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Argon Gas in Your Windows Can Save Energy, Small Bathrooms that Don’t Feel Cramped, Make Your Refrigerator More Efficient, 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: Standing by to help you with your home improvement projects, so help yourself first. Pick up the phone and call us; we’d love to talk with you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, have you ever felt maybe a bit claustrophobic in a small bathroom? Well, the truth is that small baths don’t have to feel cramped. We’ve got tips this hour on a few, easy design ideas that will help those small bathrooms feel much bigger.

    LESLIE: Also, get ready. Predictions are calling for a cold and snowy winter for most of the country. Now, are your windows up to the task of keeping that cold outside where it belongs? We’re going to tell you how to figure that out, a little later.

    TOM: Also, do you know which appliances use the most power? Maybe you’re thinking about it could be a TV? Well, you’re wrong. Most likely it’s your refrigerator. We’ve got tips on how to cut down on the high price of running that fridge.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. We’ve got a wireless home security system from SimpliSafe up for grabs. Now, this is a do-it-yourself system that requires no telephone line and no lengthy contract. And it’s a prize worth 330 bucks.

    TOM: So let’s get right to it. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and let us help solve your do-it-yourself dilemma.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Tom in Oregon is on the line with a water-heating question. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    TOM IN OREGON: Well, I have a home that couldn’t be laid out any worse. The master bathroom and the secondary bathroom – both of which have showers – shower/tubs – are at least 45 or 50 feet from the water heater.

    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.

    TOM IN OREGON: The water heater and the shower just couldn’t be further apart. It uses approximately two gallons of water just getting the hot water to either of the two bathrooms to take a shower.

    LESLIE: The reason why you’re having such a hard time getting the water is, as you mentioned, the distance. You’re correct; it takes a long time for a conventional water heater to heat up that water, get through all of the plumbing and then get to those two bathrooms, which are on the opposite side of your home. A great solution, if you’ve got the space for it, is a tankless water heater.

    And now, they’re not gigantic; you can put one in a small closet. And that could really do a great job of just sort of zoning your water heating and making this tankless water heater take care of those two bathrooms that are far from your tanked option. And really just heats up that water when you need it for those two baths and comes out super-hot.

    TOM IN OREGON: OK. Do the tankless water heaters keep a pretty steady temperature or do they run hot and cold and constantly recycle?

    TOM: No, they keep a very steady temperature. When they’re installed correctly, with the right-size gas lines if you’re using gas – if they’re properly sized and properly installed, they will keep a very, very steady temperature.

    And the good news is that they’re really tiny, too. So you can fit them in a lot of places that you couldn’t fit a traditional tank water heater.

    TOM IN OREGON: OK. So it’s going to take some rerouting of the pipes and what-have-you but – this is an all-electric home, so I don’t have any gas.

    TOM: OK. Oh, it’s all electric. Alright. So if it’s all electric, obviously you can’t have a gas tankless water heater but you could consider using an electric tankless and this is probably one of the only times I would recommend this. Because if you used it for a spare bathroom like that, you’re probably going to keep the electrical cost under control. But what I would do in this case is I would make sure that when I hooked it up, I’d put it on a timer so that it only really ran – it didn’t keep the water hot in the middle of the night, because that would be a total waste.


    TOM: But splitting it into two runs like that is definitely the hot ticket and that’s going to save you some of your cost and make you more comfortable, to boot, OK?

    TOM IN OREGON: Great. Thanks so much for your help then.

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

    LESLIE: Bonnie in Texas has some dryer-venting issues. Tell us what’s going on.

    BONNIE: Yes. I have a dryer – gas dryer – that vents right into the garage from the utility room.

    TOM: OK.

    BONNIE: And it just has one of those little flappy doors on it that’s kind of close to the floor of the garage. And the door that goes into the kitchen is right there, so all that heat and lint will come into the house, heats up the kitchen bad.

    TOM: Yuck.

