Advice on Spring Project TO-DO List, Baby Proofing Tips, How to Know When to Use a Heat Gun, Soldering Iron or Torch and more

  • Transcript

    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. So help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If you’re staring at those four empty walls around your house trying to figure out how you’re going to fix that hole, get the door to stop squeaking, maybe update the kitchen cabinets, spring for some new bathroom faucets or fixtures, any project that’s on your to-do-list, slide it over to ours and pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll have some fun and we’ll give you the solution to that home improvement project.

    Coming up this hour on The Money Pit, spring is just days away. Well, officially, anyway.

    LESLIE: Woo-hoo! Can I have a springtime celebration?

    TOM: Absolutely. And it’s also a good time to start thinking about the projects that you want to plan for the warmer weather ahead. If you need help with your priority list, we’ve got it, coming up.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, you know, some projects require a little heat – now, that could be in the form of a heat gun or a soldering iron or a torch – but which tool is the best one for the project that you’re working on? We’re going to have expert advice with the help of This Old House heating contractor Richard Trethewey.

    TOM: Plus, is your family growing? Well, before you hear the pitter-patter of little feet, you want to make sure home-sweet-home is as safe as it can be. We’ve got everything you need to know about baby-proofing your money pit.

    LESLIE: And this hour we’re giving away a good night’s sleep. That’s right. Tom and I are going to come over and we’re going to read you books and sing lullabies and then you will have nightmares. No. We’ve got up for grabs a Therapedic Cooling Pillow, which is really going to help you get a good night’s sleep.

    TOM: It’s worth 90 bucks. 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 is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mark from Massachusetts on the line with a gutter question. What can we do for you?

    MARK: Hi. I have rental property: two-story, 1890 house. And two days ago, snow just finished melting in Rhode Island and the end of the gutter looks a little bit not at an angle, the wrong angle. And the gutter is dripping at the very end, onto the front granite stairs to the house.

    TOM: Right. OK.

    MARK: So, my concern is – well, obviously fixing that, what would the problem actually be and things like that.

    TOM: It sounds like you may have had some ice buildup there and expanded and pushed the gutter partway off the house. So, I mean typically, that kind of repair is pretty minor. But if it gets into any expense, it could be considered storm damage and something that would be covered by homeowner’s insurance. But again, if the repair is minor, you might not meet your deductible. So that’s a pretty easy fix. That happens a lot.

    And what I would do, Mark, is when you put the gutter back, I would not use the spikes that are there now. I would replace the spikes with something called a “gutter bolt” or a “gutter screw.” It looks exactly like the spike except it’s threaded. And once you install it, the gutter can’t easily pull out again.

    MARK: But it’s leaking from the bottom of the gutter. Would it be the gutter itself at the end not welded together or something?

    TOM: So it could be a couple of things. It could be that the seam broke, which is unlikely, or it could be that the water’s getting around the gutter and it’s just dripping from the bottom of the gutter. It might not be aligned properly.

    MARK: Oh, wow, wow. I’ve got you now.

    TOM: So I would take a close look at it and make that repair. In my experience, they’re generally minor repairs.

    MARK: OK. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Mark. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Nancy in Massachusetts is dealing with a garage that’s got other plans than closing. What’s going on there?

    NANCY: I have a dilemma about what to do about the door. It’s just not closing properly and sometimes, it doesn’t even want to go up and down, never mind when it comes down it wiggles left to right, left to right until it gets to the bottom.

    TOM: This is on a garage-door opener?

    NANCY: Oh, oh, yes, yes.

    TOM: So when it goes up and down, it shimmies in the opening?

    NANCY: Yes. And the closing.

    TOM: So, generally, the rollers on the side of the garage door are failing when that occurs. They’re ball-bearing rollers and when they get stuck, then they get sort of hung up on the way down and that’s what makes the door sort of vibrate and puts a lot of resistance on it, too. And that may be the reason your garage door is not closing all the way or closing evenly.

