Avoiding Bed Bugs, Carbon Monoxide Dangers, Buying Tips for Snow Blowers and more
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: Call us right now with your home improvement project. We want to hear about your do-it-yourself dilemmas. We are here to help you get those projects done around your house. Let’s start on the New Year’s resolutions early, shall we? Then you don’t have to write it down on New Year’s Eve, right? You’ll be that much …
LESLIE: Is that how you do your New Year’s resolutions? You wait until like the last second?
TOM: Get them done and then you can count them for the year. That’s the way I look at it. 888-666-3974 is the telephone number.
Coming up this hour, are you traveling these days for all the holidays? You want to make sure that you do many things when you travel, right? You want to make sure that your house is in good shape. You want to make sure your travel plans are set. But you also want to make sure that the hotel you’re going to does not have bedbugs because surprisingly so, many of them do today.
We’re going to have some tips on how you can protect yourself from that infestation, coming up in just a bit, including a very amazing story that I got firsthand from somebody who checked into a hotel, flipped on the television set, watched an investigative report about bedbugs in hotels.
LESLIE: Giving me the willies. And it was in their room.
TOM: And it was in the lobby of the hotel they just checked into, as they were under the covers watching it. It’s a great story. Going to tell you how to – you can check out these hotels online to see what their history is, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Oh, I think I just cancelled my reservations for the Builders’ Show. I’m just telling you, Tom, if I don’t show up, you’ll know what happened.
Plus, this hour, we’re about to hit the most dangerous season for carbon monoxide poisoning, the winter. So, more of us at this time of year are using our heat, we’re using wood stoves, we’re burning our fireplaces. So there’s a lot of potentials for injury here. So you want to make sure that you’re using them safely and protecting your family with carbon monoxide detectors. We’re going to tell you more about that, a little later on.
TOM: And back in the day, when we were a little smaller, we were the snow throwers, happy to earn a few bucks by shoveling driveways. I remember walking up and down the street in my little hometown, carrying my shovel, earning a dollar or two for shoveling out the neighbors’ driveways and the walkways. But these days, I am much more likely to throw out my back than throw any snow and that’s why it is time to consider a snow blower.
So coming up a little later, we’re going to have some expert advice on how you can pick the perfect snow blower for your needs.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’ve got a great prize to give away. We are giving up for grabs the Stanley 3-in-1 Tripod Flashlight. It’s a prize worth about 30 bucks and it’s actually a really great item that you could either love and use yourself or it could make a great holiday gift.
TOM: So, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Christine in Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CHRISTINE: We live just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in a little town in Georgia.
CHRISTINE: And we’re on city water but – and we have a septic tank. And I’m wondering if we can install a garbage disposal.
TOM: Christine, that’s a total, shall we say, old wives’ tale. Septic systems are not negatively affected by garbage disposers. The only thing that really can impact septic systems is if you have a lot of grease or oil that goes down into them. But a garbage disposer that simply takes other, easily-degradable waste and puts it through the system, that’s not going to have an effect on it. So you feel free to go right ahead and pick up a disposer.
CHRISTINE: OK, well that’s what we’ll do then. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Carlos from New York who’s got a question about attaching some trim pieces. Welcome, Carlos.
CARLOS: How are you? How you doing?
LESLIE: Good, how are you?
TOM: We are excellent. So how can we help you?
CARLOS: My problem was how to adhere or put together my corner bead in my – in the corner of the project that I had.
TOM: OK. OK.
CARLOS: And every time I tried to put a nail, I will break up some of the plaster that I had.
TOM: Right, mm-hmm.
CARLOS: I said, “You know, this nail thing is crazy. I’ve got to use an adhesive somehow.”
CARLOS: And it just came to me. It just came to me. I’ve got to use the construction adhesive that will glue this piece to the wall.
TOM: So you used, what, Liquid Nails?
CARLOS: I used Liquid Nails.
TOM: Oh, are you one of our Liquid Nails storytellers?
