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 we are here to help you with your home improvement project. So if you’re working on something this holiday season to get your home in tip-top shape before the hordes of visitors show up, well, you better get to it because you don’t have a lot of time left. And we can help you take that first step at 888-MONEY-PIT. And perhaps you’re thinking about some projects for the new year. We can help you with those, as well. 888-666-3974 is the number you need to know.
Coming up this hour on The Money Pit, if you’re looking for some gifts for the holiday or perhaps some cool, new tools or gadgets for yourself, well, this is the right time. And you are in the right place because this hour, we’re featuring our very special Holiday Gift-Guide Edition of The Money Pit. Which means we’re going to get into the spirit by sharing the hottest, most useful gifts for everyone on your list this year, from the DIY pro to perhaps the not-so-handy types looking for a few home improvement shortcuts.
LESLIE: And speaking of shortcuts, one of our featured gifts this hour will cut down the precious time you spend charging your phones, tablets and all of those other devices that seem to run out of juice way too quickly. And of course, they tend to run our lives, so we need them back as fast as possible.
Now, this gift is not only going to save time but it spares you the clutter of all those wires and adapters, too.
TOM: And clutter and December kind of feel like they go hand in hand, so we’ve got tips to streamline the holiday mania, boost productivity and get peace of mind. Your December weekend home improvement project breakdown is just ahead.
LESLIE: And it wouldn’t be a special-edition, holiday gift-guide show without a few extra prizes for our listeners. We’re giving away not one but two prizes this hour. For one caller, we’ve got a Bostitch Mechanics tool set. It’s a prize pack that includes 99 specialty tools and a durable, molded case. Trust us, you won’t be regifting this one.
TOM: It is an awesome, awesome prize.
And a second caller we talk to on the air this our is going to win the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. Now, the MyQ Garage is a real game-changer. It basically lets you check and control your garage door, from any location, from your smartphone.
So, if you’d like to win, you’ve got to give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. If you do, we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and perhaps be sending either that Bostitch tool set or the very cool MyQ Garage home with you this hour. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Cindy in Illinois is on the line with a basement question. What’s going on?
CINDY: I lived in my home for over 40 years and had no trouble with water in the basement. And then, about 3 years ago, we had a terrible drought here and it seems like ever since then if we get a hard rain, I end up with water coming up through the floor of the basement.
TOM: So, the reason you’re getting water that comes up through the floor of the basement in a hard rain is because there’s some defect in your drainage conditions outside the house. So, you need to start by looking at the roof and making sure your gutter system is clean and making sure the downspouts are extended away from the house. It should be out 3 or 4 feet.
If that’s all in good shape, then I would take a look at the angle of the dirt around the house, the grade. If it’s really flat or if there’s an area where it’s tilting in or you’re getting neighboring water from runoff from a different lot or something of that nature, you’ve got to regrade to keep the water away from the house.
The only way it’s getting down there is it’s coming from the top and pushing under. It’s not a rising water table, because that takes months to happen. If it’s reactive to the rain, then it’s a problem with drainage, Cindy. So you need to look carefully in that area and I’m certain you’ll find the cause of it and be able to stop it.
Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’re going to Mike in Michigan who’s got some concerns about working in the cooler temps.
MIKE: I heard a rumor that there’s cement that can be applied in much colder temperatures. But upon my research, I haven’t found any company that sells it or has any knowledge of it.
TOM: You talking about caulk?
MIKE: Yeah. To seal joints and cracks.
TOM: Well, generally, the solvent-based caulks can be used in a lot lower temperatures than the latex-based caulks. Are you using silicone caulks?
MIKE: No, we’re also polyurethane.
TOM: You might want to look at the silicone products. Now, this is nothing special; it’s not a new type of product. But I know that some painters use these down to 0 degrees.
Now, the trick is keeping it warm enough to apply it so it flows well. But if you can keep the caulking tube warm and then go outside and use it, the application should be OK down to almost 0 degrees, as I recall.