    It sounds like the door is pretty old. And your options are to replace all the hardware and try to realign the door to get it working right or just replace the door and the door opener. If it’s that old and that sort of rickety, I might lean towards just a replacement. The new doors today are actually a lot lighter than the old doors and they work really smoothly.

    I just put two on in the garage, I guess, about 8, 9 months ago now and I’m really happy with them. And I used to have really heavy, hardboard doors on this garage and now I have nice, factory-painted steel doors that look really good, really sharp and just close flawlessly every single time.

    NANCY: Well, this is one of those metal doors.

    TOM: It is? OK. But it’s an older metal door?

    NANCY: Yeah. And I put Boeshield on the tracks to try to get it to roll down properly.

    TOM: Yeah. But if the hardware has failed – even if you’re lubricating the tracks, if the hardware has failed, it’s not going to work right.

    NANCY: So what would you recommend? A new door or just get somebody over to do the hardware?

    TOM: I’d get a new door and a new opener.

    NANCY: Yeah, OK. I don’t want to put good money after bad.

    TOM: Exactly. I think – who knows if you could find the old hardware to match and everything? I’d just get a new door and a new opener. I think it’d be worth it.

    NANCY: OK. Very good advice. I appreciate it very much.

    TOM: Thank you, Nancy. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Give us a call. We want to know what you’re working on.

    Perhaps in some parts of the country, you are still digging out from what has turned out to be a very snowy winter for a lot of people and you are dreaming about projects. Well, we want to give you a hand so you can be ready when that warm weather strikes. 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here to give a hand.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, spring has sprung and it’s time to start thinking about the projects to put on your to-do list for the warmer weather ahead. Not sure where to start? We’ll tell you, after this.

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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: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour we’re giving away a very cool prize. It’s the Therapedic Cool Side Sleeper Pillow in the king size. And what’s neat about this is it has active-air technology that increases airflow, which gives you a cooler night’s sleep.

    It’s worth 89.99. Let’s round it up to 90 bucks. We’ll just throw a penny in the package. You can learn more at It’s going to go out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Louis in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    LOUIS: Well, I’m starting my pressure-washing project, so getting ready to. And I want a product that I can spray on the eaves of my house and on the concrete, like my porches and driveway. And the north side of the house here in Florida – it’s always the north side that gets a little stuff on the bricks down low. And if there’s one product that I can spray on all of it to help break the stuff down, that would help me tremendously.

    TOM: So, are we trying to remove moss, mildew, algae, mold, what?

    LOUIS: Any of that, yeah. It’s more of just the coloration on the eaves: you know, the bug eggs and a little bit – and it’s not really moldy, it’s not really dark. But the eaves, they’re white. And the bricks are pink and that stuff gets a little algae on the north side of the house, down low. And it’s always on the north side of everybody’s house around here, of course. And I just want to be able to not have to spray so violently to get rid of it. I don’t want to do any damage.

    TOM: Right. So, essentially, what you want to do is sort of kill it first.

    LOUIS: Right, right. Is there a product that I could buy just one bottle of or do I need several products?

    TOM: Louis, there’s a product called Concrobium Mold Stain Eraser. Concrobium is spelled C-o-n-c-r-o-b-i-u-m.

    Now, Concrobium is a product that’s well known for killing mold. But the Mold Stain Eraser is the cleaning-solution version of that that will work on not only mold stains but algae stains and other sorts of tough staining issues. So, I would recommend Concrobium Mold Stain Eraser first. And then you can follow up with a preventative coating of the Concrobium Mold Control product, which will go a long way towards stopping any future mold from growing on those surfaces.

    LOUIS: Wonderful. So I guess that’s – it’s got to have instructions on the jug or whatever?

    TOM: Yes, I would follow the label directions for application.

    LOUIS: OK.

    TOM: And it’s had excellent reviews, works very well. And we know the company and we trust them.

    LOUIS: OK.

    TOM: Good luck with that project.