CARLOS: I guess I’m one of them; one more. One more satisfied customer.
TOM: Yeah, you must have been one of the guys that wrote in with a Liquid Nails story. And so you used Liquid Nails to attach this corner bead. Well, that was a good solution.
CARLOS: I used Liquid Nails and nothing worked as well as this piece did.
TOM: Wow, that’s great. So, it came out good, huh?
CARLOS: Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
TOM: Yeah, it’s pretty handy stuff to have around. There’s a lot of things that you can do with that and you’re right: sometimes a nail just isn’t going to do the job because the piece is too small or it’s going to split it or something like that.
CARLOS: You need to have at hand three different types of glue if you are in the house doing projects and things like that.
TOM: OK, so this is Carlos’s glue guide. Let us have it.
CARLOS: You need to have the construction adhesive; that’s number one.
CARLOS: You need to have the super glue at hand.
CARLOS: That’s number two. And without any doubt, you need to have an epoxy glue at hand.
TOM: Alright, well that’s a good tip.
Carlos, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dan in Colorado is looking for a water heater. How can we help you with that search?
DAN: Well, we’ve got a house with five bedrooms, three baths and eventually, two adults and three kids, we’re hoping.
DAN: And the water heater is about 12 years old. I know that’s getting towards the end of its life. I was trying to decide whether we should go with a tankless water heater – someone told me if you do that with that size of a house, you might want two – or if we should go with a high-efficiency heater with a tank.
TOM: Both of those ideas are solid and here’s why: a tankless water heater is only going to heat water when you need it and because you have a large house, the tankless water heaters are also very small; you can have two of them. So you essentially zone your hot water – you have one upstairs and one downstairs – and what that’s going to do is make sure you never have to wait very long for hot water.
Because even if you have a tankless water heater, if it’s in the basement and your master bath is up on the second floor, it could take a few minutes for the hot water to go through the system and work its way up there. So that’s why putting two in is a good idea.
Now, the other option is a heat-pump water heater, which is probably the most efficient out there right now.
LESLIE: Yeah, there’s actually a model out right now from Rheem called the HP-50 and it’s super-quiet.
DAN: Does that involve a tank? I’m not real familiar with the heat pump.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, it’s brand new. It’s a heat-pump water heater. It’s sort of like a tanked water heater with a heat pump built into it and basically, it’s more energy-efficient than either electric or even a gas water heater. You can save as much as about $300 a year on your energy costs and it also qualifies for federal tax credits right now, so you can get up to $1,500 of the cost of the product …
LESLIE: And you know what, Dan? Some of your local utility companies even offer an extra rebate. So if this is a model you’re considering, you might want to contact your utility company just to see if there’s something that your state or your local utility company might offer, in addition.
TOM: Yep, it’s called a heat-pump water heater. It’s made by Rheem; the HP-50.
DAN: And one would cover the whole house? You wouldn’t need two?
TOM: Yes, correct. You wouldn’t need two.
DAN: OK. Very good.
TOM: Why don’t you take a look at the website for Rheem? It’s R-h-e-e-m.com. And the website for that particular product is RheemHPWH.com for a heat-pump water heater. OK?
DAN: Very good. Thank you both.
TOM: Alright. 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. Now, you can be part of the fun. Pick up the phone and give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with your home repair, home improvement, home design, home décor. You name it, whatever you’re working on, we’ll give you a hand. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, nighty-night. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. It used to be a very cute way to tuck in your kids in the evening but today, it’s a warning that many homeowners really need to heed. Find out why bedbugs are running rampant and what you can do to keep your home off the bedbug menu, next.
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 because if you do, you’re going to win the coolest flashlight I’ve ever seen. It’s the 3-in-1 LED Tripod Flashlight from Stanley. I love this flashlight. I’ve been using it now for a few months around the house. It’s got a hands-free …
LESLIE: You busy Boy Scout. You keep taking those on all of your Boy Scouting adventures.
