Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist's understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. 'Ph' in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
[audio timestamp: 1:00]
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: This is a very special edition of The Money Pit being broadcast live from the 2007 International Builders Show in Orlando, Florida. It's a Mecca for construction pros. It's an inside industry event. It's not open to the public so we're basically here spilling the beans.
LESLIE: Yeah, I love telling secrets. You know I can't hold water. And that's why we are bringing you the best of the best right here from the show floor which, might I add, is about one million square feet.
TOM: It's unbelievable. This hour we're going to tell you about products and services that are bringing innovation and efficiency to home construction, including a brand new click and place hardwood floor that can be installed without - you ready for this? - glues, nails or staples.
LESLIE: Yeah, and this next one is the newest do-it-yourself project: concrete countertops.
LESLIE: I'd never heard of that before. I'm anxious to learn all about that.
TOM: And we're going to talk about trends in indoor air quality with advice on how to keep the air you breathe inside your house as clean as possible.
LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. And also some ways that propane is making it possible for folks in places near and far to have the comfort of gas heat.
But up first, the very first home improvement how-to show is breaking new ground again.
TOM: That's right. The folks at This Old House are transforming an historic house in Austin, Texas into a green home. And here to tell us all about is Kevin O'Connor, host of the show.
So Kevin, what's - tell us all about going green.
KEVIN: Well, I've got to say I think This Old House has been doing green ideas and green building projects for the last 27 years of our history. But this is the first time that we're doing a project soup to nuts, beginning to end ...
LESLIE: Well now we're all about labels.
TOM: Yeah, and it wasn't cool before. (laughing)
KEVIN: It was - we are certainly putting it under the ...
TOM: You were green when green wasn't cool. (laughing)
KEVIN: We are putting it under the big umbrella. So the big headline is we have gone to Austin, Texas and the reason for that is because it is the first and I would - and I say the most respected green building program in the country. When people think green they think Austin, Texas.
LESLIE: Do most states have green building programs or is this something only in Austin?
KEVIN: Some states have green building programs.
KEVIN: I wouldn't say most states at this point. It's a very sort of loose organization of various folks. Communities, as opposed to states, generally are the ones that organize these programs. And then, of course, there are some national movements, leads (ph), everyone's familiar with that.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. How did Austin become, really, the hotbed for this?
KEVIN: Well, I think Austin - you know, it's the sensibility (ph) of the folks who started this 20-some odd years ago. They decided that this was important to them as a community and they got the folks on board and it stuck and it has been maturing over the last 20 years. And so that's why we went there.
TOM: So let's start when you talk about going green, let's kind of define it. What are we talking about? Are we talking about, for example, you know, local production?
LESLIE: The color.
TOM: That you cut down on transportation fuels?
KEVIN: But - absolutely, you know. But it is a tough thing to define. Everyone's got there own definitions.
TOM: Yeah and I think that's what makes it confusing for consumers to really understand. It's going to be one of those terms that gets overused, too ...
TOM: ... by certain builders that really don't have the consumers' interest in my mind. So how does the consumer know if they're really building a green house or doing a green remodeling?
KEVIN: You know, I think a lot of it is common sense. It's not easy to give someone a play book and hand them the cheat sheet and say ...
KEVIN: ... 'This is how you get green.' It is a lot of common sensical building practices. Are you using sustainable materials? Are you creating an energy efficient house? Are you creating a healthy environment to live in? And what are you doing to the environment outside of your house?
LESLIE: What is your footprint that you're leaving?
KEVIN: Absolutely. And so you think about those three principles. Whether you call them green, whether you call them energy efficient, whether you call them high performance, it is good sense, smart building practices. And you don't have to call it green to say that you're building smart. So, for me, it is about efficiencies, it is about sustainability and it is about healthy environments; the products we use, the way we use them.
LESLIE: Now, This Old House predominantly is a remodeling show.
LESLIE: So how far do you have to take things apart to get down to where you need to be to make things green?
KEVIN: I think most people would tell you that it is harder to get green in a remodel than it is in a build ...
TOM: I would think, yeah.
KEVIN: ... because you're starting with something that is inherently ...
KEVIN: ... not necessarily green. Inefficient, right. And so, our case, it means digging into the walls ...
KEVIN: ... it means actually taking down the structure so - I shouldn't say structure but taking down things like wallboards so that you can get in there and insulate; insulating places that have never been insulated before.
KEVIN: For us it was the roof. It was an uninsulated space. In Texas that's a no-no because you're trying to beat the heat so now we had to go into that, pop it up, put insulation in there. And then you're adding brand new things, which you can add easily to a renovation or a new build; something like solar panels on a roof ...
KEVIN: ... or a rain water collection system. Those type of things.
TOM: What about like tankless water heaters?
KEVIN: Absolutely. I mean you know, if you're doing a renovation, we switched out the old fashioned water heater. Believe it or not, it was up in the attic space.
