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: And Happy Holidays, everybody. Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season. You might be taking a break from home improvement right now. We get that. But you know what? You might also be planning your improvements for 2015, which is right around the corner. We can help with that.
So pick up the phone and call us with projects that you have in mind, questions that you need answers to. From a do-it-yourself project to a décor dilemma, what’s on your to-do list? Let’s move it over to ours. Pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT because we are here to help you get those projects done.
Coming up on today’s program, if you’re taking a trip this holiday season, you might be bringing a few souvenirs home. We want to help you make sure that bed bugs aren’t among them. We’ll tell you what you need to know about these nightmarish insects before you travel this season, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Yuck. Gross, Tom. Thanks a lot. Now you’ve given me the willies for the rest of the day. Gross.
And American manufacturing is on the rise, which is great news. Do you want to help keep that momentum going? We’ve got great advice for making your home improvement projects as good for the economy as they are for your house.
TOM: And do you have a gas fireplace? Well, before you use it, you want to make sure it’s safe. We’ll tell you what to check on before you cozy up to the heat.
LESLIE: And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win one of my favorite new gadgets and with small kids, it is super-helpful. It is the Delta Temp2O Showerhead.
Now, it’s available exclusively at The Home Depot and it’s a hand shower that takes the guesswork out of your shower by telling you exactly what the water temperature is, by color-coding before you step in. So it’s hugely helpful with my little guys, so I know that nobody is going to get burnt or be too chilly.
TOM: And it’s operated by water power, not batteries, which makes it easy to install and easier to maintain. And it’s free to one listener we talk with today, so give us a call right now. That Delta Temp2O Showerhead is going out to one caller drawn at random for those that reach us for today’s show at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Heading over to Missouri where James has a painting question. What can we do for you today?
JAMES: Well, I have some 60-year-old cedar lap siding and I was wondering what type of paint would stick best to it.
TOM: This cedar siding, has it ever been painted, Jim?
TOM: Was it painted or stained?
JAMES: It was painted.
TOM: So, the most important thing here is going to be the prep. You’re going to want to sand down the old paint to make sure that you’re removing any loose material that’s been left behind. And then you’re going to want to prime it. And I would recommend that you use an oil-based primer on that because that’s going to give you really good adhesion for the topcoat.
Then, beyond that, you can use a good-quality exterior latex paint on top of the oil-based primer. But you want to make sure that you purchase the best-quality paint like, for example, Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams. Because better paint is going to have more titanium dioxide, which is the colorant that’s in that paint. And it’s going to give you the best bang for your buck and last the longest.
888-666-3974. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
LESLIE: Alright. Let’s head out to Arkansas where Ann has got a question about a hot-water tank. What’s going on, Ann?
ANN: I have an unoccupied house and the hot-water heater is on a screened-in porch. It is partially protected on two sides. And the temperature is going to be down in the low teens for a couple of nights. And for 48 hours or so, the temperature will not be above freezing.
TOM: How long is the house going to be unoccupied, Ann?
ANN: Oh, I don’t know.
TOM: I mean is this the kind of thing where it could be this way for months?
TOM: Well, if it’s going to be that way for months, I would drain the water. I would drain the water heater, I would drain the plumbing system. And I would leave the heat on a low setting because we don’t want the building to swell, we don’t want the doors to swell and that sort of thing. So I’d leave the heat on like around 55, 60 degrees.
But I would definitely drain the plumbing system because there’s really no point in leaving it on. And if you do, you could get a pipe freeze and a break. Does that make sense?
ANN: OK. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ann. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Well, we are quickly approaching the end of 2014, so what do you have planned for your money pit for the new year? Let us give you a hand with that project. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, do you know the signs of a bed-bug infestation? We’re going to teach you what to look for before you step foot into a hotel or guest room so you don’t get bit or bring those bugs home from the holiday trip you’re taking. We’ll tell you what you need to know, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door it alerts your smartphone, so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number to call is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, have you ever stepped into the shower only to jump back out from shower shock?
LESLIE: Yeah, well, no more because Delta has figured out a way to make sure that that is never going to happen again, with the introduction of the new Delta Showerhead with Temp2O Technology.
Now, this showerhead actually has an LED display with the temperature on it by a color-coding. And it’s water-powered, so you have no batteries to deal with at all.
