Best Vacuums from Consumer Reports, Tips on Avoiding Recalled Products and Preventing Identify Theft
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Where work and fun meet, because we’re going to help you have a good time while you tackle your home improvement projects. We know that you want to do it; we know there’s a project around your house. Perhaps your husband or wife are bugging you to get it done.
And we can help take that pain away (Leslie chuckles), because we won’t do it for you but we will give you the solutions: the step-by-step advice, the direction, the suggestions that you need to make it all go away and bring harmony back to your homestead. Give us a call right now and start the process off at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, if a product in your house was a part of a safety recall, would you know it? Probably not. There are dozens of items recalled each year but we don’t always hear about them. We’re going to solve that with a tip on a service that you can go to and always be notified if a product in your house is subject to a recall.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And here’s something that’s actually not a recall; it is an outright ban on a common household item. We’re talking about the good, old-fashioned-but-always-functional, incandescent light bulb. We’re going to tell you why you’re not going to be able to buy them for very much longer and shed some light on what options are left.
TOM: Plus, vacuum cleaners are one of the handiest household appliances and if you’re in the market for a new one, we’re going to have some tips from the experts at Consumer Reports who just completed a great study to help you choose the best one for you.
LESLIE: And we’ve got a beautiful décor item to give away to one lucky caller who reaches us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got a set of floating-glass shelves from Bluegate, worth $52.
TOM: So let’s get right to work. Pick up the phone and give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Sebastian in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SEBASTIAN: Yes. I have a 1940s brick-sided bungalow, or Cape Cod, in Michigan. It has plaster walls ventilating on the interior.
SEBASTIAN: I was told the best – and it has no insulation in the walls. I was told the best way to insulate this is by going from the outside, drilling through the mortar joints and pushing the cellulose. I just didn’t feel confident this was the proper way of doing this.
TOM: Yeah. No, I don’t think so. Typically, you don’t insulate that type of an exterior wall. I mean there’s just really no effective way to get insulation in there; there’s no wall cavity for you to fill out.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the stones should be insulating enough itself but it generally isn’t.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Believe it or not, the air that’s trapped inside of it. So what I would focus on in your house, Sebastian, is two things. In terms of the exterior walls, I would concentrate on air infiltration; so that means good-quality windows, proper sealing, weatherstripping and caulking.
But most importantly, from an insulation perspective, it’s everything that’s above you because 80 percent of your heat loss is going to go up; only about 15 percent goes through the exterior walls and about 5 percent through the floors. So I would concentrate on making sure that you have at least 19 to 22 inches of insulation in the attic space, because that’s going to do the best – that’s going to be the most effective way at cutting down on utility costs and improving comfort.
SEBASTIAN: OK. The walls actually feel like an ice cube; when you’re laying there in bed, you can actually feel the cold coming off the walls. It’s really extracting; the temperature flows from hot to cold and you can really feel it leaving your body.
TOM: What kind of insulation do you have in the attic space?
SEBASTIAN: That I know I can put in, because I just put in – I just added 2x6s up there; it’s on top of the original [inaudible at 0:04:19.7].
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. I think what you’re going to find is this: when you insulate the attic, you’re going to find that you have, all of a sudden, more heat in the house and that’s going to make those walls warmer.
TOM: Because you’re losing a lot of heat.
SEBASTIAN: OK. Very good. Thank you.
TOM: Give it a try, Sebastian. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Etta in Ohio has a question about a basement floor. What can we do for you?
ETTA: Hi. I bought an 80-year-old house and seems like everything was wrong with it but I’ve got most of it fixed and now I’m in the basement and I’m real fortunate. It’s a dry basement and the original cement hasn’t been stained. I want to clean it; just regular clean it and dry it and – but I want a clear sealer to put on it so that – I’ve seen paint before that peels on that and I think a clear sealer would just be so nice, because you could sweep it and it’s sealed and it doesn’t stain or anything but I can’t find a clear sealer.
TOM: Oh, there’s lots of masonry sealers out there, Etta. You know, the kind of paint that you might also want to be thinking about is something called an epoxy paint.
