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    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: And what are you working on this fine weekend? Are you tackling a project inside your house? Are you venturing outside to fix something in the chilly weather? Whether it’s outside, whether it’s inside, whether you’re going to do it yourself or get a guy to help, we are here to help you get the project done. Pick up the phone and help yourself first. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s program, you spend a lot of money on your house but how much of it will you ever really see again? Well, you’ll actually get more back than ever before if you choose upgrades that pay for themselves. We’re going to tell you what they are, coming up.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, hardware floors, they’ve always been one of the most popular choices. But there are some hot, new flooring choices on the rise and some that you’ve probably never seen or even heard of. Find out if they’re exactly what you’ve been looking for.

    TOM: And we could all use a little more sunshine this time of year and spotless windows can help. We’ve got tips on how to clean your windows like a pro and you won’t even need paper towels to do that.

    LESLIE: Oh, because you’re getting somebody else to do it?

    TOM: Like a pro.

    LESLIE: Right, exactly.

    TOM: Not hiring a pro.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, guys, dragging out those hoses just to drive in nails is really a huge hassle, so one lucky caller will never deal with it again. We’re giving away a Ryobi AirStrike Cordless Brad Nailer. It’s a cordless nailer that can drive up to 1,000 nails per charge. Are you even going to need that many? I doubt it.

    TOM: I could get in serious trouble with that.

    It’s a prize worth $129. Goes home free to one caller we talk to on the air this hour. So give us a call; the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Ray in North Carolina, you’ve got a plumbing question. How can we help you?

    RAY: I have a double sink in the kitchen and of course, one side has a garbage disposal and my other sink, sometimes when I have a lot of water in it, it just does not want to drain down real fast, you know? It’ll drain but it’s slow.

    TOM: Alright. Have you ever disassembled the traps underneath your sink?

    RAY: Yes, I have. I’ve taken it apart to see if it was clogged or anything. Nothing in there.

    TOM: So the obstruction must be farther down the line and – or it could be a venting issue. If there’s not enough air getting into those lines – those vent lines – that could slow down the drain, as well. Do they ever gurgle?

    RAY: No. It’ll go down. It just – sometimes it’s real slow about going down.

    TOM: And this is the – and this is not the side that has the disposer on it? This is the other side?

    RAY: No. It’s the other side, yeah.

    TOM: So, I mean it’s probably an obstruction further down the line here. And what I might do is I might take the trap apart and I would run a snake down where the drainpipe goes into the wall or into the floor, however this drains, and try to clear it down to the main waste pipe. It’s probably going to be in there. And it could be something as simple as soap scum that gets sort of trapped in there and grows, so to speak, over time. I’ve seen that happen a lot.

    RAY: Maybe I should take it apart again. It’s been a while since I’ve done it but…

    TOM: You could also go down. If you can access it from below, you could also snake up into the sink if that’s easier.

    RAY: OK. I’ll try that.

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

    LESLIE: Jo in North Carolina is on the line with a humidity question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    JO: I recently – or maybe about a year ago – had a vapor barrier installed under there and a dehumidifier.

    TOM: OK.

    JO: And I was under there recently and I noticed that it’s really a lot of moisture under the vapor barrier. And I know the idea is to keep it from going up in the wood and the insulation and so forth but it just seemed like a lot of moisture. Is that to be expected?

    TOM: That’s because you can now see it. It’s always been a lot of moisture. It’s now being trapped, so the vapor barrier is doing exactly what it’s intended to do: it’s creating a barrier against that moisture vapor getting up into your house. So that’s exactly what it should be doing.

    Now, if you want to take steps to reduce the amount of humidity down there, I would tell you to look at the exterior drainage conditions around your foundation. Because, typically, where we see a lot of moisture is where the soil is very flat, it’s not sloping away from the walls. If downspouts are just dumping right at the corners of foundation, as they always almost always do – as opposed to being extended out, say, 4 to 6 feet -those are the kinds of minor improvements that can have a major impact on how much moisture gets under that house. But to see the moisture under the plastic, that’s where we want to keep it.

