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: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. You have to help yourself first, though, by picking up the phone and calling us. This is a listener-participation show. It’s driven by your calls, so why don’t you jump on and call us at 888-666-3974? That’s 888-MONEY-PIT and we will help you with whatever is on your mind.
And this time of year, I’m sure you’re very busy getting ready for the next holiday, which will be upon us very, very shortly. So perhaps you’re thinking about what you might want to do next year. Why don’t we kick into New Year’s Resolutions mode and talk about some of the improvements that you want to make, maybe some of the challenges that your house has given you over this past year? Whatever is on your mind, put it on our to-do list by calling us at 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour on The Money Pit, if you’re heading out of town for some travel over the holidays and don’t have a security system, well, you can keep an eye on your house with systems you can customize and install yourself. This Old House host Kevin O’Connor will be by with some tips on DIY security systems.
LESLIE: And if you’ve got some family or friends visiting for the holidays and you want to leave those house guests with the best possible impression of your home, some last-minute touches can really go a long way. We’re going to have tips, coming up.
TOM: And if you rent your home or apartment, did you know that your possessions may not be covered by the building’s insurance? Content insurance designed just for renters can help and it’s not costly. We’ll tell you what to consider before purchasing.
LESLIE: And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to get more than just an answer to their home improvement question. They’re going to win a Stanley Made in the U.S.A. Prize Pack full of hand tools. It includes a saw, a retractable knife and more. And all items are made right here in the United States of America, with global materials.
TOM: It’s a great set of high-quality tools worth $65. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show, so let’s get to it. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Mark in Illinois is on the line with a question about heating a bathroom. How can we help you?
MARK: Well, I was wondering if it would be cost-effective to run floor heat off of my gas water heater in my bathroom.
TOM: No. First of all, you have the initial installation of the piping under the floor. Secondly, a water heater produces hot water at around 110 degrees, which is not nearly warm enough to warm your floor. A boiler, on the other hand, is going to come out much, much hotter. More like maybe 160 degrees. And so you really can’t use a water heater to provide enough heat to deliver radiant heat.
Now, if – is this a new bathroom you’re putting in, Mark?
MARK: No. Matter of fact, it’s – there’s a crawlspace under it, too.
TOM: So, I think that you’re probably best just insulating that floor and not trying to heat it, because it’s an awful lot of work for just a bathroom to add that.
MARK: Right. Well, that answers my question.
TOM: Alright, Mark. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Susan in Missouri has a question about a fireplace. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
SUSAN: Well, I have a gas fireplace and it’s one of those where they seem to have cut the hole in the wall and stuck the fireplace in there and now I cannot stop the wind from blowing in. I don’t know what to do.
TOM: OK. So is the wind coming in the hole where the gas pipe is coming through?
SUSAN: It seems to be coming from all around the fireplace. You know, it’s got the mantle and it comes from around the mantle. And anywhere where there’s – where it’s been put together, it seems to have air coming in. And of course, it is coming in – it’s got the outside box, I guess. They have the exhaust.
TOM: OK. So this sounds to me like it’s a manufactured fireplace as opposed to an old, brick one that was converted to gas. Is that correct?
SUSAN: Absolutely. Absolutely, yes.
TOM: And it has doors on it, too?
SUSAN: No. It does not.
TOM: Do you know what the brand is of the fireplace?
SUSAN: A Lennox, I believe.
TOM: Well, the first thing I would do is I would take a look at the installation. And very often, there’s probably gaps somewhere around that box that were not properly sealed. I could – I would also consider contacting Lennox and getting the original installation instructions. You may even be able to download those, which would give you or your contractor a guide to determine if it was correctly installed. And then, thirdly, I would find out if doors are available for that fireplace, because that could solve all your problems.
SUSAN: Oh, OK. OK.
TOM: Especially if it’s a gas fireplace premade and it has a combustion air supply, you may be able to keep that all behind glass doors to stop all the drafts from coming through.
SUSAN: Oh, that’s a great idea. Thank you. I’ll try that.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We are here to give you a hand with all of your holiday home improvements and then some. Whatever you are working on, we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, do you rent your home or your apartment or maybe you know someone that does? You want to make sure your possessions are protected in the event of an emergency. We’ll have tips for purchasing special insurance designed just for renters, next.
