- Thanks to the pandemic, getting fresh clean air inside your home is more important than ever. But you don’t have to throw open windows in frigid weather. We’ll share ways to makes sure the air INSIDE your home is as clean as possible in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
- With so many folks spending a lot of time at home these days, it’s a great time to think about how smart home products can make our homes more convenient and safer. We’ll share some new ways to do just that.
- A leaking water heater can lead to pretty major flood damage. But now there’s a new water heater on the market that detects leaks and automatically shuts off the water supply stopping serious flooding before it even starts. We’ll share the update.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And welcome to the holiday weekend. Not a whole lot of home improvement going on around my house right now, because we are just enjoying the time together at this very special time of the year. It’s been a rough one. We’ve all got a lot to be thankful for.
And if one of the things that you’re thankful for is the roof over your head and you’re trying to make that place a little bit better so you can spend even more time in it in 2021, we are here to help. We’re here to answer your questions about improvements. We’re here to help you save some money on your heating bills. We’re here to help you choose some colors for those interior makeovers. Whatever project is on your to-do list, let us give you a hand by answering those questions. Help yourself first by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 or you can also post your questions to MoneyPit.com. Just click on the Ask a Question button.
Coming up on today’s show, thanks to our pandemic, getting fresh, clean air is more important than ever. But you don’t have to throw open the windows in mid-winter to get that. We’re going to share some ways to make sure the air inside your home is as clean as possible, in today’s Smart Spending Tip, just ahead.
LESLIE: Plus, with so many folks spending a lot of time at home these days, it’s a great time to think about how smart-home products can make our homes more convenient and safer. We’re going to share some new ways to do just that.
TOM: And a leaking water heater can lead to some pretty serious flood damage. But now, there’s a new water heater on the market. And I love it because it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a water heater that detects leaks and automatically shuts off the water supply. That’s why water-heater floods are so bad, because the water heater is flooding but the fill valve stays open. This new unit automatically shuts off that valve, so that stops the serious flooding before it even starts. So we’re going to share that update.
LESLIE: Plus, home fires peak in the winter so we’ve got a great giveaway, to help keep you safe, going out to one lucky winner. It’s a set of 3 First Alert Connected Safety 2-in-1 Smoke and Carbon-Monoxide Alarms. It’s worth 149 bucks.
TOM: But first, we want to know what you want to know. So give us a call, right now, with your home improvement, your home décor question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Rick in Delaware is dealing with some plumbing issues. Tell us what’s happening at your money pit.
RICK: OK. I have a bathroom in the basement and the toilet won’t flush all the way.
RICK: I’ve dealt with it before with a toilet snake and it took care of it. But it seems like it’s probably something different now. It just spins around and then it gurgles.
TOM: So, it sounds like a blockage then. This is not a problem with the flush valve or the fill valve in the toilet. That part works. It just doesn’t drain. Is that correct?
RICK: Right. Because I’ve filled a 5-gallon bucket, actually, and poured it down and it still wouldn’t go down.
TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean obviously, you’ve got to get to the bottom of it with this blockage. You said you tried to snake but how far did that snake go down?
RICK: It didn’t go down too far. I guess it’s the standard snake, you know, and I don’t want to put a regular – another snake in there.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. I hear you. Yeah. You’re going to have to have that, actually, professionally cleaned out by a sewer-drain cleaning company, like a rooter-type company, because whatever blockage you’re experiencing there is obviously beyond the reach of that snake.
TOM: Don’t feel bad. I’ll tell you a funny story about what happened to me. It was on the morning of – when one of my kids was being christened and of course, when you have that, you have family coming over. You don’t want to have a bathroom emergency. Well, the toilet just would not flush; it would not go down. And I was very frustrated but I was absolutely positive that I knew – because I am a home improvement expert, so I know this stuff. I knew it was the willow tree and the roots outside the window.