TOM: I do. I take it on my Boy Scout adventures but I also take it on – well, for example, I had to replace a faucet the other day and hook up some water lines in very dark, kitchen vanity cabinet.
LESLIE: In a tight, dark space?
TOM: Yeah, it was great. I just propped it up in there and it was totally illuminated.
It’s worth about 30 bucks but you can win yours if we pick your name at random from the callers who get on the air with us this hour. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. This would make a great gift and for more great gift ideas, you can visit MoneyPit.com and check out our holiday gift guide.
LESLIE: And while you’re searching for your bedbugs, you can use your fantastic flashlight as an investigative tool. I can’t believe we’re about to do a story on bedbugs. I mean living in New York, Tom, you’ve seen – as you’re a Jersey guy – it’s been in all of the papers; it’s been pretty much everywhere. If you read anything or watch the news in our neck of the woods, you will see that there are bedbugs in hotels, movie theaters, clothing stores.
And it’s not just an East Coast thing. This is happening all over the country. It’s really amazing and totally disgusting. It makes you never want to go to a movie or try on a piece of clothing ever again.
Now, bedbugs, they’re small, they’re flat, they’re nocturnal insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, meaning you, me, whomever, human people, pets.
LESLIE: It’s disgusting. So what can you do to prevent them from taking hold in your house?
Well, bedbugs, as we’ve said, they’ve been showing up in key places: hotels, theaters, stores – especially second-hand clothing stores – and even offices. So the biggest step is checking your suitcases and your backpacks after you stay at a hotel.
And you also want to inspect used bedding or clothing before you bring it inside your house; even hand-me-down clothing. It’s great to help out a friend or a family member but before you say thanks and bring it into your home, just make sure that they’re bedbug-free.
TOM: Now, I mentioned earlier in the show a story about somebody who actually checked into a hotel that had a recent report about bedbugs in it. True story; these folks were traveling from Canada to New York City, checked into a hotel after a long day of traveling – we all know what that’s like – crawled into bed, flipped on the television and watched an investigative report about bedbugs in New York City. And no sooner did the report start to roll, then they started recognizing images of their hotel. And what clinched it was that the reporter was interviewing the same desk clerk that had just checked them …
LESLIE: That just checked them in?
TOM: That just checked them in.
LESLIE: Oh. Did they quickly scram and gather their stuff and get out of there or did they risk it?
TOM: It was too late. It was too late for them to get any other room, so they slept with the lights on all night and skedaddled out of there the next day. So …
LESLIE: Oh, my God. And of course, I’m sure took a super-hot shower and burned all their clothes.
TOM: Oh, I’m sure. But in doing the story about bedbugs, I learned that you can actually go online to find businesses that may have reported bedbug infestation. There’s even a website called the BedbugRegistry.com.
Now, remember, it’s just word-of-mouth but hey, you know, it’s nice to have a bit of a heads-up. So from now on, whenever I travel anywhere, I’m going to put in “bedbugs” and the name of the hotel in the city I’m going to, just to see what comes up into Google, right?
LESLIE: Oh, this is so terrible.
TOM: And you’d be surprised because, listen, this hotel that these folks stayed in, this actually happened about three or four years ago. So I did exactly that: I Googled it. And I found a report from two weeks ago where somebody got 40 bites in the same hotel.
LESLIE: Oh my goodness. Now …
TOM: So for years, these bugs have been infesting this hotel.
LESLIE: Well, years ago, when I was filming While You Were Out, we stayed at this airport hotel in Maine and I went to my room, slept in my room, woke up the next morning and I had bites all over my arms, all over my chest. They apologized up and down and moved my room and cleaned everything and cleaned my clothes but damage was done. I’m scarred mentally for life.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let us help you heal some of those home improvement scars. Call us right now with your question. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Greg in Washington has a question about some mysterious water by the water heater. Tell us about this.
GREG: I was visiting my daughter in Spokane and as any good father, sort of checking around her house to see if there’s anything I could do. And I noticed there’s about 3 to 4 inch of clear water pooling on one side of the water heater.
