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 1 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: Reach out and touch the experts. (chuckling) This is where work and fun meet, folks. Call us right now with your home improvement projects. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemmas. We help make good homes better.
LESLIE: Yeah, call us if your Christmas tree fell down (laughter) and you need some (laughing) ...
TOM: Yeah, you need structural advice for supporting that Christmas tree? (laughing)
LESLIE: How can I get my star to stay on straight?
TOM: Have you pulled out the lights to decorate it and found that like, you know, one string is not working? They worked perfectly last year. We can help you with this stuff. Call us right now and let us get into it. You know, we're like your neighbors with the know-how. We're like a toolbox for your ears. Call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, this hour, we're going to try to answer one of the mysteries of home design; that is, why are so many electrical outlets always close to the floor?
LESLIE: Because we were much smaller then.
TOM: Yeah. So that you have to bend down behind the furniture to reach them. You know, your kids have no problems finding them but you can do something about that. We're going to tell you, this hour, how to save your back and keep your kids safe at the same time.
LESLIE: And with the holidays just around the corner, are you wondering what to get that handy person in your life who seems to have every tool ever invented? You know, like Tom and me; we've got a lot of tools. Well, tell Santa to be listening because later this hour, we're going to have some great gift ideas.
TOM: That's right. This is the ho-ho-home improvement season. Get it? (chuckling) Alright, we'll let that lie (laughter) and if it's getting colder where ...
LESLIE: (chuckling) I'll just like - I'll brew that one a while. I'll keep laughing.
TOM: You brew that for a while. Let that - let that rest. (chuckling)
Well, it's getting colder where you are and it's time to plug up the holes that cause some of the warm air to get out and let the cold air get in. You know, according to the Department of Energy, if you added up all the leaks around your house, it would be like having a 16-foot hole in your house. That's a huge space for all of that energy to leak out. We're going to tell you, this hour, how to make sure those gaps and cracks are not draining your wallet.
LESLIE: And one caller this hour we're going to choose to win bagels and lox. No, I'm sorry. (laughter) Not bagels, but a pack of locks.
TOM: No, you hate those.
LESLIE: (laughing) Well, it's a holiday breakfast favorite. (chuckling) You know, every brunch you go to there's going to be bagel and lox. And it's really good. But we're not giving away bagels. We are giving away locks. And it's actually a pack of locks from Master Lock. So make sure you phone in your home improvement or your home repair question right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Shirley in Illinois is working on the bathroom. How can we help you with the project?
SHIRLEY: Yes, I wanted to put a bathroom in downstairs ...
SHIRLEY: ... in my basement. And I was wondering if I could just go ahead and put the shower stall, the toilet and the sink in before the drywall or does the drywall have to go up first?
TOM: Ah, good question. Well, the shower stall usually goes in before the drywall because that typically gets attached right to the framing. And then the drywall goes on top of that.
Are you using a one piece shower stall?
SHIRLEY: Yes, that's what I was going to get.
TOM: OK. Let me give you a recommendation and that is to not put drywall in there, which can be mold food. We would recommend a product called Dens Armor or Dens Armor Plus. It's basically a drywall but it has no organic material in it. It has a fiberglass surface.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Which is a very durable coating which is resistant to moisture damage and resistant to mold growth, which anywhere - if you're putting up any drywall and you're starting from scratch and you're doing any work in a bathroom or below grade where you get a lot of humidity, it makes a ton of sense. And the cost is very minimal above the cost of paper faced.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Very minimal. Yep, exactly.
There's a website called StopFeedingMold.com that you really should take a look at Shirley and it'll give you the details there. But it's a great product; very inexpensive and makes so much sense because there's no point putting traditional drywall in a bathroom. You should always use this Dens Armor Plus now product because it's just so effective.
SHIRLEY: Dens Armor. This is D-e-n.
TOM: Dens. D-e-n-s Armor. It's made by Georgia-Pacific.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Collin in Florida's got some decorative ideas. What can we do for you?
COLLIN: Hi. Yeah, I had a question about installing crown moulding.
COLLIN: I have a living room that has tall ceilings and multiple inside and outside corners. You know, I've looked on the internet and there's all kinds of guides on how to do this as well as cutting jigs, I guess you'd call them, that you could attach to your mitre saw to help you cut better corners. And I just was wondering if you had any expert advice, so to speak, because I'm not sure, on the internet, who to trust and who not.
LESLIE: Are you following the ceiling line exactly or are you coming down a bit from it?
COLLIN: In the - in the corner. We're not - yeah, they're not going to be dropped ...
TOM: And Collin, what size crown moulding are you hoping to put in here?
COLLIN: Probably four to six inch. It's a big room with tall ceilings.
