Adding insulation is the simplest and easiest way to cut heating costs and save energy. Learn how to insulate your home to save the most energy and cut down on heating costs. Find out why an air filter is the first step to maintaining a forced air heating and cooling system and get a furnace maintenance checklist. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about cleaning gutters, fixing a settling foundation, venting an attic, eliminating mice in a dropped ceiling, installing radiant heating in a driveway, replacing windows with energy efficient ones, whole house humidifiers and tiling a kitchen countertop.
TRANSCRIPT FOR SEPTEMBER 28, 2009, HOUR 1
Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 0:025]
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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
We’re going to talk a lot, this hour, about how to save money this fall, this winter in your home; starting with the number one way that you can cut your heating costs, the number one home improvement that you can do that’s going to save you some money and make your home more environmentally friendly at the same time and that is to add insulation. We’re going to tell you how to do it, how much you need and where to put it, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Plus, every forced air heating system has one – I’m talking about one – cheap and fundamental part that needs regular replacement. What are we talking about? We’re talking about the filter. Yes, you do need to change it. We are going to tell you where the filter is and how replacing it will keep your home breathing easy and keep you breathing easy in your home when we talk to This Old House plumbing and heating expert, Richard Trethewey, a little later this hour.
TOM: And along with your filter, now is the right time to make sure your furnace is working properly and safely for an entire winter of comfortable and safe heating. We’re going to talk about the essential things that must be serviced to make sure your system is in good shape for the season.
LESLIE: And we’ve got an amazing prize this hour that will help cut down on your furnace usage this winter. We’ve got an EdenPure portable heater worth almost 400 bucks. I’ve got one and they work fantastic.
TOM: Whoo, what a prize. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now. That EdenPure portable heater is going to go to one caller that reaches us this hour, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, with their home improvement question. 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to the phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Joyce in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOYCE: I have a ranch-style home in Florida that has two pitched roofs coming together. The roof from the house meets the screened roof from the pool cage …
JOYCE: … and at the base of it is a gutter. And it traps everything.
TOM: I bet it does. (chuckles)
JOYCE: We live close to – we live to a woods and so we get all the leaves down in that V-shaped trap. And how can we – short of going up there every couple of weeks to blow out the gutter, what can we do to try to keep this from …
TOM: You’ve got a major design problem here.
LESLIE: I’ve actually – and I know this is crazy and you’re going to think I sit around and watch the Home Shopping Network – but I actually saw something; have never tried it but it looked interesting on the show. It’s something by iRobot and it’s something called like the Looj – it’s like L-o-o-j – and it’s a gutter-cleaning robot …
LESLIE: … and it’s a thing – I mean I can’t describe it but it sits in your gutter and you put it up there once and then you operate it by a remote.
TOM: That’s a great idea. I actually saw that at the Consumer Electronics Show and you’re right.
TOM: It is a gutter-cleaning robot and you have to drop it in the gutter and then you come down off the ladder and push the button and it just kind of walks back and forth and throws all the leaves out of the gutter.
LESLIE: I mean for 130 bucks, it’s worth a shot.
JOYCE: Oh, that’s a great idea. I didn’t know there was anything like that, so …
TOM: Yeah, I think it’s the same folks that make Roomba, as Leslie said.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s by iRobot; I know that.
JOYCE: OK. Well, thanks so much. I’m going to try that and see what happens. There are a lot of us down here that have this pool design with the cage. So thanks much.
LESLIE: Well, you’ve got to keep the gators out. (all chuckle)
TOM: Joyce, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in Illinois is dealing with a very old home – we’re talking 110 years – and the joys of maintaining it. What’s going on at your house?
JOHN: Hi, there. Listen to you guys all the time and glad to talk to you.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Thanks, John.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Our pleasure.
JOHN: I’ve got a 110-year-old house. The people that owned it before us didn’t take care of the foundation and it settled on one side. And I’ve got two rooms on that side that the wall bowed out at the bottom about three feet up from the floor and about six feet in from the middle on both rooms.
