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: Well, a new year means new trends in home design and remodeling. We’re going to have an insight this hour into what will be popular this year in new homes, as well as in renovations, and perhaps you’ll get some ideas that will inspire your own home, too.
LESLIE: And also ahead, we’ve got an easy idea that will help homeowners and apartment dwellers alike with their heating costs. We’re going to tell you how to use radiator deflectors to throw heat back into a room instead of against an outside wall which, of course, just escapes right outside.
TOM: And as you start to think about decluttering your home this year, we’re going to have some advice to help you find hidden treasures among the junk. Cari Cucksey is going to be here from HGTV’s Cash & Cari. She’ll join us with some advice on sorting through your stuff and finding those treasures that could be worth big bucks.
LESLIE: And speaking of treasures, we are giving away this hour a copy – an autographed copy – of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.
TOM: It makes it worth less, you know, when you scribble on the thing.
Lots of great ideas and advice for you right at your fingertips but you’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Danny in Texas has a question about leaky pipes. What can we help you with?
DANNY: I have a house that’s about 55 years old. It has galvanized water pipes. There are leaks on the hot-water side. On the cold-water side, if I turn the valve off at the hot-water heater, it seems to hold the water pressure.
My question is, should I replace all of the pipes or just the hot-water pipes?
TOM: Well, if you have galvanized water pipes, it’s only a matter of time. Typically, here’s how you go about replacing that type of piping system. First step is to replace everything that’s accessible. So, I would not distinguish between hot and cold pipes; I’d replace them all because it’s going to be less expensive for you to have the plumber come in once than twice for all that. Secondly, you replace – if you have a galvanized water pipe that’s the main – you replace that next. And then thirdly, whenever you have walls torn open in your house and do any renovation whatsoever, when you find a pipe you replace it then.
So you do all the easy stuff first; then you typically do the main and then you do the vertical risers, because they tend to rust the least.
DANNY: OK. So basically what you’re saying is if it’s there, get it out.
TOM: If it’s there, get it out because it’s probably 60-plus years old right now and what happens is they will rust internally, they’ll close down kind of like a clogged artery. Those pipes, if they’re an 1/8-of-an-inch thick, they can add about 8 times that much rust to it, so you essentially can close down to a really tiny hole in that pipe.
And then the other thing that happens is it actually breaks through the outside surface. It’ll leak a little bit, Danny, and then it’ll kind of – the mineral salts will dry on the surface and kind of scab it over and then with expansion and contraction, it’ll start to leak again and again and again. So those pipes are at the end of a normal life cycle and they really should just be replaced. And I wouldn’t differentiate between hot and cold at this point. If it’s accessible, I’d have them all done at the same time.
DANNY: OK. About how much should I expect this to cost?
TOM: Well, it really depends on how many pipes you’ve got there and how hard it is to get to everything. But just get a couple of different bids. You might want to go to ServiceMagic.com and post your job there. You get contractors that compete for it that way and you can also check their references and their records and their licenses and all that sort of thing through those folks at ServiceMagic.
DANNY: Well, very good. Well, I greatly appreciate your advice here.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Danny. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Cinda in Missouri has a venting question. What can we do for you?
CINDA: Yes. We recently purchased a home and it has a heat pump.
CINDA: Someone told us – actually, the owner told us to make sure to keep the vents open to – from the outside of the house – to make sure it gets enough air. Is that something we really need to be concerned of? We’ve got tile floors and it’s cold on the – seems to keep the floors cold.
TOM: So, you say vents open on the outside of the house. You mean the supply registers on the exterior walls?
CINDA: I believe that would be true. It’s, yes, down near the foundation of the house.
TOM: Right. OK, well, look. The way a heat pump works is – this is an electric heat pump, I’m going to presume. A standard, fossil-fueled furnace, like a gas or oil furnace, is going to heat up your air to somewhere around 130 degrees or 140 degrees. So when you put your hand in front of it, it really feels warm coming out of the register.