So I said, “Oh, darn it. I’ve got to go get a shovel, got to expose the pipe, break it open, get those roots out.” And of course, I head out there, virtually in my Sunday best although I think I changed, to get that pipe exposed. And I could not find the problem. And I was scratching my head and I figure, OK, it’s between this hole and the toilet. So I pulled the toilet off, I flip it upside-down and it turns out that one of my darling children had flushed a toy down there. It was a toy telephone that was lodged in this place. And I’m looking in the bowl and thinking – I’m looking at the bottom saying, “There’s something blue there. There’s nothing supposed to be blue in that toilet.” It was a toy phone and that’s what had blocked it.
So, some home improvement expert I was. There I was with a big hole of – a big hole, a big pile of dirt and a busted-open sewer line that had nothing to do with it. I pulled that phone out there, put it back together and the day went on as planned.
RICK: Well, Tom, let me ask you a question, though.
RICK: Could it actually – could it be anything with the vent pipe?
TOM: Yes, it could. The gurgling means it’s struggling for air and so it could be a blockage of the vent pipe or the drainpipe. And in either event, you have to have the right tools.
Now, the drain-cleaning companies will probably just run a snake down there both ways and call it a day. If they’re really perplexed, they can run a camera down there. There’s line cameras that they can snake in and actually see what the blockage is.
Alright? So I think that’s what you’re going to have to do here. And unfortunately, we hate to call a pro if we can fix it ourselves but this is just a specialized repair, a specialized piece of maintenance you’ve got to get done.
Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Give us a call, let us know what you are working on. And you’ve got a great chance to win an excellent prize to help keep you and your family safe this fire season. We’ve got, up for grabs, a set of 3 First Alert Connected Safety 2-in-1 Smoke and Carbon-Monoxide Alarms worth $149.
Now, the detector is very smart. It’s compatible with Ring and Z-Wave systems. The First Alert Connected Safety 2-in-1 Smoke and Carbon-Monoxide Alarm, it’s battery-operated. It’s designed to provide early warning in the event of a fire or even a CO emergency.
TOM: And they’re wirelessly interconnected, which is cool. So if one goes off, they all go off. You can learn more at FirstAlert.com but we’ve got three of these brand-new First Alert Connected Safety Carbon-Monoxide Alarms going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us with your home improvement question at 888-666-3974 or post it to MoneyPit.com. We’re going to choose one name out of that Money Pit hard hat full of folks and send that set of smoke detectors right out to you.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Christine on the line. What’s going on at your money pit? How can we help?
CHRISTINE: OK. So, we have a garage that is uninsulated. So we insulated it. We’ve got the walls almost done and the ceiling’s almost done. But we have a vent on the roof – one of those swirling ones – and I wasn’t sure if the ceiling of the garage also needed a vent that either leads up to that or just to the attic space.
TOM: Yep. That’s a great question.
So, the purpose of the vent on the roof is to provide attic ventilation. And the ventilation is really necessary to keep the insulation dry, because in the wintertime it can get damp and it makes it less effective in the summertime. It lets the heat build up in the attic. So that’s the purpose of that vent.
That being said, I will tell you that those sort of whirlybird-style vents that spin, like a basket that spins, are the least effective kind of vent you could have. What I always recommend are continuous ridge vents, which go down the peak of the roof, matched with soffit vents which is at that overhang. Because that creates an airflow where the air goes in at the soffit, under the roof sheathing and out at that ridge and keeps that attic as close to ambient temperature as possible and as dry as possible.
But in terms of your project, that – you can sort of set that aside because I would continue to insulate that garage so you have a warmer place for you to work in during the cold weather. And then, you know, in the spring or summer or whenever you get around to doing the roof again, you could evaluate the ridge – the vent situation. But you do not have to put a hole in that ceiling, because that’s not the purpose of that vent.
CHRISTINE: OK. We do have soffit vents.
TOM: That’s good. That’s the hard part. The ridge vent is the easy part.
CHRISTINE: Yeah. The other question I had was about my soffits on the house. I’m not sure there’s anything we can do at this point but I would just like your opinion. The builder was supposed to wrap the metal around plywood and then use that for the soffit but he just used that thin piece of metal.
TOM: Yeah, that’s actually the right way to do it. Is the metal ventilated? Does it have little, tiny holes in it?
CHRISTINE: No. We had him add soffit vents in – along the back of the house in three different places and on the side.
