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Avoiding Appliance Mistakes that Lead to Service Calls, Balancing Forced Hot Air Systems, Don’t Wait to Install Energy Efficient Windows 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: Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit today. We’ve got a very busy show coming up, as we all start that slide into the back end of fall, into the early weeks of winter and with the holidays just around the corner. It’s a busy time in The Money Pit business.

    And it’s also a time when folks are really stressing out their appliances. I mean you’re doing lots of loads of clothes, lots of loads of dishes and using the ovens and all of that. And so we’re going to have some tips this hour on the number one mistake people make with their appliances, that causes service calls. We’re going to tell you how to keep the service man at bay, in just a few minutes. Here’s a hint: too much soap is not a good thing.

    LESLIE: But you think it is. You want it to be super-clean so you think, “If I add all of the soap, it’ll work.”

    TOM: More is not always better.

    LESLIE: Well, maybe not so much.

    Well, also ahead this hour, do you have that one room in your house that just doesn’t seem to ever get that warm? Well if you have a forced hot-air system, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

    So, maybe your system is out of balance. Well we’re going to share some tips on how to get those cold rooms feeling the warmth, coming up.

    TOM: Plus, the clock is ticking on cashing in on energy-efficient tax credits. You’ve got just a few more weeks to get those projects done in time for this tax year.

    Now, one great project that will start saving you money and energy instantly is replacing old, drafty windows with more energy-efficient ones. We’re going to have some tips on why replacement is a good choice and how to choose the ones that are right for you.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a prize pack from the folks over at CLR, which stands for Calcium, Lime and Rust. And you’ve heard us talk about it on the show many, many times; we’re always recommending CLR to remove stains. And today, you’ve got a chance to give it a test for yourself. We’re giving away a prize pack of products that will last you a very long time.

    TOM: So give us call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Scott in South Carolina is calling in with an insulation question. How can we help you today?

    SCOTT: Yes. We’re building a new house and we were wondering the difference between foam insulation and the regular insulation and if it would be worth the difference in price in doing that.

    TOM: Well, the key difference between a spray-in insulation – you’re talking about a product like Icynene?

    SCOTT: Right.

    TOM: Well, the key difference is this: when you use a spray-on insulation like that, you both seal and insulate in one step, which can be very effective. And in a new house, it’s a pretty good idea to do that.

    Now, a company like Owens Corning also has a product that is used in new construction, where they seal – they spray all of the corners and all of the critical areas of the house where you can get leaks. And that’s another way to do it; with an expandable foam insulation like that. But the issue is that they seal and insulate when you use a product like that; not just insulate.

    SCOTT: So it is a good product to use?

    TOM: Yeah. Yep. They’re both excellent products and good choices.

    SCOTT: OK. Well that’s basically what I needed to know and I really appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Heather in South Carolina is calling in with a decking question. What happened? You did some finishing work to it and you don’t like it?

    HEATHER: Yes. We have a pressure-treated deck that we put on – had put on six years ago. And we let it weather for a year and then we put on a stain that was supposed to look like paint; it’s beige color.

    TOM: OK.

    HEATHER: And it – the instructions said not to put anything on over it or not to repeat it. And it’s now six years later. It looks terrible; it hasn’t held up. It’s a lot of weathering in the summer and we don’t know what to do.

    TOM: You’re going to have to strip it.

    LESLIE: Well and six years is a pretty good run for a horizontal surface, I have to say.

    TOM: Yeah, it is. It is.

    LESLIE: You know, most manufacturers say three to five years for a horizontal surface and if it gets a lot of sun, it’s probably going to lessen that greatly.

    HEATHER: What would we strip it with?

    LESLIE: There’s several products out there that make a paint stripper; Behr. Whatever product that you like to work with as far as paint or finishes, they’ll make a stain – I mean a stripper.

    And you want to put it on the surface according to the directions. And some of them will say work in small areas; some will say wet the entire deck and coat the entire deck with the stripper and then let it sit. But read the directions and work in a method that you feel comfortable with. If you only want to tackle sections at a time because of its size, do that.

    And because you’re going to have to wet it quite a bit to get the finish off in the stripping process, you really want to let it dry very, very, very well before you apply the new finish to it. And there are some products out there that have products built in that are almost UV protectants, that will help sort of make it stand up to the sun better.

