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: 0:025]
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, welcome to this hour of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement question because we are your home improvement guides. We're here to help you get the job done. We're going to coach you through those projects. We're going to make them simple. We're going to make them come out better than you expected. We're going to tell you what could go wrong, before you start opening that wall or decide to rip out your cabinets or take your sink out and then try to figure out where the main water valve is. Wrong order. We can help you do everything right the first time if you pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We know there are some things that you'd like to get done and we are here to help you out.
Coming up this hour, storm season is in full swing; affects you especially if you live on the coast, but no matter where you live in the country, storms can have a big impact on your home whether they're tornadoes, hurricanes, you name it. But you know what? There are building materials today that are built better to stand up to all the punishment that Mother Nature can deal out. We're going to talk to you about some of those materials and things that you might want to think about the next time you make an improvement to your house to make it storm-proof.
LESLIE: And also ahead, we're going to have a quick maintenance tip for you to do. I know, one more thing for your list. But it takes less than half-an-hour and it's going to help your water heater run better, longer and save you energy dollars.
TOM: And the writing is clearly on the wall: the home of the future is green. It's green, it's safe and it's smart. We're going to learn about some homes, this hour, that are totally tricked out with the products that can save energy and money and how you can incorporate some of those ideas into your own house right now.
LESLIE: And if green isn't just your lifestyle but it's your color of choice, we've got a great prize for you this hour. We're giving away a Tape Seal prize pack worth 50 bucks and this prize includes everything you need to properly prep your paint job; whether you're painting something green or pink or blue, whatever you like, including this cool new product that's going to help you get those nice, clean edges on stripes, lines, patterns whatever your taping hands can dish out.
TOM: So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: We're heading out to New Mexico to talk to Vicky who's got a sump pump question. What's going on?
VICKY: If our home does not have a basement, do we have to worry about any possible water backup? I'm trying to deal with prevention. Just to get information.
TOM: Now, is your home, Vicky, on a crawl space or is it on a slab?
VICKY: A slab.
TOM: Well, generally not. I mean it's always possible that you could get a broken pipe under the floor or something of that nature, but you don't have to generally worry about water infiltration. I have seen, in rare circumstances, where there was a lot of water that collected along the outside of a home that has a slab floor and because concrete is so absorbent, it will suck up the water and sometimes that can draw water into the house and make the carpet wet or make the wall wet. But generally speaking, if your house is on a slab you don't have to worry about that.
VICKY: OK, then maybe this is a related question. I never heard of a sump pump until last year. What kind of houses need a sump pump?
TOM: Well, a sump pump is simply a pump that is usually in the basement of the crawl space that helps take water out that collects in that space. But since your home is slab on grade, you really have no need for one.
VICKY: So you folks have been very helpful.
LESLIE: Alan in New York called The Money Pit because he's got a bluish liquid dripping out of the ceiling, but I think he meant Ghostbusters.
TOM: (chuckling) Alan, what's going on? How can we help you?
ALAN: I have a central air system and I saw a bluish liquid dripping out of one of the ceiling vents.
ALAN: It's not the vent where the cold air comes out of; it's the vent where the stale air returns to the system.
ALAN: When I touched the liquid, it didn't have a greasy feel and it didn't have a smell like oil or anything. It seemed clear to the touch.
ALAN: It did seem to discolor some black linoleum tile that it fell on, but later that changed back. So I don't know what that bluish liquid is. It wasn't like water; it was a little thicker than - it was thicker.
TOM: And it only happens when the air conditioning is running?
ALAN: Just happened this one time ...
ALAN: ... but I mean I had the system on and, since then and afterwards, the system was not working well. I know I was getting warm air coming out.
TOM: Well, I really can't imagine what that is. I'm wondering if there's some sort of a lubricant in the air handler that ...
LESLIE: Antifreeze? (chuckles)
TOM: Well, no - that you could be seeing. But I will say that in the very hot, humid days, you tend to get more condensation and that collects on the outside of the ducts; that forms water. Sometimes the water will drip through the ceiling. It could be picking up something along the way that changed the color of it to make it appear blue. But if it only happened one time and it hasn't happened again, then I probably wouldn't worry about it unless it started happening again. In that case, I'd try to get up in the attic space and look above the area and try to figure out what it is.
