Cooling Tips to Help Save on AC Costs, Handy Tool Organization Ideas, Home Buying How-To: House or Neighborhood?
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  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we hope you are enjoying your summer. And if you are working on a summer home improvement project that maybe you’re not enjoying because it’s not going well, well, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. And if you’re planning a project and want to make sure it does go well, that’s even a better reason to call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Because we are here to help you with whatever you’re working on, to take your home from money pit to castle, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour on The Money Pit, when you’re house-hunting, what’s more important: the house or the neighborhood it’s in? We’re going to have tips to help you decide what matters most if you’re in the market.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, This Old House host Kevin O’Connor has advice on useful products for easy tool storage so that everything you need is right at your fingertips.

    TOM: Plus, the heat and the humidity mean your A/C might be working overtime right now. So we’re going to have a few easy ideas for helping you keep your house cool, naturally, so your A/C doesn’t have to work that hard.

    LESLIE: And today, we’re giving away a fantastic prize that you’ll really enjoy in this warm weather. We’ve got a SodaStream Source Starter Kit worth 99 bucks. You can have fresh, homemade soda pop with no more bottles to toss.

    TOM: So, give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    BRIAN: Hi. Yeah, we have a house. It’s about a year-and-a-half old and it has a – in the upstairs, it has a game room/playroom area, you know? And got a two-year-old and a six-year-old and so trying to think of – trying to build – yeah.

    LESLIE: And lots of stuff.

    TOM: Yeah.

    BRIAN: Lots of toys. So I’m trying to think of a seating area, bench, storage area. Suggestions? Ideas?

    LESLIE: I mean you’re on the right track. I’ve done a ton of makeovers on $100 Makeover with a similar situation, where – small kids, lots of stuff, multi-function rooms. You want it to look good, you want it to be practical but you want to have a place for everything and everything in its place.

    And if you’re a handy guy, you can easily make a storage bench and it could be something as simple as a framed-out box with one of those slowly-closing hinged tops to protect the kiddies’ fingers, either painting it or wrapping it in fabric, padding the top and wrapping just the top, veneering the bottom. It depends on your skill level. And there are ways to even modify existing pieces that you might have.

    Maybe there is a bench or a piece of inexpensive furniture that you can find at one of those stores where you sort of put things together yourself. And you can add baskets underneath. It depends on what your skillset is and what kind of look you want for that space.

    BRIAN: I saw on some show leaving it open using 2x4s or 2x6s – or would you suggest enclosing it?

    LESLIE: I feel like leaving things open, only from my experience with my own son and people who I see how they live – if it’s closed up, it tends to be neater.

    BRIAN: Right.

    LESLIE: And you can frame something – build the box out of 2x4s, clad it with MDF, dress it up a little bit with 1×3, make it almost look like it’s paneled or something.

    BRIAN: Right.

    LESLIE: Give it some raised areas and recessed areas, if you even want to go that far. Up to you. You can add in a baseboard to just sort of dress up the bottom. Paint that. Everything looks beautiful in glossy white or glossy black or a great chocolate brown.

    And then on the top, same thing: MDF top. You want to wrap it with some batting. Put some foam, wrap that in batting, wrap it with fabric, staple to the underside. And the key is the hinge; you have to get that hinge that slowly, slowly, slowly goes down. Because the kids are always going to get their hands in everything.

    BRIAN: Now, we have a corner area, so should I just make it straight or should I make it like an L-shape or what?

    LESLIE: I think an L-shape is really practical. And what you can do is on the ends – on both ends or just one – you can sort of then build out an additional area that maybe has some open shelving on both ends, to put some books.

    BRIAN: Awesome. Looks like I’ve got a project to get started.

    TOM: Sounds like you do.

    LESLIE: It’s a good one.

    BRIAN: Alright. Well, I appreciate it.