TOM: That’s what really sticks like the dickens on a concrete surface. It’s a two-part epoxy. You mix it up as you apply it, working one gallon at a time, and it really hardens quite nicely. It has tremendous adhesion qualities to it and some of these epoxy paints come in kits with floor cleaners and it’s all sort of one system. And when it’s all done, it works really, really well.
You know, we used one of the epoxy paints on our local Boy Scout house and I’ve got to tell you, there’s – I can’t imagine many concrete floors will get more traffic than this particular one does, with all the kids and their camping supplies and all of the wet and the dirty that goes through that, and it really has stood up quite nicely.
ETTA: Well, where do you buy that and does it come in clear?
LESLIE: It doesn’t come in clear. There is a company that makes a clear and the name of the company is R.S. Hughes – H-u-g-h-e-s. It’s a little bit pricey but they do offer a clear, epoxy sealer.
ETTA: That would be great and then – like I said, I’ve seen some of the floor paints just peeling out or scrape when you do what you do in the basement, so …
TOM: Mm-hmm. But if you use the epoxy paints, they’re not going to peel. There are a couple of manufacturers. These paints are available at home centers everywhere. There is – Rust-Oleum makes one called EPOXYShield and …
LESLIE: QUIKRETE does.
TOM: QUIKRETE makes an epoxy paint. So they’re very available and they’re very reliable and they do a great job. OK, Etta?
ETTA: Yes. You know, I was at a store the other day and I was tempted to by this one and it said for exterior use only. I can’t use that, can I?
TOM: Yeah, if it says for exterior use, you can certainly use it for interior use and that actually would be OK.
ETTA: (overlapping voices) I could? Ah. Well, great. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Etta. 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. Now you can be part of The Money Pit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by picking up your phone and giving us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We will help you tackle your home repair, home improvement, even home décor questions; so give us a call now.
Up next, you might hear about major recalls but more often, defective items are quietly pulled from store shelves. So, how do you know if you’ve got a dangerous product right in your very own home? I mean right now? We’re going to tell you, next.
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. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because this hour, we’re giving away, of course, answers to your home improvement questions. But we’re also giving away a set of two floating shelves from Bluegate. Now, there is no need for frames or hardware, because this patented shelving system uses a tongue-and-groove attachment which creates a free-floating shelf.
And the tempered, glass shelves are wear resistant, great for any décor and can hold up to 100 pounds per shelf and they’re only worth 52 bucks. That’s an amazing deal; well, one of you is going to get them for free.
So, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Well, if you recall recently, Toyota recalled millions of cars for repairs. It made big headlines and consumers were very well aware of the makes and models affected. But what happens when a defective product quietly makes it way off store shelves and – usually, something smaller than a car but something that could still kill you. And what if you own one of these products and you don’t even know about it?
It happens more often than you think, because recalls are usually voluntary. For companies, there isn’t a standard method for warning consumers and some companies put notices on their websites but, heck, who’s checking those out regularly?
LESLIE: So that’s got you thinking, “What am I supposed to do?” Well, the best protection for you out there is to sign up for e-mail alerts with the Consumer Products Safety Commission website at Recalls.gov.
And you can actually report a defect if you think you’ve got something that’s not right with a product in your home. Unfortunately, this is how most recalls actually start, because a consumer found out the hard way that a product wasn’t actually working properly.
Now, finally, if you have a recalled product, you might be entitled to some sort of recourse, including a safe replacement of the item. So visit CPSC.gov for more information.
TOM: And I’ve got to tell you, I have been a member of that mailing list for years and, especially as a young parent, we found a number of items that were recalled, including our high chair, for a strangulation hazard. So it’s very important that you sign up – especially if you’ve got kids – and stay on top of these recalls; because this is a very effective way for you to find out if anything in your home has been subject to a recall and is potentially unsafe.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, we did the same thing when our son was born and when you go to the website, guys, you can actually select which areas of items you’d like to be notified about: home improvement items, child safety items, all sorts of things. So you can really sort of narrow it down, so that you get the information that’s important to you.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number you need for the home improvement information that’s important to you. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now, because we are here to help.