TOM: Yeah, the Delta Showerhead with Temp2O Technology is available exclusively at The Home Depot. But we’re giving one away to a caller drawn at random. So make that you by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It’s a prize worth about 80 bucks.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joan in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a mold issue. Tell us about it, Joan.
JOAN: Well, I’m wondering what causes dry rot and how you can tell if you have it.
TOM: OK. Well, what are you seeing, Joan?
JOAN: Coming down to the floor, there’s about an inch below the molding. And I took the carpet up and I saw sawdust down there. And I wondered if it was dry rot.
TOM: Right. So, first of all, there’s no such thing as dry rot; there’s only wet rot. Wood that gets wet – it gets over 25-percent moist – can start to decay. Then, if that wood also dries out, that’s what people call “dry rot” but it’s really sort of a misnomer because it’s not really dry rot; it’s wet rot that has dried out.
JOAN: Oh. So we can’t cause it by overheating or under-humidifying a house.
TOM: No. Well, not overheating but if you over-humidify, I guess it’s technically possible because you’d put a lot of water in there. But no, you’re not going to cause it by overheating.
In terms of what you’re seeing under this molding, I think that would bear some further investigation. When you mentioned “sawdust,” I think about carpenter ants, for example. And so, I would make sure that I know exactly what’s causing this.
One of the things that you could do is you could take a picture of it and you can post it to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. We’ll take a look at it and give you an opinion. Or you could post it to the Community section at MoneyPit.com. How about that?
JOAN: That sounds great.
TOM: Alright, Joan. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. We’re heading over to Virginia now where Greg is dealing with a hard-water situation. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
GREG: I have a little farmhouse up in Virginia and very hard water. And was looking at some of the options of how to address that – salt-based, salt-free, reverse osmosis, magnetic, et cetera – and it’s all confusing. What’s real and what’s reasonable, from a price standpoint?
TOM: Alright. So, you’re on well water, I presume, correct?
TOM: And have you tested the water for other contaminants?
GREG: When we first bought it, it’s safe to drink. We haven’t tested it in the last several years but …
TOM: OK. So, the first thing I would do is I would have the water tested so that you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Because if there’s some contaminants in there, that’s going to change the type of system that you put in.
Now, if the water test reveals that your only problem is hard water, then I would try what you’re calling the “magnetic option.” And there’s a product called EasyWater – E-a-s-y-Water.com – that I have had good success with. And what EasyWater does is – essentially is installed at the pump or actually where the water enters the building. And it charges the hard-water particles and then gives them a charge so that they don’t stick together and they pass through the plumbing system without causing all of the types of issues that are associated with hard water: hard-water deposits, iron stains and that sort of thing.
And the reason I’d suggest EasyWater is because if you don’t like it, they have a money-back guarantee. And they seem to be good people and I think the science behind it is solid. There’s a lot of folks out there that once they saw the success that EasyWater was having, copied or tried to copy the technology. But I think if you go to E-a-s-y-Water.com, try that product, see what you think, I think you’ll be good to go.
But again, test first because we want to make sure that there’s no other contaminants.
GREG: Excellent. And it’s not a permanent process. So the water from downstream, this process reverses itself. But from the time it comes into your house until it’s out …
TOM: Yeah, from the time it comes in until the time it leaves, that’s when it’s your responsibility, right?
GREG: Hey, I agree. Very good.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Greg. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re traveling this holiday, there’s a good chance you’ll be bringing some new things home with you. Just please, please, please, for the love of God, make sure that bed bugs are not one of them.
TOM: Yeah. Bed bugs have made a huge comeback the past few years. They don’t spread diseases but they do bite and they do cause itchy welts and worse, they’re really hard to evict. So the key is keeping them out to begin with.
LESLIE: Yeah, bed bugs are most likely to hitch a ride with you when you’re traveling. So, if you’re staying at a hotel or another person’s house this holiday, you want to make sure you know what to look for.
Now, bed bugs themselves are flat, tiny insects with tan to brown coloring until after they bite. Once they’ve bitten, they turn a reddish color because they’re filled with your blood. It’s really gross. It’s so gross.
Now the adults, they’re really tiny. I’m talking about 3/16-inch long, which is about the size of an apple seed.
TOM: You want to review your hotel or your guest room right away for signs of the infestation. You want to look for brown or red spots on sheets or other fabrics and be alert for a musty, sweet odor because that’s the smell of bed bugs.
LESLIE: Gross. This sounds like every room I visited on Hotel Impossible. Disgusting.
