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  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
    (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.)
    (promo/theme song)

    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 all month long we are going green for Earth Day. We figured why save all those eco-friendly ideas for just one day out of the year. Coming up this hour, we’re going to tell you about energy- and money-saving tips for your home or your office that’ll help you cut down on your impact on the environment. Got a green home improvement question to toss into the mix? Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    For example, did you know that your DVR uses about 30 watts of electricity all the time; even when it’s not in use? This hour we’re going to give you some tips on how to cut down on those little energy vampires so that they don’t cost you any money.
    LESLIE: Ah, but that is one very important energy vampire for all of us busy folks. (chuckles)
    TOM: That’s going to come out of the recreational budget in the Segrete household?
    LESLIE: Exactly. I’m going to plan for that for my annual budget every, single year. (Tom chuckles)
    Well, also ahead, you know, the weather might still be a bit cool where you are but now is the perfect time to give your system a checkup long before you even need to use it on the hottest day of the year – when, of course, you know it won’t work. So we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to be looking for.
    TOM: And before air conditioning, everyone just sort of threw open a window to let in the breeze and, speaking of which, if your windows are not of the sort that you can no longer throw open, they’re in need of replacement. This is a really good time to do it. There are now some tax incentives for homeowners who want to replace their current windows with more energy-efficient ones and there are some beautiful windows that will qualify for this tax credit. We’re going to find out more about it when we interview an expert from Simonton Windows who has a lot of experience in this particular area of the legislation. Find out what kind of windows you need to qualify for this tax break and it is a pretty big one. It can actually cover about 30 percent of the cost of the project. So we’re going to cover that in just a bit.
    LESLIE: And we’ve got a really great prize for all of you home improvers listening in today. We’ve got the 18-volt AutoShift drill kit from Ryobi. Now this is the only drill that you are ever going to need and it’s totally compatible with all of the Ryobi One+ power tools, so expand your arsenal by calling in.
    TOM: It’s worth 199 bucks but you’ve got to pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question and be willing to come on the air. So pick up the phone. The number, again, 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Joe in New York needs some help with a flooring project. What’s going on at your money pit?
    JOE: Well, I’ve got a problem with the parquet floor in the house. The house was built in 1908 and the floors used to be covered with broadloom and we never noticed the difference then but since we’ve taken up the broadloom and had the floors sanded and scraped, the parquet floors – the various slats – are nailed in three places because the slats – they’ve got three nails; one on either end and one in the middle. It’s always the nails on the end that are coming up.
    TOM: Mm-hmm. Describe this flooring to me. It’s strip flooring or it’s squares?
    JOE: They form a square but they’re strips.
    TOM: OK. And each one of these strips is nailed down?
    JOE: Right.
    TOM: OK.
    JOE: In three places.
    TOM: Is it possible for you to use what’s called a trim screw? A trim screw is a screw that is very, very narrow at the top. It’s used in carpentry and it’s about as wide at the top as a finish nail. And if you use a trim screw instead of the nails, once you put it in, once you drive it in – and use a very small Phillips-head screwdriver bit, usually on a power drill, to drive these in – it will be permanently secured down. Problem is that the hole that this nail is in has just worked itself so loose that it’s going to continue to push the old nails out. But if every time you pull a nail out you replace it with a trim screw, this is not going to happen to you.
    JOE: Yeah. Alright, thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Joe. 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. You can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We even dream home improvement. So jump in on that with us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Up next, stop feeding those energy vampires. Learn how to cut down on the electricity with a few simple tips. We’ll cover that, after this.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCEMENT: The Money Pit is brought to you by APC. Protect your computer with APC’s newest energy-efficient backup 750G, guaranteed power protection that can save up to $40 a year on your electric bill. For more information and a chance to win, visit www.MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s www.MoneyPit.com/Green. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the new Ryobi lithium-ion 18-volt drill with AutoShift. Now this tool makes drilling and driving easier and faster because you don’t have to choose which speed to use; plus it is absolutely compatible with the Ryobi One+ system. Now you’re going to get the drill and the bit and the charger and the lithium-ion battery and a tool bag to store everything in. It’s worth $199 but it could be absolutely yours for free, so give us a call right now for your home improvement answer and your chance to win.