LESLIE: Matthew in Texas needs some help with an accessibility question. What can we do for you?
MATTHEW: Yes, I needed some help on suggestions of how to build a ramp.
MATTHEW: My grandmother had hip surgery and we can’t get her in the house without a ramp.
TOM: Alright. Tell me something. How high are the steps off of the house right now?
MATTHEW: They’re about four feet high.
TOM: OK. So you’re going to need quite a long ramp. There’s a good organization out in Minnesota called The Wheelchair Ramp Project and their website is WheelchairRamp.org and they have, on that website, a complete manual on how to do this. But the key issues are going to be the number of feet that you need to run that ramp so that you could go down at a rate of about one inch per foot. So, in other words, if you’re going to go out one inch per foot, you need a ramp that’s 12 feet long to drop a height of 12 inches.
MATTHEW: (overlapping voices) Right.
TOM: So, that’s why you have to carefully plan this. You know, it may be – I don’t know – but perhaps another door of the house is lower to the ground but that’s the kind of thing you have to go through. And then the other thing is it’s going to be real important, Matt, that you check with the town to determine what types of restrictions they may have on the zoning.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And what permits you might need.
TOM: And then the permits. That’s right.
MATTHEW: Yes, sir.
MATTHEW: Well, I thank you guys.
TOM: You’re welcome, Matt. Check it out: WheelchairRamp.org. Good site, OK?
MATTHEW: Yes, sir.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Margaret in North Carolina is dealing with a nasty, three-letter word: rot. Tell us about it.
MARGARET: Yes, we have a balcony and the balcony is 14 feet from the ground. The supports are wood and the wood has rotted out; the wooden supports. And so, what we’d like to do is the wall itself, the façade of the house, is brick and the wooden supports for the balcony are – go through the – into the wall, into the ceiling below, into the wood braces that are on the ceiling.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
MARGARET: Well, we want to replace that wooden support with a metal floor on the – metal floor for the balcony – as well as metal supports; three metal supports that cantilever into those beams in the ceiling below – wood ceiling; wooden beams.
TOM: Right. So you have a balcony that extends out the exterior wall of your house. Are there any supports underneath or is it totally cantilevered off of the outside wall of the house?
MARGARET: Totally cantilevered.
TOM: OK, so you have a rot problem; you’ve got a serious structural issue. Taking that apart and rebuilding it with steel is probably a good idea. You’re going to end up using steel I beams and you would only need two I beams – one at both ends – and then, in between, you could have wood floor joists; pressure-treated lumber.
But the main supports that go through the wall and cantilever back over the exterior wall, they would have to be steel I beams. This is a big project; not one that you can do yourself. One you definitely need a pro to work with you on. You definitely need a good, qualified contractor and you need to get a building permit, because there are a lot of deck collapses because of this very reason; because of those rotted beams that go from the outside of the deck, cantilever over the exterior wall and go back into the house.
So, you’ve got a big job on your hands but it sounds to me like you have the right plan.
MARGARET: Thank you very much. I certainly appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Margaret. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Brian in Illinois needs a hand with a tiling project. What are you working on?
BRIAN: Yeah. I’m doing some retiling in my house and I was just wondering – I got some eight-inch tile down in front of my fireplace – in front of my entry door – and I was wondering if I have to tear that tile up or can I just go over it? We’re going to put new, six-inch tile down on top of it.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Are you satisfied with the support the eight-inch tile has? Is it real solid?
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Is everything sturdy?
BRIAN: Well, the deal is that the guy that put this tile down before we got here, he didn’t put the cement board down underneath it.
TOM: OK. So is it cracking?
BRIAN: Yes, it’s cracking.
TOM: Yeah. You’re going to make it worse.
BRIAN: Oh, really?
TOM: You need to take it all up; you need to put a proper base down. If you put the new tile over the old tile, guess what’s going to happen to the new tile? It’s going to crack, too. You can put multiple layers of tile down; that is possible and it’s, you know, sometimes a good idea.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. If the base is sturdy.