    BONNIE: And it won’t be up – it’s not up to code, that’s what I understand, so I need to know how to vent it out of the garage without trying to go through the brick wall.

    TOM: Yeah. Hmm. Well, if a brick wall stands between you and the outside, you’re going to have to find a way to go through that brick wall.

    Yes, it’s not vented correctly and all of that lint is a fire hazard. You really do need to get it outside of the house. You know, you have the ability to duct it a little bit. I mean you can run a dryer duct with metal duct if it’s properly installed. You can run it 20, 30 feet so – can you go out the back of the house instead of the front of the house? Is there a wall that you might be able to get to if you reran it so that it didn’t have to go through the brick?

    BONNIE: Well, it – there is – the exterior of the house has got the brick veneer and it has a big, double-door garage door. I’m wondering about how I could vent it up through the ceiling of the garage. There’s not a room up there, just attic.

    TOM: Well, either up through the roof or you can go out through sort of the gable end of the house.


    TOM: Or you could drop it down and you could actually run it across the ceiling and then drop it down towards the soffit. And then just open up the soffit there and have the vent kind of go at the soffit area. So you can vent it out at a number of places but the thing is, every time you put a bend in it, that reduces the air flow. So you want to make sure that it’s got as few bends as possible.

    BONNIE: Right.

    TOM: And you want to do it with metal duct, not the flexible plastic duct. You want to do it with hard metal duct.

    BONNIE: Oh, OK. A hard metal duct.

    TOM: Yeah. Because the other reason you do that is because it can be cleaned, too.

    BONNIE: OK. So if I did it straight up in the attic, can I go through the roof? Is that a bad idea?

    TOM: You can, yes. Yep, you can go straight up through the roof if it’s – that’s the closest way to go. But just remember, you can’t go too terribly high because, again, you have a lot of back pressure. But yes, you can go straight up through the roof and there is a type of a roof vent that can – for dryer exhaust – that goes up through the roof, can be properly sealed against the roof and it’ll just drop the exhaust around the roof. You might end up seeing some of that lint collect around the roof but at least it won’t be stinking up your kitchen anymore.

    BONNIE: Yes. Thank you. I’ve got some options there then.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Guess what? It’s my favorite holiday next week. It’s the turkey day. Is your oven ready? Is your guest room ready? Is your kitchen clean? Is your dining room prepared?

    Lots of stuff to do; you should have a big checklist. Let The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show give you a hand with all of those home improvement dilemmas that the clock is running out on if you are hosting Thanksgiving. That’s why we’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, much of the country could be in for a cold, snowy winter if predictions are correct. We’re going to tell you how one type of gas could actually protect your home from that bitter weather and here’s a hint: it’s not the kind of gas that you use in a heating system. Find out more, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Roxul, manufacturer of fire-resistant, water-repellent and sound-absorbent home insulation products. Keep your home efficient and comfortable this winter and all year long with Roxul ComfortBatt and Roxul Safe’n’Sound insulations. www.DIYWithRoxul.com. Roxul. That’s R-o-x-u-l.

    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: Happy Almost-Thanksgiving, everybody. It is the week before Thanksgiving or the weekend before Thanksgiving. And if you’ve got great plans for that day, one of the things you might want to make sure that you do is protect your house from burglary while you’re away. We’ve got a system, that does just that, we’re giving away this hour.

    It is the SimpliSafe Security System. It requires no contract. It’s a wireless and customizable system that can fit any house or apartment. It’s worth $330. Going to go out to one caller chosen at random that reaches us with their home improvement question.

    Now, you can learn more at SimpliSafe.com. That’s S-i-m-p-l-i-Safe.com. Or call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Al in Florida is on the line with an attic-insulation question. How can we help you today?

    AL: Well, it’s a real pleasure to talk with you guys, you experts who provide so much needed advice to your listeners.

    LESLIE: Thanks.

    AL: And I have a question for you on insulation for the attic. I want to add a little more insulation because through the years, everybody tripping through the attic has kind of stepped on it and squashed it down a little bit.