TOM: OK. Mm-hmm. OK. Yeah. No, you don’t want to have a covered soffit. Soffits should be as open as possible because, as I said earlier, that’s where air gets in and starts doing its work in the attic, in terms of venting that space. So, I don’t know what the conversation was around having metal wrapped over plywood.
I’ll tell you sometimes we see this: sometimes we see houses that were – are older houses, that might have been built in the 60s or 70s, and they have plywood soffits. And then I’ve seen those homeowners do vinyl siding and aluminum trim and then they totally covered that soffit with the aluminum soffit material. And that’s usually a mistake because they’ve covered the ventilation in doing so. So I always tell people to take that plywood down. So I think you’re OK with that.
CHRISTINE: Oh, good. Well, that’s great. Thank you so much, because it was – I was sure it was wrong and it was going to be bad for the house. But you’re saying it’s just perfect.
TOM: It is just perfect, Christine. Good luck with that project.
CHRISTINE: OK. Thanks a lot.
LESLIE: Well, the EPA has named indoor-air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. And they tell us that indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than the air outside. But if you’re thinking, “They can’t be talking about my house,” well, they actually can especially if you don’t have the right kind of air filter. We’re going to sort out the options, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: So, to start, you need to understand that there are four types of air filters you could choose from. There are flat filters, which are basically made from fiberglass. They typically need to be changed at least on a monthly basis. And while they capture dust, they don’t do really anything for the kind of contaminants that can make you miserable, like allergens.
Next up, we have a type of filter called an “extended-media filter,” which uses a particle filter and a very small electrostatic charge to clean the air. And they’re much more efficient than those flat filters.
And then you step up into the electronic filters. Now, these use a high electrical charge to capture particles, kind of like a magnet. They’re extremely effective on small particles and they perform about 30 times better than those flat filters.
But if you really want to get serious, we should look at the ultraviolet filters. They are extremely effective at capturing particles, bacteria and viruses. These are the kinds of filters that you’ll find in medical centers and hospitals, where disease is present.
LESLIE: Yeah. You’re also going to find them in restaurants all over the place now. It’s amazing as I work in Times Square. And while the restaurants in the city are struggling and not all of them are open, I see a lot of them have signs up saying, “UV filters. Come inside. We’re open.” So, people are really doing the right thing to try to make everybody feel safe. And that’s a great way to do it with the ultraviolet filters.
Now, when it comes time for installation, this really is a job that’s best left to a pro because they’re going to need to be built into your existing HVAC system on the return side of that system. This way, the air is continually cleaned as it passes through the filter.
And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card. We’re all shopping for essentials online these days. Get rewarded for it with the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card. You can choose to earn three-percent cash back on your online shopping.
TOM: Visit BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding to apply.
LESLIE: Heading to Massachusetts where Lou is on the line. What’s going on at your money pit?
LOU: Yeah, I’m having trouble with the heating in the house. It’s not coming up to the second floor.
TOM: OK. What kind of heat system do you have, Lou? Is it hot air or hot water?
LOU: It’s hot water, oil burner.
LOU: It’s about 70 years old.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Have you tried to bleed the radiators on the second floor?
LOU: Yes, I have but two of them are still dead. They’re just cold – ice cold. Nothing comes out. No air, no drips, nothing.
TOM: And this is a hot-water or a steam system?
LOU: I believe it’s hot water.
TOM: But I mean they both use the same piece of equipment. They both use a boiler. When you look at your boiler, do you see a clear, glass tube that has water in it, that’s halfway filled?
LOU: No, I don’t.
TOM: OK. So then, yeah, it sounds like it’s a hot-water system. Al, is it one zone or two?
LOU: I don’t know zones.
TOM: How many thermostats do you have for heat?
LOU: Just one.
TOM: So you have a single-zone system, hot-water system. And you’ve got some cold radiators, which means that for some reason the water is not pushing in through that part of it. There could be air that’s blocking it and I think, at this point, you’re going to probably have to have a heating contractor come over and do some further diagnostics. Because if the circulator is performing properly, that’s the little motor that moves the water through the system. It’s really pretty simple. You have a supply and a return. And that water just follows one loop. If it’s not getting to a radiator, then there’s an obstruction there, which means it’s a problem with a valve or there’s an air blockage that you just can’t get to. And that’s probably what’s stopping it.
