Going out of town for the holidays? Get tips to make sure your home is safe while you’re away. Learn step-by-step instructions for repairing crumbling mortar in brick or stone work from the experts at This Old House. Also find out which materials hold up best for this project. Get info on a very energy efficient water heater for your home that will pay for itself in a few short years. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, laminate flooring, installing radiant heat, cleaning walls after removing wallpaper, best insulation for your project, removing mold on shower doors, solving dishwasher malfunction , benefits of solar panels and correcting a dryer vent problem.
(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 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. Do you have a holiday makeover plan to get done before the relatives and the friends and the family come to visit? You want to redo the loo? You want to fix up, perhaps the bedroom; make a guest room so that some folks have a place to stay that’s comfortable and – well, not too comfortable; we don’t want them to stay too terribly long. (Leslie chuckles) But we can help you with that. Pick up the phone and give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
And speaking of the holidays, if you’ve got plans to go away over the holidays, you might want to think about how you’re going to protect your house while it’s vacant. We’re going to have some tips for some very specific ideas on how you can keep your house safe while you’re away; because while you’re away, the burglars like to prey.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Boy, you are the rhyming king today.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Not in a religious sense of the word but in a stalking sense of the word. (chuckles)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Alright. And also ahead this hour, if you are planning on building something out of stone or brick or even concrete block, that is some of the most durable building materials that are out there. But if not done properly, you know, the mortar between these materials can fail over time.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. But the good news is it can be repaired and you can learn how when we get the step-by-step later this hour from Tom Silva and Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House. And those guys know how to fix up those old, stone walls; so we’ll get some tips and some tricks from them.
LESLIE: Hey, also ahead, we’ve got info on an extremely efficient way to heat water for your home that will pay for itself in just a few, short years.
LESLIE: And one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a great prize. We’re giving away the Eureka’s new Whirlwind Plus upright vacuum and it’s worth 129 bucks.
TOM: The prize that sucks but that’s a good thing. (Leslie chuckles) Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Judy from California, who’s looking to talk about radiant heat for a floor. What can we do for you?
JUDY: Well, I’m glad that you know what it’s called because I didn’t know. (Tom laughs)
LESLIE: Oh, well there you go.
JUDY: (chuckling) I live in the lovely foothills of California where it gets pretty chilly in the winter.
TOM: I bet.
JUDY: And I have three border collies. So I want to replace my hardwood floors with tile; some sort of tile, which I haven’t figured out yet what would be best. So that’s part of one question but the other – the bigger question is isn’t there a way to put heat under it and, if so, how prohibitively expensive is it?
TOM: Well, it’s not cheap; I’ll tell you that. Because first of all, it’s not cheap to use because it’s electric resistance heat, electric radiant heat. So it’s going to be fairly costly to operate. You know, if you’re going to use it in addition, I presume, to your existing system – perhaps only on the coldest days – you know, it might be sort of a luxury that you can add but it’s not cheap to run.
It’s also not terribly cheap to install. The panels are available and, actually, the radiant heat is sort of built in, in some cases, to sort of what looks like a plywood subfloor.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Would you use the same type of plywood subfloor if you’re going to go with tile or is this something that gets set in the mud if you go tile?
TOM: I think that that’s probably the type of subfloor that might be set in under the tile. But I don’t see why it wouldn’t work; you know, to go right on top of the floor that she has now.
JUDY: Oh, really?
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. You might want to take a look at SunTouch, which is one of the very common companies that makes radiant floor heating. They’ve been around for a long time and they have floor heating mats that can be embedded into the tile mastic.
TOM: And take a look at that.
JUDY: So now, the bigger question is if I decided to go that route, is tile a good solution in a cold country even with heating. I mean …
TOM: Don’t forget, three dogs.
LESLIE: Yeah, I mean are you …
JUDY: Yeah. Yeah, the three dogs is the reason for the tile. (chuckles)
TOM: Yeah. It is a good solution when you have dogs because it’s – you know, it’s indestructible. I mean you can always clean the stuff.
Now, if you wanted to save some money and not go with tile, then my second choice would be laminate floor, which looks pretty nice. It can look …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm and it can look like anything.
TOM: Yeah, it can look tile; it can look like hardwood. You know, we’ve had laminate floor in our kitchen now for probably ten years and it’s really incredibly durable stuff. It’s stood up to, you know, our dog and our three kids for all this time.