    TOM: OK.

    AL: And I have heard of a thing called TAP Insulation.

    TOM: OK.

    AL: TAP – T-A-P.

    TOM: Right.

    AL: Stands for Thermal Acoustical Pest Control.

    TOM: Right. It’s a treated insulation is what it is.

    AL: Yes. Supposed to be for bug control and also for fire.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.

    AL: Well, my question is: is that actually better to have it blown onto my insulation that I have now – my fiberglass – or should I just have fiberglass reblown on?

    TOM: Well, I mean I don’t know that just adding another layer of this other type of insulation is going to give you the full effectiveness that it promises you. I think the concept for this type of insulation is that when you use it for all of your insulation, then you have sort of this layer of …

    LESLIE: Then you get all of the benefits.

    TOM: Yeah, you get all the benefits. In your case, since you’re just really just adding on, you’re supplementing what you have, I would just add additional fiberglass in that situation. I think that’s a very simple solution, probably the least expensive solution. And I think that’s going to do it.

    LESLIE: Is there a reason why you were looking at this TAP Insulation? Is there a pest issue?

    AL: Well, no, there’s not really a pest issue but I have a pest-control company that comes and takes care of me every year for termites and stuff.

    TOM: Yeah.

    AL: And they are the ones around here that actually add this. And the guy, when he went up in the attic recently, he said, “Ah, we need to blow about 5.8 inches of insulation back into your attic to bring you up to an R-38. And if we use this, it will do this for you.” And I said, “OK, cool.” He’s talking about 1,875 square feet for $1,640.

    TOM: I’m sure it’s a good product but the thing is, all of these pest-control operators are looking for things that they can sort of bolt onto their services.

    AL: For sure.

    TOM: They’re new lines of businesses, OK?

    AL: OK.

    TOM: They’ve all got to make a living. But in your case, I don’t see any reason to necessarily use a different type of insulation than what you have right now.

    AL: One other thing, though. You get up to a $500 tax credit if you use this stuff.

    TOM: Well, you’ll get a tax credit if you use any type of insulation.

    AL: Oh, OK. I did not know that.

    TOM: That’s a federally mandated tax credit.

    AL: So the thing about the fire retardant and the pest control really doesn’t matter.

    TOM: If your house is going to catch on fire, the one, thin, 5-inch layer of insulation I don’t think is going to make a big difference.

    LESLIE: Is not going to help.

    AL: Yeah. I agree with you.

    TOM: Yeah. Alright?

    AL: But I just wanted to get you guys’ opinion, because you are the experts and really help us out here.

    TOM: Yeah, well, we’re happy to do that and appreciate you listening. And I hope that does help you out.

    LESLIE: Well, last winter, if you were like me, you were probably thinking, “Where is all the snow?” Most people probably bought a snow blower last year and ended up with no snow.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I know that’s always how it works.

    TOM: They figure they were going to be smart this winter; they weren’t going to stuck without a snow blower.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: They just got stuck without snow.

    LESLIE: Exactly. Well, at least you’ll be prepared, because guess what? This year they are talking about this winter being above-average snowfall and below-average temperatures in many parts of the country. We’re not just talking about the areas where you think it’s going to be cold; they’re talking about a lot of different places. And that’s great news if you’re like Tom and you love to ski but it’s not really such great news for your energy bill, huh?

    TOM: That’s true. And according to the experts at Pella Windows and Doors, one of the solutions is argon gas. That’s right, argon – a-r-g-o-n. It can actually help you save energy dollars.

    Now, argon is a gas that’s often used as an insulator for industries that deal with extremely high temperatures, because it’s non-reactive and inert, which means that you can use it to create sort of a shield around something that you want to protect.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. And Pella actually uses argon gas inside of its 350 Series windows and patio doors. They put it inside the Low-E triple panes, which actually makes those windows 83-percent more energy-efficient.

