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: 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 right now with your home improvement question. We're here to help you get those jobs done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Hey, is saving energy on your mind right now? Would you like to save energy, reduce your heating costs and protect the environment all in the same time?
Well, there's one thing that you can do right now, today, that can reduce one of the single biggest impacts on the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and it will save you cash when it comes to your heating bill. We're going to tell you exactly what that is, in just a minute.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, your stove's exhaust vent hood. It's with you for every single cooking adventure but do you really ever pay it any attention?
TOM: I pay it lots of attention whenever I step up to the stove because I usually need it.
LESLIE: Oh, are you a bad cook, Tom?
TOM: (overlapping voices) When I burn stuff. (Leslie and Tom chuckle)
LESLIE: Setting things on fire, things getting stuck to the pan ...
TOM: It's very effective that way.
LESLIE: Well, yes, you're good at that and that's - and the vent hood's also very good at getting rid of that excess smoke. Well, coming up in a little bit, we're going to tell you what you need to do to help keep your vent hood in tip-top operating shape for all of your fire adventures, Tom.
TOM: And it's been a lonely hole-in-the-wall all summer but soon you might be ready to use that fireplace again and if so, you'd better check the chimney. Water can be your chimney's worst enemy, so we're going to tell you how to inspect it, how to seal it, how to caulk it to make sure it is in tip-top shape when you fire up that first fire on the first chilly night.
LESLIE: Yeah and you might be thinking, 'Caulk, hmm, that's a good idea but darn it, I don't have any.' Well, guess what? (Tom chuckles) This hour, we're giving away a $50 prize package, including GE caulk singles. These are the coolest things; they are one-time usage. No more freezing the caulk to the dispenser in the garage. You know what I'm talking about.
TOM: So call us right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who's first?
LESLIE: George in Utah needs some help with heating. What can we do for you?
GEORGE: Oh, well, thank you for taking my call.
TOM: You're welcome.
GEORGE: I had a question about some electric panel heaters that I saw ...
GEORGE: ... in the back of Popular Mechanics.
GEORGE: The little ad advertisement was, you know, save at least 50 percent off your heating bills and it says that it's a low-powered draw panel heater that you just simply bolt to the wall. It's supposed to cost you pennies a day and I was kind of curious as to if you have any thoughts on that.
When compared to using gas to heat your home, is this really going to be the big, you know, the big energy - or excuse me - the big monetary savings, using these electric panel heaters in rooms as opposed to your natural gas heater and a programmable thermostat? You know, they can shut heat down when you're not using it.
TOM: Do you remember the name of the product?
GEORGE: Well, I know the website that was referred to. It was the letter E - Eheat.com and they sell them for about $100 a piece and it was basically off of an ad that I saw in the back of Popular Mechanics.
TOM: George, I think the kind of product that you're talking about is essentially a space heater. It mounts to the wall and it has a ...
LESLIE: It looks pretty cool.
TOM: Yeah. It usually mounts to the wall and it has - I should say off the wall a little bit so that air flows behind it. It sort of creates ...
TOM: ... a convective loop, which is fine. I mean, you know, you could have an electric heater sitting on the floor that will do the same thing; this is just a wall-mounted. However, this is not designed to heat an entire house. It's really designed just to put in some additional heat to one or two rooms, perhaps a bathroom or a basement.
LESLIE: Or a room that has a lot of windows or ...
LESLIE: ... not enough insulation.
TOM: Yeah. Maybe like a Florida room or a place like that. So I think it's a pretty efficient electric heater but in fact, it is an electric heater and not designed for the entire house; just designed for those rooms where you just need to add some additional heat.
GEORGE: Yeah. In reading the ad - and that was why I asked you guys first, because it is a hefty investment at $100 a heater and the ad, you know, I think kind of overpitched the product but that's why I was kind of curious and wanted to ask the question first.
TOM: Alright. Well, we hope we helped you out.
GEORGE: Thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Protecting against the overpitch; a wise Money Pit listener.
LESLIE: Vivian in Rhode Island, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
VIVIAN: Hi. I called regarding installing electric radiant heat in a driveway.
VIVIAN: And what are the pros and cons about it?
TOM: Well, it's pretty expensive to operate. Has this been a big issue for you in this driveway?
VIVIAN: Not really.
VIVIAN: The house is about 12 years old and it's on an incline.
VIVIAN: And to have the, you know, the landscaper come in and plow when it does - when we do ...
