims behind them, to you, presented by Red Devil. And in the next episode, This Old House takes a look at a town that was basically wiped off the map.
LESLIE: Yeah. Every single home in the borough of Mantoloking was damaged and some were completely washed away. You can watch This Old House: Jersey Shore Rebuilds on your local PBS station. This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.
Here’s our report.
TOM: Of all the television images that followed Hurricane Sandy’s attack on the Jersey Shore, it was the images of Mantoloking, New Jersey, that of a town literally ripped in two, which captured the absolute havoc caused by the enormous storm surge.
Mantoloking is a small, quiet community on the Barnegat Peninsula. With only 300 full-time residents, the population grows to over 5,000 every summer, most of who live on the beachfront or on the Barnegat Bay with just a narrow strip of homes and State Highway 35 separating the two sides of the barrier island.
Visiting the area just six months after Sandy hit, This Old House host Kevin O’Connor describes what the team found.
KEVIN: In terms of the property damage, it was incredible. The storm literally breached that little island and it connected ocean to bay. And in the process, it took about 12 or 13 houses that were on the beach, washed them across the state highway and into the bay. And we were down there six months later and some of those houses were still in the bay.
It was 100-percent devastation in many parts of this community. It wiped out services, natural gas, electricity. It wiped out the highway. There was extensive damage to one of the only two bridges to get on or off of the island. So in many respects, it was one of the hardest-hit areas of the storm.
TOM: Along with Bay Head to the north, this area of the Jersey Shore is known as the Gold Coast. There’s traditionally styled houses reflecting a seashore Colonial design, similar to what you might see in places like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.
Fortunately, 100 percent of Mantoloking residents evacuated the barrier island before Sandy struck, which resulted in no injuries or loss of life. But the oceanfront homes, with their million-dollar views, were quite vulnerable to the open sea as Sandy literally ripped the island in two, washing away over a dozen homes in the process.
In Bay Head, the borough just north of Mantoloking, Mayor Bill Curtis says steps his town took decades ago prevented the kind of damage that reshaped Mantoloking forever. Bay Head had constructed something called a "rock-wall revetment." It’s a sort of natural retaining wall that was key to the town’s survival.
BILL: One of the things that saved Bay Head, I’m convinced, is the rock-wall revetment that Bay Head has had since 1962, through 80 percent of the town. On north end of town, where there’s no rock wall, that was the major destruction. We’re the only town along the barrier island that has a rock-wall revetment and it saved our homes. Yes, we got battered but it didn’t undermine all of the homes on the oceanfront and have them swept into the homes behind them.
TOM: In Bay Head, the This Old House team is following Jed and Chris Laird as they rebuild their 1800s beach cottage. It’s a home that’s been in their family for decades. And knowing that they would be away from their home all winter, Chris Laird says they prepared as best they could when they locked up for the season last October.
CHRIS: The last time that we were at our house before Sandy coincided with the Bay Head Halloween Parade, which is the Sunday before Halloween. And every year, we pack up our house and move north for the winter and basically close the house down. And we had prepared for Irene the year before and basically moved valuables and electronics either north or upstairs and hoped that nothing would be touched in the upstairs.
A lot of people were concerned about potential high-wind damage, so we thought, "Keep things away from the windows." And we basically moved art and electronics either up north or upstairs and didn’t really do much else than that.
TOM: And those small steps did help save some of their valuables. But that was perhaps the only upside to what they found when they finally got to see their home several days after Sandy struck. Jed recalled his first impression.
JED: "This is awful." It was horrific. It was clear that 5 feet of water had come in and stayed there for an extended period of time. Most visible image I had was our refrigerator had face-planted on the kitchen floor. How powerful was the water that allowed it to effectively pick up the refrigerator and deposit it on its side?
TOM: For most Sandy victims, taking in what happened and deciding what to do next was an extremely confusing process, with lots of conflicting advice. The natural desire was to get back in as quickly as possible and start to live life again. But according to Chris Laird, waiting before making any major decisions was truly the best advice.