A heat pump is only going to heat it up to like around 100, 110 degrees. So the difference is that when you put your hand in front of it, it doesn’t really feel warm because, in fact, what’s going on is that wet air is blowing across your skin and the force of the moisture evaporating off your skin makes your skin feel cooler than it really is. Even though it heats the house, it does so differently and very gradually.
So closing those off is not going to help you. If you close those off, it’s going to take even longer to heat up the house. The best way to use a heat pump is to set it and forget it. Choose a temperature that you like, leave it at that temperature. Come hell or high water, it’s always at that temperature.
Now, you can use a clock setback thermostat with a heat pump but you have to have a special one that moves the heat up very, very slowly. Because the way a heat pump works is it only maintains a 2-degree differentiation between what it’s set at and what the temperature is in the room.
So if you set it at, say, 74 and the temperature falls to 73, heat pump comes on; 72 the heat pump’s still on, 71 the heat pump says, "Whoa, I can’t keep up with this because it’s more than 2 degrees between what the temperature is in the room and what the thermostat says it should be." And then it brings on the electric resistance heat, which is a backup to the heat pump; it’s built into it. But that costs about two to two-and-a-half times as much to run, so you end up heating your house all winter with straight resistance heat.
So, with a heat pump, it’s never going to be as warm as a gas or oil system, if that’s what you’re used to, but you’re best to just sort of set it and leave it alone. Don’t close those vents; they’ll take a lot longer for the house to heat up.
CINDA: OK. Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-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 with your home repair, home improvement, decorating, décor. Whatever you are working on, we are here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, remodeling trends for 2011 that might inspire a change at your house this year.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. Want hardwood floors but are on a budget? The affordable and feature-filled Skil Flooring Saw is just what you need for your installation project.
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 would love for you to be part of The Money Pit, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home repair, home improvement. Whatever you are working on, we can help you with that question.
And one lucky caller who gets on the air this hour is going to win a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. And in that awesome, autographed copy, you are going to find advice on everything from how much paint to buy, how much carpeting to buy, how to redesign a space, what kind of countertop to use; to even which type of flooring is going to stand up best to heavy traffic.
The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, so give us a call for your chance to win.
Well, with every new year comes a whole new set of home improvement trends and we are seeing some very interesting ones for 2011. First, in the bathroom, smaller square tiles are being replaced with tiles that are 12x12 or even bigger.
Now, this goes completely opposed, Leslie, to what you normally would tell folks to do in a bathroom, right? Small bathroom, you would use a smaller tile so you don’t echo that. Now, though, we’re like, "Bigger is better." Well, OK then, so that’s what we’re seeing. Also popular are the rectangular shapes that show off more tile and fewer grout lines.
And speaking of flooring, we are also seeing a lot of radiant heating in the bathroom. And this is a great idea if you happen to be redoing a bath, because you’re definitely going to save on some energy costs, not to mention the fact that you will also be much, much warmer in the tootsies.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? I love those larger, rectangular tiles because when you lay them on the floor, you can sort of offset them and lay them out brick-style so that one sort of fills that center joint on the grout line. It really looks beautiful and it does make a space look super-gigantic.
Now, two trends that we’re seeing in kitchens show that homeowners see this room as a multipurpose room as opposed to just a place to cook and eat your meals. So, different color stains and a mix of painted and stained finishes on cabinetry, that’s a big trend and it allows homeowners to avoid a matchy-matchy kitchen that really looks very cookie-cutter.
And in the same vein, we’re seeing more furniture-like detailing in this room, with varied counter heights; even varied countertops. I mean I’ve seen an island take on a completely different personality, from a different base finish to a completely different granite on the top. So you can really be adventurous there. You can even bring in distressed finishes, furniture-style toe kicks.
And finally, we’re seeing more screened-in porches, which extend a home’s living area and allow you to enjoy the outdoors bug-free, which is a huge bonus.
TOM: For more trends and ideas you can incorporate into your décor this year, just search MoneyPit.com for "2011 trends."
LESLIE: Melvin in Georgia has an insulation question. What can we do for you today?