    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: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at We are here to help you with all of your home improvement projects. Now that we are in the full swing of summer, what are you working on to keep your money pit in tip-top shape? Give us a call, 888-MONEY-PIT, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’ll give you a hand.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, are you on the move for a new home? Perhaps thinking of relocating? If you are, what’s more important: the features of the house or the neighborhood it’s in? We’ll help you figure it out with this week’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit

    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: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    One caller we talk to this hour is going to win a SodaStream Source Starter Kit worth $99. This makes carbonated water and soft drinks very simple. You just turn tap water into sparkling water in under 30 seconds, with no cleanup. And that’s the best part.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you could actually enjoy the freshness and convenience of homemade soda and to protect the environment at the same time. Best part is no heavy bottles to carry from the store to your home or then recycle.

    And this is really cool – my sister and brother-in-law have this – and you can actually create the fizz to how you like it. So you can have super-bubbly soda or not-so-bubbly soda. Then you add the flavor of your choice and it makes your favorite drink. I mean it really is delicious. It’s the best carbonated water I’ve ever had in my life.

    TOM: Visit and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your question. And we, perhaps, might be sending that SodaStream starter kit to you.

    LESLIE: Travis in Des Moines, Iowa is on the line with a garbage-disposal situation. What’s going on?

    TRAVIS: Well, I’ve got a GE garbage disposal. We just had it installed when we remodeled our kitchen. And we do our dishes out of our sink and so we fill the sink base up and then when we drain the water out, we kick the garbage disposal on just to eat up all the stuff going down.

    TOM: Right.

    TRAVIS: But once it gets about halfway down, this garbage disposal just shakes like crazy and it’ll shake the whole entire sink and …

    TOM: Wow. If it’s shaking, it’s out of balance. And so why could it be out of balance? You said it’s a new unit?

    TRAVIS: Yep. It’s brand new. The thing is is when we turn it on, it runs just fine.

    TOM: Right.

    TRAVIS: And then about halfway down, it starts to shake and then it stops. And then it goes back to just a clean operation.

    TOM: Hmm. I suspect – now inside the unit itself, there are these sort of paddles that swing around and help mash up the garbage.

    TRAVIS: Yep. Yep.

    TOM: I suspect that something is wrong there and they’re getting stuck in a position opposite than the other two. Because if that happens – it’s just like balancing a tire: if you don’t have the weights in the right place, you start to get a vibration.

    So I suspect that either something is wrong with one of those paddles or this just has a bad bearing. And a bad bearing can actually work really well and then when the weight distribution gets a little bit different because all the water’s going through there, it can kind of like catch an edge, so to speak, and work really poorly. But I think you need to replace that.

    TRAVIS: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: I’m assuming that the bracket was installed properly and it’s secure to the bottom of your sink. But it really should not be shaking like that. The only time I’ve ever seen them shake is when one of those little paddles got stuck; sometimes it gets rusted shut. But if it’s brand new like that, that can’t be the case.

    TRAVIS: Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking. But I figured you guys would know.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a balance issue and if it’s not working, I would replace it while it’s under warranty. It probably has a year warranty on it.

    TRAVIS: Yeah, well, we just put it in a few weeks ago, so …

    TOM: Yep.

    TRAVIS: Excellent. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, it’s time now for today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors.

    So, when you’re shopping for a new home, what’s more important: the neighborhood or the house? Well, the answer is: a little bit of both.

    LESLIE: Yeah. In a perfect world, every buyer could afford the house of their dreams in the neighborhood they adore. But in reality, most of us have to compromise.

    Now, a realtor can give you expert advice on home values and they’ll show you homes in communities that you probably haven’t even considered.

    TOM: Yep. But before getting started, though, they’re going to ask you to make a list of everything that you’re looking for in a home. And after checking out that list, you’ll have to decide whether it’s more important to be in a particular location or a certain size or type of home.

    And if the location matters more, be ready to look at smaller homes, different home styles and fixer-uppers.

    LESLIE: And if you decide the type of home is more important than the neighborhood, your realtor can help you identify communities where you’ll find affordable houses that fit your plans. In the end, it’s important to make an educated decision so that you can maximize your potential for continued property value.