LESLIE: Oh, that's crazy.
KEVIN: There are no foundations out there in Texas; many places in Texas. So we put in a tankless water heater. It's actually one of the easier retrofits you can do and it's a good bang for your buck.
TOM: Yeah, and you always end up with more space because they're so small.
KEVIN: They're so small. They're absolutely fantastic.
LESLIE: And you mentioned, in your talking points, formaldehyde-free MDF. I mean we all use MDF for building materials; especially when you need something inexpensive and efficient. And that's sort of always been green but I had never heard of formaldehyde-free.
KEVIN: A perfect example of - you know that's the problem with definitions. Guys have been grabbing - people have been grabbing MDF for years. Norm Abram uses it. He's our master carpenter on the show (inaudible) workshop obviously. He's been grabbing it for its stability; to build cabinets with.
KEVIN: Well, it is made from recycled wood products and now, with the near formaldehyde-free options, it also helps contribute to a healthy work environment, healthy living environment.
LESLIE: But is that labeled clearly or when I'm at the home center is it MDF is MDF or do I have to look for this specifically?
KEVIN: This is part of the movement that I think is happening right now. We were talking earlier about maybe whether it's the tipping point or not. And I think it will come when the consumer starts asking for it and the retailers start labeling it.
LESLIE: And forces the retailer to get them.
KEVIN: And you can actually see this now as you walk through a lot of big box stores. 'This is a recycled material,' 'This is a sustainable material,' 'This is a low chemical, low-V,' you'll see 'Low-formaldehyde' too.
KEVIN: Once they start putting that out there, once people are educated, that's when folks will choose it. Because it's an easy decision. If you had the choice between one piece of MDF and another piece of MDF and one of them doesn't have formaldehyde ...
LESLIE: And one of them is so bad for you. (chuckling)
KEVIN: ... what are you going to pick?
TOM: And also I think there's a perception that when you take chemicals out the product becomes not as good, not as durable, not as long lasting. Because we've seen that, for example, with paint. You know, one of the reasons that lead was in paint, because it actually made the paint last longer.
TOM: Now it turns out it could kill you.
TOM: But the side point, you know, we took it out and the paint didn't last as long. I think that the technology though and the construction of these materials has gotten so good that we can actually make products that are really green without taking anything away from them.
KEVIN: We are using - we used a low-VOC paint in the house ...
KEVIN: ... that has cut down the VOCs by about six times. And the first question we asked was exactly what you said, Tom.
TOM: Right. Is it going to last?
KEVIN: How's this going to perform?
KEVIN: Am I trading performance for ...
KEVIN: ... durability, for livability? And I'm not a scientist so I'm not going to sit here and spit the facts back to you but that's what these people are figuring out. They are not going to sell this to the professional who's going to end up putting it in the home for the customer if it doesn't perform.
KEVIN: And so that's what folks are doing right now. Keep the performance or maybe even improve the performance and reduce the toxicity.
LESLIE: So it's the smart choice and the right choice. Let it be your first choice.
TOM: We're talking to Kevin O'Connor. He is the host, of course, of This Old House. The TV schedule listings are online at ThisOldHouse.com/TVSchedule.
Speaking of manufacturers, we're broadcasting here at International Builders Show courtesy of Grace Construction Products from their booth. And Larry Shapiro is the business director from Grace. I asked him to sit in with us and give us the manufacturer's perspective. What's been the demand for green from your perspective, Larry? You guys must be following these trends.
LARRY: Definitely. And it's been a trend for a long time now and it's really starting to gain steam. I mean the things that we do are keep the weather out of your building. And fundamentally, that keeps your insulation working better; it keeps you from having air infiltration.
LESLIE: Improves your efficiency.
LARRY: Improves your efficiency, durability, sustainability; exactly what Kevin was talking about. And that's been a great trend for our business.
TOM: So the more efficient the house, generally the greener the house is. Correct?
LARRY: Right. I mean in all respects.
LARRY: I mean it lasts longer and it costs less to keep conditioned.
TOM: Kevin, when do those episodes start to air?
KEVIN: Well, they're airing right now. They're coming on this week. It's different by country but the Austin episode is going to be eight weeks. We're going to take you from the diagnostic of this house, from the beginning when the homeowners decided to do renovation. And we're going to take you all the way through to the end where we are trying to get a five star rating from the Austin green building program. It's the highest rating that they can give. Less than one percent of the houses they certify ...
TOM: We're going to have to wait eight weeks to see if you got it?
KEVIN: You're going to have to wait. (laughter) But I'm telling you right now, This Old House, you know we can do magic and we're going to pull a couple of rabbits out of our hat.
TOM: (overlapping voices) I bet you can. What we were saying before, it really was the first reality television show. (chuckling)
KEVIN: It still is reality, too, you know? That's the great thing about it.
TOM: It is.