JUDY: Oh, really?
TOM: Yeah. And a lot less expensive.
JUDY: OK. Well, you’ve helped me very much. I thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Judy. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And Judy, online at MoneyPit.com, we’ve got several articles about laminate flooring. So if you ever have questions, you could find them right there.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and, of course, MoneyPit.com.
Hey, you know, you can e-mail us or call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, the holiday season is not only a time of year when you might be away. It’s also a time of year when you might have some expensive gifts and other valuables stored about in your home. We’re going to tell you how to discourage burglars from targeting your vacant holiday house, after this.
[audio timestamp: 0:06:44.8]
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: On air and online at MoneyPit.com. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT right now because one caller who gets on the air with us is going to win the Whirlpool Plus vacuum cleaner from Eureka, worth 129 bucks. This new vacuum is the result of research by the folks at Eureka who found that busy families need a multipurpose cleaning tool.
Now did they need a focus group for that, Leslie? This is my question. (Leslie chuckles) They could have just called us. We would have told them that. Anyway, again, it’s worth 129 bucks. Going to go out to one caller who gets on the air with us today at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: And you know what? If you win that prize and you’ve already got a vacuum, it does make an excellent Christmas gift that you do not have to pay a dime for. And since we are approaching the holidays, you know, this time of year, you go out; you do a lot of shopping; you’re getting gifts for friends and family and some of those could actually be big-ticket items. So now that you’re storing all of these things in those secret hiding spots, how do you know that your house is secure for the holiday season?
You need to remember that burglars, they’re looking for obvious signs that you’re gone; even if it’s just for the night. So they’re watching things. So here are three simple things that you can do. Number one – you want to use light timers. Have a neighbor collect your mail and your newspapers if you’re going out of town and also, if you’re going out of town, call up your local police force and ask them if they have a vacant house patrol; which means they’ll just drive by a couple of times now and then during the time you’re away, make sure things are OK. It really is a call that could save everything in your house and your peace of mind as well.
And also, if you’ve recently bought or received expensive gifts like electronics or jewelry, store them away from your house with a friend, with a neighbor, somebody you trust until you get back from your time away. This way, you’re not leaving those things lying around the house. And do not throw away the boxes for these items before you go out of town because you’re like, “Ooh, new flatscreen TV. Now we’re in Hawaii.” What are you going to do?
TOM: (chuckling) 888-666-3974; online at MoneyPit.com. Let’s get back to the phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Venita from Missouri who needs some help with a wallpaper project. Tell us what you’re working on.
VENITA: Well, we’re working on the kitchen and taking wallpaper down and the first layer came down just fine and the backing came down just fine.
VENITA: And then we have a glue problem. Now I still have the adhesive there and I was told to get DIF or whatever and spray it on the walls and you scrape it off with a putty knife.
VENITA: That works alright; except I gouged a hole in the wall in one place and I was just wondering if there was an easier solution to this problem I’m in.
TOM: No, because what you’re using is wallpaper paste remover, essentially.
LESLIE: Remover, yeah.
TOM: And that is the best way to soften it up. You’ve got to be a little more gentle with the …
LESLIE: (chuckling) With your scraping.
TOM: With your scraping. But that is the best and most effective way to do that.
Now, fortunately, you have several other steps that need to be accomplished and you can easily fix this gouge at the same time. You want to spackle that. If it’s really deep, do it in a couple of coats but after you get most of this off, you’re going to have to prime these walls. You absolutely can’t do anything until you prime them because that’s the great equalizer. That’s what’s going to make everything that comes after this stick.
Now, are you planning on new wallpaper or are you planning on paint?
VENITA: Well, we were going to paint. No more wallpaper.
TOM: And then – fine.
TOM: Then you want to prime them. I would use a good-quality primer; you know, like a Behr primer or a KILZ primer. Let it dry really well and then put the paint on; the topcoat. Only use flat paint. Don’t use anything with a sheen because the walls aren’t going to be perfectly clean even after you get that glue off and any sheen whatsoever is going to highlight the defects in the wall. So if you prime it and then you use flat paint, you’re going to have a beautiful surface when you’re all through.
VENITA: OK. Well, that sounds like a good plan then. (Leslie chuckles)
VENITA: OK, I thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Venita. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. And lots of tips on how to remove wallpaper in the decorating section of MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Or the undecorating section.