MIKE: OK. And the freeze/thaw cycle, I know, is water turns to ice, it expands. That will not expand the sealant being wet?
TOM: No. Because it’s solvent-based. You don’t have the same expansion issues.
MIKE: OK. And how well does that level out? Do you have to more or less putty it in and smooth it out yourself?
TOM: It is more difficult to level out because of the cold temperature. As you know, if you’ve ever used this kind of thing on warm day, it flows really nicely. But because it’s chilly, it definitely doesn’t flow as well. But if you’re skilled with the caulk gun, you should be fine with it. And cleanup is a little bit more difficult, as well. But again, it comes down to your skill and I’m sure if you’re doing it all these years that you’d be able to overcome that issue.
MIKE: Yes, yes. We’re just looking – when we heard about it, we figured, “Well, if we can get another month or two out of the season of doing sealing, we can make more money each year by doing so.”
LESLIE: You know, there’s also a product out there called a “caulk warmer.” And it looks like a – sort of like an insulated lunchbox but it’s more like an envelope-style. And you can hold two to five tubes, depending on which size you get. And that can help you keep the caulk at a flowable temperature while you’re getting ready to work.
MIKE: Oh, OK. I appreciate all your help and assistance. You both have a great day.
TOM: Alright. 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. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, are you sick of wires and adapters cluttering outlets throughout your home? We’ll have tips to help you streamline your home’s charging stations easily and inexpensively, 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: And this is a very special Holiday Gift-Guide Edition of The Money Pit. So if you’re racking your brain for the perfect gift for everyone on your list this season, stay with us; we’ve got plenty of ideas.
LESLIE: And two of our listeners will receive gifts of their own this hour. One caller we talk to on the air is going to win a Bostitch Mechanics Tool Set. It is chock full of 99 specialty tools in a really durable case. It’s a great cornerstone to your tool collection. You can learn more at StanleyTools.com.
TOM: And a second caller is going to never wonder whether they left their garage door open again, because they’ll walk away with a free Chamberlain MyQ Garage.
Now, the MyQ Garage lets you control your garage door from up the street or across the globe, right from your smartphone. You can learn more at Chamberlain.com.
Give us a call, right now, though with your home improvement question. We’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and you might just win either the Bostitch Mechanics Tool Set or the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Thomas in Tennessee is on the line with a wallpaper question. How can we help you today?
THOMAS: I have two layers of wallpaper in a small half bath that I’m trying to take off. And I was wondering what you guys’ best solution is. One is a lighter wallpaper, like you would find in the rest of the house, but the other one is a very thick, waterproof-type that’s mostly used in bathrooms.
TOM: Yeah. Well, removal is pretty much the same regardless of that type. Essentially, what you have to do is you’ve got to run a tool across the paper called a “paper tiger.” And it’s a tool that puts small, prickly-sized holes in the paper. And then once you have those holes in there, you’re going to apply a water – a wallpaper-paste remover to it which will soak into the paper, get behind it and start to loosen it up.
Now, it’s a lot of work but considering it’s just a bathroom, perhaps it won’t be that difficult for you. If you really, really, really have a hard time getting that paper off, you could always rent a wallpaper steamer and that will make the job a little bit easier.
THOMAS: Oh, OK. Well, do you have any home remedies for this where you don’t have to buy a whole lot of tools? Because I’m kind of on a budget.
TOM: Well, the paper tiger is not very expensive. It’s a little hand tool. It’s probably $7 or $8, something like that. So that plus a few dollars for the wallpaper-paste remover. That’s really all you’re going to need.
THOMAS: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: Alright, Thomas. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Phil in Mississippi who has a lumber question. What can we do for you?
PHIL: Hey. I recently – an opportunity to acquire about 500 treated 4x4x8 timbers.