TOM: Well, I will tell you that cutting crown moulding is a very tricky job. And one way to do it with your power mitre box is basically to use the fence and the base of the mitre box and treat that as if that was the ceiling corner that you're working with. You're kind of cutting it upside down and backwards.
LESLIE: Yeah, you want to make sure that the crown moulding is upside down and facing towards you. Right? Upside down and towards you.
TOM: Yeah. And then, using the mitre box, you can draw a line on the fence and also on the base so that you know it's the same angle as what it would be on the wall. And when you cut it, you'll end up with a compound mitre cut that's the same every time.
The other thing to know here is that you don't - you don't put a mitre on both inside corners. You only put a mitre on one corner and then you back cut it to do something called coping; which basically means you cut out all of the extra wood and it'll give the illusion of a mitre but it actually is easier to do.
LESLIE: And also, if you find places where your ceiling starts to slope up and you're going to mimic that slope, you're going to need a tool called a T bevel. And what that does is it's sort of a sliding bevel marker and you would open it out and put it so that it mocks that exact angle. And then you take that, lock it in place, take it to your mitre saw and then you match your blade up to it. Because you're going to use both your compound cut and your angle cut as well and you're going to need both of them.
Remember that outside corners have the exterior part of the moulding extend from them and inside corners have more of the, you know, cut edge extending. It just takes practice. It's not difficult. It just takes a lot of patience and practice.
TOM: Yeah, practice with the small stuff and work up to the big stuff.
Collin, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ellen in Florida listens to The Money Pit on WCOA. What can we do for you today?
ELLEN: Hi. We purchased a home two years ago. It's new. But before it was finished - and we didn't get to make the choices that we would have liked, so in the master bathroom, we have a garden tub. We would have chosen a shower also; a stall shower. But now we're thinking - we're our mid-50s. We're thinking about converting this garden tub into a walk-in shower.
ELLEN: Now, can we do that? Can we use the existing plumbing to do that? And down the line, would a buyer be turned off by not having a tub in the master bath?
TOM: That's a good question. I think that a tub or a shower will both equally contribute towards the value of the home, but removing that tub - now, when you say garden tub, I'm thinking you mean a soaking tub. Is that right?
TOM: OK, I think that removing that is going to be a big project for you. It's a big bathroom renovation project. Are you guys prepared for that?
ELLEN: I don't know. (chuckling) That's why I'm asking.
TOM: Well, I mean because you've got to - basically, you've got to disassemble that part of the bathroom.
LESLIE: Because there's not going to be floor underneath it.
LESLIE: It's not like you're going to take it out and then it's going to be ready to go. It's going to be completely raw back there. So you're dealing with extending tile; perhaps changing to some sort of greenboard or cement backer board behind where this tub was. You know, it really could be an upheaval.
Is there space to build a separate stall shower within the same master bath?
ELLEN: Well, there is a utility closet I suppose I could use, but there's no plumbing in there.
LESLIE: Is it nearby to the tub?
ELLEN: Yes, right next to it.
LESLIE: Because I - I'm not very familiar with plumbing and Tom's really good at this. Would you be able to extend off of that same pipe and just sort of add an extra fixture?
TOM: Well, if you have the drain in that area and you have the plumbing supply, that's fine. I mean you've got the plumbing there, Mary Ellen. The problem is that you've got to take out what's there and really construct and remodel like half of the bathroom to make this work for you. So that's the job that you're looking to do there.
ELLEN: It's a bigger job than I'm thinking.
TOM: Yeah, I think it is. You know, adding a shower - adding a showerhead is not a big job, but taking out that soaking tub right now, that's a pretty big project. And you know, it's generally not the project that you want to do unless you really have to do it.
ELLEN: OK. Well, thank you for your thoughts.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: You know what a good idea might even be is if she added one of those handheld shower units ...
TOM: Yeah, you know that's a good point, too.
LESLIE: ... to the tub fixture. This way, she's in the tub; you can use the tub when you want and you're given the option. Plus, you know, she says they're in their 50s and it's a new home and they've just moved in there and they're probably planning on staying for quite the long term if they're thinking of making those changes to the bathroom. It's a good feature to have both the shower option - even if it's just a handheld - and have that option as you age within the house.
TOM: Good advice.
LESLIE: Well, it's the ho-ho-home improvement time of year. See Tom, I'm getting used to it.
TOM: Absolutely. (chuckling)
LESLIE: I'm going to incorporate it into my holiday jargon. You'll see. I'll ...
TOM: You've got to use that in a sentence twice this hour, OK? (chuckling)
LESLIE: (laughing) Well, that's one.
Alright, well now you can call in your ho-ho-home repair - ha ha! ...