    JO: OK. Now, my downspouts do drain away from the house but the other part of this was my dehumidifier that’s under there. I noticed that the hose that goes from the dehumidifier stays under the house, which I was surprised to see. I would have thought it would have gone outside, like my air-conditioner pipe and hose does.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s just another source of moisture. So what I would do is I would run that hose out the foundation, near where one of the downspouts are, and run it either into the downspouts or along the downspouts so, again, that moisture is discharging away from the foundation.

    JO: OK. Is that OK to put a long enough hose on it for it to go out into the yard and …?

    TOM: It only needs a small hose, yep.

    JO: Yeah, OK.

    TOM: You can extend the hose.

    JO: OK. Alright. That’s it. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome Jo. Good luck with that projects. 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. We are here to lend a hand with whatever it is you are working on at your money pit. Maybe you are fed up with all the ice and snow outside or perhaps you’re looking out your window at Hawaii and thinking, “Hmm. What could I do in the beautiful outdoors today?”

    Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, we can give you a hand. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, we all know how easy it is to drop a lot of money at a hardware store or a home center. If you ever want to see that cash again, you need to choose home improvements that pay big. Those are coming up, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    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: Have a home improvement question? We’ve got home improvement answers. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    And if we talk to you on the air this hour, you could win the Ryobi AirStrike Cordless Brad Nailer.

    LESLIE: Yeah, no more noisy compressors. And the Ryobi Cordless Nailer drives up to 60 nails per minute or 1,000 nails per charge. So you could build an addition on one charge.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth 129 bucks but goes home free with one caller we talk to on the air this hour. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win. And you can check out the Ryobi AirStrike Cordless Brad Nailer at HomeDepot.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jane in D.C. on the line who needs some help with an eco-friendly rug. Tell us what you’re looking for.

    JANE: I am in search of a type of rug or rugs that one can safely have installed in their home and it’s not toxic or as toxic as the present ones we have.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, it used to be that we look forward to that new-carpet smell, because it …

    JANE: Right, exactly. Exactly.

    TOM: Now we know that it’s bad for you. So, yeah, there are lines with all major manufacturers that are low-VOC products that have reduced those odors and made them safer for us to take inside our homes.

    The organization that creates standards for the carpet industry is called the Carpet and Rug Institute. And the Carpet and Rug Institute has an indoor air-quality testing program that is kind of like an ENERGY STAR sort of thing where you have a seal. It’s an icon that has a CRI inside a small, green house. And if you see that icon on the carpets, you know that it meets their standards for low emissions. And that’s something you can learn more about at the Carpet and Rug Institute website.

    But besides that, the other thing that you want to do is try to have the carpet delivered a day or two before it’s installed so that it can be unrolled outside and aired for a bit or perhaps in the garage or a place like that. That’s important. If there’s any gluing that has to be put down, you want to make sure that you use, also, low-VOC adhesives so you don’t have any adhesives that are contributing to the VOC problem in your house.

    And I think manufacturers like, I think, Shaw has made a name for themselves with environmentally-friendly carpets. Mohawk is another brand that I know has those types of carpets.

    LESLIE: And when it comes to padding, you might want to use the felt padding instead of any of the rubber padding that they might have.

    JANE: OK. What do you call that padding?

    LESLIE: Felt padding. It’s just a standard carpet padding. That, of course, cannot be used below-grade.

    But airing it out is very important. I remember when we were putting wall-to-wall carpeting in my son’s room when I was pregnant, we had the installer roll out the piece and keep it in his shop for days and days and days and days.

    JANE: I remember my mother used to air certain things out when they came back from the cleaners.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Mm-hmm. That’s right. So you took the bags off and let them air out a bit.

    JANE: Exactly.