GREG: And it’s where the overflow pipe is but the pipe was dry. And there’s adequate hot water in the house and the water heater, she guessed, was around five to six years old. So I’m wondering what that means and what I should do about it.
TOM: Well, let’s think about this. There’s two places that a water heater valve could leak and that’s the drain valve itself and also the temperature and pressure relief valve. Now, the temperature pressure relief valve is one that’s on the side and has a little lever on it. Don’t touch the lever; a lot of people like to “clean those out” by opening the lever. The problem is it’ll never shut again; sometimes it gets stuck. You get a little bit of sand in there. But those are the two places to monitor.
So, if you are reaching your finger up inside the drain valve or the pipe for the temperature and pressure relief and you don’t have any water there, then that’s probably not the issue.
Now, the other thing that can happen is if your water heater gets used a lot – so it’s completely empty and then it refills and now it’s refilling with cold water and then the flame comes on – you will very often get condensation because you have a lot of moisture that’s in the natural gas as it burns. And it strikes the underside of the water heater and then it condenses. And you can sometimes even hear the water drip back onto the burner with that sort of sizzling sound as it goes down. And I’ve seen that happen in great enough quantity to collect around the water heater.
And then, the other idea is that when you have it – is this in the basement?
GREG: It’s in the basement.
TOM: OK. If the basement is very humid and the water heater, again, is refilling, so it tends to be cold, you can get condensation on the outside of the water heater jacket. So those are all things that can cause leaks without the tank rupturing. So I would look in those areas. A little bit of water is probably not going to be an issue. I’m more concerned that it’s not an ongoing situation. If it just happened because she emptied it and then it refilled and you had a lot of condensation, not so much of a problem.
GREG: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: 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 can do with a door that, evidently, one part – either the door shrinks or swells or the frame shrinks and swells. And in the wintertime, 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 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 that 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: Oh, is that right?
TOM: You get a better return on investment on that than anything else. So, I think that 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: Mm-hmm. And they look just like wood.
TOM: 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: Pat in Illinois has a question about insulation. What can we do for you today?
PAT: Well, I have a house with a double-brick wall with about an inch-and-a-half cavity between the two walls.
PAT: I was wondering if it was practical to insulate between them, what type of insulation would be used and if it was worth the effort.
TOM: Probably not. The bricks themselves are so dense that they’re going to absorb the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter. And there is air in between the bricks because there are a lot of air pockets so, generally, you don’t insulate a wall like that. And if you try to insulate it now – you know, I’m wondering that there could be, perhaps, some sort of a blown-in insulation that might be put in there but the bricks are so damp that I’m afraid it wouldn’t actually do you much good, because the insulation would end up getting damp anyway. So that’s an area I wouldn’t concentrate on insulating.
What I would make sure is that we have really good attic insulation and that you can also do a good job of draft-proofing everything around the windows and doors. That would be where I would concentrate sort of my energy-saving efforts – the attic insulation first and the draft-proofing second – but I probably would not insulate the exterior walls.
PAT: Alright, well, thank you for your time and effort. I appreciate it very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Pat. Glad to help you out with that question. 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, is throwing snow around a sure way to throw out your back? If the giant storms of last winter had you vowing to have a snow blower in hand when the first flakes fall this year, we’ve got advice for you. We’re going to tell you how to pick the perfect snow blower, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by SnowBlowersDirect.com. Thinking about getting a snow blower? Check out SnowBlowersDirect.com’s interactive buying guides, recommendations and customer reviews. Snow blower experts are available to help you pick the perfect snow blower. Visit SnowBlowersDirect.com.
TOM: Well, the weather experts have predicted – this year, guess what, folks? It’s going to be a rough winter, which means you’re going to be shoveling and shoveling and shoveling if you live in some parts of the country, to get rid of that white stuff.
But fortunately, there is a smarter way and it is called a snow blower or a snow thrower. I’m going to ask our expert guest the difference, in just a bit.