Anyway, you want to also make sure you pick up the sheet and look at the mattress and the box spring themselves. Really, really, really take a close look, because bed bugs are going to tend to settle in close proximity to their food source, which is you. So you want to make sure that you lift and look around your beds and the bedding.
You also want to elevate your luggage and other items off of the floor. Better yet, I know that Anthony, host of Hotel Impossible, would keep his luggage in the bathroom, on the tile. So, think about those options because you don’t want them getting in your luggage.
TOM: That’s a great tip. And speaking of luggage, you do want to check out that luggage for bed bugs as soon as you get home. And if you do see signs, call in the pros right away. Treating an infestation requires the skills of an experienced, licensed pest-control operator.
888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Kathy in Indiana is on the line and is dealing with a bald spot on her roof when it’s snowy out. And we’ve been getting a lot of snow this winter, so your house must look like it’s in need of a toupée.
What’s going on, Kathy?
KATHY: Hi. Yes, we just moved down here from Wisconsin, down to Indiana. We bought this house and we’ve been doing a lot of work on it. And when we got our first snow, I noticed, on the back part, there is a – like a foot-and-a-half-inch diameter bald spot every time we get a snowfall. And we had a friend – a contractor – come down. He went up in the attic and he’s like, “There is nothing going on here.” So the only thing we thought, well, maybe is going on is we have a heat pump and we also have our dryer vent in that same area back there.
And so now I had two different suggestions. He said to put a soffit venting on that whole area to get more air going up through there and possibly maybe it’s coming from the heat pump. But then I went to The Home Depot and I was talking to the guy there that seemed to know quite a bit. And he said – and what he would do is take it and remove all the vented area – vented soffit in that area. And so if there is heat coming up – he said, “But this shouldn’t happen.” He said, “This is what people do. They put their heat pumps outside.” And he’d never heard of anything like this before.
So we ended up doing that and so we don’t know yet if that actually helped it or not but …
TOM: Yeah, it’s not hurting the roof not having snow on that one spot. If you want to know why it’s happening, it’s because that spot is warmer than the other spots around it. Now, why is it warmer? Well, you mentioned there is a dryer exhaust duct near there. If the dryer exhaust duct is not completely sealed, if it’s dumping warm air in there, that’s going to heat up that spot over the roof and then any snow that hits there is going to melt and roll down. If the insulation has some gap in it of some sort in there where more room air can get up and heat that area right above it, that could cause it, as well.
But I would not tell you to start messing with your venting and everything else just because you’ve got a foot-and-a-half spot that doesn’t – where snow doesn’t stick. It’s curious but it’s not a major problem and I wouldn’t recommend major work for it.
KATHY: OK. So it’s – we don’t have to be concerned that there is heat getting up there and it’s going to cause mold and issues going on?
TOM: Well, I mean I would try – I would determine if there’s an obvious source of warmth that’s getting into that spot. But actually adding heat to that area is not necessarily going to cause mold. You’ll get more mold in the less heated spaces, frankly. Because when you warm moist – when you warm air, it uses more moisture, essentially. That’s why the warm air holds more moisture, so that’s not really a concern. It’s just kind of a curious thing.
And if you’ve got a dryer vent that’s right near there, I’d start with that because that would make perfect sense. If the dryer vent is losing some of its air right in that space, that’s not a good idea, either, because you don’t want to be dumping any lint into the attic. That could be dangerous, OK?
KATHY: OK. Well, very good. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Kathy. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Michaeline in Wisconsin is on the line needing some help insulating a crawlspace. Tell us what’s going on.
MICHAELINE: Well, I hung some plastic and insulation from the ceiling of the crawlspace and all the way around, you know? And I’m still getting drafts and air coming in into the bedroom that faces the north, by the wall.
TOM: So you’re getting drafts up through the walls? Is that where you feel like it’s coming up?
MICHAELINE: Yeah. And up through the crawlspace. There’s half a basement, half crawlspace.
TOM: OK. Now, what kind of insulation did you use, Michaeline?
MICHAELINE: Well, I used the black plastic and I used the R-stuff with the …
TOM: The R-stuff. Let’s back up for a second, OK? The insulation that you put in, is it – was it unfaced insulation? Did you press it up into the floor joist, like nice and fluffy?
MICHAELINE: No, I didn’t press it into the floor joist.
TOM: How did you hang it?
