Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 1:00]
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: Hey, are you fed up with your high energy bills or you're tired of paying through the nose at the pump? Did you know that the power to lower the cost of energy is actually in your hands? In fact, President Bush said it best when he said, 'Americans are addicted to oil.' But there is something you can do about it.
LESLIE: That's right. The Alliance to Save Energy - that's right, they want to help you - says if we can break that dependency, we'd actually have the power to lower the rising cost of our energy, over time, on everything from what heats our home to what goes in our cars.
Coming up, specific tips on how you can actually lower the energy bills in your house and your car.
TOM: And if you've got an energy question right now, you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We'll give you the answer to that question and a chance to win a great prize that can really help spruce up your yard this spring. In fact, we've bundled 100 bucks worth of Vigoro lawn and garden care items to give away this hour. It's everything from tools to decorative stone to mulch. And it's all going to be given away to one caller to 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It's a great way to get a head start on your spring landscaping. So let's get right to the phones.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Andy in Colorado's got a tricky problem with your light bulbs. What's going on?
ANDY: I've got a couple of outdoor bulbs on the front of my house. They routinely go out; more so than anywhere else in the house.
LESLIE: Are they situated right next to your front door?
ANDY: Yeah, one at the front door and one out by the garage.
TOM: Yeah, and are these ... are these doors that you use constantly; the garage door and the front door?
ANDY: Garage door, not so routinely. We don't park in the garage so it doesn't go up and down a couple times a day or anything like that. And then the other one's just a front door.
TOM: Alright. There is a special type of light bulb that's designed for these areas. Because, sometimes, light bulbs that are near anything that gives some vibration - like doors moving up and down - tend to burn out more quickly. What you want is called a rough service bulb.
TOM: And it actually has a thicker filament.
TOM: Really? Rough service, huh?
TOM: Rough service. You can find them at electrical supply stores. I don't think you'll find them at the average hardware store or home improvement retailer. But you will find them at an electrical supply store; the kind that electricians go to buy all their parts.
ANDY: Oh. Good deal.
LESLIE: I mean because think about how delicate those light bulbs are. It's so easy to break the filament. So think about all that rattling you're doing by slamming that door and shutting the garage door.
ANDY: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it makes sense.
TOM: Alright, Andy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright, Jim, you've got a question about vents. How can we help?
JIM: Well, I have about a 25-year-old house that has ridge vents.
TOM: That's good.
JIM: For some reason, these people never put vents around the edge of the house.
TOM: Now, that's a mistake.
LESLIE: A soffit vent. Well you need them together.
TOM: It's a system. Having one without the other is not doing you any good. See, here's how ridge and soffit vents work together. As the wind blows across the roof of your house, it sort of swoops up at the ridge and the ridge depressurizes and the air that's in the attic sort of gets sucked out at the ridge.
Now, the other half of this, though, is how do we replace that air that got sucked out. Well, that's what soffit vents are for. And also, that same wind blowing against the side of the building pushes air into the soffit wind ... into the soffit vents, goes up under the roof sheeting and out the ridge vent.
And that's a cycle that just repeats itself 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And that's really important because when it gets cold it takes out the moisture and when it gets hot it takes out the heat. So no matter what season of the year it is, it works very effectively. So if you only have a ridge vent, then you have one half of the ventilation system that you need. And what you ought to think about adding is something called a continuous soffit vent.
Now, if your house is 25 years old, what do you have? Do you have wood soffits or what kind of trim do you have on there?
JIM: It's wood.
TOM: Well, I would take ... I would take the wood soffit out - completely out - and maybe consider having the fascia and the soffit wrapped in aluminum. And they have those perforated vent panels.
LESLIE: So the whole thing becomes a vent.
TOM: Yeah. So it's wide open.
JIM: Mm-hmm. Well, I thought about just putting soffit vents around.
TOM: Well, I mean you could. The other way ... the other way to do this is you could take out the wood soffit material and you could basically cut it in half. And you can buy a strip vent that is about three inches wide that would be positioned in the middle of the wood vent.