KEVIN: The people we put on the show are the folks that are really doing the job. When we go out to Austin we're using the local contractors.
KEVIN: They're out there working on this thing and they're smart, intelligent. They're the real builders and we like to showcase the craftsmen.
Thank you very much, Kevin O'Connor, the host of This Old House and Larry Shapiro from Grace Construction Products. Stand by. I want to ask you more about those products. We're going to take a short break.
LESLIE: Alright. Coming up, more from the International Builders Show of 2007 up next. And in a moment, hardwood floors that click into place. No glue, no staples, no nails.
TOM: Plus, if your roof is your first line of defense from the elements, you'd better make sure it's working properly. We're going to give you the ABCs of how to build a better roof, after this.
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[audio timestamp: 12:50]
ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/UniversalHome to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, being broadcast live from the 2007 International Builders Show in Orlando, Florida. It's the happiest place on earth if you're a construction pro.
LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. And there's over one million square feet of show floor here and the best part is that Tom and I are pounding the pavement to bring you the best without all that mileage on your legs.
LESLIE: And we are going to bring you - actually, we're bringing you this broadcast courtesy of our friends at Grace Construction and they are the leading manufacturer of weather barriers and waterproofing products for your home. And Larry Shapiro is here from Grace and Larry is the business director for Grace Residential Building Materials.
TOM: Larry, you know, one of the things that our listeners don't really realize is that a roof is a system. You know, there are many parts. They all work together. And you guys make a lot of the products that go in there. So I thought, 'Why don't we sort of build a roof (inaudible)?'
LESLIE: Well, it's like the hidden heroes.
TOM: Right. The virtually speaking (ph) right here. Starting with the plywood roof deck, talk about the importance of what goes under the roof; what you don't see and how that really needs to go together so that we don't get the complaints of the leak calls later on.
LARRY: Sure. I mean it's really pretty simple. You have plywood roof deck and that's the part you don't see. And the top you do see is the shingles but in the middle is something called a roofing underlayment. And what a roofing underlayment does is really prevent roof leaks if the roof is prevented from shedding water in any way.
LARRY: And that can happen because of ice dams in the winter time or wind-driven rain or, in the worst cases, if the shingles blow off altogether. A roofing underlayment is left on the roof ...
LESLIE: To protect it.
LARRY: ... to protect it and keep the water out of your building.
LESLIE: Now, traditionally when you think underlayment, you think tar paper or felt paper are the same thing.
LESLIE: But there's a lot of synthetic membranes and that's particularly what Grace does.
LESLIE: So why is that so important?
LARRY: Yeah, these membranes are much more durable and much more effective at keeping water out than traditional felts, which usually have a life expectancy on your roof, especially during installation of, you know, minutes and seconds.
TOM: Yeah, minutes. Exactly.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Five minutes.
TOM: That stuff gets wet, it melts away.
LARRY: Exactly. So there's really two categories. There's waterproofing membranes. These would be adhesive membranes that go on your roof. Or there's new synthetic membranes that are applied and mechanically fastened similar to what felt does; just with a lot higher performance.
TOM: And also, whenever you get a leak, it's usually through a protrusion through the roof. The shingle doesn't leak in the middle of the shingle but it's where a plumbing pipe comes through or a chimney is. And you guys have got some innovative flashing products that help actually make up for those odd spaces. Talk about some of that.
LARRY: We do. Obviously, roof - any roof detail where you get a strange angle or something unusual coming through the roof ...
LARRY: ... that's a danger zone.
LARRY: That's where you're going to have problems when you have problems. So, we make membrane products that go under the shingles. You don't see them but they're there working to keep those danger zones waterproof. Even when the rest of the roof maybe doesn't work so well, you'd never notice.
LESLIE: Now, with roofs, generally, depending on the roofing material, you're looking at a lifetime of, you know, 20 years to 50 years ...
LESLIE: ... depending on what you choose. What if you have a roof and you didn't quite take the right steps with the underlayment? Can you go back and fix some things?
LARRY: If it's a - if it's a small area, sometimes you can. Generally speaking, if you have major problems on your roof, it's time to reroof. If you have a problem with a flashing area or one small area, yes, that can be - that can be fixed and an underlayment can be added and you're good to go.
TOM: Let's talk about a problem that's happening right now - ice damming - across the country.
TOM: We're getting snow. The snow is melting. It goes down and hits the edge of the roof. It freezes. It builds up a dam and then the water ...
LESLIE: And the symptom is icicles.
LESLIE: That's what you would see.
TOM: That's right. You don't want to see icicles. Icicles are a bad thing.
LARRY: Icicles are beautiful but they're also a sign of a roof in trouble.
TOM: Now, you guys have a product - actually it's probably one of your first products ...
LARRY: It is.
TOM: ... if I'm correct. The Ice & Water Shield.
TOM: I've been using it in my construction projects for many, many years. And I think it's important to understand why that is different than, say, just a standard underlayment.
