Avoid Freezing Pipes, Prevent Fires and Host Holiday Guests
TRANSCRIPT FOR DECEMBER 21, 2009, HOUR 2
Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
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: Hope you’re having an enjoyable holiday week tackling home improvement projects; probably not so much but that’s OK. We’re going to talk home improvement today nonetheless because we know they may be on your to-do list for 2010.
Coming up this hour, it is a common side effect of below-freezing temperatures and they can cost you thousands of dollars in damages. We’re talking about frozen and burst pipes. You know, there’s nothing worse than coming home from, say, a weekend away during the holidays to find that your house is flooded because of a broken pipe. We’re going to tell you how to winterize your home so that won’t happen, in just a bit.
LESLIE: You know, and another common danger this time of year is fire. Think about it: you’ve got all those extra lights; you’re using extra electricity and probably have a bunch of candles around your house as decorations – they’re burning. We’re going to help you stay safe with your holiday candle displays with some simple advice that could really save your life.
TOM: Also ahead, you can keep your company comfortable; we’ve got the basics for a guest room that will make your visitors feel at home.
LESLIE: And we’re giving away a set of two Blackfire Clamplights. Now these are specially designed to be freestanding or you can clamp them somewhere to allow for your hands to be free.
TOM: It’s a prize worth almost 60 bucks, so call us right now for your chance to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Dennis in New York is dealing with a dusty situation in the bedroom.
Dennis, have you tried cleaning?
DENNIS: Yes. Oh, yeah, well, I’ve been cleaning for a long time. Yeah.
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.
TOM: He wants to get out of cleaning.
DENNIS: (chuckling) That’s right, exactly.
TOM: (overlapping voices) What kind of heating system do you have, Dennis?
DENNIS: We have an oil hot water system.
TOM: It’s hot water? OK, so you don’t have a duct system throughout the house.
DENNIS: Correct, correct.
TOM: Alright. And any guesses as to where the dust is coming from?
DENNIS: That’s the perplexing part. The only vent that we really have that – this is primarily in the bedroom upstairs; I have a split-level home. We have replacement windows in three of the windows between the bathroom and two windows in the bedroom. There is an air conditioner vented outside that’s closed up now and – but there’s an inordinate – there’s always been an inordinate amount of dust in the bedroom and these windows were put in about 14, 15 years ago. And I just can’t help but think, for some reason, that they’re coming from the windows although …
TOM: Well, I think the dust is mostly forming from the inside of the house. I hate to tell you this. It’s not coming in from the outside.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) I mean, especially if you’ve got carpeting or a lot of fibrous – you know, lots of fabrics, lots of …
DENNIS: For the most part, there are wood floors in most of the house but we do have area rugs.
TOM: Right. Usually, dust forms inside the house. It consists of, you know, debris, dust mites, other substances like that.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Skin. Gross.
TOM: Skin flakes, yeah. You really don’t want to know; let’s just put it that way. (Leslie chuckles) But it doesn’t come in from the outside. Now the fact that it’s showing up in this bedroom may be related to the fact that you’ve got this through-the-wall air conditioner; you’ve got these windows. Because if you’ve got cold surfaces – remember, as the warm air heats them, it chills, it falls, it creates a convection – sort of a convective loop – that can appear to deposit a lot of dust in one place where it’s very visible but in reality it’s really throughout the air of the house. And nothing but good cleaning and perhaps some filtration systems are going to help you reduce that.
The reason I asked you if you had a forced-air system – because if you did, I was going to recommend a really good-quality electronic air cleaner. Since you don’t have that, your only other option is to go with a portable unit and if it’s particularly bad in the bedroom, that might be an appropriate thing to try. But if you do, I want to make sure you get something that’s got a very high-efficiency filter rating; like MERV 3 or better.
DENNIS: MERV 3. OK.
LESLIE: And when you say, “Or better,” does the number go up, Tom? How does that work with the MERV ratings?
TOM: Yeah, the higher the number, the more efficient the filter. But typically, you’re going to be around three, four, five for a MERV rating on an indoor air filter for a residential home.