PHIL: And I’m fixing to start a new-home construction in about the next 30 days. And the only way I figure I’m ever going to be made of money is out of my sweat equity. So I was going to saw these in half and turn them into the 2x4s that I would use to – for my studs for my walls. But I was not sure if anything in those treated 4x4 timbers would leach out into the house over the years and cause any kind of harm due to the chemicals.
TOM: Interesting question. Not that I can think of, because we do use treated lumber for sill plates all the time and I’ve never heard an issue related to that. But boy, it’s going to be a lot of work for you to saw those 4x4s down to 2x4s, because …
LESLIE: Tom, any concern about the integrity of the lumber? You know, is there – because posts – well, traditional studs are kiln-dried and these are more wet from the chemicals that are used?
TOM: Yeah. You may have a lot more movement inside the walls, that’s true. So you could get a lot more twisting as a result of this. I mean 4x4s are typically very wet and even if they look dry on the outside, once you cut them they could, basically, twist like a pretzel. So you may find that you frame walls with them and then you find out that the walls have all kinds of bows when it’s way too late to fix them.
So, listen, the cost of 2x4s as part of the entire home construction budget is fairly minimal. So I would really think twice about whether or not it makes sense to do this. You might just want to hold onto them, use them for a retaining wall, use them for landscaping projects, that sort of thing. I don’t think, if it was me, I would consider this a good use.
PHIL: OK. Well, that’s exactly what I needed, because I had not even thought about them not being kiln-dry. I just assumed they were just like 2x4s, so that’s a good point.
LESLIE: No, they’re so wet.
TOM: Yeah, they twist like crazy. I’ve seen them twist 90 degrees sometimes; it’s really nuts.
PHIL: Oh, wow. OK. Well, guys, I do appreciate it. You might have just saved me a major headache 20 years from now.
TOM: Alright. Well, we’re so happy we could. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, standard power outlets used to do the trick but with the popularity of devices that need to be charged on a daily basis, power-outlet real estate has gotten pretty competitive around most homes.
TOM: Yeah, it has. Like in my house, there is a myriad of wires at all times plugged into many outlets. And even if you’ve got enough outlets, you don’t necessarily want them brimming over with all of those wires and those cables. And that’s why we’re really excited that Leviton has come up with a solution. It’s call Leviton’s 4-Port USB Charger. And it’s a perfect gift for the gadget-lover in your life.
LESLIE: Yeah. And what the 4-Port Charger does is it replaces your existing outlet. And then you’re going to have two 15-amp or 20-amp outlets and two USB ports, which will provide additional room for your charging cords without all of those clunky adapters.
TOM: You’ve got to check out Leviton’s 4-Port USB Chargers. It basically is going to be the go-station for all your charging needs. You can learn more and pick up a few for your busy friends and family members today at Leviton.com/USB. That’s Leviton.com/USB.
LESLIE: Lotus in California is on the line with a sliding-door question. How can we help you today?
LOTUS: Well, I’m very interested in finding out how to make my sliding-glass door – we have two of them but one of them gets a lot of usage. And all of a sudden, it’s just almost impossible to open and close.
LOTUS: So, rather than replacing it, is there a way that I can fix it and not spend the money in replacing the door?
TOM: Well, why is it hard to open and close it? Is it dragging on the bottom?
LOTUS: It seems to be dragging on the bottom and it’s the last 4 or 5 inches when I try to close it that is really hard to push.
TOM: So, if you look along the bottom of the sliding part of the door, there’s usually some pegs or plastic buttons that cover the wheel mechanism that’s under the door. And if you pop those out, sometimes you can stick in a screwdriver or an Allen wrench and adjust the height of the wheels. The wheels under the door move up and down and with a couple of clicks of a screwdriver or an Allen wrench, you could move those wheels.
If those are accessible, you may try raising the door a bit to get it up off the ground. Because they may have worn and now the door bottom is actually dragging across the aluminum sill. But if you make the wheels a little deeper, you’ll get that clearance again. That’s the first thing I would try.
LOTUS: I see, I see. So it’s a matter of pushing those up so that the door sits up higher, is what you’re telling me.
