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: We’re here to help you, so what are you working on? Are you picking up a painting project this weekend? Are you tuning up the house to get ready for holiday guests that are afoot? Are you just out doing some shopping and not thinking about home improvement? But hey, maybe you want to plan for a project early next year. Great questions for us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 because we are here to help you. We have money pits, we love money pits. We can help you get out of your money pit, so call us right now.
Coming up this hour, we know your kids are counting the minutes but is your chimney ready for Santa and of course, for the colder temperatures right behind him? This hour, we’ve got advice for chimney repair and cleaning that will keep your home safe and structurally sound.
LESLIE: Plus, adding a festive touch to your windows is a great way to spread holiday cheer. But you need to make sure you know how to attach those decorations without damaging the window frames. We’re going to share some of my nondestructive decorating secrets – shh – just a bit.
TOM: And one lucky caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 Home Depot gift card. How does that sound?
LESLIE: Oh, I like it. You know, it’s perfect for picking up those LED holiday lights. They’re going to last longer, they’re going to cost you less than those traditional incandescent bulbs and you could do some really pretty cool stuff. So if you want to have a dazzling Christmas display or holiday display at your money pit, try to call in and get a chance to win your $50 Home Depot gift card.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Heading out to Pennsylvania where Andrew has a question about replacement windows. How can we help you?
ANDREW: I was calling because I had a house that was built like 1850s. And I have 31 windows in the house, ranging anywhere from 32 inches to 58. Some of them are as big as 4 feet by 7 feet. And I’m going to be selling in five years and I was wondering how much equity in the windows replacing them would kind of add towards the house, if it was worth doing.
And because the house was 179,000, I put an addition on it; I only got 6,000 back on it when it reappraised. And I just don’t want to stick a bunch of money into something I don’t think I’ll recoup. And my question is – I have a bunch of estimates and contractors. And I was – so, anyway, I had a bunch of contractors and they all range a lot. But the windows are leaking really bad, so I’m sure it could recoup the cost by replacing them. And they range – the estimates range from $22,000 to $39,000.
So I guess – how much is a fair price to pay? Does it matter who I have to do them? And how do you know a good contractor, because they say – oh, they say different things? You know what I mean? And what’s a good rating to pick on these windows? Should I go triple-pane glass or krypton gas?
TOM: Those are all really great questions. And let me sort of take them one at a time.
First of all, in terms of the cost, how many windows did you say you had? About 40 was it?
ANDREW: Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two, something like that. I forget exactly, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. So what are we averaging here on a cost per window? Is that around – did I do this right? Is it around 600 bucks?
ANDREW: No, I have 30 windows. I had estimates as high as 39,000.
TOM: Oh, that’s crazy.
ANDREW: Yeah $39,000. I had some of them at like – I think the cheapest one was 22.
TOM: That sounds pretty crazy. So, look, a couple things come to mind. First of all, we want to try to find a way to do this as inexpensively as possible. There are windows that you can buy that are very expensive, that will have a very historic feel to them, but I think that’s not going to be for you.
So what I think you want is that you want a good-quality, sort of minimal but serviceable grade of window. And what I would tell you to do is to go to a major retailer like, for example, The Home Depot. I’ve bought a number of windows there over the years – replacement windows – and I believe they have a measuring service, as well, where they’ll come out and measure the windows for the order.
Now, you don’t have to do these all at once because you wanted to, say, perhaps do this yourself. You can do it yourself. It’s not terribly complicated to do a replacement window. But I would start small by maybe doing a couple of windows in one room till you kind of get the hang of it.
The way it works is you pretty much take out the operable sashes – I presume these are double-hung – so you’ll take out the bottom sash and the top sash. The new window will be built to fit right in what’s left over, essentially. So the jambs of the window and the sill of the window and the head of the window, it’ll fit right inside of that. It will be attached to that, it’ll be caulked in place.