MELVIN: Well, I’m basically trying to choose a (inaudible at 0:10:26) right construction method to insulate an attic and to add a vapor barrier.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
MELVIN: The present attic has insulation in the ceiling of the downstairs but it’s not enough insulation and it doesn’t have a vapor barrier. So, I was trying to choose on whether to add something on top of the existing insulation and somehow get a vapor barrier or to insulate and add a vapor barrier to the roof rafters, with a space in the outer wood surface.
LESLIE: OK. Well, you’ve got two different ideas going here. First of all, you never, ever, ever want to insulate the roof rafters, because that’s just going to shorten the lifespan of your roof and not really do anything for your house.
Now, with the insulation that’s in the floor joists or resting on the ceiling of the floor below, the vapor barrier goes between the conditioned space and the unconditioned space. So since you’ve already got insulation in there, you really can’t add a vapor barrier, because you don’t want that in between levels of insulation.
But what you can do is add the fiberglass batt insulation on top of what’s already there. If it’s below the height of the joists, you want to sort of fill in to get it to that height of the joist and then do another layer perpendicular to your joists. So you want to fill it in and then go across it in the opposing direction, because you need that much to sort of achieve good insulation in your attic space.
But it only works if you have really good ventilation, so you have to make sure that these two systems are sort of working hand in hand.
MELVIN: Yeah, OK. So you wouldn’t add any kind of vapor barrier at all, is what you’re saying? But then that’s it?
TOM: No. What I would do is I would recommend that you improve the ventilation. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation in that attic space – a good ridge vent, a good set of soffit vents – so that you flush out any moisture and heat that collects in the attic space. Because you have existing insulation, if you were to add a second barrier – vapor barrier – you would end up sandwiching that moisture and sandwiching that vapor and that would render any of the existing insulation completely ineffective.
So, I would concentrate on unfaced insulation and improving the ventilation and that will solve the problem and make sure it’s very, very efficient.
MELVIN: OK. Very good. Well, OK, thank you very much for your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Melvin. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’ve got Tiffany from Farmville, North Carolina who’s dealing with a leaky air conditioning unit. What’s going on?
TIFFANY: Hey, thank you for taking my call. We have an old house and it has popcorn ceilings and our air conditioning unit is in the attic. And in two rooms, we had leaks and the leaks have been fixed but they’ve left these really awful, brown stains on the ceiling. And I’ve been told if you try to repaint popcorn ceiling, you have to get it right on the first swipe or else it’s going to just peel right off.
TIFFANY: I was wondering if there was a solution I could spray up there that would take that away without having to repaint them.
TOM: Yeah. You have to prime it though, first. If you don’t prime it, you’re going to find out that the stain is going to come right through the – whatever color you put over it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, there’s no removing that stain.
LESLIE: You’ve got to cover over it.
TOM: Now, if it’s fairly concentrated – how big is the stain in terms of – is it a square foot or a couple of square feet? How big is it?
TIFFANY: It’s really wide, in both rooms. It’s really huge.
TOM: Alright. Well, here is what I would do then. I would repaint the whole ceiling. I would get a roller – a slitted roller. There’s rollers that are designed for popcorn ceilings. They’re very thick and they have slits in them.
TOM: And the first coat that you’re going to apply is a primer. I would use an oil-based primer. It’s going to be a messy job; I’m not going to kid you about it. But that will seal in whatever is on the surface there; give you a real neutral, dry, sticky surface on which to apply the ceiling paint. Then you can apply the ceiling paint using the same type of a roller – very thick one with slits in it – and you’ll be good to go after that. You can’t just paint right over it, though, because it’ll keep coming through.
TIFFANY: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
That’s one of those situations, Leslie, where you really need the right tool for the job. Otherwise, it just doesn’t work.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And that was one caller who actually didn’t want to get rid of the popcorn ceiling so …
TOM: Yeah, well, how about that? For every person that wants to take it off, there’s 12 more that want to put it back on again.
LESLIE: I think you meant that the other way around.