    TOM: And that’s your Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Considering selling your home? Today’s market condition may mean it’s a good time. Every market’s different, so call a realtor today and visit

    LESLIE: Jan in Kansas is on the line with a home that seems to be cracking up. Tell us what’s going on.

    JAN: Well, I’ve got a lot of problems. It’s an old house; it’s over 50 years old.

    TOM: You have a lot of opportunities, Jan, not a lot of problems.

    JAN: Yeah. I’ve got some cracks in the wall.

    TOM: OK.

    JAN: And I have one crack that is going from the dining room to the kitchen and I believe it’s cracking on both sides of the wall. Same crack.

    TOM: OK. You said it’s 50 years old. Do you know if it’s plaster lath?

    JAN: It’s sheetrock.

    TOM: It’s drywall? OK. So, fixing that is not a big deal. The thing is that most people usually fix it incorrectly. What they’ll do is they’ll try to spackle it. And by spackling it, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that it’s going to re-crack. What you have to do is sand down the area so you get rid of any glaze from the paint or dirt or anything like that. And then you’re going to cover it with drywall tape. And you want to use the mesh type of tape that’s sticky.

    So you put a strip of tape across the crack and then you spackle right over that tape. And you’ll use three layers of spackle and the easiest way to apply this is if you buy the plastic spackling knives. You can buy one that starts at around 4 inches, then you go to 6, then you go to 8. And they’re pretty inexpensive and you use that to apply the spackle and you sand in between each coat. And then you prime and paint and you’re done. So those are the proper steps.

    Where most people go wrong is they just try to do a quick-and-dirty spackling job and they wonder why it cracks again and again and again. Because that’s basically an expansion joint right now and unless you spread the repair across both sides of it with new drywall tape, it will continue to show up.

    LESLIE: Mike in Iowa is on the line with a venting question. How can we help you?

    MIKE: Yeah. I was listening to one of your shows earlier and you were talking about how the bathroom vents are vented into the attic?

    TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

    MIKE: And I have that problem regarding that. I mean it’s right into my insulation; it’s not vented out by any means.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah. A very common problem.

    MIKE: I was wondering the best – yeah, what’s the best way to fix that problem?

    TOM: OK. So what you want to do is you want to install a duct – a vent duct – and you can use flex duct for this. That will take it from the bath exhaust fan to a discharge point.

    Now, where the discharge point is is going to be up to you. A lot of options. Typically, you can take that out to the nearest side wall, like a gable wall, and bring it right through the wall. And you would use a termination point – a discharge point. It’s like a piece of flashing that has a hood on it and lets the air get out and then snaps shut and it keeps it from getting wet.

    You could also take it and you could drop it into a soffit but you have to actually bring it through the soffit again, into a grid so that it’s not obstructed. So you can take the vent and drop it down so it points towards the vented soffit right out. Or you can take it up further and point it right at an existing roof vent. Now, I don’t like that as much because I think that the higher you try to lift that air, the less effective it’s going to be. But that is an option. You can bring it straight up and point it at an existing roof vent and let it exhaust there.

    MIKE: Well, my house is about six years old and I’m wondering – I’m paying pretty high energy bills regarding the heat.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Because what happens is when the insulation gets moist from all that moisture that’s being dumped into the attic, it completely cuts down on the R-value of the insulation. So you do need to get that vented outside, whether it’s through the siding with one of those trap doors that sort of opens out every time you’ve got it on or through the soffit. But you want to keep it the shortest run so that you can effectively move that air.

    Now, if you’re evaluating what’s going on with the insulation up in the attic, you really need to look at how much compression is there, what is the condition.

    Are you talking about pink fiberglass batts?

    MIKE: It’s got a white fiberglass.

    LESLIE: It looks like it’s blown in?

    MIKE: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You can add more blown-in, because you want it to fill up to the floor joists when you’re looking up in your attic floor. You want it to sort of reach the height of that bay and you can do that with more blown-in or what you can do is just take rolls of fiberglass and go perpendicular to your floor joists, just to sort of make up and add some oomph to the R-value. And that will really enhance your insulative value. But you do have to vent that outside.