VIVIAN: ... have a snowstorm, it's inconvenient. It'd be so nice just to switch it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, what kind of driveway - what kind of driveway material is it?
TOM: Asphalt? Well, you realize that to install the electric radiant, you're going to have to tear up the driveway.
TOM: So it's a really, really expensive, you know, solution. Because by ...
LESLIE: And does it really melt all the snow? I mean, how much money does it ...
TOM: Well, it does. It ...
LESLIE: ... cost to generate the heat to do that?
TOM: Well, it does but it's going to be real expensive to run it and it's going to be real expensive to install it. So you're talking about - when you say you have to have the guy come in and plow but I think the cost of the plowing is going to be less than the cost of the demolition plus the utility of running this plus the cost of the installation over many, many years.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. It is officially autumn. You are about to get an extra hour, my friends. What are you going to do with your home improvement to-do list, with all that extra time? Give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we can help you with all of your fall chores.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, more than 80 percent of homes built before 1980 don't have the right amount of insulation. Could your home be one of these? We're going to have tips to help you step up your insulation and step down your heating bills, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:06:25.4]
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: Making good homes better. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. And you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that we talk to on the air - you've got to be on the air, folks - this hour is going to win a $50 prize pack that includes these GE caulk singles. And they're basically like - I don't know - like a juice box but with caulk. Like it's a cool ...
TOM: That's a good way to put it.
LESLIE: It really is. It's like I want to ...
TOM: Kind of like squeeze packs.
LESLIE: They're fantastic because there's just enough to do a regular job. You're not dealing with the extra in the tube that you know is going to dry out before you ever get back to using it again.
TOM: Yeah. Because let's say like you want to caulk your bathtub. You don't need an entire tube of caulk to do that.
LESLIE: No. But these singles - they're fantastic. They're going to make your caulking jobs so easy. I mean, it's as simple as tear, squeeze, toss; no more struggling with the caulking gun. Got to be in it to win it, though, so think of your questions and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. You know, caulking is one way to seal up your home and prevent some unwanted energy loss; another is insulation. Adding insulation to your home is the single most important thing that you can do in your house to cut down on energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It's good for you; it's good for the environment.
Take a peek in your attic. Here's how you know if you're going to need more insulation. The experts at Owens Corning advise that 19 inches of fiberglass batt insulation or 22 inches of blown insulation is what you should have in the attic. So measure it and see if you have either 19 inches of fiberglass or 22 inches of blown insulation.
Now, if you find that you do need more, here are a few tips to help you with that project. First, as you move about your attic, remember the age-old insulation adage: walk on wood. (Leslie chuckles) Don't step on the squishy stuff; walk on wood. You can put boards or sheets of plywood down for sitting or kneeling while you're actually working on this and cutting the insulation.
You want to start at the outer edge of the attic and then work toward the center.
LESLIE: Now, if you're in your attic and you already see that you have insulation in the joist cavities, then go ahead and lay your new insulation in long runs perpendicular to the joist; across it, not even with it - across it. And you want to use any leftover pieces of insulation to fill in any small spaces that you might find.
And if the spaces between the joists are not filled in or not even filled in all the way to the top, first you want to make sure that you bring the insulation there to the top of the joist level. You want it to be even and add in new insulation to do so. Then run extra, perpendicular across the tops. By adding insulation, you really do improve your energy efficiency. You will feel it and you will see the savings in your wallet.
It's a fun and easy project that's going to reduce both your heating and cooling costs; keep you and your family warm all year long. If you want some more tips and you want to learn more about energy efficiency and insulation, there's a great website for you. It's www.InsulateAndSave.com.
TOM: That's InsulateAndSave.com. 888-666-3974 is our telephone number.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Roger is calling from West Virginia and he wants to talk windows. How can we help?
ROGER: Hello. I had a question about getting into replacement windows that has to do with triple pane versus double pane. Some of the technology is a little overwhelming and I'd like to be able to understand that more clear as to which way to go or is it necessary?
TOM: That's a good question, Roger, and the answer is no because double pane and triple panes are fairly similar. Now, if you get up to a real brutal climate, like you're up in the high hills of the north part of the country, where you're dealing with just brutal winters, you might get a better return on investment.