LARRY: Yeah, Ice & Water Shield is our flagship. And that goes up on the eave - again, under the shingles - to protect the roof from leaks. That ice dam that you were talking about, there's standing water behind it. And a sloped roof works by shedding water.
LARRY: It's not waterproof. So when you get that standing water up there, goes under the shingles, comes right into the house. If you have Ice & Water Shield, the water still goes under the shingles, hits the Ice & Water Shield and can't get in the house. So the next question of course is, 'But Larry, we nailed our roofing shingles through this membrane. There's like a million holes in it.'
LARRY: What Ice & Water Shield does is it's specially formulated to grab and seal around all those nail holes ...
LARRY: ... so even though the membrane's got a bunch of nails through it, you've got ...
TOM: (overlapping voices) Hey, you showed me a demonstration where we stretched it across the top of a glass of water and shoved a bunch of nails in and turned it upside down ...
LESLIE: Nothing happened.
LARRY: (overlapping voices) And nothing happened.
TOM: (overlapping voices) ... and nothing happened. Stuck to it and was completely sealed.
LARRY: That's exactly right.
Larry Shapiro from Grace, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Thanks so much.
TOM: And thank you for hosting us here for this broadcast.
LARRY: (overlapping voices) My pleasure.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show being broadcast to you live from the 2007 International Builders Show.
Now, on to a way to bring hardwood floors into your home with - you ready for this? - a quick click. The new hardwood floors from Armstrong actually lock together without glues, nails or staples. Think of all the free time.
LESLIE: Yeah, and they come - and they come in dozens of wood types from oak to Australian wormy chestnut. And here to tell us about that is Brian Slingla (sp) from Armstrong.
So Brian, what's new in flooring?
BRIAN: What's new in flooring? A lot of things are new in flooring for us. We're very excited, here at the builders show, to talk about innovative solutions which, for Armstrong, is across every product category that we have. We have a new and innovative way to either install it or something that's new and unique from a visual standpoint. So ...
LESLIE: Wow, so there's lots happening at the Armstrong booth. My goodness.
TOM: Now talk to us about this locking floor because I mean, typically, you have standard hardwood which is solid planks ...
TOM: ... that has to be nailed in place.
BRIAN: Exactly. (inaudible)
TOM: And then you have engineered that's typically maybe glued in place. And now you guys have come up with a way to actually make it easier to install it with a click. Is this similar to your laminate floors that sort of lock together?
BRIAN: Exactly. Exactly. The installation process is very similar to laminate ...
BRIAN: ... in that basically you create the angle, you engage in the product and then you flip it down. So the installation piece or the click piece is actually built into the wood itself.
LESLIE: And this is the locking hardwood we're talking about.
LESLIE: Is it a solid hardwood or is it engineered?
BRIAN: It's an engineered product and that allows us to create that almost tongue-in-groove look to it that allows it to click in (ph).
LESLIE: And then it also allows the homeowner to put it any darn place they like in their house.
LESLIE: The basement, the kitchen, the bathroom.
TOM: Now because it locks together, I guess the whole completed floor floats.
BRIAN: It does.
TOM: There's not - there's no attachment point. You bring it to within maybe a quarter of an inch of the wall and then just cover it with moulding?
BRIAN: Yep. A quarter-inch gap around the exterior of the installation and then quarter-inch moulding around the edge allows you to - allows the float a little bit so that as ...
BRIAN: ... the seasons change a little bit and you get a little bit of growth and shrinkage within the home, you have that gap so that you avoid buckling.
LESLIE: Now I know one of the points is that they can snap together and unsnap ...
LESLIE: ... but why would I ever want to unsnap my floor?
BRIAN: The benefit there is if, for whatever reason, you happen to get a little bit of damage on one of the boards, it's very easy to pull out versus something that's glued in or nailed down.
TOM: Good point.
BRIAN: Much more permanent. So it's easier to fix.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) So, not like I'm moving and I want to take it with me.
BRIAN: Exactly. (laughter) One of the other realities ...
TOM: But you could. (laughter)
BRIAN: Yeah, exactly. One of the other realities for consumers is they want to change out their looks more quickly.
BRIAN: And what a floor like this provides them with is the ability to do that without really disturbing the floor prep or anything like that. So it becomes much easier for them to change their looks quickly.
TOM: Let's talk about durability because I think for many, many years prefinished flooring was known to be not very durable.
TOM: The finishes were very, very soft. And then we had this sort of industry change to aluminum oxide finishes that were factory applied that is really the same material that sandpaper is made out of.
TOM: When you purchase a flooring product, are there different grades of durability when it comes to prefinished?
BRIAN: Sure, absolutely. And the easiest way to understand that is by looking at the warranty and really understanding ...
BRIAN: Everything that's applied within that warranty. Let of warranty is one good way to gauge the overall durability of the product. One of the other processes that Armstrong has is something called acrylic impregnation that we use mostly for our commercial lines. But by applying an acrylic impregnation into a floor it gives it a great amount of durability. So they're ...