TOM: Correct. That’s it.
LOTUS: OK. I got it. Good. Well, thank you for your help.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now, Hugh is on the line from Texas and needs some help with brick repairs. How can we help you with the project?
HUGH: Got a house down in Houston and every – I’ve forgotten how many bricks but every so often, it’s got a vertical slot between the ends of the brick, as if it’s – I guess it’s a slot for air to be able to ventilate going up. And then up in the attic, it’s – the air can come up there. And I was wanting to find out, would we be better off to seal that up to keep the scorpions and such out? Or do you – does the house need that?
TOM: The answer is no, because you do need that air for ventilation. I’m going to presume that this is a brick façade, so it’s probably over a wood-framed wall. And those weep holes in the brick help the brick to breathe; otherwise, you can trap moisture behind the brick and that could cause the exterior wood surfaces in the structure beneath them to rot.
So it’s there for a reason, Hugh. You really should use it and find some other way to keep those scorpions away.
HUGH: OK. Now, what about insulation? Now, I don’t know that this house had any insulation in the walls. It was built back in the early 70s or something and we bought it secondhand. But would that be where you’d normally put insulation? In between the brick …?
TOM: No, it would not be, so – and here’s why: because you don’t want to, again, insulate that space because that’s there for ventilation. If you were to insulate it, it would be in the wall frame itself and even though 1970s sounds like a very old house, I can assure you they were definitely using fiberglass insulation – insulated batts – in walls that were constructed at that time. So you may very well have it.
And in addition to that, if you’re going to add insulation to a house anywhere, the best place to add it is to the attic because that’s where you have the most heat loss, not the walls, not the floors. So the order of priority, in my mind, would be attic first, followed by floors, followed by walls.
HUGH: OK. Well, we’ll leave them open then. I sure do appreciate it.
LESLIE: Helen in Indiana is on the line with a driveway-sealing question. How can we help you today?
HELEN: I have an asphalt driveway that when I purchased the home had some cracks in it. But it’s gotten worse and I now have a pothole.
TOM: And it’s officially grown to be a pothole, huh?
HELEN: Yeah. That’s what happens in the Midwest.
HELEN: I’ve had some estimates and they’re way out of my budget. So what can I do to prolong the life and make it look a lot better?
TOM: So there’s lots of stuff that you can do yourself.
First of all, you do need to patch that hole. And at your local home center, you can find blacktop patch. It comes in a bucket – either a small, 1-gallon bucket or something even as big as a 5-gallon bucket – where it has some stone in it and it has the blacktop material. And it’s usually latex-based these days, too, which is good news.
And you simply clean out the hole that you’re trying to fill, you trowel in the new stuff, you tamp it down. And you can do that with a board or something like that or – if you don’t happen to have a tamping iron.
And then once you have the holes filled, then you want to work on the cracks. And as far as the cracks are concerned, the driveway sealers and crack fillers, there are some that come in actually caulking-like tubes that you can use to sort of roll into those cracks.
So you seal those all up and then the last thing you do is to apply the asphalt sealer. And that comes in 5-gallon buckets and you buy an application tool for it. It’s kind of like a big squeegee. You start at one end and you squeegee it on, work down towards the other and you’re done.
So it’s totally a do-it-yourself project. The best time to do this is when the weather gets to be around 50 degrees or so, on average. You don’t want to do it when it’s really hot out, because it’s a difficult job and …
HELEN: Like now.
TOM: Yeah, like now. And it doesn’t dry that well. So you wait for slightly cooler weather and you can totally reseal that yourself. And then once you get all the cracks filled and the sealer on, then next year maybe you just do another coat of sealer and it’ll be really easy.
HELEN: So it’s a three-step process.
TOM: Pretty much. Patch the holes, patch the cracks, apply the sealer. That’s it.
HELEN: I think that’s something I can do.