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TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Post your question to MoneyPit.com, because one caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a Stanley Made in the U.S.A. Prize Pack.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s got everything you need to tackle most home improvement projects, from a saw to a tape measure, even a retractable knife. And all are made in the U.S.A. with global materials. It’s a prize worth $65.
TOM: Learn more at StanleyTools.com and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill in California, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BILL: I’m looking for the best way to seal up a French door on my house. Where the two doors go together or shut together, they won’t – they don’t seal.
TOM: They don’t seal properly?
TOM: So, that’s called the “astragal” where they come together; that’s that molding configuration. And so are you getting water through these doors, Bill? Or are you getting just drafts?
BILL: Just drafts.
TOM: The first thing I would do is I would examine the fit of the doors when they come together, to see if the doors are actually closing evenly up and down. So if there’s a little bit more of a gap at the top or the bottom, that’s a different issue and you’d have to physically adjust the door so that that doesn’t happen anymore.
The second thing is I would look at the seal – sorry, the sill – where the door closes, to make sure that the sill is continuous. And an easy way to do that is with light. If you were to kneel down on one side of that door and shine a flashlight in to see if you saw the light coming under the door, that might give you an indication as to whether or not you have gaps at that sill level.
The third thing is that there is typically a hole in that configuration of the door where air gets in at the very top and at the very bottom, where you need about a 1-inch-square piece of weatherstripping to seal it. And that’s where the doors come together at the top and the bottom.
And then the rest of that, I would just look at the existing weatherstripping that’s on that door, make sure it’s getting a tight seal all the way up and down. You really have to look at it in components, to try to determine which part of that is broken down and which part of it is most responsible for the air leakage that you’re getting in there, Bill.
BILL: Oh, OK. Take a look at those items then.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to South Carolina where Caroline is on the phone with a question about oak flooring. What can we do for you today?
CAROLINE: I have an old house built in 1940. Hardwood floors. And I’ve got two almost holes near the living-room door. And on into the hallway here, where each room meets – the hallway is the center – I have this iron grate. It’s about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long and that’s where the return is for the heating and air conditioning. And the wood seems to be caving a little bit around that. And I was wondering, can he fix that back as good as it – I mean is it possible to fix that back as good as it was the way they built it in 1940? Or will there be a problem around the return?
TOM: Are you still using that return? Is that still an active part of your heating-and-cooling system?
CAROLINE: It is.
TOM: So, yeah. Certainly, when you have worn-out oak floorboards, sometimes they’ll wear through or they’ll become insect-damaged. They absolutely can be rebuilt the same way they were when they were originally installed. It’s a bit of a tricky carpentry job but it’s not too terribly difficult.
What the contractor has to do is he’ll cut out the old board. Usually, he’ll use a circular saw, he’ll plunge-cut down the middle and then use a chisel to kind of break it out. And then putting the new board in is a bit tricky, especially if it’s tongue-and-groove, which most of them are. Because what you have to do is you have to cut the back of the groove piece off so that you can sort of put it in and overlap the older piece with that. Because you can’t use one that’s a full groove because, obviously, you can’t get it in there. It’s like trying to put in a puzzle piece. But you cut the back of the groove side off and then it becomes sort of a lap joint; you drop the new board in.
Now, if there’s one tricky part, it’s really just in the finishing. I had a floor that was much like that where we had an old floor furnace that took up a big space in the middle of the room. And so we were able to frame that out and actually put new hardwood floor in there and sort of feather it like almost like a finger joint with the original floor. The floors were different colors for a while because they had a natural finish on it. But over the course of about the next year, it sort of faded and darkened and blended and now you could never tell the difference between the repair and – the new wood that was repaired and the old wood that was there existing.
CAROLINE: OK. I need to have my house checked for termites, I think.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, between cooking to the open flames of fireplaces, the space heaters and so on, winter, it turns out, is the time of year when fire is most likely to break out in your home.
LESLIE: Well, prevention, of course, is the first priority. But if a blaze does break out in your space, you want to be sure you have insurance that you need to cover the belongings that are damaged or ruined.
TOM: Now, if you own your home, most homeowner policies, of course, cover this. But here’s something you may not know: if you rent your home, there’s a good chance that your belongings are not covered by your landlord’s insurance policy. And that’s why renters need to have their own tenant-contents insurance.
