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: 0:00:25.0]
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: Call us now with your home improvement project; we are here to help you get the job done. Before you pick up the hammer, before you pick up the saw, pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up this hour, if one of your New Year's resolutions was to organize and you've not started it yet, hmm, what a surprise. (Leslie chuckles) If you still feel, though, that you're living in clutter central, we've got some great ideas to help you make this difficult chore very painless and it can even help you save some money. That's coming up in just a bit.
LESLIE: And as you're taking control around your money pit, we want you to be an informed homeowner, so one thing that you need to do is to learn how to read your water meter. We're going to tell you how to do it and why it's an important thing to know.
TOM: And coming up a little later, we've got the winners of ThermaTru's Ugliest Door in America Contest. Their doors are installed; they're ready to go. Wait until you hear about the before and after and we're going to send you to the website where you can see for yourself.
LESLIE: And speaking of saving you money, we have got a great prize this hour that's going to help you save a ton of money, I guarantee. This hour, we're giving away a deluxe programmable thermostat from our friends over at Trane; it's the model XL800.
Now this thermostat is worth 250 bucks but it is absolutely priceless because it is so easy to program. You will not find yourself just sort of hitting hold with the temperature because you just can't figure out how to do it. This one is simple to use; it's really easy to operate. You're going to keep your family comfortable and you are going to save a ton of energy dollars. Now who doesn't like that? But you've got to be in it to win it.
TOM: It's one of the smartest home improvements that you can do and we're going to give it away this hour on the program. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we pick your name out of The Money Pit hardhat, we will send out that Trane programmable thermostat to your door. 888-666-3974. Let's get right to those phones.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: Alright. Daniela is freezing. What's going on? How can we help you, besides giving you a sweater?
DANIELA: First, I want to say thank you for taking my call. Your show is full of a lot of great information.
The reason why I'm calling is that we rented a home that was built about five or six years ago. For some reason, the second floor is always freezing cold; I mean, like, your fingers are numb-cold.
TOM: What kind of heating system do you have, Daniela?
DANIELA: We have forced air.
TOM: OK. And do you have a central return duct upstairs where, you know, like in the hallway or something, where the air goes back into the system?
TOM: Hmm. OK. So it's just one zone, right?
DANIELA: It's one - no, it's two zones, actually.
TOM: So you have two separate heating systems, then? One for the upstairs and one for the downstairs?
DANIELA: Yeah. We do have two and that's what is kind of confusing because I'll keep the heat downstairs around 72 and upstairs around 71 and it's still - you know you need like three blankets to go to sleep.
TOM: Hmm. Well, it doesn't sound like the upstairs duct system is correctly installed. I would look to that first. It's real important that you don't have any blockages in those ducts, that they have good airflow and also that it has a clear path back to the return duct. Now, if the return duct is in the hallway and you close your doors when you sleep, then you're not going to be able to get the air back. That's why you have to make sure that when you have that kind of system that the second floor doors are actually undercut by about an inch to an inch-and-a-half so you have a place for the heat to go back and be reheated or recooled, depending on whether you're in the heating or air conditioning system.
TOM: But I would take a look at the duct system. If I were you, the first thing I would do is check airflow at every register to make sure nothing is disconnected or not flowing. I'd check airflow at the return; you can do that very simply by holding up like a tissue when it's running. It should seemingly suck right back in and almost stick to the return duct. I'd take a look at all the doors and make sure that they're undercut so you have good airflow back.
Those are the basics. If you still have an issue after that, I'd have an HVAC contractor come in to also check to make sure that the fan speed is correct; that you're pushing enough heated air throughout that system.