LESLIE: That’s right. If you don’t know where to start to find the perfect one for your money pit, well then you are in the right place. We’ve got a great guest joining us. We have Jon Hoch, who is the founder and CEO of SnowBlowersDirect.com.
JON: Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.
TOM: Hey, it’s our pleasure. So what is it? Is it really a snow thrower or a snow blower?
JON: Well, it’s technically a snow thrower because that’s what they do is they throw snow but most people refer to them as snow blowers, which is just perfectly fine with us, too.
TOM: OK. As long as it gets rid of the white stuff.
LESLIE: As long as they buy one.
TOM: So, speaking of getting rid of the white stuff, how do you determine what kind of snow blower you actually need? There’s a lot of variety here. There’s the very simple ones that are sort of the electric sweepers, I’ll call them, and then you go right on up to the big, serious machines that can clear quite a mountain of snow. How do you decide what the right one is for your needs?
JON: Yeah, actually, the easiest way for you to determine the perfect snow blower for you is to go to our website at SnowBlowersDirect.com. We have an interactive guide there that’ll actually ask you a couple questions and it’ll actually pick the perfect snow blower for you.
Snow blowers really come in three different flavors. There’s electric ones that are really cheap and they’re good for getting small quantities of snow off of your deck or your sidewalks and so forth.
LESLIE: But that’s only based on maybe like a few, short inches? Maybe 2 inches max? You can’t use those if you’ve got 5, 6 inches of snow, right?
JON: Yeah, if it gets deep, then they got bogged down. Usually a lot of people will use them for small areas or they’ll use them for steps. So, if you’ve got a lot of steps, obviously, a single-stage or a big, two-stage snow blower, (audio gap) not going to be able to use it. So a lot of people will actually get an electric snow blower to kind of complement the other snow blower they have, so they can get their steps nice and clear and clean.
LESLIE: Now, is there any benefit to choosing an electric over a gas-powered snow blower or really, it just depends on what your situation is?
JON: It depends on how handy you are. If you want to just plug it in and go, an electric is perfect for you because it requires no maintenance (audio gap). All you need is a good extension cord and you’re ready to go.
If you’ve got – most snow blowers are like a lawnmower. So you add gas and you add oil occasionally and it works just fine. So if you’re more than capable of running a lawnmower, then a snow blower isn’t difficult at all.
TOM: But, Jon, can an electric snow mower do the same amount of snow that – cover the same volume of snow?
JON: No. Typically, it’s going to be much thinner snows and it’s for smaller surface areas, because they’re not as wide. Most snow blowers are about 21 inches wide. The electrics are usually about 18 to 16 inches wide, so you’re going to have to do more passes to be able to clear the snow off.
TOM: Now how about the surfaces? Does it matter if you’re going to be clearing a paved or an unpaved surface?
JON: Oh, yeah, that’s a very big difference. If you have, for example, like a gravel driveway, you don’t want to be using a two-stage snow blower or – I’m sorry – a single-stage snow blower, because what it’s going to do is it’s going to scoop everything off the surface, including the rocks, and it’s going to spit them out.
So, you – most two-stage snow blowers have skid shoes and they also have scraper bars that could be adjusted so that you’re not taking all of the full layer of stuff off. So you’re able to be able to go down the driveway without flinging a bunch of rocks at (audio gap).
LESLIE: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense but I think a lot of people get confused when they start thinking about purchasing a snow blower. They start thinking, “Well, I have a very dense snow and I have a very wet snow and oh, I get this light snow.” Does the type of snow determine which type of blower that you get or does it really – snow is snow?
JON: Yeah, I mean the type matters but it’s really more of how much it actually snows is the bigger variant. Because if you think about it, most single-stage snow blowers, they can – they have intakes of about 16 inches and they’re able to clear the surface in – sometimes it’s not enough. So, you might have to snow blow while it’s snowing and then come out and snow blow again.