LESLIE: Yeah, the great thing about contents insurance is that it covers more than just fire damage. Now, most policies are going to protect your possessions against 16 different causes. They range from the usual suspects, like fire to theft to unlikely catastrophes, like explosions or even damages from an aircraft. I mean it happened, guys. Think about what just recently happened in Chicago with the plane crash, so you really have to think about protecting what you own.
Now, another thing to consider is – I remember when I was in college a million years ago but my parents had content insurance for me for my dorm room. So think about this, because your kids are going to school with laptops and all sorts of other things. And you want to make sure that those items are protected, as well.
TOM: Yeah. And the best news is that renters-content insurance can be purchased for as little as $10 a month, which is a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides.
Well, renters or owners alike are welcome to call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help you with your home improvement questions.
LESLIE: Ooh, now we’ve got Catherine from Colorado on the line. Not something we like to deal with: pest control. What is going on with the mice and the rats?
CATHERINE: Well, the downstairs in the house is not finished. So, somehow, they’re getting in downstairs and I see little droppings, different days. So what I’ve been using so far is the – those green pellets of poison? But I’ve heard from a friend that there is a new product out there: the Ultrasonic Plug-In. So I wanted to get information about that, if you would know.
TOM: Yeah, I would skip that. I think that’s kind of junk science. So, I would skip any of those ultrasonic plug-in things.
What you want to do is a couple of things. First of all, you want to eliminate nesting areas. So around the area of your house, if you have firewood, trash cans, debris of any sort that’s anywhere near the foundation, those are nesting areas for rodents. You eliminate those. Secondly, you plug up any openings in the outside walls of that house. Now, mice need something the size of about a quarter or even less to get in, so any openings should be plugged.
Inside the house, you want to make sure that there’s no food for them. So, a lot of times, people will make mistakes by providing food when they don’t realize they’re doing it. For example, I had a friend who used to keep her pet food in the garage and it was a big sack, 50-pound, whatever it was, bag of pet food. Never really even noticed that the mice had dug themselves a nice, little front door for this that wasn’t obvious. And they were just getting a big meal every single day from the pet food. So, look for things like that where food is being left out for them. Moisture is also very attractive to rodents, so water that collects at the foundation perimeter can bring them in.
And inside the house, I think you’re doing the right thing using the baits and the poisons, because that’s – they’re very effective with most of the baits today: for example, the d-CON. One hit of that, so to speak, it takes them out. It’s just one and done.
So, I think all those things together is what’s going to control and reduce the rodent population around this house.
LESLIE: Julie in Missouri, which is probably freezing, just like everybody else in the United States of America has been this winter.
JULIE: We have a couple of huge hot-water heaters: an 85-gallon and a couple of 50s. We have a bed-and-breakfast and the hot-water heaters are in the basement. And it seems like it’s always the people on the third floor that get up first. And so there’s a lot of water going down the drain of all that hot water. Plus, over the past couple of years, we’ve had frozen pipes and not the outside walls; it’s been in the middle of the room. Because the house was built in the 1800s, so there’s pretty drafty walls.
So, I remember somebody telling me once about some recirculating hot water so the pipes always have hot water in them. Maybe those hot-water pipes wouldn’t freeze.
TOM: Well, first of all, hot water is only half of the equation here. You know, you’re going to be running cold water up to those rooms, as well, correct? Like for a bathroom?
JULIE: Well, I guess. That’s why I’m calling you, because you’re the man.
TOM: Yeah, so I would think recirculating hot water is not the solution here.
Look, if you’ve got frozen pipes or pipes that are – that tend to freeze, there’s really only a couple of things that you can do about this. And the most sensible thing is to insulate them.
Now, if it’s in an interior wall space and you know where that wall is, one thing that you could think about doing is adding blown-in insulation to the interior wall. Now, normally, you wouldn’t do this, right? Because why insulate an interior wall? But that would be a lot easier than tearing a wall open. You’ve got to get insulation on these pipes if they’re prone to freezing. And nothing else short of that is going to solve this.
I have, in my house, a kitchen sink that had a pipe that ran up the exterior wall. And invariably, in the coldest winters, it would freeze. The only solution there is to insulate the pipe. And when we couldn’t get to that pipe to insulate it, what we ended up doing was actually moving the lines to a different location so they would be less likely to freeze.
So there’s always a solution. It’s not always easy but you’ve got to insulate those, as a start. And if it’s an interior wall, I would simply blow insulation into that wall. That’s the fastest way to get some warmth around those pipes and stop them from freezing.