    TOM: And just to clarify, drilling and driving is OK. (Leslie chuckles) Drinking and driving, on the other hand, not so much.
    888-666-3974 is the number you need to call.
    Now let’s talk a little bit about how we can help reduce our carbon footprints. What the heck does that mean? Well, it means …
    LESLIE: Well, I’ve always wanted a smaller shoe size.
    TOM: That’s right. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) We want to give you some tips that’ll help you go green, all this month, and really pull the plug on some of the electronics that are wasting energy dollars. Did you know that those unused electronics like your TV and DVD player draw a lot of power even when they’re in the off position and your computer is also a big culprit? These are called phantom loads of power and they really do add up to a whole lot of money every year in wasted energy.
    But there’s a new product that we really love around here that can help with those extra electricity watts and dollars and eliminate them. It’s called the Back-UPS ES. It’s from APC and it’s a smart power strip that automatically turns off power to unused equipment when your computer is in the sleep mode; so things like your printer, your scanner and the monitor will no longer be eating up energy dollars when they’re not being used.
    LESLIE: Now it can also protect your electronics with those surge protection outlets that are a feature on it as well. So it really is two fantastic products in one. It’s a $99 investment that’s going to pay for itself in a couple of years but you’ve got a chance to win one right now at MoneyPit.com. The folks at APC are running a contest right now and you can get the info from us in our special green section at MoneyPit.com/Green.
    TOM: And when you head on over to MoneyPit.com/Green, you’ll find all of our Earth Day tips to help you save money all year long.
    888-666-3974.   Let’s get back to those phones.
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Debbie in Texas needs some help with a painting project. How can we help you?
    DEBBIE: Yes, I live in a house that’s about 25 years old and I have some rooms that still have the original wallpaper.
    TOM: OK.
    DEBBIE: And I need to know, after I remove that wallpaper, how it is best to prepare the wall before I paint it. And also, I have popcorn ceilings; so if you could help me with that, on whether I should paint over those or try to remove the popcorn and do something else.
    TOM: You have a lot of painting in your future, don’t you, Debbie? (Leslie chuckles)
    DEBBIE: I do.
    LESLIE: And, unfortunately, a lot of that painting needs a lot of prep work.
    DEBBIE: I’m sure it does and I want to do it correctly.
    TOM: Well, you want to get as much of that sizing off the wall as possible and then you’re going to need to prime the wall. And we would recommend a good-quality oil-based primer in this instance because, you know, we don’t exactly what that sizing was made of, what that adhesive was made of and we want to make sure that you have a wall that’s really neutral and ready to have new paint applied to it. If you don’t prime it, then we’re not sure the new paint is going to stick and we want to make sure that not only do we get a nice, even coating to that paint; that it doesn’t come off in a year or two. So that’s the secret there.
    As for the popcorn ceiling, the key to painting that is the type of roller that you use. The paint roller you’re looking for is very thick. It’s about an inch thick and it’s sliced – it has like slits in it – and that does hold a lot of paint. It’s kind of a sloppy project but it’ll roll over that popcorn and make it look bright again.
    LESLIE: Doug in Rhode Island is working on cement repair. What can we do for you?
    DOUG: Yeah, hi. I appreciate you taking my call. I enjoy your show. I have a problem where I have a 4×4 cement entry that’s about five inches high. I’ve been in this home about 20 years and finally – I guess the ice treatment finally started deteriorating one of the corners; well, the outside corner of this. And it’s pretty bad. I guess it’s about six inches each way off the corner; so it’s like the whole triangle is falling and crumbling on the end.
    TOM: OK.
    DOUG: And the question is whether I should try to repair it or do I need to bust up the whole thing and try to – and then replace it.
    TOM: No, absolutely not. You certainly can repair it. What you want to use is an epoxy patching compound. You basically can mold a new corner for that. And probably a good product is Abatron. That’s their website – Abatron.com. They’ve got a whole boatload of concrete repair products. You can also find these at home centers and hardware stores but the key here is to not use cement. You want to use an epoxy patch because that’s going to stick really well and it’s not going to crack and fall off again.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and if you head to their website first, you can sort of see exactly which product is perfect for the repair that you’re working on. A lot of them are self-leveling. They’re the same color as concrete. They really just adhere fantastically and work very, very well.
    DOUG: I appreciate your time.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Doug. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Dennis in Pennsylvania needs some help with an overrunning well pump. Tell us about the problem.
    DENNIS: Hi, there. Well, I have a home that uses well water and it’s driven by a pressure pump. Every three to five minutes I can hear the pressure pump kicking in, cycling on and off without any use of water in the home and there’s no apparent leaks anywhere in the home either.
    TOM: Sounds like you have a bad pressure switch; either that or your pressure tank is waterlogged.
    DENNIS: Oh.