TOM: Are these plaster walls, John?
JOHN: Well, they were lath and plaster. We’ve got it stripped out.
TOM: So it’s not loose plaster that’s bulging?
JOHN: No, it’s the studs and everything were bowed out; the whole wall shifted out.
TOM: OK, so do you think this happened over time or did this happen all at once? I mean when – was it bowed when you had the plaster on it; you’ve just stripped that off now?
JOHN: We stripped everything off. We replaced the foundation with a foam block foundation.
TOM: Alright, so now you have a really twisted wall and you’re trying to figure out how to even it out, correct?
TOM: Alright. Now, is the wall covered with anything right now or is it just a stud wall?
JOHN: Just a stud wall.
TOM: OK. So here’s what you’re going to want to do. Now, if you’ve only got two or three studs in the middle that are twisted out, you can either fir above and below that with some additional lumber to make it all even; but an easier thing to do would be to take some new 2x4s or even 1x4s and attach them to the sides of the bowed studs and you want to pull them out about a half-inch past where the wall is right now, so you’ll lose a tiny bit of space. But basically, you’re creating a new flat wall. You do the end walls first, then you put a string across from one to the other and you make sure every one lines up at the top and every one lines up at the bottom. You’re essentially creating a new plane, if you could think of it, in the wall and the curved part now will be behind that. So you’re building it out a little bit evenly by attaching new lumber to the side of the crooked ones.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Well, we are officially in autumn everyone. Hooray! I’m so excited. I love the fall. It is my favorite time of year. It is also the perfect home improvement season, so if you’ve got a project and you need a hand, give us a call 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, it’s pink, it’s fluffy and it keeps you and your house warm. No, we’re not talking about the world’s largest piece of cotton candy. (Leslie chuckles) We’re talking about insulation and we’re going to tell you how to determine how much you have, whether you need more and how to install it, after this.
LESLIE: Ah, as a candy junkie, I am disappointed. (Tom chuckles)
[audio timestamp: 0:06:49.3]
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.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got a great reason for you to do just that because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the EdenPure GEN3 quartz infrared portable heater. This is a fantastic product; very safe to operate. It’s going to save you tons of energy and money. It’s got no exposed heating elements, so there is no danger of accidental fire and it can cut your heating bills by as much as 50 percent. It’s worth 397 bucks but you could win one if you’re among the callers who reach us this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And by way of full disclosure, we should say that these guys are friends of yours, Leslie.
LESLIE: Yeah, you know what? They are. And I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got an EdenPure GEN3 in my house, which is always freezing. It helps to regulate the temperature. I love it and it’s really a great deal and we want you guys to get one, too.
TOM: So we made a deal with them. We told them that we would talk about this on the show if they gave you an opportunity to buy one and gave you a great price on it and they said OK. So here’s the deal. During this show, if you pick up the phone and give them a call – I’m going to give you a special number; 800-262-4824 – not only can you buy the EdenPure at 100 bucks off but they’ll let you try it for free for 60 days. What do you got to lose? You can try it out for 60 days and make sure it works for you and you get 100 bucks off if you buy it. The number is 800-262-4824. You must put in the authorization code “Leslie” because these guys are pals of Leslie.
LESLIE: They’re my buddies.
TOM: Call them now. The number is 800-262-4284.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got George in Texas who has a roof turbine question. What’s going on at your money pit?
GEORGE: Well, I’ve got a 2,600-square-foot split level house and there’s two turbine vents on one side and the other side has an attic fan – a motorized, electric fan, 14 inch. Now the motor burned up on the electric fan and I was wondering if it’d be wiser to replace it with a turbine or should I stick with the electric.
TOM: So you have how many fans in the attic space now?
GEORGE: One fan and two turbine vents.
TOM: Right. Well, turbine vents are very inefficient and a fan is generally a waste of money. So this is an unfinished attic space?