If you look at some of the two-stage (audio gap) – if you’re in the mountains or you get hit by a massive blizzard, you’d like to have the higher intake so that you can go through several feet – like two feet of snow – all at one time, to be able to clear that path all at one fell swoop.
So, how much it snows in your area is really the dictation of whether you need a single-stage or whether you need a two-stage snow blower.
TOM: We’re talking to Jon Hoch. He is the CEO and founder of SnowBlowersDirect.com and a guy that knows pretty much everything there is to know about snow blowers.
Now, Jon, this is the kind of equipment that, man, when you need it, you need it now. You need it right away; you don’t always get a lot of warning. But then there are times where it just has to sit around and wait until it’s time to be pressed into service. So how do you maintain a snow blower so that it’s always ready when you will really need it?
JON: Well, the key is really the fuel, if you think about it. I’ll give you an example. Last year, I actually made a mistake and I sell snow blowers (audio gap) but I took last year’s fuel and I put it into the snow blower. And because the fuel is old, the snow blower had a hard time starting.
So the key is making sure that you use fresh fuel. And if you’re using like a single-stage snow blower that has a mix of the gas and oil, there’s actually no maintenance at all. All you have to do is when it (audio gap) the spring, you just turn the snow blower on, you run it until it runs out of gasoline and then you just get fresh fuel for the next season. There’s not a whole lot of work that needs to be done.
LESLIE: But you should use fuel extender, right?
JON: Yeah, there’s a (audio gap) called Sta-Bil that we sell, that keeps the fuel fresh. In most cases, what we recommend is when the – before the first snow goes, make sure you get a fresh can of fuel, because that’s going to help you – the performance of the machine a whole lot.
TOM: Great advice. Jon Hoch from SnowBlowersDirect.com. If you need tips or ideas on how to find the perfect snow blower for your house, you need to go to SnowBlowersDirect.com. Click on their Buyer’s Guide; it will walk you through, step by step, teach you exactly what you need to know to make the purchase of the machine that is just right for you.
JON: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Coming up next, the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. It can happen quickly and it can happen to you. Learn how to keep your family safe, after the break.
TOM: Where home solutions live, 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. This hour, we’ve got a great prize up for grabs. We’re giving away the 3-in-1 LED Tripod Flashlight from Stanley. It’s got a really cool, hands-free tripod design and it’s got three flashlights sort of grouped into one that you can actually take them apart and use them separately or use them as one really powerful, bright light.
And you know LED lights are just super-bright, they last a really, really long time, they’re very energy-efficient, the lenses are shatterproof. It’s worth about 30 bucks but you can win yours for free, if we pick your name at random from The Money Pit hard hat, of all the callers who get on the air this hour. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, the LED Tripod Light from Stanley, it would make a great holiday gift. In fact, we’ve got some fantastic gift ideas for all of your handy folks in your life, so check them out at MoneyPit.com and look for the holiday gift guide.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question.
Hey, are you breathing air that’s safe? You know, most people don’t give it a second thought but I can tell you from my experience as a home inspector, I have come across carbon monoxide leakage situations on a pretty regular basis.
Now, those leaks usually get into the home due to faulty heating equipment and there are several areas of the system where leakage is pretty common, so let’s review those. First, you need to have a qualified heating contractor check your system every year and here’s why: you can’t tell from looking at the operation or knowing the heat comes on, whether or not you have a cracked heat exchanger and that’s the most common source of carbon monoxide leakage.
The second most common source, by the way, is when the venting system of the furnace is obstructed in some way. And I’ve actually found vents obstructed by animal nests and things like that, that you would never expect, that have caused carbon monoxide issues. So you really need to check into that.
There is a complete list of what you need to do to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning, online at MoneyPit.com. Just Google “Money Pit carbon monoxide” and the article should pop right up.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, here’s what you can do for your family. The best protection from carbon monoxide poisoning is simply a carbon monoxide detector. They’re inexpensive and there’s a lot of models available that’ll plug right into a wall outlet, so you don’t even have to install them anywhere.