    TOM: Because what happens is the water comes up and then it basically settles back down the well and the pressure drops and it comes back on again. So it’s either the pressure tank or it’s the pressure switch. I would call your – do you have a service company that takes care of the equipment for you?
    DENNIS: Not yet but I do have a plumber that I deal with on a regular basis.
    TOM: Well, as long as the plumber works with well pumps because they’re fairly specialized. If he works with well pumps this should be an easy fix. Because it definitely shouldn’t – it should not be running that frequently.
    DENNIS: So this is not something you’d recommend that I could try to tackle on my own?
    TOM: Probably not. Probably not.
    TOM: Not a good place to start; especially, you know, with your water supply. If you do something wrong your house is going to be dry and it’s going to make everybody grumpy, Dennis. Alright?
    DENNIS: (chuckles) That sounds like a great suggestion.
    TOM: Yeah.
    DENNIS: Thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    Yeah, high-risk home improvements. The high-risk home improvements are like usually they have to do with the plumbing system. You know if you have no water that’s bad. (Leslie chuckles) If you only have one bathroom, that’s really bad. You know?
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) That’s also bad. Or no bathroom is like ridiculously bad.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) That’s the worst. Exactly. Don’t want to tackle those yourself.
    LESLIE: George in South Carolina has a tiling issue. Tell us about it.
    GEORGE: What I have is I put the ceramic tile down in my foyer approximately 15 years ago and now it’s making sort of a squishing sound when I walk on it; just about a dozen tiles.
    TOM: Yeah, squishing and ceramic tile is not a good combination.
    LESLIE: (chuckling) At least it’s not cracking and (makes crumbling sound).
    TOM: Yeah, exactly.
    GEORGE: None of it’s loose. I don’t know what’s causing it.
    TOM: Well, if it’s not loose, let’s not worry about it. If it becomes loose later, then you may have to pull the tile up and re-glue it down to the floor. The noise is probably some of the flex in the floor and tile can take a little bit of that. It’s probably moving on the grout joints. But if you’re not seeing cracked and loose tiles, then I wouldn’t worry about it at this point.
    GEORGE: It’s on concrete. It’s not a …
    TOM: Oh, it’s on a concrete surface?
    GEORGE: Yeah, it’s on a concrete surface.
    TOM: Well, there’s got to be some movement that’s causing this but if they’re not coming up then I wouldn’t worry about it.
    GEORGE: Not coming up at all, no. Just like it makes a squishing noise when you walk on it.
    TOM: You don’t see water coming up through the grout joints, do you?
    GEORGE: No, I don’t see any water coming up, no.
    TOM: Right.
    GEORGE: I put 3,400 square feet of ceramic in this place and I never had a problem with it.
    TOM: It’s not the rubber soles on your shoes now doing the squishing, is it, George?
    GEORGE: (chuckling) No, it’s not. (Tom and Leslie laugh) It squishes in my bare feet even.
    TOM: (chuckling) Alright. Well, listen. If the tile is not loose, I wouldn’t be concerned about it, George.
    LESLIE: Alan’s got some unwanted furry friends visiting his attic. How can we help you?
    ALAN: Yes, I have a cedar-sided house and I have raccoons coming up the side of the house and also squirrels getting into my attic.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Ooh. OK. Do you know where they’re getting in, Alan? Can you see where they’ve – is there a hole open somewhere that they’re getting through?
    ALAN: They bored right through the wood.
    TOM: Wow. They probably want to use that insulation in your attic for a nice, warm nest.
    ALAN: Exactly.
    TOM: Yeah. Well, what you have to do is trap them, at this point. Are they still up in the attic now?
    ALAN: No, I caught four raccoons and a possum.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Whoa!
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Wow. Four raccoons in the attic?
    LESLIE: And possums are not cute.
    TOM: No.
    ALAN: And a partridge in a pear tree. (Leslie chuckles)
    TOM: Man. Tell you what. Alan, have you tried mothballs?
    ALAN: Mothballs?
    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: They hate it.
    TOM: They hate it. You can go up in that attic and just grab some mothballs and sprinkle it around.
    ALAN: Right.
    TOM: You know it’s not harmful for you but they really dislike it.
    ALAN: Mothballs?
    TOM: Mm-hmm.
    ALAN: That’ll keep the squirrels out also?
    TOM: Well, it’ll certainly help. And then the other thing is that you need to stay on top of any of the damage they create and make sure it’s repaired quickly because …
    LESLIE: Fill any holes.
    TOM: … they’re definitely creatures of habit and they’ll keep coming back to the same place.
    ALAN: Oh, good idea.
    TOM: Alright, Alan?
    ALAN: Thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck.
    ALAN: Thank you.
    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you don’t get rid of them you’re going to have to start charging them rent. (Leslie chuckles)
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Barbara in Nebraska has a roofing question. Ask us.
    BARBARA: Somebody told me that it was time for me to reshingle my entire house.
    TOM: Was that somebody a roofing contractor?
    BARBARA: No. (Tom chuckles)
    BARBARA: One of my neighbors.
    TOM: Alright, go ahead.
    LESLIE: (chuckling) Oh, no.
    BARBARA: And I’m wondering – somebody else told me – I got some roofers out here and I got some opinions but a non-roofer told me that I didn’t necessarily have to replace all of the old shingles; that I could do just the bad ones and it would still do a good job.