TOM: You can. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, stop making dozens of time-consuming changes to your home’s exterior. Instead, consider one big change that’s going to last decades and boost home value. We’ve got a guest in our studio here to tell you what that is, after this.
ANNOUNCER: When you step into the grocery store, have you ever noticed that you can smell the cleaning products four aisles away? That’s indoor-air pollution and it’s exactly what happens when you take those cleaning products inside your home. Shaklee’s green, chemical-free cleaning innovations are a better option. Shop Shaklee Get Clean products today at GreenMyMoneyPit.com. That’s GreenMyMoneyPit.com.
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: And on many homes, the garage door takes up more than half of the exterior. So it makes a huge focus and a great opportunity to kick up your curb appeal. There are so many options, though, when it comes to garage doors, from colors to materials and style. And compared to many other home improvements, replacing a garage door is an extremely cost-effective way to increase your home’s value.
LESLIE: That’s right. And here to tell us more is Ali Isham. She’s the brand director for Overhead Door.
Ali, you know, Overhead Door has been around for quite a while. In fact, the company’s founder invented the first upward-lifting garage door? Is that correct?
ALI: That’s right. C. G. Johnson.
LESLIE: Oh, my – what year was that?
ALI: 1921. And he also invented the electric opener for garage doors in 1926.
TOM: Oh, perfect. So he really was the father of the garage door.
ALI: That’s right.
LESLIE: And I wonder how clean was his garage?
ALI: Oh, immaculate. No, probably pretty dirty because he was an inventor.
TOM: Absolutely. Yeah. I’m sure that was his laboratory – that garage – as it is for so many Americans today.
So, what kinds of garage doors are the most popular today? There are a lot of varieties in garage doors and I guess a lot depends on how much space you have to work with and kind of what goes with your neighborhood. But is the basic overhead door that C. G. Johnson invented back in 1921 still the most popular garage door today?
ALI: Actually, it’s not. And over the years, we’ve actually developed a lot more designs and options for homeowners. Today, the trend tends to be carriage house-style doors, which look like swinging stable doors.
ALI: Many people like to stain them in a wood look or paint them two-tone to match their home’s overall look.
LESLIE: Now, I think a lot of people are up on newer technologies. And I know fiberglass has been around for home entry doors for a long time. What about garage doors? Are you guys offering a fiberglass option, as well?
ALI: Absolutely. We have something called the Impression Collection. They are beautiful fiberglass doors that really look like wood doors but they’re made of fiberglass. So fiberglass exterior over a steel insulated door.
Up close, they are absolutely gorgeous and just as people add fiberglass front-entry doors, they can get a stain that compliments that front-entry door to really compliment their overall home’s décor.
TOM: I tell you, it’s amazing what you can do with fiberglass today. We have fiberglass entry doors in our home and I’ll tell you, you cannot tell the difference between that door and wood.
ALI: Oh, I know.
TOM: And believe me when I say that, I would have been the last one to think that was possible. But when you see these doors with the technology in fiberglass today and how they can get the detail in the grain and the staining, it really is indistinguishable for wood. But of course, you don’t have the warping and the fading and all of that sort of thing that goes along with the wood.
We’re talking to Ali Isham and she’s the brand director from Overhead Door Corporation.
And Ali, we talked in the introduction about the value that an upgrade in your garage door can add to your home. There’s a report that we refer to many times across the year called the Cost Versus Value Report. Of course, it’s done by Remodeling Magazine. Those folks do a great job on it and they estimate how much of a return on investment you can get if you place a particular type of improvement in your home. How do garage doors fare in that?
ALI: Very well. In fact, they were in the Top Five of home exterior projects that you could do for return on investment. And based on their report, it can deliver a return on investment of up to 83.7 percent when the homeowner goes to sell their home, which is great.
TOM: And I think that folks discount the fact that it also steps up your curb appeal and that gets the buyers in the door. The house not only has to be good, it has to look good and especially in photographs, because so many folks are shopping online today. If you don’t have a sharp-looking exterior, you’re not going to get them anywhere near your house.