ALAN: OK. Fair enough. I thank you for that.
TOM: You're welcome, Alan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and let us know what you are working on because we can help you get that job done right the first time, anytime you like, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That magic number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, a quick and easy and cheap maintenance trick for your water heater, that we feature in our brand new book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. We will open those pages, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:06:09.4]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and two things will happen. We'll do our best to answer your home improvement question and we'll give you a cool prize because, this hour, one caller we talk to is going to win the Tape Seal prize pack worth over 50 bucks. In it you get everything you need to prep your painting project, including drop cloths, painters tape, brushes, rollers and two jars of Tape Seal; this cool, clear, acrylic gel that you paint along the painters tape edge whenever you're doing stripes or lines because it seals out that awful bleed-through and gives you a really, really crisp, clean line that makes your place look great. So give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, maybe you're calling because that shower just wasn't quite hot enough this morning or that nice, hot bath you're looking forward to after your long weekend of home improving isn't quite where you want it to be temperature-wise. That's because your water heater, it needs some maintenance. I know it's there for you; it's working all the time. You just can't ignore it.
Water heaters tend to build up sediment right at the bottom. That's going to make them far less efficient and possibly cause them to break down far sooner than you'd like. If you want to keep yours running at peak efficiency, use your tank's drain valve to carefully let out a few gallons of water out of the tank every six months. And don't forget, the water that's coming out of this tank is going to be hot; so be careful and get a sturdy vessel that you can carry to the nearest sink.
TOM: And that tip is part of our list of 30 under 30; that's 30 home maintenance tips that will take less than 30 minutes. You can check it out in our brand new book. It's called My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure, available at bookstores now.
Let's get back to the phones. Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Well, if you're remodeling your bathroom you'd be like our next caller. Carolyn in New York, how can we help you on this adventure?
CAROLYN: Hi, my name is Carolyn and I'm from New York and I'm planning to remodel my bathroom in a month or so ...
CAROLYN: ... and I've got a couple of questions. One, as far as the type of bathtub I'll get - I'm going to take out my existing tub and I'm not sure if I should put in a new cast iron tub or fiberglass or acrylic or I think there's a porcelain over steel.
TOM: What's your style?
CAROLYN: Oh, it's just a small bathroom in about a 50-year-old house and I'm not - you know I haven't gotten everything; all the fixtures picked out yet.
CAROLYN: But I've been advised a couple of different ways. I've got a few estimates and most people say to go with the cast iron and then one person said, 'No, not the cast iron. Just get a fiberglass tub.'
TOM: Well, I mean the cast iron is going to last indefinitely and that's sort of the old, traditional way to go.
LESLIE: And they're beautiful and they're deep and you can get a claw-footed one and you can get a beautiful sort of free-standing tub. I mean it's truly a classic choice.
TOM: Yeah, but fiberglass is a less expensive choice but it's going to have more maintenance associated with it. How long do you plan on living in the house, Carolyn? Is this the house for as many years as possible or is this a house that you might have just for a couple of years and you may need to sell?
CAROLYN: Well, probably at least 10 years I'll be here.
LESLIE: Tom, when she's choosing, say, fiberglass or cast iron, is there anything to consider like perhaps the floor joists, their direction, as far as the weight of the tub plus the weight of water?
TOM: I don't think so because I imagine in a 50-year-old house you probably have a cast iron tub right now.
CAROLYN: Right, I do. I have a cast iron tub now.
TOM: Yeah. Have you thought about having the existing tub reglazed?
CAROLYN: Well, I've been told that that doesn't last that long.
TOM: Well, it doesn't, but it's a lot less expensive.
TOM: I mean you could probably get several years out of it.
CAROLYN: Well, they'll be taking the walls down and retiling. That's another question that I have, too, is can I tile over the existing ceramic tile or should they rip the floor out and put new underlayment and new tile.
TOM: If you're going to replace the tub, then you probably want to take all the old tile down. If you were keeping the tub and you wanted to put another layer of tile, you can, in fact, put tile on top of tile. As long as you have a good tile installer that can make the corners look nice and neat and nothing is terribly - looks out of place, it is possible. It's done on floors all the tile.