And then the part that gets a little tricky, that you may not have the tools for, is that most of the time the window companies will do one more thing and that is they’ll wrap the sill and the trim outside with aluminum. And so that takes a bit of skill but you might be able to have a siding company come in and do that after the fact. Just do all the wrapping of the trim and the sills kind of en masse and you do all the installation on the windows. That’s, I think, how I might proceed here. Because I think if you go direct to some of these window companies, where they’re trying to do it all themselves, I think this is going to be really expensive.
In terms of the quality in window, how do you tell the difference? There’s a rating called the NFRC rating. It’s the National Fenestration Rating Council. And they have certain standards that they check, like UV transmittance, for example. There’s a number – I think there’s five or six different measures of energy efficiency. You get – the label is on the window. You can compare that against other windows and try to make a decision from there. Does that make sense?
ANDREW: Alright. Hey, I really appreciate that.
TOM: You’ve got it, man. Take care. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, that’s a scene that so many homeowners find themselves in, Leslie. They get these crazy prices where the lowest – the difference between the lowest- and the highest-price bid is twice as much. So, that’s why I always say that some of these contractors bid you and not the job.
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely. Are you kidding? Your neighborhood, how you’re dressed, all that stuff.
TOM: I mean this guy’s got all these windows and he’s just trying to get it done right but he doesn’t want to spend a lot of money. The windows that are available at home centers are actually quite nice. Who do you think makes them? Same windows that – same manufacturers that make the more well-known brand.
LESLIE: And when you think about it, one of the home centers is buying a far greater quantity of windows. They’re able to get you a better price.
TOM: Yeah. And they’re not going to be in business for long if they’re selling you junky windows, right?
LESLIE: Norma in Delaware is on the line with a flooring question. What are you working on?
NORMA: I would like to know if – how difficult or how practical it would be to insert – I have wood floors and a foyer and I have a rug there but I’m constantly cleaning it. So, I would like to know if – how practical it would be to make a circle, cut out the floor in a circle and insert some granite in there.
TOM: So you want to put granite inside the wood floor? Is that correct?
NORMA: Right. Right. That’s correct.
TOM: That sounds like a pretty difficult project. Sure it could be done but you’re going to need a really good craftsman and a really good tile guy. And the wood-floor guy and the tile guy are going to be two separate guys, unless you happen to find somebody that’s really talented. Because you’ve got to get that cut just right and then you’ve got to cut the granite to fit just right. So you’re talking about a pretty expensive solution to a rather common problem.
It seems like there might be other options, though. Right, Leslie?
LESLIE: I think the issue is here – you’re dealing with a lot of wood – a lot of dirt that’s coming in. I hate to say it – and I never follow this rule – but it’s like the best thing to do when you come into your house is take off your shoes. And if you go ahead and do that, that’s really going to go a long way in how much you do have to clean after that.
I think what you can do is there are some rug options. If you’re looking at items that are made for commercial arenas – like if you, say, like the look of a sisal rug, if you go to a carpet vendor, they make a faux sisal that looks like a sisal but it’s really like a polypropylene. And it even feels like a sisal rug but you can take it outside and hose it down. So you’re sort of taking away certain steps if you think creatively.
Another thing is, if you’re dealing with wear and tear on your wood floor, is if you put a more industrial type of coating on top of the wood floor so that you’re not dealing with scratches or staining onto the wood floor from just high traffic. And then the other thing is you can always tile the area and sort of make it a mud room. But that’s really committing to a look. But then again, so is cutting a circle in your floor and inserting a piece of granite.
NORMA: Thank you for your advice.
TOM: You’re very welcome. 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. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up, do you love to decorate for the holidays? Well, it’s all fun and games until you break something. We’ve got tips for avoiding the mishaps that happen most when decorating, when The Money Pit continues after this.
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, right now, and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. We’ve got a $50 Home Depot gift card that you can use for pretty much anything in the store. But you might want to use it to shop the huge selection of LED and smart-home products available at The Home Depot.