    LOUIS: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Rosemary in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ROSEMARY: Yes, hi. I’m having a problem with the light bulb for the garage door. The light bulb keeps going out and I understand there’s a special one to use but I haven’t had time to check it out. Have you heard of such a thing?

    TOM: Well, sometimes with all the vibrations associated with that operation of that garage-door opener, you can get a lot of vibration. Sometimes that will ruin a standard incandescent bulb. There’s a type of bulb called a “rough-duty bulb.” You may have a hard time finding that in a normal hardware store or home center. I think a better idea is just to get yourself an LED light bulb. I think the LED bulbs are much more durable than incandescents, in addition to being much more cost-effective. And I think that will solve it.

    ROSEMARY: Oh, OK. Thank you so much. I’ll try that.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Rosemary. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, spring is right around the corner and it’s the season when the home improvement bug awakens in many of us. And we can finally get started on projects that just were impossible with all of those freezing temps.

    TOM: Well, yeah. Winter really takes a toll. So what should you look for and what should you take on for your first spring projects? Well, we’ve got a few essentials picked out.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, a lot of us haven’t seen our roof since the fall. And if you’re in an area with a lot of snow and ice, you’ve got to get out there with a set of binoculars and check out your roofing shingles, the valleys. All of those are vulnerable spots. Also, look at your gutters and downspouts. You want to make sure that everything really is in good shape.

    TOM: Now is only the time that everything is thawing, so we’ve also got to be concerned about spring showers. You want to make sure all of that water is diverted away from your foundation. And it’s a good time to either use a dehumidifier in your basement, especially, or check on the one you’ve got. Give it a good cleaning and change out the filter.

    LESLIE: Next, you want to check out your deck from top to bottom. Are the fasteners in good shape? Are the deck boards secure? Are the railings nice and tight? Are the steps secure? Those are the things you should be looking at.

    TOM: Really super important. And lastly, before you know it, you’ll be cranking up the A/C. So now is the time to give that a once-over. You want to clear away any debris from the outdoor compressor. And think about scheduling your service call now, at least in the next month, to give it a tune-up. If you don’t do it now, you probably won’t think about it until you’re in the middle of the summer and the thing just completely craps out on you. You don’t want that to happen. It will be really inconvenient and unpleasant. Get it tuned up well ahead of time before the pros get busy and you will have a much cooler summer ahead.

    LESLIE: Cynthia in New York is on the line and there seems to be a whole host of problems going on with this tile floor. I was going to start itemizing but why don’t you just tell us what’s going on?

    CYNTHIA: My house was built in 1948. It’s oak hardwood floors throughout. I bought 12-inch-square ceramic tile from Lowe’s in order to put in an area coming in from the front door, going through the foyer area. And last year, I installed – had it installed. And it was during a heavy rainstorm, so the repair people cut the tiles right inside my house and created tremendous – there was a cement dust throughout.

    And when the installers left, they told me that the grout should be sealed, which I did using a special spray can. And they said that they would return to finish on the edges to prevent tripping, et cetera, because it was raised slightly higher than the rest of the floors.

    After a few weeks, I noticed movement of the tiles and then a couple cracked. And now, all of the tiles move and the grout in the heaviest traveling areas has turned brown when I wet-mop it. The rest remains white.

    TOM: OK. So, Cynthia, let me just summarize this. Essentially, you’ve had this tile down for less than a year and the tiles are getting loose?

    CYNTHIA: Yes.

    TOM: Alright. So, the installation was not done correctly. The grout – the porosity of the grout – whether it’s getting brown, red, yellow or blue I really don’t care so much about, because that’s all meaningless when the tile is not adhered well.

    So the problem here is that the installation sounds like it was done incorrectly. I don’t know how they adhered the tiles, I don’t know how they prepared the floor but there is no way that tile should be loosening up inside of a year and having all of these problems associated with them. So, this is a situation where it really is the installer’s responsibility. And if you can get that installer back, I think they owe you a new floor.

    CYNTHIA: Yeah. I can’t stick one here and stick one there or that sort of thing.