DANIELA: OK. Well, that's great. I will do that. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and we hope we've helped warm you up, Daniela.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call; we want to hear all about your home repair projects, your home improvement questions. We want to give you a hand. And best of all, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, get your life and your home under control, eliminate clutter. We'll have the tips that you need to do just that, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:05:12.4]
TOM: Helping you build big dreams. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete and we'd love to give you a hand building those big dreams, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT; especially if you've got a question about saving costs on your energy bill. Now, you've heard Tom and I talk about programmable thermostats; they are a great way to cut up to 10 percent of your heating and cooling costs throughout the year. So our friends over at Trane have been very generous to give us the XL800 deluxe programmable thermostat for us to give away to one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour.
TOM: You know, for some people, the thought of programming a thermostat can bring back bad memories of programming your VCR; you know, where it blinked 12:00.
LESLIE: (chuckling) For ages.
TOM: 24/7. (Leslie chuckles) But you know, Trane programmable thermostats are actually really easy to use. This is a great product; it's an easy thing to program. Your whole family can enjoy it; it's a super way to save energy dollars. In fact, you can actually save about $180 a year by installing a programmable thermostat. This one is worth 250 bucks, so pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win. And remember, you must have a home improvement question.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, a programmable thermostat is one way to save money; another is organizing around your money pit. Well, you might be asking: how can organizing save me money? Aha. Well, how many times have you misplaced something that you had to buy again?
I know; it's happened to me on more than one occasion. Most of the times I accidentally throw away the item and then think, 'Crap! Where did I put that thing?' and then I'm at the store purchasing it again. So if the thought of organizing your whole house seems impossible, remember, start with small steps; baby steps - baby steps into the elevator.
First, don't buy anything new until you've figured out what you've got. Then, take one room in your home a week or a month - whatever it is that you can handle - and start sorting.
TOM: Absolutely. Make a pile to donate, another pile to sell and one pile with things that you want to keep. And make sure you don't hold onto things for emotional reasons. Got lots of kids' art work? Think about taking digital photos of it and store it all on disk; then, trash the originals but not when the kids are looking.
LESLIE: Oh my God, Tom. You're breaking my heart. (laughs)
TOM: Create an easy-to-put-away home for everything that you plan to keep and store things near where you use them. Once you start the process of purging, you won't want to clutter up your home again and it really feels great when it's all said and done.
888-666-3974. Now, if you need some tips on how to create some storage areas in your house, that's a question that we can help you with right now. Let's get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Mary needs some help with a vanity. What's going on? How can we help you?
MARY: Question. We've got a house that's about 25 years old. It has the original vanity in the bathroom and unfortunately, over the years, people have put cigarettes on the edge of the vanity. Now, I call it hard plastic; I don't know what the technical term for the material is but is there any way to restore that so we don't have to replace the whole sink?
TOM: Well, not really. If you had a chip or a ding or something like that or a very sort of contained, burned-out area, it's possible that you could use a laminate patching material and try to get something that's close in color and fix it that way. But generally, from a burn like that, it typically sort of gets yellowish and deforms it.
TOM: It's very hard to repair that. What you could do, however, is instead of replacing it you could re-laminate it; so essentially you could purchase new Formica or new laminate and you could basically put the new stuff over the old stuff without removing the old material. You can rough it up a little bit and contact cement it right on.
LESLIE: You would have to pop out the sink, though.
TOM: Yeah. You'd have to pop out the sink for sure but you wouldn't have to replace the top. So I actually did that to an entire countertop at a house that I owned once and it came out great.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And relaminating, Mary, it's not a very difficult project. What you would do is you would remove the sink and then use contact cement on both sides; on the back side of the new laminate and on the top of the old laminate. Sort of let it become tacky and then you want to lay it on top of the existing vanity. And then, what you can do is once that's dried and secure, you can take a router and plunge-cut the area where your sink will go and cut the edges and then you can trim up the sides.
And if you look at companies like Formica or Lamin-Art or Wilsonart, go to their websites and you can see that the options today, I mean, are truly gorgeous. I saw at Builders Show last year - we saw some beautiful Formica options that looked like bamboo, that looked like butcher block - I mean, things that sort of were very clean and very Zen; gorgeous colors. So you'd be quite surprised at the changes that the laminate countertops have really come.