    TOM: And essentially, you’re going to do the same thing with the carpet. And I think that will make it …

    JANE: Yeah, that’s what I’m picking up from you. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Yeah, it’ll be much more comfortable. That plus the fact that carpet today – if you search for the right time, the right kind with the CRI seal on it – is going to have less VOCs to begin with. OK, Jane?

    JANE: Oh, OK. Thank you so very much. I really appreciate this. I’ve been waiting and waiting to get this information.

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

    LESLIE: We are heading out west to California where Trudy has a question about flooring. What can we do for you today?

    TRUDY: We built the house about 13 years ago, hardwood floors in the kitchen. Then about 5 years ago, we put in hardwood floors in the family room which adjoined. It matched almost perfectly. You had to know that there were two different dates of installation to realize it. And now they’re totally different. The one in the kitchen is a lot lighter.

    TOM: It’s probably because of how sunlight is falling on those floors, because they’re going to react to the UV.

    TRUDY: Is there something that can be done about it? Because it really irritates me.

    LESLIE: Well, there’s a film that you can put – I mean short of replacing your windows, which I don’t know if it’s time for you to get a replacement window and getting a coating on the glass on the new window – you can have a film installed on the glass to cut down on the light that comes through that would cause any sort of damage and also affect your heat loss and all of that. So, you could do something like that but you would have to either refinish the floors to get them back to matching and then put the film on.

    TRUDY: And what about if they’re not solid wood? I know that they’re probably just – I think they just have that thin layer of wood on the top.

    TOM: Yeah. Then you really – you’re pretty much stuck with it. You can’t really – they’re not refinishable if they’re an engineered floor.

    TRUDY: OK.

    TOM: I say that you should probably just get used to it.

    TRUDY: OK. Meditate.

    TOM: Maybe you can – listen, from a decorating perspective, maybe you can break it up with an area rug or something like that so it’s not quite so obvious.

    TRUDY: That’s a really good idea. Yeah. Very good. OK. Excellent. Well, thanks for your help. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright. Well, let’s quit while we’re ahead.

    TRUDY: Right.

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

    Well, there’s a reason we call our homes “money pits.” Houses can eat up more of our hard-earned cash than many of us would wish. But one way to take the edge off all that spending is to make careful home improvements that are most likely to recoup their costs when it comes time to sell.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, like the housing market itself, these things fluctuate from year to year. But right now, homeowners are getting the highest returns by making relatively small changes to their home’s exteriors.

    TOM: Yep. For example, installing a new exterior door tops the list of worthwhile investments. It’s an upgrade that actually is making a seller’s money, with some projects recouping more than 100 percent of its cost.

    LESLIE: Now, manufactured stone veneers are also worth your time and investment. Now, this upgrade should get you close to a 90-percent return on the cost of buying and installing it.

    TOM: And check this out: whether it’s a contractor grade or a custom grade, a new garage door will boost your profit, not to mention your curb appeal.

    If you want more tips on how to get the most out of the improvements you’re putting into your house, visit us at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: The sky is falling. Not really. Jeffrey in New Jersey, how can we help you?

    JEFFREY: Yeah. Hi. I live in a townhome. It’s about 16 years old; been here about 5 years. And where the wall meets the ceiling, it’s starting to separate. There’s a lot of cracking there. You can see where the taping is and it’s starting to separate and there’s even a crack going out from the corner about 6 inches.

    TOM: OK. So first of all, drywall cracks, especially at intersections like that, are pretty typical. There’s a lot of expanding and contracting that goes on with homes and those types of cracks are not uncommon.

    The repair is a little – it has to be done right so that it doesn’t reoccur. And by that I mean you usually have to cut out the old drywall tape and then replace it with a fiberglass mesh tape. And then, on top of the mesh, you’re going to add about three layers of spackle and that’s going to help bridge the gap between the seams.

    Now, the other thing I’d point out to you is that because you live in a townhouse, the structure of that townhouse may not be part of the building that you own. Usually in a townhouse, multi-family form of ownership, the association is responsible for the structure. So, if it is indicative of any structural issue, then the association would be involved in the evaluation and the repair.