You should have at least one near your heating equipment and at least one on the floor where you and your family sleep. It’s something that you want to make sure that you hear, that every member of your family hears and can react to, because poisoning can happen quickly. So you really have to make sure that when the alarm goes off, you get out of the house immediately.
Now, they don’t go off for no reason at all, so you want to make sure that if you hear the alarm, you get to fresh air and call the authorities, so they can come and take care of it.
And you also want to remember that you need to replace your carbon monoxide detector every couple of years. They’re not meant to last forever and on the back side, you’ll see they’re stated with their date. In fact, we had one from 2003 that started chirping. I took it down, changed the batteries. It kept chirping every 30 seconds, looked on the back side, it said, “2003. If you have a 30-second beep, it means it’s done. Get rid of it; get a new one.”
So, we did that but keep in mind, these things don’t go off for no reason at all, so keep your family safe and make sure you have one in your house.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got L.T. Cooper on the line from Texas. What can we do for you today?
L.T.: Just got a question reference the advisability of cleaning ductworks, if you feel like there’s maybe an air-quality problem within a home.
TOM: Well, if you think there’s an air-quality problem within the house, cleaning the ducts is not the first thing you want to do. What you’d want to do is look at the filter system. I presume you have a hot-air heating system or is this just for air conditioning?
L.T.: It’s A/C and hot air; air conditioning.
TOM: OK. So what kind of a filter do you have on this, L.T.?
L.T.: Fiberglass filters, mesh filters and the pleated filters.
TOM: We call those rock-stoppers, because that’s about the size of the dust particle it has to be for them to stop it.
TOM: What you really want to have is an electronic air cleaner.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, which will clean all the air in the house. Everything that goes through the system will be cleaned many times during the day as all of the air cycles through it.
L.T.: OK. Where do you get an air – electronic air cleaner?
TOM: You contact your HVAC professional. It has to be permanently installed. I’ll give you two good brands to look at: one is Trane CleanEffects and the second one is the Aprilaire.
TOM: Yep. Both of those are excellent air cleaners and they’ll stop even virus-sized particles. So if you have a good filtration system on there like that, you’re not going to have to worry about what’s inside your ducts.
L.T.: Right. OK. Well, I think that’s great. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. And you should be breathing a lot easier, L.T. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Do you know they say that the air inside your house is more polluted than the air outside?
LESLIE: Yeah, like 90 percent more polluted.
TOM: I believe it. I believe it.
LESLIE: Of course. I mean you’ve the windows closed, you’re cooking, you’re cleaning, you’re doing everything. Everything stays in there.
TOM: You’ve got all those kids breathing all the time, pets and …
LESLIE: You’ve got gassy husbands; you know, things.
TOM: We’re living in a pollution stinkpot, being the family folks that we are.
Alright. Let’s get back to those phones. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Karen in Kansas needs some help with a mold situation. What’s going on at your house?
KAREN: I have glass, sliding shower doors and there is kind of a clear rubber going all the way around the shower doors that I guess seals the glass to the frame.
TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.
KAREN: And there’s mildew in them and I think it’s behind the rubber, because I’ve tried everything on the outside and it doesn’t work.
TOM: Right, mm-hmm.
KAREN: Is there any way to get that clean without replacing the shower doors?
TOM: What happens is sometimes that acts sort of as a – like a greenhouse window and then the mold will grow behind it and if it’s clear, then you’re going to see it. What you might want to think about doing is cutting that out and replacing it with a silicone caulk, which would do the same thing.
And if you do use a caulk, you can either use clear silicone or you can use one of the latex products that has Microban in it, which is a mildicide. It’s in all the DAP products; probably in some others as well. But make sure whatever you use has a mildicide and that will stop it from growing.
TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, painting. It should be one of the simplest home improvement projects out there but we always get constant questions about this topic. And so, we’re going to talk about priming. Can you skip it? That’s what Michael in St. Louis wants to know, especially when it comes to a bathroom. We will share the secrets of the easiest way to get that project done, next.