TOM: Yeah, well that, too. It was a popular ceiling with builders because they didn’t have to be as detailed with their finish work.
LESLIE: Or cover their seams.
TOM: That’s right. Exactly.
LESLIE: Gerald in Montana has a window question. What can we do for you?
GERALD: We have some windows that we like to increase the energy on. These windows are made out of cherry. They’re beautiful work, which matches the rest of the building’s interior. In a couple of rooms, they’re double-hung with sash cords and so forth and we don’t want to replace the wood.
GERALD: So, can we do something else?
TOM: Well, storm windows would be your only option. Do you have them now?
GERALD: We have some aluminum storms that were put in the 50s and I don’t think they’re very efficient.
TOM: Yeah. Well, you know, the storm windows are a little bit better today than they were in the 50s. You’re going to have to find a supplier for them. For an older house, there’s a website called OldHouseWeb.com. It has a supplier directory that’s got 20 or 25 different manufacturers that make storm windows listed on it. That’s probably a good place to start and call around and get a sense as to what’s available.
You can also improve your weatherstripping and things of that nature around the old windows. But truth be told, those windows are just not really energy-efficient and anything you do is going to be a matter of you trying a bunch of things to see what works best. But they’re not ever going to be really energy-efficient without putting a storm window on top of it.
GERALD: OK. Well, I’ll sure look into that.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Judy in Minnesota has an interesting situation, being that you only get hot water if you do laundry first?
JUDY: This is my mother. She has to run enough water to fill her water – her washing machine – before the water heater will come on enough to heat up the water for – so she can take a shower.
So, does she have the wrong kind of water heater or does she – is it hooked up right or what? But she has to run enough water; she doesn’t apparently run enough, otherwise. Washing hands and dishes isn’t enough.
TOM: What kind of water heater does she have? Is it electric or gas?
JUDY: It’s electric.
TOM: Yeah. OK, here’s what’s going on. Electric water heaters have two …
JUDY: Oh, I’m sorry. My husband just said, "No, it’s not. It’s gas."
TOM: Ah, man, you blew my whole answer.
JUDY: Ah, sorry.
TOM: I had it all figured out.
JUDY: Sorry. It’s gas.
TOM: Alright. Well, if it’s gas, something’s obviously wrong with the thermostat.
LESLIE: How old is it, Judy?
JUDY: It’s not very old; she just had a new one put in shortly ago. So it’s less than a year old, I would say.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah, something’s wrong with the control circuit; something’s wrong with the thermostat. It’s not heating up the water properly.
LESLIE: Maybe it might even be a simple solution as it’s not dialed up to the correct temperature.
TOM: Yeah, well …
JUDY: Oh, we’ve tried that.
LESLIE: You tried that?
TOM: Yeah. No, Judy, I don’t think that the thermostat is working right, because it should be measuring the temperature and controlling when the burner comes on and off. I was going to say, if you had electric water heater, it would make perfect sense because there’s two heating elements: one’s up high and one’s down low. And if she only – if she had one that was burned out, that would be why she had to spill off a lot of hot – a lot of cold water before she found the hot.
But with electric, it’s a matter of the thermostat not regulating the water temperature properly. So, if it’s only a year old, though, it should be under warranty, so I would start with the manufacturer and go from there.
JUDY: OK. I appreciate the answer. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Randy in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
RANDY: I’ve got some insulation. It was, I think, only 39½ inches wide and it was about – in the strips put under my house.
RANDY: And my nephew put it up but he put the paper – it’s got paper on one side and it’s facing downwards to the floor. And a friend of mine told me that was backwards; he said that wouldn’t serve the purpose like that.
TOM: Yeah. Well, you’ve got a smart friend there; that is upside down. You essentially put the vapor barrier upside down. The vapor barrier – the rule of thumb, Randy, is that the vapor barrier always go – points towards the living space or the heated space. So that should have been up.
RANDY: OK. Because I’ve got my furnace under the house; the furnace is under the house, too.
TOM: Well but the crawlspace is not heated so, again …
RANDY: Right, right. Exactly, exactly.