CAROLYN: OK, alright. Thank you very much for your help.
TOM: You're welcome, Carolyn. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: George in Illinois needs some help with a roofing project. What can we do for you today?
GEORGE: Yes, I have a 20-year-old cedar shake roof ...
GEORGE: ... and I've replaced several shakes during the years. The shakes are in relatively good shape and I'm having a roofer come over to fix the top ridge and put some more shakes on and he's recommending that I put a UV protectant on the roof; not a sealant because I don't want to seal the shakes, but it would be a UV - kind of a waterproof and UV protectant. And the total cost is about $1,500 and about $750 or $800 of that is the UV protection ...
GEORGE: ... and I'm just wondering if that's worth the money or not.
TOM: I don't know. I rarely hear of people doing any type of surface treatment to cedar roof shingles; not to say that it might not help a little bit. But if it's lasted 20 years, you know, George, you're pretty much near the end of a normal life cycle for that. If you go another five, you're going to be - that roof is not going to owe you a dime, so to speak. And putting sealant on that is not going to buy you a whole lot of extra time. So I'm not so sure that that's a great use of your money.
GEORGE: OK, so just go with the replacement of the top ridge and the additional shakes to replace the curled ones and missing ones and outwardly damaged ones.
TOM: I think so. I don't think it's probably worth it for you to put any more money than just the maintenance that you can do to replace missing and damaged shingles, at this point. Because probably in the next five years you're going to have to think about replacing and, at that time, you may want to consider cedar or you might want to consider going with a dimensional shingle that looks like a cedar roof but actually will be a lot easier for you to take care of.
LESLIE: Janine in Texas has a mess that is giving her a hard time cleaning up. How did you get the glue on the carpet, young lady?
JANINE: Well, first of all, it's a rent house so we don't know and we're not certain that it is glue. It's in front of one closet door (Tom chuckles) and then it's in - kind of in the pathway between the kitchen and the living room.
TOM: Man, what project were they doing there? (Janine groans)
LESLIE: It sounds like a lot.
JANINE: (overlapping voices) Too many bad things. But any idea what might take up something that's dried that hard that is like glue.
TOM: Well, you can't really soften the glue. It's almost impossible to do. So what we have to talk about here is some options for strategic replacement. Now you mentioned that one area was in front of the closet. Does the carpet happen to extend into the closet?
JANINE: Yes, it does.
TOM: OK, because the carpet that's in the closet could become the patch material. If you were to cut the carpet in front of the closet and have it professionally seamed, a good carpet installer can do this.
LESLIE: You would never even notice.
TOM: Yeah, it'd be absolutely invisible.
TOM: So that's one option. Where is the second area? You said in the hallway?
JANINE: In the living room.
LESLIE: Man, this was a big disaster.
TOM: Yeah, it was. You know in an area that's a little more obvious like that, you could do an inset carpet that was a different type of carpet and kind of creating a pattern this way. You could use carpet tile or you could simply use a throw rug, frankly, just to cover it.
JANINE: Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tai in California's having some termite issues. What's going on?
TAI: Hello, hi. Yes, I heard some people mention about a new technique about orange oil to kill the termites. (inaudible at 0:14:24.5)
TOM: You want to kill termites with orange oil?
TAI: Yes, I would like to know how effective is this technique, you know?
TOM: Yeah, well I think you'd have to have a party and invite the termites because they actually have to contact it for that to happen.
TOM: If you want to eliminate termites from your house, the best thing to do is to use a product called Termidor - T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r.
TOM: It has to be professionally applied. Basically it goes in the soil around the house. It's undetectable to termites. They pass through it. They get it on their bodies. They take it back to the rest of the nest and it's sort of like biological warfare for termites. It wipes out the entire nest and you don't have to worry about them coming back. The natural remedies are not going to be effective and your house is too important an investment to waste on something like that. So if you have a termite problem, get the right professionals in there to put down the right product and don't have to worry about it again.
LESLIE: Well and I think all the talk about orange oil is that it's a contact killer, so it has to come into contact with every single termite in every single infested area and there's no way that you can cover that much ground. I mean it's shown to work but it's not very effective because you really have to go crazy with it.
TAI: I see, I see. Yes, so that answers my question. Thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome, Tai. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carol in Texas is doing some redecorating. How can we help you with that adventure?