TOM: And to do that, you take all the wood soffit material down, you put up like about a four-inch piece - let's say it's twelve inches. So you'd put up like a four-inch piece of wood and then a four-inch vent and then another four-inch piece of wood so it becomes one long strip vent. What I don't think you should do is cut any individual vents because you're just not going to get enough vent area if you do that. You really want them to be wide open.
And then, the last thing to check is your insulation in your attic. If your insulation is pushed too far forward to the roof edge, it'll block the soffit vent. So make sure it's pulled back a little bit.
JIM: Right. It has good insulation. I do have some manual fans in there but ...
TOM: Well, the thing is ...
JIM: ... since they're manual they're not efficient.
TOM: The thing is, Jim, manual fans or attic fans are never going to be efficient. And in fact, what they can do is actually raise your air conditioning costs. You know why? Because when they run, they don't just draw air out of the attic, they'll draw air out of the conditioned space as well.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) From the whole house.
TOM: That's right. They'll reach down to the conditioned space and pull the air conditioning out. So if you have continuous ridge and soffit vents, you don't need those attic exhaust fans at all.
JIM: I'll install the vents.
TOM: That's the hot ticket.
JIM: Alright, sir. Thank you very much.
TOM: Okay, Jim. Thanks ... you're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Common misconception, huh Leslie?
LESLIE: You know, I've seen a lot of those attic vents in places like Utah and you really do feel them sucking the air out of the house. It really sort of creates this interesting air flow. So if you're paying for some cooled air, don't use them.
TOM: Yeah, I've seen situations where when the attic fan was on, you could like hold a tissue - like, for example -
LESLIE: (sucking sound) Suck it away.
TOM: - against an electrical outlet and have it like suck right to the wall. (chuckling) Because that whole wall cavity's depressurized by that one little fan. So attic fans are only to be used in the rarest of circumstances. Generally, you can get all the ventilation you need just with continuous ridge and soffit vents.
LESLIE: Debbie in Ohio has a mysterious odor coming from her son's bathroom. Are you sure he hasn't hidden some gym socks in there? (laughing)
DEBBIE: Well, he is a teenager so you never know. (laughing)
TOM: Always possible.
DEBBIE: Yes, absolutely.
LESLIE: So tell us about it. Where do you smell it? What's it like? What's ... where's it coming from?
DEBBIE: Well, we built our home about six years ago and it ... we're on a septic tank system. And it only seems to be in their bathroom and it's not all the time. And it only seems to be certain times. And it is distinctly like you would think would be a septic tank odor and I don't know what's causing it. That's ...
LESLIE: And it's a bathroom that you use quite frequently. Obviously, the kids are using it.
DEBBIE: Absolutely. Yes. And none of the ... we have three other bathrooms in the home and we don't have that problem with those bathrooms. So ...
TOM: Well, generally, if there is an odor problem, it has to do with venting. Somewhere, the vent is not properly installed or, more importantly, there's no trap. The first place I would be checking would be the sink. Because if there is a trap that's missing in that area, you're going to have an open connection to the waste line and that would explain the occasional waft of sewage gas.
LESLIE: And how would you just visually tell, by checking, that there's no trap?
TOM: Well, when you look under ... first of all, when you look under the sink, you want to look for a big u-shaped piece of pipe that goes down and then comes up again; because that u-shaped pipe is called the p-trap and that's where the water is stored.
LESLIE: So there's always some water just sitting in the bottom there.
TOM: Right. And hence that's why it's called because it basically traps the sewage gas.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Because it stops the odor.
DEBBIE: Okay. So that could be coming from the sink, not necessarily the commode, because we are a septic tank.
TOM: Correct. I mean it's all part of the same drainage system. All that water goes to the same place. And so, if there's a trap missing somewhere or if it's dried out, then that would explain why you're getting odor.
The other place it could be is in ... you have a tub or a shower in there?
DEBBIE: We have a tub with shower.
TOM: So the other place it could be is in the tub. If you can narrow down which one seems to be the source of the odor, when you start to smell it - kind of maybe do a little nose inspection a little closer and see if you can figure out if it's the sink or the tub - it's most likely a problem with the waste system there not being properly vented and not having a proper trap. And ...
DEBBIE: Not necessarily the commode but either one of ... the sink or just ...
TOM: No, because see, the commode is full of water all the time.