TOM: I understand the heater is in the crawlspace but that’s not the heated space. The heated space is upstairs; hence, the vapor barrier should have been up against the underside of the floor.
Now, I’ve got a trick of the trade for you, though. And that is that you can go down the crawlspace and you can cut that vapor barrier about every six inches; kind of slice it. That will allow some air to breathe through there and help it dry out. The problem is that you can trap moisture in there, so you need to slice it so it has some ventilation.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, ever wonder if that old painting your grandparents left you is worth anything? Your junk can be someone else’s treasure more often than you think. We’re going to teach you how to find those hidden gems, after this.
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TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And have you ever wondered if that old armoire you’ve been holding onto might actually be a real antique? Perhaps have some value? Or have you ever gone to a flea market hoping to find a gem among the junk?
Well, if you love the idea of looking for valuable items but you’re not sure how to go about it, our next guest can help.
LESLIE: That’s right. Cari Cucksey is an estate sale liquidator and host of the new HGTV series, Cash & Cari.
CARI: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
TOM: Hey, it’s our pleasure. So alright, first off, what’s the most valuable thing you’ve ever found?
CARI: Oh, you know what? There’s been so many things. One thing I’m dealing with right now, I have a dower chest that I purchased just kind of on my gut. And I knew it could have been worth like $1,000-plus so I offered the owner $750. And I’ve had it kind of pseudo-appraised over the internet and it looks like it could be worth up to $10,000 so …
LESLIE: That’s amazing.
TOM: That’s very cool.
CARI: Yeah. I’m right in the middle of it, so it’s kind of – it was a fun find for me, of course.
TOM: Now, you said that you did this based on your gut. Is that how so many of these finds happen? You just kind of go with your best judgment?
CARI: Well, you can’t know everything about everything in the antique world. So, a lot of times, I truly do go on my gut where you just have that feeling. It hasn’t been 100 percent but I’m doing well so far, so I’m just kind of going with my gut and seeing what happens.
But a lot of the times, yes, absolutely on my gut.
LESLIE: Now, when you’re out in the marketplace – whether it’s at an estate sale or an antique fair – is there a certain type of item that you know is going to be a collectible or is it really based on what the buyer might see as what’s valuable?
CARI: One man’s junk truly is another man’s treasure. It is so true. There is a collector for everything and I mean everything. So, I kind of go – I like to go for the unusual and unique because it’s kind of a rarity where someone’s like, "Wow, where did you get this? What’s the story?" So, I tend to be drawn to those type of items.
TOM: Now, what do you think is the most collectible thing these days? The idea of the collectible – I know that my mom always loved Hummels; that was like her collectible. And so many folks …
CARI: Yeah, Hummels are huge.
LESLIE: And I collect creamware.
TOM: Alright. So then, there you go; there’s another thing.
LESLIE: So, two different things.
TOM: What’s the real trendy collectibles these days?
CARI: Pottery. Mid-century pottery is huge right now, along with mid-century, modern furniture. That’s hot. I can’t keep it for very long; it sells instantly. I just sold some Heath pottery dishes that literally sold in six hours online. The hunter/collector, she’d been looking for like three years and she was actually locally here in Michigan. I put it online, she found it. She said she’s found it, she walks away from the computer, came back before she went to bed and just bought it on the spot. So, pottery’s doing really hot right now.
TOM: Yeah, I actually had a friend that used to be into Fiestaware but the old stuff.
CARI: I love Fiestaware; I’m a collector, myself.
TOM: And I heard – he told me that some of it actually was radioactive because of the finishes. Is that true? The really old stuff?
CARI: Yeah, you have to be really careful. You definitely don’t want to put it in your microwave or something; that might be dangerous.
CARI: So, I kind of just keep the old stuff on shelves.
TOM: Just look at it.
LESLIE: Just to enjoy.
CARI: Exactly, exactly.
LESLIE: Now, do you find that people – the hunter, I like, as you call it – do they have more success online or is it really better to just sort of hit the streets and go to the markets?