LESLIE: Catherine in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
CATHERINE: Well, I’ve got a cracked vent pipe and I’ve opened up the part that was cracked and it’s going up to my third-floor bathroom as well as to the roof beyond. I don’t know how I can repair this.
TOM: Is this for your plumbing system?
TOM: And is it the cast-iron pipe?
CATHERINE: Correct. And it’s cracked right along the length of it at the elbow.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah, very, very common condition. That’s pretty much the way those pipes wear. They’re very heavy; there’s a lot of weight above them and they go through different forces and they will crack. So, how do you fix that? Well, generally, you replace it. Is it leaking now, though?
CATHERINE: Well, actually, I disconnected the toilet because sometimes the water backs up into the crack. So, the third floor bathroom is not functioning and it hasn’t been for a year because I can’t find a competent individual who can give me a reasonable answer.
TOM: Right. Well, you know what you ought to do? Are you familiar with Angie’s List?
CATHERINE: Angie’s List. No.
TOM: It’s a really good service. It’s online and basically, if you join Angie’s List, it’s sort of a social networking site that helps you find contractors. You have thousands upon thousands of people in any one area that are on Angie’s List and they all openly share ratings on contractors. And I bet if you spent a little time on that service, you’d be able to find a good guy because it definitely sounds like you’re not talking to the right plumbers. You know, cracked cast-iron pipes is sort of Plumber 101. If you don’t have a plumber that can fix it, you’re not talking to the right guys.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, are you entertaining some holiday guests this week? We’ve got some tips to help keep them safe and comfortable with some ideas on how you can set up a guest room, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions life. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Say, as you’ve tackled home improvement projects around your house, have you ever wished for a third hand to, say, hold a flashlight?
LESLIE: That’s what your chin-to-neck is for. (Tom chuckles) I’m like doing it.
TOM: That’s why I’m always dropping the flashlight. (Leslie chuckles) Well, if you give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, we’re giving away a great prize this hour to one of our callers. It’s called the new Blackfire Clamplight and it can basically clamp onto just about anything or stand on its own, so you’ll have an extra hand to hold the light while you’re doing that project. It’s worth 60 bucks; going to go to one caller that reaches us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: And you can even use them as, say, side-table lights for your guest room if you didn’t get a chance to finish up your guest room before your guests started knocking on your door this holiday week.
So, I’ve got some great tips for you right now about hosting guests. You know, I know a lot of you have got people ringing the bell; everybody wants to spend the holidays with you. Lucky you. But guests also mean a lot of stress, so these tips are going to help you cut down on that stress.
First of all, you don’t even really need a separate guest room to do this. If you’ve got one, great; if you don’t, don’t worry. First, you want to make sure that sleeping quarters are comfy with a good bed. Now, if you’ve got an old mattress or perhaps your pull-out couch is a little bit worn, head on over to one of those bedding stores and pick up a foam, egg carton topper. And it really does make a bed super-comfortable. I mean, ask those millions of college students out there who use one every single day.
Also, you want to make sure that there’s a side table or some sort of cabinet nearby to the bed with a reading light, a bit of storage space, a quiet clock. And make sure the clock has an alarm on it because folks don’t want to sleep in when they’re visiting. They want to get up; they want to be busy.
And give them bottled water with a nice little glass; even a flower. It just really spruces up the space and it makes it feel like it’s their own.
TOM: Good tips but here’s another one: don’t make your place too comfortable or your guests just won’t want to leave. (Leslie chuckles)
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: But then you can start charging them rent. (Tom chuckles)
Ellen in Michigan is dealing with a tricky, wintertime door. Tell us about it.
ELLEN: Yes. I was wondering if there is anything a carpentry-challenged, old lady (Tom and Leslie chuckle) can do with a door that, evidently, one part either the door shrinks or swells or the frame shrinks and swells; and in the winter time, the little latch that goes into the metal part on the door frame is not long enough to hold it and the wind will just blow it open and I’ll have a hall full of snow.