    So if you wanted to sort of cover all your bases, I would, in writing, bring it to the attention of the association, give them the opportunity to look at it and photograph it and see if they want to be involved. But I suspect that it’s probably a minor issue caused by normal expansion and contraction of your home.

    JEFFREY: I’m sure you’re right. The only thing that’s bothering me mainly about it, it’s along the entire wall in a couple of spots.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, it’s annoying, I know. It’s a drywall repair and if you hire a good painter that can do that kind of work, that might be the least painful way to get those restored. Because after you repair it, you’re obviously going to have to repaint it.

    JEFFREY: Sure. OK. Well, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Kathy in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    KATHY: I have a problem with the squirrels chewing into my roof.

    TOM: OK.

    KATHY: And I was wondering, how can I – what can I repair this with and what can I put in there to keep them out?

    TOM: Now, where are they chewing? Are they chewing through the trim or the soffits trying to get into the attic space? What’s the story?

    KATHY: Well, they have gotten into the attic space.

    TOM: The holes. Are you repairing those holes or what are you doing?

    KATHY: No. I was calling you to see how you could help me, because I listen to your show all the time and you give such good advice.

    TOM: Well, if they get into your attic, you can trap them and release them. You can use something called a Havahart trap. And this is a trap that is a wire cage with a trap door. And the way to bait it is to take an apple and put it in the far end of the cage and wire the apple to the cage; don’t just put it in there. But usually, I’ll take a hanger or a piece of picture-frame wire or something like that and I’ll thread it through the apple and wire it off so that it can’t bounce around.

    And if they’re in the attic, they’ll come looking for that food. They’ll get trapped in there. Then you can pick the whole cage up and take it far away from your house and then release them. And believe me, as soon as you lift the door up, they are like out like a light.

    LESLIE: They’re gone.

    TOM: They just fly right out there and they’ll take off. They want nothing to do with you, so it’s completely safe.

    Now, in terms of those holes, you have to repair them. Now, you can put – if it’s a small hole, you can put steel wool in it or something like that. But if it’s a bigger hole, you really should simply rebuild it or repair it, whatever it takes. So if it’s wood or if it’s vinyl or if it’s metal soffit material, you really just need to completely rebuild that.

    And then, the other thing I’ll mention that seems to have been pretty effective over the years -and that is if you were to put moth balls down your attic, that does seem to have a deterring effect on the squirrels, as well. So if you spread them …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It will, though – that odor does seep into the house, so don’t go crazy with it.

    TOM: Yeah, right. You sprinkle them in there, yeah. Especially along the eaves.

    KATHY: Now, is there anything else I can put up there to keep more from coming in?

    TOM: Well, we want to identify the holes and get those fixed. It’s really an entry issue. You’ve got to basically close the door on them here. And so, if we can identify those holes and those entry points and seal them up, then you shouldn’t have a problem with squirrels. They don’t naturally live in the attic but they’re obviously finding a way into your house.

    If you’re not quite sure where they’re getting in, you obviously can’t get in there – up there – to kind of look that closely, then work from the street level, walking around the outside of the house and looking up. Try to get a pair of binoculars or borrow one and see if you can spot the holes where they’re getting in. But that’s what has to be closed up.

    KATHY: OK. Thank you so much. I’m so grateful.

    TOM: You’re very welcome.

    LESLIE: Well, hardwood is still hot but some new and even exotic styles and materials are popping up underfoot. Are these flooring trends exactly what you’ve been looking for? Find out, coming up.

    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.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, are you ready for winter to end? Yeah, us, too. So, tackle those indoor home improvements now so that you can head outside as soon as it gets warm. We’ve got ideas for cleaning, fixing and more, all at MoneyPit.com and it’s also on Facebook. It’s Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. You’ll find great ideas and lots of how-to tips there.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Laurie in Illinois is on the line with a mold question.