But in your part of the country, in West Virginia, and in most of the center of the country, I would say no. It's not going to be a big difference between double pane and triple pane. What is more important is that the window is Energy Star rated and it's never been a better time to replace your windows with those that are Energy Star rated because there is a Federal tax credit that you may be eligible for, which goes from now until January of 2008, where you can actually get an income tax credit or ...
LESLIE: Of up to $500.
TOM: Yeah, for putting in new windows that are Energy Star-rated windows.
ROGER: Oh, that's good to know.
TOM: Yeah. So it's a good time to do it.
ROGER: Now, I was also on the internet trying to understand some of this technology that's new that's come out - I guess, some of the gases that they put in between the panes.
ROGER: And I guess there were two main kinds; one is fairly new.
TOM: Argon and krypton.
ROGER: Yes. Yes. And out of those two, I didn't know - you know, you get salesmen hype and you don't know what to believe but also it was saying that it's not so much how many panes you've got but the distance between the panes.
TOM: Listen, Roger, you know there's a lot of science between designing a window that's energy efficient and I commend you for trying to understand the science but the government's done the job for you. If the window is Energy Star-rated, you know it's meeting the model energy code and if you go that route, you don't have to worry about what the difference is between argon and krypton and the space between the glass and whether it's got swiggle or whether it's got ...
LESLIE: I love that word. You know I love that word. (Roger laughs) Swiggle. It's my favorite. I've been waiting for you to say it.
TOM: Exactly. She just loves to hear me say it. Swiggle, swiggle, swiggle.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) My swiggle. (Roger chuckles)
TOM: But really, Roger, you don't have to do that work. If you get an Energy Star-rated window, it's going to meet all those standards for the model energy code and don't try to - you know, this way you get out from under what one salesman says versus the other. Just say, 'Hey, is it Energy Star rated? What Energy Star rating does it have?' And go from there.
ROGER: Do you have a brand that you would lean toward?
TOM: Well, sure, I mean we like Pella Windows. We like Andersen Windows. We like those good, you know, good-quality, name-brand windows.
LESLIE: And it's not just the window manufacturer. You have to make sure that they're set nicely in a good frame. Stay away from aluminum-framed windows because they're just going to cause condensation and it's not going to be really good because they're going to hold a lot of the temperature, whether it's cool or hot. Make sure you go for a nice vinyl or wood-framed window. Triple-pane glass - not necessary; go for the double pane and Energy Star-rated. That's all you need to know and you'll be really happy.
ROGER: That's great.
LESLIE: And let them measure for you.
ROGER: (chuckling) That's great. That folds it down into - put the jelly on the bottom shelf where I can get it.
TOM: There you go.
LESLIE: (chuckling) I like that.
TOM: Roger, thanks so much for calling 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joseph in New York is going to have a very chilly fall and winter with no insulation in his home. What's going on?
JOSEPH: Yes. We have kind of an old house here. It has no insulation; it's a solid masonry building with no insulation and has firring strips and wood lathe and plaster on that. We were wondering, if we put a rigid insulation over the plaster ...
JOSEPH: ... and then sheetrock that, OK? So that would take care of the fire problem.
JOSEPH: And if it would be - if there would be any condensation problem.
TOM: No, I don't believe there would be. I mean, that's a technique that's fairly common, actually. Let me think about this. Should you put a vapor barrier in? Yeah. You probably should put a vapor barrier in first.
JOSEPH: Well, actually, the material that I was using - or thought of using is already encapsulated with foil on both sides.
TOM: Oh, alright. Yeah, that's ...
LESLIE: Well, then, that's fine.
TOM: That's isocyanurate foam insulation. Yeah, that should be fine. That shouldn't ...
JOSEPH: Oh, you don't think there'll be a problem with that?
TOM: (overlapping voices) No, I don't think so.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Not at all.
TOM: No, you can put that ...
JOSEPH: Oh, great. Great.
TOM: ... right against the masonry. You can frame around that and then put drywall on top of that and that'll seal it up quite nicely. Also, take a look at those windows and doors if there's - just because it's also a good opportunity for you to think about, you know, replacing some of them that may be particularly drafty.
JOSEPH: Oh, yeah. We're going to be doing that also. Yeah, the whole idea was with the oil being the way it is, you know, we had to really do something here.
TOM: Yeah. Well, I think that's a good option.
JOSEPH: I appreciate it very much.
TOM: Alright, Joe. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you've got a hard water situation in your home, you're like our friend Aaron in Oklahoma. Aaron, tell us about the problem.