    TOM: You’re fighting a losing battle, OK? Because you had – you saw it right away; they started to loosen up right away. Now it’s just getting worse. And the reason the tiles crack is because they’re not supported evenly underneath.

    So this all comes down to installation. If the floor was put down correctly, those tiles would be rock-solid. Insofar as the grout is concerned, yeah, I mean you do seal the grout. It is a maintenance issue to maintain it. I’m not so concerned about that. It certainly wouldn’t crumble if the tiles were secure. But that really is the issue. The tiles have to be removed at this point. The adhesive has to be pulled out. You may need another layer of underlayment. I’m not quite sure, again, how it was attached. And if it’s done correctly, though, it literally can last indefinitely.

    Cynthia, thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Tim in New Mexico is on the line with a question about windows. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    TIM: Well, I am considering – my wife and I are considering putting in some energy-efficient windows, so we’ve been shopping that a little bit. And it seems that there’s quite a myriad of available products in that market.

    And one thing that I was looking at was the – just the air-void-type windows versus the gas-filled windows. And one salesperson told us that he recommended that just get the air void because the gas-filled – that gas, after a year or two, will dissipate out of the window, which I had never heard that before. But in essence, you’re just left with an air void.

    So, anyway, I’m just looking for some guidance in that subject.

    TOM: Alright. So, when you say “air void,” what exactly do you mean? Because I’m not at all familiar with that term.

    TIM: Well, basically, the double-paned window with just dead space in it and there’s – it’s not gas-filled, per …

    TOM: So instead of argon, it’s just got air?

    TIM: Right.

    TOM: That’s not going to insulate. The reason to use those gases is because the gases are insulating gases. And I don’t buy at all the fact that the gases leak out; that’s just not true.

    LESLIE: The only way the gas will leak out is if you have a seal that fails.

    TOM: Yeah. These good-quality windows, these seals will last a long time. Twenty years is not unusual for these glass seals to last that long. So this sounds to me like you’re getting advice from a salesman that wants to move his product over another one. It’s not a given that this gas leaks out in a year. That’s ridiculous.

    I would buy a good-quality window from a name manufacturer, you know? Buy a Marvin, buy an Andersen, buy a Pella. Stick with a good name brand and you’re going to get a good-quality glass panel there that’s going to last a long, long time.

    TIM: OK. OK. I believe these were – Henredon, I think, was the brand of these?

    TOM: Yeah. There’s a lot of really small brands out there that are basically made for the remodeling industry and for the replacement-window industry.

    TIM: OK.

    LESLIE: And they’re just manufacturing a replacement window in their own brand. They’re just putting the whole thing together but there’s not a super-manufacturer behind it that, should you have a problem down the road, would have your back.

    TOM: Yeah, I would look at the name brand and I would look at, also, at ENERGY STAR-certified windows.

    TIM: OK. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Tim, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Learning something new every day, Leslie.

    LESLIE: An air void. I’ve never heard that term.

    TOM: That’s a new one. They turned un-insulated glass into something that sounds good.

    LESLIE: Right. It’s an air void.

    TOM: Oh, no. That’s an air void.

    LESLIE: You’re going to end up with an air void, anyway, at some point.

    TOM: Yes. And this window is insulation-free. So you’re not going to have to worry about any of that pesky insulation getting in the way of your view.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, when you need to turn up the heat for a DIY project, heat guns, soldering irons, torches, they can all help. But which tool works best with your project? We’re going to tell you how to decide, after this.

    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators, with over 400 varieties of bamboo, laminate, wood-like tile, vinyl plank and hardwood floors for less.

    ADAM: Hey, this is Adam Carolla. And when I’m not swinging a hammer, I’m catching up on The Money Pit with Tom and Leslie.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at

    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: Go to, right now, to sign up for our free e-Newsletter. You’ll get great tips, advice and info every week, including projects to take on seasonally. It’s online, right now, at

    LESLIE: Bela in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    BELA: Well, we have a sunroom. And the roof of the sunroom is 4 inches of Styrofoam and on top of that is aluminum. Now, when it rains, it’s very, very noisy. It’s like living in a double-wide, you know. So, what I would like to do is put architectural shingles on it.