Is this a new problem?
LOU: No, it’s been ongoing, except for those two radiators that used to work. And the circulator was replaced.
TOM: Alright. Listen, I think it’s time to call for some expert assistance. I think this is beyond the scope of a do-it-yourselfer. And try to figure out why those two radiators are blocked. Don’t let them out of the house until they get fixed, because it should not be that complicated of a problem, OK?
LOU: OK. Well, how much money do you think …?
TOM: It depends. If it’s just a matter of trying to identify one, say, failed valve or something of that nature, it could be a basic $200 or $300 sort of call for a guy to come out and do some work. If it’s a bigger problem than that, if you need a new circulator, it could be more. But certainly, you could ask for an estimate, you know? Maybe you’re calling for an estimate – you’re not maybe even hiring them for the repair – to find out what it’s going to take to get the system working again. Now is the time to do it.
LOU: OK. Any tips on who I could call?
TOM: One thing that you could do is you could go to HomeAdvisor.com.
LOU: OK. I’ve heard of them, yeah.
TOM: Right. That’s a site that is a directory for all sorts of contractors and other professionals. And the nice thing about HomeAdvisor is that they all have references that were done by other HomeAdvisor clients. And they’re verified references, so you can read the reviews and find somebody that’s in your area and that people have been happy with.
LOU: Wow. OK. Great. Sounds good, Tom.
TOM: Alright, Lou. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tammy in Tennessee is on the line with a toilet question. That’s a lot of Ts and a tongue twister.
How can we help you, Tammy?
TAMMY: Best way to replace the seal on our toilet. We’re redoing our flooring and got the toilet up and we’re just wanting to replace the seal.
TOM: So, you pretty much have to replace the wax seal now that you’ve got the toilet up. And it’s a pretty easy DIY project. One little tip I would give you is that when you buy the wax seal, they have different thicknesses. I don’t think you can really hurt yourself by using one of the thicker ones. It essentially gets placed right above the opening, right above the drain.
And then when you drop the toilet back on it, the bolts that are used to hold the toilet in place – one common mistake that people make is they over-tighten those. Toilets don’t get sort of wrenched to the floor; they just get sort of snug to the floor. Don’t go too tight on those bolts because you will crack that base of that toilet. Just make them nice and tight. They pretty much will sit there and not move much once you press it in place with the wax in between. And that’s really all you have to do. It’s a pretty easy plumbing project.
Well, with so many folks spending a lot of time at home these days, it’s a good time to think about how smart-home products can make our homes more convenient and safer.
LESLIE: Well, Travis Miller with ADT is joining us with solutions for families to make their homes smarter and safer during these unprecedented times.
TRAVIS: Hey, thanks for having me.
TOM: So, Travis, I can imagine that you guys are probably getting a lot of calls from your customers that have systems where the pattern of folks in the home is probably changed, right? So there’s more people coming and going or different people coming and going. You probably get some false alarms because of that. It keeps everybody on their toes. But this is a time when we really need to step up our home security, right?
TRAVIS: Yeah, you’re right, Tom. With a lot of people spending more time at home, right, it’s beginning to have them reevaluate what it means to them to be at the house and what it means from both a security standpoint and to your point, that smart home or as we like to refer to it, as a helpful home, right? How can that smart home even turn into a helpful home?
TOM: Yeah, because some smart homes are smarter than I am.
TRAVIS: Yeah. And I’m with you on that front.
TOM: So talk to me how the smart-home technology has changed kind of going into the new year, Travis. I mean I’ve been an ADT customer for many years and when my system was installed, everything was hardwired. And I think wireless was just starting to get going at that time. But I had heard that the batteries didn’t last that long and I wasn’t all that interested in being sort of the first guy to try it out, so I insisted on everything being hardwired.
But that’s not the case anymore. And in fact, most of these systems are not hardwired; they are wireless. And they’re really smart in terms of what they can detect and how they report that information.