MICHAELINE: I went with what the Reader’s Digest said, to hang it from the ceiling of the floor, down to the flooring of the crawlspace and let it …
TOM: So, where is the – the insulation that goes up in that floor should be unfaced: should have no paper face, no plastic face; it should be unfaced. And it should be big and fluffy and should be as thick as the crawlspace floor.
But here’s the steps. And if you had called me before you started this, here is what I would have told you to do. First of all, I would say the area on the outside of your house, where we have what’s called the “box joist” – that’s the beam that goes around the outside perimeter.
TOM: In that area, you want to seal the gaps with an expandable foam, like GREAT STUFF or a product like that, so you …
MICHAELINE: On the inside?
TOM: On the inside, right. You seal that, you spray it. Because you get little gaps that – where air can come in around that. Then once that dries, it gets nice and hard. Don’t try to scrape it away or cut it; it doesn’t matter. Just spray it, let it dry, stop right there, don’t cut away the excess. Then, add some insulation and the insulation would be unfaced fiberglass batts. If your floor joists were 2x10s, I would put 10-inch fiberglass batts there.
How do you support those? You use insulation hangers. They’re like pieces of wire that stick in between the joists. And let it hang there. And then, on the crawlspace floor – is it a dirt floor?
TOM: So if it’s a dirt floor, then you want to add the plastic right on the dirt floor. Now, that’s not for drafts; that’s to stop moisture from coming up.
LESLIE: That’s for moisture.
TOM: And those things – that’s the best you can do for that crawlspace.
LESLIE: And Michaeline, when you’re putting the plastic on the floor of the crawlspace, if you for some reason have to use more than one sheet, make sure you overlap by 2 or 3 feet so that you’re not getting any moisture releasing into it. Because, as Tom said, the moisture can really reduce the effect that the insulation is going to have.
MICHAELINE: Do you – do I tape it then if I’ve got to use more than one sheet?
LESLIE: If you overlap them by 2 or 3 feet, they’ll stay.
MICHAELINE: Oh, OK.
TOM: Yeah, they’ll stay. Gravity will hold it in place.
TOM: Alright? And that’s it.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, are you trying to do your part for the economy by buying American? Well, we’ll tell you where to find tools made right here on domestic soil, coming up.
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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: Well, even though the economy has taken its time bouncing back, there is definitely one bright spot: the increase in American manufacturing. Buying American-made goods is also becoming a priority for many consumers.
LESLIE: Well, if you want to buy American-made hand tools, look no further than Stanley Tools. Joining us now to talk about Stanley’s Made in the U.S.A. tools is Phil Cox, the VP of hand tools for Stanley.
PHIL: Thank you very much. I thank you guys for your time today.
TOM: Well, there seems to be a resurgence in Made in America products and we love that and we know that Stanley has been at the forefront. What’s made it possible in today’s economy for more and more of this manufacturing to be done here, Phil?
PHIL: Yeah, I think, really, from a hand-tools perspective, what’s allowed us to do that is by having key innovation for the end users. So by – what allows us to manufacture this product in the U.S. is the innovation, as well as the quality and just overall accuracy of some of our products. So it’s really allowed for us to maintain producing this product in the U.S.
TOM: And you produce a lot of products. In fact, you make over 10 million tapes annually. Is that correct?
PHIL: Yeah, correct. Right here in New Britain, Connecticut, which is where Stanley Black & Decker started. We have a facility here that manufactures tape measures seven days a week. And the business has been so good for us the last 18-24 months that we’ve actually invested a lot of money in the factory. We’ve added about 100 employees to the business and we continue to manufacture 10 million tapes this year. And I think we’ll hit about 11½ million tape measures in 2015.
TOM: That’s amazing. And if you’re looking for Made in the U.S.A. products from Stanley, the one thing nice about these products is they’re easy to find because they’re labeled as such. In fact, they say Made in the U.S.A. with Global Materials logo. And those are on specially marked packages, correct?
PHIL: Correct. Yeah. And about halfway through the year, we revamped our packaging. We inserted the image of a flag in the background of the packaging, as well the call-out of the Made in the U.S.A piece on the packaging for everything that we make in our facilities in South Carolina, as well as New Britain, Connecticut.
TOM: And one of those products is one of my favorites. It’s the Stanley FatMax Auto-Lock Tape Rule. I’ve been using the FatMax tapes for many, many years because they have this 11-foot standout. So the blade doesn’t collapse when you’re trying to do something.