    LAURIE: My husband and I think that there possibly might be some mold in our drywall or insulation in our home and we wondered the best way to check for that. We don’t have any airflow in our home, though.

    TOM: What makes you think you have mold? Do you physically see it?

    LAURIE: Well, we have an underground – part of our home is underground and there is a lot of moisture, it seems like, in the air. We’ve seen some mold on some items in our home. And we have some cold-like symptoms from time to time that we think might be caused from it.

    LESLIE: It’s like allergies, you’re saying.

    LAURIE: Yes.

    TOM: So it’s more of the effects of it that you’re concerned about.

    LAURIE: Correct.

    TOM: And this is in the basement.

    LAURIE: Yes. It’s in the part of the home that’s underground and I had read online that some of those mold test kits are unreliable that you buy in the store or mold inspections can be very costly. I just didn’t know the best choice there.

    TOM: Well, the truth is that mold pretty much exists in every home and so we can always find mold. The question is whether or not this is causing a problem in your house.

    What kind of floor do you have in that basement, Laurie?

    LAURIE: It’s cement and then there’s carpet over that.

    LESLIE: That’s a huge mold trap right there. If you were to get rid of that, you would notice. Even if there’s moisture management in a basement, we never recommend putting a carpet down on a concrete slab in a basement area, just because concrete’s hydroscopic. It pulls the moisture from the ground. That then gets into the carpet pad, the carpet itself. And then the dust gets in there and you’ve got a breeding ground for mold.

    So if you were to get rid of that, put down laminate or tile, use some area rugs, you’re instantly going to notice a better respiratory situation, I think.

    TOM: Well, exactly. Plus, carpet is a filter material, so that carpet can trap dust, dust mites and all sorts of other allergens. So there could be other things, Laurie, here that are causing the breathing issues.

    So let’s just give you some general clean-air advice. First of all, as Leslie said, the carpet’s not a good idea. Secondly, you want to make sure that your basement remains as dry as possible. And the way you do that is by making sure the gutter system is clean, free-flowing and the downspout is discharging well away from the house itself.

    Secondly, we may want to add some sort of a filtration system. Now, do you have forced air into that basement space?

    LAURIE: We do not. We do have a dehumidifier that we run and we have some ceiling fans but not in every room or not in every area.

    TOM: So, is it a hot-water heated house?

    LAURIE: No, it’s electric.

    TOM: It’s all electric?

    LAURIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: OK. So what we would really like to see is some sort of a filtration system in there – a good-quality, portable air filter, electronic air cleaner perhaps – that will pull the dust and dust mites and anything else that is of allergen basis out of that basement space. So a portable air cleaner could be a good addition.

    But I suspect, from everything that you’ve told us, reducing dampness and removing the carpet will make that space a lot more comfortable.

    LAURIE: Excellent. Thank you so much. That gives me some great ideas.

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

    LAURIE: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Well, hardwood flooring has long been a popular choice for homes because of the natural beauty of wood. Today, there are many new colors and finishes that help keep this traditional flooring style looking fresh.

    TOM: With a look at the latest in floor trends on tap for 2015, we welcome This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: So, hardwoods are not going out of style anytime soon but there are some new colors and wood finishes that are making their mark this year.

    KEVIN: No, they are definitely not going out of style. It’s definitely my favorite choice. I think it’s a classic choice but it can also be a very contemporary and a very modern-looking choice. And nowadays, people are thinking about hardwoods and they’re thinking about color.

    Gray is actually one of the trending colors. We’re seeing it in every aspect, not just floors. We’re seeing it on the wall paint, cabinets, fixtures and such but also in the floors. And when you think gray, you might be shaking your head. “On floors?” Well, there’s a sort of a gray-washed look in hardwoods. There are great tiles that are made out of ceramics, that look like wood planks so that it gives the appearance of a floor tile. And so there’s a lot of things that you can play with in terms of color and these days, in terms of gray color.