LESLIE: So that's almost like a finish that would be a topcoat but built in to that ...
LESLIE: ... engineered wood or that laminate veneer that's on there.
BRIAN: Exactly. We call it a through-color process and what that means is it's similar to a radish versus a carrot. A carrot you cut through you have color the entire way through it. On a radish you only see the color on the very top. So acrylic impregnation provides us with ...
LESLIE: Is the carrot. (chuckling)
TOM: Exactly, yeah. But you don't need a stick.
LESLIE: (laughing) Exactly.
BRIAN: Oh, no. No stick.
TOM: Now let's talk a little bit about repair. What if the unthinkable happens and you drag something across the floor.
TOM: You put a deep gouge in a prefinished floor.
LESLIE: Can you refinish it?
TOM: How do you repair it or fix it?
BRIAN: You can. And an engineered board a lot of people have the misconception that it can't be sanded and refinished. Absolutely you can.
LESLIE: But the top layer is so thin, right?
BRIAN: It is but when you think about the amount of product that you have to take off in order to get down to the true wood ...
BRIAN: ... it's not very much. And often times you can refinish a floor two and perhaps three times depending on ...
TOM: (overlapping voices) Really? I didn't know that.
BRIAN: ... the quality of refinishing.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) I had no idea that you could do.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Yeah. Very, very interesting.
TOM: Well, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Brian Slingla (sp) ....
BRIAN: Thank you for having me.
TOM: ... from Armstrong. The new locking hardwood floor. Available now?
BRIAN: Available now.
TOM: Alright. Great.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, great.
TOM: I want to put wormy chestnut in my house just to say that I have it. (chuckling)
LESLIE: And it's so beautiful. You get the opportunity to really choose. Because it's not solid all the way through, you can choose something that would be a little bit more high end or pricey without seeing that price point travel because you're not getting a solid version of that hardwood. It's just a thin layer. And their warranties are fantastic.
TOM: Plus you could put it anywhere. You could put in a bathroom. You could put it in a basement.
TOM: Places you would never dream of being able to put solid hardwood.
LESLIE: Well, anywhere you get a tremendous amount of moisture.
You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, being broadcast live from Grace Construction Products booth at the 2007 International Builders Show. Up next, a very high-tech to breathe easier in your home. We're going to learn about whole-house air cleaners that can remove everything from dust to mold to even viruses, after this.
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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 this hour of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show being broadcast from the 2007 International Builders Show in Orlando, Florida. You can't be here so we are here as your home improvement reporters to learn about the coolest, the newest, the greatest products and innovation that you're going to see in your home over the next 12 months.
LESLIE: That's right. And you know what? Winter is a prime time for illnesses; especially as germs and dust and mold and other invaders make their way into your home and set up camp. You know, they're staying for the long haul.
TOM: Absolutely. It's nice and warm and there are usually no open windows for escape. And that's where a whole-house air cleaner comes in. It's an air cleaner that you can get - that you can get that gets rid of much of the mold, much of the dust and even germs in your house. Joining us to tell us more is Dave Rivestek (sp) from Aprilaire.
Hey, Dave. Welcome to the program.
DAVE: Hey. Good afternoon. Thanks for having us.
LESLIE: So, do you think that consumers are becoming more and more aware of, you know, the air quality inside their home because they're feeling things? Or are they noticing because homes are being more tightly? What sort of drives the necessity?
DAVE: Probably a little bit of both. But there's no question that as homes become built tighter and tighter ...
DAVE: ... you're trapping inside the house so it's not able to breathe as much as it used to years ago when they were a little bit more drafty.
LESLIE: Which was a good thing because it would help sort of circulate the air in the home.
TOM: Well, absolutely. You know, an older house probably had six to eight air changes per hour and now when you build a house it's well built ...
LESLIE: Just from natural occurrences of gaps in building.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right, natural. Right. You know, now - I guess what would be a perfect ventilated house? Maybe like three-quarters to one air change per hour or something like that.
DAVE: Yeah. Even - a tight house might be even a third of an air change per hour.
DAVE: So ...
DAVE: ... when you're building to a lot of these standards now - with double, triple pane windows and the wraps and everything and caulking the nooks and crannies -
DAVE: - you're going to pretty ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well, you want to keep your heated air in.
TOM: Well, talk to us about how a whole-house air cleaner actually works. I mean we think of the room air cleaners that actually work in one room.
TOM: But this is something that's permanently installed and covers the entire house. How is that possible?
DAVE: Well, that's right. It actually installs in your duct work near where your furnace or heat pump, your forced air conditioning system would be.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm.
DAVE: It mounts right into the ductwork so that whenever that fan is running you're pulling air across a high-efficiency air cleaner; which, in essence, scrubs the dirty - scrubs the dirty air and spits out clean air on the other side.