    MIKE: OK. Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, if you’re a tool hound, you probably have a place for every tool and every tool is in its place. For the rest of us, a few storage tips could help. Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House joins us with those tips, after this.

    LESLIE: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by the Stanley FatMax AntiVibe Hammer. Pound nails, not your arm.

    KEVIN: This is Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House, the longest-running home improvement show. And I want to send out a big congrats to Tom and Leslie for the most downloaded home improvement podcast on iTunes. Well done, guys.

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    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 our very popular Dog Days of Summer Facebook sweepstakes has just kicked off. This is one of the most popular sweeps that we do every year. The grand prize, this year, are two Hunter fans, with just about everything you need to install them in a couple of the rooms of your house. What a great way to cool off during those dog days.

    LESLIE: To enter, simply visit our Facebook page at and like us. Then you can enter and share the sweeps with your friends and you can earn bonus entries.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: So do you feel like you’re always having trouble finding the tool you’re looking for?

    TOM: Well, if your workshop space is cluttered, disorganized or maybe even overflowing, a standard toolbox might not be cutting it for you. Here to discuss some better options is Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.

    Hi, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be back.

    TOM: So, when your tools are disorganized, I feel like it makes it really hard to get projects done. Do you agree?

    KEVIN: I totally agree. How many times have you not been able to find the tool you needed, reached for the other tool and tried to use that instead?

    TOM: Or usually about 2:00 in the afternoon, I’m starting to get tired after lunch. I get really spacey and it’s like, “Where did I put that tape measure?” – or whatever it is that you were working on.

    KEVIN: Yeah.

    LESLIE: It’s hanging on your belt.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    KEVIN: I can remember hanging those little, tiny brads for the small pictures. The ones you don’t even need to secure (inaudible at 0:21:02)?

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: I can remember putting one of those nails in with a 20-ounce framing hammer, you know? And I was like, “Don’t hit your thumb. Don’t go too far or you’re going to put a hole in the wall.” Because I just couldn’t find my regular hammer.

    TOM: Well, how can do-it-yourselfers maybe impose some order on all that chaos when it comes to tool storage?

    KEVIN: Well, the good news is that the tool manufacturers are thinking about this and they’ve come out with a lot of new options recently.

    So, the first one that I really love are interlocking toolboxes. And so, if you can imagine a plastic tool kit that contains a particular tool or a couple tools – and then it would actually lock onto a second or a third or even a fourth so that you can store them easily and you can carry them all at once. Festool makes a great one. They call it the Systainer. They’re very ingenious.

    And once you start working with them, you kind of become hooked on them, because it’s sort of like …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. There’s a lot of storage there.

    KEVIN: There’s a lot of storage there.

    LESLIE: And you know what? I like the ones that have that sort of dolly/rolling base.

    KEVIN: Yes.

    LESLIE: So if you’re on a more permanent job site for a period of time, it makes it really useful. However, my five-year-old is convinced that it’s the greatest toy and it’s constantly detached from where it should be.

    TOM: Right. Because he hops on and takes a ride.

    KEVIN: There are very few people who set up all of their tools on the job site and will keep them in one place for, say, three, four or five months, like Tom Silva.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: The rest of us are kind of doing it nights and weekends and such. And so we’re constantly breaking them out, packing them back up, moving them around. And so, being able to get them around and making them portable, I think, is critical.

    TOM: Yeah. And it’s nice to be able to take those toolboxes apart and set each one where it needs to be and kind of set up your portable shop, so to speak.

    KEVIN: Yeah. And I’ve got one with a sander and I’ve got another one with the sandpaper. And I know that those two are always sort of locked together so that when I grab the sander, the paper is coming with me. That actually saves me a trip more often than not.