ALI: Right. And if you think about it, many people are shopping the MLS listings. They’re quickly thumbing through and finding the one that pops out at them that looks really nice on the exterior. And the garage door, if it’s front-facing, it is taking up, like you said, a large portion of the façade of the home. And if you have a nice garage door on there, that home – that person is going to click on that home and say, “I want to look more at this.”
LESLIE: So, I mean this really sounds like a no-brainer; you want to upgrade your garage door. Where do you start? I think a lot of homeowners get overwhelmed because as you said, it could potentially be a large portion of the façade. So, how do you begin?
ALI: Well, there’s a couple different ways you can go. You can go on to OverheadDoor.com. We actually have something called DoorView, which is a design center where you can upload a picture of your house and place different garage doors on it to see how it changes the overall look of your home.
So you can play around and try on your wood doors, fiberglass doors, carriage house-style doors. And then add windows and decorative hardware to see how it can change the overall look. If you like what you see, you can easily contact one of our Red Ribbon Distributors. We have a Find A Distributor feature on the website or you can call 800-929-DOOR and get in touch with someone to help you out.
TOM: We’re taking to Ali Isham and she’s a brand director with Overhead Door Corporation.
Ali, if we’re budgeting for a replacement garage door, what’s the average cost for that project?
ALI: Well, if I were to go back to the Cost Versus Value Report that you mentioned previously, the mid-range garage door is about $1,500, while an upscale garage door is around $2,700. And if you think about it, that’s really not a lot of money. When you go to maybe replace your front-entry door, that could easily cost you around $2,800. And then if you’re doing anything else, maybe remodeling the interior of a house, you know that that could cost tens of thousands of dollars, especially when it comes to something like a kitchen.
TOM: Ali Isham, the brand director for Overhead Door Corporation, great information. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ALI: Thank you for having me.
TOM: And if you’d like more information about Overhead Doors and to check out that DoorView design tool, head on over to OverheadDoor.com. That’s OverheadDoor.com.
LESLIE: And do you know someone who has a hard time getting out of bed in the morning? Well, still ahead, we’ve got the perfect gift for making those rough mornings a little easier and a little warmer, so stick around.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.
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: Hey, are you anxiously counting down the days left until your gift exchange? Well, kick that worry to the curb, because you are listening to a special Holiday Gift-Guide Edition of The Money Pit. We’ll tell you this hour about gadgets and tools for every person on your list.
LESLIE: Yeah. There is so much holiday spirit here in our studio that we’re giving away prizes to not one but two callers that we talk to on the air this hour. And one of those lucky callers is going to win a Bostitch Mechanics Tool Set full of 99 specialty tools that you can take with you anywhere in a super-cool, molded case. You can visit StanleyTools.com to check it out. Trust us, you’re not going to want to regift this one.
TOM: And a second caller is going to win the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. Now, the MyQ Garage sends you an alert if your garage door is left open and it lets you respond by closing the door form any location, all through your smartphone. It’s a game-changer that retails for 129.99. But it’s going out to one caller today that reaches us at 888-MONEY-PIT with their home improvement question, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Preston in Kentucky is on the line and needs some help with a painting project. What’s going on at your money pit?
PRESTON: I was just curious why – I’ve gotten a few estimates on getting the inside of my home painted. And I was curious why they – why there’s such a wide gap in between the prices that I’ve gotten. Is one job different than the other?
TOM: Well, it depends. When the first painter comes, did you have sort of your blue jeans on and dirty shirt and when the second guy came, you were all dressed up in a suit and tie like you had just walked out of the bank?
LESLIE: Dressed from work?
TOM: They bid you as much as they bid the job.
LESLIE: Briefcase handcuffed to your wrist?
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, don’t wear the fake Rolex now when the guy comes over to give you a price.
Listen, the thing is what you want to do is make sure they’re comparing apples to apples on these estimates. So there could be a lot of things that they’re doing differently. I would check that first, starting with the brand of paint – because the better paint is going to be worth it; it’s going to be more scrubbable – how many coats they’re going to apply.