CAROL: Right, we have a TV room which, you know, some people call a den. And it's got lovely dark walnut paneling and we're sort of tired of the dark wood and the rest of the house is beige, sort of regular walls and we'd like to have this stained - you know, do it ourselves, of course - and make it sort of a tan color; you know, maple or something, a color like that. But we didn't know how to get from dark to light.
TOM: Carol, is it solid wood or is it actually paneling?
CAROL: Really it's paneling.
TOM: OK. Well, you can't change the color of paneling by staining it. It's a manufactured product and that color layer is not going to ...
CAROL: Oh, that's not good news, is it? Oh, dear.
TOM: No, but you can paint it. You can paint it, right Leslie?
LESLIE: Well you can paint it and there's really no way it's solid paneling? Because sometimes - I mean depending on the home and the time period it was built - it could be real wood.
CAROL: Well, this house is 40 years old.
TOM: Well, that's - you know, that was pretty much the paneling's mainstay period. If you've got the 4x8 sheets of paneling on your walls nailed up, then you definitely can't save it and restain it but you can paint it ...
TOM: ... and actually it's becoming quite popular. Now, the key here is if you're going to paint it you've got to clean it really well ...
LESLIE: And it's all prep work.
TOM: ... and you've got to prime it and we'd recommend an oil-based primer. Once you do that, you'll get really good adhesion and then you could put a top color coat right over that.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you want to clean it with a product like trisodium phosphate; something like TSP, which is a painting prep cleansing product. You can find it in the painting aisle of any home center or painting shop.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, TSP. Give it a good washing with that, make sure you dry it very well.
LESLIE: Then the oil-based primer; let that dry really well. And then your top coat.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit and if lately you've been hearing a lot of green - I know that term is greenwashing; you hear it everywhere - you're sort of wondering what to do, how to make the right choices. Well we asked - there's a survey done recently that found nearly three-quarters of those people that were surveyed would love to be more green at home and they would be looking for features that cut down on energy use as a key option when they're looking at homes that they might want to purchase.
TOM: But how do you know if it's really green? How do you know if you can really accomplish it yourself? Well, up next we're going to learn about some homes that are designed to be green, safe and smart. They are, in fact, the home of the future. That's coming up, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:20.4]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic; the all-natural, super-strong air freshener available in spray and solid form. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and all of you joining us here at The Money Pit, you know that one thing we love to talk about often on this show are tips and advice for you so that you can become more energy efficient and then save some money, which we know you like to do. It's a big concern for you. In fact, several recent surveys and polls, they all show the same thing. You want to be more environmentally responsible but you need some help learning what's really going to make a big difference.
TOM: That's right and the builders are actually paying attention, right now, to this huge market; in fact, they're working very diligently to build homes that are more energy and water efficient and with us to talk about that is Tony Callahan. He's a senior vice president with Beazer Homes.
And Tony, you guys actually have a program that you're launching called eSMART. Tell us about this and the components that are going to save some consumers money.
TONY: Sure, Tom. Beazer's eSMART program focuses on three areas. The first is energy efficiency.
TONY: We're using GE CFLs, we're using Honeywell programmable thermostats and, in our homes that have dishwasher as standard, we're using GE Energy Star dishwashers.
TOM: So basically you're selecting products that are very, very efficient and you're putting those in. Now, do those cost more?
TONY: They do. That's not something that we're passing onto the homeowner, though.
TOM: Oh, great. (chuckling) I was going to say - I thought you were going to say, 'They do and we're charging for it.' No. So basically you're putting those in; you're investing in that for the benefit of the homeowners and you're not charging more money for that. That's fantastic.
TONY: We think so, too.
TOM: Well, does that reflect your observation that consumers are demanding these types of energy-efficient features in their homes?
TONY: You bet. Our internal market research shows 73 percent of consumers believe builders need to do more to make an affordable green home available to the average American.
LESLIE: Are you seeing that the homeowner who is sort of demanding these features - where do they skew demographically? Are they sort of younger or are they the boomers who are looking to get that dream home of their own?