TOM: So it's probably not the commode.
DEBBIE: Could it be ... you know, it's a double sink. Could it be the sink that they don't tend to use as often?
TOM: Absolutely. If it hasn't ...
LESLIE: It could be. It could be that the trap is dried up.
TOM: Yeah, that's right. That trap is dried up, there's no water in there, it could be as simple as putting some more water in there. Okay, Debbie?
LESLIE: So wait, they're not fighting and they're sharing one sink?
DEBBIE: Well, one's off to college now, actually.
TOM: Ah. (laughing)
DEBBIE: But no, they really did very well. Have to give them credit for that.
TOM: Okay, Debbie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
DEBBIE: (overlapping voices) Thanks a lot.
LESLIE: Okay, storm season is upon us. And did you know that every year lightening strikes cost millions of dollars of damage to electrical systems in your home? So the ...
TOM: I'm shocked.
LESLIE: Ha-ha. Bzzz. (laughing) Learn how to protect your system, after this.
[audio timestamp: 10:32]
[audio timestamp: 13:16]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Peerless. If you're putting in a new bathroom or kitchen faucet, Peerless can help you with every step including the hardest one - getting that old faucet out. For a complete undo-it-yourself guide, visit the Peerless faucet coach at faucetcoach.com.
TOM: Welcome back to this hour of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: You know, you might not think about it - unless, of course, this has happened to you - but a lightening strike can cause some pretty serious damage to your house. I mean it could wipe out your computer files. It could wipe out your TV. It could even do some damage to your family.
LESLIE: Yeah. And actually, a surge arrester can offer whole-house protection because it safeguards hard-wired equipment; like your air conditioning systems or any appliances that can't be protected by plug-in surge devices. An electrician can install an arrester for your house for between 100 and 200 bucks. It might sound like a lot, but it could save you thousands to cover the cost of new equipment.
So for more tips on power protection, log on to moneypit.com.
TOM: And most of you listening, right now, are probably thinking about venturing outside and getting started on that dreaded spring chore - yard work. Well, we're going to give away a great prize package, this hour, to one caller to help inspire you.
LESLIE: That's right. One caller will win Vigoro products worth about 100 bucks. It includes Weed Stop mulch - which is infused with herbicide - tools, plant food and even some decorative stone. It's like a yard all bundled up into one prize package. Yours for free.
TOM: (overlapping voices) And that's the way to get started turning your yard green this spring. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: David in Florida finds The Money Pit on WCOA. And you've got a problem with your floor. Tell us about it.
DAVID: What it is is this last hurricane season, the parquet flooring in our living room and dining room - about 1,000 square feet - started buckling all over the floor off of the subfloor.
DAVID: And when it ... we'd pull that up, it would be a white, stringy mold type stuff. And some places, there was moisture on top of the subfloor and there are some places that are now rotten - dry rot type rotten - where it wasn't before. Now I understand that's got to be replaced.
TOM: It sounds like there is a moisture problem in the crawl space. And there's a couple of things that you can do to address this. You've got to lower that humidity and sometimes you need a little mechanical help, in Florida, to do that.
The first thing I would suggest is the basics and that is to look at the grading and the drainage at the foundation perimeter. Even though you may have sandy soil that's very absorbing, you want to make sure that the soil slopes away from the walls, that the gutters and downspouts are extended out away from the foundation at least four to six feet.
The next thing you want to do is to look inside the crawl space and make sure you have a plastic vapor barrier across the entire floor. Use as few seams as possible and that stops the soil moisture from evaporating up.
And the third and final thing that you could do to keep moisture down in that space is to install a crawl space vent fan - and this is one that would fit inside the same space in your foundation that is (inaudible) reserved for foundation (inaudible) - that eight inch by sixteen inch space - except that it is wired to a humidistat, not a thermostat. So whenever the humidity gets high in the crawl space, the fan kicks on and pulls drier air through to dry out that space.
All those things will work together to reduce moisture. I have found that parquet floor is very unforgiving to moisture and humidity. Because once it starts to swell, it pops up and comes apart like a jigsaw puzzle and you just can't get it back together again.
DAVID: Yes sir. Okay, when I had the plastic put down ... they put down plastic and said I need to have gaps in it.
