Best Home Improvements to Make and How to Finance Them, Prevent Accidental Poisonings at Home, Tips on Cleaning Mold, How to Paint a Faux Outdoor Rug and more.

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. So, what’s going on in your house this spring? You working inside? You working outside? Pick up the phone and call us wherever you are and let’s tackle that project together. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s show, is the mom in your life one of the hardest people to buy gifts for? Why not think about giving her the gift of home improvement? We’re going to highlight a few affordable Mother’s Day projects that are sure to please, just in time for that special day.

    LESLIE: And make sure it accompanies flowers.

    TOM: Of course.

    LESLIE: Just a thought, guys.

    TOM: That’s what Leslie calls a “hint.”

    LESLIE: I’m just saying. Home improvement projects, great gift as long as you’re like, “And also something for you.”

    Alright, guys. But seriously, also ahead, does the selection of light bulbs at the local store, I mean, just leave you scratching your head? There’s so many choices. You’ve got LEDs, halogens, CFLs. How do you know which one’s right for you? Well, we’re going to help you figure it out.

    TOM: Plus, reduce humidity in areas once prone to it without a second thought. We’ve got info on a humidity sensor that can be installed with your fan so it comes on automatically whenever it’s needed.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away the Werner Podium Ladder. Now, this is designed for long periods of standing and it includes a space for tools. It’s worth 129 bucks.

    TOM: So, let’s get to it. Give us a call. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Louise in Delaware is on the line with some carpenter bees visiting her home. Tell us what’s going on.

    LOUISE: Yes, ma’am. I have a deck in my – at my back door and I have a roof. It doesn’t extend all the way out to the end of the deck. Just about halfway. And I’ve been having, for several years, a major problem with carpenter bees. They actually make perfectly round holes in the roof of the deck.

    And I had an exterminator a couple of years ago and he said he would spray it but no guarantees. And he sprayed it and maybe for about five days I didn’t see them but they came right back. But someone told me – it was actually another exterminator, a really older lady. She said to get steel wool and put steel wool in the holes because they can’t get out through the steel wool. Because my cousin put cotton balls soaked in bleach in the holes she had on her deck and they actually ate through the cotton balls and they ate through the caulking.

    TOM: There’s the do-it-yourself methods and there’s the professional methods. I’m troubled by the fact that you hired an exterminator – it sounds like it was some time ago – and he wouldn’t guarantee a result. That’s not acceptable. Most professional exterminators have the tools, the knowledge and the pesticides to effectively eliminate carpenter bees with a reasonable guarantee of success.

    So, if you have such a serious problem as this, I would definitely suggest that you go find yourself a new exterminator, maybe from a national-brand company like Orkin. You’d have better success with that.

    Now, if you want to do this yourself, you know, the reason that the bees form those holes is because they’re nesting. And so the way they’re treated is you spray a pesticide inside those holes. You can also spray something that’s petroleum-based inside the holes, because they don’t like that. You can fill them with steel wool.

    There’s lots of ways that you could try this yourself. But given the severity of the problem, I would suggest you find a good exterminator that can treat it with the right type of pesticide and you not have to worry about it. And I don’t think you had a pro last time. You get a pro to address this problem and just get it done, once and for all, alright?

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Craig in Pennsylvania is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?

    CRAIG: I had an exterior concrete porch and I enclosed it. And I’m trying to make it part of the house now. But the floor itself, I said, is concrete. It’s all cracked and it’s breaking up. Is there some easy way or some way I can smooth it out or do something with it to make it look like an interior room now to this part of the house?

    TOM: Absolutely. First of all, if the surface is deteriorated, you’re going to have to use a patching compound on it. And I would recommend the premixed QUIKRETE Concrete Patch Compound. It comes in a tub and you simply apply it to the surface. You can fill in all of those areas that are deteriorated; you can fill over the cracks.

    And the reason you’re using a patching compound is because it’s designed specifically to stick to the concrete. If you use regular concrete, you’re going to have a problem with that because it won’t stick; it’ll just split off again. Alright? But if you use a concrete patching compound, it will adhere.