TOM: (overlapping voices) But it all comes down to what the base is. Right.
BRIAN: OK. Because I thought maybe the old tile would work as a support but it won’t, will it?
TOM: Well, I mean yeah, it’s not going to crack as much as – the new tile probably won’t crack as much as the old tile but I mean it’s just not worth it. So I would pull that up, put a proper tile base down and then go from there. It’s just a much better job.
BRIAN: (overlapping voices) OK. So go ahead and tear the old tile up and then put some cement board down underneath it and go from there.
TOM: Yes, sir.
TOM: You’ll be happier. More work but you’ll definitely be happier in the long run.
BRIAN: OK. Well, thank you. You guys have got a good show.
TOM: Oh, thank you very much. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tracy in Alaska has some unwanted visitors in the name of mice. Tell us about the problem.
TRACY: Hey, Tom and Leslie. Love the show. We’re getting dumped on with snow today so it’s quite a picturesque scene but part of that winter, I think, has been pushing some mice inside the house.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright.
TRACY: I don’t know if they’re mice …
TOM: Well, they need a place to live, too.
TRACY: Yes, that’s right. Well, I live kind of in a wooded area. We haven’t really had a problem for about the last five or six years but then all of a sudden, bang, here they are. And I went looking for traps and everybody in town was sold out, so I don’t think it’s just me that’s having the problem.
But my question was – I was able to trap five or six in a couple of days and we haven’t had any more sightings but I wondered if you guys had any experience with the sonic things that you can plug in the wall and they’re supposed to chase them out with sound fields and things like that; just maybe to put in the living area instead of putting down more traps or poison and leaving that around; just something to kind of keep them at bay once they’re out.
TOM: All the professionals that I’ve talked to about this do not use those and say they don’t work. I’ve never personally had any experience with them. However, I have had a lot of experience keeping mice out of the house and, generally, it comes down to a couple of things. First of all, try to identify all of those small places on the outside of your house where mice can find their way in. They only need the space about the size of your finger to squeeze through, so if you’ve got …
LESLIE: Even less. Like a quarter of inch.
TRACY: That’s pretty amazing.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, if you’ve got gaps or cracks, you can stuff steel wool in those places to try to block them from coming in.
The second thing is to make sure that you are not leaving any food out for them and you may be leaving food out for them in a somewhat obvious way.
TRACY: (overlapping voices) Right.
LESLIE: Like a food dish or a container of cereal not being closed properly. You want to make sure everything is in an airtight, sealed container.
TOM: And it may be food that you don’t really think about. For example, pet food is great mouse food because, well, we don’t keep mice as pets but (Tracy chuckles) they certainly love the same food and typically, that’s in a big paper sack on the floor, the way it’s sold at the stores.
TRACY: (overlapping voices) Right. And we definitely had that …
TOM: This kind of food needs to be kept inside of a sealed container so that it’s metal and they can’t get through it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you leave your pet’s dish out overnight, don’t. Pick it up, get rid of it or even put it back in the bag if you don’t want to waste or go ahead and put some Saran Wrap over the dish of food and leave it on the floor. But don’t just leave it there exposed, because they’ll have a field day while you’re sleeping.
TRACY: That’s great. [inaudible at 0:18:35.0].
TOM: (overlapping voices) And lastly, you could add – pick up some rodenticide, because it’s very effective. If they eat it, they’re going to die and that will help rid your home of mice, as well. Now, if you use rodenticide you want to make sure that if you have pets you put it in what’s called a bait station, which basically is a trap that keeps the rodenticide inside of a container that the pet can’t get access to but the mice can.
LESLIE: One more thing, Tracy. If you’ve got piles of firewood outside – sort of up against the home; against your foundation – get them away. You don’t want anything directly next to the house, because they like to burrow inside that stack of firewood and then while they’re in there, they’re chewing through the wall on the backside or finding ways in.
TRACY: Very good. Alright, those are great suggestions. I appreciate it, guys. Thanks for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tracy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, some vacuums really suck (Leslie chuckles) and some don’t but I mean we really want them to suck, don’t we? Because that’s what they’re supposed to do; to suck away all the dirt and debris around your house.