AARON: OK. I live on a farm in Oklahoma and we have well water.
AARON: I've got hard water and mineral deposits and I know that I can get a water softener and kind of fix up some of my problem ...
AARON: ... but I was looking for a little cheaper solution, other than my current water filters.
TOM: There is one. It's called EasyWater and what it ...
TOM: EasyWater. And what this is is a different type of water softening system. EasyWater uses electronic frequencies to essentially force the minerals to not stick together.
LESLIE: To repel each other.
TOM: That's right. So they float free in the water, run through the water and then, you know, right down the drain.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And they won't stick to the fixture or the pipes or anything.
AARON: OK. So the pipe won't change ionization either then.
TOM: That's right. So you can go to ...
TOM: ... the EasyWater website at EasyWater.com and these things come with a 90-day money back guarantee.
TOM: And they sent me one and I put it in our shore house and it worked really well.
AARON: Is there a lot of knowledge about the plumbing and stuff that you need to install this or ...
TOM: If you can - if you can plug it in and you can wrap a wire around your main water line, you're done.
AARON: Awesome. Awesome.
TOM: Yeah. Give that ...
AARON: Well, cool.
TOM: ... a shot and let us know how you make out.
AARON: Alrighty. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Time to head into the bath with Mary in Massachusetts. What's going on at your money pit?
MARY: Hi, there. Yeah. I got an old tub - the claw foot tub and it came with the house, like the house built in early 1900s. And I don't know if the finish is going on it or what but now when I let the water out, it's all yellow wherever the water was; not just a water line. And also, even when it's perfectly dry, if I put a - let's say, a plastic bottle of bleach or detergent in the tub just to get it out of the way ...
TOM: Does that work?
MARY: It doesn't leak or anything but when I pick up the bottle the next day out of the tub, it will leave a big, round brown spot that doesn't go away.
TOM: OK. You know, I wonder if you've got hard water. Have you thought about using a product called CLR?
MARY: CLR. No.
TOM: Yeah, it stands for ...
LESLIE: Calcium, lime and rust.
TOM: Yeah. It's a good cleaning product for mineral salt deposits. It's called CLR. As Leslie said, it stands for calcium, lime, rust remover. Very common product; been around for many years. Very effective. I'd try cleaning the tub with that and see what happens. You know, sometimes the old porcelain actually gets reasonably porous and it tends to build up some stains easier than it did, you know, when it was newer.
TOM: And that's a good way to clean it. OK, Mary?
TOM: Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, is your chimney ready for the winter? You know, now is the perfect time to check it for leaks, check it for cracks and seal it up before the freeze/thaw cycle sets in. We're going to tell you exactly how to do that, next.
[audio timestamp: 0:18:13.4]
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And have you looked around your yard lately and wondered what you're going to do with all those toys and lawn furniture and garden tools come winter? Well, how about sticking them inside a brand spanking new 8x12 shed from Lifetime Products? It's got double-wall, heavy-duty panels with steel reinforcement. It's got a steeply pitched roof. It allows for the drainage of rain and snow and it's even got skylights.
TOM: And the best part?
LESLIE: What, in a shed? Skylights, of course. (chuckles)
TOM: I know. Right. You could live in this thing.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Seriously.
TOM: If you get yourself in trouble with the wife, you could move in. It's very comfortable.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You put your teenage kids in there. (chuckles)
TOM: Don't ask me how I know. The best part of this, though, is that you could win it for free by playing the My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes live right now at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Woo-hoo. That is correct. We are celebrating our brand new book in a big way. We're giving away hundreds of prizes just like that, with this promotion and it's being sponsored by Lifetime Products along with Rinnai, EasyWater and Monkey Hook. You get to have some fun. We're going to test your home improvement knowledge in the process of your possibility to win a prize and you could even win our grand prize of $5,000 cash for you to do whatever you like with - you know, maybe that home improvement project that's always been just a little out of reach. We want to help you get that done so go to our website now, MoneyPit.com, to play and enter today.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: Now, we're going to talk to Kathy in South Carolina who's dealing with a central air conditioning problem. What can we do for you?
KATHY: Well, it seems that I have too much of a suction on the filter and the filter's being sucked in; not all the way in but it just doesn't look right to me. So I thought I'd call you folks; you always have good solutions.
TOM: OK, Kathy. What kind of a - what kind of an air conditioner are we talking about here? It's central air?