TOM: Well, it’s – if you – the answer is no. It’s not an easy fix because, basically, your door has to be adjusted. And that could involve, you know, moving the hinges, doing a little bit of trimming. Over the years, it’s sagged probably; it’s settled. And that’s why things don’t line up and things don’t seal well.
And the bigger issue is that a wood door – it’s just really hard to make it weatherproof. I mean, the doors that are today – the fiberglass entry doors, for example – that’s a complete system. Those doors close and lock tight, just like your refrigerator door seals when it shuts. But the wood doors, not so much and you’re always kind of fighting Mother Nature there with the expansion and contraction of the lumber and the movement of the house.
So, you can either hire a carpenter to kind of adjust the door or you could replace the door, which probably wouldn’t be that much more money. And in fact, the cost-versus-value survey that’s done by Remodeling Magazine every year came out just recently and showed that the number one investment that you can make in your house is a new entry door.
ELLEN: (overlapping voices) Oh, is that right?
TOM: (overlapping voices) You get a better return on investment on that than anything else. So, I think that, you know, if you’ve got a door that’s giving you that kind of aggravation, you really might want to think about replacing it with a fiberglass entry door.
ELLEN: A fiberglass one.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. And they look just like wood.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, go to the website for ThermaTru.com. They are one of our sponsors and they make gorgeous doors that are very energy-efficient.
ELLEN: OK. I will do that.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in New York has a tile question. How can we help you with the project?
BOB: Say, I’ve got about a 150-square-foot of ceramic tile; 10 x 10 that is inset down onto linoleum.
BOB: It’s been glued down previously onto plywood and I’m having a very difficult time trying to get it up with a hammer and a chisel.
TOM: (overlapping voices) I bet you are. (chuckles) I bet you are.
BOB: I can’t put another floor over top of it because I’ve got what looks like 16 feet of cast-iron baseboard because this was put back in the 70s.
BOB: And I’m trying to find out the best technique to get this tile up.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, I think what you’re going to have to do is you’re going to have to get a …
TOM: Yeah, well, a jackhammer. No, what I was thinking was probably a masonry blade on a circular saw and start cutting the grout lines and picking the …
BOB: Cutting the grout lines. Right.
TOM: Yeah, and picking the stuff up that way. This is sort of – you need some demolition tools here. And you set your depth on the saw and be very careful by protecting your arms and your eyes and all of that with the appropriate …
TOM: Because you’re going to be throwing stuff every which way.
BOB: Right. Safety goggles are in order.
TOM: Safety goggles; even a face mask.
TOM: OK? And you may want to also head out to the local rental yard because they may have a much heavier tool that could do this quicker.
BOB: I see. OK. Home Depot does rent a lot of this type …
TOM: They do, they do. It’s a good source.
BOB: So I’ll check them out.
TOM: Alright, good.
BOB: (overlapping voices) I need something heavy-duty.
TOM: Yeah, you do. This is not something you can do with a chisel; this is a big project.
BOB: Right. Exactly. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Gary in Texas has an insulation question. What can we do for you today?
GARY: I just had a new air conditioner installed and, in the process, my contractor suggested that I get some additional insulation. And what I have existing is that – I don’t know what it’s called but it’s white and fluffy. And he says that particular product packs down too much and he recommended we put fiberglass insulation in instead, to freshen it up. And I wanted to see what you guys thought of that.
LESLIE: Is the white and fluffy stuff, Tom, the blown-in?
GARY: Yes, is it blown-in? Yeah, somebody said it was like a CertainTeed product. If you wad it up, it almost feels like cotton if you ball it up in your hands.
TOM: Oh, that’s blown-in.
TOM: Yeah, that’s blown-in insulation. Yeah, there’s no reason you can’t put more fiberglass on top of that. You want to have 19 inches of fiberglass and 22 inches of blown-in. Since you have half and half, I don’t know; I would go for the 22, I guess. (Leslie chuckles)
GARY: Alright. Well, that sounds about right, then, because he was planning to add about 18 inches of fiberglass on top of what we have, so that sounds about right.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. And what you want to do, Gary, is you want to make sure that in the bays between the floor joists or the ceiling rafters – however you want to think about it if you’re up in the attic –
GARY: Yes, yes.