    TOM: Barbara, how old is your house?
    BARBARA: I think it was built in the 70s.
    TOM: Alright, is it the original roof?
    BARBARA: I think so.
    TOM: Well, if it is the original roof and it was built in the 70s, it probably is at the end of a normal lifecycle. If it’s not leaking, you may be able to go a little longer on it. If you want to put a new roof on – which wouldn’t be a bad thing if it’s a 25 or 30-year-old roof –
    BARBARA: Right.
    TOM: – the best way to do that is to remove the old shingles and strip it down to the roof sheathing and then put only one layer on. However, you don’t have to do that. You can put a second layer over it and that will be less expensive.
    BARBARA: Over the old ones.
    TOM: Yep, and that would be your option. I would be very careful and get several estimates. Make sure you get references from the contractors.
    BARBARA: Right.
    TOM: You know, check with the Better Business Bureau and get a good guy to do this job for you if you’re ready for it.
    BARBARA: Well, I was told to wait until the summer came.
    TOM: Well, I mean right now – it’s OK to do it right now in the spring.
    BARBARA: In the spring? OK.
    TOM: Yeah. You don’t want to do it in the fall going into the winter because the shingles don’t always have a chance to seal, but the best time to do this is in the spring or the summer.
    BARBARA: OK. Very good. Thank you very much for your help.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
    Well, there has never been a better time to replace your windows with more energy-efficient ones. We are going to tell you about some windows that qualify for federal tax credits, right after this.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Did you know that adding a Therma-Tru entryway can add as much as $24,000 to what others think your home is worth? To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: This is 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. We’d love to help you tackle your home improvement projects; especially if you’re thinking about replacement windows because there has never been a better time to replace your windows than right now because tax credits on energy-efficient windows, they are a great incentive with a dollar-for-dollar credit on your tax return.
    TOM: You’ve got to love that. To tell us more about the tax credits and what kind of windows qualify, we’re joined by Tony Eschmeyer, the product manager for Simonton Windows.
    Hi, Tony.
    TONY: Tom, how are you doing today?
    TOM: I’m doing great. This is great news for homeowners out there. It’s a fantastic opportunity to get some money off your taxes and the amount of money that you can get for this project went up dramatically. I think it tripled from the last revision to the stimulus bill, didn’t it?
    TONY: It did, actually. The prior Energy Star criteria was a tax credit of $200; so it has actually gone up significantly …
    LESLIE: Wow.
    TONY: … with the credit now capped at $1,500 for the years 2009 and 2010.
    TOM: Wow, even better.
    LESLIE: Now I think there’s a lot of confusion. I mean is it any energy-efficient window? Is there some sort of guidelines that we need to be following when we’re shopping for windows to make sure that what we do purchase will qualify?
    TONY: Leslie, there definitely is and this is a change from prior programs that the government had in place and Energy Star had in place.
    TOM: OK.
    TONY: The new criteria actually mandates that the windows purchased must meet a .30 U-factor and a .30 solar heat gain coefficient.
    TOM: Now Tony, I’ve heard a lot of window commercials and I’ve seen a lot of signs but I’ve never really heard the words “solar heat gain coefficient” (Leslie chuckles) on the radio and advertising before now, so how do you know if your windows meet that qualification?
    TONY: There’s really one way to find out and, Tom, that’s through what is called the NFRC label.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
    TONY: And the NFRC label is placed on the window and it actually is – it’s an independent third party that verifies thermal performance for windows for the industry.
    TOM: Now that’s the National Fenestration Rating Council, correct?
    TONY: That is absolutely correct.
    TOM: Now if you’re considering buying replacement windows, I guess you need to ask your contractor about the solar heat gain coefficient, about the U-factor and make sure, as you mentioned, that they’re all a .30.
    TONY: That’s correct and that’s what that NFRC label does, Tom, is that it actually publishes, on the window itself, its performance rating.
    LESLIE: So now once we’ve installed these windows, what do I need to hold onto and what kind of paperwork do I need to have so that come next year when I’m filing my taxes I’ve got everything to make sure that I am eligible and do receive this credit?
    TONY: And Leslie, that’s a great question. The information that you’ll want to hold onto, there are a couple of pieces of information. Either the NFRC label, which we definitely recommend holding onto – either that or holding onto a copy of it – and the invoice from your contractor. And I do want to make – I want to let everybody know that the $1,500 is a credit, actually, on the purchase price of the window itself; so it doesn’t actually pay for any site prep or installation fees that may come; it’s actually for the product itself.
    TOM: Is it based on a percentage of the purchase price or could you buy, theoretically, one big, huge window that cost 1,500 bucks and get it off your taxes?
    TONY: Well, it’s actually eligible for 30 percent of the amount as a tax credit.