    TOM: That’s amazing. You think windows are efficient just because there are multiple panes but when they put that gas inside that’s an insulator, it really ratchets up the energy efficiency.

    And the windows and doors in Pella’s 350 Series also are attractive; they can add a really distinctive look to your home from both the inside and the outside. Typical vinyl windows have interior corner seams that are totally visible but the Pella seams are completely invisible, which give these windows a really kind of seamless, very clean look. So nice-looking windows and very energy-efficient.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? There’s actually dozens of styles with all kinds of in-between-the-glass options, as well. So if you’re looking for a blind or a decorative grill, it’s in between the panes of glass. You don’t have to worry about cleaning it, you don’t have to worry about cords.

    Really great ideas, beautiful styles. Check out everything that’s available at Pella.com and I think you’ll love it.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We’d love to talk with you about your home improvement project.

    LESLIE: Caroline in Missouri is dealing with a ducting and HVAC problem. Tell us what’s going on.

    CAROLINE: Well, we live in a two-story house and the upstairs, the dust just gets terrible. Every day, I have to do a lot of dusting.

    TOM: OK.

    CAROLINE: We have central air and – but we use electric baseboards in the winter and we have a gas stove. Looks like a wood stove; looks like a fireplace. And it pretty well heats the house and the dust is only bad in the upstairs.

    TOM: Right. And that’s because warm air rises and carries the dust with it.

    CAROLINE: Right. That’s what my husband said.

    TOM: He’s smart.

    CAROLINE: Oh, he must be, because that’s what he said. He said it’s because of the warm air rising up there and that dust …

    TOM: In the summertime, when you have the central air on, you probably get more air circulation. And so the dust would be drawn into the system and then taken out by the filter.

    CAROLINE: Right.

    TOM: So I suspect it’s worse in the wintertime.

    CAROLINE: Yes. Yes, sir, it is.

    TOM: Well, I don’t know that there’s a solution for that because – unless you can cut back on the dust that you’ve got going on in your house there, Caroline. But living on a farm, I’m sure that that is a constant presence.

    CAROLINE: Yes, sir, it is.

    TOM: Yeah.

    CAROLINE: I guess one solution would be get a maid.

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: Now, Tom, could she add a whole-house air cleaner into the central-air system and just run the fan without the actual cooler in the winter months?

    TOM: I mean potentially, you could. And what Leslie is suggesting is a whole-house electronic air cleaner designed to fit and work inside the ducting system that runs the A/C. And then you would run the fan periodically to basically circulate and clean the air in the house.

    LESLIE: And just clean the air. Generally, this works great when people have forced-air for both heat and cooling, because it’s operating continually year-round. But in your situation – you know, I sometimes know in the winter months, if the house gets stuffy – we only have central air conditioning and steam heat. But if the house gets stuffy or if I’ve cooked or a big dinner party, I’ll run the fan just to sort of move the air around.

    CAROLINE: Right.

    LESLIE: And it doesn’t cool the house. So in your situation, it might be something where once a day or every so often, you just kick that fan on to just cycle the air through and clean it out.

    CAROLINE: That’s a good idea. I really appreciate that.

    LESLIE: They’re not terribly expensive. Aprilaire makes one; it’s the Model 5000, I believe. Several manufacturers do make them. They have a different type of filter system; it’s like an accordion-style media that just electronically charges and really sucks every particulate out of the air, whether it’s dust or viral or odor. So it’s beneficial other than just the dust.

    CAROLINE: Well, I really appreciate that. Thank you so much. I’ll share that with my husband.

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

    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, want to take a minute to tell you that we’ve got a new Facebook contest coming up for the holidays. We call it Santa’s Home Improvement Sweepstakes and it kicks off next weekend. And you can win, actually, one of several totally awesome prizes to help you get going on your DIY projects, just like Santa’s elves that do all that great work in the toy shop.

    So, check out our Facebook page and sign up for the Santa’s Sweepstakes. Easy to do and who knows? We might just be sending you an extra holiday gift.