LESLIE: – you want to make sure that those bays are filled to the top of the joist and then what you can do is roll out another layer of the fiberglass, perpendicular to those joists; just to give you an extra oomph of insulation.
GARY: OK. Well that sounds great. I appreciate that.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, if you need help with a plumbing project, then you are in luck because our next caller, Colleen in Missouri, has that exact question. What can we do for you?
COLLEEN: Well, we just purchased a home. It’s about 20 years old and we knew there were going to be some things that we were going to want to update or improve. One of those would be the commodes in the bathrooms. Three bathrooms; three at least 20-year-old units. And when a plumber came and looked at it he was saying, “You really don’t have – you know, there’s no water efficiency here. You’ve got some major usage issues that you could probably save a lot on.” But if I’m going to replace it, I’m not sure exactly what my options are. I mean, how critical is that to me? How much am I going to save? What’s that going to equate to me? And if I do, what do I want to look for?
TOM: Well, there’s a new program out right now from the EPA. It’s called WaterSense. And this WaterSense certification is very similar to sort of the Energy Star program where you have manufacturers that are building plumbing fixtures to meet certain water efficiency and performance standards. And …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, like green guidelines.
TOM: Exactly. And right now there are plenty of WaterSense-labeled toilets and WaterSense-labeled faucets and shower fixtures available. So if I was choosing to replace plumbing fixtures today, I would look for WaterSense-certified products. This is going to not be an expensive upgrade because, you know, these fixtures are not any more or less expensive than any other new faucet or new toilet.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. And I think it’s important to say, you know, that the showerheads and the faucets – you’re not going to notice a change in pressure. Yes, you’re saving water as far as the usage amount but what they’ve done is they’ve put in a different type of aerator so you’re going to have more air forcing the water out, so it feels like it has fantastic pressure while you’re still saving water; so you’re not going to sacrifice that great shower.
TOM: Now, are you going to save so much water that you can pay for all of this stuff? My answer would be yes, eventually. But who knows how long you’re going to be in the house long enough for that? So I would say that if you want to replace the fixtures anyway, the best thing to do is to go with WaterSense-certified products. If you’re happy with the existing fixtures, you can just continue to use them; there’s really no reason to replace them.
TOM: 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. Up next, protecting your pipes from winter’s freezing temperatures. We’re experiencing them right now; we’re going to be sticking through them all winter long. So we’re going to tell you how to make sure that they don’t freeze and burst, when we come back.
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.
TOM: Pick up the phone; give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Call us with your home improvement question, which could be: “Hey, how do I winterize my pipes so they don’t freeze and break when I leave the house in cold weather?”
Well, one way to protect yourself from freezing pipes is to winterize them.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? This is extremely important if you’ve got, say, a summer house that you aren’t going to use in the winter months or maybe you live up north and you’re what we like to call a snowbird and you’re heading down to the warmer climes for the winter season. So we’ve got a great guest to tell us more. We’ve got Nicole Gorsuch from Dow, who is going to teach us everything we need to know to properly winterize our pipes.
NICOLE: Hi. Thank you for having me.
TOM: Hey, it’s our pleasure. So if we do have a house that we want to winterize – you know, we get a lot of questions from folks saying, “Do you leave the heat on? Do you turn it off? What do you do about the pipes? What about the antifreeze?”
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Antifreeze.
TOM: There are a lot of questions, so what kind of is the step-by-step process you have to go through if you want to make sure that your plumbing is in the same condition when you get back from your winter vacation? (Leslie chuckles)
NICOLE: Sure, absolutely. Well, the first thing that you would need to do to winterize your cottage, to winterize the potable water system in your cottage, would be to turn off all of the power to the water pump and the hot water tank. You’re going to want to thoroughly flush and drain the pipes and the fixtures.
TOM: Now, is that something that’s easy to do even if you don’t have the drain point in the plumbing system? I mean, do you basically have to have a plumbing system that has been set up to drain?