CARI: You know, it obviously – hitting the streets and going to a market, you’re going to find things that haven’t been out there for anyone to see. When you put things online – obviously, the big, giant eBay has changed the antique world. But you can still find great deals at flea markets and estate sales and all kinds of rummage sales.
TOM: Now, when you do see something and you suspect that it might be valuable, what are the sources, aside from your own personal knowledge?
LESLIE: Don’t jump up and down.
TOM: What are some of the sources that you might turn to, say, online? These days, you can walk around with your iPhone and do some real quick research to kind of see what else might be out there in the same category. Do you have some favorite websites or some tools that you use to try to get a quick assessment of value?
CARI: I do. I think I subscribe to any and all research websites that are out there. One of them is called WorthPoint.com. It’s an excellent source where you can hunt all the way back to the year 2000 to find out what something has gone for at auction. That’s a really helpful tool. And just turning around, just using any search engine, too, really is helpful.
TOM: That really must have changed your business substantially over the last decade; just the availability and the wealth of information that’s out there.
CARI: It really, really has. It’s put a lot of different items up that you think were rare and then six people around the country have it, so it’s not really rare anymore. So it’s really changed the market drastically.
LESLIE: And are you allowed to – say you’re at the antiques fair – negotiate or – I mean how do you do it fairly?
CARI: It’s kind of like that old saying "what goes around comes around." You have to negotiate so that the seller feels happy and you’re not going to take advantage of somebody who doesn’t have any idea what it’s worth. Obviously, with the dower chest, I didn’t know exactly what it was worth, so that customer was happy with the $750 that I paid.
So, it’s kind of like that karma thing of paying forward of "OK, this is a good deal; that’s a fair price." But obviously, I’m not going to let somebody beat me up. I have to – when you’re buying to sell, there has to be the right amount of margin.
TOM: Now, the disadvantage of having an up-and-coming television show about this is that customer may actually find out that their dower chest is worth 10 grand.
TOM: So, I hope you have a backup plan.
CARI: Yeah, actually – yeah, exactly, I know. And it’s always – I thought about going back and giving some donation back of "look, this is what it’s really worth."
TOM: She is Cari Cucksey, a real estate liquidator and host of HGTV’s brand new show, Cash & Cari.
Cari, when’s the show airing?
CARI: The show is airing Monday nights at 10:00 p.m.
TOM: Fantastic. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and good luck with the new program.
CARI: Thanks for having me.
TOM: Our pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, ideas for temporary storage solutions that are going to help keep warm air in, including great tips for both homeowners and renters alike, so stick around.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because if you do, you may just win a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure, on which we will scribble our names just before putting it in the mail to you.
If you prefer to have one that’s not scribbled and not defaced, well, we could send that.
LESLIE: Alright, we won’t do that.
TOM: We can send that, as well.
The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: No way. I’m signing it anyway. Like it or not, we’re signing it.
Alright, folks. Well, most of the time, our advice is geared towards homeowners trying to save money or time. But there are actually plenty of ways that we could help renters, as well. For example, if you rent, you probably can’t make permanent changes to cut down on your energy costs. But there are plenty of things that you can do that won’t affect your security deposit.
First of all, you can temporarily insulate your windows with removable caulk. Now, this caulk is going to seal out drafts and then seal in the heat with a clear-like gel formula that’s going to settle into a rubbery consistency, which you can then easily peel away come springtime. It’s not going to leave any damage to the window or the window trim but it’s going to keep your heat indoors.
TOM: Now, do you have radiators in your house or your apartment? You should be using radiator deflectors. We’ve seen pricey deflectors that are made from metal but there are affordable and effective radiator deflectors made out of large sheets of foam board, which are coated on both sides with a metallic foil.
The reflector encourages the heat from your radiator back out into the room and away from the wall behind it. It’s especially effective with radiators that sit against exterior walls, because the deflector sheet insulates the wall, preventing radiator heat from leaking back outdoors through the wall while preventing cold air from leaking indoors to you.
All in all, a bit of effort in these areas will definitely save you some money on that heating bill and make you more comfortable this winter.