TOM: What we would recommend is, rather than have turbine fans and attic vents – attic fans – that you have a passive ventilation system consisting of soffit vents at the overhang and ridge vents at the peak.
GEORGE: Oh, OK then.
TOM: Now, the ridge vent at the peak and the soffit vent at the overhang are going to work together because as wind blows over the roof of your house, the ridge vent will be depressurized and the air will be drawn out of that space; as it blows across the side of the house, it will be pressurized and air will be blown into that attic space.
GEORGE: Oh, I see.
TOM: So it kind of circulates 24/7/365 that way. You follow me?
GEORGE: Yes. And what kind of money are we talking about for a ridge vent?
TOM: Well, it depends. You know, it’s a carpentry/roofing project.
TOM: But it won’t be terribly expensive. But that’s the best way to go.
GEORGE: Alright, appreciate your help.
TOM: Alright, George. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to New York to chat with Ken about some unwanted visitors. You’ve got mice, huh?
KEN: I have a drop ceiling in my basement and it has insulation in it; fiberglass. I think – I believe it’s fiberglass now.
KEN: And there are plenty of droppings there inside the – on the ceiling tiles. I was just wondering if they were nesting up there. They suggested removal of the fiberglass insulation but will that make my basement colder or my upstairs first floor colder or …?
TOM: First of all, you need to get rid of the mice problem here, Ken, and there’s a couple of things that you can do to try to make it a little less inviting. First of all, I would suggest that you put down some bait because bait is very effective.
KEN: Yeah, I have that down already. The exterminator was in already, yeah.
TOM: Alright. OK, so you had the exterminator. Did you also – did he talk to you about inspecting the outside of the siding? Because very often you’ll have some little holes that’ll form in the siding or right …
LESLIE: And they can be the tiniest holes; like the size of nickels.
TOM: Yeah. And even right under the siding that’s up into that same space. And a way to deal with that is to take some steel wool and kind of stuff it in there so that they can’t get in. As Leslie said, they don’t need much space; maybe something the size of a quarter or so they can squeeze right in. So make sure you inspect the outside perimeter of your house to try to identify any spaces that the mice can be getting in.
LESLIE: And generally, Ken, if you sign up with some sort of service contract with an exterminator who will work with you maybe in like over two or three months to solve this problem – especially this time of year, they’re looking to come inside – the exterminator should, in their package, you know, go around the perimeter of your home and look for all of these holes and seal them. I know I live, I think, in a similar area to where you live in New York and we had a similar problem in the fall season and I hired a company and a gentleman came and he found holes that I missed, which is where they were coming in. And it wasn’t a huge expense for us.
Vivian in Rhode Island, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
VIVIAN: Hi. I called regarding installing electric radiant heat in a driveway.
VIVIAN: And what are the pros and cons about it?
TOM: Well, it’s pretty expensive to operate. Has this been a big issue for you in this driveway?
VIVIAN: Not really.
VIVIAN: The house is about 12 years old and it’s on an incline.
VIVIAN: And to have the landscaper come in and plow when it does – when we do have a snowstorm, it’s inconvenient. It’d be so nice to just put the …
TOM: Right. Well, what kind of driveway material is it?
TOM: Asphalt? Well, you realize that to install the electric radiant, you’re going to have to tear up the driveway.
TOM: So, it’s a really, really expensive solution because by …
LESLIE: And does it really melt all the snow? I mean how much money would it cost to generate the heat to do that?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, it does. Well, it does but it’s going to be real expensive to run it and it’s going to be real expensive to install it. So you’re talking about – you say you have to have the guy come in and plow but I think the cost of the plowing is going to be less than the cost of the demolition plus the utility of running this plus the cost of the installation over many, many years.
LESLIE: George in Utah needs some help with heating. What can we do for you?
GEORGE: Oh, well thank you for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome.
GEORGE: I had a question about some electric panel heaters that I saw in the back of Popular Mechanics.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. Alright.