NICOLE: I think all plumbing systems can be drained and flushed. And you can also use an air compressor to make sure that you’re getting all of the water and all of the fluid out.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, that’s a good idea. Sort of blow all the water out of it.
NICOLE: Exactly. You’re going to want to make sure that you’re draining the hot water tank and the jet pump or the pressure or gravity tanks. So make sure that you get all of that out.
TOM: Now, if you have – we’re talking about, of course, if you have well water. Now, if you have a city water supply, there’s nothing to do but turn the main water valve off, I presume.
NICOLE: Exactly, exactly. You’re going to also want to make sure that the toilet is drained and then you’re going to want to fill all of that up. You want to fill up the jet pump, the toilets, the sinks and any other fixtures with piping, with a winterization product. The one that Dow markets is our DOWFROST RVR winterization product.
TOM: OK. So that’s essentially the antifreeze product.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. But that’s specifically an antifreeze for RVs because I understand RV’s antifreeze and something that you would use for a car are very different and you should never use the car one, right?
NICOLE: Yes. You never want to use an automotive antifreeze to winterize your RV or your cottage or your boat. The automotive antifreeze products that are on the market, most of them are made from either methanol – which is, of course, explosive; has a flashpoint that you don’t want to have in your cottage – or ethylene glycol, which is very toxic.
NICOLE: Anyone who’s ever had a pet get into a sweet-tasting, of course, antifreeze – automotive antifreeze – knows that that can be very, very deadly so …
LESLIE: Oh, it’s so bad for them.
NICOLE: Yeah, the blend that we have on the market can be used for cottages, pools, spas, RVs. And it’s a blend of food-grade propylene glycol – which is non-toxic – and bio-renewable, plant-based ingredients.
TOM: Oh, that’s interesting.
LESLIE: Nicole, you mentioned that the RV antifreeze that Dow makes is sort of food-based. Because I imagine that you’ve got this circulating in the sink; you’ve got it in the toilet. Does at some point it sort of come back in contact with the water that you’re going to then drink once you turn it back on? I mean, how much do you have to flush out once you sort of get back into the house for the coming season?
NICOLE: You want to make sure that you’re flushing your system thoroughly in the spring. You want to try to get all of the antifreeze out of your water system by using plenty of clean water. Now, that being said, if you’re using a product like the DOWFROST RVR, if there happened to be some left over in the system, it’s not going to cause any damage.
TOM: I think a lot of folks don’t realize how many nooks and crannies there are in a plumbing system where water sits. And even though you’ve tried to drain everything out, that water is actually sitting in the pipes, sitting in the toilets. And if that water freezes and expands, that plumbing fixture is going to crack and that’s going to make a really big mess when you come home from vacation and turn the water back on again. So I think it’s really important to winterize your home.
It’s also important to not turn the heat totally off. You want to leave it set at around 60 degrees or so because, otherwise, you’re going to get a lot of swelling of the woodwork and you can get mold problems and thinks like that. So a little bit of heat goes a long way but just in case you get temperature that does happen to drop down below freezing – maybe the heat goes off or something else dreadful happens – the antifreeze is a really important part of your winterization plan.
NICOLE: One other thing that I’d like to add is I’d like to make sure that consumers out there know that they should not dilute the RV antifreeze that they purchase because the product that’s out there on the shelf is in a pre-mixed solution and if you add it, it’s going to raise the freeze point.
TOM: Good point.
NICOLE: And it’s also going to dilute the inhibitors, which are in the product in order to protect the system components from any rusting and pitting so …
TOM: Perfect. Nicole Gorsuch from Dow, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. That’s great information on how to properly winterize your home.
NICOLE: Thanks for having me.
TOM: Our pleasure.
LESLIE: Well, now you know how to protect your home from water damage; now all you need to know is how to prevent a fire. Well, we’re going to tell you how to display your holiday candles safely, when we come back.
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TOM: Making good homes better. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got a great prize that we’re giving away this hour to one of our lucky folks who gets in on The Money Pit and asks their question on the air.