LESLIE: And this is the media that we're talking about. You know, Tom and I had the opportunity to come to Aprilaire's factory and see how the entire whole-house air cleaner is made. And this media - which is, essentially, the filter - is like 72 linear feet.
DAVE: It stretches. It's 78 square feet and if you stretched it out ...
LESLIE: That's huge.
DAVE: ... it would stretch almost 30 to 40 feet long. So you've got a high performance with a minimum amount of maintenance and yet it doesn't really - one of the other things you need to look at is how much does it restrict the air flow when it's actually installed in the system. So I still want to get my volume of heating and cooling out the other end so you don't want to restrict the air flow.
TOM: Let's talk about the things - I mean we all know what dust looks like. We wipe it off our furniture all the time. But let's talk about the things that you can't see that this unit is very effective at; like bacteria and mold and pollen. How much of a demand is for that and does the filter also take that out or is there an electronic portion that sort of contributes to that?
DAVE: Well, there is a - the electronic portion is what really gets down into the smaller stuff; the stuff that we can't see that's invisible. And that's the stuff, really, that's probably most harmful ...
DAVE: ... from a health perspective.
LESLIE: Well, as far as respiratory and allergens, I mean that's really what you feel when you notice that there's something not right with the air in the home.
DAVE: That's it. Virus-sized particles, bacteria, all the stuff that's floating around that's around us everyday. Right now it's here. We just can't see it. A lot of times when you see the sun shine into your window ...
DAVE: ... you see all that ...
LESLIE: Then you see the particulates.
DAVE: Exactly. But you don't see it right now.
LESLIE: So, if we had the whole-home air cleaner, when the sun was beaming would I notice any particles at all?
DAVE: You still would. Because any time you're walking around you're stirring things up. So for the - for a whole-house air cleaner to clean the air the air has got to make its way to the air cleaner.
TOM: It has to move.
TOM: Well, that's what makes the HVAC system so efficient. It's actually (ph) doing that.
TOM: And that really does scrub the entire house.
Dave Rivestek (ph) from Aprilaire, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Yeah, thanks Dave.
LESLIE: Coming up, concrete. It's not just for basements anymore. We're going to have great tips on installing a concrete countertop in your home yourself.
TOM: And is your water heater dumb? Well (chuckling), most likely it's heating up the water that you need whether you need it or not; wasting your energy. Find out what you can do to be smart about your hot water usage, after this.
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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: It's the happiest place on earth if you're a construction professional. We are here in Orlando, Florida at the 2007 International Builders Show. This very special program is here to talk about the newest, the greatest, the latest home improvement products that you're going to see on store shelves and in your homes and in new construction over the next 12 months. And there's over a million square feet of exhibit space here.
LESLIE: Yeah, that's right. And at the 2007 International Builders Show, it's the place to be if you're a construction pro but, sorry, if you're not, you're not invited. And that's why we're here; to tell you everything that's going on here at the builders show. And The Money Pit, of course, is broadcasting from the Grace Construction booth and we're bringing you the best of the best, including new ideas for your kitchen and your bath.
And you know, actually, our next guest we've got standing by here. We've got Mike Murtaugh from Rinnai. Because by their very nature, standard hot water heaters are not exactly the smartest. You know, they're going to heat the water whether you want it or not.
TOM: That's right. But tankless hot water heaters are a smart way to save energy and money and the benefits don't end there. Here to tell us more about them is Mike Murtaugh from Rinnai.
So Mike, let's start with the basics for people that aren't familiar with it. What is a tankless water heater?
MIKE: Thank you, Tom, for being here first of all. The tankless water heater, in its basic principle, heats water on demand; meaning that it stays idle, there's no energy being consumed until it senses a demand for hot water. It's a very smart system in that it will heat the water as it passes through what we call a heat exchanger; basically, a copper boiler, if you will but high energy efficient burner underneath that boiler to heat the water as it's required.
LESLIE: So there's really no tank at all?
MIKE: No tank at all, Leslie.
LESLIE: That's amazing.
TOM: Now you were telling me some time ago ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) I mean think about the space you're saving.
TOM: ... about the installation of these. And you say that a common mistake that plumbers make is they don't put the right size gas line. Can you explain that?
MIKE: That's correct. While we're using a higher amount of BTU for a short amount of time, we require a three-quarter inch gas line diameter versus the standard tank would usually normally use just a half inch, Tom.
TOM: So you need a larger volume of gas but you're actually using less of it.
MIKE: That's correct. We're not ...
TOM: Got it.
LESLIE: So it's not going to affect your costs at all for usage of the gas.
MIKE: Absolutely not. In fact, you're going to - you're going to see savings of 30 to 50 percent below that of a standard tank electrical or gas water heater, Leslie.
LESLIE: Oh, that's amazing.
TOM: Now what about the zoning capability of a tankless? Sometimes you get complaints of, you know, taking forever to get hot water, for example, to your bathroom in the winter time. Can this actually deliver water any quicker?