    HEATHER: OK. OK, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and as we get into this very super, ridiculously busy time of year, we know there’s a lot of stuff going on at your house. So make your lists and I’m not just talking about for the big guy in red that’s coming up in the next month.

    But make your list; let us help you get those home improvement projects done, so your house can be in tip-top shape. We’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: Yes, make your list, check it twice; we really don’t care if you’re naughty or nice.

    LESLIE: We’ll help you anyway.

    TOM: We’re here to help you out, nonetheless.

    Hey, when your mom taught you to do laundry, she probably added a big old capful of detergent to every single wash load. But it turns out that today’s machines don’t need nearly that much soap. Find out why too much of it could be very bad for your appliances and how you can save some money by using less, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    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: Pick up the phone, give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We will help you clean up that home improvement list and offer you a few products to help you clean up your house because this hour, we’re giving away a CLR Total Clean Bucket filled with an entire line of household cleaning products from our friends at CLR.

    These products are specially formulated to solve the toughest cleaning problems. We often recommend, actually, this product to folks who call in with questions about stains. So you are going to get the classic CLR calcium, lime and rust remover, as well as the brand new stone and stainless steel cleaner, plus several other products to help make at least one chore a little bit easier in your house.

    To win, you must have a home improvement question. Pick up the phone and call us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: That’s right and that’s a great prize package, just in time for the holidays when most of us do a massive amount of cleaning in our house. And for some of us, it’s the only time of year we actually do clean our house.

    Well, this time of year, we really put into practice our cleaning skills and maybe our moms taught us some things from a while ago when technologies weren’t as advanced as they are today. And maybe when your mom was going over the laundry with you, she kind of added that giant capful of detergent to every single wash load.

    Well, the problem today is that high-efficient washing machines, they don’t really use as much detergent and as much water as necessary from an older machine. So, when you’re working with your washer, if you’ve got a new, high-efficient model, you want to make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully for the best results.

    And you also have to choose your wash soap very, very carefully, because there are several brands out there that make high-efficiency detergents for those super-energy-efficient washing machines. So you want to make sure that you’re using the correct amount of detergent for the type of machine that you have.

    And also, if you accidentally pick up the wrong detergent that’s not the high-efficiency one or the one that’s not super-concentrated and you only need a quarter of the cap but you add the whole thing, just double-check. Read the directions; laundry’s something that we do every single day – most of us – so you kind of fall into some bad habits. So just pay attention because the last thing you want is a service man around at the holidays, because they are expensive and they are busy.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Pedro in South Carolina is having an issue with the tub. Tell us what’s going on.

    PEDRO: Our tub, it keeps clogging but there’s nothing in there, because I’ve snaked it; I’ve liquid-plumbed it. But it’s one of those where it doesn’t have that normal elbow; it just immediately goes into like a 90-degree – some kind of plastic.

    TOM: OK.

    PEDRO: And it just – it’s annoying.

    TOM: Well, I wonder if the blockage is somewhere deeper than where you’re able to reach.

    PEDRO: Probably, OK.

    TOM: Have you had – yeah. I mean sometimes, when you get a restriction in a drain line like that, it could be 10, 20, 30 feet from the fixture itself. So you may have to have this professionally snaked to get down deep enough to the point where you can actually remove whatever the obstruction is. In some ways, you may be pushing it further down every time you try to do it on your own.

    PEDRO: Oh and then making it worse; aggravating the situation.

    TOM: Well, that’s why it seems like it takes longer for it to happen but it might just be that you’re pushing the obstruction around.

    PEDRO: OK.

    TOM: Why don’t you give a drain-cleaning company a call and see what they could find for you. Most of them are going to guarantee that you’re going to solve the problem, so it’s not like you’re kind of opening up a can of worms there.

    PEDRO: Oh, OK. Great, great. I appreciate that, because it is annoying to get your feet – you know, it doesn’t drain all the time.

    TOM: Yeah.

    PEDRO: Thank you so much, guys.

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

    LESLIE: Scott in Illinois is dealing with some drafty French doors. Tell us about the problem.

    SCOTT: Yes. My wife and I have about a 15-year-old home where we just moved into last summer. And on the west side of the house, the concrete had – the foundation had settled, actually. And they pumped it back up and everything is pretty good but we still have a little bit of a draft under the – coming through the French doors. And I’m looking for some kind of a sealer; something that could be placed underneath there, what have you, to block that draft.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Is the sill adjustable?