We have got the new Blackfire Clamplight – a clamplight? That’s hard to say – it can clamp on to just about anything or it can stand on its own so that you can actually have both of your hands free to, say, find a leak or install a duct or even replace a circuit. Perfect for working in tight, dark spaces and the head even swivels so you can direct the light wherever you need it.
And actually, there’s a set of two in this prize. It’s worth 60 bucks, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Well, flashlights are great in the dark but only candles can add that special touch to a holiday celebration and this is the time of year home fires increase and candles are one of the reasons.
So, make sure you follow these safety tips. For example, don’t leave candles burning in a room that’s unattended or on overnight. If you want to choose a menorah, use a sturdy candleholder that will not tip or burn and is large enough to collect any dripping wax. And keep candles away from clothing, books, magazines and/or curtains.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? On candles that you use frequently, try to trim those wicks down to one-quarter of an inch before each use. And don’t use pillar or taper candles once they’re within two inches of the holder.
Finally, have you guys seen these electric candles? There is actually …
TOM: Or the battery-operated ones.
LESLIE: Yeah, those little battery-operated ones.
TOM: They’re awesome.
LESLIE: And a lot of them are made with actual, real wax yet for some reason, they don’t melt because the light never gets hot enough. They look fantastic and you really cannot tell the difference. Plus, you spend the same amount of money and you keep them forever. I like that.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.
We have a lot of 2010 home improvement projects stacking up, it looks like, Leslie. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Hugh in Maine has an energy question. What can we do for you?
HUGH: Hi. I have a question regarding a wind turbine. I was – I’ve been seeing a lot in the press and advertisements, what-have-you, lately about wind turbines for residences. And we were thinking about buying one and putting one in but just kind of wondered what – whether it was worth it and what kind of energy savings we might expect to get on our electric bill.
TOM: You mean a windmill?
TOM: Yeah. Well, I’ve got to tell you, they’re probably pretty expensive to use on a residential basis – expensive to buy and install on a residential basis – and I do question how quick the payback would be for that expense. So I think you need to look at how much electricity it’s going to generate and what the per-kilowatt hour value of that and then you need to figure out how long you’re going to have the thing and what the warranty is.
See, in my experience with active devices like that, that the payback isn’t that quick. Now, when you’re doing wind generation on a large-scale basis where you have a big field or you have wind generators out at sea, you know, that can be very efficient because you can share the costs among all of the customers of your utility company. But on a one-off basis, I’d be surprised if it gave you a good return on investment; there are probably better things that you can do with that money, Hugh.
HUGH: OK. Alright. That sounds good. They’re a few of the factors that I thought about but not all of it, so I really appreciate the advice.
TOM: You’re welcome, Hugh. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Pennsylvania where Julia has a window question. What’s going on at your money pit?
JULIA: Well, I have one of the metal sunrooms and it’s been quite a problem for me and I would like to have some help and guidance as to what I should do because it’s not really serviceable. And the windows are all stained because the seals are broken; they have failed because the insulating factor is gone.
TOM: And you want to know the least expensive way to fix that?
JULIA: The most economical way, yes. I know if I just …
TOM: Julia, that would be curtains, OK? (chuckles) Because when the seals go between the glass like that, you can’t repair that because you can’t restore that vacuum to that window pane. The panes wear that way; the thermal panes wear that way and when they get a leak in them you get moisture inside that discolors it. Now, the good news is that it really only affects you visually; it doesn’t so much affect the r value. So it’s still going to be a reasonably well-insulated piece of glass but it does get kind of nasty looking. So, until you really can’t stand to look at it, I would live with it.