    And Festool is not the only people who make interlocking toolboxes. I know Bosch has got one out there, [Geo Storage Solutions] (ph) have got them out there. So, there’s lots of different options, whether they come with a particular power tool you bought or whether you’re just buying the box itself.

    TOM: Now, so many people, especially pros that have a lot of these buckets lying around, simply use that spackle bucket to carry their stuff around. But there’s an improvement on that, as well.

    KEVIN: Yeah. And so they’ve also figured that out, the tool manufacturers. You know, Duluth Trading has got the Bucket Boss and so it’s an apron that actually drapes over that 5-gallon bucket.

    So everyone’s got one of those 5-gallon buckets hanging around and you can toss all your tools in there. But that’s going to make it very confusing and very disorderly. And so something like that apron that goes over the bucket, it starts to organize all of your tools. You can put in all the hand tools. It’s even got padded holsters for cordless drills and such. It starts to make it a really good way to organize your stuff and to haul it around your house or the job site.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But I think, in that sense, the bucket’s getting kind of heavy. And if you’re transporting a lot of things – we had mentioned earlier that the stackable ones have wheels. But there are some pretty permanent guys that are rolling-ready and huge for storage.

    KEVIN: I would love to have a couple of those guys in my garage.

    LESLIE: Right?

    KEVIN: Right? I mean I know Stanley makes a nice option out there. If I could have those roll-y storage containers in my garage, where you’ve actually got drawers and cabinets to organize it, that would be sort of the brass ring for me.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They’re gorgeous to look at, too.

    TOM: I just saw one from Gladiator that was great. It’s a big, rolling tool chest, essentially.

    KEVIN: Yeah.

    TOM: It had drawers in it and so you can literally move it and park it. Slides under the bench when you don’t need it. You roll it out and move it over and …

    LESLIE: That’s a good one.

    KEVIN: It’s got the diamond-plated, too, right?

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    KEVIN: Very heavy-duty and industrial.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: Yeah, I can feel myself growling for it right now.

    LESLIE: Right.

    KEVIN: It’s like, “Absolutely. Bring it on.”

    TOM: So, sometimes, convenient storage is as much about organizing the gear. Any tips to help with that project?

    KEVIN: So there was a time when I was living in downtown Boston in a four-story walk-up. And any time I wanted to build a little piece of a furniture and knock around, I had to go up to our roof deck and actually build it up there. And so you’re dragging everything up and down. Sometimes it’s in the car, sometimes it’s in storage.

    And what I found was that I actually organized my tools by different containers and by different trades, if you will: a different bag for different things. And to this day, I still do it.

    So I have a bag with all of my plumbing gear. Because let’s be honest: that pipe cutter or the torch that you’re going to solder with, you don’t actually go to it that often.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: You need it but you don’t go to it that often. So why drag it around?

    TOM: And it takes up a lot of room in the toolbox if you have it all in one.

    KEVIN: Exactly. So I’ve got one bag; it’s got all the plumbing stuff. And I know that I’ve got the thing to clean the copper pipe with, I’ve got the flux, the solder, the torch, the cutters, the necessary wrenches. I’ve got another one for electric. I’ve got one for carpentry.

    Sounds excessive but when you break it down to the little bags, now you can just grab what you need and know – “OK, I’m doing a carpentry project. Grab that one. I’m working underneath the sink? Grab that bag right there.”

    TOM: Great tip. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, great advice on ways to get organized with your tool storage.

    KEVIN: Always my pleasure, guys.

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

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Up next, these days, staying cool is top of mind. So you might be surprised to know that there are simple ways to lower your home’s cooling cost and make yourself and your wallet more comfortable. Find out how, after this.

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    TOM: Where home solutions live, 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 at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    One caller that we talk to this hour is going to win a SodaStream Source Starter Kit worth 99 bucks. Now, it’s making carbonated water and soft drinks super-simple in this kit. You can actually turn regular, plain, old tap water into sparkling water in under 30 seconds. It makes a really cool noise. It’s kind of fun to do. The kids are obsessed with it. And it’s super-easy, with no cleanup.