GEORGE: The little ad advertisement was, you know, “Save at least 50 percent off your heating bills,” and it says that it’s a low-power draw panel heater that you just simply bolt to the wall. It’s supposed to cost you pennies a day. And I was kind of curious as to, if you have any thoughts on that, when compared to using gas to heat your home, is this really going to be the big – you know, the big energy – or excuse me – the big monetary savings using these electric panel heaters in rooms as opposed to your natural gas heater and a programmable thermostat that can shut heat down when you’re not using it.
TOM: Do you remember the name of the product?
GEORGE: Well, I know the website that was referred to. It was the letter “E” – EHeat.com. And they sell them for about $100 apiece and it was basically off of an ad that I saw in the back of Popular Mechanics.
TOM: George, I think the kind of product that you’re talking about is, essentially, a space heater. It mounts to the wall and it has …
LESLIE: It looks pretty cool.
TOM: Yeah, it usually mounts to the wall and it has – I should say off the wall a little bit so that air flows behind it.
TOM: It sort of creates a convective loop, which is fine. I mean you know, you could have an electric heater sitting on the floor that’ll do the same thing. This is just a wall-mounted. However, this is not designed to heat an entire house. It’s really designed just to put in some additional heat to one or two rooms; perhaps a bathroom or a basement.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, or a room that has a lot of windows or not enough insulation.
TOM: Yeah, maybe like a Florida room or a place like that. So I think it’s a pretty efficient electric heater but, in fact, it is an electric heater and not designed for the entire house; just designed for those rooms where you just need to add some additional heat.
GEORGE: Yeah, and in reading the ad – and that was why I asked you guys first; because it is a hefty investment at $100 a heater and the ad, you know, I think kind of over-pitched the product; but that’s why I was kind of curious and wanted to ask the question first.
TOM: Alright, well we hope we helped you out.
GEORGE: Thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Protecting against the over-pitch; a wise Money Pit listener.
LESLIE: Joan’s calling in from New Jersey with a window question. What can we do for you today?
JOAN: Yes, I have a question about the difference between resistance glass or argon glass. Is there a difference that you know about?
TOM: Between what type of glass and argon?
JOAN: Resistance glass.
TOM: Hmm, not quite sure what you’re talking about with respect to resistance glass but argon is the gas that’s in between two panes of glass. It’s an insulating gas and it makes the window much more energy efficient.
JOAN: Right. So you’ve never heard of the resistance glass.
TOM: I don’t know what you’re talking about with the resistance, no. I’ll tell you what you need to do, though. You need – if you’re going to choose replacement windows, you want to make sure that you buy a window that qualifies for the federal energy tax credit.
TOM: There’s a label on the window. It’s called the FNRC rating; the National Fenestration Rating Council. And that label is how you tell whether or not the window qualifies for the federal energy tax credit. You’ll want to get that in writing from any window contractor you talk to because if it does qualify, you can get up to a 30-percent tax credit on the cost of the windows.
JOAN: OK, doesn’t have that, that’s not too good.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. You know, if you go to MoneyPit.com, on the home page you will find one of the articles that’s featured in the gallery is a detailed guide to how to replace your windows; everything you need to know about choosing the different types of glass. It’s all there on the home page at MoneyPit.com.
JOAN: Great. Thank you so much.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright? You’re welcome. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, well we promised you guys a tip about insulation and I promise you, it is a great way to cut down on your energy costs. So if you’re looking to save some cash – and we all are – take a peek in your attic. You’re going to need about 19 inches in fiberglass batt insulation or about 22 inches of blown insulation. So you peek up there. If you find you do need some more, here are a few insulation tips.
You want to use small pieces of plywood for sitting or kneeling upon and for cutting your insulation and you want to start at the outer edge of the attic and then work towards the center.
TOM: Now, if the joists in your attic are already filled with insulation, you want to put the new insulation in in long runs perpendicular to the joists; in other words, go with a crisscross pattern. If you’ve got any leftover pieces of insulation, you can fill some of the small spaces after that.