LESLIE: Yeah. You can get lights, you can get really amazing smart-home products that fit your home or your lifestyle. There’s so much stuff going on at the Depot, pretty much you’ll go in there and spend 50 bucks, so you might as well have a gift card. So give us a call for your chance to win.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Peter in California is dealing with a water-heating situation. Tell us what’s going on.
PETER: We just recently moved into a new rental and they have really, really hard water. So, the tank sounds like it’s out there just boiling away.
TOM: So it sounds like it’s boiling? Does it sound like it’s sort of rustling water?
PETER: Yeah, it sounds like there’s explosions going on there.
TOM: Yeah. That’s air in the tank and that’s actually not that uncommon. I wouldn’t get too freaked out about it as long as it’s properly installed, has the right-size pressure-relief valve on it. Usually, it’s sort of expansion and contraction of the tank that sometimes is made worse by a little bit of air that gets in there. I’ve heard that kind of sound before.
How old is this water heater?
PETER: I have no idea. We’ve only been here a month. And other people on – in our cul-de-sac have the same problem. They say it’s from the calcium, the sediment buildup in it.
TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s actually possible. So, one of the things you can do is you could drain some water off the bottom of it. You’d have to hook up a garden hose to it. You have to turn it off and wait an hour or two for it to cool off and then you could drain some water off the bottom. That tends, sometimes, to rinse out any of the mineral-salt deposits that are built up at the bottom.
PETER: OK. Because I was going to give that a go. I just wondered if that was one step to go with.
TOM: You could try it. You could try it. But it’s usually pretty harmless, OK?
PETER: I appreciate that. Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Susan in Pennsylvania is dealing with a woodpecker, except it’s not Woody the Woodpecker giving her the heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.
Although he might be, as he’s making holes in your house. What’s going on, Susan?
SUSAN: Well, thank you very much for taking my call. I’ve learned so much from listening to this show.
I live with my daughter and son-in-law and there is a woodpecker every morning. He comes and has breakfast, compliments of our home. And my son-in-law has looked and there is damage and of course, he’s going to have that taken care of. But we’re trying to find out how do we deter this woodpecker from coming back or just picking another spot.
TOM: Does he generally like to pick the same kind of spot?
SUSAN: Yeah. He seems to be right over top of their bedroom, right in that area on the side of the house.
TOM: Oh, great. So it can wake them up in the morning.
Alright. So, let me give you a couple of things that you can try that are really easy. One of which is to get some tin pie plates, like the aluminum pie plates. Hang them from fishing line or sort of a thin cord or something so that they sort of dangle in the area where the woodpecker likes to hang out. Because they really are annoying to the birds and they don’t like to see their reflection; they think there’s other birds around. And sometimes, that’s all it takes to make them go away.
Another thing that you can do is you could take strips of a plastic Hefty bag, cut it into 3-inch strips so that it kind of blows around in the breeze. That kind of has the freak-out effect. And neither of these, obviously, hurt the birds. You don’t want to leave them on for very long but they do work pretty well at keeping the woodpeckers away from your house. And maybe they’ll just decide that your neighbor’s house is a better place to be.
SUSAN: Oh. OK. That’s fantastic. Yes.
LESLIE: I had a woodpecker put a pretty nice-size hole in the soffit material of my home. And I was re-siding and changing out all of the soffit material for one of those AZEK type of extruded PVC product that looks like wood but obviously, the woodpecker is not going to eat it. So I didn’t bother repairing this pretty nice-size hole that the woodpecker made. And in the process of the work happening, before that soffit and fascia material came off, a whole family of squirrels moved in.
SUSAN: Oh, aren’t you lucky? Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Well, it’s fun to decorate your windows for the holidays. What’s a holiday card without a decorated window or two popping through? The problem is, though, that modern, more energy-efficient windows are much easier to damage because they just have a lot more moving parts than an old-fashioned wood window that you might have grown up with.