In terms of recirculating hot water, yes, there are ways to do that. But it tends to be very wasteful and I don’t think it would be cost-effective when you consider all of the electricity it takes to run that water 24-7. Plus, when you’re running that water back to the water heater, remember, your water heater is going to run more frequently, too, because it’s actually going to be heating a lot more water: not only the water that’s in the water heater but all that extra water that’s running through the pipes.
So I don’t think, from a cost-effective perspective – even though it seems like you’re wasting resources and wasting money and wasting water, I don’t think you’re wasting so much that it would be anywhere near a break-even for you to put in the equipment it would take to recirculate it.
JULIE: OK. Alright. Well, thanks. I appreciate it.
TOM: Julie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey are you leaving your house unattended over the holidays? Well, before you shut the door behind you, consider adding a do-it-yourself security system. Systems are so advanced now and you can customize and install one yourself. Kevin O’Connor from This Old House is here with tips, including how to watch your house from a smartphone.
TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by the Stanley Click ‘n’ Connect Storage Systems, the customizable solution for easy access to your hand and power tools.
LESLIE: And also by Delta Shower and Bath Fixtures, featuring Temp2O Technology. You can know what your water temperature is before you step in. It’s a great holiday gift available at The Home Depot.
TOM: We’ll be back with more, after this.
JOHN: Hi, this is John Ratzenberger. Played the bar know-it-all on Cheers. And here’s something I really do know about: you’re listening to the best home improvement radio show made in America, the Money Pit with Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.
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TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And if you like The Money Pit and you like to win big, here’s a no-brainer: head on over to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and click Like to enter the Delta Holiday Home Improvement Sweepstakes.
Five winners will get the Delta Temp2O. It’s a hand shower that displays your water temperature so you never step into a frigid shower again. And one lucky grand-prize winner gets the Temp2O and a $500 prize in the form of a Home Depot gift card.
So head over to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and enter today.
LESLIE: Well, it might have seemed like science fiction just a few years ago but believe it or not, the home of the future is here today with home monitoring and home security that can be controlled from anywhere.
TOM: Kevin O’Connor is host of This Old House and joins us now with the latest on this exciting technology.
KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.
TOM: You know, these advances have come so far, so fast, it’s literally like something out of a sci-fi movie sometimes.
KEVIN: It’s kind of amazing, isn’t it? But I think it was inevitable. Once we all sort of adopted things like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, this was just a matter of time. I mean think about it: we all – well, most of us – have a Wi-Fi system going on all the time in our houses. And so all of a sudden, it’s pretty easy to connect things and to control them remotely.
TOM: And there are many companies out there who do this now, so the hard part is deciding exactly what you want to monitor. Because you can choose specific home functions or you can set up entire whole-home systems, right?
KEVIN: I think the choices are almost limitless at this point. You can control the entire house. And by that, I mean you can control your heating-and-cooling systems, you can control your lights and your electronics, you can actually add cameras, you can add alarm systems, you can monitor people as they come and go, you can control the door locks. And you can do all of this stuff remotely from a smartphone, a computer at a second home or something like that.
One example sort of in that big, comprehensive system – there’s a company: Nexia Home Intelligence. They make one of these systems where you can do things like control the heating and cooling. You can turn the lights on and off, program them to come and go. You can unlock the doors or have the doors lock automatically by a schedule. You can let the house cleaner in and say, “That door should be unlocked the morning of Thursday between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m.” These types of things, it’s great control and functionality that you can do from afar.
TOM: So true, full home automation.
KEVIN: Yeah, pretty much. A lot of it is based on the Wi-Fi technology that all these things can now be connected. And different systems. Some systems are proprietary, some systems are more open architecture that allow you to use different products from different companies to build a bigger system.
TOM: So if you don’t want the bigger system, maybe you just want convenience in a couple of smaller systems, are there systems that are aimed at just one or two items in the house?
KEVIN: Yeah, definitely. There’s a pretty nice one about controlling your garage doors, for example. Right now, we can control them from the button in our car but there’s a company, Chamberlain, out there that makes garage-door openers. And there’s a couple different levels that you can choose.