MIKE: It will not deliver the water any quicker to - from point A to point B. What you can do, though, with a tankless water heater because it's what we call a direct vent product - we're bringing combustion air from outside the home - you can place this in a closet in an attic space closer to the demand.
TOM: So you can zone your hot water.
MIKE: Absolutely, Tom. That's a great way of saying it.
LESLIE: And because they're tankless and so small, how much space are you saving?
MIKE: You're saving anywhere from 12 to 16 square feet of usable floor space.
LESLIE: So, a closet really is a viable option for installation.
TOM: And this really is a green product. I know you guys have just completed a project with our friends at This Old House, building the Austin green project. This is actually a very, very green, environmentally responsible appliance to use.
MIKE: Yes, it is. We consider it the green of green products in that it's not only energy efficient, it is low on environmental gases, if you will, that are harmful to the environment; the CO2, the NOx. Plus, when you look at the recyclability of the unit, a lot of the components are recyclable. So we're not putting ...
TOM: Good point.
MIKE: ... tanks into the landfill anymore. We're recycling materials.
TOM: You have a great website - ForeverHotWater.com; a great place to go and learn more about tankless water heaters. And actually you have a good sizing tool there to teach you about what size water heater you need.
LESLIE: Proper size for usage.
TOM: Exactly. Because I think it's a product who's time has come. And there's really no reason to put in a dumb water heater any further. There's too many benefits of tankless; you know, from the environmental benefits to the energy efficient benefits to the control benefits; the fact that you can dial temperature up and down. As, say, a child goes to take a bath you could dial the temperature down. You can dial it back up even with remote controls.
TOM: So good product.
Mike Murtaugh from Rinnai, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
MIKE: Thank you so much.
TOM: Right now, we are going to jump into a new topic. It is about something that's a do-it-yourself project that you really wouldn't think of it. It's concrete countertops.
LESLIE: That's right. It comes in lots of colors, stains and finishes. And if you want to do it yourself, you can save a bundle. Here to tell us more is Tim Beasley from QUIKRETE.
Now Tim, I've seen concrete countertops and they are gorgeous and they are terribly difficult to install. How is it that you've made one that a DIY-er can tackle?
TIM: Well actually, we've kind of taken a very hard project and made it very simple for the do-it-yourselfer to do. We designed a self-consolidating concrete countertop mix that we're going to supply in an 80-pound bag that virtually anybody that can mix concrete can create their own countertops.
LESLIE: So you're still needing to build a form of some sort to, you know, make sure it doesn't just pour right off your new counters.
TIM: That's correct. Well, you can do it two ways. You can do precast, where you build your forms off from the countertop.
TIM: Or you can actually do a - the cast in place, where you actually build your form right on the ...
TOM: You build it right on there.
TIM: Right on the countertops.
LESLIE: And that would ...
TOM: Now what about the color of it? I mean you think of concrete as just being gray sidewalks. What color options do you have with a concrete top?
TIM: Well, we have six different liquid colors that you can add to it provided by QUIKRETE. There's brown, charcoal, buff, terracotta, and red and black. And that's going to give a little more character into the concrete instead of just your normal gray.
LESLIE: And are the finishes sort of rough like you would see on the floor or are they highly polished?
TIM: They're highly polished. With the self-consolidating concrete that we've created, it eliminates having a mechanical vibration and it actually consolidates the material itself and it comes out almost as smooth as glass once you ...
LESLIE: So there's no additional step to that finish?
TIM: Well, there may be some steps you have to do. This just eliminates a lot of that. You don't have to go through the buffing and grinding that you normally would on normal concrete.
LESLIE: Now, being the skeptic that I am (Tom laughs), if - say you're installing this and you make a horrible mistake. How do you correct it? Or is it difficult to then remove it and try again?
TIM: No, you just remove it and try again. It's not that difficult to do. It's really probably not a good thing to try to repair that ...
TIM: ... because it's going to look like a repair forever. So you just start over and, you know, it's very inexpensive to use. We're only looking at probably about $17 a square foot to actually, you know, use this material.
LESLIE: And what's the cost of a pro to come in and do it?
TOM: Yeah, I was going to say it's got to be ...
TIM: Probably about - anywhere from $65 to $100 a square foot.
LESLIE: That's a huge savings.
TOM: Wow. And you know, you really only see concrete tops right now in very, very high-end homes.
TIM: That's right.
TOM: So I think this is the first time it's been really affordable ...
TOM: ... for a do-it-yourselfer or even, you know, for your remodeling contractor to actually do it themselves and actually build it for you.
TOM: So I mean I'm sure some of the customers you have are do-it-for-me (Leslie chuckles) and some of them are do-it-yourselves and this really ...
TOM: ... works for both classes of people.
TIM: It is a commercial grade so we have made it in design for a contractor. But also where a homeowner feels very, you know, comfortable they can do it.