TONY: I think it really crosses all demographics. The boomers are getting to a point in their lives where they want to lower their operating cost and certainly the Gen-Xers, they've been through an education process that really focuses on sustainability. So I think you're seeing it across all demographics.
TOM: Now, besides these specific products that you guys are putting in that are energy-efficient products - I mean Energy Star-qualified products and the like - what about the actual building envelope? What are you doing to make that more energy efficient?
TONY: You bet. One of the things that we've done is we've actually centralized our architectural. So we've moved everybody to one location in Atlanta. We have a lot of manufacturers and consultants come in and do training and the area that we're focused on right now is a tighter envelope; so, making standard construction details that we'll use in all of our homes that are going to make sure that we're sealing areas that may be open to unconditioned space, for example.
TOM: Alright, well it sounds like a great program and it's great to see that the builders are really responding to the consumer demand. I mean it makes total sense. We think that right now there's an awful lot of greenwashing out there; people kind of claiming green without really being green. But it's nice to see that you guys are actually seriously working on the building envelope and choosing energy-efficient products. And really, it's becoming the standard; it's becoming the norm because you're doing this at no additional cost and I hope that a lot more builders are going to follow your example.
Tony Callahan, Senior Vice President with Beazer Homes, thanks for filling us in on the energy-efficient improvements that you guys are making to your products.
TONY: Thank you, Tom, and thank you, Leslie.
LESLIE: Well, besides building your home to be green, it's also super important to think about building your home to be safe in a storm situation. And windows can be a major weak point in storms; especially ones with high winds. And taping your windows, that's not going to do much. So up next, we're going to tell you how to create your own storm shutters that are going to do the trick.
[audio timestamp: 0:22:39.2]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters, you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and if you've got a question or if you've got a problem, then pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because our operators are always standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whenever you've got a home improvement emergency, if you will. We can help you tackle that. And in fact, we love to give you the tools to get the job done, for free. One caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a pretty cool prize pack from our friends over at Tape Seal. It's worth over 50 bucks and it includes all of the things that you need to prep your paint job including a paint tray and roller, brush, painters tape and two jars of the super-cool new product called Tape Seal. Pretty much what you do is you tape out your pattern, stripes, any sort of detail that you want to do with a tape line that would give you a nice, crisp line and then you take the Tape Seal - it's an acrylic gel - and you go over the edge of the tape and then your paint is not going to bleed underneath. So you're going to get crisp lines the first time, every single time. It's a cool prize. We'd love for you to try it out. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Now let's take a minute to talk a bit about some storm-proofing tips because it is the summer storm season. It's a time that we think about all the things that we can do to protect our house. So here's a little trick of the trade when it comes to windows. They're obviously the weakest link but you know what? They don't have to be. You can protect them by making some simple homemade storm shutters out of plywood.
Cut the plywood to the size of the window, making sure you cover the trim. Attach it by drilling some holes and adding some screws through it and then mark them with the location of the window. This way, the next time the storm is predicted, you can yank out your storm shutters, put them up; you'll have the house protected in no time.
888-666-3974. Do you have a home improvement question about your windows, your doors, your roof or your shingles? Give us a call. We are here to help.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Dawn in California, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?
DAWN: I have purchased a product called Alloc Flooring.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
DAWN: I was wondering - it has a 30-year warranty and I was wondering like what kind of value that would raise for my house appraisal and do I need to seal it in any way because it's going to be in the kitchen and the bath.
TOM: Well first of all, in terms of return on investment, any good-quality flooring is going to probably give you the same return on investment. I don't think that that's the kind of thing that you can necessarily, though, peg with a specific number. If it was a room improvement like adding a kitchen, adding a bathroom or even adding a deck or a patio, it's easier to figure out how much the return on investment that will give you because there are actually studies that are done on that every year. But just, obviously, maintaining your house is a good idea because it does maintain the value of your house.
Now, in terms of the laminate floor, it's an excellent choice for the kitchen and the bathroom because it's a very, very durable, water-resistant finish. There's nothing to seal. It's basically the same kind of laminate that we've used for years on countertop, with one key difference. It's about 30 times more durable than the laminate used as a countertop. There's a test called a taber abrasion test where they rotate these grinding disks into the laminate surface to make sure it's thick enough and this test for the laminate floor is about 30 times tougher than the same test for the countertop. So same technology but just a lot thicker and it can look a lot better because, obviously, on a floor you can choose - anything you can photograph you can make a laminate floor out of. So I think it's a good choice all the way around.