PHIL: Correct. Yes. So our newest addition to the FatMax product line is our FatMax Auto-Lock Tape. And really, what it does – it allows for very convenient one-hand stores to bring the tape in and out. It also functions just like our traditional FatMax tape. You can remove the auto-lock feature by just removing the button.
And then, again, we know the number-one end-user requirement for tape measure is standout. And that tape measure does have 11 feet of standout, which allows you to measure across beams and do a lot of jobs that in the past would take 2 people to do that now you can do with 1 person.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I find that so helpful because I do a lot of measuring for window treatments on my own. And so that really helps to make sure that I’m not fumbling. Because a lot of times, I’m doing this in front of a client and I have to actually know that I look like I know what I’m doing.
TOM: You look good.
PHIL: Yeah, great. Yeah. And we – you know, our product teams spend a lot of time with the end users out in the field and it’s one of the things that you always feel good about. That when go out with – whether it’s a carpenter, a framer, someone doing interior finish work, they all want to stand out and kind of validate what your (inaudible at 0:23:17).
TOM: Another product line that you guys have really mastered is the tool-box line. And you have a whole line now of Click ‘n’ Connect Tool Boxes, which really kind of give you a two-in-one sort of efficiency, correct?
PHIL: Correct. Yeah, we launched our new line of what we call our two-in-one tool box. We kind of have our name Click ‘n’ Connect on there.
But what it really does is it’s a tool box, it’s an organizer, it’s a stackable storage solution that with minimal space, whether it’s in the back of a truck – maybe it’s in a room, maybe on the job site – you have a storage area where you can store your stuff. And this really allows for you to take – have all your tools there but gives you the ability only to take what you need to the location where you’re working.
So, a big focus, again, is spending time with the end users. We produce this in our South Carolina factory and it’s just something that we’ve had great success with at all of our retailers.
LESLIE: Yeah, you guys are always thinking about how everything is used and really looking at every detail and it shows. I mean the products are fantastic.
PHIL: Yeah, I think something with the Click ‘n’ Connect Tool Box, again, too – something that everybody can have a big-job box. And what we allow you to do is to be able to take – if you’re going to do a task at the end of the day or even at the start of the day and do something, you can just take the tools that you need to complete it.
TOM: Phil Cox, Vice President of Hand Tools for Stanley Black & Decker, what’s next for the Stanley line, the Made in America products line?
PHIL: I think, really, for us, we’ll continue. We’re going to bring some knives back to the U.S. that we’ve produced overseas. So we’ve been working on some new knives here in both our DeWALT, Stanley FatMax, as well as our Stanley brands that we’re producing in the U.S. And we actually have a new line of tape measures that will be launching in Q1 of next year made in U.S.A, as well. And that product will be available in stores in Q1.
TOM: Phil Cox, the vice president of hand tools for Stanley Black & Decker. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
PHIL: Thank you, guys, as well. Have a great day.
TOM: And if you’d like more information on Stanley Tools that are built in America, simply go to StanleyTools.com/BuildYourAmerica. That’s StanleyTools.com/BuildYourAmerica.
LESLIE: Well, you’re probably about to get your gas fireplace burning if you haven’t already. Thank you, polar vortex. But are you sure it’s safe? We’ve got your gas-fireplace safety checklist, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’ve got more than just home improvement advice. We’ve got great prizes, including a really cool one for one caller we talk to on the air this hour.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s the Delta Temp2O, which is an easy-to-install hand shower that tells you your water’s temperature before you step in. It’s got an LED readout that’s color-coded, so there’s no mistaking if it’s too hot or too cold.
TOM: It’s worth $80 and it’s available exclusively at The Home Depot. But it goes home with one caller who we answer this hour on The Money Pit. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Mike in Iowa on the line who needs some help insulating a garage. Tell us about it.
MIKE: Hi. I have a three-and-a-half or four – basically, a four-car garage underneath a house that’s a ranch. The trusses – the floor, it has trusses in it and it’s cold in there. And it gets cold here in Iowa and it stays, I don’t know, 35, 45 degrees during the winter, even in the coldest day.
And it has batting insulation in it but it’s still cold. And our bedroom is above it, so I was thinking about putting some insulation in it, either in the – blowing some – drilling the holes and blowing it in or just doing it around the outside, the outer walls. Or am I just wasting my time trying to do any better?