TOM: Or the undecorating section. (Leslie chuckles) We tell you how to put it up and we tell you how to take it down. Kind of a full-service operation here at The Money Pit.
LESLIE: John in Arizona, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOHN: Oh, yeah. I wanted to ask about solar panels.
JOHN: I was thinking about getting some solar panels and – but the only thing is, I’ve got the northern exposure. I’m only going to get maybe four or five hour’s worth of direct sunlight in. I’m wondering if it’s really worth it.
TOM: Yeah, it’s going to be hard for you to make them pay for themselves. First of all, active solar, just by itself, is pretty expensive and hard to get a return on investment on. If your state offers rebates and refunds for installation costs, then that can change the dynamic. There also may be solar panels that are covered by the tax credits which are available through the end of 2010 and that could help as well. But if you have a situation where even in the best scenario you’re only going to get four or five hours of sun, I think it’s going to be very difficult for you to get a payback of those even if you do get some tax credits and some discounts and some refunds.
JOHN: Now, does it have to have like direct sun? I mean …
TOM: No. No, it doesn’t have to have direct sun. Of course, you know, a southern exposure is best but it doesn’t have to have direct sun. But I will tell you this: the installer should be able to calculate, you know, how much electricity you could generate with this and they should be able to do the math for you. And check their numbers.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) What you can earn.
TOM: But my concern about active solar right now is that the cost of the equipment, short of rebates, is so expensive it takes a really long time to get a payback. So remember, calculate how many years it takes to get the payback and ask yourself are you going to be in the house for that 20-year period. And typically, if you want to save money, there’s a lot less expensive things that you can do; like adding insulation or getting a more efficient air conditioning system that gives you better ROI.
JOHN: Hmm. OK.
TOM: Alright, John. Dose of reality, my friend.
JOHN: OK. Alright, thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, a lot of our callers, Leslie, have great intentions and they want to put in a windmill or solar power or some, you know, very, very expensive, energy-saving improvement.
TOM: But you’ve really got to be practical when you look at these projects, folks, and figure out what the return on investment is. And if you’re not going to be there to enjoy that return on investment, don’t do it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I always think, when people get so excited about wind turbines, I’m like, “They’re enormous. Where are you going to put one? Is your neighborhood going to allow it? What are you neighbors going to say?” And then, when you go to sell the house, you’re like, “And check out my awesome wind turbine in the backyard.” Some people, as energy-efficient and cost-saving as it is, don’t get it, don’t understand it and don’t think it looks good; so then, resale issues arise.
TOM: You know, I actually built a wind turbine once with my fraternity brothers at a mountain camp that was owned by our college. Looked great.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Did you? Was there alcohol involved?
TOM: Only in the evenings; not while we were up on the tower. (Leslie chuckles) But even so, we came back a month later, after a severe storm, and found it on the ground. (laughs) So I don’t think we did a very good job.
LESLIE: Aw. Good intentions not nature proof. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Jane (sp) in Florida had a brand new dishwasher go horribly awry. What happened?
JANE (sp): Oh, that’s OK. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
TOM: What’s going on, Jane?
JANE (sp): What I’ve got, I’ve got a dishwasher; it’s about a year old. It had an electrical problem on the first time we turned it on. So some water came in the dishwasher; also, the soap opened up and then it wouldn’t complete the cycle. So we found it was an electrical problem in a new house.
JANE (sp): The electrician called – we got the electrician a week later to come back. Now, inside the dishwasher, all the soap is on the stainless.
TOM: It’s good it’s on the inside because, you know, I know it’s …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Eventually it’ll go away.
TOM: I know it’s bothering you but eventually it’s going to scrub off. But probably baking soda.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I think persistence; baking soda.
LESLIE: You know, damp cloths that are used to apply the baking soda to sort of abrade lightly away the soap buildup on there; holding damp sponges, wet cloths onto the soapy areas to sort of help loosen it up. I think it’s going to take some elbow grease and some time.
JANE (sp): I can try that.
TOM: Yeah, you can try that. The other thing that you could try is compound; the same stuff that you use on a car finish. You buy it from the auto parts store.
JANE (sp): (overlapping voices) Oh, yeah, rubbing compound.
TOM: Rubbing compound, right. Because it’s got a slight abrasive in it. And you know, that might start to take the surface off.