TRAVIS: Yeah, you’re exactly right.
So, as we move on with technology, things just get smarter and smarter. And with that, the wireless solution is really what customers opt for these days, especially in these retrofit-type situations where we’re going into homes that are completely finished. There’s very little wire runs, if at all any some of these – sometimes these days with the equipment that they’re getting inside their house. And so, really, what customers need to ask themselves – or people that are looking to invest in that – is, hey, what do they prefer? Do they prefer that DIY play where they can – apt to do it themselves or a professional installation? And then somewhere in between there, it’s – “Hey, you know what? I may need someone to talk to about providing these types of solutions and how they can benefit myself and my family.”
As I look at what we’re dealing with right now – I’ll give you a really cool story. With the smart-home technologies and video analytics and video plays nowadays, we’ve got all these people and kids learning from the house. And we have the amazing cameras, right, where kids are learning and doing their e-learning in one room and the ability to talk back and forth with them with the wider – doing their learning through the camera to make sure they’re on task. I did it just the other day to my daughter and it kind of, in one regard, freaked her out but it also was like, “Hey, Kylie, are you staying on task in there?” Because I saw her playing with her phone. It’s just the world that we’re living in these days.
LESLIE: So, now, what I think is so interesting, Travis, is that ADT really is sort of launching way more products that are more geared toward the DIY person. So, what are you guys doing to help that person achieve the same success in their home?
TRAVIS: Yeah, it’s a great question, Leslie, and you’re right. I think what you’re referring to is our Blue by ADT. And what we’ve come to learn throughout the industry is more customers are becoming more and more apt to do it themselves.
And so, as we look at the solutions that are provided both in the security front, as well as that smart-home front, really it’s important to make sure that we’re providing equal products, whether the customer chooses to do it themselves, such as that camera I mentioned previously, and/or choose to have it professionally installed. So things such as the doorbells these days are a very hot commodity, especially with the porch pirates and us being in the holiday season, and making it easy and useful for those individuals that maybe their ultimate solution is just that piece of equipment and not a full-blown smart-home system at that time.
TOM: What about the monitoring options? Are those available with the wireless systems, as well?
TRAVIS: Yes, Tom, they are, actually. So, whether it’s wireless or hardwired, customers can choose. If they go down a path of the Blue by ADT, they can choose month-to-month, they can do contract terms. As we move into the professional consultation and the professional installation for those that need that, those also come with that professional monitoring and they’re still wireless. And those would have a term length associated with them, to make sure that we’re meeting that customer’s security needs, as well, and bringing the technology of what ADT has come to be known as, which is just this above and beyond, multi-connected monitoring facility all interconnected, giving the customers the peace of mind that they look to ADT for.
TOM: So what’s the newest, coolest, smart-home-related component that you guys have introduced?
TRAVIS: So I’ll go back to it. It’s a little bit of that audio camera. And it’s not just the camera itself. So it’s the camera as it ties into other capabilities of what a home may be able to do.
Let me give you a quick example. So with analytics built into these cameras these days, I can have my front porch lights turn on if a person – if a human – comes walking up my steps. Whereas if it’s the dog walking by in the middle of the night or the dog walking – going for a walk at whatever time, those lights wouldn’t turn on because I don’t have a concern for them to turn on. So the cameras themselves have really gotten smart to be able to define between people, cars, animals.
And so that’s what I would say is some of the coolest stuff is not only the one piece of component which, if you ask me, I would tell you it’s the new cameras that are out: the 1080 Pro Audio Cameras. But it’s really integrating in how it can fully change a lifestyle solution for a customer.
LESLIE: You know, I think it’s so interesting. ADT certainly offers just a variety of smart technology that perhaps some homeowners don’t even really understand what they can use and what the technology is capable of. So how are you helping the regular homeowner really figure out what it is that ADT can do for them?
TRAVIS: Leslie, what comes to mind there is we recently worked with the Moffitt family and the family of eight. This is through a program called ADT Pass the Protection in which we partner with the Scott Brothers. And really, what we did is – this family, they submitted the chance to win a makeover design for their house to include a full smart-home system.