    LESLIE: I love it. Easy Christmas shopping. Doesn’t cost you a dime.

    And also ahead, guys, bigger isn’t always better when it comes to bathrooms. When we come back, we’re going to share with you some design and decorating tips that you can use to change a small-looking bathroom into a really grand-feeling space, just in time for Thanksgiving.

    NORM: Hi. I’m Norm Abram from This Old House and when we’re working on our projects, we listen to The Money Pit.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, it’s the holiday season and that means it’s the time of year that your kitchen starts to work overtime. But we want to make sure that you aren’t taking any shortcuts. Get proper food-handling rules so that you and your guests avoid a trip to the ER. Just search “food prep” at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Mike in North Carolina is on the line. How can we help you today?

    MIKE: I have – I do renovation work at the beach: condos and houses and whatever.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: But I’ve run into this two times: one at a three-story condo and the other at my neighbor’s house; I renovated it last year. But in the wintertime, when the heat’s turned on, it’s – the ceiling separates from the walls. And there’s a visible gap about a ½-inch, depending on how cold it is outside.

    TOM: Right.

    MIKE: In the springtime, the gap will disappear and you’ll not see it.

    TOM: Well, being near the beach, I assume you have very high humidity. And so what that means is the walls are going to swell in the warmer weather. And then when the heat comes on, they’re all going to dry out and they’re going to shrink. A ½-inch does sound like an awfully big gap. Are you exaggerating at all or is it really a full ½-inch?

    MIKE: It varies from a pencil-line crack to a ½-inch. I’ve seen a ½-inch where it actually did.

    TOM: Right. I’ve seen it many times and typically, the way to fix that, Mike, is to repair the drywall. But instead of using paper tape, use the perforated fiberglass tape: the one that looks like sort of like a mesh or a netting. It’s a lot stronger and if you sand down – pull off the paper tape, sand down the area, use the mesh tape and then put more spackle up there, that usually keeps it together a lot better than the paper tape did.

    MIKE: It certainly seems excessive. And the house was built in the 70s and it is not built under the same codes that we build with today with the tie-downs.

    TOM: Sure. Right. Mm-hmm.

    MIKE: We’ve got hurricane tie-downs and stuff now.

    TOM: Right.

    MIKE: But anyway, I thought I might run it by you guys because you all seem to know right much.

    TOM: Well, we – I don’t know if – I don’t know how much right much we know but I do know that I’ve seen that many, many times, especially in beach communities, because of the difference in the humidity being so, so high and that lumber swelling.

    LESLIE: Thanks.

    TOM: And doors swell and floors swell and everything swells and then it just dries out very rapidly when the heat comes on. And it could do some funny things to those walls.

    MIKE: Well, I appreciate you.

    TOM: Alright, Mike. Good luck with that project. Thanks for checking in with us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, one overlooked space where we spend a lot of time is the bathroom. And if you’re trying to give a small bathroom a makeover, you have got to make every inch count.

    TOM: That’s right. And if you’re going for a renovation, you need to think smart design to make the most of a small space. Joining us now with advice on how to do just that is This Old House general contractor Tom Silva.

    Welcome, Tommy.

    TOM SILVA: Thanks, guys. Nice to be here.

    TOM: Now, why is it so important to think through this carefully before going ahead with any makeover or renovation?

    TOM SILVA: You always want to know where you’re going to put things. And if you have a small bathroom, guess what? You’re going to need the same things in the small bathroom that you need in a big bathroom. But you have to know how to place them and what to use to make the bathroom look like it’s bigger than it actually is.

    TOM: Well, that’s true, because every bathroom pretty much has the same things. If it’s a full bath, it’s going to have a shower or – and a tub or one of the other. It’s going to have a sink, it’s going to have a toilet. So beyond that, your space is your own and if you don’t have a lot of it, there are some tricks of the trade to actually take advantage of some of those hidden nooks and crannies, right?