    SCOTT: No, sir,

     TOM: You’re not sure or …?

    SCOTT: I’m just not sure. I guess that’s the first thing; I should look into that.

    TOM: OK, the first thing you should do is look at the sill because, typically, there may be like a piece of weatherstripping on the sill that you can peel up underneath. There could be some adjustment screws that will move the sill up and down.

    SCOTT: Ah.

    TOM: That’s the easiest thing to do. Make sure that your …

    LESLIE: Would you then need to, on the interior and exterior edge of that sill, caulk it, seal it, anything? Or is it so minimal?

    TOM: Well, I would move it up and down and get it – so make sure – visually you can see this; make sure it’s square to the bottom of the door, nice and parallel, and see if that does it. If it ends up that you have some gaps underneath it, of course you could seal it. I would use an expandable foam sealant for that.

    The next thing that you could do – in between French doors, it’s very common that you do get a little bit of drafts; they don’t seal all that well. But typically, there’s a piece of weatherstripping that looks like about a 1½-inch square foam pad and you put that right at the bottom of the doors where they come together; almost even with the top of the sill. That’s the next place that you’ll get a draft.

    And finally, if all else fails, you can attach a sweep to the inside of the French doors that go from the bottom edge of the door downward. And that will definitely work and seal out a lot of drafts but doesn’t look as good; although you can get these sweeps that are brass-plated and – or even wood finish.

    But those are the ways to attack this. I would check the sill first because, very often, in a modern door configuration, those sills are all adjustable and they move up and down for this very reason. OK?

    SCOTT: OK. OK, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Scott. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Sometimes it’s just that one tip that gets the job done and …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, that’s really clever.

    TOM: Yeah. Well and believe me, I learned it the hard way. So I got done shoving shims under the sill; I figured out, “Oh, yeah, it’s adjustable. Duh.”

    LESLIE: Seriously. I mean you only know until you try, so …

    TOM: That’s right. Yeah. So, do as we say, not as we’ve done. 888-666-3974. If we’ve made a mistake, we will prevent you from doing the same.

    LESLIE: Iris in Florida is calling in with a driveway issue. What’s going on?

    IRIS: Hi, Leslie. Hi, Tom. First of all, I have to tell you, love your show, love listening to you and we – I appreciate so much all the helpful information you give out to all of us.

    LESLIE: Oh, thank you.

    TOM: Thank you so much, Iris.

    IRIS: Thank you. Well, my husband and I have lived here in southwest Florida for 10 years. Although both our driveway and our lanai are – they’re pavers. We do get them professionally power-washed at least once or twice a year. We can’t get rid of the buildup of mold.


    TOM: Yeah, yeah. That’s what you get for living in paradise, Iris.

    IRIS: I know. It is great. It is great.

    TOM: Yeah. Perfect conditions.

    Well, it’s not just a matter of power-washing, OK? You have to treat them to kill the moss and the mold that are – that is attaching to the brick pavers themselves. So, what you need to do is you need to cover your plants around the edges and then you need to mix up a solution of siding wash. You can use JOMAX – J-O-M-A-X – or you can use OxiClean.

    And you’re going to want to apply that and let it sit there for 15 or 20 minutes, because that gives it time to get into the plant base itself and really kill off the roots.

    IRIS: OK.

    TOM: Then once it sits there for a while, then and only then can you power-wash it and scrub it off. If you simply sort of blast it away, which is what most of these pressure-washer companies do, it basically grows right back and quickly. So, you need to treat it if you want it to stay gone for any bit of time.

    IRIS: That’s great. So OxiClean and let it sit for about 15 minutes?

    TOM: That’s right, yep.

    IRIS: OK.

    TOM: Slather it on there, let it sit and don’t be in a hurry.

    IRIS: Well, that sounds great. Thank you so very much, both of you. We really, really appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Oh, it’s our pleasure.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Iris.

    LESLIE: And if there’s any way to get more sunshine onto the area – I know that you’re probably living in paradise with sunshine on it all the time – but if you have maybe a tree or something that’s casting a little bit of shadow, just thin it out a bit to get more sunshine on there, because that acts as a natural mildicide.

    IRIS: Oh, great. Great. Great tip. Thanks a million, Leslie and Tom.

    LESLIE: Oh, my pleasure.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    FRANK: Yes. I have a linoleum floor that I have to lay and I was wondering – number one thing is it’s – what if the subfloor – that’s been water-damaged.