DAWN: Thank you.
LESLIE: You're welcome, Dawn.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ernest in Louisiana is dealing with some energy inefficient windows. What can we do for you today?
ERNEST: My house was built in 1959 with the aluminum, single-graded windows.
ERNEST: And I wondered if it'd be just as efficient to add just a window covering. I've got 15 windows in my house. I'm trying to save money putting them in (inaudible at 0:26:54.3) just see if it'd make any difference in the (inaudible) to replace them or just cover them with some storm windows.
TOM: Well, I've got to tell you, with aluminum windows, they are probably the most inefficient window design out there. Not only is the single pane not going to hold any heat or cool in or out of your house, but the metal has such thermal properties that the temperature just kind of zings right through it. Unfortunately, this is not a situation, Ernest, where we could recommend replacement windows because the frames with aluminum windows have to be removed, so you have to put a new construction window in.
So what I would suggest is, first of all, I would not recommend you throw good money after bad by putting in storm windows because they're going to be expensive ...
LESLIE: Unless you have them.
TOM: Well, yeah, but I wouldn't go buying them.
TOM: What I would do is I would put my money into replacing the windows. Now, if you don't want to do them all at the same time, that's fine; you know, do the north side of the house, then the west, then the east, then the south. And in the meanwhile, for those other windows, I would just use different types of materials inside to try to make the house a little bit warmer and deal with the insulation loss there. So I would kind of plug the gaps as best I could but I would definitely put my money into replacing the windows as I could afford it because that's definitely going to give you the best return on investment.
ERNEST: I see. Well, I appreciate that. I put two new doors in and, believe it or not, just putting those two new doors in where - I have a lot of entrances into my house and I looked at my power bill and I saved 192 kilowatts of energy over the same period last year.
TOM: Wow, that's fantastic. Well, I've got to tell you, you'll save a lot more than that if you replace those windows and if you're skilled enough to do those improvements yourself, Ernest, that's definitely the way to go.
ERNEST: OK, well I thank you. That helps a lot.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Andrew in Oregon is looking to reclaim some space by turning a crawl space into a wine cellar. Let's help him out on this journey.
ANDREW: Yeah, got a question. The crawl space I have underneath one of my rooms is fairly large and basically a room-size area ...
ANDREW: ... and there's currently a deck under there.
ANDREW: So I was thinking - and it was used to, I guess, keep things off the ground if you used it for storage.
ANDREW: So I thought if I basically put walls on that and above it basically put like a trap door and had stairs go down into that area, basically tile it up and make it into a wine cellar.
TOM: Well, how damp is it down there? And the reason I ask, because I have a friend that was a wine collector and he used to keep all of his wine in the crawl space and while the temperature was perfect for the wine, it wasn't so nice for the labels which promptly became completed infested with mold.
ANDREW: Oh, wow.
TOM: So if your crawl space is not really dry, that dampness down there can turn those labels into really moldy pieces of paper and it's not pleasant.
ANDREW: Oh, I see. Never thought of that.
ANDREW: Well ...
LESLIE: You can always invest in a China marker.
ANDREW: (chuckles) What if I use it just for - like basically it's an area I want to take advantage of.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Well, if you were to seal the ...
ANDREW: (overlapping voices) Would you actually have to have a permit?
TOM: If you were to seal the crawl space and take some supply air - because there are different techniques for drying a crawl space. Today, when you build a really efficient house with a crawl space, you completely seal the crawl space. The whole thing is sealed and then some supply air from the heating system is actually diverted down there to make sure it always has some dry air. If you were to do that, it'd be OK. ...
ANDREW: Well, actually ...
TOM: But if you have a standard, very damp crawl space, then it's not; it'll be too damp and wet. Water, moisture and air and those paper labels on the wine bottles are going to grow mold.
LESLIE: And fabric and storage boxes and paper and photos. I mean everything.
ANDREW: Well, would you need to get a special permit; even if you're just putting up, basically, four walls under there?
TOM: Probably not.
TOM: Nah, probably not.