LESLIE: There are a few obvious things that you should never do to your windows, such as drilling into or puncturing the frames or sashes. Also, you want to steer clear of gluing, stapling or taping lights to your window frame.
TOM: And be careful with real pine branches or pine cones because they have fresh pine sap in them, right? And they can leave really nasty stains well after the holiday season is over. And while this might not invalidate your window warranty, it’s an inconvenient mess. Realistically, artificial pine is usually the best way to go when you can pick those up in craft stores pretty much anywhere.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you could’ve picked them up as early as September. It gets nutty, guys. So give yourself time to get the fake ones.
Now, also guys, it’s tempting but don’t spray fake snow from those aerosol cans onto your windows, either. That snow residue can be hard to remove after the holidays and then it can hamper the operation of your window if it gets into the sash or into the hardware. So just don’t do it.
TOM: Now, if you do want to decorate your windows without breaking them, try suction cups. They’re great for hanging on the glass ornaments or icicles or even small wreaths, especially in homes with younger kids. You can also do the peel-and-stick sort of temporary decorations.
And if you do want to attach anything, you can do that but make sure you’re attaching it to the trim around the window, not the window itself. This way, you won’t have a chance of striking the balances or any of the operational parts of the window and breaking them. Because that would really not make it a good holiday around your house.
LESLIE: Oh, no. You’d be having a really sad holiday.
TOM: You’d be sad.
888-666-3974. Don’t be sad. Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. We will answer your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Jack in New York needs some help with a crawlspace. What can we do for you?
JACK: Well, I have an area that is – was a crawlspace and we dug it out. And so it’s – we have about a 7-foot ceiling now. And I put some gravel in it and I wasn’t going to do anything but now I want to expand my shop. And I don’t really have access to where I can put concrete in it. And I was wondering if you would have any ideas.
TOM: Well, first of all, Jack, since you dug it out down to 7 feet, how did you support the soil under the foundation wall?
JACK: We left a step. This dirt that was in there was so compact that it was almost impossible to dig it out, so we weren’t too worried. But we did leave a step around the foundation, the footer.
TOM: OK. Right.
JACK: There’s about 2½ foot – we went about 2½ foot below the footer.
TOM: That’s what we call, in our part of the country, a “Yankee basement“ where it’s dug out. It’s not a joke; that’s actually what they call it. They call it a “Yankee basement” or, well, sometimes a “root cellar,” where basically you take the interior perimeter of the foundation wall, move in about 2½, 3 feet and then dig down there. So you leave this sort of berm of soil to support the foundation that’s under the footing.
So, options for cleaning – for finishing that floor. Why can’t you get concrete into the floor? Because most times, there would be a situation where they’d set up a chute that goes right through a window and pour some concrete into that floor. That’s clearly the easiest way and fastest way to create a floor in a basement.
JACK: Yeah, I agree with you but I really – the time to – the expense of the concrete and having – you know, doing a whole project would be pretty pricey.
TOM: How big is the floor area?
JACK: Well, it’s about 25x15 and then with an 8x8 jut to – on one end of it. So it’s L-shaped, basically.
TOM: Well, I don’t have any quick ideas on how to create a hard-surface flooring when you don’t want to put concrete down there. You could frame something but I mean it would be very temporary. I would really prefer that you put concrete. And you don’t have to do – it doesn’t have to be 6 inches thick. I can be 4 inches thick and pour it in sections. But I really think you should just budget for and use concrete down there, because anything else you do is going to be very substandard. It’s not going to contribute to the value of your house.
JACK: I hear you. Yeah, it sounds like a foot (ph) I was afraid I was going to hear.
TOM: Yeah, OK. Well, look, you got all the hard work done digging it out. I would just budget for and save up for some concrete. Get a mason to help you or get somebody that’s used to finishing concrete. And get it all poured and it’ll be done in a day.
JACK: Oh, yeah, sure.
TOM: It has to be done in a day because the concrete’s going to cure.