Now, if the joists are not filled up to the tippy top with insulation, do that first and then put a second layer perpendicular to the first; not parallel but perpendicular. Just gives you a better insulating blanket and it’ll keep you nice and warm and toasty all winter long.
LESLIE: And if you want to learn more about how to add insulation in your attic or anywhere in your house, head on over to the Repair and Improve section of MoneyPit.com; lots of great information there and it’s very important for this time of year.
Alright, well it’s quick, easy and cheap. We are going to tell you how changing your forced air filter can help with your energy bills, so stick around.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:32.0]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Install a new, energy-efficient Therma-Tru door today and qualify for up to a $1,500 tax credit. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com/TaxCredit.
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: And now is the time to get your home ready for winter’s chills, check for leaks, add insulation, make sure all your heating components are working right. Learn how to do all of that and more at the new and improved MoneyPit.com. Or you can go online and simply Google “Money Pit save energy” and you’ll get everything we’ve ever written about that topic.
LESLIE: George in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
GEORGE: Yes, what it is is that we had an air handler replaced in the loft and the outside heat pump was also replaced.
GEORGE: The air handler was replaced and the outside heat pump was replaced.
GEORGE: We have a 2,400-square-foot house. My question is it’s not getting as cold or cool as it should be on a hot day. I’m losing ground.
GEORGE: And what I wanted to know, the question was what should be the temperature coming out of that register inside the home when it’s set on …
TOM: Oh, good question. It depends, George, on what you set the thermostat at, but more important than the temperature that comes out is the difference between the air coming out and the air going back in. What you’ll want to do is measure the temperature of the air at the supply and measure the air temperature at the return register. And the difference should be 15 to 20 degrees. So, for example, if it is going back into the register at, say, 85, 88 degrees, it ought to be coming out at 70 degrees.
TOM: And if you don’t have 15-to-20-degree differential, then your system is not working right and you need to give it some attention. In that case, I would call a pro.
GEORGE: Yeah. Is there any question on these – an air handler and the heat pump not being compatible as far – they’re 3.5-ton units; both of them.
TOM: OK. And they were both replaced. And so, if the HVAC pro did their job right, they would have put back in the same size units that they took out.
GEORGE: Well, yes, that’s true; that is true. But the fact is that they’re a different brand.
TOM: That doesn’t matter.
TOM: Yeah, not as much. I tend to think that this is an issue with refrigerant more than anything else. That’s why I would measure the supply and the return air and see if you get that 15-to-20-degree difference. If you don’t, get it fixed.
GEORGE: Alright. Yeah.
TOM: Before it runs out of warranty, too.
GEORGE: OK, thanks a lot, Tom.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got a forced air heating and cooling system, then let me tell you that air filters are your friend. But not all filters are created equal.
TOM: That’s right. Some filters will do a good job and stop contaminants like dust and mold but others will only stop things that are bigger than maybe, say, a small rock, pebble, boulder.
LESLIE: (chuckling) It’s true.
TOM: To find out the difference, we’re going to welcome host Kevin O’Connor and heating expert Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House.
And Kevin, you know, protecting your lungs and your HVAC equipment are both parts of the job of the filter.
KEVIN: Yeah, that’s right. Replacing the filters in your heating and cooling system not only helps keep the air you breathe free of dust and other particles; it can also protect your equipment.
Richard, there are a lot of filter options out there. Can you walk us a few of the choices?
RICHARD: Well, filters are such an important part of any forced air system. I mean they really protect you and the equipment. I’m not sure what you think but I think I want to protect myself as much as anything. I don’t want anything getting down into my lungs. So it starts with those cheap, blue, spun filters. You see them all the time. And I’ve got to tell you, if you can see through them, they’re not going to do much to keep out impurities. They might stop a bottle or a rock from going down the ductwork but not much more.
Now, pleated filters are clearly better. The deeper the filter, the more surface area, the air has more time to sit on those pleats and really get a high-level filtration. And electrostatic pleated filters are even better.