888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Richard in Missouri wants to take on a flooring project. And how can we help you?
RICHARD: Yes. I’m remodeling an older house and it’s a concrete floor.
RICHARD: And I’m thinking about putting laminate lined – going to put laminate flooring in the kitchen and tile in the bathroom. Does it have to be perfectly level and if it does, how would be the easiest way to do that?
TOM: Well, it doesn’t have to be perfectly level; it has to be somewhat flat. I mean the laminate floor will take a certain level of unevenness in the floor. But the nice thing about laminate is there’s a very thin layer of insulation underlayment.
LESLIE: Like a foam sheet.
TOM: Yeah, like foam sheeting that goes underneath it. And then you lock together the pieces and the whole thing floats on top of the concrete floor, so it’s a perfect solution for covering a concrete floor. And it doesn’t really matter if it’s completely level; it just can’t have any kind of huge bumps in it.
LESLIE: Like you can’t put it over the dog’s toy.
RICHARD: Whoa. You’ve seen my work before. Well, that was my main question because I – it’s fairly well level but it’s just not perfectly level.
TOM: Yeah, well, I put laminate floor in a very old, 1886 house that was very unlevel – uneven – and it did bend and twist with the floor but it’s not supposed to do what I did with it. So it will take a little bit of unevenness but for the most part, just make sure it’s as flat as possible.
RICHARD: OK. And to fill all of the – what’s the best stuff to fill the cracks with?
LESLIE: Oh, you want to use an epoxy patching compound. You can’t go ahead and put concrete over concrete because it’ll never stick. You know, when we redid our basement floor, we pulled up the carpeting and the concrete underneath was just a mess; crumbling and falling apart and uneven. And we used something called Abocrete from a company called Abatron.
TOM: Yeah, correct.
LESLIE: I always get the company name confused. But Abatron is their website, as well, so you can find out all of the epoxy patching compounds that they have. And that will self-level, it will smooth out the floor and it will stick very, very, very effectively to concrete and that’s the best way to go about it.
RICHARD: OK. That was my question. I sure appreciate it.
LESLIE: Alright. Dot in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
DOT: I was wondering if you could give me some information on a good air purifier with low maintenance and maybe some information on the filters.
TOM: Well, Dot, do you have a forced-air heating system or are you looking for a portable unit?
DOT: A portable unit.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
LESLIE: Do you have forced air in the house or you don’t?
DOT: I have forced air.
LESLIE: You do.
TOM: Well, you’re much, much better off installing a whole-home air cleaner that really scrubs the air in the entire house than a portable unit, because you’re going to find that a portable unit is not going to be nearly as effective and it’s also a lot more expensive to run and it requires a lot more maintenance.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Plus, you’re going to need like 10 of them.
TOM: So, a whole-home unit gets installed on the return side of your heating and air conditioning system and it basically captures all the dust particles in all the air that goes through there, traps it in a filter and then you have to change the filter usually about once a year or so, with this type.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the filter is ginormous (ph). I mean it is just folds and folds and folds, like accordion-style, of this super-dense fabric that traps everything even as small as viral size, which the portable units – a lot of them don’t have filters; there’s just some sort of metal blade, if you will, that you have to clean.
Plus, with the portable units, think about it, Dot, that the air that only passes through the portable unit is the air that’s going to get clean. So if you put it in a corner, maybe a 5-foot radius around it is all that’s going to work. But with the whole-house air purifier, as the air cycles through the system, it’s constantly being cleaned and scrubbed; smoke, odor, allergens, dust, virus-size particulates. It really does an amazing job of getting about – what is it, like 99 percent of the particles out of the air?
TOM: Yeah. Let me give you a couple of recommendations, Dot. There’s two products out there that are pretty good: one is called Trane Clean Effects – T-r-a-n-e Clean Effects – and the other one is the Aprilaire Model 5000. Both are very effective, whole-house air cleaners. They can be installed by a local heating-and-cooling professional and they’ll do the job that you need to do.