TOM: That's two. (laughing)
LESLIE: ... or your ho-ho-home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
So, why is it that electrical outlets are so close to the floor and a chore for anyone but toddlers to reach? Up next, AARP has advice on how to keep outlets within easy reach of adults and out of reach for kids.
[audio timestamp: 10:51]
[audio timestamp: 13:30]
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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: You know, I was thinking that owning an old home means you'll always have something to do. (chuckling) And you'll always have us to help you get through it. So call us right now with your home improvement questions.
LESLIE: I think owning any home means you always have something to do. (chuckling) They are the perpetual money suckers. It's amazing. It's like you can always find something. And along the lines of wondering why your money's always going into your house, did you ever wonder why electrical outlets are so close to the floor, where you have to bend over and reach them and you're crawling under things and looking behind them just to find them? They only seem convenient for children to reach and you know how well kids and electricity go together. And you certainly don't want those little ones having easy access to all those electrical outlets.
Well, maybe you should do this. Consider calling in an electrician to move some of your outlets as least 27 inches off the floor. In fact, the folks at AARP even suggest you move them as high as 40 inches off the floor.
TOM: You know, that - if you move them up to 27, it'll keep them behind furniture but it would be so much easier to plug stuff in. (inaudible)
LESLIE: Well plus, think about how neat the cord would be.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
You know, while you're at it, you can even add more outlets to your house. You really shouldn't have to run an electrical cord more than six feet if it's done right. And you don't want to have all those extra extension cords that you can trip on and fall on. And it doesn't have to cost a lot of money either. It's going to ensure your family's safety and it's going to protect you for years to come.
Now, if you want more information, you could log onto the AARP website at AARP.org/UniversalHome. That's AARP.org/UniversalHome.
LESLIE: Well, did you know that a home improvement tip of the day can keep those demons away? Very similar to the apple-a-day-doctor-away thing.
TOM: I knew that. (chuckling)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Well, if you visit MoneyPit.com, there you can read a tip of the day and you can grab the free code that's going to allow you to add this to your very own website. And you can keyword search thousands of tips on hundreds of home improvement and home repair topics at MoneyPit.com. So we're really a full service organization here.
TOM: Full service operation. Or you can call in your home improvement question right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller we choose this hour is going to win the Master Lock gift pack worth 115 bucks. It's got a lot of locks. No bagels; just a lot of locks.
LESLIE: (chuckling) You could put a bow on it and stick it under the tree and give it to your favorite home improvement fan.
TOM: You could re-gift it. It's - it can totally be re-gifted. It's got a luggage lock, a cargo kit, a contractor-grade padlock, a combination lock and a Night Watch deadbolt.
LESLIE: I would totally keep this for myself. And it's really cool because the Master Lock Night Watch deadbolt, it's the only deadbolt that's designed to prevent an intruder from entering your home even if they have the key. And this Night Watch deadbolt is going to fit on all doors. It can replace any brand of deadbolt and it can be easily installed in about 15 minutes with just a Phillips screwdriver. Sounds like anybody can do it.
TOM: Absolutely. So call in your repair question right now to 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you call us, we will throw your name in the Money Pit hardhat and at the end of the hour, we will select one winner for the Master Lock Night Watch deadbolt and all of those other locks that come with it. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Flooring's a big topic with our callers here at The Money Pit and Debbie from New Mexico's got a question about that. What can we do for you?
DEBBIE: Yes, my husband and I are considering laying laminate in our dining room and down the hallway.
DEBBIE: And I have a large dining room table. Our children are grown but our children and grandchildren often come home to visit. Is it really scratchable?
TOM: Oh, listen, it's ...
LESLIE: Oh, the opposite of scratchable.
TOM: It is tough stuff. Debbie, I've got laminate floor that's been in my house since just after I had my first child. And so, we've brought up three kids on the same laminate floor and it looks as good today as the day we put it down. It is incredibly durable stuff. It doesn't ...
TOM: ... scratch. You know, if you drop something heavy on it, like a hammer, you'll get a little chip - don't ask me why I know that (laughter) - but it's - really, it's not so bad. You can touch it up, actually, with touchup paint that kind of looks like auto touchup paint. But it really is tough stuff. So I think if you're concerned about durability, that's fine.
You know, another thing that you could think about is engineered wood floor.
LESLIE: Yeah, engineered hardwood though, the prices are a little bit different than it would be for laminate. But the beauty of engineered hardwood is that it's much less than the actual solid hardwood. And what it is it's layers, almost like a plywood, and then the topmost layer is the actual veneer of the hardwood that you would select. But also very durable; great in any sort of environment, whether it's a below-grade room or a kitchen or a bath. But laminate's a great choice. You can really put it in any room of the house. It's a good project to do on your own. And of course, it can look from anything like a hardwood floor to tile to brick to whatever you choose.