LESLIE: The instructions are user-friendly?
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK. It's good to know because concrete countertops are so amazingly beautiful. And to know that they're finally cost effective and something that, you know, we could tackle on our own is great.
TOM: And it's something that, even if your countertop's a little bit out of shape, you know, it doesn't matter because you're making the form to fit it, you know?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well, it covers it up.
TOM: I mean my countertop's an inch out of square on eight feet.
TIM: Right. And you know, the unique thing about this is almost like a lot of people describe it as art.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Absolutely.
TIM: You know, whatever you want to do with it you can do with it. You can put designs in it and the contractors, they kind of give their own little personal touch to it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Terrific. Tim Beasley from QUIKRETE, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM: We're going to take a short break. Coming up, propane is fueling a new underground movement among homeowners. Up next, what does it take to install a propane tank in your backyard? Find out from an expert, after this.
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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 a very special edition of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show from Orlando, Florida. No, we didn't take a vacation to Disney but we are in the happiest place on earth for construction ...
LESLIE: It's a vacation for us because it's so fun.
TOM: (chuckling) Exactly. It's the happiest place on earth if you're a construction professional. It's the International Builders Show and we are broadcasting courtesy of our hosts for today's broadcast - Grace Construction Products.
LESLIE: So, we've been scouring the one million square feet of show floor space here and we are finding the best of the best products and innovations and we are bringing them to your, our listeners, because you can't be here.
TOM: One of those innovations is propane. It's fueling an underground movement among builders. A new survey finds that more a third of the homes built in the last year in areas with little or no access to natural gas were fitted with underground propane tanks.
LESLIE: The Propane Education and Research Council did the survey of homebuilders and joining us is a consultant to the group, Tom Jaenicke.
Tom, what is it - I mean when does it make sense to use propane to supply heat to your home?
TOM JAENICKE: Well, propane is giving you an advantage because you can supply more than just heat to the home.
TOM JAENICKE: People like the ambience of fireplaces - gas fireplaces; gas cooking - 98 percent of the professional chefs in the country use gas. And so the homemaker likes to use gas also. And so it gives you an advantage in being able to do all things in the home related to gas energy with an energy supply either at the residence or in a community tank system.
TOM: Now let's talk about that community tank system because I understand there is an award given here to a builder that did a condominium project in Hawaii - oceanfront - that used a community tank. So, a community tank, in other words, is a tank that's installed that services the building or the development.
TOM: And normally you think of propane as sort of a unit by unit by unit kind of a fuel source. But now it actually ...
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And that has to be a very large tank.
TOM: Now it actually can service a community.
TOM JAENICKE: Yes. Actually, that is a very popular trend; not just in Hawaii but across the country. And in that particular development you're talking about there were 38 condominium developments fueled by a 2,000-gallon propane tank. And it goes into each individual unit with a metered system.
TOM JAENICKE: Not unlike you would see in natural gas. And the homeowner gets a bill monthly.
LESLIE: Based on their usage.
TOM JAENICKE: Based on their individual usage.
LESLIE: Now, I mean that tank sounds to be fairly sizable. You know, how are you burying them and how are they standing up to environmental conditions?
TOM: And how are they made?
TOM JAENICKE: Well, the tanks are made out of a heavy gauge steel. They're mastic coated and they're buried, typically, by the propane supplier; usually with equipment on the home site anyway because of the construction process and the foundation's being dug.
TOM JAENICKE: So it's an easy process to be able to dig the hole and put the proper backfill in and fill the tank. And the reason it's so attractive is because instead of a tank being in the backyard, it's under the backyard. And ...
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And really, all you see is just some sort of little dome which is where the installer would know to go to refill it.
TOM JAENICKE: There's a small dome that sticks - it varies a little bit but about six inches to eight inches above the ground.
TOM JAENICKE: A lid on it for filling purposes and the deliveries are scheduled so that homeowner doesn't even have to worry about the supply of gas.
LESLIE: Is there any reason why you would not be able to have a buried propane tank? Is there a climate or geographical reason that would make it not ...
TOM: (overlapping voices) Is water, for example, in the soil an issue in terms of water height?
LESLIE: Typically, if the property you're building on is so wet that water is an issue for the propane tank, it would also be an issue for the home. So we are ...
TOM: But then you could just go above if you had to.
TOM JAENICKE: Sure. Yes.
TOM: Cover it with some landscaping.
TOM JAENICKE: Absolutely.
TOM: Tom Jaenicke for the Propane Council, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
For more information, you can go to UsePropane.com.
You have been listening to a very special edition of The Money Pit broadcast courtesy of Grace Construction Products, live from the floor of the 2007 International Builders Show.
Coming up next week, hate waiting for a hot shower on a cold morning? On The Money Pit, we're going to tell you how you can have your hot shower in seconds with one turn of the faucet.
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 2007 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.)