If you’ve got an existing garage-door opener, something that you installed a few years ago, you can take one of their hubs and you can basically plug it into the outlet and then your garage-door motor into that so that it gives you some remote control. So now, with your – as Roger would say – your smartphone, you could open or close your garage door remotely. Or if you’re installing a new garage-door opener, you can use one of theirs and that technology is built right in.
LESLIE: Well, I think that’s …
TOM: Well, that’s cool, because how many times have you left the house and wondered whether your door was open or closed, right?
LESLIE: Yeah, controlling the garage door from a remote location is ideal.
LESLIE: So many times – “Did I close the garage door?”
LESLIE: I always have the – “Did I turn the oven off?”
LESLIE: Even if I wasn’t cooking at all. I don’t know why. But it’s amazing.
And I think we all became familiar with the Nest Thermostat a few years ago. It has a sexy design, I think – is what sort of made everybody pay attention to it. It kind of looks like an iPhone. And in true genius, you can control the heat, at any point, from your smartphone.
KEVIN: And once you have control, it actually can help you save some money and it can actually improve your comfort. One of the nice things about the Nest – I don’t know if people are aware of this or not but it’s a learning thermostat. And that is to say that it starts to figure out what your behavior is. “Oh, guess what? There doesn’t seem to be any movement in this room between this hour and that hour.” The Nest can tell that because it’s got a motion detector.
And then all of a sudden it says, “Well, if they’re never there between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., maybe we should turn the heat down a little lower than they’ve even set it back with their setbacks.” And that can start to become an intelligent device that makes your house not just comfortable but can save you energy.
LESLIE: Until it takes over the world.
KEVIN: Until it takes over the world. We’re all reporting to Nest. My neighbor and I have got his great symbiotic relationship and it’s all about, “Hey, will you put my garbage cans back in and close my garage door? Because I forgot to do it.” Now you can do some of that stuff with technology.
TOM: But what about home security? That’s another area where technology is really stepping up. What kinds of things can we do today that we were not able to do just several years ago?
KEVIN: Well, the coolest thing that I saw in home technology was a project that we worked on just a few months ago, where we worked with a homeowner. And she called us up and she said, “Listen, I just got robbed,” which was unfortunate. And that was a wake-up call for her and she said, “I’m going to install one of these whole-house security systems.” She started making the calls and she got two answers that she didn’t like.
The first one was: “We’ll do it for you but we’re going to come out, we’re going to rewire your house.” And that meant a lot of sort of time and money and inconvenience for her. And the second answer was: “And you’ll pay us a certain fixed amount every month to monitor this.”
LESLIE: Every year.
KEVIN: And she didn’t really like either of those and she was saying, “Well, why can’t I do some of this myself?” Well, in fact, you can. And we worked with a company; SimpliSafe was the product. And it was a DIY option for home security.
Basically, you installed a single unit that sat kind of in the middle of the home. Had a little cell tower built in so it would connect to a monitoring station if you wanted. But it also connected to individual devices throughout the house and it did that wirelessly. So now instead of wiring every window and door for an entry sensor, we literally took a little sensor with double-sided tape and stuck them next to the doors that she chose or the windows that she chose. And anytime they opened or closed, it sent a signal to that central station and either tripped an alarm or didn’t trip an alarm.
They also had lots of different devices. They had motion detectors, which were great. Two of my favorites and the boys’ – their eyes lit up when they heard about these. They had a water sensor so that you could put one down near the floor, near your water tank in the basement, let’s say.
TOM: Prevent flooding in case the water heater breaks or something, right?
KEVIN: At least let you know that you have a leak.
TOM: What’s going on, yeah.
KEVIN: Yeah, absolutely. So you can get there and do something about it.
TOM: Hurry home.
KEVIN: Right? And then also, a temperature one. You can put it on a pipe or near the pipes, say, in a mechanical room that’s not near the heat, that’s in the basement or maybe out in the garage that can send you an alarm. So if the temperature dropped to a certain degree, it would warn you that those pipes are at risk of being frozen. A great system because it was DIY-friendly. You could choose to have them monitor the system and pay them a monthly fee. Or you could choose not to have that and have it just sound alarms around your house that you or your neighbors were aware when something went wrong.
TOM: So lots of options. And what do the costs look like?
KEVIN: Well, I actually think they’re sort of all over that map. That particular system, that DIY home security system, it starts at around $230. Now, you can buy a lot more of the sensors and that price would go up and you can opt for a higher monitoring fee, where you got more services. Or you can dial it back and say, “Hey I don’t want any monitoring at all.”