DEBBIE: And is it easy to maintain? I mean is it hard to clean?
TOM: Absolutely. Yep.
LESLIE: Oh gosh, it's so easy to clean.
TOM: It's even easy to install.
Debbie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Barbara in Alaska's looking to save some energy by not having to shovel as often. What can we do for you?
BARBARA: Oh, it's getting chilly.
LESLIE: I'm sure. (chuckling)
BARBARA: And I was looking for - we're going to redo our driveway and I would like to put in one of those driveways that have a heated driveway so you don't have to shovel. There's a sensor. Have you heard of those?
TOM: Sure. They use a - it's like a hydronically heated driveway. It basically - there's an antifreeze that goes through pipes that are underneath the driveway. And they generally have their own boiler and the boiler could be electric or it could be fossil fuel. And essentially, when it gets cold out, the antifreeze runs through the pipe, through the hydronic system under the driveway and it melts it so it doesn't collect snow. And it's a very expensive thing to install, but it definitely stops you from doing the shoveling.
I would suggest that you compare the cost of that against the long term cost of having the snow removed for you because you might find that the installation cost of - and the operational cost - far exceeds the cost of simply having a contract with a snow removal service. (chuckling)
BARBARA: [Well, is that right?] (ph)
TOM: Yeah, it's pretty expensive to install and to run because you're basically going to have to replace the whole driveway.
BARBARA: Well, we were going to replace it anyway.
TOM: OK. Well then, get some prices both ways. It's - you know, it's a whole mechanical - most driveways don't have mechanical systems, except that yours will. So - and it does add a layer of complication to it.
BARBARA: Hmm. Well, maybe I won't look into that. (chuckling)
TOM: Well, I think you should look into it. I'm just telling you that ...
LESLIE: No, definitely look into it.
LESLIE: You never know what it's going to cost until you start getting estimates from local companies. But what Tom's saying is, while you're at it, you know, call your local Mr. Plow and find out how much he charges for a season. Because it might, in the long run, be less expensive to put this mechanical system into your driveway rather than hiring, you know, some dude every season.
TOM: Yeah, I mean if you're going to add $10,000 to the cost of that driveway, that's an awful lot of snow plowing. You know? That could be 10 years to 15 years worth of snow plowing and it may not be worth it. And by then, the mechanical system would have to be replaced anyway.
LESLIE: Yeah, but think about it. When she goes to sell the house, who else would have a driveway that melts the snow?
TOM: If it's still working then, great. (chuckling) If it's not, it's a liability.
Barbara, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
So many times, you see those cool things that are put in by a well-meaning former owner. But if it ain't working when it comes time to sell the house, then it's - then it's trash, you know? Then it has no value whatsoever.
LESLIE: Then you don't mention it. OK? (chuckling) I'm kidding, I'm kidding.
Russell in Florida, you're on the line. What can we do for you?
RUSSELL: I am - well, I have horrible water pressure in my house and I was wondering if there was an easy way of fixing that.
TOM: How old is your house, Russell?
RUSSELL: The original part of the house was built in 1976.
TOM: Oh, that's pretty young. And you have city water or do you have well water?
RUSSELL: City water.
TOM: Hmm. Well, the first thing to do is to contact the city water department and have the water pressure checked at the curb to make sure ...
RUSSELL: I did.
TOM: And what did they say?
RUSSELL: It was good. Going from the street to my water box was good. I don't remember exactly what the water pressure was but it was good water pressure. I have about 60 feet from the water box to the entrance to the house with an oak tree in the middle.
TOM: Well, I mean that shouldn't have an effect on it. What you really need to do is to sort of trace this water pressure issue right through into the house. In a 1976 house, my feeling is it's probably not anything to do with the plumbing. It's probably a valve.
RUSSELL: Oh, really?
TOM: You probably have an obstructed valve. Yeah.
RUSSELL: Wow, that would be a lot easier than replacing the whole line, wouldn't it?
TOM: Well right, because in a 1976 house you probably have either a plastic water entry pipe or you have a copper water entry pipe. In either case, it's not going to suffer from any type of interior corrosion like old, metal steel pipes do that clog down and they sort of rust inward like clogged arteries. So I think this is a mechanical issue where you have a valve obstruction somewhere. So if the street pressure is good, I would have a plumber check the pressure at the main where it comes into your house and try to figure out where the - where this restriction is. It shouldn't be that complicated to track this down.
RUSSELL: OK, perfect. Then I will start with that.
TOM: Russell, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Did you know that air leaks through holes, gaps and cracks is the single largest cause of residential heating and cooling loss? It accounts for approximately 30 to 50 percent of the energy used in most homes. And that's not just coming from me. I'm not pulling that number out of thin air. It's actually according to the experts at the Department of Energy, so believe it.