    CRAIG: Thank you very much. I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at

    Well, we are almost about to break into the summer season. That’s right, Memorial Day is not that far away. You’ve got, what, four or five weeks ahead of you? Let us help you get everything at your money pit in tip-top shape in that very kind of short amount of time. But we’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, can’t decide what to get Mom for her special day? Why not consider the gift of home improvement? We’ve got some weekend projects that would be perfect for you to do for Mom, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Foundry Specialty Siding. Foundry vinyl cedar siding gives your home the beauty of real cedar shake without the hassles and worries that come with wood siding. Foundry, unsurpassed beauty and strength. Find out more at

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by to help you with your home improvement projects. We’re going to do that two ways: we’re going to answer that question and we’re going to give you, if you’re the lucky winner, the Werner Podium Ladder.

    This is a very cool product. It has an extra-large platform, which allows you to stand on it for long periods of time. It’s also got a guardrail, which you can hold onto and it’ll give you some added safety and a place to hold tools or anything else you need while working. In fact, the guardrail is designed to help hold that stuff, so it’s kind of two in one.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know what? It’s a brand-new ladder style and it allows you to reach around in any direction, which means you can actually accomplish more without having to constantly reposition your ladder.

    The Werner Podium Ladder is worth $129 and it’s going to one lucky caller. It’s going to be part of the top products we talk about from the floor of the National Hardware Show this month. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a chance to win that beautiful Werner Podium Ladder.

    LESLIE: Darryl in New Jersey is calling with a lighting/electrical issue or perhaps a poltergeist. What’s going on at your house?

    DARRYL: Hi. I purchased some LED lights for my home to be energy-conscious. And I put them in my kitchen, in the high hats. There’s about 12 of them in the kitchen. And they work great and they’re on a dimmer and great that – it’s great that they conserve energy and you don’t have to replace them for 20-something years.

    But I also have a Bose radio in the kitchen. And right after I put them in, I noticed that the majority of the radio stations are complete static. And when I turn the lights off, the radio works fine.

    So, I called up the light-bulb company and they said, “Well, it’s probably your dimmer.” And they recommended certain dimmers that work with the lights. I went out and purchased a dimmer and the same problem. So, I called the bulb manufacturer again and while I had him on the phone, I let them hear the radio with the lights off and then turned the lights on and they heard the static. They said they would get back to me and I never heard from them again. I did some research on the internet and found out that I’m not the only one that has this problem. But I haven’t found the solution.

    So, I went out and I bought another set of light bulbs – different brand – and put those in other rooms in the house where I don’t have radios. And the new brand that I got, same problem. So, I’m sort of wrestling with what to do here and I thought I’d give you a call to see if you had some ideas.

    TOM: Have you considered using CDs?

    Gee, I never heard of that and apparently, the bulb manufacturer didn’t, either. Who is the manufacturer?

    DARRYL: F-e-i-t.

    TOM: Not familiar with them.

    DARRYL: Yeah, they’re pretty popular. I bought the bulbs in Costco but – so I could return the bulbs. But I’m pleased with them and they save energy. And like I said, I tried others and same problem.

    And when I did the research on the internet, I found out I’m not the only one. But haven’t found anyone that had a solution.

    TOM: In fact, I just did this very same project. I replaced all of the light bulbs in my high hats with a product that was called TCP. And they were like these one-piece inserts that basically, you screw them into the socket, into the high hat, and it’s an LED. And it’s a very flat and flush look and very clean and dimmable. So it’s a nice project to do.

    I’m afraid that I don’t have a solution for you on this but I would love if you would post this question in our Community section, Darryl, including all the details on the manufacturers that you’ve had this problem with. Because we’ve got some relationships that we can tap into and see if we can identify what’s going on, both with the bulb manufacturers and with the dimmer manufacturers, to find out if this has been an issue before and why it could possibly be happening. I think it’s a really interesting question, an interesting problem, and I’d love to dig deeper into it on your behalf.

    DARRYL: Great. Well, that’s good to know.

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

    LESLIE: Well, Mother’s Day is right around the corner and if you can’t decide what to get that special mom in your life, why not think outside of the box? A home improvement can actually put a smile on her face and it’s really an untraditional gift. What a nice surprise.

    So do this: ask Mom what’s bothering her most about her house and then fix it. Now, it could be as simple as a leaky faucet, a dreary garden or maybe some paint in a room or if she’s feeling extra greedy, the entire exterior of the house that might need refreshing.

    Now, the options are endless and you really don’t have to just pick one project.