    Now, I talked to one roofer. He said, “Oh, we can just nail it on.” But I don’t think so. I thought maybe we need some plywood – ¾-inch plywood – and even maybe some spacers.

    TOM: This aluminum roof, is it fairly flat or is it shaped?

    BELA: It is flat. Yes, sir.

    TOM: Well, first of all, keep in mind that metal roofs are far more durable than asphalt-shingle roofs. But if you can’t really deal with the sound and you want to soften it, I agree with you: I do think you should attach a plywood decking to that metal roof first.

    And I would do that with screws. So I would drive screws through the decking, into that metal roof. And then, on top of that, I would put ice-and-water shield, which is going to give you protection from any ice damming. And I would probably, since it’s a fairly flat roof or a low-sloped roof, I would probably cover the entire surface with ice-and-water shield. And then over that, I would put the asphalt shingles.

    BELA: OK. Thank you so very much for your help. That is the kind of a thing I’ve been thinking about.

    TOM: I think you’re on the right track, Bela. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Sometimes all that a home improvement project needs to get done is a little heat or a lot of it in the way of a torch, a heat gun or a soldering iron.

    TOM: Yep. But finding the right temperature can be tricky. Too little heat and the job doesn’t get done. Too much and you can burn or melt materials, not to mention potentially cause a fire in the process. Here to tell us more about these favorite home improvement tools is a guy who’s used all of them and many, many more: Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    RICHARD: I am hot stuff. Yes, it is.

    TOM: Well, we always thought so, Rich. So, listen, I think that folks that don’t do a lot of work around their house may be confused about the difference between these different types of heating tools. But they’re all designed for very specific types of projects, right?

    RICHARD: Right. I mean in my world, a plumber uses a torch and that torch is going to give you a really focused flame that you could put right onto a pipe and you could solder. They also make heat guns that you’ll want to use to soften paint and if you try to remove some surfaces or even if you’re trying to thaw a pipe or something.

    And then soldering irons are generally that smaller unit that you would use to bring two wires together, try to solder much more delicate works. So, they all provide heat but they have different functions and they have much more different sort of delivery methods.

    LESLIE: Delivery.

    RICHARD: Sure. Yes.

    TOM: Right. So perhaps with a soldering iron, you get a little more precise targeting.

    LESLIE: But it’s for detail work, really.

    TOM: It’s for really detail work.

    RICHARD: That’s right. You do not want me to come into that printed circuit board with my super-duper torch that could melt it into a hockey puck.

    TOM: With your torch?

    LESLIE: It’s interesting. My dad was so much into home improvement and construction and design but he was a hobbyist. He built model airplanes and he had all of these in his arsenal of tools for building the planes.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah.

    LESLIE: So, to hear about these being used in a plumbing standpoint, it’s so everyday.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And then to think about them in such a fine detail as model airplanes …

    RICHARD: You could smell Dad when he was working.

    LESLIE: Completely. I smell that flux from the soldering iron.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    LESLIE: So heat guns are probably the weakest of all we’re talking about. Does it really make sense to have one of those? Because that seems more like, “Oh I’ve got a frozen pipe. Let me grab that.”

    RICHARD: Well, be careful. In my past, I almost lost a house by putting a heat gun into a wall and I just – it was hotter. You know, it was – and I …

    TOM: You were trying to warm up the wall cavity where there was …

    RICHARD: I tried. Yep. Trying to thaw something. It was a very historic home. I still lived in fear when I got the call that there was smoke coming inside the wall. And thankfully, we didn’t lose it but it was from a heat gun. I was surprised that it wasn’t from a torch. A torch is even worse, because it’s an open flame, but best thing is to have a variable output. These heat guns, they look like glorified hair dryers.

    LESLIE: But do not put it. Do not.