How do you know which is the best vacuum for you, especially if you’re in the market for a new one? Well, you check with the folks at Consumer Reports, of course, and that’s what we’re going to do, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your toolbox, visit StanleyTools.com.
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.
So a lot of us are jumping into our spring cleaning chores this time of year and maybe you’re thinking about getting a new vacuum cleaner. So, when choosing a vacuum cleaner, consumers say ease of handling wins out even over performance of that vacuum. Now, that’s according to a Consumer Reports survey. The magazine tested dozens of vacuums for its March issue and here with the results is Bob Markovich, the home editor for that magazine.
TOM: Bob, welcome back to the program. Thanks for being with us.
BOB: Thank you.
TOM: So do you all collect your dirt from home and bring it in (Leslie chuckles) to – for the test?
BOB: (chuckling) Well, we actually, I think, collect it from various places but the main thing is that we make a pretty dirty carpet; that’s our toughest test.
TOM: Well, I bet. So, you tested an awful lot of vacuums. What were the big findings? Any big surprises?
BOB: Really that carpet cleaning – actually, when it comes to cleaning – is still king. That’s what most people do; it’s still the biggest and toughest carpet chore, so that’s still our toughest test for vacuums and it’s the one people care about most.
TOM: You know, Bob, my experience has been that there are vacuums that are great on carpets and there are vacuums that are great on hardwood floors but there are not so many vacuums that can actually handle both. Did you find anything like that?
BOB: Well, actually, here’s the deal: bare floors – hardwood floors – are actually a walk in the park for most vacuums. So really, you’ve got a lot of – you’ve got some vacuums that really aren’t very good but they’re great at bare floors. There are exceptions but for the most part, it’s really, really carpets.
Now, a vacuum that tend to be great at carpets usually is pretty darn good on bare floors, as well.
LESLIE: Now, I’ve noticed, in just perusing magazines, that a lot of vacuum manufacturers are really focusing on creating a brand for pet hair. I mean suddenly pets are king as far as everything is concerned and people are really looking for something so specialized. Is that true? I mean does it really make sense to go with something that’s specifically for a pet hair situation or are they all the same?
BOB: You know what? We’re finding that the vacuums that are aimed, in general, at pet hair – as far as specializing – aren’t necessarily better. We found, again, that vacuums, in many cases, that are great at carpets and great at bare floors – and by the way, that are also very good in our tool airflow test; that means there’s plenty of air through the hose for doing couches and upholstery – we find that those also tend to be very, very good in pet hair. In fact, we found that some of the pet hair specialists, as we wrote, have no teeth in the sense that they’re really not that great at the more important stuff, which is carpets or floors.
TOM: We’re talking to Bob Markovich. He’s the home editor for Consumer Reports. The March issue has a great story in it about vacuums; the top 15 picks as selected by Consumer Reports are featured there.
Bob, let me ask you about the whole green craze. You’ve got a lot of marketing claims. You just mentioned pet hair; vacuum manufacturers talking about that they pick up pet hair better than the next guy. What about vacuums that claim to be greener? Is greener always better when it comes to selecting an appliance like a vacuum?
BOB: It really isn’t and as far as payback, it could really take an eternity; based on one we tested that would save you roughly three dollars a year. So I don’t know how many years you’d have to be using (Tom laughs) that vacuum to get your money back but those relatively small savings really have kept vacuums out of the government’s Energy Star program, along there with refrigerators and everything. Vacuums aren’t on there for a reason; not a lot to save over there.
LESLIE: Now, I’ve also noticed, I mean and just quickly glancing at your price points on vacuums, it really runs the gamut. You’ve got one that’s 100 bucks and then there’s one that’s $1,500. Does price matter when selecting a vacuum?
BOB: Once again, based on what we’re seeing, it really, really, really doesn’t. There’s one argument you could make and that’s the Kirby. Kirby tends to be very, very pricy: $1,350. At least what you’re getting there is a decent performer but what you’re also getting is a brand; at least you’re getting one that was tops in our frequency-of-repair surveys. So that’s one possible reason to buy a Kirby for all that money; at least it has really proven reliable. I know it’s also rebuildable; this is like the lifetime vacuum, I suppose.