The Nest thermostat, that’s about $250 each. You can put cameras in your house and maybe spend $500 or more. So, you know, I think they’re more affordable these days but you can spend a lot or you can spend a little. Depends on what you choose.
TOM: Then you can buy just as much as you want and you can add onto it as time goes on.
TOM: Great advice. Kevin O’Connor, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Thank you for having me. Always a pleasure to be here.
LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.
Hey, are you looking for that added touch to your holiday party or gathering? We’ve got small, last-minute home improvements that pack a big punch for guests. We’ll tell you what those are, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.
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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question or your do-it-yourself dilemma. If you do, you might just be the lucky caller we draw out of The Money Pit hard hat to win the Stanley Made in the U.S.A. Prize Pack giveaway featuring a variety of hand tools you’ll use and time and time again in your home.
LESLIE: Yeah, in all of my travels, I’m constantly running into homeowners who are using really weathered tools. Well, a prize pack like this one is going to let you replace those worn-out tools at no cost.
TOM: And with tools that are made here in the U.S.A. with global materials, it’s a prize worth $65. You can see the full line of domestically manufactured Stanley tools at StanleyTools.com. But first, give us a call with your question to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dennis in Alaska needs some help cleaning up hard-water residue. What can we do for you today?
DENNIS: Yeah, I was wondering if you knew of a product that could take care of that rusty-looking stuff on a porcelain …
TOM: Try CLR. CLR stands for Calcium, Lime and Rust and it works super-well at removing those rust stains. It’s readily available at home centers and supermarkets, as well.
DENNIS: I could probably find it down at Home Depot or someplace.
TOM: I’m sure you can, Dennis. It’s been around for years and it does a really good job. Sort of one of those standard things you’ve got to have on your cabinet shelf.
DENNIS: Right, yeah. OK. I’ll look into it.
TOM: Alright, Dennis. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, are you hosting guests over the holidays? Maybe it’s 2, maybe it’s 20? Either way, a few, last-minute improvements can go a long way towards making a good impression.
LESLIE: Yeah, here’s a big one, which doesn’t really involve a lot of effort. Painting a room or touching up trim is a job that you can do before your relatives arrive. And that fresh look is not going to be lost on your guests.
TOM: Also, take time to childproof your home room by room. You want to store matches, lighters, medications, household products that could hurt kids. Keep them out of reach. And think about those choking hazards, too, like hard candies and nuts.
LESLIE: Yeah. Adding motion-sensing lights outside can help your guests move safely and comfortably between their cars and your front door. And it’s also a welcome touch for older guests or if there’s ice on the ground.
TOM: And while your guests might not ever see it, a closet makeover can help you feel better about your space. You can make room for your new stuff by tossing out the old. And finally, why don’t you pick up a couple of door organizers? These can help you get more from your closet space.
LESLIE: Randy in Wisconsin is dealing with a lot of snow and the aftermath thereof. What can we help you with?
RANDY: We have a garage on our house and when we bring our vehicles in – here in Wisconsin, we have a lot of snow and of course, it gets stuck underneath your vehicles and whatever. We try to scrape off some of the snow but it melts and it goes all over the garage to the floors. Pretty much level, problems here and there but it pools over to my work area and stuff. And I’m wondering if there’s a good solution to containing that water or – I don’t think I need to put in a drain or what to do.
TOM: Well, I mean obviously, it’s the floor – the floor angle is the issue. Most garage floors are pitched to the doors so that water will run out. If that’s not happening with you, what you might want to think about is putting in a garage-flooring system. They have tiles available, from a number of manufacturers, that sit on top of the garage floor but they’re perforated. So if there’s a bit of water, it’ll settle sort of below the tile surface. So even though the wet is still there, you’ll only be stepping in puddles. Now, do you have the floor painted?
RANDY: No, it’s not painted. No.
TOM: So another thing that you might want to do is epoxy-paint that floor. That’s something you can do yourself with a garage-floor epoxy-paint kit. Basically, you mix up the epoxy and the hardener – the paint and the hardener. You apply the paint. You can put a decorative chip in there; it will help hide dirt. Then you can even put a lacquer finish on it.