TOM: Alright. So, the garage ceiling – the walls between the garage and the house – should already be insulated. So what you’re asking is: can you add additional insulation to the exterior garage walls? Is that correct? Because that would be, theoretically, the only part of this garage that was not insulated.
MIKE: Correct. Well, the outer walls are concrete.
TOM: Oh, OK.
MIKE: So it’s basically the ceiling I’m after. Would it be – because the cold air goes up the rooms above the garage.
TOM: So, do you have any – the way the ceiling is configured, it’s drywall right now?
TOM: So there may not be any additional room above that to add additional insulation. You mentioned blown-in. If that ceiling was built correctly, there’s already insulation there, so you may not be able to add more to that.
This might be a situation where you need to improve the heat more than add to the ceiling insulation. Because short of building it downward so that you have more depth, I don’t see how you’re going to add additional insulation if it’s already insulated.
MIKE: Well, there’s batting up there. I didn’t know if it would do any good to have them blow it in and pack it as tight as they can get it with, you know, that blown-in insulation.
TOM: No, because insulation doesn’t work on being packed as tight as possible. Insulation works on the principle of trapped air. And so if you over-pack the insulation, it becomes less effective, not more effective.
MIKE: Right. Alright. Well, that tells me I would’ve wasted my money if I’d have – went and had somebody come out and blow it in.
TOM: I know it might not be the answer you want but at least we didn’t have you spending money on something that wasn’t going to work, Mike. I hope that does help. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, a gas fireplace can deliver a warm glow on a chilly night. And enjoy it to the fullest by making sure that it’s not a hazard to your home.
TOM: Yep. Just like a traditional fireplace, a gas fireplace requires regular maintenance to run safely and efficiently, though. So you want to start with an annual maintenance inspection by a licensed plumber or a service expert so that they can check for any issues with things like the gas lines, the valves, the ventilation system, which is very important, and the fan and then make any necessary repairs or adjustments to make sure your system’s running safe.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And once the heating season is underway, you want to inspect the ceramic logs on a monthly basis. Check for damage and breaks and clean off any dust or dirt with a soft-bristle brush.
TOM: And keep the fireplace’s interior and glass doors clean, as well, with products designed specifically for fireplaces. And remember to never burn anything else in a gas fireplace than the gas it was designed to run with.
888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Sandra in South Dakota has a question about tile flooring. How can we help you with your project?
SANDRA: We bought a house that was built in ‘78 and I don’t think it’s been updated since then.
SANDRA: And I want to start my redo with my bathroom.
SANDRA: And I’ve been wondering – I don’t know whether I should go porcelain or ceramic or – I’m stuck on what type of tile I should use.
TOM: OK. So, I see here that you told our screener that you want a tile that can hold up to cats, dogs and kids.
TOM: Either porcelain or ceramic will work but porcelain will be very expensive for you. And ceramic tile, there’s so many options in it. As long as you get a glazed tile and that you use an epoxy grout, that combination will be very easy to clean.
SANDRA: OK, great. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: David in Mississippi is on the line with some cracks in the foundation. Tell us what’s going on.
DAVID: My house is eight years old or nine years old this year. But I’ve got ceramic tile and it keeps cracking my ceramic tile.
TOM: So we’re talking about cracks in the floor, David?
DAVID: Yes. I hadn’t seen any in the walls or nothing, just in the floors with ceramic tile. And it’s in different rooms, too, so I know it’s more than one crack. I guess that’s – the only thing I can think is it’s stress cracks from the concrete foundation.
TOM: Well, it may or it may not be. Now, when you put ceramic tile on a concrete floor like that and especially in a large surface, there is an isolation membrane that works well to go down in between the concrete and the tile. And that helps to prevent the condition that you’re seeing.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for this. There’s no inexpensive way to stop a floor from cracking if, potentially, it was installed improperly to begin with. The only general advice we can give you is to make sure you try to keep it as dry as possible down there because moisture is going to make the slab move more.
DAVID: Well, let me ask you a question. What if I took the ceramic tile up and put some hardwood floors in?
TOM: Well, you couldn’t put solid hardwood floor because the moisture will cause it to warp. But what you could put in is engineered hardwood floor. And in fact, if you wanted to put engineered hardwood flooring, you don’t really have to take the ceramic tile up. You could leave it down there and just go on top of it because it’s not connected to the floor; it pretty much rides. It’s a floating floor; it rides right on that surface.