LESLIE: Are they priming? What’s the prep work? Is it plaster? Do they need to skim-coat? Is there any repair work that needs to be done to the existing drywall?
TOM: And also, you’re just going to have to – because it’s so labor-intensive, you’re absolutely going to positively have to do your homework on all these guys and get references and talk to people that they did work for recently.
And I like to ask people for references of somebody that they worked for at least a year ago, so we can see over time what their reputation has been. Because you definitely need to have someone who’s careful about their – working inside your house and who’s also a skilled painter. So I would dig in on the references and I would make sure that we’re comparing apples to apples in terms of what the project is that they’re actually doing.
And then another thing that you can do is always go online. And I like to search “complaints against” and the name of the business. And believe me, if there is anybody who’s had a problem, they’re going to pop up in a Google search. So if you search the word “complaints” and the name of the vendor, you’ll find out right away.
And keep in mind, there are complaint sites out there. The only reason people go to them is to complain, so you don’t always get a balanced view. But if you see a lot of complaints on a lot of different sites, then maybe it’s an issue and you should steer clear. Does that make sense?
PRESTON: OK, great.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if an appliance is on your holiday shopping list, you might be wondering if buying an extended warranty is worth it. It’s a question we get a lot here at The Money Pit. So, now, the Federal Trade Commission says millions of consumers pay for protection that they don’t actually need. To keep you from wasting money, you’ve got to do your homework.
TOM: Yeah. You want to compare coverage. You want to know what the basic warranty covers to see if an extended warranty truly provides you with enough additional coverage. Also, it’s important to know your appliance. Check its repair reputation online at sites like Consumer Reports or the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers at A-H-A-M.org to see how likely it is that it’ll break down.
LESLIE: Yeah, you’re also going to want to check for hidden costs in buying the extended-warranty option. Like insurance policies, extended warranties often are going to have deductibles, service fees or cancellation charges. You’ve got to find out whether a technician is going to come to your home or if you’ve got to take that appliance somewhere to be serviced. And the repair location that goes along with the warranty might not be nearby you.
TOM: Finally, you will not only see these extended warranties offered on appliances. Any toy store, sporting-goods store or electronics store will try to tack these product-protection plans onto a sale. You’ve seen them and the cost of the plan is usually based on the cost of the product. Sometimes, it’s a good investment and sometimes it’s not, depending on the item. So decide what you want to do before you’re forced into making a split-second decision at the checkout line with a line of impatient customers waiting behind you.
And I’ll tell you, Leslie, there’s only one product and one product that I’ve ever purchased an extended warranty on and it was a copy machine. It was for our office and it was only because the expert that I was working with kind of warned me that they do break down, they’re expensive to fix. But when they’re not broken-down, they work great. So with an endorsement like that, I got the warranty. I was very glad I had it because, as he said, it was a great machine but occasionally it broke down and needed a service call. But I’ve never purchased a warranty in anything else.
And in fact, if you look at the cost of these warranties, there’s a reason the warranty companies are in business, folks. And it’s not because they’re spending a lot of money fixing your appliances. You’re usually better off skipping the extended warranty.
LESLIE: Randy in Wisconsin has got a roof-mold question. What can we do for you today?
RANDY: Well, I was just wondering, I heard on a previous show that if you put a copper strip up at the top of your asphalt shingles, it will help eliminate moss, mold and mildew.
TOM: That’s correct.
RANDY: I was wondering if a bare copper wire would do the same thing.
TOM: Now, probably not enough copper there. What you want is a piece of copper flashing; that’s the easiest thing to find. You can probably find it at a roofing supply house.
But here’s the thing: there are other things that you can do to avoid the buildup of the algae on your roof. First of all, if your roof is very shaded, you can cut back some trees, let a little more natural sunlight get in, yeah, just to kind of thin out those trees so the sun gets through. That will help.