    TOM: That’s right. You can pick a couple of small ones but here’s one that I like. If you think about it, Mom has spent a good part of her life cleaning up after you kids. Why not start cleaning up some areas of Mom’s house, like cleaning the outside of the house, an area that she can’t get to? You can clean up mold or mildew spots on the exterior siding. This makes the house look a lot brighter and you can do it when the sun is shining. Because if you do so, it will help kill mold spores. Use a product like Concrobium to do that. It’ll get done in a jiffy.

    LESLIE: Maybe Mom’s front entry is bland or boring. A big trend that we’re seeing for lawn and garden this spring is bright planters. If you get a few terracotta planters – you know, they’re affordable – and some spray paint and some really fun, trendy, poppy colors, you can take a really plain entry and just bring in those beautiful pops of color for a huge difference.

    TOM: Now, updating Mom’s house to make it safer is always a popular project. You could check the handrails on the stairs, maybe even install a few grab bars in key places, like bathrooms. And by the way, those grab bars don’t really look like grab bars anymore; there’s new styles that look like they’re part of the décor. They can look just like a beautiful towel rack or something of that nature. And they install much simpler than they ever did before. Instead of being very sterile and hospital-like, they’re really quite attractive.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And here’s another thought. When you present this home improvement gift to Mom or your wife – whomever this mom is that we’re talking about – perhaps if you offered her a spa treatment while you’re doing the home improvement, that would just be like a home run there. I’m just saying. Just that’s where my mind is.

    TOM: You’re just saying.

    So, if you’re doing this for your wife, you can’t be like, “Hey, honey, I painted your bathroom. Happy Mother’s Day.” That wouldn’t go over too well?

    LESLIE: No. But you can be like, “Here. Go get a massage and facial while I paint the bathroom.” And she’ll be like, “Woo hoo!” And you’d be one happy husband. You might even get lucky. I’m just saying.

    TOM: Alright. 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those calls.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Pat in South Dakota is on the line with a painting project. How can we help you?

    PAT: Can you repaint vinyl siding?

    TOM: Yes, you can repaint vinyl – well, you’d be painting it, initially, not even repainting it. But I will tell you this: once you paint, you do have to repaint. So, you’re not going to have the maintenance-free surface that you had once before. You will have to repaint it.

    Now, that said, if you’re going to do the repainting or you’re going to paint it, you want to make sure that you use a product that’s designed specifically for vinyl siding. And I would only use a product from a top brand like Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams. They both have their own line of vinyl-siding paint.

    So choose your paint carefully; make sure it’s good-quality paint. And keep in mind that eventually, you’re going to have to repaint it.

    PAT: OK. I was wondering. Thank you so much.

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

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

    JAMES: Bought a house about a year ago and I don’t know how old the water heater is because it was a foreclosure. And I had gone downstairs and took the cover off and turned up a little bit to try to get a little more hot water out of it temperature-wise. And I noticed on the inside that it seems wet, like the fiberglass insulation on the tank? So, I was wondering if that means the tank is going bad or do I need to start saving money to buy a new water heater?

    TOM: The water heater is in your basement?

    JAMES: Yeah, it’s in my basement. Correct.

    TOM: Sometimes you get a little condensation inside of that. Does your water stay hot or do you – does it seem to run out quickly?

    JAMES: No, it stays hot for a while. It’s just not as hot as I’d like it, so I just went down to dial it up a little and I saw it was wet inside. And I don’t see anything leaking from the bottom.

    TOM: OK. Well, generally, when water heaters leak, everybody knows it, OK? It’s not subtle.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    JAMES: Yeah, OK. Good.

    TOM: Alright? So I doubt it’s leaking badly right now. You may have a bit of condensation in there. However, what you want to keep in mind with electric water heaters, first of all, they’re very expensive to run and so it’s a good idea to have a timer on them. Secondly, with an electric water heater, there’s two coils, not just one. So, on the outside of your water heater, you should see two panels: one up high and one down low. And each one of those has its own thermostat. And so in order to adjust the temperature, you have to open both of them up and with a screwdriver – an insulated screwdriver – you turn it very carefully until it’s about 110 degrees on both of them.

    JAMES: OK.

    TOM: And with a 40- or 50-gallon water heater – how many bedrooms – I mean how many bathrooms do you have in the house?

    JAMES: Two.

    TOM: So, a 40-gallon would be smallish, maybe adequate; 50-gallon would definitely be good.

    JAMES: That’s what it is.