But for the most part, the answer is no. You really don’t have to spend $1,000. You don’t have to – you really, in most cases, don’t have to spend $500. You can get some good buys for more like $200 or $300, typically, for uprights and sometimes as little as $1 to $60; one of our picks is just $60.
TOM: Bob, what about the bag versus bagless claims that are made by so many manufacturers? You’ve got the super-cool-looking Dyson; you’ve got the Hoover WindTunnel. Do you find any performance difference between a bagged vacuum and a bagless vacuum? Is one more convenient? Is one more effective or is it just personal preference?
BOB: A lot of it’s really personal preference; you can’t basically say a bag is automatically better than a bagless. Here’s the problem with a bagless unit – is that you save the bag; on the other hand, you’ve got to – if you’ve got asthma or allergies or respiratory issues, you probably want a bagged vacuum, because emptying a bagless [inaudible at 0:25:14.4] is really pretty dusty and messy.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, it’s dusty.
BOB: So that’s – we tend to warn people about that.
TOM: Bob Markovich, home editor for Consumer Reports, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit with your recommendations on vacuums.
The article is in the March issue of Consumer Reports. I encourage you to go there and check it out, if a vacuum purchase is in your future or head on over to their website at ConsumerReports.org.
BOB: Thank you, Tom.
LESLIE: Well, Thomas Edison might be rolling over in his grave right about now because the 100-watt incandescent light bulb is soon going to be extinct. We’re going to tell you when and why, next, so start stocking up.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bondera TileMatSet; the fast, easy way to add the style and value of tile to your home. For more information, visit BonderaTileMatSet.com.
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: Hey, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question because this hour, we are giving away a set of two floating shelves from Bluegate. There’s no need for frames or hardware; this patented shelving system uses a tongue-and-groove attachment, which creates a free-floating look. The tempered glass shelves are wear-resistant and great for any décor and can hold up to 100 pounds per shelf.
That’s a lot for a glass shelf, don’t you think?
TOM: They’re worth 52 bucks, so call us right now for your chance to win. But we need your home improvement question to qualify. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, it’s one of the greatest inventions of all time but you’re running out of time to find a certain household item in stores. Now, we’re talking about the 100-watt incandescent light bulb. And as part of a major energy legislation signed into law by President Bush – George W., we’re talking about – the bulb ban will have the bulb off store shelves by 2012 and other wattages are going to follow after that.
Now, in terms of energy efficiency, most folks agree it makes sense when you consider about 90 percent of the power consumed by an incandescent light bulb is emitted as heat rather than light. Now, compact fluorescent bulbs, they last longer and are more energy-efficient but the only downside is that they do cost a bit more but those costs are falling fast.
TOM: That’s right. And right on the heels of the compact fluorescent is development of the LEDs: the light-emitting diodes.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) True.
TOM: And those are really expensive right now; but again, they’re coming down and down and down. And we’re going to get to the point where you can buy a bulb and have it last, literally, for a decade without ever replacing it.
TOM: It’s just a whole new way to provide light in your house. Sure.
LESLIE: But the light is so different, I feel like.
TOM: Well, the compact fluorescents, I think they’re getting a lot brighter and the LEDs definitely are. But I think the last time I checked the price of an LED bulb, it was like 50 or 60 bucks.
TOM: But it lasts like indefinitely so it’s kind of like a lifetime bulb. So, you have to really think about light bulbs in a different way. We’re used to them being very disposable and they’re not; they’re more of like an investment-grade appliance that delivers light to your house. And that’s kind of where we’re going.
LESLIE: I’m going to have to think of a way to offset my carbon footprint, because I’m going to be one of those people that stocks up on incandescent bulbs.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You are, huh?
LESLIE: I just love the way they look.