    TOM: And even very dark woods, we’re seeing some of that. Almost the opposites are attracting …

    LESLIE: Like ebonized, even.

    TOM: Right, yeah.

    KEVIN: Yeah, I mean I think it kind of grounds the rooms.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: Sometimes it can actually make a room feel more intimate. But it also gives sort of an exotic feel because those darker woods, I think, we associate with exotic wood species, like Brazilian walnut and such like that. And so people are choosing those as options, as well.

    And again, it’s a style and a color choice.

    TOM: Now, it used to be that hardwood was pretty much only oak and red oak or white oak, right? And now there’s just so many hardwoods to choose from.

    KEVIN: There are so many different hardwoods to choose from, not just the oaks. You’ve got the maples, you’ve got the walnuts and you’ve even got some things that technically aren’t wood.

    You guys know that bamboo is very popular. People may think of it as wood but it is actually a very fast-growing grass. It gives a contemporary look. People who are environmentally-conscious love it because it’s so fast-growing. It’s very renewable and there are a whole bunch of choices out there when it comes to bamboo.

    I would say, however, that bamboo can span a very broad range in terms of its durability. How hard a surface is is probably the number one indicator of how durable a surface is. And bamboo, it can be as soft as pine or as hard as maple. It all depends on when it’s been harvested and how it’s been manufactured.

    TOM: It’s really amazing material. They’re making fabrics out of bamboo today.

    KEVIN: They are making a lot of things out of bamboo today. And it’s something that’s been around for thousands of years and used all over the world. It is now coming to the United States and into our homes in a big way.

    LESLIE: And I think with the fabric, it’s important because they’ve been using it a lot in fitness wear because it’s so moisture-wicking and it wears very well.

    KEVIN: Wow.

    LESLIE: So I’ve seen a lot of that there.

    Now, I think it’s important to look at tile because tile is still a very popular choice when it comes to flooring. And we’re seeing a lot of sort of changes in how you would traditionally think about tile.

    KEVIN: Tile is extremely durable, it’s great for cleanup. If you have got a mudroom, boy, it is an ideal choice. And in fact, on the project that we’re working on currently for This Old House, we are using a tile in the mudroom. It is actually a gray tone.

    LESLIE: Of course.

    TOM: There you go.

    KEVIN: And it is made to look like wood. So when you actually look at it, it’s in that sort of long, rectangular shape to make it look like plank wood. But it has all the benefits of tile: that sort of durability, easy cleanup. The other thing that we’re seeing – in addition to the colors and the different trends, in terms of faux wood – are sizes. People seem to be using much bigger tiles. At least they’re coming back.

    TOM: Yeah, used to think small room, small tile but now it’s – I’m seeing small rooms where you have about four tiles in it, you know?

    KEVIN: Well, it’s a style thing, so people are making the choices for that. But if you think about the larger tile, a couple things are going on. More tile, fewer grout lines.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: So you get a different look there.

    There are a couple things to think about when you’re using large tiles, other than just styles and trends, and it’s performance.

    TOM: They don’t bend.

    KEVIN: They don’t bend.

    TOM: You want to have a good base.

    KEVIN: You really do want to have a good base, because the last thing you want is a cracked tile. And a larger tile without a good base is going to be more prone to crack than a smaller one.

    LESLIE: I mean all of this really sort of makes carpeting seem obsolete. Has it kind of gone away completely?

    KEVIN: Oh, it definitely has not gone away completely. We have a lot of carpet up on second floors because it’s very cozy, at least the wall-to-wall. We’re seeing a lot of that put in houses and projects that we’re working on. And also used downstairs in terms of accent rugs. There’s different colors that you could bring, in different textures. So I don’t think it’s getting rid pf carpet but I think we’re using it in combination with these hardwoods and tiles, as opposed to just using carpet from corner to corner, wall-to-wall in a room.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what I love as a trend with area rugs is layering area rugs. That just makes me so happy. Why have one when you can have two or three in the same spot?

    KEVIN: If you could see the smile on Leslie’s face right now.