    TOM: Alright, well that’s still pretty good.
    LESLIE: That’s good.
    TONY: Thirty percent of the total purchase price.
    TOM: Hey, that’s great. Now Tony, you mentioned that it doesn’t cost the installation cost but, speaking of installation, how do we know that we’re getting a good installer that’s going to treat our house with the care and respect that it requires and make sure these windows get installed in the most energy-efficient way possible? Because as good as you can make these windows, you can’t control how they’re stuck in the wall and if it’s not done right there could be air leaking all around it, couldn’t it?
    LESLIE: It sort of cancels out the energy efficiency.
    TOM: Yeah.
    TONY: It definitely can and, Tom, I’ve seen that. Even with the greatest window in the world, if the installation is poor you’re not going to have the performance that you want from that window. And to be honest with you, it’s one of the most commonly-asked questions in the industry.
    I would – if it were me and I were evaluating somebody to put windows into my home, I would definitely check references. I would, you know, be very comfortable with the contractor that you select. Understand what type of work they’ve done, for how long they’ve done it, ask them how they’re going to install the window and then check with friends or on the internet to see if that’s, you know, pretty common in the area in which the window is going to be installed.
    TOM: Good advice.
    Tony Eschmeyer from Simonton Windows, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
    If you’d like more tips on Simonton Products, you can call them at 1-800-SIMONTON or go to a website that they set up just with tax credit information which is Simonton.com/TaxCredit. Or head on over to MoneyPit.com because right there on the homepage of MoneyPit.com we have got the My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Series; first edition is Your Guide to Replacing the Windows in Your House. Everything you need to know about installing replacement windows is in the guide which is on the homepage of MoneyPit.com.
    Tony, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great information.
    TONY: Tom, Leslie, thanks for having me.
    LESLIE: Well, spring may seem too early to think about your air conditioner but it’s actually the perfect time. Up next, we’re going to give you some advice on what you should be doing for your air conditioning system right now.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic, the 100% natural odor-eliminating air freshener. Unlike other air fresheners, Citrus Magic actually eliminates odors and lasts up to four times longer. Visit CitrusMagic.com for more information. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    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: And you ought to go to the phone right now and call us. Why? Because one caller we talk to on the air is going to win the new Ryobi lithium-ion 18-volt drill with AutoShift. This tool makes drilling and driving far easier and faster because you don’t have to switch speeds to use one; plus it’s compatible with the entire Ryobi One+ system. You’ll get the drill, the drill bits, the chargers, the lithium-ion battery and the tool bag. It’s worth 199 bucks. It’s going to go to one caller that reaches us this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Give us a call if you’re thinking about what you need to be doing around your money pit to get your house ready for this lovely spring season heading into summer; what repairs, what maintenance, what things you should be thinking about to make sure that everything operates smoothly.
    Well, springtime is actually the prime time for preparing your air conditioning system for the warmer months that are just around the corner. A service professional, they can absolutely help you with this task, which includes: checking all of the controls and electrical components; cleaning the evaporator and the condenser coils; oiling your motors; checking refrigerant levels, filters and the condenser; and then calibrating the thermostat. Now these are all very important, so when you get that super-duper just ridiculously hot day, you will be cool instead of ultra-hot and uncomfortable.
    TOM: And also, as your landscape starts to grow around that air conditioning compressor, make sure you trim it back. You need to leave at least 12 inches of space all the way around the compressor so that it can operate properly and cool the refrigerant that’s going through it. That’s actually going to lower the cost to operate that big, old, energy-consuming appliance; so make sure you keep that all trimmed back as well.
    Do you have an energy-saving question? Do you have an air conditioning question that maybe you had a problem last summer; you want to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Pick up the phone. Now is a great time to call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Heading out west to chat with Jan about some trees and some curb appeal. What can we help you with?
    JAN: I have two silver leaf maple trees that are about 30 to 35 years. One of them seems to be more of the problem. They’re very close to the street and to the gutter but the roots have come up quite a bit and they’re causing the gutter and the walkway that we have going to the front door to buckle. I mean it’s actually cracked in the seams, the gutter that’s in the street, and I’m not sure what I can do; the roots are up above the grass quite a bit. But what I was thinking of is where the roots go down to the gutter and have lifted it in one area and lowered it in the next seam, if I chop through those roots enough to put like a piece of wood or whatever and then build it up higher with dirt, is that going to be a problem with the tree?