TOM: Up next, we're going to learn how to seal up those leaks and stop your wallet from leaking energy dollars.
[audio timestamp: 22:48]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is 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 price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You got a question about your home improvement project, call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or log onto our website at MoneyPit.com because it's getting chilly outside and there's lots of projects to do around the house.
LESLIE: Yeah, it's true. You know, a lot of places, including where I live and where Tom is, it's getting a lot colder out there and we're starting to notice drafty conditions in the house. And if you do see that or feel it, you know, it might be time to plug up some of those holes that cause that warm air to get out and that cold air to get in.
Well, according to the Department of Energy, losing heated or cooled air - depending on where you live, for that matter - through holes, gaps and cracks account for the bulk of wasted energy in your home. That's amazing.
TOM: You know, you're right. It can add up to a whopping 50 percent of the energy wasted that you use. That means up to half of what you pay for is being tossed right out the window.
LESLIE: (whistling) That's expensive.
TOM: Let's fix it.
Joining us right now is Jeffrey Fancher from the Dow Chemical Company to tell us about how to keep those energy dollars from flying right out of your house.
JEFF: Hi, Tom.
TOM: Welcome to The Money Pit.
I saw an interesting stat in some of the materials that you folks sent over that said the average size house has like a 16-foot square hole in it somewhere that energy is leaking out. Where is that hole? (chuckling)
JEFF: (chuckling) We wish it were that easy, Tom. It's not as if you can go and close that four foot by four foot window but it is, in fact, true in most homes that if you add all those little gaps and cracks up that are around your electrical outlets and around your plumbing; around the meter boxes; you know, in the garage - all those little cracks and gaps add up to about that four by four foot hole that we talk about.
LESLIE: I mean that's amazing because so many of them are so tiny that you wouldn't even notice. What do you recommend for folks? You know, we usually say go around the outside of your house; feel, technically, feel for those drafts inside. But what if the temperature isn't that different when you're trying to go for it? How do you best know to attack where these gaps and cracks might be if you can't see them?
JEFF: Leslie, that's a great question. And there's a couple of ways to do it. Of course, if the wind's blowing very hard, it's often something you catch right on the front end while you're sitting there watching your favorite television show. But I would suggest that if people were to take, for example, an incense stick and walk around and wave it in front of things like electrical outlets - especially on the outside walls and if there's a draft, particularly - you'll see that with the smoke actually going away from the wall as a result of that leak.
LESLIE: Oh, and that's smart. It's not like walking around with a candle where you have a fire hazard. (chuckling)
JEFF: Right, right.
TOM: Yeah, plus it smells nice. (chuckling)
JEFF: That's right. But ...
TOM: You know, Jeff, it always seems silly to me that the way we build homes today really hasn't changed much in a couple of hundred years. We basically start with a hollow frame wall and pretty much everything else we put into the home after that is designed to seal up a gap or a crack or a hole. And it makes sense that you can't quite get to all of them.
JEFF: That's right, Tom. And you know, we have new, you know, new technology in homes these days and there are people who build really good homes. But nonetheless, various trades come in and they do have to put in plumbing and they do have to put in electrical outlets and that kind of thing. And there are going to be some penetrations that just need to be filled. And it makes sense for everybody because every gap that you fill, every little bit of that four foot window you fill you save money and everybody wants to do that these days. And of course, a lot of us live in older homes too and those homes have settled over the years and they are probably prime candidates to go around your house and find out places you can seal them.
TOM: Well, I've actually used one of - one of the Dow products for a long time for those sorts of things around my house; the GREAT STUFF product. I love that product because it is ...
LESLIE: It's so fun.
TOM: It's so - well, it's fun to use (chuckling) because it expands. But it fills ...
LESLIE: You just have to be careful not to put too much because it does expand greatly. I mean it really, truly does fill in the space. So if you are over-zealous in the first application, you might be seeing a ton of it.
TOM: Yeah, but you're going to let it dry and then you just simply saw it away. Isn't that right, Jeff?
JEFF: That's right, Tom. You know, GREAT STUFF is one of our products from our great science guys here at Dow Chemical and it does expand to fill those gaps and cracks and it does cure in a permanent manner so that you can scrape it and saw it away and fill that gap right to the wall or whatever penetration you want to fill right to the level part of it. So we would suggest that people fill those cracks, as Leslie says, and be careful on the front end. You can always go back and add more. But it does expand and it expands to fit those gaps and cracks exactly.
TOM: (inaudible) ...
LESLIE: What about moisture? Should we be concerned about any moisture that may accumulate within that wall cavity? Will the product - will GREAT STUFF stand up to the moisture situations?