CHRIS: A structural engineer said, "Based on my report, you should rip it down and start over." And we didn’t want to do that but you get so many voices when you’re in a state of panic that you – and thankfully, we did nothing. You know, we had our good contractors, Phil and Kevin, saying, "We can do this. We can get it back to where you are, where you want to be and make it the house that you’ve always loved," that we’ve had so many family memories in.
TOM: For the Lairds, at least, the memories won out. After three decades of spending time here at the Jersey Shore, they just couldn’t bear the thought of losing a home that had been in their family for generations. So, they started the long process of rebuilding. And along the way, they got some unexpected support that’s been a true saving grace.
JED: And This Old House came and we, first of all, started with – our basic goal is to get our old house back. The guidance was helpful but it was really just the underlying interest in our effort. There weren’t specific structural things or design things that they said, "You should do this or you should do that." They were just the opposite. They were – "We’d like to document what you intend to do." But their support has really, really been buoying to us.
TOM: So, as the Lairds hoisted the sails on their rebuilding project, the This Old House team was on board as they cast off together on the journey to take back a home: a home that Hurricane Sandy almost carried off to sea.
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.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Pick up the phone and give us a call to get the answer to your home improvement or repair questions and you’ll get your name thrown into The Money Pit hard hat to win a great prize.
This hour, we’re giving away $50 worth of Concrobium products. Concrobium makes a line of mold-removal products that are more effective and less harmful that bleach.
TOM: The winner gets Mold Control, Mold Stain Eraser, and House & Deck Wash, a non-toxic solution that removes dirt and grime from exterior surfaces.
You can visit CureMyMold.com to learn more about these great Concrobium products. And give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Wouldn’t it be nice to contribute to sustainability and save money on your energy bills? Well, in honor of October’s Energy Awareness Month, here are some do-it-yourself home energy upgrades to help you do just that, presented by Plastics Make it Possible.
TOM: Now, first up, one simple solution to cut some of those drafts is to install plastic film on your windows. It’s really easy to apply and it slows the summer heat from getting into your house and also the winter heat from getting out, as well as the cold air from the outside from getting in.
Now, the way this works is the plastic sheeting is glued with a double-sided tape to the inside of the window. And then you use a hair dryer to shrink it. And by shrinking it, it gets really taut and very, very clear. So if it’s done well, it’s really hard to see that it’s actually in place. And it’s a great way to stop those drafts.
LESLIE: Now, another simple way to improve your home’s energy efficiency is to use a can of insulating foam sealant to fill those large gaps around old window frames or doors. You can also use plastic caulks to fill smaller gaps and air leaks around pipes and sockets and hose bibbs. And add plastic weatherstripping around your windows and door frames to stop that unwanted air movement.
TOM: And finally, let’s talk about those lights, outlets and switches. A lot of times, you get drafts that come through in those areas, so the solution is foam plastic insulators. These are thin foam insulators that slip behind the cover plate, around the outlet or the light switch and then against the wall. And they will basically prevent air movement.
These simple updates might seem small but they can have a big impact on your home’s energy efficiency. And they’re a great way to contribute toward sustainability.
LESLIE: For more tips on energy efficiency, visit PlasticsMakeItPossible.com.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Now, Libby from Missouri is on the line and has some issues with a hardwood floor. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
LIBBY: I really think my hardwood floors need to be redone. They’re very faded where there’s traffic and a lot of gap.
LIBBY: And that house is about 60 years old. It’s very noisy. Lots of just wear and scratches. And I’m trying to decide whether I should just, you know, not try to redo them and – or maybe there’s something that I can do to them to make them look better without totally refinishing them. I don’t know. You have any suggestions?
TOM: Well, sure, Libby. Let me ask you about the condition of the floors. You said that they’re scratched but are the scratches just in the finish or are they sort of deep scratches in the wood boards themselves?
LIBBY: No, they’re not deep scratches. Just from like – just everyday wear, mostly. They’re in really good shape. One room that’s not used very much is in I mean excellent – it looks almost brand new. But the other, there’s – it’s just normal, everyday kind of wear.
TOM: Alright. So here’s what you can do, Libby. You don’t have to belt-sand the floors, which is the way – when you totally refinish them, you take all the old finish off and you grind down an 1/8-inch of material. You don’t have to do that. What you can do is you could just lightly sand the upper surface of the finish and then put another layer or two of urethane over that.