TOM: That's not correct.
LESLIE: No, it needs to be pretty overlapped.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You have no gaps. In fact, you should tape the seams.
TOM: You want to have no gaps in there. The whole idea is to have no gaps ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) To stop the moisture from coming up.
TOM: Right. You don't want to vent the plastic. (laughing) Why would you want to do that? In fact, in some places in the country ... up in Canada they're starting to build crawl spaces that have ... plastic goes all the way up the walls and completely sealed so absolutely no moisture gets in whatsoever. It's a different type ...
DAVID: That makes more sense to me.
TOM: Yeah, a different type of crawl space construction. But in an existing home like that, that would be the hot ticket, okay? So seal up those gaps and let's get that space dried out and that, hopefully, is going to let your floor lie down nice and even. Okay, David?
TOM: Thanks very much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Okay, Rachel in California is looking to test the toxicity - toxicity? That's a hard word - of mold in your house. Tell us about the mold first and then we'll help you out.
RACHEL: Okay. Well, I'm highly allergic to mold, first of all. And so, I smelled it on December 1st this past year. And then we got hit with a major flood here in California. So it's ... you can see it in the windowsills and you can smell it in the air. It's black and kind of gummy looking in the windowsills. And I have a feeling it might be the one that's really bad for me because I had a lot of headaches living there.
TOM: The first thing to do is to do a little investigation in terms of the type of mold. Now, can you physically see the mold?
RACHEL: It's more like the black. You don't get the spore looking things.
TOM: But it looks sort of dark and greenish?
RACHEL: Dark and blackish mostly.
TOM: Yeah. Well, that could be stachybotrys but the best way to know is to test it. And the way you would do that is you would get some scotch tape ...
TOM: ... and you would press it into the mold and then pull it off and then sort of fold that tape over so it's sort of like a circle.
TOM: Slip that inside of a plastic sandwich bag and then send it out to a lab to have it tested. And they can actually read it and tell you exactly what kind of mold it is and what concentration it is.
RACHEL: So you don't have to do anything else other than put it in the bag and ...
TOM: No, it's actually fairly simple to do that.
LESLIE: And if you have different types of mold in different parts of the house, you might want to test each kind; especially if they look different.
RACHEL: Is there any kind of self test that's available ... you know, that I could buy cheaply and maybe ... you know, kind of like the pregnancy test for mold, you know? (laughing)
TOM: Well, there are Petri dish tests out there, where you kind of leave them open and then the mold sort of lands on it and it grows. But the problem is it gives you a lot of false positives. If you go to our website ...
LESLIE: Just like pregnancy tests.
TOM: Yeah, just like pregnancy tests. That's right. (laughing) If you go to our website at moneypit.com, there is a mold resource guide - in the Ideas and Tips section - that was actually authored by a good friend of this program. His name is Jeff May and he is the author of 'My House is Killing Me,' which is one of the best-selling mold investigative books out there. And he actually goes into a lot of detail on those Petri dish tests and just feels that they are very inaccurate and not very reliable. The best way to do is to actually physically take the mold sample and then have it tested. Okay?
RACHEL: Okay. Do you know what that costs?
TOM: Well, probably somewhere - for one sample, to have it read - maybe around $50 to $75 with a report. And then you'll know what you're dealing with.
LESLIE: And then you'll know exactly how to take care of it, too.
RACHEL: If it's pregnant or not.
TOM: Yeah. (laughing) Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you're in New Jersey you can find The Money Pit on WCTC, like Nate does. And Nate, you've got some electrical questions. How can we help?
NATE: Well, I have an older home and it has two-prong outlets. And I know I can purchase an adapter that has the little tail; just take the center screw out of the plate.
NATE: Right. Well, is there a way I can change these plates over to a three-prong?
TOM: Yes, there is a way to do it. You can install a ground fault outlet on a two-wire system. It should only be done by a qualified electrician. It should not be done by a do-it-yourselfer because if it's done wrong it could be dangerous. But, basically, what a ground fault outlet does is it detects any diversion of current to a ground source ... to a ground source and then it turns the outlet off. So in that way, you can get ground protection without having a three-wire house. What you have is a BX cable; probably the armor clad cable, the metal ...