KEVIN: And even one step up from electrostatic filters are electronic filters. How do you feel about those?
RICHARD: I like them very much because those allow a little electric charge to make the impurities stick to that media. And you can put them in the dishwasher and keep them clean.
KEVIN: Alright, and they’re good for anyone who’s got asthma or allergies. So to learn more about disposal forced air filters and to watch a video of an electronic filter installation, visit us at ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: Filtering out the good from the bad and ugly.
Richard Trethewey and Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Glad to be here.
LESLIE: Hey, you know, Tom, now that we are officially in the modern age, having installed a cooling system in a hot water-based house …
LESLIE: … I can be one of those many people that forgets to change my air filters. (chuckles)
TOM: No, you won’t because I will harass you about it and remind you every single week or, better yet, follow the advice of Kevin and Richard and go get an electronic air cleaner.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Well, you know what? In the meantime, I’ll start collecting those small rocks for you.
TOM: Yeah, you do that. (Leslie chuckles)
Hey, you can learn more about your heating and cooling system by also watching Ask This Old House on PBS and Ask This Old House is brought to you by Bellawood prefinished hardwood floors.
Well, another great way to keep things running right is a quick furnace checkup. Get a pen and paper ready because when we come back we’re going to have a checklist for you of what it should include.
[audio timestamp: 0:24:27.7]
ANNOUNCEMENT: This portion of the Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Two-Part Epoxy Garage Floor Coating. Transform drab, gray, concrete garage floors into attractive and functional spaces with a showroom-quality finish. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.
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 hey, you guys know it; the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Write it down and use it. Pick up the phone, give us a call because you are going to get expert advice and answers to your most burning home improvement questions and you could win a great prize.
We’re giving away, this week, a big one. We have got the EdenPure GEN3 quartz infrared portable heater which will cut your heating bills by up to 50 percent. It’s got no exposed heating elements, so it’s very, very safe; in fact, it only gets warm to the touch. And I’ve got one and it is true and I have had my one-year-old sort of like stumble by it and it is absolutely perfect. I don’t really have to worry about it and I know it’s going to be super-toasty. It’s natural, it’s a healthy heat, you will feel fantastic.
The prize is worth $397 but one very lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour could win one for free, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: And by the way, because these guys are pals of Leslie – we’ve actually done a little work with them – they’ve offered a special deal for Money Pit listeners. If you call them this hour, they will give you $100 off an EdenPure heater and allow you to try it for free for 60 days, but you’ve got to call this number. It’s 800-262-4824 or you can go to EdenPure.com as well but you need to know the authorization code, “Leslie,” because these folks are friends of Leslie. (chuckles)
LESLIE: And you can’t forget that.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to help you save even more money on your heating bills. And one way you can do that is to make sure that you get a heating system service done right now, while it’s still not too totally cool out in parts of the country. It’s a little chilly. But before you really turn that furnace on full time for the winter, now is the right time to do it. And that needs to include a few things to make sure it’s done properly.
Start with the thermostat; make sure it’s calibrated so that you’re not wasting money. Change your filter, as we’ve discussed earlier. And the system needs to have all the electrical components and controls cleaned by the pro; by the HVAC pro.
LESLIE: And you want to make sure that you call up whoever does your service now because a lot of these companies, once you get into like major heating season, they won’t come out for just a basic service check; they’re already too busy doing repairs. So get in now while it’s still just the beginning of the season and they’ll really come on by and do a thorough job for you.
And here’s a big thing that you’ll want to check for when you’re checking all of your components. You want to check your heat exchanger for cracks because a crack in the heat exchanger is going to allow carbon monoxide to leak into your home; which we all know is very, very dangerous. So you want to check airflow and make sure that everything is running correctly.
And finally, guys, just make sure – I know everybody thinks this is a spare room where you can store things – luggage, chairs, coats, whatever – but don’t put anything flammable near your furnace. Be tidy. Find another space. Give yourself room in there for the equipment to operate properly and safely and you will all be very happy.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to help you out.