Alright, Jack? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still to come, a look at trends in home construction and the tools and materials to get the job done. The Money Pit continues, after this.
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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: Well, it’s a big time of year for residential-construction pros. The Remodelers’ Show is a mega event that draws huge crowds as hundreds of products are highlighted for use in residential buildings.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, we recently caught up on the show’s floor, which is super fill of really exciting things this year, with The Home Depot’s PRO Merchandising Director Jason Arigoni, who’s attending the show.
How’s it going, Jason?
JASON: Hey, thanks, Tom. Thanks, Leslie. It’s going great. Appreciate the opportunity to speak with you guys.
TOM: So, having been a veteran of many of these shows, we know they’re exhausting but what are you hoping to see? And what are you most excited about for this year’s Remodeling Show?
JASON: I think this year’s Remodeling Show – combining the Remodeling, the JLC Live and the DeckExpo – is going to really be interesting to see this super conference kind of come to being. Really excited to see what’s out on the floor and what’s new and exciting with the industries they’re focused on.
TOM: So are you guys constantly getting pitched these new products, by manufacturers big and small, for consideration for the store shelves at The Home Depot?
JASON: Definitely. Just because of the size of our company and the reach that we have, we’re always getting to get the opportunity to see what’s new and exciting in the marketplace. A lot of manufacturers approaching us. And a lot of times, there’s some things that align with what our customers are looking for and we’re able to move forward with it.
LESLIE: Now, being the PRO merchandising director, you probably deal quite a bit in what’s trending out there right now and pretty much constantly with the tradesmen and the contractors, all the pros and really a lot of advanced DIYers. What are some of the biggest trends that you’re seeing right now?
JASON: Yeah. Most of my time’s spent on making sure that we have the right things for our customers, especially our pro customers.
There’s three categories that are really hot for us right now. There’s a huge evolution going on in LED lighting, whether it’s the fixture itself or whether it’s the lamps that go into the fixtures. The price and the cost of LED bulbs continue to drop as the technology advances. And there’s a lot more capabilities that you can do with this product line, as well. We’re seeing LED fixtures that can help retrofit right into the fixture itself. And we’re seeing a lot of competition out there to try to figure out what – how to take advantage of these changes in technology.
Another cool rise we’re right now is around battery-powered tools. A great example of that is what Milwaukee’s coming out with with brushless motors. This allows the device to run longer off of a single charge. We’re also have got a great tool coming out from DeWALT where, whether it’s your heavy do-it-yourselfer or your pro, we have a battery-powered miter saw.
TOM: Because you think about something as big as a miter saw, who would ever have believed years ago that it could be run off of a battery?
Hey, we’re talking to Jason Arigoni. He’s the director of PRO merchandising for The Home Depot. He’s out at the Chicago Remodelers’ Show, which is the big, national remodelers’ show. All the cool new stuff is coming out there and it’s co-located with the DeckExpo. And that’s just another really exciting place to be.
What are you seeing in composite decking out there at DeckExpo?
JASON: Yeah. The composite decking is definitely a trend that’s on the rise. The minimum maintenance that is required to keep it up and looking in good condition has continued to grow in popularity as the technology continues to grow. Pricing has continued to steady and begin to decline. There’s also a lot of opportunities to accessorize the decks, add on solar post caps or other lighting options to really take the decking and become almost like an outside entertaining area.
TOM: That’s fantastic. Jason Arigoni from The Home Depot, we’re going to let you get back to the show floor. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on the latest trends in the remodeling industry.
JASON: Oh, I appreciate it. Thanks, guys.
TOM: Hey, if you’d like more information on some of the products that Jason talked about, you can head on over to HomeDepot.com or HomeDepot.com/Pro.
LESLIE: Alright. Coming up, he’s making a list and he’s checking it twice, so make sure that Santa can slide it down your chimney, too. Chimney-cleaning and maintenance tips to keep your family safe long after Santa’s gone back to the North Pole, when we return.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Hey, you want to win a $50 Home Depot gift card? Pick up the phone, right now, and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. That gift card’s going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show.