JEFF: Absolutely. Great stuff is fairly unique in the sense that it does prevent moisture from going through the wall. And with humidity changes and heat changes, moisture can become trapped in those walls and most people assume that if their home is insulated well that that's going to solve that problem. But in fact, you know, things like fiberglass insulation are likely to have some condensation issues. So if you can prevent that constantly changing temperature and humidity situation, you're likely to prevent a lot of moisture issues as well.
TOM: I think a lot of folks don't recognize the fact that dampness that gets into insulation reduces its r factor with fiberglass insulation. So sealing the moisture out is an important step.
And we're talking to Jeff Fancher. He's with Dow Chemical. He's a building solutions expert.
Jeff, one of the ways that I used GREAT STUFF not too long ago is I have an old house. It was built in 1886. And part of - the kitchen actually sort of juts off for the rest - from the rest of the building. And it's always difficult to heat and to cool because it's sort of like a standalone part of the structure. And we always used to get - the kitchen sink cold water pipe would always freeze on us, inevitably, in the coldest parts of the winter. And the wall where the pipe ran up to was just a really small, tight hard space to work in. And so, what I was able to do was actually sort of carve out a little opening into that wall and basically, using a couple of cans of GREAT STUFF ...
LESLIE: You just filled it up? (chuckling)
TOM: ... I filled up the cavity, I kind of packed it with solid foam insulation. It expanded and the thing has not frozen since I did that. So, it was a - you know, there was kind of a difficult situation. The only other way to do that would have been to take out the sink, take out the cabinet, open up the wall. But because that product was able to expand and fill that unusual space that was hard to get into, it did the job.
JEFF: Well and Tom, you hit on it too, earlier, that it's easy to use because it's a straw base product where you can just put that straw in that hard-to-reach gap. And then, you said it before, it's a fun product to use. It makes people feel like they can do that job. Even if you're not a real handy DIY-er, it doesn't take much time or effort to use a can or two of GREAT STUFF to be able to, you know, save yourself some money and that's a great example.
LESLIE: And you know, Jeff, one time on an episode of While You Were Out, we actually filled balloons with GREAT STUFF and then popped them and allowed it to form these freeform sort of mushroom caps and we made these little mushrooms for a children's room.
JEFF: I love that. (laughing) I hadn't heard that one but, interestingly enough, there are a lot of people who use GREAT STUFF for craft ...
TOM: Crafts. Yeah. Mm-hmm.
JEFF: ... projects and just all kind of strange uses. I know one of my favorites is actually I go to my friend's house and my family's house and I go check their mailbox pull and if it moves at all, I dig around the hole a little bit and fill around that mailbox post and that works great. (chuckling)
TOM: Well, aren't you handy to have around the neighborhood? (chuckling)
JEFF: Yeah, exactly. People think I'm a little strange.
TOM: He's the GREAT STUFF guy. (laughter)
Jeff Fancher with Dow Chemical, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
For more information, you can visit www.GREATSTUFF.Dow.com.
LESLIE: Well, GREAT STUFF makes a great gift. Ha ha! Like that? Up next, we're going to have great gift ideas for that handy person in your life who seems to have every gadget known to man. So stick around.
[audio timestamp: 31:19]
[audio timestamp: 34:22]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We're here, you're there so just call us with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, as we said, it is the ho-ho-home improvement season.
LESLIE: (chuckling) I think that's the fifth time we've said it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Time for us to deliver on the promise of giving you some suggestions for handy gift ideas for the home improvement pro or consumer or just the occasional DIY-er on your gift list. There's a lot of home improvement products that come out this time of year. Fortunately, Leslie and I get many of them sent to us so that we get to evaluate them and ...
LESLIE: You get them sent. (chuckling) They never make it to my office.
TOM: I often re-gift though over to you. (laughter) Now, sometimes you do have to wipe off a bit of the sawdust but (chuckling) I do send them over.
LESLIE: Because we've got to try them.
TOM: That's right.
Here's one. It's called the PortaMate Mitre Saw Work Center. It's not only a mitre saw stand but also a work center as well. Now, if you are using a mitre saw - a portable mitre saw - and you know how heavy they are and how hard it is to use them on the floor, this is a stand that's basically built to support that and you can drop the mitre saw off the stand and use it to - as a work center for all the projects that you're doing around your house.
LESLIE: Very, very clever. And Black&Decker has a cordless handy saw which is a manageable size reciprocating saw which works so well for a variety of products around the house. And you'll find once you get a reciprocating saw, you're going to be making up projects just to use it.