So for this individual family, they have a couple kids who have therapists that come in and out just due to illnesses and otherwise. And so they have the ability to put this door lock on the door, give specific codes that people can come in at specific times. Additionally, they can set up lights inside the house, which they’ve done in this home, so that somebody gets up in the middle of the evening, they walk down a hallway that may originally be dark. But as soon as that motion detector picks them up, the lights come on, right?
And so as you get to these devices, including smoke communicators and other lifestyle solutions, the Moffitts have really taken advantage to leaning in through this Pass the Protection Program to really elevate their home above and beyond just the standard makeover, if you will, of a home.
TOM: That’s so cool. It’s just nice it can be customized to – down to that degree to help a family that needs it more than most.
TRAVIS: Yeah. You’re exactly right, Tom.
TOM: Travis Miller, the vice president of field sales for ADT. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Travis, and filling us in on the latest technology in alarm systems.
If you’d like to check out some of the products that Travis talked about, you can go to ADT.com or BlueByADT.com for the DIY options.
TRAVIS: Alright. Thanks, Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: Alright. It’s always cool learning about the newest technologies for your home and your home security. Thanks so much for joining us.
We hope you’re all enjoying your holiday weekend. Maybe you’re cozying up by the fire. Well, the winter months have a big increase in fires at home, so we want to help you out with fire safety. We’ve got, up for grabs, a set of 3 First Alert Connected Safety 2-in-1 Smoke and Carbon-Monoxide Alarms worth 149 bucks.
Now, the detector is also smart. It’s compatible with Ring and Z-Wave systems.
TOM: Yeah. And not only does it detect both carbon monoxide and smoke alarms, these are actually wirelessly interconnected. So if one goes off, they all go off. That’s especially helpful if you’ve got an older home, because it used to be that we had to run wires between all those detectors to make that happen. And now it happens because of the smart-detector technology. It’s a great-designed product that gives you premium protection, keeps you safe.
We’ve got three to give away to one lucky caller. Make that you. Call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 or post your question to MoneyPit.com.
Well, a leaking water heater can lead to some pretty serious and major flood damage. But now there’s a new water heater on the market that – check this – it detects leaks and automatically shuts off the water supply, which stops the floods before they even start. Love it.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s the Rheem Gladiator Electric Water Heater and it’s the newest innovation out there in water heating. It features three upgrades to provide long-term peace of mind. Now, it features a built-in 360 leak-detection system and that’s designed to find leaks both inside and outside of the tank. It’s also got a built-in, auto-shutoff valve that’s going to shut the incoming water when a leak is detected and then helps keep water in the tank to protect your home and your belongings. Because when a water-heating tank breaks, it is a huge mess, you guys.
Plus, it’s got a built-in Wi-Fi, which will send alerts, reminders, all the things you need in its app to allow you to adjust temperature, track energy, all the different things that you need to schedule to keep costs down, to keep your family safe. Super smart right here.
TOM: Love this unit. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen damage from busted water heaters over the years and this really does solve it.
It’s available in 40-, 50- and 55-gallon versions. You can learn more at Rheem.com/Gladiator. Gladiator, the power to know, the power to control and the power to protect.
LESLIE: Evan in Florida is on the line and has a question about venting. How can we help you today?
EVAN: Well, my wife and I have a long-standing disagreement on what’s best during the winter months for vents in unused rooms.
EVAN: I say close them but she says leave them open.
TOM: You both might be right.
LESLIE: Everybody wins.
TOM: Yeah, if you close …
EVAN: Oh, no. That’s not going to help us out.
TOM: That’s not going to help you out? If you close the vents in some rooms, especially if it’s anywhere near plumbing, you may have the temperatures drop to the point where freezing is an issue.
TOM: But generally speaking, I think you can close those vents in unused rooms if you’re truly not going to use them. But it might be better to close them, actually, closer to the air handler itself or the furnace itself because a duct damper is much more efficient than the wall damper. The wall – the vent itself, once you close it, it tends to whistle and a lot of air leaks through it.
EVAN: Oh, yeah.
TOM: But in line with the ducts themselves, they should have dampers, too, which are more like sort of a valve for a duct that sort of totally closes off the air to that space.