    TOM SILVA: Right. I think the first is how you’re going to get in or out of the bathroom, so you think about the door, the swing of the door if it’s a small space. Do I even have place to swing the door? A pocket door comes in great for this.

    TOM: Now, how does a pocket door differ?

    TOM SILVA: Well, a pocket door will actually go into the wall cavity or you can mount it on the face of the outside wall before you even go into the bathroom. And that can be a nice, little feature that you’re trying to celebrate.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: A pocket door will go into that wall and be right out of the space; it won’t take space for that door to be.

    LESLIE: And if you’re dealing with a super-small bathroom, you might not, as you mentioned, have that space in the wall cavity because of plumbing.

    TOM SILVA: Right.

    LESLIE: And that barn sort of hardware that mounts on the outside, it really can be beautiful and really be a modern or industrial kind of look for the space.

    TOM SILVA: Surface mount, yeah.

    LESLIE: Now, what about tricks that you can do? I mean every space needs a mirror. Is there anything, as far as choosing my mirror for that space, that’s going to make it feel bigger?

    TOM SILVA: Absolutely. The larger the mirror, the bigger the space will be. A mirror will double the size of the space. So if you have a mirrored wall – and you may laugh but a mirrored ceiling makes a huge difference. You take a boat, for example, with a small bathroom, what do they do? They mirror the ceilings because it gives you the illusion of the space going up and up and up.

    TOM: Now, what about the color of the finish materials? Probably lighter has got to be better, right?

    TOM SILVA: Lighter is always better. That means the tile, if you’re going to use tile, the paint finishes and the shower glass door. If you use a shower glass door that’s not clear glass, guess what? That’s a wall.

    TOM: Yeah, good point.

    TOM SILVA: You want to be able to look through the back wall to see the back wall of the shower. You don’t want it to stop at that door.

    LESLIE: Now, having a small bath myself, at our money pit, storage is always a big, big problem. So how can you cleverly sneak out those spaces very sneakily to get you all the storage you need?

    TOM SILVA: Right. It’s difficult and sometimes, you can put a recessed mirror above the sink. But sometimes, you run into a vent line or a vent pipe, so you’re stuck with maybe recessing the cabinet into a wall cavity somewhere else in the room. You want to be careful not to recess that cavity into an exterior wall, because you don’t want to have a cold spot.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: So interior walls are great for making recessed or hidden cabinets.

    TOM: Now, one of the must-haves for bathrooms, really, regardless of size – like let’s talk about safety.

    TOM SILVA: Safety is important. You want to make sure that you have a hand bar, tile bars, grab bars, that kind of thing, especially if you have relatives that visit. Like my mother, for example, I would always be concerned about her being safe in the bathroom, so …

    TOM: And those grab bars can actually be very stylish today. In fact, they could match the bathroom faucets.

    TOM SILVA: You can get them in colors, you can get them in finishes: bronze, satin, all kinds of finishes.

    TOM: And of course, ground fault is critical.

    TOM SILVA: Absolutely. That’s the code.

    TOM: Yep.

    TOM SILVA: And that’s why you want a building inspector to basically – you want to get a building permit to make sure that the job is done right. So that’s very important. You don’t want to get electrocuted.

    TOM: And finally, one thing that a lot of folks – shockingly, the building code allows you to leave out, which is an exhaust fan. There is this provision of the code that says if you’ve got a window, you don’t need to have an exhaust fan, as if we love to leave our windows open in the winter. But the exhaust fan is really a critical piece of equipment in a bathroom.

    TOM SILVA: Absolutely. It’s very important and I like to have an exhaust fan that’s on a timer. They have timer that could be a 15-, 30- or a 90-minute timer but they also have fans today that are humidity-sensitive so that when you leave the bathroom, the fan stays on as long as it senses humidity. It shuts off and then it turns itself back on again because even though you think it’s dry enough to shut it off, it isn’t.

    And you also – I want to make a point of saying this: it’s very important that you do not vent that bathroom into an attic.