    TOM: You can enjoy the freshness and convenience of homemade soda and protect the environment at the same time. No heavy bottles to carry, to store at home or to throw away. Fizz to your taste and add the flavor of your choice and make your favorite drink.

    Visit and give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question for your chance to win.

    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: Well, the warmer weather is here to stay and I feel like it’s sticking around for the entire summer. We’re all going to be hot and sticky. That is, unless you’ve got an air conditioner in your home.

    And here’s the rub: the warmer your home is, the harder your central air conditioner is going to have to work to cool it. It’s called “internal heat gain.” All the things in your home that make and hold heat will affect the internal heat gain.

    TOM: Yeah. But you can impact how much heat is generated inside your house if you keep it top of mind.

    For example, you want to run appliances at night, especially heat-generating appliances, like dryers. So, dishwashers – they have a heat cycle – dryers, ovens, that sort of thing, always run them at night. If you’re still using incandescent light bulbs, replace those with CFLs. They just use a lot less energy – or LEDs – and they don’t generate the same level of heat.

    On your water heater, make sure the temperature is set at 120 degrees, no higher. You don’t need it that high, because you’ll scald yourself. It’s going to cost you more to run and again, that’s excessive heat that’s being released from the water-heater jacket into the house.

    Simple things like that – in terms of using your stove, using your oven, maybe even cooking outdoors – can prevent that internal heat gain or at least reduce it so you’re not having to combat that with your air-conditioning system.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Here’s some other ideas that you may have skipped over. You can actually close drapes in your east-facing windows in the morning and your west-facing windows in the evening to reduce the amount of heat that actually comes in through the windows. For long-term relief, think about planting trees on the south and west sides of your homes to give you some more shade.

    And when you’re replacing big-ticket items – like your computer, television or appliances – make sure you get the most energy-efficient models that you can afford.

    TOM: Yep. There’s really no reason not to buy something that’s ENERGY STAR-rated today. And if you do, you’re always going to get the most efficient technology that’s available.

    LESLIE: Jo from Kentucky is on the line with some help with a bathroom cleaning project. What can we do for you?

    JO: Yes. I have an old bathtub and where the water has leaked, I have some porcelain – I guess it’s a porcelain tub. I have some orange spots in there and they look like they’re going to eventually just give way on me. I want to know how I could patch that up.

    LESLIE: Are they super-tiny or are they, you know, an inch or so?

    JO: Yes. Oh, yes, they’re very small.

    TOM: There are touch-ups but you know what? They will show.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I’ve used one. When we bought our house, there was a tiny – I mean super-tiny – little rust spot in our tub. And I used a product called Porc-a-Fix? And you can get it in – pretty much in any home center. It comes in a variety of whites and off-whites, so you kind of have to guess which one is going to work close enough to your exact white or bisque or whatever you want to call it.

    JO: Right.

    LESLIE: And it almost looks like it’s a nail-polish bottle, kind of.

    JO: OK.

    LESLIE: And you apply it in gradual layers, letting it set up and then going back the next day and putting another one on until you build it up. And it’s done a fairly good job. We’ve been in the house eight years and it’s still there, it’s still covered up. But I know exactly where it is.

    JO: OK. Well, I thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, keeping the outside of your home looking spic and span, that is a regular summertime project. Up next, we’ve got tips for deck care, plus tips on how you can keep mold and mildew off of the concrete surfaces, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Cabinets To Go, where you get premium-quality cabinets for less. You dream it, they design it and always 40 percent less than the big-box stores. Visit them online at

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we’d love for you to get in on our Dog Days of Summer Facebook sweepstakes. We’re giving away three great prizes, including a propane grill, plus enough propane for a backyard bash, from Blue Rhino. It’s a great prize worth $178.

    TOM: All you have to do is visit our Facebook page, hit “Like,” fill out the entry info. And if you share the sweeps with your friends, you’ll even earn bonus entries. Check it out at

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re jumping into our community questions. And Tracy from Illinois wrote: “My husband used a pressure washer to clean our old, painted deck. It was apparently turned up too high and took chunks of paint off. Am I going to have to strip the whole thing before repainting it?”