TOM: ZIPROUTE is a very cool, brand new product. It gives you a way to cut straight receptacle openings for electrical devices - either single, double or triple electrical devices; also, for water supply and drain holes. It's very easy to use and basically you just put it on the wall, use your router and zip, zip, zip, zip ...
LESLIE: You're like you dial up your receptacle. It's awesome.
LESLIE: It looks like one of those Spirograph toys. (chuckling)
TOM: That's right. Yeah, you dial up the size and you stick your little router in there and then you just route out the hole that you need in the plywood or the hole in the drywall and man, you're on your way.
LESLIE: And nothing says romance like an InSinkErator. You know ...
TOM: I believe that.
LESLIE: ... a garbage disposal. (laughter) Heck, my mom asked for a treadmill one year and boy, she was upset when she actually got one. But I think, you know, an InSinkErator would really make me happy, actually. (chuckling)
TOM: Yeah, and you know, the InSinkErator has this technology called SoundSeal Plus. It actually reduces the noise. Because I always hear mine going (inaudible) ...
LESLIE: Oh, and it's unsettling; that noise that it makes when food is being ground. (grinding sound)
TOM: Yeah. Exactly.
LESLIE: And you're, 'Aw!'
TOM: You know, the sound of bones being ground (laughter) is always unpleasant, even if it's a chicken bone. (laughter)
LESLIE: It's a little too close to home.
LESLIE: And speaking of things being ground ...
TOM: That's right. We're on a theme. (laughing)
LESLIE: ... how about a drill bit sharpener from Drill Doctor. (laughing)
TOM: Yeah, that Drill Doctor drill bit sharpener is cool because you can go through ...
LESLIE: It's the gift that keeps on giving.
TOM: Yeah, find all the drill bits in your house and you just simply put them in the Drill Doctor and 60 seconds later they come out factory sharp. It's as easy to use as a pencil sharpener, I think.
Well, if you'd like to see our complete list of gift recommendations, you can log onto our website at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright, well in our next e-newsletter, we're going to have a great gift idea for the one who does the most kitchen duty in your family, plus some unique ways to treat your favorite DIY-er. And that's all in this Friday's upcoming e-newsletter. If you're not a subscriber, well why the heck not? Sign up now at MoneyPit.com. It's free.
TOM: Well, what's your home improvement or home repair question? We want to know. Call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. This hour we're giving away a Master Lock gift pack worth 115 bucks. It's got a luggage lock, a cargo lock and a Night Watch deadbolt. So call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Theresa in Florida, welcome to The Money Pit. What's on your mind?
THERESA: Hi. I wanted to ask a question about maintaining fireplaces. We're purchasing a 102-year-old house and it has all the original fireplaces and mantles. And it hasn't been lived in in quite some time and in Florida there are not many chimney sweeps in the phone book.
LESLIE: I can imagine.
TOM: (chuckling) OK. I imagine.
THERESA: So, I was wondering if that was something we could do ourselves or if that's definitely something we'd have to hire out.
TOM: Well, you definitely cannot do chimney sweep work yourself. You want to use a chimney sweep that's certified by the (baby crying) Chimney Safety Institute of America; especially if you need to keep that baby safe that I hear in the background, Theresa.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (chuckling) Yeah.
THERESA: (chuckling) Right, right. She waited until the call to start crying.
LESLIE: Of course.
TOM: That's OK. That's OK.
Now listen, a couple of other things. With a 102-year-old house, it's possible that the chimneys are not lined. So you want to make sure that when you have the chimneys inspected - and a home inspector could do this for you as well - determine whether or not they're lined or unlined. If it's an unlined chimney, it may be unsafe to use. Many old houses had unlined chimneys. Now, it may be possible to line them after the fact but it's definitely something that you have to look into.
LESLIE: Now, are you talking about a full - like a metal lining that would be done, say, if you update your furnace? Because I know we have an unlined chimney, or perhaps it just doesn't have a visible lining. Because I know we're thinking about updating our furnace which, if we do, we would need to line the chimney. Is that what you're talking about?
TOM: Well, a liner is usually a - terracotta clay is the material that most wood burning chimneys have as liners; especially in older houses. But it is possible to install a liner. Now, that might be expensive. A less expensive alternative could be, for example, a stainless steel liner that's dropped in from the top; kind of looks like a flex duct. And that would be hooked up to a vented fireplace. So, there may be some options but that would be something to check.
THERESA: OK, that helps.
LESLIE: Enjoy that nice, old house.
THERESA: Thank you.
TOM: Up next, we're going to answer a question that's driving one e-mailer up the wall. Why does ice keep forming on his brand new roof? We're going to tell him, after this.