EVAN: OK. Yeah. Seeing as – in line this was and they’re a little different.
TOM: Yeah, they’re a little tricky. There’s usually a rod that goes through the duct. And if you look at it, it’s got a flat on the end of it. It’s only – it’s very narrow; it’s like the size of a screwdriver tip. But if it’s parallel to the duct, then it’s fully open. And if it’s perpendicular, then it’s fully closed.
EVAN: Alright. OK. That solves our issue but I don’t know if I should tell her I’m right or wrong. I don’t know.
TOM: It didn’t settle the bet. It solved the problem but didn’t settle the bet. But like Leslie said, “Everybody’s a winner today.”
LESLIE: Everybody’s a winner.
EVAN: There you go.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
EVAN: Thank you.
TOM: Nothing comes between spouses like home improvement.
LESLIE: That is true.
Email us or post your question, just like Alan did. Now, Alan writes: “My wife and I would like to add a two-car garage with a small apartment. What are the key questions we need to be asking a prospective builder/contractor?”
TOM: I wouldn’t start with a builder/contractor. If you’re going to put on an addition plus an apartment, I would hire an architect. You need a design professional, Alan, because the architect will spec that out and create a set of plans. And then you can use that set of plans to talk to several builder/contractors and get them to bid on the same project. This way, you’ll have an apples-to-apples opportunity to compare those bids and make the best choice based on that.
Beyond that, I would be talking with the contractors about their schedules, their practices for cleanup and most importantly, how they’re going to keep you and the family safe through this darn quarantine. But if you think through all of that and start with the architect, you will be in good hands going forward.
LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that project. It sounds like a good one, Alan.
TOM: Well, would you like to find something for you to do with your kids that doesn’t involve a Zoom call? Well, Leslie has got tips for teaching home improvement to youngsters, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. If you’re looking for something to do with your kids that doesn’t involve technology – because I feel like everything we are doing is an iPad, a computer. It’s a Zoom call, it’s a whatever. Put it away for a minute. Let’s try something different. Let’s think about some small home improvement projects that we can get those kids involved in.
Now, getting young do-it-yourselfers involved in home improvement in the planning process definitely makes it easy for the kids to learn something new, get a lifelong skill. It builds their confidence. Also, when they finish a project, it really gives them a different sense of accomplishment and renewed pride in the home that you are sharing.
So, maybe the next time you paint a room, your child will not walk by with a crayon on the wall or something along those lines, just because it’s new and clean. Not that that’s ever happened in my house but I feel like the kids just don’t understand that the house and its belongings cost money and time. So let’s get them to see that this is something we can all invest in together.
Now, first of all, select a project together, whether it’s going to be an easy fix-it project or an improvement job or maybe a redecorating project. Every DIY project out there is a great chance for these kids to learn.
Also, get them involved in the planning and the shopping. Talk about the project. What do you need? What supplies do you have in the house? What do you have to get? Get this young assistant at home involved in the process of shopping and all the supplies and everything and they will feel even more invested.
Then, let them help. Don’t just be like, “I’ll do it myself.” Let the kids actually get involved. Now, the child’s age and the complexity of the project is really going to determine which tools that they can handle safely. But there’s always a way to get them involved, even if they just keep busy with a few simple items or kid-sized tools while you do the work with the more complicated stuff.
Whatever it is, just remember anything that you can do to instill confidence and a can-do attitude is super valuable to your children down the line. So just get them involved now and it really makes a great, outside-of-the-box thinker and somebody who feels super confident. And you get to spend a lot of time with a great person in your house that maybe hasn’t thought about doing this stuff before.
TOM: And when you do this and they grow up, you can assign them projects and you don’t have to do it anymore. “Go clean the gutters, kids. You know how to use the ladder. I taught you well. Go do it.”
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending this part of your holiday day, your holiday weekend with us. We hope that we’ve entertained you with some tips and advice on home improvements and ways to save money and make your place more beautiful.
We will be here for you into the new year. If you’ve got questions, you can always reach us with those questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post them 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.
(Copyright 2020 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.)