    TOM: If you’re wondering the age of it, on the label on the water heater, there’s generally a date that’s either written plainly on that or it’s coded into the serial number. So, if you look at the serial number, you look at the date, you may see a date on there and you can figure out how old this is.

    JAMES: Oh, OK. Great. Thanks so much (inaudible at 0:17:03).

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

    LESLIE: Alice in Illinois is on the line. Alice has got a hard problem: she’s got hard water. How can we help you today?

    ALICE: I have well water and on the well water, I have iron hardness and manganese. And I do have filters that I use with [salt packs] (ph). But I’m looking for something else besides those [salt packs] (ph).

    TOM: There’s another option that’s an electronic option and it’s called EasyWater – E-a-s-y-W-a-t-e-r. And essentially, what EasyWater does is it installs to your main water pipe and it sort of causes the hardness in the water to polarize in the sense that it doesn’t stick to the fixtures anymore. And there’s a lot of people using it now. It’s been pretty effective and it’s an alternative to using a salt-based solution for this particular water problem. They’ve been around for about 25 years. They seem to be a good company, do a good job.

    Take a look at their website at I know they’ve got a pretty good guarantee, so if you don’t like it, you can send the unit back.

    ALICE: Yes, great. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still to come, have you ever felt like there are too many choices in light bulbs? They kind of leave you more confused than ever? We’re going to have some expert advice dropped into our laps, courtesy of our friend, Kevin O’Connor. He’ll be up next with some tips on how to choose the right one for you.

    LESLIE: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by the Stanley FatMax Tape Rule. The versatile tape rule features an auto-locking blade and 11 feet of blade standout. We’ll be back with Kevin O’Connor, after this.

    RICHARD: This is Richard Trethewey from This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS and from the longest-running home improvement show on TV. We want to send a big congrats to Tom and Leslie from The Money Pit for being the most downloaded home improvement podcast on iTunes.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    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 we are super-excited here at Team Money Pit because we are very close to one of our biggest annual events: the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas where, of course, we love to bring you guys the inside scoop on the best of the best, from our Top Products Pavilion right on the show floor.

    Now, this is an inside industry event, so it’s not open to the public. But you get to go behind the curtain with us. We’re taking you along for the ride. You can check out our top products online at and follow along on Twitter with hashtag #TopProductsNHS.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, we really love this show because we get to bring you the first look at new products that manufacturers are rolling out for the season. For example, Krylon has a new spray paint out. It’s called Dual Superbond. And what’s cool about this is it adheres to many surfaces that traditional paints will not adhere to, including laminates and melamine.

    You can check it out with our Top Products Gallery and follow us @MoneyPit on Twitter.

    LESLIE: Well, I, for one, have never seen so much controversy and confusion over light bulbs in my lifetime. But for the first time since Edison came up with a way to light up our lives, there are big changes going on with the not-so-common light bulb, I guess.

    TOM: I guess so. That bulb that Edison invented – the incandescent bulb – is being phased out and most are no longer even produced. So, for homeowners who are slow to accept the change, this was a huge upset to the apple cart.

    Kevin O’Connor is host of This Old House and joins us with some tips.

    Hey, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hey, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: So, a lot of people are disappointed in this change but it’s really a move in the right direction.

    KEVIN: Well, there’s nothing they can do about the change, right?

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: I mean because it’s …

    LESLIE: You can hoard 40- and 60-watt bulbs like I am doing.

    KEVIN: I guess you can. But it’s going to be more and more difficult to buy an incandescent light bulb.

    LESLIE: Well, I don’t have to worry about it for about five to seven years, so thank you.

    KEVIN: No, you don’t.

    TOM: You’re good.

    KEVIN: Leslie will be selling them off the back of the pickup truck at a premium.

    The good news is – and technically, the incandescent bulb hasn’t been outlawed; inefficient light bulbs have been outlawed.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: And what that means is simply that we are requiring more of our light bulbs. We are requiring a much higher efficiency. And that’s a good thing, right? We’re going to get more light for using less electricity out of what is out there on the market today.

    So, let’s talk about what’s on the market. There are a couple of choices. There is the CFL – the compact fluorescent. We all know what those are; they’ve been around long enough. They use 75-percent less electricity than a traditional incandescent and that’s a great thing.

    TOM: Yeah. And they last longer, too.

    KEVIN: They do last longer. They don’t last as long as the other alternative, which is the LED – the light-emitting diode – which is about as efficient as the CFL. Saves you a lot of energy compared to the incandescent but those bulbs can last a really long time.