    TOM: It’d be a big mistake.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, look what happened to my hair.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You learn from Richard. Do not dry your hair with one.

    TOM: Now, what about torches? Do they all run on propane? Are there different gas sources for torches, depending on the project that you’re doing?

    RICHARD: The standard is propane and -but there’s also a thing called MAPP gas, which is a little hotter flame. It’s more a question of preference. Usually, the blue is for propane and the yellow is for MAPP. I’ve always just used LP propane.

    And the other thing I should talk about is some of these – there’s every kind of tip available for a torch. And you don’t want it to be too hot if you’re soldering. You don’t want it to be a killer-big torch tip if you’re trying to do a small, ½-inch solder connection. Because the solder will actually burn right out of it. You’ll almost braze when you don’t want to.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: And this – and you really want to get – if you’re looking at a tip, if you’re looking at any flame, there are – there’s an inner cone and outer cone of any flame if you looked in gas burning. And the hottest place is right at the top of the inner tip. I don’t know if that’s easy to understand on radio. But just imagine there’s sort of a beautiful, little flame and then there’s a bigger yellow flame out through the – around …

    TOM: Well, just think of a burning candle. It pretty much looks the same way. You’ve got sort of an inside flame that’s the center flame.

    RICHARD: Yeah. That center of that inside flame is the hottest place and that’s where you want to place where you’re trying to get the work.

    TOM: Hottest point. Right.

    Now, Richard, if you’re totally freaked out by the idea of using a torch, are there non-flame-based alternatives to making plumbing connections that are reliable?

    RICHARD: Well, there’s a million of them. There’s solderless connections where you – it’s like a Dutch finger; you put it on, it sticks on. SharkBite is one of the brands that …

    LESLIE: Like a crimping tool, kind of?

    RICHARD: Well, it’s not – well, crimping, absolutely. There’s a million of them. That’s been the race all along about plumbing. How do I – the original connections we used to do was to pour lead joints and then you did solder joints, threaded joints. Now, there’s a whole world of crimp fittings and then special compression fittings, the ones that we can do now for – called SharkBites. You push the tubing in and it just stays right there.

    Now, in all those cases, I’m still – to me, nothing beats the solder connection on copper pipe because you know it works and people can hang clothes in the basement on the pipes and it doesn’t have – pull apart. And you’ve got to remember, also, that any pipe, when it changes its temperature, it wants to expand. And so I always worry about all of a sudden the pipe is 60 degrees in the basement and it goes to 140 degrees, because hot water goes through it, and it’s going to want to get longer. And if it got longer, it might actually pull out of those fittings. So, that’s what worries me a little bit.

    But there’s tons of choices out there and anybody – if you’re afraid of soldering, there’s always ways you can combine it without a torch.

    LESLIE: Are the heat tools very expensive to own as a do-it-yourselfer?

    RICHARD: The basic torch with a striker – a little match striker – is nothing. It’s 15 bucks. I will tell you if you’re ever – my favorite tool is – two of my – I have two favorite tools. But one of them is this torch that has – I just hit a button and it lights the torch tip from a little clicker – a little Piezo spark igniter. And for anybody – otherwise, you’re getting them a set of matches. Nobody has matches anymore.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: The striker is always worn down and this thing is just fantastic as you can just – and the other tool that I love so much is this tiny, little cutter that allows me to cut copper pipe inside of a really tight, little space. Those are the two – anybody could be a plumber if that’s all you need. You just need those …

    TOM: Cutter and a torch and he’s a happy man.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. That’s right. Simple man.

    TOM: Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RICHARD: I’ll be here sharpening my cutter.

    LESLIE: Well, now you guys know what to get Rich for the next holiday season.

    TOM: A new cutter.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can 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

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade. Still to come, does your home pass the safety check when it comes to the little ones? Learn what steps you need to take to baby-proof your home before the pitter-patter of little feet arrive, after this.

    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.

    Give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re giving away a great prize this hour. Of course, we’re always giving away priceless information to help you with what you are working on at your money pit. But back to the bribery – I mean the prize, the giveaway – we’ve got up for grabs a Therapedic TruCool Side Sleeper Pillow in a king size.