DOT: I thank you very much. I like listening to your radio program; you’re very helpful.
LESLIE: Thanks, Dot.
TOM: Thank you so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up, if you think you’re being smart by saving and reusing those greasy rags, think again. Those dirty oil cloths are a fire hazard. We’re going to share some tips on how to get rid of them safely, next.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or head on over to MoneyPit.com, click on the Community section and post your question right there.
LESLIE: Alright. Judy from Pennsylvania posted this question: "Is it too late to seal out drafts from around my windows with caulk or is this something that needs to be done in above-freezing temperatures?"
TOM: Yeah. It’s really too late to work outside but what you can do, Judy, is work inside. And in fact, there is a little trick of the trade. There is a temporary weatherstripping; kind of a temporary caulk that you can use. It’s called Seal ‘N Peel. It’s probably going to be special order but it’s pretty cool stuff, because you essentially can caulk your windows shut with this and then in the spring, it peels right off and it doesn’t harm the windows. So you could seal inside but you just can’t seal outside when it’s this cold out.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Better leave that for your September/October project.
Alright. Now, Mark in South Carolina posted: "How long should a garage-door opener last? Ours seems to be working intermittently lately, especially the remote units in our cars. We tried changing the batteries in them and the unit itself is about 12 years old."
TOM: That’s way too old to be a safe garage-door opener.
TOM: Oh, yeah. I think that’s …
LESLIE: Just because of sort of safety measures that allow it to open and close properly or monder (ph) what might be underneath it?
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yep. Yeah. I would change it if it’s that old, because the technology has changed a lot over the last decade and now the garage-door openers are so much safer. They have multiple backup systems in them to make sure they never come down and crush anything or anybody. Plus, the security is a lot better now, with rolling-code technology, that you can’t get somebody drive up and down the street and accidentally open your door by mistake or a crook that wants to do it with one of the devices that I’m sure is readily accessible to those folks.
LESLIE: That’s true.
TOM: So I do think if your garage-door opener is that old, it’s probably a good idea to replace it rather than try to do any repairs.
LESLIE: Now, you don’t need to replace your door at this point, to adapt to a new opener, correct?
TOM: No. Just the opener itself but not the door. The door should be fine. Make sure that it’s lubricated and make sure if it has springs that you run a cable through the springs so if one of the springs ever breaks, it’ll snap back and not fly off and hurt somebody.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? It’s super-simple to change out that plastic sort of weatherstripping – that rubbery stripping that’s on the bottom of the door – because that really makes a big difference in whether the door is going to freeze to the floor or sort of – especially if it’s a conditioned space or attached to your house. It takes two seconds to change that out, so good luck with your updating to your garage.
TOM: Well, if you think you’re being smart or economical and resourceful by reusing those dirty, oily or greasy rags that you love to keep around your garage for jobs around the house, well, think again. These are a potential fire hazard.
But don’t just toss them in the trash; that may not be a good solution either. Leslie, however, has got details on the easy and safe way to dispose of them, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, piles of oily rags can actually spontaneously combust and that could turn your home into a fireball. And don’t even think about trying to wash and reuse those rags because if you do, your washing machine and then the clothes that follow are going to smell like those rags, possibly for weeks, so just don’t do it. And you’re not doing the environment any favors by letting those chemicals get into the wastewater supply.
You also want to resist the urge to just toss those dirty rags into the trash, because that can be dangerous, too, and it’s been known to set off fires in landfills. So what you want to do is use a large, lidded container in your garage, specifically for holding these rags until your community rag-collection day. That’s right; there is such a day. It does exist; check with your town.
And fill your container halfway with water and add a cup or two of laundry detergent. This way, you’re going to drown your oily rags in there and let them sit until you can dispose of them safely and properly. So do so, folks. It’s just about keeping you and your family safe, alright?
TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, you either love it or hate it but either way, wallpaper removal has a dubious distinction of being one of the most annoying home improvement projects that most folks take on. Never fear, though. We’ve got some tips to avoid climbing the walls over this, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don't have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2011 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.)