NATE: The old BX, right.
TOM: Yeah, the metal clad cable.
TOM: And the actual sheathing of that cable serves as the ground. But if you were to replace those two prongs with three-prong ground fault outlets, it could be done. But again, do not do this yourself because if it's done wrong, you're going to defeat the purpose and you'll think you have a grounded outlet and you won't. And then you'll plug something in that has a short and you will take the brunt of the electricity.
TOM: You know why they call it a ground? Because it is the connection to ground.
TOM: It's the connection to the soil. And electricity seeks the path of least resistance. And if you are a better conductor than the frame of your house, the electricity's going to go into you because you are the path of least resistance. And we don't want that to happen so that's why I say have only ... have that repair done by a professional.
TOM: Okay, Nate?
NATE: Thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, I bet you didn't know that the more energy you use, the higher energy prices tend to go. The folks at The Alliance to Save Energy know that best and they say the way to lower those prices is for us to wean ourselves off of our oil and gas obsession.
LESLIE: That's right. Coming up next, the president of The Alliance joins us to explain how major industry players and you can come together to do just that.
[audio timestamp: 22:44]
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Metal Roofing Alliance. We call metal roofing investment-grade roofing. Because in your lifetime, a metal roof will save you money and add value to your home. To find a Metal Roofing Alliance contractor or to learn more about investment-grade roofing, visit www.metalroofing.com.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And on this show we've been getting a lot of calls about energy and how to not use as much of it as, perhaps, you possibly could in order to try to reduce some of those energy bills. Well, the government ...
LESLIE: Yeah, and half of those calls are from me, Tom. Because you should see my home heating bills.
TOM: Is that right?
LESLIE: Yeah, I'm calling you ... I'm calling The Money Pit like (whispering), 'How do I save money?' (laughing)
TOM: Is that why the phones are busy, busy, busy this weekend? (laughing) You know, one of my friends said, 'I had a question for you guys but I could not get through to the 888-MONEY-PIT number. It was busy, busy, busy.' If that ever happens to you folks, remember, you can call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we will call you back the next time we're in the studio. But I get off point.
We were talking about how to save some money. And today's guest has some help to help us do just that.
LESLIE: Yeah. As President Bush recently said, American's are addicted to oil. You heard that right. But did you know that dependency actually fuels the increasing cost of energy? That includes everything from home heating oil to gasoline at the pump. But the power is in your hands to cut down on energy use and limit that dependency.
Here to tell us more is Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy. Welcome, Kateri.
KATERI: Thanks, Leslie. It's good to be here.
LESLIE: Well, this is really a hot topic. And I was looking a little bit about your website. Why don't you tell us what the service of this site is.
KATERI: Sure. The Power is in Your Hands campaign actually has 21 partners, including the federal government - the Department of Energy, EPA; groups like ours - the Alliance to Save Energy - who advance energy efficiency for the economic and energy and environmental benefits; and also, just a Who's Who list of energy providers, businesses, companies, trade associations - all who have come together to put information up on the website and into the public domain to empower consumers to manage their energy costs, which are incredibly high this year.
The average homeowner can expect to pay about $1,900 to power their homes and to pay about $2,500 for the average two-car family at the pump, this year. And we're only going to expect to see that go higher. So it's ... it's a tremendous ... you know, $44, $4,500 a year for energy costs for most families in the country is a tremendous burden in many instances.
TOM: Well, Kateri, we're in a situation where we have web overload of information. And sure there's like tons of energy-saving tips out there. This year, you've got more reason than ever to go actually learn about this stuff, because energy bills are so high. But why don't you give us some examples of some of the things that our listeners may not know about some easy ways that Power is in Your Hands can teach them to try to cut back on those bills.
KATERI: Sure. I mean there are low-cost and no-cost things that people can do. One is turning down the thermostat. If you lower your thermostat by just one degree, you can reduce heating costs by about four to five percent, depending on where you live. And so, for example, if you're in Indiana. You can expect to save between $30 and $50 on your home heating bill just by turning the thermostat down one degree.
LESLIE: And that's over a month or over the season?