    TOM: Well, it could harm the tree. It’s a difficult situation because anything that you do can harm the tree or could make it weaker so it could get blown over in a storm. Unfortunately, this is an active problem. It’s always going to be getting worse on you and you could break apart the curb or the area of the walkway that’s being cracked and then re-pour it but it’s only going to be a matter of, you know, some number of years before it happens again.

    LESLIE: If you start repairing something on the curb which belongs, obviously, to the city/county community, that has to be done through the community. That’s not something you as a homeowner do, correct?

    TOM: And the problem is that if you call the township or the county to take care of that, they’re going to go, “We’ll take care of it. We’ll just cut your tree down” and it’ll be gone.

    JAN: Yeah, yeah.

    TOM: So I think this is a situation where you just kind of want to try to maintain it as much as you can. There’s no easy fix here, Janet.
    LESLIE: Rick in Texas has a question about radiant barriers for the attic. What can we do for you?
    RICK: My question is I’m thinking about having a radiant barrier sprayed in underneath my roof and someone told me that that wasn’t the best way to do the radiant barrier.

    TOM: That it was not the best way to do the radiant barrier?

    RICK: Right. That there was something besides spray and that’s the only way I know to do it.

    TOM: Right. Well radiant barriers typically do go under the roof and they reflect the sun from the outside back out and they also keep the heat that emanates up into the interior space back down.

    RICK: But what they do is they spray it and is there anything better than that?

    TOM: Rick, there are really two common applications. You know, the one that you’re talking about is a spray-on and most of them are sheet products. But either of them will work very well. Let me point you to a great website for additional information. It’s the website for the Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association. It’s RIMA.net. And there you’re going to find all of the technical data on the various types of reflective barriers, radiant barriers and you can make your choice based on the data that you find right there. It’s a good, independent organization with some great technical details about this product. RIMA.net.

    RICK: OK.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
    Up next, we are going to reach into our listener e-mail bag and answer some questions about a noisy sprinkler system and a dirty bathroom tile, so stick around.