    TOM: Yeah, we could be talking 20 years.

    LESLIE: That’s huge.

    TOM: And I think what’s interesting about that is it’s hard to believe that the bulb that you put in when your child is born may be the same bulb that you have when he or she graduates from high school.

    LESLIE: You can send it to college with them.

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: “Take this bulb. It’ll get you through your freshman year.”

    TOM: “You grew up with this bulb and now it’s time for you to move on with your bulb. So take your bulb and get out.”

    LESLIE: “This is my security bulb. I love it.”

    KEVIN: Well, maybe when you sell your house and you move, you pack up your bulbs and take them with you.

    TOM: Well, they are more expensive, so it is not a bad idea.

    LESLIE: They cost enough.

    KEVIN: No, they are more expensive and if people were trying to find a criticism of this new technology, well, that’s one of them. You can pay $2, $5, $10 for one of these bulbs whereas a simple, 40-watt incandescent can cost you, what, 25 cents, 50 cents?

    TOM: Yep.

    KEVIN: So, they’re more expensive but the reality is is that you’re going to save money on energy and you’re not going to have to replace them that frequent.

    The other great thing about the LED is that idea that the kids might take them to college. You could put these things in places that are really hard to get.

    TOM: Right. High ceilings.

    KEVIN: High ceilings. And you don’t have to change these things out on a regular basis. So that’s an added benefit to this technology.

    And then, of course, there’s the halogen bulb. And there are roughly two different kinds. There’s that kind of funky-looking halogen: that really bright, white light that you might see in a mini-spot over a kitchen island.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: But there’s also a halogen incandescent. And it’s the exact same shape of a traditional, what they call A-lamp, incandescent. But what’s different is that because it uses the halogen gas, it’s more efficient than your traditional incandescent bulb. And so that means that the halogen incandescent, at least, is going to stick around. Because we didn’t outlaw incandescent bulbs; we outlawed inefficiency. And this one is 25-percent more efficient than your traditional incandescent bulb.

    TOM: And that’s very helpful because it fits in the same light fixtures that the old incandescent bulbs did, so there’s not any kinds of concerns about buying a light bulb that just doesn’t work.

    KEVIN: It’s truly a one-for-one replacement for the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs.

    LESLIE: And some people still use those shades that have the clip that goes right onto the bulb itself. And this will make that still work, as well.

    KEVIN: I actually use one of those curly-Q compact fluorescents and my shade just keeps screwing down. I just screw them back up and they just screw them back down.

    LESLIE: I think what’s interesting, though, is whereas you would go into a home center and the light-bulb aisle was just a very small section, now it has become pretty much an educational center where you can look at almost every example that they have for sale functioning. You can turn it on, you can turn it off, you can put your hand under it, see what that light quality is.

    Whereas I think my issue, when this technology first started rolling out, was I couldn’t test and see without taking it home. So, I think more folks are apt to figure this out if they’re able to see and test and look and get an idea, really, of what it does before shelling out that $10.

    KEVIN: Well, I think they needed those displays, right? Because the old incandescent really – it performed exactly the same way, no matter whose bulb it was. And the only difference was: was it bright, medium-bright or kind of dim?

    LESLIE: Soft.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: Was it 40-watt or 60-watt or 100-watt? But it’s confusing; people can get confused. When I walk down the light-bulb aisle now, it’s like when my wife tells me to buy paper towels.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: I walk down the paper-towel aisle and I’m just like, “Why isn’t there just one paper towel?”

    TOM: There’s like this look of bewilderment when you see the light-bulb aisle now.

    KEVIN: Yes. Right.

    TOM: People are walking up and down and up and down just trying to figure it out.

    KEVIN: Yes.

    TOM: Now, we’re talking about light bulbs. Also, we’re accustomed to determining brightness with wattage, right? Now, wattage is a measure of electricity but it’s different when it comes to these energy-efficient bulbs.

    KEVIN: It is. And in fact, brightness is really measured by something called “lumens.” And here’s something that is forward progress, something that is good: all of the light bulbs, regardless of the technology, are going to be put in packages that have something that are now called “lighting facts.” And this is great because it’s a little label on the package and it’s going to tell you a couple key things.