Now, remember, if this stuff isn’t coming off, it might be that it just changed the color of the stainless and it might not be something that does come off. So, just keep that in mind as well. But I would try baking soda and, if that doesn’t work, try rubbing compound and I think that you’ll either know that you’ve found a solution or know that there is no solution and you just kind of have to live with the color. (Leslie chuckles)
JANE (sp): (laughing) Gee. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Elaine in Kansas needs some help refinishing a hardwood floor. What’s going on?
ELAINE: We discovered that we have solid oak hardwood flooring in our living room and dining room and …
TOM: That’s a good thing.
ELAINE: They’re beautiful but they’ve never been finished.
ELAINE: And we were told that there was a machine that would help you sand these down and that it would self-contain the sawdust or sanding dust to eliminate the majority of the mess.
TOM: Yeah, there’s actually a couple of machines that do that. Now, the professionals will use a floor sander, which is like a big belt sander, and that does contain some of the mess. But there’s another machine called a U-Sand – and it’s simply U-S-a-n-d – that is one machine that has four spinning like disk sanders underneath the same head with a big sort of vacuum attachment to it. I’ve used that machine on my house and it works real well; very minimum amount of dust and it’s kind of hard to screw up your floors. If you use the big floor sander and you hiccup, you know …
LESLIE: Lean too much on one side.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. You’ll put a big dent in it. But the U-Sand is very forgiving, so …
LESLIE: Yeah, it floats very evenly; you’re not going to press too hard on one side and cause a divot.
TOM: It really depends on how much you need to take off. Now, have these floors been covered by carpet?
ELAINE: Yes, they’ve been since the day the house was built.
TOM: The other option might be to rent a floor buffer with a sanding screen. Now, it’s a buffer just like you would use in sort of a commercial building to apply wax or something like that. But instead of a buffing pad, you use a sanding screen that sort of looks like a window screen that’s a round disk that goes underneath it. And what that does is it just takes off the upper surface of the floor; kind of freshens it up and gets it ready for the next coat. And if those have never been really used before, that might be all you need and you may not need to sand it down much more than that.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Hey, up next, we are going to share with you step-by-step tips on how to repair those crumbly brick steps you might have kicking around your money pit or even those crumbly concrete surfaces. We’re going to learn from the pros at This Old House when we come back.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:34.1]
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 where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: On air and online at MoneyPit.com. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.
Hey, it’s not too late to get some fall home maintenance projects done around your money pit. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got a to-do list for you. Just visit MoneyPit.com and search “fall home maintenance.” Every project on this list takes just 30 minutes or less; so it’s not going to take your entire weekend. Find it online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Gary in North Carolina has an insulation question. How can we help you?
GARY: Yes, I’m thinking about insulating my attic.
GARY: And I’ve had two different products demonstrated to me.
GARY: One is called eShield, which is a reflective thing that’s hung up on the rafters.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a radiant barrier.
GARY: And the other one is called isonene; an expanding foam.
TOM: Yes. Yes.
GARY: And so what I’m wondering, which one of those would be most cost-effective for me and advantages or disadvantages of either one.
TOM: Well, the eShield is a radiant barrier and isonene is an insulation product; so they’re really two separate products.
The main advantage of isonene, in addition to being a very good insulation, is it also will seal the attic space from the rest of the house and prevent any drafts from getting through. Now, that means that hot air from the attic is not going to get down into the rest of the house; or cold air in the chillier winter season. So isonene has a number of benefits. In addition to being an insulation, it also completely seals the cavity between living space and unconditioned attic space.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the expansion part is pretty cool. (Gary chuckle)
TOM: Yeah. Plus it’s really cool when it goes in. Yeah. We’ve actually seen that demonstrated. We’ve seen it sprayed on and have worked with the isonene folks for a while. So we’re a fan of that.
I think the radiant barriers are good as well; as a supplement to, say, a fiberglass insulation or something of that nature. But if you’re building from scratch, I like isonene; I think it’s good stuff.
GARY: Well, this is going to be a retrofit.
TOM: OK. And they can spray it in there? They can get – they have access to get in there?
GARY: Yep, they have access to it. It’s a walkup …
TOM: Well, I think it’s a good product. I would recommend the isonene, Gary.
GARY: OK. That’s what I wanted to find out. I really appreciate it. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, brick or concrete walkways and even steps, they look fantastic. I mean they really can dress up a house. But over time, you know, the mortar between the bricks or those blocks can weaken and then start to crumble.