KATHY: Central air. Mm-hmm.
TOM: And what kind of filter do you have?
KATHY: What kind of filter?
TOM: It's a fiberglass filter?
KATHY: Fiberglass, yes.
TOM: And where are you installing the filter. Is it in the blower compartment for your furnace or is it in a register - you know, somewhere else in the house?
KATHY: Yes, you're right. It's in a register in the living room. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Well, you know, there is a tremendous amount of intake onto that register and the filter that you're using, is it held inside of sort of like a cardboard frame?
KATHY: Yes, it is. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Well, if it's a, you know, good-quality filter, it needs to be supported on all four sides and that may be - you know, it may be part of the mounting that's causing this to sort of buckle in. However, what I'll tell you about these filters is as good as that filter is, it's probably not doing a very good job cleaning your air.
The best kind of air cleaning system would be an electronic air cleaner, which would be mounted not at the register but at the furnace itself. And these electronic air cleaners can take out right down to virus-size particles in the air. You'll be doing a lot less house cleaning, it'll be a lot less dust and it's a lot healthier.
So fiberglass filters are OK; they're the sort of the cheap way out. But if you really want to have a filter that's going to do a really good job scrubbing your air, you need an electronic air cleaner. Aprilaire makes really, really good ones. You can check them out at Aprilaire.com.
LESLIE: And the filters in that device, you know, are meant to be changed once a year; not like the other one, which is every month practically.
TOM: Once a month. That's right.
KATHY: Mm-hmm. Well, thank you very much. You do such a wonderful service. I do appreciate it. I have a chemical sensitivity so it's very important that I have clean air and ...
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, you're going to enjoy that product.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, this will help you so much.
TOM: Yeah, check it out.
KATHY: Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Kathy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, before winter sets in is a good time to check your chimney to make sure it's in tip-top shape. Here's a simple solution that can help you prevent your chimney from sort of crumbling and cracking. You know, a very common weak link in any masonry chimney construction is the crown. Now, that's the cement that sort of covers the top. It's in between the flue, which is the terra cotta part that comes up through the middle and the outside edge of the brick and that crown takes a lot of punishment.
If it starts to crack, which they very often do, water gets inside of that and then it freezes, then it starts sort of blowing your bricks apart. It will cause them to crack and spall, which basically means they deteriorate. So what do you do to fix that? Well, you need to caulk that crown.
Now, this is a job that's pretty easy if you don't mind the height. If you do mind the heights, you want to get somebody that doesn't mind the heights to get up there and do it. But basically, you're talking about the very top of the chimney; the space around that flue and between that and the outside brick or block of your chimney. You want to caulk those cracks, seal them up nice and tight and that will do an amazing job of stopping water from getting in there.
And Leslie, you know, in all the years I was a home inspector ...
TOM: ... I used to solve chimneys that leaked like crazy by just doing that one simple, like $10 repair.
LESLIE: Which is so crazy because it could cause, you know, hundreds of dollars if not more in damage to your home.
TOM: And it can be - and it could be dangerous. If the chimney really deteriorates, you know, it could be very dangerous to use. So a simple fix that will save you a lot of money and keep your chimney in good shape all winter long.
LESLIE: Well, make sure you take care of that. This way, you can enjoy those cozy fires instead of worrying about the secret dangers of what's going on behind there.
Hey, coming up, your stove's vent hood. You know, it quietly does it job, day in, day out, dinner after dinner but it rarely gets the attention it deserves. We're going to help you show your appreciation by keeping it in tip-top shape, so stick around.
[audio timestamp: 0:24:19.5]
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators, America's choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And hey, could you use five grand for your next home improvement project?
TOM: How about five grand for your next like anything? You know, trip ...
TOM: ... whatever. You could win that and more by playing our brand new My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes online, right now at MoneyPit.com. It's sponsored by Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters plus there are over 200 additional prizes from companies like EasyWater; big, beautiful storage sheds from Lifetime Products and wall hanging hardware from our pals over at Monkey Hook. Check it out today at MoneyPit.com and you'll have some fun. It's a home improvement trivia contest and if you get it right, you can enter to win some pretty big prizes.
LESLIE: Alright. And if you win that five grand, you know you can buy a whole heck of a lot of soap and you could use that soap to clean your vent hood. We've been talking about it all this hour and it really is as simple as that to keep your vent hood of your stove operating clean.