LESLIE: Taking a call from Utah with Larry who’s having something going on in the basement. What’s happening?
LARRY: Hi, you guys. I love your show.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Thank you.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Thanks, Larry.
LARRY: I remodeled about a sixty-year-old house and I did the drywall and everything, finished the basement and then I started getting musty smells, especially like in the fall and winter ...
LARRY: ... or in the spring, when it's wet. So I was wondering if you recommend some kind of spray insulation or something to go behind the wall?
TOM: Well, the basement is already finished, Larry?
LARRY: Yeah, it is.
TOM: And how did you finish it? Did you put up a frame wall and put drywall over that?
TOM: OK. Well, it's a little bit too late to do anything to those walls at this moment. Had you called us before that, we'd have told you not to use drywall; to use a product that's actually not paper-faced. There's a fiberglass-faced type of drywall that's less resistant to mold. But now that you're in this particular situation, we want to try to get the humidity down in the basement as much as possible.
Do you have a forced-air heating system?
LARRY: Yeah, I do.
TOM: And does it also heat the basement?
TOM: Excellent. The best thing for you to do is to install a whole-home dehumidifier. This ...
LESLIE: Yeah. You're not going to have to dump water out with this thing.
TOM: This will be installed into the HVAC system and it will dehumidify the entire house and keep the humidity just perfect in that basement space. If you can manage the humidity, you're going to manage that odor and that musty, damp smell and that's going to reduce the risk of a mold problem developing.
LARRY: OK. Well, thank you so much, you guys. Once again, I love your show.
TOM: You're very welcome, Larry. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yolanda in Utah needs some help with a tiling project. What can we do for you?
YOLANDA: How you doing, Leslie and Tom? My husband and I enjoy the Money Pit but I have this problem. I’m trying to put some mirror-filled (ph) tile on my old countertop and it has like an – it was built in 1979 so it has that old Formica that is just kind of glued on there.
YOLANDA: And I’m wondering what would be the best way to prepare that so that I can install the tile.
TOM: I think you can probably go right on the Formica. Leslie, have you ever glued right to that with an adhesive?
LESLIE: I actually have and the one key thing is that you really want to scuff up the Formica before you go ahead and put the tile mastic or the tile adhesive onto the Formica because you need to sort of grit it up and scratch it up so that it has some area for the adhesive to really stick to it and grip into it, rather than just sort of sitting on top where it could kind of crack away.
TOM: That’s not that hard to do, Yolanda. Just get some 80-grit sandpaper and go at it. When you’re ready to do the tile project, just rough it up and then you could put the adhesive right on that.
YOLANDA: Oh, that’s great. That sounds like an inexpensive solution for us.
LESLIE: It truly is. And once you’ve got your mastic set and the tiles are glued down properly, go ahead and grout your countertop and then make sure, once that’s dry, you seal the grout so you don’t have to worry about cleaning it and mold and mildew and all that yuck.
YOLANDA: Oh, that sounds great. Thank you very much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: She’s very excited about her project.
TOM: Very excited. It’s a fun project.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we’ve talked a lot this hour about how to add some insulation to keep your home warmer this winter, but there are some occasions when that is easier said than done. We’re going to help one listener figure out how to best add insulation to the walls of his slate-sided home. Now you may have an aluminum-sided, a composite-siding house or some other type of house where you don’t want to damage the outside siding. How do you add the insulation to that space? We’re going to tell you, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:31:58.9]
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and we want you to be part of The Money Pit. So if you’ve got a question but you just are feeling too shy or you just don’t want to talk to us on the phone – because I don’t blame you; sometimes Tom is scary (Tom chuckles) and sometimes I can be mean – (chuckles) but seriously, if you don’t feel like picking up the phone, e-mail us your question instead and we will answer them as best we can either on the air or on our website at MoneyPit.com and even in our newsletter. So check it out because your e-mail could be answered right in front of your face. Just look a little bit.