TOM: That is the weak link. But the good news is the problem can be fixed and here to tell us the step-by-step on how to do just that are Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House and general contractor, Tom Silva.
So Kevin, let’s start with you. What’s your take on the issue?
KEVIN: Built properly, stone, brick and concrete block are some of the most durable building materials around. But they’re held together with mortar and, over time, the mortar can fail.
TOM SILVA: You’re right. The mortar will fail and it’s usually because it’s exposed to water; water running down the side of the building because someone didn’t replace the downspout; or splash-back – when water runs off the roof, hits the building, it actually pulls that mortar out. And fortunately, it can be repaired. But when repointing a building, it’s most important that you match the recipe of the mortar that’s existing. So you’ve got to find a mason around that maybe worked on the building; they know what kind of cement they’ve used. Or you can have it analyzed and they’ll tell you the right proportions of sand, lime and cement.
KEVIN: OK. So let’s talk about the steps of repointing a brick wall. Walk us through it.
TOM SILVA: Well, repointing or sometimes called tuckpointing is when you push new mortar into that joint. First thing you have to do is clean out the joint really well. You can use a chisel or you can use a raking tool and that actually draws out the loose mortar, the old mortar. And you want to get it about an inch deep because you want to make room for the new mortar.
TOM SILVA: Alright? So once you’ve cleaned it out, you’ve got it all brushed out, now you’re ready to mix up the new mortar and push it into there with a pointing tool which is a very narrow trowel that will fit the space between the block and the brick. Push it in there nice and tight. It’ll match the joints around it, match the profile. A concave joint is better than a flat joint because it sheds the water better.
KEVIN: Alright, and it’s a job you’ve done quite often and we’ve got a step-by-step video on ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: Along with point-by-point instructions. (Kevin and Tom Silva laugh)
Tom Silva, Kevin O’Connor, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: Thanks, Tom. Nice to be here.
KEVIN: Good to be here, Tom.
LESLIE: And for more great tips, check your local TV listings for This Old House which is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators, a proud sponsor of This Old House. Lumber Liquidators – hardwood floors for less.
TOM: And up next, a way to cut costs on heating water for your home; especially if you are unlucky enough to have an electric water heater. We’ve got a way to cut those costs to the bone, coming up.
[audio timestamp: 0:23:59.9]
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, give us a call right now for your chance to win our weekly giveaway. One lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Whirlpool Plus vacuum from Eureka. Now, the Whirlpool Plus cleans multiple surfaces in less time with a 15-inch-wide cleaning path and powerful suction. As Tom says, “It’s the prize that sucks,” but this is when you want that prize to suck. It’s got a HEPA filter and it’s worth 129 bucks, so give us a call right now for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, do you have an electric water heater in your home? Do you do things like keep the temperature down low or even turn it off when you’re not at home because it is just so darn expensive to run? Well, now there’s actually a much better way.
There’s a new product on the market. It’s available right now. It’s called the Rheem HP-50 and what it is is an integrated airsource heat pump water heater. Now this will not only cut your water heating costs; it will also reduce your family’s carbon footprint by nearly two tons every year. It’s got more than twice the efficiency of a standard electric water heater and it’s even cheaper to run than both electric or a gas water heater.
For example, if your annual energy cost for hot water is $550, you can actually save as much as 300 bucks a year by installing the Rheem HP-50. And it’s also got an Energy Star rating, which allows it to qualify for the federal tax credit and possibly even local credits through your utility or your state. The Rheem HP-50 will pay for itself in no time.
Plus, if you’re worried about heat pumps because you think heat pump means noisy; well, that’s just not the case with the HP-50. Homeowners really love it because it is very quiet to run.
For more info, visit RheemHPWH.com. That’s RheemHPWH.com, which stands for “heat pump water heater.”
888-666-3974. Online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Karen in Kansas needs some help with a mold situation. What’s going on at your house?
KAREN: I have glass sliding shower doors …
KAREN: … and there is kind of a clear rubber going all the way around the shower doors that I guess seals the glass to the frame. And there’s mildew in them and I think it’s behind the rubber because I’ve tried everything on the outside and it doesn’t work.
KAREN: Is there any way to get that clean without replacing the shower doors?