The filter in your stove vent hoods - they do need regular attention. It's not something you could just ignore and be like, 'Oh, it'll keep working and it's not a hazard in any way, shape or form.' It could definitely be a hazard; all of that oil and residue gets stuck on there and it could definitely become a fire situation, so you want to give it the attention it deserves.
If you've got those standard filters, go ahead and clean them with a degreasing solution followed by warm, soapy water or even just put it in the top rack of your dishwasher. If you have a unit that has those activated charcoal filters, make sure you replace those filters on a regular basis. If you do that, every adventure in your kitchen will be a safe one.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Let's get back to those phones.
Leslie, who's next?
LESLIE: John in Massachusetts finds The Money Pit on WPRO. And you've got a chimney situation. What's happening?
JOHN: Yes. Thanks for taking my call.
LESLIE: You're so welcome. How can we help?
JOHN: I have a wood stove in my cellar and it goes out to an outside chimney. I'm having water coming through. When it rains real hard, I have water coming through my trap door in my cellar. Right now, I even have a gutter - a piece of gutter that goes to my sump pump from that trap door to catch the water. (Tom chuckles)
TOM: You have a whole little setup down there, don't you?
JOHN: Yes, I do. It ... (chuckles)
TOM: Alright. Well, a couple of things that you want to do, John. First of all, the most common place that water gets in around a chimney is at the chimney cap; that's at the top. And it's this little concrete shelf, so to speak, that goes between the edge of the brick and the middle of the chimney liner, so you need to check that first.
The second thing that you should be checking is the flashing around the base of the chimney, to make sure that the flashing is properly installed. In a perfect world, you're going to have flashing and counter flashing so that the flashing comes up from the roof, lays up against the side of the chimney, then counter flashing that goes in the chimney mortar joint and then back down over that. So you have two pieces that sort of work together and can take the expansion and the contraction.
And then the third thing is to examine all of the mortar joints around the chimney itself to see if you have any deteriorated places where water is basically seeping in there and if you see those, then you need to repoint.
Lastly, you could consider putting a chimney cap on if you don't have one already because that - some of those tend to be big enough that they sort of act like an umbrella on top of your chimney and sort of slow down the volume of water that gets to attack it directly. Does that make sense to you, John?
JOHN: Yes, it does. I have a cap and it seems that it only comes when it rains really, really hard. And I've diverted my downspouts away from the house because when I first bought my home, I had a problem with that and I was getting a lot of water in that area.
LESLIE: And that did the trick?
JOHN: And that did - you know, it helped some but when we have a lot of rain - like we just had some rain here in the northeast, you know, yesterday and today and I had some water coming down through that trap. And I've heard you before and it would probably have nothing to do with the water level. I mean, I'm to the point where I wanted to dig around the house, around the foundation ...
TOM: Yeah, generally not needed.
JOHN: I'm sorry?
TOM: Generally not needed.
JOHN: Not needed. Right. OK.
JOHN: I'll check the flashings, though. I didn't really check the flashings on the crown.
TOM: Yeah. Start up and work down. Remember gravity.
JOHN: OK. (Tom chuckles)
LESLIE: And it could just be that the wind is moving the roofing material and causing something to unsettle with the flashing, so it could just be in circumstances like that. So look at all of the surrounding areas where the chimney comes out of the roof.
JOHN: Excellent. Very good.
JOHN: I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
TOM: You're welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: George in South Carolina, you've got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
GEORGE: Yes. What it is is that we had an air handler replaced in the loft and the outside heat pump was also replaced.
GEORGE: The air handler was replaced and the outside heat pump was replaced.
GEORGE: We have a 2,400-square-foot house. My question is, it's not getting as cold or cool as it should be on a hot day as I'm losing ground.
GEORGE: And what I wanted to know - the question was what should be the temperature coming out of that register inside the home when I sit on ...
TOM: Oh, good question. It depends, George, on what you set the thermostat at but more important that the temperature that comes out is the difference between the air coming out and the air going back in. What you want to do is measure the temperature of the air at the supply and measure the air temperature at the return register and the difference should be 15 to 20 degrees.
So for example, if it is going back into the register at, say, you know, 85, 88 degrees, it ought to be coming out at 70 degrees.
TOM: And if you don't have 15 to 20 degree differential, then your system is not working right and you need to give it some attention. And in that case, I would call a pro.
GEORGE: Yeah. Is there any question on these - an air handler and the heat pump not being compatible as far - they're three-and-a-half ton units, both of them.