TOM: You’re going to start BlackMarketLightbulbs.com or something, right? (chuckles)
LESLIE: Oh, no, no, no. I’m not going to share. I’m not sharing. I’m going to keep them. I just enjoy the look of an incandescent. I’m totally for the environmentally-friendly reason but I can’t – I don’t know what I’m going to do in 2012.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: And now we’ve got Jim in Indiana who needs some help with a bathroom project. What can we do for you today?
JIM: I have a ceramic tub that I want to recoat or repaint because it’s really bad-looking and I was wondering if there was a product out there that I could apply to the ceramic that would stick.
TOM: Well, I mean you can reglaze the tub and there are do-it-yourself products that do that well but I will tell you that it’s not going to last nearly as long as the original tub.
JIM: (overlapping voices) OK.
TOM: Think of it as an upgraded paint job.
TOM: Yeah. That’s kind of what you’re up against, John. Now, if you want to have it professionally reglazed, then you’re going to be looking at something that could last you 10 or 20 years. But if you use a do-it-yourself reglazing kit, you’re probably looking at, I don’t know, four or five years before you have to repeat it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you have to be really careful about how you apply it because you don’t want to get brush marks; you don’t want to feel an unevenness in the texture of the surface.
JIM: OK. OK. Yeah, well – yeah, I would – I’m more interested in short-term so before – you know, if I get three or four years out of it, that’d be great.
TOM: Then I think it’s a good option for you.
JIM: OK. But I didn’t get the name of the product.
LESLIE: You know what, Jim? Actually, Rust-Oleum has just come out with a kit that actually comes as an almond base but it’s tintable to like 16 different colors. So if you just do a web search, I’m sure you can find a local vendor in your area that sells that product. And Rust-Oleum makes great products that are super-durable, so it’s worth a shot.
JIM: OK. That sounds like a winner.
TOM: Jim, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carolyn in West Virginia needs some help with some squeaky floors. I bet it is just driving you crazy.
CAROLYN: Absolutely. (Leslie chuckles)
LESLIE: So tell us about the squeak. Is it just in one area? In a whole room? Describe it.
CAROLYN: We have a great room and two bathrooms and a laundry room. (Leslie chuckles) Well, and the bedrooms. But we have just put in hardwood floors in the whole main area and my husband is a little stout so every time (Tom and Leslie laugh) he walks, it squeaks. I can walk on it and it’s pretty good but mostly it’s around the heat pump and plumbing area.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
CAROLYN: We’ve had people go in under there, trying to shimmy up little shims in there.
TOM: Alright. Well, let’s talk about why floors squeak. They squeak because there’s movement in the floorboards and the best way to eliminate the movement is to secure the floorboards down to the floor joists from above. Now, with hardwood floors it’s a little trickier because, of course, it’s a finished floor.
But what I would do is this, Carolyn: I would identify the floor joists under the floor. You can do that with like a stud finder or something of that nature.
TOM: You can do it by sort of measuring it out. But you definitely want to know where the floor joists are. And then what you’re going to do is drill into the floor and you’re going to screw the hardwood boards right down through the subfloor, into the floor joists. You’re going to have to put a wood plug in, sand it, refinish it when you’re done but that is absolutely the solid, permanent way to quiet your squeaky floor.
Now, there’s another way that you can do this; it’s a little less disruptive but not as effective but it might do the trick. And that is instead of using a screw, which you have to sort of pilot drill and countersink below the floor surface, you could use a finish nail. And the way to do that is to take a finish nail and probably a number 10 or a number 12 – a pretty heavy finish nail – and you’re going to use that finish nail as the drill itself by putting it in the drill chuck and sort of spinning it into the floor. The reason I say to do this instead of a drill bit is because when you use the nail as the drill, it separates the wood fibers.
In fact, Vermont American had a product actually called a nail spinner that was used for this very, very job but since you’re only going to do it once or twice, I wouldn’t tell you to go buy this nail spinner. Just put the nail right in the chuck of the drill, spin it into the floor and then finish it off, you know, with a hammer and sink it right below the surface. That won’t be as permanent but it could quiet the floor, as well.
CAROLYN: OK. Alright. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) You’re welcome, Carolyn. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-
Carolyn calling from West Virginia on behalf of her stout husband. (Leslie and Tom laugh) Nicely put, Carolyn. Nicely put.