KATERI: That's a month because your costs are going to be about $300 ... they're going to increase by $370. Yeah, so that's a monthly figure, actually. And it will ... it will vary, depending on where individuals live. But you can go on our website - Power is in Your Hands - and look at the various states. And you can actually get cost estimates for some of these actions that I'm going to tell you about.
Another thing is if people want to invest in a relatively modest investment, a programmable thermostat will cost you about $100 and they will pay for themselves in less than a year, in energy savings. You typically, in a year, would save between $130 and $170 on your heating and cooling costs.
LESLIE: Kateri, I notice on your website, powerisinyourhands.org, you have a lot of tip sheets that folks can download to carry around this information with them. But what can they do if they want to get a return on their investment? Are there any sort of government benefits to doing any of these energy efficiencies?
KATERI: Right, Leslie. For this year and for next, the federal government has made available an income tax credit for homeowners who make energy efficiency improvements to their home; like adding insulation, putting in Energy Star labeled windows and doors or buying high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment.
TOM: Wow, that's great. So in other words, when you invest in this equipment now, you can actually reduce the amount of taxes you're paying on your overall income, based on how much of an amount? I mean how is it actually determined and how would a consumer know that the product that they are actually buying qualifies for this tax credit?
KATERI: Well, there are guidelines that are going to be issued by the IRS - and they've not been yet - to help consumers. But in the interim, they can get a lot of guidance up on our website on what is eligible and how much is eligible. But just as a general rule of thumb, Tom, it's a one-time federal income tax credit - so as you said, it goes against what you would otherwise owe Uncle Sam - and its value is capped at $500. And ...
TOM: So if, for example, you owed Uncle Sam $1,000 on your income tax - if that was how much you had to pay to them - that's reduced by $500?
KATERI: That's exactly right. So you would only owe Uncle Sam $500. So you can pay it in taxes or you can pay it in improving your home. (chuckling)
TOM: That's right.
LESLIE: Well, Kateri, with the tax season almost upon us, do you think that accountants are aware of these benefits? Or do you think it's more for the consumer to say, 'Hey, we've done these things to enhance our home. Can you help?'
KATERI: Yeah, I think at this point it's best to rely on yourself. And so, consumers ought to ... ought to bring it up if their tax accountants do not. It is an investment that had to made starting ... had to made after January 1st of this year and has to be made before December 31st of 2007 to be eligible.
TOM: So we'd better hop right on it.
KATERI: That's right. And also, there ... you mentioned the oil dependency earlier in the program. There are incredibly generous tax credits that are available for purchase of hybrid electric vehicles. They range in value from $250 all the way up to (audio gap) that are there, but that's something to look for, too.
TOM: It's pretty amazing, with a government that relies so heavily on oil and gas, for them actually to motivate us to actually invest in electric vehicles, don't you think?
LESLIE: Well, we're going to run out.
TOM: Yeah, well it's about time.
KATERI: (laughing) Well, I think long before we run out we're going to be paying a price that no one can afford.
LESLIE: Exactly. So you better start thinking about alternative energies.
KATERI: That's right.
TOM: That website, again, is powerisinyourhands.org. Thanks again, Kateri.
KATERI: Alright, thank you guys. Bye-bye.
TOM: Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy. Thanks again for stopping by The Money Pit.
Well, wherever you live, it's possible that there might still be some snow on the ground. But the shrubs and the trees are sensing a change in the weather and are starting to bud.
LESLIE: And exactly this is the right time to prune back those shrubs and trees and we're going to give you some tips on how to do that correctly, right after this.
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[audio timestamp: 33:52]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable prices. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT is our telephone number. You got a question about your home improvement project, call us right now. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
So folks, early spring; that's the time that's right now. It's a great time to think about pruning. That's right, making grapes shrink and then drinking the juice. No, I'm kidding. (laughing) Pruning your shrubs. Deciduous trees and shrubs can be shaped and cut back before growth starts so they will grow and bloom the way you want them to.
TOM: That's right. And removing dead branches is a great place to start. But how can you tell if a branch is really dead when it has no leaves? Look at the end of the branch. Live branches will have small twigs and swelling buds. Live stems and branches are also flexible and they actually bend. The dead branches will snap off when you bend them and they may have a peeling bark. So a quick way to tell whether or not those branches are alive or dead.