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    ANNOUNCEMENT: The Money Pit is brought to you by APC. Protect your computer with APC’s newest energy-efficient backup 750G, guaranteed power protection that can save up to $40 a year on your electric bill. For more information and a chance to win, visit www.MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s www.MoneyPit.com/Green. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and all month long we have been telling you how to go green for Earth Day. I mean why save money and energy-saving and planet-saving ideas for just one day a year? We want you to learn details about everything green; so everything that you’ve been hearing on The Money Pit. Go online, check out our special online section on the topic at MoneyPit.com/Green.
    TOM: And while you’re there, you can learn how to win a great product because we’re giving away the Back-UPS ES from APC. It’s a smart power strip that will save electricity and protect your electronics from power surges.
    LESLIE: And while you’re online you can click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and you can e-mail us your home improvement question and now is the time in the show where we jump into our e-mail bag. And I’ve got one here from Nancy in Crystal River, Florida who writes: “What are your recommendations for a concrete garage floor in Central Florida? I’m thinking about an epoxy-painted sparkle-type floor. Are they durable? Do they tend to peel?”
    TOM: No, actually they are very, very durable. You have to make sure you prepare the surface properly but we’ve had good success with the QUIKRETE product – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E, Behr also makes one, Rust-Oleum makes one called EPOXYShield; all good-quality products. And essentially what you do is clean the floor really well. There’s usually …
    LESLIE: And they usually come with a cleanser.
    TOM: Yeah, they do. It’s sort of an etching compound cleanser. You use their specific cleanser and then you roll on the paint. Usually there’s a two-part mix where you have to mix it together. You roll it on; then you add the color flakes. That sprinkle you talk about, those are color flakes. You add the color flakes and kind of work that process throughout the entire floor and when you’re done you’ll have one that’s very, very durable and very, very attractive.
    LESLIE: Alright, Sandra in New York writes: “The first two rows of ceramic tile above the tub have a gray stain that looks like mildew. However, the stain is not on the surface but appears to be coming through the tile from the back. Is there anything that can be used to clear up or hide the stains?” This sounds like mold coming in on the grout.
    TOM: Yeah, it does and the solution here would probably be to strip out that grout. I would get a grout saw and actually cut out that grout and then regrout this area of the tile. You may end up having to do more than you really want but you want to make sure that you use a grout that has a mildicide in it. There’s a product called LATICRETE that has a component called Microban that will not grow any mildew and I think that will solve this problem, Sandra.
    LESLIE: And you know what, Sandra? When you go ahead and remove all that old grout, you can go ahead and mix up a bleach-and-water solution and spray that in that area behind those tiles. That’ll kill any of that mold that’s growing back there. Let it dry out very, very, very well and then go ahead and regrout.
    TOM: Well, do you sometimes feel ignored? Well that’s exactly how your kitchen exhaust fan feels (Leslie chuckles) and you should respect its feelings because it’s actually helping to keep you safe. Leslie’s going to tell you how to clean up that area of your kitchen in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
    LESLIE: Alright, now when it comes to kitchen recirculating exhaust fans – those are the fans that sort of fall into the better-than-nothing category as far as …
    TOM: Yeah, absolutely.
    LESLIE: (chuckles) … as far as, you know, an air-cleaning appliance is concerned. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be kept at their peak efficiency. So to do so, you want to remove both the metal and the charcoal filters that are in the exhaust fan and go ahead and soak those metal screens and then replace those charcoal filters. And you want to do this every six months and you can actually take those metal screens and put them right in your dishwasher or just soak them in hot, soapy water. You just want to degrease them.
    Then once you’ve got everything cleaned out, you want to wipe any grease that you’ve got from the underside of the hood and go ahead and replace the bulb because that will go out when you least expect it. If you’re like us, you probably just put it on as sort of a nightlight in the kitchen. So just take care of it. Everything’s going to operate smoothly. It’ll keep you and your family safe. It’ll keep those odors out of the kitchen as best it can and control that moisture as well.
    TOM: Good tip. Coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’re going to wrap up our month-long look at green home improvements with some ideas on finding products that are either no- or low-VOC. That stands for volatile organic compounds; really bad stuff that you want to stay away from. They are potentially harmful chemicals. They’re in everything from paint to carpeting but we’re going to teach you how to lower your family’s risk on the next edition of The Money Pit.
    I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Helping you build big dreams.

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    (Copyright 2009 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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