You’d put down a very thin underlayment underneath it. It’s a very thin foam, like underlayment, like maybe a ¼-inch thick. Then the boards are snapped together and they sit on top of that. You just leave a gap at the edges of the room.
DAVID: OK. I sure appreciate it. I listen to you all’s show all the time. Sure appreciate all the information I can get from you all.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s pretty well-known that poinsettia flowers – while they are very, very beautiful and of course, super-popular during the holiday season – are super-dangerous if you eat them. But it turns out that other holiday flowers are actually far more toxic. We’re going to tell you what they are and how to avoid poisonings, after this.
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TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we want you to head over to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit for your chance to win big this holiday season. From there, click Like to enter for your chance to win one of five Delta Handheld Showers with Temp2O Technology. The hand shower is going to feature a digital and color-coded readout of the water temperature.
And one sweepstakes grand-prize winner receives the Delta Temp 2O, as well as a $500 gift card to The Home Depot. That is huge. So check it out at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit now.
TOM: Denise is writing us from North Carolina and says that – “My home’s previous owner patched, with cement, the corner where the outside wall meets the walkway. The slab is at the bottom edge of the wall. It pulled away from the wall and created a gap about an inch wide, which runs the entire 20-foot length of the house. The patch is falling apart. Didn’t look like a very good job in the first place. I’m worried about water getting into this gap. What should I do to repair it?”
It’s a good question and what I would suggest you do is two things, Denise. First of all, I would dig out any soil or anything else that kind of guides that gap. Then I would insert what’s called “backer rod” in there, which is sort of like a Styrofoam piece that comes in different diameters. If it’s an inch gap, you might buy an inch-and-a-quarter backer rod.
I want you to take that backer rod and set it right below the surface of the concrete. Maybe leave it about a ¼-inch exposed – of the concrete exposed. And then cover that with a flowable urethane. That seal will stay in there, right on top of the backer rod. It’ll expand and contract with the concrete and you will be good to go, keeping water out at the same time.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got one from Jen in New Jersey who writes: “I keep seeing backsplashes made of small, ½-inch glass tiles. Would it be cost-efficient to cut those tiles myself rather than buy them in sheets?”
I do not think so.
TOM: I don’t think so.
LESLIE: Plus, I think it will be totally difficult to get them all uniformly sized.
You know, Jen, its super-easy because all of these little ½-inch-square tiles are laid out on a map, perfectly spaced out on a 12x12 sheet of backing that you just put right into your tile adhesive. I don’t think it gets more cost- or time-efficient than doing it that way, so just stick with the way it’s supposed to be.
TOM: Well, it’s a well-known fact that poinsettias can be dangerous to humans and pets. But as it turns out, there are other holiday flowers that are actually far more toxic. And some can even be fatal if eaten even in just small quantities. Leslie has got the lowdown on holiday-plant safety, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, let’s try to keep your holiday free of emergencies by keeping a few holiday plants just simply out of reach or maybe even out of your house altogether.
Now, holly, it’s beautiful, it’s very seasonal. It’s got prickly leaves and they can sometimes be enough to keep the kids at bay because they’re sharp. But don’t leave any room for error when it comes to this holiday plant, because consuming just one or two holly berries can cause a tummy ache. And eating as few as 20 holly berries causes death, so you’ve got to be careful there.
Now, mistletoe is another deceptive holiday plant. It goes hand in hand with romance, yes, but also nausea, diarrhea, blood-pressure problems and sometimes even fatalities when the berries are eaten. So, not so much a romantic topic there, which is all the more reason to keep mistletoe hung up very high on the ceiling or above the doorway where it belongs.
Amaryllis and Paperwhite Narcissus, they can cause heart arrhythmia and convulsions if their bulbs are digested. And pets are especially susceptible to these flowers. So keep them far from reach of any hungry or curious animal.
Now, if you think that one of these plants was eaten, call your local Poison Control Center. Plan to be asked the name of the plant, as well as the exact parts and amount that was consumed. Also, be prepared to provide the approximate time when it was eaten, the age of the person or pet, their weight and the condition. These are going to be critical to getting the proper care in the event of a holiday-plant emergency. So, think about these things. While they’re gorgeous, maybe you just want to skip them this year.
TOM: Coming up next time on The Money Pit, is your tool collection complete? Don’t be so sure. We’re going to talk about three tools that are often overlooked by do-it-yourselfers that are crucial to successful projects. We’ll tell you what they are, 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 2014 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.)