LESLIE: That's an excellent tip. So, do you like our tips? Do you want more of our tips? Well, coming up in our next e-newsletter, we'll tell you the best way to cut back newly planted foliage as well as how to deal with trees that have sap running on them. And that's a sticky situation.
TOM: That's right. Hey, for a head start on that spring pruning, we've got a great prize this hour. It's the Vigoro products. They're worth 100 bucks. Includes some tools, Weed Stop mulch, decorative stone, Weed and Feed and plant food. Have your garden and your lawn looking green and spiffy this spring. If you want to win it, call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We will choose one caller out of the Money Pit hardhat, at the end of this hour, and present that prize to that person. You'll know who they are as you drive by their yard in a couple of months because ...
LESLIE: Yeah, because everything will be all shiny and new.
TOM: They'll be all shiny and crispy and green and nice. They'll be a Money Pit listener and a Money Pit winner. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Who's next?
LESLIE: Robert in Ohio is looking to do some work in his garage. Hey, Robert, what can we do for you?
ROBERT: Okay. I have a five-year-old condominium, two-car garage - 20x20. When we first moved in, I used a ... what they call cement paint or ... yeah, garage floors ...
ROBERT: ... a single paint. I did everything right, drove the car in after it set up, and it peeled.
ROBERT: Then I used an acid paint remover, I took all of that off, I acid washed it, I used an epoxy paint. As far as I know, I did everything right; let it sit for about three days, drove the car in, and it peeled.
ROBERT: Now ...
TOM: What kind of epoxy paint did you use, Robert?
ROBERT: I cannot remember the name of it.
TOM: Well, let me ask you this. Was it one that you had to mix together or was it ...?
ROBERT: Yes. Yes, it came in two separate containers.
TOM: And you had to mix it ...
LESLIE: Yeah, but maybe there's a moisture situation with the floor. That could be why nothing's adhering properly.
TOM: Yeah, because I tell you, the epoxy-base garage floor paints really rock. I really love them.
Well, if you've had bad experience with paint, maybe you might want to think about a couple of other options and two of them come to mind. Craftsman has an interlocking garage floor system that's sold as part of their garage cabinet lines, which are like these tiles that are about - I don't know - maybe 12x12 or 18x18. And they lock together like puzzle pieces and they sit right above the garage floor and give you a good surface to drive on, walk on and...
TOM: And they have different modular components to it so that you could actually have like the lip go down near the edge. And then, also, Gladiator - who makes another garage cabinet system - has like a rubber mat that's like diamond plated. And I think it comes in 10-foot-wide rolls and it's really thick stuff. And you roll that down and I think the seams, just because of the weight of the material, don't even have to be glued together. And those are two other ways to get a garage floor covered, that don't involve paint.
LESLIE: Yeah. And another interesting flooring product is one by a company called Dino Tile. And that's also one that sort of raises up your garage flooring by maybe a half of an inch. And it snaps together. It takes a little aggression and a rubber mallet but it gets you into it and it's a good project. And that comes in a ton of different colors. And you can get all different kinds of edging and it's suitable and strong enough for a car. So maybe paint isn't your best solution.
ROBERT: I've looked at those. My last question, though, was could you just a rollable household linoleum?
TOM: I wouldn't recommend that because that's not designed to stand up to the pressure of the tires and all of the dirt and the grime, from the road, that those tires are going to pull in. I think that you would be very disappointed. I mean, most linoleums today, that I see, they can't even take the refrigerator being dragged across it. And imagine the weight of a car compared to that.
ROBERT: Okay. That's ... I was looking at that as a cheap way out. But I did see those ... that solid matting. It comes in a 10x8, I think, that you mentioned.
TOM: Yeah, those are all good ... those are good products and good options and good ways to get your garage floor covered.
Robert, thanks so much for calling us from Columbus, Ohio. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: So, Money Pit listeners. Are your light bulbs burning out a little too quickly? Well, Nate from New Jersey is having that problem and wants to know if his utility company could be to blame. Well, we'll shed some light on that subject, next.