The best way to do that is with a floor buffer and a sanding screen. Now, you can go to a tool-rental place and you can rent a floor buffer and then you can purchase sanding screens, which are these screens that are about 18 inches in diameter. Looks kind of like window-screen material but it’s abrasive.
And there’s two sides to it, so you can use one side, flip it over, then use the other side. And you position it underneath the floor buffer and as you use the buffer in the room, it lightly abrades the surface of the old floor. That takes out the dirt and the grime. It takes off some of the old – any old wax, that kind of stuff. And it’ll start to take out the scratches and that kind of evens it out and cleans it up. Then you vacuum it or damp-mop all that dust up. And then you can apply two layers of urethane.
Now, I’ll give you a trick of the trade. The first layer should be a high gloss, because the glossy urethane is harder than satin. So put the first layer of high gloss and maybe even a second layer of high gloss but your last layer could be satin. And that will give you a nice, even, soft finish and still be as hard as possible.
LIBBY: Oh, OK. I will see if I can get someone to help me with that.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, more ideas how to insulate your home for the winter, including how to keep your floors warm, so stick around.
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TOM: Where home solutions live, 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 solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. We’d love to take your questions about home improvement, home repair, home décor and home maintenance, 888-666-3974.
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LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, head on over to MoneyPit.com and you can post your question in the Community section, just like Rob from North Carolina did who writes: "What are the best insulation options to keep a tile floor warm when installed over a crawlspace? Would a reflective blanket stapled to the joists make any difference? What about the new spray-on insulation? Are there any fire concerns with that type?"
TOM: So many questions. Well, listen, we want to keep you warm here, Rob, so let’s start with the simple stuff first.
The simplest thing that you can do in that crawlspace is to insulate it with fiberglass. I mean that’s something you can do yourself. You can do it in just a few hours. If you buy the right, appropriately-sized fiberglass batts – which means if your floors are 24 inches on center, you buy the 22-inch batts; if they’re 16 inch on center, you buy the 15-inch batts and so on. And there’s these wire hangers that basically fit just in between the floor joists. So you press the batt up in place, you put the wire hanger under it and you’re pretty much done. That in and of itself will make a major difference.
You asked about reflective barriers. I’m not a big fan of reflective barriers in the attic or in the floor joists, really anywhere, because I’ve just not seen enough data to convince me that they really are going to help you save on your heating and cooling bills. And in terms of the spray-on foam insulation, yeah, it’s great stuff, you know. But the only thing I would say is that doing just a crawlspace would probably be somewhat expensive for the return on investment. It’s different if you’re doing the whole house but just a limited area, there’s a big sort of mobilization cost with that to get the equipment and so on to your house.
So the simplest thing that you can do is just turn to fiberglass insulation. Put unfaced fiberglass batts inside those floor joists and I think you’ll see an immediate difference.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Amber in Utah writes: "When we walk across a certain part of our tile floor in the kitchen, you can hear an air duct pop. It just started and the house is five years old. The previous owners said they never had that problem."
TOM: Well, that’s possible. What’s happening is the ducts are doing what we call "oil canning." Now, unless you’re old enough to know this, oil used to be sold in a can. And when the can was empty, if you sort of pressed your thumb into the side, it would make sort of a pinging sound. That’s why it’s called "oil canning." And that’s what’s going on with your ducts.
So, the ducts themselves, as the air comes on, they expand and that popping or pinging sound is the ducts sort of flexing and then the metal echoing that. The way to stop it is to reinforce the ducts. And the way you do that, very simply, is you – I’ll give you a little trick. You could take a strip of wood, say a 1x2, and you could attach that. Cut that to fit diagonally across the duct and then take some drywall screws and attach it into the body of the duct. What you’re doing is basically interrupting that metal’s ability to kind of pop; it’s making it a little bit stronger. And it’s a real cheap, inexpensive way to make it go away. It’s not very pretty but it works.
LESLIE: Perfect. Alright. That’s a good solution.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this beautiful fall weekend with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and some ideas on how to save money, cut costs, improve your comfort and be a bit more sustainable all season long.
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.)