LESLIE: Yeah. With 50 bucks, you can get so many amazing things over at The Home Depot. If you’re looking for some new holiday lights or some really cool holiday inflatables, let me tell you, I saw one that was some sort of Scottish terrier dog that was actually free. If I wasn’t so anti-inflatables, I would have probably five of those on my front lawn.
Guys, check it out. Fifty bucks will get you a long way at the Depot.
LESLIE: Brian in Kentucky is on the line and working on a Tudor, which is my favorite kind of home. What can we help you with?
BRIAN: I have bought an old, 1979 English Tudor home. It’s about 2,700 square feet. And it’s down in Seymour, Tennessee. And it has got brick on the first floor and the upper floor has the English Tudor style but it’s been made out of plywood. And it looks like it’s textured plywood with raised 1x2-inch strips on it.
The house has never been touched and it’s a good money pit. I’m going to be taking the stripping off of it and I’m going to be probably caulking between the joints of the plywood and replacing whatever existing plywood is rotted with OVC marine board and then siliconing everything.
I’m going to – I want to put stucco or Dryvit over top of that existing plywood. And I’m leaning towards the Dryvit because of the Styrofoam, which will be an insulation factor. But I don’t know the pros and cons of original stucco or the Dryvit and the cost factor.
TOM: Alright. First of all, I’m very familiar with the design house you have and yes, it’s attractive. Unfortunately, it’s really bad in terms of weather-resistance because, usually, they use – well, what they’ll use for the what you’re calling the “plywood siding” is a composite type of material that looks a little bit like – supposed to look a little bit like concrete or look like stucco but it’s not.
TOM: And it’s a composite siding that really does not stand up very well. And if it’s not been touched since 1979, then it probably all needs to be replaced.
TOM: If you’re trying to decide between using real stucco – or it’s actually called Dryvit and it’s a brand name for EIFS, which is exterior insulated foam siding – E-I-F-S. I would tell you that you should stay away – stay away – from the foam siding. All you need to do is Google-search that stuff and you’re going to find huge problems. There’s been a lot of complaints over the years and as a friend of mine once said to me, who’s a structural engineer – he said, “That product was leaking on the drawing board and it hasn’t stopped since.”
TOM: Now, they made a lot of changes to it and some people said they’re happy with it. If you live in a wet climate, I wouldn’t use it. If you live – I think it’s good on commercial buildings and masonry buildings because they don’t have the decay factors. But I would absolutely stay away from the exterior insulated foam siding for a residential home.
I think you’re going to end up, Brian, taking all of that plywood off and then you’re going to have to decide what you want to replace it with. If you’re going to go with real masonry siding – real masonry stucco – I think that’s a wise choice. I think that’s a choice that will last a lifetime and give your house a proper English Tudor.
You know, English Tudors last forever because they’re built to last forever. But when we make the fake English Tudors with the composite siding and the furring strips, you’re lucky that it lasted the 30-plus years that it has.
BRIAN: Yeah. Would you go with the marine board, like I was talking about and then put the Tyvek around that or the tar paper or …?
TOM: Well, what you’re going to end up doing is you’re going to have a plywood sheathing. So you’re going to take everything off, examine the interior, make sure there’s no rot in the studs. You’re going to add a plywood sheathing, you’re going to add building paper, you’re going to add metal – woven metal wire – and you’re going to put the stucco right on top of that.
Of course, I mean really, your mason is going to do this but that’s, essentially, the process.
BRIAN: OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
TOM: You’re welcome, Brian. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you expect Santa to reach those cookies and milk, you want to make sure that your chimney is clean and safe and also ready for a winter full of roaring fires to follow. Bad things can happen to chimneys this time of year. They can collapse. They can cause serious issues, from fires to carbon monoxide poisoning, if they’re not properly cleaned and maintained.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now creosote, that’s one of the greatest chimney safety hazards. It’s the residue that’s going to stick to the inside of your chimney when the vapor mixes with condensation and then it cools. Now, creosote is hugely flammable but you can keep it to a minimum with a yearly chimney inspection and a regular cleaning.