Sorry I don’t have better news for you, Julia, but remember, window treatments are cheap. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Yeah, especially if you make them yourself. (chuckles)
TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we’re still getting a fair amount of e-mail about the showerhead story we first reported to you a couple of months ago. If you recall, this was about the researchers from the University of Colorado who discovered that when you turn your shower on, that you can potentially be spewed with bacteria that shoots out of that showerhead. Yuck! And we’re getting a lot of questions on what you can do about it and how you can keep those showerheads clean. We’re going to tell you, after this.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online and MoneyPit.com. Happy holidays, everybody. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Hey, why don’t you head on over to MoneyPit.com because we have got a great article there with lots of tips on how you can return all of those holiday gifts that you just don’t like or perhaps, let’s say, you can’t use. (chuckles) Because you know what? In this economy, a lot of stores aren’t taking everything back with no questions asked.
So head on over to MoneyPit.com. Search “holiday returns” and we can help you make that very daunting chore a lot easier.
TOM: And while you’re on MoneyPit.com, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and send us an e-mail, just like Lisa did.
LESLIE: Alright. And Lisa writes: “I heard you guys talking about showerheads spewing out bacteria when you first turn them on. If bleach isn’t effective against showerheads with bacteria, can you advise what the best way is to clean as much as possible? I think that people are getting a little bit germophobic. I mean, if you aren’t safe in the SHOWER, where are you safe?”
TOM: Good point. And the situation is with that story about the showerheads leaking bacteria that the researchers say that, look, unless you are really, really sensitive to bacteria – like you have some sort of immune-suppressed system – you don’t have to worry about the level of bacteria that comes out of the showerhead.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. Just don’t open your mouth.
TOM: But there are a couple of things that you can do. If you really are really freaked out about it, you can only use – you can use a metal showerhead. Metal showerheads don’t seem to have this problem; it’s only the ones that are a little more water-efficient, unfortunately, that seem to have this issue because they’re a little more heavily engineered; there are more places that water can sit and perhaps grow bacteria. But again, if you’re not immune-suppressant, you don’t have to worry about it.
The other thing that you should be doing – and this is kind of a no-brainer – don’t take that first blast of water that comes out of the showerhead. You always ought to run it a little bit. You know, we’re not talking about wasting gallons of water here but run it a little bit before you get into the shower and this way, if there’s any bacteria that collected, you’re pushing it out of the way.
LESLIE: Tom, you and I both discovered when we first heard this story, that we both run the water from the tub spout and then turn on the shower as we get in. (chuckles)
TOM: Right. And I’ve changed that since. (chuckles)
LESLIE: And thanks to this whole process, every, single day when I turn on my shower, I am instantly freaked out. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) It’s true but you’re right; a lot of showerheads out there you can get are all metal and those will not have the areas that can store the bacteria. And I know they’re a bit hard to find but if you head to a more traditional hardware store, like a small mom-and-pop shop, they will definitely have them.
TOM: Well, a tighter economy; there might be not a lot of money left for redecorating plans. But guess what? You don’t need a whole lot. Leslie has got some tips on how to decorate on a budget, on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Since you’re not spending a lot of money, you’re probably not going out that much and I bet sitting in that same living room, day after day, is probably getting a little bit boring. So if you’re looking for the easiest and cheapest way to change the look of your room, simply rearrange the furniture. It is free and it will still make everything feel fresh and new. I mean it.
And think about what you’ve got in your house. Take a look around. Is the rug in the living room, say, the same size as the rug in the bedroom? And what do you know? The colors work. Switch them around. Look around your house. Does your bedroom need something new? Maybe you can bring in an extra side chair that you’ve had in the formal living room or in the den or in the dining room and make a nice little reading nook in your bedroom.
Start looking at your house as sort of an inventory of what you’ve got and then think about how you can freshen up the colors. Maybe all the throw pillows in your living room can suddenly spruce up the look of your den or your bedroom. Start sort of keeping inventory, swap things around, move around the furniture; completely rearrange things. It takes a little bit of time and a lot of back labor but I promise you, the end result will be a brand-spanking-new space that will suddenly feel fresh and exciting and it didn’t cost you a dime, except maybe a pizza you’ve got to buy for your friend who helped you move the couch.
TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Thank you so much for spending this year with us. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to help you achieve your home improvement dreams. Our privilege, our pleasure. We hope that it was helpful for you.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2009 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.)