Now, if you want to shoot us an e-mail, head on over to MoneyPit.com; click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and we will get to them just like we do here on the show every hour. And I’ve got one here from Marty in Minnesota who writes: “How do you add insulation to a home built in 1907 with slate siding? You can’t drill holes and blow it in and I don’t know if it could be removed without breaking it and it sounds kind of expensive.”
TOM: Well, you can drill holes and blow it in but you don’t need to drill the holes in the slate siding, Marty, because every wall has two sides (Leslie chuckles) and you want to drill it on the interior. In fact, that’s a very, very common way to insulate a home that is sided that you don’t want to mess with the exterior surfaces. Typically, you’re going to use a blown-in insulation – cellulose is best; goes in under a slight pressure and then those holes – they’re only about an inch in diameter, by the way – are plugged and then the plug ends up being slightly below the surface and then it is spackled and, of course, you do need to repaint. We can’t get you out of that project but you will feel a lot warmer if you have those exterior walls insulated.
Now, in my old house, I actually insulated the exterior walls when we tore off three layers of siding because it was one of those while-you’re-at-it kinds of projects. But if you can’t tear off siding, you can always do it from the inside and that’s the way to go.
LESLIE: And my goodness, you must have been freezing your patootie off up there in Minnesota. (Tom chuckles) So good luck with that, Marty.
Alright, we’ve got one here from Doris in Wyoming who writes: “I have a 1970 modular home built on a poured concrete base. Some of the exterior siding comes close to the ground and overlaps the foundation. We replaced some of the damaged siding and put in new insulation last year. We found a lot of insects behind the siding. Can we seal the space where the siding overlaps the foundation with caulk or would this trap moisture behind the siding?”
TOM: No, it’s fine to seal that area and I’ll tell you a good product to do that with is Great Stuff but I’ll give you a little tip. The Great Stuff is that expandable foam-in-a-can sealant.
LESLIE: How do you know that you’re not putting too much where it might force off the …?
TOM: Well, that’s the point. There’s different formulations of this stuff and there is a type that’s designed for windows and doors and that’s what I would use here and here’s why. Because the window-and-door stuff is more sort of squishy even when it’s dry and it won’t push the siding out.
If you don’t have to worry about that, you can use the standard stuff and that dries really hard – I mean hard as a rock – and you can cut it away if you get excess. But since you’re …
LESLIE: Cut it, you can paint it.
TOM: Well, but since you’re working up under the siding, I would use the window-and-door formulation. I think it would work a lot better.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And this way, you don’t have to worry about accidentally forcing off your siding.
Alright, Martin in Rhode Island writes: “The caulking both inside and outside of my shower stall has turned ugly brown-black. How can I fix this?”
TOM: Well, that depends on whether the stains are on top of the caulk or in the caulk, which you can determine simply by wiping it down with some bleach. If it comes off and comes nice and clean, then you’re good to go. If not, you’re going to have to strip out that old caulk. And by the way, if you have trouble getting it out, there’s a product called a caulk softener – kind of like a paint stripper; softens it up and makes it easy to remove.
LESLIE: Alright, I hope that helps. It’s an easy project. And let me tell you, clean caulk will make your bathroom look brand, spanking new.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. If you did, I guarantee you you’re going to be a lot warmer in your house this winter because we’ve talked a lot about ways to save energy and insulation, improve your heating systems; just be generally more comfortable this fall, this winter. And we gave away an EdenPure heater and if you didn’t win one, remember, you can go to EdenPure.com or call them. Mention the authorization code “Leslie” and they’ll give you 100 bucks off and allow you to try it for free for 60 days. That number is 1-800-262-4284.
If you’ve missed any of the tips we gave out on today’s show – maybe you’re driving; haven’t had a chance to write anything down – go to MoneyPit.com, click on Repair and Improve and you will find it right there.
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 2009 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.)