    TOM: OK.

    FRANK: And what kind of prep work do I have to do? It’s been dried out but it’s particle board and I’m wondering what kind of prep work do I have to do to make sure if linoleum holds – adhere to subfloor?

    TOM: So the subfloor is water-damaged and it’s particle board and you’re going to put down a glue-down flooring product?

    FRANK: Right. Yes. I’ve got the linoleum and the glue.

    TOM: Yeah. Then what I would do is I would cover it with mahogany – with Luan mahogany plywood; a ¼ inch of Luan mahogany. That will – this way you can attach the mahogany plywood – the Luan plywood – with ring nails, which will hold it securely down to the subfloor.

    And then you want to fill in the nails – the holes in the nails – to make sure there’s no dimples, because that dimple will show up through the linoleum. Make sure it looks nice and smooth and flat and then you can put your flooring down right on top of that.

    FRANK: OK, I see. And what’s the best way to make sure you do get the linoleum flat so you don’t have bubbles or dips in it?

    TOM: You mean when you roll it out?

    FRANK: Yeah, when you roll it out to apply it to the floor itself.

    LESLIE: Well, if you create a flat and smooth subfloor, you shouldn’t have issues.

    You also want to – I believe with certain linoleum products, you want to unroll it and allow it to sort of settle before you apply it, correct?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s what you want to do.

    FRANK: Oh, OK. Alright. Yeah, that was the biggest question that I was wondering about and I greatly appreciate your help.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead, you know, a cold spot in your house, it might mean that you’ve got a draft but a cold room probably means that your forced hot-air system is out of balance. We’re going to tell you how to make things right again, with the help of This Old House HVAC expert, Richard Trethewey.

    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Trewax; Trewax All-Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner. Since 1935, Trewax products have set the standard for quality floor care, with a line of waxes, sealers and cleaning products.

    Our interview with our This Old House pal, Richard Trethewey, is coming up next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And are you getting ready to deck out your home for the holiday season? We’ve got tips for every season, online at MoneyPit.com, including some tips on how to make your front entry very festive for Thanksgiving. Just search “tips for holiday door décors” at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: George, you’ve got the money pit. How can we help you today?

    GEORGE: I have a garage floor that’s been damaged from driving in and out of – in the winter, because of the salt.

    TOM: OK.

    GEORGE: I was wondering if there was any way that I can repair that.

    TOM: Sure. You can resurface it and you would use an epoxy patching compound for that.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Anything else is just not going to adhere to the concrete surface and you – that’s really what the issue’s going to be is adhesion.

    TOM: You can find products from QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E – that do this. There’s also a website for a company called Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n – that makes a professional-grade epoxy compound.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the Abatron one that I’ve used is Abocrete, I believe. And that one is self-leveling, it mixes up very easily, you sort of trowel it on and it spreads out very nicely. We did it to do our whole basement floor over and so we covered quite a bit of space and it worked fantastically.

    GEORGE: Really? Why, then thank you.

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

    And I think that George was shocked that we had a solution for him.

    LESLIE: Hey, sometimes we’ve got good answers. Alright, every time we’ve got good answers.

    TOM: Every once in a while, it works out. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Well, in most homes, there are some rooms that heat or cool better than others and in a couple of cases, you might even have a room or two that just never get comfortable.

    TOM: Well, if that’s ever happened to you, your HVAC system may be out of balance. Here to help us set things straight is a guy who’s always in balance: Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House.

    Hey, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hey, guys. Nice to be here.

    TOM: Well, HVAC, of course, stands for heating, ventilating and air conditioning but it’s the ventilation part that many systems seem to get wrong. They either don’t put enough air where it’s needed or they just can’t quite carry the temperature to the spaces it has to go.

    RICHARD: Well, it’s the nature of sort of the process of putting in a hot-air furnace. You know, a furnace is a blower unit that pushes air out through ductwork. And now you’ve got to hope that the first installer that did the job calculated exactly how much air should go to this room, that room or the next room. And so, that doesn’t always happen so right from the beginning, you can often have rooms that didn’t have enough.

    Well then you’ve got to take into account what happens to a building. The sun comes in on this side and there’s no sun on the other side and now this side gets hotter or colder depending on winter or summer. And so then you’ve got this whole imbalance thing and so people do all kinds of things; they try to close down registers or at the least case, you try to put in this thing called manual dampers. These are sort of little discs that stick into the ductwork and that’s a hit-or-miss proposition, as well.