MARY: Well, I think that's worth trying and I appreciate your help.
TOM: You're welcome, Mary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tyson in New Mexico is having issues with a wet carpet. Tell us what's going on.
TYSON: Well, I got a warm spot in my concrete slab that the house is on and after I laid down a - one of those plastic things for a rolling chair - desk chair ...
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm.
TYSON: A couple weeks after I laid that down there, there was moisture underneath it. The carpet was wet.
LESLIE: Because the ...
TOM: Yeah, you got some condensation.
LESLIE: Yeah, the moisture can't escape anymore.
TYSON: Yeah. And I was wondering if - I'm hoping it's not a leak under there that's causing that but I'm not sure what else it could be.
TOM: Well, if it's only in that one spot, it's probably condensation and what typically happens is the slab - which is made of concrete - is very hydroscopic, so it holds a lot of water. It was probably ...
TOM: ... evaporating some of that moisture up into the room space from below. Once you put the plastic chair protector on top of it, you basically stopped it from being able to breathe and as a result, you got condensation underneath.
The thing that you could try to do ...
LESLIE: It's like when you blow warm air onto a piece of cold glass and you see the ...
LESLIE: ... the condensation.
TOM: Yeah. The thing you could try to do is take some steps to reduce the amount of moisture at the foundation perimeter; see if we can get that slap to dry out a little bit. Take a look at the gutter system, make sure it's clean and free-flowing, all the downspouts extended out away from the foundation perimeter, make sure the soil slopes away; those are the things that ...
TOM: ... typically cause a lot of water to collect.
LESLIE: And use a dehumidifier.
TYSON: Alright. Well, thank you.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joe in Wisconsin needs some help working on a toilet repair. What can we do for you?
JOE: Well, I'm looking to replace a pretty old toilet with something - well, with a new one, of course - and I'm curious as to the base mount of them. The newer toilets all seem to have a much larger outlet than the older models do. Can I - will it still bolt into the same position or do I need to get another floor - or another drain put in the floor?
TOM: No. For the most part, the flanges still are going to line up, even though the bases might be a bit wider. The actual flange itself is probably still going to be the same. The reason they may look wider is because the traps - the internal traps in the toilets that are low-flow - are actually wider. That trapway has been expanded and it's also been glazed on the inside so it doesn't restrict the flow of waste - that's one of the ways they're able to make a toilet work with less water - but the actual plumbing connection, itself, should be the same.
JOE: OK. So then there's no change; it's just a simple - take the bolts out, drop on the new one and it'll fit.
TOM: That's right. It should fit the first time and make sure you replace the wax seal and you may need to get some new bolts but other than that, you should be good to go. OK, Joe?
JOE: Thanks a lot.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Linda in Indiana has a question about a floor gone bad. What's going on?
LINDA: My daughter just put some laminate flooring down, like a living room and dining room area together. And right in the center of the room it like bubbled where it locks ...
LESLIE: It sort of buckles up?
LINDA: Yes. And it started with about a two-inch gap and now it's about a foot, foot-and-a-half. You know, it's getting worse; it's not (audio gap). And how would you fix it? Do you have to rip the whole floor back up and start again?
TOM: Well, it sounds like there were a couple of pieces of laminate floor that didn't quite get clicked together; didn't quite get locked together properly.
LINDA: Well, they swear that it did but (chuckles) I don't know.
TOM: Well, did you have this professionally installed?
TOM: OK, they did it themselves?
LINDA: (overlapping voices) We did it ourselves and this is like the fourth one that they have done.
LINDA: And this is the only floor that's ever done it.
TOM: Well, it's very unusual that there's a manufacturing defect, I've got to tell you; because that stuff is just made by the mile and it all comes out very consistent. It's hard to mess it up. If the tongue or the groove was damaged as the floor was being put together - for some reason it sounds like it didn't quite lock in the middle and there's no easy fix for this. You can disassemble the floor, assuming you didn't glue it down.