Secondly, you can put a product on called Wet & Forget, which is really easy to do. You mix the solution up and you spray it on the roof and you let it sit there. And it activates with the sunshine and then it will kill the moss and stuff that’s stuck up there.
Then the last thing is you can add that copper strip to the top of the roof. And the reason you do that is because when it rains, the copper releases some of its minerals and that actually acts as a mildicide.
RANDY: OK. Alrighty. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, still ahead, when does it make sense to move rather than improve? We’ll tell you, next.
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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: And from stocking stuffers to a big gift they’ll always remember, you’re listening to a very special Holiday Gift-Guide Edition of The Money Pit. And here’s another great gift idea from our gift guide: the Delta hand shower with Temp2O Technology.
This technology is really a game-changer for faucets, showerheads and more. The Temp2O means that you get an LED readout of the exact temperature of the water. The display is also in color and the color changes to signal the temperature range for an easy visual check. The technology is included in several hand showers and showerheads in the Delta line and the products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.
LESLIE: Yeah. And another very cool feature is that this technology is powered by the water, so you’re never going to need new batteries. How amazing is that? And the fixtures have the WaterSense designation, which means they’re going to save water.
Makes the perfect holiday gift. You can check it out in our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide, which is available now at MoneyPit.com.
And post your question, just like Roberta did. She writes: “Does it ever make sense to make a two-story house into a one-story? We like our location but don’t need the room anymore and we need a new roof.”
TOM: You don’t want to take a valuable asset and cut its value in half. This is a case where you really need to move, Roberta. If you don’t like the house the way it is, you really should sell it and move on and buy a smaller, more affordable house. You know, the flip side of that is, though, that can you over-improve a house by putting a second story on? The answer is sometimes you can. It really depends on what’s in the neighborhood and how consistent it is with the rest of the homes that surround you.
LESLIE: Yeah. And Roberta, if you really want to get a sense of what’s going on in your neighborhood, contact a local realtor. They’re going to know what’s going on, what’s over-improving, what’s the good thing to do. They’re really tuned in and they can help a lot.
TOM: Well, saying that the holidays get busy is kind of like saying winter gets cold. It’s all too easy to let that busy-ness blend together in sort of a big, huge haze. And that’s why I’m very pleased that Leslie has got some simple ideas for streamlining the stress, for maximum enjoyment and relaxation, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. December’s four weekends make great mile markers for things that need to get done in and around your home. You want to use the first weekend in December to deep-clean your house. It’ll free you up from doing it closer to the holidays and it means you won’t be cleaning around decorations, wrapping paper, new toys, bags, gifts, as they are going to pile up in the weeks to come. You’ve got to keep an eye out for mold, moisture, drafts or anything related to cold weather that should be treated or fixed before the thermometer drops even lower.
Now, with cleaning complete, you’re going to use the next weekend to drag out all of those decorations. If your celebrations include a tree, set that up this weekend, too. You’ve got to do inventory on which decorations stay and which should go and give everything a once-over for safety. All of your lights should be marked a UL Underwriter Laboratories Seal of Safety Approval. And strands of lights with damaged or frayed wires, chuck them; they should never be used.
We’re going to switch gears for the third weekend in December and get your appliances ready for cooking and baking. You’re going to want to clean your oven, as well as your vent-hood filters. They can get covered in grease. They’re going to lose efficiency, in addition to becoming safety hazards. Now, if your vent uses carbon filters, now is the time to replace those and the filter in your furnace while you’re at it.
Finally, you’re going to use December’s fourth and final weekend to do inventory for next year. Do you need new baking sheets? New ornaments? Keep a running list and then head out and buy what you need during the best sales of the year.
TOM: Good advice.
Coming up next time on The Money Pit, you can leave that sad, little Christmas tree to Charlie Brown. We’re going to have some tips for picking out the perfect tree: one that looks great now and will last through the rest of December. That’s all coming up, 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.)