    TOM: Yeah. And we see those on the duct systems and most times, people don’t know what they are and they certainly don’t know how they work. And very often, even if they know what they do, the handles are the opposite direction of what you think they are.

    LESLIE: What you want, right.

    RICHARD: That’s right. Right, right.

    TOM: So you never know if it’s quite open or closed.

    RICHARD: Right.

    TOM: So, if you do have a room that’s too cold or too hot, where is the best place to start sort of nailing down the problem to make yourself more comfortable?

    RICHARD: Well, it’s the – I’ve also got to remind you that the adjustments you would make for heating season might be different for cooling season. So if you’re going to change these dampers, you may have to go back and change them in the other season.

    The thing that’s underrepresented in North American heating and air conditioning is zoning for hot-air systems. And we have multiple air conditioning zones in our automobiles and yet we normally have one thermostat in our house for heating and cooling with a hot-air furnace. And so, zoning is something that’s very viable nowadays; you can sort of – there’s a bunch of choices. And the whole process of even getting them wired right is a lot simpler.

    I just saw one the other day that you put the damper in and then there’s just a telephone-jack cord that plugs them together. So even the wiring of that is simpler and that cord can also run inside the ductwork, so you could make different branches perfectly zoned and it’s – I even saw that it has a wireless thermostat, so it’s really cool or hot.

    LESLIE: Well it certainly seems like the technology is going in the direction where the owner of the home really doesn’t have to be responsible for the adjusting of all of these. But when does it become an issue of the original installation and when do you bring in a pro to sort of rework the system to sort of get that balance in check?

    RICHARD: Well, the problem, Leslie, is many of those systems were done on low bid for the original builder. And then the whole building gets covered up and if the duct is the wrong size duct, you really are in trouble, I mean. So the – at the least case, you can try to do manual dampers; at the best case, you do zone dampers.

    And then there are cases that the duct is so small that you really have no other choice but to run additional ductwork or to open up walls and ceilings. But that’s a last, last resort.

    TOM: Now, is it always the supply duct – that it’s short – or could it be you don’t have enough return air going back?

    RICHARD: Yeah, you’re right, Tom. I mean it’s both. With a conventional system, you need clear balance; the same amount of air that’s going into the room through the supply duct should also be able to come back to the furnace to be reheated through the return duct. And if you don’t, all of a sudden that room that’s under returned, so to speak, won’t get enough conditioning and that’ll be a little bit warmer or colder than the rest of the rooms.

    LESLIE: And is it generally one return per zone? Is that how it works or just does it vary on the size of the system, the locations of the dampers?

    RICHARD: Well, a conventional system should have one return per room.

    LESLIE: Oh wow.

    RICHARD: Per room. And then a – these mini-duct systems that we often show on the show, they have one center-return. Just as long as you put the right number of supply outlets into the room, you’ll have plenty of heating or cooling.

    TOM: And I think you hit on it right there because in the last couple of decades, the HVAC systems that we see builders put in this country have one return per house or at most, one per floor.

    RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right.

    TOM: And there’s an imbalance right there, from the get-go.

    RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right.

    TOM: And you talk about, well, you’ve got to undercut the door and this and that.

    RICHARD: Yeah.

    TOM: But there’s just no way to replace the opportunity for air to go in and out in the same room, because I think folks think that if they could pump – you sort of pump your room full of the temperature. Well, not really. You have to recirculate that air to raise the temperature up and down.

    RICHARD: It has to come back, right.

    TOM: If you just don’t move enough air, you’re not going to do the job.

    RICHARD: Otherwise, you’re just trying to fill a shoe box. You have to get the air back out of it.

    LESLIE: Right.

    RICHARD: We saw an interesting thing that we did on Ask This Old House: this zoning system that you can make every register its own zone without having to open any walls, ducts or ceilings; these inflatable, pneumatic dampers – sort of like beach balls – that inflated and deflated inside the ductwork that went right up at the registers. And we showed it and it really has been interesting response.

    TOM: Oh, very cool. So almost like a balloon that fits inside the duct.

    RICHARD: That’s right. Right. Because the challenge is you don’t want to have to go open up ductwork or open up walls to get at the ducts and this was a way that – so you can surgically sort of zone the building without having to open up walls, ducts and ceilings.