LINDA: No, we haven't done anything because I was ...
TOM: Well, you can disassemble the pieces. They'll come apart same as they went together and start again or you might just want to wait a little bit of time and see if it settles out. But if it seems to be buckling up like that, I suspect that you've got a section there - and it's funny; it could be something as small as, you know, an extra piece of laminate material that got like sort of stuck in there when you were opening and closing the boxes. You know, sometimes you get those wood fibers that will pull off and get stuck in that and it doesn't quite lock together.
LINDA: But the only way to fix it is to rip it back up?
TOM: There's no way to fix it once it's down like that, you know. Is it actually physically pushing up?
TOM: Mm, no. I mean - I'll give you one thing you could try and you probably have nothing to lose. You could take a 2x4 that's a little bit longer than the space between the ceiling and the floor ...
TOM: ... and wedge it in place and try to press it down.
TOM: And put some weight on it that way. Sometimes, when I've fixed floors that were buckled up that way and I had to get something in place to hold it while a glue was drying ...
TOM: ... I would take a piece of 2x4 and I would put a wood block between that and the ceiling and then I would press it into the floor and sort of tap in place so it had some downward pressure.
TOM: And that's sort of a way to clamp a floor down in place. So you could give that a try and see if it straightens out; but if not, I'd just take it apart. I mean that's the nice thing about laminate; it does come apart if there's a problem.
LINDA: And then you just have to number it as you lay it back down so you don't ...
TOM: That's right. That's right. You know what? Get yourself a white - one of those dry erase markers ...
LESLIE: Like a China marker.
TOM: ... and number the panels.
LINDA: Alright. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, they had the ugliest doors in America but not anymore, my friends. Up next, we are going to hear from the two winners of Therma-Tru's My Ugly Door Contest about their great new doors and how they feel about the transformations, so stick around.
[audio timestamp: 0:16:29.9]
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. Well, they had the ugliest doors in America. We know; we saw them. The folks who won these fantastic door makeovers had everything from bullet holes to broken glass and that really kept these homeowners from having the front entry of their dreams but no more. The winners of the 2008 Therma-Tru My Ugly Door Contest now have brand, spanking new doors and, from the photos, I can tell they're thrilled.
TOM: Joining us now is Gina Nelson from Willow Spring, Illinois. Those of you who voted for Gina probably remember her video submission of her back sliding door that was riddled with bullet holes and water leaks. And the essay winners are with us as well; that's Scott and Cat Eidsness from Auburn, Washington. Their front door was equally ugly, with missing sidelights that they had to cover with plywood. (Leslie chuckles)
CAT: Hi. Thank you.
TOM: So congratulations and the last time we spoke to you, we were told that you won the new doors from Therma-Tru and, as the winners, you got a total makeover. Can you tell us first about your old doors?
Gina, why don't you begin?
GINA: Well, my old door didn't open. The screen wouldn't open, so my kids would have to run out the front to go around to the back. We had to use pliers to get it open. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) To get the actual window part open, we had to use pliers. And then the screen didn't open; we had ants coming in the bottom because there was a hole. There was a bullet hole that, like, all the moisture would come in and so the seal was broken; you couldn't even see out of it.
TOM: Now, I've got to ask you, do you live in a rough neighborhood? (Leslie chuckles) How did you get that bullet hole?
GINA: Actually, I'm not really sure. (Tom chuckles) It was there; it was in the door when we bought the house.
TOM: And you still bought the house? (laughs)
GINA: Well, it was covered with this decal, so we never saw it (Leslie laughs) until we moved in and then we noticed it and we were like, 'Uh oh.'
GINA: There were two of them, though; one at the top and one at the bottom, so ...
TOM: Oh, man.