TOM: Now, if you’re not sure you need a chimney cleaning, here’s a way to check: open the damper above the fireplace and look up inside the flue. You need a really strong flashlight, like a Maglite, for this. If you can’t see the sides of the clay or the metal liner clearly, you’re probably overdue for a cleaning.
LESLIE: Now, the outside of your chimney, that can also pose some major risks. So you want to inspect it from the outside to see if it’s leaning or if it’s separating from your home in any way, shape or form. If you see either of those things, call a professional and have them come and check it out ASAP.
Loose bricks and cracks, those are easier fixes. You can replace them or seal them as needed.
TOM: And keep an eye out for any vegetation – like ivy vines, for example – something I used to find commonly when I was a professional home inspector looking at these things. Because it can grow across the top of the chimney and actually obstruct the flow of gases out of the chimney. It can be a real problem. And if your chimney exhausts through a metal pipe, make sure it’s not dislodged or it’s not rusted out. All good things to keep an eye out to make sure your chimney is good to go for Santa and all the fires that will follow.
LESLIE: Karen in Arizona is on the line with an air-conditioning question. How can we help you today?
KAREN: Yeah, I was just curious which is a better choice between the Ruud and the Trane. I need four units. I have to replace them all.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a good question. I would look at a couple of things.
First of all, they’re both good brands. So I would look at the efficiency rating for all of the units. I would look at the warranties for the units and I also would make sure that you choose your HVAC contractor carefully. Because a lot of the efficiencies in these systems rely heavily on the quality of the installation. So, we do want to be very careful about who’s installing it. Make sure the ducts are all sealed and that kind of stuff. Because if not, you’re going to have inefficiencies as you use the system as time goes on.
But they’re both great brands, so I think you can’t go wrong either way. Just make sure when you’re comparing apples to apples that you make sure they each have the same efficiencies and warranties.
KAREN: Well, you said something about ducts.
TOM: Yeah, the duct system that feeds the air to the different rooms, you want to make sure those ducts are properly installed and that they’re sealed. Because a lot of times, where ducts are joined, especially in older homes, those intersections are not sealed properly and a lot of air leaks out there. So the little things like that have a big impact on efficiency of the system.
KAREN: OK. And the other question is – I have a pet-boarding business and I’m trying to use some sort of air filter that will get – will take up smells. Do you know if any are better than others? Because I put the Oreck and another brand in the cat room and I can still smell cats.
TOM: Yeah, I bet. That certainly would be the test of any HVAC – any filtration system.
Well, look, the best filtration systems are really designed more for dust than for odor. However, I know that 3M has one that has a charcoal base to it that is far more efficient at taking odors out than just about anything else out there. And so – is this a forced-air system that you would have for that area, as well?
KAREN: No, this is just – like I had gone into one pet-boarding place and I smelled urine really bad and I thought, “This isn’t going to make it, this place, because of the urine.” And then they had four filters that were sitting on the wall, just – they kind of look like a mini-Oreck. They were on the wall, hung on the wall, just like the size of maybe 1 foot by 1½ feet. A little rectangle? And they really took the smell out and I don’t know which brand she used.
LESLIE: Now, Karen, I think the issue that you’re having in finding something that is going to work well for you is that we really want to make sure that we find you something that works from a commercial standpoint: something that’s made for a business like yours, which has a lot of animal odors.
And there’s a company out there called Air Oasis and that’s their website: AirOasis.com. And if you click on their Commercial section, you’ll find that they’ve got commercial air purifiers and air sanitizers that are carbon-based and they will really reduce a lot of this odor and bacteria and viruses and VOCs.