    TOM: More is better, right?

    Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and stepping up our trend knowledge.

    KEVIN: Thank you for having me. It’s my pleasure.

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

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Up next, daylight savings is just around the corner. We’ve got tips to help soak up all that extra sunlight with spotless windows, when The Money Pit continues, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, if you’re an avid home improver or a pro, you might be tired of having to drag out your air hoses every time you have to use your nail gun. Well, one of our lucky callers this hour can put the aggravation behind for good, because this hour’s prize is a Ryobi AirStrike Cordless Brad Nailer worth 129 bucks.

    TOM: That’s right. Totally cordless, so no hassle. But big on power at 18 volts. You can see the entire line at HomeDepot.com.

    LESLIE: Well, cleaning windows is something that really takes a lot of time to do. But do you feel like your windows don’t really look all that much better when you’re done?

    TOM: Well, it’s not your imagination. Rubbing glass with paper towels or cloth towels creates static. So, before you know it, the dust and the dirt are stuck to your window again. So what’s the secret? Well, professional window-washers and even the attendant at your local gas station, if you’re lucky enough to use one that actually cleans your windshield, know the secret. It’s simply the squeegee. Squeegees work and they don’t leave the lint behind.

    LESLIE: Yeah. They’re really awesome, too. I always find that when I’m at the gas station that has one available for you to use, I’m always cleaning my windows with it. So, there really is a method to the madness, though. You don’t just grab a squeegee and go crazy.

    Here’s the trick: for larger windows, you want to start at a top corner and move the squeegee back and forth while moving it down like you’re drawing the letter S. Does that make sense? And this part is key: after each stroke, you have to wipe the blade of the squeegee dry but not just with any towel. You need to use a lint-free towel, like a cloth diaper or an old table linen, you know, something like that so you’re not just putting more static back onto what you’ve been working on without.

    TOM: Now, if your window has panes, what you want to do is use a utility knife to cut the squeegee so it actually fits the entire length of the pane and then be sure to pull it down in one, single stroke. That’s the best way to clean those smaller windows and get it done right.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you want to stick with a homemade cleaning solution. And you can make it with liquid detergent and warm water. And when it drips, you use a Shammy cloth to soak up that extra water.

    TOM: Now, you can find Shammy at your local home center. It also absorbs water without leaving streaks.

    888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Britt in California is on the line and needs some help with a skylight. What can we do for you?

    BRITT: My husband and I are considering putting in the skylights in our home.

    TOM: OK.

    BRITT: OK. Are we better off to put a round skylight? A square skylight? Are we better off to put it toward the middle of the roof line or at where it opens up on the deck?

    TOM: OK. So you have a couple of options with skylights.

    First of all, you can use a physical skylight, which is a hole in your roof with a glass skylight inserted into it. There’s another type of skylight kind of thing: it’s called a “sun tunnel.” It’s a lot easier to install. And basically, you put in this tube that goes into the roof and opens up the roof. And then you connect a flex duct from it down to the ceiling of the room that you want to light and that actually brings a lot of natural light into the room. It’s called a “sun tunnel.” So you have skylight or sun tunnel.

    A sun tunnel is going to be a lot less expensive than a skylight. If you’re going to go with the skylight, you probably want to – you have to position it in the room where it’s going to look the best, so that would probably be in the middle. But the expense is creating the light shaft; that’s what you create, you construct, from the point of the roof down to the ceiling level. And that’s kind of the more expensive, complicated part about putting the skylight in. Cutting it through the roof is really pretty easy.

    What I would recommend is that you use a good-quality skylight. I like Andersen skylights, Pella skylights, VELUX – V-E-L-U-X. All good-quality skylights because they’re curbed: they sit up off the roof and they have flashing that makes the seal between the skylight and the roof itself.

    And I’ve had, for example, a VELUX – a V-E-L-U-X – skylight that’s been in my house for 20-plus years. Never had a problem with leaking through many a storm. So it’s definitely worth putting in a good-quality skylight but those are your options. I hope that helps you out.