    It’s going to tell you the brightness of that bulb. It’s going to give you a sense of how much energy that bulb is going to cost you over the course of a year. It’ll tell you how long it lasts. It’ll also tell you its appearance. So it’ll show you – is it a warm bulb, a cool bulb or in between? And it’ll give you a couple other key things, like does it contain mercury or not? That label, much like a food label on a can of soup or something, is going to be on every package and it’s going to help consumers pick the bulb that they want.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I think the other thing that’s made it sort of more understandable and more usable, if you will, is that the technology surrounding how you use light bulbs has sort of advanced to meet what’s going on with the bulbs.

    You know, dimmers, how often were you trying to figure out – will this bulb work on a dimmer? Is it going to just come on? Is it not going to come on at all? And now, major manufacturers are creating different machinery to go along with electrical aids to help the bulbs work under every condition.

    KEVIN: Yeah.

    TOM: And even mixed loads, too. You can take a dimmer that’s designed for energy-efficient bulbs and you could put a CFL and a halogen and an incandescent and an LED on the same lighting circuit and have it adjusted so that everything works properly. You don’t get that sort of flickering or that fade-out.

    KEVIN: But you do need to keep in mind that if you’re changing the technology of the light bulb, you might have to actually change the dimmer or the switch that you use to make sure it performs well.

    TOM: Exactly.

    KEVIN: So before you look up in your ceiling and chastise the bulb, you might want to look at the switch and figure, “Well, maybe I need a different switch so that bulb works properly.”

    TOM: Good advice. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: My pleasure.

    LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot, more saving, more doing.

    And still ahead, high humidity levels in your home can be unhealthy. We’ve got an easy way to reduce that moisture that’s so simple, it doesn’t take a second thought.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Foundry Specialty Siding. Foundry vinyl cedar siding gives your home the beauty of real cedar shake without the hassles and worries that come with wood siding. Foundry, unsurpassed beauty and strength. Find out more at

    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. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    One caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Podium Ladder from Werner Ladders. It’s got four times the work zone, so you don’t have to move your ladder around as much while you’re working on a project. It’s super-comfortable; you’re actually going to feel like you’re standing on the ground. And the HolsterTop PRO, which is the extended guardrail, it securely wraps all around the work zone. And then you can actually store or hold whatever tools you’re working with right there.

    TOM: Yeah, this brand-new ladder style really allows you to reach around in any direction very, very safely. It has a 300-pound load capacity and the Werner Podium Ladder is actually worth $129 but it’s going to go out to one lucky caller. And it’ll be part of the top products we talk about from the floor of the National Hardware Show this month.

    So give us a call. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win the Werner Podium Ladder worth $129.

    LESLIE: Well, we get a lot of calls from people who notice discoloration on their bathroom walls. And 9 times out of 10, the cause there is excess humidity.

    Now, if you don’t have natural ventilation, like a window, you really do need a bathroom fan.

    TOM: Now, one step that will make that fan even more effective is a Leviton Humidity Sensor and Fan Control. This is a very convenient way to help reduce condensation in areas that are prone to dampness and high humidity, like bathrooms and basements.

    The way it works is that the Leviton Humidity Sensor and Fan Control automatically detects excess humidity in the room and then it responds by automatically switching on the fan. So you don’t have to think about it. When the humidity level has dropped, it switches the fan right back off.

    LESLIE: Yep. And it features three user-friendly, adjustable settings for customized control to suit the specific ventilation needs of your room. The humidistat control meets CALGreen requirements for indoor air quality and exhaust.

    TOM: Check it out at That’s

    LESLIE: Todd in Utah is on the line and is looking for some help in insulating the garage. Tell us about it.

    TODD: Well, what I’ve got is I’ve got a garage that I work out of. And I like to do woodworking and just all around playing around with whatever project I have. But it gets cold here in Utah and I like using my rafters to put boards and extra equipment, (inaudible at 0:31:40), a little bit of everything out there.

    But I want to be able to insulate it to save a little bit of the heat so it’s bearable in the winter. And I was hoping that there would be a way to maybe spray the upper inside of that with a spray foam or a spray insulation. Or what do you suggest would be the best, without having to sheetrock and lose all that space?

    TOM: Well, you certainly could use spray-foam insulation. In fact, I personally used Icynene insulation in my attic and we did just that: we sprayed in between the rafters with the insulation, then we coated it with a thermal barrier. And with 8 inches of Icynene insulation, we were able to pick up R-30, which is a substantial amount of insulation.