LESLIE: Now, Scott and Cat, you guys did your front entry and so - and you guys had a completely different situation: missing glass. Tell us about the project.
CAT: Our ugly door had four sidelights and a large window up above and three of the four sidelights had been broken; two that we covered with plywood to help keep out the cold air. Our door was - yeah, I guess the foundation was shifting, so our door wasn't always fitting in the entry; so were having to shave it down every couple of years so we could get it open and closed.
TOM: And there wasn't much left?
CAT: No, yeah. (Tom laughs) We were running out of door. (Leslie and Cat chuckle)
TOM: And your door project was a big one because as I look at the design of your house - I mean, that door is massive.
TOM: It practically goes all the way up to your roof line.
CAT: That's correct. We found out, in the process of doing all this, that the entry itself couldn't be just replaced; the whole window up above had to come too because of the way it was originally built.
LESLIE: Oh, it needed to all be one system.
CAT: That's right.
TOM: Well, I bet this is going to make a huge difference in the energy bills for both of your homes; not to mention the fact that they just look so much better from the outside.
Gina, was that door really drafty before and are you seeing a much tighter finish now?
GINA: Oh, yeah. We used to sit there with blankets on. Now, it's so nice and warm in our living room; we just - it's such a huge difference. We just love it.
LESLIE: And the kids are appreciating being able to go just right to the backyard.
GINA: Oh, yeah, they - well, when they first saw it they were like, 'Can we go in and out? Can we try it?' And I'm like, 'Don't touch it. Don't touch it,' (Tom and Leslie chuckle) because I was little afraid they'd get fingerprints on the glass because I could finally see through the glass. I'm like, 'Don't get your fingers all over it.'
But they love it; they're always going in and out. Today, they're out in the back right now in the snow and I'm sure they'll be banging on the door in a minute to come in, so ...
TOM: And finally, you could put the pliers back in the tool box because you don't need them to open the door anymore.
GINA: No, thank God. (Tom and Leslie laugh) They'll use them for another project around here, I'm sure.
LESLIE: Now, Scott and Cat, did you choose a door? Because, I mean, the finished product is a beautiful, classic, Craftsman's sort of mahogany door; it's gorgeous. Is this something that was similar to your before or did you go completely a departure from the look that you had beforehand?
SCOTT: It's completely, completely different. The old door was like beige to match the trim of the house. This one, obviously, is mahogany and my wife, in choosing this door, had decided we're going to have to paint the house color a different color to more match the door. (Leslie and Cat chuckle)
TOM: Ah. So you've experienced the viral side of home improvement. You know, the three most expensive words? Might as well. (Leslie chuckles)
CAT: Yeah. (Scott and Cat chuckle)
TOM: Well, Gina, Scott and Cat, congratulations on becoming the winners of the Ugliest Door in America contest and I've got to tell you, if you want to see a dramatic transformation and the impact that a new entry door can have on your own home, go to MyUglyDoor.com. That is the website that Therma-Tru put together for this project and, I've got to tell you, the before-and-after is stunning. So, congratulations and enjoy those doors.
CAT: (overlapping voices) Oh, thanks. We will.
GINA: (overlapping voices) Well, thank you.
LESLIE: Well, still to come this hour, we've got important information for homeowners. We're going to tell you how to read your water meter. It's one of the things that you should know how to do, along with changing a tire and caulking a bathtub. We're going to tell you how, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:22:15.2]
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: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, we'll give you the answer to your home improvement question and a chance at winning a great home improvement product that will save you lots of money throughout the year. We're giving away a $250 XL800 deluxe programmable thermostat from Trane to one lucky caller to the show.
Now, last year the average household spent almost 2,100 bucks on home energy costs and with heating and cooling costs accounting for about half of the energy bills, programmable thermostats like this one from Trane can save you a ton of money while still maintaining your standard of comfort. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now, along with using a programmable thermostat to save you money, you should also learn how to read the water meter at your money pit. It is the best way to see how much water you're using and to also detect leaks.