    TOM: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Because then you’re dumping that moisture up into the attic where it gets the insulation damp, causes mold to grow and the insulation is just not going to work that well.

    TOM SILVA: Mold, mildew and rot.

    TOM: Yep. A real mess. Good advice, Tommy Silva.

    There’s a lot you can get into a little bathroom with a device like that, folks.

    Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: My pleasure.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and great step-by-step videos on projects you can tackle and articles, as well, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Up next, do you know which one of your appliances uses an average of $100 a year in energy? Well, it’s your fridge. But you can cut that down. We’ll tell you how, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by TotalProtect Home Warranty. Get total protection against unexpected home repair or replacement costs for appliances, air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical. Visit BuyTotalProtect.com to see if you qualify for a special offer. That’s BuyTotalProtect.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. We are taking your calls here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT all day, all night, 24 hours a day.

    Thanksgiving is next week, guys. Are you traveling? Are you worried about your house? You’ve got holiday gifts in there? Maybe some of these are big-ticket items? Maybe you don’t have a security system. Well, one lucky caller that we talk to is going to win a home security system from SimpliSafe that solves the main problem with other systems. Most security companies rely on a phone line. Now, if the intruder cuts that line, you’re in trouble.

    SimpliSafe, they’re a wireless system and as easy to install and use as a car alarm.

    TOM: You can learn more about the system at SimpliSafe.com – S-i-m-p-l-i-Safe.com. It’s worth $330 but going out to one caller this hour, drawn at random from those that reach us on today’s program. So, get in line. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    And it’s time now for today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron, makers of the Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch.

    LESLIE: OK. So Thanksgiving means turkey and all the trimmings, as well as my favorite: a whole lot of leftovers, which means a break from the cooking frenzy. Now, when it comes to keeping those leftovers around for another meal, a fridge that’s running at its best is key. You can improve your refrigerator’s efficiency with a few, simple steps.

    First of all, you want to make sure that it’s not too cold. You want it between 37 and 40 degrees; that’s really the best temperature range.

    Also, you want to make sure that that seal is airtight so the cold air isn’t escaping. The best way to do this – you want to test it with a dollar bill inserted in the door. So put the dollar bill in, close the door. If it slips out pretty easily when the door is closed, that means that gasket isn’t working and you’re not getting a good seal. And you could actually replace those door gaskets and you’ll get a way-better seal.

    TOM: And here’s another idea that you might not have considered: if you want to reduce costs, be sure to cover your food. Why? Well, because uncovered foods and liquids release moisture, which makes the compressor work harder. And it might seem a bit counterintuitive but a near-empty fridge actually uses more power than one that’s full. Food and liquids collect and they store the cold, so your refrigerator works harder to maintain that cold when it’s empty.

    LESLIE: True. Which is why you might want to take into consideration how much food that you are actually storing when you buy a refrigerator, because you could consider downsizing to a smaller one and that could actually save you a bundle.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron. Easy upgrades, big impact. Choose Lutron. Learn more at ChooseLutron.com.

    LESLIE: Jim in Missouri is dealing with a ridge vent that lets the snow in and the air out at the same time. What can we do for you, Jim? This sounds like a mess.

    JIM: Yes. When the wind blows real hard and if you’ve got a real fine snow, you get a lot of snow in on top of your insulation. And here last summer, I had – we had a – well, you heard about Joplin; they had tornadoes. And well, we had some severe wind here and it blew quite a bit of water through them and got my – come through the drywall, ceilings and made stains and all that good stuff.

    TOM: Alright. Well, there is a type of ridge vent that’s designed specifically to prevent this from happening. And it’s made by the Air Vent Company. Their website is AirVent – just AirVent.com.

    And if you find – if you navigate your way over to the ridge-vent section, click on the type of vents called “filter vents.”

    JIM: OK.

    TOM: Filter vents have an internal weather baffle or weather material. It’s sort of like a mesh – almost looks like a fiberglass kind of mesh. And the idea is here that it lets the air ventilation occur but it stops the weather from getting in.