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. And if you guys just cannot get enough Money Pit, head on over to The Money Pit website. It’s brand-spanking new; it’s shiny. We’ve got a lot of fantastic new sections, including the Community section.
And while you’re at Money Pit, you can also check out my blog. I’ve got a ton of ideas that I’m going to share with you each week and you can also let me know what you think and send me your own ideas, in the new Community section at MoneyPit.com. A lot of great ideas to share there.
And you know what? You can post your questions into the Community section. Tom and I will answer them, other Money Pit fans will answer them with their advice and techniques, so it’s really a great place to get some info on your projects.
Now, I’ve got a post here from Michael in St. Louis who wrote: “I have a finished bathroom that I have had to do some drywall repair work on. I understand that it’s best to prime the drywall and the joint compound before you paint. Can you recommend a type of primer or a specific brand? Should I prime the entire room before painting or just the new drywall and joint compound? Also, what type of paint would be the best for use in a bathroom and does it have to be oil-based?”
TOM: Not necessarily but if you have an uneven surface, perhaps an older surface, oil does give you the best adhesion. But here’s the deal with primer, guys. First of all, think of it as the glue that makes the paint stick. So whenever you have new work or even old work and you want to have a smooth, even top coat, you really need to prime it. You can’t use too much primer; it’s always a good thing to be safe, not sorry, and prime the space before you paint it.
Now, that said, there are – like Behr, for example, has a primer and paint in one.
LESLIE: All built in one.
TOM: Yeah, in one formula that’s very, very effective; got great reviews. We’ve actually worked with it a bit. Or you can go with two separate paints: one primer and one paint. But it’s a real good idea to do that because especially in a bathroom, Michael, I mean the bathroom is so damp, there’s so many things working against the paint job there. Adhesion is really, really critical.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And just make sure that you choose a finish, like an eggshell or a more sheen on it because in a bath, you want to be able to wash the walls and you can’t do that with a flat. So just choose your finish wisely and you’ll have a nice, shiny, new bathroom.
TOM: Well, Leslie, have you heard the old saying “one bad apple can ruin the bunch”?
TOM: Well, it also applies to Christmas lights. Because if you’ve got one bad one, it can ruin the entire string but not if you know how to fix it.
LESLIE: It’s true.
TOM: And I know you do, because that is the topic of today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. Don’t you just hate it when you finally get all of your lights strung, then you go and plug them in and you are ready for the big ta-da but all you get is a big wah-wah, does not work? Or how about when you suddenly realize lights that you put up that had been working, just for some reason suddenly don’t?
Well, don’t start stressing yet. There are a few things that you can do to fix those lights yourself before you just rip them off and throw them out.
First, you want to check each bulb to see if it’s loose in the socket. Now, to do this, you just gently press each bulb into the socket. Even though these lights are often designed to work if a single bulb does go out, they sometimes don’t work if a bulb is unplugged.
Now, once you’ve tightened all of the bulbs, plug the string back in. If the string still doesn’t work, unplug it and check the fuse. Now, most strands of light have a fuse built right into the plug itself. You want to open it up, remove the fuse and check to see if it’s burned out. If it is, you can replace it. Most light strings are sold with extra fuses right there. They’re taped to the string somewhere, in a very small plastic bag. They actually look like a tiny cylinder with like a little metal end on it.
Now, if you’ve managed to get your light strand working again and you’re finding that you want to tackle another project with another strand of lights but you don’t have the spare parts, use one of the strands that doesn’t seem to be working so well, as a source of extra parts. And this way, you can use the bulbs, the fuses and get all of your lighting strings in working order for the rest of this holiday season and even get a head start on next year.
TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where we try to give advice every single hour and online at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up next week on the program, we’re going to have some insulation advice for those hidden sources of air leaks in your home. Find out how to keep the heated air in and the cold air out, on the next edition of the program.
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.)