TOM: It's not structural. You're basically just putting up some structure to hold some shelves to keep the wine off the floor.
ANDREW: Right, right. Now ...
TOM: But keep that moisture in mind, Andrew, because that is going to really come out to bite you.
ANDREW: OK. Yeah, I never thought of that. That's a very good point.
TOM: Andrew, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit and when we come back, we're going to tackle an issue that I bet many of you are dealing with. Are you feeling like there is some area in your home, or perhaps your whole decorating style, that makes you feel like you are stuck in an era gone by - perhaps the 70s? We're going to have some tips to help you break out into the modern-day age when we jump into our e-mail bag, next.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation's leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer and add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information visit ThermaTru.com.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And do you need advice on a very specific do-it-yourself project? Well, head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com and use our project finder tool. You'll get a list of everything we've ever written about or talked about on the show right at your fingertips and you can click right in to MoneyPit.com and find exactly what you need to know. It's all free.
LESLIE: And also, while you're there, go ahead and click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and you can e-mail us your home improvement question and we jump into the e-mail bag every hour at this point in the show and we've got one here from Dan in Michigan City, Indiana who writes: 'I have an older home that is badly in need of kitchen and bath updates. The walls in both rooms have plastic tiles over plaster walls. Is there any way to remove these tiles without damaging the plaster?' Do you think he means those like peel-and-stick tiles?
TOM: I think he means those like hollow, plastic tiles that sort of look like a ceramic tile but they're hollow and plastic and they're usually put up with a mastic. And because of that, it's almost impossible to peel them off without damaging the walls. What I would do is I would scrape them off and get rid of them and then I would put a second layer of drywall over the surface, but not real thick drywall. I'd use 3/8-inch-thick drywall sheets because that's going to give you a smooth, flat surface. Also, a lot more effective than trying to rip down all of the plaster because then you get down to the studs and I learned a long time ago, that is not the easy way to restore old plaster walls. You're almost always better off going over it because when you take the old plaster off, the studs underneath end up being so uneven that the new drywall looks really bad. So put a thin layer of drywall on top of existing plaster and then set about doing some decorating that'll really improve the value of that space.
LESLIE: Yeah, and in the bathroom and in the kitchen, tile is a beautiful way to really bring in a nice, decorative detail. In the bath, you can do a bigger tile, even a natural tile, on the floor and then do a small mosaic that runs up the walls even almost in a gradient. So maybe if blue is your favorite color, you go from like a deep cobalt and feather up into a lighter and lighter, lighter tone as you get to the ceiling and to almost like a white. And then ceiling is painted. I mean there are so many options with tile and it's great for a high moist environment like the kitchen and bath.
TOM: Here's a riddle for you, Batman. When is it a good idea to have a hole in your roof? Well, it's when that hole is filled with a skylight, of course, and Leslie has more details on how to do that project on today's edition of Leslie's Last Word.
LESLIE: That's right and here's more to the riddle. What can you add to your home to help make it seem more spacious, save you money and possibly help your state of health? The answer, also a skylight because skylights can open your rooms up to natural light which, of course, makes you feel happy and makes the room feel so much larger. I mean it really can turn a small space, make it feel deceptively much larger.
And it can also create energy-efficient possibilities that might help you lower your utility bills; plus, it's going to chase away all of those gloomy Monday blues that you might face on a yucky day if you weren't getting a ton of light into the house. And a skylight, if it's not installed right, you could end up with costly water damage. So if you're thinking about one, make sure you take precautions to prevent leaks and use a good synthetic flashing. Those are really best to seal out any odd shapes that you might encounter when you're putting in that skylight. And remember, the sun is an excellent source of vitamin D; good for your teeth, good for your bones. So in essence, a skylight is good for your health.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.
Coming up on next week's program, we're going to head right into the fall home improvement season; also known as the Goldilocks season around here because it's not too hot, it's not too cold, it's just right for all sorts of home improvement jobs around the house. We're going to help you prepare your fall do-it-yourself checklist next week on the program.
LESLIE: And also coming up next week, we are going to launch the most exciting home improvement promotion that we have ever done. It's called My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes and you are going to have the opportunity to win a ton of prizes. That's coming up all right here on The Money Pit.
TOM: 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 2008 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.)