    And thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you looking forward to everything about summer except the buzz of those large, flying objects? You know what I’m talking about. Carpenter bees? Well, if you act now, you can keep them away from your yard and your deck this year. We’re going to tell you how, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    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 get a lot of questions at The Money Pit about saving money and lots of questions about getting a cleaner house and we’ve got a solution for both.

    LESLIE: Yeah, the Shaklee Get Clean Kit. It features a full line of safe household cleaning concentrates, including a really fantastic laundry detergent.

    Now, all of their cleaning products are free of harsh chemicals. They’re stronger than what you’re used to because they come in a concentrated formula. So you’re going to have to mix it up but you’re going to get more for a lot less than what you’re used to paying for.

    TOM: Head on over to GreenMyMoneyPit.com to watch Shaklee make the toughest stains vanish and to get the healthy, clean house that fits your budget.

    LESLIE: And while you’re online, you can post a question in The Money Pit Community section. And I’ve got one here from Susan in New Jersey who writes: “Every spring, carpenter bees come out of my house in full force. They’re making their home under the eaves of my roof. Is there anything that I can do now while the weather is cold?”

    TOM: Well, what you can do, right now, is to find and plug the holes that they’ve drilled.

    Now, what carpenter bees do is that they will drill into the soft fascia and soffit material around the house. They love the pine and the Doug fir and softer woods like that. They’ll sort of drill a hole up into that wood and then they’ll turn 90 degrees and go parallel to the grain because, essentially, they’re creating a nest.

    LESLIE: Are they actually in there during the winter months?

    TOM: No. I don’t believe they hibernate but they basically will come back to those same holes every year or certainly, new bees will take over those old nesting spots. But if you fill those holes up, that’s what you can do right now.

    Now, if the bees come back, you really need to have them professionally treated, because there’s a powder-like insecticide that’s very effective against carpenter bees. But it’s not one that you can buy over the counter, so to speak.

    And if you really have a persistent problem, you can do what I did. Because I actually took off the wood pine fascia that we had on a building on our property – it was actually our detached garage – and replaced it with AZEK, which is a material that’s made of extruded PVC. So it looks like wood but it doesn’t taste like wood for your carpenter bees.

    LESLIE: Doesn’t taste like anything.

    TOM: So, basically, they swarmed around it looking at it but they couldn’t quite figure out how to get into it and pretty much have left the building alone ever since. So, that’s how you handle it but right now, you can definitely fill up those holes and that will dissuade them from coming back, at least not quite as rapidly.

    LESLIE: Alright. I’ve got another one here form Ben in Idaho who writes: “I’m cleaning out my workshop and have come across several orphaned, rechargeable batteries.” I like that. “Are these rechargeable batteries recyclable like standard batteries?”

    TOM: Well, the answer is yes and you need to find a drop-off location. Now, we actually have a link on our website, if you search “recycling rechargeable batteries,” and it will point you to a drop-off location. But you need to take them to a drop-off location that is set up to basically take the old batteries and to recycle them.

    Now, I do understand that actually – I believe it’s Eveready is now coming up with a green battery that has some recycled material in it. So, apparently these batteries are making their ways back to the manufacturers and they are being reused and remanufactured. In the Eveready case, I think it’s only a small portion of it is actually recycled material. I think I read 4 or 5 percent. But listen, it’s a step in the right direction, because getting rid of all those batteries is a real problem. We certainly love our power, don’t we?

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, Ben? Check with your local municipality, as well, because I know where we live, once a month they’ll take all of those rechargeable batteries, paints, all sorts of odd things, as well, and they’ll properly dispose of them and recycle what they’re able to. So if you can’t find one in your area to drop off, check with your local municipality. They may already have something set up.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online and always available for you at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That’s about all the time we have for this hour of the program. But remember, you can reach out to us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or always online at MoneyPit.com.

    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 2015 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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