First, make sure you know where the meter is on your home. If you've got trouble finding it, call your local water company for help; they might even send somebody out to show you if you ask. Now when you're reading your water meter, think of your car's odometer. There should be five numbers that count cubic feet. Read the three to the left and ignore the rest.
TOM: Now, to calculate the water you use, you want to subtract your previous meter reading from your current reading. One hundred cubic feet of water is equal to 748 gallons. Now, you might want to take two separate readings a week apart just to find out how much water you normally use. Then, after taking some water-conserving measures, take a couple of more readings to see how much water you're saving. It's really not that hard.
If you need more tips, it's all on our website at MoneyPit.com. Pay attention to that meter to make sure that you are not wasting water and also to make sure that the meter is being correctly read each month by the utility company. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: David in Georgia is looking to properly insulate a bonus room. What's going on at your money pit?
DAVID: Got a question about some insulation on these rafter systems on a bonus room upstairs.
DAVID: What do you guys prefer to insulate that with? Is it just a paper-backed insulation or do you go with a hardboard or ...
TOM: Is this is a cathedral ceiling, David?
DAVID: I'd like to leave it that way, yes.
TOM: OK. So, this is a sloped ceiling in like a great room kind of a thing, right?
DAVID: Up above our family room. It's just a bonus room upstairs that we had.
TOM: Alright. OK. So the question is how do you insulate a cathedral ceiling where you don't have a horizontal flat ceiling and then an attic above it. In other words, your ceiling goes straight up. When we're looking up in that bonus room we're basically looking at the underside of the roof rafters, correct?
DAVID: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
TOM: Alright. So in a situation like that let's assume, for the purpose of this call, that your roof rafter is an eight-inch beam; like a 2x8. What you would do is you would install six inches of insulation into that. You would not fill up the entire eight inches deep because you want to leave that extra two-inch space between the end of the insulation and the underside of the roof sheathing so that you can flush air through that.
So I would use a foil-faced, six-inch insulation in this example. I would put normal drywall on it but I would also make sure that I had a ridge vent at the top and then a soffit vent at the base and, this way, air will get into that cavity that's left and it'll dry out that insulation.
Because remember, you're going to get a lot of moisture that's going to collect in there. If you try to seal the whole thing up, it's not going to vent and a couple of things will happen: if the insulation gets really damp - if you add just two percent moisture to it, it loses up to a third of its ability to insulate and secondly - and more importantly - your roof sheathing will rot. It will decay and it will rot over time, so you need to have ventilation in that space.
So make sure you don't fill it up all the way. You leave an extra couple of inches and you vent it properly and that room will both be warm and dry and safe at the same time.
DAVID: OK, super. And you said a foil-faced insulation.
TOM: Yeah, it could be foil-faced or it could be paper-faced or it could even, frankly, be unfaced.
TOM: But make sure you leave the space. I would prefer foil-faced if it's available to you in your area.
DAVID: Foil-faced towards the ...
TOM: Yeah, with the foil ...
DAVID: ... drywall or towards the roofing?
TOM: The foil - no, foil goes toward the heating space - heated space.
DAVID: Towards the heating space. OK.
TOM: Yeah, vapor barrier always goes toward the living space.
DAVID: That's - OK. That's the way I had the rest of it. I just wanted to double check on the roof and make sure that was right.
DAVID: I appreciate you guys' help so much and thanks for having the show. It's a great show and we appreciate it.
TOM: Thanks, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, Leslie, in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector ...
TOM: ... I used to inspect crawlspaces all the time ...
TOM: ... with the vapor barrier on the bottom of the insulation and about every 24 inches on the insulation, it would be stamped; it would say this side towards living space and it would always be upside-down.
LESLIE: Of course. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: (chuckling) Nobody reads anything anymore.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) It's like the simplest directions are always the ones that are overlooked.