LESLIE: No one’s feeling were hurt in the taking of that question.
You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
So, is that dated, brass, bathroom fixture that you’ve got making your space look old and out of style? Well, you might have some easy options and we’ll tell you all about them, 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: You can visit MoneyPit.com for inexpensive, bathroom makeover ideas. In fact, I think we call them cheap makeover ideas (Leslie chuckles) but inexpensive is probably a nicer word. Just go to Home Spaces, then Bathrooms. We’ve got ideas on lighting, décor, even fixtures that save water. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And while you’re there, you can e-mail us your question, like Jan did who writes: “I would like to update our bathroom. We have brass fixtures and I’m wondering if there’s a way to paint the light fixtures or how about the shower doors? Do you need to prime or sand the surfaces and would a Rust-Oleum paint do the trick?”
TOM: I think painting is OK for the light fixtures but how do you feel about the brass fixtures?
LESLIE: Hmm. I mean if you’re unhappy with the finish, eventually you’re going to replace it anyway, so why not do a temporary fix with spray paint? And those – I think Rust-Oleum makes the metal-look spray paints in a ton of different finishes, from chrome to nickel and satin and then glossy and they actually look really fantastic and on a light fixture. It’ll really do the trick to get you going. And also think about – if there’s a shade on it, go with a shade in a different color. Instead of white, go for black or choose a different shape, because those are a really inexpensive way you can change it, as well.
Now, I don’t know about the shower hardware. What do you think, Tom?
TOM: Well, I think you could probably, as well, paint it but here’s the key with all of this metal painting you want to do: you’ve got to clean that surface really, really well. It’s got to be absolutely clean. Then you’re going to have to mask off all around it and you’re going to use multiple but very thin coats of spray paint, allowing a number of hours in between coats, because it really takes a while to build up a proper finish that’s really going to adhere well and do a good job.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But that should help, Jan. Good luck with your little, mini bathroom makeover.
TOM: Well, keeping your personal information secret is getting harder and harder, as identity theft continues to skyrocket. Leslie has got some tips and advice on how to keep you safe, in today’s edition, though, of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, about this time of year, you’ve got all sorts of paperwork lying around, including credit card receipts, bank account information and more than likely, your social security number, because it is tax season. And it’s not surprising that this is prime time for identity theft.
Well, to stop it, you want to make sure that you keep all of your documents together in one spot, like a binder or a folder; not just tossed onto the front seat of your car. Better yet, use a locked, fireproof safety box for all of these important documents.
Now, since we’re all e-mail-savvy these days, you want to watch out for phishing scams. And these are fraudulent e-mails that look exactly like they’re coming from a financial institution or a government institution – like the IRS – but they’re really from scammers trying to get your personal info. So if you ever get something with, you know, your bank’s letterhead and it says, “Hey, we lost your account number and social security number. Send it our way,” it is a scam; don’t do it.
And remember, when you’re e-filing, check your computer to see if your spyware and anti-virus software is turned on and up-to-date and don’t leave outgoing checks or mail in your mailbox. Instead, avoid mail theft by using the post office.
TOM: And another great way to make sure that you’re protected 24/7 is to sign up for identity theft protection, such as that which is available from LifeLock. It’s a great service and it really does a good job of sort of looking over your shoulder and making sure no one is sneaking up on you to steal your identity.
Their phone number, by the way, is 800-978-8441. That’s 800-978-8441. Call them today; it’s very inexpensive and I think they’ll give you 30 days free if you mention The Money Pit.
888-666-3974 is the phone number you need to use, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if you have a home improvement question. But for now, that’s just about all the time we have.
Coming up next week on the program, though, we want to tell you about the secret to a clean and well-maintained plant bed. It’s called the edging and we figure that it’s about time you started to think about those spring projects and, before you do, we want to give you some tips on how to get those beds ready to go, with the proper edging technique. That’s coming up next week, when we chat with our pals from This Old House; Roger Cook, right here on The Money Pit.
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.
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(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.)