    TOM: We’re talking to Richard Trethewey, the heating expert from TV’s This Old House.

    Richard, before we let you go, you see very often sold these boosting fans that are plugged in at the register level; sort of the over-the-counter solution for homeowners that just don’t know what to do. Do they work?

    RICHARD: They work. It’s such a last, last, last resort, you know; to add some additional electrical device to put some heat into it. Yeah, it’s going to send more air through that duct or to that zone but I’d love to see you find a better way than just put another electrical device.

    TOM: Always best to get a pro in there that knows what they’re doing and get it fixed once, so you don’t have to deal with it again.

    Richard, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great advice.

    For more tips just like that, visit ThisOldHouse.com and check out the heating section, which I bet is a place you’ll find lots more of our friend, Richard Trethewey.

    LESLIE: That’s right. If you’re looking for some more great home improvement information from Richard and the entire This Old House team, watch This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you by GE. GE, imagination at work.

    Still to come, don’t put it off a minute longer. You’ve got to cash in on those energy tax credits now or you will lose out. We’re going to tell you about one of our favorite projects that qualify, next.

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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 you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got a great prize this hour that I know with the holidays coming up, we’re all going to put to use. We’ve got up for grabs a CLR Total Clean Bucket and it’s filled with an entire line of household cleaning products.

    Now, the CLR products, they’re specially formulated to solve the toughest cleaning problems that you could toss at them. And we often recommend this product to you guys who call in with questions about rust stains or maybe your showerhead is not working that great and you’ve done everything to sort of clear out the aerator. You can just dip the showerhead right in there and you’ve got super water flow again. There’s a lot of different things that you can do.

    So you’re going to get the classic CLR in this kit and you’re also going to get their brand new stone and stainless steel cleaner, plus several other products that are going to help make at least one chore a whole lot easier.

    So give us a call and we’ll help make your home improvement projects a whole lot easier, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, the clock is ticking down on energy-efficient upgrades to your home that will allow you to cash in on those quickly-disappearing federal tax credits. Now, there are many projects that you can do to qualify but we’ve got a few favorites to recommend.

    The experts at Milgard Windows and Doors say that replacing older windows is one of the smartest home investments you can make. You’re going to see savings on heating and cooling costs over time, plus you will definitely add to the resale value of your home and we could not agree more.

    LESLIE: But you have to keep in mind that only certain windows are going to qualify for the tax credits that are available, up through the end of this year.

    Now, Milgard has two easy-to-understand energy packages that you can choose from: either Milgard’s 3D or their 3D MAX package. Now, their windows address energy efficiency through the frame, through their product design and the glazing unit. But what’s really cool about these windows is that Milgard can customize the components to perfectly match the window to the climate of your region which is fantastic, because it couldn’t get easier to choose the most energy-efficient windows for your home, wherever you live in the country.

    All of the Milgard windows and doors, they’re backed by a lifetime warranty. So head on over to their website, which is www.Milgard.com, for more info. And Milgard is spelled M-i-l-g-a-r-d.com.

    TOM: Or pick up the phone and call us with your window question. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Terry in Oklahoma has a roofing problem. What’s going on?

    TERRY: Yeah, I’ve got a little bit of a difficult problem. About a couple of years back, I had my roof replaced because it was leaking.

    TOM: Right.

    TERRY: It’s back leaking in the same spot. The only time it leaks is during a hard rain and it blows out of the north.

    TOM: So what have we learned here? We’ve learned that you probably didn’t need to replace the roof in the first place.

    TERRY: Yes, more than likely. I spent some money for – it’s been a couple of years and it hadn’t leaked and the last couple of rainstorms I had, it began to leak in the same spot but only like when the wind blows out of the north.

    TOM: Yeah. Right. OK, got it. Now, this particular spot, describe it to me. Is there an intersection of two roofs that come here? Is it a roof and a wall? Is there a plumbing vent that comes through?

    TERRY: What it is is where there’s like – the two Vs come together and it comes down to where it meets like an addition they added on at the house; it’s like where three corners all meet.

    TOM: Yep.

    TERRY: It meets right there at the corner where the …

    TOM: OK. So, here’s what I want you to do. The way that particular section of the roof has been assembled, obviously there’s water getting underneath it. So what I’m going to suggest you do is take the shingles off of that particular area as far up as you can. And then I want you to install Ice & Water Shield. It’s made by a company called Grace. They pretty much invented this; Ice & Water Shield. And you want to completely seal that area with Ice & Water Shield.