TOM: That's right. Vapor barrier towards the heated space. If it's your crawlspace, if it's your floor, if it's your roof structure, it's facing the inside of the house.
LESLIE: Alright. When we come back, we're going to jump into our e-mail bag. We've got one e-mailer who wants to know the difference between wood and vinyl replacement windows; the pros, the cons. Which do you select? We'll help him sort it out when we come back.
[audio timestamp: 0:27:51.7]
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And if you want to listen to us while you're working on your next home improvement project and we don't happen to be on your radio, you can download our podcast at MoneyPit.com. While there, be sure to check out our Tip of the Day and sign up for our free Money Pit e-newsletter, so you will be covered with great home improvement information anytime you need it.
All that's available for free at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Hey, and while you're on the website, go ahead and click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and you can e-mail us your question. We're going to jump into our e-mail questions now. I've got one here from Dennis in Orland Park, Illinois who writes: 'What are good vinyl windows to go with or what company do you like? Is vinyl OK or is wood the way to go?'
TOM: Both are perfectly fine. Here is what I would suggest, Dennis. It's hard to try to differentiate one window from the next. What you ought to be doing is always choose a window that is Energy Star-rated. If you look for a window that's Energy Star-rated, you can trust that that window is going to perform well for you. Don't try to figure out the difference; just look for the Energy Star rating.
Now, there's one other thing that you can check for and it is a label on the window from the National Fenestration Rating Council; the NFRC label. That will also give you some specs on how well the window performs. You could use that label to compare two different windows together and get a sense as to which one might be a better choice for you.
LESLIE: Alright. Katherine in Helena, Montana writes: 'We have an 1874 wood-frame house that is covered with stucco. Given our weather - it's currently minus seven outside - we'd like to ...
LESLIE: ... blow in insulation to our walls. However, we are concerned that if the contractor does not patch the stucco properly, we might get precipitation leaking into our walls. How safe is this for the stucco? Do we have to find a contractor who is experienced patching holes in stucco houses?'
TOM: First of all, I don't care what you have in your walls, you can't have water in there, whether the insulation is there or not; so you've got to get the stucco fixed. Not that difficult to do; depending on the size of the cracks. Small ones can be caulked with a silicone caulking compound. Bigger ones can be patched with an epoxy patching compound. But you definitely need to do that before you blow in the insulation. And given your temperature, I think that's probably a wise home improvement project, Katherine.
LESLIE: Seriously. I guarantee you will be warmer in no time.
TOM: Well, we often hear about recalls on the news but half the time, you're only half listening and then when you realize they're talking about something that you might own, well, you may have already missed the important part. It doesn't have to be that way. Leslie has got information on a great resource, in today's edition of Leslie's Last Word, that will help you track down recalls at one central location online.
LESLIE: That's right. Six different federal agencies have gotten together to better protect you, the consumer. Now you can find recall information on everything from cosmetics to baby products to boats, all on one website. It's Recalls.com.
In addition to finding details about recalled products, you can also get other safety information and while you're on their site, you can sign up for e-mail alerts that will get you all the information you need on recalled products, so you know exactly what you're looking for. They will pop right into your inbox and say, 'Hey, pay attention to something that you own.'
Now, the site includes consumer safety and recall information in seven major categories. It's easy to navigate and it's available in both Spanish and English, so it is a very important site and super user-friendly.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Next week, we will continue in our quest to help you save energy in your house when we interview the experts from Fine Homebuilding magazine on what you need to know about conducting a home energy audit. There are experts out there that can do that and point out the areas of your house that you can improve and then tell you exactly how much money you can save on your energy bills. How do you find a home energy auditor? How do you make sure they're trained, they're talented, they're certified and they're not going to rip you off? We're going to cover that next week on the program.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Helping you build big dreams.
[audio timestamp: 0:32:26.2]
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(Copyright 2009 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.)