    Now, what’s really awesome about this is there’s an active-air technology which helps increase airflow, which will give you a cooler night’s sleep. If you are anything like my seven-year-old – I’m sorry, Henry, for embarrassing you – he’s like a super-sweaty nighttime sleeper. I can’t even imagine how hot he must be. This is like a dream come true for him.

    You’ve got to check out these pillows. You’re going to get medium to moderate support for side sleepers, which is great because it’s super good for your spine with the proper pillow. It’s a prize valued at 89.99 but all of that sleep that you will be getting will make this pillow priceless. You can check it out at

    TOM: And that’s going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, when it comes to protecting kids, nothing short of a rubber room can be completely child-safe. But with some common sense, you’ll be able to remove the most worrisome hazards.

    TOM: First, let’s talk about windows. They may look completely harmless but window-blind cords are actually one of the more dangerous items in your house for babies and young kids. So what you want to do is shorten all those long cords and tie them up and away from the reach of those little hands. If you Google “Window Covering Safety Council,” that group is terrific. They’ve got a free tassel-shortening kit that you can order online.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it really is helpful. I’m always amazed at how long those cords seem to be and truly how dangerous they are.

    Now, another concern is furniture-tipping. Kids are climbers. They really just want to climb up anything that maybe has a shelf or something that they can get a toehold on. So you want to make sure that bookcases, large TV stands and other climbable furniture is anchored to the wall.

    TOM: Now, keeping your sliding-glass doors squeaky clean might make you a proud housekeeper but they can also be trouble for kids. Kids kind of forget the door is there and they sort of walk or run right into it. And if it breaks, well, you can imagine the damage that can ensue. So a little trick of the trade: just apply decorative decals at the child’s eye level as a reminder of those doors when they’re closed.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You also want to check your stairs and railings. Now, railings need to be at least 36 inches tall and have no more than 6-inch spaces between any of the spindles because otherwise, you will see your child smush their head through. They do it. I don’t know how they do it and then you are stuck trying to figure out how to get their head out of it.

    Also, at the same time, you want to make sure that handrails are in place for all stairs and make sure that the handrails have a closed end. Handrails that don’t wrap around to the wall can actually catch loose sleeves and then people fall down. It’s just a hazard waiting to happen.

    TOM: More safety tips online, right now, at

    888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Virginia where Margaret has a question about a bathtub. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARGARET: We have an old, cast-iron tub and it’s real rusty in spots. And I’m wondering what we could do to restore it.

    LESLIE: Now when you say “real rusty in spots,” are we talking about big spots or are we talking about small, little ones from a chip here and there?

    MARGARET: No. We’re talking about big spots because the water – it was not good water when we first moved here. And so it had a lot of wear and tear on it about 40 years before we moved here. And we’ve been living here, probably, about 45 years, so …

    TOM: So your tub is almost 100 years old, huh?

    MARGARET: Exactly.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, look, it served the house well. It’s not going to last forever. It needs to be reglazed at this point. And I’ve had some experience with folks that have tried to reglaze these tubs inside the house and it can be done but it’s an awfully messy and intensive job. And unless it’s done professionally, it doesn’t seem to last very long. There are home reglazing kits – and Rust-Oleum makes one that’s for tub and tile – but I wouldn’t expect it to last all that long.

    The best way to do this is to have the tub taken out and reglazed. But if you’re going to do all that, you might as well replace it and not just have that – not just not have that reglazed unless it’s particularly beautiful. I think those are your options. It’s not easy to do a touch-up to something like this when it’s just got so – it’s got almost 100 years of wear and tear on it.

    MARGARET: Oh. Yes, yes. OK. That was my question. I appreciate that.