And when you have a smooth, shiny finish like that, what you can do is pick up a squeegee. And that makes it really quick and really easy to take those puddles and basically squeegee them right off the floor when the car – when the snow melts and leaves those puddles behind.
RANDY: OK. I’ll check into that.
TOM: Good luck, Randy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, are you looking to use newer LED bulbs in your older fixtures but you wonder how it impacts the wattage, the light fixture is rated for? Which one do you get? Is it safe? Not safe? Well, we’re going to share some tips to help make sure that you are safe, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, are you looking to start out the new year right? Well, we want you to get a leg up with The Money Pit’s 12 Days of Holiday Home Improvements. And since we are well into the 12 days, you’ve only got a few days of home improvement projects left. We’ve got a project a day for these 12 days that’ll have your home in tip-top shape for 2015. You can check it out on Twitter with the hashtag #12Days.
You can ask us your question online, as well. This one here is from Jim in Ohio who writes: “I have a light fixture which has a tag saying not to use larger than a 75-watt light bulb. The fixture is probably 10 years old and made before LED bulbs were available. Is it safe to use an LED bulb rated equivalent to 100 watts? The amperage draw and heat generated with 100-watt LED is less than a 75-watt incandescent.”
TOM: And that is correct. It’s way, way, way less. It’s probably 20 percent or 15 percent of the same heat.
LESLIE: Yeah. But would you go off of that same limitations on that Underwriters Laboratory sticker?
TOM: Well, unfortunately, the fixtures are not updated to reflect the amount of heat that’s being generated by an LED. But the reason – let’s focus on the reason they have those warnings. The reason is because of heat, right?
TOM: So, if the bulb is not going to provide the same level of heat, then you don’t have the same concern. So I say there’s no – absolutely no reason you can’t use an LED that’s rated equivalent to 100 watt in a fixture that’s rated to be 100 watts. In fact, you could probably use one in a fixture that’s rated for 75 watts, as well, because it just doesn’t deliver anywhere near the same amount of heat and it doesn’t draw the same amount of power. So, you’re good to go on that.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that makes sense. And that’s a really good point. Hopefully, they’ll be updating the fixtures to showcase exactly what you can use, regardless of what type of bulb you’re using.
Alright, next up we have one here from Sue in Washington D.C. who writes: “The vinyl flooring in my kitchen has yellow stains that have bled through from below and certain perimeter areas and near the floor vents. I suspect the stains are from glue used when the vinyl was installed. I’ll be installing new laminate flooring. How do I make sure no stains bleed through on the new, wood-look laminate?”
TOM: Well, you don’t have to worry about bleed-through like you did with vinyl flooring. And it’s not really bleed-through. What it is is a chemical reaction, sort of like an oxidation that occurs between the adhesives and the vinyl itself.
So that discoloration is not going to be an issue with the laminate flooring because it’s a completely different product, Sue. I mean, essentially, that’s made up of layers of laminate and layers of material and fiberboard, so it’s not really going to be able to draw through and it certainly is not going to react. Laminate flooring is far, far more durable than the vinyl flooring, so I wouldn’t be concerned about it.
LESLIE: Alright. And now Q asks: “We bought a house made in 1960 in southern California. It has vaulted ceilings and no attic. There was never any insulation put in the walls of the house or above the ceiling. We have not experienced a winter yet. Wow would we, or could we even, install or blow in insulation into the walls or the ceilings? And would it be worth it?”
TOM: Well, I’m sure that your ceiling space has some insulation in it. It probably just has the ceiling – has the insulation as the depth of the rafter. That’s how you would normally do that.
But what I would do is I would recommend that you get an energy audit, because you want to be strategic about where you put your improvements. If you use an energy auditor and he comes in – or he or she will come in with an infrared scanning device. They can actually look at what’s behind those walls and what’s behind those ceilings and make the determination as the best way to do that. If you wanted to add more insulation to the ceiling, now might not be the time to do it. You might want to think about doing it when you reroof and you can add insulation on top of the existing structure and just build up the roof to compensate.
LESLIE: Yeah, Q. With a house like that, you’re really better left to get the auditor in and tell you exactly where to put it rather than guessing where putting insulation is going to give you the best return on your investment. So it’s a huge help.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips, some ideas, some advice, some inspiration to tackle the projects that you want to get done around your house. We are here, 24/7, to help at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And remember, you can always post your question to the Community section at MoneyPit.com.
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 2014 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.)