[audio timestamp: 39:48]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Roto-Rooter, for all your plumbing and drain cleaning needs. Whether it's a small job or a big repair, request the experts from Roto-Rooter. That's the name and away go troubles down the drain. Call 1-800-GET-ROTO or visit Roto-Rooter.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Making good homes better.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, are you thinking about doing some painting, some carpeting? Perhaps you're laying down the wood flooring. Let us do the math for you. Check out MoneyPit.com for estimators and calculators on everything from project budgets to exactly how much paint you're going to need to do that room. It's all available for free at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. Well, some of you are just plain too shy to pick up that phone and call in to The Money Pit. But you can also visit our website. You know that site well - MoneyPit.com - and click on Ask Tom and Leslie. And we're going to answer those questions just like we would any caller. So let's get right to it.
We've got one here from RUSSELL in Sakwa (ph), New York - I hope I'm saying that right - who says: 'I have ice forming in the winter on the overhang of my roof. I've installed new roof insulation and baffles but there's still ice. I'm going crazy with this problem.' It's making him crazy.
TOM: Well Russell, don't go crazy. It sounds like what you have is called an ice dam. And the secret here is it's not such a bad thing to have the ice on the roof, but we don't want ...
LESLIE: Because icicles are so pretty.
TOM: They are so pretty. But we don't want you to have an ice dam. And what happens with an ice dam is you get ice that forms towards the edge of the roof and then the snow above it melts and it runs down and as the water strikes the ice dam it backs up into the roof shingles. So ...
LESLIE: Ooh, and that starts lifting those shingles up and getting stuck under there.
TOM: And leaking into the living room and everything else. That's a big, stinking mess. So, the way to avoid this is to make sure you have Ice & Water Shield installed. It's sort of a rubbery roofing material that goes under the roof sheathing from the edge of the gutter all the way up about three feet. The market leader is Grace. The product is called Grace Ice & Water Shield ...
LESLIE: And that's only used at openings and on the edge.
TOM: At overhangs.
LESLIE: So anywhere you would have a pipe or any overhang or anything that comes through the roof, you would want to use that around the edge as well?
TOM: Yes. There's also a flashing material that goes around the openings; like where plumbing goes in and that sort of thing. But really, the ice issue is at the edge. And so, if you put Grace Ice & Water Shield there, if any ice does form it'll back up.
Now, the best thing you can do to reduce the ice is to make sure that the roof temperature is really the same temperature all the way across. And the way you do that is to make sure that insulation is not compressing up against the underside of the roof. That would actually let some heat leak up and that would cause the snow to melt above it and leak down and have a bigger ice problem later on. So good ventilation in the attic is important but, really, it can be fixed.
Alright, very quickly. Another email here from Patty. She says: 'About two years ago, I noticed there was a leak coming through the ceiling in my bathroom which is connected to my bedroom. My husband went to the attic to see where the leak was coming in. While he was up there, he fell through the ceiling ...
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh! (chuckling)
TOM: ... in our dining room. What can I do to fix this?'
LESLIE: Get your husband out of the ceiling.
TOM: Let's hope that the only thing hurt was his pride. But the bottom line is you have to cut open the ceiling to an area wider than you started with, Patty. You have to identify the center of the ceiling joist and cut a patch to fit, slip it in there, use fiberglass tape and then, what do you say, Leslie, about three layers of spackle?
LESLIE: Yeah. Usually three and make sure you sand in between each and let it dry thoroughly. Thinner layers are better but a lot of sanding. You'll have a good, professional look.
TOM: So, you've caulked, you've weatherstripped, you've GREAT STUFFed, you've filled up every single gap or crack around your house. You think you've covered all the energy leaks. But wait. There could be one more place. In this edition of Leslie's Last Word, we're going to talk about how to seal the gasket around your fridge.
LESLIE: Yeah, most people think that you buy a fridge, you stick it in its place and you never have to maintain it. But that's not true. Generally, the gasket seal around a refrigerator door is going to wear in time and you'll find that it's not closing as tight as it should and you're getting a lot of air leaks. So, you want to make sure that that refrigerator door is actually sealed tight. And there's a simple, simple way you can do it. You take out a dollar bill - any bill will do. Depends on what's in your pocket. But take it out. And you can test it by closing the door over the dollar bill. If you can pull that bill out pretty easily, it's time to either adjust that latch or replace the seal. If that bill's stuck in there really nice, you've got a good, tight seal and you don't have to worry about any energy dollars. And make sure you take that dollar bill back because I don't think the fridge is going to give you a soda.
TOM: Coming up next week on the program, we're going to fill you in on one of the biggest flooring trends out there; laminate flooring. You know, it can look like anything; like stone, like wood, like vinyl, like ceramic tile. But it installs easily and it's very simple to maintain. The lowdown on laminate floors is next week on 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.
[audio timestamp: 44:30]
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(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.)