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ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is sponsored by John Deere. John Deere has a whole new line of riding lawn mowers called the 100 Series. Every 100 Series comes with an exclusive John Deere engine, powered by Briggs & Stratton, and can be purchased at The Home Depot.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, we realize there are folks out there that, perhaps, may be a little shy and don't want to pick up the phone and we don't judge; we create many ways for you to contact the show. You can go to our website at moneypit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie. And, in fact, a number of folks have done that and we've got some email questions to dive into right now.
LESLIE: Okey-dokes. Here's the first one. It's from Nate in Clark, New Jersey, who writes: 'I have an older home and it seems the light bulbs burn out very frequently. Is there a way, by me or by my electric company, to meter the house to see if it's an outside problem or something internal?'
TOM: Absolutely. There are a number of things to do. First of all, if the light bulbs are kind of burning out all over the house, then it's more likely to be a problem with the ...
LESLIE: Yeah, I'd be curious to know where the light bulbs are.
TOM: Yeah, because a lot of times, we get folks that have light bulbs that burn out, say, around the front door or the back door. If there's a place that there's a lot of vibration, that definitely will shorten the life of a light bulb. And if you're tired of replacing those, there's a type of light bulb that you could buy that's known as a rough service, long life light bulb. It basically has a much thicker filament and it's designed for high vibration areas like walls that a door slams against and things like that.
However, if it's really odd things that are happening in the whole house like that, you definitely want to hire an electrician to check the power coming into the house. Because you could get brown outs, you can get sags, you can get surges, you can get spikes in the electricity that can cause those kinds of things to happen. You could have a bad transformer up the street or so from your house and that could cause those issues, too. And the best way to nail those down is to have an electrician check the quality of the power that's coming in the house and monitor it and see if that might be leading to it.
So a couple of places to check would be at the main panel. And then also, again, if it's just one limited area, then you want to look at the light bulbs and maybe change the type that you're using.
LESLIE: Alright, we've got one more from Herman in Lubbock, Texas, who writes: 'I would like to know if there's a formula to figure out the number of soffit vents for your house or how far apart they should be.'
TOM: Well, actually, you can't really have too many soffit vents, Herman. You really want to have continuously open soffits. The formula is one square foot of net ventilating area for every 150 square feet of attic space. And that really means you want to open them wide open because that's going to let a lot of air in and that's going to make that attic breathe properly and cool properly; especially important in the Lubbock area.
LESLIE: Alright, go for it with those soffit vents, Herman.
TOM: Well, of the many skills that Leslie Segrete has, she is also an excellent cook. In fact, you're a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and I did not know that the secret to that, which is the subject of today's Leslie's Last Word, is how to keep your range clean and safe and working properly.
LESLIE: Well, exactly. A clean and safe range is ensuring a wonderfully tasty meal. So you want a tip that ...
TOM: Maybe that's why I'm such a bad cook. (laughing)
LESLIE: Oh, Tom. Clean your stove a little bit better. You know you're a good cook. That's why you make your kids do all the cooking. I know what you're doing over there.
TOM: Slave labor, baby. (laughing)
LESLIE: That's so not nice. Alright, so if you're looking for a tip that's going to help you prevent fires and actually improve your air quality, here it is. Clean or replace the filters in your range vent hood or your underneath the over-the-range microwave oven. This way, if your filter is too dirty, you'll know it; it's going to be sticky and gross. If you feel like it's too dirty to clean or it's just plain worn out, throw it away and replace it with a new one. They're inexpensive and it can actually save you from a lot of damage should there be a fire. And remember that charcoal air filters can't be cleaned. So replace them about every year. You know, maybe do it on your birthday or on some day that you'll remember; maybe the day you set your clocks back. This way you'll always think about it. And also, use that day to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and in your carbon monoxide detectors as well. Always a good tip and helps you to remember those things.
TOM: Well, speaking of cleaning, there is one room in your house where you really don't have to clean it. In fact, as the name implies, it's probably the dirtiest room in your house. It's the mud room. And coming up next week on The Money Pit, we're going to have some ideas for improving your mud room from the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine - Kevin Ireton - who just did a great story on how to create the perfect mud room; one that can actually give you a place to store things and one that can be easy to clean and one that can actually even help you save some energy.
That's all the time we have this hour. 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 2006 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.)