    So, you could hire a local dealer to add spray-foam insulation to the underside of those rafters and seal that in nice and warm. And it also will seal drafts, which is the other benefit of spray-foam insulation.

    But remember, you’re also going to have to add some heat. Once you keep that area insulated, you’re going to have to add some heat. Just insulating itself is not going to make it warm enough.

    TODD: OK.

    TOM: And then I would expect the weakest link in the house would be around the garage.

    TODD: Right.

    TOM: So, you’re going to have – at least have to do some significant weatherstripping to try to keep those drafts down.

    TODD: That’s exactly what I want to do. I just – I like to use my time and being retired, I don’t want to look out the window during the winter.

    TOM: Yeah.

    TODD: I’d rather be doing something.

    TOM: Alright. Well, that sounds like that’s your man cave.

    TODD: Yeah, it is for right now.

    TOM: Alright.

    TODD: Hey, well, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Still to come, can mold grow in insulation? The answer is a definite maybe. We’ll explain, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are gearing up for one of our biggest annual events: the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. We get to go there and bring you all of the hot home improvement helpers from our Top Products Pavilion right on the show floor. You can check out all the top products online at and follow along on Twitter with the handle @MoneyPit. And be sure to use the hashtag #TopProductsNHS.

    LESLIE: Yeah, we really do love this show because the manufacturers use the National Hardware Show to roll out all of their coolest new products for the season. And one popular project this time of year is cleaning. You know, it’s spring; everybody wants to clean. And Concrobium has a line of mold-control products, including products that clean mold and then prevent it. You’ve got to love it.

    TOM: Check all the top products out online with our Top Products Gallery and follow us @MoneyPit on Twitter.

    LESLIE: Alright. And you can also post your question in the Home Improvement section at And I’ve got a post from James in Delaware who writes: “I have moisture in my attic. Just my attic. I’m worried I’m going to get mold in my insulation. Any idea how the moisture is getting there or how to get rid of it?”

    TOM: Well, moisture in your home will emanate up through building materials and settle into the attic. And when it strikes the cold attic sheathing, then it will condense and settle into the insulation and make it ineffective. So, how does it get there? It has its ways of getting through all those materials.

    What can you do about it? A couple of things. First and foremost, you need to look at your attic ventilation. If you have traditional fiberglass insulation, it’s best if you have a continuous ridge vent and continuous soffit vents, because that will work 24-7 to vent that attic, taking away the heat in the summer, the cold air in the winter and the moisture year-round.

    Now, you can also take some steps to try to reduce the amount of moisture that’s forming in your house. Of course, make sure that your bath fans and your kitchen fans are all vented outside. And also, look at the drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter. You want to make sure that the soil is sloping away from the house, that the gutters and downspouts are clean and discharging water well away. Steps like that can help reduce the overall humidity that ends up in your house and leaving you a lot less moisture to have to vent from the attic.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Kristy in Pennsylvania who writes: “I’m in the market for a new home. Can you tell me if there are any telltale signs that there’s been water in a basement? I know it’s supposed to be disclosed but I just want to make sure.”

    TOM: First of all, make sure you get a professional home inspection done and make sure the inspector you hire is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. That would be your mark of somebody that really knows what they’re doing as opposed to those guys that can’t be troubled to join an organization and test into an organization like ASHI – the American Society of Home Inspectors. You don’t want to really hire anyone that’s not a certified member. And because – by the way, the home inspector will be trained to look for these signs.

    But secondly, if you want to just kind of give it a heads-up and see if you see any evidence of it, I would tell you that if it’s a concrete-block basement, which most are, you want to look in the corners. Sometimes you see sort of a triangular stain coming down that will be dark gray or whitish. That’s mineral-salt deposit and that would have occurred when water that got into the basement evaporated and left its salts behind.

    Other things, if it’s a finished basement, of course, you want to peel back any carpeting, for example, that’s in the basement. Carpet is a really bad idea, by the way, in the basement. If you peel it back along the wall, very often you’ll see moisture stains in there.

    There’s a whole host of things to look for and it’s something your home inspector should check out thoroughly, as well. So don’t take all the responsibility yourself; have your inspector do the job.

    LESLIE: Yeah. There are so many things that a home inspector is going to look for that you’re not even going to think about, so it’s definitely worth spending that couple hundred bucks, whatever it costs, to get that professional inspection done.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. It’s time to pick up the tools and get to work.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2014 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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