    JIM: Right. That’s what I need; I need something like that.

    TOM: Right. So just go over to AirVent.com and look up “filter vent.”

    JIM: Well, I appreciate it and I’m glad for the advice.

    TOM: Alright. You’re 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. Well, if you’re a woodworker, you may have noticed that there are now dozens of types of glue on the market and they’re all promising to help you with your project. We’re going to share some tips for choosing the best adhesives, 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.

    TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, if you are considering purchasing a tool this holiday season, don’t do that before you check out the video collection on MoneyPit.com, provided by our friends at ToolSelect. We’ve got it, folks. If you’re buying a weed whacker or if you’re buying a table saw, whatever project is on your mind, there’s great tool reviews there on The Money Pit website right now. Just check out the videos on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And while you’re there, you can post your question in the Community section. And I’ve got one here like Blake in New Mexico posted and it says: “I’m teaching myself some basic woodworking and I was wondering, what’s the difference between regular white glue and glue specifically designed for wood?”

    TOM: Well, one of the main differences is that glue that’s designed for wood is more sandable and paintable and some of it is even stainable. When you use traditional, white vinyl glue, none of that is possible.

    Now, back in the day, before we had the chemistry of today in glues, we used to only have white glue and then we had to develop all sorts of tricks of the trade to kind of cover it up.

    LESLIE: To cover it up.

    TOM: For example, if you spilled a little glue on a surface that wasn’t stained yet, you would immediately mix some sawdust in with it so that there was something in there that would actually grab some of the stain. It would still be a bit blotchy but you could make it a little bit better.

    So the glues today are designed to take a stain or to be paintable or sandable and it just makes them a whole lot easier to work with. So if you’re going to do wood work, use woodworking glue. Take a look at the glues that are made by the Elmer’s company. They have quite a few woodworking glues there that will give you reliable performance and strength and dry reasonably quickly and help you get the job done that much better.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s really what you want to use.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Sarah in Georgia who wrote: “Can you tell me what the little diamond mark is on my tape measure? It appears every 19-3/16 inches.”

    TOM: Ah, this is a good home improvement trivia question. The answer is interesting; I think it’s interesting. It’s a modern revision of the standard tape measure.

    You know, tape measures typically have marks every 16 inches because that’s how we would lay out studs for walls: every 16 inches and also floor joists and so on. The reason that those diamond marks exist at that 19-3/16 inch is to help you lay out floor trusses.

    And floor trusses have a very wide – they’re manufactured trusses. They have a very wide top beam, so to speak. It actually kind of looks like a 2×4 on the flat. So because that surface is so wide, it’s not necessary to put them on 16-inch centers. You can put them on wider centers, use fewer floor trusses and get the same floor strength. Because remember, it’s the span between – the unsupported span – that’s important when it comes to supporting that plywood subfloor.

    LESLIE: And so that’s where you want that center.

    TOM: That’s right, 19-3/16 instead of 16. And it gives you the same equivalent space in between the floor joists and allows you to save a bit of lumber in the process. Mystery solved.

    LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got one from Kay in New Hampshire who writes: “I have 8×8 ceramic tiles in my bathroom floor. Few years old. Some of them are cracking down the middle. What can I do when I put new tiles down to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”

    TOM: Well, the reason they’re cracking is because, as you may suspect, tiles don’t bend. And the floor underneath is not supported properly. So, I would take up the old tiles, add another layer of underlayment. Good, sturdy, thick plywood will do.

    LESLIE: Just to make it more rigid?

    TOM: Make it more rigid. And then your new tile floor should turn out just fine.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that, Kay.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Have a great holiday, everyone, coming up this week as we all turn to enjoy our Thanksgiving Day at home. And we give you permission to take one day – just one, though – one day off of home improvement projects and it’s back to work next weekend.

    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. Happy Thanksgiving.


    (Copyright 2012 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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