    LESLIE: Well, spring is right around the corner. Yahoo! But most of you are still feeling a chill in the air. Coming up, we’re going to answer questions from The Money Pit community, including giving advice on insulation and frosty windows. The Money Pit continues, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Glisten. Glisten makes it easy to clean, freshen and maintain your dishwasher, disposer, microwave and washing machine. So improve the performance of your appliances with cleaning solutions from Glisten, the machine-cleaning experts. Visit

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And hey, Money Pit fans, check us out on Twitter. You can tweet us pictures of your do-it-yourself projects and get great tidbits of information daily. That’s And it turns out that #MoneyPit is a very popular keyword, so there. We want to see your pictures at

    LESLIE: Alright, you guys. And while you’re online, post your questions. We’d love to lend a hand and this really is a great way for us to get to you directly. Now, we’ve got a post here from Patricia who writes: “We have a home that was built in 1920.” Alright. Join the club, Patricia. We all do. “We want to take an upstairs bedroom and turn it into our master bathroom. There is a set of windows. Our contractor says we do not need a fan in the room because of the windows. We live in a four-season area and I don’t know if I’m going to be willing to open a window in the winter. Should we have the fan installed?”

    I think this is the biggest misconception, Tom. “Oh, you’ve got a window. You don’t need a fan.”

    TOM: Well, the problem is that it’s permitted by code. So code says, in most cases, that if you have a window, you don’t have to have a bathroom fan. And while I can understand that if you live in Florida or Louisiana, if you live in Detroit or any other northern part of the country where we do have winters, that’s not such a hot idea. So I do think it’s a really good idea to always have a bath exhaust fan installed.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Plus, a window is not going to suck the moisture out.

    TOM: Yeah. That’s true.

    LESLIE: It’s just, you know, unless you’ve got some weird vacuum of air happening, it’s just open window.

    TOM: And think of all the bad things that happen when you allow that moisture to sit in that bathroom space. First of all, you’re inviting a much bigger cleaning project every single week because that warm, moist air allows mold to grow quite readily. So you really want to get it out.

    And in fact, we think that you should not only put the bath exhaust fan in but you should put it on both a motion detector and a timer so that when you leave the bathroom, it doesn’t necessarily go off right away. I mean you know that if you’ve never walked into a bathroom where somebody just finished showering, it’s still pretty darn damp in there, right?

    LESLIE: Oh, heck yeah.

    TOM: So you want to leave that fan on for a good 5 to 10 minutes after you’re done with your bathing to get all that moisture out of the room. You will find that you’ll need to do a lot less cleaning as a result.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And seriously, your house is just going to feel so far less humid. It really does make a big difference.

    Alright. Next up, we have a post from Mickey who writes: “Does the liquid, paint-on insulation work or is it just a gimmick?”

    TOM: Paint-on insulation. OK. So …

    LESLIE: I’ve not heard of this. It doesn’t sound real.

    TOM: But I do know what he’s talking about and I think he’s not talking about actually paint-on insulation. There is a type of paint that is supposed to be a paint-on, low-E barrier. And I don’t think that that is the solution to making your home more energy-efficient.

    We get questions like this all the time where people want to try the latest, greatest new gadget that they heard about somewhere and try to save money. The truth of the matter is that if you want to make your home more energy-efficient, there is the one place and one place you should always start and that is up in your attic. That is the area of the single biggest heat loss. 

    Now, the good news is that adding attic insulation turns out to be one of the very smartest home improvement projects you can make. Why do I say that? Because it has been proven that that delivers over a 100-percent return on investment, even if you have to pay for it to be professionally installed. If you do it yourself, it might be closer to 200-percent return on investment in terms of how that adds to the value of your home.

    So, let’s take care of the basics, like attic insulation and caulking and weather-stripping and those sorts of things before we look at some of these weird, outlaying products, like paint-on insulation. I don’t think so. I would stick with the basics. I think you’ll get a much better return on investment.

    LESLIE: Yeah, seriously. Go with what you know and go with what’s proven. This way you’re spending your money in a good way.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Spring is right around the corner. We hope we’ve given you some great ideas to plan some projects to warm up your 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.


    (Copyright 2016 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.)

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