So I would check them out and there might be something that would work well for you there.
Still ahead, here’s a winning combination: tailgating and warmth. Sound impossible? It’s not. We’re going to share the details, when The Money Pit continues after this.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, could your bathroom use a freshening up? Well, you don’t have to tear down walls or reconfigure plumbing to improve your bathroom’s space and function and add a little luxury. We’ve got tips for easy bathroom-remodeling ideas that deliver big on results, for less, on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. And post your question, just like Justin did. Justin writes: “I bought a new range and now my other kitchen appliances are looking a little tired, even though they’ve got plenty of use left in them. Is it possible to paint major appliances?”
Ooh, Justin. That’s a question.
TOM: It is possible to paint major appliances but it’s important that you use a finish that’s really going to be durable.
Now, Leslie, what I’ve found – the best paint – and this is really just for kitchen appliances. I actually have never used this on anything else, including doors – but it’s epoxy-based paint. Because it’s the kind of paint that takes a long time to dry. But once it dries, it’s really solid and you can clean it because this paint – let’s face it, it’s going to get dirty and greasy and grimy.
And so it really does seem to stand up. But like I said, it does take a long time to dry. Best results, you need to take off any hardware that you can take off, like doorknobs and handles and stuff like that. Mask everything off very, very carefully and then paint very strategically. You should put at least two coats and remember, don’t go too heavy. You’re better off doing two thin coats, because you’re going to get a really terrific finish that really stands up quite well.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Pam who writes: “What’s a safe way to hang heavier art pieces on drywall? I’ve done a bit of unintentional damage before and I don’t want to repeat the performance.”
TOM: Well, listen Pam, there’s a wide array of hardware that’s available to help with, say, a heavy picture on a drywall. One gadget that I like that I actually have been following since it was invented – it’s called the Monkey Hook. It’s a really cool, little invention. It’s a piece of wire that basically you push through the drywall and then bend up behind the drywall and it can actually support up to 50 pounds.
They’re really, really cheap. They come in – I don’t know – a half a dozen or a dozen in a package. And having these around …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Many different sizes.
TOM: Yeah. Having these around has become really handy in my house because I don’t have to look for a fastener and a hook anymore. I just shove the Monkey Hook in the wall, twist it up, lock it in place and it’s good to go.
LESLIE: Yeah. The other thing, keep in mind, is you can look for a stud. If it happens to fall into exactly where you want to place it, you can drive your nail or your screw right into that stud and it’ll be super strong.
TOM: Well, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s football season, of course. But before you head out to cheer on your favorite team this winter, you want to make sure your tailgate is poised for victory. Leslie has got tips for a winning tailgate, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Well, 40 percent of tailgaters spend more than 5 hours pre-gaming. But it only takes a few minutes to discover how cold it can start to feel out there. Listen, you can put the suffering behind you this season by adding warmth to your tailgating party. Sounds easy but remember this, guys: open flames, they are too dangerous. But portable patio heaters – like those you’ve seen at all those nice, open-air restaurants – they work really well. And you can run those on propane. And they’re going to warm up a really good-sized area, like maybe the size of a parking spot so you can have a totally amazing tailgating party.
So here’s what you need. You want to make sure that your tailgate tools are always at the ready. You can outfit an old toolbox with non-perishable tailgate essentials – like your tongs, sunscreen, salt and pepper, anything else that you might need in there – so you can grab it and go at a moment’s notice when you get invited to the next big game.
Next, you want to make sure that you have good tunes. Because what’s a tailgate without awesome music? Check out the wide variety of Bluetooth-compatible speakers. There are a lot available out there and you’ll really find a good option at a lot of price points. Now, they’re super powerful and they can help the entire crew get pumped up before the big game or even a really great concert.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on The Money Pit, do you love a roaring fire but not the cost of adding a chimney? Well, a direct-vent fireplace might be the perfect solution for you. We’ll have tips on how you can add one to your home, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself ...
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2015 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.)