    Now, Ice & Water Shield is sort of like a flexible, rubbery kind of material. It’s used to stop ice dams but it also is used in areas like Florida where you don’t have any ice but you have wind-driven rain like crazy. If you coat that area where it’s real weak, with Ice & Water Shield first – several layers of that; then you shingle over it – you’ll never have to worry about water getting under the shingles and leaking in the house again.

    This is an extra step. This is not something that would be required by building code. But because it’s an area that’s very difficult to flash, I’m going to recommend that you put Ice & Water Shield under that whole area – not just at the roof edge but under the whole area – then you can shingle it and I think you’ll have a leak-free roof.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, a healthy home is a safe home. Learn how to resolve issues like mold and lead that could make your home dangerous, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers. Choose the brand that pros trust most: Bostitch. Available at Lowe’s and other retailers.

    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: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie, just like Sheila did.

    LESLIE: Alright. And Sheila writes: “We own a home built in 1895 and just recently found out certain areas of the home tested as much as 30 times the legal level for lead-based paint.” Wow. No wonder; I mean the house is old. “We are barely hanging onto our house as it is and due to this latest development, we will have to spend $40,000 to $50,000 to resolve the lead problems. Do you know of any possible recourse – for example, Hazmat grants or state and federal assistance – that we could apply for?”

    TOM: Well, first of all, the new lead renovation law does not require you to remove the lead in the house and I’m not surprised that you have an 1895 house that has lead in it. Frankly, any home that was built before 1970 could very well have some lead in it but it’s not …

    LESLIE: Well and when did the lead paint law go into effect? Was it ’73?

    TOM: Well, it was around 1970, after that – ooh, you didn’t see any lead …

    LESLIE: So you’ve got 100 years of paint, practically.

    TOM: Yeah, essentially, essentially. That’s right. But the point here is that you don’t have to remove the lead. What you have to do is just to make sure that the paint surfaces are safe.

    So what does that mean? Well, that means if you’re doing renovations, you have to follow the lead guidelines in terms of how you mask off areas. It’s really a cleanliness issue; you contain dust, you trap it, that sort of thing.

    You know, I wouldn’t recommend you tear into walls, because that’s going to disturb it but you want to basically contain it. You do not have to remove it. I don’t know who’s tried to tell you that you need to drop 40 or 50 grand in this but it’s probably not the case, unless you happen to have a house that’s very, very flaky and very deteriorated, where the risk of exposure is particularly high.

    Now, that said, some states do have tax credits, grants or loans that can help you with the costs associated with removing lead. I know New York and Massachusetts have them, in particular; other states may have it, as well.

    LESLIE: They both do.

    TOM: You’ve got to do a little bit of legwork on this but again, you don’t really have to take it out unless it’s really in bad shape.

    LESLIE: And you know, Sheila, if you have any more questions, head on over to the EPA website, which is EPA.gov/Lead. You’ll find everything there to sort of help you with how to take care of the situation in your own home and what you might want to tackle if you do have some home improvement projects in the future that you want to take care of.

    Alright. Now I’ve got one here from Ann who writes: “I live in a second-floor condo of a three-story building. The neighbor next to me just discovered that she has black mold growing on several of her walls. I have walls that are adjacent to some of hers. Should I worry?”

    TOM: Yeah. Because if that mold is – there’s probably a leak above you that’s dropping down into that wall, causing the moisture or the humidity issues. And mold does not respect property lines so if it’s on one wall, it’s going to go through the wall cavity and obviously could be growing on the back of your wall.

    So this is a situation where you need to report it to the condo association or the landlord – whatever the case may be – and by the way, verbally and in writing. And make sure that they have mold professionals come in and assess it and get rid of it. So it definitely could affect you and it may not be visible yet but it’s critical that you get it dealt with quickly.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And maybe if you start asking around the building and submit everything in writing, you’ll sort of find out exactly where this leak is coming from. Maybe the person upstairs doesn’t even know that they’ve got a leak situation. It could be something behind the walls which, generally, is most likely where it’s coming from, considering you’re on the second level.

    So I would really ask around and like Tom said, put things in writing because it’s not something you want to mess with and it is something that you need to take care of immediately.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Remember, you can reach out 24/7 to us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, whenever it happens to pop into your brain. Pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com, where the show continues right now.

    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 2010 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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