    I don’t think it was the pressure washer; I’m going to say it was the age of the deck and/or age and quality of paint.

    TOM: Yeah, I love the fact she says that her husband used the pressure washer. I want to make it very clear that it wasn’t Tracy that used the pressure washer; it was Tracy’s husband.

    LESLIE: And it’s funny. I misread her question. She actually – instead of saying, “On our painted deck …,” she wrote: “On my painted deck …”

    I felt it was a little bit more PC to change that to “our.”

    TOM: Exactly, exactly.

    Well, Tracy, we’re going to let your husband off the hook, because he probably did you guys a favor. So the fact that that paint came off so easily means that you really are going to have to strip the rest of that off. Because if you put new paint on there, it’s just going to continue to delaminate.

    And by the way, we never, ever recommend paint for a deck. Only recommend stain. Because the stain is going to soak in there well and it will fade away pleasantly. The paint does peel, instead, which is a very bad thing.

    So your next step – or perhaps, your husband’s next step; or maybe you want to help him with this, Tracy, because it wasn’t all his fault it came off – is to scrape that old paint off the deck. Get it really – get as much off as you can. Then I want you to prime it, because you’ve got some old material on there. I want you to prime it with an oil-based primer and then I want you to put solid-color stain on top of that. And that will do it.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a question from Grace who posted her question online. And she writes: “My chimney leaks badly during a heavy rain. I’ve been unable to find a person who can tell me how to solve this problem. As I have unvented gas logs, I had the top of the chimney sealed, so it’s not leaking from the top. Since I can’t find the leak, is there a product on the market that can be painted or sprayed on the outside of the chimney to prevent leaking? If not, what do you suggest?”

    TOM: Well, first of all, the fact that you say you have an unvented gas log makes me nervous. Because, usually, it’s not just the log that’s unvented; the enter appliance – the entire heat-generating appliance – has to be unvented. So, if you just have a gas log, it’s definitely designed to be vented, not unvented. So, I would definitely have an expert look at the log to make sure that this is, in fact, designed to be not vented.

    And even if it is, I’m very nervous about unvented appliances. I would never recommend them. Make sure you have a carbon-monoxide detector or two in that house at all times, because I just don’t feel that comfortable with them. I think they’re potentially unsafe.

    Now, in terms of general questions about chimney leaks, here’s why chimneys leak: they leak because there are cracks that form at the chimney crown. This is the space between the outside edge of the brick and the inside clay flue liner. That cement crown very often develops cracks; water will come in there. Adding a chimney cap is a good idea. It keeps the chimney open but blocks the rain. In your case, I’m not really sure, because you say you sealed it. I’m not that crazy with that. But conceptually, look at the top.

    Now, the brick surfaces itself, yeah, they can develop leaks, again, through cracks. Water will find the path of least resistance. If you do want to apply a sealer to that chimney, you can but you want to make sure that it’s a vapor-permeable sealer. That’s important because if you just seal it from the outside without any way for the moisture to get back out, in the wintertime what will happen is moisture will freeze inside that chimney. It will start to spall or crack pieces off and you’ll basically start the clock on having to build yourself a new chimney. Because, eventually, it’ll deteriorate so bad that that’s what you’re up against.

    So, first of all, check out the unvented gas log, which I suspect is not unvented. I suspect it’s supposed to be vented and could be very dangerous. And secondly, examine the chimney from the top to the bottom for cracks. And third, apply a vapor-permeable sealant and that should take care of it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, Grace, something else to consider is that when it’s really cold outside, a gas fireplace can generate a lot of condensation, which could appear to be a leak but isn’t actually one at all.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at We hope you’re enjoying your summer, maybe tackling a few home improvement projects. We are so happy to be able to help you with those, 24-7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. And if you can’t get into the call center, remember, you can simply post your question online in The Money Pit’s Community section or at

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2014 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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