TOM: OK. And they were both replaced and so if the HVAC pro did their job right, then they would have put back in the same size units that they took out.
GEORGE: Well, yes. That's true. That is true.
GEORGE: But the fact is that they're a different brand.
TOM: That doesn't matter.
TOM: Yeah, not as much. I tend to think that this is an issue with refrigerant more than anything else. That's why I would measure the supply and the return air and see if you get that 15 to 20 degree difference. If you don't, get it fixed.
GEORGE: Alright. Yeah.
TOM: Before it runs out of warranty too.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, a damp basement - is that putting a damper on your bonus space? Well, don't fret. We're going to tell you what you need to know to keep that space nice and dry, next.
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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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Hey, got a great column appearing this week in our AOL section at MoneyPit.AOL.com. It's all about how to create the ultimate home theater in your own home. You don't have to leave the house to go to the theater; we're going to teach you how to do that in the new column on AOL.MoneyPit.com. Check it out today.
LESLIE: And if you're surfing the web, go to MoneyPit.com. You can always e-mail Tom and I your questions or your home improvement dilemmas and we will answer them just as we do every hour of the show, when we jump into our e-mail bag.
And we've got one here from William in Hillsborough, New Jersey who writes: 'I have a finished basement but it feels damp and smells a bit moldy. What do you recommend to do? I'm thinking about installing a dehumidifier. What type do you recommend? I have also heard that I should install a heater in the basement in order for the dehumidifier to work well. Is that true?'
TOM: Hmm. No. Actually, you don't need to heat it but I will say that when you have heat in a basement, remember that the amount of moisture that your air can hold, it will hold more moisture when it's warm than when it's cold. So that's why cold air feels sort of damp and wet at the same time and warm air - not so much.
In your case, what I would do is consider putting in a whole home dehumidifier, which will be installed, William, into the HVAC system. So basically ...
LESLIE: That's if you've got central heat and central air.
TOM: Yeah. It will dehumidify the entire house; not just the basement. Once you get it nice and dry, though, you're going to want to finish it and to do that, you're going to end up putting some heaters in. If you don't use the basement all the time to - you don't have the heat on 24/7. I would recommend electric resistance heaters; it's about the only space in the house where I would tell you to install electric heat. But I do so because you don't need it on all the time and it's the least expensive way to add some heat to that space.
So between that and the dehumidification, it will be in good shape.
LESLIE: Alright. We've got another one here from Suzanne in New York who writes: 'I bought a granite vanity for my bathroom. There are now several dark spots on the countertop, presumably from a dripping soap dispenser. I don't know how to remove the spots. Do you have any ideas?'
TOM: Yes. Great website - StoneCare.com ...
TOM: ... has lots of good granite cleaners. You know, granite is something that you really have to maintain, Susan, on a regular basis.
LESLIE: And it's like the biggest secret that no one ever tells you.
TOM: Yeah. Well, you think it's granite, it's rock - what could go wrong? Well, what happens is it's so really darn porous that if you don't clean it and then seal it on an annual basis, it does stain very easily. So that's a good website to find some specialty products for this problem. StoneCare.com.
LESLIE: Alright. We've got one from Doris in Sheridan, Wyoming who writes: 'I have a 1970 modular home built on a poured concrete basement. Some of the exterior siding comes close to the ground and overlaps the foundation. We replaced some of the damaged siding and put in new insulation last year. We found a lot of insects behind the siding. Can we seal the space where the siding overlaps the foundation with caulk or is this going to trap moisture behind the siding?'
TOM: Hmm. Let me think about this. Poured concrete basement; siding overlaps. That's correct. Found a lot of insects behind it. I would suggest, Doris, that the reason you probably have so much of an insect infestation problem here is because it's a very damp space. I would be careful to keep at least six inches between that bottom of that siding and the top of the soil.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And the ground.
TOM: And I'd also be careful to cut back any bushes, trees or shrubs that are around there to let some light and some air get in there. If the space is dry, the bugs are not going to want to live there; trust us on that.
LESLIE: Alright, Doris. I hope that helps and enjoy your modular home.
TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We covered a lot of ground, talked about a lot of good ideas. If you've got some additional questions on your home improvement projects, you can go to MoneyPit.com and search for the answer right there or click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon. Email us and we will get back to you the next chance we get.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don't have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2008 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)