TOM: What happens is sometimes that acts sort of like a greenhouse window and then the mold will grow behind it and if it’s clear, then you’re going to see it. What you might want to think about doing is cutting that out and replacing it with a silicone caulk, which will do the same thing.
KAREN: (overlapping voices) Ah.
TOM: And if you do use a caulk, you can either use clear silicone or you can use one of the latex products that has Microban in it, which is a mildicide. It’s in all the DAP products; probably in some others as well. But make sure whatever you use has a mildicide and that will stop it from growing.
KAREN: Great. Alright, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Karen. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Val in Wisconsin needs some help with heating. What can we do for you?
VAL: Hi. Have a question regarding a quartz infrared heating system.
TOM: Alright, how can we help?
VAL: Well, it’s that time of the year where you close up your house and then you get your bill and you think you’ve done everything you could and you still want to stay warm. Can’t find a lot of information on it. I have gone to the local hardware store that’s selling them. They also have some advertising in the Sunday papers. Is it really worth spending the $400 that these units cost, paper and from the hardware store, to offset your cost? It’s electrical and I’m not real sure how to convert the kilowatts to the thermal units, so I'm at your mercy of, geez, do I buy it or do I just turn up the thermostat.
TOM: Well, how much is your heating bill on average every month?
VAL: Well, it varies depending on – we had it programmed into the thermostat.
TOM: Mm-hmm. And how much do you think you’re going to spend on heat this winter?
VAL: Well, we’re probably going to spend …
TOM: Because heating oil has come down again and gas has come down again.
VAL: Well, that leads to, you know, kind of is electrical cheaper in the winter than the gas?
TOM: No. Look, here’s the way that gas …
LESLIE: And electrical is going to be expensive.
TOM: Yeah. The cheapest is going to be gas; followed by oil and or propane about the same; followed by electric. The radiant heat or the quartz heaters are good space heaters but I would never recommend you use it for your primary heat source. We like space heaters for unused rooms that don’t have to be heated all the time or, say, a basement where, you know, you’re going to use it a short period of time during the year but you don’t really need to fully go out and heat it because they have a low installation cost. But in terms of substituting that type of heat for your central heating system, there’s no way it’s going to be more efficient than that and, as you mention, they’re very expensive, so the payback on that is going to take a long time.
LESLIE: Terry in Oklahoma has a roofing problem. What’s going on?
TERRY: Yeah, I’ve got a little bit of a difficult problem. About a couple of years back, I had my roof replaced because it was leaking.
TERRY: It’s back leaking in the same spot. The only time it leaks is during a hard rain and it blows out of the north.
TOM: So what have we learned here? We’ve learned that you probably didn’t need to replace the roof in the first place.
TERRY: Yes, more than likely. (Tom and Terry laugh) I spent some money for – it’s been a couple of years and it hasn’t leaked …
TERRY: … and the last couple of rainstorms I had, it began to leak in the same spot but only like when the wind blows out of the north.
TOM: Right. OK, got it. Now, this particular spot, describe it to me. Is there an intersection of two roofs that come here? Is it a roof and a wall? Is there a plumbing vent that comes through?
TERRY: What it is is where there’s like two Vs come together and it comes down to where it meets like an addition they added on at the house; it’s like where three corners all meet.
TERRY: It meets right there at the corner where the …
TOM: OK. So, here’s what I want you to do. The way that particular section of the roof has been assembled, obviously there’s water getting underneath it. So what I’m going to suggest you do is take the shingles off of that particular area as far up as you can. And then I want you to install Ice & Water Shield. It’s made by a company called Grace. They pretty much invented this; Ice & Water Shield. And you want to completely seal that area with Ice & Water Shield.
Now, Ice & Water Shield is sort of like a flexible, rubbery kind of material. It’s used to stop ice dams but it also is used in areas like Florida where you don’t have any ice but you have wind-driven rain like crazy. If you coat that area where it’s real weak with Ice & Water Shield first, several layers of that, then you shingle over it, you’ll never have to worry about water getting under the shingles and leaking in the house again.
This is an extra step. This is not something that would be required by building code. But because it’s an area that’s very difficult to flash, I’m going to recommend that you put Ice & Water Shield under that whole area – not just at the roof edge but under the whole area – then you can shingle it and I think you’ll have a leak-free roof.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Up next, we’re going to share with you the risk of dryer fires; which is a very real one. We’re going to talk about cleaning the lint from your dryer. Yes, folks, it’s something that you do have to do from time to time; preferably, you know, with every wash and dry. The one that’s in there, get it out. It’s actually pretty easy and it’s a fun chore. We’re going to share all the tips when we come back.
TOM: Only you would think that’s fun. (laughs)
LESLIE: I like it. It’s a mystery what’s in that pipe. It’s interesting to see what comes out: socks, lint. It’s cool.
TOM: We’ll all find out together.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:17.0]
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: On air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Hey, is the weather cooling down where you live? Well, lots of energy-saving info at your fingertips online at MoneyPit.com. Just search under “green homes.” Now this is in the Ideas and Solutions section. We have a special category called Green Homes which has got tips on how you can insulate, how you can save money, how you can find those drafts in your house. We’ve got ways to make that easy, make it fast and especially help you save some money. That’s the green home section online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Hey, and while you’re there, you can click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and you can e-mail us your question, just like Linda did. And she writes: “My dryer vent is running under my house that is built on a slab. Since it’s such a long run and hard to clean the lint, I’m venting on the inside of the garage with a device that catches it in a large container with a small amount of water. I have to keep emptying it, which I can do with no problem, but I'm wondering about the items stored in my garage; like blankets and clothes. Will this device cause moisture damage in the walls and those stored items?”
TOM: Quite potentially because, essentially, what you’re doing is you’re taking hot, moist air that’s just chock full of as much water as that hot air can handle. You’re dumping it into a super-cold garage and what’s going to happen – all you scientists out there – it’s going to condense and it’s going to turn into water droplets. And yes, you know, it certainly is going to raise the humidity in that space and if you’ve got paper goods or anything of that nature, it’s also possible that it could cause them to grow mold; not only in the winter but, frankly, all year long. So it’s not a really good idea to vent into the garage.
What I would suggest here is that you reroute this to go outside. You don’t want to use flexible dryer duct, though, because that takes too many twists and turns and it loses flow; it loses the ability to move that hot air out. You want to replace it with hard duct; just the same kind of duct that you’d use in a heating system. And it doesn’t have to be very complicated. Those ducts are made essentially to snap together when it comes to using them for dryer exhaust. So that’s definitely a project you could do yourself and it’s much better than getting them – than dumping all that hot, moist air in the garage or other places we’ve seen it dumped like, even worse, in the attic.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, we once stayed in a rental apartment when we vacationed in Hawaii and there was a washer-dryer in a closet in the living room of the apartment. And the same thing; they were venting the dryer into, basically, a Tupperware with water and I think we did one load of wash, just a couple of things, and that apartment was so humid and gross and that was just a couple of things after a couple of days. And you know what …
TOM: Yep. Yeah. Yep, you know the other thing that we should mention right now is that cleaning that dryer duct is really important.
TOM: And there are dryer duct brushes that are specifically made to go inside that four-inch, round-diameter tube. I think one is called the Gardus LintEater. That’s the one that we have.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You and I both have that one.
TOM: Right. And it’s basically a fiberglass rod with a brush at the end. You put it on your drill and you spin it and you basically run it into the dryer duct and they have extensions so that you can go, you know, 10, 15, 20 feet. I actually did this for my mom and dad. They have a dryer situation where it goes across a crawlspace and out; couple of turns. And man, we just pulled out a lot of dust and it’s a good thing because not only will it help it dry faster; it lowers the risk of fire because all that lint could definitely catch the house on fire.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got one from Ken who writes: “I have a bathroom built in my attic space above the garage. How do I insulate between the ceiling of the garage and the floor of the bathroom? Which type of insulation should I use; foamboard, paperbacked fiberglass or unfaced?
TOM: Unfaced fiberglass; as much as can fit in that space without compressing it. A lot of folks doing a project like this, Ken, will try to jam a lot of insulation in there. That’s a bad idea. Remember, insulation works by trapping air inside of it; so if you compress it, it’s not going to work. So just put it in there. If it’s a 2x8, you put in eight inches of insulation; if it’s a 2x12, you put in 12 inches and so on.
LESLIE: Alright, Ken. I hope that helps. Enjoy your new bath.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com where you can search for the answer to virtually every home improvement question. In fact, that’s how we get our answers. (Tom and Leslie laugh) That’s the secret.
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.
[audio timestamp: 0:36:55.3]
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(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.)